Thursday, October 05, 2006
St. Bruno's eve...
The feast of St. Bruno always makes me rather nostalgic. The Carthusians was the one order I finally found that I thought was meant for me - the only order I considered to be authentic.
The Prior of the Charterhouse I spent a month at, Fr. Raphael Diamond, a somewhat famous Jewish convert and friend of Von Hildebrand, as well as a psychiatrist, determined that I would be better suited for another form of monasticism or mendicant religious life - albeit, at that time, there wasn't much to offer by way of faithful religious life. I was absolutely crushed. I went to Europe as a pilgrim, emulating St. Benedict Joseph Labre after that.
My experience at the Charterhouse was very intense and sublimely spiritual. It was the most real experience of my life. Nevertheless, I left with a greater freedom of spirit, and after two decades, knew and understood what Fr. Raphael, now deceased, meant. (In monastic life, one is Fr. "By the first name" as opposed to the somewhat imperious Fr. "By the last name" in secular priesthood. I frequently "get caught" in that mistake. It often goes along with Professor "By the last name". One learns their place.)
This rather odd photo of a Carthusian, somewhat "Harry Potter" looking and kind of spooky - is not too far off. The Carthusians, being hermits, are a bit idiosyncratic, some I met were nothing short of eccentric. If anyone has been to the American Charterhouse in Vermont, and stayed awhile, they would know what I mean. (One Father wore sunglasses over his regular glasses, all of the time, he was kind of different.) Although, I expect if one had the occasion to visit the desert fathers, one would meet with similar experiences.
In the Charterhouse, one may encounter the most authentic form of eremetical/monastic life in existence, not unlike the early desert fathers, far superior to Mt. Athos - in my opinion. It's a wonderful life, and I am always full of repentance and compunction when I consider that I was not permitted to stay. I consider my experience a "remorse" akin to purgatory; it is the feeling, that I must wait for heaven, not yet able to enter.
I have confessed to two hermits in my life, one at the Charterhouse, another elsewhere, both were so taken aback and scandalized, I had to explain the psychological dimension of my sins in order to almost console them, as it were. The experience in my confession at the Charterhouse was the cause of my speaking to the Prior, which determined my being sent away. It is a source of sorrow to this day, yet it is the consequence of sin. My confessor in Boston scolded me for being so candid - they were old sins I brought up - Fr. Gregory thought I should have been admitted. Oh well, I still get in trouble for my candor. (One thing everyone has always said about me, secular or religious, I am always sincere and honest.)
Tomorrow I have to speak with my boss. I may be emulating Joseph Labre again.