carthusian-emblem-2 2

You may be wondering why I have this symbol at the top of my blog, and on my shirts, and eventually on any hat I may design (sorry Jess).  This logo and motto is from the Carthusian monks, founded in 1084 by St. Bruno.  These monks live in near total silence every day, breaking only for sung liturgy in the church (3 times a day) and then the more communal day on Sunday.  All other times, silence.  Pray, work, eat, play… silence.  It is the silence of stillness, no weird noise machines or music or finger drumming.  41gRZJIl5RLOh, there is a movie about it (which I just purchased the DVD finally) called “Into Great Silence“.
You might fall asleep watching it, but persevere.  Watch it in stages, something.  It’s truly stunning to watch!

Another huge aspect of their life is solitude.  These monks are communal hermits, in that they are in their cell alone for 18+ hrs a day, yet they all live together in one monastery.  The solitude and silence help them live their charism.

Another fantastic thing these monks do is brew a liqueur chartreuse-green-liqueur-700ml.jpgcalled “Chartreuse”, which originates the name of the color.  It’s a beautiful green color and a unique flavor.  I have to be honest, my first smell and taste was startling, to say the least.  Extremely herb-y.  The next time the sweetness broke through better.  The 3rd time, I fell in love.  I used to be a single Malt guy, but I think I could taste this for the rest of my life and still find new flavors.  New favorite!


Why do I bring all this up?  Well, partially because I’m a fanboy.  The podcast “Catholic Stuff You should Know” linked in the sidebar turned me on to this group, and I’ve been researching them ever since.  There is a deeper reason and I’d like to share it here because I don’t think I’ve reached the depths yet.  And I’m not trying to be a drag, I’m just sharing.

I am losing my ability to speak.  I have very thick speech now, and while Mel can understand me, it’s becoming more and more often that I either slur everything, or have to repeat myself to make myself understood.  This is a problem for me, as I love to talk.  I love to lecture and expound on topics and think and speak deeply about topics that I’m passionate about.  I love to tell jokes, and laugh.  All of this is becoming more difficult, and we are working on ways of mitigating ways to communicate.

The Carthusian charism values solitude and silence as ways to best contemplate God.  These monks and nuns spend their time praying for others, a life only of prayer and contemplation.  They renounce even the pastoral care other orders have.  In their motto, they lay the groundwork for that contemplation: “The cross stands, while the world turns”.  The cross is stable and stands in one place while the world spins out of control.

The lesson here for me is, perhaps communication in the way I think of isn’t meant to be my strong point.  Perhaps in this time I need to focus on solitude and silence instead of talking so much.  This is doable in the world as a father and husband because I can take small amounts of time to take to do this throughout the day, as well as learning to not be frustrated with my own inability to speak.  Perhaps this thing that is spinning out of control can be tamed if I cling to the cross, which stands firm.  It is a lesson that I will have to learn and balance as I work to be a good husband and father.  Perhaps a monastery of the heart.

The Grande Chartreuse Monastery, France

Of course, the irony here is that I’ve always been a Dominican fan, to the chagrin of my Franciscan mother.  I love the rosary and the “Order of Preachers”.  I always thought I would be able to use my penchant for conversations and lectures to use for good, for the sharing of faith.  Now it seems I can share through this blog and can share through contemplation.  carthusian-monk-praying-4.jpg

The point to share here is that through a weird fanboy appreciation for a group of hardcore monks, I now have forced on my the opportunity to share in their life in a small way.  I could be very upset about the whole thing.  I can and will work to make a way to communicate, but in the meantime I can choose to not get frustrated if people don’t understand my speech.  I can choose to be more patient and repeat myself.  I can choose to keep thoughts to myself instead of feeling that I have to input my own two cents into a conversation.  I can choose to take the time I can’t speak to contemplate the things that are truly important.

I don’t know what the future will hold.  I apparently talk big about choice and the choices we make.  I can choose to be upset with the sickness I’ve been given or I can choose to find the positive.  I’m not sure what the answer will be.

I’m sorry, I don’t want this to be super down blog.  These are the thoughts that I have during the day, so I want to share for who is interested.  And hopefully motivate myself to try harder to live the ideals presented before me!

Also, go buy a bottle of Chartreuse.  It’s $65 at the VA ABC stores and the first few tastes are hard hitting, but it’s worth it!!!  Over ice, definitely on the rocks!

(Next post, wheelchair development update.)




4 thoughts on “Silence”

  1. Into Great Silence is a favorite of mine as well. After I saw it on EWTN years ago I had to hunt it down to make my kids watch it. I have come to really like the Chartreuse liquor, once you helped me place that it was herbs that I was tasting. It is hard to be silent within the noisy world, and it’s important, as was sort of drilled into us growing up. I, like many of your siblings stayed in the Kartause in Austria, so there’s another connection (and I can deal with their symbol on a hat.) Another nice post, Joe.


  2. I have been following your posts. I love them all. I don’t find this post, “silence”, or any of your posts to be a “super down blog”. To the contrary I find it ALL of it very inspiring and full of life. Your blog has it all; inspiration, ambitions and humor.
    In your last post about superheroes, when describing Green Lantern, you stated, “That is why Green Lantern is the best- he’s a guy, that because of his character was given the power of a superhero, and then used it to become the greatest of all the lanterns”. I find this statement very intriguing, because my friend, due to your character you have been given this power to inspire others (blog on!!)–through these chronicALS the world is being introduced to another great superhero with incredible character named Joe Gregory. Many prayers for you and you family.
    PS Chartreuse on the rocks…Definitely rocks!!


  3. Great post Joe though you didn’t sell me on the dvd (watch it in pieces 😂😂😂). We will continue to pray for you and your family- must be so hard on everyone but your attitude certainly makes a difference. Thinking of you.


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