The spirituality of the Hermits of Bethlehem is based on the Gospel of Jesus Christ as lived in the spirit and teachings of the Desert Fathers and Mothers of the early church. The desert wilderness experience is in the realm of the human heart. It puts one in touch with the reality of the false self and the truth of God. The hermit is lead by Jesus, the Lord of the Desert, to wait and listen in silence to the gentle voice of the Holy Spirit and to find therein the forgiving and healing love of the Father.
Our Prayer Life is nourished by daily Eucharistic Liturgy, Eucharistic Adoration, the Liturgy of the Hours and Lectio Divina (Scripture Reading). Solemn Vespers (Evening prayer) is celebrated on Saturday evenings and the Vigils and Solemnities.
On Wednesday we enter into a Day of Reclusion. Bread is ceremonially blessed and individuals are anointed to prepare the Laura for a day of fast on bread, water and prayer in contemplation.
A Hermit is one called by God to live a life of unceasing prayer and penance in the silence of solitude by a consecrated life of obedience, poverty and celibate love for the praise of God and the salvation of the world.
This ancient tradition is being restored through the canonical establishment of the Hermits of Bethlehem as a Laura of Consecrated Hermits of Diocesan Right, an eremetical contemplative group of Catholic men and women under the ecclesiastical authority of Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli, Ordinary of the Diocese of Paterson, NJ.
The laura was founded by Father Eugene Romano, a priest of the Diocese of Paterson, who is now the Desert Father of the Hermits of Bethlehem.
The word “hermit” comes from the Greek word “heremus” which means “desert” or “solitary” and its focus is on the solitary life given totally to God. In the third and fourth centuries God called many men and women into the deserts of Egypt and Palestine that their lives of prayer and penance might be a witness of God’s presence and a witness against the sin and corruption that plagued the urban areas of that day. These men and women came to be known as “hermits” in the Christian tradition.
Although solitary, the hermit is by not isolated or removed from the mainstream of life. Rather, s/he is consecrated for the “salvation of the world,” a world where people are isolated from each other and from God by hatred and sin. United with God and suffering humanity, the hermit is a person whose life is a deepening of “a life hidden with Christ in God,” (Col 3:2) thus furthering His kingdom of love, justice and peace. The Hermit of Bethlehem follows Jesus who goes apart “to pray to our father in secret” Mat 6:5) and who “often retired to desert places and prayed” (Luke 5:16). The hermit stands before the Face of God to render Him service of loving and prayerful attentiveness.