Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Catholic Hermits: What Gives?

Yes, what gives?  Who do we really think we are?

This nothing consecrated Catholic hermit noticed and read the writings of a person who listed its own credentials and authority, evidently by virtue of a degree in canon law.  The writer wrote in authoritative mode about Catholic hermits even though the person is not a consecrated Catholic hermit, not a Catholic cleric or prelate; but the person is legitimately in another state of consecrated life in the Catholic Church.  

But many of us Catholic hermits are familiar with those who are in the various states of consecrated Catholic life, as well knowing other consecrated Catholic hermits who have professed their evangelical counsels--some publicly per CL603, and all who have professed them per the institutes of the Catholic Church.  All of these professed eremites are living their consecrated Catholic hermit lives to varying degrees.

What is so amazing is that a small few of people in consecrated life of the Catholic Church, take it upon themselves to write created stipulations and also pass judgment upon who they determine is valid and who is not. It has become sadly hilarious lately, the statements of a couple of these persons, written as if by authority.  A handful of these self-pronounced authorities lend written credibility to one another, back and forth.  Of course, we all realize that friends easily build up one another, but it boils down to personal proclivity and opinion among those of like views.

As to what gives with hermits, one of the persons states (with self-presumed authority) certain ways in which some Catholic hermits live their lives should be legitimate grounds to disqualify, invalidate, preclude them from actually being credible Catholic hermits.  And, in fact, the hermits who are adjudged--by the one who has somehow taken upon itself a presumed mantle as authoritative adjudicator--include also hermits who have professed the evangelical counsels per canon law and are recognized by church law, and their vows received by their diocesan bishop.

So again, what gives?  What are the supposed traits, lifestyles of these adjudged-flagrant Catholic hermits that this person deems would disqualify them from being valid and credible consecrated hermits--even to the point that they should be corrected, disavowed, removed, etc. by his or her bishop from this consecrated state of life as an eremite?

The disqualifying factors include (but by no means limited to, according to the person's estimations) the stipulation that of the hermit's working full time, notably with jobs that are interactive with people.  In fact, any work engaged in by a consecrated hermit that involves interaction with numerous people (according to this self-presumed authority who is not a hermit) obviously advertises that their lives are not being lived--somewhat or predominantly--in silence and solitude. Another aspect that this person states as necessary for living a proper, consecrated Catholic hermit life is to live alone.

And, perhaps some of the person's stipulations do seem reasonable enough, given what is written in Church documents on the institutes per eremitical life in the Church, or also by reflecting upon hermit tradition.  But the fact remains that no such specific listing or parameters of consecrated Catholic hermit life are specified in writing by the Church.  It should be unnecessary to do so, for what is so difficult about understanding the meaning "stricter separation from the world," to be "hidden from the eyes of men," to live a life of "praise of God" in "assiduous prayer and penance," and in "silence and solitude"?  

Stricter, separation, silence, solitude, assiduous, praise, prayer, penance, hidden--each of these words carry with them accessible dictionary definition, synonym, antonym, root word meaning, variations, and use in context with applied meaning.

CL603 hermits who would be, in these persons' self-presumed, esteemed and  credible estimation: not living a valid, proper, credible consecrated Catholic hermit life.  (And some of us, whether or not by Church-granted authority, might jump into the judging and agree.)  As a result, ironically, according to the person writing the specifics as to how a valid, credible, proper, consecrated Catholic hermit ought to live his or her daily life, the young writer-judge effectively invalidates by its own stipulations upon Catholic hermit lifestyle, that its own friend, a consecrated Catholic hermit, would consequentially not be living a proper, consecrated Catholic hermit life and thus ought to be remanded and removed by that hermit's archbishop.  

Why?  Too involved with people, an employee of an entity that has high numbers of people-interaction, is too involved in various external activities, goes out and about with many friends.  

Accordingly, in another example in another diocese, the CL603 hermit would, by the person's stipulations, be disqualified due to living in the family home with the hermit's parents.  (In this instance, other factors presumed by the person to be incongruous for proper hermit life, would include length of time a bishop knows the hermit candidate, the length of time the hermit candidate discerned and practiced the eremitical life prior to professing the counsels publicly, in addition to limited life experience (e.g. young age).

Another example of a hermit who would not live up to the created stipulations is a recently confirmed Catholic whose bishop suggested a Catholic enter consecrated life as a hermit in his diocese.  The person did so.  The bishop received the professed evangelical counsels, the person is recognized by church law, and presumably the archbishop is directing the hermit's proper plan of daily life.  

But putting the standards to actual case, the online-writing, non-hermit presuming to be an authority on the subject of these and other conditions for hermit life--would need to disqualify also this one, too.  This now approved-by-law, consecrated Catholic hermit (per CL603) would not be judged as living a proper hermit life and ought be withdrawn by the same bishop.  In this case, the consecrated Catholic hermit is employed as full-time chaplain at a highly populated college and is actively involved in that on-campus capacity, interacting with hundreds of students, daily.  

Another approved hermit in yet another diocese chooses not to participate in daily Mass.  (It is not known if the person attends Sunday liturgy.)  This has nothing to do with distance to the nearest parish nor with health considerations.  This particular Catholic hermit (who had been living a solitary, consecrated, eremitical life for several years prior to making the profession publicly per CL603 into the hands of the diocesan bishop) explains the reason, in an interview.   The now-publicly professed, consecrated Catholic hermit found it to be more intimate with God, more hidden, and more in keeping with what is spiritually meaningful in the hermit's personal situation and yet to be in union with the Church--by meditating upon the daily Mass Scriptures in solitude in the hermitage, as had been the hermit's practice for several years. The presumptions of one of the hermit-judges would put the validity of this approved Catholic hermit's program of life  in doubt, as well....

And yet there is another current example that ought to confound those presuming to be hermit judges and self-proclaimed determiners of what makes a hermit's life valid and who is valid or not.  This case example involves a hermit who happens to be a priest of many years.  He discerned the eremitical vocation over time and began living the hermit life in retirement.  He considers himself a priest who has a hermit vocation.  At times he is called upon to fill in at parishes, even long-term.  But according to created stipulations by the one self-presumed authority on such matters regarding hermit life, this priest who is living the hermit life, would not qualify, either.  

Should he, also, be remanded and withdrawn as a hermit, and by whom?  He is not living in the diocese of which he had been ordained a priest, many years ago.  Would his legitimate bishop of his diocese of record be the one to do so, or would the bishop of the diocese in which he has his hermitage be the one to disqualify him as a Catholic hermit?  For, the problem with this one would be, according to the self-authorized judge of hermits' stipulations of what is or is not a valid hermit lifestyle is that the priest was asked to step in as priest in a parish for an undesignated period of time.  That would be too much interaction with people, a full-time job--but maybe the judges would determine he was never a valid Catholic hermit to begin with?

So we hopefully can begin to see just how picayune, mind-boggling, distracting, pathetic, dizzy-busy-bodying and approaching scandalous, are the endeavors and outcomes of such negative and wrongly judgmental, Catholic hermit-hunts.  

What are the judges accomplishing in taking it upon themselves to be authorities--not just writing out conditions and specifications which can be a good exercise if done for their own consecrated life reminders, but in doing so with the intent and purpose of determining who is valid or not, who should be withdrawn from the vocation by his or her bishop, who is or is not credible or living the life of a consecrated Catholic hermit according to these very persons' own judgments--based a whole lot on personal opinions, not fact.

What if we fall into this category of Catholic stalkers and hunters, trappers and determiners of who is or is not, this or that, according to varied interpretations of documents and laws and by inventing stipulations if not finding the desired tidbit in the Church documents and laws?  Who do we think we are, effectively thus castigating that which various bishops and archbishops have interpreted and determined best for the consecrated Catholic hermits in their own dioceses and archdioceses?  What business is it of anyone else other than the hermit him-or herself and his or her bishop, superior, director and God?

What gives?  Seems to be a lack of wise discretion that gives... and maybe a load-full of self-pride and vainglory.  Or, perhaps we need to get back to the drawing board.  Do the bishops and archbishops, the cardinals, and the Pope need to agree upon and set forth in a detailed, written Church document what constitutes credible and licit plans of life for any number of various and possible situations by which Catholics who receive a call to hermit life and profess the counsels according to the eremitical consecrated life in the Church (not always per CL603)--to live their daily hermit lives?   

Yes, perhaps they should express the details in writing or make yet more laws that can somehow be indisputable and no possibility of tweaked interpretations.  This might at least cause some hesitation in those who are not actual authorities nor qualified, or who are out of the bounds of their own vocations, from the temptation to publicly state by their own notions who is or is not living a proper plan of consecrated, Catholic, hermit life--or who is or is not a valid consecrated Catholic hermit.  But perhaps not.  There seems to be something too-tempting-to-resist in Catholics--human beings at our fallible best--in wanting to make something other or in addition to:  written words, set laws.

Just in the few, actual scenarios shared above, the hermits' daily lives vary considerably.  True, there seems to be broad interpretations of "stricter" separation from the world, "hidden" from the eyes of men, in "silence and solitude".  But, after all, the consecrated Catholic hermit vocation is one of degrees and progression; and it is quite individualized. Canon law itself notes which of the several states or forms of consecrated life has more form and structure in certain instances and those others which are more uniquely and individually implemented. 

Part of the beauty and charity in the Catholic Church--we would hope and pray--is that of encouraging Catholics who receive calls to enter any of the various states of the consecrated life:  hermit, virgin/widow, religious (does require some set and formal stipulations), secular institutes, and societies of apostolic life.

Do we exhibit a spirit of charity and encouragement for more vocations--or do we succumb to a type of witch-hunt by a handful who have placed themselves as the keepers of what they have determined as proper and valid in consecrated Catholic life beyond even who and what bishops and archbishops have accepted and approved?  

Yes, what gives?  Why the nastiness in forums by one particular fistula of a self-presumed and pernicious few who set their minds and energies to attacking and trying to negate their fellow Catholics who are entering or are already professed in the Consecrated Life of the Church?  What are the intent and purpose of this actually small amount of diseased behavior? Perhaps they sincerely believe they are called by the Church or by God, or both, to keep pure--in their own views and their interpretation of law--the centuries-old Catholic hermit vocation.  

The love of Christ and the Body of Christ surely can rise above this most unkind and questionable behavior.  This nothing consecrated Catholic hermit here, has received emails by several who report the Pharisaical fistula has been on the hunt and attack of many others, going back not quite a decade.  The sad facts are evidenced on various forums-- others being attacked and harassed, not just those who are Catholic hermits but also those in other states of consecrated life of the Church who end up in their dragnet.  

Let us pray for those discouraged and detracted by these few who are seemingly scour the consecrated Catholic ranks like a posse ridding the Wild West of bandits.  Their passion seems to be that of trying, judging, and passing their own sentences upon those who are trying to humbly--and joyfully--live their consecrated Catholic hermit lives as deemed appropriate by their local ordinaries, superiors, and/or directors.  And not the least of all, the quiet, humble consecrated Catholics are hoping to faithfully, lovingly live their lives by, through, with, and in the Heart of His Real Presence.

God have mercy on all of us.

So what gives?  He is All.  We are nothing.  Another good question to ask, is:  What are the soul-effects of a blogpost with temporal externals such as this one, compared to that such as the previous post:  filled with holy insights, Godly wisdom, and spiritual truth?  Where do any of us want our bodies, minds, hearts and spirits to be:  now and in eternity? (That is perhaps a best question to ask ourselves.)

God bless His Real Presence in us!  Little children, let us remain in His Love.

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