Sunday, October 19, 2014

Return to Silence, The Divine Office, and Other Considerations

After being called out to civilization for a charitable visit and gathering a few provisions, have returned to the silence, solitude, and slowness of this beautiful life of stricter separation from the world in assiduous prayer and penance...and very much that of praising His Real Presence!  The physical body needs much rest and to recover, and to manage the physical pain, so wearing.

Fr. V. has emailed his guidance from across the globe and reminds that if am "unable to go [to Mass] there isn't much problem. Just have enough time of silence and meditation and then offer nice praises to God.  Today's readings call for deep reflection.  God through the prophet tells us that he could reveal himself anywhere and he choose anyone as his instrument."  He knows the circumstances and details of this nothing Catholic hermit's circumstances. 

It is best to have a priest spiritual adviser who knows one's health, physical and spiritual life, vocation, and past and current situation.  For a hermit, it also is best, and this from over 14 years experience of living the eremitic life (which may not seem that long but does offer fair perspective) to have as a spiritual guide an Order priest more familiar with spiritual and eremitic life, or a priest living an eremitic life who is formed more in contemplative religious vocations than what training and formation a diocesan cleric could reasonably have or offer.

Recently the young married woman and mother who discusses once a week via phone the book The Spiritual Combat (Scupoli), asked why it is a diocese priest would not have a better grasp of hermit life.  She thought it a lapse or flaw that ought be remedied, that the diocesan priests and bishops ought to have a better understanding, a historical understanding as well as specific.  

But this hermit thinks not.  How many hermits did the young woman know from her parish growing up and now the one she attends?  (The question was recently also asked of a life-long Catholic man in his late 50's, very involved in his large and active parish.)  Their answers were: "None."  

This nothing Catholic hermit recalled meeting with a parishioner a year ago, at the bequest of a Jesuit priest in a very social activist parish.  The parishioner is their designated spiritual director, and she admitted she did not know anything about the eremitic vocation nor did she know any hermits.

And, truly, why should they need to know?  For example, in a marvelous parish of over 2000 families, the priests had not dealt with a hermit prior.  We can see of what their time and energy ought be spent:  the full range of active adult parishioners, the ill, the many children, single lay adults--not on a hermit who may happen along, if ever.  They do not even need to know there is a hermit worshiping with them, if one does.  

And it is not necessary for them to know, nor to spend time reading books or researching lives of hermits throughout Church history.  This is what the hermit ought be doing for a better grasp of his own vocational understanding, plus in developing a strong life of prayer.  To learn from and model one's hermit vocation after the lives of the historical and canonized hermits of the Church whose existences evolved into spiritual successes of humility and later sanctity, is the best grounding and training for any hermit, publicly or privately professed.  

Of the various priests and bishops known to this nothing Catholic hermit, none of them have had experience with hermits nor anything beyond a cursory knowledge.  Only one knew of a hermit he recalled from seminary days years past--seminary of a Benedictine monastery.  The hermit he recalled was a priest who would come into the monastery once a week, if that often, for some supplies and brief contact with his superior.

And, of course, leaning not unto thine own understanding, but turning to His Real Presence as one's source and Source of beauty, truth and goodness, is key.  Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  Following in His footsteps, in any vocation, is the way through this earthly existence to our heavenly reward.


From the week-ago conversation with the hermit priest in the small monastery up the road, this nothing Catholic hermit gained a necessary reminder to tighten the spiritual focus of its vocation.  Am praying the Divine Office in all its hours, and doing so with attempted slowness and stillness.  Yes, the mind wants to scatter, but one must bring it back into silence, solitude and slowness.

It is amazing what other hermits might share either in life or from their extant writings, that helps one in his own eremitic daily life of loving service through prayer, praise and penance.  Even something that reminds one not to do, is a benefit.  

Am recalling two priests (not hermits) who led a pilgrimage, and their reading aloud together their morning and evening offices, in front of the group of pilgrims when waiting in shrine lines or on the bus.  They read it so quickly, that words were indistinguishable.  It became more a public routine which could inspire those with them, but more became a point of humor in a way due to the rushed performance. That is an ever-reminder to this hermit to pray the Office, not race it.

When this hermit asked the hermit priest last week about their daily horarium, what stood out was their praying the Jesus prayer as they worked, and that they doubled up on two of the "hours", twice--that is, praying aloud two, one after another.  The other "hours" were prayed privately.  

Since this nothing Catholic hermit had asked about their horarium (daily physical and spiritual schedule) due to its own recognized lapsing, the thought arose that when only two hermit priests and one hermit monk living in very close quarters felt a need to double up praying the Divine Office hours, there really should be no need to double them.  Why not simply stop whatever other work or possible distractions, and pray them individually, not doubling up?  The spaced praying is part of the effort in training the body, mind, heart and soul to turn to God throughout day and night.

Time spent in a Cistercian monastery and having done much reading on the Carthusians, reminded that over 40 men (in the Cistercian monastery) stopped their tasks and also rose in the night, to pray each Office with reverent deliberation.  All these thoughts have brought this Catholic hermit, the solitary of Te Deum House, to return to praying the Offices.  

There is simply no excuse for this nothing Catholic hermit to not pray all of them and cease whatever other activity, in order to give first place to praise and prayer of and in His Real Presence.  

(This is to not suggest it is easy, though.  This hermit has experience with various temptations and weaknesses against doing what otherwise is a small offering  of the few minutes out of all the time God gifts, to pray each "Hour" of the Divine Office!)  

So, to begin once again, to bring this hermit's will into loving discipline and in union with the many hermits whether together in monasteries or living in solitude around the world, who pray the Divine Office in its beneficial fullness.

It is a small thing, truly.  But in the life of a hermit, it is a primary call to immerse oneself in the Living Word of His Real Presence, and to enter into love of God in Himself, and in Him, to be praying for all the people in the whole world, in the universe.  Pray for those souls on this side of the veil and those souls on the other, for all souls are the community to which the hermit belongs, for whom the hermit prays, loves, and does so through, with, and in His Real Presence:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

God bless His Real Presence in us!  Little Children, let us love one another, as He loves us!

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