Redwoods Monastery is a small community of Roman Catholic women monastics founded in 1962 from the Cistercian Monastery of Nazareth in Belgium. Nestled among the majestic Redwoods and Douglas fir of the Lost Coast of Northern California, bordered on one side by the salmon-bearing Mattole River, the sisters of Our Lady of the Redwoods live a simple monastic life in continuity with a tradition that stretches back to 1098 Europe.
The Cistercian Order was founded in France in 1098 through the inspiration of Saints Robert, Alberic and Stephen, monks who desired to live more fervently the Rule of Benedict. Known as "Lovers of the Place," five elements characterized the vision of the early Cistercians and continue to shape our spirituality today: creative fidelity, simplicity, an accent on experience, affectus (the centrality of love) and mysticism.
In the context of community, we seek God by our commitment to a daily monastic schedule first codified by Saint Benedict in the 6th century, adapted to our present cultural and environmental context. Each day is marked by silence. The divine office, daily Eucharist and lectio divina (spiritual reading) are complemented by daily periods of common meditation and silent prayer. Manual work brings a necessary balance where mindfulness of God is the common thread uniting the whole day's activities.
Living in a wilderness area of old growth redwood forests contributes profoundly to the spirit of this monastery, as well as to the practical life of our community. Living in communion with nature, making the search for God real through the concrete experiences of everyday life, building a community of love that extends far beyond the confines of the monastery, striving to be open to inner and outer transformation -- all these things form the fabric of our life at Redwoods.
The Redwoods community continues the monastic tradition of offering hospitality and welcoming guests. In 1964, the community built two guesthouses. Guests have always had the opportunity to enter into the life of the community. Early in the Monastery's history, Thomas Merton was among them. Guests come for silence and prayer, study, spiritual guidance, rest and renewal, and for the incredible beauty of the place. Many people return year after year. Formal and informal exchanges of the sisters have deepened relationships over time. Today, there is a second Redwoods Monastery community: a community of more than 800 friends who consider Redwoods their spiritual home.