2:30 – 4:30 PM ~ Hermit chores/ studies
The hermit engages in another period of solitary

work and/ or studies.


“When you have done all you have been commanded, say “We are unprofitable servants ; we have done what we were obliged to do.”  

- Luke 17: 10

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Hermits of Bethlehem

82 Pleasant Hill Road | Chester, NJ 07930

908-879-7059

OASIS IN THE DESERT


Anyone wishing to experience the life of a Bethlehem Hermit for five days or a week is welcome as long as one has made a silent retreat. An atmosphere of prayer is our gift to our guests. The prayer of silence of solitude becomes an effective door to the healing presence of God in this physical and spiritual environment.

Solitude means being alone, with the Alone, but only in silence can solitude be maintained. This solitude begins as soon as the guest is left in their hermitage.

Silence is maintained throughout the retreat, In the spirit of the desert both the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the opportunity for spiritual direction are provided only once during the retreat, when the Desert Father is available.

​God speaks to us: “I will allure you, I will lead you into the desert and speak to your heart…” (Hosea 2:16).

In the Biblical sense, “desert” is a term used to designate a place of solitude where God leads a person when s/he wishes to enter into close relationship with Him.

The hermitages of Bethlehem are designed to provide an experience of this desert-like solitude. With a minimum of distractions, in the silence and the beauty of the woodland area, the heart can be free to meet the Lord in a deeper way.

The hermitage experience is not an escape from problems, nor an attempt to solve problems, nor a place to “get away” for a vacation; neither is it a time for letter writing or catching up on paper work. Rather, it is a selective environment of silence and solitude where one is invited to a deeper conversion and a change of heart. It is a time to encounter self; a time for deepening one’s faith, hope and love in prayerful listening and reflecting on Sacred Scripture which speaks when one is open in a prayerful disposition.

We feel that the Bethlehem hermitage experience is unique, and therefore one should enter into it with a yearning for intense solitary prayer.

8:45 PM ~ Night Prayer (Compline)/ Daily Examen

​​Upon completion of the Night Prayer in the chapel a

hymn is chanted to Our Lady in front of the Icon of

the Incarnate Word as the hermits place themselves under Mary's maternal care and protection. 


“Let my prayer come like incense before You; the lifting up of my

hands like the evening sacrifice.”  - Psalm 141: 2

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9:30 PM The Hermit retires.

​The hermit retires surrendering his/her spirit into the

Hands of the Father who speaks to the heart.  From

his Hermitage, the Desert Father extends a blessing on each of the hermits, taking away the cares and anxieties of the day, reconciling each one in the peace of God and guiding them into the womb of the "nightly silence".


“In peace I lie down and fall asleep at once, since you alone, Yahweh, make me rest secure”.  - Psalm 4: 9

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Wednesday's -Day of Reclusion
The hermit participates in a weekly Day of Reclusion

every Wednesday. Before the final prayer and blessing of the Mass, a ceremony of the blessing of the bread and anointing prepares the hermit for a day of fast and complete solitude.  The hermit is exempt form all work and surrenders oneself entirely to prayer and Lectio scriptual reading, meditation).


"The Holy Spirit urged Jesus into the desert." - Mark 1:12

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Sunday's - Day of Fraternal Joy and Holy Leisure
Sunday, because of its association with the glorious

Resurrection of Our Lord, is a day when dinner is taken together in the Central House and an opportunity for the hermits to share with and support one another. There may be some recreational activities - like a long

walk in the nearby woods.​


This is the day the Lord has made; let us be rejoice and be glad."  

- Psalm 118: 24

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"...On the day of our Baptism, the Lord rescued us from the darkness of sin and brought us into light.  But, for one called to be a hermit, the Lord's rescue operation wasn't finished.  For when each hermit answered his or her call to the eremitic life, He rescued them from the world with all its empty promises, its noise and confusions, its babbling and discords...He brought them to this secluded place, to silence and solitude, so that the Light of Christ received in Baptism would grow brighter still.....

                              ​       Deacon Joe Moscinski, 

Fr. Rafael's Ordination Celebratory Mass

June 29, 2016, 

4:00 AM ~ Day of desert spirituality begins​
Dress, general organizing and cleaning the
hermitage to be rightfully present to the Lord.

“And rising up long before daybreak, He went out and departed into a desert place, and there He prayed.”  - Mark 1:35

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THE LIFE OF A BETHLEHEM HERMIT

Horarium

12:00 PM – 1:00 PM ~ The Memorare Midday Prayer/ Contemplative Prayer


"Beside restful waters He leads me; He refreshes my soul.”

- Psalm 23: 2-3

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5:30 AM ~ Hermit surrenders self to one hour 
of Eucharistic Adoration followed by Prayer to 
the Sacred Heart of Jesus​

 
Yes, I am coming soon”.   “Amen!  Come Lord Jesus! ”  - Revelation 22:20

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"...But why is a hermit rescued?  The reason a hermit is rescued from the world is so that he or she can save the world and rescue it.  The Church is locked in a battle with the gates of the netherworld.  Living as hermits do at the heart of the Church, they are in the heat of that battle. Their silence, solitude and sacrifice are the weapons they wield in that battle.  That is the rescue operation which defines their existence..."


Deacon Joe Moscinski,

Fr. Rafael's Ordination Celebratory Mass

June 29, 2016

7:00 AM ~ Angelus 

The Angelus bell is rung in the morning

(7am), afternoon (1pm), and evening (6pm).  The

hermit prepares for the petition of the Mass based

on each day's readings.  The rosary may be prayed

at anytime during the day.


"For just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful ……  So shall My Word that goes forth from My Mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but shall do My will,  achieving the end for which I sent it.”  -Isaiah 55:10-11​​

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10:00 AM – 12:00 PM  ~ The hermit begins work. 

To maintain the Laura, varied works are undertaken,

manual labor, clerical and creative tasks, spiritual

direction, studies, etc.  This scheduleis followed

except on Wednesday (which is a Day of Reclusion)

and Sunday.


“Whatsoever you do, whether in speech or in action, do it in the name of the Lord Jesus.  Give thanks to God  the Father through Him.”   - Colossians 3:17​​​

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8:00 AM ~ Holy Sacrifice of the Mass / Eucharistic Liturgy 

The Eucharist Sacrifice is the heart of the hermit's

day.  Through Jesus, Source of Bread and Life the

hermit is nourished and draws strength to live

his/ her eremitical life.  After being spiritually

nourished, the Hermit partakes in a simple breakfast. 


 “Whoever eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood remains in Me and I in him.”   - John 6: 56​​​

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6:45 AM ~ Lectio Divina (Scripture Reflection) 
followed by Lauds (Morning Prayer)


“ The Father seeks adorers in Spirit and in Truth.”   - John 4:23​

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​​6:00 PM ~ The Angeles/ Dinner 

The last meal of the day and some leisure time may

be taken.  The hermit also nourishes him/ herself with reading the Bible or other spiritual readings.


“On entering the house, the Magi saw the Child with Mary, His

Mother. They prostrated themselves and did Him homage.” 

- Matthew 2 : 11​​​

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4:30 AM  ~ Prayer to the Holy Spirit, Morning Offering and Office of Readings​​​

From the rising to the setting of the sun is the Name of  the Lord to be praised,”  - Psalm 113:3​

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​​Bethlehem Hermitage

​​PRAYER. Penance. solitude.

​1:00 PM ~ The Angeles/ Lunch          
The hermit dines intimately with the Lord in

his Hermitage.


Here I stand, knocking at the door. If anyone hears Me calling and opens the door , I will enter his house and have supper with him and he with Me” - Revelation 3:20

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4:45 PM ~ Eucharistic Adoration  
An hour of adoration is followed by the Evening

Prayer (Vespers).


​​
The Bethlehem Prayer 
Follows the Evening Prayer.​

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VOCATION


“The hermit is one called by God in imitation of Jesus to live a life of unceasing prayer and penance in the silence of solitude for the praise of God and the salvation of the world. It is a life lived in stricter separation from the world in the Heart of God and in the heart of the Church for the Church.

The hermit life emerged during the fourth century in Egypt, Asia Minor, Syria and Palestine. Previously, thousands of Christians were martyred as they shed their
blood for the sake of Christ and His Kingdom. To a world of persecuted Christians, the Emperor Constantine brought peace and the cessation of bloodshed for the
faith.

When the persecutions ceased, the Church still had to face the great danger that confronts her even to this day, namely, to live in the world without compromise.
“The world continued to prefer the darkness to the light” (John 3:19). Because of this threat to the authentic following of Christ and His holy Gospel, many fled into the solitude of the deserts, and thus a school of desert spirituality was forged.

These men and women strove to imitate the lives of the great patriarchs and prophets: Abraham, Moses, Elijah, St. John the Baptist, and above all Jesus Christ,
Himself. Like the Exodus of Israel led by Moses in the Desert of Sinai, where the Israelites wandered for forty years, these desert dwellers saw their own exodus in following Jesus, their Model, Who was “led into the desert by the Spirit to be tempted” (Matthew 4:1).

It was their burning desire for God that led these Christians into the deserts of Judea, Syria and Egypt and these deserts became the dwelling place for thousands of solitaries.

Since the world as persecutor was no longer the enemy of the Christian, the Christian had to become the enemy of the dark world. In the desert the Christian became a new kind of martyr giving witness to the saving power of the Risen Christ against the destructive powers of evil.

The school of desert spirituality which evolved from this became the foundation of the eremitic and cenobitic ways of life which have endured until this very day. The laura, a colony of hermits under obedience to a Desert Father, was one of the forms of the eremitic way of life.”

(Extracts from ”A Way of Desert Spirituality, THE PLAN OF LIFE of the Hermits of Bethlehem” by Reverend Eugene Romano, pages XXXI – XXXII)