On Autumn

On Autumn

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).
I was born in October and perhaps this fact makes me more receptive to autumn.  But the childhood memories of returning to school, the migrations of the birds, most especially the goose, swan, and sand hill cranes, the opening of hunting season, Halloween, followed by and Thanksgiving are so vivid and hold meaning for me.
It was in autumn that I joined the monastery, now 41 years ago, and this season causes me to reflect again on those first days and years as I adjusted to the monastic culture, to a different way of thinking and acting, how I struggled with the “old man” within me, grieving losses as I renounced my previous life and way of relating to life and the world.
It is easy to fall into nostalgia for some past “idyllic” life but in reality I know life wasn’t any better or easier than it is now.  Actually I would never want to repeat any of my past life experiences.  To experience something once is enough even if it could be repeated.
The season of autumn teaches me.  As days shorten and life dies around me I know the season is not a final statement but will pass into another season, will eventually return, only to pass again.  Nothing on this earth lasts forever and autumn helps me keep all things in perspective.”




Cistercian monastic life gives primary place of chanting the Opus Dei or Divine Office in community as well as personal time spent in sacred reading which fulfill the monk's sacred duty of seeking God.


Cistercian monastic life allows rooms for guests because all guests are to be received as Christ.  We never know if we have entertained angels.

Life in Common

Cistercian monastic life is communal:  We share all things in common as did the early Christian community so as to live in greater charity and union with Christ.