In the nearly half-century we have lived together as the Monks of New Skete the two poles of our life have remained fixed: daily prayer and worship along with labor to earn our daily bread. In the early years the latter included the physical work of erecting the buildings where we would live, worship and care for the farm animals who provided us with food.
Moving to Cambridge, on the eastern edge of the low but beautiful Taconic Mountains, we settled in a very agrarian community and learned farming skills, including smoking meats and cheese, from our rural neighbors. As the economy shifted so did our skills: we were able to build on our love for our first German Shepherd to what is now internationally known breeding and dog training programs. We’ve published many books related to our lives with the dogs
NEW SKETE SHEPHERDS, as well as a spiritual study of our monastic life called
called IN THE SPIRIT OF HAPPINESS and a book of meditations, RISE UP WITH
A LISTENING HEART.
The basic structure of our worship remains anchored in a daily cycle of matins and vespers (with Divine Liturgy on Sundays and feast days) for our prayer
life is the measure of our relationships with God and with each other. Even
from the days before we left the Byzantine Rite (Roman Catholic) Franciscan Order to found New Skete we have been studying the origins and evolution
of liturgical worship in the Orthodox East. Over time this enabled us to refine translations of the psalms and the liturgical poetry of the services and to simplify the structure of the offices in the spirit of renewal, keeping in mind the balancing act between the monastic ideal of “desert” and the Gospel call to make the world a sacrament.
We have always believed in ecumenical outreach as an aspect of putting the Gospel into practice. Beginning locally, we often host visiting social, school and church groups, and we participate in the Cambridge association of clergy and take our turn providing a free meal with a brief devotion during Advent and Lent. We are also supportive of inter-Orthodox unity on many levels including retreats offered here and in various parishes across the country. Two of our members have been invited to Greece and to China to make presentations on aspects of our monastic life.
We welcome all who visit the monastery each year, either to make retreats, attend services, visit the gift shop and grounds, or to purchase a puppy or have their dog trained. We have a small guesthouse available for retreatants.
Please view our Visiting
page for more information.
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