Very few people know any Carthusian monks or nuns at first hand. I know only one, but being a nun myself and a lapsed medievalist, I feel a connectedness, a degree of understanding of his strange and beautiful vocation that can make me sad, at times, that I was not called to such a perfect expression of love for God.
The Carthusian vocation is strange and beautiful — strange in its rarity and intensity, for very few can live the eremitical life fruitfully and generously, as it must be lived; beautiful in its focus upon God alone amidst the beauty and silence of the Alpine snows that were its first home. St Bruno’s gift to the Church was a very great one, but also a much misunderstood one. Today, when the Catholic Church is dismissed by many as a load of paedophiles and perverts, I like to recall the witness of the Carthusians and their solitary prayer. However many failures there are in the Church — and wherever there are human beings, you will get failures — however much sin and shame blackens her face — and how black it has seemed of late! — the Carthusians remind us of the Church’s essential integrity and holiness as the Bride of Christ. They are the wise virgins, keeping their lamps alight throughout the hours of darkness until the Bridegroom comes.