Thursday, July 30, 2009

Some snapshots of the work I am able to do


Hermits are called to lead solitary lives. This doesn't mean we never come in contact with the world but it does mean we take a lot more time to be alone with God and dwell on His mysteries, thank him for His goodness and salvation. All hermits as supposed to work and that is manifested in many ways. Each hermit has his/her own calling regarding manual labor. The 'oldtime' hermits wove mats to sell in the towns to support their lives. Today there are still some hermits who still weave and sell their beautiful cloth, some paint fantastic icons or paintings, some get involved helping their Parish. When I came to Gambia as a hermit, I had no idea what I would be doing but the lord quickly showed me that my work was going to be in caring for the sick poor.

This girl is with her brothers and sisters and since she is the oldest she must play the rolde of mother while Mom is home caring for he house. The little brother in her lap has hurt his foot and it needs treatment and bandaging. If they went to the local clinic they would have to pay. Since they don't have anything they come here.
This little boy is a happy customer. His smile tells it all

(below) The 'blue hermit' writes out instructions for one of the patients
for taking medicine.

There is lots of work to be done here and medicines and bandages are needed badly. Right now I have a very limited supply. Your help in sending bandages or medicines (over the counter types) would be gratefully appreciated. I will make out a list for tomorrows posting to let you see just what I need and let you where you can order the bandages at a very low price.
I will close this posting now and continue tomorrow as their is a lightning storm beginning (we are in the rainy season now)and I need to protect the computer, the generator and the hermit!!!!!
God bless you all.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

My Life as a penitent hermit

Many folks ask me what do I do all day; Aren't I bored. Aren't I just confused about Gods calling? It is good to note Each hermit has his/her own particular charism and our eremitical lives vary as do all of your our lives. Only our committment and dedication to the service of God remain the same but we each express it differently.
For me, as a penitent hermit, I strive to live a dedicated life through prayer, atonement, penance and contemplation by living a solitary, but never boring, life.
I strive daily to live the evangelical counsels of the Gospel in a way that often challenges the worldly values of this age. Material poverty, manual labor, complete renunciation of ownership of property, mature and faithful chastity, an active and responsible obedience, praying constantly for priests and religious throughout the church, especially those in greatest need and by using my God given nursing talents for the good of humanity are crucial components of my way of life.
I have chosen to live a life of prayer and atonement continually for priests and religious worldwide but especially for those priests and religious serving in the diocese of The Gambia.
My life is based on my personal commitment to Jesus Christ, The Divine Mercy, through penance, atonement, contemplative and liturgical prayer, Eucharistic adoration, devotion to Our Lady, imitation of St. Francis, love for the Church and loyalty to the Holy Father. To preserve the spirit of St. Francis in my vocation, I pray unceasingly and work diligently and constantly for all of God's priests; that God will clothe them in holiness and salvation. I beseech our loving Father, to call zealous men; spiritual athletes, to the priesthood. I pray for all priests, especially those ministering in the diocese of the Gambia, that the Holy Spirit will continuously renew and uphold them; in order to make them loving, dedicated, committed and accountable shepherds of their flocks; true spiritual counselors, apt teachers and holy confessors. I pray especially for our Reverend Bishop, Robert Ellison; Bishop of The Gambia.
As a penitent hermit and one who has experienced God's immeasurable Divine Mercy, I now pray constantly for priests; especially those who have been laicized, those who are incarcerated, or those who are currently being tried by the courts for offenses committed against youth. I also pray for those priests who are guilty of the same transgressions but whose guilt may have never been revealed and/or who live in daily fear that one day their sins may exposed. I pray for these men, by calling on God's Divine Mercy, that they will humbly acknowledge their sins before God; repent and return to Christ. For those who have been sentenced and are incarcerated, I ask our beloved and most merciful Father to help them convert their places of incarceration into spiritual hermitages where they can pray and reflect on their past while trusting in the Divine Mercy of Christ. I pray that the Lord watch over and protect them from the anger or hatred of other prisoners or guards. I pray, in spite of their circumstances, these men may become true witnesses to others with whom they are incarcerated, witnesses of the Divine Mercy, love and forgiveness of Christ, the Lord of Mercy. I am fully aware that some members of the religious Brothers and Sisters are also accountable for the same or similar offenses and my prayers are directed to our Almighty Father for them, as well.
My heart goes out to all the victims of these offenses and I pray that these wounded members of the Body of Christ will discover, through grace, ways to overcome their humiliation, anger, hatred and sorrow; that they may open themselves to forgiveness of their offenders and then move fervently ahead in their personal spiritual lives. My prayer is that the Lord will heal their wounded hearts and minds and restore them to a fullness of spirit.
I also pray for those members of the body of Christ, who have been scandalized by the actions of offending priests and religious; that they will recognize their own sinfulness and in the spirit of Jesus ("let he who is without sin cast the first stone”), forgive and pray for the offenders and join with me in praying for all priests and religious.
When we pray the Our Father, we say “and forgive us our sins as we forgive the sins of others”…dare we make such a prayer and still condemn the sinner? The answer for those who have been scandalized is not to stop attendance at the celebration of the Eucharist. This will cause your great spiritual harm and your absence seriously affects the entire mystical body of Christ. . I am so very aware of the harm that has been done and for this, beseech our Lord, Jesus Christ, The Divine Mercy, to bless His church and pour out the spirit of understanding and forgiveness on all the people of God so that the church will remain pure and unblemished.
Living as a hermit, My labor (scripture says that we must work for our food) is for the sick poor who come to this hermitage for medical assistance. I treat many serious wounds and other emergencies as well. Most of the folks who come for help can not afford the small fee needed for treatment at the local clinic. I provide free medicines, supplies and care for these children of God. I make cord rosaries and other chaplets in order to purchase local medicines to help these folks. Should you be led by the Holy Spirit to help, Your donations and/or purchase of my cord prayer beads will help greatly to provide the necessary medicines and supplies for this work. My only income is from my Social Security and nearly half of this goes to this cause as well.
It is my hope that, in spite my own inconsistencies and weaknesses, I may present to all men and women, a prophetic witness of Christ's teaching; that life is a journey of committed faith, trusting hope, and effective love of God and neighbor through the work of the Holy Spirit.

Please pray for me that I never waiver in my commitment to Christ and pray that folks will continue to help with donations either in money or supplies. Your gifts may be set to:

Brother Dismas (Nazareth Hermitage)
Catholic Mission
PO Box 165
Banjul, The Gambia

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Homily of St. Basil the Great


O man, be like the earth. Bear fruit like her and do not fall short of what mere inanimate matter can achieve. The earth bears crops not for her own benefit but for yours. You, on the other hand, when you give to the poor, are bearing fruit which you will gather in for yourself, since the reward for good deeds goes to those who perform them. Give to a hungry man, and what you give becomes yours, and indeed it returns to you with interest. Just as the wheat that falls on the ground falls there to the great profit of the one who sowed it, so the bread given to a hungry man will bring you great profit in the world to come. Let your husbandry be aimed at sowing this heavenly seed: as scripture says, Sow integrity for yourselves.
You are going to leave your money behind you here whether you want to or not. As for whatever share of glory you have received through your good works, that you can take with you to the Lord. All the people will stand round you in the presence of him who judges you all: they will acclaim you as one who feeds the hungry and gives to the poor, they will name you as a merciful benefactor.
Do you not see how people throw away their wealth for a moment’s glory, for the shouts and praise of the crowds in the theatre, at sporting events, at fights with wild beasts in the arena? Where can you get that sort of glory for yourself if you hold on to your money or spend it meanly? God will give his approbation; the angels will praise you; all people who have existed since the beginning of the world will call you blessed. You will receive eternal glory and the crown of righteousness as a prize for rightly disposing of your wealth – wealth that in any case cannot last and must decay.
Why do you think nothing of the future hopes that are stored up by those who despise the cares of the present time? Come, spread your wealth around, be generous, give splendidly to those who are in need. Then it will be said of you as it is in the psalms: He gave alms and helped the poor: his righteousness will endure for ever.
How grateful you should be to your own benefactor; how cheerful you should be at the honour he has conferred on you, that you do not have to make a nuisance of yourself at other people’s doors, but other people come and bother you at your own! But at the moment you are grumpy and no-one can get to you. You avoid meeting people in case you might be obliged be part with even a little of what you have. You can say only one thing: “I have nothing to give you. I am only a poor man.” Indeed you are poor and utterly destitute. Poor in love, poor in humanity, poor in faith in God, and destitute of any hope of eternal happiness.

Monday, July 27, 2009

A sermon of St Caesarius of Arles


Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. ‘Mercy’ is a beautiful word: more beautiful still is the thing itself. All men wish to receive it, but the worst thing is that not all of them behave in a way that deserves it. Although everyone wishes to be shown mercy only a few wish to show it.
O man, how can you have the effrontery to ask for what you refuse to give to others? You must show mercy in this world if you want to receive mercy in heaven. So, my dearest brethren, since we all desire mercy, let us make ourselves mercy’s slaves in this world so that she can give us our freedom in the world to come. For there is mercy in heaven and we come to it through earthly mercies. As Scripture says: Lord, your mercy is in heaven.
So there is earthly and heavenly mercy: that is, human and divine. What is human mercy? Exactly this: to have care for the sufferings of the poor. What is divine mercy? Without doubt, to grant forgiveness of sins. Whatever human mercy gives away on the journey, divine mercy pays back when we arrive at last in our native land. For it is God who feels cold and hunger, in the person of the poor. As he himself has said: As much as you have done for the least of these, you have done it for me. What God deigns to give on heaven, he yearns to receive on earth.
What sort of people are we if we want to receive, when God offers, but when God asks, we refuse to give? For when a poor man hungers, it is Christ who suffers want, as he himself has said: I was hungry and you gave me no food. Do not despise the misery of the poor if you want a sure hope of forgiveness for your sins. Christ is hungry now, brethren, in all the poor. He consents to suffer hunger and thirst – and whatever he receives on earth he will give back in heaven.
I ask you, brethren: when you come to church, what do you want? what are you looking for? Is it anything other than mercy? Then give earthly mercy and you will receive the heavenly kind. The poor man asks of you, and you ask of God: the poor man for food, you for eternal life. Give to the beggar what you want to deserve from Christ. Hear Christ saying Give and it will be given to you. I do not know how you can have the effrontery to want to receive what you do not want to give. And so, when you come to church, give, whatever you can afford as alms for the poor.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

From the Explanations of the Psalms by St Ambrose, bishop


Why do you turn your face away? We think that God has turned his face away from us when we find ourselves suffering, so that shadows overwhelm our feelings and stop our eyes from seeing the brilliance of the truth. All the same, if God touches our intellect and chooses to become present to our minds then we will be certain that nothing can lead us into darkness.
A man’s face shines out more than the rest of his body and it is by the face that we perceive strangers and recognise our friends. How much more, then, is the face of God able to bring illumination to whoever he looks at!
The apostle Paul has something important to say about this, as about so many other things. He is a true interpreter of Christ for us, bringing him to our understanding through well-chosen words and images. He says: It is the same God that said, ‘Let there be light shining out of darkness’, who has shone in our minds to radiate the light of the knowledge of God’s glory, the glory on the face of Christ. We have heard where Christ shines in us: he is the eternal brilliant illumination of souls, whom the Father sent into the world so that his face should shine on us and permit us to contemplate eternal and heavenly truths – we who had been plunged in earthly darkness.
What shall I say about Christ, when even the apostle Peter said to the man who had been lame from birth Look upon us? The cripple looked at Peter and found light by the grace of faith: unless he had faithfully believed he could not have received healing.
When there was so much glory to be seen among the Apostles, Zachaeus, hearing that the Lord Jesus was passing by, climbed a tree because he was small and weak and could not see the Lord through the crowd. He saw Christ and he found light. He saw Christ and instead of robbing others of their goods he began to give away his own.
Why do you turn your face away? Let us read it thus: even if you do turn your face away from us, Lord, its light is still imprinted upon us. We hold it in our hearts and our innermost feelings are transformed by its light.
For if you truly turn your face away, Lord, no-one can survive.