Charles Brandt update

93-year old hermit-priest Charles Brandt, who lives on Vancouver Island, Canada, seeks lessons of nature in his avocation as avid photographer. Writes the Globe and Mail:

Father Brandt describes being a hermit priest as “a life of prayer, of meditation, of simple contemplation,” spent in search of a deeper connection with God through solitude.

“It’s actually trying to experience the ultimate reality, not just to think about it abstractly, or to read about it,” he said.

Operating out of the hermitage he built on a 15-hectare grove of old-growth forest situated on the banks of the Oyster River, Father Brandt lives alone, but not in isolation. Until he developed peripheral neuropathy recently, a nerve condition that causes numbness in his feet and hands, he regularly came out of his hermitage to help relieve local pastors. In the 1970s and 80s, he was engaged in environmental campaigns to protect the Oyster and Tsolum Rivers.

Twice a month, he plays host to meditations in his small cabin where he talks about inner peace and leads contemplative walks through the woods.


Julia Holloway: hermit’s active life

The newspaper Catholic Philly reports on Julia Bolton Holloway, 78, a Catholic, a Dante scholar with a doctorate in medieval studies, and a resident of Florence, Italy. She works as a groundskeeper in a cemetery — and assists Roma (gypsy) families in seeking social assistance and especially in offering them English language instuction. She calls herself an “urban hermit” who is “freelancing” the religious life in her contemplative solitude, while pursuing a busy life.

Holloway, who is a writer, carpenter, seamstress, cultural critic, religious website designer and great-grandmother, said the eremitical life enables her to focus on her many projects. One of those is lobbying local authorities and international courts to allow Roma families to work and retain custody of their children, who are often taken from them by Italian social services.

Holloway was particularly influenced by the medieval mystic Julian of Norwich, who combined an active life with reflective eremitism.

“The eremitical life is an excellent mode of life to be a writer, because what you do is you reduce all the false stimuli. There’s no television, you’re just not interested in consumerism,” she explained.

“With writing you transcend time. It’s a conversation you have listening to (Sts.) Augustine and Monica. … You arrive at that silence, which is the like the silence of a Quaker meeting, where the Spirit speaks,” she said.

Being a hermit is a liberating lifestyle, Holloway said.

“If you are doing it from the spiritual base, from the base of prayer and contemplation, somehow it takes off, it has its own energy,” she said, “it doesn’t come from me.”