A Hermit Priest

Posted on 11th August, 2020

We all know what hermits are - those courageous souls who dare to wrestle with God in the solitude of the wilderness or the monastery. They take form in, perhaps paradoxically, several Roman Catholic religious orders, such as the Carthursians and the Cistercians. Common to them all is a deep desire for God and for the peace that comes with a more perfect communion with him.

 

The solitude of Old Catholic life requires every member of its clergy to be something of a hermit. Most parish priests, whether Anglican or Roman, have one or more churches to look after, along with the laypeople who attend them and, quite possibly, clergy, readers and seminarians too. For better or worse, we are free from that. The time and freedom most of us thus have is both a gift and a challenge. It can be difficult to know what to do with it, especially when there is no client group and the words "Old Catholic" provoke, at best, curiosity.

 

In this desert, we can encounter sometimes piercing truth more deeply, both in terms of theology and ourselves. We can criticise the errors of Rome and Canterbury, ancient and modern, while we stand apart from these ever more dysfunctional institutions. We realise the humanity of the Church but also, more profoundly, the divinity of God and the strength of our divine faith as found in tradition. This is a seering experience, but also a healing one, for it shows us the errors of traditional, bureaucratic Christianity. We enter the night to emerge in a new dawn.

 

The hermit must endure the harshness and sharpness of the night, with all its terrors and storms, but the certainty of any night is the new day, in which sins are forgiven, hope is renewed and encumbrances burned away.

 

May our Lady, Star of the Sea, ever pray for us.

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