Awoke per usual this morning, dealing with severe pain. Prayed and took pain relievers to help take the edge off while waiting to get a grip so as to later dress and begin the active part of the day. But thoughts continued as to yesterday's post regarding how time's passage brings perspective to past considerations of Catholic hermits' vocations. Such diversity!
Having been a privately professed and avowed Catholic hermit now for over 14 years, the seeming debate of past years with those who were called or chose to go the publicly professed, canonical hermit path with vows accepted by their bishops, seems now so minor a debate. The advantage of having lived the hermit life with more years under the tunic, so to speak, causes one to chuckle a bit at how easily drawn off into the distraction of that debate, such as it was.
It is a non-issue now, with the obvious being that those who are called or choose the canonical path are suited to it, and those called to the non-canonical path are suited to that. This is so especially when one comes to the reality and spiritual understanding that Jesus is enough, and God chooses all (for those who give Him their wills). God bless His Real Presence in us all.
Being nothing continues to be an element of this eremitic vocation. It is a reality that, also, some readers did not grasp but rather were put off thinking I was not appreciative of God's having created me, and thus I was something in God's Mind and Sight. However, others grasped the reality and truth of our being nothing, and He being All.
In the unfolding of my life as a Catholic hermit--credible and bonafide as much as any and all Catholic hermits regardless of titles or degrees of stricter separation from the world in assiduous prayer and silence--there has been no need for my being avowed or even known by my bishop as a hermit or anything else. (Yet this is not to suggest that those whose hermit vocations under the more direct approval and supervision of their bishop are any less or more credible. That debate is over and settled and understood.) In my life as a Catholic hermit, the unfolding reveals the power of God in directly guiding the events. The path has altered according to His choosing.
Where I had ventured into being hidden within a subdivision in a comfortable, small tract hermitage and dressed in the manner of those around me and those in the Cathedral of which I attended Mass, the Lord allowed external events to occur which gradually shifted those externals. Persecutions were allowed from within the Church as well as continuing from a neighbor who had a mental issue and obsession with me.
Pressed by the sheriff's deputies to procure a protective order, and enclosing my property with a border of trees and developing most beautiful gardens within, as the end date of the protective order advanced, the deputies encouraged me to move as they felt the neighbor and her household would not cease. My adult children had been adamant for several years that I get out of there. The situation was quite serious, and many friends hoped I would leave, as well, and pointed out I could pray for the neighbors elsewhere but did not have to live by them.
It was quite a detachment process, more than I thought. I thoroughly enjoyed the gardens and had much comfort in that lovely little hermitage. The Lord had His way, however, as He must when we give our wills to Him and let Him choose all. Not only did He bring a buyer for the house, He brought one who did not want any of the trees or stone pathways save three trees and one path. All else was to be in grass.
After six years of labor and expense developing the gardens (consider 77 rose bushes alone), He asked of me to strip it, which I did. I took tremendous financial losses--rather painful emotionally but some reminded me what gifts the trees and perennials were to others with the beauty being spread to other landscapes. With friends and family having high hopes of a "better life" elsewhere, the week prior to my final move, He gave me a glimpse of terrible foreboding of what would come next.
I was not prepared for just how terrible and what stark and severe situations that would provide for living out the Nine S' which are the platform of my Catholic hermit rule of life. Remember? Silence, Solitude, Slowness, Suffering, Selflessness, Simplicity, Stability, Stillness and Serenity. He pushed me to the Gospel Rule of Life (of which the Nine S' are part of the platform or means of living out the Gospel Rule). The suffering, in particular, has been immense, and my life has come to a point of survival mode, especially in the cold of winter.
Main insights learned are these: Jesus is enough for me. God chooses everything for me. My identity is in Jesus and none other.
Being able to return to Mass once a week has been a huge blessing. The mystical state continues--a sign of the power of the Mass and the Lord's unfathomable love for us, with the reality we ought elevate devotion of all His Sacraments (including His Living Word) indeed present in the Mass.
The Mass is the Stairway to Heaven. The priest stands in as Christ at the altar--as portal--pointing the way between the temporal and into the mystical, from one to the other. We are being formed and shown through the portal to what we will know for all eternity. We have this opportunity at each Mass to see through the portal and experience the reality of union with God in varying degrees of awareness. The Mass is the Stairway to Heaven.
In closing, hopefully we can see just how far off from the love of God, from the goals of the spiritual life, and from growth of the soul in seeking union with God, were the blog-hashing-through of details in what path within the Catholic hermit vocation of which one is called or chooses. I could deeply regret having allowed my distraction in such matters, or time wasted in the debate. But I don't. I learned very much through having succumbed to the debate and details, as well as in having ceased writing about my Catholic hermit life for a length of time. It has been beneficial to let my vocation unfold while learning to discern through some painfully rich trials.
God's choosing the way and means is as varied and unique as each hermit called if we allow Him directly to do so.
God bless His Real Presence in us!