Monastery News

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May 14th: Irises Begin to Bloom

In our cloister quadrangle garden, surrounded by our living quarters, the early-blooming daffodils and tulips have run their course and now irises are appearing, soon to be followed by peonies and roses.
The flowers we enjoy throughout the Spring and Summer never disappoint with their changing colors, shapes and scents. Regular watering and minimal weeding assure us of the annual arrival of the various flowers, even if the individual varieties make relatively brief but memorable appearances.
Thankfully we continue to be “smoke-free” and at some distance during this time of several forest fires in New Mexico. Our ardent prayers for rain continue, as well as prayers for all those who have been displaced by the fires and who have suffered loss.
Please plan a stay in our Guesthouse for a private retreat or for a day visit. Forest Service Road 151, leading to the Monastery, has recently been maintained.
Reservations for a retreat can be made at https://christdesert.org/reservation/
Day visitors and pilgrims are welcome each day, seven days a week, from 9 am to 6 pm. The Giftshop is open from 9 am to 4 pm.
Abbot Christian and the monks

May 9th: Chewy and the Chickens

In our little corner of the Peaceable Kingdom, the feathered and woolen creatures get along very well. And that includes Matty the donkey as well. In fact, she is a bit of the center of activity, at least for the sheep. The poultry tend to be more independent-minded.

Friends have been asking us about the current forest fires in New Mexico and if fire danger or smoke has reached here. Some guests have even canceled reservations, fearing the worst.

Thankfully, the fires are some hours away from us, to the east, and only a hint of smoke has reached us. Predictable prevailing winds blow to the east, so we are not seeing the results of the serious and tragic fires. We keep in prayer all who have been displaced at this time and who have lost property, possessions and animals.

With continued greetings and prayers for all in this Paschaltide (Easter Season) 2022.

Abbot Christian and the monks

May 4th: Easter Greetings

The solemn celebration of Easter continues here in the quiet of the Chama Canyon Wilderness. We are now in the Third Week of the Easter Season, which extends until Pentecost Sunday on June 5th, when Paschaltide (the Easter Season) comes to an end. After Easter comes “Ordinary Time,” as the Church calls it, lasting until the Season of Advent, which this year begins on Sunday, November 27th.
While forest fires are currently active in various parts of the State of New Mexico, which have included evacuations in some places, we have thus far been spared and the air stays clear. For this we thank God and continue to pray for rain. We pray also for those who have been displaced or lost property due to the fires.
Trees continue to blossom on our property and a variety of berries are being planted in our garden, with hopes of harvesting raspberries, currents and blackberries this fall.
To our families, friends, neighbors and benefactors, we extend our greetings and offer you our prayers.
Abbot Christian and the monks

April 30th: Desert Beauty

In the midst of Desert beauty we marvel at the wonders of God’s creation. In this high desert setting of 6,500 feet above sea level, we enjoy four fairly distinct seasons. Each has its own chacteristics, and typically brothers prefer one over another. For some, Winter is their favorite time of year, and others prefer Summer. Some, understandably, feel Autumn is the closest-to-perfect season and others choose Spring. In any case, there are four seasons to choose from. Take your pick.
It seems our guests tend to come at a specific time of year, according to their preference of weather.
We continue the celebration of the Lord’s Resurrection. The continual chanting of “Alleluia” at the Divine Office and the Conventual Mass during this season, helps us keep in mind and heart that Christ is truly Risen!
With our prayers and greetings in the Risen Lord,
Abbot Christian and the monks

April 27th: More Flowering Trees 

White and pink are the predominant colors of the trees now in bloom in our cloister garden. This dramatic sweep of God’s paintbrush is always short-lived, but worth the wait and wonderful to behold each Spring.

The six trees in the cloister are not fruit-bearing, but do provide beauty and shade in the enclosed garden that our living-quarters surround.
We continue to celebrate with joy the Easter Season and extend to all our family, friends and neighbors our warm regards and assurance of daily prayers for your needs and intentions. We especially pray for all at the Divine Office and Conventual Mass each day in church.
We count on your prayers and good zeal as well. Thank you for both!
Abbot Christian and the monks

April 26th: Spring in Full Force

New life in the form of flowers and trees coming into bloom just now add to the joyful mood of the Easter Season we are celebrating.
Some recent winds and continued dry weather are not so welcome, and we continue to pray for rain. Our cloister garden stays green, but in the wider Chama Canyon Wilderness we see evergreens dying and understand the current drought has not been this severe for more than a millennium.
Prayers for all our families and friends!
Abbot Christian and the monks

April 24th: Easter Octave

Christ is Risen! He is Truly Risen!
We are still basking in the light of the Risen Lord, with the cry of “Alleluia” ringing in our hearts and with our voices. The Liturgy we celebrate in common is filled with the Hebrew word for “Praise be God”: Alleluia, and will continue to be sung throughout Paschaltide, all the way to Pentecost Sunday on June 5th.
As Spring returns to the Northern Hemisphere, we welcome the warmer weather, the abundance of new life around us, including flowering trees, new-born lambs and longer daylight.
To all our families, friends, benefactors and neighbors, a blessed continuation of the Easter Season. Be assured of our prayers and please keep us in yours. Thank you!
Abbot Christian and the monks

April 21st: Easter Octave

We continue our solemn celebration of the Resurrection of the Lord with Easter chants, incense, the Paschal Candle aglow, bells and many “Alleluias.”
Christ in Risen! He is Truly Risen! Alleluia!
All of our families, friends, benefactors and oblates are in our daily prayers during this joyful Paschaltide. Please keep us in your prayers. Thank you.
Abbot Christian and the monks

Spring Raffle Winners!

On Easter Sunday we had our Spring Raffle drawing, and the winners, from around the country are as follows.
Eight prizes of $500 each:
1. E.S. of Albuquerque, NM.       ticket # 1158
2. J.P. of Houston, TX                 ticket # 1403
3. D.R. of Santa Fe, NM             ticket # 353
4. N.V. of Sarasota, FL.              ticket # 116
5. A.M. of Tampa, FL.                 ticket # 764
6. C.A. of Washington, DC         ticket # 174
7. B.V. of Baltimore, MD.            ticket # 213
8. D.M. of Santa Fe, NM.           ticket # 283
The Grand Prize of $1,000 goes to:
9. J.F. of Tybee Island, GA.        ticket # 1094
Thanks to all who participated! The proceeds of $75,000 have been a tremendous help in our general operating expenses, as we had two years with no guests on private retreats and nearly two years of Giftshop sales severely curtailed.
We are deeply grateful to all who do good to us.
Abbot Christian and the monks

April 18th: Easter Week

Today’s photo was taken by Prior Bonaventure, during our usual 4:00 am Easter Sunday Vigil Mass. About twenty-five guests and visitors joined the monastic community for the Vigil Mass, composed of the outdoor blessing of the Easter Fire, listening to Old and New Testament Scripture readings in church, the Renewal of Baptismal Promises and the Liturgy of the Eucharist, concluding with Holy Communion.
Later Easter Morning, at 11:00 am, we celebrated the Day Mass of Easter Sunday. Some thirty-five people attended the Liturgy with the monks.
We offer our prayers for all who are near and dear to us.
Christ is Risen! He is Truly Risen! Alleluia!
Abbot Christian and the monks

Easter Sunday 2022

Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!
With our greetings and prayers on this “Festival of Festivals”! May the Risen Christ be our joy and hope!
We are grateful beyond words for our families, friends, neighbors and benefactors. May the Lord reward all those who do good to us.
Remember, the Easter Season, also called Paschaltide, extends until Pentecost Sunday, this year on June 5th. Celebrate with fervor and rejoicing!
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
Abbot Christian and the monks

Holy Week Liturgies at the Monastery

Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord, Mass at 9:15 am
Holy Thursday Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper, Mass at 5:00 pm
Good Friday Liturgy at 3:30 pm
Easter Sunday, Vigil Mass at 4:00 am
Easter Sunday, Day Mass at 11:00 am

April 4th: Monastic Churches of Mexico

Today’s entry is a series of photos of several churches of Benedictine monasteries of monks and nuns in Mexico. Mexico is often called “devout and beautiful,” and the monastic oratories there reflect that phrase.
Abbot Christian and the monks

April 2nd: Chiaroscuro Image

A beautiful image of Saint Benedict in his “Holy Cave” (Sacro Speco) at Subiaco, Italy, graces the monastic chapel of the Benedictine nuns of the Monastery of “Our Lady of Tepeyac” at Coyoacan in Mexico City.
Chiaroscuro is defined as the use of strong contrasts between light and dark, giving a sense of volume in modeling three-dimensional figures. In more pedestrian terms, chiaroscuro is achieved simply by drawing or painting on a white background, with various degrees of black defining the composition, in this case, our Holy Father Saint Benedict.
The image in the nuns’ chapel is approximately a meter tall and painted directly onto a niche in the wall. Natural light above the niche illuminates Saint Benedict.
Holy Father Benedict, pray for us.
Abbot Christian and the monks

March 31st: Mexico Monastery Arches

Today’s photos was taken at “Monasterio San Benito” in Mexico City, home to Benedictine Sisters since 1945. They live quiet lives of prayer and hospitality in the midst of a bustling city and not far from the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Here is how a Mexican monk, Brother Santiago of La Soledad, wrote to Abbot Christian about today’s photo:
“It is reaffirming to perceive how through the arches of cloisters all over the world the proximity of the Divine is safeguarded and transmitted to all those who stroll through them.”
Words worthy of Dante Aleghieri himself!
Abbot Christian and the monks

March 29th: Saint Mary and All The Saints

The Benedictine Monastery of Santa Maria y Todos Los Santos is located in the State of Veracruz, Mexico, about four hours south and east of Mexico City. There are twelve monks in the community, coming from various parts of Mexico.
Like La Soledad, Santa Maria is a dependent monastery of Christ in the Desert. Both communities are working toward eventually becoming independent or autonomous communities within the world-wide Benedictine Confederation.
Abbot President Guillermo and Abbot Christian have been with the monks of Santa Maria for the last several days and have greatly enjoyed participating in the daily life of the monks, especially the celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours throughout each day and the Conventual Mass each morning.
Later this week Abbot President Guillermo will be going to his monastery in Columbia for some weeks, then back the Subiaco Cassinese Congregation headquarters (Curia) in Rome. Abbot Christian will be back at Christ in the Desert this Thursday.
We extend thanks and prayers to our two fervent monasteries in Mexico, where prayer and work, lectio divina and hospitality take pride of place are at the center of their lives.
Ad multos annos fratres nostros.
Abbot Christian and the monks

March 27th: Visit to Mexico

Abbot Christian has finally been able to visit our two monasteries in Mexico, La Soledad and Santa Maria. The pandemic made it impossible to travel to Mexico until now.
Our two monasteries in Mexico are approximately nine hours by car from each other, in very different locations and climates, but sharing the common monastic vision, like Christ in Desert, of prayer, work, lectio divina and hospitality.
Our Subiaco Cassinese Congregation Abbot President Guillermo Arboleda, who lives in Rome, is with Abbot Christian in Mexico during these days, to encourage and support our brothers in Christ and Saint Benedict in Mexico.
None of our monasteries has pretentions of grandiose numbers or edifices, but all hope to have as members serious yet joyful men, who truly have a vocation to contemplative monastic life. That means serious discernment and screening of candidates.
Both La Soladad (in today’s photo), and Santa Maria, number around a dozen monks each, and Christ in the Desert two dozen. The Mexican monasteries currently have a number of young vocations and work well together as communities dedicated to authentic Benedictine life.
La Soledad and Santa Maria are working toward eventual autonomy, a normal course of development for Benedictine monasteries.
Autonomy means the ability to have the right to elect their own superior, rather than having one appointed by the abbot of Christ in the Desert. They are also able have their own chapter of finally professed monks who vote on important matters for their life as a monastic community.
Prayers for all three of our communities, Christ in the Desert, La Soledad and Santa Maria are much appreciated. We keep all our families, friends, benefactors and our oblates in our daily prayers as well.
Gratefully,
Abbot Christian and the monks

March 21st: New Deacon

On Saturday, March 19th, the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, our Brother Gregorio was ordained a deacon at the International Benedictine Monastery and University of Sant’Anselmo, Rome, where monks from around the world, usually numbering around one hundred, live and study.
We are happy for Brother Gregorio having reached this stage in his studies and being ordained a deacon. He will continue now to complete his study of Theology in the Eternal City. Ad multos annos, Brother Gregorio.
In today’s photo, taken right after Saturday’s ordination, Brother Gregorio is pictured with Archbishop Georg Gaenswein, who ordained Brother Gregorio to the diaconate. Archbishop Gaenswein works closely with Pope Francis and retired-Pope Benedict XVI.
With warm greetings and prayers,
Abbot Christian and the monks

March 19th: Heart and Soul of Mexico

Arguably the heart and soul of Mexico is the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe. It is there that the faithful from around the world come to venerate the Blessed Virgin Mary under the title of Our Lady of Guadalupe. It is there too that the famous tilma of San Juan Diego, with the image of Our Lady, well known to millions around the world is displayed and venerated.
On the way to the Monastery of La Soledad on March 18th, Abbot Christian was able to spend some time praying at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, remembering the monks of Christ in the Desert, La Soledad and Santa Maria, as well as all our families, benefactors and friends.
Blessed Solemnity of Saint Joseph, spouse of the Virgin Mary, which Catholics observe on March 19th. May Saint Joseph intercede for us all.
Abbot Christian and the monks

March 18th: Saint Joseph

This week and next, Abbot Christian is finally able to visit our two monasteries in Mexico, La Soledad (Our Lady of Solitude), near San Miguel de Allende, and Santa Maria y Todos los Santos (Saint Mary and All the Saints), near Veracruz. It is relativity safe again, after the hardships of covid, to travel to Mexico.
Abbot Christian is the Major Superior of both Mexico monasteries, which are dependant foundations of Christ in the Desert. The two monasteries are working toward independent status and both are growing in numbers.
On the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, March 19th, Brother David of La Soledad will renew his temporary or simple vows. On Monday, March 21st, the Feast of the Passing (Death) of Saint Benedict, Brother Marcellino will profess his temporary vows at La Soledad. The same day, Father German will enter the Novitiate at La Soledad. Congratulations to all our brothers there! Ad multos annos. There are now almost a dozen monks at La Soledad.
Santa Maria y Todos los Santos Monastery does not have any Professions at this time, but like La Soledad, is a growing community, and they too number around a dozen monks.
Please pray for our Mexican monasteries and for all the monks of, and associated with, Christ in the Desert. Muchas gracias.
Today’s photo of bougainvillea was taken by Abbot Christian on a quiet street in Mexico City.

"Let everyone that comes be received as Christ."

— The Rule of St. Benedict

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