Since its origins, the Carthusian Order has paid a special homage to the Mother of God. Mary is the Order's principal
Patron (along with St. John the Baptist), ever the Christian, full of redemptive grace. As the Mother of Christ and of the
Mystical Body, she begets her son spiritually in the soul. In this awarness, the Carthusian naturally prays with and to the
For every Christian and for every human being, Mary is the one who first believed. Out of her faith as Spouse and Mother,
she desires to act upon all those who entrust themselves to her as her children. And the more her children persevere and progress
in this attitude, the nearer Mary leads them to the "unsearchable riches of Christ" (Ephesians 3:8) They recognize ever more clearly the dignity of man in all its fullness and the definnitive meaning of his vocation,
for "Christ fully reveals man to man hinself." (Vatican II's Gaudium et Spes, #22)
Mary play's a primary role in the solitary life of the monk. As fas as human frailty allows, his soul continually strives
to draw close to God and remain faithful to this spousal covenant of love. This effort unites the Carthusian in a special
way with the Blessed Virgin Mary, whom we are accustomed to call Mater Singularis Carthusiensium (the Mother in particular
of all Carthusians). We honor her with a special affection by daily reciting her Little Office and by consecrating our church
and the community to her Immaculate Heart.
Devotion to Mary leads us into a living communion with her Son Jesus and allows us to experience the depth of His love.
She teaches by obtaining for us in abundance the gifts of the Holy Spirit, even as she offers us the incomparable example
of her pilgrimage of faith. Her "school" leads to a harvest of holiness as we contemplate the beauty of the countenance of
Jesus and the mystery of His life. Mary invites us to follow her example at the Annunciation, "Behold the handmaid of the
Lord. Be it done to me according to your word." (Luke 1:38) She guides us to ask humbly for
that which opens us to the light and, in the end, leads to the obedience of faith.
In addition to the Canonical Divine Office, the Carthusian begins and ends each day with Our Lady so the entire day is
lovingly enclosed in her maternal embrace. The monk recites the Office of the Blessed Virgin each day in his cell. To implore
the continuous protection of Mary, every Charterhouse celebrates a daily Mass in her honor. On Saturday, this Mass is celebrated
as the Community Mass. On the other days it is said in private.
Other daily devotions to Mary include the singing of the Salve Regina at the end of Vespers and the Ave
Maria at the end of Lauds, and the recitation of the Angelus in her honor four times daily where each of three
Hail Marys is preceded by a veniam (the monk kisses the floor). Monks also recite a Hail Mary each time they enter
their cell from outside. Particularly beautiful is the Carthusian custom of reciting the Little Hours of the Blessed Virgin
Mary before the corresponding Canonical Hours (except at Compline when we recite her Office last). The Order this addresses
its first and last words of the day "to Jesus through Mary."