St. Darius Hermitage is under the guidance of the Monastic Order of the Religion of Light.
Discerning Your Vocation as a Consecrated Hermit
Any brother who has properly discerned his vocation as a hermit (as opposed to the vocation of a monk) with the assistance of his bishop, who is in good standing with the Church, and who is not a newly baptized member, may establish his home or another suitable location, as a hermitage (or poustinia) under the name of St. Darius. A brother who makes his vows to live as a hermit, establishes a rule of life appropriate to his circumstances, after being approved by the Bishop or other authority within the Manichaean Church, is recognised as a consecrated hermit. On the other hand, sisters serve as anchorites under the Order of Lady Julia of Antioch instead of St. Darius. Newly baptised individuals will be required to live as lay hermits for a period of time before they may apply as consecrated.
Lay hermits have a different classification, which this page does not yet cover in detail. The main difference between the two is that a hermit becomes consecrated because he takes special vows and lives by a rule and in many cases, may be required to serve as a lay-priest within his or other hermitages and monasteries. A lay person who wishes to be a hermit, does not take the same type of vows and does not serve as a cleric, but he may not refer to himself as a “consecrated hermit.”
Both Hearers and Elect may serve the Church as hermits. A person’s clerical or lay status is not taken into consideration when the Bishop reviews individual requests. In the past, there have been some Religion of Light Bishops who were also hermits. Some of Mar Mani’s closest disciples became hermits after his ascension.
The eremitic lifestyle (hermeticism, hermetism) is not for everyone. He lives a life of solitude, silence, spiritual battle in the desert, prayer and simplicity in all things. A consecrated hermit has serious responsibilities and sacred privileges. In most cases, he lives a solitary life dedicated to prayer for the Elect, the clergy, others within the Church, for the world, and for himself. Meditation, contemplation, study, reading, chanting, writing and translating the Scriptures (if he is able), specific daily/hourly prayers, and other spiritual duties are his main concern. If approved by the Bishop or the Order, the consecrated hermit may be required to function, within his own hermitage, as a lay-priest.
Any brother contemplating this lifestyle must ensure both himself and the Bishop that he has made arrangements so that he is able to live on his own and with adequate funds for simple food, shelter, medication and so on. For this reason, hermits (both consecrated and lay) may hold a secular job. However, with this in mind, a consecrated hermit is not permitted to go into the public and work at a factory, or retail store, or any other type of public employment, unless he is permitted to work alone somewhere within the facility. If at all possible, a consecrated hermit should be self-employed, even if the public is required to come to his hermitage or another place to purchase goods and/or services. A lay hermit may work in the public in a less limited manner, but it is not encouraged. A consecrated hermit may receive food and clothing, if necessary, from charitable organisations or groups. The hermit may also rent the home he is using for his hermitage.
The candidate must also write a list of “end of life choices” — in some countries this is referred to as a last will and testament, explaining the hermit’s wishes as to how his meagre belongings should be handled after his physical demise.
The establishment of any hermitage by a brother, is understood to be under the ecclesiastical authority of the Mother Church and its policies and other guidelines for such vocations, and must be approved by the Monastic Order of the Religion of Light. Individuals wishing to live as a solitary will be required to undergo a basic psychiatric review before being approved. He can never have been found guilty of a sexual crime, murder or knowingly being an accomplice in a murder, or committing or assisting in abortion. Anyone with a notorious criminal record may not apply for consecration; however, it is possible for him to live as a lay hermit, but he will not be permitted to identify himself as a consecrated hermit or as a hermit of the Church. Each case will differ from one another, thus the Bishop will be required to review each candidate’s request.The Hermit’s Attire
A consecrated hermit is expected to wear simple, plain clothing that does not call attention to his physical appearance or that does not promote secular business or ungodly or unethical ideas, and false religion.
Like monks, the consecrated hermit wears a simple brown robe with a hood, along with a belt or cincture (rope). With the exception of a Bishop or other high ranking cleric, the robe does not have images or embroidery upon it. It is a good idea to have a “work robe” and a “prayer robe.” The difference is that the “work robe” is expected to become soiled from day to day work outside other reasons. The “prayer robe” is reserved for times of prayer and meditation and care should be taken to keep the “prayer robe” as clean as possible. In very hot climates or seasons, the robe can be thin, but the hermit should wear appropriate clothing under the robe for modesty, especially when the public is able to see the hermit during his work. The “work robe” may be the full robe from shoulders to ankles, or it may be short robe from the waist to the knees, similar to a kilt. (See the painting of the hermit above as an example). The “prayer robe” should always be full length, from the shoulders to ones ankles.
The hermit’s shoes should be practical to his culture, weather, comfort and personal requirements. Sandals are not required, and expensive shoes should be avoided. The wearing of socks is completely up to the individual.
An exception to the brown robe is white or almond which is used by the head of more than one hermitage. Other occasions when a hermit wears a white robe is while he is officiating the Divine Service when others are present. If he does not have a white robe for this occasion, he may wear a simple white stole over his brown prayer robe instead. When the Bishop or when Mar Mani Khaila are present at the hermitage, the hermit does not wear the white robe, but will likely be asked to co-celebrate (concelebrate) the Divine Service. You will be asked to carry out certain duties during the celebration. In this case, you will need to wear the white stole.
Monks and hermits of certain spiritual communities within the Religion of Light may also include a prayer shawl and a simple head covering. All monks and hermits in the East utilise a prayer shawl, and the Mother Church is encouraging brethren in the West to begin using the prayer shawl (equivalent to the Jewish tallit), if they have not done so already, before the Summer of 2016. If a head covering spans the entire top of the head, it is removed during the Divine Service, but may be replaced before the priestly blessing and dismissal. A small head covering, such as a skull cap, that only covers the top of the skull, does not have to be removed during any of the prayers.
If your Bishop or priest does not have literature concerning hermit and anchorite vocations, please contact the Monastic Order directly.
Hermitages and Monasteries / Hermits and Monks
A hermitage is not the same as a monastery. Hermits are typically found living a solitary life, and in most cases, not even interacting with the rest of the world. However, in the modern age, hermits may be required at times to go into the city or village to purchase goods or to trade/sell his own goods to others so that he may have funds to purchase food and clothing.
A monastery is a facility that houses monks. Unlike hermits, two or more monks live together, in what is often termed as a congregation or community. Most Religion of Light monasteries are cloistered, but not as a requirement.
Unlike most monasteries, hermitages may receive guests according to the hermit’s discretion. A guest should not remain for more than three days, even if it is a fellow brother. If the brother-guest’s situation is harsh, the hermit may be compassionate and permit him to remain up to ten days, but the guest should perform some type of work, such as assisting with the daily chores. If the guest is a Bishop in the Religion of Light, or other high ranking cleric, he may remain longer, but he must teach either daily or on a weekly basis at the hermitage.
As with everyone else, the consecrated hermit should not permit his family to remain for more than three days.
Transferring from a Monastery
Monks, who are usually in a congregation or community among other monks, may, with permission of his Bishop, live alone as a hermit. Under certain circumstances, a monk who later becomes a hermit, may retain his original vocational title.
Names of Hermitages and Poustinias
The consecrated hermit should consider with much prayer, the name of his hermitage. Brothers are permitted to use “St. Darius Hermitage” if they wish. Any name chosen should be appropriate to one’s spiritual community within the Religion of Light. The choice and any changes of the name must be approved.
Hermits are permitted to have modern conveniences such as running water, electricity, television, radio and internet. They may also own a vehicle, but the hermit’s car should not be under a lease or owe for the vehicle. If his country or city requires him to have insurance on his vehicle, he should make sure he has the funds to take care of this matter.
Television, radio, internet and vehicles should be limited in use. Some brothers use television and radio to keep abreast of news and weather, while the internet is used for communicating with brethren who live away from the hermitage. The internet can also be used for selling goods that benefit the hermitage’s basic needs.
Marriage, Divorce and Children
Unlike certain orders of monks (family monastic order which consist of couples without children), the consecrated hermit should be single and remain celibate. However, if at a later time during his life he chooses to marry, he will be required to renounce his vows as a consecrated hermit.
An individual who is divorced according to Religion of Light tradition may apply to serve as a consecrated hermit.
Individuals with children who are dependent on the hermit, are not permitted to apply to the Order. One is not permitted to give their children up for adoption or to send their children away with relatives or friends for the sake of applying to the order of consecrated hermits. A candidate’s children must be adults who are no longer dependent. In cases where the candidate is divorced and who does not have custody of a child, he will still not be permitted to apply. In this latter case, in the future, the situation could change where the child is in his custody.
The following is an example of how some monastics, hermits and anchorites have chosen to live the hours of their day to day life. You can adapt this schedule according to your particular situation.
- 4:00 AM Rise
- 4:30 AM Morning Prayers
- 5:30 AM Work
- 6:30 AM Breakfast, work
- 9:00 AM Meditation
- 12:00 PM Lunch, prayer
- 3:00 PM Chaplet of Light, reading
- 6:00 PM Prayer, dinner
- 7:00 PM Chaplet of Light, reading
- 7:45 PM Evening prayers
- 8:00 PM Bed
- Painting of anchorite/hermit by Teodor Axentowicz. Public domain.
- Clipart of hermit/monk copyright by Tom Lemmens, Creative Commons license