For him who is called... A Call from God
Like all religious life, the Carthusian life is the response to a call from God. We do not decide ourselves on such a vocation,
it is a gift we receive. It is not a simple personal choice, it is a story of love, a story of two. It is out of love that
Jesus invites certain men to follow him in solitude in the mountains, in order for them to live with him and contemplate the
splendor of his face.
"Since the beginning of time, Christ, Son of God, has chosen, by the Holy Spirit, men to lead them in solitude to unite
them in an intimate love" (Statutes, Prologue)
"Those who know conjugal love can feel sorry for us by thinking that we do not know what love is. May they rest assured,
the love of God seen in faith, even in an obscure faith, is more sure, more stable, closer, softer, stronger, more fulfilling
and inebriating than any other type of love. In faith we have a certainty that no other experience can give. Therein is the
meaning of the word of Scripture: ´I will marry you in faith.´" (Yves Raguin, Célibat pour notre temps).
This calling from God is left to the freedom of man; God offers, He does not impose. Today is added the difficulty that
might exist in hearing this calling. Rarely known and seldom viewed in esteem, contemplative life is so far from and seems
so contrary to what the modern world holds valuable, that few are able to feel the appeal. Nevertheless, today, like yesterday,
candidates continue to come to our doors. What do we expect of them?
A profound desire of consecrating their lives to prayer and the search of God in love. "My soul thirsts for God,
the living God. When shall I come and behold the face of God?" (Ps 42:2) The ideal contemplative must have an attraction
or desire for solitude, for it is the framework within which the majority of the monk's life takes place. Since Carthusians
are not hermits in the proper sense, there is a communal life which cannot be disregarded. It is thus imperative that the
candidate not only have a penchant for solitude, but for communal life as well. Among other indispensable qualities or character
traits, mental balance and judgment are high priorities. We can further add: a maturity capable of preparing oneself
to make a lifetime commitment to a new life, a spirit of faith and openness that must let itself be led by obedience, and
The call to the Carthusian life will often manifest itself by a desire which might suddenly appear, following a significant
spiritual experience, or slowly over time over the years. In practice, it is not easy to judge from a distance the proper
traits and aptitude of the candidate. This is why, one or two retreats of some duration in a Charterhouse are necessary to
help discern God's calling. Several steps will need to be taken.
Stages of Formation
Before entering the Monastery
He who wished to join a Carthusian monastery must, above all, grow his desire in prayer. Such a decision does not happen
out of whim. He must then contact a monastery, explaining in as great as detail as possible, the attraction to the Carthusian
life. In return, he will be asked certain pieces of complementary information regarding his studies, family, etc...
If it seems appropriate, we will offer him a retreat at the monastery in order for him to experience the life. In no other
case are retreatants accepted to the monastery. If, at the end of the retreat, the results were positive, we will ask him
to wait and delay his entrance a little longer before letting him in, or we might let him enter as soon as he feels ready.
Postulancy and Novitiate
Upon his entering the monastery, the candidate begins his postulancy which lasts from three months to a year. If, at that
point, his vocation is confirmed, he'll take the Carthusian habit and begin his novitiate for a period of two years. Following
the novitiate come temporary vows for three years, which are then renewed for two years. Solemn vows takes place at the end
of those two years, at which time the monk gives himself to the life in front of God and Church for ever.
A significant degree of human maturity is required; for this reason the Statutes allow no one under 20 to be admitted,
and in fact, given the delayed maturity in the west today, a person does not enter before he is 23. Since adaptability to
a life of this kind becomes increasingly difficult after one reaches 40, the upper age limit is 45, though candidates after
40 are not often considered.
It is essential that a candidate have a sound judgement; a reposed, open and sociable character is very desirable. In addition,
candidates for the cloister are asked to have some knowledge of Latin and an educational background in the liberal arts if
at all possible, with at least two years of college. A high school education or the equivalent is asked of the brothers.