Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Papal Vespers in a Carthusian Monastery and the Pope on Monasticism

On October 9th, the Holy Father visited the Carthusian Monastery of Serra San Bruno where he celebrated the Divine Office with the monks.

A (non-embeddable) video of the entire liturgy can be seen here. (Go to the 43 minute mark.)

As well however, I wanted to make note of the following summations of some points the Holy Father made which are pertinent to the monastic life and its continuing importance for the church and the world -- and may I accordingly take this opportunity to once again encourage our readers who are considering vocations to not forget to discern whether God is calling you to the monastic life. Likewise, I hope more dioceses will seek to invite monastic foundations into their dioceses.

Here are the stories from News.VA:


VATICAN CITY, 9 OCT 2011 (VIS) - At 5.15 p.m. on Sunday, the Holy Father arrived by helicopter at Serra San Bruno, then continued his journey by car to the Carthusian monastery of Sts. Stephen and Bruno. He was greeted on the square in front of the monastery by Bruno Rosi, mayor of Serra San Bruno, then addressed some words to the many faithful from the local area who had gathered there to see him.

The Pope recalled the visit made to Serra San Bruno by John Paul II in 1984, noting that it is "a great privilege" to have a "'citadel' of the spirit" such as the Carthusian monastery on one's local territory. "Monasteries have an important, I would say indispensable, role", he said. "Their purpose today is to 'improve' the environment, in the sense that sometimes the air we breathe in our societies is unhealthy, it is polluted by a non-Christian mentality, at times even a non-human mentality, because it is dominated by economic interests, concerned only with worldly things and lacking a spiritual dimension.

"In such a climate not only God but also our fellow man is pushed to the margins, and we do not commit ourselves to the common good. Monasteries, however, are models of societies which have God and fraternal relations at their core. We have great need of them in our time".

Benedict XVI completed his remarks by exhorting the faithful of Serra San Bruno "to treasure the great spiritual tradition of this place, and seek to put it into practice in your daily lives".

The second story:


VATICAN CITY, 9 OCT 2011 (VIS) - Having addressed the local people of Serra San Bruno, the Holy Father entered the Carthusian monastery of Sts. Stephen and Bruno where he was greeted by the prior, Fr. Jacques Dupont. At 6 p.m. the Pope presided at Vespers with the monastic community in the monastery church.

In his homily the Pope explained that the aim of his visit was to confirm the Carthusian Order in its mission, "more vital and important today than ever before", he said. The spiritual core of the Carthusians, founded by St. Bruno, lies in the desire "to enter into union of life with God, abandoning everything which impedes such communion, allowing oneself to be seized by the immense love of God and living from that love alone", through solitude and silence.

Technological progress, the Holy Father noted, has made man's life more comfortable but also "more agitated, even convulsive". The growth of the communications media means that today we run the risk of virtual reality dominating reality itself. "People are increasingly, even unwittingly, immersed in a virtual dimension, thanks to the audiovisual images that accompany their lives from morning to evening. The youngest, having been born in this state, seem to fill each vacant moment with music and images, almost as if afraid to contemplate the void. ... Some people are no longer capable of remaining silent and alone".

This situation of modern society and culture "throws light on the specific charism of the Carthusian monastery as a precious gift for the Church and for the world, a gift which contains a profound message for our lives and for all humanity. I would summarise it in these terms: by withdrawing in silence and solitude man, so to speak, 'exposes' himself to the truth of his nakedness, he exposes himself to that apparent 'void' I mentioned earlier. But in doing so he experiences fullness, the presence of God, of the most real Reality that exists. ... Monks, by leaving everything, ... expose themselves to solitude and silence so as to live only from what is essential; and precisely in living from the essential they discover a profound communion with their brothers and sisters, with all mankind".

This vocation, the Pope went on, "finds its response in a journey, a lifelong search. ... Becoming a monk requires time, exercise, patience. ... The beauty of each vocation in the Church lies in giving time to God to work with His Spirit, and in giving time to one's own humanity to form, to grow in a particular state of life according to the measure of maturity in Christ. In Christ there is everything, fullness. However we need time to possess one of the dimensions of His mystery. ... At times, in the eyes of the world, it seems impossible that someone should spend his entire life in a monastery, but in reality a lifetime is hardly sufficient to enter into this union with God, into the essential and profound Reality which is Jesus Christ".

"The Church needs you and you need the Church", the Holy Father told the monks at the end of his homily. "You, who live in voluntary isolation, are in fact at the heart of the Church; you ensure that the pure blood of contemplation and of God's love flows in her veins".

Following the celebration, the Holy Father met with the monastic community in the refectory, he signed the visitors book then visited a cell and the infirmary of the monastery. He then returned by helicopter to Lamezia Terme whence he departed by plane for Rome at 8 p.m.

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