SILVER CITY, N.M. (AP) — A monotone prayer permeates the walls of a monastery lodged at the rim of the Gila National Forest. A feather of smoke rises from the church chimney into a starry night still hours from dawn.
It is an average day in the life of one of the country’s youngest Benedictine communities, Our Lady of Guadalupe: About three dozen monks rise and say their first prayers, in Latin, in unison, just after 3 a.m. Others might begin their early chores soon after, milking a cow, or making bread or yogurt for breakfast. Afterward follows a strict schedule of more prayer, study and work until after dark.
“Ora et labora” – “prayer and work” – is the governing principle of the 23-year-old monastery founded by a priest, Father Cyprian Rodriguez, whose stern face matches his soldier-like approach to spiritual discipline. The community exists, in his vision, to pursue an ideal of spiritual perfection that escapes many of the rest of us living in “the real world,” as the monks frequently describe modern life.
Living the monastic way of life, “the material aspect of our lives is quieted down and the primacy of the spiritual is refocused,” he said.
In the days leading up to Christmas, the monks lived above and beyond the reach of commercials, credit cards, sales and shopping. Their preparation for this day holy to Catholics and other Christians everywhere is continuous, carried out between the silence of their cloister, the Gregorian chant each morning in their church, their daily labor and prayers before bed.
Brother Bernard Marino has not lost his New York accent, nor his garrulous charm, in 20 years as a monk in New Mexico. The 50-year-old is one of the senior brothers and was the third to join Login to read more