The role, reality, and symbol of the soul as Tabernacle extends and ripens to fruition for a consecrated Catholic hermit. In addition to the soul as Tabernacle, the hermitage represents a type of tabernacle in its form and function; and the very vocation of a hermit is that of living within the enclosure of vocational tabernacle both in the temporal aspects and in the spiritual elements.
The soul as Tabernacle is long-appreciated as such. Wherein, within, our very souls reside the will and the intellect functioning centrally, and in which the very mystical power of His Real Presence pours out graces, anointing the soul as Tabernacle, the abode of God in the soul.
The relationship of soul in God, soul as Tabernacle, is key in grasping what entails a soul, implanted by God: the will and the intellect. Consider these spiritual aspects while also imaging the hermit vocation and hermitage as a more functional "type" as tabernacle. For, all aspects both temporal and spiritual have elements and realities that are lived out within the soul as Tabernacle and the vocation and hermitage as tabernacle.
[I capitalize Tabernacle as relating to soul, as God's abode within the soul, compared to the more tangible, temporal lower-case tabernacle representing the hermit vocation and the hermitage as tabernacle, while each type, of course, are or should be, inhabited by the soul and His Real Presence mystically, spiritually and temporally, tangibly. And, on earth there may be a tangible, literal tabernacle with a consecrated host, situated in some hermitages. However, we can grasp by the enactment of the Holy Spirit, that this lovely item called on earth a "tabernacle", despite the miracle of His Real Presence being within a tangible host, is not necessary for a hermit or soul of other vocation. The soul as Tabernacle is key to eventual Divine Union, and thus only by the Holy Spirit's actions on the soul assures Divine Union--mystical actions which supersedes, so to speak, the necessary temporal presence of a literal Tabernacle with consecrated Host--wondrous as that is, of course.]
So within the soul Tabernacle abides His Real Presence: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And within the soul Tabernacle abides our will and intellect in the center-most portion, in position for Divine union. The soul also contains elements or aspects that range out in position from the center of the soul: understanding, memory, imagination (capacity for images), emotion, and then in outermost position--the senses.
Each layer emanating outward from the soul Tabernacle grow farther from His Real Presence as Source of Energy and Beingness until those aspects help coordinate and integrate with the body, such as emotion and senses.
Conversely, from the outer rings of the soul Tabernacle, are the senses linked with and from the body, then the emotions, and in gradation the various aspects that increase in spiritual intensity toward the center of His Real Presence, culminating with our will and intellect in primal position for eventual Divine Union.
Why this is important to share at this point, is due to the consideration of the will--our will and the Divine Will. Also, for a consecrated Catholic hermit, one can grasp the spiritual-temporal linkages with the hermit vocation, vis a vis the function of a hermitage itself as type for tabernacle. Yet for souls in any vocation, the understanding of the soul as Tabernacle yields spiritual progress.
The hermit vocation, not only the spiritual aspects but the daily existence and actions within and without of the hermit, provides links in the transition from bodily externals to the soul's Tabernacle. The senses merge into the emotions/heart; these flow into imagination (capacity for image, vision, dream, locution). These in turn enhance and evolve into memory (linkage of external to interior life) which then magnify understanding (ability to relate what God ordains).
From within to without, and without to within--from the mystical, spiritual center of the soul to the thoughts and actions relative and interactive for and with the outer world, the soul's Tabernacle and all aspects relative to it, are in kinesthetic motion: inflowing and outflowing.
The hermitage as tabernacle "type" offers the example of the soul as God's abode. We have a cave, a hut, an apartment, a cell, a farmhouse--a tangible, physical dwelling place to shield us from the elements, from intrusions of all types, much as the senses and emotions are a buffer between the outer realms and the inner sanctum of the soul where will, intellect and His Real Presence are most intimately sublime.
Within the hermitage as tabernacle, whatever represents and imbues the spiritual and the soul Tabernacle, enhances the hermitage. The external evidence may be sensory--charm, simplicity, serenity, natural elements, aura of holiness, and even signs of the trials of physical labor and hardship--all emanate from a temporal, tabernacle "place" that transcends structure in spiritual under- and overtones.
[At this point, I don't think there need be more written description of how it is that the hermitage itself, and the hermit's vocation, represents, embodies a type of tabernacle. The reader (whether or not a consecrated religious of hermit vocation) can ponder individually, the marvelous aspects of the relationship of our outer and inner temporal and spiritual existences and functions as tabernacle and Tabernacle. We also can gain insights as to what aspects can be heightened for maximum benefit in the body, mind, heart and spirit's desire for Divine Union, to be fully united with God.]
From without to within and within to without, each detail and aspect plays a role and function as tabernacle, culminating in the Tabernacle of the soul being a type of heaven in which our will becomes the Divine Will, and our intellect becomes God's Mind, Holy Wisdom.
These considerations seem necessary for considering how it is that the innermost part of the soul must be converted, or expunged and replaced, from our will to God's will. It seems that God's operative powers must effect the transition upon the will first, for the intellect is informed and motivated by the will.
For the Tabernacle to become one with God as one Abode through, with, and in Him, a first enactment occurs at some point in the life of the soul--earthly or otherwise. As Jesus explained to His disciples, the will must die like the seed that falls to the ground, crushed, buried, before it grows into new life: the will resurrected in God's will, new, as Divine Will. The Tabernacle sanctified by and in Divine Union of the soul into God.
A consecrated hermit may further consider these aspects in conjunction with his or her own hermitage and all functions and aspects of his or her individual daily life in context of hermit vocation. The externals, while generated from within the central most elements of the soul Tabernacle, can be effected to greater or lesser benefit by the hermit's external functioning. It is all worth pondering, these linkages, and of hermit as Tabernacle and tabernacle, in progression toward union with God.