Friday, October 02, 2009


Obedience implies authority and conforming one's will to the authority, whether in the family, in the workplace, in government, in the church and religious life, or in working for one's salvation.
Our Catechism of the Catholic Church explains, "By 'authority' one means the quality by which persons or institutions make laws and give order to men and expect obedience from them." (1)
Seventeenth century French Bishop Jacques Bossuet reminds us, " Thirty years of our Lord's life are hidden in these words of the gospel, 'He was subject unto them.'" Another Frenchman, Michel Montaigne, shows the value of this virtue with this thought, "From obedience and submission spring all other virtues, as all sin does from self-opinion and self-will." (2)


Bruno sought a solitary and contemplative life for many years. It eluded him as he was asked to pursue an active life in both the educational and ecclesiastic arenas. He was obedient to his Bishop and obedient to His Holiness Pope Urban II. At 65 years old, he was permitted to retire from public life and in 1095 he and his companions built a hermitage. He combined both the eremetical (hermit) and the cenobitic (monastic) aspects into a new religious life. The Order he founded we know as the Carthusian Order.

Bruno was born in 1030 in Cologne, Germany from a prominent family. He was educated in Parish and Rheims, France and ordained in 1055. He honored his bishop who requested that he return to Rheims. He was a well-respected professor teaching theology, learned in the human and Divine sciences, an ecclesiastical writer, critical of the worldliness of his fellow clergy, and supported Pope Gregory VII in his battle against the decadence of the clergy. He even challenged his own archbishop for his laxity and mismanagement and was the victim of the culprit's ransacking his residence. He sought the solitary life in 1075 but was appointed Chancellor of Rheims. (3)

In 1084 following a dream of living in a secluded place, he and 6 others were offered land "in the Chartreuse" with its climate, desert, and mountainous landscape providing the desired solitude and quiet. The men supported themselves by copying manuscripts. When his former student, now Pope Urban II, called him to support his reform efforts, he sacrificed the solitary life to be the Pope's advisor. It "broke the saint's heart, but he obeyed." (4)

He prepared materials for and attended some ecumenical councils. Finally Bruno begged Urban II to let him retire and was allowed to as long as he remained close to Rome. He inculcated 3 facets into his life: great spirit of prayer, extreme mortification, and filial devotion to the Virgin Mary. He requested that each house of Carthusians honor Our Lady as its chief patron. He died in 1101 in Calabria, Italy.

Rejoice, my dearest brothers, because you are blessed and because of the bountiful hand of God's grace upon you. Rejoice, because you have escaped the various dangers and shipwrecks of the stormy world. Rejoice, because you have reached the quiet and safe anchorage of a secret harbor. Many wish to come into this port, and many make great efforts to do so, yet do not achieve it. Indeed many, after reaching it, have been thrust out, since it was not granted them from above.

By your work you show what you love and what you know. When you observe true obedience with prudence and enthusiasm, it is clear that you wisely pick the most delightful and nourishing fruit of divine Scripture. (From a letter by St. Bruno to the Carthusians (5)

"God loves those who serve him with joy. St. Bruno used to say, 'Try and you will see how rewarding it is to serve God with all the love of your heart.' When we find something to complain about, we can ask St. Bruno to help us change our attitude into joy." (6)

Father, you called St. Bruno to serve you in solitude. In answer to his prayers help us to remain faithful to you amid the changes of this world. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,one God, forever and ever. Amen. (Feast Day Prayer)

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore, he who resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. (Romans 13:1-2)

For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man's obedience many will be made righteous. (Romans 5:19)

1. Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1897
2. New Dictionary of Thoughts, Standard Book Company, 1964,page 445