THE EREMITIC CALL AND VOCATION
Fr. Steven Scherrer
November 15, 2006
“But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us” (Titus 3:4). God’s love for man was shown in his appearing among us in the incarnation. This is how he saved us and gave us new life, divine life, and a radically new way of living, rescuing us from our former selfish way of life, where we lived in noise and talk, seeking our own bodily pleasures.
Now he has given us a radically new way of life in him, in deep, peaceful, uninterrupted silence, bathed in light, in continual fasting, eating only the plainest, simplest food—but once a day—without meat, adornment or seasoning, except salt, with nothing fried, nor with delicacies made of white flour or sugar, and in moderate quantity, spending our time reflecting on the Scriptures and other holy writings of the saints who lived this way for God alone, crucifying their flesh. So lived strict monks in the times of greatest fervor (see the first Letter of St. Bernard). It is a life of prayer and fasting, separated from the world, spent in silent, peaceful, quiet, and recollected work, offering ourselves continually to God in love. This is the eremitic life, light in the Lord, the eremitic call to the desert life for God alone, in silence and solitude, bathed in light and heavenly peace.
This is the new life of profound moderation and quiet which he has given us in his incarnation, a sober, just, and pious life in the midst of this age, which is given over to hedonism, noise, and empty talk. It is a life which he has given to us by pouring out his Holy Spirit upon us.
Rejoice, therefore, in the Lord, for the Lord has come. “Let earth receive her king. Let every heart prepare him room. Let heaven and nature sing.” He brings joy to the world: “Joy to the world, the Lord has come! Let earth receive her king,” as we sing at our Savior’s birth.
Let us be new men, silent, filled with light, mortified, finding our joy only in God, living for God alone, always, whether in darkness or light, crucifying the passions through ascetical living, rejoicing in the Lord always, for the Lord is near. Such is the life of those who are called to the desert to serve God alone, to serve only one master (Mt 6, 24), in solitude and silence.
Live in the joy of the desert, far from the world and its pleasures. Live a life of prayer and constant fasting. Seek your peace there. The greatest joy is found in the desert, in deep, uninterrupted silence. Work in silence, deep in the desert, or in the forest. There you will find God.
Desert living makes us long for the return of Christ, because he is our only joy, and because we live for him alone, crucifying our flesh to all else. This world shall come to an end with great signs and wonders. All its false, disappointing, and empty joys shall then be over. And then we shall see him, coming in glory on the clouds of heaven to fulfill our every desire and to bring us heavenly peace. Let us live in spirit in that day now. And let it form, guide, and inspire all our actions, our whole way of life. Let us live in the enchantment of the end times. Let us not fall out of it by vain, empty talk. Let us live in the spell of his holy silence, in continual fasting and offering of ourselves in love to the Lord alone. This is the eremitic life.