(cyprian) A long time ago I learned to be cautious about dividing the world into black and white, saints and sinners, sheep and goats according to my standards and prejudices. Jesus of course can do that all he wants (and he does for example in Mt 25,[1] the parable of the sheep and goats). But I am going to assume that Jesus has a right that I do not have. And it is Jesus himself who is always overturning the cart of my preconceived notions of who is good and bad: many of the self-styled righteous wind up being the sinners whereas those who are regarded as sinners walk away righteous, as in the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector.[2] There’s something of that going on today too. I notice that Paul is sometimes a little narrower than Jesus himself, a little stricter, a little more willing to cast people out and exclude them. At any rate both of the readings today present us with two kinds of people: Paul describes those whose end is destruction, whose god is the belly; whose glory is in their shame; whose minds are set on earthly things; as opposed to his readers whose citizenship is in heaven (Phil 3:17-4:1). Jesus instead refers to the two groups as children of this age as opposed to children of light (Lk 16:1-8). But the odd thing is, Jesus is offering a kind of backhanded compliment to the children of this age, almost praising them for being shrewd, and so urging his listeners to ‘make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth.’ This may go along with being as wise as serpents and as innocent as doves.[3] I believe it was G. K. Chesterton, writing about St. Louis the King, who said that a saint would never want to be a king; but a king could want to be a saint. What are those so-called “worldly” virtues that have a seed of good in them––industriousness, discipline, creativity, inventiveness––that can be admired and put to good use in the spiritual life? Just as grace builds on but does not destroy nature, so grace can use these natural attributes of ours or, better to say, we can put these tools to work in the spiritual life, in the life of charity. And a good example of that is the saint we celebrate today. St. Charles Borromeo was a towering figure in the church around the time of the Council of Trent and the Reformation, and his credentials go on and on. He was a relative of the Medicis, as a matter of fact his uncle...

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Positions at The Hermitage


Posted By on Mar 30, 2016

At this time we have no openings.  This can change from month to month, so please mark your calendar to check back here regularly! In the meantime, we offer you blessings and peace in your...

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New Camaldoli Hermitage is featured in the newest edition of the popular Moon travel guide (Monterey & Carmel edition). You’ll find our hermitage and bookstore mentioned on pages 191, 208 and 209. The guide is a great resource for other destinations, sights and food in Monterey and Santa Cruz counties as well. A description of the guide can be found here! You may purchase a copy from us at our online store under “Books & Journals”.  ...

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levelling down


Posted By on Jul 5, 2015

(fr Cyprian) (Ezekiel’s first vision) I see the same tension running through all three of our scripture readings today. First of all we get just this little snippet of the prophet Ezekiel.[1] It’s from Chapter 2, and it’s very tame. But just before it, in the very first chapter, we have already had Ezekiel’s vision of the four creatures, and then the wheels made out of beryl, and the wheels within the wheels; and the dome made out of crystal and the sapphire throne; and something like a human form with amber and fire and splendor all around. It’s at that point the prophet Ezekiel throws himself to the ground in awe. That’s the authentic “fear of the Lord” that the Bible speaks of––that kind of take-your-breath-away awe that happens when we come up close and personal with incomprehensible grandeur and splendor and power. The Jewish tradition had such a feeling of awe regarding these strange visions of Ezekiel that they thought laypeople shouldn’t read or study this text before they were thirty years old. And yet we approach it and read it rather fearlessly, casually, sometimes with something approaching apathy. The tension that I think runs through all three of these readings is something like this: on the one hand, in this reading from Ezekiel, there are these great heavenly visions; on the other hand there is plain old humanity in all its fragility. (Ezekiel uses the phrase “Son of Man”­­—in the NRSV translated as “O mortal,” like saying, “And you, mere human…”—99 times.) So on the one hand, there is this ordinary mortal who has thrown himself on the ground in fear and trembling; but on the other hand there is the Spirit of God who fills him and tells him to “stand on your feet!” And then we have this section from Paul’s Second to the Corinthians,[2] which coincidentally comes right after Paul has spoken about his own visions, about being caught up into the third heaven, and hearing things that must not and cannot be put into human language. He says he can boast about a man like that he says (most scholars think it’s Paul talking about himself), but not about anything of his own except his weakness. I do not exalt myself, he says. Instead he was given this skolpos in his flesh, the Greek word which is usually translated a “thorn,” but could also be like a stake, an angel of Satan to beat me. For centuries people have speculated what this thorn was. Was it lust? Was it some kind of physical ailment? Whatever it was, the purpose it served was...

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