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.

On January 11 the monastic community had the joy of re-electing our abbot, Fr. Paul Mark Schwan for his third term of six-years.  In preparation for the election, Fr. Placid had given the community a talk on the Role of an Abbot according to the Rule of St. Benedict.  We share a portion of that talk here:

“If the abbot learns how to really grow into the grace of the position, it is through trials.  These trials are through the interpersonal clashes that can happen in community. The Latin word is opprobrium. This could be translated as opposition or

Diocese across the United States are observing Jan. 22 as a special day of prayer for full legal guarantee of the right to life and of penance for violations to the dignity of the human person.  Martin Luther King Jr. once famously commented in the context of civil rights legislation that while it is true that morality cannot be legislated, civil legal recognition is necessary both to protect the oppressed and as a sure guide and support to the unperceiving. 

I would say that while laws are to be ardently worked for, the most important work to be done is the transforming of hearts so that no one will ever WANT to have an abortion!  This is the work of Grace and evangelization.  We know that abortion

Fr. Thomas offers some thoughts for the holy Advent season:  “Our patron St. Bernard of Clairvaux’s (+1153) Advent Sermons offers some impressive thoughts for our preparation as we look forward to the coming Solemnity of the Incarnation, Christmas. We are challenged to keep upmost in our minds certain questions about Christmas: WHO is coming, from WHERE is he coming and to WHOM is he going, WHAT is his purpose in coming, at WHAT TIME will he arrive and by WHAT MEANS will he arrive.

After the Israelites entered the promised land, each tribe lived their own way. They had no leader after Joshua died. Then the elders of Israel came to the Prophet Samuel and requested a king to rule over them, as other nations have (1 Samuel 8:5). Samuel was displeased with their request, however, he prayed to the Lord who said: “Grant the people’s every request. It is not you they reject, they are rejecting me as their king.” (1 Samuel 8:6-7). Samuel anointed Saul, the first king of Israel, but he reminded them that “the Lord  your God is your king.” (1 Samuel 12: 12).

Fr. Placid ponders St. Benedict’s guidance on Self-Will in the Rule:  “The Rule of Benedict has listed as one of the Tools of Good Works in Chapter Four to “hate Self-Will” (RB 4:60).  For Benedict, Self-will is always seen as negative.  In the RB, anything to do with seeking self-interest would be considered selfish and part of self-will.  The cure for self-will is placing oneself under the instruction and obedience of another, and resisting placing our own will above them.  This leads to being

Br. Christopher shares on a great saint: 

"On October 22 we celebrated the memorial of St. John Paul II, also known as John Paul the Great.  St. John Paul was the pope during my formative years and a great influence on me.  This year is also the 25th anniversary of his prophetic encyclical Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life).  I wanted to share a bit of this with you all, it is a great reminder.  It is not just about abortion, it is about creating an ethos and culture of life in which all life is valued, a culture of caring for one another.  St. John Paul taught:

Fr. Thomas comments on Who is My Neighbor? “Various commands are given us in the Gospel, such as love one another, love your enemies, love God with all one’s heart, soul, strength and mind, and love one’s neighbor as one’s self. We understand what it means to love one another, we knowwho our enemies are, and we grasp something about God. But the Gospel question, ‘Who is my neighbor?’ opens up for us an insight on love, for Jesus, nor the Gospels for that matter, really define who a neighbor is. Jesus tells us how to respond to persons in various situations.

Abbot Paul Mark comments on our hope in these turbulent times:  “The year is leaving us nearly breathless; the largest wildfires in California’s history raging on both sides of our Sacramento Valley, spewing smoke and ash all over us, making it hazardous to walk and breathe out of doors; political turmoil and fear as the country approaches a presidential election; social unrest shaking the foundations of law and order, at least as we perceive these; a pandemic that continues to run unleashed resulting in thousands of serious health issues and deaths, disrupting businesses and causing school closures.  What more can I add?

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.