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The Redwoods Monastery: Rediscovering the Sacred Path

In the bustling chaos of modern life, amidst the constant cacophony of notifications and distractions, the call to a deeper, more contemplative existence often whispers softly but persistently in the hearts of many. For those seeking solace in the embrace of tradition, the Redwoods Monastery stands as a testament to the enduring allure of the monastic life, offering a sanctuary of silence and spiritual renewal nestled amidst the ancient redwoods of Northern California.




About Redwoods Monastery: A Tapestry of Tradition and Tranquility


Nestled among the towering redwoods and Douglas firs of the Lost Coast, Redwoods Monastery is a sacred haven for Roman Catholic women monastics. Founded in 1962 by four courageous sisters from the Cistercian Monastery of Nazareth in Belgium, the monastery embodies a rich tapestry of tradition and simplicity that traces its roots back to the early Cistercian Order of 1098, Europe.


The ethos of the Cistercian Order, characterized by "Lovers of the Place," infuses every aspect of life at Redwoods Monastery. There, simplicity reigns supreme, and the daily rhythm is marked by a commitment to the ancient monastic schedule codified by Saint Benedict in the sixth century. The divine office, daily Eucharist, and spiritual reading are complemented by periods of communal meditation and silent prayer, fostering an atmosphere of deep introspection and communion with the Divine.


In the embrace of silence, amidst the rustling of leaves and the gentle flow of the Mattole River, the sisters of Our Lady of the Redwoods cultivate a profound connection to nature, weaving the search for God into the very fabric of everyday life. Manual work becomes a sacred practice, harmonizing the mindfulness of God with the practicalities of existence, while the wilderness surroundings serve as a constant reminder of the majesty and mystery of creation.





A Journey of Faith: The Founding of Redwoods Monastery


The inception of Redwoods Monastery in 1962 marked a pivotal moment in the history of the Cistercian community, as four intrepid sisters embarked on a transatlantic voyage from Belgium to Northern California.


Fueled by a fervent desire to forge a new spiritual path in the wilderness, these pioneers braved the unknown, guided by the vision of a monastery rooted in tradition yet attuned to the demands of the modern world.


The journey to establish Redwoods Monastery was fraught with challenges and uncertainties, as the sisters grappled with the unfamiliar terrain of their new home amidst the towering redwoods of Whitethorn, California. Yet, with unwavering faith and the support of their Cistercian brothers and sisters, they laid the foundations of a community bound by love and devotion to God.


Under the guidance of Fr. Roger de Ganck, a venerable figure from the Cistercian Abbey of Westmalle in Belgium, the fledgling monastery began to take shape, with monks from the neighboring Abbey of New Clairvaux lending a helping hand in the early years. Together, they labored to create a space where the sacred could flourish amidst the rugged beauty of the wilderness.


Embracing Change, Enriching Tradition


Over the decades, Redwoods Monastery has evolved and adapted to the changing currents of time, embracing the reforms of Vatican II and the renewal of the Cistercian Order with grace and humility. As American nuns entered the community, the monastery embraced an English-language liturgy, weaving together the diverse threads of tradition and modernity into a vibrant tapestry of faith.


The building program, initiated in the 1960s, transformed the monastery into a sanctuary of simplicity and hospitality, with the guest house standing as a testament to the supreme monastic value of welcoming the stranger. Today, as then, the monastery serves as a refuge for seekers of all walks of life, offering a haven of tranquility amidst the rugged beauty of the Lost Coast.




A Pilgrimage of the Heart: Rediscovering the Sacred


In an age marked by noise and fragmentation, the journey to Redwoods Monastery offers a timeless invitation to rediscover the sacred within and without. Here, amidst the whispering of the redwoods and the silent prayers of the sisters, pilgrims embark on a journey of the heart, tracing the footsteps of saints and sages who have walked this path before.


As the sun sets over the towering redwoods and the Mattole River murmurs its eternal lullaby, the spirit of contemplation and communion pervades the air, reminding us of the timeless truth that amidst the chaos of the world, there exists a sacred sanctuary where the soul finds solace and the spirit finds rest.


In the quietude of the monastery, amidst the ancient redwoods and the gentle flow of the river, the timeless wisdom of the Cistercian tradition finds expression in the simple rhythms of daily life, inviting all who seek solace and renewal to embark on a journey of rediscovery—a pilgrimage of the heart, guided by the whispering winds of the sacred.



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