The Monastery Of Christ In The Desert
Abiquiu, New Mexico
Abiquiu, New Mexico
At the Monastery of Christ in the Desert there lives a community of monks each of whom and as a community seek to be in union with God. This is a quest to answer the call to holiness that is deeply rooted in Biblical faith. God is called the Holy Being par excellence for the Biblical God is the only foundation of true holiness as He himself stated: “Be holy, because I am holy” (Lev.11.44, 45; 1 Peter 1:16). Personal holiness for the monk is best sought in the church, of which the community of this Monastery is a part officially and by its traditions. Accordingly, the monastic community cherishes the Eucharistic encounter with persons where each is accepted, as both other and different. This stands as a living image and model for the world where mutual acceptance is sorely needed regardless of qualifications or disqualifications like sinfulness, morality, sex or age. Everyone is called to be a saint and according to the thought of the ancient Fathers of the Church, such a seeker always needs both the Other and the other.
The monks here have the goal of living the contemplative life which St. Benedict, whose Rule is followed, envisions as a life free from all attachments so that a relationship with God becomes their central and even exclusive relationship. Such a life is modeled on the self-sacrificing love of Jesus Christ and empowered by a prayer life in the Holy Spirit as the monk spends his days in prayer and work (Ora et Labora).
An anonymous monk once wrote that the monastic religious life intercedes with God on behalf of those humans suffering in so many ways in the world of today, whether by poverty, famine, handicaps, sickness, loneliness, mental illnesses, and all too frequently, a loss of hope. But the same monk also wrote that it is a particular task for a monk in the desert to bring to God all those who know not their God, who are lost in self-seeking, who have turned away from truth and love. On behalf of all people but especially those who are so separated from God, the monks of this monastery endeavor to hold all in need before the face of the God of Holiness, asking for mercy and healing by passionate prayer. If you find the monastic vocation encouraging and would like to support our efforts, you are invited to do so here.
Location and Geography
Christ in the Desert is located in the strikingly beautiful Chama Canyon wilderness in northwestern New Mexico, about 75 miles north of Santa Fe, and about 53 miles south of Chama. We live thirteen miles down a dirt and gravel road off US route 84. (For driving directions, click here.) Along the way are remarkable formations, cliffs, tree-covered mountains and the Chama River wending is way through the midst of the valley. The Monastery is surrounded by miles of government-protected wilderness, thus assuring and promoting solitude and quiet for the cenobitic monastic life. The chief architect of the original monastery with its church, convento, cells, and guesthouse was George Nakashima, the famous Japanese-American woodworker and designer. Much of the energy source for electricity and water pumping at the monastery is solar-powered, as sunshine is plentiful throughout the year. The monastery is quite committed to sustainable stewardship in managing its daily operational needs.
The Monastery Guesthouse
Overnight guests are most welcome at the monastery. A guestmaster monk is assigned to be in charge of the guesthouse. He will be of service to our guests, assuring that they are comfortable, at ease with their surroundings, and able to answer their questions. He is responsible for the resident guests upon their arrival and during their stay. He may be reached in the guestmaster’s office, directly across from the Giftshop, or by an intercom system posted on the outside wall of the office a few steps from the front of the church.
Length of stay
We hope that you will greatly benefit from your time spent at the monastery and for that reason the minimum stay is two days and two nights. It takes time to settle down from life’s hectic pace and to fit into the monastic rhythm. However, guests are certainly invited to stay several days, a week or even more longer. (To stay longer than three weeks, please contact the guestmaster.) For most rooms, the suggested donation is $90 per night. Room Availability and Reservation Form
Simple fresh meals are provided as part of your visit. The daily main meal and light suppers are shared with the monks in the refectory. A light breakfast is available after Mass. Normally we do not serve red meat at meals, although there have been some exceptions for special celebrations. Simple vegetarian fare such as rice and beans is always available. Meals are held in silence, except for table reading or music.
Sharing the Benedictine life
We are obliged by the Rule of Saint Benedict to offer hospitality to our guest as though they are Jesus Christ. Included is the opportunity for our guests to share in the Benedictine way of life. Guests are always welcome to attend any or all of our daily prayer services as well as holy Eucharist (see the daily schedule). They may also participate, if desired, in short times of manual labor (three and a half hours maximum) under the direction of our monks. To aid all of our guests in their quest to seek God, an atmosphere is maintained that provides time for privacy, prayer, reading, and reflection on God’s Word speaking in prayer services and the liturgies. The atmosphere most conducive to this kind of sharing of our life includes silence and some solitude.
Daily Prayer and Mass Schedule
- 4:00 a.m. – Vigils (choral office in church) lasts about an hour and fifteen minutes.
- 6:00 a.m. – Lauds (in church) followed by breakfast for guests from 6:30 to 7:10 am in the Guests Breakfast Room.
- 8:45 a.m. – Terce (in church) lasts about 10 minutes.
- 9:15 a.m. – Conventual Mass (holy Eucharist) followed by refreshments in the Guest Reception Area.
- 11:30 a.m. – Sext (in church) lasts about ten minutes, followed by Light Meal in the monastic refectory, 11:45 to 12:30 P.M.
- 4:00 p.m. – None (in church) lasts about ten minutes, followed by Main Meal in the monastic refectory.
- 5:30 p.m. – Solemn Vespers and Benediction (in church) lasts about 45 minutes.
- 7:30 p.m. – Compline (in church) lasts about 15 minutes, followed by Nightly Silence.
- 4:00 a.m. – Vigils (choral office in church) lasts about one hour.
- 5:30 a.m. – Lauds (in church) lasts about thirty minutes followed by Mass. Breakfast for guests in the Guest Breakfast Room from 5:00 – 7:45 A.M.
- 8:45 a.m. – Terce (in church) lasts about ten minutes.
- 9:00 a.m. – Work meeting for guests outside the Gift Shop. Work for All.
- 12:40 p.m. – End of work period.
- 1:00 p.m. – Sext (in church) lasts about ten minutes, followed by main meal in the monastic refectory.
- 3:30 p.m. – None (in church) lasts about ten minutes.
- 5:20 p.m. – Exposition and Eucharistic Adoration (in Church).
- 5:50 p.m. – Vespers (in church) lasts about thirty minutes.
- 6:20 p.m. – Light meal until 6:50 P.M. in the monastic refectory.
- 7:30 p.m. – Compline (in church) lasts about fifteen minutes, followed by nightly silence.
Please note that sometimes Compline is canceled in church and the monks celebrate it by themselves. Also sometimes Vigils is canceled in the morning and an abbreviated Vigils is observed the night before. Any such schedule changes will be announced.