Friday, December 7, 2018

Catholic Hermit: Some Maxims of St. John of the Cross


A friend shared this selection of some maxims written by St. John of the Cross.  I find it good to post following my considerations of the good of having a sense of humor.  These maxims are serious--yet we notice they are devoid of pride.  They are at a spiritual level in which pride does not enter; the very writing of them brings out the succinct nature of how something of import need not be erudite, complex, prideful.

I dare say if I could learn to master just a few of these wisdoms in whatever time on earth I have remaining, I'd be a far better person.  And within the silent listening to hear God's will, or to be a person of few words (of which some words can bring levity to too much weightiness), the soul can be en-lightened.

When reviewing this selection from The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross, I pray the Lord inspires within me ways in which humor can be the warp interwove with the woof, beautifying the fabric of such wisdom.

The Father spoke one Word, which was his Son, and this Word he always speaks in eternal silence, and in silence must it be heard by the soul.
Speak little and do not meddle in matters about which you are not asked.
Do not complain about anyone, nor ask for anything; and if it is necessary for you to ask, let it be with few words.
Do not contradict; in no manner speak words that are not pure.
Let your speech be such that no one may be offended, and let it concern things which would not cause you regret were all to know of them.
Keep spiritually tranquil in a loving attentiveness to God, and when it is necessary to speak, let it be with the same calm and peace.
Be silent concerning what God may have given you and recall that saying of the bride: “My secret for myself” (Is 24,16)...
To advance in virtue it is important that you be silent and act, since by talking we become distracted whereas in keeping silence and working we become recollected.
As soon as you have learnt from someone what is necessary to advance spiritually, you should not ask him to say anything further about it nor continue talking but set yourself to work earnestly and in silence, with zeal and humility, with charity and self-contempt.
Before anything else, it is necessary and fitting to serve God in the silencing of one's disordered habits, as of the tongue, so that nothing may be heard but words of love.

Catholic Hermit: Blessing of Humor


A sense of humor blesses the person with humor as well as those around.  As I recapped a eulogy by Alan Simpson, honoring his friend the late George H.W. Bush, a statement made regarding humor impressed.

"Humor is the universal solvent against the abrasive elements of life."

This is so true.  Humor dissolves and de-corrodes envy, anger, hatred and especially pride.  (I've written before my thoughts on humor as being an antidote to pride--that those without humor tend to be prideful souls.)


Too much seriousness and intensity is proven to not be healthy for body, mind, or emotions.  Spiritually, a lack of humor--besides creating a heaviness and boring aspect be it in spoken or written word as well as in essence of presence--leads to pride, often enough.  A person who cannot laugh, especially at him- or herself, tends to have the mind so consumed with and impressed with self in some way or other, as to be blind to levity or that aspect of joy that even self-deprecating humor can bring to oneself.

However, making "fun" of others is not so humorous, unless the intention is honorable and loving--a shared humor or one in which the end result is to bring all to appreciating the humor in our shared, human foibles.

As is said, we should laugh with others, not at  others.

Being in the presence of intense persons who lack a sense of humor evokes a oppressive atmosphere--a type of suffocation of mind and emotions.  If one attempts to break through the heaviness with some levity, and there is no fissure in the oppressive seriousness, then laugh within--laugh at oneself in some aspect!  Laugh at the human condition of which we all are a part.  Laugh at the memories when we were too serious, when our pride held us hostage to insidious intensity.

Pray for the discernment to know when humor will help and when humor is best to be kept within, always like a well being replenished alongside the rising waters of hope and faith.  Without humor, each of these virtues of hope and faith begin to go dry; even charity evaporates bit by bit when there is not the warmth of humor to infuse the love with which we adorn others and by which we praise the Lord.

Just now writing about humor has lifted this nothing consecrated Catholic hermit's spirits!  The weight of pain upon awakening quite early and trying out a new piece of equipment (Bio-tuner designed to help balance brain waves and which in some subjects has reduced chronic headaches) did not seem to make much difference.  But thinking about the ridiculous photo pose yesterday in which I looked as if being electrocuted by the small gadget--photos sent to two friends who are awaiting my "take" on this scientific innovation--has me laughing within.  

And at times, even in the solitude of the guest room, I laugh aloud; or I laugh aloud when out and about, when encountering a clerk while running an errand to help out my hosts.

Yesterday I laughed hilariously with a vendor who was standing at Costco, trying to sell memberships.  A store employee who was running a wide mop past the vendor, said in a droll voice, "Already got one" (meaning a membership and obviously imitating customers who respond negatively to the ever-patient vendors).  Somehow the ability for one employee to get another employee to laugh, made me laugh with a type of joy in the goodness of people who are able to uplift in the silliest and smallest ways, one another.  

I ended up turning around and telling the vendor how the barely-noticed humor was caught by me and so appreciated--even needed in the moment.  The vendor and I laughed all over again.  (They do have a time of it with their share of negations from customers who forget that vendors are simply people having to earn a living in the moment rather than being consumers shopping and spending money.)

Praise God for offering each of us the gift of humor!  It is a gift to be cherished and practiced and used--appropriately yet as often as possible.  Humor requires the aspect of mind that is wit, yet humor seems mostly to lean upon the heart...the emotions...to swell with lightness, brightness, and the type of joy that can be silly and also sensitive in a brilliance that bores through pride's gloom and weight.

God bless His Real Presence in us!



Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Catholic Hermit: Hermitage Limbo


I cannot begin to explain how difficult it is for this consecrated Catholic hermit to remain in a type of hermitage limbo.

While I thought it quite challenging to live in the old farmhouse--it needing to be gutted and renovated--being in a guest room while striving to pray and listen to God's will on what and where next, is all the more challenging.

A more seasoned hermit would relate with what I'm expressing in few words.  This living arrangement limbo is DIFFICULT.

While I'm incredibly blessed to have a comfortable room in which to sleep and/or retire to off and on in the day and all night, I am not at all used to nor adept at living among others in proximity--loved ones or otherwise.

And, they are not used to nor perhaps adept at living with me on the premises even if beyond a door and wall, or when I spend hours away, walking such as in a huge store getting exercise in inclement weather, and being anonymous and mostly invisible amidst strangers amiable yet silent other than the occasional verbal exchange.

I've considered quite a bit what St. Paul may have meant by "being all to all people."  There is great sacrifice involved especially for a hermit to live with others, albeit temporarily for me now.  Yet some hermits (and we all might come to this in our later years if we live that long) may have to adopt an other-than-solo hermitage living arrangement when ill and decrepit.  Consider a hermit with Alzheimers, or a hermit with terminal cancer.  No living in solitude for hermits thus afflicted!

Here I must strive to fit in, to be helpful in whatever ways, and also to do my all to be agreeable to whatever the hosts desire and of which they are accustomed.  In other words, I must strive to be the best guest possible, and to live in likeness of Christ yet in the manner in which the hosts live.  This is true especially if the hosts are not Catholic and do not have a grasp of eremites nor of the eremitical vocation as a calling by God.

When tensions arise from having someone else in their midst, I try to leave for a couple or several hours to let them have their home to themselves.  At other times, I strive to be of functional help:  tidy the kitchen and load dishwasher, put the dog out and let him in, assist or supervise the studies of the youngster who is home-schooled when the parents are each at work full time and the other part-time--the part-time parent being the main teacher of the child's academics.  I drive the child to activities when the parent asks.

There has been some conflict of sorts; and all that would occur whether or not a hermit is house guest or someone other, such as exchange student or infirm parent needing care-taking.  Yet, for the hermit, the challenge and calling remains firmly within--that of a consecrated Catholic hermit.  Thus, the call is to live the Gospel Rule and to adhere, for this hermit, to my supportive platform of the Nine S'--minus as much silence and solitude as I've lived prior and will return to after this temporary hermitage limbo.

And this consecrated Catholic hermit is not at all nor close to following Christ in any manner near to perfection.  I am yet more a sinner when in the good and revealing challenge of living in this smallish room with but a few items of clothing, medications, laptop and a few necessities of toiletries and office supplies (bills must be paid, mail has been forwarded temporarily, here).

There is barely room to walk in this room due to the bed taking up the bulk, a dresser and nightstand a bit more, and the blankets and sheets on the floor as my back has not tolerated any mattresses for over  a year now.  A suitcase is partly under bed although not much, as the hosts have used the space under the bed as added storage for their belongings.  The closet shelves and floor are filled with other stored items, and my few items of simple clothing are on the bed, laid in a couple piles, with paperwork and some stationery, bills, items of mail, stamps, and address book in other piles.  

I rely on my laptop of which I write and research while reclining on floor with a couple pillows propping my head.  I read the daily Mass Scriptures on my laptop, and all other spiritual reading I do likewise, from downloading mostly from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' online site.  I have a book--St. Francis de Sales' writings; but the bulk of my spiritual reading for now is of Scriptures, particularly the Gospels.

Prayer is ongoing, in snippets or longer phases.  The snippets occur off and on when called upon for one reason or another, to be running errands or even while listening to the child or the one parent who is here more often than the other.  Yes, I strive to "go along to get along"--to listen to the various topics of which the hosts have on their minds, and to mention perhaps not wisely-so, thoughts dealing with issues one contends with in being a guest, as well as to update on the seeking of my own habitat.  

Alas, the real estate market is quite slow this month, during Advent.  I have alternative options, though, as it seems most prudent to wait upon the Lord Who will provide what He wills, if I practice what is so pivotal in this Advent Season:  Waiting with patient yet hopeful expectation.  God will provide for us all, even this old hermit.

Options include staying with others elsewhere, who have offered a room if I need to leave, if the hosts here need more space and their domicile back again to themselves.  That is certainly understandable, and I pray to be alert and agreeable to whatever their needs spoken or unspoken.  Another option is to purchase a used camper shell for Precious Blood, my burgundy red pick up truck.  That would provide a space to "be", to sleep, and these camper shells can be quite sophisticated with heat included.  My needs are simple and few.

Optimally, there will be a property that will be just right, God-ordained and at the proper timing.  I'm accepting that this time of hermitage limbo is quite intentional on God's part, for I am learning much in sacrifice and painful humility in the waiting.  I certainly have understood why traditional hermits seek solitary living spaces.  The reasons are on multiple levels--many not temporal but rather are spiritual reasons.  

(I'm aware of some canonically approved hermits who live together--considered all right by their bishops or even hermitages that encourage others to join them in a form of hermit religious order.  But from experience of solitary life as well as now being among three others even if in a separate room or out in the hiddenness of how one may walk about yet remain essentially hidden in the outer world, having one's own hermitage be it a camper or a room or apartment or hermitage dwelling on a property owned--adhering to the wisdom of the desert fathers who had their own huts--is the hermitage path best for me.}

Thankfully for my hosts as well as for this nothing consecrated Catholic hermit, this current hermitage limbo is temporary.  It might be for another day or another month or even two months that the Lord will keep me here--learning and growing in sacrifice, patience, and also, though, in fitting in as a guest in the model of Jesus Christ when He would be invited or would visit people while on this earth.  While none of us knows the day nor the hour that we will pass in death from this world, we really do not know the day nor the hour that our temporal circumstances can change or will change, causing our daily lives to be altered, including our housing situations.

I already know that in mid-February, my hosts will need their guest room back for a few days and including a weekend.  Otherwise I wait and pray, and pray and wait some more, and keep current with the real estate market as well as remain ready to adapt to one of the other options mentioned above, should it be best that I move on to the next place, so to speak, while awaiting a more permanent hermitage, a place to "be" for as long as the Lord desires of me and wills.

God bless His Real Presence in us!

Monday, November 26, 2018

Catholic Hermit: Lies and Deceptions


For various reasons, blog writing has been fallow for awhile now.  Perhaps it is due to the present moment situation of on-going transition--except the transition is not transiting well into more permanence.  It seems as if the Lord is wanting me to be receptive to and peaceful in the present moment of unknowing other than transiency.  

But to my topic, now, of deception and lies.  This nothing and currently more pained, consecrated, Catholic hermit finds these two nasties all the more repugnant in current episodes of each and both.  They do rather go together yet have nuances of distinction.

Here's the lies-and-deception deal:

Lies are untruths.  People who lie either realize they are lying or have lied so often they no longer realize it; or they deceive themselves that they somehow aren't lying.  Lying is very bad--a sin.  

Deceptions are untruths.  People who deceive other or themselves either realize they are deceivers and/or deceived or have been deceivers or deceived so often they no longer realize it, thus deception enshrines them.  Deception is very bad--a sin.

Lies and deceptions are related but distinct in that lies are blunt and deceptions cagey, tricky, and to me seem extra malicious.  At least a liar is outright with the falsehood.  A deceiver strives also to make the fact of the lie less despicable to him- or herself as well as to others.  Deception is extra despicable due to the added effort as well as in more intellect used in malicious cover-up.  Liars tend not to bother with added subterfuge in the act of lying.

Recently, I've had situations in which lies and deceptions presented themselves in daily life.

One was someone who wrote lies and deceptions.  Written lies are also known as libel, a crime punishable by law if the victim decides to press a law suit.  In order to collect damages, the victim must prove some type of wrong that has cost the person material loss--career, reputation, financial, etc.  Deceptions are more difficult to pursue to recover damages in the temporal aspect; again, deceptions are the more devious and devilish, in a way.

The person who lied about me, in some instances did so outright.  The deceptions were written in ways as to throw people off from the reality, yet at the same time demeaned me by twisting facts to make certain things seem to be one way when in fact, they were not at all.  Deceivers pride themselves in the use of words, often enough, and pride in their intelligence--to pull the wool, so to speak.  Liars simply state untruths without trying to couch the lie/s in a web of distraction in order to fool.

A lie is such as when a child [I use child as example because lying is so childish] says another child did something when that child did not.  A deception is such when a child twists the truth, alters it some but not fully, implies or suggests with added innuendo or outdated aspects, that the other child did something when that child did not.

Or, of course, a liar and deceiver can combine the two, plus make it however the liar and deceiver wants it to be, regarding the other child.  The desire of a liar and deceiver is to accomplish a selfish goal that basically comes down to a "win", of which underlying the hoped for "win" is to aggrandize the self at the expense and detriment of the other.

Liars are more easily caught as it takes less proof, generally, to point out a lie against truth.  Deceivers are more difficult to unravel in what seems to be logical, but indeed are a tangled, ball of words.  Usually the more words the deceiver utilizes, the more involved the deception.  Facts are removed, some facts left in, falsehoods added, time frames altered which offers much room for intimations and innuendos to flourish in the mind of the reader or listener. 

A person who deceives is actually a liar, but a liar who prides him- or herself in pleasure of his or her  (usually) gloating intellect.  There is an element of daring-do in a deceiver, as a deceiver takes a lie and compounds it into multiples of lies couched with devious word-flourishes.  There is a certain delight that a deceiver finds in being ever-so-clever, thinking he or she has fooled others.  But often enough the deceiver begins to become one of the fooled.

A deceiver is but a fool.  No matter the lies that are embellished and adorned with confusions and mental twists to convince others of what is not truth, truth will always come forth.  Truth might not seem to come soon enough for the victim of lies and deception, or even for those others who read or listen to the deceiver.  Such truth might not even seem to come in timely manner for the outright liar (of whom we might find a pure lie refreshing compared to the wearying effect of unraveling the deception).

But truth always comes.  If not in the order of man in the temporal realm, it always comes when God judges our lives in our passing over from this world to the other side, from the temporal to the mystical realms.

I figure the person who has openly lied about me as well as twisted some of it into deceptions. has done so to assuage feelings of self-righteous needs of varying distinctions.  I also figure that  none of it matters, for God is my judge above all others.  What do I care if others get swept up in untruths, easy enough to dislodge and expose if I wanted or if there were some need?

There is not a need.  Those who know and who have seen through the lies and deceptions, merely realize all the more how silly and yet how pathetic that someone would have such neediness for approval and superiority as to continue such obvious falsehoods.  I'm too busy trying to keep up with myself, and with those liars and deceivers who can cause me more temporal harm and hardship.

As is said, "Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never harm me."

So it is that my other recent experience of lies and deceptions has to do with the property I was in process of purchasing, for it to become my "place" to be, to live on this earth, to have as my next hermitage.  Besides an ominous dream the night my offer was accepted by the seller [I witnessed an electrocution of myself or some other--not sure which--in graphic visual], there began a series of lies given outright, as well as deceptions.

One by one, these untruths gurgled to the surface, often not in order of their verbalization.  (Verbalized untruths are less concrete to pin down as to whom is the source; written ones are quite easy to pinpoint--either the person writing the lies and deception or someone who is assisting and providing a means or way to lie and deceive.)

So my agent was told there were multiple offers on the property, and it was hinted as to the amount under and over the asking price.  Then the seller's agent said there had been ten showings of the property the first night on the market.  We had no reason to doubt, at the time.  So we made an offer accordingly, and that offer was accepted.  Then came time for the inspection.  An inspection provides a means for the buyer to back out of a property contract as always there are flaws uncovered--rather like unmasking outright flaws (lies), and if a good inspection, then unmasking more devious and hidden flaws (deceptions).

The seller's agent had told my agent that the roof was about two years old.  There were several items that came up in the inspection, as one would expect in a "dated" house, but nothing too unusual.  However, the inspector questioned the age of the roof, but when I said it was about two years old, he concluded it must have received extensive damage in harsh winter year before last, and probably was a 20-year-roof.  It was obvious the HVAC system (furnace, water heater, and air conditioner) was old--visually seen; but the furnace filter was quite clogged and probably had not been changed for a couple of years.

So I did the research on what the HVAC system would cost in replacement, as well as I priced out cost of windows as those were dated and some had seals broken.  All else were items I could repair, thanks to all the enforced skills I had to learn on the last hermitage of which I got myself into quite a mess with a deceptive inspector, realtor, and first contractor....  (They did not outright lie--just deceived in multiple deceptions.  It was in a way far worse than outright lies--and easier for them to slither on in life.)

The night before I needed to agree to move forward on the property, I scoured over the seller's disclosure form, finding out that the roof was not two years old but nearly 16 years old.  Ah, that left a terrible feeling in the gut.  But my agent and I gave benefit to the doubt to the seller's agent, that somehow a recently diagnosed ailment caused her to make the error.  Onward, forward.

But then, my agent was told that the seller would probably not come down on price much especially for the furnace, as she had it serviced twice a year and had receipts to prove it.  Well, I considered asking for the receipts--at least to see who she'd hired as he or she must have been terrible in not changing the filters yet charging her.  But it seemed a small matter, that, for the furnace would die sooner than later, already being way beyond life expectancy.

Next came the response from the seller, for I had indeed asked for a credit or lowered priced due to all that was found wrong--especially the "discrepancy" (kinder word for deception when one is still uncertain if a lie or simply an error or slip of tongue) about the roof.  The seller's agent told my agent that the seller had recently had bad health news, could not come down on price other than a tiny bit, and could not delay closing as she had to retire suddenly, needed the money so as to spend time with her loved ones.

Oh, my!  My agent said he dared not ask more, as it seemed dire; and the plight of the seller pulled at my heart strings!  I began praying for her health, for whatever bad health news, for her finances and her time remaining.

Until...a few hours later after agreeing to the not-much lower price for the much-higher costs exposed by the inspection, I remembered that early on in the negotiations, the seller had offered to "carry" the balance of the loan.  (Of course, I would never do that, as it can complicate matters, and I had a good interest rate with a bank--secure, cut-and dried business dealing.) Yet, why would someone with terrible health news who needed to retire at closing to spend time with loved ones, be offering to carry a mortgage?  

I mentioned this anomaly to my agent; he, too, recalled this offer from seller.  Suspicions rose like the truth bubbling from an underground spring of actualities.  We decided it time to ask the seller's agent how long is the seller willing to carry the loan?. Perhaps the seller just found out this bad health news, not two weeks prior.  If the answer would be a longer period of time, then my agent was going to ask why would someone with dire health news be willing to carry?

Indeed, the answer was that the seller wanted to carry the balance of the mortgage for 20 years!  Yes, she wanted to have a nice addition to her pension, we were told.  So my agent asked the next question, which caught the seller's agent in the lie--as deceptions that are outright and eventually uncovered equate into the lies they simply are.  "Too many questions about my client's health!" was the dismissive response.

So, with that untruth out in the open, the roof "discrepancy" moved to the untruth or lie column, as well.  Benefit of the doubt left the playing field.  Then the nagging sense plagued me that there had been no other offers!  I discussed it with my agent, and my concern included that of the youngish seller's agent who I had found out lived next door, but also due to her own health issue.  How awful for a person to be lying and deceiving when one's own health outcome lay in the crosshairs of life and death?

I mentioned the gnawing doubts to the lender, as all that remained in the process was the appraisal.  Appraisals rarely--emphasize rarely--come back lower than sales price.  He augmented that fact with how few he's had in his banking career.  My agent also said he's not had appraisals come back low in his real estate career.  He decided to confront his colleague, the seller's agent, about our doubts.

Of course, she was adamant that they did indeed have other offers.  (In retrospect, I realize no proof was offered; if I had been accused of that, I would have pulled out offers and shown them to verify.)  She got emotional, saying how important is her real estate reputation.  My agent did not know if the emotion was due to her own health challenge, or as I began to wonder--guilt in being caught?

The next situation arose when the appraisal finally came in.  God protected me as well as exposed more untruths regarding the price, at least.  The appraisal came back significantly lower.

My agent asked not only if the seller would lower the price.  I certainly, with all the other signals, was not going to pay more than the appraised value.  Also, since I was going to physically be able to make the trip to visit my spiritual father as well as relatives and friends, make some financial arrangements, we asked for an 8-day extension for closing.  I wanted to be back to sign closing papers in person and have the property walk-through.

The seller's agent said the seller would, after much convincing,  lower the sales price to the appraised value. But she would not be willing to extend the closing.  By now, into my journey, I learned that I also would need to have the closing papers notarized with over-night mail each way involved, rather than simply signing electronically.  It became imperative that the closing be delayed.

The reason the seller could not extend the 8 days, was by now to be expected: a reason deceptive and ridiculous.  She said she'd had to put her husband in a nursing home, and the nursing home was demanding payment the day before Thanksgiving (the day of original closing on this property).  

By now, not much carried weight in words from the seller or her agent.  The negotiation had to be made in writing, regardless, so my agent and I offered two documents:  1) the bank appraised price and 8 day extension to close; 2) seller could cancel.  I asked my agent to explain my predicament with trying to get a document notarized and overnighted back, as the banker had called me, as well, to say that with the lower price, it was going to be quite difficult to get all the paper work changed, mailed to me, notarized, and back to him for the day prior to Thanksgiving.  I also asked my agent to mention that surely the seller or her agent could contact the nursing home and assure them the payment would be there on the last day of November.

I asked the Lord to let truth prevail...and to choose for me if I was to have this property as my hermitage, through the decision of the seller.  

Her choice was to cancel the property deal.  I found out when I received a real estate online site notification of new properties on market even before my agent found out and could call me.  The seller and her agent re-listed the property for even more than the too-high first sales price.  Obviously, she did not need the money for the nursing home...or else her husband was rolled out onto the street on a gurney as now the seller has started the process all over.

Thus far it has not been sold again; and I now think even the bank appraised price is on the high side.  Banks are in business, and a huge part of their business is in lending money over long periods of time, gaining interest on the loans.

A friend emailed asking if the seller would ask me to purchase at even a bit lower than the other lower price, shouldn't I follow through for a place to live and consider it a better deal?

No, not at all!  The Lord chose.  He revealed several lies--each of which other than the out right roof age lie, were tricky and devious deceptions.  Some were so frail as to be easily unmasked even if not immediately.  I would no more want to live beside the seller's agent, as I would to the devil.  I did not want to do business with such a seller, either, any more than I would with the devil!  

Now, I'm not equating the seller's agent or the seller with the devil, or as the devil, but the devil is certainly working in that agent and seller who have so much at risk.  But I am praying for them, certainly. I'm also not equating the person who has written about me with twisting of facts and creating misleading detraction and deception, as well as outright lies--with the devil.  Yet indeed the devil is in this person, and the more in denial the person may be, the more the devil has turned the evil of deception back upon that person, by deceiving the deceiver.  Poor character, all this, at minimum!  

The devil is the author of lies and deceptions.

My main concern, personally, is selfishly for my soul.  These ridiculous and time-taking lies and deceptions in temporal life dealings always involve the spiritual, of course.  But they cause me to scour my own life as I did that seller's disclosure form; I review times I have failed in any form or hint against honesty, against truth.  

At minimum, I want to be quite honest with myself, and of course, in confession to God be it when alone in my now transiency of temporary living circumstances or in sacramental confession.  God will judge me!  I pray He will continue to prick me and reveal to me my own soul.

The ugliness and snares of lies and deception--well, see how easily they pour out of the mouth or from the hand; and how, by the grace of God for all persons involved, they do get revealed whether or not the liar and deceiver want to see clearly or not.

God bless His Real Presence us in us!  Darkness does not like the light!  Truth and untruth cannot each or both inhabit holiness!

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Catholic Hermit: Hermit Dwellings


Been awhile since writing, but life rolls on, unfolding moment-by-present-moment.

Various themes and topics have flowed in and out in this time period, including one today in which I am pondering the order in which the Old Testament and the Words of Jesus in today's Gospel reading state the content of the greatest commandment/s.  Love the Lord thy God with all one's heart, soul, strength;  and love the Lord thy God with all one's heart, soul, mind, strength.  

Strength is the last mentioned in both OT and Gospel listings of the otherwise the seemingly spatial or locational type words of heart, soul, mind.  Of course, the heart, soul, and mind are vast--beyond spatial or locational renderings.  Strength, though, evokes that of action, of elemental power to do or be regarding degree of use of heart, soul, and mind.  

The one listening to Jesus' Words responded using the word "understanding"--to love God with all one's heart, understanding, and strength.  I can also ponder that heart and strength are in all three citations or repetitions, including lingual interpretations of the texts.

Thus, my thoughts today, during a few days of my hosts being off on their own travels, while this nothing consecrated Catholic hermit pet-sits in the abode in which am allowed to live and be, until my hermitage is fully attained, and until I am able to move in.

The topic I had proposed a week or so ago, to continue sharing my thoughts, I will take up now: Hermit Dwellings.  I can only share from my own situation which includes 34 years of varying degrees--unpredictable daily and hourly--of physical pain.  This pain also leaves me in varying degrees of disability physically, and in high pain times also affects my ability to think clearly or to control emotions such as weeping from severity of pain.

Those of you, my dear readers, who have followed along my saga involving the past 5 1/2 years of being in a hermitage, know I was rather duped during the purchase by a Catholic real estate agent, the inspector she brought, and the first contractor I had of which she had highly recommended.  You also probably have followed enough along to know the processes involved in working my way out of that hermitage.  I am shamefully human, yes!  So much I wished I'd handled in far better manner. Yet I embrace the humility it all brought.  Easier to embrace, after the fact, I admit.

Yes, I was rather stuck in a temporal way, as the place was rat (and bird) infested, with unhealthy rat and bird droppings and urine-soaked sheet rock and wood beneath that.  I would have put myself in even worse financial situation had I tried to sell it after some of the flaws were exposed to view, and also the extent of the problems in the old farmhouse did not come to view, until more into the project.

As is often said in various aspects both negative and positive in life, "one thing leads to another."

Some of you have followed along with the ups and downs of which I always tend to endure by the grace of God alone.  I am blessed that He and the angels and saints and good people in life encourage and remind met to always seek the spiritual view and lessons in the minutest of daily details.  You will have figured out that the lengthy stripping down and rebuilding--both of the hermitage and also somewhat myself--met with successful completion.  Praise be to God from Whom all blessings flow!

Te Deum Hermitage (aka "Hovel House" in its more temporal term) provided much good despite the suffering this Catholic hermit endured there--and the stripping down of myself all the more, thanks be to God.  I cannot emphasize how much the Lord gave me in that awful stripping, bit by bit, of not only a dwelling place on earth and also my earthly body, but of my heart, mind, and soul.  He also took me down to the last $600 of lent money.  That, too, would have been long gone had it not been for the generosity of my spiritual father  four years prior, and a couple friends and an elderly aunt who would now and then send $25 or $100--always when some need would arise of which they had no knowledge afore-hand.  

And then there was a family member who over a year ago did not want to see me not finish, as selling "as is" would have been rather disastrous in his way of thinking; and true it would have been, from the point of temporal financial matters.  However, my view had become increasingly the spiritual view, of which I had hoped to finish the dwelling as a means of spiritual journey and vision, of making all things new as a metaphor of God's love and efforts in perfecting our souls.  I wanted to succeed if God would allow, in creating a beautiful place, filled with my prayers and sufferings, to be a dwelling for whomever God chose next to live there.

Regardless, the Lord allowed.  The family member lent what we thought more than enough to finish up; and the Lord surprised us with yet more stripping and physical calamities so good for my body, heart, soul, and mind. In fact, no better could I have thought or imagined did God hone me all the more to be His own, and to fine-tune my hermit vocation in the process.

Yes, I was down to the last $600 of lent money with a tax bill on extension, due in a month or face further penalties.  (Even my pride in having never made a late payment on credit card or taxes, was facing the reality of how so many of the poor must make late payments and accrue high interest penalties and bad "credit" in the temporal world when their circumstances leave them bereft of funds for one reason or another.)  The Lord humbled me in this regard, and got me to the point of joyful acceptance of the good in prospects of experiencing what the poor around us face often enough.  Praise God repeatedly for His ways of dealing with us when we pray for His will be done in however He knows best for the good of our souls!

God provides!

So all that is past now; yes, the Lord delivered me.  He allowed this Catholic hermit's dwelling to be completed not only to passable, but it turned out amazingly beautiful and transformed beyond what I ever imagined or envisioned!  All debts are repaid with bonuses included, and I'm still in the process of paying-it-forward to any and all who in their kindness gave me any assistance be it in $25 for birthday or the lads who drove from civilization to help, even if they were paid hourly.  Those who steadfastly came are being rewarded with bonuses they did not expect.  Ah, it is so delightful for everyone!

Yet, now I must locate and secure a new hermitage--and prayerful consideration is involved.  The other location proved not positive for my spinal issues and chronic pain:  weather was not at all helpful for a good chunk of the year!  With the rapidity in which the Lord brought a new person to the "new wineskin" of a dwelling, I got myself and vehicle to the most reasonable location within a driving distance my body could barely handle.  (Sitting is ever so difficult, pain wise.)  And as I've shared in previous post/s, a family member gave me a room in which to stay until I could know the next step the Lord might reveal.

Hermit dwellings must be considered individually by each and every hermit, depending upon the Lord's will and allowance.  His will and allowance always dictates if one is in tune with what one's circumstances truly are.  For me, it comes down to mostly these parameters:  physical pain issues, age, finances, charity toward all, and all within God's will in my vocation as a consecrated Catholic hermit.  Since my hermit profession of vows is of the private and traditional path, I do not have to obtain the permission of a diocese bishop to depart nor enter a diocese.  However, I tend to let a diocese know, via a parish priest to his bishop, of my presence.

So it is that one must know oneself well, when discerning one's hermit dwelling.  Certainly, there are always unknowns, of course!  I had no idea I'd end up next to a paranoid schizophrenic who would become obsessed with me, in my Agnus Dei hermitage location 11 years ago.  Yet indeed did I learn much there, also; and the Lord allowed some doors to close as well as saw far more stripping down and guiding my hermit vocation needed in various temporal ways.  God does guide His hermits truly and surely!

Even in this temporary guest room, the Lord has taught me much.  It has not been easy--blending in and being of service to the family with whom I am staying even if briefly.  They also are not used to another person in their dwelling space.  Now, with a few days of their being on travels, and I once more in the silence of solitude--my heart, soul, and mind are sorting themselves a bit with the quiet so helpful to a hermit especially.  Silence of solitude is a definite aspect of what the Church sets forth as one of the bases for eremitic life.

And mercy--the hassles of having to be quite temporal in thought and action while navigating the temporal responsibilities and legal aspects in finding and securing a dwelling seems all the more painful and exhausting to this Catholic hermit who far prefers meditating upon the law of God day and night!  And the brief time away from the extent of manual labor has helped me know the type of hermit dwelling I should seek and let the Lord find. For the Lord has shown me how good is enforced manual labor within and right outside my earthly dwelling, for distracting from physical pain is also a gift in meditative and even contemplative prayer when in concert.  Prayer and work--ora et labora--has helped me know what is beneficial to my personal situation and vocation, both, for now.  (All is in the present moment; and all may change in any moment.)

So it is, that it was a sensation of sorts, that led me to pull over at side of a street after having looked at yet another dwelling with an agent whom I had entrusted the Lord, researched online, to find a good real estate agent with high ratings.  I pulled over and called him to say I think we need to make an offer.  I then and there turned around and met him at office where went through all the tedious legal aspects of the process to set forth in writing, an offer on a dwelling that for various temporal reasons, seems to be best-suited for the temporal parameters for this particular consecrated Catholic hermit.  

One really cannot do much as far as the spiritual aspects in such temporal business matters other than to pray for God's will and to trust in Him; for all that other of which is beyond our temporal doing, must unfold.  All a hermit (or anyone) can do is to strive to do best in temporal aspects, knowing that the vocational aspects (whatever one's vocation) of the externals are met as well as possible, given all the conditions of body, heart, soul, and mind-and strength.

My, how these past couple or so weeks I've chaffed at the bit in all the paperwork, research, document locating and providing, continuing to examine other dwellings, go over finances and costs.  I have been enacting as best I humanly know in the due diligence in these matters, including inspection findings, go about learning the cost of repairs as well as replacements of rather major items when they fail: furnace, water heater, air conditioner, roof, and so forth.  

Contemporary hermit life in our culture is not so simple as we may want, especially when we are responsible for handling not only finances but what our bodies need in order to avoid obvious and avoidable, physical pitfalls.  Deciding in our current time period to live simply in a hut in the woods is not necessarily a responsible choice depending upon a hermit's personal circumstances.  Creating concerns for others or hardships for ourselves that will lead to others being inconvenienced, is not thoughtful nor selfless charity to all.

For me, despite other people wondering why not rent, or why not get a dwelling more in the suburbs in which price might be less and upgrades done--I had to be solid and honest in my reasoning.  And that firmness had to come from within, in my talking all over with the Lord--knowing that His ways, still, might take me into unknown trials and hardships in order to teach me lessons.  

But since I know physical mobility and exercise is essential to distract me from the constant and high level of pain, it must be enforced.  I know that my body pain is strong enough to prefer me to remain prone.  In other words, I need temporal duties that force me to get up and do the manual labor.  I must take on such tasks as much as I can for the glory of God,  and do so by myself with my dear angel, Beth--for as long as possible, for whatever time and circumstance the Lord allots me.  If I can remain mobile and in prayerful manual labor for one hour or three, if it takes a month or a year to finish a room or project, resting or enduring pain sieges between work efforts, then so be it.

Thus this particular next hermitage, while not a super deal in monetary ways, checks off various other considerations.   It seems to me located in a bit of nature oasis yet it is close to where I could walk to purchase groceries, medication, and get easily to a hospital--for when I fall off a roof or whatever!  (A family member quipped about that; I do not intend to be foolhardy, but at least it is a one-story roof!)  

Neighbors are quite close in but seem caring about one another.  In a way, this was rather a drawback to me in that I have come to prize the silence of solitude, of remaining hidden; yet realistically, a hermit who is growing older must be practical in that help will most likely be needed at some point.  A kind person to pick up some groceries when in lengthy pain siege or after having needed surgery or such, is a jewel provided by God in such circumstances. Likewise, a hermit is to offer hospitality and charity when called upon.  Only God knows what lays ahead, or whom He might ask me to help or whom he asks to help me in times of need. 

(On the other hand, a consecrated Catholic hermit in being true to living in the silence of solitude, can utilize prudent discipline in not revealing much that is unnecessary for others to know.  Yet all the while if need be and engaged by others, a hermit can quietly and purposefully witness to God in so many ways, especially non-verbally.  I was amazed at how many people came to open houses when selling the previous hermitage, who told the selling agent how they observed me working quietly, turning what was sorrowfully neglected into something they admired and appreciated.  They were watching me more than I would have ever guessed!  Actions speak louder than words, as is said.)

As to a main reason for not renting a dwelling, I have the Lord's providence to thank.  Although quite low income, I can afford to purchase a dwelling, having the financial advantage of the yet-low interest rates for a mortgage.  God's providence also allows my marvelous Catholic financial advisor from the thick and thin times, to guide wisely and prudently in other investing.  As I admitted to him while he was going over technical aspects of investing and matters financial, I trust him to do with what God has gifted me, as if his own, for that is his passion and gift--financial planning and investing. That is his job, his work. 

I also reminded him that my job as a Catholic hermit is to pray and praise God, and I will do so for him and his family, as that is my passion and gift and vocation.  So I am going forth with God's generous flow, which also His gift in this present moment.  God knows me through and through.  Evidently, I will be blessed for a bit longer to be able to live in solitude in a hermitage with its own little bit of soil around it, and to do the painful pain-siege suffering without concerning or intruding upon those around me.  I will be grateful despite suffering and the responsibilities of work involved, to be in the solitude of my own hermitage for as long as God allows.

An apartment for someone with severe chronic pain, would be taking on extra suffering due to the extraneous noise from the dwellers beyond the thin walls, floors, and ceilings.  Also, to rent an apartment or a small house, I would not be able to do the type of physical manual labor that the last ordeal taught me very much is a positive for my life of prayer and penance as well as for work that has me moving about bodily. 

(Standing in one place or sitting for any bit of time especially on padded or cushioned seats, both increase the pain that I bear and are my own fault if I get myself into a pain siege as a result of either  The pain sieges come on their own; no point in escalating them more often or longer. Let God choose the pain sieges, their pain level and duration, not through my carelessness in known factors.)

Had the Lord chosen other present circumstances, though, I would have rented in whatever situation He allows.  Had I been a hermit without funds or means, or close to in an inner city projects locale, I would have lived there and done all I could to uphold my vows and hermit vocation despite the lack of external solitude and silence.

As it is, a hermit dwelling or a hermit for any human, for that matter--it is all temporary.  This upcoming hermitage might be my dwelling for a half-year, or two years, or five years, or the rest of my life--a day, several years--or even not at all.  I could withdraw from the purchase agreement, lose the earnest money, and would do so if some circumstance arises of which the Lord allows that changes course.  

Of this next hermitage in process of now awaiting lender appraisal, I found myself to have what is called buyer's remorse.  I have battled the desire to escape or not follow through.  With a little prayer and listening, I was shown that it has nothing to do with other than the constancy of painful suffering.  Indeed, I had to see that part of me that wishes I did not have to live anywhere at all!  I can say as with St. Paul:  To me, Christ is gain.  Life is a journey of which one after years of suffering can find the temporal machinations of living to be wearisome, if one is honest; and the delight of full union with Christ and freedom from earthly pain and trials is a joy to contemplate and to yearn!

I have all documents now provided to the bank lender; the negotiations with seller through her agent are finished other than I would appreciate a week delay in closing.  The seller's agent has been caught in three unpleasant deceptions (or lies, depending on how wants to view the deceptions).  There is no other way to get a better "deal" unless the appraisal comes back lower than price, of which I doubt it will.  I did not get a super deal, yet I have a location that will be easy to rent or sell, providing financial coverage for my power of attorney and health care representative and executor of will.  Hermits must arrange for the temporal unknowns we all face in our society, state, county in which we reside.    
For this next hermitage, there is a Cathedral not far; as mentioned previously good walkability; a sense of nature about; a small yard in which this gardening hermit can work to transform. There is plenty of interior updating from top to bottom, from more to less, should that be what God allows and desires--another wineskin made new for new wine to be poured in.  But otherwise the dwelling is totally habitable--no hidden rat and bird infestation, no bad wiring behind walls or bad venting or plumbing, as I procured for myself an inspector this time, myself doing the research and contacts.  And thanks to all the lessons learned in the past hermitage, from such good people who taught me a lot about construction and all therein, I was able to discern after a short while that this inspector was honest and knew his stuff.  

So we do learn and benefit from the most trying of experiences in our lives, and I'm sure there will be more to come for this Catholic hermit who yet has so much to learn from God and those He puts in my life to teach me, one way or another!

If I'm not granted medication to help tone down the physical pain that has grown worse over the years, I will have a place to be in solitude to suffer, solus Deus, alone with the Lord: God alone.  It is as well to be on the cross with Him in solitude, I have found, and without others around who are trying their best to live their lives as God has unfolded for them--lay persons, married, single, with or without children, working in the world.  They have their own challenges to face and to live out, to learn as well, their own sufferings, and to hopefully also grow in Christian love and union with one another and God, as we are all One Body in Christ.

So before long, there will be the next hermitage with a hermit within its confines.  No one but the Lord and a priest and/or bishop the priest might inform, need know there is a hermit living in their midst.  In the meantime, if the doctor tomorrow allows for a medication refill, I will soon be departing via airplane to visit my spiritual father of whom our contact has been for four years, by mail and phone.  It has served us well, but the personal visit is one we both are hopeful and desiring of happening, God-willing and my body-able.  

I will also visit two persons who have asked me to help them make a plan for updating their abodes. Yes, I will do all I can to encourage and assure them they can do that, for we all have marveled at what God provided and accomplished through His most pained and complaining servant, this nothing consecrated Catholic hermit.  They say it has inspired them to try to make better their dwellings, also for the next persons who will someday live in the homes they've had for a long time.  

And there is another family member, her husband, and two children of which I will spend a bit of time, for very much must a consecrated Catholic hermit keep charity foremost as do all of us who say we follow Christ.   The law of God is love; God Is Love.  We dare not depart from love in all our interactions, prayers, praises, and keep love foremost in our existences--whether more so in temporal or more so in the spiritual.  God Is Love!

As for hermit dwellings, there are probably as many types and reasons for hermits having certain dwellings, as there are hermits--consecrated Catholic hermits privately and/or publicly professed and avowed.  There are reasons for each hermit's choice and reasons for the Lord to have provided for and guided them, giving them circumstances to consider in discerning what, where, when, how, and why.  

No judgment nor criticism needed regarding any hermit's dwelling, as we none of us know fully why God has allowed or has provided this or that,  Not even the hermit him- or herself may fully grasp--but certainly with time spent in the vocation, hopefully a hermit would know well enough the Lord's direction in discerning and securing a hermit dwelling.  The the hermit's lived experience--sometimes painful in lessons learned--also assists in knowing his or her own needs, reasons, and situations best.  God's will be done, time and again.

"Be imitators of God, as beloved children, 
and live in love, 
as Christ has loved us and handed himself over for us
as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma."
        --Ephesians 4:33








Friday, October 26, 2018

Catholic Hermit: Hermit Temporal Responsibility


It's not the most inspiring time period for this nothing consecrated Catholic hermit.  That is, not in the outer sense, or in a way one might consider would be inspirational or spiritually uplifting given my vocation as a Catholic hermit.

When readying to leave the previous location and hermitage, someone coming for items I was parting with (and making a little much-needed money doing so), the person asked how a hermit could live with a family with a child or children.

A hermit has temporal responsibilities just like everyone else.  

(Yes, there are those hermits who are affiliated with dioceses in which they are given a place to live, to seemingly try to develop a quasi religious order of hermits with land and structures donated, health insurance paid, and parishes contributing to their support, plus monies they make from offering rooms or small retreat cabins to rent for weekends or up to six months or a year rental.  But most Catholic hermits today remain in the traditional path: privately professed, are more hidden from the eyes of men in solitude of prayer and praise of God, not relying on the Church for employment or for donated land and structures.  This matter is simply choice; I am not attaching judgment either way, as right or wrong.  The choice may include the individual with spiritual director or if would-be hermit in a religious order with a superior.   And as a Catholic in one manner or another, at some point in time, one's bishop is involved more directly or else indirectly, whichever the path of eremitic life is discerned and taken.)

There will yet always remain for a hermit as for any human being, temporal responsibilities.  

The degree of those responsibilities varies, depending upon the circumstances of each hermit.  And God, ultimately, for any human being, has His plan, His will for all of our lives.  It is up to us to listen and cooperate, to make decisions based on our Christian callings, to whatever depth or breadth we are spiritually in tune with God's will and living His will.  Even that comes in degrees and varies with circumstances, for the temporal realm is a powerful force in many ways, with much distraction.  And we, just as Jesus when He lived among us, are bound by the laws of the country, state, county in which we live our earthly lives.

Currently I am chest-deep in having to flex with the situation God has allowed and graciously provided me.  Considering my high level of constant bodily pain, given advancing years, I am blessed and grateful to be taken in by a family member in a location in which hopefully weather will be better for my spine issues as well as a lower cost of living.

My mind has had to tend to temporal details involving much research and checking and rechecking this or that detail of which hermits must tend in order to attain a place to live, to be, whether renting or owning the hermitage.  Even discerning whether to rent or own a dwelling takes discernment and a review of what is best, often enough, in physical aspects for the individual hermit.

If owning one's hermitage is best for various reasons (quiet, fewer distractions, ability to work the soil or have maintenance chores which can be very good in enforcing active exercise and the good of ora et labora: work and pray), there are more temporal responsibilities in the attaining of the hermitage than if one rents.  Yet to own one's hermitage also commits the hermit, and that can be a good thing in regard the external aspects of "stability".  Some hermits include stability as an addition to the three avowed evangelical counsels of obedience, poverty, and chastity.  (Interior aspects of stability may be embraced no matter the external aspects, of course.)

But not to get ahead of my purpose in this post, I hope to share in the next post, more of why and how a hermit makes a decision regarding renting or owning a hermitage.  For now I will share the bit of today's Mass Scripture reading from Ephesians 4, which has provided me today's (thus far!) main spiritual inspiration and uplift.

"...live in a manner worthy of the call you have received,
with all humility and gentleness, with patience,
bearing with one another through love,
striving to preserve the unity of the spirit
through the bond of peace...."

Through these inspired words, St. Paul reminds in a beautifully inner and joyous way, how this Catholic hermit can stay true to my Gospel Rule of Life no matter if living in a guest room of a suburban house with a young and active family--or if I were to be far from civilization and removed from the busyness of most people's active, everyday lives.

These past three weeks I've had to spend much time studying the real estate market, scouring it for the best possible investment areas and types of dwellings that will be most prudent not only economically but practically.  I must discern which will stand the greatest potential (although real estate is always a risk of sorts) to keep or improve in value.

You see, a hermit needs to be wise to the ways of the world while also existing all for God.  Especially in older hermits, there is the consideration of eventual nursing home care or in-hermitage care.  We do not live in the time of St. Godric, for example, who when ill and aged had become known to the monks in a nearby monastery who would trek through the forest to his hermit hut to tend him when ill and then when dying, day and night.

And while for most of us traditional, privately professed Catholic hermits in the Consecrated Life of the Church, we could indeed simply go along on our own until death takes us, suffering in a rented room or apartment or small house we purchased and are living in.  But the reality in our time and culture, there are others around us who are aware--relatives, neighbors, spiritual director--who would either feel responsible or some social service agency of local government would step in and deem the situation unsafe or untenable.  Others thus could be deemed negligent in the event of a hermit's serious injury, decline, or end-of-life illnesses.

While I must now, in essence "suffer through" this period of being without the solitude and silence requisite for a Catholic hermit's fulfillment of life of prayer, hidden from the eyes of men, and so forth--I am trying to live in the manner St. Paul advocates while yet remaining within the eremitic call I personally received over 19 years ago.  This living situation now, is only temporary, after all.

Even as I write this, early morning, a child is in the next room and will need chauffeuring to an activity, after he has had a healthy breakfast.  That, and all I must do today which yet will unfold, I must do with humility, with love, with patience and gentleness.  I must strive to bear all in love, to maintain peace with the adults.  As I go about cleaning showers, caulking some needed areas that will otherwise cost the family more problems if left to corrode;  I also must do what is so tedious of the temporal--at least for this hermit--by making phone calls to gather more documents needed by the bank mortgage department.

All of these temporal activities and responsibilities may be done in the bond of peace, in unity, in the one Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.  They can be accomplished with spiritual and temporal awareness both, that with every person with whom I interact today whether the mother, father, child under this particular roof, or with mortgage lender, real estate agent, tax accountant, financial advisor, HVAC specialist to inspect prospective hermitage's heating/cooling systems--we are all of one Body in Christ.

I suppose that a main point I desire to make is that hermits must adapt to the present moment including in times when not able to be in one's own hermitage whether rented or purchased, in busy cities or quiet oases of natural beauty all about.  Hermits must take hold of the temporal responsibilities set before us in care for our bodies, care for others with whom we come in contact, and to in whatever aspects: give unto Caesar what is Caesar's.  We must exist in the constructs of the laws of the land even when having to deal with temporal aspects of which a hermit would much prefer to be free to be in spiritual embrace in prayer and praise of God.

Thankfully, for this Catholic hermit, the temporal tasks of attaining another hermitage is in itself, a temporary process.  Soon, all the busyness required of a worldly business nature will be past.  I will be, God willing and body able, in a hermitage once again, and back into a daily horarium (schedule) and in surroundings consistent with my vows, my Gospel Rule of Life, and its undergirding planks of the Nine S':  Silence, Solitude, Slowness, Suffering, Selflessness, Simplicity, Stability, Stillness, and Serenity.

Truly, though if I were adept in the Gospel Rule, platformed with the Nine S', I could live these within, despite being with a most generous and kind family to allow me to be here for awhile.  And someday I may have to put myself to the greater test, to live in a busy and noisy place such as a nursing home, for which now I must pray and listen to God in decisions being made for wise decisions in procuring a place to live, a place to be, a next hermitage for this hermit.  I must listen well and do my best all for God, for the temporal responsibilities may include paying for the possibility of nursing home or in-hermitage nursing care without putting that responsibility upon others be it family, friends, or diocese or parishioners to help in any way fiscally or physically.

Yet, I also must strive always to be generous to those in need--not only in the virtues I should be living but with monetary and temporal assistance to others as much as feasible without making myself a responsibility to others by not managing the resources God provides me through His temporal world.

And all the while of being in transition or in whatever more stable, temporal circumstance of a hermit's life--place to live and be, being responsible in a temporal way to the laws of the land--the hermit very much ought continue always to give unto God what is God's.

My soul and all that goes into a soul including intellect and will, are given unto God for I am all His.

God bless His Real Presence in all of us!



Monday, October 15, 2018

Catholic Hermit: Hermit Medical Considerations


Along with relocating and adapting to different type of surroundings, a Catholic hermit can determine if or not to consider various medical options.  The sense of spiritual detachment and holy indifference plays a role in all aspects of a hermit's discernments, but I suppose also standards in upbringing as well as financial ability helps determine what and how much medical procedures one includes.

As a consecrated and privately professed and avowed Catholic hermit of nearly 18 years now, with a prior two years of discernment and practicum in hermit life, my medical situation has been one of no insurance available for the bulk of that time period.  

After the life-altering accident in 1984 and loss of career came the loss of ability to be insurable in any financially reasonable terms.  So I had to pay out of pocket expenses up until I was able to be allowed Medicare coverage of which I have to pay the full price.  However, I am most grateful that I can get it at all and that due to a legality of being granted coverage due to minimum 10 years of marriage, long past, to a spouse who has full coverage, free of cost.

I consider it all as God's providence, whatever the means of the temporal world.  Thus while I must have the means to purchase the Medicare quarterly coverage which includes vision, excepting eye glasses, and I must pay for a supplement as well, each month, or risk in my last housing situation financial ruination, now I will continue the supplement as it is prudent to do so, evidenced by the head injury costs alone.

While I do not have dental insurance, it is something to consider, depending upon monthly costs.  Yet, a hermit can make decisions such as how far to go in dental care?  Over a year ago I did need a crown and possible root canal due to a dentist years ago cracking a molar and not detecting his error.  Another dentist saw the crack and had to grind the tooth and put on a crack which lasted over 20 years.  Good investment with a good yet not high-cost dentist.

Teeth cleaning for a hermit?  I had to let my upbringing of excellent dental care slide in the past five years due to the costs while I was trying to get out from under the old farmhouse hermitage situation.  Since another molar flared two days prior to moving from Te Deum Hermitage (now the buyer's home, for he had no inkling it was a hermitage at all nor did he need to know), a dentist in the new location remedied it by grinding down some areas and detecting a crack that he is sure occurred from the body-smack, head injury incident in July.  

The tooth crack seems stable; the grinding helped the pain.  But there is the matter of much-needed teeth-cleaning--something growing up my parents and siblings had been taught as good dental prevention with twice-yearly appointments.

A cancellation arose in this new-to-hermit's dental office, and I have decided to have the teeth cleaned and checked for any additional issues.  The price is not high, but I do consider it a luxury as well as hopefully a prudent precaution to avoid more costs and conceivably unnecessary suffering later on.

However, such as with last year's molar needing a crown and squeaking by without a root canal, an option was to have the tooth simply extracted.  Much less cost, for sure, but someone advised that if an upper molar the bite not affected as would be a lower molar.  And, over more time should God provide more years of life to this hermit, a lower molar tooth extraction could lead to more involved dental problems requiring yet more costly procedures.

As in many aspects of living in our day and age, a hermit's health considerations and decisions might seem the same as lay persons' life decisions.  And they are other than with what might be more a spiritual slant to the hermit's health care choices.  There is the aspect clearly of what is prudent, what the hermit can afford or not, and always, ever, God's will in each present moment.

There is not the matter of others around to consider, such as who shall care for the hermit or contend with the hermit's added suffering.  (How a bad tooth can pain!)  There is not any set meal plan that would inconvenience others should a toothless hermit need only a pureed diet, for example.  There is, however, the consideration of the poor, of the homeless, and always, for me, the consideration of hermits of yore and my Gospel Rule of Life, underset by my Nine S' platform--simplicity, suffering, selflessness, stability coming forth for dental decisions.

I will joyfully and gratefully accept the gift of God's goodness in a cancellation providing an appointment to have the old teeth cleaned.  I praise Him for now having the money to pay for a dental appointment, and I will offer the time in the chair as prayer for all the people around the world--and hermits of yore--who suffered terribly with poor teeth and indeed, few or no teeth at all!

It seemed rather miraculous to me, given how I had to live for the past five-plus years, and for awhile without running water and a longer while without a sink--so that I did not even brush the teeth much at all.  But I knew to floss them frequently, just from sensing them.  Thus perhaps that along with God's providence, are the reasons why, amazingly, there were no cavities when the new dentist took x-rays when scouting the molar pain problem.

The other day I noticed a hermit whose bishop had established a type of hermit order or such, much like a religious order--or at least he must have had that in mind at the time.  No one has joined the hermit over the years.  But included after a year of postulancy or novitiate (although they used different terminology to describe a period of discernment that was rather detailed), the potential hermit-to-be would not need health insurance.  I presume that includes dental.  Perhaps the Diocese pays for the lone, extant hermit's medical costs.

There again, I notice the variance in hermit life in this country alone, from diocese to diocese, and who knows how many traditional hermits there are, such as myself, living the eremitic consecrated life in the Church yet in far more hidden manner, with God as the Superior and a holy priest (parish or religious order) in alter Christus, to help discern God's unfoldings for the individual, consecrated Catholic hermit.  Otherwise, the Bishop acts as Superior, which is fine for those who feel called to the more recent mode of Catholic Church eremite being and doing.

I just found it fascinating that in the aforementioned hermit's situation, or for those who might "join" the seemingly religious order of hermits that never materialized with members nor unlikely will, that the health insurance appears to be provided by the Diocese--and will be should anyone become a hermit member and remain more than the first year.  No judgment on my part of right or wrong--just another way a bishop chose and following bishops have accepted in providing health insurance for a hermit and potentially more hermits who might have joined.

It is not my way, of course, nor will it be.  The Lord provides, yes, regardless.  If there comes a time I cannot afford a dental appointment or have just enough for a tooth extraction, then that is fine.  In the meantime, I will do all I can to remain healthy with diet, tooth brushing, flossing, and occasional check up if the teeth prod with pain.

Interesting, though, how in considering the topic, one's upbringing in such as dental care is a factor in life-long habits.  Cosmetic procedures now popular in mouths of all ages--teeth whitening, teeth straightening:  Not for this hermit.  Yet, I'd not judge should some hermit feel a need for some reason.  We are all in process--lay persons, consecrated hermits, consecrated religious, priests.

Ultimately, at least for this hermit, a toothache can be offered as prayer; but it definitely gets in the way of other holy pursuits!  Plus, as I have written in other blogs of the past, a toothache would be considered a side-ways cross, an unnecessary suffering for it can be remedied.  Thus for now, dental preventative measures, since I am now able to pay, seem prudent to me.