The Nature of Vocation

When I was growing up in the middle of the last century, attending Catholic Grade school in Portland, Oregon, I recall thinking that a “vocation,” was something one “got” or “had,” and specifically to the priesthood or religious life, to be a Catholic priest, brother...

Love of Silence

Silence is considered an important monastic practice. Much ink has been spilled on the topic, including entire books, but is silence something just for monks to value? By no means! Into every life some silence should fall. Why? Because we are rational creatures, who...

Further Monastic Musings

The monastic life requires a spirit of sacrifice at the beginning, but really throughout the entire journey to God. What is sacrifice? At its root are the words: “to make holy.” In ancient pagan practice, sacrifice meant offering incense, food, possessions, animals,...

Ash Wednesday

Scripture Readings: Book of the Prophet Joel 2:12-18; Second Corinthians 5:20-6:2; Gospel According to Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18. The readings for Mass today set the tone for the entire season of Lent which we now begin. Keep in mind the word “Lent” comes from the same...

Contemplative Community

At Christ in the Desert we live our monastic life in community. There are times and places for solitude and privacy during each day, but much of what we do, be it prayer in church, our work, indoors or outdoors, meals in the refectory and recreation some days, we do...

More Monastic Musings

Here I would like to write something about what Thomas Merton calls “monastic renunciation.” This theme is presented in Merton’s 1964 monastic brochure written for the Trappist monks of Snowmass, Colorado. The brochure is called “Come to the Mountain,” and is...

Monastic Musings

I have been rereading a publication from 1964, the year that the Monastery of Christ in the Desert was founded. The booklet, or really an expanded vocational brochure, is called, “Come to the Mountain.” The text is by the famous Trappist monk and author, Thomas Merton...

A Christmas Message

Christmas has come! Our hearts greatly rejoice! Our Redeemer is born! Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to people of good will. An otherwise whimsical Charlie Brown Christmas card I received this year contains a splendid message that reads: “If there ever...

An Advent Reflection

We began the holy season of Advent this past Sunday and a new Liturgical Year has begun. The message we will be hearing throughout Advent is this: prepare your hearts, for our God is sending a Savior, Emmanuel, a name which means, God-with-us. The firm conviction that...

Navajo-Churro Sheep

Why Navajo-Churro sheep? Let me begin by saying we consciously chose to have this breed of sheep on our property, to raise and care for, to shear for wool to spin for us to use in weaving, as well as to sell. Our founding monks had the same breed for some years in the...

Mount Athos: Part One

Dear Friends in Christ, This year marks the fortieth “anniversary” of the transformative pilgrimage I made with the late Brother Xavier McGough of our monastery, to the Holy Mountain of Mount Athos in Greece. I promised the monks we met and befriended there in 1979...