I have no idea how I missed this, but back in December there was a focus piece in the New York Times on the Chartreuse monks. You really should go read it … BUT NOT YET…(that’s today’s DO THIS). (seems to me they could have saved a lot of time and just linked to my page: chartru… what now? …but I digress)
For me, one of the most helpful things to take away from Les Freres Chartreux is their conception of time.
They spend almost every hour alone. They take part in what needs to be done to survive. Other than that, they have devoted themselves to prayer, reading the Bible, and gathering for worship.
They have committed themselves to intentionally slowing down, of removing, of not taking part – so that they can focus on something see.
If one of the greatest fears in our society is the Fear Of Missing Out – these individuals appear to have found the Joy Of Missing Out. They have found ways to strip off things which take up our time, cause us to feel rushed. Those things that make us feel like we can’t carve out time for things that we say are important.
Living a lifestyle that has not really changed in centuries is one thing. But when that lifestyle itself is marked by slow, intentional, contemplative days it is so bizarre to us. We are constantly rushed, up against deadlines, late, almost late, trying to catch up. For what?
The image of a group of believers who patiently go about their lives, focusing on what they believe is important is revolutionary. The fact that its revolutionary, really says something about us as a society.
Just to be clear, I don’t think if all believers secluded themselves away the world would be better off. I strongly feel that engagement in society is what is needed. I think becoming embedded in our cultures is where many (most) of us need to be.
However – as is the case in many things – when we look at something taken to the extreme, we can better understand what it looks like. So perhaps an ascetic, isolated, contemplative life in the French alps is not what we need. But – looking at it maybe is.
Read this article on the Monks who live in isolation in the French Alps. An Elixir From the French Alps, Frozen in Time. If you don’t feel like it – here are a few key insights:
“This order has lasted because they know how to live beyond time, and they know how to live, also, in the present,”
“The days pass very quickly when you’re immersed in the shadow of eternity.”
“When you have roots this deep, it allows you to forget the short term and project your vision far in the future.”
Imagine yourself waking up tomorrow (at 05.00) to start the day like the brothers in St Pierre de Chartreuse. Focusing the entire day on prayer, reading the bible, gathering with others to sing ancient songs, and just doing the work that is needed to survive.
Think about the ability to focus on things that are fundamentally more important (based on your values and beliefs)
What advantages can you see to a secluded, monastic life?What advantages can you see your life has compared to theirs?
Think about those advantages you see in your current life. Dwell on that. Take that with you throughout the day. There are things about your specific life that allow you to have an impact for good. Seize them.
What changes could you make to move towards some of the advantages that you see in the lives of the Chartreux?
The below are translations of some of what the Chartreuse Monks will pray through during the two weeks that follow Easter. It seemed fitting that this week we join them in some of these prayers.
God our Father, may we look forward with hope to our resurrection, for you have made us your children, and restored the joy of our youth.
In glorifying Christ and sending us your Spirit, you open the way to eternal life. May our sharing in this gift increase our love and make our faith grow stronger.
You gave us the Easter mystery as our covenant of reconciliation. May the new birth we celebrate show its effects in the way we live.
Lord, as we walk the paths of life, may you never find us slow to believe. May we hold our hearts ready for you and recognize you as our God in the breaking of the bread,
Lord, let your grace produce in our hearts a real renewal, so that our love may be purified of what is earthly and our faith of anything false.
Father, in your love you have brought us from evil to good and from misery to happiness. Through your blessings give the courage of perseverance to those you have called and justified by faith.
God of unchanging goodness, even before creating the human race you determined to redeem it. Having given us a new life, bring us to the joy which lasts for ever.
Lord, increase our desire for you for we are your children by adoption. Help us contemplate you with the eyes of faith as we patiently await that light which is to see you face to face.
Lord Jesus, by dying you have robbed death of its power and by rising from the dead you have given the hope of a like resurrection to sinners. Help us to be dead to sin by avoiding evil, and by doing good to share in your resurrection,
God of mercy, each year we relive the Easter mystery in faith and in hope. Grant us to find its fulfilment in love’s abiding joy.
Lord, hear our prayer that your gospel may reach all people and bring them salvation through your Word,