Monastery News

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From the Rising to the Setting of the Sun

Sometimes monastic life is defined as an “infinity of little hours.” More often than not,  nothing great or spectacular occurs in our lives, but on we go, day by day, week by week, year by year. Isn’t this the reality for all of us, monks or not?
The concept of “an infinity of little hours” is not meant to upset or depress us, but it is a call to be attentive to the present, make the most of it, and even find God amidst the pots and pans, as Carmelites Saint Teresa of Avila and Brother Lawrence described the matter of “finding God in the ordinary.”
We do not live in the expectation of visions or levitating above the earth, but simply living as best we can in whatever is our vocation.
Today’s photo was taken at twilight a few days ago in the Chama Canyon wilderness where we live. Here it is often easy to perceive the grandeur of God in nature that surrounds us.
To all, a blessed week ahead and be assured of our prayers. Please keep us in yours.
Abbot Christian and the monks

August 3rd: Not New Mexico

Today’s photo bears a striking resemblance to places in New Mexico, including White Sands National Park, but in fact the photo was taken in a place far, far away from the Land of Enchantment.

One of our young brothers is visiting his family, for the first time in five years, and had a chance to visit the coast in recent days. And where was that? Vietnam!
God’s creation is a wonderful reminder that we are surrounded by beauty all over the world. May we take better care of “Our Common Home,” as it is often called, and never cease to thank God for all good gifts we are given, surpassing monetary value, and which easily lift our hearts to praise of the Creator.
With our greetings and prayers and grateful for yours,
Abbot Christian and the monks

July 31st: Abundant Rain

We are rejoicing in the return of rain after its long absence. That doesn’t mean the drought in this part of the country has ended, but it does mean that relief has arrived in the form of moisture. May it continue! Our fields are green and the gardens of flowers and bushes are also thriving.
At the same time, Forest Service Road 151 leading to the Monastery has not be adversely affected by the rains. We are very grateful that guests coming for private retreats as well as day visitors and pilgrims are able to get in and out of the Monastery without problems.
To all who are traveling these days or on vacation breaks, may you stay safe and healthy, and as parents might tell their children, at least in ages past: don’t forget to say your prayers.
Be assured of our prayers.
Abbot Christian and the monks

July 29th: Monastery Gardens

Typically, monastery gardens are important spaces that are semi or completely cultivated, adding beauty to the property where monks live and receive their guests.
Some monastery gardens are hidden from public view, such as where the monks have their living quarters. Other gardens, such as the one pictured today, are for the enjoyment of those on private retreat or who come as day visitors.
One of our guests recently trimmed the box hedges in our “Pope Saint John Paul II Meditation Garden,” just outside our monastery church.
We are continuing to get rain, almost daily, and deeply grateful for the good it is doing to the earth.
May all on vacation or traveling these days be kept safe and peaceful in this Summer season that seems to be going far too fast! Soon it will be August.
With assurance of our prayers and please keep us in yours. Thank you.
Abbot Christian and the monks

July 24th: All Hands On Deck

Our second oldest monk, Father Bernard, who turns 91 on July 30th, delights in meeting up on a regular basis with our flock of chickens. They come running when Father Bernard appears, and stay around him for the duration of his visit.
The re-introduction of livestock to our life has added a wonderful dimension to our monastic journey. Living alongside God’s creatures great and small: horses, sheep, poultry, bees and a donkey, is a positive way to tune out of unnecessary technology and take delight in simpler things, finding there blessings from God, for young and old alike.
Long live our agricultural endeavors!
Abbot Christian and monks

July 20th: Monsoon Season

For a glimpse of our typical rainy season afternoon downpours, please view today’s video clip, taken a few days ago. While it might look a tropical storm that could last for hours, our rains ususally come fast and furiously, but typically only last fifteen, twenty or thirty minutes.
Moisture in any form and for however long is much needed and appreciated at this time.The rains of late are certainly warding off the chance of forest fires, and the monsoon season normally extends throughout July and August.
Forest Service Road 151 leading the Monastery is currently dry, so day visitors and retreatants are able to get in and out.
With this comes our greetings and prayers.
Abbot Christian and the monks

July 18th: Green Grass

Here are some appropriate quotes to accompany today’s photo of the very green grass in our cloister garden. Recent rains have done wonders.
Thirteenth century Dominican friar and Bishop, Saint Albert the Great said: “Nothing refreshes the sight so much as fine short grass.”
The medieval monk Hugh of Fouilloy said: “The green turf which is in the middle of the material cloister refreshes cloistered eyes and their desire to study returns.”
Modern writer on monasticism, Daniele Cybulskie has written: “Garths provided green space in the center of the cloister to allow monks to refresh themselves in nature and to walk with other brethren.”
We are grateful for our cloister garden, where tall trees and short grass, a variety of flowers and many birds give us joy and peace of heart.
Be assured of our prayers and please pray for us.  Thank you.
Abbot Christian and the monks

July 17th: Saturday Sunset

If a picture still paints a thousand words,  today’s photo proves the point.
“The heaven’s proclaim the glory of God,” Psalm 18 tells us, and the Chama Canyon where we live has to be one of the most gorgeous places on earth. Of course, we are biased, but also rarely, if ever, disappointed by the displays of color, light, sound and smell in our Alpine- desert setting.
As another Psalm says: “Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your Name give the glory.” That summarizes so well what we feel in this locale.
Blessed Sunday and week ahead to all.
Be assured of our prayers and please keep us in yours. Thank you.
To all those on vacation and who may be traveling, enjoy your time and stay safe and healthy. Stay hydrated also!
Abbot Christian and the monks

July 11th: Solemnity of Saint Benedict

Today is the great feastday of Saint Benedict, considered to be the Founder of Western Monasticism. The famous Rule for Monks that Saint Benedict wrote around 540 AD is still being followed by many thousands of monks, nuns and oblates around the world.
Some of the honorific titles given to Saint Benedict over the centuries since his death (about 547 AD) include the following, with the Latin title, then its English translation:
Pacis nuntius (Messenger of Peace)
Unitatis effector (Architect of Unity)
Civilis cultus magister (Teacher of Culture and Civilization)
Religionis Christianae praeco (Herald of the Christian Faith)
Patronus totius Europae (Patron of the Whole of Europe)
Today’s photo is of an image of Saint Benedict in the monastery church at La Soledad, Atotonilco, Mexico.
A blessed celebration of Saint Benedict! May he and his sister Saint Scholastica intercede for us all.

Abbot Christian and the monks

July 7th: Father Luis Regalado, OSB (1943 – 2022)

Today was the Requiem Mass and burial in our cemetery of our dear confrere, Father Luis Regalado, who died on June 28th at the age of 79. He was born on June 20th, 1943, and died on June 28th, 2022.
Father Luis was a faithful and gentle monk and priest, and will be missed by all who knew him.
Father of the Church, Saint John Chrysostom, had this to say about the mystery of death:
“Those whom we love and lose are no longer where they were before, they are now wherever we are.”
Well done, good and faithful servant! Enter into the joy of God’s Kingdom!
May the angels lead Father Luis into Paradise!
Abbot Christian and the monks

July 6th: Birds of a Feather

Several birds’ nests on our property, not so much in trees as in high beams of our portals, are yielding fledglings. They will soon fly away, of course, but are enjoyable to watch in the meantime. A group of four is featured in today’s photo.
As children we were taught never to touch birds in a nest, so as to prevent the mother bird from rejecting her young. I don’t know if this is in fact true or not.
Recent rains have made the Chama Canyon where we live green once again. We are now in the monsoon season, continuing to pray for rain, and hoping for the best. Much more rainfall is needed in the great Southwest.
The National Forest around us is open to the public once again, and we see an increase in day visitors and pilgrims, as well as retreatants to the Guesthouse.
With this message comes a promise of our prayers and greetings. Please pray for us. Thank you.
Abbot Christian and monks

July 4th: Independence Day 

How do monks, at least of Christ in the Desert, celebrate United States Independence Day?
On that day, we begin the Office of Vigils at 5:00 am, an hour later than usual. Vigils ends at 6:00 am, then Lauds is prayed at 6:30 am, followed by the Conventual Mass. Mass is over at about 7:45, when one can take some time for breakfast, exercise, reading and generally preparing for the day ahead.
At 9:00 am we pray the Office of Terce, then the work period begins (cooking, cleaning, office work, bookkeeping, farm work, crafts, etc.), ending at 12:30 pm.
At 1:00 pm we pray the Office of Sext then the monks gather in the cloister garden for a picnic lunch “al fresco,” with typical American fare, including paper plates.
We have a break after lunch until Vespers at 6:00 pm, followed by the evening meal in silence after. Compline is prayed at 7:15 pm, and thus the end of the day.
May all our families, friends, benefactors and oblates, near and far, have a blessed day of giving thanks to God for the gift of freedom, which is of course a gift from God.
Today’s photo is of roses from our cloister garden.
Abbot Christian and the monks

July 2nd: Independence Day Coming 

Soon it will be July 4th, American Independence Day, so at least a little “red and blue” in today’s two photos, potted plants from our cloister walk.
“For freedom Christ has set us free,” Saint Paul reminded the Church at Galatia. And what does that mean? It means that freedom is brought to completion and perfection when our freedom is in harmony with the will of God. “Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” we pray in the Lord’s Prayer.
May all be kept safe and at peace over this holiday weekend. May we never forget from whence comes true freedom and peace: God alone.
Be assured of our prayers and please keep us in yours. Thank you.
Abbot Christian and the monks

July 1st: Liturgical Life

Winter, Spring, Summer or Fall, at the Monastery we keep up the principal obligation of monks: namely,  the worship of God in public and private, as well as prayer for the needs and intentions of all people.
In today’s photo, Prior Bonaventure and Brother Isidore are vested for our 5:45 pm Sunday Vespers and Benediction in our monastery church, dedicated to Saint John the Baptist.
We are happy to report that recent rains have been good for the earth but for the moment have ceased. Forest Service Road 151 leading to the Monastery is dry now and the National Forest around us is open once again.
Our church and Giftshop are open during the day, and visitors and pilgrims are welcome.
The months roll by, and already it is July. Enjoy this month and next, traditionally a time of vacation.
Be assured of our prayers.
Abbot Christian and the monks

June 28th: Father Luis Regalado, OSB

Our dear confrere, Father Luis Regalado, passed away this morning, having celebrated his 79th birthday just a few days ago, on June 20th. He had suffered a massive stroke on June 26th and was taken to the hospital, where he died while we monks were at Mass on June 28th.
Father Luis had been a professed monk of Christ in the Desert for almost 24 years and a priest for 38 years.
May the angels lead Father Luis into Paradise!
May Father Luis and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
Abbot Christian and the monks

June 27th: Abundance of Rain (Updated Road Conditions)

The Lord has visited our earth with abundant rainfall and we are deeply grateful. The steady downpours are doing wonders for our drought-stricken land. Prayers have paid off! And more rain is coming apparently.
Guests and visitors should be aware that Forest Service Road 151 leading to the Monastery is muddy and difficult to traverse in place. Four-wheel drive vehicles are strongly recommended for any attempts at crossing.
We understand forest fires in the state of New Mexico are being greatly curtailed by the early monsoon season we are enjoying. Deo gratias.
Blessed week to all, with assurance of our prayers.
Abbot Christian and the monks.

June 23: Summer is Here

True to form, the many cholla cactus in the Chama Canyon are blooming beautifully at this time of year.
We have reached the Summer solace, the longest day of the year, and now the days begin to get shorter again.
At the time of the Summer solace, and more specifically on June 24th each year, the Church commemorates the Birth of Saint John the Baptist, “the Last of the Prophets” and the “Forerunner of the Lord.”
June 24th is also an important date for us monks, as it is the founding date of the Monastery of Christ in the Desert in 1964. We salute our founder and first Prior, Father Aelred Wall and all who have been here over these past fifty-eight years.
This year we will quietly celebrate Saint John Baptist’s day on Thursday, June 23rd. The next day, Friday, June 24th, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
To all our friends, families and benefactors, a blessed recounting of Saint John the Baptist and the Sacred Heart.
Be assured of our prayers.
Abbot Christian and the monks

June 21st: Mild Protest

A friend recently opined that we feature far too many flowers, chickens and sheep on this News Page, and not enough photos of the monks.
For a change of pace, here is a photo of the Abbot capturing the beauty of the now-bloomimg cholla cactus in the Chama canyon.
Hopefully this counts as a “mug of a monk” for all who may have never been here and might be wondering what at least one of us looks like.
Prayers and greetings!
Abbot Christian and the monks

June 20th: Monastery Garden

Within the monks’ cloister are two gardens. One of them is rectangular, surrounded by the cells or bedrooms of the monks. This quadrangle we call the “Cloister Garden.” It leads to the church, where we go for prayer and Mass throughout the day.
We can reach the church from our cells either from an enclosed corridor within the house or from out of doors, along a brick and flagstone patch, showing the latter in today’s photo. The name of the garden in today’s photo is “Mary’s Garden,” with a statue of our Lady and several pine and locust trees.
We are finally getting rain, and very grateful for that. The annual rainy season is usually July and August, but we do not object to its beginning in June this year. Let it rain!
A blessed week to all of our families and friends.
Abbot Christian and the monks

June 18th: Profusion of Roses

Our most prolific rose bush produces bright red roses, reminding us of the song in the 1972 musical, OLIVER, “Who Will Buy My Sweet Red Roses?”
In fact, none of our roses are for sale, but they are regularly enjoyed by monks and guests who come to our church, where they are often displayed at the icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary in our monastery church.
Mary is traditionally called the “Mystical Rose,” who bore the Savior Jesus Christ, whose Precious Blood is easily associated with the red of so many roses.
Saturday is the day which the Church dedicates to the Mother of God, the Theotokos, to use the Greek word, for Mary’s greatest title.
May Mary’s intercession assist us all in our various and sundry needs, every day of the week.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us.
Abbot Christian and the monks

"Let everyone that comes be received as Christ."

— The Rule of St. Benedict

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