Tag: Spirituality

Exclusive Photos – Could This Be The Last Hermit Of Ireland?

Exclusive Photos – Could This Be The Last Hermit Of Ireland?

He may seem like an escapist, but this monk is on the frontlines of the battle that really matters.

Fr. David Jones was born in Wales and raised in the Baptist church. In his mid-teens he spent most of his life trying to convert Catholics, until he happened to stumble into his local Catholic Church one day in the late 1960s.

He was immediately blown away by the Latin chants, the billowing incense and the sense of the mystical that encompassed the entire liturgy.

Shortly after his conversion, although David was technically too young to enter the monastic life, the rules were bent in his favor.

With his parents’ blessing he went to be a monk in France, where he spent most of his life before moving around the monasteries of Europe, ending up in Italy and finally arriving in the village of Duleek, Ireland, where he now resides indefinitely, living the life of a hermit.

Fr. David has given me the very rare invitation to document his daily life. Hermits don’t normally allow this, given the nature of their vocation to live a life of silence. I am therefore grateful he allowed me in.

See the story in photographs:


A portrait of the spiritual journey

At the end of the day, Fr. David takes me back to his chapel.

From my own perspective, I see a man who has been through so many battles in life — from his initial conversion and struggle with the world inside, to the 10-year vow of silence and fight to quiet his old self. It’s impossible not to be inspired.


Fr. David Jones has obviously found the treasure most of us seek. And instead of hiding it, he points us all in the direction where we too can avail ourselves of such graces.


In recent months I took my son to see Star Wars: The Last Jedi, in which Jedi Master Luke Skywalker becomes the last Jedi in the rebellion against evil in a troubled galaxy.

I realized that such fiction was actually a reflection of the truth, and that I was in the presence of possibly the last spiritual master himself, “The Last Hermit of Ireland.”


Maybe I’m wrong, and there are more of them out there. If there are, I must find them.

The Irish people need to know that Christianity is not yet dead and that a “new rebellion” will rise from the ashes once again.

 

FATHER DAVID JONES,HERMIT,IRELAND

Stephen McElligott | Aleteia

The departure

When It came time for me to leave, it wasn’t easy, as Fr. David made quite the impression upon me.

People like Fr. David, sometimes without saying anything at all, by their very life, remove us from the comfort zone we’ve developed for ourselves.

I would have liked to have stayed much longer with Father David, but I realized that I have a wife and two children at home I must attend to. In my house (or domestic Church) we wage the same war — just on a different part of the battlefield.

I came to understand that this is a war in which our weapons may differ, but the end goal remains always the same … getting to heaven.

It is very easy for us to see Fr. David as an escapist, seeking only to run away from the world. Countering this thought, we must admit that all of us are escapists who run from silence, forever entertaining our own idle thoughts. We all run away from God to cower in the corner of comforting leisure activities — alcohol, drugs, movies, videogames, social media — that serve only to exclude him.

The more I got to know Fr. David, I began to see him not as an escapist, but a brave man who has decided to confront the world within himself that most of us are unwilling to confront.

Like the monks of the past, he goes into the desert to confront the Devil for the sake of all our souls. He inspires us to take up the same fight in whatever position we find ourselves, be it the religious life or one in which we struggle with an upside-down world opposed to all that is holy.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this visit with Fr. David. I’m eager to see him again as he’s left the door open.

 

Photography and text by Aleteia’s Stephen Mc Elligott.

How To Listen To The ‘Voice’ Of God: St. Ignatius Of Loyola Explains What God’s ‘Voice’ Sound Like.

How To Listen To The ‘Voice’ Of God: St. Ignatius Of Loyola Explains What God’s ‘Voice’ Sound Like.

Discernment – Listen closely, God May be trying to speak to you.

St. Ignatius Loyola, in his writings on the topic of the discernment of spirits, provides specific instructions on how to identify the voices you hear in your soul, whether in prayer or while going about your daily duties. In particular, Loyola details the attributes of God’s voice.

Loyola explains, “it is proper to God and to His Angels in their movements to give true spiritual gladness and joy, taking away all sadness and disturbance which the enemy brings on.” Furthermore, “It belongs to God our Lord to give consolation to the soul without preceding cause, for it is the property of the Creator to enter, go out and cause movements in the soul, bringing it all into love of His Divine Majesty.”

Additionally, “We ought to note well the course of the thoughts, and if the beginning, middle and end is all good, inclined to all good, it is a sign of the good Angel.”

However, before we can properly discern these voices in our soul it is necessary to discern the state of our soul. Loyola writes that if the soul is moving from “good to better” the good Angel touches “sweetly,” but if the soul is moving from “bad to worse” than the opposite is true and the good spirit can seem sharp and try to kick us back in the right direction.

In general, if we are striving to draw closer to God, he will speak to us in the silence of our hearts with peace and joy. It will likely not be in the form of an earthquake, lightning bolt, or flames of fire, but as Elijah heard, in “a still small voice” (1 Kings 19:12).

The next time you are trying to discern who is speaking to your soul, stop and go over St. Ignatius’ steps of discernment. It might be God who is knocking at the door of your heart, desiring to give you the peace, joy and gladness that will satisfy your spiritual thirst.

How To Listen To The ‘Voice’ Of God: St. Ignatius Of Loyola Explains What God’s ‘Voice’ Sound Like.

How To Listen To The ‘Voice’ Of God: St. Ignatius Of Loyola Explains What God’s ‘Voice’ Sound Like.

Discernment – Listen closely, God May be trying to speak to you.

St. Ignatius Loyola, in his writings on the topic of the discernment of spirits, provides specific instructions on how to identify the voices you hear in your soul, whether in prayer or while going about your daily duties. In particular, Loyola details the attributes of God’s voice.

Loyola explains, “it is proper to God and to His Angels in their movements to give true spiritual gladness and joy, taking away all sadness and disturbance which the enemy brings on.” Furthermore, “It belongs to God our Lord to give consolation to the soul without preceding cause, for it is the property of the Creator to enter, go out and cause movements in the soul, bringing it all into love of His Divine Majesty.”

Additionally, “We ought to note well the course of the thoughts, and if the beginning, middle and end is all good, inclined to all good, it is a sign of the good Angel.”

However, before we can properly discern these voices in our soul it is necessary to discern the state of our soul. Loyola writes that if the soul is moving from “good to better” the good Angel touches “sweetly,” but if the soul is moving from “bad to worse” than the opposite is true and the good spirit can seem sharp and try to kick us back in the right direction.

In general, if we are striving to draw closer to God, he will speak to us in the silence of our hearts with peace and joy. It will likely not be in the form of an earthquake, lightning bolt, or flames of fire, but as Elijah heard, in “a still small voice” (1 Kings 19:12).

The next time you are trying to discern who is speaking to your soul, stop and go over St. Ignatius’ steps of discernment. It might be God who is knocking at the door of your heart, desiring to give you the peace, joy and gladness that will satisfy your spiritual thirst.

St. Therese Of Lisieux (The Little Flower): Is She The Most Dangerous Saint? 

St. Therese Of Lisieux (The Little Flower): Is She The Most Dangerous Saint? 

St. Therese is the mortal enemy of spiritual mediocrity and the lukewarmness.

What words would you use to describe Saint Therese? Gentle. Innocent. Child-like. Trusting. Loving. Passionate. Hidden. Little. These and many words like them come to mind.

May I suggest another word to describe her? It’s a word you might not expect, a word you may well find to be surprising, even jarring, perhaps disturbing. I would describe Saint Therese as “dangerous.”


Dangerous?!? The Little Flower? How could this be? How could the apostle of spiritual childhood be dangerous? Who could find her threatening?


Therese is a danger to those who’ve resigned themselves to spiritual mediocrity. She’s a threat to every soul that will not dare to aspire to holiness. She’s the mortal enemy of the lukewarmness.


Therese takes away every excuse, dismissing every good reason we can give for not being holy, for not at least striving after sanctity. She’s proof that great holiness is possible for every soul, and so our lack of sanctity is a matter of our own will, rather than our luck or our circumstances. In other words, Therese’s message is this:  If we’re not holy it’s because we don’t want to be.


But holiness is hard, today


We who are content, even resolute, in our mediocrity, have all our excuses well trained and neatly arranged: We can’t really be holy because it’s too hard. God hasn’t blessed us with the necessary character or strength. We have been burdened with lives that are too busy for the leisurely enjoyment of the things of God. We have families and businesses to attend to.


And our communities could never support us in a quest to become holy. Our fellow religious are too worldly and too uncharitable. Our parishes are divided, our liturgies uninspiring, our pastors are poor preachers. We’ve never been able to find a really good spiritual director; we don’t have time to read Scripture.


We’ll explain that Therese lived in a simpler time when holiness was still possible. We live in the age of AIDS and terrorism. The circumstances aren’t right for holiness.


We the mediocre would explain, calmly but firmly, that everything within us and everything around us is simply not conducive to holiness. Therese was a special case. God must accept that people nowadays just aren’t capable of great holiness. He must accept us as we have accepted ourselves, as lukewarm, as mediocre.


That’s how we make our excuses.

But here comes Therese, who with a smile will blow down the maze of excuses we’ve constructed. She leaves us no place to hide from God or from ourselves.

And that’s why she’s dangerous. She will tell us that if we’re not holy, we have no one to blame but ourselves.

So, now what do we do? If we’re not going to run and hide, if we finally admit that Therese proves that the call to holiness is universal, what shall we do? It’s tempting to put the burden all on ourselves: “All right, I’m going to grit my teeth and through a sheer act of the will imitate Therese in every way possible. I’m going to count to three and when I’m done I’ll be a spiritual child and I’ll be holy and then God will have to like me!”

But it’s not by our own efforts that we become holy.

So what are we supposed to do? The paradox is that we’re supposed to do nothing—God does all the work.

Consider this example: I was visiting with a family who has a 3-year-old son. As an after-dinner treat, little Jacob is allowed to watch an episode of Thomas the Tank Engine. The video collection is on a high shelf, well over his head. He could never reach it on his own. He stands in front of the shelf, with his arms raised, so that you can reach under his arms and lift him up to where he wants to go. Without any hesitation, without even asking, he just stands there with his arms raised, fully confident that he will be lifted up.


I think Saint Therese would say we have to do what little Jacob does:

We have to show up.

And we have to raise our arms up and expect to be lifted.

And we have to let God do the work.

We might say, “It’s so simple that even a child can do it,” but that’s not quite right. It’s so simple that only a child can do it. Let’s stop making excuses. Let’s stop squirming and struggling. Let’s stop trying to make the ascent to holiness powered by our own will and wisdom. Let’s just show up, raise our arms, and let ourselves be lifted up by the Father who loves us.

When I write next, I will speak of one of Therese’s favorite books. Until then, let’s keep each other in prayer.

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