Today Mother Church celebrates the feast day of St. Bruno, the founder of the Carthusian Order remembered well for his excellent teaching, his strong sense of joy, and the value he placed on the contemplative life.
The first really notable thing in his life happened when Manasses became the Archbishop of Rheims. Bruno opposed Manasses because he had acquired his position by means of buying it. It wasn’t all that much later that Manasses was removed from his position, and his first act was revenge: Manasses went after Bruno and took his possessions.
Bruno fled, concerned that Manasses would do more harm to him. He took some friends with him, and one day, still fleeing, they started to talk about contemplative prayer. They became convinced that God was calling them to live a life of contemplative prayer in hermitage.
He loved it, but it didn’t last too long for him, because about six years later Pope Urban II called upon Bruno to take an influential office in the Vatican. Bruno wouldn’t dream of being disobieient to the Pope, so off he went. The Pope wanted to make him a Bishop if he wanted, but Bruno explained that he would rather found a new hermitage in Italy.
Bruno never intended to start an order; he never did write a book of rule, nor did he envision so much interest in his way of living. Yet God had other plans. Bruno is now considered the founder of the Carthusian monks.
The Carthusian monks today live the same way Bruno did years ago; their lives are rooted in silence, prayer, poverty, the Eucharist, and penance. It isn’t an easy way of life, which is why St. Bruno said this: “Those who are called to the eremetical life must have a happy soul, for nothing is more destructive than sadness.”
Interestingly, St. Bruno was never formally canonized, but in 1623 the Pope added his feast to the liturgical calendar.
In a very changing world, this type of life is necessary. As Bruno said: “While the world changes, the cross stands firm.” The Cross is permanent, and so too is the Church. The religious men and women who serve the Church in the example of St. Bruno as Carthusian monks and nuns do some of the most important work: prayer.
Let’s pray for them on this day. It’s about time we return the favor!
Some cool websites to look at:
St. Bruno: Pray for us and all Carthusian monks and nuns!