Into Great Silence (2005) is a movie by Philip Groening that has gained many acclaims including winning the Sundance Film Festival, and European Film Awards for best documentary. This movie is about the Carthusian order of monks who were founded in 1084 by Saint Bruno of Cologne. The last time that these monk allowed any visitor was around 1960, and director Philip Groenig was finally granted permission after many inquiries to come film the monks during a year’s period. The Carthusian order of monks follow a contemplative life of prayer, and a simple life of labor, faith, fasting, and silence. Watching this movie brings one into the life of these monks, and with the silence and beautiful Gregorian chanting also moves one into contemplative prayer. Philip Groening made this film at the Mother House of the Carthusian Order in the French Alps where the monks provide for themselves all there needs with shared labors, and producing the famous Chartreuse liqueur. This is a great documentary and I highly recommend you put this in your movie queue. I have added links at the bottom about this movie.
Into Great Silence has sparked more interest in the monastic life and there is a now some growth happening in orders around the globe. The Monks of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel are a new and growing order of Carmelite monks founded in 2003 in the mountains of Wyoming. According to their website, “their life is characterized by dedicated prayer and selfless penance, manual labor and a joyful communal way of life much like what you read in the life of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, the “Little Flower”.” These monks live a devout life and labor to make some of the finest coffee called Mystic Monk Coffee. My friend, Michael Ray, is an architect working with McCrery Architects and helping to design a beautiful gothic monastery and church for this growing order of monks. Michael was also inspired by Into Great Silence and modeled the new monastery on the architecture of the Grand Chartreuse Monastery. Please check out the links below and consider buying some great coffee or making a donation to help with their building campaign.
Here in Virginia, a Dominican order is about to build a new priory next to the University of Virginia for its growing group of men. Unlike monks, the Dominican Friars live a life in the community through pastoral care, and preaching, but also live a life of contemplative prayer, and take a vow of poverty. The Dominicans have been serving Charlottesville and Central Virginia for over 50 years, and because they are a growing order they need a new facility to meet their needs. They are currently trying to raise 5.9 million dollars for this facility and could use your donations and prayers for this worthy project. A wonderful website has been set up for this Priory and also has more information about the Dominican Order and videos about the project (below).
In Crozet, Virginia, at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains, sits a beautiful Trappist Monastery of sisters devoted to simple life of prayer and faith. “In this setting, the School of Love continues to flourish. Here modern women learn to follow Jesus in self-gift for the glory of God and the salvation of the world he loves so much.” (from their website) Our Lady of the Angels Monastery, founded in 1987, offers retreats for surrounding parishes in the rustic cabins that originally was housing for the nuns until their new facility was built a few years ago. The nuns are also famous for the delicious gouda cheese they make to help sustain their way of life. I encourage you to look at their wonderful new website and help them by purchasing some excellent gouda cheese made in the Dutch tradition (link below).
Do you have any stories of inspiration to share about monastic life of monks, friars, or nuns near you?