Last night had a lovely phone conversation with the spiritual Father. He continues to pray that this hermit will eventually have the energy, strength and necessary courage to drive the distance for Mass. So does this hermit pray thus!
The spiritual Father, now far away but accessible by phone, knows the past trials, sufferings, and persecutions, and also knows the reality of historical hermits, of which those not in religious orders of hermits (and some who were!), lived distances out and in solitude. The women did not have Mass; the men who were not priests did not have Mass.
He agrees to appreciate the hermit monks up the road, but given their different religious background and the polemics involved, best to hold as loving inspirations for what one can learn but to keep this hermit's life less complicated: simplicity.
Yes, it is time for this hermit to listen and follow the Voice that speaks deep within, clearly in bell-tone, and not just sense these matters for others. Several times, this hermit has ignored signals for itself, only to realize later His Real Presence very much meant the advice, warning, or statement.
Am yet in civilization, helping out in a quiet place but with two others. One of the others goes to work, requiring this hermit's care for the one remaining here. Am not used to speaking or the small bit of activity, calm and restful as it is. The other day reflected that in the Te Deum hermitage, some several days can pass, and the hermit's voice has not made utterance unless a rare phone call--and they are rare.
Last evening in phone conversation, the spiritual Father commented that this, here, is a true hermit's life--what has evolved in the past 18 months or so. Yes, it is, and the adaptation and greater faith required has been a challenge off-and-on. Mentioned to him that of ten days ago, going to confession when in civilization (and also gathering some provisions). Shared that the recently ordained parish priest made an assumption in the confessional: "I bet you thought your hermit life was going to be really easy at first, and now you are surprised it is difficult."
This hermit did not respond to that assumption, as it was totally false. Did not want to bother with a defense or explanation; just not worth the verbal effort, and it really did not matter if the young priest knew or not how it was for the hermit, years past. Was not going to affect his well-needed time and efforts with active parishioners, and might not help him realize that making assumptions can be tricky. He meant well or else simply assumed from not knowing how it is for some hermits (or maybe all if incisively honest).
But, no, this hermit never ever thought at any time that it would be easy--not from the first of God's revealing the hermit vocation over fourteen years ago to even today. In fact, the sensation within this hermit was that of dread...and yet of a certainty to step forth into the desert! Somehow, the reality of needing to die to so much of one's accumulation of outer and inner distractions has always been a reality, and a harsh one depending upon depth of self-disclosure, clarity of the reflective mirror.
Distractions of the temporal accumulations--but more, the distractions of the inner accumulations, the spiritual vices, the temptations to resist, for whatever the reasons, that which is challenging on the path of spiritual perfection--these require profound and repetitive dying.
But granted, with each level of dying comes a rising, and it is key to note that there are levels, phases--a spiraling of the double-helix of the temporal and spiritual sloughing of accumulated distractions. These deaths free the soul in mostly indiscernible increments to love progressively, and more perfectly, God in Himself, and in Himself to love all souls alive on earth and those souls alive but not physically tangible.
This hermit mentioned that this phase of its life is filled with more hardships than ever dreamed and ever lived--and after being given what could have, seemingly should have, been a secure and comfortable existence for the rest of earthly life. The spiritual Father exclaimed, "But you are in the desert now! In a very real desert! You are a true hermit!"
And, to another eremitic effort, the spiritual Father mentioned on the phone last night, that breaking seven times from the physical and mental distractions of each day and night to pray the Divine Office, is difficult. He repeated, "This is not easy!" Truly, while it should not be so difficult in the mere thinking about what seems a small effort, times seven, any efforts against accumulated distractions are challenging.
It is a truth, at least to this hermit, that no matter how cleverly or contentedly one may think one is in some spiritual discipline or gift of grace, there is never sole or soul assurance that one has "arrived". For one has not arrived, not yet. We will know more of arrival when after worldly and other-worldly purgation and progressions, we enter Heaven.
God bless His Real Presence in us! Little children, let us love one another, as He loves us! Remain in His Love!