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Solitary life and Community Life

A Solitary communion

The grace of the Holy Spirit brings together those living in solitude to make a communion in love, in the image of the Church, one and extending to all ends of the earth (Statutes 21.1)

Carthusian originality comes, in second part, from the community aspect which is intrinsically linked in the solitary aspect. This was Saint Bruno's stroke of genius, inspired by the Holy Spirit, to have, from its very inception, been able to balance in just the right proportions solitary life and community life in such a was as to allow the Carthusian to be a communion of solitudinarians for God. Solitude and brotherly life balancing themselves perfectly.

Community life consecrates itself around the liturgy sung at the church, and by weekly reunions of the community: Sunday, during lunch in silence at the refectory and in the afternoon during the bimonthly recreation. In other words, the first free day of the week a long hike of approximately four hours (the spaciement) in which we can talk to better get to know one another. These recreations and hike have for goal to maintain mutual affecting and to help unite the hearts, all while assuring healthy physical exercise.

Fathers and Brothers

A Carthusian community consists of cloistered monks, priest or those destined to become (Fathers) and monks converse or donate (Brothers). Cloistered monks live in the strictest of solitude. They do not leave their cells other than when allowed by the Rule. They occupy their time with prayer, readings, and work (sawing wood to heat themselves during winter, gardening, transcribing, pottery...) The Brothers ensure that the varied needs of the monastery are met by their work outside of the cells (cooking, mill, forestry...) It is a unique ideal, lived in two different manners. The Brothers work in as much silence and solitude as possible. They have their share of life in the cell for reading and prayer, yet it is less demanding than the Fathers. That is why their cells are smaller. Both ways of life complement one another to form the unique Charterhouse and correspond to the different aptitudes of those who wish to lead a Carthusian life.

Within the group of Brothers, there are two categories, those of the religious called Convert (monks that take the exact same vows as the Fathers) and that of the Donate.

The Donate are monks who do not take the vows, but for love of Christ, Donate themselves to the Order by mutual agreement. They have their own set of customs which differs slightly than those of the converts: their help during the Offices, most notable during the night Office, is not as strict... They live without owning anything per say, but continue owning and disposing of their belongings at will. After seven years, they can fully enter the Order or renew their donation. Their gift to God is not any less than that of the other monks, as they tackle tasks and duties less compatible to the obligations of the converts.

The nuns know of the same type of vocations under the name of Cloister Nuns, Converse Nuns and Donate Nuns

Carthusian Life

Guigo's Praise of Life in Solitude

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