The Camaldolese hermits devote their life to prayer in solitude. Their community is made of hermits living in separate houses surrounding the church. They meet a couple of times a day in the church for the main services but most of their time, including prayers, is done in their houses. In the houses they also eat all their meals. Each house with a little garden is the place where the hermit prays, works and studies. Unfortunately the hermitage of the Golden Forest isn’t occupied by the Camaldolse monks anymore but the environment created by them in 1618 in order to help them to live the life of prayer and solitude still draws priests, nuns and lay people looking for some solitude to get closer to Jesus. The monastery is located literally in the middle of the forest. Apart from my prayers and reflections in the monastery it was a blessing to immerse myself in the beauty of the autumn woods. There I walked and prayed the Rosary every day. I could guess that the monks must have used this opportunity too as the area is so remote and it must have been even more remote 4 centuries ago. Hiking there, and getting lost too, I reflected on the paths I take every day in my life. In the woods I took various paths not to get somewhere but to get closer to God by meditating the mysteries of the Holy Rosary. There is no doubt that the paths there have their destinations like the paths we take every day but going through the beads of my Rosary I kept asking myself how many of my daily paths get me closer to Jesus. Those days I might have looked like an estranged hiker walking aimlessly but there was aim in my hiking – JESUS. I hope that I can take this into my life too.
In regards to the monastery church I was fascinated by its beauty. At the time of the Camalodelse it could be accessed by other people only twice a year, yet the hermits invested so much money and effort to build such a magnificent building. It wasn’t show off but it was prove of their love for Jesus. They lived in simple houses but for God they had the best. I asked myself what the worship I give Jesus looks like. Is it the best? Do I give him the best of my time? Do I believe that he deserves the best?