June 2023, Sister Mercy Makes Final Vows

Monastery of Our Lady of the Desert – June 2023

Monastic Profession & Consecration – Sister Mercy made her Solemn Profession April 23, 2023, shown to the left of Bishop James S. Wall who officiated the celebration. During the Interrogation, Prioress Hilda asked Sister Mercy, “do you will to commit yourself in monastic profession to follow Christ forever?” Sister Maria Mercy responded, “Yes, I do so will to commit myself.” The vows for life are Obedience, Stability and Conversion.

“Oftentimes as monastics grow older, they think that the “vows” become easier to keep, so now they must be good monastics. But the life commitment is to seek God continually, to grow more and more into the feeling and the knowledge of God. It is not easier in old age; it may simply be different because the older monastic must show to the younger more understanding and less judgment, while continuing to realize dependency upon God rather than on one’s own arrival at perfection.” Life and Law by Daniel Ward, OSB, June 2008.

We must then prepare our hearts and bodies for the battle of holy obedience to His instructions. Rule of St. Benedict, Prologue 40
We are always in formation, but in particularly those who first come to the monastery learn more about Scripture, the teachings of St. Benedict and his Rule. We also learn about other monastic writers.

Most Reverend Michael J. Sheehan, Archbishop Emeritus, Archdiocese of Santa Fe

After many years of service to the Catholic Church, Most Rev. Michael J. Sheehan died June 3, 2023, at the age of 83.  He was the eleventh archbishop of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, from 1993-2015. He had previously served as bishop of the Diocese of Lubbock, Texas from 1983-1993.  May his soul rest in peace.

We are very grateful to the Archdiocese of Santa Fe in the support of our history.  On February 8, 1990, a letter was sent to the Archdiocese requesting the establishment of a monastic life.  Official permission was granted to serve as Oblates October 15, 1990.  As most of you know, we moved to the Gallup Diocese on the Memorial of St. Anthony of Padua, June 13, 2008.  We give thanks to the Lord! 

Wisdom from Prioress Hilda Tuyuc: On the Rule of St. Benedict, Chapter 48 – I cannot say we work for a living. Living expenses are high for many people, even for nuns. Regarding our manual labor, we upkeep the areas on our property with the help of the workers. I hope that if you are ever in our area, that you see all the work that has been accomplished! – At the monastery we work for the glory of God. From RB, Chapter 48, we read, “Idleness is the enemy of the soul.” Made clear by St. Benedict, the monastery is a school where we are serving God each day in some way to continue our faith and love, which sometimes becomes a battle within us, and idleness becomes an enemy of the soul. One of the hardest work in community life is to live in harmony with each other, which includes accepting our differences in Christ’s love for the glory of God.

Mother Abbess Hilda Scott, OSB – We are pleased to announce that Mother Hilda Scott, OSB, from Jamberoo Abbey, Australia, will be with us for a short visit in August since she will be attending the Communio Internationalis Benedictinarum (CIB) as a delegate for the council meeting in September. More info about the CIB at http://www.benedictines-cib.org/about-us-2/about-us

Retreat – Sister Monica Kamplain, OSB, from St. Scholastica Priory will be giving us our retreat this year September 18 for about a week. A yearly retreat means a time for rest, refreshment, and recuperation for our souls. Please pray for us.

Welcome to St. Antony and St. Paul Hermitage, https://deserthermits.net/ – Only two links on the site, which makes it very plain and simple: Home and Store. The interesting part of this website is the tribute made to hermits down through the ages with sayings of the Desert Father and Mothers.

St. Benedict and John Cassian by Sister Elizabeth T. – John Cassian is one of the few outstanding figures who helped spread monasticism to the West. Although gathering information and experiencing the eremitical life of the monks in the Egyptian desert, Cassian wrote The Institute for the Communities of cenobitic life. In his view, hermit and eremitical life is for the perfect people, hence, his rule is for the beginners. Who can confidently self-acknowledge to be a perfect one? This notion influenced St. Benedict when he wrote his rule saying that “Then with Christ’s help, keep this little rule that we have written for beginners” (RB, 73:8).

As Meisel & Mastro said in their introduction that the Rule of Benedict (RB) “drew upon Eastern and Western traditions of asceticism and reshaped them into a new creation” (Meisel & Mastro, 28). The RB clearly shows the sources St. Benedict used, “Then besides the Conferences of the Fathers, their Institutes and their lives, there is also the rule of our holy father Basil” (RB 73:5). Within its seventy-three chapters, the RB’s chapter seven is the longest and is the most important one which deals with humility. Although obedience is the outstanding virtue of the Benedictine life, if there is no humility, it is hard to live the Vows of Obedience. RB chapter seven addresses the twelve steps from which to get to the summit of the virtuous life. It is as a ladder that signifies only that we descent by exaltation and ascent by humility” (RB 7:7).

The twelve steps: step #1) Living in the presence of God constantly. #2) Renouncing self-will. #3) Obedient for the love of God. #4) Obedient in difficult situations. #5) Transparent, sincerity discloses wrongdoings. #6) Content with the task given. #7) Admit the human condition and respect others. # 8) Not interfere in others’ business. #9) Speak only when it is needed. #10) Be thoughtful and profound. #11) Few words and gentle, and #12) Expressing modesty in the manner of the awareness of a sinner (RB 7, 10-66). These twelve steps of humility encapsulate Cassian’s book XII where he described the seriousness of the spirit of pride as “a most savage beast” more dangerous than any other vices that he listed as gluttony, fornication, avarice, anger, sadness, acedia, and vainglory. According to Cassian, pride is the vice that strikes both those who are “spiritual and very good” and those who are beginners. “There is no other vice, then, which so reduces to naught every virtue and so despoils and impoverishes a human being of all righteousness and holiness as does the evil of pride” (The Institute, Book XII).

In this teaching, St. Benedict’s twelve steps of humility reflect the emphasis of Cassian on the weight of the spirit of pride and its harmful result on the spiritual life. Cassian and Benedict wrote their rules for the monastics, but they are also applicable for lay people who are also in need of becoming “holy as your Father who is Holy” (1 Peter 1:16) and in need of becoming a real human in this busy and secularized world.

This and That – With back-to-back doctor appointments for Sister Benedicta and Sister Mary, they sometimes stay in Farmington at the Connelly House, affiliated with the San Juan Foundation, which makes for less driving. – We were able to show the Power Point presentation that Sister Stephen gave at the Assumption College, about our monastery. This summer she will be able spend some time at the St. Scholastica Priory in Massachusetts and time with us before she returns for the fall semester of college.

Recently, Sister Elizabeth T. had the opportunity of going to an icon workshop at the Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Monks of Mt. Tabor, Redwood Valley in California. She was able to learn new techniques and explore different ways of expression.

Irene O. returned to the monastery June 7th from Kenya to continue her vocation as an Aspirant. – Sister Francis N. will be returning to the monastery this summer after 3 years in Vietnam, taking care of her elderly mother and aunt.

Sister Agnes Le D. continues to seek the hermit life and is asking for exclaustration. Its sounds like a big word, but in Canon Law, it is the official authorization for the sister to live outside the monastery and to discern her vocation. Please pray for her. – Sister Maria N. had been a Transfer sister from a Dominican community and after 4 years of discernment, she has decided not to continue our monastic way of life. We thank you Sister Maria for all the work you did with the Liturgy! – Sister Gertrude (former Sister Gertrude N.) spent a few weeks in Costa Rica the last part of May early June visiting her mother who had a serious bout with Covid. She now has stomach problems but is better.

Ambulatory – We are pleased to let you know that our ambulatory walkway is almost competed, and Leonard Orr will be ready to install the electricity in about three more weeks. Thanks to our workers, Ernest Valencia, Arturo Herrera, Emanuel Beruman, and Charles Reams for those extra hours you worked! Of course, we appreciate all the work of our contractor, Steve Perez from Bobcat Construction. We appreciate all of you who have supported this project!