Monday, March 30, 2015

Catholic Hermits on the Defensive?

It just is not worth it for Catholic hermits (or anyone) to feel as if they are on the defensive or to try to justify their own plans of daily life.  For one thing, daily life changes:  daily.

And, for another, it is not for others to judge, quite frankly and truthfully.  Only a Catholic hermit and his or her spiritual director--be that a bishop or not--and HIS REAL PRESENCE (and especially His Real Presence!) are the One and the ones to determine the pace and the nuances of a hermit's daily regimen.

That is rather the point of one of this Catholic hermit's posts--think it is the one titled "Who Do We Think We Are?" or something like that.  It details some judging that has gone on, even if not specified by the person/s as judgmental.  No one else really knows the whys or wherefores of how a consecrated Catholic hermit is or should be or has to be living his or her life.

In fact, no one should be declaring a Catholic hermit consecrated or not consecrated in the Catholic Church, based upon his or her own interpretations of what is specified in Church documents, or presuming someone has an impediment to being in the Consecrated Life of the Church.  A Catholic hermit's bishop and/or spiritual director or other Church authority can make that determination when it comes down to validity, if that designation even matters ultimately, eternally (and not the least) to His Real Presence!  

But for the purpose of truth to oneself, to God, and to His Body, the Church--if a Catholic hermit, to the satisfaction of its director and God Himself, has fulfilled the Church's stipulations detailed per the Consecrated Life of the Church, then it is.  Truth is truth and not to be taken likely; and what is, is.  If the Church changes the stipulations for hermits in the Consecrated Life of the Church, then those Catholic hermit saints of past ages and whoever of living consecrated Catholic hermits who would not qualify anymore, can then just pass their lives for all eternity as not being part of the Consecrated Life of the Church, or not being valid, or whatever.  But thus far, that has not been the case.

As for being on the defensive as to living or not what others deem a proper and valid hermit life, that is "for the birds" if at all--and not for consecrated Catholic hermits.  It makes this nothing consecrated Catholic hermit very compassionate and even sad when it realizes some Catholic hermits feel a need to justify the way they are living out their daily lives.

Seems to this nothing here, that a good in reading about other Catholic hermits' lives is to know the depth and breadth of various life circumstances, phases, ways, and progressions by which Catholic hermits of all times and places--and currently--are living their consecrated eremitical lives.  

But it is not to judge them, or decide they are not living their lives "according to Hoyle" (according to some other Catholic hermit or non-hermit, or through the eyes of various individual priests or bishops or lay persons who have their own notions but not necessarily God's omniscience for each consecrated Catholic hermit living or dead.

From reading about other Catholic hermits' lives, we can be inspired.  We can also do the good-kind-of-judging (critical thinking skills) required to make personal decisions for our own self-adjustments in the way we may be currently living out our hermit lives.  Perhaps we read of a Catholic hermits (and these may be Catholic hermits who have fulfilled the stipulations for being in the Consecrated Life or if they have also fulfilled the CL603 stipulations) and how they are living, such as not living in solitude but living with another, or among others but not in a religious order.  We might conclude that would not be best for us.  Perhaps we desire solitude to a greater degree, or we are brought to it through life circumstances, bit by bit.  We can also be reminded to pray for our fellow hermits, and we might gain insights or even see areas for improvement.  (We might consider stretching that "strict-er" separation from the world to a greater degree or realizing we could praise God far more.)

But have those who judge as "wrong" those hermits who do not live in solitude, alone, considered how many hermits end their elder years?  Or what if debilitating illness is a hermit's trial?  It is quite feasible, for example, that this nothing consecrated Catholic hermit, with its chronic pain and increasingly serious pain sieges, may have to live with a family member at some point in future, or when elderly to a point of needing care-taking.  Many consecrated Catholic hermits have and will face that very dilemma.  So do they cease being consecrated Catholic hermits or deemed less valid or no longer consecrated through a lesser living out their vocation external circumstances?

We can think of many other examples as to why or why not we consecrated Catholic hermits may or may not be living our hermit lives according to what some may deem the "highest ideal"--whatever that might be--for a hermit's vocation.  To some, the highest ideal might be to others a negative extreme. What if a person is not "there" yet as far as being able to go without human conversation, or needs more daily activity among people than might other hermits?  

What if a hermit's financial circumstances are such that a change has occurred, and he or she needs to work part time or full time and the job available or to of which the hermit is capable is among many people or in highly interactive and noisy environment?  Do they then need to be removed as hermits?  Do they cease being part of the Consecrated Life of the Catholic Church?  Would any charitable or wise spiritual director (bishop or not) demand the hermit's withdrawal, or negate the consecrated vocation?  Would church law no longer recognize those who are CL603 hermits--with the bishop making a public statement to that effect?

What if a hermit goes along wearing a habit for awhile, approved by spiritual director (or a bishop), and then realizes it prohibits the degree of passing unnoticed or being hidden from the eyes of men--that the hermit and his or her director have determined to be best for that particular hermit?  What if the hermit decides to dress so as to blend in and not be noticed as different or be mistaken as a consecrated religious if not in the religious life?  And is it wrong for a hermit to wear a habit if and when no longer a part of the consecrated life of the church as a religious?  These aspects are determined by the hermit and his or her director, for there are always personal, individualized, and unique considerations to be made.  Not up to others to judge.

Again, no consecrated Catholic hermit is like another anymore than there are two fingerprints the same in the whole world or that have ever repeated throughout the history of mankind.

So let us not get on the defensive and feel a need to try to explain why we are living in this way or that.  For one thing, it places the emphasis on who we are to others and not who we are in His Real Presence.  

If it is a matter of describing our consecrated hermit lives in part to help us chronicle our phases and progression either as a help to ourselves or as a help to others who are discerning the vocation, then it can be a good thing to explain and describe the what's and why's.   But we should not feel a need due to insecurity or trying to prove to ourselves or to others--that we are living up to some hermit life expectations which in reality are what others--hermits or not--think a "valid" or "approved" consecrated Catholic hermit ought to be living.

And when we do come to those many turning points which punctuate a hermit's life and are actually quite good as passageways in the vocational pilgrimage, then we must not think less of others or of ourselves, if we have to make adjustments to the daily plan.  It is a joy when we can look back, however, at what we have written or can recall, and see progress.  And that progress might very much be progress in humility.  We can see humility in letting go of ourselves, too, and our own expectations of what we may have thought is the "valid" or "correct" way of Catholic hermit this or that.

And, consider that the changes which occur in the daily and monthly and yearly hermit life progressions, may only be temporary.  Or they may be permanent--as permanent as anything is, really, for only God is unchanging.  

God bless His Real Presence in us; and let us love one another as His children.  Remain in His Love, for when it is all said and done, He is All.

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