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ClemensBruno

Carthusian Monkhood

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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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Marie Villalovos Smith

http://transfiguration.chartreux.org/   This the only Carthusian monastery that I am aware of in the US.

The web site has a lot of information.

 

CHARTERHOUSE OF THE TRANSFIGURATION
CARTHUSIAN MONASTERY
1084 AVE MARIA WAY
ARLINGTON, VERMONT 05250 USA
 
Communication by fax is preferred. Thank you. 

Fax: (802) 362-3584 

 
Pax

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Indwelling Trinity

A good source for information about Carthusiam life can be found at the IFSB@yahoo.com. It exists both in cyber world and in the real world,

 

Some of the Board members on the list were former Carthusian monks. In addition there is  a treasury of Carthusian Documents in the archives  shedding much light on the order. I have stayed at the Charterhouse of the Transfiguration in Vermont. The monks spoke to each other in the vernacular when they needed to convey a message. For us Mass was said in the vernacular but according to the Carthusian rite.

 

Dom Lorenzo The Father Prior as well as one or two of the brothers we were allowed to speak too,I found to be very gentle, well discilplined and warm and cordial hosts.  They have a guest chapel  where all could hear mass but  only the men in our group of board members were allowed to attend night office with the monks at the monastery.

 

I must say I came away very edified by the visit. No pretenses, just a gentle open hospitality within the bounds of their rule.  I wish you well in your vocational discernment and keep you in my prayer.

 

Indwelling Trinity : :paperbag:  carmelite hermit

Edited by Indwelling Trinity

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Starets

Oh, one more thing. I found it amusing that you had been criticised for being "too social." I hae had endless problems either with people pretending to be friends with me and then they say "i just wanted to help you out of your shell." or with fixers that demand that I come out of my shell or knock down my walls or come out of my comfort zone or whatever the latest platitude is. I am the introvert's introvert and I am sick of people who tell me that my introversion needs to be "cured." It doesn't need to be cured.

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Starets

I am still volunteering at OLG in Pecos. My one-year term expires in March so next month the prior and I are going to figure out what to do with me.  I might join. There have been a lot of positive changes here over the last 10 months. Then again I might just stay a volunteer. We will see. I am happy eiher way. I have no debts no dependents and all my worldly possessions fit in two suitcases a computer bag and a carry on bag.

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Antigonos

I am still volunteering at OLG in Pecos. My one-year term expires in March so next month the prior and I are going to figure out what to do with me. I might join. There have been a lot of positive changes here over the last 10 months. Then again I might just stay a volunteer. We will see. I am happy eiher way. I have no debts no dependents and all my worldly possessions fit in two suitcases a computer bag and a carry on bag.


I'm glad it is progressing well!

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Benedictus

I looked into the Carthusians, and did wonder whether it was possible I was called to them. But it didn't feel right for me and I was pulled in other directions. There is a Carthusian house in North America.   My understanding is that you have to apply to your local Chaterhouse, unless one is not in your country or there are language considerations.

In some respects I wouldn't get that concerned about having a certain type of personality or temperament, although this is important. I think trying it and seeing if you can last is the only real way of really knowing for sure, and different types of people seem to be called.

I would also, just in case you didn't know about them, mention New Camaldoli and the Camaldolese.. They have a similar charism to the Carthusians, the latter being closer whilst the former being a bit more communal.

Edited by Benedictus

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ClemensBruno
Greetings, All. Thanks again for all your prayers on my behalf.

Please forgive my lengthy absence from phatmass. I needed to "go to the desert" to focus on discernment in solitude and silence. Social media was becoming a major distraction for me, and a procrastination tool for preventing my giving due diligence to the discernment process.

I am happy to report that the Holy Spirit has guided me through much progress since my last post. Starting May 6th, I will embark on week-long visits to hermitages/charterhouses. The list of places is quite brief but most assuredly well-researched, and my time in deep prayer and reflection--as well as invaluable guidance from my spiritual director and friends in consecrated life--has given me a sense of clear purpose in preparation for these visits.

My sincere apologies for not revealing greater detail on this update, Out of an abundance of caution, I wish to remain anonymous in this very public and easily searchable forum.

If I may impose on you further . . . I hope you will continue to pray for me to fulfil His Will and not my own.

Your brother in Christ,
ClemensBruno

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