What is a Hermit.



Hermits 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. 

They manifest to everyone the interior aspect of the mystery of the Church, that is, personal intimacy with Christ. Hidden from the eyes of men, the life of the hermit is a silent preaching of the Lord, to whom he has surrendered his life simply because he is everything to him. 

Here is a particular call to find in the desert, in the thick of spiritual battle, the glory of the Crucified One.

The hermit was originally a layman (priests were exceptional) who lived alone in the desert outside the framework of any institution, even of the Christian
and Ecclesial institution. 

This statement should not be taken to imply a separation from the wider Church, but simply that the hermit's participation in the Church does not consist in fulfilling a specific organizational role.

Christian solitude, is essentially an expression of the mystery of the Church, even when in some sense it implies a certain freedom from institutional structures. 

But this "freedom" is never a freedom from the Church but always a freedom in the Church and a contribution to the Church's own charismatic heritage.

To call a hermit a "lay" Christian is to recognize that at least one essential aspect of the eremitic vocation is to be a standing warning that the very notion of an
"official" Christian, a "professional" Christian, is in grave danger of confusing outward function with inner identity; it risks substituting appearance for reality. Both the cleric and the non-eremitic lay person need the hermit as a salutary reminder that to be a Christian, a disciple, is not a matter of playing a role or of filling an office but of committing one's entire life to the person of Jesus. 

The eremitic vocation is traditionally regarded as a charism of liberty in which the hermit does not
simply tum his back on the world, but on the contrary becomes free with the perfect freedom of the sons of God by virtue of the fact that, having followed Christ into the wilderness and shared in His temptations and sufferings, he can also follow Him wherever else He may go. 

Such freedom is risky, because it places the hermit in the desert, where the secure routines of man's city offer no support, but it is precisely from these "secure routines," which stifle vitality and creativity and try to domesticate the Spirit that blows where it wills, that one needs to be liberated.

The world needs men who are free from its demands, men who are not alienated by its servitudes in any way. The hermit is, or should be, such a person. 

A hermit is essentially someone who takes up a critical attitude toward the world and its structures,  somebody who says, in one way or another, that the claims of the world are fraudulent.

This "lay" character also has a liberating aspect to it, the hermit is not confined to a fixed role, a limited set of duties or obligations. The very nature of the eremitic life, insofar as it is not "clerical," not provided with a definite niche in the ecclesial structure, testifies to the freedom of the Christian.
 



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