St. Ita, Hermitess of Killeedy
This blog gave me a ferocious case of Carthusian-envy.
And this one: Vida Eremitica Vida Eremitica.
And this one, I Nuovi Eremiti.
(auto-translated from Portuguese)"There is however a new current in the hermit spirituality of single or married lay people, who are deep affinity with hermitism, and feel a great need to be alone with God, and dedicate themselves to this solitude weekly or part of the day. Usually unmarried and widowers [who] work part-time in a secular job, and the next completely withdraw to pray, read, write [and] be alone with God only...
I'm becoming fascinated by the potential of the lay eremitical lifestyle, and given the situation in the Church, I'm finding that there are a lot of people who are attracted to this as well. We live in such times that it simply seems unwise to become involved in any formally, canonically recognised religious community. We have all taken well in the horrifying lesson of the Franciscans of the Immaculate. Stick your head up above the parapet and the current regime will make sure you lose it.
But one does not need canonical recognition to live an ordered regular life of prayer and contemplation, pursuing union with God. It certainly helps if there are other people around to help though, and I know there are groups forming to offer mutual support, mostly informally, and dependent upon the internet. I'm in touch with a few of them myself.
I read an interesting article about research done by an Italian writer, Isacco Turina, a sociologist at the University of Bologna, who found out that there are actually hundreds of these unofficial, lay hermits and semi-hermits in Italy, nearly all of whom came to the life on their own, most of whom are women and in their late 40s and early 50s. In fact, this is not remotely surprising to me, and I expect that an examination of these women's backgrounds would find that most of them arrived at the lay eremitical life, voluntary solitude and a focus on prayer and sacramental life, after being disappointed in their vocational aspirations. The Asteroid did nearly wipe out the kind of religious life that many people had sought. I can't imagine I was the only one to look around in the 80s and be put off by the empty, arid wasteland that the Church and the religious life had become.