Pope Benedict XVI

Blessed John Paul II, Pope Emeritus Benedict, Saint Bruno, and the Carthusians

Although today is the twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, in the Roman Catholic Liturgical Calendar, it’s the memorial for Saint Bruno, founder of one of the strictest orders in the Catholic Church, the Carthusians. To learn more about Saint Bruno and the Carthusians, please read the links provided.

Carthusian spirituality consists of the aim, which is Contemplation. The other elements consist of Separation From The World, Prayer, Liberty, Obedience, and Faith. A Work of God is the Carthusian Vocation. Carthusians also enjoy the Silence and Solitude.

The last two Popes, Blessed John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, had an interest for Saint Bruno and the Carthusian Order. Below are short excerpts from a letter written by Blessed John Paul II on the 900th anniversary of Saint Bruno’s death and a homily given by Pope Benedict XVI from October 2011 to the Carthusians.  You will notice there is some continuity in their remarks.

Letter from Blessed John Paul II –

“Bruno, when able to forget his own plans to answer the call from the Pope, shows his strong sense of the Church. He is conscious that to follow the path of holiness is unthinkable outside of obedience to the Church: and shows us in that way that real following of Christ demands putting oneself into His hands. In abandonment of self he shows us the supreme love. And this attitude of his kept him in a permanent state of joy and praise. His brothers noticed that, “his face was always radiating joy, his words modest. To a father’s vigor he joined the sensitivity of a mother” (Introduction to Bruno’s obituary scroll). These exquisite remarks from the obituary scroll show the fruitfulness of a life given to contemplate the face of Christ as the source of all apostolic fecundity and brotherly love. Would that Saint Bruno’s sons and daughters, as did their father, may always keep on contemplating Christ, that they ” keep watch in this way for the return of their Master ever ready to open when He knocks ” (Letter to Ralph § 4); this will he a stimulant call for all Christians to stay vigilant in prayer in order to welcome their Lord!…”

“…How could one doubt for a second that such expression of pure love gives Carthusian life an extraordinary fecundity, as it were, for the missions? In the retreat of their monasteries, in the solitude of their cells, the Carthusians spin Holy Church’s wedding garment (“beautiful as a bride decked out for her bridegroom “, 1 Rev. 21,3); every day they offer the world to God and invite all mankind to the wedding of the Lamb. The celebration of the Eucharistic sacrifice is the source and the summit of life in the desert, modeling into the very being of Christ those who give themselves up to His love. Thus the presence and the activity of Christ in this world become visible, for the salvation of all men and the joy of the Church.”

“…So I invite the members of the Carthusian family to remain, by holiness and simplicity of life, like the city on the mountain or the lamp on the lamp stand (Cf. Matt. 5, 14-15). Rooted in the Word of God, quenching their thirst with the sacraments of Holy Church, upheld by the prayers of St Bruno and their brothers, let them remain for the entire Church and at the heart of the world ” a sort of place for hope and discovery of the Beatitudes, where Love leaning on prayer – source of communion – is called to become logic of life, and source of joy “! (Vita consecrata § 51) The cloistered life as an outward expression of the offering up of one’s whole life in union with Christ’s, shows the fleetingness of our existence and teaches us to count only on God. It increases the thirst for graces given in meditation of the Word of God. It also is ” the place for spiritual communion with God and our brothers and sisters, where the restricted character both of space and of contacts favors an interiorization of Gospel values ” (Ibid. § 59).”


Homily of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI –

“…Dear brothers you have found the hidden treasure, the pearl of great value (cf. Mt 13:44-46); you have responded radically to Jesus’ invitation: “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me” (Mt 19:21). Every monastery — male or female — is an oasis in which the deep well, from which to draw “living water” to quench our deepest thirst, is constantly being dug with prayer and meditation. However, the charterhouse is a special oasis in which silence and solitude are preserved with special care, in accordance with the form of life founded by St Bruno and which has remained unchanged down the centuries. “I live in a rather faraway hermitage… with some religious brothers”, is the concise sentence that your Founder wrote (Letter to Rudolph “the Green”, n. 4)…”

“…The monk, in leaving all, “takes a risk,” as it were: he exposes himself to solitude and silence in order to live on nothing but the essential, and precisely in living the essential he also finds a deep communion with his brethren, with every human being…In the world’s eyes it sometimes seems impossible to spend one’s whole life in a monastery but in fact a whole life barely suffices to enter into this union with God, into this essential and profound Reality which is Jesus Christ.”

“I have come here for this reason…To tell you that the Church needs you and that you need the Church. Your place is not on the fringes: no vocation in the People of God is on the fringes…You too, who live in voluntary isolation, are in the heart of the Church and make the pure blood of contemplation and of the love of God course through your veins…”

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