Desert House of Prayer is a contemplative community that offers intentional hospitality to those who seek prayerful silence and solitude for reflection, discernment, renewal, or healing, and to draw closer to God. We feel that God and the desert do enough work in the heart that we do not need to offer workshops, programs, or seminars. We do offer a clear structure of daily worship and prayer that individuals may take advantage of to whatever degree they desire. Our purpose is to allow time and space for paying attention to how God is working within as well as around us.
Who Comes to Desert House of Prayer?
Those seeking silence in order to encounter and respond to the Divine are most at home here. People from Christian and other traditions have found the Desert House to be a place conducive to rest, reflection, and opening to God. Guests include people who are married, single, ministers, priests, members of religious communities, as well as those who are not of a particular religious tradition. Authors, artists, caregivers, counselors, teachers, and people in transition have found Desert House of Prayer a haven for reorienting themselves and renewing their creativity.
The Resident Community of Desert House of Prayer strives for a balance between work and prayer and seeks to model for our guests the possibility of a liturgical, contemplative community thriving on silence and the grace of God. Since the primary purpose of Desert House of Prayer is to foster a life of contemplative prayer for the individual, we observe silence throughout each day except at the evening meal and in worship. Our guests may expect only a limited experience of community. Time spent at Desert House provides the following components:
Guests frequently observe that, while silence is observed most of the day, they experience a warm, accepting community here. Core community members are those who minister and live at the Desert House. You will encounter them mainly at worship and at table or during spiritual direction. You are likely to have most contact with our Guest Coordinator who is part of the core community.
The chapel at the Desert House of Prayer bears the title “Our Lady of Solitude” as a constant reminder that Mary could not have attained that most distinctive of all Christian vocations, Hearer of the Word, without silence.
“Only the silent hear and those who do not remain silent do not hear.” —Pieper
We gather for communal praying of the Psalms (Liturgy of the Hours) every day except Friday. We celebrate Community Eucharist (Mass) every day except Saturday. Much of the tone and spirit of Desert House of Prayer is conveyed in these settings. Sunday is particularly festive as it marks the Day of the Lord while remembering and anticipating the feast of Christ’s resurrection.
Reading and Personal Study
“I ought to know, by now, that God uses everything that happens as a means to lead me into solitude. Every creature that enters my life, every instant of my days, will be designed to wound me with the realization of the world’s insufficiency, until I become so detached that I will be able to find God alone in everything. Only then will all things bring me joy.” ~Thomas Merton, The True Solitude
The Thomas Merton Library contains 8,000 volumes, mostly on Scripture, spirituality, biography, and theology. A considerable number of Merton’s works and associated writings are housed in the library’s east wing. Teachers of the contemplative life are also well represented in our video and audio collections. Contemplative writers, pastors, educators, and others find our library to be a supportive resource for their research and study.
“There is no one now living who sees with his/her own eyes the great illusion in which we walk and the blindness we suffer.” —St. Teresa of Avila
Trained spiritual directors are available for individuals discerning the path or optimal perspective for their lives.
Spending Time in Nature
We are fortunate to be in the heart of the Sonoran Desert, at the edge of the Saguaro National Park East. Check out our Resources page for a few of the many choices available nearby and in the area for hiking and exploring. We have plenty of paths, a labyrinth created with sacred stones that were relocated from a nearby (we’re sworn to secrecy) Native American sweat lodge , and Way of the Cross for contemplative walks around our property, as well. Have a look around….