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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.

Br. William shares on the way of self-emptying love: “Fr. Cyprian Consiglio, the prior of New Camaldoli Hermitage in Big Sur, California was our retreat director for our annual community retreat week, held this Nov. 14 -20. The theme of the conferences were a Spirituality of Kenosis. The American scholar and poet Christian Wiman wrote, that kenosis “refers to the kind of self-emptying that God” in Jesus “performed in both the incarnation and the crucifixion.”

Fr. Thomas issues a call to consider our vocation to be Who We Are: “To receive a vocational call is an exceptional grace. Indeed, every vocations is a unique and magnificent grace from God.  I hear, I obey, I bear the crucifying consequences (because every vocational call is a challenge, in one way or another), for intimacy with the crucified Christ. At the moment of our death, (or to use a monastic term, ‘transitus’ - a passing over into…), it will be important to be like Christ crucified. This is our tremendous judgment day.

Fr. Paul Mark reflects on Autumn: “We move into autumn, a new season, a season of evocative, poignant memories, at least for me.  There is the completion of harvest and the bringing in of the last garden produce for those of us who make a living off the land.  There are the unique colors of the Fall season as deciduous trees and vines gradually lose their leaves.  And there is the return of cooler weather with the smell of rain in the air again (at least for us in California, we hope).

Br. William reminisces about the challenges and joys of perseverance: “When I arrived in Vina on December 21st 2011, it was a cold wintry night but I was filled with hope and great expectation and truly excited to be “home” at last, after years of wandering and wondering.
From the beginning, I believe this is my family and the brothers in Vina are like my siblings back home. 
I determined that I will persevere as a monk here, taking to heart Fr. Bob Martin who told me “this a beautiful life and vocation, never quit and leave.”

Fr. Thomas offers a teaching on God’s way of loving:  “The first letter of John tells us that God is love, and whoever remains in this love remains in God and God remains in that person. (1 Jn 2:16) The Latin word for this love is ‘caritas’ or charity as God’s love is selfless. The challenge is for each person to love in a selfless way. Throughout his book “On Loving God”, Bernard of Clairvaux maintains that it is the quality of our relationship to other persons and other things that expresses the quality of our love.

Br. Luis offers us a word on “Lectio Naturae”: One day, when a philosopher, surprised at the austere remoteness of St. Anthony’s desert dwelling, asked him: “How do you content yourself who are denied the comfort of books?” Anthony is said to have replied, “My book, philosopher, is the nature of created things, and as often as I have a mind to read the words of God, it is at my hand.” 

Fr. Placid speaks on the nature of Melancholy: “In the Jane Austen novel ‘Persuasion’, Anne Elliot is introduced as having lost her bloom and suffering from being “depressed”. During the course of the book, as she come back into contact with Captain Wentworth, the mood around her gradually shifts away from a somber one to a hopeful one as misunderstandings are cleared away between the two of them. 

Br. Christopher offers an invitation:
Welcome to the Abbey of New Clairvaux!
Many comment that they feel a sense of peace and spiritual well-being when they enter the monastery grounds. The monastery is a place of faith, a center of prayer. 
In a world in which many of our contemporaries find life sad, without meaning, without hope, we invite you to share our joy! We invite you to Jesus, the source of our peace and joy. As millions have discovered, everyone who has had the happiness to come to know Him, love Him. 

 Fr. Paul Mark speaks on God’s Holy Angels:  “September 29, the feast of St. Michael and All Angels, holds a personal meaning for me.  It was this day, in 1981, that I was admitted into the novitiate and received the white habit of the Trappist-Cistercian novice, here at Vina.  Sts. Michael, Gabriel, Raphael and All the Angels became the patrons of my novitiate but also the patrons of my monastic vocation.

Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, are, unsurprisingly, Hebrew names.  Michael means “Who is like God?”, Gabriel “Strength of God”, and Raphael, “Medicine of God”.

Br. Peter Damian shares on creation and redemption:  “In his book ‘On Loving God’, Saint Bernard said, “In his first work He gave me myself; in his second work He gave me Himself; when He gave me Himself, he gave me back myself. Given and re-given, I owe myself twice over.”