The Cross Stands Still
Fr. Scott Haynes
A Meditation for the Feast of St. Bruno, October 6
Happy the man found without fault, who turns not aside after gain, nor puts his trust in money nor in treasures! Who is he, that we may praise him? For he has done wonders in his life. He has been tested by gold and come off safe, and this remains his glory forever; he could have sinned but did not, could have done evil but would not, so that his possessions are secure in the Lord, and the assembly of the Saints shall recount his alms.
At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, Let your loins be girt about and your lamps burning, and you yourselves like men waiting for their master’s return from the wedding; so that when he comes and knocks, they may straight-way open to him. Blessed are those servants whom the master, on his return, shall find watching. Amen I say to you, he will gird himself, and will make them recline at table, and will come and serve them. And if he comes in the second watch, and if in the third, and finds them so, blessed are those servants! But of this be assured, that if the householder had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would certainly have watched, and not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, because at an hour that you do not expect, the Son of Man is coming.
Today we celebrate the Feast of St. Bruno, the founder of the Carthusian order. The Carthusians have not changed their liturgy, observances, or customs in all these centuries. Their motto is the same motto St Bruno knew.
Stat crux dum volvitur orbis. (“The Cross stands still while the world spins.”)
Precisely because the world is weary of change, it is attracted by what is changeless, timeless, and radically faithful to tradition.
The Carthusian vocation is extremely rare. Countless men and women have tried life in a Charterhouse and found themselves, after a few months or, even after several years, like Jonah cast from the belly of the whale, once again on the shore of the world. And yet, from one generation to the next, the Order remains: a living organism, hidden in the heart of the Church, pulsating with the eternal rhythm of a deathless love.
The Carthusian vocation is one of solitude. And the solitary life demands a maturity that comes only from suffering. Sometimes suffering causes one to shut down and close in upon oneself. In such a case, solitude is a particularly dangerous form of self-indulgence. Paradoxically, when suffering breaks one’s heart and opens it to God, it is the best preparation for the solitary life.
One who goes into solitude without having had his heart broken, or wounded, or pierced through, cannot remain there, because the transformation of solitude into communion with God passes necessarily, and always, through a heart that has been opened by suffering, through a heart that remains open because it is wounded by love. Perhaps this is why true solitaries find themselves drawn to the mystery of the Heart of Jesus wounded by our sins. The Heart of Christ, once opened by the soldier’s lance, remains eternally open.
It is not by chance that Saint Bruno’s Carthusians and the other Orders of the Church most marked by solitude are the very ones marked by a strong and tender devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. In a sense, Mary holds the key to every solitude inhabited by God. Mary holds the key to every solitude of adoration. A solitude consecrated to Mary becomes an experience not of absence, but of presence; not of emptiness, but of fullness; not of isolation, but of communion.
Our Lord has entrusted to His Mother the transformation of every loneliness into communion.
“When Jesus saw His mother and the disciple whom He loved standing near, He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold your son!’” Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!’ And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home” (Jn 19:26-27).