Saturday, October 6, 2012
Feast of St. Bruno
From The Life of St. Bruno, condensed from Vol. I of “Aux Sources des la Vie Cartusienne” by Dom Maurice la Porte, monk of Selignac and former novice master of La Grande Chartreuse:
“St Bruno conceived of the Carthusian vocation as the search for God alone, thus making the ultimate concern of every human life the only concern of the Carthusian life, which achieves this in the utter simplicity of a pure heart that is animated by Love’s singleness of purpose and has focussed itself in a total ‘one‑pointedness,’ a ‘still‑pointedness,’ solely upon loving God for His own sake, in all things, with this one and only Divine Love with which He loves Himself.
“From this sense of vocation to live for love of God alone flows that marvelous detachment from everything that is not purely God alone, in Himself. Thus even the most cherished and choice means must be used with the same detachment that St Bruno showed when the Divine Will of God’s Good Pleasure was manifested through the call of Divine Providence demanding that he willingly sacrifice his personal vocation with its proper spirituality and even his nascent community and their hermitage.
“By the ‘Vita abstracta’ is meant the living exclusively of the one thing necessary — that is, the ‘better part’ — of sitting at the Lord’s feet entirely absorbed in Him alone. In this we discover the spirit of Spiritual Virginity which is the deliberate entrance into the mystery of the Eternal repose and Sabbath rest that is in God Himself. He calls the solitary contemplative into physical solitude so as to pass through inner solitude into the very Solitude that God is, as He rests in Himself. In the abandonment of all preoccupations for the sake of that freedom from all divisive care and distracting concerns that enables the exclusive, attentive receptivity and waiting upon God alone, the spiritual Virgin attains to that complete silencing which disengages the body, mind and spirit from all attachments to created things to be freely united to God in an habitual union. In this lies the secret apostolic fecundity of the Carthusian’s hidden ministry of contemplative prayer and sacrifice in the Church, cooperating in her redemptive mission through the sanctity of his life ‘hidden with Christ in God’ in the solitude of the cell. Clearly, this is the function of Virginity in the heart of the Church, the Virginal Body and Bride of Christ, which is her most essential characteristic in her relationship with her Lord and Divine Spouse. In this she is disengaged from every created concern and temporal care so as to attend in loving receptivity to His glorious, deifying, transcendent immanence ever present in her heart, where He, in perfect love of her, brings her to birth by enabling her to love Him with the very Divine Love with which He infinitely and eternally loves Himself. Thus are His nuptials with her consummated as she joins Him in His Eternal Living Sacrifice of Love in the Holy Spirit for the Father.” (pp. 80-81)
“In his letter to Raoul le Verde, St. Bruno wrote that stability requires the great strength of soul — conviction — for solitude is the realm only of the strong: “Here [in solitude] the strong man is now free to enter into himself…here God will certainly recompense his athletes for their labors with the best prize of all.” St. Bruno also admonished the Community of Chartreuse to be certain that if one loses the most desirable opportunity for Divine Union in solitude, this will be a constant regret relieved only when he takes to heart the salvation of his soul by recovering the lost ground of his vocation. Stability and constancy are therefore essential constituents of the contemplative vocation in solitude. It requires calm perseverance and continuity in effort. It demands a soul strong enough to renounce every escape through dispersion, distraction and dissipation, for the soul must have no need of being sustained by the diverse images of often‑renewed exterior activities. The cell offers one fundamental activity and no other: the useful self‑application to that ever-vigilant virginal receptivity which is contemplative prayer.” (p. 85)