The Hermitage of the Three Holy Hierarchs came into being on 8th October 2010 when Father Gregory Hrynkiw professed his vows as a hermit. The Hermitage is Byzantine rite and is contemplative and active. Father Hrynkiw's model of spirituality is Saint Gregory of Nazianzus, who sought a 'middle way', perfecting a holy balance between action and contemplation; speech and silence. Saint Gregory is one of the eponymous Holy Hierarchs; the other two are Saint Basil and Saint John Chrysostom. The Hermitage is based in Saskatchewan, Canada and its charisms are teaching, preaching, spiritual direction and living a monastic life of prayer. Father Gregory is a prolific teacher and speaker throughout the region, and runs a weekly sacred scripture study in Saskatoon. The Hermitage is placed under the protection of Mary, Theotokos.
Father Gregory Hrynkiw's book, Cajetan On Sacred Doctrine is published by The Catholic University of America Press in October 2020. Fittingly, it marks the ten year anniversary of the creation of the hermitage.
What is a Hermit?
We rarely question the value of religious orders when they teach, nurse, or even make honey. And while teaching, in this hermitage, makes the hermit's role easier for people to understand, in a sense it obfuscates the central question: What is a hermit? The Russian classic, The Pilgrim Continues His Way, has a succinct 'job description'. A hermit discusses three of his roles.
The first is in analyzing and contemplating his moral existence. It behooves the hermit to meditate on the interior life, to theologize if he is a theologian, and to share his insights with others, in written or spoken forms.
The second is that the hermit is an example-- and this may be even truer in today's secular and fast-paced society. The hermit throws a gauntlet of solitude, prayerfulness and holiness down at the feet of a world which seems to be rejecting such notions, even as it most desperately needs them.
The third is to lead by moral example, shunning sin and nurturing personal sanctity.
But, for the priest hermit-monk of the Hermitage of the Three Holy Hierarchs, there is a charism that underpins everything-- that is, the endeavour and fruitfulness of prayer. The Divine Liturgy and Office are prayed daily, each with a specific intention-- sometimes requested by people far away, sometimes regarding a global concern, sometimes about something close to home, sometimes abstract, sometimes specific.
Every time we are united to the heavenly liturgy something changes here on earth. Here at the Hermitage the belief in the power of prayer is strong. The good that it will do is unquantifiable by human hands, but anything is possible through the grace of God.
According to St. Basil the Christian life is to become prayer, and prayer is to enliven life itself: "Thus you will pray without ceasing; if you pray not only in words, but unite yourself to God through all the course of life...so your life is made one ceaseless and uninterrupted prayer" (Migne, PG 31, 244; St. Basil, “Homily in Honour of St. Julitta,” nn. 3-4).
So what is a hermit? A living prayer....
Lord, make me a living prayer
Let all that is in my heart be a supplication
Let all that I do speak of you
Let my every thought and breath be united with you
Lord, make me a prayer
The Coat of Arms of the Hermitage of the Three Holy Hierarchs
The Hermitage Coat of Arms was designed in 2017, the seventh anniversary of the Hermitage. Seven is also the number of covenant and in Hebrew means to swear an oath. For these reasons, there are seven elements within the coat of arms.
The top of the shield indicates the geographical location of the Hermitage—green and gold are the colors of Saskatchewan, Canada. The three gold sheaves are redolent of the agricultural nature of the place, but also represent abundance and patriarchal protection: they symbolize the grain that Joseph of the Old Testament supplied to his brothers in time of famine; and the protection that Joseph of the New Testament gave to Our Lord Jesus Christ and continues to give to the Church today.
The body of the shield is in Mary’s blue—the Hermitage is placed under the patronage of the Theotokos. The one silver rose at the bottom is the Rose of Sharon (Song of Solomon 2,1 ), representing our Blessed Mother.
The three hares at the heart of the coat of arms represent the Three Holy Hierarchs (Saint John Chrysostom, Saint Gregory of Nazianzus and Saint Basil). Each of the hares shares an ear with the others, forming a triangle—this space is where we are invited to enter the perichoresis, the sublime relationship and shared divinity of the Trinity.
Around the coat of arms there is a silver chotky (prayer rope), illustrating the prayers that surround, protect and direct the Hermitage and all of those associated with it.
Glory be to Jesus Christ!
OurLady of the Hermitage, pray for us!
In his "Homily on Psalm 1," St Basil preaches on the vital importance of the Psalms:
A psalm gives profound serenity to the soul,
calming the tumultuous waves of thought.
For, it softens anger in the soul
and bridles intemperance.
A psalm solidifies friendships,
reconciles the separated,
conciliates those at enmity.
Who, indeed, can consider as an enemy
him with whom he has uttered the same prayer to God?
So that psalmody in choral singing is a bond, as it were, of unity,
joining harmoniously the people into a symphony of one choir,
producing the greatest of all blessings, charity [agape].
A psalm is a city of refuge from the demons;
cry for help to the angels,
a shield against the fears of the night,
a rest from toils of the day,
a safeguard for infants,
an adornment for vigorous youth,
a consolation for the elderly,
a most fitting ornament for women.
It makes the desert a home;
it moderates the excesses of the market place;
it is the foundation for beginners,
the improvement of those advancing,
the solid support of the perfect.
It is the voice of the Church,
brightening feast days;
it creates a sorrow which is in accordance with God.
For, a psalm calls forth a tear even from a heart of stone.
A psalm is the occupation of the angels,
"O my brother, the contemplative is the man not who has fiery visions of the cherubim carrying God on their imagined chariot, but simply he who has risked his mind in the desert beyond language and beyond ideas where God is encountered in the nakedness of pure trust, that is to say in the surrender of our poverty and incompleteness in order no longer to clench our minds in a cramp upon themselves, as if thinking made us exist. The message of hope the contemplative offers you, then, brother, is not that you need to find your way through the jungle of language and problems that today surround God: but that whether you understand or not, God loves you, and is present in you, lives in you, dwells in you, calls you, saves you and offers you an understanding and light which are like nothing you ever found in books or heard in sermons. The contemplative has nothing to tell you except to reassure you and say that if you dare to penetrate your own silence and risk the sharing of that solitude with the lonely other who seeks God through you, then you will truly recover the light and capacity to understand what is beyond words and beyond explanations because it is too close to be explained: it is the intimate union in the depths of your own heart, of God's spirit and your own secret inmost self, and so that you and He are in all truth One Spirit. I love you, in Christ."
from Thomas Merton, The Hidden Ground of Love
Contact the Hermitage:
As a hermit, Fr Hrynkiw relies chiefly on charitable donations.
All benefactors are remembered and prayed for daily.