Living isolated from other people can be difficult, but there are some individuals who freely choose living alone and cut off from the rest of the world. These men and women are called hermits, and for centuries they have perfected the way of living alone.
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Christian hermits are conscious of the need to have variety in their daily schedule and often have a strict rhythm of prayer that they follow.
For their inspiration, they look to the Bible, where the psalmist proclaims, “Seven times a day I praise you because your judgments are righteous” (Psalm 119:164). Religious nuns and monks, as well as hermits, took this phrase and developed a basic daily schedule where they stopped whatever they were doing to pray throughout the day.
St. Benedict of Nursia (who lived in the 6th century) built upon these seven times of prayer and added an eighth, which occurs in the middle of the night. Eight is the biblical number of the “new creation” as Jesus rose from the dead on the eighth day, the day after the Jewish sabbath (which is Saturday).
Here is a typical schedule of prayer of a Christian hermit, based on what other monasteries have developed over the centuries.
- Matins (during the night, often at midnight); also called Vigils or Nocturns (Night Office)
- Lauds or Morning Prayer (at Dawn, or 3 a.m.)
- Prime or Early Morning Prayer (First Hour, around 6 a.m.)
- Terce or Mid-Morning Prayer (Third Hour, around 9 a.m.)
- Sext or Midday Prayer (Sixth Hour, around noon)
- None or Mid-Afternoon Prayer (Ninth Hour, around 3 p.m.)
- Vespers or Evening Prayer (around 6 p.m.)
- Compline or Night Prayer (before going to bed, typically at 8 p.m. or 9 p.m.)
What this does is add a needed variety in a hermit’s daily schedule. Sometimes people believe hermits literally pray all day long, but that is not true. They work and pray, interrupting their daily activities to praise God.
What is fascinating is how this schedule has remained virtually untouched for centuries, though adapted by different religious orders and hermits to meet their specific needs. In essence, this is how many hermits live around the world.
This daily schedule also helps to keep the focus on God, as it can be easy to become so engrossed in the activity we are doing that we forget who is truly in charge of the situation.
If you want to know how to stay sane while being at home, learn from the hermits, and develop a daily schedule that keeps the focus on God, while also adding variety.
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