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[quote name='aalpha1989' date='11 April 2010 - 01:45 PM' timestamp='1271018753' post='2091087']
I have a question to the hermits who have posted. My only direct experience with hermits was with one Carmelite hermit, but it seems confusing to me that hermits would use the internet and post on a forum. I'm curious how a hermit such as yourselves would differ from a hermit from a religious community- how can one communicate regularly with people on the internet and still be a hermit? I'm sorry if this post seems offensive, I don't mean it to be... I'm genuinely confused. Thank you for your responses and patience with me!

No offense taken. Most hermits I know have internet access and contribute to various forums -- though their activity tends to be fairly sparing, especially compared to regular posters. (I tend to post when someone emails me about posts dealing with eremitical life, for instance; I don't tend to participate in this forum in a general sense.) Correspondence (sometimes extensive correspondence) is generally accepted as appropriate to hermits, but the bottom line answer involves two facts: 1) hermits are, for the most part, not recluses and 2) the degree of communication with others is something diocesan hermits work out with their directors, delegates, and Bishops. It is included in their Rule of Life in a general sense and may vary over time for any number of reasons.

It is important to remember that publicly professed hermits have public vocations. This is not a matter of notoriety, but it does make them publicly responsible for their vocations, through, and sometimes despite the hiddenness that characterizes their lives. Similarly, their vocations are ecclesial and rooted in koinonia. Eremitical solitude, in particular, is not the same as isolation, but involves communion with others (God first of all, but also all he cherishes) --- usually in paradoxical or very unusual ways, but sometimes, just as directly as one expects of anyone else. For instance, Hermits offer hospitality, do limited ministry besides their contemplative lives of prayer and penance, and worship with others some of the time. They also do what they must to support themselves, run errands, etc.

Briefly, eremitical solitude has two interrelated components, an inner solitude (which results from communion with God and dependence upon Him alone) and physical solitude (which is a material drawing apart from others in silence, prayer and penance). These support and lead to one another, but there are definitely times when diocesan hermits must interact with others, both in charity and of necessity. The key tends to be not allowing this to interrupt inner solitude, and of course, limiting it in accord with one's Rule of Life.

I hope this helps. One thing does tend to be true about this diverse vocation: it rarely comports with the stereotypes or common images of hermits.

All my best.
Sister Laurel, Erem Dio
Stillsong Hermitage
Diocese of Oakland

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[quote name='SRLAUREL' date='11 April 2010 - 04:45 PM' timestamp='1271015107' post='2091045']
It would have been helpful to me, [b]Indwelling Trinity[/b], if you had clarified how my definition of Laura is flawed, or even had cited how it is I define a Laura, but since you did not, let me clarify what I have written about Lauras for the participants of this discussion. Perhaps then you can point out where you disagree.

Sr. Laurel -- I think it was mentioned before that on the forum it is more appropriate to refer to the username. (Hence the bolded section above). I don't remember Indwelling Trinity ever using a name on the forum, at least recently.

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[quote name='cmariadiaz' date='11 April 2010 - 08:55 PM' timestamp='1271044500' post='2091375']
Sr. Laurel -- I think it was mentioned before that on the forum it is more appropriate to refer to the username. (Hence the bolded section above). I don't remember Indwelling Trinity ever using a name on the forum, at least recently.

I also find it rather condescending SISTER Laurel, that you chose to not only use Indwelling Trinity's religious name, but didn't see fit to call her Sister. She is a professed religious hermit, affiliated with a community of Carmelite Hermits and has the full privilege of being called a Sister, just as you do, regardless of your personal opinion about her way of life, her vocation.

I've seen you do this on other forums/lists and it's highly disrespectful, especially when you ask to be addressed as Sister yourself. I've noticed you do call some religious and/or hermits by their proper names (ie: using 'Sister' or 'Father/Brother' so I know it's not a universal sign of disrespect, just selective). It would be one thing if you asked us to call you Laurel... It's also one of the reasons I've left another list that you're on, because of your arrogance and complete lack of charity to others. When you treat others this way, it doesn't make that other person look bad, it actually backfires.

Whatever personal 'beef' you have with her, it really would be much more appropriate to remove it, [b]once and for all[/b], from the public eye. I think this would be the most appropriate action, and the most charitable to those who have to read your posts.

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On 9/18/2009 at 1:28 PM, Gemma said:

[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.

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.



Gemma,  Your post was truly enlightening, illuminating, and informative.  Grateful for your dedication to keep us "hermits at heart" in your mind, heart, and intellect.  Would also wish to remind me of the "Laura" website you're thinking in creating for connectivity and communication.  Additionally found  St. Bruno's Fellowship of Lay Contemplatives which can be accessed through Google.  Discerning vocation by the Grace of the Holy Spirit and the Communion of Angels and Saints.

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On 9/18/2009 at 8:19 PM, Orans said:

... 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

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

And this is my understanding/experience of it,

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

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

- the silence of solitude: 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.

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

- penance: 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! wink.gif

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.


Orans, Appreciative for your informative post on the eremitical term definitions, several hermits and lauras throughout the country, as the Guidebook by Sr. Marlene Weisenbeck, FSPA, which I just purchased the revised version.  

Most especially my heartfelt resonated on the phrase that a hermit vocation requires "a passion for God and a passion for prayer," everything else is secondary -- Such as a rule of life, recognition or not by a bishop, wearing a habit, etc., etc.  

Once again, don't know if the eremitical vocation is for me in that I enjoy people as playing board games, going to the movies, concerts, eating together, though cherish my "alonetime" zealously and keep a sabbath day weekly as much as possible.

May God keep you and bless you, Grateful 


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