The Monastic Vocation
To thee are my words now addressed,
whosoever thou mayest be that renounceth thine own will to fight for the
true King, Christ. (St.
What is a monk?
As the very
word implies, or as its Latin form Ďmonachusí shows, it
contains the prefix Ďmonoí meaning one or singular. A monk is
therefore someone whose desire is singular, he desires only one thing in
the entire world, and that one thing is God alone.
Our Lady of
The monks of old
headed their letters with the Latin inscription "Soli Deo," meaning "for
God alone" or "to God only". Among spiritual exercises
practiced in the solitude of their cells, the Carthusian monks have the custom
of writing beautiful intimate letters "soli Deo" to God alone. At
the end of each year these monastic letters and meditations written in silence
in the presence of God are cast into the furnace where they rise heavenwards as
the smoke of incense. Only ashes are left for the curiosity of men, since the
spiritual exercise is... Ďsoli Deoí.
Dom Columba Marmion
wrote that a person is worth whatever he seeks or desires. So if you seek money,
you could be worth millions... but money is only paper and will perish like
all paper. What has the profane to confer but profanity? Only a travesty of
reason would conceive lucre empowered to impart beatitude. Your worth lies in
the object of your desiring. If you seek God, the object of your desiring is
The average personís desiring
lies somewhere between two extremes, his desires are mixed, and his ability to
concentrate on the ideal outlined by faith fluctuates at every moment. Yet St.
Augustine elaborated on the same idea saying,
soul is restless until it rests in Thee my God."
To desire something which is
completely incompatible to us is contradictory. Though our being is the union of
flesh and spirit, the human soul is essentially spiritual, it makes little sense
for that immaterial soul to desire something material. Yet the effects of
original sins cause us to desire things foreign to our spiritual make-up. What,
then, could be more normal than to want what was made for us? Yet the contrary
holds the true answer. We are made for God, only He can be our beatitude. Only
the things that come from Him can give us true happiness.
soul is restless until it rests in Thee."
The monk is therefore someone who
desires God alone, who sacrifices all things so as to live for God alone.
A Pure Gift of Grace
The monastic vocation is proof of
Godís infinitely merciful reordering of the human will through the workings of
grace. To seek and to desire what is actually our own perfect and supernatural
end is the product of grace. The will becomes lightened and free to desire with
the purest longing the supreme good that is God. To seek God, to want God alone,
to want to live only for God, fleeing everything elseóthis is the monastic
vocation. Not only it is a wonder of Godís grace, but it is also the normal
consequence of that same grace every soul receives at baptism. A monk is one of
these very same souls, that has decided to live in the grace that gives life
everlasting, beginning now...
The Mystery of Monks
The monk is one of
those ordinary souls who has decided to embrace the extraordinary life presented
to everyone at baptism. Yet if being a monk is such an ordinary and normal
thing, why are there so few of them? The mystery of monks is found among the
parables of the gospels. The most famous of these is the parable of the rich
young man. Speaking to Our Lord, the young man asked what he should do above and
beyond the mere fulfillment of the commandments. In His reply, Our Lord actually
showed the young man what the commandments actually lead to. He said to the
young man, "Go sell what thou hast, give to the poor, take up thy cross and
come, follow Me." In essence, Our Lord was presenting the monastic
vocation to the young man. But "the young man went away, sad..."
The lesson of the parable shows that he had great possessions and was overly
attached to them. They turned him away from Our Lord and drew him home.
Materialism versus the
The only obstacle to the monastic
vocation, the only thing that can hinder oneís vocation is, as the parable
shows, the attachment to material things. Materialism is the enemy of vocations.
To allow belongings to set themselves between God and oneís soul is the only
gain of materialism, for all else it is a severe loss. Yet, on a moral level,
there is also a kind of greedy materialism being purely spiritual which causes
the soul to cling to itself. This is selfishness, egotism, or self-love. Through
pride, the soul becomes infatuated with itself and turns its back on God: the
will of God is rejected along with any calling to a life of sacrifice which, in
fact, is an essential part of the monastic vocation. For the unfortunate soul
stricken with the disease of materialism, the only cure is the spirit of
sacrifice: the practice of the spirit of poverty for material things, and the
practice of generosity and self-sacrifice for oneself.
Will I become a Monk?
Despite the call to
many hardships and sacrifices which reveal the true face of the monastic
vocation, why do some souls proceed undaunted by the forbidding cloister walls?
The Psalmist writes: "In my meditation, a fire has flamed forth."
When we invoke the Holy Ghost, we pray: "... and enkindle in them the
fire of Thy love." In the story of Moses, God revealed Himself in the
form of the burning bush, which burned intensely but did not consume the
branches. It is the flame of Godís love for one soul, the mysterious power of
fire not only to consume but also to hypnotize and fascinate, the image the
Sacred Scripture most often used to describe the power of the mystery of Divine
Love. The fire of Godís love for oneís soul, first to capture its attention,
to try it and make it strong like white-hot forged steel, and purify it like
gold in a furnace. It is powerful beyond anyoneís greatest imaginings, but
powerful in a way which stirs awe in the soul and causes reverential fear. This
image of fire, in thinking about God in fervent meditation, in the guidance of
the Holy Ghost, or when God reveals Himself to us, is the image of the purest of
flames which is His intense love for us, which draws us to Himself.
Answer Godís Calling is a Way of Life
The ancient monks of the
desert were completely unaware of inaugurating a new way of life. The
monastic life they lived was nothing more than an ever-growing
fascination with Godís own life. Obsessed by the power of Godís love
they trained themselves to surrender to Him and became the saints, the
friends of God every baptized soul is destined to become. For the
monastic vocation it is a pressing thing to answer Godís calling.
why does God call soul in this mysterious way? He explained to the
prophet Jeremias: "With an everlasting love have I loved thee,
this is why I have drawn thee to Me." The monastic
vocation is the initiative of the attracting magnetism of Godís
everlasting love for any individual soul. The response given to the love
of God by that soul, the soul that is willing to listen closely to the
voice of God and look seriously into his vocationóthis is what
decides the rest...
The Monastic Vocation and the
Despite the many cries of protest
coming from irreligious souls, the Church has placed the monastic vocation upon
a pedestal where all may see it for use as an ideal. The place the Church gives
the monastic calling is by far the best way to understand its importance as well
as its universal appeal. Pope Pius IX, among no fewer than fifteen other supreme
pontiffs, extolled this truth:
Established by very holy
persons whom the Divine Spirit inspired for the greater glory of God and the
good of souls, and confirmed by this Apostolic See, they contribute to that
admirable variety which sheds such a marvelous splendor on the Church. And
they composed those choice troops, those battalions of auxiliaries in the army
of Jesus Christ which have always been, both for civil society and for
Christendom, a powerful aid, an adornment, a rampart... Burning with ardent
love for God and man, they have been a spectacle to the world, to angels, and
to men, knowing no other delight than that of using all their efforts, all
their zeal, all their energy to meditate night and day on divine things.
The Monastic Vocation in This
Time of Crisis
The monastic vocation has been
shown as something normal in its universality but extraordinary in its
uniqueness among the many paths which lead to God. In this time of crisis,
vocations have become rare since the means God uses to attract them have been
forcefully held back by men of the Church. The saintly Archbishop chosen to be
the instrument of Providence has given us a clear reminder of the value of
Without monasteries, without
the examples of the contemplative religious consecrated to the continual
praise of God, the Church will never recover from the present crisis. In order
to traverse this present crisis, there must be more monasteries, more souls
willing to devote their whole life to prayer and intercession. (Archbishop Lefebvre)
Upon thy walls, O Jerusalem,
I have appointed guardsmen. All the day and all the night long, they will not
hold their peace from praising the Name of the Lord. (Antiphon from the
The Ecclesia Dei
commission had succeeded in separating the traditional Benedictine monks of Le
Barroux from the work of Archbishop Lefebvre. Nevertheless, a handful of monks
could not in conscience consider the saintly prelate as schismatic and
excommunicated. After the historic summer of 1988, it had quickly become
impossible for these monks to remain in the monastery of Le Barroux and support
the Archbishop at the same time. The only choice was to leave, placing all in
the hands of Providence.
Fr. Cyprian was one
of those who left. Having traveled to Econe to speak with the Archbishop, where
he met with Fr. Thomas Aquinas, who is the Superior of the traditional
Benedictines in Brazil, the decision was made to found a new monastery faithful
to Tradition located in the Southwest region of the United States.
The vast work of
constructing a new traditional monastery continues high in the mountains in the
Gila Wilderness. The hardships are many but the
grace of God has given these souls the spirit of the monks of the Middle Ages
who also constructed their own monasteries. May Our Venerable Father St.
Benedict instill in their hearts the burning fire of love to consecrate their
lives to the sacred service of the Church, to be the choice militia engaged in
the holy warfare against the powers of darkness.
|Here is the horarium
(daily schedule) in use at the Monastery of Our Lady of Guadalupe:
|3:00 a.m. Rise
Divina (Divine Reading)
Mental Prayer in the Choir
Study or Manual Work
| 2:00 p.m.
(the office of) None
Vespers, Mental Prayer in Choir
Note: Due to the vast work of
construction in which the community fully participates, certain modifications of
the horarium take place accordingly. A recreation takes place once a week
in which the brethren go hiking in the surrounding mountains.
The monastery may be contacted at:
Monastery of Our Lady of Guadalupe
142 Joseph Blane Road
Silver City, NM 88061