Brother Aldin Francis Canobas
The hermitage experience was a personal highlight of my novitiate! We spent two weeks in Valentia Island and each week, we took the role of serving like “Martha” or praying like “Mary”. We drew lots to figure out who would begin as Martha or Mary.
I am a natural Martha: a doer, on-the-go, independent, service-oriented person. I saw that God was really intentional in calling me to begin as Martha. It allowed me to naturally ease into the service role and prepare myself to gradually let go of control and embrace the contemplative role and become humble enough to express my needs to those taking care of me.
As the first week developed, I found that I do have a Mary in me! I experienced that as soon as I was finished with my chores—praise God for the teamwork of the Marthas—I enjoyed having time for prayer and contemplation.
Then in the second week, when I was Mary, I really enjoyed exploring the island in solitude, conversing with the Lord while walking, meeting Christ in random people along the way, reflecting and journaling, and most importantly, simply being and basking in the beauty and glory of God in all His creation.
There is still some Martha-like behavior in the long miles of walking, but I’d say that it made it a deeper and more meaningful experience of being Mary. Then, I felt refreshed and ready to serve again like Martha. I came to the hermitage initially thinking that I had to let go of my natural Martha-ness so that I can truly and fully experience being Mary, but I came to realise the importance of being both.
The whole hermitage experience led me to a personal conviction: My heart is my real hermitage. Physically being in a hermitage let me find the more important interior aspect of the hermitage. I believe that the real hermitage experience happens inside my heart, wherever I am, and whether I am being a Martha or Mary. The real hermitage experience is to know my being in the depth of my heart—being myself in the presence of our Lord.