02 November 2009

What Must Be Done

In the Carthusian Order, the Office of the Dead is not only prayed on the Commemoration of All Souls, 2 November, but also on 13 November, which is when the Order prays for all their dearly departed monks or nuns, their families and relatives. Along with the daily praying of the Canonical Office, and the daily offering of the Office of Our Lady, the Office of the Dead is prayed weekly by the Carthusian Fathers in the solitude of their cells, praying for all the departed. On 2 and 13 November and when a member of their monastic community dies, however, the Office of the Dead is prayed in choir in the church. When a relative or family member of a monk or nun dies, the entire community prays Vespers of the Dead for the whole week in the solitude of the cell. The Carthusian Office of the Dead is known as the Agenda which translates as, “what must be done.”

Death in the Carthusian Order maintains the same hiddenness as did life on earth. When a monk or nun dies, he or she is buried on the grounds of the monastery. The grave is marked by a simple wooden cross in the ground without the name of the monk or nun buried there, maintaining their anonymity.