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Blog

Seeking God at this place of New Clairvaux, we are a community of Cistercian monks living the Rule of Saint Benedict. We witness God's love for the world according to the Gospel of Jesus Christ by a life of prayer, labor, and sustainable stewardship of our resources in a simplicity and openness to the signs of the times. Our monastery welcomes all people in the spirit of hospitality, and engages others in collaborative relationships.

A monk of New Clairvaux shares on Intercessory Prayer:

“About two or three times a week the brothers receive 2 typed pages of prayer request sent to us by e-mail or telephone.  I always like to receive this packet and take it back to my cell to pray over.  I’m grateful that people share with us their needs,

Our Br. William shares on his patron, Blessed William of St. Thierry, whose memorial is observed on Sept. 8:

“The discovery of the humble Abbot of St. Thierry as one of the most original and penetrating minds of the twelfth century  is the scholarly achievement of the last few decades”  - a quote from Church History.

William of St. Thierry (1085-1148) a Flemish noble, born at Liege (1085) was a twelfth century French Benedictine abbot of Saint Thierry Abbey, a Theologian, a mystic who became a Cistercian monk and writer.

Fr. Thomas shares on Benedictine Justice: "The monks gather day and night in the choir of our Monastic Church to chant and “render praise to our Creator for the judgments of his justice” (Rule of St. Benedict, Chapter 16).  I believe that with this verse, Benedict inserts the entire Opus Dei (Liturgy of the Hours) into the mystery of creation and its relationship with the Creator.  While parts of this chapter in Benedict’s Rule are based on and identical with a previous Rule called The Rule of the Master, the words “for the judgments of his justice” (super iudicia justitiae in the original Latin) are introduced by Benedict himself. 

What is this Benedictine ‘Justice’?  Fr. Terence Kardong, OSB, and Sr. Aquinata Brockmann, OSB, define this justice as a bond of fidelity between two persons. This is a different understanding of justice that what is commonly considered as being

Fr. Placid contributes a teaching on Lectio Divina:  "What is a good and apt description of Lectio Divina?  In the novel, Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet is handed a letter from Mr. Darcy, following a disastrous marriage proposal.  Upon reading the letter, she is startled that it challenges her assumptions about him and makes her reflect on her possible prejudice against Mr. Darcy.  She reads the letter several times to remind her of certain events until she has almost memorized it by heart.  It changes her thinking and behavior regarding Mr.

Here at New Clairvaux Abbey we support our monastic life by farming, including cultivating grapes and making wine.  We are pleased to announce that our vineyards have now met the exacting standards for organic certification.  Our vineyard manager Br. Luis explains:

“Good news! The community recently received news of its organic certification for monastery vineyard blocks St. James and Trinity.  This certification follows a three-year probation period required by California Certified Organic Farmers, the largest certifier in the nation, wherein we transform our farming practices to exclude chemicals and farming practices that could pose risks to the health of persons and the land.  Our patrons and guests can be assured that we have, in the spirit of Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si, made decisions for the betterment of the earth and for the enhanced safety of all our valued guests.  

On August 15 we celebrate the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven, the patronal feast of the Cistercian Order.  I thought that you might like to  listen in on a recent talk that the abbot gave to the brothers on Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Cistercian tradition, particularly in the thought of our patron St. Bernard (7:48 minutes).  

https://www.newclairvaux.org/sites/default/files/resources/6th%20sun.mp3

God bless you,

Br. Christopher reflects on the New Slavery:

“Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just”  --Thomas Jefferson, on slavery 

In light of current events, the abbot recently had the community view “I am Not your Negro”, an outstanding documentary on the Black experience in America. It is a heart-rendering story, beginning with the abominable cruelty of racial slavery.  The question was raised: Why did the majority of people in those days not see what is so clear to us now: how wrong it is for fellow human beings to have no rights and be considered the property of others?  

The church of St. Lazarus at Bethany is one of the most impressive churches I have ever visited in the Holy Land. This church serves to commemorate the Saint’s resurrection from the dead. It also represents how the Gospels relate regarding Lazarus’ sisters Martha and Mary who were honored by  the special friendship of the Lord.

Martha was known by her hospitality, welcoming Jesus into her house and serving Him, while Mary was known by her contemplation at the feet of Jesus, for she is sitting, listening and loving Him. And the Lord claims she has chosen the better part which cannot be taken from her (Luke 10:38-42). 

The end of July at the monastery means that our harvest season looms on the horizon.  The first of our wine grapes are cut in early August and continues through September and includes crushing, pressing and fermentation.  The prunes follow in the second half of August into September.  Finally, the walnuts are harvested in late September and October.

Fr. Placid remembers the day he entered the monastery:  "My first day in the monastery was one of activity. I travelled up from Pasadena, CA my home town. It was an eight-hour drive. My triplet brothers James and Joseph drove me up after saying goodbye to my parents and the dog! He sensed something because he ‘hugged’ me with his shoulders, which come up my waist. The trip was eventful, listening to our favorite songs on CDs. Arriving at the monastery, I am shown to my room by my ‘guardian angel’, Br. Rafael.