As a Catholic hermit, life unfolds over the days, months and years. Currently reading a biography of Godric, Hermit of Finchale, the Catholic hermit unfolding is brought to bear in the many events of his life, both temporal and spiritual. He had many qualities that would be doubted today other than had it not been for the documentation by a priest in a nearby Benedictine Abbey in Durham, UK, back in Godric's era (11th into 12th c.). Also, had it not been for the written and photographed witnessing and evidence of the late St. Padre Pio's life, some of Godric's spiritual gifts and encounters with others would be scrutinized and deemed doubtful. We have the advantage of Padre Pio and other later saints in our time of technology, to realize that many of the earlier mystics were not examples of exaggerated tales of the supernatural and overly eager devotees.
My life as a Catholic hermit has evolved in ways unforeseen. I suppose we all have that in our lives--the unforeseen elements. Yet, there are nudges and forewarning. Later one may wonder at how those were not heeded. But we proceed in faith, and that faith leads us into more our missions in life which for some of us include a great deal of suffering. The suffering leads to gifts of which the value is being utilized for God's purposes in helping souls, both living and in purgatory.
It will be nearly six years since the mystical state has been occurring in Mass. That has brought persecution and misunderstanding as well as scrutiny and judgment, yet the Lord brings me through into new beginnings elsewhere. One learns to go where one is called without realizing what will unfold. There remains much suffering linked in with all new beginnings; the path narrows, and hardships increase along with the inner means to cope. He brings us to one precipice after another.
I have noticed in a recent review of internet articles regarding Catholic hermits, and the trend continues in debate of the canonically approved Catholic hermits seemingly to make headway as public in a way not meaning of public profession--not in that mode--but of public as in more publicity. The media aspect of internet and print publications give a type of credence to those who are canonically approved, perhaps due to the assumption that if approved by a Bishop, the hermit is somehow more valid or credible. I find this marvelous, for it clears the way all the more for the privately professed hermits to go about their vocations with identity not so secured by others or by the more public, visible aspects of the Church.
One can assume the same amount of abuses occur within the ranks of the canonically approved Catholic hermits and the privately professed Catholic hermits. I know of some instances of variances within Bishops' take on hermit life and thus what is expected of Diocesan hermits, and on the other hand the privately, more hidden Catholic hermits face the trials of straying from the narrow path, misconstruing one's rule of life, or other such pitfalls. Yet no bishop or public note is made; the privately professed Catholic hermit must rely upon the checks and balances with Jesus as judge, and having one's identity be in Jesus, and in learning to be satisfied that in the great solitude, silence, prayer and suffering, Jesus is enough for us.
This is not to say that one or the other is an easier form of Catholic hermit life. They each have valid points; but there are striking differences, and much has to do with the effect of being known and having more tangible attachment and avowal to others, more publicly--and this does not have to do with public profession but being known as an approved Catholic hermit in a canonical form.
The Lord chooses one way for some and the other way for others. I was shown yet again nearly two years ago, what the Lord has chosen for me, and why. If I were to share it here, and what was told me, I would open myself to scrutiny by others and clamors of rebuke and argument. And to do that would cause others to lose charity and be distracted, so I will refrain. But within, the vision and locution remains clear, and the message is unmistakable. Why would I want the other when I can have this way, which is rather direct and intimate?
But alas, it also is rather painful because directness is always a challenge in discernment of spirits. And it requires one to ever strive to see matters as God sees them, and that sight often includes learning the hard way, making errors, and then the consequences are meted out by God in a most loving lesson.
In the end, as well as in the interim, the Catholic hermit may be called to live such as Godric. He knew his vocation after some years as a successful sea merchant. He lived his Catholic hermit life for awhile in total seclusion, and some time after was discovered by monks who heard about this man living a quiet and holy life hidden away in a nearby woods. Eventually, Godric endured the spiritual trials and temporal sufferings, and the Lord began to utilize him in additional manner to that of prayer and penance. It was the monks who helped Godric learn some of the rhythm of the spiritual life and to lessen some of his arduous lifestyle. God has His Hand in all matters such as the hermit life, to those who ask for guidance. He sends people or books written by great masters of the spiritual life. He provides all that is needed, including the Communion with Holy Mother Church, one way or another.
I am making my way through on the narrow path as a Catholic hermit in Communion with Holy Mother Church, but in the less traveled, or at least less visible, by today's increasing visibility of hermits whose vows are public in a canonical way. It is fascinating to view the situation over a matter of increasing years, of the one way or another way, when the results unfold and one sees how very unique is each vocation and how the Lord chooses one way or another for each Catholic He calls to live the hermit life, and how He unfolds their lives.
God bless His Real Presence in us!