03 August 2010

Being Exact in the Accomplishment of Spiritual Exercises

This interesting piece from a Carthusian writer perhaps offers us a lesson to be learned, following the example of the Carthusian lay-brothers . . . not becoming overwhelmed or having our duties dictate the direction of our lives.

Carthusian lay-brothers have to sanctify themselves more by prayer than by work. They are true religious, vowed in consequence to the work of their perfection, and obliged by vow always to tend to God by prayer and love. ‘We do not wish’, say the Brothers’ Statutes, ‘that the Brothers should be so occupied with external duties that they should neglect the fulfilment of their spiritual exercises at the times these are due’. Mary should be our model. ‘The Blessed Virgin’, says our Denys, ‘made continuous progress in the contemplative life, and the external work she was obliged to undertake in no way hindered her contemplation. If, however, her union with God was interrupted for a moment for some good cause outside of herself, she at once returned to it with a fervour always more intense’.

If this ideal is too high for our frailty, let us consider a model more on our level, and see how one of Mary’s servants reconciled his devotion and his work in his life as a Carthusian lay-brother. Brother Bruno Lhuillier of the Charterhouse of Bosserville, possessed the gift of piety to a very marked degree. For him, this consisted in conversing with God whenever possible, and in loving Him always. He led on earth – that is, with his body – the life which, in heaven, comprises the beatitude of the Blessed. All unconsciously, he would enter into a state of contemplation wholly angelic; as, for example, when he recited the prolonged Sanctus as the bell tolled before the consecration at the conventual Mass. And he would repeat that same Sanctus often during the day, always with the same result. Another custom of his was to repeat again and again the words Ave Maria. He would say that that was all he was fit for, and this he certainly did to perfection. For indeed, it was the Holy Spirit Who prayed in him, as Saint Paul says, with unspeakable groanings.

Let us follow in the steps of this very loving son of our heavenly Mother, by being exact in the accomplishment of the spiritual exercises.