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naturally. The monastery has about 1,000 acres of brush the sheep weed which the cows may not be able to get to. The sheep can then provide a return through high-protein products of lamb.

“That’s my hope or purpose,” Brother Joseph says. “I want to develop these little techniques for those who have this bad, brushy soil so they can get an interest- ing supplemental income with little investment.” In his vision, there is a sense of harmony spread pro- portionately between restoring the heirloom grass and supplying enough of it as feed available to the animals that are adapted to the grass. Eventually, Brother Jo- seph hopes the trees will be spaced out enough so that they are proportionate with the existing water sources in the soil, but that there will also still be enough trees for the songbirds to have a place to eat. This view of the land serves as a good reminder that life is often also built in the same harmony; there is a time to give and a time to take away.

Ora et Labora

At the heart of the monastery, the monks live by an ancient model, “Ora et Labora.” Translated, it literally means “work and pray.” However, work is not sepa- rated from prayer. According to Brother Joseph, work is only possible through prayer. Brother Joseph wants people to be aware that the monks are available to as- sist them in prayer. He said he believes Oklahoma has a culture of prayer, if nothing else but praying for rain. “It might not be the material rain we’re seeking, but there’s always a rain of goodness and grace,” he says. “It is very important for us that people perceive the

monastery as being a help to them rather than a worry of ‘who are those guys walking around in habits?’” According to Brother Joseph, the best defense is a good offense. He is more than happy to make known what the monks are doing and offer them their ser- vices through prayer, as well as let others know the needs of the monastery.

“There is so much the monks can do but sometimes you have to stop, know your limits and say ‘I need some help,’” he said.

The community is a key part in keeping the monas-

tery thriving. According to Brother Joseph, with one or two exceptions, small families and small donations have built their church. According to the church’s Canon Law, the wishes of what the donor would like to see their gift used for will always be respected. “You know, you can’t say, ‘Go buy ice cream for the monks,’ but anything within reason will be absolutely respected,” Brother Joseph says with a modest laugh. The monastery also holds a work day each year for volunteers to come and contribute their skills to keep the farm running. All the volunteers spend one day burning brush, constructing electric fence, painting and doing anything and everything you would expect on a farm.

“They do in one day what I couldn’t do in a year,” Brother Joseph says.

According to Eric Graylas, Assistant District Attor- ney for the city of Tulsa and event coordinator, more than 350 people attended last year.

“There’s no better way to connect yourself with na- ture and God at the same time,” Graylas says. “You

can get completely in-tune with God and yourself by working on their farm, with the sheep especially.” Through connecting with the sheep, it’s almost like people can connect to their biblical past. For Brother Joseph, this is how every day is spent; his entire life is offered as a prayer. When the whistle has been put away and the last sound of the bell fades into quiet peace, silence settles in leaving one word to echo until morning: Amen.

History & Traditions

✓ St. Benedict lived in the 6th Century and is the father of Western monasticism. ✓ Benedictine communities live under an ab- bot, who holds the place of the father fi gure. ✓ The monks earn their living from their farm, vegetable garden, orchard and crafts. ✓ The public may attend the following services: Low Mass, Prime, High Mass, Sext, None and Vespers. ✓ Hospitality is important to the Benedictine Tradition, so the monastery does receive guests for private retreats. ✓ For more information or to schedule a visit, please call (918) 772-2454 or look online at OL

A new Christian book by an Oklahoma author.

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