During the September 2014 (LGC2014) meeting, was
proposed that rather than eventually found a Canonical Association of Faithful as was initially
mentioned in the 11 guidelines, that members and the Order might
also consider having a more direct canonical link with the
Carthusian Order, and the idea of "External Donates" was formulated. We could
possibly also imagine a formulation such as : "Spiritual Donates"?
etc.. These questions of the eventual canonical status remain thus
to be further reflected upon as we will discover together with the
Carthusian Order our vocation in the Church.
The Carthusian Way
A Carthusian community consists of cloistered monks,
priests or those destined to become priests (Fathers) and monks
converse or donate (Brothers). Cloistered monks live in
the strictest of solitude. They do not leave their cells other
than when allowed by the rule. They occupy their time with
prayer, readings, and work (sawing wood to heat themselves
during winter, gardening, transcribing, pottery, etc.) The
Brothers ensure that the various needs of the monastery are met
by their work outside of the cells (cooking, carpentry, laundry,
work in the woods) It is a unique ideal, lived in two different
ways. The Brothers work in as much silence and solitude as
possible. They have their share of life in the cell for reading
and prayer, yet it is less demanding than the Fathers. That is
why their cells are smaller. Both ways of life complement one
another to form the unique Charterhouse and correspond to the
different aptitudes of those who wish to lead a Carthusian life.
Within the group of Brothers, there are two categories, those
called Converts (monks that take the exact same vows as the
Fathers) and that of the Donates.
The Donates are monks who do not take the vows, but
for love of Christ, give themselves to the Order by mutual
agreement. They have their own set of customs which differs
slightly than those of the Converts. For instance, their help
during the Offices, most notable during the night Office, is not
as strict. They live without owning anything. After seven years,
they can fully enter the Order or renew their donation.
Their gift to God is not any less than that of the other monks,
as they tackle tasks and duties less compatible to the
obligations of the Converts.
The nuns have of the same type of vocations under the name of
Cloister Nuns, Converse Nuns and Donate Nuns.
In the House of God are many
dwelling-places: among us, there are fathers and converse
brothers; there are also donates, who have likewise left the
world and sought the solitude of the Charterhouse, in order, by
giving themselves to prayer and work within the protection of
the cloister, to consecrate their whole life to the Lord. Quite
frequently, in fact, men of real holiness, who wished to be
numbered among the sons of Blessed Bruno and to enjoy his
spiritual heritage, have preferred to live and die as donates.
On the completion of a praiseworthy
novitiate, the donate novice is admitted by the Prior to
temporary Donation, after the vote of the solemn professed and
of the perpetual donates (8.9).
On the day of Donation, whether
temporary or perpetual (36.16-18), the future donate — having
had at least four days of recollection — in the presence of the
whole community before Vespers, is to read aloud his Donation,
written in the vernacular, with this form and in these words :
"I, Brother N., for the love of our Lord
Jesus Christ and for the salvation of my soul, promise to serve
God faithfully as a donate for the building up of the Church,
observing obedience and chastity, and living without personal
possessions. I therefore give myself to this House in a mutually
binding contract, to serve it at all times, and submit myself to
the discipline of the Order, according to the Statutes."
For temporary Donation the words "for
two years" should be added after "give myself"; likewise, if
this is extended, the period of the extension should be
expressed; in the case, however, of perpetual Donation one
should insert "for ever".
The donate, although he lives without
personal possessions, retains the ownership of his property and
the right to dispose of it. Before perpetual Donation, however,
no one may transfer, or permit to be transferred, the ownership
of any of his goods, even if the donate himself wishes it.
From this day, the donate is a member of
the Order, and is bound to it, so that, if necessity demands,
the superiors can transfer him to any of our Houses. However, he
cannot be dismissed from the Order, unless he seriously fails in
one of his obligations; in which case the Prior, with the
consent of the Council, can annul his Donation. When a contract
of Donation is annulled, let both parties sign a document giving
proof of this repeal, that is, the Prior in the name of the
community, and the donate himself.
Three years later, it is for the Prior,
after the vote of the community, including the perpetual donates
(8.9), to admit the donate to a renewal of his Donation for two
years. The time of temporary Donation can be prolonged by the
Prior, but not for more than a year.
After the time of probation, it is for
the Prior, after the vote of the community including the
perpetual donates, to admit the brother, either to perpetual
Donation, or, to the regime whereby his Donation is renewed
every three years. In the latter case, the vote of the community
is required only at the start of this regime. Furthermore, the
consent of the Reverend Father is required for perpetual
With regard to the Divine Office and the
other observances, the donates have their own customs, which can
be adapted to their needs, so that each one is enabled to
attain, in the way best suited to him, our aim of union with God
in solitude and silence; let them then use this ordered liberty
not as an occasion for self-indulgence, but rather in the
service of love; and thus they will serve the Lord in a
different way, yet without diminishing the gift of themselves to
God or their zeal for holiness. Moreover, they give the House
very useful help, sometimes doing tasks that would hinder the
converse brothers in their observances.