What a Monk Taught Me about Faith

Posted by Jeremy Harrington, OFM on 8/22/19 7:00 AM

WHAT A MONK TAUGHT ME ABOUT FAITHThe cross is steady while the earth is turning.

Those words really hit me. They are the motto of the Carthusians, a Roman Catholic order of monks founded in 1084 by Saint Bruno in Chartreuse, France.

The monks leave family, friends, and jobs to live completely for God in contemplation, silence, and faith. They come together for prayer and a midday meal, but each monk spends most of the time in his own cell. They talk when they take hikes for three or four hours. Twice a year, there is a daylong community recreation, and the monks may receive an annual visit from family members. There are 25 active Carthusian monasteries on three continents. Roughly 350 men and 70 women presently live this lifestyle.

Obviously, our way of life is totally different. We are called to share our lives with family and community, and to make a better world. Life can be busy, which is why “the cross is steady while the earth is turning” has meaning for us. God, our creator, keeps the earth turning, but, to me, our world seems to be spinning at a terrific speed. Life for us is changing so rapidly that we can easily lose our balance and perspective.

Technology has brought many benefits to us, but also some hazards. For example, computers, e-mail, smartphones, TV, social media, and Skype dramatically increase our ability to communicate. We can send messages around the world almost instantly to promote knowledge and scientific research, but they can also spread falsehoods and lead people away from God. We can become so engrossed in the Internet that we neglect in-depth conversations with family and with God. 

Each of us, in our personal world, experiences love and joy, but also suffering and death. Our lives can spin out of control, but the cross is always steady. This helps us keep our balance. 

The cross is a rich symbol. It quietly and powerfully proclaims that God so loved the world that he sent us his son to become one of us. Jesus willingly gave his life on the cross to save us. He defeated sin and evil and death. By rising from the dead, he brought us new life that can be enjoyed forever. The cross communicates love, victory, and hope. The cross also reminds us that when hardships, suffering, and injustices come into our lives, we are walking in the footsteps of Jesus. He helps us carry our crosses.

No matter how out of balance our lives can be—or how off-kilter the world isthe cross is steady. God’s love endures forever. In our frantic, busy world, we need the witness and the prayers of contemplatives, much like the Carthusians. A little bit of silence can also help!

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