Notes from the Hermitage
L’EREMO DEL CAMPO DEI SANTI
Translated from Italian to English, Campo dei Santi means the Field of Saints. It is a little hermitage at the end of the road where God is present in the passage of time, in the changing of seasons, and in the quiet prayers of a Franciscan solitary. It is a small place on the map of the world but also lives in the heart of every person. It is a place of petition; a place of refuge; a place where light battles darkness for the eternity of a soul. It is a place both within and without; a place of emptiness and understanding; a place of consolation and quiet suffering.
From this little field of saints, these thoughts and prayers are shared by a solitary pilgrim with humility for God’s sake and for the salvation of souls. Over time, readers may find here poems and prayers, words both wise and whimsical, and links to worthwhile reads and reflections. During these turbulent times, let us be remember this call from the heart of Saint Francis of Assisi: “This is our vocation: to heal wounds, to bind what is broken, to bring home those who are lost.” All who read this blog are remembered in the daily prayers of the hermitage. If you have a prayer request for yourself, a loved one, or a special intention, please contact Brother Enoch at email@example.com.
Art: Winded (Detail) by Nancy T. Baker
PENTECOST SUNDAY, MAY 31ST – 6:00PM
A Franciscan Reading for Pentecost
On Pentecost Sunday, all of the brothers gathered for a chapter near the Church of Saint Mary of the Little Portion. At the chapter, they discussed how to better observe the Rule. The appointed those who would preach to the people throughout the provinces. Francis gave the brothers admonitions, corrections, and principles that he discerned from his consultations in prayer with the Lord.
Everything he said in word, he showed them first in deed with affection and eagerness. He said to them: “As you announce peace with your mouth, make sure that you have great peace in your hearts, so that no one will be provoked to anger or scandal because of you. Let everyone be drawn to peace and kindness through your gentleness. For this is our vocation: to heal wounds, to bind what is broken, and to bring home the lost.”
Source: The Anonymous of Perugia
MONDAY, MAY 25TH – 12:00PM
A Prayer of Saint Ephrem the Syrian
Lord and Master of my life,
take away from me the spirit of sloth,
despondency, lust for power, and idle talk.
Give your servant instead
a spirit of chastity, humility, forbearance, and love.
My Lord and King,
grant that I may see my own shortcomings
and not judge others.
Blessed are you for all ages.
Glory to the Father, to the Son,
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, is now,
and will be forever. Amen.
Saint Ephrem the Syrian (306-373) was a writer, deacon, and theologian who is venerated a patron of faith leaders and spiritual directors. He is best remembered both for composing hymns and works of practical theology. Among these is a series of teaching hymns that were used to educate believers about the teachings of the Church during times of doubt. In 1920, Pope Benedict XV proclaimed Saint Ephrem as a Doctor of the Church. Saint Ephrem the Syrian, pray for us!
SUNDAY, MAY 17TH – 1:00PM
A Fable About Pride & Humility
A huntsman was fond of stalking the woods and fields for game. One day after he had been climbing up a steep hill for hours tracking his prey, exhausted, he sat down on a big stone to rest. Seeing a flight of birds soaring from one summit to another, he began to think: “Why did not God give me wings so that I could fly?”
Just then a humble hermit passed by, divined the huntsman’s though and said to him: “There you are, sitting and saying to yourself that God has not given you wings; but if you had wings, you would still be discontented and say: ‘My wings are feeble and I cannot fly up to heaven with them, to see what it is like up there.’ And were you then given wings strong enough to lift you to heaven you would still be dissatisfied and say: ‘I do not understand what happens in heaven.’ And were you to be given understanding of this, you would again be discontented and say: ‘Why am I not an angel?’ Were you to be turned into a cherubim you would say: ‘Why doesn’t God let me rule over heaven?’ And if you were given to rule over heaven, you would still be dissatisfied and like another we all know, insolently seek something more.”
“Therefore, I tell you: humble yourself at all times, and be content with the gifts you are given. Then you will be living with God.” The huntsman saw that the hermit spoke the truth and thanked God for sending him a monk to give him understanding and set him on the path of humility.
Source: Notes of Saint Silouan the Athonite (1866-1938)
WEDNESDAY, MAY 6TH – 10:00PM
Have no fear of being thought insignificant or unbalanced, but preach with courage and simplicity. Have faith in the Lord, who has overcome the world. His Spirit speaks in you and through you, calling men and women to turn to him and observe his precepts. You will encounter some who are faithful, meek, and well disposed; they will joyfully receive you and your words. But there will be more who are skeptical, proud, and blasphemous, and who will insult you and resist your message. Prepare yourselves, therefore, to bear everything with patience and humility.
Source: The Legend of the Three Companions (36)
SUNDAY, MAY 3RD – 6:00PM
A Prayer of Abandonment
By Blessed Charles de Foucauld
I abandon myself into your hands;
do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you.
I am ready for all. I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me
and in all your creatures.
I wish no more than this, O Lord.
Into your hand, I commend my soul.
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord,
and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself
into your hands without reserve,
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father.
Art Credit: Charles de Foucauld (Detail) by Jody Cole – jcoleicons.com
MONDAY, APRIL 27TH – 6:30PM
“When we pray for the living, we share in their joy in love, their grief at loss, or the terrible darkness of their despair. Having experienced pain, we pray for all who are sick and suffering: we lean in thought over the beds of those who, lonely and distressed, lie helplessly facing death. To think of the dead plunges our spirit into the depths of past centuries, or else our mind fixes on the invisible but dreaded path along which hundreds of thousands of souls pass everyday, having left their bodies often after excruciating agony…This sort of prayer makes one aware of the unity of all mankind, and to love our neighbor, and evolves into a natural impulse. Such prayer effectively furthers the salvation of the world, and every Christian sooner or later comes to pray for the whole world.”
Quote: Silouan the Athonite (1866-1938)
SUNDAY, APRIL 26TH – 11:30AM
“The Holy Spirit teaches the love of God, and the soul yearns for God and with tears seeks Him day and night; but the enemy brings anguish, heaviness, and darkness, which destroys the soul. By these tokens can the grace of God be distinguished from the seductions of the enemy.”
Quote: Silouan the Athonite (1866-1938)
FRIDAY, APRIL 24TH – 3:45PM
Since you are alone,
strive to find a companion.
What better companion than the Master Himself…
Believe that you should remain
with so good a friend for as long as you can.
If you grow accustomed to having him present at your side,
and He sees that you do so with love
and that you strive to please Him,
then you will not be able to get away from Him.
He will never fail you;
He will help you in all your trials;
you will find Him everywhere.
Do you think it is some small matter
to have a friend like this at your side?
Quote: Saint Teresa of Avila
THURSDAY, APRIL 23RD – 4:00PM
“Everything we should ask of God and hope to receive from him is in Jesus Christ. We should try to enter into Jesus’ life, words, actions, suffering, and death, so that we can recognize what God has promised and what he always does for us. God does not give us everything we desire, but he keeps his promises. He is still the Lord of the earth who protects his church, continues to renew our strength, and does not impose burdens on us beyond what we can bear, but fills us with his presence and strength.”
Source: Letters & Papers From Prison by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
TUESDAY, APRIL 21ST – 11:30AM
Sit in your cell and your cell will teach you everything. — Abba Moses
Stay inside your vocation,
inside your commitments,
inside your legitimate conscriptive duties,
inside your church, inside your family,
and they will teach you
where life is found and what love means.
Be faithful to your commitments,
and what you are ultimately looking for
will be found there…
There’s a rich spirituality in these principles:
Stay inside your commitments, be faithful,
your place of work is a seminary,
your work is a sacrament,
your family is a monastery,
your home is a sanctuary.
Stay inside them, don’t betray them,
learn what they are teaching you
without constantly looking for life elsewhere
and without constantly believing that God is elsewhere.
Source: Domestic Monastery by Ronald Rolheiser
Art Credit: The Mealtime Prayer (1885) by Fritz von Uhde
SUNDAY, APRIL 19TH – 11:00AM
“This realization came to me today. If I have given myself to Mary, I belong to her. Then to use myself, body or soul, in any way other than the way she wants, is unjust because it is using what belongs to another contrary to her wishes. I have often been unjust. I must reform. Mary, help me.”
Source: Basil Pennington, OCSCO in The Monks of Mount Athos
Art Credit: The Virgin of Tenderness (Detail) by Jody Cole – jcoleicons.com
SATURDAY, APRIL 18TH – 12:15PM
“I ask myself, what is it all about? What can a poor little creature say or do before God? I feel so trapped in myself. I want to go out of myself and be centered in God. But this is ecstasy — his gift. I can only lean towards him and desire and love. And this, too, is gift. If I can only transcend all the pulls of passion and sense and even intellect — and be to him.”
Source: Basil Pennington, OCSCO in The Monks of Mount Athos
FRIDAY, APRIL 17TH – 3:30PM
If you would retain prayer, you must love those who offend against you and pray for them until your soul is reconciled with them, and then the Lord will give you prayer without ceasing, for he gives prayer to those who pray for their enemies. The one who loves his enemies soon comes to know the Lord in the Holy Spirit. But the one who does not love his enemies is to be pitied, for he is a torment to himself and to others and does not know the Lord.
Quote: Silouan the Athonite (1866-1938)
THURSDAY, APRIL 16TH – 9:00PM
When you lie down on your bed,
remember with thanksgiving
the Blessing and Providence of God.
Once filled with this good thought,
you will rejoice in the spirit
and the sleep of the body
will mean sobriety of the soul;
the closing of your eyes,
a true knowledge of God;
and your silence,
brimming with good feeling
and with all its strength
glorify Almighty God,
giving him from the heart
praise that rises on high.
Source: 170 Texts on Saintly Life by Saint Antony (251-356)
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 15TH – 12:00PM
The cloud of cares
is made of evaporations
from the principal passions:
love of pleasure,
love of money,
and love of glory,
so that a person who is free from them
is a stranger to cares, too.
Quote: Theodore of Edessa (9th Century)
MONDAY, APRIL 13TH – 8:00PM
The past and the future are only other forms of self; God is now.
Quote: Dom Edmund Futterer, OCSO (1901-1984)
EASTER SUNDAY, APRIL 12TH – 6:00AM
On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb (John 20:1)
It is for others to serve God,
it is for you to cling to him;
it is for others to believe in God,
know him, love him, and revere him;
it is for you to taste him, understand him,
be intimate with him, enjoy him.
Source: The Gold Epistle (16) by William of Saint Thierry (1085-1148)
THURSDAY, APRIL 9TH – 11:00PM
When we have reached love,
we have reached God
and our way is ended.
We have passed over to the island
that lies beyond the world
where is the Father with the Son and Holy Spirit.
Quote: Isaac the Syrian
Art Credit: Untitled by Alan Fishman
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 8TH – 6:00PM
During a time of trial, what should we think?
During a time of suffering, how should we act?
During a time of uncertainty, for what should we pray?
As always, the Little Poor One of Assisi, shows us the way.
Where there is Love and Wisdom,
there is neither Fear nor Ignorance.
Where there is Patience and Humility,
there is neither Anger nor Annoyance.
Where there is Poverty and Joy,
there is neither Cupidity nor Avarice.
Where there is Peace and Contemplation,
there is neither Care nor Restlessness.
Where there is the Fear of God to guard the dwelling,
there no enemy can enter.
Where there is Mercy and Prudence,
there is neither Excess nor Harshness
Saint Francis of Assisi, pray for us!
Saint Clare of Assisi, pray for us!
Our Lady of Angels, pray for us!
Source: Admontion XXVII by Saint Francis of Assisi
TUESDAY, APRIL 7TH – 11:15AM
Praying with Jane during the final months of her long life was a small thing. Bringing her the Eucharist was as much a blessing for the minister as it was for the communicant. Never had a person so sick approached the end of life with such courage, grace, and yes, even some sense, with joy. Months after Jane died, a generous gift was received, but most important and forever remembered was the card containing a word of thanks and an old Irish blessing:
May God give you,
for every storm, a rainbow,
for every tear, a smile,
for every care, a promise,
and a blessing in each and every trial;
for every problem life sends,
a faithful friend to share,
for every sign, a sweet song,
and an answer for each and every prayer.
MONDAY, APRIL 6TH – 7:30AM
The Jesus Prayer
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
“In order to walk, one must take the first step; in order to swim, one must throw oneself into the water. It is the same with the Incarnation of the Name (of Jesus). Begin to pronounce it with adoration and love. Cling to it. Repeat it. Do not think that you are invoking the Name; think only of Jesus himself. Say his Name slowly, softly, quietly (Basil Pennington, OCSO in The Monks of Mount Athos).”
“The invocation of the Name is a prayer for all seasons. It can be used by everyone in ever place and at every time. It is suitable for the beginner as well as for the more experienced; it can be offered in company with others or alone; it is equally appropriate in the desert or in the city, in surroundings of recollected tranquility or in the midst of the utmost noise or agitation. It is never out of place (Basil Pennington, OCSO in The Monks of Mount Athos).”
SUNDAY, APRIL 5TH – 5:00PM
How To Be a Poet: To Remind Myself
By Wendell Berry
Make a place to sit down.
Sit down. Be quiet.
You must depend upon
affection, reading, knowledge, skill,
more of each than you have,
inspiration, work, growing older, patience,
for patience joins time to eternity.
Any readers who like your work,
doubt their judgment.
Breathe with unconditional breath
the unconditioned air.
Shun electric wire.
Live a three-dimensioned life;
stay away from screens.
Stay away from anything
that obscures the place it is in.
There are no un-sacred places:
there are only sacred places
and desecrated places.
Accept what comes from silence.
Make the best you can of it.
Of the little words that come
out of the silence, like prayers
prayed back to the one who prays,
make a poem that does not disturb
the silence from which it came.
Source: Given: Poems by Wendell Berry
SUNDAY, APRIL 5TH – 3:50pm
A Prayer for Guidance
By Saint Francis of Assisi
Most High and Glorious God,
bring light to the darkness of my heart.
Give me right faith,
and perfect charity.
Lord, give me insight and wisdom,
so I might always discern
your holy and true will.
Founded in 2007, the Assisi Project is a Fellowship of Franciscans in Spirit with members, friends, and followers in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Africa. We are dedicated to helping Christian believers of all ages to more faithfully live the Gospel of Christ in the spirit of Saints Francis and Clare. The Assisi Project is a non-profit, tax exempt charitable organization. All are welcome to support our ministry via PayPal or smile.amazon.com; or by sending a donation to the Assisi Project, Post Office Box 3158, Gloucester, Massachusetts 01931-3158. For more information about the Assisi Project and our upcoming opportunities for formation, prayer, and pilgrimage, please contact Cliff Garvey at firstname.lastname@example.org. May the Lord give you peace!