​​Bethlehem Hermitage

​​PRAYER. Penance. solitude.

​​​​​"A heart not accustomed to gazing on the Lord in prayer will not catch glimpses of Him in the world." 

​- Deacon Joseph Moscinski, Notes from the Desert - A Canticle of Prayer

Hermits of Bethlehem

82 Pleasant Hill Road | Chester, NJ 07930

908-879-7059

Frequently Asked Questions About A Retreat:

How should I prepare for a retreat? 


The best preparation is to come with an open heart and mind and let the Spirit lead where it will.  That means leaving everyday life, its distractions and worries behind. 


What can I expect from a retreat? 


It is always best to expect the unexpected – whether you are a first time retreatant or experiencing another one of many – each is very different.  A retreat is an exploration into our relationship with God and Him with us.  So, each will be a unique conversation and will unfold in its own way.  Often people expect to find ‘all the answers’ on retreat – as opposed to perhaps leading us to simply ask better questions. Most people find the experience of a retreat provides them with spiritual nourishment that leaves them relaxed and rejuvenated in both mind and spirit.

How long do retreats usually last? 


Most people come for a weekend or a full week.  


What is a Hermitage like? 


Each hermitage or Laura is a self-contained small cabin providing a bedroom, bathroom and sitting area for the retreatant.  They are comfortable and cozy surrounded by God’s nature.

House Rules

In keeping with the spirit of Bethlehem, we ask you to abide by the following guidelines: 


  • We strongly emphasize the reading of Scripture to the absolute exclusion of any other literature. The Bible is the only book to be brought into the hermitage (no other reading material, tapes, records, radios, T.V., musical instruments, etc.) 


  • The core of the hermitage experience is  the daily participation in Eucharistic Sacrifice and Adoration, nourished on the Scripture (“Bread of the Word”). Guests are expected to attend Lauds on Sunday, daily Mass, Eucharistic Adoration daily and Solemn Vespers on Saturday. 


  • God is encountered in silence, and Bethlehem provides this atmosphere. Guests are asked to respect this solitude and silence at all times. Visiting of the hermitages is not permitted. ALL guests should come directly to the Common House on arrival. 


  • No correspondence by mail or phone.  Emergency calls can be handled by one of the hermits.


  • Meals are simple, meatless meals are served frequently. All meals are taken in the solitude of the hermitage. No eating or drinking is permitted outside. 


  • Wednesday is a day of reclusion – a day of prayer and fasting (bread and water, or tea/coffee) in complete solitude.

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Testimonials


“Dear Friends, Hermits of Bethlehem:  Peace!  Thank you for your most generous hospitality at the Hermitage.  I know that your own daily prayer must be sacrificed, in part, to tend to the needs of your visitors.  For your kind, quiet and faithful service to my needs, I am most grateful.  This is a special place, a beautiful Holy place.  I hope that I might be able to return frequently.  Whata beautiful witness to our good Godyou give with your lives totally given to Him.  The benefits to the world of your hidden life of prayer must be enormous.  And for this, I thank you too. I feel sadness as my time for retreat comes to an end.  I do not feel at all enticed by the distractions of the world to return, but return, I must….Thank you, thank you for a most blessed experience.  This is an extraordinary place, and for your gift of sharing it with me, I am most deeply grateful…P.S.  Whoever does the cooking, it is absolutely delicious, nourishing the body as the Lord nourishes the soul!  


                               -Bonnie H.”

Thank you all for this great gift [of the Hermitage]. May our loving God protect you.  May He continue to work through you!

                           -Best regards, Fr. L. McGrath”

Dear Hermits, one and all,  Once again I wish to thank all of you for your gracious and prayerful presence during my stay at Bethlehem.  The Hermitage and Eucharistic adoration are places where I can give all of my attention to the one thing that really matters…God’s love for me and my response to Him.  Let us ocntinue to pray for each other that the promptings of the Spirit produce abundant fruit in our lives and in all those we encounter on our journey…

                         

                           -In Christ, Sister Damian”

“Dear Hermits of Bethlehem:  Thank you so much for opening your home to me and for allowing me to share in your life.  May God reward you! 

                                  -Sincerely in Christ,  Nicholena”

“Dear Hermits of Bethlehem (Sisters and Father): Thank you for your generous devotion.  My joy was to celebrate the Pascal mysteries with you.  You are in my prayers.  May our Lord guide you and protect your life! 

                           -In Christ, Fr. Mariusz”

Father Raphael & Hermits of Bethlehem:  My sincerest gratitude for your hospitality and kindness.  My recent retreat was prayerful, restful and inspiring.   It was a joy to meet each of you and to share in your life and your prayer.  May the peace and love of the risen Lord be with you all. 

                                 

                                  -Your brother in Christ, Placid”

“Dear Hermits of Bethlehem:  May God reward you for the gift of this week.  I am grateful for your many kindnesses – seen and unseen! 

           

           -With love and prayers,  In Jesus, Christa”


"If I were to try and express in a few words my stay at the (Bethlehem) Hermitage, I would say quiet simply that it was a time for doing nothing other than letting God love me.  Through my openness to God's love I was in touch virtually with every part of creation and especially every human person created and loved by Him....it was a time for stopping my regular activity to focus all of my attention and all my energies on God's loving presence and to open my whole being to His invitation to make to your home in Me...."  


                                      Little Sister of Jesus, England


"I want to let you know, as a layman, I feel especially privileged to have been able to make a Hermitage retreat.  With facilities for so few, numerically the odds were against it...several earlier retreat experiences had prepared me for the formality of the Hermitage experience - silence, liturgy, Eucharistic Adoration, Scriptural meditation.  But none had fully prepared me for the heart of the matter.  At Bethlehem, the matter is the heart....At the Hermitage, I was able to experience for the first time what I had long known: to pray I must humbly wait in patient silence for the Spirit to speak to my heart..." 


                          -Layman, Engineer,  -John

"...Bethlehem has been such a wise teacher.  The times I have spent in this House of Bread remind me of what Sirach once said of wisdom: 'See for yourselves! I have labored only a little, but have found much.' "  

         

                                   Husband, Father, Teacher,- Dave


"...As the retreat was about to end, I felt a surge of gratitude welling up within me for the opportunity of coming to behold God face to face. The retreat was a peak experience of my religious life, one I will not easily forget.  As I locked my Hermitage door and took one last look at this meeting tent with the Almighty, I found myself talking to Bethlehem... Bethlehem, I have learned much form you.  I've learned that silence and solitude are good companions.  I've learned to be open to God's voice, especially in Scripture, and that happiness can only be found in God alone." 


                    -Salesian Sister, Liverpool England


"...what are some of the things Bethlehem means to me?  A place of absolute security in God's loving care where I can take refuge - and return again and again in my imagination -- in the midst of sometimes overwhelming pressures and burdens in the world...an experience of unconditional love -- so evident in the song of the birds, the smell of the pine needles, the unabashed beauty of the wildlowers, and most of all, the utterly selfless care of the hermits that brings me back to the One Thing Necessary: taking time to sit at His feet and love Him."  


       -Mother, Wife, Businesswoman, Artistic Director - Ann

WHAT TO EXPECT

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 he/she 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 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 for 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. 

“Like the deer that yearns for running streams, so my soul is yearning for you, my God…”  - Psalm 42:1

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