Friday, May 30, 2014

Catholic Hermits of Yore Inspire and Guide

Reading biographies, autobiographies, and correspondence of Catholic hermits provides inspiration and guidance to this current Catholic hermit.  The writings do not need to be deep in theology; one does not have to read massive tomes.  In simple words describing daily life, Catholic hermits of yore share insights and glimpses of what brought them to union with God--including their flaws and errors along the way, from which they learned invaluable lessons.

St. Godric of Finchale never disappoints in the details he shared with a priest named Reginald.  Reginald was a Benedictine monk of the newly formed (late 12th c.) Abbey of Durham in northern England.  St. Cuthbert, a monk, then hermit, of the 7th c. was entombed in the Abbey.  Godric partly chose the area of Durham forest to live as a hermit because of his great devotion to St. Cuthbert.  But the main reason for his choosing that locale was a
vision and locution in which Cuthbert told Godric what and where would Godric live his vocation.

One example of how Godric alters my own hermit life daily, is his practice of receiving items and lifting them up to God in praise.  The day I read of this particular devotional effort, the Gospel reading was of Jesus raising His eyes to Heaven, and praising His Father for always hearing and answering His prayers.  

In that instant, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.  Godric perhaps had been inspired by the Gospel or perhaps the Holy Spirit instructed him such, or his angel, or some story of what Cuthbert did when praying.  Regardless, Godric would lift the object up toward the sky and praise God for hearing and answering his prayers as well as giving him all he needed in life.

I began practicing the prayer of praise while also physically making the gesture or doing so in my inner sight.  One day I was under the house, struggling with dry-fitting some plumbing pieces.  I had about 18 inches of space between musty earth and the cobwebbed, 110-year-old floor joists.  With good-sized surgical rods in my back, I had to slither on my side--but not on the right side due to remaining pain from two shoulder surgeries.

In dry-fitting the black, ABS pipes for a final drain pipe, I could not then get the pipes pulled apart so as to swatch with the adhesive and make the fitting final.  I tried every which way to joggle, jiggle, tug and wrench those dry-fit pipes.  Finally I thought of how Jesus needed to be enough for me, and of how Godric would pray.  My prayer began, aloud.

"Jesus, you know I am down under this house with no one anywhere near who could or would help me.  You know I cannot get these pipes apart, and I need them apart in order to finish this necessary drain.  I cannot even raise these pipes up to heaven; but I hold them in my hands, and in my mind I hold them up to You.  I need you to be enough for me, Jesus!  You are enough for me, and I praise you for listening to my plea for help and for answering.  I need these pipe pieces to pull apart!"

I tried one more time to pull apart the jammed pipes, and they immediately loosened effortlessly.  Two more times that day I needed Jesus to help me, and He never failed in my times of need.  

I began to hold up situations and persons in my inner sight, praising the Lord for listening and answering my prayers.  Even in public, I can appear as if stretching my arms up, but within I am holding a person or situation or object within my mind, while silently praising God and thanking Him for all.  I pray like this whether in bed, in the gardens, on the rooftop, under the house, in my truck--anywhere!

Somehow this type of kinesthetic-tactile praying [what I call it] and praising God and repeating that I thank Him for hearing my prayers and always answering in the way He wills, has increased my love of God.  Since in solitude mostly, I have no hindrances to adding the physical to the words.  There is good in this, with only God seeing and whatever bug, bird or deer happens to be in the vicinity.  I unite myself to Jesus when He prayed at the tomb of Lazarus, and I link to Godric and any others who prayed as such.

There are so many hermits of yore whose personal writings or the writings about them by others.  Godric is but one of the many I have known with many more to get to know.   These Catholic hermits inspire me and nudge me to live my hermit vocation more fully, more faithfully, more prayerfully and with gratitude.  

These friends who are with me--within and without the thin veil between us, between temporal and heaven--always have something to suggest that is holy, uplifting, practical and mystical.  It is a matter of getting to know them through asking and then waiting with faithful anticipation.  In some way or other, they will befriend us in ways not of this world, but in ways utilizing this world.

Right now, I will stop typing.  There.  I just raised my arms to heaven and held them out as all the hermits of yore could not fit into my hands.  I stretched the arms as far as possible, and within them I held up the many Catholic hermit saints and sinners as my mortal mind could fathom, and then some.  Praise God!  Thank God for these my mystical hermit friends in shared vocation, for all their tangible and intangible helps and inspiration.

After a physically painful day of gutting out uncooperative, spike-nailed ship lap boards, the Lord has heard and answered my prayer of praise and thanksgiving for these hermit friends.  I am in good hands, in God's hands, and also in the hands of these hermits whose souls are in God's very heart in heaven.  God bless His Real Presence in them and in me, this day, in this hidden hermitage, in this distant and remote locale.  I now hold each of you reading this, up in my hands and reach toward Our Heavenly Father, praising Him for hearing and answering my prayers for you always, for your lives in whatever vocations to which He has called you and of which you are striving to hear and live His will.  Peace be upon us all, my friends in Christ who read this blog.

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