Carthusians in Advent

Stands the cross, still point of the turning world”
(Carthusian motto)

A while back, I wrote (twice, actually) of the advent of the Carthusians – the sudden appearance, in film and print of not one but two inspiring and popular pieces concerning the Carthusians, the least-reformed, most mysterious of all Catholic monastic orders.

Well, Into the Great Silence, was well reviewed in the NY Times and even, surprisingly at Rotten Tomatoes, and won a prize at the 2006 Sundance film festival, but it is little-seen, I suspect, and not yet available on DVD. A shame.

But the second Carthusian release of the past year, Nancy Klein Maguire’s gripping, information-packed and surprisingly fast-paced An Infinity of Little Hours seems to be doing very well, indeed. Certainly lots of visitors to this website seem to have ordered it and continue to do so, and now Maguire has established a website in support of the book. Explore it and read the reviews, not just from professional book reviewers but from the people whose lives it has touched. It really is a stunner of a book for anyone who is even mildly curious about the monastic lifestyle and the people drawn to its extremes. If you’re looking for a Christmas gift for a lover of history, or church…or church history. This might be the baby.

By the way, the Carthusians of St. Hugh’s (who opened up their place for Maguire’s extended research-stay and made the book possible) have one of the coolest websites ever! For those of us who read An Infinity of Little Hours and longed to see for ourselves what Maguire was describing so well, it’s a feast for the eyes – and for the ears, too! Click it on, listen to the ancient chants and marvel that these men who keep to silence and stillness and who have removed themselves from the world have managed to get the website just right!

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