Our Father Saint Bruno
This Sermon was given by the Reverend Father General at the General Chapter of 1983, in view of the celebration of the ninth centenary of the founding of the Order in 1084.
We are asked to turn to our Blessed Father not as the model for one or any particular virtue, but rather as the channel through whom the incomparable grace of our vocation comes to us, a grace granted, the Carta* says, through the mediation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Bruno fulfils a very humble yet irreplaceable role for us : he is the man through whom the divine impulse comes to us, which makes us able of listening in solitude to the unicum bonum, and keeps us thirsty of appearing in front of the living God. Bruno is this life giving intermediary for us at this very moment, as he is living in the Risen Christ and is present among us, his children. But he is also this source of divine impulse, because he was the first to receive the Call from the Spirit and to listen to the increate Wisdom in these mountains, where we still live today.
We only need to visit the site surrounding the Saint Bruno Chapel in the heart of winter, when everything is covered by a thick mantle of snow, to become aware that the supernatural fecundity of our Blessed Father is not the fruit of sublime speculations, but the result of a mode of life that was modeled by very rough living conditions, stripped and simplified radically, and that led the first hermits of Chartreuse to the silence of the heart.
Our Father Saint Bruno: this expression does not remind us of lengthy doctrinal writings, nor of refined teachings, but only of the existence of a mature master who let himself be seduced by the Goodness of God, left everything behind for its sake and who has little else to tell us about except his own life in the desert, the silence, the wakes, and that clear eye, by whose serene gaze the Spouse is wounded with love.
Let us pick up the formula of the Carta : all that is beautiful in our life comes to us through the ministry of Bruno. He is no doubt a unique example for us, but this is not his essential role. His essential role, through the intercession of Mary, is to gather for us in God Himself the longing to meet the Most High, the All-Beautiful and to nourish us with this thirst ceaselessly so that it pervades our heart and incites us to tirelessly go deeper and deeper to meet the Divine Face.
To be a Carthusian is to receive from Bruno this stirring of the Holy Spirit which identifies us to the Paschal Christ pulled to the Father until He finds Him. When we opened this Chapter, we were invited with conviction to renew our sense of God. Such a call is justified for all men, but even more so for the heirs of Bruno! We may indeed feel dizzy when we think of the warning in the statutes that says that the higher the path we tread, the more we risk slipping, weighed down by the gravity of human nature, and falling infinitely lower than where we started.
Left to ourselves, we will not be able to avoid this terrible fall. To live in the presence of God in the silence of solitude is a grace that flows directly from the heart of God to ours through Bruno's. Each and everyday we acknowledge our limits as we are confronted to the rough ridges and edges of our vocation. This should remind us constantly that we must depend on the channel of life that Bruno is.
From the endearing gentleness that flows from his letters when he opens his heart to those whom he loves, we sense that this vocation is not some accomplishment wrought through force or violence, when it reaches its source, but the fruit of a peaceful confidence in Him who gave Himself to us once for all. What poses the seal of truth on our dependence towards Saint Bruno, it seems to me, is precisely the quality of the love which binds us to our brethren, in both confidence and peace.
The Carta says also that God has made us one family sealed in the unity of the Divine Persons, through the mediation of Saint Bruno. He has become, almost by essence, a leaven of unity among us. Once more let us remember that it is his person itself which plays that role, not just his ever so discreet teaching. Because this man had committed himself with his profound heart to a life face to face with God, in what would appear to be an exclusive intimacy with Him, he is forever overflowing with a gentleness which flows down on us and establishes us in the unity of that Carthusian family which has become as the transparent milieu where we can hope to contemplate God.
Master Bruno, enamoured with the One, free from all that is transient, your face is joyful and serene, you who were longing to reunite with your brothers who were so far away in the desert of Chartreuse, as we begin this new year which we want to devote to letting us be transformed by you, look upon this little Carthusian family: our origins are diverse and we at the General Chapter symbolize its unity. Look also on the living God in front of Whom you stand and by whom you have been entrusted the task of imbuing us with an ever more ardent passion for him.
We offer ourselves to the light of which you are a messenger, and we bless the Lord by whom you have been given to us as our Father, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary. Amen.
* The Carta is the official document of the General Chapter.
(Tr. from Paroles de Chartreux, A.A.V.C., Correrie de la Grande Chartreuse, 1996, p. 25-28)