The Carthusian Order

Statutes

Ch. 1 Prologue
Ch. 2 Praise of Life in Solitude
Book 1 : The Cloister Monks
Ch. 3 The Cloister Monks
Ch. 4 The Keeping of Cell and Silence
Ch. 5 Occupations in Cell
Ch. 6 The Observance of Enclosure
Ch. 7 Fasting and Abstinence
Ch. 8 The Novice
Ch. 9 The Novice-Master
Ch. 10 Profession
Book 2 : The Lay Monks
Ch. 11 The Lay Monks
Ch. 12 Solitude
Ch. 13 Enclosure
Ch. 14 Silence
Ch. 15 Work
Ch. 17 The Novice
Ch. 18 Profession
Ch. 19 Donation
Ch. 20 The Formation of the Brothers
Book 3 : The Community
Ch. 21 The Daily Celebration of the Liturgy
Ch. 22 Of Life in Common
Ch. 23 The Prior
Ch. 26 The Procurator
Ch. 27 The Sick
Ch. 28 Poverty
Ch. 29 The Care and Administration of Temporal Goods
Ch. 30 Stability
Book 4 : The Order
Ch. 31 The Government of the Order
Ch. 32 The Canonical Visitation
Ch. 33 Conversion of Life
Ch. 34 The Function of our Order in the Life of the Church
Ch. 35 The Statutes Themselves
Book 5 : Rites and Acts of Carthusian Life
Ch. 36 Rites of Carthusian Life
Ch. 38 Election of a Prior
Book 6 : The Liturgical Seasons
Ch. 41 The Liturgy in our Order
Ch. 52 Liturgical Chant
Ch. 53 Ceremonies of the Community during the Divine Office
Ch. 54 Ceremonies for the Office in Cell
Book 9 : Sacraments and Suffrages
Ch. 62 The Sacraments
Ch. 65 Suffrages

Statutes

Book 5 : Rites and Acts of Carthusian Life

Chapter 36


Rites of Carthusian Life « »
  1. When anyone enters the Carthusian family, after a period of probation, he is received as a novice. By placing his hands between those of the Prior, he expresses his submission, and is received into the fellowship of the Order. All then conduct him to the cell, or, if he is a brother novice, to the church, so as to impress upon him the fact that his life is dedicated primarily to prayer.
    Profession (and, in its own way, Donation) is a free, personal commitment which is expressed in the public reading of the formula of either Profession or Donation. Before his first Profession, the one about to make his vows is clothed with the cowl of the professed which symbolizes his conversion of life and his consecration to God; before the irrevocable act of solemn Profession, with special ardor he begs his brothers to help him with their prayers.

Reception of a cloister novice

  1. After completing his probation, on an appointed day the postulant is proposed to the community (cf. 8.8). First, he is asked in the presence of all whether he has made Profession in another religious Institute; whether he is free from the bonds of marriage; whether he has any incurable disease; whether he is in a position to go on to Holy Orders; whether he has paid all his debts. He must know that if he conceals anything in responding to these questions, he can be expelled, even after Profession.
  2. On another day, with the entire community assembled in Chapter, the postulant, lying prostrate, asks for mercy. Rising at the bidding of the Prior, he then says: "I ask for the love of God, to be received for probation in the monastic habit, as the most humble servant of all, if this should be pleasing to you, Father, and to the community."
    Then the Prior presents to him the manner of life he desires to follow
  3. If the postulant replies that, relying solely on the goodness of God and the prayers of his brothers, he will fulfill these obligations insofar as the divine goodness allows, then the Prior tells him that he is free to leave before Profession and that, on the other hand, we have the power and liberty to send him away if, considering the matter before God, we find that he is not suited to our life. When he has given his assent to this, the postulant kneels at the Prior’s feet and places his joined hands between those of the Prior. The Prior then receives him into the fellowship of the Order on the part of God and of the Order, on his part and that of the community. When this has been done, he is received with a kiss of peace by the Prior and all the community.
  4. On the same day, if possible, the novice is clothed privately, and is led to the church where he prostrates and prays on the sanctuary steps. The Prior, clothed with the church cowl and white stole, remains in the last stall of the right choir. The monks, kneeling in the stalls, sing the verse Veni, Sancte Spiritus, the choirs facing each other. At the conclusion the Prior inclines on the misericord, and the community likewise. The Prior says the versicle and then adds a Prayer.
    After this, the novice is conducted to his cell by all, with hoods up, as they sing the psalms "How lovely is your dwelling place," "O Lord, remember," "Have mercy on me." One or two however may be sufficient. The Prior leads the way, followed by the novice, then the Procurator or the monk who carries the holy water, and then the community, seniors first. On arrival at the cell door the Prior sprinkles first the novice and then the cell, saying "Peace to this house;" then, taking the novice by the hand, he brings him into the cell and leads him to the oratory. The novice kneels and prays. When the community has finished the psalm or psalms, then follow the prayers, as described in the Ritual.
    When these are finished the Prior enjoins the novice to keep the cell and all other practices in accordance with the observance and practice of our Order so that he may cling to God alone in silence and solitude, in constant prayer and ready penance. He then commends him to the care of the Novice Master.

Reception of a brother novice

  1. After completing his probation, on an appointed day the postulant is proposed to the community (17.9). First he is asked in the presence of all, whether he has made Profession in another religious Institute; whether he is free from the bonds of marriages; whether he has any incurable disease; whether he has paid all his debts. He must know that if he conceals anything in responding to these questions, he can be expelled, even after Profession.
  2. On the day of his reception, prostrate before the whole community in Chapter, the postulant asks for mercy. At the bidding of the Prior, who is clothed with the church cowl and the white stole, he rises and asks for the love of God to be received for probation in the monastic habit as the most humble servant of all. Then after an exhortation from the Prior he is told that during the novitiate he is free to leave, while on the other hand we have the power and liberty to send him away if, considering the matter before God, we find that he is not suited to our life. When he has given his assent to this, he kneels at the Prior’s feet and places his joined hands between those of the Prior. The Prior then grants him fellowship in the Order on the part of God and of the Order, on his own part and that of the community. He is then clothed with the cowl and mantle and receives the kiss of peace, first from the Prior and then from the others.
    When this has been done, the novice is led from the Chapter House to the church, with the community singing the psalm "How lovely is your dwelling place." The Prior leads the way, followed by the novice and then the fathers and brothers, seniors first. On arrival at the church the Prior, taking the novice by the hand, leads him to the sanctuary steps where he prostrates and prays. Meanwhile the community kneels and sings the verse Veni, Sancte Spiritus. At the conclusion, the Prior inclines on the misericord, and the community likewise. The Prior says the versicle and then adds a Prayer.
    When it is finished the novice rises, makes a profound bow and goes to his place in choir.

Simple Profession

  1. On the day before a novice takes either simple or solemn vows, before Vespers he prostrates in Chapter in the presence of the whole community and asks for mercy. When the Prior says, "Rise," he stands and asks to be received for Profession as the most humble servant of all; he remains standing to listen to the Prior’s sermon.
    On the day on which Profession is to be made, some relics of the saints are placed on the altar.
  2. When simple Profession is made, at the beginning of the Kyrie eleison of the Conventual Mass the Novice Master or, if he is not available, some other monk puts the new cowl on the forms in front of the one who is to make Profession. After the Gospel, or the Credo, if it is sung, (the Universal Prayer being omitted), the one about to be professed takes the cowl in his hands and goes to the sanctuary steps, where he makes a profound bow and, putting down the cowl, remains standing. The Prior then comes to him and says the following prayers as described in the Ritual. He then blesses the cowl, which has been placed on the step in front of the one about to make Profession, and with hand extended says the appropriate Prayer. After the blessing he sprinkles the cowl with holy water.
    When this has been done the candidate for Profession kneels in front of the Prior on the first step of the sanctuary and in a clear voice recites (if there are several, they recite it together) the psalm "Preserve me, God" up to the verse "O Lord, it is you who are my portion" exclusively. Then with the help of the Sacristan, the Prior takes the short cowl and the mantle from off the novice and says: "May the Lord put off from your old self with its past deeds," and exchanges it for the long cowl, saying: "and may he clothe you with the new man, created in God’s image, whose justice and holiness are born of truth." If there are several being professed he repeats the same words for each one.
    After this the novice reads the formula of Profession (10.9 or 18.10) written on paper, which he holds in his hands. If there are several the formula is read by each one separately.
    When he has made his vows the professed gives the document to the Prior and, beginning with the verse "O Lord, it is you who are my portion," he continues the psalm up to and including the "Glory to the Father ... Amen." Then, after making a profound bow, he returns to his place.
  3. At the Mass of Profession — whether it be simple or solemn vows — the newly professed receives the Body of the Lord from the Prior’s hands, immediately after the deacon, even if he is a priest, and thus he does not concelebrate; but he can celebrate Mass in private that day.

Solemn Profession

  1. For the ceremonies in Chapter and the preparation of the altar see no. 8 above.
    At the Mass, which is prioral, after the Gospel, or the Credo if it is sung, (the Universal Prayer being omitted), the one (or those) about to be professed goes to the center of the sanctuary steps, bows profoundly, and sings the verse: "Sustain me, Lord, as you have promised, that I may live; disappoint me not in my hope." The community, facing the altar, replies in the same way and on the same tone. When the verse has been repeated three times by both, the community sings: "Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen. Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy." Then the community, inclined on the misericords, prays in silence.
    When the "As it was in the beginning" is begun, the professed stands erect and goes down the right choir towards the first stall and, before the monk occupying it, then before each of the other monks of that choir, he kneels and says "Pray for me, brother;" then passing to the left choir, he does the same.
  2. After this the community stands with hoods down facing the altar, and the one to be professed stands facing the middle of the altar. All then listen as he clearly and distinctly reads the formula of Profession, written on parchment; after reading it he kisses the altar and places the parchment on it in offering. He then prostrates before the celebrant’s chair, at the feet of the priest, and he receives the blessing while the community inclines on the misericords. The Prior sings the Prayer with his hand extended over the professed. If there are several, he sings the Prayer in the plural. He then sprinkles him with holy water, and the professed returns to his choir stall.
    In the Eucharistic Prayer, mention is made of the newly solemn professed, in order that his self-offering may be more intimately joined to that of our divine Redeemer.

Temporary Donation

  1. Temporary Donation is made in Chapter before Vespers, in the presence of the community. The Prior is vested in church cowl and white stole and is seated in front of the altar. The novice prostrates and asks for mercy. Rising at the Prior’s bidding, he says, "I ask for the love of God to be received for temporary Donation as the most humble servant of all, if this should be pleasing to you, Father, and to the community." Then, after hearing an exhortation from the Prior, while the community remains seated with hoods up, the novice goes forward and kneels at the step in front of the altar before the Prior. Then the Prior rises and, helped by the Sacristan and the Procurator, the Prior takes away the mantle and short cowl with the words, "May the Lord put off from you your old self with its past deeds," and clothing him with the long cowl without bands, adds, "And may he clothe you with the new man created in God’s image, whose justice and holiness are born of truth." If there are several, he repeats the same words for each one.
    The novice then reads the formula of Donation (19.3), written on paper, which he holds in his hand. He gives it to the Prior after he has made his Donation. The Prior accepts his Donation with these words: "And I, dear brother, receive your Donation on the part of God and of the Order, and I promise in my name and in that of my successors to provide for all your needs both of body and soul, with paternal kindness, provided you remain faithful to your promises. And may the blessing of Almighty God, Father, † Son and Holy Spirit, descend upon you and remain with you for ever. R/. Amen." After the word "promise" he specifies the duration if it is a question of temporary Donation, or says "until the end of your life," if it is perpetual Donation.
    Then all go to Vespers in choir.

Perpetual Donation

  1. Perpetual Donation is made in the presence of the whole community before Vespers. First of all, the community assembles in Chapter, and the donate prostrates before the Prior, who is vested in church cowl and white stole. He asks for mercy, and at the Prior’s bidding he stands and says: "I ask for the love of God to be received for perpetual Donation as the most humble servant of all, if this should be pleasing to you, Father, and to the community." After the exhortation of the Prior, all go to the church, the donate following immediately after the Prior. The donate kneels on the sanctuary steps, with the Prior standing before him, while the monks stand with their hoods down in their places in choir, facing the altar. Then the donate reads the formula of Donation, and the Prior receives it and blesses him, as described in the previous section (no. 16).
    Then, while the donate remains kneeling in the same place, the Prior goes to the last place of the right choir, and the community, kneeling in the stalls, sings the Sub tuum præsidium. The versicle is sung by the weekly chanter, and the Prior then says a Prayer.
    Afterwards, he goes to take off the church cowl in the vestry and then to his place in choir. The donate also goes to his place, and Vespers are intoned.

Chapter 38


Election of a Prior « »
  1. When a House of the Order loses its Prior, the Vicar takes a secret vote of those solemnly professed who have the right to elect, to ascertain whether they wish to exercise it. If the General Chapter is being held at the time, the community makes known its response to the Definitory as soon as possible. If the community does not wish to elect, or if, on the second ballot, the votes are still equally divided, then the Vicar is to ask the General Chapter, or the Reverend Father if the General Chapter is not in session, to provide in their prudence for the orphaned House.
  1. If the community replies that it wishes to elect, the Vicar must, in the Lord’s name, seriously admonish the electors that the election of a pastor of souls is a very difficult but extremely important matter; since, in large measure, the whole flock will be good or bad, according as the pastor is good or bad: and that therefore, in this undertaking, they must proceed with all uprightness and prudence and fear of God. In electing a Prior, attention should be given in the first place to those qualities necessary for the guidance of souls. Some aptitude for the administration of temporal affairs is also required, but this alone cannot decide the choice; besides, the care of temporal things can be entrusted to others.
  2. After the Vicar has put these points before the electors, a fast of three continuous days, unless a solemnity or Sunday intervenes, is prescribed for all.
  3. Every day until it has a new Prior, the community sings the hymn, Veni, Creator Spiritus with united devotion, as described in the Ritual, after Lauds and Vespers.
  4. All have the right, and indeed the obligation, to question those members of the Order who have a better knowledge of the persons involved; religious so consulted must be careful not to put pressure on the electors in any way.
  1. Meanwhile, as quickly as conveniently possible, Confirming Officers will be summoned to preside at the election; both should be Priors, deputed by the General Chapter or the Reverend Father, or, if two Priors are not readily available, one a Prior and the other a monk, who may not, however, be a member of the electing community. Unless something prevents it, one of the Confirming Officers should be a Visitor of the Province.
  2. Those so called to assist at the election should unite themselves in silence and prayer with the electing community; nor should they interfere in the coming election in any way. For it is not for them to suggest candidates, but only to reply truthfully to any that question them and simply to receive the votes of the electors.
  3. On the day of the election, one of the Confirming Officers celebrates, or presides at the concelebration of the Mass of the Holy Spirit in the presence of the entire community. After the Mass, the Vicar assembles the Confirming Officers and the community in Chapter. While all are standing with hoods down, the principal Confirming Officer begins the prayers as described in the Ritual. Then he or his colleague gives a sermon, at the end of which only the electors remain in Chapter with the Confirming Officers, while all the others depart.
  4. Then, the principal of the two will warn the electors that they are to elect someone whom they judge, before God and conscience, to be truly fitted and suitable for the office of Prior in that House.
  5. Then, at the bidding of the principal Confirming Officer, each will go to the place appointed for filling in the ballots; he will write only the name and surname of his choice, enclose the paper in an envelope, bring it to the table of the Confirming Officers, and place it in the vessel set there for that purpose.
  6. If someone who has a vote is unable to assist in person at the election, he can still cast his vote, written on a ballot-paper and enclosed in an envelope like the others; the Confirming Officers themselves will, if necessary, go to his cell to receive it.
  7. When all the votes have been cast, the principal Confirming Officer counts and opens them. The future Prior must obtain more than half the votes actually cast, subtracting, that is, the abstentions and the invalid votes. If no one gets this, the Confirming Officers will announce the names of those who received votes, and the number of votes each obtained. The ballot-papers will be burned then and there, and a new vote taken.
  8. If, after three ballots, no one is elected, a fourth and last can take place the same day; before this, the monks will be at liberty to discuss the matter outside the Chapter House among themselves, but not with others. If still no one is elected, an account of the whole affair will be sent to the Reverend Father, who, after consulting the Visitors of the Province, will provide the orphaned House with a pastor.
  9. If, on the other hand, someone is elected, the principal Confirming Officer will announce in a loud voice, "We have a Prior;" he will then give his name, his House of Profession, any office he may hold, and the number of votes he obtained; after which, all the ballots are to be burned.
  10. Upon the public announcement of the name of the Prior, the Vicar, unless he himself has been elected, will ask the Confirming Officers to confirm the elect as Prior. They, however, will assign a time-limit of one or two days, during which objections against either the form of the election or the person elected can be made.
  1. Should the Confirming Officers find no impediment they will call all the electors, and them alone, into the Chapter, while the rest wait in the church. They will then confirm the one elected, the principal Confirming Officer saying: "We N. and N. humble Priors of the Houses N. and N. deputed by the General Chapter or the Reverend Father to preside at your election, by the authority of the Statutes, confirm for you as Prior of this House Dom N., professed of N. House, in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit." To which all present will respond, "Amen." If one of the Confirming Officers dies, is impeded or elected Prior, the other alone confirms the elect. Then, the second Confirming Officer is to read an account of the election, which first the Confirming Officers, and after them all the electors, are to sign.
  1. On the day the new Prior assumes office, at a pre-arranged time, the Confirming Officers (or, if they are absent, the Vicar and the Antiquior) escort the new Prior to his predecessor’s place in church, holding his cowl on either side, and with everyone else following. There is a brief Prayer in church, everyone leaning against the forms with hoods down; afterwards, all go to the Chapter House, where the principal Confirming Officer (or Vicar) addresses the new Prior, who then makes the profession of faith required by Canon Law. Then the Vicar comes forward and, kneeling, places his joined hands between those of the Prior, who asks him, "Do you promise obedience?" He replies, "I promise" and after receiving the kiss of peace, he gets up and goes to his place. After the Vicar, the Antiquior and the others in order of seniority do the same.
  2. The whole day is given over to rejoicing; we eat together in refectory, and no fast is observed except one which would not be broken even for a solemnity. The Office preceding refectory is sung in church.
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