Monastery News

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September 28th: Important Feast For Us

On this day fifty-five years ago, our Monastery church, dedicated to Saint John the Baptist, was formally blessed as the place of worship for the monks of Christ in the Desert and its guests.
We keep the day as a Sunday, with more solemn celebration of the Conventual Mass and Divine Office, and a festive meal in the afternoon.
We are grateful for all our benefactors, both past and present, living and deceased, who have and still support us by their kindnesses.
Despite the decidedly cooler temperatures as we move toward October, roses are still blooming in our cloister garden, as evidenced in today’s photo.
With this comes our prayers for the needs and intentions of all of our families, friends, benefactors and oblates. Please keep us in your prayers. Thank you.
Abbot Christian and the monks

September 20th: Roses Still Blooming

Throughout the Summer months we have been enjoying roses blooming in our cloister garden. Occasionally the flowers are used to decorate in church and at other times left to be viewed “in situ,” right where they blossom.
We are staying well and keeping busy with the usual round of prayer and work, the latter both indoors and out. The weather is really pleasant at this time and it looks like it will continue for the coming days.
The road leading to the Monastery (Forest Service Road 151) is now dry and day visitors are welcome here. The church is open throughout the day and our Giftshop and Art Gallery from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm.
Often day visitors join us for chanted prayer in church at 1:00 pm. This lasts about ten minutes and all are welcome to attend.
With this comes assurance of our prayers and we are grateful for yours.
Abbot Christian and the monks

September 19th: Welcome Rain

Of late we are getting rainfall, much needed and much appreciated. The threat of forest fires is greatly reduced now and the Chama Canyon is once again “turning green,” as it usually does in July and August.
These days we are getting various landscaping projects competed, especially outside our monastery church. Russian sage (in today’s photo) and Rose of Sharon are currently blooming on our property.
Forest Service Road 151 leading to the Monastery is muddy in places just now, but hopefully dry again shortly. Daytime temperatures are still in the mid to high
The start of Autumn is just a few days away. May it be a peaceful season for all, especially those who are harvesting fruit and produce.
Abbot Christian and the monks

September 15th: Bighorn Sheep

Not seen every day here, but more frequently than fifty years ago, Bighorn Sheep are another natural wonder in the high desert of New Mexico.
Today’s photo was taken by one of our monks while on a trip to town on September 13th. The majestic ram in the photo was fairly unfazed by Brother’s approaching for the photo. Only after the photo was taken did the ram walk (not run!) away.
Bighorn Sheep, both male and female, are several times larger than domestic sheep, such as we have on our farm. Like all wildlife, one needs to exercise prudence and caution when approaching them, but the Bighorns are not aggressive and prone to rapidly exit in the presence of humans.
In the midst of desert beauty, we never tire of the grandeur of God’s creation. All you beasts, wild and tame, praise the Lord.
Be assured of our prayers and please keep us in yours. Thank you.
Abbot Christian and the monks

September 11th: Fr Bernard Cranor, OSB, RIP

Today our dear confrere, Father Bernard Cranor, died peacefully at the Monastery . He was ninety-two years old and lived a very long and fruitful life, first for a short time as a Trappist monk in Utah, then as a Dominican friar for many years, then as a monk of Christ in the Desert the last several decades of his life.
Father Bernard was from California, born on July 30th, 1931. He professed vows as a Dominican friar on April 29th, 1953 and ordained a priest on June 9th, 1962. Subsequently he obtained Doctorate in Liturgy in Paris.
In our community He was one of our cooks,  librarian for many years, teacher in our formation program, creator of photo cards and postcards. He kept busy until the last year or so of his life.
We commend Father Bernard and all the faithful departed to your prayers. May the angels lead Father Bernard into Paradise!
Well done, good and faithful servant!
Fr Bernard’s funeral and burial at the Monastery on September 12th at 11:00 am.
Abbot Christian and the monks

Photo by Kirk Gulledge

September 8th: Summer Subsiding

We are already feeling a definite “cooling down” in the mornings, with temperatures in the mid to low 50s. By afternoon, the mercury climbs to the low 80s. To everything, there is a season.
We continue our daily round of prayer and work and welcoming people for days of private retreat of a few days or more, as well as those who come for shorter day-visits during the week.
Forest Service Road 151 leading to the Monastery remains dry and passable. The church, Giftshop and Art Gallery are open from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm.
This has been a dry summer and we continue to pray for moisture. Our well is in no danger of drying up, but the earth can certainly use rain and later in the year, snow.
We assure of our prayers and we are grateful for yours. Visit when you can.
Abbot Christian and the monks

September 3rd: Our Blue Moon

The psalmist, writing thousands of years ago, had this to say, presumably while pondering the wonders of God’s creation:
“The heaven’s proclaim the glory of God
and the firmament shows forth the work of God’s hands.
Day unto day takes up the story
and night unto night makes known the message.” Psalm 18(19)
A few days ago, just before daylight, one of our monks captured the beauty of the moon, as seen from the Chama Canyon wilderness.
Autumn is arriving in just a few weeks. May the conclusion of Summer be peaceful for us all.
Abbot Christian and the monks

September 1st: Monks and Roses

The German Benedictine nun, Gertrude of Helfta, now known as Saint Gertrude the Great, who lived from 1256 to 1302, once made a very insightful observation about Benedictines.
One day in contemplation, Gertrude considered Saint Benedict and his followers under the symbol of a rose garden all in bloom. First, she pointed out, buds begin to sprout in Springtime, around the Feast of Saint Benedict, which occurs each year on March 21th, the first day of Spring.
With the passing of months the buds continue to grow, multiplying silently and eventually blooming gloriously in the height of Summer, as they always do in the Northern Hemisphere.
When this takes place, it seemed to Gertrude, the rose garden becomes an immense bunch of roses, bringing joy to Heaven and surrounding Holy Father Benedict with tremendous glory.
In other words, the Benedictine family spread throughout the world glorifies the Lord, having given Heaven many saints and blesseds over the centuries. Some have watered the garden by the shedding of their blood as martyrs. Other Benedictine saints were popes, and others scholars or simple monks and nuns.
Hopefully “all of us Benedictines” strive to give glory to God by our life of worship and work.
Today’s photo is of the symbolic “Benedictine roses” in our cloister garden.
Come be our guests when you can. Bienvenidos.
Abbot Christian and the monks

August 31st: Summer Sky

The days fly by, at least for us in the Chama Canyon wilderness. Summer skies hold their own beauty at this time of year, most especially at sunset.
The days are now visibly growing shorter and daytime temperatures are “only” in the mid-80s. That’s cooler than several weeks ago!
It has been a very dry “rainy season” this Summer, sorry to say, but we are thankful for the rains we have received nonetheless. Typically, the majority of out moisture for the year comes during July and August.
We continue with various and sundry maintenance and beautifying projects on our property, and are grateful to those guests on retreat who express interest in assisting us with the work. All hands on deck, as the saying goes.
September is upon us, the usual time for the beginning of the academic year. We pray for all students at this time, for a successful and fruitful year of study.
Abbot Christian and the monks

August 26th: Awaiting Rain

After a very fine downpour a week ago, we’ve seen very little rain since. Some days appear promising with regard to moisture, as in today’s photo, but then nothing comes of it. In any case, we keep praying for more rain.
We continue indoor and outdoor projects to beautify our grounds. Our fairly recently planted “Veritas Apple Orchard” and “Mary’s Berry Patch” have now been thoroughly weeded and show promise of bearing fruit eventually.
Some of our storage places have been better organized and “weeded out” as well. In addition, fallen branches from Scrub Oak trees on our property have been removed.
Maintenance is an ongoing endeavor and fortunately we have “monk power” and generous guests to tackle various and sundry projects each morning during our work period, Monday through Saturday, from 9:00 am to 12:30 pm.
We keep all our families, friends, benefactors and oblates in our prayers and are grateful for yours.
Abbot Christian and the monks

August 20th: Fruits of Rain

We are finally getting some rain and are very grateful for the gift. Roses are blooming in the cloister garden and Easter lilies are lining up nicely for a third flowering. The first was at Eastertime, the second was in late Spring, and now the third in mid-Summer.
One recent afternoon downpour caused some serious washouts along Forest Service Road 151, leading to the Monastery, but repairs have already occurred and the road is dry again.
We are now getting vocational inquiries from some  American men, and some are making preliminary visits here to see our life more closely. We pray that some may eventually enter for further discernment and formation as Benedictine monks. Please pray for all those men and women discerning a call to religious and monastic life at this time. Thank you.
Be assured of our prayers for your needs and intentions.
Blessed new week now beginning.
Abbot Christian and the monks

August 18th: Community Recreation

Each Tuesday and Thursday evenings the monks gather for about 20 minutes for a period of “recreation,” as it is called in monastic culture. The time consists of simply relaxing and speaking, enjoying one another’s company in what is usually lively conversation. We have recently remodled one of our classrooms near the church to be the place for recreation periods. It seems to be working well.
Today’s photo includes our youngest and oldest brothers, ranging in ages from twenty-six and ninety-two years old.
In the days of yore, they used to say: “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” In our context it might be modified to “all work, prayer and reading and no play makes the monk a dull man.”
At the conclusion of recreation we go to church for the Office of Compline, the final prayer of the day.
Abbot Christian and the monks.

August 15th: I Lift Up My Eyes To The Mountains

Today’s photo is another view from atop the mesa behind and above our monastery buildings. Clouds are forming, but we still await the arrival of rain, very much needed in the great Southwest.
It is hard to believe we are already in mid-August and celebrating the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. We keep the day with a Sunday schedule and no official work assignments, apart from cooking, washing dishes and tending to Guesthouse linens. The Liturgy of the Hours and the Mass are more solemnly celebrated than usual and the monastic church decorated to suit the occasion.
Eastern Catholic and Orthodox Christians have a beautiful tradition of “leave-taking” after a Solemnity, that is, the day following the celebration itself. The “leave-taking” is less solemn than on the feast day, but is a way of prolonging the celebration, such as the Assumption of Mary, and even saying “goodbye” to the great celebration just past.
With this comes our greetings and prayers. We are grateful for yours as well.
Abbot Christian and the monks

August 13th: Franciscan Friends

Having just celebrated the feast of Saint Clare of Assisi, the close collaborator of Saint Francis of Assisi, on August 11th, we also called to mind the fact that we have many friends from the various branches of the Franciscan family, including Franciscan Friars of the Renewal (whose initials are “CFR”), and who have a Friary dedicated to San Juan Diego in the heart of of the city of Albuquerque.
The friars from there regularly come here for days of solitude and retreat. They always join us for daily Conventual Mass, the chanting of the Divine Office, and meals when they are here.
In addition to the “CFRs,” another group, known Francican Friars Minor (OFM is their initials), also occasionally come on retreat here. They have been living and working in New Mexico for centuries!
Yet a third branch, sometimes Conventual Franciscans, whose initials are “OFMConv,” spend retreat days here.
We are blessed with these contacts and are happy to share some of our monastic life with our Franciscan friends.
Last but not least, mention needs to be made of our friendships with numerous Poor Clare Franciscan nuns around the Country.  These women live a strictly enclosed and contemplative life, hence they do not come here on retreat, but they are praying for us and we for them.
Today’s illustration shows Saint Francis and his friars offering a lamb to Saint Clare and her nuns.
Saints Francis and Clare of Assisi, pray for us.
Abbot Christian and the monks

August 6th: God’s Glory 

Another glorious view of the Chama canyon is posted today, as the Church celebrates the Transfiguration of the Lord on the Mountaintop, traditionally identified with Mount Tabor in the Holy Land. In ages past a Benedictine monastery existed on Mount Tabor, but today only ruins remain.
The photo today was taken on the mesa above the cliffs that form the backdrop of our locale.
With this comes prayers for a blessed Sunday of the Transfiguration and a peaceful week ahead.
Abbot Christian and the monks

August 3rd: Healthy Hen

Believing that we have some of the healthiest hens on planet earth, there are some simple facts that we’re more than willing to share on the topic.
Our forty-five hens, of a variety of sizes and  colors, have a very large area of lush green grass in which to roam all day long. They dutifully go into their spacious coop each evening at dusk and are safe behind latched doors for the duration of the night.
Every morning they are fed with commercial layer pellets and in the late afternoon enjoy leftovers from the kitchen, including greens, fruit and vegetables, as well as rice and beans.
The poultry have access to fresh, cool water to drink, available all day long.
We have areas in their field where the hens can enjoy their “required” daily dust baths, and shaded places to escape from the sun or to bask in it, as they so choose.
Our hens are not spoiled, nor are they neglected by any means. We continue to collect about two dozen eggs each day.
Be our guests and plan to enjoy our eggs each morning at breakfast.
Abbot Christian and the monks

July 31st: Summer Saints

The Summer season is replete with liturgical feasts of many noteworthy saints, including  Saints Aloysius Gonzaga, John the Baptist, Peter and Paul, Benedict, Bonaventure, Mary Magdalene, James the Greater, Joaquim and Anne, Martha, Mary and Lazurus, Ignatius of Loyola, Alphonsus Liguori, John Vianney, Dominic, Clare and Lawrence, Maximilian Kolbe, Augustine, John Chrysostom and Matthew, to mention the most well-known.
The roll call of saints is always an opportunity to recount the “great cloud of witnesses,” as Scripture calls them, and to ask for their intercession for our needs and intentions.
In addition to that, the saints are role models on which to base our lives. We most likely won’t end up as Church-endorsed canonized saints, but that doesn’t matter. We are all called to become saints by doing God’s will day in and day out.
To be the best person we possibly can be has nothing to do with health, wealth, beauty or anything other than an open heart and mind.
May the saints of God help us in this crucial endeavor!
Today’s photo is of a liturgical shepherd’s staff, called a crozier, carried by bishops and abbots for solemn celebrations of the Mass. This particular crozier is from Montecassino Abbey in Italy, where Saint Benedict spent his last years. The image in the crook is Saint Benedict himself.
Saints of God, intercede for us!
Abbot Christian and the monks

July 28th: Rain Arriving

We are beginning to get much-needed rain, and are grateful to God for that. The rainfall also almost immediately reduces the daytime temperatures, these days in the high 80s.
Hopefully into and throughout the month of August we will see more moisture, as the typical monsoon season here is the months of July and August.
Of late, the monks are slowly watching the biblically-based third season of the series, “The Chosen.” Overall, we are positive about its representation of Jesus and his public ministry.
While liberties are taken as to what have might have been said or done, none of it is contrary to what we believe in or what is recorded in the New Testament. The effort of the creators of the series to be both respectful and to provide a program enjoyable to watch is much  appreciated by us monks.
With this comes our assurance of prayers and we are grateful for yours.
Abbot Christian

July 25th: Towering Yucca

For the second Summer in a row, one of the two large yucca plants in front of our Monastery church is in full bloom. With a flowering head of some three feet tall, and about ten feet above the ground, the delicate white yucca blossoms are a beautiful sight.
Yucca are also in bloom along the wild and scenic corridor leading into the Chama Canyon Wilderness where we live. The road is dry and passable and a visit here might be time well spent for those who live in the area or who are visiting the Land of Enchantment. In our humble opinion, our landscape never disappoints.
In today’s photo, looking beyond the yucca plant, one can see a corner of our monastic cemetery, and in the pasture farther afield, close to the Chama River, our four work and pleasure horses are grazing.
We are in a lovely time of year, though serious rainfall would be most welcome. For that we hope and pray.
Greetings and prayers from the Monastery.
Abbot Christian and the monks

July 23rd: Friendly Fledgling

We have named the bird in our photo today, “Robin,” who is still learning to fly, with our cloister garden as the testing ground.
We have been praying for rain, as the usual monsoon season seems to be delayed. Fortunately, on the Feast of Saint Mary Magdalene, July 22nd, we finally got some rain. Let us hope this is the start of much needed nourishment for the earth, much in need of moisture. The arrival of rain also lowers the daytime temperatures, which of late have been in the 90s.
Our irrigation endeavors on our pasture land for our sheep, horses, donkey and chickens is paying off and the fields are green. That means virtually no need to supplement with bales of hay for the animals.
We are staying well, thanks be to God. At present some American vocation enquirers are emerging, and we will begin the careful process of discernment. Please pray for vocations for our monastery and for diocesan priesthood and religious life.
Be assured of our prayers and please keep us in yours. Thank you.
Abbot Christian and the monks

"Let everyone that comes be received as Christ."

— The Rule of St. Benedict

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