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Carthusian Father going to midnight office

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This strange community of Carthusians is divided into categories of "Fathers" and "Brothers." The former wear robes of white wool, cinctured with a girdle of white leather. Their heads and faces are closely shaven, and the head is generally enveloped in a cowl, which is attached to the robe. They are all ordained priests, and it is to them the rule of silence, solitude, and fasting, more particularly applies. The fasting is represented by the daily bill of fare I have given, and it never varies all the year round, except on Fridays and certain days in Lent, when, poor as it is, it is still further reduced. The solitude consists of many hours spent in prayer in the loneliness of the cell, and the silence imposed is only broken by monosyllabic answers to questions addressed to them. Sustained conversation is a fault, and would be severely punished. Aspirants for the Fatherhood have to submit to a most trying novitiate, which lasts for five full years. After that they are ordained, and from that moment they renounce the world, with all its luring temptations and its sin. Their lives henceforth must be strictly holy in accordance with the tenets of their religion. The Brothers are the manual labourers, the hewers of wood and drawers of water. They do everything that is required in the way of domestic service. They wear sandals on their bare feet, and their bodies are clothed in a long, loose, brown robe, fastened at the waist by a rope girdle. On both branches of the Order the same severe régime is compulsory, but on Fridays the Brothers only get a morsel of black bread and a cup of cold water. The attention to spiritual duties is all-absorbing, and under no circumstances must it be relaxed. Matins commence in the chapel at twelve o'clock at night, and continue until about two o'clock.

Author
The Strand Magazine, Volume 1, Jan-June 1891
Available from gutenberg.org
Keywords
Christianity
Visits
121