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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


Christ is risen!

The Abbot and monks of Christ in the Desert wish you a blessed continuation of Paschaltide. Christ is risen! Alleluia.

Paschal greetings!

Paschal greetings from Father Christian and the monks at Sant’Ambrogio, Rome. Abbot President Guillermo is in Colombia for Easter this year but hopes for Rome in 2018!

Schedule for Holy Week 2017


4:00 am           Vigils

6:00 am           Lauds

8:00 am           Terce and Meeting for Monks

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 and Meeting for Monks

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, Work Meeting for Monks, and Music Practice for Monks

9:00 am           Work Meeting for Guest at Giftshop

12:00 noon      End of Work

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 with Eucharist

10:25 am         Terce and Music practice for Monks

11:00 am         Easter Day Mass

1:15 pm           Sext

5:00 pm           Solemn Vespers and Benediction / Recreation for Monks and Guests / Compline

Father Christian with Father Cruz Oswaldo

Our Father Christian with Father Cruz Oswaldo During A Recent Stay with the Little Brothers of Jesus Caritas at Sassovivo in Umbria. Father Cruz Oswaldo is the Brother of Mother Hilda, Prioress of the Monastery of Our Lady of the Desert in New Mexico.

The Renewal of Simple Vows

Our Fr Simeon Cook and Br Dominic Paulraj Renewed Their Vows as Benedictine Monks on March 20th, 2017.

Ad multos annos.

*   *   *


One of Our Cats, Monika, Living The “Vida Loca”

First Daffodil in the Saint John the Baptist Cloister 2017

“Daffy-down-dilly has come to our town

In her yellow petticoat and her green gown.”

Harbinger of spring, the first daffodil blossom opened in the Saint John the Baptist cloister of our monastery on the afternoon of March 8th.

This was not a notably rigorous winter here, but for most of us any winter is too long. So we welcome the first real sign of spring with gratitude and joy.

New English-language License Program from Sant’Anselmo : Spirituality and Culture

In response to an increasing need for spiritual research and monastic wisdom in the modern world, Sant’Anselmo University in Rome will offer a new English-speaking program, “Spirituality and Culture”, beginning Fall semester. Subtitled “Challenges of Modern Culture to Spiritual Theology”, the program presents the Benedictine spiritual tradition read in the context of modern culture.

This program of the Faculty of Theology will be fully accredited November 2017 and run through May 2019. Successful participants will receive a License or a European “Masters” degree in Theological Spirituality.

The program is oriented to Benedictines, members of other religious orders, priests and lay people who are interested in deepening their spirituality, enlarging their knowledge of modern cultural challenges and acquiring skills for formation work. Scholarships are available. Monks are welcome to live at Sant’Anselmo during and between the modules; nuns in neighboring monastic facilities.

For more information, please click to visit the Spirituality and Culture web site or contact me directly at the address below.

Thank you for your attention.

Fr. Bernard Sawicki, OSB
Coordinator, Monastic Institute
Ateneo Sant’Anselmo

Conventual Mass of Ash Wednesday

Left to Right: Subprior Benedict, Prior Caedmon and D Vincent M., during the blessing of ashes at our Conventual Mass on Ash Wednesday.

A blessed and holy Lent to all!

Two Monks Renew Simple Vows

On December 26th, two of our Junior Monks Renewed their Simple Vows, Brother Bonaventure Nguyen and Brother Faustino Torres.


(from left to right) Bro. Bonaventure, Prior Caedmon, Abbot Philip, and Bro. Faustino

Christmas Schedule 2016

Abbot Philip Lawrence, O.S.B., and the monks of Christ in the Desert extend a cordial invitation and welcome to all who may come to pray with the community during these days of celebrating the Nativity of Our Lord (Christmas).

Should weather come to be a concern for any of the following days, please consult the “Road Conditions” report on the home page of our website:

Saturday, December 24

6:30 am          Morning Prayer follow by the Eucharist

4:00 pm          First Vespers of Christmas (lighting the farolitos; guests are invited to help)

10:20 pm       Solemn Vigils of Christmas

12:00 midnight         Christmas Mass

Breakfast for All in Refectory

Sunday, December 25

8:30 am          Lauds

Breakfast for All

11:00 am        Mass during the Day

1:45 pm          None

5:00 pm          Solemn Vespers

Monday, December 26

 6:00 am          Morning Prayer

Breakfast for All

8:45 am          Terce

9:15 am          Mass for the Feast of Saint Stephen, the First Martyr

11:30 am        Sext

4:00 pm          None

5:30 pm          Vespers

Tuesday, December 27

 6:00 am          Morning Prayer

Mass for the Feast of St. John, Apostle and Evangelist

11:30 am        Sext

4:00 pm          None

5:30 pm          Vespers

The Abbot and Community extend special Christmas blessings to one and all! May we be joyful at the coming of Our Lord!

Brothers Santiago and Martin of San Jose Monastery, Costa Rica, Visit Christ in the Desert


For the past few years we have been friends with a new monastery in Costa Rica, Central America. These monks follow the Rule of Saint Benedict, leading a contemplative form of monastic life and are directly under their diocesan bishop of Cartago, Costa Rica. Their monastery is dedicated to Saint Joseph, a special patron of Costa Rica, and now numbers nearly a dozen monks.

Some of our monks have visited Monasterio San Jose in Costa Rica, and now two of their young monks, Brother Santiago and Brother Martin, are spending three months with us as part of their formation in monastic life. They are both welcome additions to our monastery and are generously contributing in various areas of our life.




For some years now, in addition to our Giftshop here, we have a wonderful photographic art gallery in our Guest Reception building at the Monastery.

The images for sale in the gallery celebrate the wonders of God’s creation all around us. The inspiring photographs, by landscape photographer Erik Stensland, were taken in locations throughout the desert southwest, including the Chama Canyon Wilderness where we live.

Sale of the images helps support us, as 40% of every sale goes directly to the Monastery, In addition to the images, Erik has also produced a beautiful 60 minute video-slide show of many of his images, called “Into the  Wonder,” an audio-visual retreat, as he calls it, in the Rocky Mountain National Park. The video is accompanied by mostly instrumental music Erik commissioned to go with his images. The flash drive now runs in the Gallery continuously throughout the day. You can see the large monitor screen with the video playing above the table on the left in the photograph above.


"Let everyone that comes be received as Christ."

— The Rule of St. Benedict

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