The Eucharist today commemorates Saint Bruno, the Founder of the Carthusian Order, founded in 1084 A. D. In this Chapel he is depicted in the windows just above us, the last one on the North Side, nearest the Altar. Bruno was born in Cologne about 1032. He was gifted intellectually, and became rector of the Cathedral School at Rheims. After about 18 years in that position of great responsibility Bruno began to feel drawn to the monastic life.
Bruno and six companions then received encouragement and the permission of the Bishop of Grenoble to establish themselves in S.E. France in the area called La Chartreuse in 1084. Here in La Chartreuse they were able to build their Charter House and to live the monastic life. Bruno and his six companions chose the monastic pattern of life developed in the Egyptian desert during the 3rd and 4th centuries.That pattern was solitaries living in houses or cells, but near enough to one another for mutual support. Bruno and his companions described themselves as “Christ’s poor men dwelling in the desert of the Chartreuse for the love of the name of Jesus”. Silence, austerity, solitude and total renunciation of the world are the marks of Carthusian spirituality.
Can you find these ideals in the first Lesson of today’s Eucharist? In his letter to the Christians at Philippi Paul wrote:
“I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:10-14)
What does Paul mean by “Resurrection”? I think he means life lived above a self-centered and selfish life, following the teachings of Jesus Christ, loving God and one another.
As I meditate on these verses from Paul’s letter to the Philippians I can see how it can apply to anyone trying to live a life dedicated to Jesus Christ, but especially as a monk, I can accept it as an incentive for living by the principles of the monastic life.
A number of years ago a German cinematographer made a film about the Carthusian life at La Chartreuse, “Into the Great Silence”, which some of us saw. We agreed that the life at La Chartreuse resembled ours on many points, but differed by the degree in which they observed silence, austerity, solitude, and renunciation of the world.
We give thanks for these similarities and differences, and we honor the memory of St. Bruno, whom we commemorate today.
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