What if you knew a secret formula, a chant or an incantation, a method of getting to Narnia, or even to Aslan's own country? Would you use it? What if the only way to make the magic work, the true magic, was to make an immense personal sacrifice? Would you do it then? What if it required the sacrifice of everything you have, and took the rest of your life? And you had to give up everything and go live in a completely different way, in a different place... worth it?
What if there were a little stone house, a kind of gatehouse, where on one side of the house you came through the door in this world, and across the room there is a little wooden door, and every day, eight times a day, starting very early in the morning, you had been asked to open the door and sit in the doorway and look through, and as long as you have sung the proper song in the proper language, that doorway would show you the world that you have longed all your life to go to, would you do that?
This is a little story of a man who came from Poland to live in a little stone house high above a secret valley in the mystical Sibelline mountains in Umbria, the cradle of Western monasticism.
It is translated from here.
Hermit for love, for love that transforms the world, destroys evil, invents the good and hope. For this love Tadeusz came from Poland and climbed the mountain to live in solitude among wild boars, foxes, weasels and eagles. The resort in Val Castoriana branch of the Nera Valley is not even marked on maps, as are the villages of the Valley, Acquaro di Nera, Collescille that form the bastion. It was the cradle of the first hermit's life in Italy, as evidenced by the rock caves and inhabited by St. Fiorenzo and Sant'Eutizio, who migrated from Syria in the fifth century as a result of the persecutions of the Emperor Anastasius Aryan Dikoro and heretical bishop Severus of Antioch. The young St. Benedict frequented these places of Umbria that exude peace and holiness, who drew inspiration for founding his monasteries at Subiaco.
You come to the hermitage of San Fiorenzo, which dates back to the tenth century and is perched on a steep slope (near the walls is the ancient collapsed cave where the saint lived), after walking for half an hour along a narrow and steep trail that breathes the air of the firs and larches of a mountain that reaches 1,100 meters.
When Tadeusz discovered it ten years ago, it was a ruin, the vaults collapsed, the roof caved, the church unsafe. He rebuilt stone by stone, leading by hand the material from the valley, supported by the persuasion of having arrived at the place destined by the God who, had the first time, called him to the hermit's life when he was 15 years old. "But I do not, then I said. I wanted a normal life. After high school I have been in the military, such as 684 days in jail, because communism fell in 1989, but in the army things changed slowly. Then I worked for two years, but the "Voice" continued to pursue me. Nothing to do, it was so strong that I left parents, friends, projects, entered in the Work of Providence of Don Orione in Warsaw and took a first year of novitiate. "
"I did not want to be a priest," continues Tadeusz. "I came to Rome in '90 and from there to where I lived with the Monte Corona Camaldolese monks eight months. I was happy and strong, but still was not what I wanted. There is a profound difference between community life as a hermit and that in total solitude. If you live alone in a hermitage there is a complete insecurity, you have to abandon yourself completely to Divine Providence. Between you and God there is no means, are in direct contact with the eternal Father." So Tadeusz, consecrated layman, diocesan hermit, after receiving the Rule approved by his bishop, began a life of prayer, silence, penance, manual labor, waiting every day that "the Lord did his part."
"Here you are at the center of the world"
And God has answered the call. Here there are people who have brought him food, and offer material for the restoration of the hermitage, now back to the ancient understated beauty with the chapel overlooking the valley, the cell with a bed, a table for work and study, a kitchen, a room to accommodate guests. The electrical energy is supplied by a solar panel, the burning of the wood used for economic stove.
On Sunday, Tadeusz descends to the fields five miles on foot, to help the priest during Mass, families invite him to lunch, someone needs your help, then back up the mountain to listen to the silent God and to pray for all the people of the planet. "I have here in the center of the world, so many times I see it well, often less well. I try to see the positive things. As Christians, we must be witnesses of joy. We're so sad and so not cooperate with the grace of God which sends us the energy to overcome the difficulties and trials, provided that we know take advantage of it."
To this energy Tadeusz appeals in times of distress and temptation, when solitude is disturbed by stormy thoughts. It's the time of Jesus, led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. But even when the temptations are silent, the hermit's life is never at rest. "The struggle for the control of thought and mind can endure for a lifetime. So should we take the mind and hold it in prayer, soak in the name of Jesus 24 hours a day, as do the monks in the east, claiming: "Lord Jesus, Son of the living God, have mercy on us." This prayer enters into the heart, whether you're working, sleeping or praying. Salt inside of you with a burning heat impurities and restores serenity and peace."
"The monks of the desert," continues Tadeusz, "on the window sill put a handful of pebbles with two containers, one right, one left. If it was a good thought, put a pebble on the right, if you arrive a bad one, a pebble on the left. The evening did an examination of conscience: if there were more stones to the right supper, or skipping the meal. "
"In the silence of gathering myself"
And to those who think that the hermits "flee from the news" to carve out a world of their own, Tadeusz replies: "You do not become hermits to escape from the world and its troubles, but to make a life of sacrifice and penance that gives the brothers of human companionship more help than they would have given if I had stayed among them. Live forever in the world, even if you live out of the world. With Jesus I can get anywhere. If something goes wrong on Earth is my fault, because I just prayed. But the brethren of the city, which became a chicken coop, where you are forced to frantically produce "eggs" for the food chain of consumerism and enrich those who give the food, I say that to find yourself and the meaning of life is necessary to rediscover the value of be quiet. "