One of the men who completed the Monastic Life Retreat at Guadalupe Abbey in Oregon, wrote this about his experience:
I am not in a particularly unique position for a North American guy in his mid-twenties. I’ve recently finished college but, for whatever reason, am at a loss as to where to go next.
What I’ve found curious is that my indecision is not from a lack of options or suggestions. There are a million voices vying for my attention (some being good, i.e. family, dear friends); but, in daily life, finding solitude or a space to retreat that cacophonous environment can be very difficult. Even impossible if one can no longer recognize that the silence is missing. In our over-mediated society, when everything grabs your attention, nothing can hold it – all inputs, all voices become equally worthless.
Now, I can’t continue by saying that my experience in the Monastic Life Retreat program at Our Lady of Guadalupe Trappist Abbey solved my problems and directed me toward a lucrative salary position, or that I even found real resolution to the issue of, “Where do I go next?” – The Abbey, as I hope one would imagine, is not of that ilk.
But, I did find that solitude that I was so desperately craving. And it has made all the difference. While my month as a MLR has not been without struggle, it has been within one of the most loving and encouraging communities I have ever experienced. I am grateful to the brothers of Our Lady of Guadalupe for welcoming me into their quiet and restful home and for teaching me through example, as well as long and patient conversation.
The life of prayer is not and ought not be exclusive to monks, but I did find that a monastic community was a wonderful space to gain a deeper understanding of prayer, free from those competing distractions outside the cloister. I will continue to return to Our Lady of Guadalupe Trappist Abbey to wrestle and pray for the rest of my life.