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ClemensBruno

Carthusian Monkhood

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PhuturePriest

Anselm,
Thank you for that bit of info. So far, I have only read the Introduction and a few pages of Chapter 1 of An Infinity of Little Hours. Knowing my predilections, I decided to wait for an obligation-free day or two because I can tell that it would be challenging for me to read it casually and intermittently as my schedule permits. It's the kind of book that will draw me in and keep me occupied until I finish it.

Maguire mentions in her Intro that names have been changed in keeping with Carthusian anonymity, one of the aspects that has drawn me to the Carthusians.


Julie de Sales,
Thank you for your encouragement and kind comments. I truly appreciate treading them.


Pia Jesu,
Thank you for your prayer. I will check out the review you mentioned after I finish reading the book.


Father Cute Face,
Yes, I have done a bit of research on the Carmelite Monks in Wyoming, which is essentially a new order founded a mere decade (or two?) ago. The many photos I've found online show the Wyoming monks beaming with happiness. All the monks seem youthful (under 35), maybe a consequence of their continual joy. And they have big plans for an impressive neo-Gothic monastery.

I'm sure the image they project to the outside world is enticing to many who feel a call to contemplative life, not to mention necessary advertising for such a young order. My older brother--who pushed his vocation before he found his true call to married life--seemed to be gripped by pangs of regret when I shared with what I found online... I'm exaggerating here a bit, but not by much.

I, however, do not feel drawn to the Carmelite Monk order in Wyoming. On the contrary, I feel somewhat repelled by the tone of their online presence. I am keeping the details of my reasons private because it has all to do with me, and does not reflect any actual flaw of the order. Suffice it to say that "it's not my cup of tea." But I do applaud the good effects of their existence in the world.

What about you, Father Cute Face? (I know: you're really FuturePriest387, but Father Cute Face is ROFL!!) Could your vocation be for the contemplative life?

How blessed you are to have been born on the Feast Day of St. Bruno! My birthday is on the founding day of the Cistercians.


--Your brother in Christ

 

Okay! It's completely understandable if you don't feel attracted to them.

 

I was interested in contemplative life for a while, and I won't say it's not attractive, but I'm far too active and energetic. I could never be confined to a thousand square feet for the rest of my life and still be happy. If the Monks did something like go outside with other people every once in a while, I would consider it more, but that's not their vocation, and I understand that. I'm leaning heavily towards diocesan priesthood at the moment.

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ClemensBruno
Don't get me wrong, Padre Bel Viso...

I was recently told that I was too social, and needed to slow down to find myself. And this bit of unsolicited advice came from a new friend who was a notorious party dude. For many years in my life, I was rarely home. If not at work, doubtless you would find me in a large dinner party at a trendy restaurant, meeting friends for drinks at the pub-of-the-day, or making my rounds at a friend's house party. I've enjoyed more than my share of fun in life.

Recent events in my life, however, conspired to force me to seek introspection. I now try to maintain a healthy balance of solitude and community, but I have found the benefits of solitude and silence far exceed those of community, at least when given my own predilections. I grew up in a vary religious family in which Mass and the rosary were daily family activities to complement frequent periods of prayer in solitude. In a sense, making time for solitude and silence feels a lot like coming home: it is a natural and important part of me that it is to my own detriment to ignore it.

Given what little I've revealed about myself, it might be understandable why I think a monk's cell is freeing, and not the confinement you described. Besides I would never be alone in a cell. If God gives me the strength to endure and do things properly, my life will be a continuous prayer and focus on God on behalf of the countless souls in the world who never think of Him.

Although important, finding personal happiness is not my goal. In Kantian terms, my categorical imperative is to seek God's Love for the benefit of the Church. Any personal benefit is a mere consequence of God's Mercy to help me endure the Carthusian life.

Anyway... You hit the mark on being highly social, an important issue for which I felt the need to seek some reassurances before contacting any monastery. Unfortunately, my search for reassurance also could have been a fool's errand that merely distracted me and delayed my acting decisively on my vocation.

Hopefully this account clarifies that I seek oneness with our Mother Church, not isolation for its own sake.

I will remember you in my prayers while I remain a nonCarthusian.

--Your brother in Christ

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PhuturePriest

Don't get me wrong, Padre Bel Viso...

I was recently told that I was too social, and needed to slow down to find myself. And this bit of unsolicited advice came from a new friend who was a notorious party dude. For many years in my life, I was rarely home. If not at work, doubtless you would find me in a large dinner party at a trendy restaurant, meeting friends for drinks at the pub-of-the-day, or making my rounds at a friend's house party. I've enjoyed more than my share of fun in life.

Recent events in my life, however, conspired to force me to seek introspection. I now try to maintain a healthy balance of solitude and community, but I have found the benefits of solitude and silence far exceed those of community, at least when given my own predilections. I grew up in a vary religious family in which Mass and the rosary were daily family activities to complement frequent periods of prayer in solitude. In a sense, making time for solitude and silence feels a lot like coming home: it is a natural and important part of me that it is to my own detriment to ignore it.

Given what little I've revealed about myself, it might be understandable why I think a monk's cell is freeing, and not the confinement you described. Besides I would never be alone in a cell. If God gives me the strength to endure and do things properly, my life will be a continuous prayer and focus on God on behalf of the countless souls in the world who never think of Him.

Although important, finding personal happiness is not my goal. In Kantian terms, my categorical imperative is to seek God's Love for the benefit of the Church. Any personal benefit is a mere consequence of God's Mercy to help me endure the Carthusian life.

Anyway... You hit the mark on being highly social, an important issue for which I felt the need to seek some reassurances before contacting any monastery. Unfortunately, my search for reassurance also could have been a fool's errand that merely distracted me and delayed my acting decisively on my vocation.

Hopefully this account clarifies that I seek oneness with our Mother Church, not isolation for its own sake.

I will remember you in my prayers while I remain a nonCarthusian.

--Your brother in Christ

 

Oh, I'm aware being social doesn't mean you aren't capable of being a Carthusian. But I feel more called to reach out and save souls personally through the diocesan priesthood, rather than through prayer in a Carthusian cell. Trust me, I'd love to be a Carthusian! They're really cool guys, and it would be really fulfilling to be one. But my discernment of almost three years (February marks a full three) and my discussions with my spiritual director have led me to believe God has something more upfront and personal in my journey to save souls.
 

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ClemensBruno
Thank you for sharing your perspective, FCF, and your interest in my discernment. It sounds like you're doing all the right and smart moves in response to your call.

And... I am most especially grateful that you brought life back to my discussion thread. To be honest, I have been considering ways to keep this thread prominent in the Vocations section. No former Carthusian has contacted me so far, but I suppose it's to be expected of a reclusive and exceedingly small group.

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TheresaThoma

You never know. More than one person has been brought here due to Googling different vocation related terms and winding up on the phorum!

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Anselm

Dear ClemensBruno,

 

Today was my first day back at school after Christmas and really highlighted the paradox of my vocational thoughts - I hugely enjoy my teaching and I think that I am something of a gregarious teacher, and yet I also gain huge benefit to my relationship with God from silence and the formal contemplative life of a monastery. In many similar ways to Future Priest I sincerely wish that my vocation was to the Carthusians but don't quite think that it is. Of course, God doesn't send us letters to tell us what to do, but from what I can work out so far I gain rather a lot from the support of a community united in its seeking of God.

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genesisweavers

Peace to you my brother +  I have been fascinated by and attracted to the Carthusian charism for the better part of my life.  About 30+ years ago I asked St Bruno to be my patron.  Ever since then the Saint has been a faithful father.  I am a lay associate of the monastic family of Bethlehem and also a member of the International Fellowship of St Bruno.  If you don't know anything about the Bethlehem Monastic Family they live in sync with the Carthusain charism.  They even wear a habit very closely modeled after the Carthusian habit.  Each Monastic Sister and each brother live in a hermitage and they pray the liturgy in part in the hermitage.  Like the Carthusians they assemble in the Church twice a day for Eucharist, Matins and Vespers.  They are magnificent. 

 

There is one Bethlehem Monastery (of Sisters) here in the U.S.  That is in the Catskills of New York.  I have been living here at the Monastery for a year and a half in a beautiful log hermitage deep in the woods.  I cook for the guests of the monastery and do any number of chores here at the monastery.  In other words I do whatever the Sisters need me to do. 

 

I would like to suggest to you that you come here for a retreat.  You will have your own hermitage and all the peace and solitude that you need.  Abolutely no one will speak to you or interrupt your solitude.  Of course you may speak with a Sister if you wish or our wonderful chaplain.  In the earlier days of this congregation the Carthusians at the Grande Chartreuse used to recommend a long retreat at the near-by Bethlehem Monastery in France (that property was actually part of the Grande Chartreuse at one time).  This retreat would give you the opportunity to experience life in a hermitage and the daily observance of monastic prayer in the cell and in the church.  It is really the nearest thing to Carthusian life that exists outside the Charterhouse. 

 

May you be blessed in this time of discernment.  I know that many graces are being given to you at this time. 

 

your brother

john

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ClemensBruno
Anselm,

I do empathize with you as well as FuturePriest. The need for community is primal, possibly even biological, for humanity. Since our beginning, humans have always formed into groups to survive. Solitude meant death, especially in our prehistory. Even the ancients recognized our deep need for community: Aristotle proclaimed, "Man is a political animal." I, too, feel the constant pull to be part of a community.

I like meeting new people and getting to know others, and thankfully I have the demeanor and social skills that draw others to me and nurture strong bonds. Initially I was a quiet and introspective child, or "an unusually poised toddler" as my mom would say. I know solitude and silence well, and do not fear it--a realization that took years for me to accept.

We love in a world in which we are expected to seek personal fulfillment, and we ourselves expect to be continuously entertained. We become so busy with seemingly worthwhile activities. Maybe I am describing myself here, but I was not always focused on my iPad, or using my mobile as I walked and exercised, or continuously had music playing in the background. Creating an atmosphere of solitude and silence was no easy task. It contradicts everything I have assumed to be necessary and important in my personal and professional life. It took a long time, but eventually it was in solitude, silence, and reflection that I rediscovered what is truly important. Everything else, including my overt social-ness, is a mere distraction.

Given my rather uniquely circuitous and difficult path, I don't expect others to agree with me on this last point. I know that it is a perspective that is mine alone as revealed by God, not an expectation imposed by others or by my society.

Your brother in Christ,
ClemensBruno

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ClemensBruno
John (or genesisweavers),

I am truly humbled and honored by your suggestion to consider a retreat at Bethlehem Monastery in New York. I must admit I have never heard of the monastery or the order until now. Your description of the retreat sounds... well, heavenly!!

Please note that I sent you a personal email. Thank you for your post.

Your brother in Christ,
ClemensBruno

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genesisweavers

Peace to you my brother + In your communication to me yesterday you said you sent me a personal e-mail.  I may not know where to find that.  I did look but so far I haven't found anything.  You may use this address if you wish - genesisweavers@aol.com.  I'm wondering if you checked out the Bethlehem website.  If so you will notice that the Sisters have a very strong presence in France.  That is where they were founded.  Their headquarters is in Israel.  Their 'Motherhouse' in Israel is a rather large monastery.  There are two other Monasteries in Israel and one monastery of Bethlehem Monks.  They are a wonderful congregation with a very deep and intense spirit (Spirit) of prayer).  You were right when you said it sounds like heaven. 

 

May you be blessed

john

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genesisweavers

Peace to you my brother+ In one of your recent posts you said that my descriptions of the Bethlehem Monastic Family reminded you of heaven.  That reminded me of a quote I found in one of their publications which is sort of a mission statement.  It made a deep impression on me so I'm going to share it with you. 

 

This Monastic Family has no other responsibility to accomplish in the Church than to anticipate already on earth the life of loving contemplation of the Virgin Mary dwelling in the Most Holy Trinity.

 

May you be blessed

john

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ClemensBruno
Thank you, John, for sharing such a beautiful statement about the Bethlehem Monastic Family. :-)

I realized today that I had considered writing to the Brothers of the Monastic Family of Bethlehem, of the Assumption of the Virgin and of Saint Bruno. I decided not to contact them just yet; I felt a bit intimidated when I discovered that the Brothers do not have a monastery in an English speaking country... although I find all of their monasteries, especially the one overlooking the Sea of Galilee, very appealing.

From what I gathered, it seems that I should write to their main house in Grenoble, France? Do all Brother postulants enter the monastic family at the French monastery? And, from there, the brothers are sent to one of the four monasteries? Am I off-track here or...?

My French is rusty, which is what made me hesitate to write to them last month.

I glanced through the other threads on phatmass about the Monastic Family of Bethlehem, of the Assumption of the Virgin and of Saint Bruno. None of them were specifically discussing the brothers, though.

Your brother in Christ,
ClemensBruno

.

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Antigonos

Since I didn't remember any monastery overlooking the Sea of Galilee, I did a bit of research.  The Brothers of Bethlehem have a monastery in a village near Sakhnin, Deir Hanna, which is not really close to the Sea of Galilee. [Distances, however, in such a small area are relative].  The residents of the area are mostly Muslim Israeli Arabs.

 

The mother house of the order is in Jerusalem, and there is also a monastery listed as being in Bet Shemesh, which is about a half hour's drive from Jerusalem.

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genesisweavers

Peace to you my brother + If you don't find much information about the Monks of Bethlehem it's because they are few in number.  Their house of  formation is in the Grenoble Diocese in France.  Their monastery is adjacent to a Sisters' monastery - with outstretched arms you can practically touch the two monasteries.  This monastery was originally a Carthusian monastery in the very early days of the Carthusians (maybe 12th century).  A Sister there said to me once - we are literally walking on the bones of Carthusians.  The property was actually part of the Grande Chartreuse at one time.  A couple of months ago the Prioress here told me that there are three American men in the novitiate.  And yes - this monastery - called Curriere is the house of formation for the monks.  They used to train the monks in Israel but when the political situation there became unstable they brought them back to France. 

 

Antigonos - There are no Bethlehem monasteries in Jerusalem.  There is the monastery in Bet Shemish which is the motherhouse of the Sisters - a short distance from this monastery there is a brothers' monastery.  In that same area there is another monastery of Sisters (Notre Dame de Palestine).  Lavra Netofa is the small monastery that overlooks the sea of Galillee.  That monastery is only Sisters right now - there used to be monks there also (perhaps one of two of them are still there acting as chaplains). 

 

May you be blessed

john

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Antigonos

According to Wikipedia -- which is where I got the information, and which may be out of date --  Lavra Netofa is in the Arab village of Deir Hanna, and probably on a mountain, as the whole area is mountainous,  perhaps 20 minutes to half an hour drive from the Kinneret [Sea of Galilee]; much closer to Sakhnin and Carmiel.  It might be high enough up that on a clear day you can see a bit of the Kinneret, but it isn't close.

 

You are right, the monastery in Jerusalem is for sisters.  I think this is the order which featured in an Israeli film about the monastery at Bet Jamal, not far from Bethlehem.

Edited by Antigonos

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