Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Catholic Hermit Returns to More Spiritual Reading


In addition to balancing the beauty and goodness with life with simply and humbly enjoying life that God creates and gives, this nothing Catholic hermit is today beginning once again doing more spiritual reading.  

A spiritual friend across the miles had inquired late last summer what might be a good book, and she had an interest in St. John of the Cross.  The volume I highly recommend is that translated and edited by Kieran Kavanaugh, the title:  The Collected Works of John of the Cross.

The friend had another book she wanted to finish, and being a busy working wife, a mother of adult children, and friend to many, it has taken her these months.  I so understand--and I'm not a spouse to a human nor with adult children nearby, nor working a job out in the world in which I encounter many people.  Even so, I have been spiritually lazy--acedia, it is!--and also tired, and as mentioned, needing a type of natural balance including humor and visual beauty, to the intensity that can enter into a hermit's daily and nightly existence.

My mind has been on various, serious prayer intentions sent my way.  My mind has had to focus on learning construction skills and dealing with temporal hardships and financial concerns, as well as age and pain continue to march through the every present moments of temporal human existence.

But today the friend and I had set for beginning to read The Collected Works of John of the Cross.  I've read much of it but re-reading will seem as if the first time, I suspect!  So much construction, plumbing, electrical, and various other new "tricks" this Old Goat has had to learn in the past four years!  It seems that other knowledge has been shoved aside or even booted out of the brain!  I realize this is not the case, but it is at minimum stored in some vault as if locked away for eons.

I suggested that the friend, being far more busy with responsibilities to here-and-now people in her daily life, determine our reading plan and schedule.  She emailed that we will read two pages a day.  This is fine with me; it is not the number of pages nor even if we go by sections or ideas.  

What does it matter?  We will read two pages a day and find what we will find in our slow absorption of a man who lived his life in insightful and inspired holiness when on earth.  He continues to this day interacting in the lives of those of us who desire his acquaintance and spiritual guidance.

As a long-time friend reminds in emails regarding this hermit's major hermitage renovation over the past four years:  Slow and stead wins the race.

Today the body has been so fatigued by physical pain that eating protein, ingesting raw sugary stuff that usually gives an endorphin boost (even though not the best source to stimulate the brain chemicals that help with pain!), and resting until early afternoon, I've only managed one tray of drywall mud.

I'm trying to level out and form a 17' beam that has two sides wrapped with drywall, but the edge that butts to wood ceiling is not even.  And there are two places in which I should have cut back more drywall to make the beveling look better.  Not sure how many coats it may take to make it look lovely, smooth, and modified enough to not scream out: " I am not level!  I am not even or flush!  I have been reconfigured by an old hermit!"  And, that is, an old hermit who has had to become a construction apprentice without an onsite experienced builder...other than my angel, St. Joseph, and Jesus, of course!

I pray while I work, and the prayers continue for the young single mother of two boys whose double mastectomy and lymph gland surgery has been suddenly scheduled for tomorrow morning, 8:30 a.m. ET.  The sooner the better for this surgery since the cancer has spread to lymph nodes.  Sadly, an older person had to sacrifice her surgery spot as that person could not pass the treadmill test, so doubtful would survive surgery.  Heart issues--and this is how it is as we age.  It comes to a point that we are no longer an emergency, and it is as well to accept a natural death--as I put it, die the old-fashion way!

Most of life consists of bittersweet events.  Two views, two situations, two possibilities, two outcomes: the temporal view and the spiritual view.  Perception and attitude, love and mercy, affect the trajectory of how we choose to traverse the paths laid before us in our earthly pilgrimage.  And the choices help determine the outcome of the pathways into eternal life.  Salvation or perdition awaits each soul, whether we consider and factor these realities or not.

Now, this nothing consecrated Catholic hermit will fill the stainless steel drywall mud tray with another mound of this gorgeous, thick, creamy mud!  It is like sculpting, and I think of--is it Ezekiel--who wrote of the Lord's image of the potter at the wheel, forming the clay pots so metaphoric of how our souls are created and in the Hands of God Almighty!

God bless His Real Presence in us!  Let us love God in Himself and above all things...and love one others as God loves!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Christ Is Risen! And He Lifts Us with Him!


This nothing consecrated Catholic hermit does not want to leave off with any self-motives or impressions that this Holy Week or this most glorious day of Easter is anything less than monumentally invaluable or lacking in serious propensity.

Today is one of true rejoicing.  Jesus has risen from the dead, is free from the earthly persecutions to his Word made Flesh, God made Man, physical time span on earth. He has salvaged our souls from the ongoing sins we commit even when we do not want to sin even in the slightest of offenses.

Jesus restores our hope in heaven and the reality that death is not the end but the beginning of eternal life and union with God.

There is something peaceful and joyful going on within this hermit, though.  And it has to do with realizing how content and delighted is my soul.  In a deep and profound way, I sense Jesus here with me and me with Jesus--right here, in this hermitage, day and night, moment by moment.  My moniker as the Joyful Hermit, previously a bit tongue in cheek at times, is now more hitting the mark.

Praise be to God!  And the circumstances are not what I'd have expected, for in some observational modes one might think that a hermit ought be more austere, more serious, more intense, more studious, more penitential, more whatever else.  I used to be, for sure.  Perhaps it was what I thought I should be or a necessary phase, a rite of passage, maybe?

Yet now, amidst even more serious intensity of the world about and the dire and serious prayer requests coming in daily, there is a calm assurance and balancing of the harsh realities of human suffering and strife.  There is a balancing with and from the peaceful and joyous faith in Christ that His Word is Truth, Beauty, Goodness, that He is Light and Salvation, the Way, the Life.

I rather suspect I am going to enjoy the upcoming readings from the Acts of the Apostles and from John, more than ever imagined in my life to date.

As St. Julian of Norwich discovered in her aha moments of personal spiritual revelation from God:  All shall be well and all is well.

On this most Blessed Easter, this hermit prayerfully and rejoicingly wishes all readers and their families and friends a most glorious day in the Lord, in the Body of Christ, in life and in resurrection.
May Divine Union be yours, and eternity in heaven the ever-hoped-for reward!

God bless His Real Presence in us!

____________________________

Ah, a side note.  The little cell phone just rang its harp music ring tone.  My cousin far away with her husband and adult children and a granddaughter there were singing in the background a hale and hearty "Happy Birthday"song.

"Is it your birthday today?" my cousin asked when the happy choristers had concluded.

"No, but perhaps I will not live to my birthday so it is a good thing to be sung to in the present moment.  After all, we do not know the day or the hour," I quipped.  We had some chuckles, and rang off with my love to all assembled there celebrating Easter.

Now I will rise and celebrate by being up high on a ladder, continuing the mudding of a 17' drywall-wrapped beam.  It evokes the aspect of rising, of resurrection, and then a teen is coming this afternoon--on Easter!  He is coming to this tomb of a hermitage to assist for a few hours as a kind of service gift.  My daughter's friend responded to her plea for any teens wanting to help, and this young Presbyterian man is the friend's son.

Of course, he will be given renumeration for his kindly help in lifting up an old hermit with help in lifting cabinets and countertops off the truck and into pole barn.
I was quite surprised he would choose Easter Sunday afternoon to come, but then again, Jesus arranges circumstances in ways we'd not expect--just as the odd turn of confession on Holy Thursday with the priest needing more to divulge and share than the penitent.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Catholic Hermit (and All of Us) Await Resurrection!

Holy Saturday!  Tomorrow is Easter Resurrection!  I'm reminding as many spiritual friends who contact this nothing consecrated Catholic hermit, no matter their message, that we will find great joy and relief tomorrow--after what has been a typically grueling, glorious Lent!

A young woman has worked her way through undergraduate college and then for several years slowly plugging her way through a Master's Degree in Psychological Counseling.  This semester she has but one class, but, oh--what a class!  There is a clash with the professor of some sort.  He speaks in erudite tones, and she is finding him difficult to understand.  The concepts he presents get lost in the frozen zone of her mind that clutches when the professor opens his mouth.

Yes, it is a psychological type of block, but nonetheless, she must pass this course for she only has enough money to pay for the three remaining.  I think she's been working toward this degree for four or more years now.  It is not easy when having to work odd jobs, part-time, live with an uncle in a spare room, upkeep an old car to get to work and the university.  But she is doing it!  She will, despite recent diagnosis of sleep apnea, as well.  Lent!

But Easter Resurrection is to come, and the thought of Jesus rising from the temporal toils and tares, the persecutions and all else that He endured--all for our salvation, for His Father-bestowed mission--it all raises our hopes, for sure!  Jubilation is around the temporal-time corner!  

I confessed sacramentally on Holy Thursday morning. It was the most odd and peculiar confession situation ever in my nearly 22 years of being a Catholic.  I won't go into it, but I'm thankful for the ability to listen and encourage another who needed to and wanted to discuss his group therapy and process toward better health.  It was fascinating even if strange since I'd not been to the parish for nearly seven months. Yet, the Lord places us where He wills and as often as not--not for the reasons or purposes we thought or planned.

I have an entirely new segment of people with weight and other problems to pray for and have great empathy and respect for the crosses they bear--no matter the reasons that landed them in rather extreme circumstances.

I know about landing in extreme circumstances, myself.  Landed next door to a mentally ill woman and her dysfunctional husband and adult sons.  Had to get out when my protective order was coming to an end; and then ended up here--in this fixer upper!

Good Friday was truly good this year.  There were three particular prayer concerns on my mind.  Each involve life or death situations.  The one has to do with potentially a new life being formed in a womb; the other has to do with a single mother diagnosed with cancer and facing surgery, chemo, and radiation.  The third deals with an older woman whose esophagus is riddled with ulcers and whose remaining sighted eye is clouded by a cataract; eye surgery is risky on this one eye remaining with any vision possible.

I could not focus much on the Crucifixion of Jesus yesterday.  This year it has all been so vivid, so real, so intense.  I suppose I should be ashamed that I had to explain to His Real Presence that it was just too much to bear--my mind and emotions could not take it all in this time.  Sorry!  And perhaps with that, somehow I recognized all the more the details and depths to which Jesus lived and died--the betrayal, the rejection, the ridicule, the shame, the cruelty and abuse--and then to calmly resign Himself to the Will of the Father after a night of intense prayer and bloody tears prior to His crucifixion.

I worked on caulking around the ceiling line between trim and walls; I painted a first color coat on a room I'd been mudding and sanding--preparing for smooth and sleek, clean and fresh.  The color is a combination of two paints; I like to experiment as well as use up what I have.  The final result is that of the Body of Christ color--a Host, His Sacred Flesh.

Then I took some time out to watch a humorous but theme-laden YouTube video!  Of all things!  I recalled the years of sorrowful mourning, of watching the Passion of Christ film and in ensuing years the DVD.  Or of spending the night in a chapel in prayer, or other devotions and sacrifices.  But this year, the mourning and sorrows are already here, traipsing alongside Jesus with His Cross and then Simon of Cyrene when he assists Christ with the load.

Yes, I had to balance the intensity of Good Friday with distraction of the temporal lives of human beings, portrayed in film, revealing their broken hearts yet ability to overcome with love, and to then help others.  The film was British and dealt with a woman whose husband had bullied her.  He passed suddenly, and she was freed from abuse.  Yet her son took advantage of her financially and committed her to a nursing home of which she was too young and vibrant to belong.  While there, she helped the others break free, for they were being mistreated, over-medicated, and drained of their finances.

Such a theme was brightened by comedic situations mixed with genuine, thoughtful love.

Well, it was quite a different Good Friday than I've spent in decades.  I was reminded of childhood and of the anticipated joy yet the noon hour slowly moving toward the hour of Jesus' death.  I loved it when we'd have a thunderstorm around 3 p.m.; seemed to be a sign and gift from God to remember the day centuries before when Jesus took our awful sins upon Himself, died, was buried, descended into hell an then rose on the third day--resurrected and alive!

Yesterday it was like that again, the same sense of anticipation, the getting through those three hours by not becoming morosely intense or putting on more sorrow than what is naturally and genuinely given by God--not more than we can bear.  And there was the joy and relief later in the day, and the reality of human beings overcoming hardships and mistreatment, abuse, persecution, through love and the courage God gives us to try to make a difference, to serve others, to right what wrongs we can.  And all in love--the love of God, the mercy and compassion of Christ, the spiritual flame of love of the Holy Spirit.

Today is one of reflecting a bit, then waiting, and in temporal time, receiving a Triduum gift!  It is serendipitous!  Someone had posted lovely, solid cherry upper cabinets and gray Corian countertops--free!  Somehow, I happened to be the first to respond, which surprised me, as people lined up online behind if I did not follow through.  Precious Blood (my used truck) and I drove to the place where a young couple was renovating their lovely home, and they kindly loaded my truck with also some base cabinets they happened to have that match.

I have marvelous plans for these cabinets.  Not in the hermitage, but in the pole barn, as I want to frame in two windows I have from the hermitage renovation--repurpose the windows and make the pole barn a studio.  Yes, someone will so enjoy the property.  

All is coming into place beautifully, although working on a 17' beam is providing quite the challenge where one side is wrapped with drywall and that goes across the base of beam and transitions to wood ceilings.  The beam or the ceiling--whichever--do not butt up evenly in a couple places.  I've been chiseling and beveling drywall, for pity's sake.  I'll see what happens with mudding.

A couple more rather serious prayer intentions came via text message.  I'm aware, even when doing a section of grass mowing, that this dwelling and property are woven thickly, through and through, with prayers!  Hours and days and weeks of prayers and sufferings are in the construction, from the framework to the final coats of paint, outside and inside.  

Prayers are in the gardens and grass; prayers are in the pole barn--up on the roof where a year ago I fell and slid--but not off, thanks be to God!  Prayers are in the crawlspace insulation and plumbed pipes; prayers are in the attic spaces and wall spaces and roofing and mulching and every nail and screw driven.

Well, this is how it is, and should be, for a hermit in a hermitage.  Yet, besides the most strange confession--not at all expecting how it transpired yet am chuckling about it and see the point Jesus was making--I wonder at this unusual Triduum.  I'm thankfully able to let it flow without forcing or trying to live up to any expectations of how I ought to do or be or feel or think.

Somehow it is one of the most meaningful Triduum's yet.  I did look up how to pronounce Triduum, and yes, I've been saying it incorrectly for years.  Tri'-jewem was what it sounds like, with the "i" being soft.. I'd been mentally pronouncing: Tri-dew-um with the "i" being long.  Always fun to learn something new or find correction and be delighted.

I wonder if purgatory is kind of like an on-going Lent?  Mercy, I hope not in a human way, but there is nothing quite like Lent to teach us what God wants us to learn.  Not easy, not meant to be, yet always excellent and better than we could ever figure out for ourselves what our souls need to learn most or in what ways best to learn it.

Easter Resurrection--within hours!

God bless His Real Presence in us!  So grateful, always!


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Catholic Hermit: Toiling's Reward


Saturday last brought yet another trip to civilization to a walk-in clinic since I'd not had success getting an appointment during the week.  The large medical conglomerates leave much to be desired in efficiency and just pricing.  However, at least this time I was put on steroids to try to get the sinus and lung crud cleared more, and a lung x-ray showed no pneumonia.

Into week six of nearly the bulk of Lent this year, and still not well physically.  However, the Lord has allowed enough improvement after two antibiotics and the steroids so that I get a bit of manual labor accomplished each day--mostly drywall mudding and a bit of painting.  Even the wet drywall mud seems to aggravate the sinuses and lungs, so this nothing consecrated Catholic hermit wears a protective mask more often than not when working.  And, I should probably try wearing a mask in the hermitage as someone suggested the situation may have become a chronic reaction to environment.

Regardless, I remind myself it is yet LENT!  Holy Week increases in intensity toward Good Friday's crucifixion of Jesus Christ.  Then there is darkness and waiting for the Easter morning Resurrection surprise!  I confide that this week, reading the Gospels of daily Mass have been most difficult to endure.  I've never had this problem in years prior or during other liturgical seasons in which these readings present themselves.

But this year, this Lent, somehow I cannot bear reading through word-for-word, slowly, and cannot seem to take them all in.  The reality of what Jesus endured, this year, hits me in ways I cannot describe other than, perhaps, grievously.  Yes, I think of the promise of Christ and His sacrifice that secures our salvation.  I consider St. Augustine's apt appraisal:  "O, happy fault"--the Crucifixion and the resurrection, from bitter to sweet, from our sins to His glory and our salvation as a result.

I skim and scan the Gospels this week.  I return to them off and on in the day, or I think of them in generalized cognition.  By later in life, if we've lived and learned through years of Lents and otherwise read Scriptures throughout the years, these Gospels begin to live within us in familiarity.  Yet they do not become comfortable; they are not meant to be like cozy slippers or a soft comforter.

We continue to learn, react, and grow in faith, hope and love, in following Jesus all the more and increasingly so the more painful to ponder His journey in life and through His death.  Then on Easter begins the transformational fathoming of His Resurrection and all that follows--our Christian beings delving deeper and following the more dearly, over time that God creates for us.

Well, I've been trying to continue with the manual labor.  Most of the time I can distract myself and be in meditative mode with dry-wall mudding or wall painting, and the mind and heart and even bodily pain can float far away from the temporal while working.  

When in increased physical pain, such as this morning, I face the temptation to be a bit discouraged as one could easily open the eyes to temporal reality and see all that remains to be accomplished.  The sinus and lung crud make the efforts loom the larger and more difficult.  Yet, the grace to not lean into discouragement flows immediately, and the mind is told to focus on a tray of drywall mud and let the rest unfold from there.

Various thoughts come when one engages in manual labor, or I suppose any type of labor or activity which we are in various ways required to attempt. It could be due to a job responsibility in order to provide for one's family, or such as with a hermit, to balance the daily life with productive physical work for a bit of income or upkeep of the hermitage, or in working while praying as yet another modality of living and communing with God in the silence of solitude and in praise of His Real Presence.

The following excerpt from Isaiah--I believe was yesterday's first reading of Mass--hit home my heart.  How many times have I thought the very thought, that I had toiled in vain or am doing so with this hermitage effort, tangible, and for what good or gain of my soul or the souls of others?  Have I spent my health and strength uselessly, perhaps ruining my health, hastening death (which can be a benefit, to be sure, for life can become long and hard; and heaven is a promised joy)?

But the Lord told Isaiah how it is, and that we toil not in vain when all is for God.  All is with God.  He is our All, our Love, our Alpha and Omega.

"Though I thought I had toiled in vain,
and for nothing, uselessly, spent my strength,
Yet my reward is with the LORD,
my recompense is with my God."

I finally did hear back regarding my phone call and request with the parish priest for an appointment for confession.  I also have entertained the thought of attempting to return to Mass--now when my sinus and lung ailment is more improved, of course.  Yet I will have my soul "shriven" in the sacrament of reconciliation on Holy Thursday morning.

Somehow, in the past couple of weeks, my vocation of suffering has been brought once again to the fore in reminders.  A letter from my spiritual father spelled out the reminder in his no-nonsense manner.  A dream also reminded me that my work in and for the Lord in regards to suffering is in reparation for and with Holy Mother Church.

Then, too, I have been reminded in mind and heart and from the soul, of the mystical marriage five years ago and that Jesus showed me parishioners and priests.  He clearly stated that they would criticize and judge me, but I was to pay no attention to them!

Yet, I had. I had paid attention and let the negativity and persecution, the shunning and gossip, get to me.  Truly, if I am to put faith into the Lord and to what is shown me in inner sight, spoken to me, as well, then I must try to do as He said.  It is all a process, of course--our learning to trust and to discern, and to put ourselves to the test of courage and faith, to trust the unseen and intangible.  

So I will take the next step and try.  The worst that can happen is that I lack the stamina yet, or the selflessness, or the ability to pay no attention.  Then, of course, there will be another time to try again, either in this world or the next.  It is all progression--life, death, resurrection--a metamorphosis in winging our way with Christ to union with Him for all eternity.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Catholic Hermit Loves Jesus' Look to Heaven


I love the Gospel of John.  Within, yesterday's Mass Gospel including the Lazarus event with Martha and Mary, and Jesus' bringing Lazarus back from death.  

When Jesus looks to the heavens (and I imagine Him lifting His hands up, as well), it reminds me of St. Godric of Finchale who in instances of praise would lift up his hands or objects in them, and thank God for all blessings.  

Yesterday when the couple brought me Communion and read the Gospel message, the image of Jesus looking to the heavens had me later remembering when I was under this old place here in two feet or less of crawlspace, trying to get some odd-angled plumbing pipe configuration to fit.  I had one pipe remaining to connect to another, and I could not get them to come together properly.

So I lifted up one piece enough--few inches as not enough head- or arm-room for more, and I praised God.  "Lord, I know you can easily fit these pipes together, and I praise You and thank You for all You provide for me in all matters temporal and spiritual!"  I made one more attempt with the pipes, and they fit right together, easily.

Gestures with faith, hope, and love surely please God.  And once more, we can look to Jesus to see how to think, speak, act, and "be".  Jesus looks to the heavens and to His Father.  He weeps with compassion for and with others.  He speaks to God the Father in loving, sonly, familiar terms.  He listens to God; He listens to people.  He is amazed and at times even exasperated with the repetition required for such as His disciples to begin to understand something He teaches...and sometimes tells them they will only understand later.

Well, this nothing consecrated Catholic hermit has done something not done in nearly 33 years.  Yesterday morning after taking the Doxycycline twice a day for seven days without much issue, was unable to keep the little antibiotic down.  Was so unused to the signals of upchucking, I barely made it to the bathroom.  Again, this morning, lost another pill.  Am awaiting call back from medical personnel on what to try otherwise.  Nausea is a side-effect, but I lift my head to God in Heaven and thank Him for the seven days of having antibiotic benefit.  Still have four more days, and I do need more help as the sinuses and lungs are not well yet despite massive improvement.

I've been listing some things to sell which is time consuming, and I've sold three items:  dishes, PVC pipe, and a door.  Cutting the prices way down, and still it will take awhile with much more to dispense with.  Praising God that I have a few more months financially, and otherwise if He wills, to keep selling off and also working on finishing the place.

We never know the day nor hour (nor minute) ahead of us, nor when we will befall some major shift in circumstances.  I'd not be surprised if the Lord takes me a bit further here and then yet says, "Now you must give in and give up, walk away temporally stripped."  Friends think surely the Lord will not want me beholden to family members, although a friend has already offered that I could live with her.

Now, that would alter the hermit's solitary life; yet we know that most hermits end up not having total solitude in living conditions as they age or at least in final sickness and passing.  Practical considerations affect hermits as they do anyone.  But a consecrated Catholic hermit, living out what the Church requires of privately and publicly professed alike, remain as hidden from the eyes of men in the silence of solitude, as much as God individually forms of any particular hermit's vocational circumstances.

In other words, above all else, a Catholic hermit ought look to God the Father in Heaven, and of course follow Jesus in all aspects that He looked to His Father in all things--as One in the Father and the Holy Spirit--God made Man, born to Mary, lived, died, and resurrected from the dead, descended into hell and ascended into Heaven where He is with the Father and Holy Spirit in triune oneness.

So, to, must we consider remaining in Christ's love, living and dying to ourselves, seeking always divine union with the Holy Trinity.  Looking to heaven as Jesus did while on earth--in gesture, visual, and spiritual modalities--is a tiny effort we can make within our minds, hearts, and souls as well as with bodily gesture.  Small yet mighty in focus and love of God, we can gift ourselves to Him daily.

Well, yesterday as the couple who brings this hermit His Real Presence in the tangible Host, they were thankful that my infected sinuses and lungs had improved in the week.  I mentioned it is like Lazarus--that Jesus had come to call me from the tomb, to come out and begin anew, leave my pj's and gravity of illness behind.  We had a chuckle over that, but how true indeed is Jesus' efforts with us in all types of situations.  

The Living Word applies to us and us to the Living Word in vast ways and means if we take time or have the inclination and desire to notice the infinite connections with the Lord in all aspects of our existences.
  
God bless His Real Presence in us!

Friday, March 31, 2017

Catholic Hermit's Temporary Bail-out


The reality of what hermits live out might seem surprising to many.  

I recall in the second year of my hermit vocation (vows over 16 years ago), I was for short time in an upstart Catholic hermit community that followed the Carthusian template.  So when it came time for my habit as a novice, the reality of no longer being "hidden from the eyes of men" caused many people to easily let their notions of what a Catholic hermit ought and not ought be, to rule their thoughts and tongues.

Thankfully, the Holy Spirit let me see the pitfalls rather soon that the woman who attempted the community of hermits with the approval of her vicar general was not prepared to do so with success.  I knew for other factors as well, that the experience needed to quickly end.  The foundress of the community was irate, which put a period to my suspicions; and within a couple years her diocese put an end to it anyway.

It was most painful for me to accept that I must leave, that God was not blessing my furtherance in what was a tremendous idea had it a more prepared and obedient founder.  Yet, all ended up for the better, and I learned much.  For one thing, being "hidden from the eyes of men" is crucial at least in anonymity than to be noticed as a consecrated Catholic hermit.  That is, for me God had and has it so.  For now, of course and the past 15 years.

What I learned in the year of being in the hermit community was excellent in so many ways, however.  I am most grateful to the woman as well as to the persecution, criticism, wagging tongues and opinions of people in my parish and town at the time.  In a way, the trials were indispensable for what I learned and the humbling given me by it all.

Well, yesterday my adult son made contact.  I'd had to inform him the day before via email of my financial demise from various Lenten-laced, unexpected bills, fees, charges and notice of my income being dropped without my really ever knowing if being done so legitimately.  So much in life we just have to take what we are told when it comes to large entities of which we are on the dole, so to speak.  Property tax configurations, IRS demands, disability or retirement pension amounts, Medicare coverage of portions of medical costs and copay insurance determinations of how much they will pay.

Catholic hermits, being on our own financially and not at all subsidized by a diocese or Catholic otherwise, have the same temporal financial concerns as anyone else.  And, it can be a bit tougher if like lay persons who cannot have a paying job due to illness or other disability, and also when age is a factor.  And if the hermit is trying to live out the requirement of our vows to live "hidden from the eyes of men," most even in our parish would know a hermit is among them.   Otherwise, as in the other categories of consecrated religious life, people might be tempted to do favors or want to assist financially in some way.

Best not, I think, at least for this nothing consecrated Catholic hermit.  Somehow it would go against what I learned of the other way, of being noticed in a habit and the risk of more pride than what any  human is at risk of increasing temptations.  Plus, strangers even would come to me to pour out even their sins, assuming that I was holy and wise beyond them. 

Outer appearances and the "uniform" such as a religious habit can not only cause others to scrutinize and pass judgment in false notions and unjust manner--outer appearances can also tempt people to assume far more positive attributes and expectations.  Consider doctors who may or may not be excellent in their diagnoses and treatments, or priests who could be as Jesus warns, wolves in sheep's clothing.  That warning applies to any of us, and especially when our outer appearances signal a position laden with authority or specific skill.

Anyway, my son decided to bail me out of my financial conundrum for he is on the mortgage and does not want me to have to sell the place "as is".  He knows well, as do I and anyone, that an unfinished dwelling requires a cash buyer or one willing to apply for a rehab mortgage at higher interest and higher down payment.  And, I'm so close to the end of this trial and ordeal in renovation despite research and trusting another Catholic, a realtor, and who she had as inspector and recommended in first contractor.

Who'd have known the place would need to be gutted?  I chose that path rather than to off-the-bat lose a large chunk of my late parents' hard-earned money.  Instead, if not finished, I would lose even more; and as my son pointed out would be even a greater responsibility to him.  

Well, I doubt that as I have from this experience learned marvelous soul lessons; and I am quite fine to rent a room and live off the low and seemingly arbitrarily lessening pension.  And I've learned this Lent by the grace of God to not allow myself discouragement and to react and respond to all with love.  This is worth any temporal gain, of course.

Yet, my son to his honor and credit did not like to think of me reduced to a rented room.  Granted, although he'd not consider this aspect, I'd lose the degree of solitude as walls can be thin, of course, and even if in a public shelter as so many who are homeless must find or else live in the streets like so many others--there is not much silence of solitude externally.

It would be quite the experience, though, and soul lesson to learn truly to develop (again, by the grace of God as Scripture reminds that "because of God we bear fruit") an inner silence of solitude.  That would be very difficult to learn, I'd think, but in God all things are possible, of course.

Anyway, as I mentioned I'd never want to tell my son this thought of why I realized I'd hoped God would not let me fail here.  It has nothing to do with losing my late parents' gift and hope for me to have a more comfortable life than the bulk of it after the accident over three decades ago and my constant physical suffering.  It has to do with the challenge of seeing something through that has been so difficult in various hardships and soul lessons, and to make something lovely for someone else out of what was deplorable and wretched even in the, perhaps we can suggest,  unrevealed aspects of the property.

None of the temporal really matters, in that if the Lord should decide to fell me physically beyond this month of incapacitating sinus and lung infection, I'd have to bail out as well unless someone could be reliably hired for a fair price to finish.  From experience (and my adult daughter has seen the lay of the situation here), when workers are paid $1200 to paint a 12x14' room, my son's loan would not go far.

This is rather rambling in thoughts, but this morning I realize how great the challenge remains ahead, and there are no assurances of success in the endeavors, the external results.  But the Lord put a fish in the net I cast yesterday, and it is rather a marvel that my son is helping me for my life and messes are truly frustrating to others, even though most recognize that I have an uncanny amount of situations that few could have sidestepped, either.  

My intentions are always sincere, prayerful, and good-hearted.  But I'm convinced all the more that especially in Lent, God utilizes this liturgical season of our mortal years to bring to us lesson opportunities in which we may learn the very soul lessons that He has (at least in my case) been trying to get me to learn for years.

Do not allow discouragement and react and respond to all situations and persons with love and acceptance.

What are others' lessons God desires to be learned?  I'm convinced each has them, and it can take us humans a long Lent or many Lents, the lengthening of days in Lent, to catch glimpses and to be open to the graces while lending our desire to learn.  Some may be quick about it.  I'm definitely a slow and late-in-life learner.

But I'm thankful to God for the opportunity to learn and for this bail out even if it does not end up as I might hope in temporal terms.  My soul will still be growing, and somehow I sense that God's point.

God bless His Real Presence in us!




Thursday, March 30, 2017

Catholic Hermit: Another Snafu


Lots going on here.  Still very ill but not inclined to try another trip to civilization and the cost of lung xrays as I'm on an antibiotic and will let it run its course to see if improving, for an xray would only show if anything that I need an antibiotic.  Cannot afford the expended energy as it is needed for rest and healing; and I cannot afford the high costs of the medical realm.


Well, the end has come for me here.  I got yet another Lenten challenge yesterday when able to walk out to mailbox.  My Fed tax bill has come, and rather than far less than last year's all-time high bill,  it is over double that.  My finance advisor and friend had thought it would not at all be higher but less.  We were wrong.  


And, so the time has come that I have just three or so months to clear out.  I will need to rid out my possessions and hopefully get the stairs in, at least.  Then I must sell as is which means a contractor or such with cash who will give me a smidgeon of what it is worth finished.  It is an irony that I am nearly 90% finished, but with this four-week thus far illness, my work has come to a standstill.


It is the finishing work that can take longest as it needs to be done with precision, and the spring is upon us.  The grass needs mowing and already is so high that it will take two pass overs at setting the wheels high to begin with.  The gardens need to be cleared from fall and winter.  I am not yet well enough, but I think this morning I might be a tad improved. I've thought that before, but nothing to be done but wait it out and keep on these different antibiotics.


The young man that Daniel had lined up to help me a Saturday per month, I've had to put off twice due to the lung and sinus crud. He can only come this Saturday as he then has sports events from here on out on Saturdays. He works during the week.  I'm not sure I have enough for him to do since I have not been able to get the stairwell finished for installing the stairs.


The weather does not look as if going to be possible to do yard work that day. I do have some furnishings and other possessions upstairs that he could maybe struggle to bring down the ladder, as I will need to get rid of things either by the dump or selling.


I have decided upon a lot of possessions going to the dump as I can do that myself and quickly and for less money than I could do with yard sales or item-by-item listing.  People here tend to say they are interested but do not show up; the wealthy give away lovely possessions or for not much since money is not an issue for them.  


So the used market is terrible.  I'd pay more in hiring help to get together yard sales and monitor, and more energy haggling with people who want things for free or very little, that time, energy, and finances make it more sensible to dump the little items.  It is too costly to take things into civilization to donate, and a lot of the items are at a point of being boxed for four years as to not be that worthwhile.


My financial friend and advisor reminds that this is far better than having twenty minutes to clear out with the shirt (would be my pj top!) on my back.  I have a couple months barring more unexpected high bills and ridiculous medical charges that copay is not covering.  I must get a larger truck or make a couple trips in my own which might be best, and get what few items I will take and get into storage.


I will take the family heirlooms which are all practical and functional: bed, drop leaf table, a couple end tables, a small Victorian sofa, a mirror, a dresser my great-great grandfather built in his woodworking hobby, family photographs, some dishware not in great condition but old and memorable, and very useful--and my books.  I will take the boxed books as I do not have time enough to list online and sell, and they are rare Catholic books, many out of print and obscure titles and subjects, for the most.


Then, what small items and a lot of my little business venture supplies I will take to dump.  What larger furniture pieces I will try to sell even though I'll get very little but enough to pay the dump fees and to pay someone to help me hold the stair stringer boards.


I emailed my adult son who is on the mortgage and let him know.  I was not going to yet but a long time friend thought he should know due to his being on the mortgage.  He responded not warmly but this morning sent a kinder email even hoping if I got an x-ray that it would shine light on what is the problem.  Well it is sinuses and lungs, and as I've written, a lung x-ray is not on my docket for now.


He says I should stay and finish, as to sell out as is even so close to finishing, would bring me next to nothing. He said not to worry about his being on the mortgage still as he has a year's lease to go.


Mercy, he does not quite grasp that I am out of money even though I stated the details.


I will not be discouraged, and I will respond to all with love and acceptance. I have learned these truths this Lent in ways I've never learned before. I've wasted so much time and energy and upset in my life, not having learned nor having the grace and discipline to react otherwise.  It is all a process, and God gives us the grace when He wills and when we are at a point of truly listening and doing so.


There is yesterday's Gospel that addresses this in clear terms. Jesus explains how He knows from His Father how to be and do and say. I realize we learn this, also, from the Father and the Son and Holy Spirit.  I don't have the Scripture right now to cut and paste but later will do so.  


I had never seen it so clearly until now, and while I'd read it before my financial axe-news came, and while I was in shock for awhile over the outcome and accepting that God is letting me fail in this venture that is only temporal regardless, this morning it is all clear to me the more to respond only in love, acceptance, praise of God, gratitude, and be not discouraged.


Last evening I let some wealthy friends and a couple family members know what had occurred and the outcome I must face, no one offered a leg up.  There was some advice in getting rid of things, and an offer that I could come for a week to visit and check out one person's area, and another is mailing me stamps as I am out and need to mail the vehicle insurance bill and too ill to go to post office still.  So God is not offering a patron to provide a little sum enough to tide me through for a few months more or even until spring.  And that is fine.  

This other is the more of a challenge, and my life is filled with amazing challenges. I do think that I had become proud with the thought that perhaps I was actually going to finish what has been an amazing effort considering how much pain I am in, how many obstacles, illnesses, mishaps, and all that I had to learn that I never knew before of construction, plumbing, electrical and so forth.

Well, I'll finish the second day's coffee; I make a pot to last two days' worth.  And that will help the remnants of the start of spinal headache; I am going to attempt going outside and see how the head manages, stuffed as it still is, but the coughing seems less.  I will see how my legs are, as I've been down long enough to have to take time now to build the stamina, and I must not overdo and backslide.  Head is kind of dizzy with sinus, as it does for anyone.


The Gospel of John 5 contains these words of Jesus that seem so appropriate as a working plan.  Look to Him to see how to be and do in daily life.


"Jesus answered and said to them,
'Amen, amen, I say to you, the Son cannot do anything on his own,
but only what he sees the Father doing;
for what he does, the Son will do also.
For the Father loves the Son
and shows him everything that he himself does,
and he will show him greater works than these,
so that you may be amazed.'"

We can see what God does through Jesus.  We can see how He loves, how He reacts in situations, how He is assertive yet always humble, purposeful, firm yet gentle.  He responds with love even if the love requires truth that stings or cuts into the heart of matters.

There are many facets to see what God is doing, through Jesus by the Holy Spirit.  It is all love--the facets of love in varying aspects and lights.  When we see and follow some facets of what God does and how He does them, He will show us yet more about love, to learn how to do more.  We can learn so much from Jesus and as He says, "Follow Me," and "Go and do likewise."  

What God does is amazing.  Yes, we will be amazed.