le Masson, Innocent

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Carthusian author; b. Noyon, Dec. 21, 1627; d. May 8, 1703. He entered the Carthusian order at Mont-Renaud in 1645, and became prior there 18 years later. In 1675 he became prior of Grande-Chartreuse and general of the order. The following year his monastery was destroyed by fire, and he designed the new buildings of Grande-Chartreuse. He reconstituted the archives and produced Annales Ordinis Cartusiensis, later known as Disciplina Ordinis Cartusiensis (ed. Montreuil, 1894). It is a commentary on the rules and a vindication of the order from accusations of relaxation made by Abbé de Rancé. Le Masson also stimulated the composition of the real annals of the order by Dom Le Couteulx (8 v. ed. Montreuil, 1887) and of the collection by Dom Le Vasseur of biographies of saintly Carthusians, Ephemerides Ordinis Cartusiensis (5 v., ed. Montreuil, 1890). He prepared a new edition of the rules that had been approved by Rome in 1688. During his administration, he himself controlled and disposed many things, and centralized authority into the hands of the general; sometimes his ideas were out of harmony with authentic Carthusian traditions.

He preserved Carthusian spirituality from dangers of jansenism, ordering books suspected of the heresy to be gathered up from the charterhouses and sent to the head house, where he burned them. He wrote a Directorium Novitiorum and several treatises for the young monks' instruction. They are sound in doctrine, clear and pithy, and illustrated by apt examples. His Carthusian sources for these were guigo ii, Adam of Cryburgh, ludolph of saxony, denis the carthusian, and Johannes Justus lanspergius; he borrowed also from Thomas à Kempis (The Imitation of Christ ) and from St. francis de sales.

Le Masson combated quietism, particularly among the Carthusian nuns whose houses he himself visited. He composed the Semaine du Sacré-Coeur for them.

Bibliography: c. m. boutrais, La Grande Chartreuse par un Chartreux (9th ed. Grenoble 1964). j. p. martin, "La Doctrine spirituelle de Dom Innocent Le Masson," Revue d'ascétique et de mystique 17 (1936): 368396; 18 (1937): 4564. s. autore, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, 15 v. (Paris 190350) 9.1:202208.

[b. du moustier]