What Do You Seek?
The Prior's question to the candidate for monastic commitment reaches and probes the depths of the soul. "What is it that you seek?" “The mercy of God and of the Order,” the newcomer responds. And so begins the work of a lifetime: searching, learning, discovering the meaning of mercy which transforms the heart of the monk into the Lord’s own image.
By extention, you, the International Fellowship of St. Bruno member, are being asked the same question. You are giving the same response. Though the St. Bruno Lay Contemplatives are not offically part of the Order, we are united with the Carthusians under the mercy of God, and reside within His Church.
You have sought God's mercy, you have been called to serve God and His Church in a unique way, being drawn to the Carthusian charism, and willing to labor and grow as a contemplative in the spirit of St. Bruno and his companions you follow Christ in a most profound, deep and meanigful manner. It is a calling, were that not so, you would not be here.
You are reading this because you feel called by God to deepen your relationship with Him by following the path of St. Bruno. You may not put this seeking Him using the same words. However, the spirit of St. Bruno is something you are familiar with since you have been in the IFSB for over a year. The path of St. Bruno is a very sobering one, you are a disciple of his. You must ask yourself: “How can I transform myself into an ‘external donate’ of the Carthusian order? This question cannot be answered merely using your imagination. There is study and exercises that must be put to use. We will draw from the Carthusian Novice Conferences and other sources the Carthusians themselves use as novices and through their entire lives. Do not fret or fell burden by what is expected of you as an SBLC. You only can develop a reasonable plan (Horarium) that integrates your spiritual life with your obligations of family and work. So one exercise is to develop a plan of life using designated times for the three great elements of contemplative religious life: reading (Lexio), prayer, and work.
Responding to God’s Call to be and St. Bruno Lay Contemplative
“Blessed are those you choose and bring near to live in your courts! We are filled with the good things of your house, of your holy temple.”- Psalm 65:4
What a blessing! “But know that the LORD has set apart the godly for himself; the LORD hears when I call to him.”- Psalm 4:3
We are not set apart because we think we are better than anyone else, that He favors us over anyone else. “Godly” is translated from the Hebrew word ‘chaciyd’ (khä•sēd') and means faithful, pious, and kind. Many people fit that description. As SBLC’s we accept a responsibility to ourselves and to our God, to follow Christ as St. Bruno did. To do this, we must ponder, contemplate the motto we have; ‘Divino Amore Ferventes’ the ‘Fervent Love of God’. All SBLCs in the spirit of charity should share their own personal thoughts about their opening of the heart to expressing God’s love for them, and their love of God and His people, the sheep of His flock. We will have an exercise that asks of ourselves to do this for our brethren. Last but not least by any means, the Eucharist must be the central part of our very life, because the Eucharist is the body of blood of our Lord.
Four Points of St. Bruno’s About Carthusian Life
In his letter to his dear friend and brother Raul, St. Bruno made four points:
One can be recollected as often as they wish, abide within themselves, carefully cultivate the seeds of virtue, and be nourished happily by the fruits of paradise.
There one can try to come to clear vision of the divine Spouse who has been wounded by love, to a pure vision that permits them to see God.
There they can dedicate themselves to leisure that is occupied and activity that is tranquil.
There, for their labor in the contest, God gives his athletes the reward they desire: a peace that the world does not know and joy in the Holy Spirit.
An early exercise in development as an SBLC is to also ponder and contemplate these four points, how to make them a part of your life once you come to understand them and put them to practice. They should be understood, and as you understand them, you share your thoughts with your brethren.
Reading Scripture in a very meaningful and edifying way, this ancient art, practiced at one time by all Christians, is the technique known as lectio divina - a slow, contemplative praying of the Scriptures which enables the Bible, the Word of God, to become a means of union with God. For SBLCs and for centuries for monastics, ‘Lexio’ is a must exercise preferably daily. As Rev. Father Marcellin said in 2003 when we met with him- “Even if you do so five minutes one day, it is better than not doing so at all.”Lectio is not confined merely to the Bible. It can be used in other pious reading. In no uncertain terms, it is spiritual food and drink.
The words of Scripture and pious works of the saints and others in the Church, such as the aforementioned Carthusian Novice Conferences, can be like sweet honey to your soul, to be savored, but also a fire, quenching the thirst of your soul, for that thirst is not quenched by water, but by God’s consuming fire of love, which from it gives the soul its illumination, for each soul is a divine spark from God.