The Charterhouse of the Transfiguration Monastery in the mountains of Vermont was consecrated in 1972 as the first Carthusian monastery in the USA.
WAY OF LIFE
Carthusian monks consecrate their lives entirely to prayer and to seeking God in the secret of their hearts. Learn about the order founded in 1084.
This beautiful property provides an ideal setting for monastic life in the “desert” of a quiet mountain valley lost in deep woods, encompassing over 11 square miles.
Charterhouse of the
Arlington, Vermont USA
The Charterhouse of the Transfiguration was established as the first Carthusian monastery in the Western hemisphere. In November 1950, the Reverend Father of the Carthusian Order sent two monks to explore the foundation of a monastery in the United States. For ten years, a small group of fathers and brothers lived on donated property near Whitingham, Vermont. In 1960, the Foundation transferred to a secluded area in Arlington, Vermont, also donated.
The main building is encased in rough-hewn granite trucked up the mountain from a Vermont quarry. Its construction incorporates huge monolithic blocks that embody the Carthusian ideals of permanence, solidity and simplicity. The natural beauty of the unpolished stone evokes the Order’s lifestyle of steadfast endurance. Its rough surface still carries the marks of drill rods inserted by the anonymous workmen who pried free from the earth the three-ton slabs: a visible human touch on a building dedicated to a life of intrinsic anonymity.
Meditation on the name of the monastery: the Transfiguration
The Transfiguration of the Lord contains all the constitutive elements of Christian contemplation.
Jesus climbs up a mountain to pray, and He takes Peter, James and John with Him.
Suddenly, as he is praying, He is transfigured. (Mt 17,2; Lk 9,29; Mk 9,2). Before Jesus looked like a man, now He is manifested as God-man. His face is still human, but now it now reflects His divinity. His clothes shed intense pure light. Peter, James and John do not see this with their ordinary vision: only their illumined eyes can see the resplendent Glory of the Father (Lk 9,32).
“Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John, and brought them up to a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them; and His garments became radiant and exceedingly white, as no launderer on earth can whiten them.”
Mark, 9, 2-3.
The Transfiguration of the Lord allows us to contemplate, not only the Mystery of Jesus, but also our own mystery. Prayer and contemplation, lived in pure faith during this life, are the beginning of our own Transfiguration.
The white habit of Carthusian monks is not only a symbol of conversion of life and consecration to God but also of the resurrection.
The Carthusian monk is wholly dedicated to contemplation: sustained by the scriptures, and by the grace of the Holy Spirit led into the depths of his heart, the monk experiences in some sort the incomparable Beauty of the Light of God radiating from Christ.
Inside the monastery
The physical structure of the Charterhouse reflects the diversity of Carthusian vocation. The hermitages of the fathers are in one wing and the cells and work areas of the brothers in another. A common cloister unites these two living arrangements and provides access to a third, shared area containing the Church, chapels, refectory, Chapter House and other areas essential for community life.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ABOUT THE MONASTERY
The first actors of the story of how Carthusians came to the United States are three : Fr. Thomas Verner Moore, an American psychiatrist, educator and Benedictine monk, who had strong "founder" instincts and who became a Carthusian monk in the late forties, and his...
The paragraphs below are transcribed and edited from the "Early Times" section of the Equinox Mountain website, specifically from a page on Joseph George Davidson and his wife Madeleine, the generous donors who bequeathed the land now established as the American...
The following texts written by friends of the monastery, show how Saint Bruno's charism & spirituality can also touch and transform God seekers who live amidst the challenges and agitations of today's world. I consider the Carthusians of both past and present to...
WAY OF LIFE
The Charterhouse of the Transfiguration, North America’s only charterhouse, sustains a broad international culture of monks from all over the world. In a world so often torn apart by ethnic rivalries and excessive nationalism, the monks, bonded together by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, affirm the supremacy of God and contribute via their intense prayer to a harmonious family of humanity in search of its loving Creator. Flags representing the national origins of the monks fly at the entrance to Skyline Drive.
The monk journeys through the desert of silence, and thus no visitors are allowed in the monastery.
The community meets in Church two times each day to chant the Latin Gregorian of the Mass and Vespers according to the Carthusian Rite, and also rises in the middle of the night to chant. On Sundays and Solemnities, the monks pray most of the canonical hours together and share a noon meal. On Mondays, they walk together in the mountains.
The father spends most of the day secluded in his hermitage in prayer, study and preparation for the priesthood; all eventually are ordained. The brother works five or more hours in addition to prayer and study in his cell.
The Charterhouse unites fathers, converse brothers and donate brothers in a shared vocation. All leave the world to consecrate their lives to Jesus Christ in solitude and contemplation. Fathers and converse brothers take solemn vows of obedience, stability and conversion of life. Donate brothers make similar promises to the House and Order, yet retain ownership of personal property.
The Carthusian Vocation: A Special Call from God
The conviction of a call, however, requires discernment to avoid error. A candidate needs good physical health and, due to the demands of such a life of solitude, must be free of serious emotional and psychological problems. The Carthusian life also requires significant maturity and sound judgement. The statutes allow no one under 20 or over 45 to be admitted.
“To the praise of the glory of God, Christ, the Father’s Word, has through the Holy Spirit, from the beginning chosen certain men, whom he willed to lead into solitude and unite to himself in intimate love. In obedience to such a call, Master Bruno and six companions entered the desert of Chartreuse in the year of our Lord 1084 and settled there”
Statutes of the Order 1:1
We invite all who feel a call to contact the Vocational Director to learn more about our life. The Order maintains websites in various languages to inform those interested in this vocation.
Additional Reading on The Carthusian Vocation
A Special Call from God All religious life is a response to a call from God. To the young man who comes and asks Him what he should do, the Lord answers : "Come, follow me" (Mt. 19,21). Vocation is the name given to the personal form of the general call addressed by...
To become a Carthusian, the desire alone does not suffice. It is not enough to be warmly welcomed into the community and to receive all the elements of a good formation. He alone remains in the Charterhouse who has felt a call in the very centre of his soul which is...
THE HERMIT LIFE1. The Carthusians Strictly speaking the Carthusians are not and have never been considered a branch of the Benedictine family. St Bruno, the founder of the Grande Chartreuse, spent some time in a priory dependent on the Benedictine Abbey of Molesme,...
Steps of monastic training
The first step in monastic life is postulancy , which lasts for several months. During this time the candidate dresses as a layman, but at church services he covers himself with a black cloak. After several months, the postulant prepares himself with a few days of retreat to begin the novitiate . For this event the eve of a party is chosen; In it, the white Carthusian habit and the black cape, distinctive of the novices, are dressed.
It lasts two years, at the end of which the novice takes temporary vows for three years. After this time, he will renew them for two more years, and, finally, at the end of these seven long years of testing and preparation, he will issue the solemn and definitive vows. During these years, the monk of the cloister carries out ecclesiastical studies to become a priest, which happens some time after making the solemn vows.
Two ways of being Carthusian
The first is as a cloister monk . In it he spends most of the day in his hermitage praying, studying, and working. The monk of the cloister will one day be ordained a priest, so they have to do their ecclesiastical studies, always in the solitude of their hermitage. Some minimum qualities are also required for singing since it is typical of the cloistered monk to sing a part of the Divine Office in the conventual church.
The other way of living the Carthusian vocation is that of the Brother, who is not called to the priesthood, nor does he live a life of solitude as strict as that of the cloistered monk. His loneliness is tempered by five hours of manual labor that he performs outside his hermitage, employed in the work necessary for the proper functioning of the monastery: cooking, carpentry, laundry, farm work, gardening, etc. This balance between work and prayer life in the hermitage makes the vocation of the converted Brother humanly more bearable than that of the cloistered monk, who, being essentially the same, nevertheless has a stronger component of solitude.
Inside the cells
The father, or cloister monk, spends the greater part of his day in a hermitage, a separate four-room dwelling (normally of two stories) with an enclosed garden. The lower floor includes a workshop and a wood storage area. Here the monk cuts wood for his stove and undertakes manual work according to his talents and interests. The upper floor entrance is an anteroom called the Ave Maria. Here the monk offers a Hail Mary when returning from the outside before entering the second room (the cubiculum), where he spends the greater part of his day. Here the monk prays, studies reads and engages in manual work. The cubiculum includes an oratory, a study table with bookshelf, a dining table at a large window overlooking the surrounding mountains, a bed with rustic mattress, a woodstove, closets and a bathroom.
Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
Spiritual Retreats at the charterhouse:
Lay, religious and priests inquire or ask to come for a spiritual retreat at the charterhouse. The answer is that we do not allow such because of the charism and nature of our life of silence and solitude. We permit only vocational retreats, i.e., for those who believe they are called or who are discerning a possible call to the Carthusian life, and only after some preliminary requirements (a questionnaire, two letters of reference, further questions) are satisfied.
Liturgy Books, Statutes, instruments of penance:
People often ask us if they may copy, borrow or buy our liturgical books, our Statutes and also our instruments of penance (mostly, hairshirt). The answer is that we are not authorized to do so. Only excerpts of the Liturgy are available.
Tridentine mass or the Ordinary form of the Roman Liturgy?
Do we chant and do we use Latin?
Is it possible to visit the monastery?
Do we accept prayer requests?
Yes, we accept prayer requests sent to us by fax or by email. Prayer requests are always taken to heart but because of our life of silence & solitude, we do not normally acknowledge them. Please visit the CONTACT page.
Do we accept stipend Masses?
Yes, we accept stipend Masses. You can simply write us with the intention for which you want the Mass offered.
We can send an acknowledgement or receipt to those who request one. Some people who know our life of silence and solitude don’t request an acknowledgement. Whether acknowledged or not your request will be honored and taken to heart before God.
Stipend Masses can be said for any person, living or deceased, and the name of the person(s) and the intention(s) may be mentioned. The donor can simply send a check to our charterhouse or monastery indicating the number of Masses to be celebrated “for the intention of the donor.” We follow the diocese’s $10 stipend per mass but less than that (or whatever the donor can afford) is always honored and fulfilled. Recently, we received a recommendation from the diocese in the following words: ‘I recommend that the Charterhouse sets its own standard for the Gregorian and Novena Masses, perhaps $15 per Mass for each day of the Gregorian cycle and/or Novena period. This is not an excessive offering and recognize the many graces the Gregorian or Novena Masses cycle would supply for those making the offer.’” In light of this recommendation, the Charterhouse would like to set the amount of $400 for Gregorian and $110 for Novena Masses for those who can afford it, and as said above, we’ll always honor the request even if it is less. Some give more for which we are deeply grateful. The increased amount will financially help the poorer Charterhouses of our Order to whom we send some of these Masses that we cannot take up ourselves due to many requests. The $10 stipend per Mass will remain the same for Non-Gregorian and Non-Novena Masses.
PLEASE NOTE that a Gregorian mass is a kind of stipend that can only be offered for the repose of the soul of the deceased and consists of 30 Masses said on 30 consecutive days. By definition, therefore, a Gregorian cannot be offered for persons who are living.
The proper payee for stipend, Gregorian and Novena Masses, is either “Charterhouse of the Transfiguration” or “Carthusian Foundation in America, Inc.” or “Carthusian Monastery”, and stipends should be mailed to the monastery’s address:
CHARTERHOUSE OF THE TRANSFIGURATION
1084 AVE MARIA WAY
ARLINGTON, VERMONT 05250 USA
Do we accept donations?
Yes, we accept donations.
In the Satutes, it is said: We exhort all the Priors of the Order, by the tender love of Jesus Christ, our God and our Savior, who offered himself for us on the cross in total holocaust, that they devote themselves whole-heartedly to almsgiving on as lavish a scale as their resources will permit. Let them be persuaded that whatever is spent or retained in excess is, as it were, a theft from the poor and from the needs of Mother Church. Directing our property in this way towards the common good, we imitate the early Christians among whom none called anything his own, but for whom all things were in common. (St 29.19)
The proper payee for donations, is either “Charterhouse of the Transfiguration” or “Carthusian Foundation in America, Inc.”, and donations should be mailed to the monastery’s address:
CHARTERHOUSE OF THE TRANSFIGURATION
1084 AVE MARIA WAY
ARLINGTON, VERMONT 05250 USA
Communication by telephone:
Out of respect for the monks’ silence, we do not communicate by telephone. Please visit the CONTACT page.
Do we eat meat?
Do we have internet access?
New converts to Catholicism:
Applicants below 23 or over 40 years old:
Is there a monastery for Carthusian nuns in North America?
No, there is no Carthusian foundation here in USA or Canada for our Carthusian nuns as yet and we don’t know when that might come to reality. Please contact our nuns in Europe and Korea directly for any other questions and inquiries. You will find in the Contacts section of this site the addresses of the monasteries. You can also download a PDF document about Carthusian nuns which contains the addresses and contact data of all the monasteries for nuns.
Where to get books, Carthusian-made rosaries, etc.?
guiding principle as to the praying of psalms in the charterhouse.
The Distribution of Psalms in weekly Carthusian Prayer (for Sundays and weekdays in Ordinary Time) – PDF
Do the Carthusians have any customary ejaculatory prayers?
Yes ! Praised be Jesus Christ! In this monastery, those are the first and last words a monk say to another monk when he has permission to speak, and the latter responds, Amen. Or Let us praise the Lord — And give Him thanks. Other houses use “Benedicite — Dominus” or Marian greetings: “Ave Maria Purissima…..”.
The Fathers or Cloister monks, their vocation and their life " Rejoice, my dear brothers, over your blessed vocation and the generous gift of divine grace you have received. Rejoice over having escaped the turbulent waters of this world, where there are so many perils...
The Brothers - Lay or Converse monks, the Donate brothers, their vocation and their life " Rejoice, my dear brothers, over your blessed vocation and the generous gift of divine grace you have received. Rejoice over having escaped the turbulent waters of this world,...
A Normal Day The Carthusian goes to bed very early, between 7:30 and 8:00 in the evening. Four hours later, at 11:30 p.m., he gets up and starts his day. After washing up and praying for a while in the oratory of his hermitage, at 0.15 am, the bell of the tower...
This beautiful property provides an ideal setting for monastic life in the “desert” of a quiet mountain valley lost in deep woods, encompassing over 11 square miles. The Charterhouse is situated in a deep ravine surrounded by a natural buffer zone accessed by a private, single long gravel road.
This beautiful property provides an ideal setting for monastic life in the “desert” of a quiet mountain valley lost in deep woords, encompassing over 11 square miles. The Charterhouse is situated in a deep ravine surrounded by a natural buffer zone accessed by a private, single long gravel road. The main building is encased in rough-hewn granite trucked up the mountain from a Vermont quarry. Its construction incorporates huge monolithic blocks that embody the Carthusian ideals of permanence, solidity and simplicity. The natural beauty of the unpolished stone evokes the Order’s lifestyle of steadfast endurance. Its rough surface still carries the marks of drill rods inserted by the anonymous workmen who pried free from the earth the three-ton slabs: a visible human touch on a building dedicated to a life of intrinsic anonymity.
Mount Equinox: skyline drive
In continuous operation since 1947, Mount Equinox Skyline Drive is the longest, private toll road in North America. Skyline Drive offers visitors the unforgettable scenic drive to the summit of the Taconic Range. The fees charged for the toll road pay for the maintenance of Skyline Drive that is the main road that services the needs of the monks at the Charterhouse.
At the summit of Mount Equinox is the Saint Bruno Scenic Viewing Center, a gift from the Order of Carthusians to the people of Vermont and all visitors.
The Charterhouse of the Transfiguration sustains a broad international culture of monks from all over the world. In a world so often torn apart by ethnic rivalries and excessive nationalism, the monks, bonded together by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, affirm the supremacy of God and contribute via their intense prayer to a harmonious family of humanity in search of its loving Creator.
Flags representing the national origins of the monks fly at the entrance to Skyline Drive.