Saturday, April 11, 2015

HIGH CLASS PROBLEMS

One of my darling friends who is always helping me surprised me with a phone with which to start my new phone service.  Aside from having to adjust to yet another bill, the phone itself is a Rubic's Cube of the technology world.  Last night, it sent me text messages like, "someone else has taken over your account.  Go to www....."  Of course, I was horrified and went right over to the website and could not see what is the matter.  I am still the owner of record, and the address and phone are correct.  I am mystified.  Why did I get that message?  Is there something nefarious going on behind the scenes that I can't see?  I woke up fretting over this.


My new "Zinger" telephone



Reading the book is no help.  It tells me, "if you want to do this then do that.  I don't even know what this is, much less whether or not I want to do that.  If I don't do that, I wonder if I am being somehow remiss.  Am I supposed to do that?  Should I do it?  I am underlining the "this" and the "that" because I don't even understand it well enough to give it a name.

Sometimes the phone prompts me and says that there are Wi-Fi networks available.  Oh, goodie.  And?  Am I supposed to do something at this point, or is the phone pointing out something that doesn't pertain to me because I don't have internet on my phone?  Is it the phone's version of that kid's game where you count every yellow car between here and Denver?  "Oh, look...there's another yellow car."  Nothing to be done about it.  It's just another yellow car.


VW van


There are all sorts of teeny tiny little icons on the top of the phone.  I haven't the foggiest what they mean. I haven't gotten to that part of the book yet, but I strongly suspect they have something to do with the internet again.  Who knows?


His Majesty, Shivaasna
aka "Mr. Fuzzy Pants"


First thing this morning I had to go to the store to buy my cat some of the food he is NOT supposed to eat because he is dying of kidney disease but which is the only type of food he WILL eat.  I mix it with the prescription food that costs nearly $2 a can and hope for the best.  The last 2 days, he has refused to eat because I only gave him the prescription food and he was not having it.  At any rate, I pop the frustrating phone into my purse with a snort of disgust and head out the door.

On the way out of the Walgreens near my house, a man walks into the alley where they have placed the designated handicap parking (Yes, put the fragile disabled people in the alley where no one can see them get mugged.  Makes perfect sense.)  He proceeds to pull out his member and urinate against the wall, right there in front of me.  I am insulted and embarrassed, of course.  One of my pet peeves is the casual way in which so many men fling their bodily fluids onto the pavements from various orifices.  It's revolting.  I couldn't get into the car fast enough.  Never have I been so grateful for automatic door locks!  It's like the urban version of the USS Enterprise.  "Shields up!"


USS Starship Enterprise


I once saw a tour bus pull up into that same alley and several men exited the bus, stepped into the trash cubicle, and urinated behind the garbage bins.  Lovely surprise for the poor maintenance men that have to tidy that area.  Can you imagine?

Not long ago, I witnessed a man blow his nose onto the pavement.  He just held one nostril and let the other one blow out its contents.  One is always seeing men spitting onto the sidewalk.  This is where everyone walks, mind you.  It's a filthy business.  Whatever happened to a nice handkerchief?  Again, I do not see women spitting onto the pavement, and I am so curious to know whether or not the male of our species have an extra gland in their mouths that women do not have, and they have to expel the contents now and then.


bird of paradise, displaying for a
female


In the animal world, behavioral differences between the male and female of the species are meant to attract one another.  I wonder if I have misunderstood something crucial all these years.  If so, I wish the male of our species would do something lovely instead of urinating and spitting in front of strange ladies.  What about dancing?  I saw a beautiful film about a particular kind of bird in the rain forest that has exquisite plumage and does this amazing dance whenever a female comes near them.  It was mesmerizing.  How about something like that?  I think I would rather enjoy watching that, especially if the plumage was pretty.




So, this morning, before I had a chance to settle into the car and flee the scene, I had to witness that man casually put his penis back into his elastic-waist shorts and then saunter back to the payday loan establishment a few doors down.  I would bet that the payday loan shop doesn't allow anyone to use their bathroom, so the man decided to do what he did.  I've never seen a woman do that.  You know what women do.  They wait.  They hold it until they get to a bathroom.  I have also wondered to myself if there is something inherently flawed with the male urinary system and they are physically unable to wait, poor dears.  Of course, I've never seen any one of them actually let loose inside a store, mind you.  "Oh no!  I think my waters just broke."  No, that doesn't happen.  They must have some kind of control.




If some men feel they absolutely cannot be made to wait, perhaps it is time we started marketing diapers to them.  Either wear a diaper, or we'll ticket you $100 for peeing on the sidewalk.  That sounds like a uniquely American situation.  We love to punish people.  That's why we have so many people in prison.

On the other hand, we could simply take care of one another in a better way by providing bathrooms in shopping centers and public places as a matter of course.  You know why we don't have those?  It costs money to build and maintain bathrooms and we don't want to spend money on other people.  Our hard-boiled individualism reflects itself in this and many other anti-social cultural constructs.


Public bathroom in Thailand


I often wonder why, with our great freedom to construct a society of any type we want, the western world, for the most part, has imagined itself into a world that is far uglier than it has to be.  I think this is why we are so addicted to entertainment.  We must escape into an imaginary dimension because we can't stand the one in which we actually live....the one we have constructed.


Gas Station in Carmel, California


Some towns, however, have too much civic pride to let their streets turn into troughs of urine.  In chi-chi tourist towns, like beautiful Carmel, California, even the gas stations and toilets have to be constructed and decorated in a specific style.  There are very strict rules and building codes about this, all of which are designed to eliminate the ugly while harmonizing with nature.  I don't think neon is allowed within the city limits.  The residents of this town have an aesthetic vision of beauty that cannot be breached, and I am willing to bet that one would be hard pressed to find an ugly alley in which to pee in that little burgh.  Even the toilets at the beach are substantial and beautiful.


Public bathrooms at a Carmel beach


Carmel proper is a smallish town, a wealthy enclave, and can afford to spend a lot of money to maintain a certain look and level of cleanliness.  As with all things, it boils down to the availability of funds.  Not all towns have the wealth of Carmel, which is where a Federal government program would come in handy.  But there is that pesky selfishness we have to contend with.  People in California don't want to pay taxes to help raise the standard of living somewhere else.  "Who cares about the wellbeing of people in New Mexico?  I've got mine, and that's all that matters."

I'm convinced that it is time for a paradigm shift to a model of society that is supportive of all its members, one that is kind, gentle, loving and generous toward one another and the earth on which we live; a culture that recognizes the need for beauty that is in harmony with nature and doesn't want to cover everything over with cement.  Just as the industrial revolution pushed Americans off the farms and into the city, it is time for another model to take over.  We only have to decide what we want and then put it into action.

The first thing I want is for everyone to have access to the basic needs of life, and what could be more basic than a sanitary and attractive loo?  That, and a telephone that doesn't require an advanced degree in computer sciences to operate.

Silver Rose Parnell
Copyright (c) 2015
All rights reserved.


Thursday, April 2, 2015

INDIANA ON MY MIND


Sometime in my mid to late 30's, I worked for an attorney in Beverly Hills who, I grew to understand, was somewhat lacking in personal ethics.  One day, he placed a document in front of me and told me to sign a verification testifying that I had mailed copies of it to the opposing attorney a few days previously.  I had never seen the document before, so I declined to sign it.  He wanted me to lie, and my personal ethics and religious sensibilities prevented me from doing it.  He insisted, quite vigorously, that he was the boss, he had ordered me to sign it and that he would take responsibility for it.  He claimed I would not be culpable, morally or legally.  He was wrong on both counts.

When he realized that I was not going to budge, he either fired me or I quit.  I can't remember which.  It was a terrible job anyway.  Our work space was tiny, all the secretaries were jammed together, and they were horrible women, probably each one was part of the "mean girl" clique in high school, and they had even gone so far as to steal my tax return out of the outgoing mail, probably to see how much money I made, or just to mess with me.  Maybe both.

When the conversation turned to my final check, the attorney refused to pay me my accrued vacation pay.  California law, at that time, provided that a person's vacation pay accrued on a daily basis and that, when you left the employ of a company, the company had to pay you the accrued vacation pay.  Previously, companies had waited until an employee was about to take a vacation and then fired them without severance and without paying for the vacation they had earned.

When I reminded this attorney of the laws in this regard, he said, "so sue me."  I replied, "Fine, I will!" and I drove directly to the Department of Labor Standard Enforcement and filled out a complaint against them.  I knew that, if the company did not give me the money it owed me within two weeks, they could be fined $10,000 or more and they could be required to pay me as if I was still employed with them, for every day I had to wait before I received the money I was owed.  I received my complete check within a week.

There were laws in place and offices to administer those laws with regard to compensation, but to my knowledge, there was no protection for my religious or ethical considerations.  If an employer ordered me to lie or do something illegal or unethical, there wasn't much recourse except to quit, get fired, or cave in.  The only "alternative"  was to hire an attorney and sue the employer to get one's job back, which would be contingent upon being able to prove one's case - and what clerical worker has that kind of money or would want to return to a job like that anyway?

I was many times ordered to lie and/or do unethical or immoral things during my working life.  I refused, and I moved on to another job.  There was little room in business for a secretary or an office manager who will not lie for their boss.





40 years ago, a young mother at age 20, I worked as an assistant in the commodities department at a famous financial management firm on one of the top floors of a large office building in the heart of downtown Los Angeles.  I was the only female on the floor, and all the men would gather in the conference room at lunch time to watch pornographic movies.  They would hoot and holler and make vulgar noises and comments about the movies, every once in a while calling out to me to come and join them.  It was an awful experience.

I hadn't been there long when I was propositioned by the boss.  He asked me to go to Las Vegas with him for the weekend.  I refused, of course.  He fired me immediately.  I didn't realize he had blacklisted me with his cronies until I went on an interview for a job with another firm in the neighborhood.  The interviewer was a friend of the boss that had propositioned me.  In front of a room full of people, the interviewer announced that he would never hire me because my previous employer had told him I was lazy and slow.  He pronounced this with an evil smile and a glance around the room to make sure that everyone heard him.  Evidently, he took an interview with me just so he could punish me and humiliate me in front of all those other people.  I had dared to say "no" to a weekend of sex with the boss.

I see now that there is this huge flap about a law recently enacted in Indiana in which a person of religious conviction cannot be forced to materially cooperate or assist in some action or service that is of a nature that is considered morally reprehensible by the religion of the person.  Mainstream media is screaming "discrimination!" because the law would protect a Christian baker from having to make cakes for gay weddings, since homosexual acts are considered very sinful.    It would protect the Jewish man from having to dry clean all the uniforms of the Nazi party or the Aryan Nation.  I believe it would also protect the black tailor from having to sew the costumes for the next KKK rally.

Certain media outlets are making hay out of this law, canvassing small businesses owned and/or run by Christians and asking them questions designed to get them to admit that they would not serve a gay wedding.  At least one business has been forced to close its doors.  They were getting death threats.

In my own life, I have observed that, the harder I work to live a good, holy and pure life, the more animosity to which I am subjected by the world at large, acquaintances, Facebook people, etc.  I can feel the pressure to conform to the secular norm of sex on demand, abortions on demand, abandonment of my faith on demand.  I am not allowed to hold any opinion that differs from the secular worldview, or else my character and motives are demeaned and I become the object of heated and hateful attacks.

I used to belong to a religion that preached that "all paths lead to God," and not a single person criticized me, but as soon as I had my conversion and became Catholic, all hell broke loose.  Even a friend of many years duration went nuts and took every opportunity to bash my faith, in person and in print, (even going so far as to spread lies about it), while at the same time insisting on attending Catholic retreats and receiving the Eucharist, though never having been Catholic and knowing full well that the Catholic Church does not allow non-Catholics to receive communion.  Illicitly receiving the Eucharist under false pretenses, in an unworthy state, while at the same time campaigning against the teachings of faith and morals of the Catholic Church is an insult to the faith.  I can only imagine the motives, as it makes no sense to me, except in the context of a childish effort to disavow "the rules" by flouting them.

I would be happy to see more laws like the one in Indiana being enacted in the United States.  More than a dozen states have it on their books at present, and I would like to see it expanded to provide protection for employees in the work place so that employers do not feel they can treat them as slaves and force them to commit acts against their conscience.  Judging from the brouhaha that has erupted since Indiana introduced this law, however, I doubt that stout protections for religious conscience will be enacted any further.  Western culture seems hellbent on jumping off the cliff of secular atheism and moral relativism.  One can always hope, and pray it will stop itself before it goes hurling over the edge, too late to save itself.  In the meantime, let's pray.

God save us all.

Silver Rose

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

DO YOU REALLY BELIEVE?



There is a lovely, very old, Catholic church near my house.  I just love it.  The interior evokes a by-gone era of reverence and awe in the presence of the Lord.  It is very small adobe structure in the Old Town of Albuquerque.  It is generally difficult to find parking, but when I am able to find a spot, I enjoy going there to pray.

The interior, though originally dating from the 17th century, has been well-maintained.  There are beautiful, well-made traditional statues and a restful color-scheme.  During "tourist hours" they play reverential classical music CDs, such as Gregorian Chant.  If there aren't too many tourists wandering through the church and talking loudly, it is a wonderful place to pray, and Jesus is there in a special way.  If the red lantern is lit, Jesus is present in the tabernacle in the form of the Holy Eucharist.





People will say that God is everywhere, and I believe that is certainly true, but Jesus arranged a special way in which we can physically touch Him and even take him into ourselves.  He told us that the bread was his body and that the wine was his blood.  He said that he who does not eat his flesh and drink his blood has no life in him.  He wasn't talking about cannibalism.

There is a lot of misunderstanding about the Eucharist, even among Catholics for whom the Eucharist is extremely important.




God loved us so much that he sent his only Son to be with us in our time-bound, physical plane.  God, who made us, understands our limitations in our ability to comprehend God's immensity, his timeless nature, his unlimited love for us.  He knew that we needed Him to come to us and speak to us in our language and to show us how to be with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and to partake of His divine nature.

At the point when the priest "confects" the Eucharist and it becomes the body, blood, soul and divinity of our Lord, the timelessness of the Lord intersects our time-bound world.  Partaking of the Eucharist is a spiritual AND a physical union with our beloved Lord.  It is a bonafide, authentic, mind-boggling miracle.





Last Saturday night, I went to mass at this wonderful little church.  Walking into the cool and dimly lit building, I noted the lamp was lit.  Jesus was there, in the tabernacle.  I came early to be with Him before the mass started.  After getting myself settled, I began to pray the rosary and felt my heart begin to soar.

A few minutes later, two ladies came into the church and sat two rows behind me.  Immediately, they began to use the basest, most vulgar swear words.  They also used the Lord's name in vain many times, saying, "Oh God" this and "Oh God" that.  I felt my face begin to burn with embarrassment for those ladies and sorrow for the insults being given to our Lord.  I waited to see if they would calm down, and their chat fest continued on, unabated.  If anything, their voices became louder.  No one else was talking.  It was jarring.

Finally, I turned around and asked, "Would you just stop it?"  The ladies were fifty-ish, well dressed and coiffed.  One of them, the most vulgar of the two in her language, told me that she would "in a minute."  She was haughty and angry in her expression.

I replied, "Swearing and using God's name in vain in church?  You ought to be ashamed."  She appeared stunned that I had said this.  Her mouth dropped slightly and her eyes widened.  She had nothing to say in reply.  You could hear a pin drop in the church.  I turned around and, after saying a prayer for the two of them, continued praying my rosary.  Not a peep did I hear from those ladies.

In retrospect, I wish I had handled it differently.  Instead of heaping shame on their heads, it would have been better if I had found a way to remind them that we were in the presence of Jesus in that moment.  Of course, God is with us and sees all our actions and knows all our thoughts at all times, but He is not always physically present to us in our time space continuum.  The presence of the Eucharist in the church IS the presence of Christ: body, blood soul AND divinity.




This is why, when we enter the church, it is time to recognize the special presence of Christ and behave accordingly.  The mass is not an entertainment vehicle.  If we are sitting in the pews, chatting away, as if we are waiting for a film to start, we are oblivious to the presence of Christ in the tabernacle.  The way we behave in Church has a direct correlation to what we actually believe.




That night, after I received the Holy Eucharist, I went back to my seat to commune with the Lord.  With my eyes closed and my hands clasped, I gave thanks for this wonderful touch of God, this incredible gift that Christ instituted.

When I opened my eyes, I happened to glance at the long line of people that were filing past my seat, on the way to receive the Eucharist.  I was surprised to be looking directly at the bottom of a young teenage girl who was wearing cutoff shorts that barely covered her backside.  If she had to bend over at any time, she would surely be showing at least half of what should not be shown.  Never mind that this clothing is inappropriate in ANY venue, except maybe the beach, but for her to be wearing it in church was unfathomable to me.  A grandmotherly type was with her, and I wondered why on earth she allowed the girl to go out in public half naked, but I know the answer to my own question.

The degree to which one is cognizant of the presence of Christ in the church is the degree to which respectful behavior and clothing are employed.

The last "hymn" of dismissal sounded like Mexican polka music.  It was very peppy and very loud.  I just sighed to myself and prayed for all concerned as I exited the building.  I hope next time I am confronted people chatting loudly in church, I can do something to elevate my fellow Christian's faith.  I don't know how I might do that, but I will be praying about it.  Please pray for me in this regard.

In the meantime, God bless us all.

Silver Rose


Saturday, March 21, 2015

THE VISIONS OF MEDJUGORJE

Two of the "visionaries" of Medjugorje


Until the Catholic Church has made its final decision as to the authenticity or lack thereof with regard to the supposed visions of Medjugorje that have been said to have occurred regularly since 1981, events promoting it have been prohibited.  In 2013, a letter was sent from Cardinal Mueller to all U.S. Bishops that stated "clerics and the faithful are not permitted to participate in meetings, conferences or celebrations during which the credibility of such "apparitions" would be taken for granted."



In response to the claim that the visionaries
receive daily messages, Pope Francis said,
"But look, our Lady is the mother of everyone!
And she loves all of us!  She is not a postmaster,
sending messages every day."


Pope Francis has also denounced the spirit of curiosity that seeks after miracles, saying:

" The Kingdom of God is among us:  do not seek 
strange things, do not seek novelties with this worldly 
curiosity.  Let us allow the Spirit to lead us forward in 
that wisdom, which is like a soft breeze.  This is the 
Spirit of the Kingdom of God, of which Jesus speaks."

Recently, a visions-on-demand event had been arranged in St. Louis, MO, with 1,000 people having paid for tickets to witness this circus.  The CDF had to intervene and require that, in obedience to the current ban on such events, the planned event had to be cancelled.

Visionary Ivan Dragicevic flouted the clear intention of the ban and held the events at a private home.

Further details can be found on the Te Deum Laudamus Blog and several other websites you can Google.

The idea that our Blessed Mother would adhere to someone's schedule and appear on demand, at the place and time required by this "visionary" Ivan Deagicevic, is ludicrous on the face of it.  When, in all the history of the church, has God, his saints or his angels appeared to man on demand?  Never.  The idea that any human being would claim to have that degree of control and authority over the Divine seems, obviously, to be the height of either lunacy, fraud, or both.

Opportunities to express devotion to our Blessed Mother and to make requests for her to pray for us to her son, Jesus, are plentiful.  Why insist on promoting this dubious cause when so many authentic avenues of piety have always been open to us?


Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes


One glaring fact stands out in my mind.  Instead of demanding that the Mother of God appear to us at a time and place of our choosing in order to satisfy our desire for a mystical connection, we have consistently been exhorted to approach the Lord, his saints and his angels with our prayers and especially our praise and gratitude.  We are to lay ourselves before the Lord and submit ourselves to His will, to cooperate with His timing and to be receptive to His Word when He chooses to say it and through whom he chooses to say it.  Obedience to his commands and his wishes are what is required.  It is through His church which He started and to which He gave authority that we can reliably receive his message to us.


Jesus gives the keys to the Kingdom to Peter


Jesus promised that his church would stand for all time and that even the gates of hell could not prevail against it.  We can take comfort and have trust in the church, as a result.  It is the voice of Jesus in matters of faith and morals.  Certainly, some individuals in the church have behaved badly in the past.  That's no secret.  We are all sinners.  But those are individuals who disobeyed Church teachings.  The teachings themselves are pure.  The Church remains infallible in matters of faith and morals.  Obeying its dictates will never hurt us.  It may inconvenience us or cause us to avoid doing things we really really want to do, but what of it?




If the Medjurogje visions are authentic, which I doubt, but if they are, will it damage you if you have not supported them or made pilgrimage or participated in one of the banned events?  No.  There is nothing in scripture, tradition or common sense that demands that you must do any of these things to be saved.  We already have all the instructions we need to become saints and go to heaven when we die.  No one can add to it because there is nothing to add.  Jesus gave us everything we need.

If the Medjugorje visions are fraud, which I believe them to be, then flouting the Church's ban on participation in events or promoting same, CAN hurt you.  So, for the sake of enlightened self-interest alone, it only makes sense to avoid this entire matter until the Church has decided if Medjugorje is a legitimate expression of supernatural events.

In the meantime, unless you have studied all the material that is available about all the saints and visions that have already been approved by the church, you can start reading everything you have missed.  That should keep you busy for more than a few years.


Fatima visionaries


While you are at it, why not go to daily mass where the real miracle occurs, and then follow Jesus' instruction to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and visit the sick?  Instead of spending thousands of dollars on a pilgrimage to Medjugorje, give it to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.  Volunteer at a homeless shelter, a nursing home or a prison so you can visit the sick or the imprisoned and bring a little spot of Jesus' light into the sad lives of those who are incarcerated in institutions of one sort or another?

Homeless Woman


Our lives are full of opportunities to experience Jesus.  You can see him in every hungry, lonely face.

God bless us all.

Silver Rose Parnell


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

CATHOLIC CATHEDRAL DRENCHES HOMELESS WITH WATER

Jesus feeding the 5,000


"I was a stranger and you did not invite me in; naked and you 
did not clothe me; sick, and in prison and you did not visit me.  
Then they themselves also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see 
you hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in 
prison, and did not take care of You?'  Then He will answer them, 
'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the 
least of these, you did not do it to me."...Matthew 25:43-44


Saint Mary's Cathedral in San Francisco, California, installed an (illegal) waterworks system specifically designed to discourage the homeless from sleeping in the sheltered alcoves outside the 4 doors of the Cathedral.  All night, it drenches the homeless where they sleep, in 30 to 60 minute intervals.  This Catholic Cathedral is the home church of the Archbishop of San Francisco.  It was installed about a year ago.

A more detailed story about this situation can be found at this link:

http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2015/03/18/homeless-saint-marys-cathedral-archdiocese-san-francisco-intentionally-drenched-water-sleeping/

The contact information for the Cathedral in question is:

The Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption
1111 Gough Street
San Francisco, CA 94109
Telephone:  415-567-2020

Now that this egregious scheme has been discovered by the media, the Archdiocese has issued a statement that the matter will be addressed immediately.  This is all very well and good, but the fact that it was ever conceived is a startling comment on the American psyche.   When a Catholic institution does something like this, it is shocking.  It highlights how far we have strayed from the commandments of Jesus.

Some excuses were made by the people involved, who made the point that those at the Cathedral tried to help the homeless by directing them elsewhere, but is that really helping?

Since becoming Catholic, I have often made the observation that Catholics will sometimes help the poor, but shrink from actually having to sit next to them in the pews.  "The poor" always seem to be "out there" somewhere, a strange and foreign mass of people who are set apart from the Christian community.

I make a point of dressing nicely for church, mostly because I believe my Lord deserves at LEAST as much respect as I would give to a job interviewer, but also it is my method of camoflage.  Once people learn that I am not middle class, as I appear, but am actually pretty poor and without family resources, it is common to be shunned.  There are glorious exceptions to this general trend.  I have several Catholic friends who treat me as an equal, help me a great deal when the month lasts longer than the money, and who are, frankly, saints.

However, my general observation is that, the more comfortable the parishioner, the less likely they are to respond to my offers of friendship.  I am not equal in their eyes.  There is something "wrong" with me because I have needs that are not met without some help.  It is a jarring experience for a formerly middle class lady who has become disabled later in life.  I know I haven't changed much, but the treatment I receive sure is different.

This problem is less pronounced in New Mexico, which is very poor, than in California where the disparity of income gap is huge.  I used to live in California, and I am familiar with the stratification of society that is primarily based on economic status.  People with resources tend to believe that they are somehow better than anyone who is beneath them in personal wealth.  Catholics with resources, for the most part, also seem to believe this.  They may donate to charity, but they don't see a problem with dousing a needy human being with water to prevent him from sleeping near their church.

Clearly, this problem is not a Catholic problem, but a firmly ingrained cultural issue.  We are a class conscious society in which money is the deciding factor as to whether or not one is deserving of respect.

Picture this:  You go to your neighbor's house to borrow a cup of sugar.  You stand by the door, with an empty measuring cup in hand, needing some help, and your neighbor opens the door and throws a bucket of water on you.  Would you call the police?  Your neighbor might be charged with assault.  Anyone knows that it is unreasonable to throw a bucket of water on a neighbor who comes to your door.  Why would anyone think it is alright to douse the homeless with water?  It isn't even logical.  The thinking is that your next-door neighbor is in the same socio-economic class as yourself, so of course you can't throw a bucket of water on them, because the rules of social conduct are different within the same class.

Our Catholic conscience has given way to cultural norms that are so ingrained that we do not realize that we are behaving in a way that runs completely counter to our supposed religious beliefs.

What is the solution?  We need to dig deeper into the faith that we profess, become more committed to the radical love of Christ, and start following his commandments, otherwise, we can't claim to love him.  Where our cultural or political orientations diverge from our faith, we need to cling to the faith, even if it is inconvenient and even if we are punished by the culture for doing so.  It is part of our job description.

God bless us all.

Silver Rose Parnell

UPDATE:  The Diocese was ordered by the city to remove the illegally installed waterworks, which they did.  They are no longer dousing the homeless with water.  The troubling issue is: why did they ever think it was alright to begin with?


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

IF YOUR FIRST INSTINCT IS TO CRITICIZE, YOU ARE MISSING THE BLISS


We all know that Jesus said to love your enemies.  When I first read the Bible, I was struck by the passage that says, "They will know you by how you love one another."  One of the two most important commandments, according to our Lord, is to love our neighbor as much as we love ourselves.

He told us to show this love by feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the prisoners, etc.  He said that, when we served the poor and needy that we were really serving him directly.  What a glorious opportunity!

Love. Love. Love.  Jesus is all about the demonstration of love, yet today we have an upsurge in the amount of toxic public discourse in which the poor are demeaned in every way.   Mostly, the people who complain about the poor claim that they are lazy people who are "working the system" and taking advantage.

Stories ABOUND in which nosy people examine the shopping carts and personal dress of a person using a food stamp subsidy to pay for their groceries and then extrapolate that, if they can afford those things, then they shouldn't be receiving help buying food.  Never mind that the critic knows absolutely nothing about the personal finances of the person upon whom they wished additional poverty.  The critic does not know who is paying for the cell phone they wish the poor person did not have.  The critic begrudges the poor person the nice vehicle he or she is driving, yet does not know to whom the car belongs or even if the poor person paid for it themselves when they were working and successful.

Critics assume that poor people have been poor their whole lives, it seems, because they can't imagine that a poor person would be in possession of things purchased when they were financially successful.

I could give many credible reasons why someone would have a cell phone, a car, a pair of earrings...but it doesn't matter because it is irrelevant.

Jesus did not say to love your neighbor as much as yourself provided that you approve of all of his or her life decisions.  No.  We are to love one another.  PERIOD.  Love.  Not criticism.  Not judgment.

If your first instinct is to criticize, then your mind is inclined in a direction away from Jesus and away from his commandments.  In fact, all this criticism of the poor is a distraction from the commandments of God.  It is a method of grasping onto one's own greedy little pile of comfort.  If a person can convince themselves that the poor have some egregious character defect, then the critic thinks they can assuage their conscience and continue to live in comfort while others go hungry, unhoused, unchurched, and unhealthy.  They grow to think that the poor deserve to be poor...and the poorer, the better, so that they'll be forced to get off their lazy bums and get a job.

I have written many times about the facts that disprove every one of the critic's arguments about the conditions of the poor in America.  Today I write about saintliness.

When Mother Teresa picked up the filthy, scabby, maggoty, sick old man from the streets of Calcutta, she did not first interview him to determine if he was worthy of her love and care.  She did not sit there on the curb, pad and pen in hand, asking questions and checking off boxes on some form.  She did not consider if he had bad habits that contributed to his pitiful condition.  She did not care about any of that.  She dispensed the love of Christ.  That was all.  She did not hesitate.  She picked him up and brought him indoors where she and the nuns loved him and cared for him, washing, dressing, feeding and coddling him until he revived or he died.  Mostly, they died.  But they died in love, surrounded by sweet, gentle, smiling faces.

I do not imagine that this tendency to criticize lays outside of myself.  I also experience bouts of criticism, when my heart is not soft enough and I need to lean into a person with God's love instead of arrogance.  It is a daily process, to check one's mind and make sure that it is inclined toward Jesus, in tune with his love and his intentions.  Lots of prayer helps.

Writing this constitutes my commitment to maintaining a loving inclination of heart, to look upon all others with a compassionate eye and see them the way God sees them, in the radiant beauty of the image of God in which they were made.  To think well of others is a delightful thing.  It generates a deep feeling of joy and bliss.  Come join me, all you critics and pessimists, and partake of the bliss.  In the meantime, I pray for you.  Please pray for me.

God bless us all.

Silver Rose Parnell

Saturday, March 14, 2015

MEDITATION ON GOD'S TIMELESSNESS AND THE EUCHARIST



I once read that the definition of time is "the measurement of the movement of particles through space."  We measure the earth's rotation around the sun to arrive at our concepts of days, weeks, months, years, minutes, seconds, etc.

God, however, is timeless.  We know this instinctively, and logic confirms it.  God, the creator of all things, the originator of our time, is omnipotent, omnipresent, and is not confined by the time in which we live.  He cannot be defined or limited to the powers of the planets as we are.  Even for us, time is not absolute.  Einstein demonstrated this for us in his theory of relativity.  Time is, in a simplistic sense, a function of where you are in the universe.  You can't pin down God.  He is everywhere and nowhere.




If you haven't read Einstein's Theory of Relativity in its entirety, by the way, I recommend slogging through it.  I once had a small book that contained it and made the mistake of lending it.  I will have to get another to read it again.  My mind couldn't contain all of it, but I found it spiritually enlightening.

One day, while meditating on the timelessness of God, I realized that the moment the priest confects the Eucharist is the moment when God, in his timelessness, intersects the time of our world.  This is what is meant when we are told that we are participating in the sacrifice of Jesus and not recreating the sacrifice that we feel was completed "a long time ago."  We are not crucifying Jesus over and over again.  We are participating in the one and only sacrifice of Jesus.  It is hard for most of us to grasp this because we are limited by time and our minds are ordered in a linear fashion because of that immersion in time.



The incredible meeting of the timelessness of God with the time-bound souls on earth which IS the confection of the Eucharist is not some magical hocus pocus that anyone could do if they only had the right words and performed the right movements.  It isn't witchcraft or a skill that one can develop.  If anyone other than a validly ordained priest in the line of apostolic succession  were to imitate every action that was performed during the sacrifice of the mass, the body and blood of Christ would not be present.  Why?



The power to confect the Eucharist is transmitted to a priest through the apostolic succession that extends back to Jesus himself.  Jesus created the church and gave authority and power to the apostles.  He created the hierarchy by naming Simon Cephas, "the rock", which was later translated to "Peter," and saying that on that rock he would build his church.  It is interesting to note that Cephas was not a proper name until Jesus gave it to him, so his moniker would be quite striking during his lifetime.  This word, the logos, Chephas' name, was meant to convey Jesus' intention that he would be the head of the church by being its foundation.  On him, Jesus' church would be built and even the gates of  hell could not stand against it.



When Jesus appeared to the apostles after His resurrection, he first said, "Peace be with you," then identified himself by showing them the wounds in his hand and his side.  Then he said, "Peace be with you, as the Father has sent me, so I send you."  His church was already formed, with the 12 disciples, one of whom was named as the leader, the foundation of the church.  The teachings had already been given to them, but something else was needed.  They had to "graduate" in a sense and carry Jesus' teachings out into the world, so he sent them out as the Father had sent Him out.  This sending of the Apostles into the world was Jesus' confirmation of their authority and a continuation of the mercy of the Lord in sending Jesus among us to begin with.





Then, Jesus breathed on them and said, "receive the Holy Spirit."  So, they had first, their marching orders; second, their bona fides; and third, a new life in the Holy Spirit.  In addition, Jesus told them, "Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained."  In those days, it was clearly understood that only God could forgive sins, yet Jesus had transmitted this capacity to the apostles.  The apostles were to stand, teach and speak "in persona Christi," on behalf of Christ.

The Catholic Church has an unbroken line of spiritual transmission from the time Jesus breathed upon the Apostles until today.  The power and authority that was given to the apostles is the same power and authority that is transmitted to a Catholic priest when he becomes ordained.  In our minds, the power has come "full circle," returning to the altar to confect the Eucharist, but in reality that power is the exact same power transmitted to the apostles.  It is not some old, dusty memory of something that happened once, a long time ago.



When I attend the Divine Liturgy, I often remind myself that nowhere else can I receive the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ.

If I think about the timelessness of the Lord at the moment the Eucharist is confected, I picture the congregation rising up to meet the Holy One while he comes down to meet us.  The angels and saints glory in that moment, and there is music and singing like nothing we have ever heard, I am sure.  When I am paying proper attention, I am more than a little moved and in awe.  I try to hold onto that mystery in my mind while it is occurring and leave my heart completely open to the limitless Lord with whom we are making the most extraordinary contact.

Jesus himself ordained this miraculous contact between us, this stunning experience of unity and salvation.  He said, "Whoever does not eat my flesh and drink my blood has no life within himself."  Some people think we are just eating crackers and drinking wine.

Glory to Jesus Christ!  Glory to Him forever.

Silver Rose Parnell