Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Laureen McMahon

9/21/2006 (8 years ago)

Canadian Catholic News (www.cathnews.net/)

VANCOUVER, Canada (CCN/The B.C. Catholic) – Most people at one time or another fantasize about saying goodbye to family and friends and leaving behind the demands of daily life to focus on connecting to the spiritual.

WEBMASTER TO SEEK ‘DESERT’ – Paul Marquis, webmaster of the Archdiocese of Vancouver, will trade in computer servers in October for the solitude of a hermit’s 'desert' experience in a simple shelter on a remote, forested piece of land. 'I want to put an end to all desires, attachments and self, and dwell directly in the unfiltered presence of the Lord,” he said. (CCN/The B.C. Catholic)

WEBMASTER TO SEEK ‘DESERT’ – Paul Marquis, webmaster of the Archdiocese of Vancouver, will trade in computer servers in October for the solitude of a hermit’s "desert" experience in a simple shelter on a remote, forested piece of land. "I want to put an end to all desires, attachments and self, and dwell directly in the unfiltered presence of the Lord,” he said. (CCN/The B.C. Catholic)

Highlights

By Laureen McMahon

Canadian Catholic News (www.cathnews.net/)

9/21/2006 (8 years ago)

Published in Living Faith


While few accomplish such a journey, in October, Paul Marquis, webmaster for the Vancouver Archdiocese, will say goodbye to all personal and technological connections to embrace the ascetic solitude of an "eremite," a hermit who seeks God. After months of considering various locations, he said he expects this "desert" experience will be in a simple shelter on a remote, forested piece of land, maybe on an island somewhere off the west coast of Canada. Accompanied by the most basic necessities, a Bible and other spiritual reading, Marquis will be completely dependent on God and His goodness. Already the 38-year old single Catholic has given away most of his belongings and, when he leaves, will own virtually nothing. From webmaster to hermit? Renunciation, detachment, however it's described, the St. Thomas More College class of 1986 valedictorian has encountered many a blank stare as people try to wrap their mind around the idea of forsaking the Internet, cellphones, reality television and fast food. Constant prayer and the practice of self denial, he said, are concepts alien to a culture which espouses the maxim, "He who dies with the most toys wins." He believes having silence as your goal is almost impossible in a world "bombarded with noise, hyper-connectivity, convenience, and consumerism." The self-taught, award-winning Web designer, who launched the archdiocesan site in 1998 and oversaw delivery of what may have been the first electronic edition of any Catholic newspaper in North America, said the desire to relinquish a life of relative ease, although "a long time coming," grew stronger during contemplation and spiritual reading on the ferry back and forth to his home in Gibsons, B.C., last year. With every beautiful beach sunset, the desire increased until he came to believe that only complete surrender of his whole being to God's will at every moment could bring a deeper union with the divine. "I began to see the immense value of letting go of everything, every convenience and every comfort, in order to make room for God,” he said. "There is this terrible stranglehold of a cerebral relationship to Christ in our practice of the faith that, though instructive and useful, is ultimately hollow and dead, as I see it," he explained. While he doesn't have a call to monastic life or a vocation to the priesthood, Marquis is drawn to the examples of St. Antony and the Desert Fathers and Mothers, early third and fourth Century Christians who fled persecution and the excesses of the Roman Empire to surrender completely to God. "I want to put an end to all desires, attachments and self, and dwell directly in the unfiltered presence of the Lord. It is about be-ing rather than do-ing: being in prayer rather than just praying," he said. Marquis, who walked all the way from Vancouver to World Youth Day in Denver, Colo., in 1993 and bicycled almost all the way to the Toronto World Youth Day four years ago, has trained in various forms of holistic healing and strongly believes in meditation and connecting to nature as two ways of listening to the Lord. Each experience of solitude, he said, has been filled with grace and blessed with an amazingly expanded prayer life and deeper union with God. "The closer I come to silence, the more I recognize how very far our society has strayed from him,” he said. “What I am choosing to do sounds crazy and extreme to almost everyone despite the fact that only in this and the last century would it be considered abnormal." The first hermit documentation seems to appear in writings called the Aranyakas (meditations for Hindu forest hermits) about 700 B.C. Many cultures and faiths apart from Christianity have well-established legends of people seeking to "come away." In the Christian tradition, John the Baptist was a desert hermit, and Jesus began his ministry only after a period in solitude in the Judean desert, where he aligned himself with his father's purpose and cast off the false promises of the devil. Later, some of those who spent time in the North African desert went on to become important figures in the church and society of the fourth and fifth century, such as Athanasius of Alexandria, John Chrysostom, John Cassian and Augustine of Hippo. The last two emphasized ascent to God through periods of purgation and illumination that led to unity with the divine and ultimately affected the spirituality of the Western church. Probably the most well known modern Catholic hermit is Father Thomas Merton, the contemplative Trappist monk, poet, painter and photographer who has deeply influenced both Christians and non-Christians. One source of inspiration for Marquis came from The Way of the Mystics, a book by John Michael Talbot, a singer and songwriter who founded the Brothers and Sisters of Charity, a community in Arkansas for celibates, singles and families. Part of his experience, Marquis believes, is placing no restrictions on how his journey will unfold, including no time limits. "I'm leaving it up to God. It may be a year; it may be the rest of my life. I believe he will light my path, and my part will be to follow it. After so many years in the world of computers, I look forward to the freedom I know I'll find in God's presence."

---

Republished by Catholic Online with permission of the Canadian Catholic News Service.

- - -

Among CCN governing members is the Western Catholic Reporter (http://www.wrc.ab.ca), serving Catholics in Alberta and published by the Archdiocese of Edmonton.



Comments


More Living Faith

Two bishops dine and dialogue with peace activists

Image of War doesn't decide who is right, just who is left.

By Tony Magliano

During the recent U.S. Catholic bishops fall assembly in Baltimore, two bishops decided to forego the military chaplains dinner sponsored by the U.S. Army Chief of Chaplains Office, and attended instead a simple supper and discussion on peacemaking. On the evening of ... continue reading


How do you raise a good, upstanding child? With daily prayers, weekly church attendance and the knowledge of God Watch

Image of Billy Graham, now 96, has reached out to millions with his joyous words of the truth of God and Jesus Christ.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Reverend Billy Graham, the world famous television evangelist and founder and chairman of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, has said that the reason the world seems to be in such dire straits is that children are not being raised right. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


Learning Lessons for Life from Zaccheus and that Sycamore Tree Watch

Image of Zaccheus climbed that tree in order to see the Lord, not to be seen by Jesus. He did not care what the crowd thought of a grown man climbing a tree! He went after the encounter with Jesus Christ with a childlike simplicity and a reckless abandon. Do we?

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

The Sycamore tree created a clear line of vision for Zaccheus. It helped him to rise above the crowd and see the Lord clearly. It placed him in the right position for the invitation that would follow. Jesus told him to come down for he was coming to his house! ... continue reading


Jesus Weeps and Calls us to Recognize His Visitation Watch

Image of The Cross, an instrument of torture, will become the sign of peace, for those who find their refuge under its shadow and embrace the One who stretches out His arms to embrace the whole world. There Jesus will deal definitively with the great enemy of peace, the sin which impedes it in each of our lives. With tenderness He looks out from the Mount of Olives and sees the Holy City of Jerusalem. How he loves that City. Then, Jesus weeps. He knows the City will soon be overtaken and destroyed by the armies of Titus. He weeps the tears of Love and cries compassion from His Sacred Heart

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

Jesus shows His disciples - and He shows us us, because we are His disciples in this hour - the pattern of living in a continual communion with the Father. He invites them - and He invites us - into this very communion of love which He has with the Father, in the ... continue reading


Children deserve both father and mother, Pope Francis says Watch

Image of Children have the right to be raised by a mother and a father, Pope Francis said, emphasizing that

By CNA/EWTN News

Children have the right to be raised by a mother and a father, Pope Francis said, emphasizing that "the family is the foundation of co-existence and a remedy against social fragmentation." Vatican City (CNA/EWTN News) - The Pope made these remarks on Nov. 17 at ... continue reading


Here are 10 Very Interesting Facts About the Catholic Church You Probably Didn't Know! Watch

Image of Pope Francis commands the world's smallest professional army.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

How much do you know about the Catholic Church? Here are 10 fun facts you might not know. See how many you know and post your result in the comments! 1.    Vatican City has the highest crime rate in the world! With a population around 500 people and a ... continue reading


Study: Latin Americans abandoning Catholic Church for evangelical, Protestant churches Watch

Image of Protestants now make up 19 percent of the Latin American population, while another eight percent now profess no religious affiliation, a figure reaching 37 percent in Uruguay.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Catholic Church is losing members in Latin America at an increasing rate. According to the Pew research Center, many Latin Americans are leaving the church for Pentecostal, Protestant churches. There is even a growing number of Latin Americans who now ... continue reading


Living Faith: Learning How to See from a Blind Man Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

The people to whom we are introduced in the Gospel accounts have been selected from among many others who encountered Jesus - for a real purpose. They can put us in touch with the Lord, with ourselves, and with the meaning of our own lives.Through prayerful ... continue reading


Itinerary for Pope Francis' Sri Lanka, Philippines trip announced Watch

Image of While in Sri Lanka the Pope will also pay a courtesy visit to the country's president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, hold a meeting with leaders of different religions, and will canonize Sri Lankan Blessed Giuseppe Vaz.

By CNA/EWTN News

Today the Vatican published the official itinerary for Pope Francis' upcoming visit to Sri Lanka and the Philippines, during which he is slated to spend roughly two days each in Colombo, Manila and Tacloban. Vatican City (CNA/EWTN News) - Officially announced by ... continue reading


Click here to see your Inspirational Catholic Message of the Day!

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Here is your inspirational message of the day! We must remember that we need God in our lives to feel whole, complete, and confident in everything we do. If you don't feel that way right now, try inviting God in to be a part of what you're trying to do![media ... continue reading


All Living Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Revelation 5:1-10
1 I saw that in the right hand of the One sitting on ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 149:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 9
1 Alleluia! Sing a new song to Yahweh: his praise in ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 9:41-44
41 In reply Jesus said, 'Faithless and perverse ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for November 20th, 2014 Image

St. Edmund Rich
November 20: Archbishop of Canterbury England, who battled for discipline and ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter