A short work and prayer break, this is, from painting and caulking exterior trim, porch ceiling--with the usual obstacles that come with a very old house, rather primitive in its simple construction over a century ago.
A peace flows with the lovely paint, and this consecrated Catholic hermit welcomes such peace as Jesus bequeaths. Incomparable peace to any imitations, from other sources, anywhere! Even though His peace is like much of the touches of grace and glimpsing of what peace is in heaven, we understand that it is that--a touch, usually. Yes, it passes all understanding. We love the peace of Christ no matter all else; and we realize it ebbs and flows while we are in our mortal forms, toiling and praying and living on this temporal earth.
It does take faith, courage, and perseverance in this life. For this hermit, it takes much of each, and then some. The path of an eremite is not so easy nor laid out plainly, nor is there another hermit whose life can be imitated, followed, adopted, reproduced Why? A consecrated Catholic hermit must follow Jesus, as do all of us Christians are to follow Jesus.
Sometimes the emotions, the thoughts, the temporal life experiences and situations, the spiritual life experience and situations all converge like branches reaching in, sometimes falling, sometimes snagging, as we traverse our narrow path. Sometimes, too, we need to do what is necessary to make the path yet narrower.
What this hermit has been silently discussing with the Lord, is that aspect of going on in faith, not knowing if what we are doing is as we should be doing according to His will. Plus, some aspects that involve reviewing visions, locutions, as well as the Living Word of God in the Scriptures, as well as guidance from a spiritual director, can seem to totally go against what one would think ought to be, according to the general stance of the many.
Faith comes in here, as well as courage and perseverance. When we list out the situations, the facts, the discerned experiences--sometimes one must proceed, persevere, in a way that runs contrary to what others think ought to be, or has been, based upon what they have known how it is done, or what is done, or what they have done, or what previous patterns or the norm suggests.
But hermits are not creatures of the norm. The vocation itself is so unique and individualized and by virtue of wisdom of the Church over the centuries, remains traditionally free of many rules and constraints and conditions. Yet in the few lines written in the institutes of the Church, there is a broad sweep inclusive of the spiritual realm, of the mystery, of faith and transcendence in prayer, in penance, in silence of solitude, in hiddenness and a path that leads each hermit where he or she knows not.
This morning while painting--and Jesus bequeathing His peace--it all seemed surreal, that the answer is so contrary to what most might judge or deem correct, appropriate, orthodox. And again, one must discern the good of what others judge and deem, for there is good in it--especially if the judge and deemer is one's spiritual father. But all the other judgments made from outside the hermit's inner life, are much like the old, flaky paint the hermit scraped off from under an eave in order to make it a clean surface so that the fresh paint will adhere and protect and make all things as new.
No matter what others might criticize, or assert, or doubt, or impugn--the ultimate next steps for a consecrated Catholic hermit involve stepping out in faith, courage, and perseverance in what has come within, in conversation with Christ, in review of the spiritual intimacies over the years--juxtaposed with the temporal and spiritual experiences and situations laid out, as well.
One must dare to take faith, to take it upon oneself as a shield, lift up the sword of courage, and march the path with perseverance. If nothing other makes sense, then chances are the soul must rise to a greater trust and acceptance of what the Lord has allowed. No one else knows--not totally--not anyone else but the soul and His Real Presence. There comes a time in the spiritual progression, in which one is called to walk uprightly along the narrow path that differs from what many others' paths may seem to entail.
When walking the narrow path, however, a follower of Jesus ought not be looking at what paths others take, nor try to peak over through brush or fencing or even stone walls. It will not ultimately change one's own narrow path even though others' paths might be judged by others as interesting, challenging, easy, wonderful, or disastrously wrong.
The hermit while painting and conversing with the Lord, was reminded of a fifth vision and locution, telling the hermit it does not belong to "that world". It was shown yet again: a parish, parishioners, a parish priest. It was reminded of being asked, "Why would you want that when you can have Me more directly now?"
And, that is what the hermit is going to now accept: Having His Real Presence more directly now. Obedience calls. Faith beckons to simply keep going. One never knows what is beyond the very next step, anyway. The Lord could provide a surprise turn of events!
God bless His Real Presence in us, little children! He asks us to remain as little children--humble, vulnerable, tender, trusting, dependent, and enthusiastic to see what is ahead, step by step.