Visit to the hermitage: All is well in God’s country


water fallI have excellent memories of the hermitage. Ice and snow, praise the Lord! Getting there can be precarious, as washouts are a constant; even washouts of washouts, when the road just gives up, are common.

One of things I most miss doing, and think of it very often, is “picking” flowers for the Immaculate Conception. The variety of flowers that grow pretty much year round (if you know how to look for them) is astounding. I should look up that series on the now defunct blog and bring a few examples back into view. But maybe that’s cheating. I’m sure I can find some flowers in bloom even in the cold weather. We will see. Putting a flower in a vase next to the statue of the Blessed Mother in your church is a good thing to do – with permission of the priest and accompanying promise to remove the flower as it starts to lose its pristine vigor – and this is an especially good thing to do for men. This is the kind of thing which turns boys into men and into warriors for the Kingdom of the heavens.


For instance, when I was a chaplain in Lourdes, one Winter was particularly brutal in the Hautes-Pyrénées, going for weeks below freezing day and night, with ice-storms and snow and then more ice. I thought my youth in Minnesota had me trained in for the cold better than anyone, as we had once reached 74 below zero real temperature and 104 below zero wind-chill (better than Siberia!). That was until I saw the flowers for the Immaculate Conception. After weeks of freezing temperatures, only then did the tiny vine roses next to the grotto, up on the rock bluff between the old sacristy and the cave, literally break through the thick ice and snow and offer their fragile beauty to the praise of the Immaculate Mother of God. I have pictures of that somewhere. Anyway, back to the hermitage: on the way one passes by an ancient of days school bus rammed up against some trees since forever. It’s said that someone used to live in there…

hermitage chapel

The chapel in the hermitage is looking a bit forlorn, what with the tabernacle and its tall wooden crucifix gone, the candles and flowers and stained glass angels removed. No fully decked out altar. No altar cards. Even the famous baldacchino is now gone. But lots of great memories here as well. God is good.

Laudie-dogAnd then, of course, there is the ultra-famous Laudie-dog (taken care of by the neighbors, whom she now protects), who saved me from bears and wolves and panthers. The friendliest dog in the world. Great nose for tracking! Always happy to sleep by the fire in the hermitage. She came to me one day skeletally thin, shot in the back, with a bit of mange and lots of fleas. We got her up to speed and in good health in no time. I’m sure even Pope Francis (with such a name) wouldn’t mind me having a dog which has saved my life on a number of occasions. ;¬)

Some of you who followed the Holy Souls Hermitage blog will remember me mentioning the angels reminding me to recite the Angelus prayer every time I would go up or descend Holy Souls mountain. This is for a very specific ecclesial intention. Without fail, they slap me upside the head at a very particular point in the path near the hermitage. And I dutifully recite the prayer. Many times in fact. It is a rather humbling experience. You might ask your guardian angel to have you do the same every time you leave or come back to your house, also for a very specific ecclesial intention, such as for the Holy Father, for your bishop, for your priest, for the souls in purgatory, for respect for life from natural conception to natural death…

I’m quite sure, given my own experience, that your guardian angel will oblige this request. Just be prepared to get smacked down, and to follow up on the reminder, and to thank him for this. In this way, you will also learn to be even more attentive to your guardian angel, who wants to have you always walk in the presence of the Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception, who will judge the living and the dead and the world by fire.

P.S. I’m going to tweak the number of posts appearing on the front page, reducing the number to less than a third of what they were. A priest-friend in India said that their connection speeds are not what they could be. Let me know, if you would, please, if this works better.


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9 responses to “Visit to the hermitage: All is well in God’s country

  1. Lara

    Ah! Laudie-Dog!!! What a sweet heart! Glad to hear she’s doing well and taking her job seriously with the neighbors. :)

  2. pelerin

    Yes – I’m delighted to see another picture of Laudie-dog. I am not really a doggy person at all but those eyes just melt my heart! and it would indeed be lovely to see some of your old photographs of flowers in Lourdes.

    By the way the new bridge across the Gave has now been officially opened – video on the Lourdes web site.

  3. Cathe D.

    Thank you so much for the picture of Laudie-Dog. I was afraid to ask what became of her. I am very relieved to see her healthy and happy. She is looking so good!. Bless you Father for saving her and bringing her to this happy time in her life. Looking and reading of your trip to the Hermitage is like going through the photo album and remembering a time full of uncertainty and challenges. It is a very special time and place. God bless you Father….cathy

  4. The German Egyptian

    I’ve been wanting to ask about the hermitage but was afraid it would not be proper, sooooo,heree goes, where are the furnishings, (windows angels, ) hope they went to a good home especially the window that i remember was in the works when i last checked, but then the blog went dead. Was really concerned for you health and future when holy souls went off line. Felt that a small piece of my Catholic inspiration died. Please post some of your old postings from time to time, (if it is allowed)

    God Bless

    • Father George David Byers

      My dearest German Egyptian. I think books (yes, in the plural) should be written about this. The furnishings are with me in my little parish. I suppose I will have to start posting pictures of the chapel of the little rectory here! My health is fine and my future, as for all of us, is always in God’s hands. There was only one particular post that seemed to be offensive, and I have now republished that any number of times in various venues. Nothing is off limits, at least as long as Pope Francis is alive! Prayers and blessings. I beg yours.

  5. Charlene

    I have been asking about Laudie Dog and I knew that she was being taken care of. I’m sure she misses you, but her new family no doubt loves her very much! She is adorable!

  6. Jane

    thank you Father for the picture of beautiful Laudie! I’m so glad to know that she is having a good life with people who love her…what a blessing dogs are for us.

  7. thank you Father for posting the picture of Laudie. She and you had been in my prayers and I am so glad that she is living a good life and loved by people who care for her. Dogs bless us so much!

  8. H Father George,
    I too was very happy to see Laudie again. She is such a joy to behold. It is too bad the Heritage is now closed but perhaps this was a glimpse of what lies ahead for all of us in heaven. Perhaps a bit warmer and less dangerous to traverse, but a place that is peaceful, quiet and surrounded by the beauty of God’s handiwork. There is a spot in my back yard that calms my soul just looking at it. It’s a little bit wild and rustic.
    God bless, Father.

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