Letters to the Friends

Topping Off

2022-07-09T15:15:49-05:00March 13th, 2022|Letters to the Friends|

As the noise of war rumbles across the world and the social fabric of our nation continues to unravel in many places (but that would have to be for another letter), we monks are building in the backwoods of Oklahoma, the best we can, a little corner of peace—almost heaven—as our way of restoring and renewing all things in Christ, the Lord of heaven and earth. More concretely (the word is very apt), we are pursuing, with the help of brave and competent workers, the erection of our Chapter House, a very important part of the monastery, as mentioned in our newsletter of last October.

In a few weeks the “topping off” ceremony will take place, once the highest point in the edifice is reached. On that day there will be a bit of a celebration, […]

Sailing between Scylla and Charybdis

2022-03-05T15:36:41-06:00January 13th, 2022|Letters to the Friends|

Dear Friend of Clear Creek Abbey,

In the book of Amos we read the following reflection: “No wonder the prudent man keeps silent, the times are so evil.” (Amos 5:13) Sometimes, however, a man must speak, especially in perilous times. Many of you are concerned about the Traditional Latin Mass, whose fate is in the balance as I write this. In fact, there is much to worry about even beyond the question concerning the Latin Mass.

As has happened in the past, the Church, like a great ship, is now passing through a narrow stretch of treacherous water, so to speak, where great perils lurk on either side. On the port side there waits Scylla (to use a Homeric comparison), the evil sea monster of heresy, the tentacles of which have already laid […]

Christmas and the Real Presence

2022-02-05T15:58:45-06:00December 25th, 2021|Letters to the Friends|

Dear Friend of Clear Creek Abbey,

Christmas is the season of light and peace par excellence. Its light is that from Heaven, and its peace a peace not of this world. But there is another aspect of this incomparable mystery and celebration, the fact that, while God was always present everywhere and in a special way to His people and to His prophets of old, He now comes to earth, not merely with the presence that is mediated by the Divine grace of revelation, but with the presence which belongs to God in Person, the Real Presence of the Son of God made man, appearing at the humblest spot in all creation, a locality transformed in an instant into the noblest of places beneath Heaven.

Recently at Clear Creek we had the joy […]

Clear Creek Calendar 2022

2022-01-29T15:27:41-06:00December 1st, 2021|Letters to the Friends|

Dear Friend of Clear Creek Abbey,

Where will the Year of Our Lord 2022 take us? Where does time fly (tempus fugit)? In other cultural milieus time has seemed to be a kind of perpetual mechanism that just turns with the seasons—without end. Not so in the perspective of Holy Scripture. As a noted Catholic philosopher expresses it:

Man is naturally frightened by the irreversibility of his own duration and the very newness of unpredictable events. He refused to face them. Hence, the negation of time by archaic civilizations.… [There are] the oriental conceptions of the eternally recurrent phases of destruction and regeneration of the cosmos. Christianity has taught us that history has a direction, that it works in a determined direction. History is not an eternal return; it does not […]

The Idea of a Pilgrimage

2022-02-05T15:43:21-06:00October 23rd, 2021|Letters to the Friends|

Dear Friend of Clear Creek Abbey,

In an essay entitled The Idea of a Pilgrimage, Hilaire Belloc, who had a certain personal experience of the thing, takes us beyond the mere definition and into the fuller, incarnate, sense of what it means to go on pilgrimage:

There has always hung round the idea of a pilgrimage, with all people and at all times – I except those very rare and highly decadent generations of history in which no pilgrimages are made, nor any journeys, save for curiosity or greed – there has always hung round it, I say, something more than the mere objective. … I will visit the grave of a saint or of a man whom I venerate privately for his virtues and deeds, but on my way I […]

The Chapter House

2022-05-31T13:56:28-05:00October 13th, 2021|Letters to the Friends|

Dear Friend of Clear Creek Abbey,

As with most houses, the monastic house has its common areas and its special places. There are rooms where a spider’s web will hardly last a day before being unceremoniously swept into oblivion; there are others where, well, the standard of cleanliness is somewhat lacking at times (from which the spider knows how to benefit). The most important places in a monastery are called “regular places”, loci regulares in Latin. In these places there must be a more profound silence and greater respect all round. The church is, of course, the first of these regular places, but there is another which the monks frequent assiduously, which is to say the Chapter Room, or Chapter House. All the great cathedrals and monasteries of Europe had their Chapter House.

Humble Nobility

2021-12-16T10:36:23-06:00August 13th, 2021|Letters to the Friends|

Dear Friend of Clear Creek,

Today I am writing to you for a very special purpose. Clear Creek Abbey has accepted to be the headquarters for the promotion of the cause of beatification for the Servant of God Empress Zita of Habsburg. I think you will see how well this endeavor fits with our vocation as contemplative monks.

As is commonly said, Noblesse oblige: that quality we name ‘nobility,’ far from providing a reason to dispense a person from hard service, brings with it, on the contrary, a grave obligation to serve more than others. The Lord Himself said as much: “The Son of man is not come to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a redemption for many” (Matthew 20:28). The idea is familiar to monks, who […]

House for a Thousand Years

2022-02-05T16:03:51-06:00May 13th, 2021|Letters to the Friends|

It gives me a kind of perfect joy to announce the construction of a new residence hall at Clear Creek, a building we call “the Chapter House.” This large building will include essential rooms for the life of the monastery, including the Chapter Room, the Sacristy, the Infirmary, and more than 30 cells. This much needed part of the monastery has been a long time coming. Construction is to last for 16 months, beginning in the middle of May.

If “a picture is worth a thousand words,” then the graphic art (spanning the inside two pages) of our architect, Mr. William Heyer, and his team, will give you an excellent idea of the scope and […]

Learn from the Bees and the Beavers

2022-11-29T16:06:18-06:00March 29th, 2021|Letters to the Friends|

Dear Friend of Clear Creek Abbey,

Saint Bernard of Clairvaux is quoted as saying, “You will find something more in woods than in books. Trees and stones will teach you that which you can never learn from masters.” Our monastic life at Clear Creek often takes us into that school of God’s wisdom where we find “tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything” (William Shakespeare, As You Like It, II.i. 1-17). Here is a text summarizing what one of our monks has learned. — br. Philip Anderson, abbot

The inspired and wonderful yet often under-appreciated book of Ecclesiasticus (aka Sirach) tells us: “The principal things necessary for the life of men are water, fire and iron, salt, milk, and bread of flour, and honey, […]

The Next City of God

2022-02-05T16:05:39-06:00February 15th, 2021|Letters to the Friends|

Dear Friend of Clear Creek Abbey,

After repeated threats, in the year 410 “the Visigoths appeared outside Rome in force and the senate prepared to resist, but in the middle of the night rebellious slaves opened the Salarian Gate to the attackers, who poured in and set fire to the nearby houses. ‘Eleven hundred and sixty three years after the foundation of Rome,’ Gibbon pronounced, ‘the Imperial city, which had subdued and civilized so considerable a part of mankind, was delivered to the licentious fury of the tribes of Germany and Scythia’” (Richard Cavendish, “The Visigoths sack Rome”, History Today). The Romans were left in a state of despair, and many of them blamed the Christians for this unmitigated disaster.

It was Saint Augustine who set himself the task of refuting the charge and restoring hope to the Christians. […]


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