14 January 2022

Like Water on Rock, the Hermit's Faithfulness to Her Rule of Life

[[ Hi Sister, I really liked your post on the process of discernment and formation and the way these grow organically out of the canon 603. Did you pick the picture you did, the one with the footprints worn in the floor to demonstrate the organic linkage to canon 603? I really love that picture!!]]

Yes, it's an incredibly evocative picture, I think. There is a second one which is like it that I also use sometimes. Yes, I did choose to use it because it reminds me of something growing organically out of the life of the canon. Hermits are formed in long periods of the silence of solitude, and these don't tend to fit normal canonical time frames that are more appropriate for the person in a coenobitical religious life. In some ways the picture also makes me think of the tedium of the cell and the hiddenness of the hermit's formation. Change happens so slowly-but-surely in the silence of solitude and faithfulness to one's commitment to prayer and the whole of one's Rule of Life; the picture also reminds me of this. 

If I were to entitle the picture, I might call it Stability (as in Benedictine stability) because it accents change and growth while remaining in the same place. Benedictines make a vow of stability because they believe God gives us all we need to grow to fullness of life in a given house or monastery. The grass may look greener elsewhere, but Benedictines trust they will be fed in precisely the way they need in the place they make their commitment. Finally, these pictures evoke for me the humble but real and, in fact, the powerful effect the hermit's life has on the Church and world simply by being faithful to the Rule of prayer and life the hermit has embraced. It is like water dripping on rock and is profoundly countercultural given our world's insistence on instant gratification and our expectations of immediacy (and disposability) in everything. It's a welcome reminder of a different wisdom, a different way of looking at reality. Thanks for the question!!