Monastic Life

Indeed, nothing is to be preferred to the work of God. (Rule of St. Benedict 43:3)

The phrase “monastic” means living according to the Rule of St. Benedict, dosage in a monastery, approved under the guidance of a prioress, abbess, or abbot (for monks).  The monastic life involves living the ordinary life in seeking God.

Benedictine spirituality is founded is silence, solitude, holy reading and prayer.  Our Horarium or daily schedule begins with Vigils at 4:30 am.  We celebrate Mass daily and meet seven times a day to pray the Divine Office as structured by the Rule of St. Benedict.  All 150 Psalms are chanted in English, in the course of two weeks, which include scripture texts, canticles and hymns directed by the Benedictine tradition.

MISSION STATEMENT – The Monastery of Our Lady of the Desert is a monastic community of women in the Benedictine tradition.  We profess vows of stability, conversion of life and obedience.  Our primary mission is to seek God through a life of prayer, silence and solitude.  Our way of life frees us to give glory and praise to God, intercede through prayer for the needs of the world and hospitality.Bestill_1

Our day includes one hour of Lectio Divina, (sacred reading of Scripture) every afternoon.

MONASTERY OF OUR LADY OF THE DESERT

ELIZABETH-ICONOur title inspires us to meditate continually on the inquiry, “How does Our Lady live desert spirituality?”…One of our sisters replies, “I think we can live Marian spirituality by imitating the Virgin at the moment of the Annunciation: her way when she received the word of God–with humility and obedience in faith…Another says, “We are the living members of the church in the desert.

In addition, as the title of our monastery implies we are especially devoted to Our Lady, who is prefigured in the Book of Revelations as the woman who fled into the desert where she had a place prepared by God. (Rev 12:6). She serves not only as a model of silence and obedience for us, but also as a model of discipleship.  We continue to re-live and perpetuate the presence and the work of Mary by imitating her–welcoming the Word, adoring, praying and keeping silence through our solitary and contemplative daily life…”

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WORK AND PRAY – Ora et labora, a Latin phrase that is roughly translated as “work and prayer.”  A secluded life of prayer means steadfast attention to communal and private prayer. Prayer holds the first place in our daily life: nothing must be preferred to this activity.

St. Benedict saw work as another way to glorify God as well as a means to earn an income for the monastery. He believed that idleness is bad for the soul; therefore, the brethren must be employed at certain fixed time in the work of their hands.

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Our work period each day except Sundays and solemnities is approximately four hours. The work periods find us engaged in sewing services, making, altering and repairing the habits for the monks of Christ in the Desert. Some sisters, who are skilled in certain crafts such as weaving, candle painting, sell their crafts. One of our sisters is writing icons, one of which is featured on the cover of our Journey of Trust music CD.  Since our move to Gobernador, NM, you will find the sisters working on various tasks such as helping with the renovation of our modular buildings and fund raising by selling our crafts and religious items in the parishes.  We have no external Apostolate.

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Every morning after Mass, we have a brief work meeting. The sisters are invited to announce or acknowledge any news that may have occurred or be of interest to the community since the last work meeting. In addition, each sister tells the group what tasks she will be engaged in during the day or where she will be.

REFECTORY – The Refectory is a dining room, a special place in the monastery.  Rule of St. Benedict, Chapters 38 to 41 outlines the specifics of tasks and etiquette.  Reading will always accompany the meals of the monks….The proper amount of food and drink…provide all tables with two kinds of cooked food…in this way, the person who may not be able to eat one kind of food may partake of another… the times for the monks’ meals, etc.

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After the community has prayed Middle Hour of Sext (Noon), everyone processes from the Chapel to the Refectory.  The server of the week intones the blessing before the meal that changes depending on the liturgical season, in Ordinary Time we all join in singing:   All your creatures look to you to give them their food in due season. Praise the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, both now and forever.   Amen  Lord have mercy.   Christ have mercy.   Lord have mercy. This is followed by the Prioress’ words, Bless us O Lord, and these your gifts which we are about to receive from your goodness through Christ our Lord. The Response is:  Amen.

As noted in Chapter 38 of the Rule of St. Benedict, Verse 5, Let there be complete silence.  No whispering, no speaking – only the reader’s voice should be heard there.

The Server sets the table each day and collects the dishes after the sisters and guests have completed their meal.  Each sister takes a turn at cooking.   When the Prioress gives the signal, the reader ends with the Martyrology, a summary of the life of one of the Churches heroes or heroines. We chant our thanks-giving in Ordinary time the prayer is:

All your creatures shall thank you, O Lord And your friends shall repeat their blessings.  Praise the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, Both now and forever.   Amen.  Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy. Lord have mercy Followed by the Prioress’s words:  We give you thanks, Almighty God, for all your gifts.  You live and reign forever and ever.   Amen.

Front of Chapel
Outside of Refectory to the right