GUIDEBOOK TO EREMITIC LIFE Diocese of La Crosse Office of Consecrated Life Marlene Weisenbeck FSPA, Ph.D., J.C.L.

©August 1997 Revised November 2000 All rights reserved

TABLE OF CONTENTS Preface . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 I. INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Text of Canon 603 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 CLSA Commentary. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . 5 Commentary from A Handbook on Canons 573-746 (Hite, Holland & Ward) . . . ..................5 Vita Consecrata No. 11 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Admission of the Candidate . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Expected Preparation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Expected Lifestyle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5 Policies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . .6 Procedures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6 II. Elements of a Rule of Life . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Content . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12 Considerations for Clarity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 The Evangelical Counsel of Poverty . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Cession of Administration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Last Will and Testament . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 The Evangelical Counsel of Chastity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22 The Evangelical Counsel of Obedience . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 Bishop’s Decree of Approval . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24 III. Recommendations for Stewardship of Financial Resources. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 Commentary on Financial Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . .26 Chart of Accounts. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 Budget Preparation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32 Income-Expense Account . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 Tax Exemption . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .36 501 ©(3) Acknowledgment Form . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .37 Advance Directives for Healthcare .......... . .. . . . 39


IV. Request Forms for Canon 603 Status . . . . . . . . . . . . Application Form . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . List of Required Documents . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Recommendation Request . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Waiver of Claim . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46 Release of Information concerning Behavioral Assessment . .47 Form for Addresses of Relatives and Significant Others . 48

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40 41 44 45

V. The Rite of Profession of the Evangelical Counsels . . . . . 50 Rite A . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51 Rite B . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67 VI. A Ritual for the Blessing of a Hermitage . . . . . . . . . . . . .74 VII. Ancient Rules of Life . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79 The Rule of Saint Albert . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .80 Rule for Carmelite Recluses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .84 St. Francis of Assisi Life in Hermitages. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85 St. Romuald’s Brief Rule . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 88 VIII. 1996 Discernment Survey and Questionnaire . . . . . . . . .89 IX. Statutes for the Hermits of France . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 98 Table of Contents . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 99 Foreword . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100 A Brief History . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100 The Meaning of the Eremitical Life . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 102 The Diversity of Hermits . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .102 The Components of Eremitical Life . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 103 The Eremitical Profession . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .105 The Status Established With the Bishop . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 106 Discernment for Candidates . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 107 The Entrance into Eremitical Life . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .108 Formation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 111 Bibliography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .113 X. Bibliographies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 114 Eremitic Life . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 115 Vows . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 120 Preface


This Guide Book for Eremitical Life is written after seven years of companioning persons who were seeking God in the depths of their souls through a life of eremitic prayer, penance and solitude. In particular, I am grateful to Margarette, Agnes, and Mary who have enriched my knowledge of eremitic life through their personal sharing of self and some of the resources found in this book. The journey has also included many other Vicars for Religious in the United States who faithfully have reverenced and nurtured the call to an eremitic vocation among those they serve. Finally, Lyn Sheffer has been an invaluable and patient co-worker in the compilation of this Guide Book. Maryjo Wilson has been significantly helpful in distribution. To all of you, my heartfelt gratitude and admiration. May God be always with you and may you always be with God! Marlene Weisenbeck, FSPA, Ph.D., JCL Guide Book author, compiler, and editor August 15, 1997 Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary INTRODUCTION The vocation of eremitic life flourished in the early centuries of Christian life in the church. With the revision of the Code of Canon Law in 1983, this form of life was again encouraged as an explicitation of the one baptismal call of all Christians. This Guide Book is provided for those who experience a call to solitude and penance and wish to formalize a public commitment to eremitic life within the Church. It is the diocesan bishop who decides the necessary suitability of a person who is admitted to public profession of the evangelical counsels according to Canon 603, the canon which provides for this way of life within church law, as follows: CANON 603 §1. Besides institutes of consecrated life, the Church recognizes the eremitic or anchoritic life 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. §2. A hermit is recognized in the law as one dedicated to God in a consecrated life if he or she publicly professes the three evangelical counsels, confirmed by a vow or other sacred bond, in the hands of the diocesan bishop and observes his or her own plan of life under his direction.


The Code of Canon Law: A Text and Commentary edited by James A. Coriden, Thomas J. Green and Donald J. Heintschel New York: Paulist Press, 1985, pp. 467-468. The eremitical life, also called anchoritism, has its roots in the third century with such desert fathers as St. Paul (c. 234-342) and St. Anthony (251-356). The solitude, prayer and penance of the hermits are recognized as the beginning of the monastic life of both men and women in the Church. Their search for solitude distinguished them from the cenobitic form of life which gathered around St. Pachomius in the same era. In the 1977 schema of the revised law, the eremitical life was mentioned along with the cenobitic life as a form of monasticism. This seemed to envision a monk or nun, receiving permission to live apart from the community in greater solitude. Benedict had foreseen the possibility of this in his rule but permitted it only after the religious was well formed in the spiritual life. In the same schema, the canon explicitly dealing with hermits was in a set of preliminary canons, just before the section dealing with religious, societies, and secular institutes explicitly. The relocation of the canon further clarifies that these persons are not members of institutes. The rules of institutes provide adequately for members who seek greater solitude; reference to this has been removed from the universal law. The hermits spoken of in the canon relate directly to the diocesan bishop, making their public profession of the counsels in his hands. Such persons are recognized in law as living a consecrated life. For centuries the eremitical life was less known and practiced than cenobitic monasticism. Today increased interest is evident. Beyer speaks of the diverse possibilities of this life, within the essential elements listed in the canon: The description of the eremitical life can be the norm in light of which all hermits discern and carry out their vocation wherever they live it: in the desert, the forests, the mountains or in the solitude of the modern city. Today, besides the public witness of the hermits through their abandonment of the world, austerity of life, and external solitude, there are also hermits who remain in the world, live in reserve, supporting themselves by common manual labor. They are almost unknown, and in their cities they pray and work to the praise of God and for the salvation of the world. . .some, even, live in a laura (a colony of hermits) under the direction of a spiritual director without being bound to the same rule or institute and without constituting a community. COMMENTARY


from Vita Consecrata No. §2 offers a legal definition of a hermit.. which is to be always with the Lord. The term “religious” now applies to individuals with no obligation to common or community life and no relationship to an institute. they show that man does not live by bread alone but by the word of God. 11 by Pope John Paul II March 25. Care must be taken in moving ahead too quickly: the episcopal conference in consultation with other interested groups like LCWR (Leadership Conference of Women Religious) or CMSM (Conference of Major Superiors of Men) in the United States may want to issue suggested guidelines and a discussion of the ramifications. This canon offers a new possibility for those seeking such recognition. practical details such as financial responsibilities. Sharon Holland IHM. MN: The Liturgical Press. 5 . including areas of the United States. or being directly dependent on the bishop. 1985. The basic source for this canon is Venite Seorsum I. In particular. and Daniel Ward OSB Collegeville. By fasting and penance. Certainly a period of approbation or temporary commitment is called for before the public profession mentioned in the canons. and pages 107-108 in Section IX. belonging to ancient Orders or new Institutes. The New Catholic Encyclopedia nuances the difference slightly by distinguishing hermits as those who “retire to a place far from human habitation” to live the religious life in cells adjacent to a community. Groups could use the category of associations of the faithful to have ecclesiastical identity if they wish. etc.from A Handbook on Canons 573-746 edited by Jordan Hite TOR. The discussion of the coetus indicates that they used the verb “recognizes” (agnoscit) to intend official ecclesiastical juridical recognition. Discernment Criteria Please see pages 92-97 Section VIII. ADMISSION OF THE CANDIDATE 1. Mt 4:4) Such a life “in the desert” is an invitation to their contemporaries and to the ecclesial community itself never to lose sight of the supreme vocation. regular contact. (cf. should be worked out in advance. bear witness to the passing nature of the present age by their inward and outward separation from the world. the terms “hermit” and “anchorite” are used almost synonymously. The revival of the eremitic form of life is occurring in various parts of the world. 1996 Men and women hermits. p. The diocesan bishop decides who is admitted to eremitic life in the Diocese of La Crosse. which outline an excellent review of criteria for a person considering the eremitic vocation. provision for sacraments. 55. In practice.

especially Gaudium et spes. St. St.2. Francis of Assisi. St. Albert.) A written Rule of Life Living one’s Rule of Life for at least one year before public profession of the evangelical counsels Periodic conferences. Romuald (see VII. Pachomius. EXPECTED PREPARATION A process of preparation for an ecclesial public commitment as a hermit will ordinarily include the following: A written request to the bishop for eremitic life in the Diocese of La Crosse Regular spiritual direction with a person other than the bishop or his delegate for consecrated life Evidence of adequate scriptural and theological study and preparation Guidance in prayer forms Study of the evangelical counsels Study of the various spiritualities of the Church Study of the church fathers and mothers and of significant women and men mystics Study of the documents of Vatican Council II. Perfectae Caritatis. visits and evaluations with the Director of the Office of Consecrated Life and the diocesan bishop Securing a personal hermitage Evidence of financial independence EXPECTED LIFESTYLE • Daily prayer: Morning and Evening Prayer Meditation • • Examen of conscience Frequent participation at Eucharist and the sacrament of Reconciliation 6 . The diocesan bishop and/or his delegate for consecrated life will discern with the individual if a vocation to eremitic life is an authentic vocational call for that person. Lumen gentium. the post synodal document Vita Consecrata Study of moral theology Study of the history of eremitic life and of various early eremitic Rules of Life such as those by St.

PROCEDURES An individual first discerns one’s suitability and call to eremitic life with a pastor. Only those candidates who by their age. The person must give evidence of a clear commitment to the solitary life and to assiduous prayer and penance. the individual may make a formal request for public profession of the evangelical counsels as a canonical hermit. The individual completes the Request for Eremitic Status using the forms provided in IV. lack of a period of formation and preparation. Each person makes the request individually and not as part of a group or formal organization. or a society of apostolic life. This presupposes that the person is a member in full communion with the Catholic Church. lack of the use of reason.• • • • Lectio divina (spiritual reading) Annual retreat Other personal and devotional prayers as desired Some very limited and minimal service to the church (optional) POLICIES The diocesan bishop and his delegate will be vigilant regarding the admission of persons to preparation for eremitic life. The candidate may freely cease the period of formation prior to being accepted for public profession of the vows according to Canon 603. These aspirations and the call to this form of consecrated life may be discussed with the bishop at an opportune time before a formal request for canonical recognition is presented. spiritual director. if necessary. by using experts. Moreover. Upon successful completion of this time of formation. 7 . or the bishop’s delegate for consecrated life in the diocese. prudence. neither married nor a member of a religious institute. In cases where the individual is employed by the diocese. The Diocese of La Crosse assumes no financial responsibility for the support of an individual seeking or living the life of a canonical hermit. one must be free from the impediments of lack of age (18). Church law requires that to profess the evangelical counsels. These records are retained in the Office of Consecrated Life and shared with the diocesan bishop. Candidates must be free to embrace the eremitic life. The special bond between the diocesan bishop and the canonical hermit requires a special degree of spiritual and psychological stability. and fear or fraud. of this guide book. a secular institute. The candidate is guided in a period of formation as outlined in these diocesan procedures. suitable health and maturity are to be ascertained. and approved character give assurance of a call to eremitic life may be admitted. compensation is provided according to other norms operative within the diocese.

the Director of the Office of Consecrated Life. This is also a time of continuing discernment in which the candidate can recognize one’s call to eremitic life and during which one’s intention and suitability can be evaluated. the Director of the Office of Consecrated Life and the diocesan bishop periodically evaluate the progress of the candidate in the preparation process. This period of preparation may be under the guidance of the Director of the Office of Consecrated Life and/or other persons designated by the bishop. of this guide book. The spiritual director. the candidate writes a personal Rule of Life. 8 . Written reports are reviewed by the bishop and the Director of the Office of Consecrated Life. which includes the various elements articulated under the Expected Preparation outlined above. The candidate either gives evidence of sufficient preparation for the eremitic life or begins a period of preparation and formation. With the direction of one’s spiritual director. or another designated delegate of the bishop.Applicable documents and letters of recommendation are sent to the Director of the Office of Consecrated Life who apprises the bishop of the individual’s free status to become a canonical hermit. Information and suggestions are available in II.

Carmelite.) Relationship to church authority and leadership 9 . certain elements to be contained therein can be found in Canon 603 itself. the person writing a Rule of Life may be guided by a format as follows: WHO—Introduction Name of document Name of hermit Place Date Brief statement of one’s call to eremitic life WHAT—Nature of the Eremitic Life • • • Context of the universal and local church One’s particular spiritual emphasis (e.. etc. Although there are no exact determining requirements about what must be included in a Rule of Life. Franciscan. Dominican. ELEMENTS OF A RULE OF LIFE Content Considerations for Clarity The Evangelical Counsels: Poverty. Chastity and Obedience Cession of Administration Last Will and Testament Bishop’s Decree of Approval II ELEMENTS of a RULE OF LIFE Writing one’s Rule of Life can be a confirming experience of the call of God to eremitic life.II. The canon speaks of: • • • • • • • devotion to the praise of God and the salvation of the world strict separation from the world silence solitude assiduous prayer and penance public profession of the three evangelical counsels plan of life CONTENT Using the above consideration and this outline. Salesian.g.

with one idea per line. By this vow I commit myself to celibacy and renounce any act contrary to the virtue of chastity. This work takes place today 10 . work. Third person is a good tense to express obligations. In this example. meditation. re-creation CONSIDERATIONS FOR CLARITY 1. Divine Office. The two objects of the vow itself are highlighted—celibacy and continence. Example: The vow of chastity is an offering to God of corporal goods. because the proper object of the vow is not defined. Other elements pertaining to the virtue are not enumerated.Use the same style throughout the entire text. etc. jargon is left aside. Reconciliation. The vow of chastity is an offering to God of corporal goods. Here follows a much less preferable articulation. A daily schedule of prayer.HOW—Means to Attain Your Goals of Eremitic Life • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Prayer life and how it is expressed (Eucharist. First person makes a personal manifesto. By virginity and the vow of chastity God’s call to love and the destiny of the baptized are fulfilled to the greatest extent.) Your interpretation of “separation from the world” The observance of silence and solitude The observance of penance Poverty: Personal goal Cession of administration A will valid in civil law Activities relating to your financial viability Chastity or consecrated celibacy Obedience: Attentiveness to the gifts and work of the Holy Spirit The role of listening to others and events in one’s life Relationship to church authority and leadership The role of the spiritual director Your vow or commitment formulary How changes are made in your Rule of Life Provisions for your death and burial A commitment to fidelity HORARIUM.

” 5. THE EVANGELICAL COUNSELS Canon 603 simply specifies that the hermit publicly professes the three evangelical counsels of poverty. 3. chastity and obedience. Norms. who for our sake was made poor when he was rich. 2. In light of Canon 19. the case is to be decided in light of laws passed in similar circumstances. a splendid fashion by a unique adventure of witnessing in service.Use plain English. a collective 11 . Canon 640 (PC #13) Taking into account the circumstances of the individual places. the canonical texts relating to the evangelical counsels are quoted along with an outline that highlights the emphasis and rights and obligations entailed with each vow. VOW OF POVERTY Canon 600 (PC #13) The evangelical counsel of POVERTY in imitation of Christ. as it were. contradictions and the arbitrary.Canon 587. the general principles of law observed with canonical equity. institutes [hermits] are to make a special effort to give. Avoid undue length. and a stranger to earthly riches. in accordance with each institute’s [hermit’s] own law. Canon 19 is the guide for interpretation. Use words that are indicative of verifiable and observable behavior. 4. It also involves dependence and limitation in the use and the disposition of goods. Therefore. and the common and constant opinion of learned persons. “The spiritual and the juridical elements are to be aptly harmonized. Bracketed notations indicate a possible application to a hermit’s observance of the vow(s). entails a life which is poor in reality and in spirit. as follows: Unless it is a penal matter.3 offers a useful principle. No other canonical norms about the observance of these vows by a hermit are specified. Avoid wordy expressions and the jargon of the day. Avoid absolutes.Number the articles or paragraphs consecutively. even when the chapter numbers change. the jurisprudence and praxis of the Roman Curia. sober and industrious. are not to be multiplied without necessity. if an express prescription of universal or particular law or a custom is lacking in some particular matter.

At least before perpetual profession. in whole or in part. Canon 668 1. 3. or on behalf of the institute. they are to make a will which is valid also in civil law. lose the capacity to acquire and possess goods. there is required the permission of the Superior who is competent in accordance with the institute’s [hermit’s] own law. religious are to wear the habit of their institute.Professed religious who. 4. To change these dispositions for a just reason. actions of theirs contrary to the vow of poverty are therefore invalid. in a form that is valid also in civil law.Whatever a religious [hermit] acquires by personal labor. because of the nature of their institute. members [hermits] are to cede the administration of their goods to whomsoever they wish and. this renunciation is to be made before perpetual profession and.As a sign of their consecration and as a witness to POVERTY.When the nature of an institute requires members to renounce their goods totally. unless the institute’s [hermit’s] own law decree otherwise. Whatever they acquire after renunciation belongs to the institute. unless the constitutions [plan of life] provide otherwise. it shall come into effect from the day of profession. they are freely to make dispositions concerning the use and enjoyment of these goods.]. They are to do all in their power to donate something from their own resources to help the needs of the Church and the support of the poor. in accordance with the institute’s own law. belongs to the institute [the hermit. Whatever comes to a religious [hermit] in any way through pension.) 5. determined in accordance with the institute’s own law. as far as possible. totally renounce their goods. 2. (This part of the canon is not recommended for the hermit. The same procedure is to be followed by a perpetually professed religious who.testimony of charity and POVERTY.) Canon 669 (PC #17) 1. grant or insurance also passes to the institute [belongs to the hermit]. wishes to renounce goods. Before their first profession. (This part of the canon is not recommended for the hermit. in accordance with the norms of the institute’s own law and with the permission of the supreme Moderator. and to take any action concerning temporal goods. EMPHASIS: • limitation in the use and disposition of temporal things/goods 12 .

670) (All members must receive the same opportunity and the same reasonable consideration and charity. proper medical attention.) to voluntary renunciation (PC #13) with due regard for prudence and the parameters of proper law • OBLIGATIONS—CESSION OF ADMINISTRATION: —the selection of a person and the transferral to that person the duty of overseeing one’s possessions. the interest from investments or income from the rental of properties 13 .g..g. lawyer. food.• • poverty/simplicity of lifestyle corporate witness of poverty appropriate to the institute’s tradition and vision: within the institute for other needs in the Church for the support of the poor • • • • • a life of labor lived in moderation dependence on the religious institute for all material support the reciprocal obligation of the institute to care for its members the desire for sharing everything in common. vacation (c. relative. investing and securing returns on investments) • DISPOSITION OF USE AND USUFRUCT —to make arrangements for the use of income deriving from possessions (usufruct).. e.g. e. e. clothing. spiritual formation. needs are not equal among the membership to acquisition and ownership of property and the returns from property to all those things necessary for achieving one’s vocation. or having nothing as one’s own to detach one effectively from practical involvement in possessions RIGHTS: • to clarity of institute’s norms regarding the spirit and practice of poverty • • • to reasonable diversity of expression of simplicity. religious institute (maintenance and care of property. trusted friend. education for apostolate. shelter.

assistance or insurance. 600) 14 .—pension from a former employer or the government—social security—health insurance/medicare/medicaid—grants/stipends/salary • • • • • • approval/permission of Superior to administer property belonging to lay persons (c.4) to seek permission to practice commerce or trade for the purpose of profit (c. 286) dependence on Superiors in the use of temporal goods to give communal and corporate witness to poverty that leads others to the proper evaluation of and desire for material things (c. .4) consultation required to act as guarantor or security with one’s goods (c. .• • may be specific and detailed or left to the judgment of the person fulfilling the obligation changing the dispostions requires the permission of the major Superior • A WILL VALID IN CIVIL LAW —making a determination of one’s property effective at the time of one’s death required before final profession Scriptural basis: Hebrews 9:16-17 CHANGES in CESSION.3) 1) by one’s activity: intellectual physical ordinary extraordinary within or outside the institute 2) with respect to one’s institute: —anything received because the donor intends to give to the institute and because the donor gives because one is a member of the institute • • • • —Presumption: gifts from relatives. inheritances and legacies are gifts to the private person 3) in any way as a pension. or WILL —requires a just reason —requires permission of Superior competent in proper law to hand over one’s activity/ministry and compensation to the institute (c. 285. 668. DISPOSITION. 285. 640) observance of common life in material things (c.

4. Cession of Administration of Personal Property I.1) [see p.Has the responsibility to provide for one’s own living. they usually have their own personal living space (hermitage) and contribute in some way to the common financial expenses that provide for this way of life. not the common account. selling pottery. hereby grant power of attorney and administration of my real and personal property or any property subsequently acquired by me to _______________________________________ (Name and Address) during my lifetime as a hermit. 186 Hite. investments. It articulates how the three vows are lived. one has personal financial accounts. It does not imply that they cannot individually establish funds for their personal needs. health care. In regard to the vow of poverty. _____________________________________ . vestment making.• common style of dress according to directives of the institute’s Constitutions (c. and who having made my public profession of the three evangelical counsels on _______________________. The funds received from this work would belong to the individual hermit. This should not in any way imply that they are living a common life. 3. who having received Decree of Blessing and approval from Most Rev. if living alone as most hermits do. 2. etc.“bona sua” (one’s goods or temporal property) • includes whatever is owned at the time of profession—real estate— stocks and shares or bonds—bank accounts—inheritances or legacies— income earned from a secular employment—investments Each hermit writes one’s own Rule of Life. retirement.Has the right to acquire funds to supply for one’s needs. . The bishop or diocese has no obligation to provide for the hermit’s temporal needs. 15 . but cedes the administration of the property to someone else. such as spiritual direction. savings. painting. etc. Burke in the Diocese of La Crosse on _____________________ to live the eremitic life according to Canon 603. Raymond L. . etc. 669. Holland & Ward] PERSONAL PROPERTY (or patrimony) -.Has the right to own property.If hermits agree to live in a group (Laura) or community. ongoing formation and educational experiences. the individual hermit: 1. it should be very possible for each hermit to have one’s own way of earning a living. Therefore.

if for any reason.This property is specified as follows: Item/Property Amount ($) Income derived therefrom shall be ( ) added to the principal ( ) given to ___________________________________ ___________________________________ ___________________________________ I do hereby also declare and ordain that. ordain. and remainder of my property. devise. I hereunto subscribe my name. hereinafter named pay all my just debts as soon after my decease as conveniently may be done. and bequest all the rest. FIRST. hereby revoking all former Wills made by me. and declare this to be my Last Will and Testament. do hereby make. constitute. and mixed. In witness whereof. SECOND. real. ___________________________________ of the city and county of La Crosse and State of Wisconsin. I shall be dispensed from the obligations arising from my profession of vows according to Canon 603. I order and direct that my Personal Representative. Signature_______________________________________ Date ___________________ Witnesses (1) ______________________________________________ (2) ______________________________________________ Last Will and Testament I. of which I may die seized or possessed. I give. residue. now owned and hereafter acquired by me of every nature whatsoever and wheresoever situated. both the above named Cession of Administration of my real and personal property and the disposition of the use and usufruct of said property shall cease. THIRD. or to which I may at the time of death be any way entitled. I hereby make. publish. terminate and be null and void as if it had never been made. personal. being of legal age and of sound mind and memory. to ____________________________________________ ____________________________________________ ____________________________________________ to have and to hold forever. and appoint as my Personal Representative 16 .

at her/his request. and as witnesses thereto. signed the foregoing instrument in our presence and declared the same to be her/his last Will and Testament. and in the presence of each other. EMPHASIS: • • • • to have an undivided heart in order to give total love to God in Christ “Perfect continence” is distinct from the chastity required of all Christians because it is lived out in celibacy and because it is chosen for the “Kingdom of God. I hereunto set my hand and seal this _____________________ day of ______________________________. commitment to discipleship. It involves the obligation of perfect continence observed in celibacy. in her/his presence. __________________________________ of La Crosse. Signed _________________________________________ _________________________________________ Name of Hermit On this the _______________ day of __________________________________ . agape in community. is a sign of the world to come. and openness to God. we now. 19 _____. fuller identity of what it means to live this religious commitment. State of Wisconsin.______________________________________ ______________________________________ and direct that ______________________ be allowed to serve without bond or security of any type. transforming relationships. OBLIGATIONS: • celibacy (abstention from marriage) 17 .” “Chastity.” “perfect continence” and “celibacy” are deliberately used to give a clearer. and source of greater fruitfulness in an undivided heart. 19 ___. La Crosse County. hereto subscribe our names. ___________________________________________ Residing at __________________________ ___________________________________________ Residing at _________________________ VOW OF CHASTITY Canon 599 (PC#12) The evangelical counsel of CHASTITY embraced for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven. integrity of heart. IN WITNESS WHEREOF.

#18 The evangelical counsel of OBEDIENCE. undertaken in the spirit of faith and love in the following of Christ. PC #14 and ES II. even death on a cross.) whatever is developed in the context of proper law on how the vow is to be lived within the hermit’s lifestyle and plan of life Canon 666 (c. who was obedient even unto death.” active and responsible obedience (PC #14) service rather than domination (PC #14) government should provide that all members have a share in the welfare of the whole community and a responsibility for it (PC #14) The evangelical counsels should promote the development of the human person. 277. EMPHASIS: • • • • • • freedom from excessive self love constant faith and humility Scripture: Ph 2:8 “He humbled himself becoming obedient to death. VOW OF OBEDIENCE Canon 601 and LG #46. abstention from any external or internal sexual act which violates chastity. 285. (LG #46) RIGHTS: 18 . 277) In using the means of social communication.• • perfect chastity (following from the 6th and 9th commandments. a necessary discretion is to be observed Members [The hermit] are [is] to avoid whatever is harmful to their vocation and dangerous to the CHASTITY of a consecrated person. who act in the place of God when they give commands that are in accordance with each institute’s own constitutions [each hermit’s plan of life].2.1 & 2) to avoid what is harmful to one’s state in life. obliges submission of one’s will to lawful superiors. OBLIGATIONS: • • to behave with prudence in relation to persons and situations which may endanger the obligation to continence or lead to scandal (cc.

• • • • • to an informed conscience about obedience to confidentiality. OBLIGATIONS: • • in faith. With joy and gratitude. . I ask that she live according to these directives for a period of three years. honesty and openness to recourse and representation in matters of conflict regarding obedience to be responsible directly and to deal directly with a person in authority who has legitimately designated and carefully circumscribed authority (not some group) to a responsible consideration of the desires. __________________________ __________________________ Bishop of _______ Date_______ WITNESS _______________________________________ Director of the Office of Consecrated Life III. forbid you in conscience . final approval will be given at the time of final profession as a hermit. or admonitions of Superiors whose rights are derived from the law itself. order. counsel.” to be at service for the works of one’s institute [the church] Bishop’s Decree ofApproval (Temporary) Rule of Life According to the authority I have as Bishop of the Diocese of La Crosse. to fulfill the proper laws of one’s institute [plan of life] and its authority to fulfill the serious commands of legitimate Superiors—an expressed imposition—to do or omit or fulfill something—“I command. RECOMMENDATIONS FOR STEWARDSHIP AND FINANCIAL RESOURCES 19 . If this Rule of Life proves advantageous in living the eremitical life. I receive this gift of consecrated life which the Holy Spirit entrusts to the Church. . I grant my approval and blessing to ___________________________ as she endeavors to live this Rule of Life in accordance with the tradition of the eremitic life and Canon 603 of the Code of Canon Law.

etc. professional counseling. insurance policies. Health insurance and all medical expenses (hospital.Commentary on Financial Considerations Chart of Accounts Budget Preparation Income-Expense Account Intent of Financial Independence 501©(3) Acknowledgment Form Advance Directives for Health Care Financial Matters The individual hermit is responsible for his/her financial independence. retreat or spiritual direction are considered personal income. Excess available funds should be invested rather than being held in the personal checking account. An amount may be placed in the budget for this purpose. Education: A hermit’s educational experiences are his/her responsibility and can be paid from one’s personal account. Financial Planning and Budgeting A budget. is required for the stability and financial predictability of one’s independent financial status. alms. etc. Health Care and Insurance: 1. Appropriate records must be kept. a tool for financial planning. stocks. a list of one’s next of kin 20 . optical. bonds. Budgeting for books and periodicals relating to one’s prayer and spiritual life are recommended. Personal Property: All items needed for one’s personal residence and transportation are the responsibility of the individual hermit. All money. All forms of income can be accepted in one’s personal name or the name of one’s incorporated hermitage title. In addition. doctor. THE DIOCESE CANNOT BE HELD LIABLE FOR AN INDIVIDUAL HERMIT’S FINANCIAL INDEPENDENCE or ACTIONS. 2. craft sales. a particular year’s financial experience and these recommendations can be reviewed as new budgets are developed for a new fiscal period (before July 1 each year). medical. Charity: A hermit may offer charity as one determines it necessary and is able to provide it. Past budgets. drug.) are the responsibility of the individual hermit. are the personal property of the individual hermit and are his/her responsibility. An advanced directive expressing one’s wishes in case of sudden or extreme illness is highly recommended.. Income: Funds generated from employment.

the monthly amount for Social Security taxes for a hermit under the age of 62 or 65 years is determined yearly based on the formula determined by the Social Security Office following that Bill as defined for religious.45% to future Medicare requirements. for Cession of Administration and Last Will and Testament.) Regarding Your Financial Status: You will need to pay taxes on income over $6. A hermit must file FICA or social security information and taxes.250 by filing a W-2 Form at the end of each calendar year. It is recommended that a hermit set aside these benefits for one’s retirement or living expense as the individual’s needs dictate. This equals $1. Incorporating the Hermitage: A 501©(3) non-stock and nonprofit corporation is an appropriate structure to use for a hermit. For hermits over 65 years of age. who are adults who have no connection with the diocese.75 per individual and a like amount from one’s employer. You must: —Determine a name. Medicare premiums are deducted from the Social Security benefit check before it is received. Quarterly tax reports will also be filed by the employer. 21 . premiums for Medicare are paid separately by the hermit.150 for oneself as a single dependent on one’s income.65% tax is applied to 6. The Vow of Poverty: By analogy. the hermit is required to have a will valid in civil law and to cede the administration of one’s property to a person of her choice.0765 for a total of $573. Where this is not the case.500 might be taxed by .000 plus $2.20% to future Social Security payments and 1. the 7. a salary of $7. besides yourself. —Open a bank account under the corporation’s name. For example. Social Security Tax: If the hermit elects to participate in the Social Security program. Typically. (See II. (Canon 19) the canonical requirements regarding the vow of poverty for a member of a religious institute can be applied to a canonical hermit who professes the vow of poverty. Social Security Benefits: Benefit checks for hermits qualifying under the Social Security Bill for religious or other categories are received monthly. Thereby. An individual hermit is allowed a standard deduction of $4. —Name two other directors. 3.147. the Social Security tax will be paid partially by one’s employer on a monthly basis. If employed.50 payment per year.or significant relationships should be filed with the Office of Consecrated Life for purposes of notification in case of serious injury or death.

Salary: Monthly or bimonthly payments from one’s employment Expense Accounts Art/Craft Supplies: Cost of the supplies used for crafts Business Costs: Cost of mailings. 22 . correspondence related to hermit’s independent business enterprises Car Maintenance & Repair: The cost of upkeep. etc. —Be prepared for $100-$200 in legal fees for the preparation of the documents and for filing them with the state. the register of deeds. Wages may be paid directly to you and deposited in the corporation account.—File an annual report. vestments. Donations to you may be written to the corporation itself and deposited in the account. driver’s license. books. CHART of ACCOUNTS Statement of Income and Expense Income Accounts Craft/Gift Sales: Funds derived from the sale of items such as cards. oil changes. calligraphy. benefactors. etc. e. Donations: Funds received as gifts from family. automobile insurance.00 or more must be acknowledged to the donor. etc. Investment Income: Income from personal savings Other: Funds generated from any specific project from which a separate accounting of funds is desirable. Charity: Gifts and charity to persons or organizations Computer Supplies: Cost of print cartridges. Donations of $250.. paper. including gas. icons. An appropriate form is included at the end of this chapter. the Newsletter income Refunds: Return of a payment (from sale items) which reduces income. the return of a payment must be subtracted from that particular income line. candles. periodic servicing and repairs.g. brochures. friends. etc.

items used for food preparation. UPS. records. Personal: Clothing. etc. periodicals. seminars. workshops. personal needs such as hair care. stationery Other Medical: Costs of medicine. oculist. related postal insurance for mailing Property Insurance: Cost of insurance for personal properties Property Tax: Taxes on property which have not been declared tax exempt Recreation/Vacation: Expenses related to periodic cultural experiences. hearing aids. continuing education units. foot care. and related dietary supplies Health Insurance: Premiums for health insurance Hermitage Improvements: Cost of substantial repair or improvement to the hermitage or the property House Maintenance: Repair and upkeep of minor equipment and house repairs House Supplies: Cost of laundry supplies. Electricity: Costs for electrical services Finance Charges: Finance charges from credit cards or other Food/Dietary: Cost of all food. etc. or any other loan or credit plan Office Supplies: General expense for the house such as office supplies. 23 . such as courses for credit.Education: Cost of educational experiences. chiropractor. personal stationery. entertainment. postage. light bulbs. dry cleaning of household materials. tapes Mortgage Payments: Funds used for the periodic payment on the purchase price of properties. etc. and normal household supplies such as cleaning materials. Library: Cost of books. etc. visits to one’s family. a new car. Postal Service: Cost of postage. etc.

Reimbursed Expense: Funds paid to cover an existing expense (for example, insurance premium payment from another source to be used to reimburse the expense of health insurance) Retirement: Funds set aside for future retirement Retreat/Religious: Expenses related to retreat, chapel and religious services, Mass stipends, religious articles, etc. Social Security: Payments made by the individual hermit toward social security Telephone: Expenditures for all types of telephone, fax, and telegraph services, including installation Travel: Expenses for transportation such as airfare, train fare, bus fare, meals, hotel, and similar costs associated with traveling which exclude automobile services and those items listed under recreation/vacation BUDGET PREPARATION ACTUAL YEAR END BUDGET FOR NEW YEAR INCOME Date +Craft/Gift Sales $ $ + Donations +Investment Income +Other + Refunds + Salary EXPENSE - Art/Craft Supplies $ $ - Business Costs - Car Maintenance & Rep. - Charity - Computer Supplies - Education - Electricity - Finance Charges - Food/Dietary - Health Insurance - HermitageImprove’t - House Maintenance - House Supplies - Library - Mortgage Payments - Office Supplies - Other Medical Costs


- Personal - Postal Service - Property Insurance - Property Tax - Recreation/Vacation - Reimbursed Expense - Retirement - Retreat/Religious - Social Security - Telephone - Travel TOTAL EXPENSE Less Income NET BALANCE OPERATING INCOME - EXPENSE ACCOUNT INCOME January February March April May June July August September October November December +Craft Sales +Donations +Investment +Other + Refunds +Salary EXPENSE -Craft Supp. -BusinessCost -Car -Charity -Computer -Education -Electricity -Finance Ch. -Food/Diet. -Health Ins. -Hermitage -House Mai. -House Sup. -Library -Mortgage -OfficeSupp. -Other Med. -Personal -Postal Serv. -PropertyIn. -Prop. Tax -Recreation -Reimbursed -Retirement -Retreat/Rel.


-Social Secu. -Telephone -Travel TOTAL -Income NET

TAX EXEMPTION • • • A Federal ID # comes with 501©(3) status. An individual can take tax deduction based on that. Gifts and donations need to be acknowledged with the appropriate form on corporation letterhead. After 501©(3) has arrived, fill out forms for a tax exempt number for purchasing goods for the hermitage corporation. This form asks for the Federal ID #. If applied for prior to getting the 501©(3), you could say “applied for.” It is not necessary to register in Wisconsin to solicit funds. A seller’s permit is required if a hermit sells crafts or other items as part of an income producing business.

• •

(Name of Hermitage) Gift Acknowledgment Date:__________________________ This acknowledgment of your contribution to the (Name of Hermitage) is provided pursuant to section 170 (f) (8) of the Internal Revenue Code. Name of Contributor: ____________________________ Address of Contributor:_____________________________ _____________________________ Date of Contribution: _____________________________ Amount of Cash Contribution: $_____________________________ Description of Non-Cash Contribution: _____________________________ Check as appropriate ________ The (Name of Hermitage) either did not provide any goods or services in whole or partial consideration for the above contribution OR provided only intangible religious benefits.


________ The (Name of Hermitage) provided the donor with the following goods and services in return for the above contribution: _________________________________________________ _________________________________________________ The estimated value of these goods and services is $______________________ The amount of your contribution deductible for federal income tax purposes is limited to the excess of the amount contributed over the estimated value of the goods and services indicated above. (This statement will satisfy the section 6115 disclosure rules if acknowledgment is provided at the time of payment.) The (Name of Hermitage) By: __________________________________ Its: __________________________________ 1. The Office of General Counsel gratefully acknowledges the efforts of Vince Whelan, Esq. of San Diego, CA, in the development of this form. 2. It is important to date the acknowledgement form provided to the donor. Acknowledgement may be provided to the donor at the time of the gift, at the end of the year, or upon request. 3. A contributor’s social security number is not required. 4. These two statements have been combined until such time as the IRS clarifies its position on deductibility of payments solely for intangible religious benefits. However, they may also be stated separately. ADVANCE DIRECTIVES FOR HEALTH CARE Developed by the La Crosse Area Medical Centers’ Task Force on Advance Directives As a capable adult, you have many legal rights. You should be told about your medical options. You can decide to accept or refuse these options. You may also record your views about treatment in an advance directive. FORMAL or INFORMAL Your advance directive may be a formal, statutory document like either the Wisconsin “Declaration to Physicians” or the “Power of Attorney for Health Care.” Or you may choose to record your wishes informally. You are not required to record your wishes on a specific form. If you’re not a Wisconsin resident, we advise that you consider using forms from your own state, even if you’re receiving care elsewhere.


Home: Work: Date of Birth: 28 . you or your surrogate may consider transferring care to another physician or requesting consultation with the hospital’s Ethics Committee. It is assumed you want cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) attempted in the event your heart or breathing stops. A physician will review an advance directive before entering or removing it from the medical record. Your health care will not be affected if you decide against it. If there is a concern or complaint about honoring the wishes in an advance directive.You are encouraged to put your wishes in writing after discussing them with others. unless it is against your wishes or is clearly futile. If it is against your wishes. DIRECTIVES ARE OPTIONAL Making an advance directive is an option. particularly your family. EMERGENCY CARE Your medical record (including your advance directive) may not be instantly available in a crisis and medical staff will begin emergency care that may sustain your life. If a physician has a concern about honoring your wishes. As long as you are capable. IV. please contact the Patient Representative. please consult your physician. REQUEST FORMS for CANON 603 STATUS Application Form List of Required Documents Recommendation Request Waiver of Claim Release of Information Concerning Behavioral Assessment Form for Addresses of Relatives and Significant Others REQUEST FOR EREMITIC LIFE Canon 603 Status Diocese of La Crosse. WI Name Address Telephone . This review assures you and the health facility that documents are authentic. you may change or revoke your advance directive at any time. Treatment can be stopped if it is discovered that it’s not what you would have wanted.

6. death. job. married. and how this has affected your life. children.) 1. What do you hope for yourself five years from now? 29 . 8. Describe how you feel about your life right now. 5. If you are divorced or widowed. etc. What are your expectations of eremitic life? PERSONAL BACKGROUND: (Supply this information in an autobiographical narrative. departure from a religious institute. Write about your parents and your relationship with them. fire.Check categories which apply to you:       Single Widowed Divorced Annulment Former Member of Religious Institute Exclaustration GENERAL INFORMATION 1. How have your family relationships influenced you? 4. 10. 9. partnership. Who is your primary support person? Describe your relationship in terms of communication. distance. How did you learn about eremitical life? 2. how have you coped. 3. Have you or anyone in your family struggled with alcoholism or other dependencies? If so. Explain your reasons for seeking canonical status as a hermit in the Diocese of La Crosse. List any other significant losses or grieving you have experienced. Describe your present relationships—single. 2 What was it like to grow up in your family? 3. for example. how have you dealt with these losses? 7.

spiritual director. counselor. 19. serious or terminal illnesses. stress. What attracts you to eremitical life? 23. Describe God in your life. Comment on chronic conditions. stewardship of resources. What are your attitudes and practices regarding conservation. 12. 30 . Comment on how you relate to the environment. What are your current faith practices? 15. Describe your religious education and the effect it has had on your life. physical disability. contemplation. What hope do you have for the church in the next five to ten years? Health/Lifestyle 18. Briefly describe your faith development from childhood to the present. Describe your emotional health. support group. seeking out a friend. Comment on your potential for financial independence. What are your goals for growth in your spiritual life for the next five years? 17. poverty. What part does service or ministry hold in your present life? 24. What is your attitude toward life and living? 20. Describe your physical health. Have there been any significant changes in your religious practices over the past five years? 16. or other limitations. etc? Eremitical Life 22.Religious/Faith Development and Practices 11. and solitude and how these have been or will be integrated into your present lifestyle? 25. etc. 14. What are your life coping skills? (e. penance. What personal gifts and skills do you offer for promoting your own material sustenance? 26.) 21. Reflect on the values of conversion. 13. taking a walk.g.

REQUIRED DOCUMENTATION To Accompany Application for Canonical Status As a Canon 603 Hermit Diocese of La Crosse Vita or resume: A summary of your educational background A summary of your past employment experience Sacramental Records: Baptismal Certificate Confirmation Certificate Declaration of Nullity of Marriage (if applicable) Academic Records: High school diploma or GED Certificate Undergraduate transcripts College diploma Graduate transcripts Masters/doctoral degree(s) Documents pertaining to Public Profession of Vows: (as applicable) Record of temporary vows Record of perpetual vows Indult of dispensation from vows in a religious institute Cession of administration of property Decree of approval of Rule of Plan of Life (Canon 603) Civil documents: (if applicable) Tax exemption forms Social Security number Employer Identification Incorporation Health: Physician’s medical report Behavioral assessment Recommendations: Bishop or designated delegate of bishop Three persons who know you well—pastor or pastoral associate—spiritual director—a person of your choice REQUEST FOR RECOMMENDATION Office of Consecrated Life Diocese of La Crosse 3710 East Avenue South La Crosse. WI 54601 31 .

emotional and psychological maturity. WI 54601 A prompt reply would be appreciated. the aim of which is to make a commitment as a publicly professed hermit according to Canon 603. She/he has given your name as one who knows her. Office of Consecrated Life Diocese of La Crosse 3710 East Avenue South La Crosse. consciousness and concern for others. keeping in mind such qualities as: sincerity and authenticity. Will you please complete an appraisal to assist in the initial evaluation of her request? Your assistance will be greatly appreciated. Please mail this form to: Director. and that I am to be responsible for all my financial obligations. capacity for relationships. sense of humor. The Diocese of La Crosse shall not be responsible for any of my financial obligations or personal actions. stability. WAIVER of CLAIM I. do hereby testify that I fully understand that I am to maintain financial independence. etc. ______________________________. dependability. How long have you known the applicant? ____________ years or months How frequent was your contact with this person? ______________________________ How recently were you associated with the applicant in this capacity? ______________ Are you aware of any reason why it would not be appropriate for this person to consecrate herself/himself in this form of life? ________________________________ In the space below and on the reverse side of this paper.Dear _____________________________ has made application with the Diocese of La Crosse to begin a process. self-esteem. Hermit_____________________________ (Typed Name) 32 . intending to commit myself to the holy plan of following Christ more closely as a publicly professed hermit according to the approved rite of the Roman Catholic Church on___________________________. please write a brief appraisal of the applicant. personal initiative. THANK YOU.

_____________________________ ( Signature) Address_____________________________ Diocesan Representative_____________________________ (Typed Name) _____________________________ (Signature) Title_____________________________ Date_____________________________ RELEASE of INFORMATION Behavioral Assessment I. _________________________________grant permission for the release of the Behavioral Assessment Report on my behalf regarding my request for Canon 603 eremitic status in the Diocese of La Crosse. Person(s) or Agency to Receive Information Name Address __________________________________________ __________________________________________ __________________________________________ Requested by: (name of person assessed) ____________________________________________ Signature ____________________________________________ Address ____________________________________________ ____________________________________________ Date 33 .

Box 4004 La Crosse. Items needed for the rite: • • • • • • • • Ring Bishop’s Chair Prayer Garment Table at side Documents Rule or Plan of Life Copy of Vow Formula Bible 34 . friends.____________________________________________ Witness Signature FORM FOR ADDRESSES OF RELATIVES and OTHER SIGNIFICANT RELATIONSHIPS Name of Hermit _______________________________________________ (Family Name) (First Name) RELATIVES Please return this form to: Office of Consecrated Life Diocese of La Crosse P. (The bishop’s chair may be placed in front of the altar. bread and wine should be prepared for the ministers. WI 54602-4004 V.) For the Eucharistic celebration.O. the candidate. and other religious. The Rite of Profession of the Evangelical Counsels for a person following the eremitic way of life Rite A Rite B Rite A THE RITE of PUBLIC PROFESSION of the Evangelical Counsels for a person following the Eremitic Life The consecration ordinarily takes place at the chair. her relatives.

. 35 . your Son. you have caused the grace of baptism to bear such fruit in your servant (Name). b) The profession of faith is not said. since they are included in the litany of the saints. that she now strives to follow your Son more closely. . Strengthen her by your love as she professes the evangelical counsels. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ. We ask this through Christ our Lord. one God. AMEN PRAYER OVER THE GIFTS: Pray. who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit. brothers and sisters . for ever and ever. accept the gifts and the vows of your servant (Name). Let her rightly aim at truly evangelical perfection and increase the holiness and apostolic zeal of your Church. d) The sign of peace concludes the vow ceremony and is therefore omitted in the fraction rite. c) The general intercessions are omitted. developing the Scripture readings and the theme of eremitic life as a chosen way of life— how it sanctifies those called to it and promotes the good of the Church and the whole human family. except for the following: a) Readings are taken from suggestions given in Rites II. HOMILY The bishop gives a short homily to the candidate and the people. PROFESSION OF PERPETUAL VOWS (Name) (Date) (Place) OPENING PRAYER: God our Father. Lord.LITURGY OF THE WORD The liturgy of the Word takes place as usual.

offering himself to you as a perfect oblation. all-powerful and ever-living God. Grant that she may give witness in your Church to the new and eternal life won by Christ’s redemption. Lord.AMEN. and promised that they would find a heavenly treasure. 36 . we do well always and everywhere to give you thanks through Jesus Christ our Lord. the son of a virgin mother. AMEN SOLEMN BLESSING: God inspires all holy desires and brings them to fulfillment. PRAYER AFTER COMMUNION: Let us pray. who is Lord for ever and ever. Increase in her the fire of your Holy Spirit and unite her in eternal fellowship with your Son. PREFACE OF RELIGIOUS PROFESSION: Father.” there is added: Strengthen also (Name). He came. “your Son has gained for you. EUCHARISTIC PRAYER III After the words. and taught by his whole life the perfection of chastity. He consecrated more closely to your service those who leave all things for your sake. And so. for she has dedicated herself by the bonds of religious consecration to serve you always. this servant of yours in her holy purpose. we pray for your servant (Name) who is bound to you by her holy offering. named those blessed who were pure of heart. with all the angels and saints we proclaim your glory and join in their unending hymn of praise. and became obedient even to dying for us. as we share these sacred mysteries. He chose always to fulfill your holy will.

Are you now resolved to unite yourself more closely to God by 37 . He uses these words: BISHOP: (Name). Examination The bishop then questions her on her readiness to dedicate herself to God and to seek perfect charity. and the Holy Spirit. AMEN. The candidate comes forward. and the Son. BISHOP: (Name). (RESPONSE: AMEN) May God make of you a witness and a sign of divine love for all people. the bishop with miter and staff. May the bonds which bind you to Christ on earth endure forever in heavenly love. May Almighty God. He invites the candidate to come forward in the following words. Come. for the glory of God and the service of the Church. CONSECRATION and RELIGIOUS PROFESSION Calling of the Candidate After the Gospel and the homily. the Father. in baptism you have already died to sin and have been set aside for God’s service. AMEN. AMEN. that the Lord may receive the resolution you have formed in your heart. goes to the chair and sits. so that you may fulfill the duties of your vocation with a faithful heart. what do you ask of God and the Church? (Candidate): I ask to make perpetual profession of the evangelical counsels. BISHOP: (Name of candidate). bless all of you who have taken part in this sacred celebration.May God protect you always by the gift of grace. living an eremitic life of prayer and penance. May the Lord enable you to travel in the joy of Christ as you follow along his way. according to the Rule of Life which has been given a decree of approval. All in the assembly sit.

in humble labor and holiness of life? (Candidate): I AM. in solitude and silence. The cantor leads the litany of saints. Invitation to Prayer Then all stand. the bishop confirms the candidate’s intention to be professed. AMEN. he will pour out the Holy Spirit of love on this servant who has been chosen to be consecrated to the service of God’s reign. Litany of Saints Then the bishop. without his miter and staff. the candidate and the people kneel. in persevering prayer and willing penance. BISHOP: Are you resolved to give yourself to God alone. and the bishop. celibacy. invites the people to pray. in these words. the ministers. BISHOP: Dearly beloved. BISHOP: May God who has begun the good work in you bring it to fulfillment before the day of Christ Jesus. AMEN. Petitions suitable to the occasion may be added. our Lord Jesus Christ that. At the end of the questions. by the intercessions of the Blessed Mary and all the saints.the bonds of poverty. let us pray to God the Almighty Father through his Son. BISHOP: Are you resolved to strive steadfastly for perfection in the love of God and of your neighbor by living the Gospel with all your heart and keeping the Rule of Life which you have espoused and to which I have given my blessing? (Candidate): I AM. 38 . and obedience in the eremitic tradition? (Candidate): I AM.

BISHOP Loving Father and Source of all life. the bishop alone rises. the hermit kneels. with miter and staff sits. (Sample formulas at end of Rite A. that your gift of self. The bishop putting aside miter and staff. the assistant invites everyone to stand. and with hands joined. whom you have called in your love. AMEN. Look with favor on your servant. The bishop. Standing before the Bishop and the witnesses. Set her on the way of eternal salvation. may be brought to perfection Prayer of Consecration After the profession of vows. prays: BISHOP: Lord. pages 61 and 62) ACCEPTANCE OF VOWS: BISHOP: By the authority entrusted to me. act as witnesses. the candidate makes her profession. hear the prayers of your Church. (Name). and prays the prayer of consecration. made one with the sacrifice of the Eucharist. I earnestly commend you to God. We ask this through Christ our Lord. and in the name of the Church. standing.When the litany is concluded. I receive your vows made to God. The Director of the Office of Consecrated Life and the Concelebrants come to the Chair of the Bishop and. extends his hands over her. Look with favor on your servant. The candidate comes forward and declares her profession of the vows. Profession of Vows After the prayer. and with hand on the Holy Scriptures held by the Director of the Office of Consecrated Life. may she seek only what is pleasing to you. and fulfill it with watchful care. (Name) She places in your hands her resolve to live 39 .

kindness. one God for ever and ever. The professed hermit stands. May she love you and fear you. your Son. strengthen her by your blessings and consecration. the bishop and people sit. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ. her whole desire. protection in the midst of injustice. May her life deserve our praise. freedom and the warmth of love to love you above all others. her joy. riches in poverty. food in fasting. give her right judgment. without seeking to be praised. Be her comfort in sorrow. Protect her as she seeks your help. Be yourself her glory. and true wisdom. her her her her her her wisdom in perplexity. May she give you glory by holiness of action and purity of heart. 40 . and she gives you her heart. gentleness with strength of character. may she find all things in possessing you. remedy in times of sickness. You inspire her in these vows. who lives and reigns with you and the Holy poverty. ************* EXHORTATION ON THE SYMBOLS OF CONSECRATION The Ring After the prayer of consecration. (Name) has chosen you above all things. celibacy. ALL: AMEN. may she love you and serve you. and obedience. patience in adversity. Through the gift of your Spirit.

Never forget that you are bound to the service of Christ and of His body. 1) 41 . THE SIGN OF PEACE The Bishop extends the Sign of Peace to the hermit. this prayer garment. LITURGY OF THE EUCHARIST PROFESSION of the EVANGELICAL COUNSELS (VOW FORMULA NO. Everyone takes their place and the Liturgy of the Eucharist then follows. She signs it. The Director of the Office of Consecrated Life assists the hermit in putting on the prayer garment. is a sign of your consecration as a hermit sister. the bishop prays. Pray without ceasing for the salvation of the whole world. The Prayer Garment (or other symbol of eremitic life) The Bishop presents the prayer garment. Be faithful to your God. Placing his hand on the hermit’s. and the Concelebrants as witnesses. (or other symbol) SIGNING THE DOCUMENTS After the symbols of consecration have been received. BISHOP: (Name).(The candidate) receives the ring on the day of first profession of vows. (Candidate): AMEN. BISHOP: (Name). (Candidate): AMEN. may the praise of God be always on your lips. the hermit goes to the altar and places on it the formula of profession. that you may one day be admitted to the wedding feast of everlasting joy. wear the ring that marks you as a Bride of Christ. This is shared with the ministers at the altar and with relatives and friends in the attending congregation. the Church. as does the Bishop. assisted by the Director of the Office of Consecrated Life. the Director of the Office of Consecrated Life. As you wear it in times of prayer.

2) I. my mother and model of contemplation. _______________________________ Professed hermit 42 . and to whom I vow. and of the Son. _________________ . gospel poverty and obedience. to live poverty. this I pray. Joseph. according to the approved Rule of Life for a Hermit and under the authority of the Bishop of the Diocese of La Crosse. May the Word of God which I touch with my hand today be my life and my inspiration. and into your hands. Amen. St. Jesus Christ. and all the angels and saints be my help all the days of my life. I earnestly desire to respond to the gift of vocation to the eremitical life and freely follow the inspiration of grace to a hidden apostolic fruitfulness in a life of prayerful contemplation as a solitary hermit. as Bishop of the Diocese of La Crosse to accept my vows in the name of the Church. and strengthened and made new by his transforming presence. ________________. With joy. Place: ______________________________________ Date: ______________________ Signature of the Professed Hermit ___________________________________________ Signature of the Bishop :____________________________________________________ (Or his delegate) Witnesses: ___________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________ Profession of the Evangelical Counsels (VOW FORMULA NO. I trust in God’s enduring love and mercy. the Son. vow to God Almighty. chastity and obedience for (three years. of Mary. Bishop Raymond Burke. prayer and penance. consecrated celibacy. This I do in the presence of our Eucharistic Lord. I ______________________________________ come before you Triune God to make my profession to live out my baptismal commitment more fully. according to my personal Rule of Life as a hermit. and grant me your blessing. of Joseph. I ask you. May the grace of the Holy Spirit and the intercession of Holy Mary Mother of God. do give myself totally to Jesus whom I adore. AMEN. for life). patron of the interior life and protector of the universal Church and before the whole Heavenly court. in the name of the Father. and the Holy Spirit. I seal this covenant of solitude.In the name of the Father. and of the Holy Spirit. I offer myself to God and vow to live this consecration for _____________ years.

The whole liturgical service should be celebrated with fitting solemnity. The profession takes place in the sanctuary. 8. 2. Seats should be so arranged in the sanctuary for the one making profession that the faithful may have a complete view of the liturgical rites. it is preferable that the Mass be concelebrated. but an appearance of lavishness unbecoming to evangelical poverty should be avoided. the rite may take place in the cathedral. in accordance with the rubrics. parish church._______________________________ +Bishop Raymond L. 4. or to permit larger attendance. 7. The Mass is that of the liturgy of the day. 6. 43 . Burke Bishop of La Crosse _____________________ _____________________ ___________________________ Date Rite B THE RITE of PUBLIC PROFESSION of the Evangelical Counsels for a person following the Eremitic Life 1. The rite of public profession for a hermit takes place separately from other rites of religious profession in an institute of consecrated life. Where possible and if the needs of the faithful do not demand individual celebrations by the priests present. It is fitting that the rite of profession by which a hermit binds oneself to God should take place on a Sunday or a solemnity of the Lord. 9. Notice of the day and hour should be given to the faithful in good time so that they may attend. of the Blessed Virgin Mary. 5. In order to promote esteem for the eremitical life. 3. or some other notable church. or of a saint distinguished in the living of the eremitical life. or the ritual Mass for the day of perpetual profession may be used. The profession made to the diocesan bishop ordinarily takes place at the chair. to give edification to the People of God.

EXAMINATION of the CANDIDATE 44 . INTRODUCTION 12. Creator of heaven and earth? ASSEMBLY: I do. rose from the dead. When they come to the sanctuary. the resurrection of the body. the holy Catholic Church. while the choir and the people sing the entrance song. 11. requires the baptismal rededication of all in creed. the forgiveness of sin. Profession is achieved in radical conformity with the baptismal commitment that transforms everyone in Christ.the ritual for public profession of the evangelical counsels. PROFESSION of FAITH 15. the one making profession. and life everlasting? ASSEMBLY: I do. the presider welcomes the assembly to a celebration that belongs to all.the symbols used to designate public consecration of the hermit. the communion of saints. In addition to what is needed for Mass. Enough bread and wine for consecration should be prepared for the ministers. therefore. After the sign of the cross and greeting. do you believe in God. and is now seated at the right hand of the Father? ASSEMBLY: I do. -. 13. PRESIDER: Do you believe in Jesus Christ. The one to be professed joins in the procession. died and was buried. PRESIDER: Do you believe in the Holy Spirit. his only Son our Lord. PRESIDER: I ask all of you who are baptized in Christ. who was born of the Virgin Mary.10. To enter appropriately into this celebration. When the people are assembled and everything is ready. there should also be ready: -. was crucified. her relatives and friends. the procession moves through the church to the altar in the usual way. the Father Almighty. water and prayer. all make the customary reverence to the altar and go to their places. 14.

His obedience to your will our promise of eternal life. Create in us a new heart. PRESIDER: (Name). washes away our sins. (Pause) Holy and eternal God. Fortify us with your Word. (Presider sprinkles the assembly. ASSEMBLY: Thanks be to God! SPRINKLING RITE 17. now and forever. We make this and every prayer in the name of Jesus who is our hope and our joy.) 45 . Let his charity be our mission. What further do you ask this day of the Lord and the church? HERMIT: I am firm in my baptismal faith and know that it is the way to eternal life. We bless you for this holy sign that brings life and freshness to the earth. I ask today that I might be allowed to live out this baptismal commitment as a publicly professed hermit and so give glory to God and serve the church for the rest of my life. we ask you to send your living Spirit upon this water and upon those present who have already found rebirth in the font of your love. With gratitude for your fidelity surpassing every hope. PRESIDER: Let us bless God who has given us this faith and who confirms our commitment in these baptismal waters. We give you thanks for our creation and redemption symbolized in this living water. so we may reject all that is evil and embrace the way of your Son. Renew the living spring of your life especially in our sister/brother (Name). and enliven us with zeal for your house. and inaugurates us into the way of eternal life.16. His poverty our strength. who this day offers her/himself to you with a willing and joyful spirit. AMEN. you have been consecrated to the Lord through baptism and therein have found the promise of eternal life.

Let her/him aim at true evangelical perfection and increase the holiness and apostolic zeal of your Church. and to embrace the Gospel of life. preferring God who is the Creator of all? 46 . The world is attractive.OPENING PRAYER 18. Who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit. The Liturgy of the Word takes place as usual. Before committing yourself to this way of life. and the bishop or his delegate questions her on her readiness to dedicate herself to God and to seek perfect charity. your Son. Are you ready to set aside this world as the basis of your hopes. 22. but more lovely is the One Who created it. Beautiful indeed is this world. PUBLIC PROFESSION Examination 21. PRESIDER: Let us pray: God our Father. according to her Plan of Life or Rule approved by the church. PRESIDER: Dear (Name). to speak again your resolve to live as a hermit. This day you have renewed your baptismal commitment. the one to be professed stands. that she/he now strives to follow your Son more closely. Having observed your desire and persistence to follow an eremitic life. Great indeed is this world. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ. One God for ever and ever. LITURGY of the WORD 19. After the homily. you have caused the grace of baptism to bear such fruit in your servant. 20. listened to the Word of God and attended to the challenge of the Church. I ask you in the presence of this community and almighty God. to strive for holiness. I am confident of your ability to follow the way of the desert. but far more beautiful is the One Who formed it. but greater by far is the One Who made it. The homily or address should develop the scriptural readings and the theme of eremitical profession as God’s gift and call for the sanctification of the one chosen and for the good of the Church and the whole human family.

Let us kneel. 24. PRESIDER: Dear friends in Christ. 47 . WITH GOD’S HELP. PRESIDER: May Almighty God. particularly composed for the occasion. The one to be professed kneels or prostrates herself. During the Easter Season and on all Sundays. in humble work and holiness of life. A special time of prayer is observed. with the gift of divine grace make this possible for you. obedient to me and my successors. PRESIDER: Are you now resolved to unite yourself more closely to God and the Church by the bond of public profession of the evangelical counsels? HERMIT: I AM. in silence and solitude. for the sanctification of the Church and the salvation of the world? HERMIT: I AM.HERMIT: I AM. May God strengthen her in her holy purpose. and by keeping your Rule of Life as a solitary in the heart of the Church? HERMIT: I AM. PRESIDER: Are you resolved to live a life of evangelical poverty and chastity. using one of the following: a) A period of silence. let us pray to God for this servant who has been called to the eremitical life. PRESIDER: Are you resolved to strive steadfastly for perfection by living the Gospel with all your heart. in persevering prayer and willing penance. PRESIDER: Are you resolved to live for God alone. May she be blessed with the grace and love of God. The assembly kneels. b) A common prayer. and to persevere in it all the days of your life? HERMIT: I AM. PRAYER FOR DIVINE GRACE 23. The presider kneels at the altar. all stand except the one to be professed.

Give this servant of yours the grace of perseverance. Lord. Mother of God. Christ. Christ. Lord. have mercy. have mercy. d) An adapted form of the Litany of the Saints. Lord. such as: Lord. Lord. 48 . have mercy. hear our prayer. Saint Michael Holy angels of God Saint John the Baptist Saint John Saint Mary Magdalene Saint Paul of Thebes Saint Anthony Saint Hilarion Saint Macarius Saint Arsenius Saint Mary of Egypt Saint Basil Saint Augustine Saint Benedict Saint Francis and Saint Clare Saint Dominic and Saint Catherine of Siena Saint Ignatius of Loyola Saint Rose of Lima Saint Herman of Alaska All holy hermits of God All holy men and women Lord. have mercy. and consecrate her to your service. Give all who profess the Gospel counsels a fuller share in the work of redemption.c) An invocation to the Holy Spirit. make her holy. Holy Mary. Lead all people to the fullness of Christian life. the firstborn among many. have mercy. Make this servant of yours more and more like Christ. From all evil From every sin From everlasting death By your coming as man By your death and rising to new life By your gift of the Holy Spirit Be merciful to us sinners. be merciful Lord. save your people. Pray for us. have mercy. Bless this servant.

The professed hermit then kneels before the bishop for the blessing. all return to their places. Then the PRESIDER ALONE rises and says. Prepare the heart of your servant for consecration to your service. in your goodness and wisdom you were pleased to reveal yourself and to make known the mystery of your will. Kneeling before the bishop. 25. ASSEMBLY: AMEN PRESIDER: Let all arise. hear our prayer.) 27. with hands joined. Christ. 49 . By the grace of the Holy Spirit purify her from all sin and set her on fire with your love. Christ. or may be written by the hermit herself. The newly professed goes to the altar to place on it her formula of profession and signs it upon the altar itself. PROFESSION of the VOWS 26. hear our prayer. The presider and the assembly stand. HERMIT: (Vow formulas are found at the end of RITE A [pages 54 and 55]. the one to be professed places her hands in his. hear us. with hands raised over the professed hermit. grant the prayers of your people. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Lord. Lord. and a land not his own. SOLEMN BLESSING for the PROFESSED HERMIT 28. The bishop and two designated witnesses also sign the document. The presider. From the fullness of your love you addressed our ancestors as your friends and moved among them in order to invite and receive them into your own company. She professes her vows as prepared beforehand. hear us. hear our prayer. When brought out under the stars of night you promised him a destiny in his offspring. resting them upon the Book of Sacred Scriptures. Lord Jesus. Lord Jesus. two members of the assembly stand near the chair of the presider to act as witnesses. After the prayer for divine grace. Son of the Living God. prays the following blessing: Father in heaven. After this. Abraham was alone when he received the three messengers and realized that he had encountered you.Jesus.

United with Him. PRESENTATION of the INSIGNIA of PROFESSION 50 . for ever and ever. where they may gaze with open eye on the beauty of your face. And after a life lived in profound communion with the whole Church and people of the world. and so prepared them for the coming of your Son and the proclamation of your Kingdom. professing a pioneer’s life on the frontier keep her from all harm and preserve her from the wiles of the enemy. Fortified by prayer and penance may she experience in her own life the mystery of the death and resurrection of your Son. he went alone to Horeb and there in the solitude of the cave he heard your voice in the voice of silence. As the dawn of salvation drew nigh. Lord. John the Baptizer lived as a stranger to the ways of his people. and gained strength for the contest of life by the obedience of faith. look with favor upon this servant of yours who has dedicated her life to you by public profession to follow the way of the desert. you called him up the mountain alone to meet you again and to reaffirm the covenant with your people by the giving of the Law. with the strength of the meal provided by an angel. Elijah detached himself from the other prophets to take his lonely journey into the desert and to experience your Providence. Finally. your servant Moses stood bare-footed before the burning bush as you revealed your holy name. she is united to all. Later. Send forth upon her the Holy Spirit that she may be strengthened by the gift of your seven-fold grace. your Son. one God. May she carry out her holy resolve to live in solitude. in the same desert. was driven into the wilderness of Judea to meet his adversary. bless her.In the solitude of the desert. who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit. ASSEMBLY: AMEN. Secluded in her hermitage. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ. anointed with the power of the Spirit. prayer and penance for the love of Christ. and all your saints with the fulfillment of rest in the Promised Land. with sheep as his only companions. your beloved Son.

We ask you to bless this garment which our holy predecessors wore as a sign of humility when they determined to renounce the world. and love. PRESIDER: (Name).) PRESIDER: Receive these Holy Scriptures. (If a garment is to be blessed.) PRESIDER: Lord. bless this ring which we bless + in your name. HERMIT: THANKS BE TO GOD! SIGN OF PEACE 51 . (If a ring is blessed. May your servant who wears this garb merit to be clothed with immortality. for you live and reign forever and ever. You clothed yourself with the garb of our mortal flesh in the immaculate womb of the Virgin Mary. good will. Receive this ring as a reminder of your love of God and your public profession to the eremitical life.) PRESIDER: Lord. and wait on him to provide as is pleased by God. (The presentation of the Sacred Scriptures upon which public profession was made. Jesus Christ. Grant that she who wears it may always have a deep faith in you. Trust in God. created according to God in justice and holiness of truth. to the honor and glory of the Most Holy Trinity. 30. HERMIT: AMEN. (If the garment is to be placed upon the newly professed hermit:) PRESIDER: Be renewed in the spirit of your mind and be clothed in the new person. 31. ASSEMBLY: AMEN. May she do your will in peace. We ask this through Christ our Lord.29. ASSEMBLY: AMEN.

32. + bless all of you who have taken part in this celebration. FINAL BLESSING PRESIDER: God inspires all holy desires and brings them to fulfillment. + and the Holy Spirit. A Ritual for the Blessing of a Hermitage CEREMONY FOR THE BLESSING OF HERMITAGES Bishop: Let us sing God’s praise. The hermit returns to her place. PRESIDER: May God make each of you a witness and sign of the love of God for all people. When the presentation of the insignia is completed. This ritual originated in the Diocese of Grand Rapids. or after the prayer of solemn blessing. the presider and members of the community may give a sign of peace to the newly professed hermit and to each other. ASSEMBLY: AMEN. ASSEMBLY: AMEN. 33. 52 . so that you may fulfill the requirements of your vocation with a faithful heart. Robert Johnston. VI. PRESIDER: May God make those bonds with which you are bound to Christ on earth endure for ever in heavenly love. + and the Son. All: Let us go forth upon the journey. Go now in peace and the love of Christ among us! ASSEMBLY: AMEN. the Father. The Eucharistic Liturgy continues. and was most probably prepared by Rev. OP. PRESIDER: And may Almighty God. May God protect you always by divine grace. ASSEMBLY: AMEN.

perpetual joy. inaccessible refuge. we praise You. Come. make Your abode in me. do not forsake me. glory and incessant delight. dwell in me and until my departure from this life. Strengthen me interiorly so that I may be moved at all times by your grace. Come. recreating and renewing with a mere wave of your hand. true Light. Come. Come. Come.Presider: Let us call upon our Father Elijah and all the early Fathers and Mothers of the Franciscan Order. Come. You. joy. Come. mighty One forever creating. who have no place to hide. You who remain wholly invisible. Come. leave not your servant. Presider: Spirit of God. as you fill the universe with your power. Response: Sanctify us. awaited by all who are in want. Presider: Come. Holy Lord. Holy Spirit. Lord. secret of hiddeness. All: That they may accompany us and protect. and protect me by dwelling in me. for none ever to grasp or caress. whom my poor soul desires. eternal Light. my breath and my life. assist and bless us in our solitude. enlighten us. Remain with me. Come. unutterableness. Come. LITANY (Simeon the New Theologian) Response: Holy Spirit. Hermit: I give thanks that You have become for me a day without evening and a sun without setting. Presider: Let us pray: 53 . Come.

All: Amen (Remain standing to sing) Come Holy Ghost. who prayed to His Father in the Holy Spirit in the desert and in solitary prayer on the mountain. Sing the next stanza as the hermitage is viewed from the outside. with powerful lights of truth that will heal our inner wounds and let us begin that divine journey towards you that all holy hermits desired for all their followers. and was enriched with such plentitude that her compassion still flows out to all generations who call her blessed. that filled our ancient Fathers and Mothers. Presider: Most Holy Trinity. Father + Son + and Holy Spirit + Deign to bless this solitude with graces of deep prayer. Thou fount of life and Fire of Love And sweet anointing from above. When gathered outside the door. All: May she dwell in the strength of silence. 54 . May our lives be spent in imitation of her who received the Word of God most perfectly.) Great Paraclete.Holy prophet Elijah. (Now exit the building in silence. so that we may live “in spirit and truth” for the glory of God and the Church. capture for us that devotedness to Mary. come. the Mother of God. and by your presence foster in us that inner listening and profound recollection that was yours as you meditated day and night on the Law of the Lord. Creator blest and in our hearts take up Thy rest Come with Thy grace and heavenly aid to fill the hearts which Thou hast made. and all you ancient hermits of old. your disciples. Thou highest gift of God most high. Presider: Peace to the one who will live in this hermitage. may her solitude be filled with light and wisdom. We ask this in the Name of Christ the Lord. Train us in your spirit of totality and ardor. may her dwelling be in security and rest. and the Sacred Scriptures. to Thee we cry.

goodness. may Thy grace on us bestow The Father and the Son to know And Thee through endless times confessed Of both the eternal Spirit blest. until we come to transformation in Christ. (Process to the hermitage. and may health and holiness. Oh. All glory while the ages run Be to the Father and the Son Who rose from death. eternally. So may we not with Thee for guide Turn from the path of life aside. finger of God’s hand we own. Far from us drive the foe we dread And grant us Thy true peace instead. singing one stanza at a time. (In the Chapel) Presider: (enthroning an icon or statue) 55 . And make our hearts o’er flow with love. Who dost the tongue with Power endow. until through water and living flame. (Holy water is sprinkled on the hermitage) All: Amen. immersed in the torrents of Kerith. Kindle our senses from above. humility. and a fullness of the Spirit’s gifts ever fill those who dwell in it. We ask this in the Name of Christ Jesus our Lord. strength and joy. The promise of the Father Thou. we truly love Christ and can “see His image” in everyone.) Thou in Thy sevenfold gifts are known Thee. Bless + and sanctify + this hermitage. the same to Thee O Holy Ghost.Give us to drink of the living water in the wilderness. With patience firm and virtue high The weakness of our flesh supply.

Francis of Assisi: Life in Hermitages St. must be unswerving in the service of the Master. should live a life of allegiance to Jesus Christ (cf. we place you in this hermitage as Queen and Protectress of solitude. all beauty. 2. Romuald’s Brief Rule The Rule of St. 1. the Lord of Glory. and Yours is the glory of the universe. and although poor. ANCIENT RULES OF LIFE The Rule of Saint Albert Rule for Carmelite Recluses St. It is to me. and the other hermits under obedience to him. Patriarch of Jerusalem between the years 1206 and 1214 to the hermits on Mount Carmel. who live near the spring of Elias on Mount Carmel. Be for (Name). however. reigning with the Father and their loving Spirit forever. VII. here may she find the path of truth that is humility and joy. Mother of living waters of grace and peace. Albert. 2 Cor 10:5) how. For You are all good. called by God’s favor to be Patriarch of the Church of Jerusalem. Presider: Let us pray All: O Holy Spirit of God.O God-bearer and Mother of the Church. pure in heart and steadfast in conscience (cf. the Word of the Most High. We ask this in the Name of Christ. AMEN. Albert. here may the tenderness of your loving compassion enfold her in serenity and hope. 1:1) in which our saintly ancestors laid down how everyone. 1 Tim 1:5). Here may she listen to your Son. enkindled by the flame of the Spirit that she may be led across the desert darkness to the mystery of the Triune God. all beatitude. bids health in the Lord and the blessing of the Holy Spirit to his beloved people in Christ. All: Amen. whatever one’s station or the kind of religious observance one has chosen. Albert THE PRIMITIVE RULE of the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel given by St. may be rich in the possession of You. Heb. that 56 . stay with (Name) in her solitude that she may live in contemplating You. Yours with the Father and the Son forever and ever. here may faith become radiant Light for her. Many and varied are the ways (cf.

where. if it can be done without difficulty. but your property is to be held in common. Those who know their letters. once promised. The Prior’s cell should stand near the entrance to your property. and whatever has to be done in consequence may all be carried out as he may decide and order. Acts 4:35) However. for each of the other hours. Each one of you is to stay in your own cell or nearby. 8. 2:44) and of such things as the Lord may have given you. 11. except for Vespers when it must be said fifteen times. John 3:18). you are to gather each morning to celebrate Mass. or the more mature among them. you must try to make the Prior’s deeds the true reflection (cf. a rule you may hold fast to henceforward. who is to be chosen for the office by common have come for a rule of life in keeping with your avowed purpose. Those who do not know their letters must say twenty-five ‘Our Fathers’ for the night office. 1:8) and keeping watch at prayer unless attending to some other duty. or to exchange cells with another. should. 4. too. Acts 4:32. Ps 1:2. Next. On Sundays. you should discuss matters of discipline and your spiritual welfare. None of the brothers must lay claim to anything as one’s own. 12. or that of the greater and maturer of you. say those our holy forefathers and foremothers laid down and the approved custom the church appoints for that hour. situated as the lie of the land you promise to occupy may dictate. An oratory should be built as conveniently as possible among the cells. 9. Each of the others must promise the Prior obedience of which. too. or other days if necessary. each one of you is to have a separate cell. 6. and on this occasion the indiscretions 57 . for each of the hours. so that he may be the first to meet those who approach. 10. as I have said. (cf. 5. each one of you is to stay in your allotted cell. and live on what is given out to you. and therefore: 3. allotted by disposition of the Prior with the agreement of the other brothers or sisters. one of yourselves. and how to read the psalms. the same prayer must be said seven times in the morning in place of Lauds and seven times. Jos. each is to receive from the Prior—that is from the brother appointed for the purpose—whatever befits one’s age or needs. except on Sundays and solemnities when that number is to be doubled so that the ‘Our Father’ is said fifty times. without leave of whoever is Prior at the time. None of the brothers is to occupy a cell other than that allotted to him. The first thing I require is for you to have a Prior. pondering the Lord’s law day and night (cf. 7. (cf.

” (Prov 2:11) Put on holiness as your breastplate (cf. toiling night and day so as not to be a burden to any of you. Since one’s life on earth is a time of trial (cf. For the charge we gave you when we were with you was this: that whoever is not willing to work should not be allowed to eat either. Heb 11:6). and so be sure of deliverance by our only Savior. Eph 6:11). if any be found at fault. no idleness on your part must give the evil one a chance to pierce the defenses of your souls. for necessity overrides every law. from the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross until Easter day. an example you might imitate.” Paul said. 15. (cf. Col 3:17. 14. in our own selves. 22. the word of God (cf. In this respect you have both the teaching and the example of St. unless it has to be eaten as a remedy for a sickness or great feebleness. With him as your inspiration you cannot go astray. Mt 1: 21). should be lovingly corrected. or some other good reason. 16. Tim 3:12) and the devil your foe is on the prowl like a roaring lion looking for prey to devour. (cf. that they 58 . 3739).and failings of the others. You must give yourselves to work of some kind. God made Paul preacher and teacher of faith and truth to the nations (cf. 13. who sets his own free from their sins (cf. “We lived among you. Paul the Apostle. For we have heard that there are restless idlers among you. demand a dispensation from the fast. Job 7:1) and all who would live devotedly in Christ must undergo persecution. 19: 19. On your head set the helmet of salvation (cf. (cf. and implore them in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Your loins are to be girt with chastity. and with it you will be able to quench all the flaming missiles of the wicked one: (cf. We charge people of this kind. Eph 6:14) and it will enable you to love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and strength (cf. Eph 6:17). Mt. 1 Pet. Faith must be your shield on all occasions. You are always to abstain from meat. “laboring and weary. for as Scripture has it: “Holy meditation will save you. The sword of the spirit. unless bodily sickness or feebleness. 1 Cor 10:31). so that the devil may always find you busy. Eph 6:17). must abound (cf. Deut 6:5) and your neighbor as yourself (cf. You are to fast every day. Eph 6:14) and your breast fortified by holy meditations. Cor 13:3). into whose mouth Christ put his own words (cf. Eph 6:16) there can be no pleasing God without faith (cf. except Sundays. Tim 2:7). 5:8) you must use every care to clothe yourself in God’s armor so that you may be ready to withstand the enemy’s ambush (cf.

15th Century Rule for Carmelite Recluses Lyne owre holy fadyr (pope) of Rome he ordeyned this rowls to all solytary men that takys the degre of an heremyte. At other times. at his second coming. Make a balance then. brother and whoever may succeed you as Prior. for. each of you. your minds not on him. Like the prophet. 2 Thess 3: 12) As the prophet also makes known to us: “Silence is the way to foster holiness (cf. and employ every care in keeping silent. however.” (Mt.” (cf. (cf. must always keep in mind and put into practice what our Lord said in the Gospel: “Whoever has a mind to become a leader among you must make oneself a servant to the rest. Elsewhere it is said: “Your strength will lie in silence and hope” (cf. “The use of many words brings harm to the speaker’s soul. but our Lord. as Scripture has it—and experience teaches us no less—“Sin will not be wanting where there is much talk. for in silence he tells us to work. be careful not to indulge in a great deal of talk. Is 32: 17). Is 30: 21). You. unless some necessary or good reason. although you need not keep silence so strictly. but will merit life eternal as fit reward for your obedience. he byndis him thus to spende the nyght and the day to the lovinge of God. and whichever of you would be first among you must serve the needs of all. should break the silence. 12: 36). and who. See that the bounds of common sense are not exceeded. That is the way of holiness and goodness: see that you follow it (cf.” (Lk 10: 16) If you remain so minded you will not be found guilty of contempt. but on Christ who has placed him over you. and whoever treats you with dishonor dishonors me. watch your step lest your tongue give offense (cf. will reward anyone who does more than one is obliged to do. to those who rule the churches. Sir 20: 8) And our Lord says in the Gospel: “Every rash word uttered will have to be accounted for on judgment day” (Mt. Ps 38: 2). Here are the few points I have written down to provide you with a standard of conduct to live up to. which is the way to foster holiness (cf.” (Prov 13: 3) and elsewhere. to weigh your words in. for common sense is the guide of the virtues. 19. Is 20: 15). hold your Prior in humble reverence.” (Prov 10: 109) and “The one who is careless in speech will come to harm. 17. The begynning of the day is at 59 . 18. keep a tight rein on your mouths. 20: 26-27). and your fall be irreparable and prove mortal. addressed these words: “Whoever pays you heed pays heed to me. For this reason I lay down that you are to keep silence from Vespers until Terce the next day. You other brothers too.earn their own bread by silent toil” (2 Thess 3: 7-12). 20. lest you should stumble and fall in speech. or the Prior’s permission. The Apostle would have us keep silence. Is 32: 17).

And fro Complyne be sayde he shall keep silence. He shall ete no flesh but Christmasday. All the feasts of our Lady. St. the other two. And he shall say for mateins of the day 40 Pater Noster and 40 Ave and 3 Credo and for Lauds 15 Pater 15 Ave and 1 Credo. And when he hath said Prime he shall hear Mass and after Mass he shall say for every howr 10 Pater 10 Ave and 1 Credo. so that they are not forced to live or sleep together. the feste of the Angels. The Friday to brede and alle and potage. And then go to his mete after mete he shall say for all his good doors 30 Pater 30 Ave and 1 Credo. Corpus Xti. the feste of the Saint of the Cell and the dedication of the Cell. Prime and Terce should be said at the proper time. and after Terce the silence ends and they can speak and go to their mothers. Also he shall lie in his kirtell gyrdede with de gyrdill or with a Cord. MS. He shall faste every day in Lenton and Advent and the Postylls fast that is to say fro Holy Thursday unto Whitsunday. Francis of Assisi Not more than three or at most four friars should go together to a hermitage to lead a religious life there. Epiph. Anthony. The booke of the institution and proper deeds of religious Carmelites. as their children. the feste of the Trinity. For midday he shall say 10 Pater 10 Ave and 1 Credo. 192 Lambeth (15th century). And he shall be gunede (buried?) When he is dede in hys habyt as he gothe. After that he shall go to his Oratorye and have a meditation of the Passion of Christe or of some other holy thing. and Peter and Paul. with the other two. Those who live the life of Mary are to have a separate enclosure and each should have a place to himself. For Evensong he shall say 40 Pater Noster 40 Ave and 1 Credo. the Ascension. And for Prime he shall say 12 Pater 12 Ave 1 Credo. Two of these should act as mothers. rising for Matins. They must be careful to keep silence and say their Office. For Complyne he shall say 10 Pater 10 Ave and 1 Credo. St. He shall be shrewyn and hoselde 3 tymes in the yere. and fro Easter day unto Holy Rode day in the dayeg (dawn?) of the day. 12:31). The mothers are to lead the life of Martha. John the Baptist. Their first care should be to seek the kingdom of God and his justice (Lk. Easter and Whitsunday. they may beg alms from 60 . the Nativity of St. Religious Life in Hermitages St. at Chrystmesse. He shall faste the Friday and Saturday through the yere. Paul the ist Hermit. or the other one. If they wish. He shall wer the heyr but if he be weyke and may not suffer it he shall wer shoon with owtin (?) hoods. At sunset they should say Compline of the day. Whitsunday. the life of Mary Magdalen. The sum of the Pater Noster on the day is 197 and als many Ave Maria and 14 Credo beside our Lady’s psalter. This is ye charge of an hermytis lyffe. and our Lady’s psautier.midnight and an hermit shall rise at midnight fro Holy Rode day unto Easter day. of All Hallows.

according to whatever arrangement seems best suited for the moment. and one even in Spain. Urban. like any ordinary poor people. he spent the next several years living as a hermit. After he had renounced the world at the court of the Bishop of Assisi. So too from the very early days of the Franciscan Order there were small hermitages where the friars could retire to give themselves more completely to a life of prayer and meditation. They are forbidden to allow anyone to enter the enclosure where they live.them for the love of the Lord God. The friars who are sons are not to speak to anyone except their mother or their custos. The reason for dating it from this time is the fact that it uses the technical term custos. Now and then. It is only in the Rule of 1223 that the office of 61 . called hermitages. with God’s blessing. Thomas of Celano makes mention of such places a number of times. the sons should exchange places with the mothers. It may be that the term came into use shortly after the division of the Order into provinces in 1217. they first discussed among themselves whether they should live strictly as hermits or live a mixed life of prayer and work for the salvation of souls. Francis still wanted a number of places of retirement. Greccio. Afterwards. Poggio Bustone. wearing the garments of a hermit. with Vespers at the proper time. It may be that the term came into use shortly after the division of a larger province. or superior of a smaller division of a larger province. they should say Sext and None. Commentary From the very early days of the Church there were both cenobites and hermits among the various groups of religious. at other times speaking more precisely of the hermitage of St. But. Sarteano. The cenobites lived as monks in community life. when he chooses to visit them. The hermits lived in retirement to pray and meditate alone. And when Francis and his eleven companions returned to the Spoleto valley from Rome after their Rule had been approved in 1209. But they should all be careful to observe what has been laid down for them. Rieti. The brief instruction entitled Religious Life in Hermitages very probably dates from the year 1222 or 1223. sometimes without giving their location. so that no one can speak to them. Francis himself always felt drawn to remote places. La Verna. Even as a young man he liked to go with a certain unnamed companion to a grotto or cave near Assisi where they could talk undisturbed and where Francis could pour out his heart to God. but it does not yet appear in the Rule of 1221. The friars who are mothers must be careful to stay away from outsiders and in obedience to their custos keep their sons away from them. and they must not take their meals there. even while they chose the mixed life of prayer and the apostolate. where some at least of the friars could lead a life of seclusion and to which others could retire at least occasionally. eagerly and zealously.

hurry back and apply your mind to the words once more. a hermit is one who engages in a life style marked by a specific plan of life. it is more likely that this little work was written at a time when the term custos was in more common use. like the chick who tastes nothing and eats nothing but what the mother brings. Realize above all that you are in God’s presence. Texas This questionnaire is addressed to those who classify themselves as hermits. The most famous is the Camaldoli Monastery near Arezzo in Tuscany which he established in 1012. The path you must follow is in the Psalms—never leave it. do not give up. St. (In Italy St. hence about 1222 or 1223.) VIII. English Omnibus of the Sources for the Life of St. And if your mind wanders as you read. If you have just come to the monastery. (This text of the Rule for Hermitages and the commentary are taken from Habig. Francis of Assisi: Writings and Early Biographies.. Francis. in spite of your good will you cannot accomplish what you want. Romuald spent much of his life founding hermitages and monasteries that combined the cenobitic and eremitical forms of life. and is known as the founder of the Camaldolese Benedictines. Romuald’s Brief Rule Sit in your cell as in paradise. Watch your thoughts like a good fisherman watching for fish. then take every opportunity to sing the psalms in your heart and to understand them with your mind. pages 71-73.provincial minister and of custos are mentioned specifically. St. He died in 1027. Mary Vogel. relative solitude and seclusion to better relate to God (deity) and neighbor. and. Chicago: Franciscan Herald Press. For our purpose. 1973. Empty yourself completely and sit waiting content with the grace of God. Hermit Palestine. Marion A. 1996 DISCERNMENT SURVEY AND QUESTIONNAIRE Hermit Discernment Survey and Questionnaire (1996) Conducted by S. Put the whole world behind you and forget it. and stand there with the attitude of one who stands before the emperor. Accordingly. 62 . The purpose of this questionnaire is to provide for a point of sharing among hermits and those interested in the eremitical life.

translating. A creative variety of in-hermitage work emerged in the telling: e. 15 did not indicate actual length of time lived as hermits. indicated that they made it their preferential choice to seek a socially active ministry in their local parish or neighborhood as a sort of balance or enrichment to their contemplative life in the hermitage. 24 ( 10 . making and selling retreat tapes. A few were able to make it from donations alone. 18 aspired to be hermits and 17 were interested in hermit life. Identity: Of the 120 respondents: 85 were hermits. Canada (3).. there were a few who responded altogether differently! Incongruously. 2. 3. Of the 85 hermits. hand-weaving of vestments and rugs. But of the 70 who did indicate time as a hermit: 32 (6 months 9years). 3 (30 . 63 . One was of the Greek Melkite Rite. calligraphy. There were also a couple of Anglicans/Episcopalians and Quakers. etc. vineyard work.. bookkeeping. writing. 120 had been returned from 26 states (113).g. England (2). plaques. e. as well as a few Buddhists and a Yogi. Nearly all of the hermits responding were Roman Catholic Christians. the hermit newsletter from which Raven’s Bread evolved. editing. home business. Means of Financial Support A fair number of hermits reported that they were financially supported by social security or social security disability benefits. 1. janitor. they called themselves “part-time hermits” and in regard to financially supporting themselves. house-sitting. Two were fully supported by their religious community. or by inheritance and/or investment income dividends. Canon 604 – 2 were hermit priests (previously members of a religious order) – 2 were hermits (1 for 6 years. manual workshop. and Ireland (2). painting icons. Lastly.The questionnaire was sent out in January 1996 to the approximately 175 subscribers of Marabou. Several seemed to be unavoidably engaged in work outside of the hermitage but took special care that it be of a solitary nature. 75 volunteered this information: – all were single (2 widowed) – 12 were hermits while retaining membership in a religious order – 20 were hermits with private vows or promises – 35 were hermits according to canon 603 – 4 were hermits with the Consecration of a Virgin. etc.g. A few were of the Eastern Orthodox Rite. Status: Of the 85 hermits. There was 2:1 ratio of women to men. pottery. But most hermits indicated that they make it financially by means of a combination of earned income and donations received. 1 for 20 years) but are so no longer.19 years). 11 (20 -29 years. By mid-February.35 years).

For many. as circumstances change and enlightenment is received.” In contrast. It is not the hermit way of life to which the church is referring in Canon 603 and in articles 920-921 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. “according to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Other religious pray and wait for superiors to validate the hermit vocation in their orders. A number of former religious have allowed their particular call to evolve as they journeyed from the cloister of many years to the “world”. in order to test or live out their call to solitude. Francis. that they receive their bishop’s acceptance and blessing through the implementation of Canon 603. in silent communion with their monastic counterparts. 6. then into a style of solitary life peculiarly their own. although two bishops were present at a hermit’s profession within the context of a public liturgy. it continues to evolve. both of them saw the vows as private. not under Canon 603.” 5. and while it undoubtedly follows that grace from this prayer time will overflow into your active ministry. The plan is kept purposely flexible by some in order better to hear the Holy Spirit’s voice and follow it. Another form of juridical recognition or its lack thereof was voiced by religious and former religious who live or seek to live the hermit response. of course.NOTE: Call it “beautiful” but please don’t call it “part-time hermit”! It needs to be noted here that while it is.” A hermit aspirant said: “Daily life is simple and solitary—close to nature. with regular hours of silent prayer and lectio divina. Some former religious. some follow a prayer/work horarium. the primitive eremitic rule of St. With Others or Alone 64 . one having been told: “We’re not doing hermits!” In another situation. 4. have had to separate themselves from their communities. their plan of life unfolded over several years and through many phases of life. It is not the hermit way of life as experienced by those who live it as a vocational response. Several hermits indicated their status as current members of religious communities who enjoy the full support and encouragement of their leadership. One sister wrote: “My plan of life is simply to stay here unless/until the Spirit calls me elsewhere. Plan of Life Some follow an adapted ancient rule such as that of Carmel. For some. laudable to spend a valuable portion of your time in contemplative silence and solitude. or a modified Carthusian or Cistercian/Benedictine rule. it nevertheless must be recognized that what is being lived here is an altogether different form of vocation. Juridical Recognition More than one applicant met with indifference or even opposition when approaching their bishop or vicar for religious. year by year. Prayers are asked by some respondents with private vows who wish to be diocesan hermits.

7. As a very wise and humble theologian once observed: “Perhaps none have realized as intensely the saving mystery of fellowship. hermits were invited to reflect upon and share some of their personally graced insights regarding the Scriptural. much as it was in the lives of some of the early desert dwellers. This form of nurturing and concern for unity flows from one of the many ecumenical aspects of the solitary way: that the hermit by his/her very life and call expresses the inward unity of all in God. However. the majority of hermits indicated that they had chosen to live alone—the truly solitary. with all 65 . what follows is only a very limited development containing some of the basic considerations one might take into account in the difficult process of prayerfully discerning an authentic eremitical vocation. it is our heartfelt hope that by God’s grace this summary report might genuinely provide a solid springboard for further and deeper prayerful reflection and discernment whre needed. Special thanks for the generous personal contribution of insights received from those of you who so lovingly took the time to comment on this very important and timely topic. Traditional and Ecclesial teachings that help to form criteria for the discernment of a person’s sense of vocation to the hermit life. eremitical life style rather than in close proximity to another or other hermits.. “God is LOVE.” (1 Jn 4:8). as those whom God has called to live by prayer in the greatest solitude. e. even in the continual contemplation of the hermit. the love of the brethren. Both forms are authentic expressions of eremitical response and the particular form one chooses is ultimately dependent upon the call and grace of God. mainly through prayer and perhaps along with some limited study and correspondence. SOME DISCERNMENT CRITERIA FROM SCRIPTURE The influence of Scripture in the work of discerning an authentic Christian eremitical vocation flows from our basic understanding of the Good News as God’s revelation of Himself and of His Will to all humanity”.” DISCERNMENT CRITERIA In the January 1996 issue of Marabou. in a small group or cluster. Due to scarcity of space. Our report will proceed according to the above-mentioned outline. East/West Dialogue Seven hermits indicated a personal involvement in this area. we did hear from several hermits who live in lauras designed for two or more solitaries in which some community life and shared liturgy is experienced.g. We were also asked to ponder and present what we consider to be some of the authentic as well as some of the mistaken motives a person might have for entering and persevering in the eremitical life.In relation to this issue. Nevertheless. and “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart.

each and every Christian is given to share in the life and death desert 66 . Thus. in discerning the authenticity of a person’s sense of call and response to the hermit life. it is important that a discerning probe be made in regard to the candidate’s graced understanding and way of prayer. To be loved and to love through contemplative prayer in God’s Presence is the meaning and purpose of everyone’s life. • • • Does the candidate place a decisive emphasis upon and express an informed commitment to nurturing this direct love relationship (abiding) with God in contemplative prayer? Does he/she seek “to live through love in His Presence” (Ep 1: 14) and “find the fullness of joy in His Presence” (Ps 16: 11)? Is this the primary motivating factor behind his/her desire for hermit life: to be freer to dedicate one’s whole life to becoming a contemplative lover of God and of the people of God? A third essential principle gleaned from Scripture and central to the discerning process is one that flows from the Paschal Mystery of Christ’s life. not only to become “lovers’ but. Contemplative love is the fullest and deepest way to becoming lovers of God. It is this mystery into which all Christians are baptized and through which all are enabled by grace to become Christ. we see that God calls humanity. with all your strength. to become “contemplative lovers”—content in heart with the grace of God and zealous in spirit to live this gift of simply being present to His Presence in Love. others and one’s true self. the first principle for consideration is that everyone is primarily called to be a lover of God. others and one’s true self? Is solitude being sought in order to be freer to focus all of one’s energies on fulfilling this divine command of love? A second principle for consideration is that Scripture further reveals the way that as “lover” we are called to love most deeply: “Be still and know that I am God” (Ps 46: 10): “We can be sure that we love God’s children if we love God Himself (1 Jn 5: 2): “Abide in my love” (Jn 15: 19). of others and of one’s true self. Therefore.” (Lk 10: 26-28). no matter what other secondary calling they may have. to die is gain” (Ph 1: 21). how much the more intensely and unconditionally must it be at the very heart of the hermit life! It is imperative that the Christian hermit understand that our Christian goal is to be “lovers”: and that the way to this goal is contemplative. So. in every walk of life. The goal and the way are one! Therefore. death and resurrection. so too. • • Is the candidate a wholehearted lover of God.your soul. and with all your mind. If this contemplative striving is true for everyone. “For me to live is Christ. specifically. Even as “the Spirit drove Him out into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan” (Mk 1: 12). All are called through baptism to enter fully into the Christy Mystery of life through death. and your neighbor as yourself. determination must first be made as to whether the candidate is being motivated primarily by this tri-fold commitment to LOVE.

and that it actually furthers the reality of our inward unity in contemplative love as sons and daughters of God. . . . a fourth principle for consideration is whether or not the candidate possesses a 67 . initiated and nurtured by the Spirit in the lives of so many men and women over the centuries. is the third principle to consider: that it is only to the degree that one is willing to follow the Spirit’s lead and Christ’s example of love unto death. Scripture advises: “Have this mind in you what was in Christ Jesus . As “contemplative lovers” they have handed down to us. He emptied Himself . Yielding to such snares prevents a person from recognizing and dying to one’s false ego self so that. from Elijah and Anna. gives precious witness to the truth that tradition has much to say to us concerning the essential and constant elements of hermit life as a valid and efficacious way of fulfilling one’s reason for being. up to and including the desert mothers and fathers of today. brothers and sisters in the Lord? • SOME DISCERNMENT CRITERIA FROM TRADITION The tradition of eremitical life is the “Good News” come alive and made real by the example of the solitary contemplative response to LOVE of our hermit predecessors. . . as well as by way of oral or written word. by God’s grace. to the glory of God the Father (Ph 2: 5-11). This is the only way to become a contemplative lover! If this is true for all Christians. This then. a veritable wealth of salutary maxims concisely revealing both the positive blessings and the possible aberrations inherent in such a radical form of life response to LOVE. by way of lived example. one’s transcendent true self might emerge. becoming obedient unto death . secludes but does not separate him/her from the rest of the Mystical Body. The long history of authentic eremitism. one might ask: • • • Does the candidate experience an irresistible attraction toward entering ever more deeply into the vast mystical solitude of Christ’s Paschal Mystery of contemplative love? Does he/she consistently respond with a humble spirit of obedience to God’s Word and Will in its various manifestations? Does the candidate exhibit a certain basic trust and confidence that Christ’s indwelling Spirit will continue to sustain and guide him/her throughout and beyond this “dying” (purification) and “rising” (transformation in love)? Does the candidate know through an experiential awareness in faith that his/her participation in the Paschal Mystery. . in the silence of solitude. cherished and lived without measure by one who seeks the hermit life! Therefore in discerning eremitical questions. how utterly imperative it is that this be recognized. choosing the Father’s will rather than one’s own in all things (so that it is His Spirit Who informs and moves one’s ego self) that a person really opens oneself to the transforming grace of living in contemplative love union and communion with God and with one another in God. Thus in discerning a hermit call.experience of struggling against Satan’s ploys as well as against one’s own selfish self-seeking.

Catholic sannyasi. confirmed by vow or other sacred bond. it would seem.healthy repsect for and indicates a willing interest in acquainting oneself with his/her eremitical roots found in tradition. the Church recognizes the eremitic or anchoritic life 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. (2) identifying the specific legal stipulations conditional to whether “a hermit is recognized in the law . Section 920 begins: Without always professing the three evangelical counsels publicly. or with a vowed commitment according to the stipulations indicated in Canon 603 §2. the silence of solitude and assiduous prayer and penance. . In discerning an authentic hermit vocation. consecrated virgins. as well as implement without scruple whatever legitimate adaptations may be deemed necessary in our own day and age so that the primary purpose of the vocational response may be realized? SOME DISCERNMENT CRITERIA FROM ECCLESIAL TEACHINGS Canon 603 §1 Besides institutes of consecrated life. that no matter what form of eremitical commitment may be • 68 . • It is noteworthy that in paragraphs one and two of this canon. Further reference to hermit life is found in Sections 920-921 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1994 edition). reiterating. . . . Entirely new to the recently revised Code of Canon Law.” there follows a direct quoting of the definition of hermit life as found in Canon 603 §1. the conditions contained in Canon 603 §1 are applicable to every form of eremitical commitment but the stipulations listed in Canon 603 §2 are applicable specifically only to those candidates who are called by grace and circumstances to live that particular form of eremitical response. Drawing from the wisdom of tradition. • • Is the person open and receptive to the wisdom and warnings to be gleaned from the desert mothers and fathers who have gone before us? Is the candidate able to discern with the help of a competent guide. in private vows or promises. the Church clearly delineates here the essential characteristics to be found in every authentic response. §2 A hermit is recognized in the law as one dedicated to God ina consecrated life if he or she publicly professes the three evangelical counsels. no matter whether hermits are members of religious orders. hermits devote their live to . a distinction is clearly made between (1) identifying the common characteristics conditional to an authentic hermit vocation in general and. in the hands of the diocesan bishop and observes his or her plan of life under his direction. with no formal commitment. living solitary or in a laura. ordained priests. Canon 603 for hermits provides in its first paragraph a certain definitive base from which the discernment of an authentic eremitical vocation may be made.” in particular.

Thus in discerning a hermit call. personal intimacy with Christ. Thus one might ask: • Is this the desire and resolve of the candidate? · Is there the desire to dedicate one’s whole life to the praise and glory of God and salvation of the world? · Is there the desire to love humanity more deeply by loving God more deeply—living in greater separation from the world in order to be freer to move closer to all in purity of heart through assiduous prayer and penance in the silence of solitude? · According to one’s personal grace and circumstances. If the call is authentic. Hidden from the eyes of men. Section 921 goes on to give expression to what the Church believes to be the common spirituality of hermits: “They manifest to everyone the interior aspect of the mystery of the church. a fifth principle for conisderation clearly emerges. further consideration might be given as to whether the candidate: • exhibits an emotionally mature and stable personality as well as a keen sense of direct accountability to God who is the Source of one’s eremitical call and response. • possesses a relative inner freedom to be able to respond to what God wants. humbly and patiently to God’s will rather than to seeking or insisting upon one’s own. to be able. but she also makes clear to all concerned the specific elements considered to be essential to a genuine eremitical vocation “hidden with Christ in God”. that is. the candidate will be solicitous to align oneself with the mind of the Church in this regard. with the help of grace. to align oneself.• • • chosen. 69 . Here is a particular call to find in the desert in the thick of the spiritual battle. • displays a spiritual maturity which normally has been long nurtured in community life experience and/or by a spiritual director experienced or at least well-versed in monastic eremitical theology and values. she not only reaffirms the validity and blessing of this graced call. By these most recent teachings in Canon Law and in the Catechism.” The Church has always valued the authentic living of the hermit life. the glory of the Crucified One. the life of the hermit is a silent preaching of the Lord. in essence it is to reflect the conditions contained in Canon 603 §1. to what particular form of hermit commitment does the candidate seem to be called? • • • • • SOME AUTHENTIC MOTIVES Along with the authentic motives already indicated in the preceding sections of discernment criteria. to whom he has surrendered his life simply because He is everything to him.

centering immaturely and solipsistically on oneself. resenting any other authority than one’s own. like everyone else. setting oneself apart from or above others as “holier than thou”. displaying oneself as a hermit. seeking a respectable escape from society because of one’s depressive. in discerning whether a candidate has an authentic hermit vocation. melancholic or loner-type temperament. • relishes “sacred leisure” and values occasion for nurturing inner silence devoid of “doing” and “projects” so as to be free to just “be” with God in LOVE. • assumes the responsibility of living one’s hermit response as a ‘a sacred trust’ without having to have authority figures checking up on imposing laws to assure one’s fidelity. avoiding sociability and community living in order to be freer to focus on intellectual or artistic pursuits. are in process so we ought not to be surprised at the great complexity of motives that may surface during discernment sessions. • conveys an irresistible need for silence and solitude in order to better be open and responsive to the inspiration of the Spirit within—to hearken to God’s call to live through love in His presence. consideration needs to be given as to whether the person may be: • • • • • • • • • running away from people and responsibilities rather than running toward a closer relationship with God and with others in Him.• • • • • • • • projects the confidence of an interiorly self-motivated person who by God’s grace is able to keep good company with oneself without being neurotically dependent upon the constant encouragement of others. • possesses a healthy sense of humor and ability to keep perspective. unable to cope with reality. hoping to avoid accountability to a superior. grace-nurtured by self knowledge and self discipline. hermit candidates. • requires a lived honesty with oneself. withdrawing from society because of a poor self image or paranoia or because one feels like a failure. desiring to be “different”. • reflects a preference for simplicity in regard to material things and a trust in the providential care of Lord Who provides. pursuing an illusion of romantic idealism. seeking special attention or recognition. What joy to know that we are not alone in this purifying and transforming work of the Spirit! As Hildegard of Bingen reminds us with great exuberance of heart: “God hugs you! You are encircled by the arms of the Mystery of God!” 70 . Of course. SOME MISTAKEN MOTIVES Finally.

1.IX. The stories and the sayings of those who were called the Desert fathers were and still are a source of doctrine and 71 .1 Withdrawal from the world 4.3 The work project and the modalities of living 8. A brief history 2. According to a poll of the dioceses.3 Prayer 4.2 The silence of solitude 4.4 Penance 5.3 Personal formation Bibliography Foreword A consecrated life “in solitude”.2 Intellectual formation 9. the Canonical Committee presents a brief historical overview and a few guidelines that could be useful to the diocesan and religious persons responsible as well as to the candidates to the eremitical life themselves. of the 118 hermits. The diversity of hermits 4.2 The object of the commitment 6. The components of eremitical life 4. A BRIEF HISTORY Eremitical life is undoubtedly the most ancient form of monastic life. 79 were women and 39 were men. At the request of the Episcopal Commission for Religious (in France). The meaning of the eremitical life in the Church 3. In 1989. the eremitical life is having a remarkable renewal in some countries. The eremitical profession 5. The entrance into the eremitical life 9. The formation to eremitical life 9. It existed already in the third century and its first great expansion in the East took place in the fourth century.1 The personality and equilibrium of life 7.1 Spiritual formation 9.2 The spiritual life 7. STATUTES FOR THE HERMITS OF FRANCE published in Comité Canonique des Religiuex(ses)—pages 162-181 By the Canonical Committee of Religious established by the Bishops of France (1989) Unofficial translation from the French (1998) Foreword 1.1 The form of the commitment 5. it was thought that there were some 150 hermits in France. Discernment for the candidates to the eremitical life 7. The status established in agreement with the bishop 7.

simplicity. in fact. In the West. especially in western France where several became bishops.” and it imposed itself gradually in a lasting way. It knew a great development in Ireland since it was in harmony with the Irish temperament. and even in the seventeenth century in the Catholic countries of France. it greatly transformed the life styles that it touched. a specialty of the hermits. was less esteemed. the Irish anchorites emigrated willingly to the Continent. It was alive and well in England and the Netherlands in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. orders of anchorites (Camaldoli and Carthusians). it does not integrate it as the laws of Justinian did at the same period in the East. The eremitical life as such continued to exist. Moreover. But in a society where the distinction of social class structured itself with growing legalism and severity. which had almost been abandoned in the large monasteries of the late Middle Ages. esteems the solitary life. This latter. These two ways of monastic life were to co-exist for a long time and Canon Law would sometimes treat them as one In the East. which imposed itself gradually throughout the West. As travelers and navigators. a period of transition. the grouping of hermits around a spiritual guide became the basis for many cenobitical communities. Benedict focused his attention only on the cenobitical life. who remained outside of it. Italy and Spain. Its contemplative and solitary aspects were downplayed. Some hermits played a significant role in the evangelization of the countryside. and at the same time. and manual labor. became. Eventually the passage to a solitary life was seen as the normal crowning point (if not the habitual one) of the monk’s itinerary. It is in this sense that we can say that the religious renewal of the Gregorian period was inspired greatly by the spirituality of the desert. Anthony by Saint Athanasius of Alexandria (357 AD) proved to be the point of departure in the West. Even though the Rule of Saint Benedict. The Life of St. There was a greater freedom but also a certain devaluation. as it were. The eleventh and twelfth centuries. The canonical status of religious life became more defined whereas the hermit. The eremitical life did. This rule was repeated in the Statutes of “Typica: . and finally cenobitical foundations with the main traits of the solitary life—physical removal from the world. Anchorites and recluses continued gravitating toward the large monasteries.inspiration for the whole monastic movement. 72 . the accent placed on the essential humility of the hermit created a strange misunderstanding of the goals of the eremitical life. the invasions by the barbarians favored a resurgence of the eremitical life. saw a flowering of eremitical life with an orientation toward new forms: chapters of Canons. the “Novelles” of Justinian (527-565) were a turning point: it no longer accepted the eremitical life unless it was linked to a community. poverty. escape the growing institutionalization that characterized western monasticism.

he feared that the uniqueness of his life would be a source of trouble for the weak. moreover. A certain monk of the late Middle Ages “chose to flee to the desert so as to pursue a greater austerity.” So.In the words of J. For the first time in modern history. Just as the Church does not contain its goal in itself since its responsibility is above all to “introduce the human person to the Divine Persons. shows that it exists first of all to lead its members to be alone with Christ. More clearly than the other forms of monastic life. this sign appears particularly necessary. THE DIVERSITY OF HERMITS Of which hermits are we speaking in these pages? Let us first specify those who do not enter into our consideration. . THE MEANING OF THE EREMITICAL LIFE IN THE CHURCH Eremitical life is. under certain aspects. which showed a marked decrease. the discredit that fell upon religious life also touched the eremitical life. the Latin Church opens itself to hermits independent of any institute by granting them a juridical status in the framework of consecrated life (C. charity without brothers. incompatible with the most legitimate structures of community life. Camus.). and apostolate without action. collective. .” monastic society.P. one could not imagine. But there is more. at the beginning of the Tridentine period. 603). by opening itself to the solitary life. In the Latin Church that has always placed high value on institutional life. spontaneously. If it did gain favor in the next century. the most complete form of monastic life and in this sense it is under the sign of gift. 3. could not be admitted to serve God in the monasteries” (Hermiante .” The twentieth century has seen a renewal of eremitical life. and obligatory to which the cenobites are commonly held. the possibility of a call to perfection. The reforming bishops frowned upon these pious ones who escaped the structures. it was more in the romantic perspective of “a literary attitude of misunderstanding that stems from a proud and morbid quest for the ego.” Some calls of the Spirit are. 2. in the church. The hermit’s vocation is “the greatest paradox: a vocation to practice obedience without a superior. which the Code of Canon Law of 1983 takes into account. In the eighteenth century. eremitical life seemed to be especially “the refuge of those who. Let us quote Don Jean Leclercq who so well expressed that “the hermit is the person who. is united to God with a minimum of structure”. “These humble ones are not made for religious life. . outside of the religious state. having lost face in the eyes of the world. eremitical life is a sign of liberty.” He liberates himself of the law by going beyond it: the hermit “who prays unceasingly. in the solitude of his cell is free from the rule of a prayer that is limited. 73 .

he must be reintegrated into his community with the agreement of the superior. Camaldoli. the bishop having been advised if this is necessary. In the same manner. determine its modalities. THE COMPONENTS OF EREMITICAL LIFE They are enumerated in Canon 603 §1: “Besides institutes of consecrated life. or even the monastic life? Regardless of the text of the canon. contemplative. A group.” Must we gather from this that this is a comparison with consecrated life in general. the laity or the clerics who have professed a solitary life before the diocesan bishop and live under his authority. Some congregations of monastic orders that profess this rule have foreseen in their constitutions the possibility of monks and nuns being called to a more solitary existence.” 4. However. the church recognizes the eremitic or anchoritic life 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. that is to say. The following pages will speak of the hermits mentioned in Canon 603. the question of hermits is mentioned in the first chapter of the Rule of St. For his part. it is not abnormal that a Franciscan be a hermit. who state in their rule the possibility of an eremitical life for certain of their members.We shall not speak here of eremitical religious institutes or those that are semi-eremitical: Carthusians. Their life is in fact governed by the universal legislation that deals with religious as well as by their own laws. nor does it do so primarily. and assure that it is supervised. Benedict. especially if it is numerous. The religious who have become hermits lead a solitary life according to their rule and under the authority of their superiors. is necessarily more deeply involved in the economy and society than an 74 .1 Withdrawal from the world The withdrawal of the hermit is said to be “stricter. If the latter does not persevere in the solitary life. the diocesan bishop has authority concerning all of the liturgical life and eventually the ministry of the religious hermit. Saint Francis of Assisi wrote a rule “for the brothers who wish to lead an evangelical life in the hermitages” and thus. and assiduous prayer and penance. be they monastic. the Order of the Discalced Carmelites has “holy deserts. or the nuns and monks of Bethlehem.” And we could quote other examples. For example. 4. or apostolic. the silence of solitude. Neither will we consider those religious families. this “stricter separation from the world” does not refer only to fleeing the company and contact of humans. it is the competent religious superior and he/she alone who can authorize one of his/her subjects to enter into the eremitical life. The authorization of the diocesan bishop is not needed provided they install themselves in a place under the jurisdiction of a house of the institute.

” (C. 5. One can only free oneself from the law by going beyond it. freer. The 75 . the choice of a style of life that is rudimentary and lacking comfort. THE EREMITICAL PROFESSION In the words of the Code. 4. Oftentimes economic necessity can burden a hermit. 4. 4. and the Desert Fathers of Egypt often spoke of the rule given by Saint Paul: “Anyone who would not work should not eat” (2 Th 3: 10). says the Code. in the hands of the diocesan bishop. Work has an important place. one can expect that a commutation would be legitimate if the interested party feels called to a more simple prayer. The hermit is not dispensed from the law stating that man must earn his bread with the sweat of his brow (Gn 3: 19). The corporal ascesis of the hermit includes according to tradition. this distaste for the spiritual. This presupposes a site that is truly solitary to which the hermit must be faithful. The clerical hermit is still obliged to recite the canonical hours. and observes his or her own plan of life under his direction. silence is assured essentially through physical isolation. The lay hermit has total latitude in this domain.individual who is isolated. although the careful discernment of an experienced spiritual father is necessary. The life style of the hermit should take into account this requirement by its simplicity and its refusal to “be seen”.2 The Silence of Solitude This expression of Carthusian origin characterizes the silence of the hermit in contrast with that of the cenobite which is seen more as a discipline–at least as far as the external aspect is concerned. Spiritual warfare demands stability with perseverance in silence and solitude. “the hermit is recognized by the Code as dedicated to God in the consecrated life if he or she publicly professes the three evangelical counsels sealed by a vow or other sacred bond. is the most serious. less tied down to structured forms. Solitude fosters a prayer that is more continuous. For the hermit.3 Prayer Assiduous prayer. This supposes a battle against accidia. which of all temptations. 603 §2) One must underscore the fact that this text does not forbid someone to lead an eremitical life without publicly professing the evangelical counsels. although his vocation does not exclude all sociability.4 Penance This expression includes corporal ascesis as well as spiritual warfare without which the former would be useless. exposing him to the risk of being invaded by work and the concerns that it entails.

obedience would be above all obedience to God in one’s whole life. 1191. 604) for the eremitical profession. it is not in the nature of things to substitute the Consecration of Virgins (C. nor to add it to the eremitical profession. What is the object of a commitment to follow the counsels in the case of a hermit? 5. in prayer. They are therefore applicable to all hermits. 604 §1). This latter form should be preferred if the obligations proper to a vow risk becoming a problem of scruples. The second consists in considering the diocesan bishop as the superior of the hermit: the superior in the strict sense of the word but not an authority of guardianship as is the case for an institute of diocesan jurisdiction. The first–seemingly more in conformity with tradition–presupposes reinterpretation of canons 600-601. 5. §1). relative to chastity. What form should the profession take –vows or “other sacred bonds” and which ones? 2. to this solitary life of prayer and austerity. for example. two more questions need to be dealt with: 1. Poverty would consist in a detachment as effective as possible. a promise which could eventually be confirmed by a vow or a public declaration similar to the “sacred promise” of the consecrated virgin (C. penance. Canon 600 prescribes dependence in the use of temporal goods. 76 . Their superimposition could cause them to depreciate one another. but it does not seem to truly respect the basically “non-institutional” nature of hermit life. is no problem. Note. This perspective is partially supported by the text of Canon 603 §2 where it is stated that the hermit will live “under the direction” of the bishop. each sufficient by itself. How are these norms to be understood in the case of the hermit? There seem to be two ways. “I promise before God and His saints” for a promise. Canon 601 defines obedience as a submission to the will of the legitimate superior. determined by the rule of life of the hermit. we must answer: a promise that would not be made directly to God but rather “because of God”.difference is that such a hermit will not be legally recognized as belonging to the consecrated life.2 The Object of the Commitment Canons 599-601 define the object of the commitment to be the observation of the evangelical counsels as they are presented among the common norms for all forms of consecrated life. This is not the case for the other two. These are two very distinct kinds of consecration. The text of the formula of profession should take into account the option selected: “I promise to God” (or an equivalent expression) for a vow. “I propose to” in the case of a declaration. Canon 599. Now that this has been said.1 The Form of the Commitment What could be the “other sacred bonds” mentioned Canon 603 §2? Since a vow is a promise made to God (C.

notably in matters of ascesis. this is a personal document. ascetical practices (abstinence. THE STATUS ESTABLISHED IN AGREEMENT WITH THE BISHOP The rule of life or the charter of the hermit has as its goal to state precisely how he will live out his vocation in concrete circumstances. the needs and possibilities on the physical. if needed. whose recourse seems necessary so as to avoid possible illusions that could be especially dangerous in the eremitical life. the modalities and frequency of the reception of the sacraments of penance and Eucharist. Therefore. spiritual. the relationship with the spiritual father. once he has heard the bishop’s opinion. taken principally from Scripture and the commentaries of the exegetes and the Fathers. It is a question of spelling out the usage and the management of the goods necessary for the daily life of the hermit. This does not exclude mention of the spiritual considerations that express the call of God as he heard it and that motivate his choice of life in its essential components. with persons that he meets. of his spiritual father) on the one hand. with eventual visitors. simplicity of life). fasting. if needed. that undertakes to express in the best manner the demands of a truly eremitical life. the work. One must be careful to maintain a balance between the asceticism that is necessary and one’s physical and psychological health. intellectual. adapted to each vocation. This deals with the contacts of the hermit with his family. and by the bishop who agrees to accept him. the practice of poverty. he must make it known to his spiritual father. etc. It could also be modified by mutual agreement so as to allow for the spiritual evolution of the hermit: the beginner may need clearer directives whereas the tested solitary may need greater liberty. and the personality of the person concerned (former existence. • • • • • • • • The hermit must follow his rule of life except if a necessity arises and in that case. daily lectio divina. the charter should address the following: • the place of the Liturgy of the Hours (obligatory for a cleric unless dispensed) and. vigils. It is often difficult to structure it since economic needs govern this and yet. the occasional ministry of the hermit priest. the spiritual father that seems best suited to grant ordinary permissions. The hermit is free to choose. the way to live “the silence of solitude”. on the other hand. we can consider it as a sort of mutual contract set up in agreement between the hermit candidate (with the advice. the place of work in the day of the hermit needs to be spelled out in alternation with other occupations.6. Without going into needless details and so as to keep a certain elasticity that is always necessary. other forms of prayer such as meditation. levels). In the case of serious and 77 . As regards its nature.

but he shall do nothing before having proceeded with the usual monitions. During these meetings two points are worthy of attention for a pre-discernment.3 The work project and the modalities of living Is the candidate aware that eremitical life presupposes personal work and an authentic poverty? Can he live this form of poverty and also not be dependent for support by the receiving region? What kind of work could he do which corresponds to his aptitudes while respecting the requirements of his form of life? This discernment must be made over a long enough period of time so that the bishop can authentically accept the commitment to the eremitical life of 78 . It can lead the person who embraces a too personalistic view to an independence that is a subtle source of pride and of self-centeredness. 7. The eremitical life amplifies tendencies and favors illusions. penance. intercession in the name of the Church? Is he open to having links with a religious community that will be assigned to him so that he may return to it at regular intervals? 7. The discernment should deal with the following points: 7. praise.2 The spiritual experience Does the candidate already have an experience of solitude? Of prayer in solitude? Of silence? Is he attracted by a more strict withdrawal from the world.repeated failings. DISCERNMENT FOR THE CANDIDATES TO THE EREMITICAL LIFE Preliminary meetings with the candidate to the eremitical life are indispensable even before embarking on hermit life so as to have a true discernment. • • • Verifying the authenticity of the call. by assiduity in prayer. Is it a desire that is only selfish? A seeking of a spiritual good for only oneself? The projection of an ideal that seduces? Is it the fruit of a spiritual experience lived under the guidance of a person experienced in the way of God? The response to a call from the Lord that is clear and gratuitous? The risks based on the personal history of the candidate must be evaluated.1 The personality and the equilibrium of life How long has the candidate been seeking this? The link with a religious community? A parish community? And encounter community? A life community? Who is the guide? Of what does the project consist? What steps have already been taken or are to be taken? What do people who know the candidate well think of this project? Is there an excessive attitude of impatience or is there a trustful hope in the judgment of the Church? What steps are anticipated or what seeking “in the church” is planned? 7. the bishop could re-evaluate the capacity of the person concerned to continue in the status of hermit.

643 §2). This latter is in fact an indult of departure that takes effect at the moment when the interested party makes the profession of eremitical life into the hands of the diocesan bishop. it would seem that one has to look to the norms relating to religious institutes while adapting them. two options are offered. It is appropriate that the candidate have received the sacrament of Confirmation (C. 642). a temperament adapted to this way of life and sufficient maturity (C. he will thus remain in a stricter dependence upon his superior who will see to it that he does not enter into a ministry incompatible with solitary life. The following would be obstacles to admission. 644) • What about religious whose Constitutions do not foresee eremitical life? We must distinguish two cases 1) if the competent superior authorizes the religious to live as a hermit while remaining in the institute. The leave of absence may be preferable in the case of a religious cleric. THE ENTRANCE INTO EREMITICAL LIFE The Code of Canon Law does not spell out the conditions for admission to profession for the eremitical life. One cannot conclude because of this that we are faced with a juridical void. the religious concerned will need to obtain (in order to do so) either a leave of absence. 8. one of them being the free consent of the spouse and eventual dispositions on the civil domain. The age of twenty-one seems to be required for a definitive commitment (C. 2) if the religious cannot receive from one’s superior the required permission. • being married (C. (C. 658 §1). This form is psychologically less difficult than departing the institute. and have the required qualities: health. It is understood that a dispensation can be given by the bishop after certain conditions have been fulfilled. a person laden with debts and who is insolvent. have a right intention. because of a question of justice. 645). one must be a Catholic. On the contrary. either an indult of departure or an indult of passage from the religious state as such to the eremitical state. 79 . prudence demands that a special attention be given to the equilibrium of affections since solitude presents special dangers for fragile psyches. for a specific time (this seems more prudent at first) or an undetermined time. • A secular cleric could not be admitted without the consultation of his proper bishop nor. • an insufficient age. or an indult of exclaustration. In order to enter into the eremitical life recognized by the Church.the one who seeks God’s intimacy according to the norms set forth in Canon 603. Moreover.

It is the only competent authority for the exclaustration of contemplative nuns (C. 686 §2). who the beneficiaries of the use and the fruit of these goods will be. nor being too far from a place of worship if the aspirant is not a priest. The way in which the product of this work will be distributed must also be foreseen. To date. Before embarking on eremitical life. 3) The case of contemplative nun-hermits presents a special problem. This place must be approved by the bishop and cannot be changed without his approval. the candidate must deal with the following questions: 1) A dwelling place. a place will be set aside for prayer as well as for Eucharistic reservation for communion and adoration. for there is absolute incompatibility between the “secular” vocation and the eremitical life. in analogy with the laws that govern these matters for religious (C. or even for the celebration of Mass in the case of a priest. and it refuses to prolong it beyond a limited time. 3) The social security of the hermit must be assured. with the agreement of the bishop. in principle. this presupposes a preliminary period of leave of absence or exclaustration. without being of too difficult access. normally in writing. The bishop who received the hermit should see to this. and decide. at least when they feel that they are called to a greater solitude than that offered by the often very restricted enclosure of their monastery. first leave the institute. Intellectual work is not excluded. This latter would not seem to be compatible with a society of apostolic life. Modifications can be made later if necessary. In the hermitage. with the authorization of the bishop. 4) The personal goods of the hermit. because the produce of one’s work is not sufficient for one’s subsistence) one must entrust to whomever one wishes the administration of one’s goods. It should permit a strict separation from the world so as to safeguard silence. generally some three years.But an indult of passage can only be reasonably requested after a period of eremitical probation. the interested party must return to the monastery or have recourse to the indult of departure or of passage. 80 . If he cannot get rid of them (for example. especially if it favors a spirit of prayer. 4) A member of a secular institute who aspires to eremitical life must. the Holy See has not yet approved any Constitutions foreseeing the possibility for contemplative nuns to lead an eremitical life outside of the canonical cloister. Beyond this term. 668 §1). 2) Choice of work.

During the whole period of probation. This period could vary depending on the personality and the background of each person. It will consist of regular stays in the community. a period of formation in a monastery or community life is essential. The hermit must also familiarize oneself with the documents of the Church so as to have a prayer of praise centered on the Church and a mission of intercession in her name.1 Spiritual Formation It should begin in the community in whose care the candidate has been placed for the first formation and may continue in this format but also under the care of an experienced hermit through stays or regular meetings that will permit guidance as well as initiation into the laws of the spiritual life.” 9. Bibliography ________. the demand for a balanced life and a certain insecurity of life. 1952. “Bienheureuse solitude. The candidate must be under the care of either the Superior of the community or a member who has been named by the Superior to personally care for the aspirant-hermit and to follow the hermit’s evolution. FORMATION TO EREMITICAL LIFE Before commitment to eremitical life. Of what should this formation consist? 9.9.3 Personal Formation This life project is confronted by the riches and the risks of solitude. No. formation is necessary. It will be given according to the means and the Rule of Life approved by each. under the care of one of its members. 9. It is useful to take correspondence courses and to follow sessions that will meet specific needs and one’s comprehension of the “church community. 226-308. as was mentioned above. as well as a liturgical formation that is indispensable to pray in the Church and to live according to the rhythm of the liturgical hours and seasons. 81 .” Vie spirituelle. pp. patristic and theological according to one’s capacities. 34. During the whole life in the hermitage. The hermit must also receive a formation that is biblical. The hermit is not a religious yet the hermit’s life project approved and recognized by the bishop must provide for this formation. a “continuing formation” is to be desired.2 Intellectual Formation Studies that are necessary so as to have a fruitful lectio divina can also serve as a protection against acedia and the seeking of distractions.

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Colm Luibheid. Peter. Garden City. This spiritual classic was written by an unknown 19th century Russian peasant and tells of his constant search to learn “how to pray without ceasing.J. Cassian. 2122. Michigan. 1985. Richard A. Cirino. Kalamazoo. The Classics of Western Spirituality Series.” Baker. Bonaventure University. Of the Vitae Patrum by Helen Waddell. Andre. Jean.. 1964. (NovemberDecember 1993). New York: Paulist Press. London: William Clowes and Sons. “On Being A Hermit”. 1995. 1980. Conferences. John. Solitude in the Thought of Thomas Merton. BIBLIOGRAPHIES Eremitic Life The Vows BIBLIOGRAPHY EREMITIC LIFE Anson. New York: Image Books. Doherty. Indiana: Ave Maria Press. trans. 137-147.X. Billy. The Desert Fathers. 1975. The Life of Antony and the Letter to Marcellinus. editors. The Call of the Desert. Cistercian Studies Series: Number 40. and Joseph Raischl. pp. Review for Religious 57/3 (May-June 1998). Sisters Today.. The Classics of Western Spirituality Series. trans. trans. Tardy. St. Beyer. Dennis J. 38-39. An excellent resource work giving a detailed history of and commentary on eremitical and anchoritic life throughout the centuries. 1954. Paris. Bacovcin. trans. New York: The Franciscan Institute. Poustinia. pp. OFM. “Desert Spirituality”. 69/1 (January 1997). Busby. 1981. Wynne.. New York: Paulist Press. Franciscan Solitude. Gregg. Catherine de Hueck. 1978. London: Constable and Company Ltd. 83 . Robert C. The Law of Consecrated Life: Commentary on Canons 573606. Notre Dame. Helen. Cashen. Frances. The Way of the Pilgrim and The Pilgrim Continues His Way. “The Desert as Spiritual Landscape”. 299-302. Athanasius. 1988. Creation Spirituality. S.

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