Yesterday, a couple from afar visited this nothing consecrated Catholic hermit. We had not seen each other for a couple of years and had not corresponded much--knowing we kept each other and families in our hearts of prayer.
While they were taking in the massive amount of work yet to be accomplished at Te Deum Hermitage, another person from afar called. Such a surprise--and the hermit is to call this person back, but first ascertained if there were any urgent prayer requests.
An email arrived last evening from the young wife and mother with whom the hermit is now reading, across the miles, four books regarding St. Gemma Galgani. When would be a good time to discuss the reading and other spiritual sharing?
Today the daughter called, needing to talk over some child-rearing issues and frustrations regarding her child. The hermit promised added prayers for the situation as well as mentioned that mother and son could also pray together to help the focus turn to cooperation and respect. Prayer silences, soothes, unites, and uplifts--always.
The Catholic hermit a bit ago sent an email to a hermit far away--one with whom once in a long while, there is inquiry as to how the eremitic vocation is faring for each.
Holy friendships are treasures in a hermit's life. These may be friends the hermit has known for years or not known in person, ever. They can be brief encounters, intermittent, or more in-depth--such as the holy friendships that include spiritual reading together, or occasional spiritual sharing and guidance emails or brief phone calls.
The encounters are not invasive or distracting. The contact need not be frequent or lengthy. The good is in being rooted in His Real Presence, in each party of the friendship striving to speak and to view and to encourage from the spiritual view, from what can be discerned from Scripture or other spiritual reading, that Jesus would desire or approve.
Holy friendships may also include non-temporal friendships. This hermit has developed a holy friendship with Pseudo-Macarius, for example, which traverses centuries--but that does not matter. The holy friendships very much include hermit mystics and hermit saints--alive in eternity of heaven and very much with this consecrated Catholic hermit, day and night.
The Three Persons in One God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit), the Blessed Mother, the apostles, saints, angels, priests, and fellow pilgrims in the Body of Christ--all are included in our holy friendships.
What is the hermit's responsibility as a holy friend? It is to love, to pray with and for, to be available to the occasional need to discuss or meet, one with another (and this in person, on phone, in correspondence, or in reading their words, meditating and contemplative their holiness being shared in a mystical way).
In holy friendships, there is an understanding and respect that each person keeps with one another. There is a responsibility to cherish privacy and also to be honest in thoughts shared. There is a consideration of not crossing boundaries of time and presence, always keeping in mind that a hermit's vocation is asterisked by silence of solitude, being hidden, living a life of prayer and praise and penance. And, a hermit must respect the others' vocations to married or single life, working in the world, rearing families, and other obligations requiring time and attention.
But always, holy friendships are about love of one another, in His Real Presence--no matter how brief the friendship or if in this life or transcending the ages.
Today this hermit has felt a let-down, of sorts, after the great joy of time spent with the two beloved friends. For one aspect of visitors, is that there is verbal conversation and aural, active listening involved. The bulk of the hermit's time is spent in silence and solitude; the transition to other is active, requiring energy expended--perhaps most pointedly in sensitive listening.
With every joy there can be also a sorrow, such as realizing the beauty of holy souls and the time shared together, and that we never know if that blessed opportunity will come again. In truly holy friendships, the effect of being together is as if never apart; and that effect does carry through in a sorrow turning again to joy when we grasp, then, that it doesn't matter if we personally are together again in this life.
Of holy friendships, there is the assurance that we will always be in each others' hearts of prayer, united in His Real Presence of our shared faith, hope, and love, in our eternal bond as souls within the Body of Christ.
God bless His Real Presence in us! Little children, let us love one another for God Is Love!