A colleague of mine recommended a documentary film that was just released on DVD, Into Great Silence. The filmmaker, Philip Groning, lived for six months with the Carthusian monks at the motherhouse of the order, the Grande Chartreuse, in the French Alps. Unlike most Catholic religious orders of monks, the Carthusians have maintained their strict discipline for almost 1000 years, after being founded by St. Bruno in 1084. The film is very strong, as it invited me into a world I knew existed but which I had never seen. Carthusians do not entertain visitors, and there has never been a documentary about their lives. This is not so much to be secretive, but rather to maintain the quiet needed for the contemplative. The video captures their work, prayers, community, and humanity in a way that has never been captured and shared so openly before. I wonder what effect this may have. Will they have more vocations? Attempted visitors? Donations? Influence among dedicated laity looking for a more reflective religious meaning to life? For me, I felt almost like a voyeur; one so riveted by seeing the heretofore unseen, I was mesmerized. I wonder how this may affect me in the long term?
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