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RU 51/2006 - FRANCE

- FRANCE: A magnificent movie - such a thing does yet exist ! - came up on December 12th in the French film theaters: "The Great Silence". It's an essay to visualize the life of the monks of the Grande Chartreuse abbey in the French Alps. The German producer, Philip Groening, achieved to get the authorization to spend six months inside the walls of the monastery which was created in 1084 by Saint Bruno, a nobleman from Cologne, based on a very strict rule, the rule of the Carthusian Order. Two hours of movie, without commentaries or added noises: a true prodigy of shade and light, of natural beauty and supernatural grace, of the time fading away and of eternity that subsists. At first, the answer of monks to the producer's bid was "no", but two years later, he approached them differently: Mr Groening spent a week of spiritual retirement in the abbey, and it's that way that he found the means to get this unique authorization to shoot what is infilmable: the prayer in silence of the monks of the Grande Chartreuse. The requirements of the monks were rigorous: no artificial light, no additional music or noise, no commentaries, no technical team, the producer had to come alone. And he achieved a movie about the time, or rather about eternity which has become visible, with the help of two small manual cameras: a Super 8 with rough grain, and a high definition videocam. He shot the life of these men in quest of God, advancing alone towards His encounter, which is the essential and final goal of all human souls. One lives a monk's daily life in his "guichet" (his cell, in fact a small cottage) enveloped in his white prayer robe, alternating between prayer (9 hours), work (7 hours), and sleep (8 hours), but also some scarce moments of communal life: the weekly walk to the surrounding "desert", the only meal taken in common on Sunday, and above all the liturgical Offices celebrated in community 4 times daily in the church of the abbey, including the Office of midnight. It seems that Holy Masses in the abbey are never concelebrated and that the Latin language is preserved. The office includes no modern texts and maintains only the ancient ones, therefore the most beautiful and venerable sacral chants and lectures. And they dare to sing: "Oh blissful solitude !" Every monk must cut by himself the wood to heat his cell. The 'great silence' reigns everywhere, at all times. Even outside there is no noise, since the road ends up at 1 km from the abbey, at 1000 ms of height, the rest is only high mountains.. Six months of filming, two seasons of pictures, snow and flowers... Then a whole year of preparation of the movie, with the immense patience of a producer who became nearly what he shot. He ended up exclaiming, after having made this movie: "The world alone is impossible. That it began to function is already inexplicable; that it continues to function is even more inexplicable !" And becoming nearly a preacher himself; giving away his final analysis: "One can understand that such a life is also possible in the ordinary world." If you find this movie in some place, take the time to see it, it's a true meditation! -

The Carthusians have today 24 religous houses (18 monasteries for monks, and 6 convents for nuns) on 3 continents, regrouping 450 monks and nuns alltogether (34 of them in the Grande Chartreuse). Their life is entirely contemplative. These Carthusians gave up all exterior apostolate, all contacts with the media, and even visits (except for a few rare contacts with the close family), in order to concentrate themselves entirely, already in this life, on God, in the school of the Blessed Virgin, while looking for Him, adoring Him and abandoning themselves to Him. This also is a reality of the new year 2007, a big cause of joy in the middle of a world that seems to have forgotten God! And let's meditate a big little thing: God is rather in the silence than in the noise, even in the liturgy. If you pass in the region of Grenoble, get up one Sunday to this "spiritual desert", the Grande Chartreuse, and listen to this silent music par excellence, the ancient Gregorian chant sung in God's immense silence. After his death, the monk is layed down in his religious dress on a board, without coffin, and after a Requiem is sung, he is given back to the earth, where only an anonymous wooden cross signals the place. The acronym of the order appears on it: a cross surrounded by 7 stars with 5 branches, with the single writing "S.C.D.V.O" = Stat Crux dum volvitur orbis. The Cross stays immobile while the world turns. - (ru; cf. ru 28/2004, and FC Dec. 16, 2006)



- - O.A.M.D.G. - -

(Omnia ad maiorem Dei Gloriam = Everything to the greater Glory of God)

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