Dear Crystal Waters.
I was wondering if purgatory is all we have been told in grade school, like the fires are like the fires of hell, and that some souls will be in purgatory till the end of time. At so many funerals when their is a homily given, many of them speak of the deceased as already being in heaven. We don't know where the soul has gone. It is most important that we pray for the deceased and have masses said for them.
And I'd say the day is spent half alone and half with others because we generally did do a number of things together such as all the hours of the LOTH (except the little hours), prayed the rosary and divine mercy chaplet, assisting at Mass, Eucharistic Adoration for an hour, sometimes the hermits also do have to work together during work periods like making breads and jellies (which I made a lot of, and they were tasty, lol), and sometimes there are classes as well to instruct the way of how life of a (Carmelite) hermit should be lived.
Yes, as far as I understand, I think the process of becoming a hermit within a hermit community is pretty similar to other religious orders: one has to visit and live the life for a little while, and the community also has a say, though, whether or not a person will be allowed to join; and trust me, many are rejected or turned away! I was there for over a year, and there were quite a number of people that were turned away because it was pretty obvious that particular persons didn't have a vocation with the community (or perhaps were too spiritually immature at the time). There are some people, too, that think they are just going to relax at a hermitage. ^^;
I think in most hermit communities, including the one I was at, the hermit, generally, eats their meal alone in their cell, except for Sundays since it's a celebration of the Lord's Resurrection.
As for a hermit, well, I was in a community of hermits living the Carmelite spirituality, so we had quite a bit of time alone in our cell either meditating, doing lectio divina, spiritual reading; the little hours of the LOTH, etc.; I also got to take care of some of the animals (goats and chickens) and we did a little farming of various veggies and fruits. ^.^ And since the hermitage was located in a desert, we had to do a LOT of watering, especially since the hermitage was quite big.
It really is a life of obedience and self-sacrifice, since no longer can one do whatever they wish. Their will becomes the will of the Superior, which in turn is the will of God for them. But yeah, I have a much more greater appreciation now for cloistered contemplatives; it definitely isn't a cakewalk or a life for those unwilling to fight against their own passions and desires. Having said that, though, I still am discerning other contemplative communities.