Reflecting on 21 Centuries of Faith

Stat crux dum volvitur orbis

Holy Family with St Bruno and St Elisabeth by Guy Francois

The Church remembers today one of its hidden sons, Bruno the Carthusian. Born around 1030 in Cologne, he passed into eternal glory on October 2, 1101 in Serra San Bruno. Of all his earthly accomplishments, he is credited with founding the magnificent Carthusian Order and its first two communities. He is also noted as being a renowned teacher at Reims and the papal adviser to his former student, Pope Urban II.

St. Bruno had an exceptional reputation for holiness in all the virtues. His brothers and contemporaries all agreed that of all the virtues, three stood out, namely,

  • Earnest and fervent prayer
  • Mortification
  • Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary

I have held a special place in my heart for the Carthusians since Franciscan University when I used to accompany Fr. Augustine to one of their hermitages for him to hear confessions. What a beautiful time in my life!

The motto of the Carthusians I have made my own which I keep before me daily, “Stat crux dum volvitur orbis” or in the vernacular, “The Cross is steady while the earth is turning.” So much in this simple phrase.

In our present situation, I believe that we could apply this to the fact that while the world argues over what is sin or isn’t, whether there are absolute truths or not, and the duplicity of the worldly Christian, the cross and its Gospel do not change. Simply put, the Son of God died for the sons of men so the sons of men could become the Sons of God.

Unfortunately, I think that devotion to the Holy Cross of Christ has been usurped by a fast-food, give it to me now, hedonistic society – and that is for us Christians. We have forgotten what to do without means. We need everything now. And, when we do not get it, we quit. How can anyone grow in their spiritual life needing, dare I say demanding, instant spiritual gratification? our Lord takes His time and will not be forced, tricked or ordered around. Like Psalm 115:3 says,

Our God is in heaven, whatever he wills He does.

Case in point: I remember when I was first married how my wife and I dreamed of working our way up to owning a house (still working). Or, how we one day dreamed of buying furniture or paying for a vacation. It took 16 years but we paid for our first family vacation this year, a week in Kitty Hawk. It felt so good to not only accomplish a goal but to look back and see the lean years of minimal vacations.

Today, we are amazed by the youth how if they want it and cannot afford it, mom and dad flip the bill (will not be happening for wants in our house). We also enjoy the argument that vacations, trips and get-aways are needs. There is no sense or habit of self-denial and discipline. The cross, to many, is only a symbol of violence, torture and pain (all true) which should be avoided at all costs – except the token remembrance during Lent of course or jewelry of course.

The cross though is the hope of our salvation, our sweetness in redemption, the love of a redeemed heart and the triumph of a slain King who took His life up again. The cross is the necessary doorway to eternal glory – there is no other way in. Death precedes glory and the cross before the crown.

If we only knew the power of the cross. If we would but unite ourselves to it, we would quickly discover the fire and power that drove the saints to the height of holiness. May St. Bruno intercede for us that we may become the sons and daughters of God we were designed to be.

3 Responses to Stat crux dum volvitur orbis

  1. Jeff Stevens says:

    Marques,

    First of all, thank you for discussing the Carthusians. I admit I knew nearly nothing about the order until your post, and spent a bit researching them last night. Their lives are simple and simply beautiful, a powerful witness. I cannot imagine how difficult such a life would be, and I admire those men and women who are blessed with a vocation and respond to it eagerly to join such an order. I look forward to watching the film “Into Great Silence” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Into_Great_Silence), recorded in their mother chapterhouse without commentary or music, only the sounds of the lives of the monks.

    I know your post was already quite long, but I wonder if you might have missed an opportunity, or perhaps simply need to expand on this point. You said “If we would but unite ourselves to it…” Whenever I read such remarks I wonder “And how precisely do we do that?” “Unite yourself” is a VERY abstract concept that many (including myself, until I try and practice and meditate on it) have enormous difficulty turning into a practical action. It seems to me that in addition to the act of will in prayer to unite ourselves to the cross (as Jesus said, “Take up [your] cross DAILY and follow me”), to unite to the cross is to EMBRACE the cross. To not only recognize that our suffering is sent for our own good by a God who loves us and makes all things happen for our good (c.f. “Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence”), but to embrace that suffering, the death to self we must all undergo and the suffering of bearing our own cross. Even the term “embrace” itself is abstract. For me, each time difficulty befalls me (and when I remember and cooperate with the grace to do so), I simply say a prayer of thanks for all God’s gifts, including those that are painful. I remember the terrible price Our Lord paid and make an act of will that if I could have helped, including being crucified with him, I would have. This is how “unite ourselves to the cross” is practiced by this one man. I would appreciate your thoughts on how to “unite ourselves to the cross” when it is appropriate and convenient.

    • Q says:

      Jeff,

      Into Great Silence is a fantastic movie. It is an amazing meditation in itself. I thoroughly enjoyed it. A few more thoughts on the cross.

      To unite ourselves with the cross is to identify with the practices that would encourage a voluntary kenosis in our prayer and daily lives. Those practices would include depriving the senses of pleasures so as to begin to conform them to what Christ experienced on the cross – it is a pleasure to do His will not our own; the tried and true method of fasting, the early Christians chose Wednesdays and Fridays; practicing Grand silence in imitation of our Lord’s silence during his torture; maybe choosing a night to sleep on the floor instead of the bed to help experience our Lord’s slumber on the cross; of course there is the every once in a while flagellation – still on the books as a valid form of penance (Church suggests a birch reed, belt suffices); etc.

      None of these are severe nor do they compromise our vocation. Even silence is choosing against unnecessary conversation or argumentation and when it is not possible, enjoying the presence of the other person(s) by listening more than talking. It really means focusing on them totally without reserve. One of my favorites is letting people get the last word or setting myself to be made fun of….humiliation is a wonderful thing. Anyway, hope this helps.

      • George says:

        When deprivation enters our life we are to accept it … Resign ourselves to it … And attach it to the Cross as an offering for the good of others. This gives the deprivation a purpose and is far superior to complaining about it. This action is living in the imitation of Christ. Now, this is all easy to say and quite difficult to do. Effort counts, though, and is worth the perseverance of spirit

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