Summer Newsletter – Benedictine Abbey of Christ in the Desert

The Proper Reverend John C. Wester, Archbishop of Santa Fe,  presided over the Solemnity of the Annunciation of Mary coinciding with the Abbatial Blessing of Abbot Christian Leisy, OSB on March 25, 2019 at Christ in the Desert Monastery.

Archbishop Wester prefaced his remarks with reminiscences of dwelling in Utah, notably near the Covey Institute.  His most poignant Covey Institute memory he recounted to these in attendance: “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing!”

Instantly turning to Mary and the Angel Gabriel Archbishop Wester restated that Mary’s position in salvation history is essential; in any case, she is the first disciple, our model of faith.  “We are called to follow Mary in responding to God’s presence in our little moment of time by centering ourselves on Christ, as did Mary,” stated Archbishop Wester.

The Archbishop advised the assembled that Joseph is “worrying, deciding, dreaming, naming, renouncing: all to nurture the divine Child his wife bears and to care for Mary.”  He continued, “I would like to encourage you, Abbot Christian, my brother, to be as Joseph for this community…  And I know that your Prior, who benefits both from Joseph and Gabriel, will be a sure source of strength and support for you,” Archbishop Wester stated.

Archbishop Wester declared, “I rejoice with you now, as in this Eucharist, we keep our eyes on Christ who first came to us in humility as a vulnerable child, and was in due time crucified in weakness and risen in glory so that we might be one with him forever in the fullness of his Kingdom…That is, after all, the main thing!”


Pricey Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Thanks all being here on this superb day of the Annunciation of the Lord, 2019.

From the seems to be of issues thus far immediately, it might seem that I’m the focus of all of it. Appearances are deceiving, for in reality, it’s the Lord who is the focus and the group of Christ in the Desert, underneath the steerage and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, who has referred to as us right here in the first place. I am the new abbot of the monastery, however actually solely that, the religious leader, who is mostly a servant of a band of brothers who’re in search of God, and who ought to above all, want unceasingly to be males of prayer and repair in the church as Benedictine monks.

With that in thoughts, I need to pledge myself above all in my time as abbot to be forming monks “for life,” that is, aiding those who are really referred to as, to seek out here a permanent house, unto dying, beneath a Rule and an abbot and absolutely dedicated to our vows of obedience, stability of conversion of life presently and in this place. That can solely be realized by a complete program of initial, ongoing and everlasting formation in the monastic approach of life. We at the moment are in the process of placing such a program into place and it’ll demand the time and power of all of us to make it a actuality, but I consider it is essential for the well-being of all concerned, monks and people who are our associates and associates alike.

With the formation objectives in mind, the significance of understanding English, spoken and written, is significant. I’ll do all I can to make that a actuality as properly, maybe summed up by saying that when a homily is preached in church, or speak given in the day by day chapter assembly, or formation readings assigned, all of us will comprehend what’s being stated or explained and thereby be higher shaped and informed about the life we stay in widespread.

Along the similar strains, there needs to be obedience, not out of worry of punishment when obedience is resisted or uncared for, but obeying out of love for Christ and the monastic life. When obedience is lacking, there needs to be sanctions, to awaken the heart to really be engaged in the life here and never drifting by on the periphery outdoors the coronary heart of the group.

This means commitment by all to actually dwelling the life absolutely, with its every day calls for and challenges, and doing so joyfully, out of love for Christ and the brethren. There can’t be a real monastic life with out self-discipline and sacrifice. Like Christ himself, we now have come here to serve and to not be served, in order that have to be uppermost in our hearts and actions.

Coupled with that is the essential work of discerning properly who is admittedly referred to as to be right here. Formators, as they’re referred to as, are the ones especially in cost of working with the new members, have an important position to play, however really every one in the group as nicely. This can be a very important activity in order to have a robust and lasting group. Yes, some will discern they’re referred to as elsewhere and some will die–in reality all of us will die–but we must hand on to the next era of monks right here males who are shaped,

committed and persevering in the call to comply with Christ in a humble and even simple type of monastic life, a fashion of life meant of our founder Father Aelred Wall in beginning this monastery 55 years in the past.

Finally, we monks here must and may stay within our means. This suggests frugality in accord with the vow of poverty, which we don’t formally make, but is implicit in our vows of obedience and conversion of life. We will witness nicely to the risk of dwelling with much less, which does not imply destitution, but using nicely the assets that we earn or are given, to be good stewards of all God’s presents that come our means.

These are my principle objectives and hopes. They can be realized with the work of us all, pricey brothers, and pals of our monastery. Many thanks from the heart to all for the ongoing help that makes our life right here potential. With out that assist we could not exist. With it, we will and must stay responsibly, absolutely and joyfully, as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ and as God’s youngsters. What extra can I say? Maybe with the scripture, we will really say, “With God we shall do bravely.” That is my prayer, that we might stand up and be doing what we should, at this time and each day. My motto as abbot is that this: “Ad vitam eternam,” that is, “toward eternal life.” That is our objective and why we need to stay nicely, in order to take pleasure in the fruits of an excellent life and the rewards of eternal life in heaven. Thanks again and should God bless you all the time.


In the Roman Catholic Church, abbots proceed to be elected by the monks of an abbey to steer them as their spiritual superior in those orders and monasteries that make use of the time period (some orders of monks, as the Carthusians as an example, haven’t any abbots, solely priors). The abbot is chosen by the monks from among the absolutely professed monks. Once chosen, he must request blessing: the blessing of an abbot is widely known by the bishop in whose diocese the monastery is or, together with his permission, another abbot or bishop. The ceremony of such a blessing is analogous in some elements to the consecration of a bishop, with the new abbot being introduced with the mitre, the ring, and the crosier as symbols of workplace and receiving the laying on of arms and blessing from the celebrant. Although the ceremony installs the new abbot into a place of legal authority, it does not confer additional sacramental authority- it isn’t an extra diploma of Holy Orders (although some abbots have been ordained to the episcopacy).

As soon as he has acquired this blessing, the abbot not solely turns into father of his monks in a religious sense, but their major superior beneath canon regulation. The abbot wears the similar behavior as his fellow monks, though by custom he adds to it a pectoral cross.


“New and Improved!” How many occasions have we heard or learn these words? The American spirit might be captured in the slogan of Basic Electric: “Progress is our most important product”. Newer is best. Once we think about “renewal”, we’re all the time on the look-out for one thing recent: a new method to pray, a new method to study, a brand new approach to loosen up. Spring is the season of recent beginnings, and the time

of yr once we have fun Christ’s Resurrection.

A noteworthy Catholic writer, Ronald Knox, as soon as delivered an Easter sermon on the “newness” of Easter. He famous that for His enemies, Christ’s burial appeared to herald a brand new beginning. Pilate, Herod, and the Chief Clergymen breathed a sigh of aid that a disaster had been averted. Pilate and Herod patched up their quarrel. The removing of the Galilean wonderworker meant that there can be no in style uprising, no harsh Roman reprisals, no splinter group of fanatics to fire up the mob. However their perception of a brand new starting was fallacious: within forty years the holy city of Jerusalem, and its Temple, can be destroyed.

And for the pals of Jesus? Though we naturally image the risen Lord appearing in an excellent solution to His disciples, a careful reading of the Scriptures exhibits that this was not the case. He appeared very strange, so peculiar that at occasions they did not even understand who He was. They encountered Jesus in the similar places that they had met Him earlier than: the Upper Room, on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. As the previous track puts it, “I’ll be seeing you in all the old familiar places”. At first, it seemed that not a lot changed. Peter and his companions went fishing; the disciples stored worshipping in the Temple and synagogue as that they had all the time completed.

However of course, beneath these unusual appearances, the whole lot had modified – irrevocably. The revolution caused by Christ’s demise and resurrection was not primarily a matter of externals, it was at the beginning a matter of personal conversion. The renewal was not an “novelty”, it was a new life bubbling up from inside.  This renewal is at the heart of our monastic vocation: the Rule of St. Benedict (ch. 58) tells us that when a candidate enters the group, he or she is to vow conversatio morum, a phrase that has used up barrels of ink in monastic circles over the centuries.  That unusual phrase conversatio got here to be rendered as conversio; scribes assumed that this was St. Benedict was talking about. In a approach, he was: conversatio means “a way of life”.  In different words, the candidate embraces the day by day routine of prayer, work, research, and group life which are the hallmarks of Benedictine monasticism, and by giving himself or herself to this, conversion will steadily come about. Like the first disciples, we encounter the dwelling Christ in the humdrum, every day spherical of life.

This is the reason the Benedictine components can also be relevant outdoors the monastery, as the experience of hundreds of Oblates can attest. We get to the “new and improved” by method of “the tried and true”.  We will definitely search religious encounters in special places, or with particular devotions; that is part of human life. Many individuals come to stay at Christ in the Desert for this very purpose, and as soon as in some time we have to break our routine to re-evaluate our priorities, and let the Lord contact us in sudden methods.  However the lesson of Easter is that the risen Lord often comes to us “in all the old familiar places”:  our house, our neighborhood, our parish, our office.


The Monastery of Christ in the Desert is pleased to announce a serious refurbishing of the widespread visitor room at the Monastery’s Guesthouse.

The work of this major and in depth refashioning of our guest lodgings was led by Ms. Kris Lajeskie, who has extraordinary style and eloquence and is the President of a nationally recognized firm in the area of lodge and residential inside design.  Santa Fe has been her residence and headquarters for 25 years, and she or he splits her time between San Diego and New York. Motels and eating places throughout New Mexico function her interiors which concentrate on an authentic cultural expertise with signature artisanal touches. As a long-time good friend and oblate of the Monastery, her generosity in gifting the monastic group

together with her inventive skills and experience for such a noteworthy design endeavor is deeply appreciated by the Abbot and the whole monastic group. 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.”

The Guestmaster and the entire monastic group assure all who come to be with us that they may have an exquisite experience and one that will probably be enhanced by the current additions to our widespread visitor room.


The thought of renewing my commitment to monastic life as it’s lived in this monastery brings to mind, in the beginning, the vow of conversion that each monk in the Benedictine custom takes.  When most individuals converse of conversion, they typically perceive it to be a discreet event within a person’s life in which they “turn around.”  For St. Benedict, nevertheless, conversion is primarily a continuing and life-long course of.  Every day, perhaps even multiple occasions a day, we should deliberately choose to show back to the Lord, by his grace.  Even St. Anthony of the Desert, the father of monks, stated that daily he “begins again.”  This custom has been handed on by trustworthy monks for nearly 2000 years.  I even heard a story just lately of a couple of people who have been tremendously impressed with a man as a result of he had persevered in monastic life for 40 years.  His response?  He smiled and stated, “It’s a good start.”  Now, that may be a actual monk who is actually dwelling the vow of conversion.

Abbot Christian, notably in his remarks at the finish of his abbatial blessing, has made very clear to the monks of this monastery that he needs all of his brothers to be zealous for their very own conversion.  Solely once we renew each day this elementary facet of our vocation can we really be referred to as monks and may the place really be referred to as a monastery.  It is all too straightforward to get caught up in the routine, go through the motions, and but not have it effect one’s inside life.  Many could also be stunned by this.  “How,” they is perhaps considering, “can someone live this relentless schedule, profess vows, chant the office, and not be changed by it?”  The reply is surprisingly very simple:  exterior observances do not mechanically cause inside progress.

For instance, I have typically occasions gone by way of Vigils (upwards of an hour of constant chanting) without having truly prayed a phrase of it, as a result of permitting numerous distractions to realize a foothold in my mind and coronary heart.  This, of course, is strictly what the satan, the world, and the flesh want:  no actual conversion.

With a view to stay the vows we’ve made we should renew our dedication every day, and be vigilant as a result of “the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).  And this isn’t just for monks; this is applicable to all Christians, whatever your state in life.  We should all convert, everyday renewing our dedication to Jesus Christ and His Church, if we hope to achieve union with Him endlessly in heaven.


On Palm Sunday I indulged in my regular long hike in the Chama Canyon after Mass.  Along with water, mild snacks, and my travel Bible, I brought alongside The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry that I borrowed from our monastery library with the kindly assist of our octogenarian librarian.  The Little Prince has been sitting on my bookshelf in my cell since I used to be a postulant, tons of late charges ought to have accrued, I’m positive (Sorry, Fr. Bernard!).  As with all good e-book, the nuggets of knowledge I extract upon every reading are totally different and apply to my life in a different way.

For many who will not be accustomed to the novella, The Little Prince is philosophical story, with humanist values.   First revealed in April 1943, it’s the most well-known work of French aristocrat, author, poet, and pioneering aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.  It seemed applicable on a hike to learn a ebook written by someone who enjoyed wandering as he did.

After strolling southward for about an hour and a half, I ended at a quiet, solitary place alongside the Chama River and refreshed myself with water, nuts, and a few mild reading of The Prince.  I lingered on the early exchanges between the fox and the Little Prince.  “I cannot play with you,” the fox stated. “I am not tamed.”  “What does that mean— ‘tame.’?” Inquired the little prince. “It is an act too often neglected,” stated the fox.  “It means to establish ties.”  The fox elaborates,” … in the event you tame me, then we’ll want one another.  To me, you shall be distinctive in all the world.  To you, I shall be distinctive in all the world…”

I assumed, “Isn’t that what simply happened to me just a few brief weeks ago as I professed easy vows in entrance of my fellow monks, household, and buddies?  I shared in a renewal of established ties.  I’ve been observed and have noticed the group for shut to two years; I do know each monk by identify and have established many intimate ties with pricey brothers.  But now, in any case of that, I promise for one yr:   my stability, conversion of life and obedience, based on the Rule of our Holy Father Benedict, in the Monastery of Christ in the Desert.  This can be a first step toward solemn vows.  I am not just saying I take pleasure in being here with you my brethren, but that I intend to stay to hunt God and be a ‘monk for life’!

Another character from the guide, the flower, typifies a being that has roots.  The flower is beloved by the little prince.  He might journey all through the galaxy, but she has roots and lives a simpler life.  Again, I’m establishing roots as a simply professed monk, deliberately detaching from the world and dwelling extra simply.  My vows have been a radical (referring to or affecting the elementary nature of one thing; far-reaching or thorough) renewal of my roots inside my monastic group.

As I concluded my stroll, I am humbled by the thought that it isn’t my will, but God’s Will that is finished.  Strolling in nature heightens my consciousness of my dependency on God and how fragile and small I’m in comparability to His creation.  It was an amazing walk, a cool day with a breeze.  So, I completed my reading in the ebook and  I used to be wanting to return to my residence and my brothers…and return my egregiously overdue guide!



Paraphrasing a bit from Psalm 143:8, we are pleased to inform you and “SHOW YOU” the news signs we have now.

A number of people who advised us over the years how they might see the little sign that was at the intersection of Freeway 84 and our 13 mile lengthy driveway down Forest Service Street 151, but they didn’t know what variety of Monastery we have been, or whether we have been open, or if there was a gift store, or even how far it was.  Now all that has changed as you’ll be able to see from the picture at the beginning of this piece.

It took a very long time to safe permission for the signs, get them fabricated after which have them put in by the New Mexico Freeway Dept.  They and their engineers have been extremely useful throughout the entire course of and we are grateful for their assistance.

We are already discovering out that a good quantity of individuals are coming to our Monastery simply because they saw the signal.  They are delighted to see the beauty of the Chama Canyon, the easy architectural fashion of our Abbey Church and surrounding buildings, and get a “taste” of the unimaginable silence that bespeaks of God’s presence.  It isn’t solely an extra achievement of our mission of hospitality, however it additionally helps once they visit our Giftshop which options so many lovely spiritual products and art objects.  Their visits are additionally events to let them know of our guesthouse and that we all the time cordially invite overnight friends to return and be a part of us in our search for God and our prayers for the wants of the world.

Psalm 143, which we pray every week in our Divine Office of praising the Lord, guarantees that God’s mercy is plentifully provided to those that cry out to God in their want, in their distress.  We expect of the Monastery as our personal bodily presence, witness, and “sign” of such hoped for mercy for the human race.  For that, we’re grateful to now have an indication at the entrance to our driveway that exhibits the option to go for finding God’s love and salvation.


English Language Research (ESL) at the monastery has been characterized by an initial evaluation of the scholar’s want and willingness, his capacity and historical past, and the recognition of his want.

Assessment takes an summary of the monk’s familiarity with these parts:  vocabulary, diction, dictation, grammar, writing, talking and organizing.  Most of the monks identified no less than three parts; some identified all.

Once this preliminary evaluation was made, the men have been grouped into three categories, beginning, intermediate, superior.  Because the backgrounds have been so various, these categories might only be approximate.  The three groups met with the instructor four occasions each week and were given homework to organize for the following class.  All the homework included vocabulary building and the inclusion of the new words in the scholar’s own dialog.  It also included a evaluation of all the classes coated and a have to determine the particular areas that need clarification.  Dictation was all the time an element of each class, as was speaking with right type and pronunciation.  Applicable texts were given for every degree of competence.

For those monks assigned to learn at the Liturgy, Vigils or Mass, a chance was offered to satisfy with the instructor after None each day to organize for the following day. Over time the improvement was notable.

Lastly, age and prior information are essential, but the parts of want and willingness not only to study the language however to commit himself heart and soul to this monastery demands no compromise.

We invite licensed ESL academics to be our guest and train a class of five to seven monks in three to 4 weeks of immersion.  In case you are interested, contact Abbot Christian: [email protected]


As the Beatles as soon as sang, ”It’s getting better all the time!”  Our Giftshop is open from 9am to 5pm.  Providing a spread of spiritual articles, the Giftshop helps different Benedictine monasteries and non secular communities by selling some of their products alongside our personal.  Day guests to the Monastery are invited to hitch us during our every day pray schedule.  Additionally, there’s complimentary espresso, tea, and lightweight snacks as a reward for the 13 mile trek down our canyon street.  All merchandise purchased by means of our Present Shop could be shipped at USPS flat rates. One of our brothers will happily assist you with discovering those particular gadgets within our Giftshop; and, he will prolong to you unreservedly our signature Benedictine hospitality.


My identify is Dom Columba. I’ve been at Christ in the Desert solely about six months, having entered the novitiate on October 5. I came from Connecticut, from the Archdiocese of Hartford, the place I was a pastor and priest for the past seven years. Earlier than that I used to be an oblate brother at the Benedictine Abbey of Regina Laudis, O.S.B., in Bethlehem, CT, where I was additionally working as a potter and ecologist. I have graduate degrees in Theology, Environmental Research, and Montessori Schooling.

It’s a difficult time to be a spiritual, to be a monk. As a result of it’s a challenging time to be human, and to be Christian, to comply with Christ Crucified and Risen. There are so many pressures and influences making an attempt to undo us, make us lower than what we’ve got been made to be and referred to as to be by God.

Yet, what’s faith for however to re-mind us, and renew us, in our widespread humanity, our bonds with each other, with God, and with His creation? Being a monk for me is about standing in the breach, the break, the gaps between individuals and between heaven and earth, in order to reconcile them by offering oneself, and indeed, our important mission, as we rise in the dark, pray seven occasions every day, work and skim and reread the Phrase of God, is to a religious fight, to sustain, to uphold and to bear via time, the bonds, the relationships, that in turn maintain us. This all the time means accepting the Cross of Christ as the solution to interact in and creatively serve the bonds of love and peace. As an ecologist I am acutely aware of the fragility of these bonds in creation; as a priest I’m simply as acutely aware of the elemental value of sacrifice as an act of love, a life-giving drive uniting humanity to our Creator and Redeemer, to saving the world. We all are referred to as to do and to be this in a way. But a monk is that this in a special method because he’s a person of prayer, and forges together with his own physique and blood, by grace, a life of prayer all around and inside him, so that God’s love might have a house in this world.

Standing in the chapel at three am I’m delivered to my knees by a weight greater than my very own. Who am I there? A rush of faces flows by way of me, pals, acquaintances, enemies, passing strangers, but in addition my mom and father, my brothers and sisters, the dwelling and the lifeless, my grandparents and ancestors of all occasions and locations I’ve ever and never been. They’re all present in me as I make myself current to my God who’s making Himself current to me in a exceptional, palpable approach, especially in these dark occasions, the wee hours when time can otherwise seem so skinny as to be close to disappearing…. Open, open, awake, awaken; with a steadfast heart and all of these individuals you current to God, the daybreak comes quickly sufficient, the rising star of your coronary heart breaks forth. Who knows who or what is rescued from the night time, who is granted refuge and comfort because your coronary heart is pierced, breaking open to chant the praises of the Lord?