What is a Hermit?

van balen hermit
“Mary Magdalene as a Hermit” attributed to Jan van Balen (21 July 1611, Antwerp – 14 March 1654)

“We rarely question the value of religious orders when they teach, nurse, or even make honey. The notion of the hermit is a trickier one. What “is” a hermit? The Russian classic, The Pilgrim Continues His Way, has a succinct ‘job description’. A hermit discusses three of his roles.

The first is in analyzing and contemplating his moral existence. It behooves the hermit to meditate on the interior life, to theologize if he is a theologian, and to share his insights with others, in written or spoken forms.

The second is that the hermit is an example– and this may be even truer in today’s secular and fast-paced society. The hermit throws a gauntlet of solitude, prayerfulness and holiness down at the feet of a world which seems to be rejecting such notions, even as it most desperately needs them.

The third is to lead by moral example, shunning sin. St Isaac of Syria is quoted in the book: “It is better for you to free yourself from the bonds of sin than to free slaves from bondage.”

But, for the priest hermit-monk of this hermitage, there is an even more central charism, and that is the endeavour and fruitfulness of prayer. The Divine Liturgy and Office are prayed daily, each with a specific intention– sometimes requested by people far away, sometimes regarding a global concern, sometimes about something close to home, sometimes abstract, sometimes specific.

Every time we are united to the heavenly liturgy something changes here on earth. Here at the hermitage the belief in the power of prayer is strong. The good that it will do is unquantifiable by human hands, but anything is possible through the grace of God.

According to St. Basil the Christian life is to become prayer, and prayer is to enliven life: “Thus you will pray without ceasing; if you pray not only in words, but unite yourself to God through all the course of life and so your life is made one ceaseless and uninterrupted prayer” (Migne, PG 31, 244; ST. BASIL, “Homily in Honour of St. Julitta,” nn. 3-4).

So what is a hermit? A living prayer….”

three hierarchs
“The Hermitage of the Three Holy Hierarchs is not a physical location or edifice, but rather an eremitical state of monastic life. The hermit is the “archimandrite” (ἀρχιμανδρίτης) of the hermitage; namely, he is called to be the principle (ἀρχι) and shepherd of the enclosure (μάνδρα) of his heart, “an enclosed garden” for the Heavenly Bridegroom (cf. Song of Songs 4, 12). The hermit currently lives in Santa Marinella on the West coast of Italy, close to Rome.

Father Hrynkiw was born in Canora, Saskatchewan. He entered the Basilian Order of St. Josaphat in Mundare, Alberta, in 1989, and later studied in Kyiv where he witnessed, first-hand, Ukraine’s Declaration of Independence. From 1997 to 1998, he served as rector of the Basilian Institute of Philosophical and Theological Studies in Zolochiv. But it was during his term as Protohegumen of the Most-Holy Saviour Province of the Basilian Order in Ukraine, from February 2004 to July 2007, that he was forced to fight on the front lines against corruption.

Since no good deed goes unpunished, he received two credible death threats: 24 December 2006 and 13 January 2007. At the request of his superiors, he came to the Vatican at the end of January 2007, for debriefing. He presented a detailed report to the secretary of Congregation for the Oriental Churches. The Congregation decided that a Basilian Provincial Chapter should be held in July 2007, six months earlier than originally scheduled, due to the circumstances surrounding the threats to Fr. Hrynkiw’s life—very real dangers that impeded the discharge of his office.

Fr Hrynkiw remained in Rome, and on 8 October 2010 made his solemn profession of monastic vows into the Hermitage of the Three Holy Hierarchs. The Hermitage is an eparchial-rite form of consecrated life under the jurisdiction of Bishop Bryan Bayda, the Eparch of Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Saskatoon. It is financially self-supporting and dependent on patronage.”

The Hermitage has a Poet-in-Residence: Born in Suffolk, England, in 1971, Sally Read was a winner of an Eric Gregory Award from the Society of Authors in 2001. Her main poetical works are The Point of Splitting (Bloodaxe, 2005), Broken Sleep (Bloodaxe, 2009) and The Day Hospital (Bloodaxe 2012). Sally was educated at the Middlesex University, the Open University, and at The University of South Dakota. A former psychiatric nurse at St Mary’s Hospital in Hampstead, London, Sally transferred to Italy in 2002 and now lives in Santa Marinella near Rome. She is poet in residence at the Hermitage of the Three Holy Hierarchs. Sally is married to Fabio and has a 7-year-old daughter, Celia Florence.
sally read
You are poet in residence at The Hermitage of the Three Holy Hierarchs. Could you explain to our readers what this organisation is?
“The organisation consists of one single hermit, Fr. Gregory Hrynkiw. He’s the priest who converted me to Catholicism.
Fr. Hrynkiw is a Byzantine priest and monk who came from the Ukraine to Rome, and has set up his own hermitage. When I went through my conversion process one of the things that worried me, being an atheist, was that my conversion would impair my writing. This might be difficult for a non-writer to understand, but the change within me due to my conversion was so huge that I wondered if it would halt my creativity.
Fr. Hrynkiw told me that God would take care of everything, and in fact I’ve been more productive since the conversion. I became poet in residence at the Hermitage so I could write poems in a sheltered, supportive environment. The Hermitage is of the Byzantine rite which has an extremely beautiful liturgy and that gives me another perspective on Catholicism too.
The Three Hierarchs are St. Gregory, St. Basil, and St. John Chrysostom, the three fundamental saints in the Byzantine tradition.”
see also http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/former-atheist-poet-reveals-details-of-her-catholic-conversion/

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