Another inquiry comes regarding the daily life of a hermit.
This consecrated Catholic hermit--a nothing in God's All--has recently thought what a lousy hermit it is, indeed. Rarely do this, but noticed a couple of hermits out there, in cyberspace. One a man and perhaps another a man or maybe a female hermit, consecrated in the life of the Church as eremites.
They each wrote of their daily lives, of their schedules, their horarium. They listed the times they prayed, and one wrote that he prays "3.5 hours a day"--or was it 4.5 hours? (Do not recall exactly, but the particular of the .5 stuck in the thoughts.) The other mentioned getting up at night at a certain time to do a prayer vigil. The length of time was not given.
So this hermit began thinking about the brief time period, over 14 years ago, in which it had a daily schedule worked out in hours. This hermit has attempted mores structure off and on since then, but mostly off. Especially since landing in exile in this hermitage called Te Deum, an hourly schedule has not ever come up as even a remote practicality. The hermit has not ever, that it can recall, figured out or remembered how many hours a day it prays.
All it does know, with certainty, that it is not enough praying and could never be enough. For the praying can be of one sort or the other, or of many sorts. And the sort of praying has evolved over the years. Yes, at first this hermit wanted to do all "by the book"--until it found all the books about hermit life and by hermits, and of their lives, and that in the schedules of orders that house some religious also consecrated as eremites, all vary even if they have some commonalities, in generalized ways of going about what one might term "the daily life of a Catholic hermit."
Here at Te Deum Hermitage (even the name is only used now and then in this blog, and it is used with some humor because this is more a stable like the one Anne Catherine Emmerich grew up in and not much of a house, at least not finished off), there really is no room for an hourly schedule or horarium. No room in this inn for that. As for praying, who knows if the hermit is really praying or is praying with effectiveness or in any way approaching what God might consider good or excellent communication with Him.
There is no way to figure out the minutes or hours, even if the praying is good praying, even if it is not good praying, or praying at all by whatever standards or tests as to what is prayer and what is not.
The days and nights in this hermit's daily and nightly life, are always tumbling out or flowing out, depending upon the circumstances of what is happening in each moment. And there is no way to tell what is going to flow or tumble, or what will be the circumstances.
Point in fact, consider last Friday when around 2 or 3 in the afternoon, the hermit was lost in thought. (Is that prayer as the hermit loves God and thus are all thoughts conversations with Him, lost in Him in thought?) It was also busy digging and finding stones too large to be useful to the soil and very useful for some unfolding project with stones, even if to mark the ends of rows dug and soil crumbled and seeds planted.
Then it was weeding or some such effort, not sure what, and evidently mostly using the right arm, as it turns, out but was not conscious of that when lost in whatever is this interior hum of soundless, wordless and mostly imageless communication while working. Then it was digging and also scooping soil around and making mounded walls around wells around small fruit shrubs, so that water will better hold and water the roots in the heat and dry.
At some point in that time frame of that afternoon, for example, pain overwhelmed the hermit. It was as if the hermit was so lost to the temporal effects and the bodily signals, that it was stricken suddenly and had to make it into Te Deum, and get on the mattress on the floor. That was that.
And then the severe suffering took over and who knows what conversations with God, although there were many, probably, yet not so conscious nor timed. And there was distraction needed for the mind in order to manage the severe pain, and the body had to breathe barely as to breathe normally was too exquisitely painful. So thus was one day in the daily life of a consecrated Catholic hermit.
The hermit ate when it was able to walk and get to the refrigerator--ate an apple or some cheese; ate some other stuff--healthy, simple, all. Can't recall. Was the hermit thankful to God for the food? Surely so! Were their conscious prayers, verbal prayers? Don't know. Probably, or some kind of communicated gratitude within, for the hermit is silent verbally, other than a rare phone call. And the hermit drives rarely--has been how long? Ten or more days, is it, that Precious Blood (pick up truck) has been parked in back?
Night vigils. Well, can't really dignify them with such a title that others participate in, rising and dressing and walking to a chapel, or kneeling and making sure they pray an hour or two hours, with a clock or watch to make sure the offering being fulfilled. It is a marvelous and admirable practice: night vigils.
Just this morning in reading a homily of Pseudo-Macarius, he mentioned kneeling in prayer. Does this hermit kneel in prayer? No. It is usually on its back with knees lifted by a pillow, or on its left side as it can no longer recline on right side due to two shoulder surgeries. Physically, it could kneel, although not here as the floors are rough and unfinished, and kneeling puts added strain on the bad back after nearly 31 years since the life-altering injury.
But this hermit does wake up in the night. It wakes at whatever time God decides. No bells, no alarm clock. Never the same time; but it is always awakened by bodily pain. Thus, Jesus on the Cross is waking the hermit, or also St. Michael, giving it a poke with its fiery spear; and it prays and praises God, but for how long--who knows?
Usually then the hermit clicks on the laptop in the dark here by the mattress, and sees the time (mostly to note when medication is taken so as to not take more than allotted in a certain time frame for later when daylight). It then reads the daily Mass Scriptures, and this can be anytime from 1 a.m. to 5:30 a.m., as the pain alarum pings the hermit hard enough to awaken at any and various times. Nothing is ever struck by a clock here.
The hermit for awhile was praying the Divine Office--all the hours--but then sickness came of such a severe type this past winter, and then after that workers came and the hermit was needed to work with them. And then the daily Mass Scriptures and reading some spiritual homilies as well as some works of another 5th century holy person, provided added Scriptures to read and ponder, as well as clear insights.
(It is amazing how clear the insights came to those in the early centuries, when life could be simpler and not the technological distractions we have, nor the responsibilities of daily life in this century. For example, consider the time it took the hermit to sort and organize and figure out bills and receipts and tax forms--in a dwelling that has no organized order? The early hermits did not have these and other cultural and secular responsibilities, or when they did, they were easy enough to avoid or handle in a single action like Jesus saying to render the two coins unto Caesar...and all that is God's to God.)
Yesterday, this hermit is not sure what all it prayed or in what format other than it seems it is always now a very subtle, interior communicating. There have been no set verbal prayers for a long time, that it can remember--probably not since it was praying the Divine Office for awhile, seven times a day--and that never at specific times.
It cannot! This hermit cannot do or be certain things at certain times, or even consecutively, daily. Each day is as it is and unfolds, in His Real Presence in whatever present moments, and with whatever He determines (as the hermit is learning, painfully so, over and over). And that includes days in which the hermit has little rebellions and the mind is too tired to read some spiritual book or "think" much at all, or the body is not well enough to do manual labor and have its love of God and communication lifted into His Real Presence as if on the wings of a dove.
Then, when the hermit is too pained or weary to do or be what probably most would think a hermit ought to be in order to be a respectable, impressive, or holy hermit--this hermit has been known lately to watch some Youtube video of a some talented person and listen to music, or even watch a lulling British mystery, enjoying the gorgeous, green countrysides and dozing a bit to the soft and lilting British accents--and very much appreciating that justice is always meted out in the end. The wrongs are righted. Judgment Day comes to all humanity.
So lately, especially after noticing how this hermit's good intentions of and initial or on-going attempts at more righteous and holy daily schedules always tend to disintegrate by some present moment reaching-in to change it, or that the interior touch of God and intimacy with Him extends on and on beyond time frames if there were any--it just seems all right, somehow, to trust that His Real Presence is carrying the hermit through the days and the nights.
This is the daily life of one consecrated Catholic hermit, anyway, for now. And now, this hermit will stop what has been several hours of pondering Scriptures and writing about the insights in some correspondence, and has simmered some beets and eaten them with gratitude, and has rested a long time. Time to head outside and try to stretch the body and do a few tasks without straining the already strained Rhomboid muscles. And keep on with what has become mostly always very interior and deep communication, often with thought flashes and sometimes without thought at all--or most of the thought nothing one could pin down in words.
So all in all, considering what this hermit shares of its daily life, no wonder this hermit has thought since comparing itself with what seem very good and holy hermits, it is not really a good hermit nor a responsible hermit, nor one to emulate, for sure. Other than if there is any aspect that seems all right, such as the praying and loving and going with God's flow. (Honestly, none of us humans get the upper hand for long in going with our own flow, do we?)
Pray always, and seek and love God always, and be always available to His Real Presence and whatever He wills. That is about how it sums up here. Even the gently lowing tones of some distraction of scenery and people communicating their lives as fictional characters, is prayer, for the hermit's mind, heart, and soul are often not too much conscious of much else than of its Desired His Real Presence. It has all become very simple, and it can be up to others to judge, if they want, if this is what they deem a hermit's daily life ought to be or not.
Somehow it all seems very good, and sweet, and intimate with His Real Presence. Although that could be some kind of deception, couldn't it? Pseudo-Dionysius defines evil as simply the absence or lacking of some degree of good. Surely in a hermit's daily life, there is always room for more and more good. But this hermit has found that scheduling it does not necessarily assure it and usually not, for the present moments belong to His Real Presence, and we just never know that much in advance if at all, to what good we may be called in the present moments of our daily lives--hermits or not.
[Later, been out scattering slug killer and still very, very tired and sluggish with pain. But was thinking how wonderful the freedom to just be--to be in the present moment even when it comes to sharing the variations in the daily life. Watching news clips became distracting and unnecessary for a quick glance of headlines gives calamities enough, if the reminders are helpful. But how odd that this hermit has viewed British mysteries after years of no interest in such, no fiction reading--yes, years and years, prior to being a hermit by a decade. But some how, recently, when the pain is too intense, that genre and visual and bit of accent, is helpful with pain management, as is the music. Odd, perhaps. Not at all what this hermit would think a good way for a hermit to pass God's gift of time...other than have figured some of it is the justice in the end, the righting of wrongs, as well as the fictional aspect of distraction more distant than the actual "world" of tragedies and calamities and politics, for those often enough do not end in an hour nor ever, sometimes, in earth justice even though there will be Divine Justice. Well, these were some thoughts while moving the body out there--plus the thought of praying for those who have been kind to this soul through out the years and also those now--so very many people are so very kind to this hermit! Has this hermit been kind, in kind?]