Carthusian Alternative


I’m engaging with different forms of contemplation and devotional practice on the Sundays between Christmas Eve 2013 and Holy Week 2014 as an alternative to sitting in a pew.

My first #ServiceShirk has been a day of Carthusian reflection. It began with my usual morning practice of prayer, reading and meditation. I then watched Philip Gröning’s extraordinary Die Große Stille (Into Great Silence) which follows the daily and seasonal practice of the Carthusians who live at the Grande Chartreuse in the French Alps. The film is over two and a half hours long and runs without commentary and has practically no dialogue. It is a beautiful window into a closed world where contemplation is prioritized.

Into Great Silence

I followed this by reading An Infinity of Little Hours by Nancy Klein Maguire. This follows the journey of five men who, in the 1960s, joined St Hugh’s Charterhouse at Parkminster near Horsham, England. The discipline and structure to their lives is pretty much what was seen in the Grande Chartreuse film but here we learn about motivations and faith journeys based on interviews rather than us simply having a camera looking on in silence. It is a great complement to the film and provides much illumination about what was seen in that more contemplative exercise.

An Infinity of Little Hours

I’m finishing the day by listening to the Night Office from the Grande Chartreuse. Quite beautiful, simple and deeply felt.