The Carthusian Order

Statutes

Ch. 1 Prologue
Ch. 2 Praise of Life in Solitude
Book 1 : The Cloister Monks
Ch. 3 The Cloister Monks
Ch. 4 The Keeping of Cell and Silence
Ch. 5 Occupations in Cell
Ch. 6 The Observance of Enclosure
Ch. 7 Fasting and Abstinence
Ch. 8 The Novice
Ch. 9 The Novice-Master
Ch. 10 Profession
Book 2 : The Lay Monks
Ch. 11 The Lay Monks
Ch. 12 Solitude
Ch. 13 Enclosure
Ch. 14 Silence
Ch. 15 Work
Ch. 17 The Novice
Ch. 18 Profession
Ch. 19 Donation
Ch. 20 The Formation of the Brothers
Book 3 : The Community
Ch. 21 The Daily Celebration of the Liturgy
Ch. 22 Of Life in Common
Ch. 23 The Prior
Ch. 26 The Procurator
Ch. 27 The Sick
Ch. 28 Poverty
Ch. 29 The Care and Administration of Temporal Goods
Ch. 30 Stability
Book 4 : The Order
Ch. 31 The Government of the Order
Ch. 32 The Canonical Visitation
Ch. 33 Conversion of Life
Ch. 34 The Function of our Order in the Life of the Church
Ch. 35 The Statutes Themselves
Book 5 : Rites and Acts of Carthusian Life
Ch. 36 Rites of Carthusian Life
Ch. 38 Election of a Prior
Book 6 : The Liturgical Seasons
Ch. 41 The Liturgy in our Order
Ch. 52 Liturgical Chant
Ch. 53 Ceremonies of the Community during the Divine Office
Ch. 54 Ceremonies for the Office in Cell
Book 9 : Sacraments and Suffrages
Ch. 62 The Sacraments
Ch. 65 Suffrages

Statutes

Book 2 : The Lay Monks

Chapter 11


The Lay Monks « »
  1. From the very beginning, our Order, like a body whose members have different functions, has been composed of fathers and brothers; both are monks and thus share in the same vocation, although in different ways: and it is this diversity that enables the Carthusian family to fulfill its role in the Church with greater perfection. The first of these, about whom we have been speaking so far, are the cloister monks, who live in the seclusion of their cells, and who are priests or destined to be priests. The others, about whom, with God’s help, we are now about to speak, are the lay monks, who, while also devoting themselves to solitude, nevertheless give more time to manual labor, and so spend their lives in the service of the Lord. To the first brothers, styled converse brothers, in the course of time was added another kind of brother, namely, the donates, who do not take vows, but for the love of Christ give themselves to the Order in a mutually binding pledge; since they lead a monastic life, these too are called monks.
  2. Just as the first Fathers of our Order followed in the footsteps of those monks of old, who led lives of solitude and poverty of spirit, so too, our first brothers, Andrew and Guérin, determined to follow a similar ideal. The brothers, therefore, both converse and donates, should not leave the monastic enclosure except on rare occasions when necessity demands; they should also diligently keep themselves strangers to all worldly news; finally, their cells should be so secluded that, once within, the door being closed, and all cares and problems left without, they can tranquilly pray to the Father in secret.
  3. The brothers imitate the hidden life of Jesus of Nazareth, when carrying out the daily tasks of the House, they praise God by their work; in so doing, they consecrate the world to the glory of the Creator and put the gifts of nature to the service of the contemplative life. However, during the times set apart for solitary prayer, and when present at the Sacred Liturgy, God alone is their sole concern. Accordingly, the places where they work, like those where they live, should be so arranged as to be conducive to interior recollection; and, even though furnished with what is necessary and useful, it should be quite apparent that they are a home where God dwells and not mere secular buildings.
  4. Bound together by love for the Lord, by prayer, by zeal for solitude, and by the service of work, the brothers under the guidance of the Procurator are united into one. Let them, therefore, show themselves to be true disciples of Christ, not merely in name but in deed; let them be zealous for mutual love, living in harmony, forbearing one another, and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; so that they may be of one heart and soul.
  5. Observing their own particular form of solitary life, the brothers by their work provide for the material needs of the House which have been entrusted to them in a special way. They thus enable the cloister monks to devote their time more freely to the silence of the cell. In this way, both brothers and fathers, by conforming themselves to him who did not come to be served but to serve, manifest in different ways the riches of a life totally dedicated to God in solitude.
    United in one body, these two forms of life have different graces; but there is a communication of spiritual benefits between them, and each one complements the other. By this harmony, the charism entrusted by the Spirit to our Father St. Bruno reaches its full expression.
  6. As the fathers know, the sacred Orders that they have received are less a dignity than a call to service. The ministerial priesthood and the baptismal priesthood of the laity are ordered to one another; they both participate in the unique priesthood of Christ. It is for each one therefore, to persevere in the state in which he was called, tending unswervingly to the single goal of our vocation.
  7. To all his sons, both fathers and brothers, it is the Prior’s task to mirror the love of our heavenly Father, uniting them in Christ so as to form one family, and so that each of our Houses may really be what Guigues terms a Carthusian church.
  8. All this finds its source and support in the celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice which is the efficacious sign of unity. It is also the center and high point of our life, as well as being the spiritual food for our exodus in solitude, by which through Christ we return to the Father. Throughout the entire liturgical cycle Christ prays, both for us as our Priest, and in us as our Head.
  9. And since following in the steps of our founders is the safest way to God, let the brothers keep before them the example of the first converse brothers of the Grande Chartreuse, who, before any written rule existed, gave to their life its structure and spirit. With them in mind and with joyful heart, St. Bruno wrote as follows :
    "Of you, dearest lay brothers, I say: ‘My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,’ because I see the richness of his mercy towards you. For we rejoice that the mighty God himself — since you are ignorant of letters — is writing directly on your hearts, not only love but also knowledge of his holy law. Indeed, what you love, what you know, is shown by what you do. It is clear that you are wisely harvesting Sacred Scripture’s sweetest and most life-giving fruit, since you observe with great care and zeal true obedience. For true obedience, which is the carrying out of God’s commands, the key to the whole spiritual life, and the guarantee of its authenticity, is never found without deep humility and outstanding patience, and is always accompanied by pure love for God and true charity. Continue, therefore, my brothers, in the state that you have attained."

Chapter 12


Solitude « »
  1. Our supreme quest and goal is to find God in solitude and silence. There, indeed, as a man with his friend, do the Lord and his servant often speak together; there is the faithful soul frequently united with the Word of God; there is the bride made one with her Spouse; there is earth joined to heaven, the divine to the human. Commonly, however, the journey is long, and the way dry and barren, that must be traveled to attain the fount of living water.
  2. The brothers, whose solitude is frequently without the protection afforded by the seclusion of the cloister and the custody of cell, should certainly seek exterior solitude with unremitting zeal; yet exterior solitude profits nothing unless, at all times, even when at work, it is accompanied, although without interior tension, by solitude of mind.
  3. Whenever the brothers are not occupied with the Divine Office in church or with work in their obediences, they always return to cell as to a very sure and tranquil haven. Here, they remain quietly and without noise, as far as possible, and follow with faithfulness the order of the day, doing everything in the presence of God and in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, through him giving thanks to God the Father. Here they occupy themselves usefully in reading or meditation — especially on Sacred Scripture, the food of the soul — or, in the measure possible, they give themselves to prayer, neither contriving nor accepting occasions for going out, other than those normally prescribed or arising from obedience. For, from time to time, human nature will seek to evade the silence of solitude and the quiet of prayer; for which reason St. Augustine remarks, "For lovers of this world, there is no harder work than not working." If beneficial from a spiritual point of view, the brothers may occasionally, and with the Procurator’s consent, undertake some light work in cell.
  1. Each year the converse brothers remain in the peace and solitude of their cells for eight days, which may be either continuous or divided into two periods; this the donates do for at least three days. Moreover, once a month, each brother, if he wishes, may spend a normal working day in this type of recollection.
  2. Love for our brothers should show itself firstly in respect for their solitude; should we have permission to speak with them in cell about some matter let us avoid idle talk.
  1. The better to obtain the end to which they are called, the brothers’ work should, as far as possible, be so distributed that each one works alone, even though there may be several brothers in the same obedience.
  2. After the evening Angelus is rung, the brothers do not come to the cell of the Prior or the Procurator, unless summoned. From this time on, those alone, should remain with guests, whose duty it is to look after them. When someone is in another’s cell or elsewhere, on hearing the evening Angelus bell, he should immediately leave, unless he has special instructions to remain longer.
  3. What benefit, what divine delight, solitude and the silence of the desert bring to those who love them, only those who have experienced them can tell. Here God rewards his athletes for the exertion of the contest with the longed-for prize, peace that the world does not know, and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Chapter 13


Enclosure « »
  1. Having left the world forever in order to stand continually before the divine majesty, and being mindful of this our special task, we view with horror the thought of going out and traveling about through town and country. However, such rigorous observance of enclosure would profit nothing, unless through it we tended to that purity of heart, to which alone is it promised to see God. To attain this, great abnegation is required, especially of the natural curiosity that men feel about human affairs. We should not allow our minds to wander through the world in search of news and gossip; on the contrary, our part is to remain hidden in the shelter of the Lord’s presence.
  1. When a brother is sent to a place nearby, he does not accept food or drink or hospitality from anyone, unless he has special instructions to do so, or is compelled by some unavoidable and unexpected necessity.
  2. Let the Porter be kind to all and religious in his bearing; and let him entirely abstain from useless conversation; so doing, he will give good and profitable example to seculars. In dealing with those whom he judges should be admitted, or politely refused, his words should be gracious but very few. These rules apply likewise to anyone who may be taking his place.
  3. Since it is written, “Honor your father and your mother,” we relax a little our separation from the world in favor of our parents and other relations, whom we allow to visit us each year for two days, which may be taken separately or together. But apart from this, we avoid visits from friends and conversations with seculars, unless indeed, some inescapable necessity is imposed on us by the love of Christ: for we know that God is worthy to be offered this sacrifice, and that it will be of greater profit to men than our words.
  1. Let us likewise remember that seculars do not expect a Carthusian to write them about idle news or public affairs; so let all our correspondence be done in the presence of God and in union with Christ, avoiding the empty and the profane.
  1. The noble charism of celibacy, which is a pure gift of divine grace, brings to our hearts an unrivaled freedom, and enables each one of us, who have been taken possession of by Christ, to spend himself totally for him. This gift leaves no room for narrowness of mind or seeking for self-advantage; rather, in response to the irresistible invitation of the love beyond words that Christ has shown us, it should so increase love in us, that the soul is inflamed to an ever more perfect sacrifice of self.
  2. In solitude, then, let the monk’s soul be like a tranquil lake, whose waters well up from the purest sources of the spirit and, untroubled by news coming from outside, like a clear mirror reflect one image only, that of Christ.

Chapter 14


Silence « »
  1. God has led his servant into solitude to speak to his heart; but he alone who listens in silence hears the whisper of the gentle breeze that reveals the presence of the Lord. In the early stages of our Carthusian life, we may find silence a toilsome burden; however, if we are faithful, there will gradually be born within us of our silence itself something that will draw us on to still greater silence.
  2. On this account, the brothers may not speak indiscriminately of what they wish, or with whom they wish, or for as long as they wish; with few words and with quiet voice, they may speak about matters affecting their work; but apart from this, they may not speak without permission either to monks or to strangers.
  3. Since, therefore, the observance of silence is of vital importance in the life of a brother, this rule must be kept with great care. However, in doubtful cases not foreseen by the law, let each one prudently judge according to conscience and the needs of the moment, whether, and to what extent, it is lawful to speak.
  4. Devotion to the Spirit dwelling within them, and love for their brothers, both require that, when it is lawful to speak they should weigh their words well and be watchful of the extent to which they speak; for a long and uselessly protracted conversation is thought to grieve the Holy Spirit more and cause more dissipation than a few words, that are indeed against the rule, but are quickly cut short. Often a conversation, that was useful in the beginning, soon becomes useless and, finally, worthy of blame.
  1. On Sundays and solemnities, and also on days specially set apart for recollection, they observe silence with special care and remain in cell. Likewise, every day from the evening Angelus to Prime, throughout the monastery should reign perfect silence, which the brothers may not break, unless in a case of true and urgent necessity; for, as appears from the examples of Scripture and the traditions of the monks of old, this time of the night is specially conducive to recollection and meeting with God.
  1. Let the brothers not presume to speak without permission to seculars who approach them, or to chat with them; they may merely return their greeting, as also that of those they happen to meet, and, if questioned, briefly respond and excuse themselves as not having permission for further speech with them.
  2. Observance of silence and interior recollection require special vigilance on the part of the brothers, since many occasions for speaking come their way; in this they cannot attain perfection, unless they diligently strive to live always in the presence of God.

Chapter 15


Work « »
  1. At appointed times, the brothers apply themselves to the work of providing for the needs of the House, in order that, in union with Jesus, a workman’s son, they may glorify God the Father and associate the entire man in the work of redemption. The sweat and fatigue of their labor are a participation in the cross of Christ, whereby, through the light of the resurrection, they become sharers in the new heavens and the new earth.
  2. Ancient monastic tradition assures us that such work contributes greatly to the practice of those virtues from which flows perfect love. Human labor, by fostering a happy equilibrium between mind and body, helps the brothers to profit more from solitude.
  3. The brothers manage their obediences, and everything belonging to them, in accordance with the directions of the Prior and the Procurator, applying to the work committed to them their natural powers and gifts of grace. By this obedience their liberty of sons of God is developed, and by their willing service they contribute to the building up of the Body of Christ in accordance with God’s plan.
  4. The Procurator in regard to the brothers, as also the head of an obedience in regard to his assistant, should exercise authority in a spirit of service, thereby portraying the love with which God loves them; they should readily consult them or give them a hearing, keeping for themselves, however, the right finally to decide and order what is to be done; thus, in the discharge of their duties, all cooperate together through an obedience that is active and entirely penetrated by love.
  5. In union with Christ Jesus, who, though he was rich, yet for our sake became poor, the brothers always preserve a spirit of poverty in their work; in particular they avoid all waste and watch that tools are not lost; likewise they are very careful about the proper maintenance of all equipment, machinery especially.
  1. The Infirmarian, and likewise the Cook and those whose duty it is to provide for the special needs of the sick, should surround with love those afflicted with illness; and more than that, they should see the suffering Christ mirrored in the suffering patients and rejoice that, in them, they are able to serve and console Christ himself.
  2. The aim of the brother’s life is, above all else, that, united with Christ, he may abide in his love; hence, whether in solitude of cell, or in the midst of his work, aided by the grace of his vocation, he should strive whole-heartedly to have at all times his mind on God.

Chapter 17


The Novice « »
  1. When aspirants, aflame with divine love and longing to leave the world and lay hold of eternal realities, come to us, let us receive them in the same spirit. It is therefore vitally necessary that novices should find in the House where they are to be trained an example of regular observance and piety, of silence and solitude, and likewise of fraternal love; if this example is lacking, there is little hope of them being able to persevere in our life.
  2. However, candidates who come to us are to be examined carefully and prudently, in accordance with the warning of the Apostle John, "Test the spirits, to see whether they are of God." For it is indeed certain that the progress or deterioration of the Order, both in the quality and number of its members, chiefly depends on the good or bad reception and formation of novices. Priors, therefore, should cautiously inquire about their family, their past life, and their fitness of mind and body; on which matter it will be found helpful to consult experienced doctors, who are familiar with our way of life. Among the qualities, with which candidates for life in solitude should be particularly endowed, a sound and balanced judgement is of prime importance.
  3. It is not our custom to receive novices before they have attained their twentieth year; further, of the applicants, only those are to be accepted who, in the judgement of the Prior and of the majority of the community, are sufficiently gifted with piety, maturity, and physical strength, to bear the burdens of the Order; they should, of course, have an aptitude for solitude, but also for life in common.
  4. Great caution must be shown in the reception of persons somewhat advanced in age, as they may have difficulty in adapting to our observances and way of life. No candidate for the brother’s life should therefore be received after reaching forty-five years of age, without the express permission of the General Chapter or the Reverend Father. This permission is also required for the admission to the novitiate of religious who are in vows in another Institute. If the religious is perpetually professed, the Reverend Father must have the consent of the General Council. For the admission of a candidate who has been under vows in another Institute, we are advised to consult the Reverend Father.
  1. When someone comes to us, seeking to become one of our brothers, he must be free from all legal impediment, moved by a right intention, and capable of carrying the burdens of the Order; hence he should be duly questioned about everything necessary or helpful to know in forming a correct judgement concerning his admission.
  2. This having been done, the purpose of our life is put before the candidate, as also the glory that we hope will be given to God by our sharing in the work of redemption, and how good and joyous it is to leave all things and hold fast to Christ; but the hard and austere things are also presented before him, so that every aspect of the life that he wishes to embrace is, as far as possible, exposed to his view. If, in face of this, he remains unperturbed and readily promises, on account of the words of the Lord, to walk this difficult path, desiring to die with Christ and to live with Christ, then, as a last counsel, let him be advised to make peace, in the spirit of the Gospel, with all who have anything against him.
  3. If, after the aspirant has been some days with us, the Prior decides that he may be received, the Novice-Master will himself give him the postulant’s mantle. The postulant will be employed in various types of work and obediences, and assist at the Divine Office, so as to familiarize himself with his new life as quickly as possible. Before beginning the novitiate, he will be tested for at least three months in the House, but not beyond a year.
  4. If the postulant is found to be humble, obedient, chaste, trustworthy, religious, well-balanced temperamentally, suited to solitude, and hard working, then he can be proposed to the community, including the perpetual donates. This presentation should be made by the Vicar, the Procurator and the Novice-Master, who should clearly and accurately set forth the postulant’s good qualities and defects; and if the whole community, or a majority of it, judge that he should be received, it is for the Prior — after the postulant has had at least four days of recollection — to receive him in the monastic habit into the fellowship of the Order.
  5. The novice, since he intends to leave all things and follow Christ, is to entrust to the Prior all the money and other possessions he may perhaps have brought with him, so that not he but the Prior, or someone appointed by the Prior, may take care of them. We neither require nor request anything whatever from those who wish to enter our Order.
  6. A novitiate done for the lay monks is not valid for the cloister monks, nor the other way round.
  7. The novitiate lasts for two years. It can be prolonged by the Prior, but not by more than six months. The brother candidate will choose, between the life of converse and that of donate, at the latest before the second year of novitiate. He makes this decision himself and with perfect freedom.
  8. When a candidate in perpetual vows comes to us from another religious Institute, he completes the postulancy as specified above; then if he is suitable, he is admitted to the converse novitiate. Then he will remain five years before being admitted to solemn Profession. For his admission to the novitiate, we follow the procedure outlined above (8.9); we do likewise two years later, then after another two years, and finally before solemn Profession.
  9. If a donate novice in second year wishes to pass to the state of converse, or if a donate wishes to do so, it is for the Prior to determine the stages of formation, provided that it last at least seven years and three months, and that the requirements of Canon Law be observed. A similar procedure is to be followed when a converse novice or temporary professed passes to the state of donate.
  10. Let the novice not be worn down by the temptations which are wont to beset the followers of Christ in the desert; nor let him put his trust in his own strength, but in the Lord, who has called him and who will bring to perfection the work he has begun.

Chapter 18


Profession « »
  1. The monk, already by baptism dead to sin and consecrated to God, is by Profession still more totally dedicated to the Father and set free from the world, in order to be able to strive more directly towards perfect love; linked with the Lord in firm and stable pact, he shares in the mystery of the Church’s indissoluble union with Christ, and bears witness to the world of that new life won for us by Christ’s redemption.
  2. On the completion of a praiseworthy novitiate, the converse novice is presented to the community. He prostrates at full length in the Chapter and asks for mercy; then he petitions to be received for the love of God to first Profession, in the habit of the professed brother, as the most humble servant of all. After some days, the vote takes place as specified above (8.9).
  1. Having passed at least eight days in spiritual recollection, the brother will again make his petition to the community in Chapter; he will then be reminded by the Prior of the various obligations attached to the state of converse brother, particularly of stability, obedience, and conversion of way of life. Afterwards, in church he will make Profession for three years in the manner described in (36.8-10). Every care should be taken that he makes his decision to take vows with mature reflection, and that he only binds himself with perfect liberty.
  2. Three years later, it is for the Prior, after the vote of the community (8.9), to admit the junior professed to a renewal of his temporary Profession for two years. The time in temporary vows can be prolonged by the Prior, but not for more than a year.
  1. Since the disciple, if he wishes to follow Christ, must renounce all things, including self, a brother about to make solemn Profession must part with everything he then possesses; and, if he wishes, he can at the same time dispose of property to which he has a claim. No member of the Order is to ask for anything at all from the possessions of a temporary professed, even with a view to some pious work or to making a charitable donation to anyone whatever; rather, he is to dispose of his property freely and as he pleases.
  1. On the appointed day, the future professed makes his vows after the Gospel or the Credo of the Conventual Mass (36.13-14); for then, the offering of himself, which he intends to unite to that of Christ, is accepted and consecrated by God through the hands of the Prior.
  2. The future professed is himself to write the Profession formula in the vernacular, as follows :
    "I, Brother N., before God, his saints and the relics belonging to this hermitage, and in the presence of Dom N. Prior, promise obedience, conversion of my life and perseverance in this hermitage, which was built in honor of God, the Blessed Mary ever Virgin, and Saint John the Baptist."
    If the Profession is temporary, the period of the engagement is indicated after "promise"; if it is solemn, the word "perpetual" is inserted.
  3. One should note that all our hermitages are dedicated in the first place to the Blessed Mary ever Virgin and Saint John the Baptist, our principal heavenly patrons. The certificate of every Profession, signed by the professed brother and the Prior that received his vows, and with the day and year noted on it, is to be kept in the archives of the House.
  1. Let the brother know that, from the moment of his Profession, he can, without the Prior’s permission, have nothing whatever for himself — not even a walking stick — since, indeed, even his very self is no longer his own. For, as all who wish to live according to a rule must observe obedience with great zeal, we, in the measure that the way of life we have embraced is more exacting and austere, must observe it the more ardently and carefully; lest, if — which God avert! — obedience is lacking, such great labors may well go unrewarded. It is for this reason that Samuel says, "Obedience is better than any sacrifice, and to listen to God than the fat of rams."

Chapter 19


Donation « »
  1. In the House of God are many dwelling-places: among us, there are fathers and converse brothers; there are also donates, who have likewise left the world and sought the solitude of the Charterhouse, in order, by giving themselves to prayer and work within the protection of the cloister, to consecrate their whole life to the Lord. Quite frequently, in fact, men of real holiness, who wished to be numbered among the sons of Blessed Bruno and to enjoy his spiritual heritage, have preferred to live and die as donates.
  2. On the completion of a praiseworthy novitiate, the donate novice is admitted by the Prior to temporary Donation, after the vote of the solemn professed and of the perpetual donates (8.9).
  3. On the day of Donation, whether temporary or perpetual (36.16-18), the future donate — having had at least four days of recollection — in the presence of the whole community before Vespers, is to read aloud his Donation, written in the vernacular, with this form and in these words :
    "I, Brother N., for the love of our Lord Jesus Christ and for the salvation of my soul, promise to serve God faithfully as a donate for the building up of the Church, observing obedience and chastity, and living without personal possessions. I therefore give myself to this House in a mutually binding contract, to serve it at all times, and submit myself to the discipline of the Order, according to the Statutes."
    For temporary Donation the words "for two years" should be added after "give myself"; likewise, if this is extended, the period of the extension should be expressed; in the case, however, of perpetual Donation one should insert "for ever".
  4. The donate, although he lives without personal possessions, retains the ownership of his property and the right to dispose of it. Before perpetual Donation, however, no one may transfer, or permit to be transferred, the ownership of any of his goods, even if the donate himself wishes it.
  5. From this day, the donate is a member of the Order, and is bound to it, so that, if necessity demands, the superiors can transfer him to any of our Houses. However, he cannot be dismissed from the Order, unless he seriously fails in one of his obligations; in which case the Prior, with the consent of the Council, can annul his Donation. When a contract of Donation is annulled, let both parties sign a document giving proof of this repeal, that is, the Prior in the name of the community, and the donate himself.
  6. Three years later, it is for the Prior, after the vote of the community, including the perpetual donates (8.9), to admit the donate to a renewal of his Donation for two years. The time of temporary Donation can be prolonged by the Prior, but not for more than a year.
  7. After the time of probation, it is for the Prior, after the vote of the community including the perpetual donates, to admit the brother, either to perpetual Donation, or, to the regime whereby his Donation is renewed every three years. In the latter case, the vote of the community is required only at the start of this regime. Furthermore, the consent of the Reverend Father is required for perpetual Donation.
  8. With regard to the Divine Office and the other observances, the donates have their own customs, which can be adapted to their needs, so that each one is enabled to attain, in the way best suited to him, our aim of union with God in solitude and silence; let them then use this ordered liberty not as an occasion for self-indulgence, but rather in the service of love; and thus they will serve the Lord in a different way, yet without diminishing the gift of themselves to God or their zeal for holiness. Moreover, they give the House very useful help, sometimes doing tasks that would hinder the converse brothers in their observances.

Chapter 20


The Formation of the Brothers « »
  1. The junior brothers are placed under the guidance of a Novice-Master, who must always be a choir monk and a priest. He should, moreover, be a deeply religious man, a lover of quiet and silence, gifted with prudence and good judgement, aflame with genuine charity, radiating love of our vocation, having an understanding of the diversity of spirits, and in open-minded sympathy with the needs of youth. Converse brothers remain in his care until solemn Profession, donates until perpetual Donation or entry into the regime whereby Donation is renewed every three years.
  1. The Novice-Master forms those in his care to a life of prayer, based on faith and love, and drawn from the pure source of the Word of God; he shows them how to combine this harmoniously with the duties of their state, namely, solitude, silence, liturgy and work. He fosters in them, likewise, a love and understanding of our Statutes and the traditions of the Order; he seeks to make their love for Christ and for the Church increase from day to day. Once a week he gives them a common conference of at least half an hour, in which he teaches, especially, the spirit and observances of our vocation. The novices, however, are given extra time in cell, to allow them to devote themselves more effectively to their spiritual formation.
  2. By visiting the members of the novitiate, and talking to them in private with frank simplicity, the Novice-Master comes to know their interior dispositions, and gives to each one advice suited to his particular needs, and calculated to enable each to attain the perfection of his vocation.
  3. The Procurator however, having, in virtue of his office, daily contact with the brothers, will give them more efficacious instruction in prayer and the virtues by the example of his own practice; for divine doctrine is communicated more by life than by words.
  4. From the time of formation, the brothers are not to be over-burdened with exercises in common, or with observances foreign to our Order; rather, care should be taken to initiate them into the life of prayer and a true monastic spirit.
  5. It is the province of the Prior and Novice-Master to judge, in the light of their prudence and discretion, of the suitability of candidates, or junior brothers, for our vocation. For, to become a Carthusian in fact as well as in name, the mere wish is not sufficient; in addition to love for solitude and for our life, a certain special aptitude of mind and body is required. To accept, or to continue to keep, a candidate, when it is manifest that he lacks the necessary qualities, is false — we almost said cruel — compassion. Let the Novice-Master be extremely careful that the novice decides concerning his vocation with complete freedom, and let him not put the slightest pressure on him to make Donation or Profession.
    Four times a year, in the presence of the Prior and his Council, the Novice-Master is to report on the state of each donate and converse novice; he is also to answer any inquiries made about other members of the novitiate.
  6. The junior brothers should have free access to the Novice-Master, and be able to speak with him at all times — spontaneously, however, and without constraint of any kind. We exhort them to bring their problems to the Novice-Master with simplicity and trust, seeing in him one chosen by divine Providence to guide and help them. In like manner, all the brothers will have free access to the Prior, who, as the common father, will receive them kindly and sometimes visit them in their cells, showing to all, without partiality, the same concern.
  7. The senior brothers — especially the heads of obediences — contribute effectively to the formation of the junior brothers with whom they work by offering them an example of regular observance, of virtue and of prayer, in the ordinary circumstances of daily life. However, for the most part, they are to abstain from conversations with them, even about spiritual matters, since they should not involve themselves in the affairs of another’s conscience.
  8. In order that the spiritual life of the brothers may rest on a firm foundation, at the beginning of their monastic life they receive a doctrinal formation, for which they reserve some time each day. The goal of this formation is to introduce the brother to the riches which are contained in the Word of God, and to allow him to grasp in a personal way the mysteries of the faith; at the same time, he learns to reflect on profound books, and draw fruit from them. The responsibility for this formation is shared by the Prior, the Novice-Master and the Procurator, who act in mutual agreement according to the directives of the General Chapter.
  9. The spiritual and doctrinal formation of the brothers should be continued throughout their entire lives. With a view to this, certain fathers, appointed by the Prior to help the Procurator, give a conference each Sunday to all the brothers; at which, from the feast of All Saints until Easter, the Statutes are explained, the customary chapters of which should be read each year in the presence of the brothers; this conference, in which the observances of the Order are also treated, is, for preference, entrusted to the Procurator. From Easter until the feast of All Saints instruction is given on doctrine, the spiritual life, Scripture and Liturgy, in accordance with the directives of the Prior: this teaching should have serious depth and, at the same time, be adapted to the brothers’ capacity. If it seems opportune, these two forms of instruction can be otherwise distributed, but without reduction of the time due to each.
  10. In this way, the brothers will acquire the supreme advantage of knowing Jesus Christ; provided they dispose themselves to receive it by a life of silent prayer, hidden with Christ in God. For this is eternal life: to know the Father, and Jesus Christ whom he has sent.
© 1998-2017 The Carthusian Order • Contact us