Haven't written in awhile. Have been more silently living the hermit vocation in solitude and stillness. The hermit's young helper has continued to put in three hours' of work about four mornings a week. Hermit finances and the helper's school obligations provide a shift back to the hermit in total solitude other than occasional, perhaps, time the helper can work a couple hours from time to time.
Current spiritual reading include the daily lectio divina, the Scripture readings of Mass and meditative consideration. Also, the hermit is daily reading 2 Peter, finishing up a spiritual bouquet for a sibling's birthday--chapter a day of 1 and 2 Peter with reflections on various aspects of the sibling's life in Christ.
The young mother and the hermit are now reading four books on St. Gemma Galgani. We phone discuss once a week, across the miles. From the saint's diary, we each had the same reaction--kind of unsettling, some of Gemma's recording of what her angel, Jesus, and the Virgin Mary had to say to her. The wording and the way they dealt with her much as one would with a naughty and immature child, caused us to wonder if Gemma had some emotional issues.
We concluded that she may have, due to her close attachment to her mother who died when Gemma was quite young, as well as Gemma's longing to be able to go to heaven with her mother. However, we also discussed the reality that God interacts and speaks with us at whatever level of emotional, spiritual, maturity, and age we are, and in whatever ways is most effective to teach us and to guide us in virtues, especially faith.
This thought coincides with the hermit's other current reading, and this done with an elderly friend, again across the miles. We continue on with the sermons of Pseudo-Macarius. The current homily addresses how God gives us graces in varying amounts, types, and time periods of our lives. For some, there are few tangible showings of God, or there may be one experience early in life and then nothing. In those God desires for the soul to increase in faith over years and years. For others, God might grant tangible graces in abundance, spread out over life. God deals with us as He knows best, and how, when, where, and why the graces are deemed by Him as most effective according to His will--not ours.
Thus, St. Gemma Galgani, being a young girl and feeling such an emotional loss of her mother, needed more nurturing and more tangible graces, and the words used by her angel, Jesus, Mary, and Bl. Gabriel are as Gemma needed to hear them, so that they would make sense to her. Plus, we allow for a young person's interpretation of such conversations as well as the translation from Italian to English.
As for this hermit, it has learned over the years that it does not want to anticipate graces. No, this hermit prefers to be surprised by His Real Presence. Otherwise, if eager for or begging for or anticipating graces such as visions, locutions, or any of the daily miracles we all experience if we but see the coincidences, lessons, and benefits galore each day as graces--this hermit would doubt these if it had asked for them or anticipated them, or specifically desired them. God knows the hermit well. He knows each of us inside and out, and He deals with us according to His will and what is best.
Gemma was quite young when she wrote her diary and autobiography. This Catholic hermit and the young mother have the advantages of spiritual direction, spiritual reading, and are older than Gemma. We tempered or circumstances compared to Gemma's and do not need, should not need or beg of His Real Presence, a lot of tangible, spiritual experiences. As St. Paul writes (paraphrased), when we are young we need milk; when we are older we are able to eat meat.
To grow in faith, to have hope that is not seen, and to love His Real Presence, our angel, the Virgin Mary and all the saints, to love one another as Christ loves us--this is the daily living out of life in Christ. We can recognize the myriad graces we are given, all around us in the miraculous, simple, daily details. However, when we have true and deep need of special graces and encouragement, often Jesus will surprise us with a more tangible visit of some sort.
In the meantime, the young mother and I decided that we prefer being surprised by grace, and to not stand out or make requests of God that require manifestations that do take energy and effort, coming from the spiritual back into the temporal realm. We need to grow up, for we must cooperate with His Real Presence and all we have been taught by Him and the angels and the saints, by His Living Word in Scriptures, and through our being in the Body of Christ in Holy Mother Church.
On a temporal note, progress continues in manual labor efforts in renewing this old hermitage. Still no bathroom, but a tub is in one space and a shower base in another. The helper and the hermit have been hanging 1/2-inch concrete board for the shower surrounds. The hermit finished plumbing the hot and cold water lines, and there is but one task left to be done in the cramped crawlspace under the house: tie in the tub drain pipe to a p-trap, and that to the main drain.
There is less than a foot of space for the hermit to squeeze its body under beams and joists beneath the house. Yes, for that reason the hermit has put off this final plumbing task. But today or tomorrow, it must be done as the helper is needed to shove down on the pipes from above while the hermit glues and shoves up for the final fitting.
By the grace of God, we do what we do. By the grace of God, we breathe and think and move. By the grace of God, we have faith and hope. By the grace of God, we love. These are each and all, supernatural experiences, when we get down to the realities both temporal and spiritual--all very mysterious, all quite mystical. Is it not?
God bless His Real Presence in us!