Two Different Ways“Our
supreme quest and goal is to find God in solitude and silence” (Rule
4,1). Towards this single purpose Carthusians aspire in two different
forms of life: as fathers (cloister monks) or as brothers (lay monks).
For a better understanding between these two, see Father or Brother?.
Solitude of the FathersThe
fathers – all are or will be priests – live in their cells along the
cloister, leaving them only at appointed hours of liturgy in choir or
infrequent occasions of common recreation. Fidelity to the cell is of
crucial importance in Carthusian life. “This is holy ground, a place
where, as a man with his friend, the Lord and his servant often speak
together; there is the faithful soul frequently united with the Word of
God; there is the bride made one with her spouse; there is earth joined
to heaven, the divine to the human” (Rule 4,1).
cell is actually a two-storied small house surrounded with its own,
enclosed little garden. Downstairs is the workroom, furnished with
tools necessary for work, for the fathers also perform manual labor in
cell; upstairs there is an anteroom, called the “Ave Maria”, a small
bathroom and bedroom (cubiculum) where the monk spends most of his
time: here he prays, studies, eats and sleeps.
Food and FastFood
is received through a small window by the entrance twice a day – during
winter-time only once, in the evening taking bread and beverage. The
food is abundant and well prepared. Meat – except fish – is never
eaten. Once a week – normally on Friday – monks have “abstinence”, when
they take only bread and water. During Advent and Lent they also
refrain from dairy products. Such fasting regulations usually require
considerable sacrifice, though by no means are they harmful to one’s
health. To the contrary, Carthusians frequently live to advanced old
age. Novices accustom themselves to the fast gradually, under the
direction of the Novice-Master.
Organization of TimeIn the
organization of time for work and study, as well as in spiritual
occupations, the novices and junior professed follow the order set
forth by the Fr. Master; afterwards, monks – within the framework of
the liturgical hours – freely arrange their own time. As to the daily
schedule, see Daily schedule.
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