Consider the Ravens (paperback)

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On Contemporary Hermit Life

Insights, information and reflections gathered from hermits themselves – as shared through RAVEN'S BREAD, an international newsletter for hermits. This comprehensive work strives to answer all basic questions, and serves as a handbook for individuals seriously interested in living the hermit life. Lively prose interspersed with quotations from the desert fathers and mothers, as well as from modern-day hermits, addresses all aspects of the vocation – spiritual, practical and juridical. Paperback, 254 pages.


A hermit (from the Greek eremos, signifying "desert", is a person who lives to some greater or lesser degree in seclusion and/or isolation from society.

In the Christian tradition the eremitic life is an early form of monastic living that preceded its communal form. The solitary life is a form of asceticism, wherein the hermit renounces worldly concerns and pleasures in order to come closer to God. Solitude is sought to enable meditation, contemplation and prayer without the distractions of contact with human society. The ascetic discipline can also include a simplified diet and/or manual labor as a means of support; for example, the early Christian Desert Fathers often wove baskets to exchange for bread.

Ironically, hermits were often sought out for spiritual advice and counsel and eventually acquired so many disciples that they had no solitude at all. Examples include St. Anthony the Great, who is considered by both Catholics and the Orthodox to be the "Founder of Monasticism."

From the Middle Ages to modern times eremitical monasticism has also been practiced within the context of religious orders in the Christian West. In the Roman Catholic Church the Carthusians and Camaldolese arrange their monasteries as clusters of hermitages where the monks live most of their day and most of their lives in solitary prayer and work, gathering only relatively briefly for communal prayer and only occasionally for community meals and recreation. The Cistercian, Trappist and Carmelite orders, which are essentially communal in nature, allow members who feel a calling to the eremitic life, after years living in the community, to move to a hermitage on monastery grounds. In addition to hermits who are members of religious orders, modern Roman Catholic Church law also recognizes individual "consecrated hermits" under the direction of their diocesan bishop.