Saturday, October 6, 2012

St. Bruno: A Film and Prayer

Today is the feast of St. Bruno (1030-1101), founder of the Carthusians, who follow the West's most eremitical form of monasticism, living in their individual cells and going to the common church only three times a day.  It is a beautiful and uniquely demanding life.  I couldn't think of anything better to do than to put up the trailer for Into Great Silence, which documents life at the Grande Chartreuse, founded by St. Bruno himself.  It is a beautiful film that captures the monks' life warts and all.  If you haven't seen it, it is available on Netflix and is two-and-a-half hours well spent.

It was Guigo II, the ninth prior of the Grande Chartreuse, who gave us the four-fold method of lectio divina, the prayer of sacred reading beloved by monks and many others in his treatise "The Ladder of Monks."  I found a very good summary of this method of reading, meditation, prayer, and contemplation at the site linked below.  Some of you have heard me joke that, rather than saying the rosary or practicing Eucharistic adoration, monks believe you get to heaven by reading books.  This page, using Guigo's own words, explains how.

The Ladder of Monks by Guigo II

Here's Guigo's summary:
In order to focus more clearly what we have already said at length, we will gather it into a summary. In what was said above it has been shown through examples how these three rungs interrelate with each other, and how they precede one another another in both the orders of time and causality.

Reading, like a foundation, comes first: and by giving us the matter for meditation, it sends us on to meditation.

Meditation diligently investigates what is to be sought; it digs, so to speak, for treasure which it [then] finds and exposes: but since it is of itself powerless to obtain it, it sends us on to prayer.

Prayer, lifting itself with its whole strength to God, pleads for the desired treasure - the sweetness of contemplation.

[Contemplation’s] advent rewards the labors of the other three; it inebriates the thirsty soul with the sweetness of heavenly dew.