This nothing consecrated Catholic hermit has read numerous biographies of Catholic hermits--saints, mystics, male and female--covering the two millennia. Often, in the details, it is shared that the hermit had a helper. The helper would provide assistance now and then, or sometimes more as a caretaker, living in an adjoining cell or room. If a hermit priest, the helper would often assist at Mass as sacristan and altar server, celebrant being the hermit priest. Often there would be no others present.
It has crossed this hermit's mind now and then, the thought of a hermit helper. Why did not God provide a helper here--someone sharing the Catholic faith, with a sweet soul, loving God, and desirous of being a helper. So a few weeks ago the hermit cast the net again toward the local parish, which the hermit does about once a year. Not expecting a return call from message left on voicemail, a call did come but not from the office manager. No, it was a woman who was filling in and heard the message and realized the office manager had neglected to respond.
So the hermit explained to her that it is seeking a young person who might want a little job being a second pair of hands and an additional back to help the hermit with some lifting, carpentry, and whatever other tasks around this hermitage--bounteous tasks! (Of course, the hermit did not say "hermitage" nor explain any of its circumstances vocationally: not necessary then.) In the course of conversation, the woman realized she has a son, age 14, just out of middle school and might just enjoy this as a first job, learning some skills and working just 3 hours in the mornings with much leeway if something in his schedule comes up as well as leeway for the hermit due to the pain unpredictability. The mother said she'd call back in a day or two.
No call, so the hermit figured God was not going to put a fish in the net. But two weeks later, unexpectedly came the phone call in which the mother said yes, her son would like to try the job. We made arrangements to meet; that went well so we set a start date. On the first morning, the mother stayed the full time as she and her husband were being wisely careful, considering they really did not know much about the person their son would be working with. And it was providential that the mother stayed, as we needed help heaving up a couple of huge sheets of drywall, as well as carrying in several sheets of green board for drywalling a bathroom....
Then the mother recognized the hermit from the first summer the hermit was here and went to Mass a few times before persecutions began and the ecstatic state during Mass was registering within alarm with what was occurring during the Mass at the altar. Regardless, the mother recognized the hermit as that person who was relegated to the cry room, and seemed as if not aware during Mass--just silent and there.
So the hermit said it would lay out the situation, as we may as well get it over with, and then the parents could decide if they still wanted their son to be the helper here. And at that point, the hermit explained its vocation and a few aspects of mystic existence. Perhaps since we'd been working together for a couple or more hours when the recognition occurred, there was a sense of assurance and a rapport developed even in that short time. The mother asked questions, and she felt fine about her son returning.
The hermit and helper worked at various tasks. Soon the hermit was realizing that the hourly pay and what ever we accomplished (albeit slowly as the lad had no experience and the hermit only what it had learned through study, youtube videos, and observing men workers) was not the point of our efforts together. No, it has to do with the spiritual life, and what the hermit might impart of its life and what little it is learning of construction skills, and the helper would share his perspective and rather fine spiritual insights, as well as his everyday life.
Thus far we have hung green-board in the downstairs hermitage bathroom, leveled part of the floor in there, hung some drywall on the stairway wall, prepared the rest of the porch for completion, put some insulation in the crawlspace (about one-fourth of the effort completed thus far and messy, dirty job it is) and put most of the house wrap on the last two, short exterior walls needing yet to be sided.
Last Friday, the mother brought the father to meet the hermit. Yes, he, too, had some questions of the hermit's life and vocation as well as its being a Catholic mystic. So the hermit discussed and probably said even more than necessary, sharing a couple profound experiences and revealing some of the progression of its existence. The dad asked about having someone bring communion, for he, too, had recalled the hermit and seemed now to understand better the situation. This is an exile, and God knows what He is doing.
[So we shall see if the priest agrees, as another has asked with no success. The hermit prays for the priest, but accepts the exile as willed by God and its spiritual father, for a time. There is more to the situation at the parish, but it has been touched upon previously and no need to repeat.]
The mom, dad, and the hermit's young helper all left, seemingly all right with the hermit being a Catholic hermit mystic with the incumbent mystical experiences. That's just how it is for a mystic. One is born that way and nothing to be done about it but accept and offer oneself to God's will and way.
Over the weekend the hermit wondered if its helper would not be back. Not sure why the thought was brewing, but it seems as if most Catholics (priests included) have difficulty coping with that kind of reality in someone. The hermit used to never say a peep, not answer questions, but that did not work out well. Caused more misunderstandings, and made the hermit seem withdrawn and odd. For things would occur that others would see or experience, and the hermit would not or could not explain.
The result was a stoved-up hermit trying without success to live a double life, and people misunderstanding and then persecuting, shunning, gossiping, and making up untruths about the hermit. No, it drew more attention in the wrong way, to what is simply a mystic who is also a hermit.
A long-time friend called on the Fourth of July. We discussed the dilemma. "It has just come to a point," explained the hermit, "that leading a double life is not working. It did not work with its own children, it did not work in parishes, it is not working insofar as being fully open to God's utilization in its mission and vocation."
"So you are 'coming out'?" asked the friend, guffawing heartily.
"Well, yes--but only mostly to self and in the rare situation that it is necessary to 'clear the chickens off the street.' Just get it over with--just answer the questions and explain the situation, and not prolong the reaction, such as if these people decide to also judge and don't want their son working here. Just lay the cards out on the table, and let them decide, and be done with it."
Then the friend and the hermit discussed how the gay population and the transgender population are allowed to be as they are. If people persecute or bash, they are called out as bigots and can get law suits for bullying.... We reviewed the life of Glen Campbell who is stricken with Alzheimer's and deciding to come forward with his illness, to lay it out as it is, and perform for a final "goodbye tour" for as long as his mind could possibly do it. A documentary is now released, titled, I'll Be Me. His family was concerned that some concert attendees would laugh or ridicule the errors and confusion the great singer and guitarist would make with his memory issues--could be quite embarrassing. But people valued and had compassion for his contribution as well as his courage in being himself, in sharing his reality.
"Yeah," the hermit commented after we discussed these examples,"it just seems time to stop using so much energy in trying to be what am not and in trying to sublimate the spiritual and the mystical real self, and it is just not working. It is not working, We Catholics ought to grow in acceptance and maybe after centuries of mistreating them and feeling it necessary to interrogate and persecute people who happen to be mystics, and downright abuse them emotionally, mentally and sometimes physically. But not that they will ever stop. But it is worth a try to stop the judging and bullying."
The friend brought up how priests and bishops--and there are always those Catholics in the pews and religious life, as well--feel a need to take matters into their own hands and decide if someone is valid or not, especially when it comes to spiritual experiences that mystics tend to have without the asking nor expecting.
"Those who are deceived or are termed 'false mystics' will be sorted out by God. Those who are deceived or shamming do not really pose a problem to the Church or others; they are not given power to alter the Church or up-end Her. The genuine mystics will be sorted out by God, as well. They do not seek to alter the Church or up-end Her. They do not seek power. The only problem they pose is when they are given tasks by God to reveal what St. Paul terms 'blemishes' in the Church or in souls, including a mystic's own soul. Mystics tend to be very hard on themselves...."
This was agreed upon by the hermit and the hermit's long-time friend. Yes, those who are deceived by themselves or the devil, get sorted out by and by, by God. They unravel in due course. No one needs to wrought up about it, and certainly they nor genuine mystics need to be interrogated or mistreated any more than people who are gay or transgender or suffer from Alzheimer's!
Surprise, surprise--the hermit's helper showed up for work Monday morning. The hermit apologized to the mother for having doubted they would handle the hermit's spiritual reality, what is it's "affliction", odd that it may seem. The hermit had tested this couple, forced out the cards and also showed its own hand. This couple passed with flying colors. God is allowing the hermit this helper!
We really cannot be what we are not--and that includes trying not being what we are: how God made us. Sometimes we just have to lay it out in the open, in certain circumstances, and not be ashamed nor afraid of consequences, of criticism or judgment by others. Perhaps, too, there is a holy purpose in writing (for this weary mystic hermit: anonymously) of matters that can uplift others and inspire to more faith.
My, oh my, the hermit's young helper has a magnificent testimony to share of how his guardian angel saved him from a horrible, impending accident and revealed his name and gave a marvelous sign that would assure the lad that he had been visited by a heavenly messenger. Maybe we can get that written this summer and sent off to a publication, for others will be uplifted by his encounter....