The Fruitcake Monks

Check out this LA Times article on a group of monks in California who are struggling to align a modern financial reality with an ancient way of life.

The Catholic monks of the New Camaldoli Hermitage have lived a world apart in the inspirational majesty of Big Sur for half a century. They know well the power of prayer and contemplation.Monk

Money management is another matter.

Never did they imagine their most vexing problem would be finding a way to close a $300,000-a-year budget deficit. Or reviving a flagging fruitcake business that has helped support them for decades.

The monks are like countless American families struggling through hard times. They're working harder but digging into dwindling savings to make ends meet. Their home is paid for, but repairs are on hold indefinitely. The viability of their Thoreau-like existence is in doubt.

"I'll be honest: I don't understand finances at all," said Father Raniero Hoffman, the hermitage's prior for the last dozen years. "Our whole way of life is beyond what society today would say is practical."

They came to the mountaintop seeking escape from the distractions of society. They found that some distractions cannot be avoided.

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6 years 10 months ago
900 acres of land and an annual budget of $1.3M doesn't sound analogous to the plight of the working poor.  These guys can afford a good financial consultant; one that can convince them to get our of the fruitcake business and into something more marketable like, e.g., candy or beer, the latter being the original financial source of their start-up.  Maybe beer made from holy water and yeast cultures from the holy land; probably wouldn't fly with the magesterium.
Beth Cioffoletti
6 years 10 months ago
I have been mulling over this article since I read it this morning - how monastic communities that used to be viable in our culture are now having to become little corporations (with financial advisors, business plans, a "product") in order to survive.

So much for stepping out of the rat race and living simply.  If the monks can't do it, how can the rest of us?
Matthew Pettigrew
6 years 10 months ago
Knowing that there was not much else I could do to help, I figured I could at least buy some fruit cake.  Many others must have had the same idea because they're now sold out for the rest of the year.  Which seems to indicate that (1) I'm not the only one who actually likes the stuff and (2) their business model can't be all wrong.

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