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cmaD2006
Hi Phamily:

So ... can someone define what is a hermit? Do they primarily stick to themselves? What do they do in order to live (do they hold jobs, or do some type of craft)?

I'm just trying to get a better sense of how the vocation is lived out. I have read a bit about hermits but I never got a clear concept of them.

Thanks in advance.

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nunsense
[quote name='cmariadiaz' date='18 September 2009 - 05:10 PM' timestamp='1253250600' post='1968484']
Hi Phamily:

So ... can someone define what is a hermit? Do they primarily stick to themselves? What do they do in order to live (do they hold jobs, or do some type of craft)?

I'm just trying to get a better sense of how the vocation is lived out. I have read a bit about hermits but I never got a clear concept of them.

Thanks in advance.
[/quote]

I am sure that Gemma or someone will post the legal definition of a hermit in the Church, so I will just talk about my own personal experience of living with a laura of hermits and how I understand the hermit vocation.

Of course there are different types of hermits, and one of the emerging vocations seems to be the Diocesan hermit, who lives on their own, taking vows under the Bishop of their diocese. Usually hermits try to earn their income in some way that reduces the amount of interaction they need to have with other people, but I have heard of some hermit sisters who live in community and teach in a local town. Necessity doesn't always allow the perfect conditions.

The Hermits of Bethlehem live in individual hermitages on a large property, and come together in the morning for Mass. They pick up their breakfast at that time, and their other meals around 1pm, but they eat all meals in private except for Sunday dinner, which they have together. They come together for Saturday Vespers and for recreation on Sunday evenings. These are the only times they come together as a community, but they do interact occasionally with each other during the day if they have some work to do which requires this. For example, I would wash the dishes (that were used for cooking) in the afternoon, and sometimes I would encounter a sister or brother doing some other work around the place. We didn't stop and chat but we didn't pretend not to see each other either! We would smile and nod and just do our own work and if we had to ask one another a question, we just did so naturally.

Hermits are not "cloistered" as are Carmelites, and sometimes one or another of the hermits would leave the property to pick up something at a store, but the whole focus was on solitude, silence and prayer. I went once with another sister to pick up day old bakery goods that the local store gave us for free. And twice we went to visit Father Romano in hospital when he took sick. During these times, we would talk normally and interact with others in the world naturally.

We each had the Blessed Sacrament reserved in our hermitage, and we would pray all the LOH and do lectio divina privately. We had a study time together once a week and also private spiritual direction. I did miss praying the Office in community, but I enjoyed having the Blessed Sacrament for myself alone during prayer! :love:

The life of a hermit is a particular vocation, and one living in a laura experiences something different than one who is living alone in a Diocese, I am sure. The Diocesan hermit would also have a special vocation to pray for the Archbishop, Bishops, priests etc of their diocese. There is a sister who posts on here, who is a diocesan hermit, and she may write something for you. Some hermits consider the internet to be a tool, or a good way to earn a living without going out into the world, others might consider it to be a distraction. The Hermits of Bethlehem did not have access to the internet but Father's secretary used it for business. I think whether or not a hermit uses it might depend on how much of a distraction they found it to their prayer life.

--- Sorry, I just wanted to add a couple of things. A person who wants to be a hermit should like to spend a lot of time alone! Some people get energized from being with other people, while some people get their energy from their "alone time". If you feel a great need to interact with other people, then the hermit life is not for you. It isn't about loving prayer - everyone should love prayer - but about whether you feel called to love and serve God as a solitary or in some form of community! I have a hermit heart in many ways, but I missed being in community very much. So, although I [u]could [/u]live as a hermit, I don't feel it is what God is calling me to -- He has given me an affinity for religious life in common with others, but not necessarily alone. This can be a conflict I guess, but the thing is to trust the direction that one is being led by the Holy Spirit.

Anyway, hope this helps a little. Edited by nunsense

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Gemma
[quote name='cmariadiaz' date='18 September 2009 - 02:10 AM' timestamp='1253250600' post='1968484']
Hi Phamily:

So ... can someone define what is a hermit? Do they primarily stick to themselves? What do they do in order to live (do they hold jobs, or do some type of craft)?

I'm just trying to get a better sense of how the vocation is lived out. I have read a bit about hermits but I never got a clear concept of them.

Thanks in advance.
[/quote]

I am working on a website that will expand the eremitical information I have on the present Cloister Outreach site, as information about the vocation keeps bubbling to the surface, so to say.

First and foremost, the CCC mentions hermit as one of the vocations available to discerners. I consider myself a lay hermit, and the consecrates really get up in arms about my saying that, but I'm not the only one (lay hermit) and there are more layfolk discerning this as a vocation-within-a-vocation. Hence the reason for the Lay Cloisterites, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Secondly, Canon 603 specifically mentions hermits, virgins, widows and widowers. There is a rite for Consecrated Virgin which was reinstated after centuries (decades?) of suppression, as was the Order of Hermits. There is no specific rite for the consecration of widows & widowers, and such would have to be through a charism. I have also received many inquiries from virgin males wanting the same consecration, but according to a canonist, a charism would have to be developed to offer such a route.

Each hermit is their own charism, unless its a situation like our Cloisterite Hermits. Each eremitical candidate writes their own Plan of Life, designs a habit, lives the plan of life for a year, and spends one day totally inside with their habit, not being seen through windows, doors, or webcam. The purpose of this one day a week inside is to finalize the habit, because once the bishop signs off on the plan of life, it's "carved in stone." Orans (right moniiker?) here on PM is a hermit in temporary vows, and they can likely provide more details as to what they did. I know Sr. Laurel, erem. dio., did something other than what I described.

Please note: the method of discernment I have described above is what we were told by our hermit-canonist, as this is what her SD told her to do. Other diocesan hermit candidates may be told differently by their spiritual directors, and their SD is the one to follow, not me.

Typically, a laura would be a group of diocesan hermits living together on the same acreage. They would have their own plans of life, and the place would be filled with different habits. In such a situation, the group would have to agree to commonalities, like Mass time. Other lauras are emerging which have a particular spirituality. There are two Carmelite lauras that I know of--one for men (TX), the other for women. Then there's the Hermit Sisters of Mary in Idaho, and the Hermits of Bethlehem in PA. Nazareth Hermitage is in MO, but I'm not sure as to their spirituality.

Remunerative work is whatever fits the hermit's needs. Our hermit-canonist works for the diocese in a paid position, but does her work mostly by internet (I think). She did travel an hour north of her convent to meet with me regarding the Cloisterites, so I know she does travel. She also went to the Eucharistic Congress and on retreat.

Speaking of retreat, that and vacation are to be written into the Plan of Life.

Alas, I digress. Remunerative work, like I said, is whatever fits the hermit's needs. If they have to work for four hours a day at Staples to make ends meet, then they will. (A bit of a stretch there, but I think you get my drift).

Internet--that's based on the hermit's needs, also. The Hermit Sisters of Mary don't respond to prayer requests sent through email. I think the mere clicking of the keys is disruptive to their profound silence. One hermitess emailed me regarding a cloister website she saw on our main site, and asked if she could contact the nuns to see if she could produce something similar. She was hoping that a website would help her make a living by selling her crafts.

HTH.

Blessings,
Gemma

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Gemma
Post-nomial initials: "erem. dio." is what's used. If a hermit has a non-profit organization, they can use the initials for that. One Carmelite uses "OCDH".

Blessings,
Gemma

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Orans
[quote]... the Church recognizes the eremitic or anchoritic life by which the Christian faithful devote their life to the praise of God and the salvation of the world through a stricter withdrawal from the world, the silence of solitude, and assiduous prayer and penance. CCC #603 .1[/quote]

This is what the Code of Canon Law defines as eremitic life.

And this is my understanding/experience of it,

- [b]a life fully dedicated to God: [/b]this is a call, a Vocation to leave everything behind and dedicate oneself to God

- [b]stricter separation from the world:[/b] stricter than Religious life, which is what the context is about and also the words at the beginning of the sentence.

- [b]the silence of solitude:[/b] this is an expression originated from the Carthusians and is very rich in meaning. It's not just about living alone but about a silence which allows for the deep listening to the Spirit, which speaks in silence -as John of the Cross has it.

- [b]assiduous prayer:[/b] there is no way of living a healthy live of solitude and penance without a passion for prayer.

- [b]penance:[/b] not just simple life but a life embracing self sacrifice.

You need a passion for God and a passion for prayer to live the eremitic life. Everything else is secondary, including the recognition or not by your bishop, a habit or not, etc. etc.

With these in your heart you have only to find your corner and start living it out. Totally for God and with God. You need to live the life to know what it is about. And it is not about setting a schedule and sticking to it for the rest of your days. It is much more about the humble surrender of yourself and your life to God in the here and now, and the faithful docility to the Spirit who will lead you to where you would not choose to go on your own ... it is about growing into the vocation, always challenging, always new.

As for how do you support yourself, the very first thing is that you start simplifying your life, but truly !! In our comsumeristic society we hardly know how to live simple. Look at people who are really poor and you will see. I think the hermit is called to show that simplicity in action, and also the joy of living with no other asset than God. Once you start walking in this direction it seems that God is bound to do God's part of this partnership. It works! [img]http://www.phatmass.com/phorum/public/style_emoticons/default/wink.gif[/img]

There is a very good Guidebook for the Vocation to the Eremitic Life written a few years ago by
Sister Marlene Weisenbeck, FSPA, when Vicar for Religious of the Diocese of La Crosse, Wisconsin. This book was available for years in the diocesan website -I've heard it is in the process of up-date now. When I started the steps into the eremitic vocation the Vicar for Religious of my archdiocese at the time gave me this book to help with the discernment. If you are interested you can contact me and will try to help you get hold of it.

Peace!

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Indwelling Trinity
Dear Friends:


I hate to start a tempest in a teapot but the book from the diocese of Lacrosse is not the only way to go about being a hermit. I have been one for over six years now an before doing so contacted the former Abbot of New Mellaray Abbot who is now a hermit. He is also a Canon Lawyer. He pointed out to me that if you carefully read canon 603 there are two parts allowing for different expression. Being a diLcesan hermit is only one of those expressions.

I am well aware of how the lacrosse book came into being and it was mainly the work of one hermit and the Vicaress of her diocese with some added information from some of the practices in France. The Vicaress herself is an active religious with no first hand experience of being a hermit prior to writing this. So as good as it may be for some, it is not Gospel. Some like myself prefer to go the religious route and follow a particular charism. We were not nor did we have to be diocesan hermits yet our life and our vows are no less valid.

Also Sister Laurels defintion of laura is deeply flawed. A good example of this are the carthusians, early Carmelites and Camaldolese of Monte Corona who are a direct split off from the OSB Camaldolese and started as a Camaldolese laura with the same spirit and rule reformed for a stricter observance of the Camaldoli rule. They did away with the cenobial common house aspects so when they enter the community go straight into the hermitage not as individual hermits but as a laura community with strict enclosure. They can be found here in the United States in Ohio. Also sister's saying that you have to be separate in spirituality to be a laura is also false. I have never argued it openly with her because I felt it would only upset the group and bring more heat than light.

But I hate to see people misled by a few who refer to others as fake or at least "less than hermits." Because of the words and actions of a few who even though they feel themselves experts but in reality are more biased than anything, I have been very dimayed by some diocesan hermits who somehow see themselves in a hierarchical manner as the "real hermits" with a higher calling than others. This to me is simply pride and presumption.

The reason the Lacrosse book is so popular is easy. Most Bishops do not know where to begin and secondly just handing someone this book is the path of least resistance. Do your homework, be humble but stand your ground. pray pray pray and research after doing all of that, then obey your superiors and all will be well. Do not be taken in by the words of a few vocal minority. The first hermits were almost entirely laymen and became what we today revere as our Desert Fathers.

Sorry if I get hot about this but I have had women write me and tell me they are afraid to write on certain other lists for fear of being pounced upon by a vocal few. However there are many silent diocesan hermits who live there life humbly alone seeking the face of God and praying for the needs of all.

Laughing sorry about this rant i just hope someone will benefit by it in knowing there is more than one road open to them.


Indwelling Trinity :topsy:

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Indwelling Trinity
Dear Orans:

You are very much on target about the qualities necessary for the hermit life. However i have found that the hermit life is above all the life most in danger of self illusion. We must be careful to not just write a way of life that caters only to our own personal whims and desires. For this reason a sound spiritual director is important.

Also in some cases, being a hermit is an original step into developing another way of life. Saint francis is a perfect example of this among others. He lived as a hermit only to wind up in the Providence of God in founding the Order of Frairs minor. One of the greates Orders in the Church...Laughing Carmelite though I am. :shield: God can draw us into the desert for many reasons. More than anything we must be docile to His will where ever the road may lead.

Tenderly,

Indwelling Trinity Edited by Indwelling Trinity

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cmaD2006
So ... what is defined in the way of life? Can a hermit have an apostolic role? Are there any sample written ways of life (I just want to get a better sense of what it is)?

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nunsense
Inswelling Trinity made some good points about the varieties of eremetic experience and their validity. While I was at Bethlehem, we met for study once a week, and Father had us reading from the thesis of a man who had investigated several different types of hermit life under canon 603, and it included the Life Plans of the LaCrosse hermit, as well as that of Bethlehem (hence the reason we were allowed a copy of the thesis, which as I recall had been commissioned by Rome) and other communities. It did not say that any one form was preferable to another, simply described them and their PoLs.

Father Romano offers his PoL through Amazon if anyone wants to see how one is set up. This was designed specifically for Bethlehem, based on Father's vision and charism, and on the requirements of his local Bishop. Bethlehem has achieved the status of juridical person (from Rome), and therefore can't be changed at the whim of a Bishop (Bishops change and have different ideas). The next step that Father is hoping for is for the laura to achieve pontifical status. He founded the community over 30 years ago, so patience is a great virtue!

The one PoL was used by all hermits at Bethlehem by the way - and was studied once a week, and each day, a hermit was supposed to read parts of it on their own (like the religious nuns reading from their Rule and Constitutions).

Just as there are many varieties of flowers in a garden, we have to expect that there will be many varieties of expression of religious life / hermit life / consecrated life etc, all within the auspices of the Church. While sometimes a little "superiority complex" does seem to creep in with one form or another, in the end, God tends to tear down any kind of pride, even spiritual pride - maybe I should say, [u]especially [/u]spiritual pride. :rolleyes:

Let's face it, God doesn't NEED any of us, but He allows us to worship Him for the good of our souls.... as long as we are in communion with Our Mother the Church, then I am sure God accepts whatever we are able to offer Him.
-----

Don't you just hate typos?? lol - I always need to edit for these, and I never seem to get them all! Fussy, fussy... :rolleyes: Edited by nunsense

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Indwelling Trinity
Dear Nunsense:

You are very right in what you say. and yes we do compliment each other. Rather than critcizing the differences I would much rather celebrate the beauty the has place for all types of flowers in the Lord's garden.

The highest vocation for each person is the one he or she is called to, however great or humble it may be to others it is a noble vocation to our dear Lord if followed in love. I too was at Bethlehem with Father Eugene. It was so very beautiful especially the devotion with which mass was said. But even for all of it's beauty, I knew immediately , I was meant to be a Carmelite Father ribbed me about it, we laughed, but he also agreed. He in His fervor and love spoke of Saint Paul the first hermit being exactly that. laughing he said he was there before the Carmelites. He also had a great love for Saint John the Baptist. Elijahn, St John the Baptist, St Paul the first hermit, the hermits on Mount Carmel It really doesn't matter in the Long run who was first, but only that they loved the Lord. The same goes for us.

Laughing I think Father is a little biased but then again so am I with Carmelites but as true lovers of Christ we can all meet in that great open space which is the Heart of the Trinty adding with each other the sweet perfume of Love in humility, love, and unity.

Tenderly,
Indwelling Trinity :topsy: Edited by Indwelling Trinity

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nunsense
[quote name='Indwelling Trinity' date='19 September 2009 - 08:39 PM' timestamp='1253349562' post='1969085']
Dear Nunsense:

You are very right in what you say. and yes we do compliment each other. Rather than critcizing the differences I would much rather celebrate the beauty the has place for all types of flowers in the Lord's garden.

The highest vocation for each person is the one he or she is called to, however great or humble it may be to others it is a noble vocation to our dear Lord if followed in love. I too was at Bethlehem with Father Eugene. It was so very beautiful especially the devotion with which mass was said. But even for all of it's beauty, I knew immediately , I was meant to be a Carmelite Father ribbed me about it, we laughed, but he also agreed. He in His fervor and love spoke of Saint Paul the first hermit being exactly that. laughing he said he was there before the Carmelites. He also had a great love for Saint John the Baptist. Elijahn, St John the Baptist, St Paul the first hermit, the hermits on Mount Carmel It really doesn't matter in the Long run who was first, but only that they loved the Lord. The same goes for us.

Laughing I think Father is a little biased but then again so am I with Carmelites but as true lovers of Christ we can all meet in that great open space which is the Heart of the Trinty adding with each other the sweet perfume of Love in humility, love, and unity.

Tenderly,
Indwelling Trinity :topsy:
[/quote]


Father Romano was definitely very reverent with the Mass, and I loved the way he would offer Communion, first saying "the body of Christ" as per usual, but then he would offer the chalice and say "and His most precious blood". That just seems so sweet. I did disagree with having such a long thanksgiving right after communion, not for my sake, since I love this, but because sometimes outsiders would attend the Mass. I prefer the way the Carmelites do it, which is to finish the Mass, then have the long thanksgiving, so if some people need to go off to work, then they can. Not everyone has 20 minutes at that time to offer thanksgiving, even though it would be ideal if everyone did. I guess he was just thinking of the hermits and retreatants, and probably felt that if anyone else did come to Mass there, then they would just have to accept the way it was done!

Father didn't have a prejudice against Carmelites, he just told me that he had never had much success in keeping a Carmelite because they always seemed to have this pull back to Carmel :rolleyes: !! And he was right. I am a Carmelite in my heart, always will be, but I see a lot of things wrong with Carmel today, both 1991s and 1990s.

Did you ever check out the HCarm hermits next door to Father Romano? I didn't but then he told me some things about them that didn't sit right with me, so maybe I was influenced by that and should have checked for myself.

One thing I did forget to mention about hermit life, is that in the beginning, there is an intense purification process and when I started to go through some things, I spoke with Father about it. He showed me a picture of St Anthony of the Desert being torn apart by demons! and said it was perfectly natural to be under attack when trying to offer onself that completely to God. So, for anyone contemplating living a hermit life on their own -- make sure you have a good spiritual director to help with the purgation times!!! :rolleyes:

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Indwelling Trinity
Laughing... yes Father did have a very definite position about Carmelites. I think in some way he sees the nuns as proud virgins! LOL. Maybe there is some truth to that.

Yes I know the Carmelites next to Him. It is a quiet but long standing feud laughing at least on Father's side, but some of his objections I guess were valid as He is a hermit too. It just goes to show even future saints are not perfect!

I found Mother very kind but a little too heavy on the psychological side. I never entered there but i know others who did. They too are beautiful.

Yes having been in Carmel there are difficulties with both sides 1990's and 1991's yet on the other hand I have never seen a perfect community of any kind. But sometimes i think Carmel is in som way unrealistic espcially expecting young vocations from a solid family background, educated with no human problems and if one does pop up it is out the door!

Well, here in America where divorce in families is the norm and not the exception, it is few and far in between to find vocations who have not experienced some type of upheaval.

Secondly, educated and young are not always synonomous. When you go to college, unless your family is well off you usually have exorbitant financial debts which take time to pay off so many vocations are coming at an older age. Also, I have always wondered how communities can so easily send someone away as soon as some difficulties show up. I think of families who have wounded family members, whether it be physical emotional financial etc... They cannot just throw a loved one out the door just to keep perfect smooth sailing for the rest. Community life is just that, bearing one another's burdens. I am not speaking of one who obviously does not have a vocation and who is deteriorating emotionally, psychologically etc. If unable to help, then sending these away may be the most merciful thing to do.

But I think we have to weigh carefully what is sending away in order to experience no difficulties in community as opposed to sending away for grave reasons looking instead for what is best for the person involved as well as keeping community in mind. Life is not easy for anyone. However discerning for the superior is a delicate balancing act needing much wisdom, humility, love and a long suffering spirit. I pray much for our Prioresses who mustt make these difficult decisions.

Why should we as Carmelites be exempted from the common lot of humanity? Many times the real penance in community is not those prescribed by the rule but those of every day living.

This is by no way exhaustive of the difficulties, just something i have been pondering on. Mercy is something that is always in season.

This is not a fully balanced post but it is a long difficult discernment.

Tenderly,
Indwelling Trinity Edited by Indwelling Trinity

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BarbaraTherese
Sometimes reading threads (not necessarily this one, nor on this particular site) I remember St. Paul's Epistle (First) to the Corinthians, Chapter 3:
http://www.drbo.org/cgi-bin/d?b=drb&bk=53&ch=3&l=4&f=s#x

Being a lay woman living a type of 'eremetical' life under private vows, which I do not claim is an eremetical life per se, simply because I still do not really understand what it is all about as to any sort of definition that seems to strictly apply. There seems to be a fair amount of confusion to me. Personally I tend to think that it would take one's Bishop or perhaps spritual director to be happy as one's Bishop or director with one's way of living, or particular 'rule of life' etc. and if so, then that would be sufficient for me I think. Canon 603 is very brief, but contains much - including that its very brevity protects the freedom of The Holy Spirit and Grace which can be a very real issue protected by the very lack of strict definition. If one is living as one is called to live - then that is the highest call of all for that particular person. I have never of recent years personally liked distinctions, titles nor classifications anyway (within reason)....... whereas to another it may have real value and importance for some particular and quite valid reason. Some are called along this path, others along another.

Barb

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nunsense
[quote name='BarbaraTherese' date='19 September 2009 - 10:02 PM' timestamp='1253354557' post='1969092']
Sometimes reading threads (not necessarily this one, nor on this particular site) I remember St. Paul's Epistle (First) to the Corinthians, Chapter 3:
http://www.drbo.org/cgi-bin/d?b=drb&bk=53&ch=3&l=4&f=s#x

Being a lay woman living a type of 'eremetical' life under private vows, which I do not claim is an eremetical life per se, simply because I still do not really understand what it is all about as to any sort of definition that seems to strictly apply. There seems to be a fair amount of confusion to me. Personally I tend to think that it would take one's Bishop or perhaps spritual director to be happy as one's Bishop or director with one's way of living, or particular 'rule of life' etc. and if so, then that would be sufficient for me I think. Canon 603 is very brief, but contains much - including that its very brevity protects the freedom of The Holy Spirit and Grace which can be a very real issue protected by the very lack of strict definition. If one is living as one is called to live - then that is the highest call of all for that particular person. I have never of recent years personally liked distinctions, titles nor classifications anyway (within reason)....... whereas to another it may have real value and importance for some particular and quite valid reason. Some are called along this path, others along another.

Barb
[/quote]


Barb, I have met other women who are in your position and who feel the same way. I guess some of us would like the "official" recognition of the Church just as people who are in love want to get married. But after saying that, I still understand that loving and serving God is more about the interior consecration than the exterior recognition. Perhaps it is just human nature to want or need the "titles". I mean, even St Paul made a point of calling himself an Apostle, even defending his position against the so-called "super-apostles" that were confusing his church in Corinth.

I have tried very hard to fight against this need to be recognized by the Church as a "religious" and God may have to wean me of it completely one day, but who knows. He often puts desires into our hearts to help us grow closer to Him, so I guess we will just have to leave it in His hands. The important thing is to know that nothing is more important than pleasing God and doing His will. After that, all else is good.

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Starets
there are a few Rules floating around. There was one written by a certain Grimlaicus in the 900s that was very strongly based on the rule of St. Benedict. It used to be available online but is no more. I made a pdf version of the web page, which I can send to anyone who pms me asking for it before the 26th.

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