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How God Distributes His Gifts - Part 6 of 8

Jesus promised he would not leave us orphans (John 14:18) but would send the Holy Spirit to guide and protect us (John 15:26). He gave the sacraments to heal, feed, and strengthen us.

The seven sacraments are not just symbols. They are signs that actually convey God's grace and love. They were foreshadowed in the Old Testament by things that did not actually convey grace but merely symbolized it. Circumcision, for example, prefigured baptism, and the Passover meal prefigured the Eucharist. When Christ came, He did not do away with symbols of God's grace. He super naturalized them, energizing them with grace. He made them more than symbols.

Matrimony
(Catechism of the Catholic Church 1601 – 1666)

Most people are called to the married life rather than to the religious life or to life as a single person. Through the sacrament of matrimony God gives special graces to help married couples with life's difficulties, especially to help them raise their children as loving followers of Christ.

Marriage always involves three parties: the bride, the groom, and God. When two Christians receive the sacrament of matrimony, God is with them, witnessing and blessing their marriage covenant. For Catholics, God does this through the priest or deacon who presides at the wedding as the Church's witness.

A consummated sacramental marriage is permanent; only death can break it (Mark 10:1 – 12, Romans 7:2 – 3, 1 Corinthians 7:10 – 11). This holy union is a living symbol of the unbreakable relationship between Christ and his Church (Ephesians 5:21 – 33).
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Family retreat with the Carthusian monks: "A sign in the hallway outside the tiny chapel proclaims: "In solitude one lives in all ages." As attractive as it may seem, the thousand-year-old Carthusian way of life isn't for everyone. Some people sign up for a three-month retreat at the monastery, only to give up and return home after a single day."

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I thought I would post this here because it includes an anecdote about a Carthusian monk that I met when I was a novice at Parkminster Charterhouse that people might find interesting.

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"Only those who have experienced the solitude and the silence of the wilderness can know the benefit and divine joy they bring to those who love them."  - St. Bruno
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We are to be free within; our souls are not to be cluttered up with noise and sterile activities, but attentive and ready to detect signs, sometimes so delicate, of the presence of the Lord speaking in our heart.

Let go of human wisdom, calculated prudence, and your own little projects, so that you can be taken up into the light of the truth.  Implacably, this light will reveal all the cunning tricks and resistances that the ‘old’ man in you uses to defend himself and remain in control.  You must accept to see him disappear if you really want to be born anew, and to receive a new life welling up from the depths of your heart, where God has always been present without you knowing it.

A Carthusian
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Official Trailer for Into Great Silence, a documentary about the Carthusians.

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"We have two accounts of the manner of life of the first Carthusians, the earliest, written by Guibert, Abbot of Nogent, the second by Peter the Venerable, Abbot of Cluny. The former runs as follows: "The church stands upon a ridge . . . thirteen monks dwell there, who have a sufficiently convenient cloister, in accordance with the cenobitic custom, but do not live together claustraliter like other monks. Each has his own cell round the cloister, and in these they work, sleep, and eat. On Sundays they receive the necessary bread and vegetables (for the week) which is their only kind of food and is cooked by each one in his own cell; water for drinking and for other purposes is supplied by a conduit . . . . There are no gold or silver ornaments in their church, except a silver chalice. They do not go to the church as we do [Guibert was a Benedictine], but only for certain of them. They hear Mass, unless I am mistaken, on Sundays and solemnities. They hardly ever speak, and, if they want anything, ask for it by a sign. If they ever drink wine, it is so watered down as to be scarcely better than plain water. They wear a hair shirt next the skin, and their other garments are thin and scanty. They live under a prior, and the Bishop of Grenoble acts as their abbot and provisor . . . Lower down the mountain there is a building containing over twenty most faithful lay brothers [laicos], who work for them. . . . Althougli they observe the utmost poverty, they are getting together a very rich library. (P.L., CLVI, 853 sqq.).

"Peter the Venerable adds certain details, lays stress on the poorness of their garments, and mentions that they restricted their possessions both in land and cattle, and fixed their own number at thirteen monks, eighteen lay brothers, and a few servants. Of their diet he says, "They always abstain from the eating of meat, whether in health or ill. They never buy fish, but accept them if given in charity. Cheese an eggs are allowed on Sundays and Thursdays. On Tuesdays and Saturdays, they eat cooked vegetables, but on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, they take only bread and water. They eat once a day only, save at Christmas, Easter, Pentecost, Epiphany, and on certain other festivals . . . . On feast days they go to the refectory, eat twice, and sing the whole office in the church." (P.L., (CLXXXIX, 944 D.)"

Continue reading at the Catholic Encyclopedia
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