Friday, March 16, 2007

Some images you haven't seen before from "Into Great Silence"

I recently had the wonderful opportunity to watch "Into Great Silence" in its entirety.

I was reminded after watching it of an interesting experience from many years ago when I made a week-long retreat at a Trappist monastery in a beautiful rural setting, with rolling hillsides and quiet solitude.

Moving from the busy stream of day-to-day life in the world, for the first day, I had to adapt from the everyday bustle and social time of my life as I knew it, to the horarium of the monastery and the quiet which was to be observed therein. It was an admitted struggle that first day. One could say that the silence was "deafening." But after that initial day I began to settle in and be it at work around the monastery, in prayer during the chanting of the hours, or in the peace and quiet of meditation, I began to adapt and gradually long for more of this silence. So much so that upon leaving, the experience was now reversed and the busy traffic and hustle and bustle of life was rather disconcerting and chaotic.

Why do I mention this? The experience of watching Into Great Silence was similar for me, because this is no ordinary documentary. In fact, one might be tempted to say the documentary is very monastic in its presentation and production. This is because of the silence of the documentary, so very fitting for monastic life generally, but so atypical as far as usual documentaries go -- typically filled with commentary, cross-analysis and so forth.

As this documentary progresses, one gradually gets more and more into the rhythm of this cloistered life of solitude, broken only by the occasional sounds of menial tasks, by the sounds of nature, the chanting of the liturgical offices and rites, and the occasional bits of social time and visiting. This allows for the monastic rhythm and focus of life to impact upon the viewer as one takes in the Carthusians radically theocentric life, centered upon the sacred liturgy, lectio divina and "labora".

I took some screen shots from the film to present to our readership here. To my knowledge, most of these shots have not been seen before and many of them are intended to show some of the liturgical and ascetic life of these monks that may not have yet been glimpsed by those interested in this film.

I hope you enjoy these photos from the film, a beautiful meditation upon La Grande Chartreuse, the Carthusian monks and a beautiful piece of cinematography.

(La Grande Chartreuse in Winter)

(Two novices are received into the community)

(The Rood Screen separating the chancel where the Monks sit in choir, from the nave)

(Monks in Choir for the Divine Office)

(Communal Meals are only taken in the Refectory on Sundays and Solemnities)

(A summer view of La Grande Chartreuse)

(Part of the Cloister)

(Procession with the Blessed Sacrament)

(The Procession goes through the Cloister)

(Monks in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament in the Main Chapel)

(Time for Lectio Divina in the Solitude of the Carthusian Cell)

(A Carthusian Monk at Prayer in his Cell)

(The simplicity and austerity of the Carthusian life)

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