Home for a Hermit – Introducing “Friends of the Little Portion Hermitage”

Br Rex
 This is Brother Rex Anthony Norris, or Br. Rex for short. He’s a hermit.

Yes, a real, live hermit.

So what does a hermit do? Well, suffice it to say that what is referred to as the eremitic life is a vocation, and has to do with what the Church calls assiduous prayer.

He prays. A lot.

Br. Rex is something of a walking contradiction. You might reasonably think that a hermit experiences some level of solitude as part of his (or her) vocation (yes, there are women hermits too). And you would be correct.

What doesn’t show up on paper, though, is that the guy is a total crack up. He’s hysterically funny, with a tremendous sense of humor and thoroughly infectious laugh. Simultaneously, he’s a deeply committed prayer warrior, who spends countless hours in intercessory prayer and takes his vocation extremely seriously.

You definitely want to be on this guy’s prayer list.

In knowing Br. Rex for the past couple years, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve called when things were rough, knowing he would take my prayer requests to his daily Holy Hour and hold them before our Lord. In fact, my debt of gratitude became so great, that a couple friends (the esteemed Jon Marc Grodi and Billy Newton) and I started a non-profit organization called Friends of Little Portion Hermitage to “support the worship of God, the eremitic life, Christ-centered solitude, contemplative silence, intercessory prayer and the spiritual works of mercy.”

Br Rex 1

Our vision is very much in line with the above: “Through the generosity of our donors, Friends of Little Portion Hermitage seeks to provide for the temporal needs of Little Portion Hermitage and the hermit who resides there. We believe consecrated life to be essential to the spiritual well-being of the Body of Christ, most especially the witness of those in consecrated life whose lives give first place to prayer for the glory of God, the good of the Church and the salvation of the world.”

So here’s where you come in. Br. Rex was lamenting to me the other day that he hasn’t received many prayer requests through the website we set up, littleportionhermitage.org – and that’s an opportunity.

At the same time, Friends of Little Portion Hermitage would like to purchase a modest hermitage for Br. Rex and his successors. Thankfully, he lives in a part of Maine where land and buildings are inexpensive, but we still need at least $50,000 to make things livable – even for a hermit.

Would you help us? Please stop by littleportionhermitage.org and send Br. Rex your prayer requests. It will make him happy, and these intentions will be treated with the utmost respect and confidence.

Also, if you can afford to make a donation towards the home for a hermit project, we would appreciate it ever so much. Let’s keep Br. Rex in prayer – and facilitate his prayers for us. Thank you for your support!

Special note: We’re happy to announce that Br. Rex will be appearing on EWTN’s The Journey Home program on Monday, April 7 at 8:00 p.m. EST. Hear the story of Br. Rex’s conversion to Christ and His Church!

– Kevin Lowry

Interview with The Coming Home Network, International

Recently our friend the hermit was interviewed by The Coming Home Network, International. They have given us permission to reprint the interview below.

Interview with Brother Rex

February 6, 2014

1) Br. Rex, thanks for taking time to speak with us today! Tell us a bit about yourself and your early formation — are you a convert?

Thank you. It’s good to chat with you. Yes, I am a convert. I was baptized in the United Presbyterian Church but left the practice of Christianity as a teenager. I had a spiritual awakening in my early twenties and returned to the practice of Christianity. By the grace of God and out of a deep love for Jesus Christ, I “came home” to the Catholic Church during the Easter Vigil in 2000.

2) Tell us a bit about your conversion process — what was it that drew you to the Church?

My attraction to Catholicism began in the late 80’s or early 90’s when I began to long for I-knew-not-what. There was something missing in my experience as a disciple of Jesus Christ, so I began to search in earnest for what was missing. By the grace of God, through the study of Church history, reading the Scriptures, and daily prayer, I eventually discovered that the “something missing” was an encounter with the Person of Jesus Christ in His Eucharistic Presence within the community of the visible Church He established.

3) So what is a hermit, anyway? How did that all come about, and how did your family feel about it?

A hermit is an individual whom God calls to live a life of prayer and penance in the silence of solitude for God’s glory, the good of His Church, and the salvation of souls. In my case, the Bishop of the Diocese of Portland, Maine has recognized my vocation as a part of consecrated life in accordance with Canon 603 of the Code of Canon Law.

Like every vocation, the call to eremitic life is a great mystery. God calls, we respond: to the single life, to marriage, to some form of consecrated life or to the priesthood. From my initial return to Christianity and my eventual entrance into the Catholic Church I have kept saying “yes” to Jesus as best I can one day at a time. I have kept putting one foot in front of the other, albeit falteringly at times, as the mystery that is my vocation has unfolded.

Members of my family of origin are a bit baffled, I think, by my vocation, even though it has been thirteen years since I began my life as a Solitary. From a Protestant perspective they have no category (except maybe “He’s off his rocker!”) in which to place me.

4) What does a hermit do all day? What’s the purpose of an eremitic vocation, and how do you live it out?

The primary focus of life in the hermitage is conscious awareness of God, the needs of His Church and His world and to pray accordingly. In other words, the vocation to which I have been called is to love. To that end, in whatever I do — preparing my meals, washing the dishes, reading the sacred Scriptures, spending time in Eucharistic Adoration or praying the Divine Office — I endeavor to be open to God in Christ and to pray for people and situations as the Holy Spirit leads. It isn’t easy, this vocation to live and love God and others through prayer in the silence of solitude. I must admit that I often fail miserably. Thankfully, our God is an awesome God full of mercy and grace. As often as I fall, He helps me to regain my footing and continue the journey.

5) Don’t you live in Maine? How did you get connected with CHNetwork?

Yes, I do live in Maine but I am originally from Ohio. I became associated with CHNetwork years ago through the Defending the Faith Conferences at the Franciscan University of Steubenville. I attended several conferences, met a number of the staff members and learned that the headquarters for CHNetwork is located close to my parents’ home. I began to drop into the CHNetwork office when I would travel to Ohio to see my family. A couple of years ago, Marcus phoned to ask me if I would be interested in partnering with the CHNetwork ministry team. I would provide ongoing intercessory prayer for the Network and its members, and spiritual companionship/direction on an as needed basis for individuals coming home to the Catholic Church. I prayed about it, asked the permission of my Bishop to do it, and here we are!

6) How do you serve our members?

I have been blessed with the extraordinary gift of having permission from the Bishop to reserve the Blessed Sacrament in the hermitage chapel. I make a Holy Hour daily to pray for the intentions of the people affiliated with CHNetwork — be they staff members, individuals who have come home to the Catholic Church, or people still on the journey home. I also provide spiritual direction, encouragement and support via email and phone conversations when asked to do so by the Network.

7) What gives you the greatest sense of satisfaction in working with clergy on the journey or who are new to the Church?

My greatest sense of satisfaction comes from helping individuals deepen their relationship with Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior in the context of full sacramental communion with Him in His Church.

8) You spend a ton of time praying for other people — how can we pray for you?

Thank you for offering to pray for me. Pray that I will be given the grace to live faithfully the vows I have made because of my desire to love God, His Church, and His world: evangelical poverty; life-giving celibate chastity; and whole-hearted obedience to Christ and His Church.


Fundraising Campaign Underway

Friends of Little Portion Hermitage have just begun a fundraising campaign. The initial goal of this fundraising effort is $50,000. 

We hope to receive enough donations over the course of time to purchase property somewhere in the Diocese of Portland, Maine where we will establish and maintain a small hermitage for use by our friend Br. Rex Anthony Norris to live out his vocation as a consecrated hermit.  It is also our hope to build a second small hermitage on the same property to be used as a retreat for anyone in need of a brief respite from the demands of ministry in the silence of solitude, most especially a priest or an individual in consecrated life.

You will note elsewhere on this site a PayPal link. Please prayerfully consider joining us in supporting consecrated contemplative life in the Church as it is expressed by the vocation of the hermit, a vocation lived for the glory of God, the good of the Church and the salvation of souls.

Thank you and may God bless you.

Kevin Lowry

President, Board of Directors

Friends of Little Portion Hermitage