Raven’s Bread Ministries
It has been a long time since I last drew attention to Raven’s Bread Ministries, a valuable on-line resource for those pursuing the life of the Hermit in the modern world: http://www.ravensbreadministries.com/
Raven’s Bread Ministries offers a service to hermits and lovers of solitude around the world, no matter what their spiritual affiliation. We offer information and guidance to those who have embraced eremitical life full-time; to those who are discerning this particular call from the Divine, and to those who cherish whatever solitude they can find in their daily lives…
The simplest definition of a hermit or spiritual solitary is someone who lives alone by choice for spiritual reasons. This broad description excludes those individuals who live alone through unwanted circumstances as well as misogynists who dislike society in general. We are speaking of deeply spiritual individuals who are seeking a lifestyle where they can achieve personal transparency to the Divine. They are not selfish individualists merely seeking their own comfort, but rather passionate lovers of humanity who, through their lives of prayer, foster a compassionate care for all their brothers and sisters. They become the “still point”, the strong center, which holds together a world threatening to fly apart.
The reasons for choosing a life of solitude are as diverse as those who seek it. A resurgence in eremitical life in the western world which began in the 1950’s shows no sign of abating. More and more people are embracing solitude as a way of life in order to seek not only personal balance but a means to care spiritually for the world around them. The spiritual motivation they respond to is often distinct from “religious” incentives. No particular denomination or religion has a special claim on producing authentic hermits. Solitaries are found among all cultures and beliefs.
However, some religious denominations offer more support to hermits than others. The Roman Catholic church has recognized hermit life as a valid form of religious living when it promulgated a new Code of Canon Law in 1983. Canon #603 defines hermit life as one “by which the Christian faithful devote their life to the praise of God and salvation of the world through a stricter separation from the world, the silence of solitude, and assiduous prayer and penance.”
Christian hermits first appeared in the Fourth Century CE with the Desert Fathers and Mothers, men and women who sought a form of “white martyrdom” in the desert after Constantine declared Christianity the religion of the Empire and “red martyrdom” disappeared. Over the centuries the popularity of the eremitical calling has waxed and waned. Revivals are often the by-product of a major cultural shift, such as we are now experiencing.
Raven’s Bread Ministries publishes a very informative newsletter:
Raven’s Bread, Food for Those in Solitude This quarterly newsletter now connects over 1100 readers around the world through either the paper edition or the pdf file format sent via email. We, Paul and Karen Fredette, compile the written contributions of our hermit readers into an eight page publication. Thus Raven’s Bread has an authenticity only derived from lived experience. Reflections, questions, personal stories and problems are published and commented on. Occasionally readers are asked to respond to surveys which trace the growing hermit movement. Donations for the newsletter are appreciated but not required. All names on our mailing list are kept strictly confidential.
Raven’s Bread Ministries also offers for sale (at extremely reasonable prices) a range of resources on the eremitical life – especially “hard-to-find documents and data about eremitical life such as juridical commentaries; bibliographies; sample rules and articles on various aspects hermit life” – see the listing at: http://www.ravensbreadministries.com/resources.html
Paul and Karen Karper, who administer the site, are also the authors of Consider the Ravens, On Contemporary Hermit Life:
This distinctive book emerged from years of ongoing dialogue among committed hermits through Raven’s Bread, an eremitic newsletter with 1100 readers around the world. It is a one-of-a-kind volume on a rare but fascinating topic which intrigues the curious, provides a handbook and guide for aspiring hermits, and reveals the surprising diversity of this hidden movement. Awarded a bronze medal in the Religion Category for the 2012 Independently Published Book Awards (IPPY), this book distils the essence of the wisdom and experience found in the lives of those who embrace solitude, silence and simplicity.
Consider the Ravens, On Contemporary Hermit Life is an especially valuable work for those considering the life of the Hermit, no less than for those who are already living that life. It is notable for its attention to basic (not a word used here in any patronizing sense) practicalities of the life of the Hermit. It is, alas, all too common for people to be drawn to some romantic notion of the eremitical life without paying any attention to the reality……finances, accommodation, health care, food, insurance…..as if wandering off into a cave somewhere and trying to live in silence and solitude is sufficient. This work will (one hopes) actively deter such romantic dreams. It is written in a plain-speaking, down-to-earth language – which some may find insufficiently “spiritual” but which I find refreshingly blunt. Considering the rather abrupt, if not at times brutal, language of the Desert Fathers and Mothers when giving advice to those who sought their counsel, this book fits well into that tradition.
As the Amazon site – through which you can order the book: https://www.amazon.com/Consider-Ravens-Contemporary-Hermit-Life/dp/193623663X – notes:
If you have ever wondered about how hermits live, or if you are an active participant in the eremitical life, then it’s time to make this ultimate resource guide part of your book collection.
Written by the editors of Raven’s Bread, an international quarterly newsletter that provides guidance on hermit life, Consider the Ravens is a seminal study on eremitism as it has developed since the 1950s.
All aspects of the vocation, including spiritual, practical, and juridical
Hazards of the hidden life
Practical recommendations for beginners in eremitical life
Extensive citations from desert fathers and mothers
Exploration of eremitical spirituality.
Essentially, you’ll learn about the eremitic life straight from the hermits themselves, and it’s never an easy task to get their opinions and advice! The voices of many of today’s hermits can now be heard loud and clear for the first time.
Find the answers to your questions about a vocation as old as spirituality itself and discover why eremitism is becoming more popular than ever in Consider the Ravens.
Raven’s Bread Ministries is worthy of support – in prayer, of course, but when possible also financially – regardless of your religious tradition.