A couple weeks ago, this nothing consecrated Catholic hermit received an email from a reporter of a major newspaper, well-known in another country as well as internationally. The reporter requested speaking with me via phone; she wished to interview for a story on this hermit and on hermit life.
So the following morning, the call came through. We spoke at length, and I answered questions that she had concerning the overview I had the night before written, per her request.
Personally, I had decided that true to my hermit life and vocation, as well as true to how the Lord chose this vocation for me and not my choosing it--I pointed out the differences between various hermit lifestyles yet today and historically. I also mentioned that I am as well a mystic, and that lends a slightly different slant to my vocation but does not alter the basics set forth by the Catholic Church as well as by the Orthodox--the East and the West.
I am sure there are certain eremite basics in other major religions besides Christian hermits. (However, there is not much variation in the basics of mystics; the main divergences in mystics would be the outflow and purpose of their love and desire. For Christians the Beloved is Jesus Christ, of course. And that in itself may be quite a distinct divergence in purpose and focus, but not so much in mystic existence, per se.)
I also mentioned that I keep my name, gender, and locale as anonymous as possible. While those with nothing better to do may spend time trying to figure out the externals, most all do not bother. It is my hope and prayer that what I write as a kind of case study is the interest and in wildest dreams perhaps an occasional inspiration-- from that of one unfolding of one hermit's life, and now including more the reality of being a mystic.
In discussing various aspects of hermit life and including the interjection of how my being a Christian mystic, as well, impacts in some ways my particular vocation, I later wrote that the mystic aspects for her purposes would not really keep to her purpose, of course. Thus, just the hermit life and how it is lived out, is what readers of a secular newspaper story most likely would find of interest.
To me, the more superficial externals have become "old hat." Yet, the bugaboo the reporter seemed to have was that her publication would want to use my name and have photos included. And, she realized that I maintain my hiddenness in the simple aspects of name, location, and gender anonymity. I proposed we use my pen name which lends to either gender.
And I could provide photos without risking my hiddenness, as it in a way then becomes a fictionalized version of just anyone, for no one I know would be reading the article for they have no interest to do so. (Protestants recognize the prophets of old, but they do not necessarily grasp that most of them if not all were religious solitaries, or hermits for a short time period or lifetime. And they do not recognize hermit vocations within their beliefs and church constructs.)
Since then, I never heard back and assume she located someone no opposed to giving actual name and location (and perhaps one who is not a mystic, also, as that may have triggered a red flag in her mind. I am finding that it certainly does with priests, usually, and also with parishioners.) Protestants, on that one, are not so bothered, for they do not have the knowledge base of those in Catholic heritage who were mystics. While Catholic mystics were often brutalized in one way or another when alive, they later were heralded in some form. I think this has in part to do with collective Catholic guilt at how horribly they treated the mystics when they were living, later to realize the person was not strange or a heretic in God's view, at least.
Well, the other consideration of which I am rather amused, is that I explained that I am not a canonically approved hermit, and sent the information on the differences between the recent addition of the canon law and what are set forth as guidelines for the eremitic vocation within the Consecrated Life of the Church. I emphasized that those publicly professed are approved by and overseen by their diocese bishops. The rest of us are privately professed and overseen by usually a priest or could be a bishop or abbot or even the Holy Spirit directly. (One would hope so for any human, that we are overseen by the Holy Spirit! Surely, we are if we desire and heed the inspirations, if we cooperate, as well.)
Am rather thankful and pleased that I've heard nothing more, as to me it was just more of the same old emphasis on externals of what some find to fulfill in curiosity, of why and how a person would live alone, how they might dress oddly or in a habit. Or, as I was asked by the reporter, how often do I see others, do I have a television, what do I eat, what is my hermitage like? There seem to be, already, plenty of articles online and in usually diocese newspapers about that kind of hermit stuff.
All this brought to mind a priest who had contacted me a couple or three years ago. He had retired and was entering into the hermit life. He had seen something online by me and found it helpful, and thus wanted to keep in touch. The next thing I knew, he was offering his advice and opinions (not able to let go his priestly counseling mode, perhaps), telling me if I did go to a parish, I should not speak nor be involved but just come and go and not let anyone know anything of my vocation.
So I wrote back that I have this mystical state during Mass, a textbook type ecstasy (even though there aren't many texts going into great detail other than one that the Lord let me know about, a very old book that described my condition in all aspects and over period of time--really, to a "t"). So it was not so easy to not pass unnoticed, however I did my best.
Well, with that bit of information, the priest hermit never responded again. This past summer I did a bit of research to find out what was his status more currently. Lo and behold, he has gone public with his hermit life, using his name, location, and whatever else of his identification in writing online and on other social media.
So much for his advice to me, I realized. I have become more hidden, remained anonymous other than the one or handful whose curiosity or whatever else it might be, got the best of them in order to try to satisfy their mental and emotional needs in that regard. The hermit priest has rather capitalized in a way, on his hermit aspirations and recent shift in vocation.
And that is fine, for him. It is not, for me. Yet, I am at the point of not sneaking around when it comes to being myself. To that, I recently mentioned to my adult daughter that what was not a problem at all to the typical parishioners and priests is the hermit vocation or designation. (Not that I brought it up to anyone as only a couple folks spoke to me, although I did tell the priest my vocation as why I would not be participating in some parish social activities--impacted also by my pain circumstances and finances).
No, it is not a hermit vocation that bothers Catholics. It is being a mystic that stirs and twists their thoughts and sensibilities. It is their reactions and negative actions that have in turn caused me to tend not to trust their words, actions, thoughts, and feelings. And that is not so good, not for me to react to their reactions.
And the more I consider it, the more I realize that if one's own church cannot cope with what and who one is in the inmost being that affects one's outer life as well, then there is something not quite right in that setting, group, and in our time period, for sure. Have we not learned from the likes of those burned at stakes or imprisoned, or tormented, or shut off, spurned, ridiculed, or shunned?
I consider that gays and lesbians are able to be "out", to be themselves; and no one dare do anything untoward nor speak against them. Same with Muslims--no turning on them nor committing what amounts to hate crimes of varying degrees and measures.
Well, to be unkind or to shun or persecute anyone would be unthinkable for Christian's! Certainly! We must laugh, however; for I actually have had signs of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from the ill-treatment at the hands of Catholic priests and parishioners, even in the shunning tactics of which we people can so easily tell ourselves that we are not doing anything wrong in that nonverbal negation of other human beings.
So, I am not going to sneak around as if I am bad or immoral or committing a wrong by being myself. I am a mystic, and I happen to be in the hermit vocation, privately professed in the Consecrated Life of the Catholic Church. I am above all a Christian, a Christian mystic, and if the Lord chooses to have something occur which is seen, I cannot help it. If as a result I am all the more orthodox in my hermit life, so be it, even if all the more needing to listen to the Lord and have my vocation unfold in His way and timing.
Regardless, the emails and phone call from the reporter brought a turning point resolve as well as evoked the reality of my stance of truth in disclosure of that which is not shameful. It is for others to determine their capabilities in the virtues or vices, particularly those vices of judging others, envy, more fear than faith, gossip, disparagement, and so forth. It is for me to do likewise but avoid situations in which others cannot cope with one who is different.
There is a reason why gays and lesbians tend to live in areas of like kind. There aren't enough extant mystics to do likewise; nor would a mystic desire that, especially not a mystic with a hermit vocation. Prefer to blend in, and I can--just not with Catholics in Mass and not that well in more than superficial, passing converse.
It is not as if I need to say what I am within or without, any more than gays and lesbians need to--right? However, there are conditions and circumstances in which who we are within pokes to the without, and thus we ought take courage and simply be and express our being without fear of recrimination or persecution. And if so, then one has really no options, anyway. We are what we are. Praise God for that, and...
God bless His Real Presence in us!