17 November 2010

Part-time work, Hermitage Soup Kitchens, etc

[[Sister thank you for your posts regarding the part-time hermits. I remember reading a story about a hermit who stays with her mom.. I think it's very unusual. But do you think "hermit ministries" or works could be done at the hermitage. Would that deviate from the meaning of the name "hermit"? For example running a soup kitchen at the hermitage, or offering spiritual direction. Also I would like to ask how to address diocesan hermits. What other names could we call people like you? Could it be "professed hermit" "canonical hermit" and "vowed hermit"?]]

Working in the hermitage (or even part time outside it) is not a problem generally. The issue in my other post was full-time work. All hermits work to some extent. Not only do they need to support themselves, but work is simply a part of the dignity of the human being and is is surely a part of a contemplative life. The ideal solution is to work within the hermitage itself but that is not always possible. Further, some hermits are asked to do limited ministry in their parishes, and this too is fine within reason even though it is not usually stipended. Spiritual direction is a time-honored way of supporting oneself but there are many, many others which are fine.

The soup kitchen idea is interesting but I wonder both at the amount of work it would take and the degree of privacy it requires giving up. Ordinarily, while hermitages are places of hospitality, the degree of this is limited and done in ways which allows the hermit to maintain her privacy. So, with that idea I would need to know more about the logistics. My general sense is that a hermitage is not meant to be a soup kitchen and offering hospitality needs to be done on another level than a soup kitchen requires. This is especially so since such a hermitage (or the soup kitchen) would probably be an urban reality so there is likely no way to set up part of the property to be the soup kitchen while leaving the hermitage itself untouched on another part of the property. If a Bishop or diocese was looking for someone to open or run a soup kitchen, a diocesan hermit is certainly not the person they should be looking at for that. Again though, it is a matter of logistics and a very small and limited operation could be made to work (though I wonder how the hermit would support herself doing so).

Diocesan hermits are usually addressed as Sister or Brother. They are called diocesan or canon 603 hermits because their vows are made directly in the hands of the diocesan Bishop under Canon 603 as solitary hermits. For this reason they are bound to a particular diocese (rather than to a community or monastery) unless and until they should transfer that "stability" with the permission of both Bishops involved in the move. (A diocesan or Canon 603 hermit needs the permission of the Bishop of the diocese she proposes to move to as well as her own (current) Bishop if she chooses to move to another diocese and wishes to remain a diocesan hermit.) While it is true they are professed or vowed, consecrated, and canonical, it is the case that religious hermits (canonical hermits living in a community of hermits) are these things as well. Thus, the descriptors "diocesan" or "Canon 603" hermits seems to work best if we are distinguishing these hermits from others, but are also the most inclusive terms we have. The terms you suggested all work however, as does "solitary hermit" (or solitary consecrated hermit), but again, "Diocesan" or "Canon 603" include these other terms as well.

I hope this helps.