AINT ANDREW’S ABBEY
SAINT ANDREW’S ABBEY, Valyermo, is a Roman Catholic Benedictine monastery: that is, a Christian community of men who have committed themselves to the search for God in corporate prayer, work, and obedience. The basis for monastic life at Valyermo is the Rule of St. Benedict, a formula for life in community which has been followed by monks and nuns for over fifteen-hundred years.
THE MONASTIC COMMUNITY at Valyermo was founded in China in 1929 by the Abbey of Sint Andries Zevenkerken in Brugge, Belgium. The monks prayed, taught, and worked in China until they were expelled by the communists in 1952. In 1955 the community relocated at Valyermo in the foothills of the San Gabriel mountains. Since that time the monks have sought to live out St. Benedict's precept to “prefer nothing to the love of Christ” in the High Desert of Southern California.
THE MONKS of St. Andrew's Abbey gather for prayer in the monastery chapel five times a day, where guests are always welcome. Additional time during the morning and evening is spent in lectio divina, a slow contemplative reading of the Scriptures which enables the Bible, the Word of God, to serve as a means for entering into the presence of God.
THE HORARIUM or daily schedule at Valyermo is a modern adaptation of the cycle of prayer and work prescribed by St. Benedict in his Rule. Periods of common and private prayer, manual labor, and study are intertwined, so that the entire day can take on the character of Divine Praise. The daily schedule is as follows:
THE MONKS also engage in a variety of ministries through which the special character of monastic prayer is shared with men and women living in society. First is the ministry of retreats: guests of both sexes are welcome to spend time in the Retreat House, sharing in the prayer-life of the monks as fully as they wish. Such retreats may be made privately or in groups; accommodations for large groups are available at the Youth Center. The resources of the Monastery Library, a 30,000-volume research library emphasizing patristics and Christian mysticism, can be made available to retreatants with genuine research needs. A second ministry is that of teaching: conferences and workshops on various subject are held at the monastery throughout the year, especially during the summer. Some of the monks also teach at universities and seminaries. Additional ministries include assisting in local parishes and chaplaincies.
IN ADDITION to the monastic community at Valyermo there also exist Oblates of St. Andrew's Abbey - members of the monastic “extended family”. Oblates are men and women living in the world who seek to live out in their families and work something of the spirit of the Rule of St. Benedict. They spend a year as oblate novices under the guidance of one of the monks of Valyermo or an oblate sponsor; then after a year of study and reflection they make their final oblation, an act of self-offering to God which is analogous to monastic profession. They are united to the monastic community in prayer and service, and they frequently visit and make retreats at the Abbey. Several monks serve as Oblate Directors in different geographical regions of Southern California, and offer monthly conferences on monastic spirituality to oblates in those regions.