Why a Hermit?

Insightful and helpful guidance on the blog of Fr Chris Chaplin msc, a Roman Catholic Hermit who lives in Glastonbury Hermitage, at Shoreham on Western Port Bay side of Mornington Peninsula, Victoria – http://www.abundance.org.au/index.html – especially his reflections on “Why A Hermit?” – http://www.abundance.org.au/why_a_hermit.html – from which the following extracts are taken:

glastonbury hermitage
“Part of the uncertainty of following God’s will is its open-endedness. Revelation is a moment by moment unfolding. So there are no assembly directions, instruction booklets, policy statements, or preparation classes to provide security. It would be comforting to experience God’s call as a builder might approach a kit-home. When following God there is no precognition of purpose, outcome, or even which steps to take along the way, unlike plans for a home which once down-loaded can be taken up and followed through to completion. No, God’s way requires us to be in continual relationship with him. Each moment we must listen again, discern again, in order to be servant of the moment. There is no possibility of down-loading God’s will in one sitting. So gradually bit by bit we have some small and limited sense of what is God’s mission for us. Over time the image which all these bits generates, reveals the pattern of God’s unique and personal relationship with each individual. Here we can begin to articulate the spirituality giving direction to our lives.

The spirituality inherent to eremitical experience is of course most ancient in Christianity as well as other world traditions of religion and philosophy. The movement of early Christian men and women away from their attachments to this world into a more intense seeking of union with God is the foundation of consecrated religious life in all its forms through Christian history. The spirituality of the hermit, to enter vigorously and whole-heartedly into the interior journey, has continually challenged the church to live in the ‘heart-lands’ where she can discern God’s mission for her….

Primarily the hermit’s life is one dedicated to God. Consequently the things particular to this lifestyle are tools which promote that dedication. The hermit nurtures his yearning to be where God is as God yearns to be where he is through stillness of life and the experience of solitude. These are the hermit’s most important means for allowing God to encounter him.
Other means are secondary to stillness and solitude. Dependence on Providence challenges the hermit to let go of control of his own life and the world around him, and seek God alone.

The hermit seeks detachment while at the same time staying open to all things as the means through which God may speak to him. There are also signs of our times, mainly movements of convergence, which I recognise are to be part of my life as a hermit. Undoubtedly these are movements of God’s Spirit which belong to a bigger picture and not to the hermit’s life exclusively. These include a reverence for God in all creation and a willingness to be at the service of the natural order through custodianship rather than through exploitation; to live by subsistence, where possible; to seek simplicity of life; and also to be something of a sign post to a well at which people from all corners of life may quench their spiritual thirst. This involves a ministry of presence, reconciliation and hospitality.”

Fr Chris notes the key themes of the life of the Hermit as being:

• Stillness
• Solitude
• Dependence
• Detachment
• Reverence for God in all creation
• Service of the natural order
• Subsistence
• Simplicity of life


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