Characteristics of Carthusian Liturgy
As soon as arriving in the region of Chartreuse, Saint Bruno and his companions put together a liturgy particularly adapted
to their hermitical vocation and minimalist dimensions of their community. Over the centuries, our fathers have sought to
preserve this unique liturgy Donate to our solitary and contemplative life.
In comparing to the Roman rite, the Carthusian
rite is characterized by its simplicity and sobriety in terms of external forms, which favors the union of soul with God,
by visible and sensible expressions.
Certain elements of our liturgy :
- Long periods of silence
- Ban of all musical instruments
- Gregorian chant, helping internal conversation
The celebration of the most holy Eucharistic sacrifice is the center and summit of communal life:
Every day the monks
gather to celebrate the sacrifice of Our Lord. The eucharist can only be concelebrated on days where carthusian life shows
forth its character of community: Sundays and significant Holy days. Other days, there is only one celebrant a the altar,
and the Eucharistic prayer is said in a very low voice. The community takes part of this Eucharistic liturgy with gregorian
chant, internal prayers, and communion.
Other times of the day, each monk priest celebrates the holy mysteries in a solitary
chapel, uniting him in a special and sacramental way to the universal sacrifice through a greater conformity to Jesus.
Another highlight of the liturgical day is that of the office celebrated in the church during the middle of the night
(Matins and Lauds): lasting from three to four hours depending on the day, alternating chants of psalms and readings
of Holy Scripture or of Church Fathers, times of silence and prayers of intercession. All Carthusians have a particular love
for this long office of the night where each, united to all his brothers, in a personal manner, can live an intense and meaningful
communion with God.
Chanting is always done in latin, according to gregorian melodies specifically attached to the Carthusians. Certain homes
of the Order sing the psalms in vernacular, others in latin. Reading are usually done in the vernacular. In the cells, the
office can be recited in latin or in the vernacular.
Towards the end of the day the monks find themselves in the church to celebrate Vespers. The other parts of the office
are celebrated by each monk in his cell, except for Sunday and certain Holy Days where they are sung in the church. In addition
to the divine office, Carthusians recite the office of the Virgin Mary every day in their cells and once a week an
office with special intentions for the dead: they pray to God that he welcomes in His eternal kingdom all those who
have passed away.
Thanks to the liturgy, the Carthusians do not remain a group of solitudinarians isolated amongst themselves, they become
a real community, thus manifesting the mystery of the Church and finding its place by the public cult it gives to God.