In his letter to Raoul le Verd, St. Bruno, the founder of the Carthusians, describes the beautiful mountain setting in which he lives. He writes from the wilderness of Calabria, distant from any human habitation. The temperatures are mild, the mountain valley is decked with wildflowers, streams, and fruit-bearing trees. With him are a few other men, some of whom are very well educated. Together they dwell while “keeping assiduous watch.”
Why do they keep watch? Whom do they expect? A visitor? A brother in religion? An enemy? Wild beasts? They wait in silence and solitude, a grueling personal discipline which only “men of strong will” can endure. Here they keep watch because they expect that in that place “God crowns his athletes for their stern struggle with the hoped-for reword: a peace unknown tot he world, and joy in the Holy Spirit.”
In the silent watchfulness of prayer St. Bruno expected the Holy Spirit to visit his heart with gifts of joy and peace, opening within him a pathway for the Father and Son to make their own home within him. There, a millennium removed from the events whose feast we celebrate today, St. Bruno and his companions awaited another Pentecost. Today, another millennium removed, those who possess such a hope follow the path of the first disciples who gathered in the Upper Room, praying and giving glory to God, awaiting the visitation promised by the Lord. Let us prepare an Upper Room in our own hearts. Let us empty ourselves so that the wilderness within us may be filled with the peace and joy of the Holy Spirit.