Solitaries who are not members of a Religious community

  1. Men and women, who are free of family or other prior responsibilities, can follow a calling to a solitary life without receiving any formal ecclesiastical recognition or title. Any person so called will need the direction of an experienced spiritual guide both in the testing and living out of this vocation. Much of what is said concerning the direction of hermits (Appendix VI, 5) can be applied also to solitaries who are Religious.

If they live in the simplicity of poverty, the dedication of chastity, and under the guidance of an experienced spiritual director, such a vocation is self-authenticating.

  1. There needs to be an adequate period of time for testing the vocation before undertaking a vow of celibacy where there is a calling to do so (see Appendix VIII on the Public Making of Personal Vows).

  2. Such a solitary will probably choose a simple form of dress; but the wearing of a habit which implies membership of a Religious community is inappropriate. For the same reason it is not desirable that a Religious name or title should be adopted.

Simply as solitaries devoted to a life of prayer they do not come into the formal category of Religious, since the latter are members of a Religious community accepted as such by the authority of the Church. For the purposes of this Handbook in regard to the solitary life, the term hermit refers to a member of a Religious Community and the term solitary refers to one who is not a Religious.