Thursday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time; Optional Memorial of St. Romuald
Romuald was called to a life of solitary prayer at the turn of the first Christian millennium: he was a hermit, and founded a community of hermits in the Benedictine family that exists to this day, the Camaldolese. The vocation of hermit has been experiencing a rebirth in our time, as, with the great shaking of all institutions, civil and ecclesial, more people are called into the desert to encounter the living God by fasting and prayer, listening to His voice in solitude.
True hermits are, of course, great lovers of God and of their fellow human beings, and that is why there are few people more sociable when you meet them than hermits. They can be truly present as few others because they are, well, just present all the time – to God, and then to anyone God sends their way. Jesus spent much time in solitude and prayer, and repeatedly tells us to go into the inner chamber, where the Father sees in secret, and there to pray to Him. He said little about marching up to the first pew at Mass, and what He did say in a related vein was not encouraging (viz. the Pharisee and the Publican).
Hermits live their lives of solitary sacrifice for the sake of the Church, that is, for the rest of us, who are always in danger of losing sight of the “one thing needful” in all the clatter of the world, which has deep tentacles in the Church as well. Let us support them in any way we can, and let us imitate them by finding the inner hermitage where we can be alone with the Father, in union with Our Lord Jesus, who loved solitary places, and loves solitary people.