Rule of Life

A hermit is recognized in the law as one dedicated to God in a Consecrated Life if he or she publicly professes the three evangelical counsels, confirmed by a vow or other sacred bond, in the hands of the diocesan bishop and observes his or her own plan of life under his direction.  Code of Canon Law (1983) #603-2

The Plan or Rule of Life does not create the Hermit, but is the channel, the way that provides the space and allows the solitary to journey, first, into becoming a hermit, and then into the unique call and mission the Hermit has been gifted with by God. 

Thus, a good Rule of Life is a very personal creation and should always allow space for growth.

A personal Rule of Life

I discerned the call to eremitic solitude when I was a Redemptoristine Nun living the contemplative life in a monastery with other nuns. 

My call to be a hermit was not a change of vocation but a growth into a deeper living out of the contemplative life in the same Redemptoristine spirit, it was a personal "call within the call."

Thus my hermit Rule is based on the Constitutions and Statutes of the Order of the Most Holy Redeemer that the Redemptoristine Nuns currently follow. It is a text approved by the Vatican in 1985, which incorporates the spirit of our Foundress M. Maria Celeste according to the invitation of the Council to return to the sources.

Because I had been a religious for many years, the basics of a vowed life are not spelled out in my Rule but they are assumed. It only articulates what, from the very beginning, seemed to me to be the core of the invitation to the contemplative eremitic way of life -which I understand as a non-mediated life of total consecration, availability, and 
intimacy with God in the silence of solitude. 

The simple text that follows has proved to hold the basic spirit and values needed for living the hermit life. It was created during a 30-day retreat in preparation for private perpetual vows as a contemplative solitary, a stage of transition from religious vows to vows as a Diocesan Hermit.


1.      From all eternity, by virtue of a plan born of His mysterious and utterly gratuitous love for me, God wishes to call me to live in communion with Him, to give me His Spirit of Love so that He might constantly live with me and in me.  (LG 2, Ct. 3)

2.     The Father calls me through Christ and in the Spirit to be a living Memorial of Christ the Redeemer in today’s world  (Ct. 2),  and to be a clear and radiant witness of the love He has for us in Christ, especially for the poorest.  (Ct. 5)

3.     Although hidden in Christ and scarcely visible to the eyes of the world, my life of solitude and silent contemplation, of adoration, praise and intercession  (Ct. 11)  is an offering for the renewal of the Church and the transformation of the world, in the Spirit.

4.     In a spirit of fidelity to the inspiration of M. Maria Celeste Crostarosa as well as to the spiritual and apostolic Alphonsian tradition  (Ct. 1),   I am called to the contemplative eremitical life, and to share the fruit of my silence and solitude in spiritual accompaniment to those who wish to live and develop their own contemplative dimension.
·         I will strive to work in my on-going formation in the spiritual, human, and professional realms.

5.     Baptism is the beginning of my transformation in Jesus Christ. It marks my first and fundamental consecration as child of God in Christ. I am called to consent to this transformation in a more radical way in my life of total surrender to God, in order to become a Living Memorial of the Paschal Mystery of Christ the Redeemer.  (Ct. 14)

6.     Like Mary, and with Mary I strive to live in constant communion with Jesus. To be united to Christ and to be transformed by Him into a new creation, I contemplate Him in His wondrous humility.   Like Mary I am attentive to the action of the Spirit whose aim is to realise in me the very works of the Redeemer. (Ct. 16)   The participation in the abasement of Christ will be for me and for the world a source of more abundant life.  (Ct. 55)

7.     My call to solitude in the Church is to live-out the unceasing prayer of Jesus  (Ct. 41).  God has sent into my heart the Spirit of His Son crying: Abba, Father.  (Ga 4,6)   The more I allow this Spirit to invade me with His transforming presence, the better will I exercise the priesthood of my baptism, by offering myself to the Father, with Jesus, as a living Eucharist for the world.  (Ct. 35)    With Jesus I pray for the gift of Peace over humanity and for achievement of unity among all peoples in communion with the Father, through the Son, in the Spirit.
·         I will dedicate daily at least three hours to personal prayer; and recite the morning and evening prayer of the Church, and participate in the Eucharist attending mass or having communion.
·         (If possible in the current circumstances) I will set aside at least two days of desert every week, one week of desert every month, and one month every year.

8.     In constant contemplation of the mysteries of Christ I try to bring my life always more closely into accord with the Gospel  (Ct. 6, 10),  and to live the Evangelical Counsels in imitation of Jesus, the Servant of Yahve.
·         By the mystery of love in consecrated celibacy I accept and choose God as my Spouse and partner of my life in response to His call, so as to love all and everyone in God.
·         In poverty, I commit myself totally to the contemplative life living with simplicity and trusting in God’s Providence. I will work preferentially as spiritual director, and/or in some work compatible with my life of solitude and silent contemplation. Work and prayer will be balanced with rest and daily time of recreation.
·         In obedience, I commit myself to constant listening to the Spirit in prayer, to the signs of the times in circumstances of life, and to dialogue with significant others, especially my spiritual director (Name).

9.     This Rule of Life can be adapted and modified in dialogue with my spiritual director.

In Prince George, BC, August 6, 2002

         Many years ago when I was in formation as a novice of an apostolic religious Congregation I was very wisely taught that, when we want to know if something in particular is allowed or not by our rules, we should check it out in the articles of the Constitutions that articulate the spirit of the community, and only after that we could re-check the more practical ones in the Directory. I found this too demanding at the time but years later I've discovered the wisdom of this little recipe or way of doing things.

This initial eremitic Rule is based in that principle and expresses the deeper values to be safeguarded in the multiplicity of circumstances of a life with very little structure, which is the way a solitary lives.

         I want to highlight two practical elements of this Rule that have been especially helpful. The first one is:

I will dedicate daily at least three hours to personal prayer

The prayer life at the hermitage is based on Scripture. I cannot picture my day without the treasure of the Divine Office to anchor my prayer.

But apart from -or in addition to- that, the single practice that over the years has proved for me more powerful is a daily long -three hour- period of prayer. It is not easy but is very rewarding for two reasons. 

One is that -as "popular" contemplative wisdom has it- the way to praying "well" is praying "much", and this basically translates as much "time" which is what we can contribute. This may or may not be true, but it has been in my background and proved helpful. 

The second reason I've found is that a long prayer period is powerful on the pray-er because it very clearly shifts the control away from our hands. And that is what contemplation requires, our surrender to the Pray-er in us.

         The second helpful thing in the Rule I want to highlight is:

I will set aside at least two days of desert every week, one week of desert every month, and one month every year.

This practice has allowed me to cut off attachments very little by little, and to try things that I felt were required but didn't have the courage to implement except for short periods of time. Then Grace would take the lead and make possible what seemed unsurmountable. This is just about beginning anew one day at a time again and again.

         After 5 years guided by this Rule, my request to becoming a Diocesan Hermit was granted. Consequently, and in order to submit it for approval, the initial version of the Rule needed to be expanded incorporating more aspects of the life as it was already being lived, naming the connections to the larger eremitic tradition. Spelling out the characteristics of the life according to Canon 603-1 and other canonical requirements were also included. 

         Three more years into the Journey, the final Rule has recently been approved for Perpetual Profession expanded, again, to incorporate some pertinent texts from the spirituality of M. Maria Celeste, and to refine previous additions. 

      The legacy of Mother Maria Celeste includes a very rich spiritual and mystical tradition in the Church that, although little known and hidden in one particular religious family, contains a wealth of deep wisdom and is a treasure which belongs with all and every Christian with a desire to develop their own contemplative dimension.

She wrote a Rule for Hermits, for nuns living within the monastic community she envisioned. Her hermit nuns would live a more secluded life and be spared the involvement in community matters in order to preserve her more intense dedication to contemplation. 

It is in this same spirit that the Rule presented here was created to bring forth the life of a Redemptoristine Hermitess.


  1. thanks for sharing this inspiring post, this about your rule of life. very interesting, too. i would like to know the rule of Mother Celeste for her hermit nuns. I hope one day you'll put it here in your blog if that is allowed.

  2. Thank you for this post, it is inspiring.

    I would like to try desert days, can you tell me more about how you spend them? Do i offer one attachment at a time per two days? How do i structure the day?

  3. The first thing about a desert day is a shift in priorities and routine for the day. If there are duties that must be taken care of they is respected, but for the rest, the day is dedicated to God, to foster our relationship, and to actually put into practice what that means to me in real life.

    This actually involves doing some things and avoiding others.

    Doing: setting the day in an atmosphere of quiet and silence, with time for spiritual reading and prayer.

    Avoiding: unnecessary conversations, mails, TV etc which clutter the space of my soul to pay attention to God's desire to spend the day with me.

    This is a basic frame, and you don't jump into a rigid structure for the day. But you define your priorities and start moving in that direction asking for the Grace to do it. When there is this desire and intention we can be creative in finding ways. We are not alone in this, but in partnership with God, so we need to listen what God is already suggesting in our heart of hearts.

    It will be more difficult to profit from such an open structure for a day if we don't have a daily routine of awareness and fostering the relationship with God. But for a beginning, if we don't have it, the desert day may help us find what one thing we can continue "the day after" without great strain, and make it part of our ordinary day.

    We need to be real, not rigid.

  4. Thank you for your response, that is most helpful.

    I see the Eucharist and Divine Office are two prayer sources for you, any other suggestions you might have for 'desert days?' Authors you might suggest? Writings to contemplate?

  5. In addition, I'd recommend "inner work" materials, that is the deepening of self knowledge through better understanding of personal dynamics and the process of transformation. This work undertaken in a prayerful atmosphere is key to being able to show up with God with the truth of who we are, and consequently to have a real -and intimate- relationship with God.

    I highly recommend the work of Brother Don Bisson, FMS, on the Christian-Jungian Dialog. His presentations are very accessible, deep, and full of spiritual and psychological wisdom. His spirituality is very incarnational and contemplative.
    You can access his web page on the side bar of this blog. Then click on "CDs", I recommend all and everyone of his workshops.

    As for other readings, there is so much available that I'd rather refer you to anything that has helped you in the past because it probably still has more for you. So I would recommend a second look at your own bookshelf before going for more, and then let the Spirit guide you.

  6. Thank you for your suggestions.

  7. A most insightful Rule. Just one small question: "Ct" refers to what document? Thanks.

  8. "Ct." refers to the Constitutions and Statutes of the Order of the Most Holy Redeemer -the Redemptoristine Nuns.

  9. Dear Sister: Please pray for my vocation as a consecrated lay dominican. I have been recently been approved by my local dominican provincial that if when the time comes, I can take private vows. I am now doing my liturgy of the hours plus rosary and other prayers. I am in "formation" so to speak. You may contact me at: profesorluigi at gmail com

  10. Praying for your vocation and your religious family, and many blessings on your Journey.