SAINT OLGA

SAINT OLGA
MY GREAT GRANDMOTHER, SAINT OLGA, PATRON SAINT OF CONVERTS

Thursday, June 17, 2021

ST. TERESA OF PORTUGAL - Feast Day: June 17





Today is the feast day for Saint Teresa of Portugal.  She was married to my 26th Great Grandfather, King Alfonso IX of Leon, and they were FIRST COUSINS! She is also a distant cousin of mine.

After having several children together, the church dissolved the marriage because it was too close in blood relation (consanguinity.)  It was common at one time for relatives to marry one another among nobility because, God forbid, one couldn't marry a commoner.  Their world would fall in. Consequently, since I am descended from a bunch of royal lines, I am a cousin to myself a hundred times over, maybe more!

After the marriage was dissolved, Teresa returned to her estate at Lorvao in Portugal and funded a monastery on her property.  Later, she replaced the monks with 300 nuns following the Cistercian Rule, and she lived with them, though she did not take vows until later.

In 1231, her former husband's second wife, Berengaria of Castile, asked Teresa to return to Leon to arbitrate a dispute between their children about the throne and inheritance of Alfonso IX, who had died in September of the previous year. Imagine the confidence that Berengaria would have had to have in our Saint Teresa in order to call on her for assistance with something as weighty as this. As is the case with so many of the female saints, we have to infer her virtuous qualities from the limited amount of information passed down to us over the years.

After settling this dispute, she returned to Lorvao and lived as a nun for the rest of her life, ruling over hundreds of Cistercians in her convent (pictured below) which HAD been a monastery of Benedictine MEN. She replaced them with her Cistercians, which I find incredible, because it is usually the men that are throwing out the women! She must have been remarkable.

This too tells me something about her attributes, since I cannot imagine the men obeying her edict to get lost and then hundreds of women following her in religious life without that woman having had an unusual character. She would have to inspire devotion and obedience in all those women, overcoming the pettiness and infighting that could easily occur among a community of people who have been told since childhood that they are worthless in comparison to the male sex. I pray to be imbued with some of that inspiration myself!





Many of my Sainted ancestors and cousins have started convents and monasteries. I have also long wanted to start a convent geared toward disabled and retired ladies, but that sort of thing requires a huge amount of funding.  My sainted ancient ancestors were wealthy, most of them, or at least had quite a bit of land, and they had the freedom to dedicate it to the church so as to establish convents and monasteries "for the glory of God." If you had no money, you had little or no chance of a religious vocation - unless, of course you were young, exceedingly healthy, and able to wait on and serve everyone else. 


Abbey of Lorvao
Photograph by Vitor Oliveira
from Torres Vedras, Portugal

This is a view of the old Abbey cloister and of the
lantern tower of the Abbey Church.
It was originally occupied by Benedictine monks, from
about 1070 to 1206, and then housed Saint Teresa's Cistercian
nuns from 1206 to 1887


The great importance of prayer, whether intercessory prayer, glorification, or contemplative prayer in which one simply inclines the mind to God, cannot be underestimated, but I find that, even some very devout people don't see the sense of it and are not likely to support contemplative vocations.  They expect visible production in the form of social programs on the part of the religious, but fail to calculate that Martha AND Mary are necessary.  Some are jealous of the peaceful, protected life of contemplative monastics, despite the lack of mobility and choice about almost anything in a nun's life. When I was a nun in the Vedanta convent, I overheard a few "close devotees" speak with bitterness about the supposed ease of the lives of the nuns, when they knew nothing at all about the tremendous amount of physical labor that was required of them. My body was destroyed by the physical work and I ended up in a wheelchair for a couple of weeks, at least.

Why do I care if I am related to this saint or that saint?  The thing is this:  The saints are not really dead. They have exited the physical world and moved on to another, spiritual realm and if I am related to any of them, I like to direct requests for intercessory prayer to them.  Hey...I need all the help I can get, and I am counting on them to be interested in their descendants and relations.

In addition, the lives of the saints give tremendous inspiration to process along the holy path they trod before me. Their examples prove it can be done. It is possible to conquer the lower urges and approach the Lord, if we observe, imitate and correspond with the glorified ones.

Granted, it is more difficult to be inspired by the saints like Teresa of Portugal who have been ignored by the church and for whom there is so little information, but when we meditate on the events of their life and spend some time considering the implications of their history, we can mine jewels from it.

Teresa had two sisters who were ALSO sainted - Sancha and Malfalda. I have seen this tendency of saints appearing in the same family like this, and it gives me something to think about. Is there some DNA aspect to sisters given to saintliness, or is it entirely a "nurture, rather than nature" situation? Therese of Lisieux immediately comes to mind. Her sisters, you will remember, were also nuns.

Today I commune with Teresa of Portugal and I recommend her to you, as well. 

God bless us all.

Silver "Rose" S. Parnell
Sannyasini Kaliprana
Silver Cottage Hermitage
Albuquerque, New Mexico
(c) 2015

Monday, May 3, 2021

SAINT WIBORADA - MY INSPIRATION OF THE DAY - MAY 2, 2021

 

Saint Wiborada of Saint Gallens Abbey
Died 926

I have recently been unable to post on this blog due to a broken computer and surgery for melanoma cancer and subsequent healing. The computer and I are in fine condition now, and I have returned to the musings.

Every day, I try to examine the list of saints who share the feast day. Typically, it is a list of about a dozen men. Every once in a while, one or two women will be included, but they're usually obscure, little-known women for whom not much is known.

Men have traditionally made a fuss over the saintliness of other men, while giving short shrift to the women.

In about 80% of cases, there is almost nothing known about the female saint mentioned, except perhaps if she is a virgin, which is made a big fuss over, but men are never congratulated for it in those lists of saints. Mostly, we will know that she is a virgin and rebuked the offers of marriage. That's the most popular story...that the parents wanted her to marry and she refused because she belongs to God alone - and then she goes on to become an anchoress, a hermit or an abbess.

But seriously - what about the men? Why is a man never lauded as a "virgin?" I really want to know why this is such a big deal for a woman but not even worth mentioning for men. Chastity is equally expected of all Christians (ostensibly), so why this stark difference between the men and women? Perhaps one of our readers will chime in with some information I've never read.



Wiborada and Bishop Salomon


The women we do tend to hear about are the wealthy ones who endowed convents and monasteries - or the women are are related or linked to a male saint of some renown. My response to all this is to ignore the male saints, except for my direct ancestors, concentrating on the more obscure women, taking their stories to heart and using them to inspire my monastic inclinations and doing my part to bring attention to them.

I look to the unknown saints - the silent ones - for inspiration about the monastic life that I am living alone because what I am doing is very similar to what most of them did, and that is to ignore the typical demands of our culture for women to attach ourselves to men and orbit around them, attempting to live in the reflected life of the glory of the male triumphs. This mode of life is so unique, that people often fail to understand the motivation.

I live for God alone, and there is little to no support for that idea in modern society. In fact, even religious who should know better sometimes consider it kooky - especially if it is a woman who has set foot on this path. They seem to quickly get over this reticence to dignify the aspirations of a female monastic if the woman has money and wants to endow an institution, which is how many of my sainted ancestors got support for their vocations. While women are dismissed out of hand in many cases, men are fawned over and revered without the jaundiced, critical eye customarily used when regarding the women. This sounds harsh, I know, but it is historically accurate, for the most part. (Yes, there are exceptions for every rule of life, but not many for this one.)




Obviously, ignoring women's accomplishments isn't reserved to the Catholic hierarchy. It is a cultural thing all over the world and has been for some time. Every endeavor in every arena is submerged in the idea of women's inferiority, and this has been going on for so long that even women have internalized this idea that they are naturally subservient peons. I think this may be why females have such a hard time supporting and encouraging one another. Instead, some women will try to destroy another of their sex who dares to attempt the remarkable. There is so little respect to go around that it puts us all into competition with one another. In response to this deficit, women have resorted to spreading rumors and engaging in petty and juvenile character assassinations, like the mean girls in the schoolyard. I feel sad about the number of times I have seen this drama played out.

At the same time, I have been privileged to know exceptional women who have transcended this sad reality. They are holy women - women for whom gossip and spite are far beneath them. They fly through life on angel wings. I would like to mention one of these women today.

Our dear friend, Iris, avid reader of this blog and sometimes meditation student, has left us. Unbeknownst to most of us, she suffered stage 4 liver cancer for the last year or so. She hid it from us, and I wish she hadn't, but I believe she was afraid we would try to talk her into cooperating with the doctors. I respect the wishes of others when it comes to their own health care, but I just wish I had the opportunity to say goodbye to her and to tell her how much her friendship meant to me. I would have welcomed the opportunity to help her transition to her new life in Christ. I ask that you all please pray for her soul. 




Today's saint appeals to me because she and I have some interests and conditions in common. First, she was a descendant of a noble Swabian family (now Switzerland.) I am also descended from Swabian nobility way way back in time, so at some point she and I shared some ancestors. (I am related to and descended from many of the European noble families because they were forever marrying one another. In fact, I am a cousin to myself many times over!) 

As a writer, I have always been mad about books, and Wiborada is the patron saint of libraries and librarians because she spent some time binding books for her brother, who was a priest.

Wiborada lived for some time with her brother Hatto at the Abbey of Saint Gall/Gallen. She made some of his clothes, and I am also a seamstress of sorts, having designed and made clothing for my own small clothing shop in Hollywood in the 1970's. I have lost most of my vision in my left eye, so it is much more difficult to sew, but I am gamely giving it a try, making some linen dresses for a simple monastic wardrobe.



Wiborada was also credited with visions and premonitions and predicted the Hungarian invasion of her region, which helped them hide the books (and the wine!) She refused to flee for her life, and when the Magyar marauders later reached St. Gall Abbey, they found her kneeling in prayer in her cell and immediately killed her with a blow to her head with a shepherd's axe. Because she played a pivotal role in saving the library and the lives of others while refusing to do what would be necessary to save her own, she was given the status of martyr.




Saint Wiborada is far braver than I. To be honest, I don't see me becoming a martyr under any circumstances, even though I have become rather accustomed to offering up chronic pain. Those of you who are disabled, in similar circumstances, know what I mean. Even though life can be excruciatingly uncomfortable when saddled with continuous aches, I am not anxious to experience the afterlife any sooner than necessary. There is a reason we have been given life, and it is important to live out our destinies here.

When I write about these female saints and draw parallels to myself, it is because it inspires me to improve my spiritual disciplines and, well, everything else too! The similarities draw my interest and attention to her, only so that the ways in which I fall short can be highlighted. Give it a try with a saint that appeals to you also and see if it doesn't produce similar results.

I have a request that you also pray for some special needs I heard about today.  First of all, a family that has not been together for a long time is looking forward to spending time together and traveling to another state. The mother is in her 90's, and who knows how long she will remain as she is? I am praying to the Lord that he protect all of them and facilitate a very happy and healthy reunion. This family is very special to me. Please pray for them.

Secondly, I know of a husband and wife from a former parish of mine who are currently hospitalized with Covid.  Evidently, the two of them had bought into the anti-vaccination propaganda of a certain section of the right wing. Consequently, they BOTH became quite ill and  are now hospitalized. I believe they are in their late 70's, and the wife had previously been a smoker, so her lungs are compromised. I just have this feeling that now is not the time for them to go. They need time. I think you know what I mean. Please pray for them.




Thirdly, there is a lady in my apartment complex who I have known for ten years, and she has become quite ill with some kind of dementia. She is on a long, slow slide, and it is painful to see. It is also very uncomfortable to deal with because she has become sharp, angry, critical and often hostile - especially when someone is trying to help her. She needs the help and wants it, but I think somewhere inside her she resents needing the help. She knows that her mind is "going." Please pray for her.

Fourth, I ask for your prayers for the wonderful people who recently bought me a new computer so that I could continue with my writing. I am more grateful to them than I can say. Will you join me in prayer for their welfare, that their generosity be rewarded?



As for myself, I ask prayers for healing. Since I last wrote a blog post, I had surgery to remove a melanoma cancer tumor from my scalp. It was much bigger than any of us anticipated when they first found it...but it is certainly smaller than the wound to Wiborada's scalp when the marauders split it with that axe! (Another fine example of how the examples found in stories about the saints help us to live ours!)

I hope you'll try to make use of the lives of the stories about the saints to help and encourage you on your journey, and please write us and let us know how it goes for you also! I would love to hear from you about this.

God bless us all

Silver Rose

Sunday, February 21, 2021

RIDICULOUS MIRACLES

 

The Missing Television Clicker


A few days ago, I lost the television clicker. I do not watch much television, except for the daily news on PBS, or Masterpiece Theater on Sunday evenings. If someone phones me or comes to the door, however, I have to clamber over the couch, lean against the back of it, and reach around the side of the TV to feel  my way to the correct button to press to turn it off or lower the sound.

Not only is it painful to perform these antics, but it is also not entirely safe, as I have had problems getting back up, once I have fallen to the floor, which happens occasionally.

Every day since that darn thing disappeared, I have spent some minutes rifling through drawers, cabinets, book cases, boxes and every other area I could imagine - looking for the television clicker - to no avail. I could not find it anywhere, looking twice or even THREE times in some places, such as the folds of the recliner, where I spend a good bit of time.

Finally, today, I had a conversation with GOD, and this is how it went:

"Dear Lord, I know this is ridiculous, and I don't usually
bother you for something so petty, but could you please help me 
with this clicker? I've looked everywhere and I simply can't
find it!"

I was standing in the middle of the living room - exasperated. I had looked in SO many places, and I couldn't find the darn thing. It is unlike me to give up on ANYTHING, but it had been many days, I was in a lot of pain, and I could not tolerate the prospect of spending money on a new clicker, only to find it somewhere arcane at a later date. My parsimoniuos nature rebelled at the idea.

It was time to take the dog out for his morning walk, but I decided to check the living room recliner AGAIN for that clicker. Sometimes, things get lost between the cushion and the arm or down the back of it, between the backrest and the seat cusion. I had already checked it throughly, but I tried it again - quite firmly and comprehensively. I pushed my hand down as far as it would go and checked every inch of space around the cushion. It was not there. It simply was not.

It is a very windy morning. The Arctic blast that has brought us freezing temps and snow for the last week or so has kicked up again, with the wind at about 25 miles per hour. I slipped on my parka, got the service dog into his adorable little down jacket, and braved the elements so he could have his morning constitutional. I hadn't even had my first cup of coffee because my insomnia had me running late again.

After a rather brisk and bracing meander to the mail boxes, I came home, unleashed the dog, and had him sit on the couch for his morning biscuit treat. When I turned away from him and faced the recliner, this is what I saw:



I was dumbfounded. As I have described to you, this clicker was not in the chair when I searched for it - and it certainly wasn't laying neatly on the cushion in this manner.

I had searched in the bowels of that chair several times already, and, in fact, I SLEEP in that chair and would most certainly have felt that uncomfortable object. But no. It was not in the chair when I left the apartment, but it was there when I returned, as if it had dropped out of the sky.

Processing this is going to take me some time, but it is almost comical, isn't it?

What I think is happening is that God is showing me that He is here with me, in even the smallest and most mundane and petty little frustrations of my life - that nothing is too small to seek his help and that all I have to do is ask. "Don't be so stubbornly independent. Don't hesitate to ask Me to help you," He seems to be saying.

Sceptics will try to dismiss this miraculous occurrence by positing something pedestrian. They will have to invent some insanity on my part - or perhaps some pervasive and extreme lack of attention. Perhaps they will assume that some quirk of physics made this chair belch up the clicker from its innards, or that "someone" simply came and dropped it there. None of this is true, of course. I practically assaulted that chair, with surgical precision, just before walking out the door, I am not insane, and I live alone.

Yogis would likely recognize this as just another example of yogic powers that come to a person after spending decades in solitary, concentrated meditation and prayer.

New Agers might attribute the appearance of this item to the obedience of the physical world to the intention of a spiritual adept.

The deeply cynical will assume I invented this story for some self-aggrandizement, in which case I would say that if I was going to invent a miraculous occurrence, I'd use a good deal more imagination and concoct an apparition of the Virgin Mary giving me some Divine Mission to the world that would make me look very special and important, instead of ridiculous. After all, what would we call my present tale? "The Miracle of the Missing Clicker?" It is ludicrous!

Christians, on the other hand, might easiy see this event as a response from the Divine to one of His beloved children.

Whatever is the "color" of the mind of the person reading about this is the color they'll paint it, but if there ever was a time when the assistance of the Lord is needed, it is NOW, during a worldwide pandemic in a situation of extreme political division and unrest, with global climate change causing freakish storms and temperatures that burst the water pipes and freeze the unprepared gizmos that bring power to houses in surprising locations like Texas! We NEED every hint of transcendence we can get right now, so I, for one, am not throwing this away.

It is no surprise that I feel stunned as I write this. It isn't every day that a physical object miraculously appears out of nowhere and almost drops in one's lap from the veritable clouds! As I said, I will be processing this for some time, but, without question, at least one of the messages and meanings from this bizarre event is a reassurance from the Divine that He is with us in everything - no matter how small or banal.

I send love and encouragement to you all. Hang in there! Our dark days will pass and, in the meantime, remember that the Lord is with us, loves us, and hears us when we entreat him for His Divine assistance.

Silver Rose
Sannyasini Kaliprana

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

SIDE EFFECTS OF MEDITATION AND THE CONTEMPLATIVE LIFE

 


Saint Scholastica
Mystic, visionary, wonderworker
and twin sister of Saint Benedict
(480-543)

Today is the feast of Saint Scholastica, twin sister of Saint Benedict, born a little more than 400 years after Christ, when the imprint of His passing was very fresh, and the conversion of the Western World to Him was in its infancy. It was largely due to saints such as these that we have such a strong monastic tradition. These people grew up knowing about Christ, usually in pious households, but certainly in a rich Christian environment close enough to the source for the echo of Christ's footsteps on earth to reverberate in and tantalize the soul.

When I read about these lovely saints who got an early start on their monastic quest, I often reflect on them and compare their circumstances to mine. Often I wish I would have known something of religion and contemplative life when I was a child and not just my own inner feelings and directions from the Divine, but I remind myself that even those that approach God in the 11th hour are welcomed and accepted in. This is true in all religious traditions, though I see in the way that these saints are memorialized that the very human tendency to expect perfection from childhood is often reflected in the stories told about them.



What about ordinary people born in non-pious households and raised by committed heathens in an atmosphere of utter worldliness, greed and competition? It just takes longer to wend ones way to a holy life. As in my own experience, traveling through various religious expressions, depending upon the people and circumstances with which I found myself, enduring the torments that the devotees of various organizations heaped upon me, I eventually found my way. 

Just as in meditation, when one is required to continually direct the mind to the "feet of the Lord," the key has always been to keep my attention on the Lord in my life circumstances and to follow Him, ignoring as much as possible the "pin pricks of jealousy" (as my swami often called them) of people also not yet perfected but who imagine they are completely cooked, despite their half-baked ideas, and who, no matter what religion they follow, do their best to try and keep it small, constricted, and exclusive, since they cannot handle the enormity of God. They try to bite Him off into managable pieces, and hold those little pieces close, jealously guarding them, but this doesn't work. We cannot, nor should we try, to manipulate God in this way. No good can come of it.



Meditation and the contemplative life allow you to merge into the Divine, and not feel overwhelmed by the vast, unending Magnificence. In the process, there are some side effects and, in typical human fashion, some people can become enamored of those petty benefits and become entranced with them, mistakenly imagining that THIS is the whole show - so we have a lot of people teaching "meditation" these days, having removed all trace of the religions that created this practice.

(One of my students once asked me, "can't I just meditate without all this religious stuff?" She wanted to use God but had not yet gotten to the place where she was willing for God to use HER."

This is a common problem with humans because natural selfishness and instincts for self-preservation impede spiritual progress. At first, no one wants to LOSE themselves in the Divine. They want to use God to gain worldly pleasures and a modicum of control over their fate. I remember, in the early days, someone talking to me about "merging into the Divine," and I retorted something to the effect that it sounded "revolting." I was still in the phase when I couldn't imagine doing anything but lopping off a piece of bliss, installing it in my heart, and proceeding on my way.




We are called by religious life to give up our puny selves and merge into the bliss of God, but it does take some practice, and some faith that one isn't going to go mad in the process. At any rate, there ARE side effects for which one should be prepared, when embarking on a serious quest, and one needs to decide not to become entranced by these small gifts. It is tempting to turn one's attention toward these little tokens and get lost in fascination on them. Unfortunately, spiritual progress ceases when this happens, because you've taken your mind off of your Goal and have become diverted by a side show.

But we love the side show. Stories of the saints are full of them, and it is these stories that we treasure and hold up as proof of saintliness. For instance, the most famous story told about St. Scholastica is how, one day very shortly before her death, she entreated her brother not to leave and go back to his monastery that night, but instead to stay with her and continue their conversations about spiritual matters. Saint Benedict, not wanting to break his own rule, demurred and began to make arrangements to return to his monastery.



Saint Scholastica attempted to restrain him with her prayers, which were immediately answered by a tremendous storm that suddenly swept up, ostensibly in response to her fervent invocations.

In India, there are yogis (a type of Hindu saint) who make a specialty out of their ability to manipulate their bodies in odd ways, and I can attest that some meditation techniques can have an affect on the central nervous system, in particular. I have had some experience with it this week.

When I was a child, I was terrified of needles, and to this day I put myself into a meditative state in order not to faint when I get a shot. Yesterday, I had to have a biopsy done at the doctor's office. There is a dark spot on my scalp, which I was fairly sure was a sun spot but which my doctor said should be tested.



I slowed my breathing and put myself into a meditative state, but the resulting relaxation caused my blood vessels to relax a bit too much so that when the doctor inserted the lidocaine shots into my scalp, blood spurted out and began flowing down my face.

"I wasn't expecting that!" the doctor said, as she scrambled for something to soak up the blood. They really WEREN'T prepared, as there were no sterile dressings with which to sop up the blood - just a few tiny pieces of gauze. So I had to stop my relaxation technique and go on blood detail, dabbing at the blood that was drenching my long hair. (As I write this, there is still blood caked in my hair, as I was so exhausted after all this that I fell asleep before I could wash it out.)

The pain shots only last a little while, so the doctor had to continue with the surgery while I kept trying to staunch the blood with those pitiful little pieces of gauze. She lost her nerve or was inexperienced with the cutting tool that she called a "punch," and was unable to get a clean cut, so had to go back in with scissors to free the flap of skin, which was difficult to see because of all the blood. As she worked, the blood kept pouring down my face in rivulets that I myself had to try and stop.




Then, once she'd gotten the piece of skin dropped into a sterile vial for transfer to the testing site, the nurse went and got some more pitiful little pieces of gauze and some little saline capsules that the doctor used (in vain) to get the blood out of my hair.

On my end of things, I had no idea that my relaxation techniques were going to cause this kind of thing. It just didnt' occur to me. Looking back on it now, I understand what happened and would be prepared for it if I ever had to have this type of procedure again.

I was also feeling a bit of an allergic reaction to the lidocaine, and I asked them if they could give me a benadryl for it, so the doctor called in the head nurse, a lovely man named "Joe," who told me that usually, these lidocaine shots will tighten the blood vessels and may increase blood pressure, as does the benadryl, so he wanted to take my pulse. It was 65 - a very respectable and low pulse rate. My blood pressure was 104 over 60, which is quite low. The nurse was surprised. I wasn't.




So, my meditation and breathing techniques brought too much calm to my system and, while I was certainly relaxed and had no fear of the needles and knives, it wreaked havoc with the surgical procedure. Next time, perhaps I will work on staying a bit more "uptight."

On the way home, I decided to grab a lemonade from a local drive-through and, while I was mentally musing over the events and congratulating myself on my yogic abilities, I failed to concentrate on what I was doing and managed to spill the entirety of a giant glass of lemonade onto the floor of my car, where it remains this morning and I have no idea what to do about it except perhaps to leave my car windows open and pray that it dries and doesn't get moldy. It will need to be shampooed, I suppose, which is more than my pathetic knees and scoliotic back can handle right now and would cost some amount of money to have someone else do and which I cannot afford to pay for, at the moment (or any moment, actually.)




This is a perfect example of what happens when you allow yourself to be distracted by the side show. When I am driving, I need to concentrate on driving. When I am reading, concentrate on the reading. Whatever I am doing at the moment, that is the thing on which I should fix my mind, otherwise it is a disaaster - not just in the amount of lemonade that gets spilled on the floor of my vehicle, but in the degree to which my mind becomes lax and flabby in its habits.

The secret of spiritual practice is that it does not have a beginning nor an ending. It is constant. What we do with our minds is crucially important - every minute of the day.

May you have all the blissful minutes in all your days.

Silver Rose
"Sannyasini Kaliprana"
Copyright (c) 2021, All rights reserved.




Tuesday, January 26, 2021

SAINT PAULA OF ROME - DESERT MOTHER - JANUARY 26

 


SAINT PAULA OF ROME
(347-404)


Saint Paula of Rome is one of the few early female saints for whom we have a fair bit of information, likely because of her association with and support from Saint Jerome. In addition, As a part of a wealthy senatorial family, she was a descendant of Agamemnon. She is considered one of the early "Desert Mothers" in the solitary monastic tradition of Christianity.

The Desert Mothers and Desert Fathers were ascetics that lived in the deserts of  Egypt, Palestine, and Syria in the 4th and 5th centuries. Women who were highly influential on this important monastic tradition but were living outside of those desert locations are also described as Desert Mothers.

When I lived in the Vedanta Convent 30 years ago, I gobbled up the writings that featured these stellar monastics who remind me very much of the traditional Hindu holy men and women who dedicate themselves to the Lord and live as solitaries. [Even when lived in community, the vocation of a monastics is considered to be a solitary one. Monastics, though they had often been married prior to putting on monastic robes, do not marry or engage in extensive social contact. The "Divine Spouse" is the sole focus of their life.)



Paula herself had been married and widowed by her early 30's. She had led a life of comfort and luxury, with all the trappings, even to being carried around the city on a palanquin carried by eunuch slaves. She and her husband had 4 daughters and 1 son and, although she did not abandon her family, she placed her mind at the foot of the Lord.

With Saint Jerome and her daughter Eustochium, she set out on a pilgrimage the year after the death of her husband, and Jerome recounted, at a later time, how she was moved to see visions of Biblical era happenings as they visited each location. As a result of what she experienced there, she resolved to stay in Bethlehem to establish a retreat center there. As a wealthy woman with great status, this was easy for her. Paula headed a monastery for women, while Saint Jerome managed the monastery given over to the men. Large crowds visited both. It wasn't long before finances became strained, however, since the crowds were so large. Jerome had to sell some of his properties in order to continue to fund the venture.

Apparently, Paula subjected herself to a strict fasting regime and practiced a "destitute lifestyle," but considering that she was a very wealthy woman with power and status, it is hard to imagine. In any case, she became somewhat of a rock star in the Christian community.

I have to mention that Paula and Saint Jerome were the object of much scandalous gossip and dirty tricks. No matter what sort of religious organization is being discussed, there is ALWAYS this tendency for gossip about holy men and women. I am assuming that jealousy is the customary incentive. Also, normal human beings seem to have a hard time imagining a life without sexuality and relationships between men and women as being anything other than romantic or sexual. I keep thinking that I should write a post about Divine Love and Agape, but I wonder how many would understand the concept.

Saint Paula, her daughter Saint Eustochium, and Saint Paul

This has also been my experience in the various religious traditions I have experienced. I myself was the object of scorn, derision and idle gossip - all of it untrue, and all of it spread by people who spend a lot of their energy trying to polish their image as supposedly holy people. Whether Scientologists, Hindu, Buddhist or Christian, many people cannot seem to restraint themselves from gossiping and spreading rumors. It is a toxic habit. You have to feel sorry for these people, though, because it is clear that, had they experienced the direct presence of the Lord, they would not be fixated on the baser aspects of life.

There is also some degree of misunderstanding about the possibilities of conversion of human beings and the degree to which a person can be radically changed by spiritual practices. Some people believe that you have to ALWAYS have been perfect in order to become perfected in spiritual life, which makes NO sense whatsoever, but there is this temptation. It was common for a long time that Catholic monastic institutions would not accept women who were not either virgins or wealthy widows.

Those who have been married and have experienced the baser pleasures of life, such as Saint Paula, are assumed to be untrustworthy in the minds of short-sighted people of limited experience with the union of the soul with God. But to the person who is pursuing the Lord with all their heart, it probably doesn't affect them. They're too focused on the prize and too wrapped up in the inner journey to debase their minds by giving attention to this sort of tawdry thinking.



It is very likely that theirs was a combination of intellectual and spiritual companionship. She helped him with his translation of the Bible into Latin, since she had some facility with Hebrew. She and her daughter helped with the copying and the circulation of copies.

In the end, Jerome was buried next to Paula and her daughter Eustochium. We do not know the full extent of their relationship. After all, how COULD we, really? But I, for one, don't buy the rumors and slander. In fact, Jerome's contemporary, Palladius, insinuated that Jerome was actually jealous of Saint Paula's massive intellectual and spiritual gifts and that his "support" of her spiritual vocation was actually something of a suppression of her talents, rather than a support to them. We will never know for sure.

It DOES go to show, however, that the saints and their companions lives are not that much different than our own, and it is therefore a bit easier to follow in the footprints of the saints than what we might have imagined in the days before we knew them a bit better. All of this is an encouragement to me, personally and, once again, I was thrilled to learn a bit more about a saint with whom I wasn't much familiar previously.

I hope that MY contemporaries who follow a similar path are likewise inspired to stay on it and not wander.

God bless us all.
Silver Rose

Sannyasini Kaliprana
(C) Copyright 2021
All rights reserved.


The Embarkation of Saint Paula


Wednesday, January 20, 2021

BLESSED MARIA CRISTINA BRANDO IS MY EXAMPLE TODAY

 

BLESSED MARIA CRISTINA BRANDO


Of the dozen or so remarkable people whose feast day is today, Blessed Maria Cristina Brando is my easy choice because she and I have much in common, with one glaring difference. While she came from a devout family and already knew by the time she was 12 that she wanted to become "a saint," my family was rabidly anti-religious and anti-Catholic in particular. When I was 12, I felt the tug of desire for spiritual life but had no context in which to place it.

I have written in detail about my first experiences with religion in my previous blog post titled "SCIENTOLOGY, HINDUISM, BUDDHISM, CATHOLICISM AND ME." When you read that post, you see that, by the time I was 12, I was also yearning toward walking the path of perfection but while Blessed Maria Cristina Brando was supported by her early childhood experiences, mine were the type that have to be transcended and overcome over many years of investigation, study and experimentation.

My adoption by a spiritual father was crucial to this process, and I am forever grateful to Swami Swahananda of blessed memory, a celibate monk and swami who joined the Ramakrishna Math when he himself was only 13. When he originally initiated me into the meditation practices of the Hindus, he evidently saw my destiny and initially gave me a Christ mantra, despite my never having attended any Christian Church. I wondered why he had done that, and it only became obvious much later.




When I juxtapose the basic framework of my life experiences with those of Maria Cristina, it is glaringly obvious that early childhood education in faith is essential for the spiritual health of each individual so that they don't have to spin their wheels reinventing said wheels later in life.

Having studied and practiced major world religions and lived a curriculum of comparative religions, I have seen the remarkable similarities between them all. If the ground is prepared in childhood, any seed that is planted afterward more easily grows.




Maria Cristina used to say, "I must become holy; I want to be a saint." She kept trying to enter religious life but was turned back many times due to her poor health, a situation to which I can certainly relate. She was sent home by the Poor Clares AND the Sacramentine nuns.

This is what we have most in common - a strong vocation for monastic life, but having physical weakness and/or bodily disfunction that prevents us from being welcomed by any extant group we might like to join.

Most often when spiritual personalities encounter this difficulty (and many of them HAVE) they will typically form the center of a new organization that is formed when others start to follow, or they continue in a solitary state as a hermit or anchoress, which is my condition.




Blessed Maria Cristina Brando ultimately ended up starting her own congregation with her sister and a few others called the "Sisters-Expiatory Victims of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament." Their focus was both contemplative and active, concentrating on the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in the Tabernacle and also the education of young women. The work of the contemplative, inner life seems contradictory to the outward going and very busy engagement of teaching children - but it obviously suited these young women who were still in their 20's when this occurred.

This is the wonderful thing about a monastic vocation. There is a monastic expression available for everyone who desires one because, while it is oft-times easier to conform one's life to a holy purpose when in the company of others in a deliberately "spiritual" atmosphere, we do not have to join a group  to live out that vocation. We can be like the desert fathers or desert mothers.  Who is going to tell you that you cannot live your life for God alone or dictate what work or service project you may legitimately pursue as an expression of your vocation? While Blessed Maria Cristina and her fellow sisters devoted themselves to the education of children, I paint and write about religious topics. I have become convinced that God prepares the ground for a monastic vocation from the very beginning.

God sees the barriers that other people or circumstances may erect in our path, interfering with an easy answer to His call but He provides us with the ability to overcome them in some fashion. What many do not understand is that because He has granted all of us free will, He does not force our hand, nor does He force others to accept us.

There ARE miracles, to be sure. I certainly believe in those, but I have yet to see a miracle that forces anyone to accept it. Think about the Virgin Mary. The entire Christian story was dependent upon her willingness - her "yes."

There were people in Blessed Maria Cristina's life who didn't think she was "suitable" for consecrated life. They rejected her for entry into the convent and they sent her home from other convents and they nattered about her in the town - but she didn't give up what her heart told her to do. If  none of the convents would accept her, she decided to start her own. Where there is a will, there is a way.




Although I have pursued my hermit-like vocation for more than 18 years, it is certainly not "perfected." That is a lifelong aspiration that can only be approached, but never accomplished. Even after all this time in this condition, I still require inspiration, and I am grateful to Blessed Maria Cristina for showing yet another example of a disabled woman who managed to live a life consecrated to God, despite the rejection or interference of others.

Ultimately, the monastic life is a conversation between the individual soul and the Lord. It is easiest to see this clearly when one is involved in a contemplative lifestyle, but it is true for all varieties of monasticism.

I derive great inspiration from this young blessed who simply did not give up on her dream to live for God alone.

May she and all the other holy people inspire us with their strength and determination!

Silver Rose
Sannyasini Kaliprana

Copyright (c) 2021
All rights reserved.

Friday, January 8, 2021

SAINT THORFINN VS. DONALD TRUMP


Reuters/Mark Theiler/File photo - January 6, 2021


A couple days ago, I watched as Donald Trump stood before a crowd of devotees and exhorted them to go to the Capitol building and take over the government, hammering out the drum beat of a fictional tale of an election "stolen" from their HERO (him) citing his tired old conspiracy theories calculated to inflame the crowd. Prior to this, he had primed the pump by announcing on Twitter that he was calling them to go to the Capitol building and that it was going to be "wild."

"He was oppressed and He was afflicted, 
yet he did not open his mouth,
Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,
And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,
He did not open His mouth."
Isaiah 53:7

Two days later, we are still dealing with this unprecedented assault on our democracy.

Somehow this man captured the imaginations and hearts of people who feel left behind by society - a society that had moved on to welcome and embrace different "lifestyles" than theirs - a society they had grown to hate because it was - is - a society that ignored them, when they used to be its masters and its mythical heroes. The reins had been taken from their hands with a surly look and a patronizing, "Ok, Boomer."

This is why the average age of Trump's rage-fueled crowd that broke down the doors and invaded the Capitol building was considerably older than what you typically see in a protest event. But this was never intended to be a peaceful "protest." It was always meant to be a bloody holy crusade. Their bitterness and resentment had coalesced and hardened under an aging tyrant whose indignation at being left behind was even more intense than theirs and who was selling them a fantasy in which each one of them could be the savior of the American way of life - or at least their version of it. "Make America Great Again" really means "put us in charge again, like we were before."





"And I looked and behold, you had sinned against the Lord your God.
You had made yourselves a golden calf. You had turned aside quickly
from the way that the Lord had commanded you."
Deuteronomy 9:15

But Trump's followers are not a cohesive group because Trump's only requirement is that they be loyal to him. That's it. Different people come to him for different reasons. I know people who voted for him and supported him because they're very involved in the "pro-life" movement and they wanted him to appoint "pro-life" judges that they believed would reverse Roe v. Wade. They wouldn't be caught dead in a red MAGA hat while sitting in the bleachers of a Trump rally, and they were definitely not breaking into the Capitol building.

He had called his troops to Washington D.C. via Twitter, the internet platform that he adopted as his personal, exclusive mode of communication, eschewing the "official" channels of government that are curated and overseen by government professionals whose skill has been honed by years of managing official government edicts. Trump would have none of it. He alone would be in control. Typical of this attitude, when he was campaigning he had said "I alone can fix it."

(Twitter announced today that Trump is now permanently banned from their platform. Facebook had beat them to it on the day this happened.)

"He will not quarrel, nor cry out,
Nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets."
Matthew 12:19

I have known many Trumps in my life. Having been born into, raised up in, and worked in the entertainment industry until my late 20's, I met countless Trump clones - people with stars in their eyes and aspirations of fame in their souls - for whom reality is relative and "image" is everything. I have watched these people create fables about themselves and weave epic tales that overlay the truth of who they really are, yearning all the while for the adoration of a crowd. They want to be a star. They want to be THE star.

This is why I knew that a Trump presidency was going to be a nightmare - and I was right.

Trump told the crowd that he would accompany them to the Capitol, that he would be there beside them, but in classic coward's fashion, he slipped into a waiting car that took him in the opposite direction. He had given marching orders to his troops and probably didn't even give a backward glance to watch them parading off toward the capitol, with their flags flying: Trump flags, American flags - and the ominous Confederate flags that telegraph The South's "lost cause" to anyone with an historical perspective.

"But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, 
as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, 
idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be 
in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur, 
which is the second death."
Revelation 21:8

The Confederate flags are a dead giveaway as to the genesis of a very active portion of Trump's followers. His blatant racism and xenophobia had activated the sons of The South. The Civil War never ended here in America, so when the Ku Klux Klan, the Proud Boys, the Neo-Nazis, anti-Semites and the generic white supremacists heard Trump's racist dog-whistles, they jumped to follow him. I suspect that a good portion of Trump's younger devotees belong to this general group that showed up fully costumed in military kit, complete with long guns. One of the men brought 11 "Molotov cocktails." Among the weapons were long guns, hand guns and  i.e.d.'s, as would be recognized by anyone with recent military experience, and a number of pipe bombs.

Among the flags were numerous signs and T-Shirts with slogans emblazed on them, of course, at least one of which read: "6 million Jews is not enough."

Outside the Capitol building, the crowd appeared to grow in frenetic energy. An angry group attacked a black passer-by, demanding to know who she voted for and why she was there. They tore out her hair extensions, sprayed pepper spray into her eyes from close-up, and man-handled her. She was eventually rescued. 

Journalists were accosted, questioned and assaulted, their equipment, in many cases, destroyed or damaged.

By the end of the day, fifty police officers had been injured and one was on life support (he later died.) One woman was shot and killed by police. Three other rioters were killed from some aspect of their involvement in the insurrection.

From their midst, I heard someone blowing the shofar - a ram's horn that was used as a wind instrument during Biblical times in order to signal battle instructions during war time. The crowd pressed forward and began to fight the few police that were there. The pitiful little iron barricades were quickly dispensed with and it didn't take long before the anarchists were streaming into the building. There were more than a hundred of them, by my estimation.

(Later, I learned that, right about the time that I heard the shofar being blown, Trump had issued a tweet of disappointment that Mike Pence had not done what Trump had urged him to do, which was to violate the Constitution and interfere with the counting of the votes of the Electors that had been delivered. The Vice President was basically supposed to open the envelopes - like a presenter at the Academy Awards. It is a ceremonial function and it would not have been possible for him to change the outcome, but Trump refused to believe it. I suspect that the blowing of the shofar was the signal for the mob to break into the Capitol, as per a pre-arranged plan. I will be following the hearings in the months to come and will be interested in the back story on all of it.)

"If anyone loves me he will keep my word and my father 
will love him,and we will come to him and 
make our home with him."
John 14:23

Absent a leader, the madding crowd didn't know what to do after they broke into the Capitol building and random chaos ensued. I watched them wandering around, yelling frenetically, this slogan or that one. "U.S.A.! U.S.A.!" or "Stop the steal!" They destroyed benches, desks and chairs, walked away with lecterns under their arms, rifled through papers and generally acted like dogs pissing all over the furniture, in an effort to mask the scent of those in power and proclaim dominance over them.

The picture of a middle-aged, bearded yahoo, kicking back in the chair in the office of the speaker of the house, with his clodhopper boots casually planted on the government papers on her desk, is the perfect icon for this event. It was an expression of contempt for our government. (That man stole some of those papers off her desk, and it didn't take long for the police to find him.)





"Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which
no one will see the Lord."
Hebrews 12:14

A lot of selfies were taken and most likely uploaded to social media, where law enforcement can easily find them, if they care to do so. I was shocked that some officers were too few and too friendly with this violent mob, even after one of them was beaten to death by a Trumper wielding a heavy fire extinguisher.  Some of the officers took selfies with intruders inside the Capitol! Oh, boy. Recent reports are beginning to report on government officials and police officers having been involved in the melee inside the building, and people are losing their jobs as a result.

"But as He who has called you is holy, you also be holy in all 
your conduct, since it is written, "You shall be holy, 
for I am holy."
1 Peter 1:15-16

There is video of most of this attempted coup, and I have seen it all. But later I learned that five people died as a result of the insurrection. One of them was that police officer I mentioned. In the midst of carnage and death, there was a celebratory, carnival-level jocularity that was insane. One man jumped onto the pedestal of a statue of one of our former presidents that had been decorated with a protester's flag and some other junk so he could have his picture taken.

Outside, when reporters asked them what they hoped to achieve, the answers were incomprehensible. Some of them yelled, "This is OUR government!" One woman stumbled for a response and finally said, "We pay them. This is ours." A wild-eyed man inside the building yelled his response that was  something similar - that the Capitol belonged to him. Another said, "this is all we can do." It was an unfocused but violent and chaotic mob.

"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by 
the renewal of your mid, that by testing you may discern 
what is good and acceptable
and perfect."
Romans 12:2

If they had intended to actually make a change in government, there would have been a focused plan of attack, a specific mission, with a target. But because their leader was cowering, in safety, at another property far away, nothing but anarchy could result.  I keep thinking about the plastic flex cuffs that bristled from the belt of a man dressed in tactical gear and wonder just how many Senators and Representatives he intended to handcuff with them and what he would do with them once they were captured and restrained. Thank God our people were safely harbored in a secure place, otherwise this could have been even worse.

It took hours for the military to arrive and quell the insurrection, a fact that is going to require a significant and far-reaching study and probably numerous prosecutions. MANY heads will roll by the time the investigations are concluded. There were some arrests on that day and early evening, but they were mostly arrests of people who violated the curfew after the rioters were ejected. For some inexplicable reason, the police allowed the violent protesters to leave the building without being taken into custody. I watched, in real time, as these traitors sauntered out the front door with smug looks on their faces. I could easily see their expressions because they weren't wearing masks in the middle of a pandemic. So, not only was this a terrorist attack against our government, it was a super-spreader event.

Earlier this summer, the police employed thousands of officers, fully equipped for a riot, to come down on PEACEFUL black protesters in the wake of the recent murder of a black man by officers (another horrifying murder preserved for posterity on videotape.) I saw these officers knock over elderly people, unarmed people, mothers and others. It was a nightmare. Then, too, there was the really harsh treatment of the peaceful protesters that Trump had violently pushed aside so that he could walk over to the nearby church and wave a Bible around so that he could get a good photograph taken for publicity purposes. Incredibly, he advertises himself as a "Christian." (I can barely type that sentence without my stomach tensing, the idea of Trump being a big Christian is so ridiculous.) But the white insurrectionists that came to hurt our government and who caused the deaths of 5 people, were allowed to wander out the front door of the Capitol building they had just trashed - with smiles on their faces.

"Therefore, prepare your minds for action, and being 
sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace 
that will be brought to you at the revelation
of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not 
be conformed to the passions of your former 
ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, 
you also be holy in all your conduct, 
since it is written, 
"You shall be holy, for I am holy."
1 Peter 1:13-16

Since these events, our country has been in turmoil. Trump is reported to be raging, like a hurt and caged animal. Even after all this, he refuses to admit that he lost the election. He continues to spout ridiculous illogical and disproven conspiracy theories that have been rejected by a majority of the American people, by the election officials in every state (from both major parties), by the courts, and by the official electors. He is giving the appearance of someone who actually believes the yarn he has been spinning since before the election.

I wonder if he will ever realize that the conspiracy theories were never even close to being realistic and that he himself had been led down the garden path by dark characters in the shadows of the internet whose imaginations and twisted way of analyzing innocent events captured something very needy and craven within Trump's psyche. As malignantly narcissistic and evil as he has demonstrated himself to be, he is not even the architect of his own demise. I am betting that the people who created and promoted these absurd conspiracy theories and tried to "prove" those theories with transparently implausible, logistically impossible rationales, are pleased and surprised that their "influence" is so far reaching. Who knows if even they believe the nonsense they have manufactured and disseminated.

Today the Democrats, aided by Republicans who have not sold their souls to Trump, are trying to restore and strengthen our Democracy. Some Republicans who have aided and abetted this monster over the last 4 years are only now walking away - 12 days before the end of his tenure - probably so that they won't be associated with any insane thing he does between now and his ignominious exit. Some people are positing that they do not want to be in the position of having to vote about whether or not Trump should be removed. They're cowards - just like him.

The leader of the house, Nancy Pelosi, upon whose desk one of Trump's men had placed his jackboots, has announced that unless the vice president and others remove Trump from office with the 25th amendment, The House may impeach. There are discussions all over tv, in the newspapers and on the internet about which method (or both) may be appropriate because it is generally agreed that Trump is a dangerous, unhinged man that cannot be trusted not to create another crisis during the last 13 days. He has the nuclear codes, after all.

Whatever is done, I have been praying that cooler heads have found a way to restrain Trump and prevent him from acting in any capacity for the next 12 days. He has announced that he will not be present for the inauguration, but he has not issued any message to his followers that would deter them from attacking that event, at which our entire governmental edifice will be present. I hope to God that whoever was in charge of securing the Capitol is not the same person in charge of security for this event, otherwise our government is doomed because I feel sure that, given the ease with which these domestic terrorists were able to break into the Capitol and into the most sacred halls of democracy, and how smooth their exit, completely without consequences, they are certainly emboldened to continue in this vein, especially since Trump has continued to bleat his pathetic lies about the election being stolen from him, even during "his" announcement that was supposed to call off the dogs.

"Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully
are his delight."
Proverbs 12:22

I had previously vowed not to think much or write much about politics. After all, I reasoned, remember the politics of Jesus' day. There have always been cruel despots in power at various times in history - and Trump is just another one - but this is historic, and I feel that my diary would be inauthentic if I ignored it. It's just too big. While there have been plenty of events in the public sphere worth discussing in conversation - this event is one for the history books, so I am not going to be all precious and pretend it doesn't affect me. It does.

In stark contrast with today's political and societal atmosphere, the saint of the day for January 8th was a retiring fellow that we knew very little about until after his tomb was opened, a beautiful fragrance wafted from the grave and miracles began to occur when his name was invoked.

Saints - the real heroes - do not stoke the petty resentments and animosities of their admirers. In fact, they avoid admirers, if there is any way to do so. Their humility is a feature of their spiritual disciplines and a response to the humble nature of Jesus Himself.

"Take my yoke upon you and learn from me
for I am gentle and humble in heart and you
will find rest for your souls."
Matthew 11:29


SAINT THORFINN


Saint Thorfinn of Hamar, Norway
BISHOP

Saint Thorfinn was probably a Cistercian monk before being made bishop in medieval times. Along with several other priests, he was involved in negotiations with King Eric II of Norway, who was nicknamed "priest hater." We can imagine how he may have gotten that moniker! 

(As it happens, King Eric is another one of my "shirt tail relations, as he was married to my 2nd cousin, 24 times removed!)

King Eric II had repudiated the Tonsberg Concord that regulated issues between church and state, especially episcopal elections. Evidently, things got heated between King Eric II and the Archbishop, so he banished the archbishop and his two supporters, one of whom was Saint Thorfinn. With his "glamorous" and weighty work concluded, Thorfinn was happy to return to the state of a humble monk.

On the way to the Abbey of Ter Doest (near Bruges), Bishop Thorfinn encountered many difficulties, and was even shipwrecked, but evidently he took it all in stride and settled into his new life without complaint. It wasn't long before he died there, on this day in 1285.

His was a mind of equanimity, whether he was conversing with kings or commoners, bishops or monks. Becoming ill and sensing he was not long for the world, he made out his will, divided what little he had, and prepared for death, which came fairly soon thereafter.

Saint Thorfinn had not done anything to attract attention to himself during his time in the monastery, and he was soon forgotten, but something like 50 years after he died, his tomb was broken into in connection with some building project and that is how the "odor of sanctity" was perceived coming from his body.

An aged monk who had known Thorfinn in his youth recalled a man of gentle goodness and strength, so he wrote a poem about Thorfinn in Latin and it was hung over his tomb. In it, Saint Thorfinn is described as a kind patient generous monk, whose mild demeanor belied a strong will that stood solidly against anything that smacked of evil.

"He will not cry out or raise his voice,
Nor make his voice heard in the street."
Isaiah 42:2

There were miracles associated with his relics, people began to visit his tomb (which was later moved) and gradually he became one of Norway's few Catholic saints, and a very popular one. (Norway is not a big Catholic country.)

If Donald Trump had chosen a holy life marked by honesty, kindness, generosity and equanimity, as did today's Saint Thorfinn, the "eternal praise" he yearned for would have been his.

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
All who follow his precepts have good understanding.
To him belongs eternal praise."

May we all be blessed, and may out country be healed

Silver Rose