Thursday, October 6, 2011

St. Bruno

I can't exactly be sure when or why I started becoming a dévoté of the saintly founder of the Carthusian order (1030-1101), but through the years I've visited (i.e. looked on from the outside, since you only get in if you plan to stay) Bruno's original Charterhouse--la Grande Chartreuse--in a stark mountain pass of the lower French Alps; toured the Chartreuse distillery nearby (with a taste test, of course); read a few books about him; collected a number of books by and about his monks; purchased and watched the stunningly beautiful film, Into Great Silence, documenting Carthusian life where it was born; made several hermitage retreats with the Sisters of Bethlehem (who follow a version of his Carthusian rule) in the Catskills; and keep his statue nearby.  I'm fairly certain I'm not cut out for the rigors of the Carthusian vocation...but the silence and wilderness solitude do have their appeal...and have been huge blessings for me in week-long doses.

Bruno was widely recognized for his great learning--having been a teacher of nobles, several future bishops, and even a pope.  But his smarts were not all.  Upon his death in Calabria, his brothers wrote:
Bruno deserves to be praised for many things, but especially for this: his life was always the same. That was typical of him.  He always had a smile on his face, always a prudent word. To the severity of a father he joined the tenderness of a mother. Great he was, but everyone found him gentle as a lamb. In truth, he was the Israelite praised in the Gospel [cf. Jn 1:47].
Bruno was never formally canonized; such honors are strictly shunned by humble Carthusian sensibilities.  But the devotion shown him by his brothers eventually spread through the whole Church.

Over the years, I've lifted a few quotes from the writings of Saint Bruno which have survived the near millennium since his death...all words to live by...
"Only those who have experienced the solitude and the silence of the wilderness can know the benefit and divine joy they bring to those who love them." 
"No act is charitable if it is not just." 
"In the solitude and silence of the wilderness..., for their labor in the contest, God gives his athletes the reward they desire: a peace that the world does not know and joy in the Holy Spirit." 
"If the bow is stretched for too long, it becomes slack and unfit for its purpose."
--Saint Bruno


joji55 said...

Thanks Father for sharing this... a while ago I met a young man in a bus and he told me that his 'goal' is to become a Carthusian monk. I didn't know what it was and of course coming back at home, I googled and for several days now I was lead to your blog.

Father, I have a question.

How can a monk in silence serve God?

Can you tell me your point of view on this matter. At the age of 58, I still have a lot of questions but I love hearing other points of views.

I do thank you Father in advance and have a peaceful Sunday!

dorotea jocelyne

Fr. Joe said...

A monk serves God (and the world) by his life of prayer, which will occupy the greater part of his day—interceding for the rest of the human race and joining with the angels in giving the Lord the praise which is his due (and for which many of us do not have the time). And a monk serves God by his witness: through his chastity, poverty, silence, stability (commitment to remain in the monastery), daily work, and in other ways, too, standing as a sign before the world of higher values, thus preaching (without words) a message which calls us all to higher things.
--Fr. Joe

Don Moore said...

Thank you Fr. Joe for sharing your thoughts about St. Bruno. Myself and our vice president and secretary spent four days at La Grande Chartreuse and also, along with the Prior of America's only Charterhouse visited the St. Bruno retreat house which formerly was the Charterhouse Selignac, and also the Charterhouse at Ported, where we met with the current Revernd Father Dom Dysmas.

Divino Amore Ferventes!

Kevin Kane
International Fellowship Of St. Bruno

Fr. Joe said...

You're very welcome, Kevin.
--Fr. Joe

Unknown said...

Simply I feel he lost himself to the holy spirit out among creation where he could still his mind and marvel at the miracle that is creation itself. A rapours joy, a love connecting all things.

Daniel Holmberg said...

I assert no authority on this matter, from my perspective however I feel this silance the many of old testament Prophets, monks, saints, and Christ was a vital aspect of their spirituality. In this silence they found a connection of some measure to the divine. I feel monks replicate "Habbits" in a pilgramage of great men who likewise could come nearer to the divine. Connected to god they did great acts of miraclious scale, out of love only was there every act. Truth and light of christ path guiding their way.

Deslin Paulson said...

Love to live with them for some time.... Touching article father...

Deslin Paulson said...

Love to live with them for some time.... Touching article father...