[By contrast to Tesson's marketing ploy, here is an article by Michael Downey, who works at the Archdiocesan office in Los Angeles. It is a long day's drive from there to Santa Rita Abbey.[
A Testimony to Unsaying:
The Cistercian Monastery as
Matrix for Theology
[Cistercian Studies Quarterly, 45:1 (2010)]
"Who is God?" This is theology's prime question. Every other question must take its place in the long queue. Theology is a whole way of life given shape by the desire to search out an answer to this question. The theologian searches for God in much the same way that the contemplative or monastic seeks the face of God. In the early Church it was understood that the theologian is one who prays.
These reflections sprout from parched Arizona soil. It is Holy Week at Santa Rita Abbey, the Cistercian monastery tucked away in the Santa Rita Mountains at the border of Arizona and México. Some say this abbey is one of the best-kept secrets in the Cistercian Order. I agree. It is nearly ten years since my last visit here. I had forgotten what a warm and welcoming community of nuns this is. Small. Deeply prayerful. I can feel the pulsing of their prayer in my marrow. Even after many years, I am not an outsider here. Together we are at home.
I had forgotten how beautiful it is here. It feels like I am on the moon. The geography is utterly stark and spare, rugged and bare. It is the expansiveness, the wide-openness that evokes these lunar images. Or is it the unrelenting barrenness? The winds are fierce these days. There is not much color save the shimmering drapes of mauve and taupe caressing the naked mountains. And then the vermillion fly catcher perched on the forsythia after Lauds this morning. More living color there from beak to tip of tail than on any bird I've ever see. All that red kissing my eyes!
[To Be Continued]