Bruno was an 11th-century theology teacher who taught for more than 18 years and headed schools. He wrote essays on the psalms and Saint Paul’s letters. Bruno risked his reputation by opposing Manasses, the archbishop of Rheims in modern-day Germany. Manasses had acquired this position unfairly by buying it, which is known as simony.
When Manasses was removed from his role as archbishop, he confiscated Bruno’s property. Bruno hid in an associate’s house where he was joined by two friends. One day, Bruno left his post as a teacher and joined six companions to go to a hermitage and live a life of prayer. On the way, Bruno stopped to see an old friend, Hugh of Grenoble. Hugh greeted him with amazement. The night before, Hugh had dreamed of seven stars settling on the Chartreuse Alps, which he interpreted to mean Bruno with six companions. So Hugh took the group to the mountains, where they built a chapel.
Six years later, Pope Urban II called Bruno to Rome, where Bruno influenced the pope on Church matters. The pope offered to make him a bishop, but Bruno declined. He agreed to found another hermitage in Italy, where he died in 1101. Bruno was never formally canonized. In 1623, his feast was put in the Roman calendar. Though Bruno wrote no rule and never intended to start an order, he is considered the founder of the Carthusian monks.
Tell the students that the Carthusian monk lives in a hermitage consisting of a workroom and a private garden on the ground floor and a living room above. Here he prays, works, studies, eats, and sleeps. He rises at midnight and prays the Divine Office in church. Then he returns to his room to sleep for about three hours. He rises at dawn for Mass, and in the evening, he prays Vespers. The day is given to prayer, study, silence, and manual labor. In winter, one meal is taken at noon, and bread and beverage are taken in the evening. In the summer, there are two meals. No meat is eaten. The monks eat together only on major feast days. Ask the students how monks help us and why we need people who give their lives in penance and prayer for the world. Write on the board the Carthusian motto, “While the world changes, the cross stands firm.”
Saint Bruno saw penance as something that frees the spirit to be close to God. Suggest that the students fast from snacks for one day.
Excerpted from Christ Our Life, by Sisters of Notre Dame of Chardon, Ohio
Image credit: Saint Bruno by Jose de Ribera, 1643. Public Domain via Wikimedia.