May Christ’s peace be with you!
Welcome to the Blog-Site where occasionally I’m allowed to share my mind with others. My Name is Fr. Ugo-Maria. I’m a contemplative Catholic Priest and Hermit, originally from Italy. I attended a Salesian minor seminary school in Castrofilippo Italy and Diocesan Seminary also in Italy and occasionally in Rome. I spent several years with the Benedictines in Italy, Ireland and the UK, then with the Cistercians at Mellifont in Ireland in search of my “desert vocation” and eventually spend some time with the Carthusians at Serra San Bruno in Calabria. In 1995 my bishop released me from diocesan duties and I commenced my life as a Priest and contemplative Hermit following the ancient Carthusian Customs (Consuetudines) or Rule written in 1128 (Guigo I, 5th Prior of Order) and continue to use their pre Vatican II liturgy with the consent of my bishop.
St. Mary’s Hermitage is located on the edge of a very tiny village in the Weald of Kent, surrounded by woodland and arable land, and very few people.
This is in fact the second St. Mary’s Hermitage, the first one having burnt to the ground by an arsonist attack a couple of years ago. It has been a difficult as we lost absolutely everything. Only the hermitage animals and I were spared.
Today, hermitic Catholics can live their monastic life as hermits belonging to a cenobitic religious order (eg Benedictines, Cistercians, Trappists) or in a religious order oriented to hermitism (eg the Carthusian or Camaldolese) But in both cases under obedience to his religious superior. Or as hermits consecrated under the canonical direction of their local bishops (canon 603).
Idiorrhythmia was the original form of monastic life in Christianity, as exemplified by St. Anthony of Egypt and is the opposite of cenobitic monasticism in that instead of communal ownership, the monk lives alone, often in isolation. Philosophically it consists of a total withdrawal from society, normally in the desert, and the constant practice of mental prayer. The word Idiorrhythmic comes from two Greek words idios, “particular” and ῥυθμός rhuthmós, “rule” meaning “following one’s own devices.” It was first developed by St. Anthony of Egypt (c. 250–355) and today is mainly known to be practised in Mount Athos, Greece, but is beginning to expand to other parts of the world.
My monastic life in which I seek divine quietness (ἡσυχία hēsychia) through the contemplation of God in uninterrupted prayer. Such prayer, involving the entire human being—soul, mind, and body—is often called “pure,” or “intellectual,” prayer or the Jesus prayer. St. John Climacus, one of the greatest writers of the Hesychast tradition, wrote, “Let the remembrance of Jesus be present with each breath, and then you will know the value of the hēsychia.” even in the life of this father of monasticism, the desert solitude was gradually modified by the appearance of disciples. I wanted to pursue the monastic life under the guidance of one who was already experienced. A monk seeking a life of solitude would much rather be guided by an experienced hermit than an inexperienced one, no matter how educated the latter may be. So, there were struggles for many years as a solitary, but I initially received help from the people who lived near me and a small Amish community who provided some furniture, food and plants.
A few years have passed now and being nearly fully settled in I began to do some gardening, I learn from the Carthusians at Calabria how every single monk had his own small cell to live in and to worship God in quiet solitude; there are two gardens one at the front of the hermitage which at times I wished were smaller and one at rear of the hermitage which is attached to my cell. I have planted a verity of medicinal herbs which I use, (Bay leaf, lemon balm, marjoram, thyme, parsley, oregano, Rosemary, Lavender, valerian, sage and St. John’s wort) flowers which I enjoy especially the Jasmine, wisteria and quite a few fruit bearing trees and bushes, the favourites being all of them really, there are figs, cherries, plums, apples, pears, damsons, there are also blueberries and gooseberries, occasionally strawberries (they were damaged this spring when a lamb took a liking to them) also I brought back some Anguria seeds (Water Melon) from Sicily and they have done surprisingly well.
Next year I hope to start canning, drying and storing the fruits and herbs. I do not to use any chemical pesticides at all and therefore have to be watchful of insects and slugs and snails, white fly, black things green things… its a great learning curb. When I’m in a real panic about a plant I usually contact Buckfast Abbey in Devon and ask for advice.
The rest of my time is spend in lecturing, writing, editing and publishing… but all of these things need to fit in with my Horarium (schedule).
I apologise If I do not reply to your emails, in fact it is very rare that a contemplative hermit communicates with anyone inside their order let alone outside of religious life. It is simply contrary to the “Contemplative Solitary” thing that we do.
Thank you for your interest in my blog. I send you my prayers and blessings and trust that the Lord will always walk at your side.
Frà Ugo-Maria the Hermit Priest.