Tuesday, August 28, 2007

the hermit is nothing but a failure

Photo by John Howard Griffin

“In the eyes of our conformist society, the hermit is nothing but a failure. He has to be a failure – we have absolutely no use for him, no place for him. He is outside all our projects, plans, assemblies, movements. We can countenance him as long as he remains only a fiction, or a dream. As soon as he becomes real, we are revolted by his insignificance, his poverty, his shabbiness, his total lack of status. Even those who consider themselves contemplatives, often cherish a secret contempt for the solitary. For in the contemplative life of the hermit there is none of that noble security, that intelligent depth, that artistic finesse which the more academic contemplative seeks in his sedate respectability.”

- from the essay, “Philosophy of Solitude”, Disputed Questions, p. 199


  1. I am Br Alcuin Bonaventure a Franciscan Solitary Religous of the One Holy and Apostalic Church and I understand exactly what Fr Louie, Thomas Merton means

  2. Thank you for your response, Br. Alcuin.

    I too appreciate Merton's insight into the non-romantic side of the solitary.

  3. I am going to be ordained as Fr Alcuin Bonaventure. By the way I was earlier a trappist solitary religious before becoming a Franciscan. I sent my habits to Gethsemene and got a nice email response from the abbot stating that the habits were turned over to the tailor.

    Simple is best. I look forward to your email. a_franciscan_hermit@yahoo.com

  4. The above is an interesting passage, because of a contrast to be noticed in Indian society wherein a hermit is a respected person, man and woman.
    A householder is said to have a responsibility to care for them.
    And because of that, his/her life also gets valued good!



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