Eremitic monasticism experience?

Last summer I experienced a monastic guest program at an American Trappist monastery, described: “for men who are interested in a short-term experience of living as authentically monastic a life as possible, without pursuing the possibility of vocation to the monastic life. This program is open to men of all faiths, regardless of marital status.”

I spent two months living with the monks. It changed my life. I have a similar growing interest in eremitic monasticism, particularly the Carthusian order, and am wondering if there is, anywhere in the world, a monastic guest order for one of these orders (also including the Camoldese and Brothers of Bethlehem I think).

Thank you. This is my first thread in this forum, so please let me know if there is a more appropriate area in which to post this query.

I’m wondering if it makes sense to ask this question of the Monastery where you spent your time? They might be more aware of what’s going on than people here. Also, don’t those orders have National or International governing bodies you might email?

I have to say, I just discovered the word “eremitic” and it really helped me understand my own needs as a lay person seeking to follow a certain kind of spirituality.

If you don’t mind my asking, which Trappist monastery did you stay at? I’ve been discerning a monastic vocation. Thank you.

I have already contacted a brother at the monastery I was at and the international governing bodies. I’m just covering all my bases.

The Camaldolese invite guests to their monasteries. The Carthusians are extremely strict and do not allow guests unless they are seriously discerning a vocation. In fact, a Carthusian is only allowed to have his family visit for two days a year.

If you feel genuinely called to the Carthusian life, read the book “An Infinity of Little Hours,” it’s an amazing book written by the wife of a man who spent some time at the Charterhouse in England discerning a Carthusian vocation - all the people discussed in the book were discerning a vocation to the life of a cloistered priest-monk, the Carthusians maintain the choir monk/lay brother seperation and the priests spend almost 24 hours a day, six days a week, in their cells doing no required work but chopping wood.

Also, make sure you read as much as you can from the websites of the Carthusian order and of individual Charterhouses.

You may also want to look into the Carmelites, there are a few good-looking Carmelite monasteries that allow for both cenobitic and eremitic lifestyles - one of which in the United States even takes advantage of His Holiness’ motu proprio Summorum Pontificum and prayers the Office and says Mass according to the 1962 rubrics.

Also, consider how much you really know about yourself and being alone. Having to actually confront oneself in the presence of God is terrifying - Mother Mary is the only one who wouldn’t be terrified and that’s only because she never sinned. To quote one of the men from “An Infinity of Little Hours,” “You know you’ve figured it out when you’re lying on the floor of your cell crying.” Don’t make the mistake of thinking life of a hermit is easy. I don’t say this to judge, but simply because I don’t know much about you and don’t know how realistic of an idea you have about hermits.

Which Trappist monastery did you visit, by the way? How traditional were they with the praying of the Hours and how strict were they with silence throughout the day and the Great Silence after compline?

God bless you! :slight_smile:

Thank you for this response.

I didn’t know Carthusians got family visits. I thought that when they enter the life, that’s it. I may receive a calling to that life, depending on how college goes.

I stayed at Holy Spirit Monastery in Conyers, Georgia. They pray five of the offices (skipping Terce and None because the work places are sometimes far from the church and because of the monastery’s history). They were serious about the Great Silence inside the cloister. Silence during the day was more relaxed (depending on the workplace), though silence was expected in general.

I haven’t yet “decided” I’m prepared for the eremetic life. Right now I’m just seeing if it’s an option. I appreciate your warning. I’m marginally confident I could handle the solitude, but I don’t know if I could handle returning to the active life.

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