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


Kevin Lowry, William Newton, and I have started a non-profit organization to raise money to buy and/or build a hermitage to house my good friend, colleague, and mentor, Brother Rex Anthony Norris, and others who may succeed him in this vocation. Our organization is entitled “Friends of the Little Portion Hermitage”. Please take a moment to read the following blog post from our president, Kevin Lowry:

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!

(Article reproduced with author’s permission. Originally published at http://gratefulconvert.com/hangin-with-a-hermit/)


For more information on Br. Rex, please see:



Storck Brings Great Insight on NFP


Catholic author Thomas Storck has an excellent article on Natural Family Planning (NFP) over at Crisis Magazine entitled “The Curious Controversy Over Natural Family Planning” . In the article, Storck makes a very strong case for the legitimacy of NFP and shows the problems with much of the suspicion and unnecessary criticism that comes from fellow Catholics.

Is NFP the New “Confessional Argument”?

Near the end of the article, Storck mentioned one of the usual suspicions about NFP:

No doubt someone will point out to me that NFP can be misused.  Truly so, just as any other legitimate human activity can.  But how often is it in fact misused?  NFP users tend to have larger families than the American Catholic norm, even if they do not have families of the size that the critics of NFP think they should have.

I was thinking about the NFP controversy this morning and recalling analogous arguments I have had with Protestants and atheists on the potential abuse of the confessional via the “sin of presumption”. In brief, the accusation is that may Catholics justify any sin, because they are just be able to go to confession afterwards.

What such individuals cannot see, from the outside, is that it is very, very difficult to maintain both the sin of presumption and the practice of baring your soul to a priest (and saying the act of contrition). If you are really set on continuing to sin, you will much more likely end up quitting Confession altogether.

I have found NFP to be similar in my experience (and in the experiences of other couples with whom my wife and I are close). Yes, one could imagine NFP being used with the “contraceptive mindset,” at least by some at the start of their marriage. But it is/would be very difficult to keep up both the contraceptive mindset and the communication, sensitivity, and self-discipline that are necessary for the practice of NFP.

In both cases — Confession and NFP — there is the potential for abuse, but there is also the very real presence of grace always threatening to break through, always challenging us to make a choice between any internal contradictions we might be trying to maintain.

Having seen and experienced this reality, I now fail to get too worried any more about the “contraceptive mindset” in the relationships of NFP couples. The practice is largely self-corrective via the action of God’s grace working through our feeble efforts. I suspect that those who worry about NFP would be surprised how big a breach in our defense against grace this one act of obedience can constitute.

Again, I welcome you to venture over to Crisis Magazine and read Mr. Storck’s article.


Huffington Post repeats and compounds their errors in reporting. The Pope said atheists/Catholics/everyone-ever “ARE redeemed” (not “will be redeemed,” which people then read as “will be saved”). There was no “break with tradition.” If Christ did indeed go to the Cross and rise after three days, he did so for everyone. All have sinned and need a savior. The invitation to know God, repent, and do good is extended to everyone. It is up to each to investigate that claim, come to know God if he is there, and if so, choose to follow to the best of their ability and knowledge.Hypocritical Christians and moral atheists are both still in danger but for very different reasons. The danger is more acute to the degree that they know and reject God.

Let not the shoddy reporting take away from the thrust of the original statement:

“[A]ll of us have this commandment at heart: do good and do not do evil. All of us. ‘But, Father, this is not Catholic! He cannot do good.’ Yes, he can…The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone!…We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.”

I’ll reiterate as I said before: To my atheist/Non-Catholic/Non-Christian friends, I affirm and thank you for your good works. Keep at it. Let us meet each other there and talk fraternally of truth. I apologize for my hypocrisy and for that of my fellows.

Checkout Brandon Vogt’s analysis over at Strange Notions: Did Pope Francis Really Say All Atheists are Redeemed?

Don Smith – Direct Evangelization at Gateway Moments


A big part of the New Evangelization is the restatement of what we might be tempted to think is obvious to people we might be tempted to assume already know. We MUST be talking to other Catholics  in our parishes, schools, and especially those in our own families, and making sure that they understand 1) God loves them and desires to be in a relationship with them and b) that is what all of these sacraments, prayers, devotions, statues, rules, and doctrines are about.

Catholic convert Don Smith gives fantastic advice for identifying, seizing, and making best use of important evangelistic moments.

Don Smith – Direct Evangelization at Gateway Moments from Archdiocese of Boston on Vimeo.

Marcus Grodi – Catholic Speaker Month 2012


September is 2012’s Catholic Speaker Month which you can read all about over at Brandon Vogt’s blog. The list of Catholic speakers has been narrowed down to the top 100 and my dear father, Marcus Grodi, has made the cut.

I have volunteered to supply his speaker profile for the month so read on and be sure to support and appreciate ALL the great leaders and communicators who spread the good news of our faith.


Marcus GrodiMarcus Grodi was raised Lutheran, had a Christian re-awakening in college (after, among many things, studying the biology of the human eye) and went on to seminary to become a Presbyterian minister. As time went on, seeing the myriad of conflicting opinions and scriptural interpretations in the Protestant world, he began to have doubts about his authority to preach the gospel. He began to pray and study. Through a chance encounter with his former-seminary-friend-turned-Catholic Scott Hahn, reading the Early Church Fathers, discovering scriptures he had never seen before, getting pooped on by a sparrow in response to requesting guidance from heaven, and after much candid prayer and discernment he eventually left his pastorship and entered the Catholic Church. (Click here for a longer version of Marcus Grodi’s conversion story)

Marcus is best known for hosting EWTN’s weekly television program The Journey Home  for 15 years running, during which he has interviewed converts to the Catholic Church from all denominations and walks of life. In addition, his radio program Deep in Scripture explores many of the scriptures Marcus and other converts just never “saw” before their conversion.

Marcus is the founder and president of the Coming Home Network International, a Catholic non-profit organization that offers fellowship, education, and advocacy to men and women on the journey to the Catholic Church. The Coming Home Network International especially focuses on standing beside clergy converts and those on the journey,  like Marcus himself and Dr. Scott Hahn, individuals who risk career, friends, and family to seek the fullness of Truth in the Catholic Church.

Marcus edited a book of conversion stories entitled Journeys Home as well as a recent collection of his conversion-related articles in the book Thoughts for the Journey Home. In order that his father, an avid reader of fiction, could better understand his conversion to the Catholic Church, Marcus penned two fictional works – How Firm a Foundation and the recently released sequel Pillar and Bulwark. These novels chronicle the struggles of a protestant minister, his family, and those around him as he wrestles with issues of his authority to preach, the interpretation of scripture, and his growing sympathies for the ancient Catholic faith.

His most recent work is a smaller book entitled What Must I Do to be Saved? in which he addresses the “Jesus and me” individualism of modern Christianity. The book powerfully walks the reader through the continuity between Old Testament Judaism and New Testament Christianity showing that being part of the family – the “body”, the Church! – has always been a integral part of one’s cooperation with God’s salvific plan.

To put on the “son” hat again for a moment, my life and the lives of my mother and brothers have been blessed immensely both by Marcus’ courage and humility in bringing us home to the Catholic Church but also in all of the wonderful work he has done for the Church since. A hallmark of Marcus’ speaking, hosting, and writing is that he communicates from a pastor’s heart that dearly and clearly loves Our Lord Jesus Christ. That same pastor’s heart and love for Christ has made him a wonderful and inspiring father.

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