Friday, November 28, 2014

THE EMBRACE OF THE PRESENT MOMENT



"Behold the handmaid of the Lord.  Be it
done to me, according to his word."
Luke 1:38


I used to know a woman who constantly fretted about God's will for her life.  She kept saying that she wanted to know what He wanted her to do, while at the same time entertaining dreams of gargantuan missions for which she did not have the requisite skills or the physical, mental or spiritual stamina.  He kept giving her the little mission that was suitable for her, but she refused to take it because it did not conform to her dream of greatness.  Many of us fail to hear God when He is speaking to us because we want to hear something else.  We are so busy telling Him what to say to us that we can't hear Him speak.

In the last year, my son has died, my service dog died, my television died, the computer died, and I learned that the cat I had raised from a kitten for more than 10 years will likely die soon because he has stage 3 renal disease.  All of my nominally Christian but non-practicing Christian friends have blown away for one reason or another.  At the same time, I have been asking the Lord to show me his will for me, but He was already doing that.

During the time the computer was on the fritz, I had lots of time to pray, and I finally got around to listening to God AND to telling him that I officially abandon myself to his will.  I said it and really meant it.  Shortly after that, my eyes were opened and I saw that, for some reason, He is clearing the decks...or allowing them to be cleared.  In any case, my life was being simplified.  Instead of fighting it, I have decided I need to embrace it.

In the moment that I resolved to embrace it, I became calm...and joyful.  No longer wasting my energy on fighting what IS, I am fully available to participate in the work God is doing in me.  I am simplifying.

Even the "good" things can be too much.  There are a plethora of excellent Catholic newsletters from a host of inspiring sources, but how many can I actually read?  How many HAVE I read since signing up for them?  Very few, really, because my need for knowledge has its own flow, pace and direction.  I know where to find information and inspiration when I need it.  I went through my email box and unsubscribed from every newsletter today.  It took surprisingly little time, considering how many unread missives were in my inbox.

Kitchen gadgets; dusty old spices that have lost their flavor; clothes I no longer wear and will never wear again; multiple vases for flowers I can't afford to buy; filing that is so old it no longer needs to be filed, A bar-b-que set that has never been taken from the box, much less assembled; an old fabric cat-carrier; costume jewelry and boxes of other extraneous possessions are finding their way to St. Vincent de Paul for their thrift store.

Last week I sold all my silver jewelry except the necklaces of religious medals I wear.  The proceeds funded the cat's expensive new cat food and medicine.  The jewelry box is almost empty, and I couldn't be happier.

I am eyeing every possession with the calculating attitude of a corporate raider who takes over a corporation and then slashes all the excess personnel.

The less stuff I have to care for, the more serene I feel.  My monastic vocation, although it cannot be realized in someone else's establishment, due to my health and other factors, has been rekindled nonetheless, and I am feeling a lightness of spirit that lends itself to more prayer and contemplation.

When I am finished simplifying, perhaps the Lord will reveal a little more of his plan...or maybe he won't!  Maybe I will just keep bumbling along, following his clues as best I can.  That's alright with me because I am not in charge, and I am glad about that.  I will just keep saying "yes" to Him, as did Mary, and maybe some day it will all make sense.

Silver Rose Parnell
Copyright (c) 2014
All rights reserved.

Monday, November 3, 2014

EVERYTHING DIES



This has been a rough year.  My son died.  My dog died.  My television died.  My computer died.  I just learned that my cat is dying of renal failure and I have to buy him super expensive cat food to keep him alive.  My eyeglasses broke.

This morning I attended a wonderful mass for the souls of about 40 people whose families could not afford to properly inter the cremains of their loved ones.  My son was among those whose cremains were interred.  The archbishop said the mass and he is the one responsible for arranging this free method of properly disposing of the sacred bodily remains in an appropriate way.  Human beings are made in the likeness and image of God, and therefore their remains are to be accorded the love and respect properly due them.

I do not know if I will be having any services for the television of the computer.  As for the dog, I am howling at the moon at night.

I won't be posting much until I get my computer fixed, but know that you are in my thoughts and prayers.

God love you.

Silver Rose Parnell

Sunday, October 26, 2014

THE BLESSING OF ILLNESS

Saint Therese of Lisieux, 
in her sick bed


No one enjoys being sick, including me, but I find that a protracted illness gives me more-than-usual downtime in which to examine my life, count my blessings, and make some resolutions about possible changes to my lifestyle.

Currently, I have this wretched virus which, thanks to my asthma, is clinging to me like a baby monkey on its mum's back.  Illness, when it is particularly bad, makes me contemplate my impending death.  By "impending," I mean that we are all going to die in the relatively near future.  When it is relatively mild, such as the current malaise, I tend to review my eating and exercise habits with a view toward improving them and boosting my immune system.

First, however, I experience an overwhelming sense of gratitude.  Thanks be to be God, I live in a relatively secure apartment, and if I am rendered weak as  baby for a few days, no one is going to invade the place, dispose of me and then take up residence, as may happen in some primitive cultures.  I have clean, pure water that comes out of the taps and I don't have to trudge down to the local river and carry it home on my head, as is still done in many places.

Toilet tissue, facial tissues, saline water in a bottle, a thermometer, blood pressure cuff, a refrigerator/freezer containing a supply of foodstuffs, vitamins, over-the-counter and prescription medications, a comfortable, clean bed, and a host of other benefits of civilization are at hand.

When it is all over, I have a washer/dryer, a mop, some disinfectant, and other cleaning items I can use to chase the germs out of the house so that I don't reinfect myself or, God forbid, get someone else sick because they touched a germy doorknob.

Getting sick is a good opportunity to take a step back and acknowledge the overall situation, in a global context.  If I lived in a village in Africa, I could easily be dead by now.  This is a tremendous reason to be grateful to God that he chose to have me born here in the United States with all its lifestyle benefits.  Granted, we have some problems now, but the overall situation is pretty good, in comparison to other countries.

After running through my list of things for which I am grateful, the next thing I feel is a tremendous compassion for those people in the world who struggle with survival in ways that I probably never will.  Then I pray for them.

God bless you all.

Silver Rose Parnell

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

INTERPRETIVE DANCE OF THE MIND

Saint Joseph of Cupertino, rising during prayer


Recently, a good friend has betrayed me, lied, and gossiped about me.  An acquaintance I had been helping became so abusive, my PTSD couldn't handle it, and I had to back away from her.  A neighbor screamed at me and called me vulgar names when I asked him to move his car from in front of my garage so I could go shopping.  I am still grieving from the loss of my dog, and now I have a fine virus which has inflamed my throat to the point that I can barely speak.  It all seems a bit much, and, oddly, most of it has happened after I finally was able to get my son's ashes interred in a holy space.  I had been very happy about that when I was deluged with evil.  How do I come to grips with this melange?

When I am overwhelmed with life's traumas, especially when they come in multiples, I have to carefully dissect my self-talk and discard what the PTSD would say in favor of what my Catholic faith says.

The PTSD would say, "I'm at war!  The world is out to get me!  I am not safe! Everything is dangerous!  I shouldn't leave the house or someone will get me!"

Fortunately, although the PTSD has a very loud and strident voice, urging me to flee or to fight,  I have a Catholic perspective that has been gradually taking over.

What I tell myself are varying versions of the following ideas, depending on the circumstance:


  1. God allows evil to exist in the world because we have free will.  Some people choose evil and abuse others with it.  I just happened to get in the way.  Pray for my persecutors.  They need it.
  2. Satan hates Christians and sends his demons out to torment them, as any good saint will say.
  3. In the case of the interment of my son's ashes in a holy place, Satan is infuriated because my son had given voice to the idea that he did not believe in God, and Satan was sure that he would have him in hell.  With the bodily remains in a holy space and with me praying for him in reparation for his sins, Satan may not get his wish.
  4. For some of us, life is very difficult, but it is also temporary.  Heaven, however, is permanent and eternal, and I look forward to it.
  5. In one sense, I AM at war, but it is a holy war that has been going on for a very long time.  It is the war between good and evil and, although it is distressing in a temporal sense, I have to remember the big picture.  Jesus did not promise us sunshine and daisies.  He told us we would suffer for his name.
  6. I am not alone.  Many saints suffered from depression, PTSD, and all manner of illnesses, physical and mental.
  7. Traumas are a good incentive to pray, and are therefore a blessing.
Some of the saints literally rose above the traumas of the world during prayer.  Saint Joseph of Cupertino is well known for this.  Lesser known is one of my favorites, Blessed Margaret of Castello, whose personal condition and tragedies are far worse than I could ever imagine mine to be, yet she still dedicated herself to God by worshiping Him through the care of the poor and the sick.

By allowing this levitation during prayer to occur in view of others, I believe God was giving us stark visual instruction.  Prayer elevates the mind above the world.

Don't get me wrong.  I still avail myself of modern medicine and therapies to keep the PTSD in its cage, but good self-talk with a Christian slant is a crucial piece of my treatment, and I wanted to share it with you because, whether or not you have PTSD or you're just having a crappy week, it might be helpful.

God bless you all.

Silver Rose Parnell

Saturday, October 18, 2014

SATAN ATTACKS THE HOLY

Saint Marina, whacking one of 
Satan's demons


I LOVE the icon that I have featured on this blog post.  It is an excellent inspiration to remember to defend myself against the demons that Satan sends out to torment the holy.  Every Christian who struggles to reach perfection in spiritual life is, to one degree or another, a holy person.  Every moment in which our minds are immersed in the Divine, is a moment of holiness, and the more holy moments we can string together, the more it infuriates Satan.

1Peter 4:12-16
(New International Version)

"Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has
come on you to test you, as though something strange were 
happening to you.  But rejoice inasmuch as you participate 
in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed 
when his glory is revealed.  If you are insulted because of 
the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory 
and of God rests on you.  If you suffer, it should not be as 
a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even 
as a meddler.  However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not 
be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name."


Satan will tempt a deranged neighbor to harass us.  He will lead an acquaintance to lure us into unholy pursuits.  He will send demons to visit our dreams and tear down our confidence in the Lord.  He will do anything to weaken our devotion.

Satan does not have to prompt people who are devoted to sinful habits because they are already his minions on earth.  If a person devoted to sin learns that we are Christian, they will persecute us because our quest for holiness insults them.  They are taking a road that leads in the opposite direction, and they wish to justify their journey by taking as many people along with them as they can.

When we examine the lives of the saints, it becomes obvious that there is no earthly reward for being holy.  In fact, just the opposite is true.  Most saints had terrible sufferings.  Asking God to make us saints carries with it a great deal of suffering.  He is all too familiar with suffering, if you will remember, and we have to learn to link our sufferings with His.

Yes, we are all sinners.  I am not saying that all Christians are holy, but I am saying that we aspire to holiness.  We have our eyes on the Lord and we are straining toward him.  Our mind is inclined toward His point of view, His values, and His teachings.  Every step toward the Lord is a slap in the face to Satan.

The last few weeks have been a suffering to me.  Nearly everything has gone wrong, with one notable exception, and I am slogging through persecutions.  Persecutions and sufferings are a distraction from my primary mission, which is to pray for the world and to spend time with the Lord in contemplation. Sometimes it is a struggle to tear myself away from thoughts of the persecutions to thoughts of our wonderful Lord.  I have to force myself to let go of the distractions and tune into the presence of God.  Having PTSD makes it that much harder.

Reminding myself that Satan attacks the holy is somehow very calming, however.  Things are going wrong, therefore everything is right in my life!  It is an odd contradiction, but I know it is true.  If everything was comfortable, all my needs were easily met, and no one was screaming and yelling at me, gossiping about me and working against me, I would suspect that something was wrong with my spiritual life.

I just thought I would put this note of encouragement "out there" for all my contemplative friends whose lives sometimes look more like a demented circus than a spiritual wonderland.  You're doing alright.

God bless you all.

Silver Rose Parnell

Friday, October 17, 2014

CONTEMPLATIVES AT HOME

Carmelite nun, praying in her cell




A quick note for my fellow contemplatives.  I have recently started a Facebook group called CONTEMPLATIVES AT HOME.  If you are on Facebook and you would be interested in reading helpful articles about the contemplative life and related topics, please "friend" me and I will include you in the group.  (Send me a private message.)

I occasionally deal with HERMITS, as a related topic.

Your input is welcome there.

Just type in, SILVER ROSE PARNELL and you will find me.  I look forward to seeing you there.

In the meantime, God bless!

Silver Rose Parnell

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

URGENT NEED



Standard poodle service dog from
Heritage Service Dogs



Thousands of people in America have post traumatic stress disorder, and most of them have not seen military service.  They have experienced a different type of life-altering, traumatic event.  Most of the sufferers are women who have endured kidnapping, imprisonment, beatings, rape, torture, threats, verbal and emotional abuse, and stalking.  Service dogs have proven to make normal life possible for sufferers of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

In addition to PTSD, I suffer from chronic physical issues that affect my mobility and my balance, both of which are helped by having a service dog to improve stability, especially when walking in public, on uneven sidewalks and pavement, and over rough ground.  The service dog will act as a complement to my cane and/or walker, walking on the other side of the cane and alerting to rough ground ahead.

I also have allergy-induced asthma, which is growing worse as time goes on, therefore, I need a dog that has hair that grows rather than fur that sheds.  The most hypoallergenic dog that also has the brains, temperament and size necessary for the job is the standard poodle.

With regard to the PTSD issues (and real life protection) a service dog can be trained to enter the home prior to the owner and check every room of the apartment to make sure there is no one lurking there.  There have been 6 attempted break ins of my apartment, so there is an actual threat, rather than an imaginary one.  Police officers who have responded to reports of attempted break-ins have advised me that the best deterrent is a watch dog.  They can also be trained to provide me extra space if my claustrophobia kicks in during shopping or other errands by circling me.

In addition, the service dog can sense when my body chemistry becomes unbalanced from the PTSD or my chronic low blood sugar.  The dog can easily sense/smell the chemical changes and alert me to take my medicine.  Dogs are a natural calming element, as well.   At night, I will be able to sleep in peace, knowing that the dog will alert me to the presence of any prowler outside the apartment.

My doctor has written me a prescription for a service dog.  Unfortunately, there are no agencies that supply these dogs without a fee.  I have researched this matter thoroughly and reached out to everyone I know who may have been able to help me get the right dog, to no avail.  I scoured the local shelters and found that this type of dog is just not available in the shelters in Albuquerque.  Plenty of pit bulls and chihuahuas and all kinds of little mutts, but no standard poodles.  I have inquired of breeders whether or not they will adopt out dogs that have exceeded the breeding age.  Basically, I have begged for a free dog everywhere, and that is just not happening.

After extensive research, I have found the least expensive option, which is a company that breeds and raises the poodles, places them with the patient, and then coaches them through the training steps.  The name of the company is Heritage Service Dogs.

Their fee is $3600.  It will cost about $400 to ship the puppy, and we anticipate needing another $500 in expenses, such as veterinary bills, a crate, a bed, harnesses for various sizes of a growing puppy, etc.  (The typical cost for a standard poodle puppy is $2,000.  The local agency that trains dogs charges $6,000.  That is DOUBLE what it would cost using Heritage Service dogs, so we feel we have made a good decision about the provider.)

PLEASE HELP me obtain the necessary service animal.  There is no government assistance for this.  There are no organizations that give away service dogs.  My income is very low, and I am unable to create more income (though I have tried!)

Please click the link to go to my fundraising site.


SILVER'S FUNDRAISING SITE FOR A SERVICE DOG

If you are not able to help, then please spread the word and pray for me.



God bless you,

Silver Rose Parnell