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The Right Reverend Philip J. Lawrence, OSB, the Abbot of the Monastery of Christ in the Desert, recently announced in the summer newsletter that given the required retirement of an abbot at age seventy-five coming in 2019, he has decided that he will retire on December 12, 2018, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, because there are a number of important decisions that are to be made in connection with our rapid growth in monastic vocations and those will best be made by his successor.

In answer to questions from a sizeable number of well-wishers, Abbot Philip has explained that the actual retirement event is done privately at the Monastery.  The Abbot President of our Subiaco-Cassinese Congregation, Abbot Guillermo, OSB, will oversee the subsequent election process and the public will be advised of the results on the news page of the Monastery’s website.

If you wish to read the summer newsletter which is dedicated to honoring the accomplishments of Abbot Philip’s 41 years as the superior of the Monastery, please click HERE.

Finally, we ask you to each day join us in this prayer for our Community:  Lord God, You are our Eternal Shepherd and Guide.  In your mercy grant this Monastery a shepherd who will walk in Your ways, and whose watchful care will bring us Your blessings. Amen.


New Novices!

Brother Boniface, Brother Ignatius, Abbot Philip, Brother Jerome, Brother Chrysostom and Prior Fr. Benedict



Today Abbot Philip Lawrence, OSB, announced the Easter schedule for the Monastery of Christ in the Desert.  He emphasized that the public is cordially welcomed for all of the liturgical service being offered.  The weather is expected to be fine but in any event, anyone make view a daily road condition report by going to the Monastery’s website:

The Abbot and Community extends special Easter blessings to all and notes that we keep the needs and good intentions of all of our friends, guests and visitors in our daily prayers


4:00 am           Vigils

6:00 am           Lauds

8:00 am           Terce

9:00 am           Work Meeting for Guests at Giftshop and Necessary Work

12:15 am         Sext

3:00 pm           None

5:00 pm          Eucharist of Holy Thursday

8:00 pm           Private Adoration until Midnight


4:30 am           Vigils

7:00 am           Lauds

8:15 am           Terce

9:00 am           Work Meeting for Guests at Giftshop and Necessary Work

11:15 am         Sext

2:00 pm           Stations of the Cross

3:30 pm           Liturgy of Good Friday

6:30 pm           Compline


4:30 am           Vigils

7:00 am           Lauds

8:15 am           Terce

9:00 am           Work Meeting for Guests at Giftshop

12:30 pm         Sext

1:45 pm           None and Lectio/Prayer/Meditation

5:30 pm           Vespers

6:50 pm           Compline


3:00 am           SOLEMN VIGILS OF THE LORD’S RESURRECTION, Eucharist, breakfast

10:25 am         Terce

11:00 am         Easter Day Mass

1:15 pm           Sext

5:00 pm           Solemn Vespers and Benediction




On Saturday, February 10th, two monks of the Monastery of Christ in the Desert, Br. Dominic and Fr. Simeon, made their final vows.  It was the feast of St. Scholastica, the sister of St. Benedict, and a most appropriate day for these two monks to promise to belong to Christ and the Monastery for the rest of their lives.  St. Scholastica is often remembered for her special and profound relationship with Jesus Christ, whom she called her “Bridegroom,” which is a fitting symbol of the meaning of the monastic vocation: a marriage-like covenant of perpetual love with the Lord for the benefit of all humanity.  All monks who make Solemn Vows promise to remain with their particular community for their whole lives because it is in the daily effort of community life that each grows in holiness, learning to love despite the many defects and faults of others, in imitation of Christ.  The Rt. Rev. Phillip Lawrence, OSB, the Abbot of this Monastery, presided over the Holy Mass which included the Solemn Profession in a ceremony where both monks promised to be obedient to the Abbot and the Rule of St. Benedict, and to undergo a life of conversion to become ever more configured to Jesus Christ. The Abbot reminded the monks that they were an official part of the Catholic Church and must do the Church’s work of telling the world by word and example of the Risen Lord while also making unlimited prayers on behalf of all peoples and their needs, in their struggles and hopes. The Abbot also encouraged these two men to give a complete gift of self regardless of setbacks.  The Abbot pointed out that St. Scholastica was said to have loved the Lord even more than her brother did, since she prayed for the two of them to spend an evening together discussing God and Heavenly things and was granted her request by sending a storm that prevented St. Benedict from leaving her side.  It is a wonderful image of fidelity to both God and brother and stands as a perfect example for the newly professed Br. Dominic and Fr. Simeon.



The Alliance for International Monasticism (AIM USA) promotes cooperation and solidarity among monasteries throughout Asia, Africa and Latin America.  With this as its goal and, keeping in mind Jesus’ invitation to love our brothers and sisters, AIM USA comes to you with its annual Lenten Appeal.  Benedictine and Cistercian communities through the country, along with their oblates are being asked to join in this important mission of building up monastic life in developing countries.  It is precisely in these areas of the world where vocations are flourishing and where much hope for the future of monasticism lies.

Through your response to the 2018 Lenten Appeal, you will make grants possible in areas such as eduction, formation, community living, and work as just a few examples.

Won’t you join the effort to build up our Benedictine way of life throughout the world.  Any and all gifts are greatly appreciated.  Should you need further information you can contact the director, Sister Theresa Zoky, O.S.B. at  Please send your tax deductible gift to:



Lenten Appeal

Mount St. Benedict Monastery

345 East Ninth Street

Erie, PA 16503

Singing God’s Praises!

Singing God’s Praises. The Monks of Christ in the Desert Keep You in Their Prayers, Day and Night.

Father David Anderson Lectures…..



As part of our ongoing spiritual and monastic formation, our monastery has profited by the presence of Father David Anderson, an Eastern Catholic priest and Patristic scholar from Ukiah, California.

Father David serves as pastor at Saint Peter Eastern Catholic Mission in Ukiah, two hours north of San Francisco. In addition to his pastoral duties, Father David lectures extensively in colleges, monasteries and religious houses in the United States and abroad. He has come to Christ in the Desert on several occasions over the past years to offer us lectures on Church History and the Fathers of the Church.

This year of our Lord 2018 Father David Anderson is with us from January 14th to 18th, giving two lectures each day to the monastic community. Father’s topic this year is the early Fathers of the Church of the first three centuries. Father David’s wit and wisdom is much appreciated and keeps us transfixed as we grow in knowledge and love of our Catholic Church. Ad multos annos, Father David!



Our Oblate Director, Fr. Joseph Gabriel has received the following announcement:

The Benedictine Sisters of St. Gertrude monastery in Cottonwood, Idaho will be offering a symposium for oblates.


“Oblates for the Future – Symposium 2018” will be a five day, interactive event.  It is designed to help participants actively work together to create a vision of the vocation of oblates in the Benedictine world today as well as sharing practical ideas for how oblates and directors can move forward into this future in their local communities.

At “Oblates for the Future Symposium 2018” we will discuss: lay associates of monasteries through history, oblate leadership, oblate participation in monasteries, oblate formation, oblates developing a vision of the future. The symposium will offer a combination of keynote speakers, facilitated discussions, break-out sessions and time for informal networking and visioning with Benedictine oblates from across North America.

Plan now to join us next year! Dates: October 8-12, 2018

WHERE: Spirit Center of the Monastery of St. Gertrude in Cottonwood, Idaho

INFORMATION: Contact Nikki Nordstrom, OblSB, at or call 425-949-9744

Monte Cassino and Subiaco, November 10 – 12.

Fr Christian and Br Philip at Monte Cassino, Italy, with oblates of Christ in Desert who attended the World Congress of Benedictine Oblates, November 4 – 10, outside of Rome. Our monks assisted with the pilgrimage for oblates to sites in Rome, Monte Cassino and Subiaco, November 10 – 12.



The Monastery just celebrated the graduation of its second class of five “student” monks from a three week long immersion into learning English. The class was directed by Dr. Bill Nagel, a graduate from the University of Arkansas and a certified ESL teacher. He commented most favorably on the zeal and enthusiasm with which the monks in his class approached their learning experience. There was a focus on reading, listening, speaking and writing the English language to prepare these men for future online college studies. Pictured above is the class at its “graduation,” along with Abbot Philip, Fr. Simeon, Director of Education, and Dr. Nagel. We remain grateful for the volunteer efforts by Dr. Nagel and continue to look for other certified ESL teachers who might like to come to the Monastery and stay for three or four weeks teach English to more of our monks from other countries. If you have an interest, please contact our director of education at his email address:



We are pleased to announce that the Monastery’s website ( has been updated in its “Prayer + Chant” section!  A variety of sayings and stories from the early monastic “Desert Fathers” of the Church were added as spiritual teachings for the benefit of visitors to our site.  These are arranged in two sections: the alphabetical collection of wisdom sayings from various Desert “Abbas” and a topical collection of such sayings and stories that list a number of monastic and Christian virtues that are essential to any authentic spiritual life.

The fruit of monastic contemplation and practical experience have been collected by many disciples of the Desert Fathers, the earliest Christian monks who inhabited the Middle Eastern wilderness since the end of the second century AD. These men left everything behind in search of knowing Jesus Christ by making the Gospels absolutely integral to their daily lives. They wanted to commit themselves totally, body, soul, mind, and will, to being a disciple of the Lord Jesus with a profound holy zeal moving them to become ever more like Christ. These monks practiced integrity of character with an unrelenting courage that required their whole being to remain in that state of constant humility that comes from knowing that they were loved by God. Paradoxically, their extraordinarily harsh penances often resulted in gentleness and patience towards others, especially other monks but also visitors who came seeking an understanding of the essence of spiritual life. These monks sought most of all to experience union with God in the quiet of the desert and in the silence of their hearts.

The Monastery of Christ in the Desert does from time to time update its website to assist our visitors in understanding the nature of the monastic life that is led here by this Benedictine community of monks.  You are always welcome and encouraged to visit during the day or as an overnight guest for a number of days.  Please go to our website and view the section on “Visiting” for more information.



Dr. Sylvia Castro and Dr. Melida Gonzalez, from the Houston and Austin areas, recently spent three week here are the Monastery teaching ESL to the five student monks in the above picture.  It was a time of intense study by these monks which consisted of classes with each other and one-on-one tutoring.  They spent several hours each day working on their skills.  The progress they made in all areas of English, conversational interactions, reading, speaking, and listening was truly remarkable.  It easily showed the value of having certified ESL teachers, as are Dr. Castro and Dr. Gonzalez, and of having the monks be temporarily freed from their ordinary routine duties to focus completely on studying and learning English for a period of time.

At the conclusion of this advanced class, certificates of accomplishment were given to each of the students and each student made a public presentation of essays and other writings to demonstrate their skills.  A question and answer period followed and the Abbot was extremely pleased at the level of communication that these five monks were capable of achieving.

As a result of the success of this advanced ESL class, and at the strong recommendation of both of the teachers, we are now looking for other teachers who might be willing to volunteer to come here for a few weeks to teach. We are only asking for teachers, male or female, who are in fact properly “certified” for teaching ESL. There are strategies and skills with which certified teachers are familiar and that makes it important for us to ask for just such teachers.  If you have an interest, please contact our director of education at his email address:


The Monastery of Christ in the Desert is pleased to announce a major refurbishing of the guest quarters at the Monastery’s Guesthouse and Ranch House.  Prior Benedict MacCaffree, OSB, said that “We try to take quite seriously the Rule of St. Benedict which commits us to hospitality for our guests and that they be received as Christ and shown all due honor.”

To further our efforts at offering hospitality, a significant renovating of all guest accommodations has been undertaken over the past two months. This includes repainting all the rooms and installing new beds with extremely comfortable, extra-long mattresses.  There is also new bedding, pillows, comforters, blankets, and towel sets for each room. The renovations include extending electrical outlets for the placement of reading lamps and comfortable chairs that should facilitate reading, writing, and prayer.  There are also new rugs in each room which should give each space a feeling of warmth and welcome. The most exciting addition to each room is a large classic religious image placed in each room to remind the guests of the presence of the divine and the spiritual dimension of life which is present for all visitors to the Monastery as well.

Brother Andre, who has served as Guestmaster for many years of devoted service, said, “I am truly happy with the new renovations and the refurbishing of our guest quarters because it raises our cordial welcome to a new level. We are grateful for the feedback from our guests over time which have greatly aided us in designing these latest efforts to offer pleasant and relaxed accommodations. We are pleased to offer to men and women of all faiths an opportunity to come and share our monastic life in the splendid silence and solitude of the Chama Canyon of New Mexico. We want to make it an inviting site for those seeking God and searching for a refreshment of their spiritual lives.”

The work of this major and extensive refashioning of our guest lodgings was led by Ms. Kris Lajeskie, who has extraordinary taste and eloquence and is the President of a nationally recognized firm in the field of hotel and residential interior design.  Santa Fe has been her home and headquarters for 25 years, and she splits her time between San Diego and New York. Hotels and restaurants throughout New Mexico feature her interiors which focus on an authentic cultural experience with signature artisanal touches. Currently she is launching Hotel Chaco in Albuquerque.  As a long-time friend and oblate of the Monastery, her generosity in gifting the monastic community with her artistic talents and expertise for such a noteworthy design endeavor is deeply appreciated by the Abbot and the entire monastic community. Kris commented that “Creating a peaceful and comfortable respite for guests, has been a pure labor of love and I thoroughly enjoyed the collaboration process with the monks.”

All who might be interested in coming to stay as our guests for a number of days are invited to look at the section of our website detailing the guest guidelines and thereafter use the reservations system which is designed to function with ease to make their arrangements for a visit.  The Guestmaster and the whole monastic community assure all who come to be with us that they will have a wonderful experience and one that will be enhanced by the recent additions to our accommodations


"Let everyone that comes be received as Christ."

— The Rule of St. Benedict

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