vox eremita

Vox Eremita ~ An Update

Welcome. Peace and All Good, Pace e Bene!

The first post on this blog is updated below. Instead of changing the original post, it seemed better to leave things as they were. Here is the updated content, which adds more of the richness of meanings that are associated with this project.

22 April, 2014, Feast of St. Soter, Pope and martyr (+ 175), St. Leonides, Martyr (+ 202), and St. Teodore of Sykeon.

‘Vox Eremita’ literally means, Voice of the Hermit. The deeper meaning arising within the Latin and Greek traditions point toward the Voice of the Desert. In a similar way, this site recalls these traditions, but more so, points toward and explores a form and way of life. We are students of this tradition. We will not attain this tradition during this lifetime, we will only walk this path and learn as we go.

Vox Eremita is a form and a way of life, is for today, comes from today, and nurtures an awareness of God and Life in the now.

The desert and the Vox Eremita is a place of self-emptying, of poverty in life and spirit. Only poverty finds the sure path to the desert, and to giving birth to God and new life in the world. This is a deeply ancient teaching, and is also profoundly Franciscan (arising from St Francis of Assisi’s way of life during the 13th century).

The desert and the Vox Eremita recalls Jesus’ gift of self to others, his outpouring of love and sacrifice of self for others, and his ultimate gift of self in his crucifixion and death of self for others. These are our models for Vox Eremita, for life in the desert, for life in the Spirit, for all of Christian life, and for those who are seeking an authentic and dynamic way of life that goes beyond the shallow dictates of many of our modern cultures. The underlying principles and teachings are for everyone, and anyone, who has a heart of respect and honour, and whose intellect is open to becoming well formed by the wealth and depth of western and eastern Christian mystical, ethical, and moral teachings.

The hermit is the person of the desert, who dwells in the desert, which is a meaning that is applied to any hermitage whether existing in a physical desert or not. The desert is a place that is uninhabited and empty. A natural place that is challenging to everyday life in society. A place that is viewed by most to be desolate.

Going still deeper into the early 14th century meanings, the place of silence and solitude, in the desert, is bereft, that is, deprived of conditions considered to be normal, where these things or relationships are take away. A person, or hermit, is seized, and robbed of these material and immaterial dimensions of life. The hermit exists within a primal simplicity, the desert prior to human habitation. Here we see the much more ancient desert traditions going back to the 3rd and 4th centuries, when women and men retired to the desert in search of authentic self-emptying and indwelling. 

The Old French desert (12c.), is associated with, “desert, wilderness, wasteland; destruction, ruin.” Late Latin desertum, means “thing abandoned,” and “wilderness,” and deserere, meaning “forsake.” We are reminded of Jesus on the Cross, crying out in anguish, “And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’ which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?'” (Mk 15:34; cf. Mt 27:46). Jesus was of the desert, a forsaken place, and an inner and body-based experience of desolation, pain, suffering, and a literal outpouring of self through blood and water, all for the sake of gaining the love of you and I. All for the sake of love.

The Papal Audience of November 30, 1988, records the Holy Father, Saint John Paul II, as saying that this cry of Jesus “manifests Jesus’ feelings of desolation and abandonment.” The cry sounds from the deep of the desert, of desolation, and “expresses the depth and intensity of Jesus’ suffering, his interior participation, his spirit of oblation, and perhaps also his prophetic-messianic understanding of his drama in the terms of a biblical psalm.” That is, Psalm 22’s opening lines,

“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my anguish?”

So astutely, and from the same link, the Holy Father says that,

“On the other hand in quoting the beginning of Psalm 22, which he perhaps continued to recite mentally during the passion, Jesus did not forget the conclusion which becomes a hymn of liberation and an announcement of salvation granted to all by God. The experience of abandonment is therefore a passing pain which gives way to personal liberation and universal salvation. In Jesus’ afflicted soul this perspective certainly nourished hope, all the more so since he had always presented his death as a passage to the resurrection as his true glorification. From this thought his soul took strength and joy in the knowledge that at the very height of the drama of the cross, the hour of victory was at hand.”

The word, ‘Voice,’ appears during the 16th century meaning, ‘to utter, to express.’ Only in the 1800s the word was applied to ‘vocal cords,’ however, in the 13th century, the word was applied to ‘sounds’ from the human mouth.

The Latin vox implies many aspects and is highly descriptive, “voice, sound, utterance, cry, call, speech, sentence, language, word.” The Greek eipon, for “spoke, said,” also relates to epos, meaning “word.”

Eremita is Latin, and is the learned form of hermit. Learned meaning, “having knowledge gained by study.” Hermitage is the “dwelling place of a hermit.”

Eremita or hermit derives from the early 12th century, meaning, “religious recluse.” Recluse means, a “person shut up from the world for purposes of religious meditation.” In Italian, the concept of recluse includes carceri, meaning prison, cell. The place of the recluse. These concepts are commonly applied to voluntary religious seclusion.

From the old French arises the ‘h’ (h)eremite, leading to ‘hermit.’ The Greek eremites, literally means, “person of the desert,” from eremia “desert, solitude,” and from eremos “uninhabited, empty, desolate, bereft.” ‘Ere‘ means “to separate.” The implied Latin connotation of the roots, rete and retis, means to catch in a net or seive, respectively (i.e. to separate one item or substance from another).

The late 18th century added a direct reference to a “person living in solitude”. The early 18th century saw the word applied to the Hermit Crab, who has solitary habits. Since the mid 18th century, eremita and its forms (excepting hermit) were lost from everyday speech, except “in poetic or rhetorical use.” However, even though the terms tend to be on the edges of society and desert, and still imply a sense of self-sacrifice through a simplicity and humility in lifestyle and values, today there is a revival of usage as people seek to understand the eremitical vocation and the deeper meanings that a solitary life affords.

© 2014 Vox Eremita.

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Author: Joseph Bowers PhD

Dr Joseph Bowers holds a Ph.D. Counselling, M.Ed. Counselling, Grad. Cert. Higher Education, and B.A. with Distinction in Religious Studies and Philosophy. Joseph is a founding member of the counselling profession in Australia, Honorary of the Australian Counselling Association, and Adjunct Senior Lecturer in Religious Studies at the UNE. His experience since the 1980s includes roles in Pastoral Counselling, Counselling Psychotherapy, Clinical Supervision and Counsellor Education; for the past two decades training therapists and in practice as a specialist in personal development, disability and mental health. He is currently doing a post-doctoral study in spirituality leading to a doctorate in theology.

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