The Power of Silence

I was on my computer watching one of the most remarkable…

to be honest… I don’t even know. Film, documentary? DocumFilm? Movie?

Called Into the Silence. Totally free, and I highly recommend it.

It’s a film that looks at a small Catholic monostatic order called the Carthusian Order. I immediately fell in love with it.

The Carthusians are a monastic community of hermits that live in brotherhood. These men and women that live and work in these monasteries are truly remarkable humans.

The film sticks as close as possible to the Carthusian belief of silence. No narrators, no fancy cuts. It just followed the monks in their ordinary lives of prayer, work, silence, and contemplation. 

The loudest events in the entire movie? The meal cart was rolling down the cobblestone floor of the abbey. It was remarkable to see these monks receive their food through a food hatch.

This movie had no use for music. Instead, the music was the scrubbing of the pan, the chopping of vegetables, or turning of pages.  

What do I mean?

Carthusian Life: Removed From the World to be closer to humanity

It’s a strange idea. These men lived in bare cells, often with just a wood heater, straw bed, simple wooden desk, and a spot for prayer. Usually, below these spartan rooms was a workshop where the monk could build basic things they might need like a chair or create items to sell to help develop their community. 

When it came to mealtime, they often received their meals in an almost decontamination chamber-like hatch. Someone on the outside would put the meal in the tube, close the hatch, and the monk would open it on the other side.  

No words exchanged. The only time they spoke was during communal prayer, during fraternal meetings, or during a recreation walk every Sunday.  

I was utterly stunned by the beauty and simplicity that these monks lived. Doing all things in silence, getting up in the middle of the night to pray, who can say that they did that every single day and night.  

Often the tasks they completed, they did alone, and when another brother approached, they didn’t even really acknowledge them. Of course, some might find that rude, but I find that utterly refreshing in a way.

See, they were so comfortable with each other, united with each other, not by speaking words or even waving at them. Rather, they are intimately connected through the silent prayer to God.

For these men and women in the Carthusian Order are practicing for Heaven. They don’t see themselves through our human vision; instead, they try to see each other through God.  

A lot of monastic orders offer visitors a place to stay. Benedictines are notorious for this. However, the Carthusians are very much not known for this. It isn’t that they don’t like visitors. They welcome vocational retreats.

However, they take solitude seriously.

Carthusians try to remove themselves from the world as much as possible. They don’t even allow family visits, except for maybe once or twice a year. 

I know this might seem like a prison. 

I thought so as well. Until I realized how liberating it is to not worry about Earthly concerns. No, these monks and nuns are dedicated to one thing; Finding God and being more closely united to Him through the stillness of silence. It is through that silence that they are joined closer to God and the world.  

Silence isn’t awkward

Watching this film, I fell in love with the monks that lived this life. I find that we can learn something about the power of silence. 

God can reveal Himself through mighty deeds and miracles, and He has. No denying that. But often, we find God through silence. Through work and prayer.  

The world often tells us that silence is bad or lazy. I encourage the opposite. Silence is how we come to know ourselves and our relationship with God.  

Solitude and peace are where we may come to find God. Just like the Carthusians, we need to listen to God through the silence and see where He might be pulling us.

I have always been attracted to monastic life. There is something to be said about the routine of prayer, work, and stillness in life. Of course, I cannot say that is where the Lord is leading me, but I can most certainly understand the appeal of this type of life.  

While I don’t think I’m being called to the Carthusian way of life, they will be in my prayers.  

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