Feast of St. Bruno of Cologne

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Today, Wednesday, October 6th, we here celebrate the blessed life and legacy of St. Bruno of Cologne, the founder of the Carthusian Order and a Confessor of the Church. Though a man of his own time, the Eleventh Century in Europe, Bruno exhibited in his private and vocational life those virtues which we know to be timeless. He was a teacher, calm, patient, committed to the truth. He was a man of prayer, quiet, contemplative, steadfast. His close friend, Pope Urban II, routinely ordered him to Rome to be an advisor, and just as often Bruno would find a reason to escape back to one of the two Carthusian monasteries he founded. He avoided politics like the plague, focusing instead on the eternal work of the Church, and recommending others who he recognized were more inclined for public accolades than himself. Appointed Chancellor to the Diocese of Reims, which involved him in the daily administration of the institutional Church, he avoided being appointed the next Bishop. He also resisted efforts to appoint him Archbishop of Reggio Calabria. His preference always was to return to the small and remote hermitage which he dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The focus of Carthusian life is contemplative prayer with an emphasis on solitude and silence. Indeed, the communal life of Carthusian monks is dedicated to shared solitude. The monk will spend most of his day alone in his cell: He meditates, prays the Liturgy of the Hours, eats, reads, and writes on his own. There is a garden beside each cell where the monk tends to his plants or his manual trade. He leaves his cell daily only for three prayer services and for Mass. Once each week, the monks gather together for a long walk in the countryside where they may speak. The imprisonment of the flesh is freedom for the soul. Like all men, they struggle with temptations and with sins. Theirs is not a retreat from life, but rather an attempt to embrace what eternity may be found in this fallen world. To that end, they pray constantly for the Blessed Virgin Mary to be their example of a life lived faithfully. Be it unto me, according to thy Word. Bruno and his fellow monks lived for no greater purpose than to etch those words into their hearts, so that in their prayers and in their works they could be an example to others of Christian fidelity.

And, indeed, Bruno was a much-recognized example even in his own time. Following a custom of the Middle Ages, following Bruno’s death in 1101 A.D., Carthusians of Calabria released one of their own to be a roll-bearer. The monk messenger travelled through Italy, France, Germany, and England with a long roll of parchment hung around his neck. Whenever he entered into a town, he would announce the death of Bruno, and in return the churches and communities in that area would inscribe upon his roll, in prose or in verse, expressions of regret and promises of prayer. Few of the rolls that have been preserved down the ages are so full of praise as that reserved for Bruno. He was a celebrity among his own people precisely because he avoided all celebrity. He was celebrated precisely because he celebrated others. St. Bruno exemplifies the command of Our Lord Jesus Christ as recounted in Matthew 20:27-28: “And whoever wants to be first among you must become your servant. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Published by Michael Sean Erickson

I write, act, and produce films in Los Angeles. Everything else is conjecture.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: