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Do you ever get that feeling where you want to just run away from everything and go live up in the mountains?
Or maybe just escape to the beach for forever?
To be quite honest, as a married mother of three small children & a small business owner, I have felt that feeling soooo many times over the past 10 years. Raise your hand if you have felt too. (You don’t even have to have kids to know the feeling I am talking about. 😉)
The cool thing is some people actually get to do that, and we call them hermits.
Of course one of the best parts about hermits is that they can spend so much of their time in prayer & sacrifice & in Our Lord’s creation. Fortunately for the rest of us, we can still benefit from hermits & the fruit of their prayer & their growth in holiness.
St. Bruno of Cologne is one such hermit.
As an adult, he became a philosopher and a theologian at a school, where one of his students grew up to become Pope Urban II.
The thing about St Bruno that interests me the most is how he continually feels this call to retreat to the hermitage, yet he keeps getting wrapped up in the local drama of the Church and the bishops and the Pope, often being called upon for his wisdom & holiness.
In fact, he first became a hermit after he had to leave town from a conflict he was having with the local bishop. The people popularly requested St. Bruno to replace this bishop, but at that time he felt called to start a religious community of hermits with a few other brothers.
This was the Carthusian order, an interesting blend of hermetic but also monastic life. They followed the rule of St. Benedict, and they became known for embracing the “Ora et Labora” motto of the Benedictines, living out that in a very serious, austere manner.
Even after founding the hermitage, St. Bruno was prevailed upon by Pope Urban II, his former student, to come advise him in his papacy. In his struggles with an antipope, Pope Urban very much felt the need for wisdom & support from his holy advisor, St. Bruno.
Bruno was loyal, but eventually after 6 years persuaded Pope Urban to let him return to the hermitage & to his monastic community.
Notably, St. Bruno particularly emphasized belief in the Eucharist, which was being questioned in many parts of the Church at the time, and he made a remarkable profession in his final testimony towards the end of his life, stating:
“I believe in the sacraments that the Church believes and holds in reverence, and especially that what has been consecrated on the altar is the true Flesh and the true Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, which we receive for the forgiveness of our sins & in the hope of eternal salvation.”
What’s interesting to me is that, even though we are separated from St. Bruno by 1,000 years, and I would venture to say the majority of us listening do not have the benefit of living in 19 hours of silence every day, we can still sympathize with that great need to encounter our Lord in the quiet of our hearts. Anybody who’s lived through the Church for any length of time can also sympathize with that call to love our brothers and sisters in Christ, while also feeling the need to get away from them and their drama sometimes.
With St Bruno’s feast day on October 6th, I also think of a possible kindred spirit for him a woman whose feast day is October the 1st. Interestingly, she very much felt the desire to go out into the world especially as a missionary, but she was called to the Carmelite cloister. Of course, I’m talking about my beloved friend St. Therese of Lisieux.
You know sometimes as laypeople, we can question what exactly we’re supposed to do for our vocation when we can’t live 19 hours in silence like St. Bruno did and we can’t live in the cloister like St. Therese did. But in the Communion of Saints, I think we can trust the fact that their prayers have obtained graces for us that we might not have known otherwise. And their witness of choosing to step away from the world and be with our Lord still gives us that reminder that we also need to find those times to encounter our Lord in the silence of our hearts. This can be a challenging practice, but I think it’s necessary for our own well-being.
Even as a small business owner, I’ve come across so many personal development books that present meditation as a secular wellness practice. But I think in the Catholic Church we have the added insight to know how truly necessary quiet meditation and prayer is for our own sanity, our own well-being, and our own growth with the Lord.
St. Bruno, pray for our perseverance in prayer in our day-to-day lives. Even though we may not be called to the hermitage, we know that we can meet Jesus interiorly, even if it is just a few moments of recollection in a day.
St. Bruno, pray for us.
Katie Goebel, mother of 3 & wife of 10 years to Jeremy, is Catholic because of the Eucharist. As a former full-time youth minister, she is passionate about encouraging youth & young adults to deeply know the love of Jesus & radiantly live that love in their daily lives.
Now, as an online marketing strategist, she is on a mission to make marketing more human. She helps mission-driven small businesses & entrepreneurs grow their audience online through crystal clear messaging, fruitful relationship-building & sustainable video marketing.
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