SACRED HEART AND IMMACULATE HEART

SACRED HEART AND IMMACULATE HEART
SACRED HEART AND IMMACULATE HEART

Friday, February 24, 2017

MEDITATION FOR LENT - THE PURPOSE OF LIFE

Carmelite nun, praying in her cell


When I was young and writing for television, I used to see a lot of movies. It was part of the job to stay abreast of what was being made, and it was a good method of keeping the writing chops honed. I used to love French films because they didn't usually have a convenient sweet ending that tied up all the loose ends. The boy didn't always get the girl. The business venture did not always work out. Sometimes the hero ended up poor and disheveled at the fag end of his life. Most of the actors and actresses also looked like real people, rather than genetic marvels. The films were, in my estimation, more real, more authentic, than American films and television.

For the most part, we have a formula for American films in which there is usually a feel good "happy ending." There are a few remarkable exceptions to this rule, such as THELMA AND LOUISE and GRAN TORINO, both of which are examples of really fine films that have a considerable edge to them. Even at that, however, the protagonists in both these films "win" in the end, leaving us with a  satisfying feeling, albeit tinged with a bit of sadness. Bittersweet.

The American formula for films and television reflects the American ideal of the "right" to pursue happiness. It is what our country was founded upon. While happiness is a good thing, it is a pathetic goal, when you think about it. There is nothing grand in it. On the face of it, it is a narcissistic goal, but it is a goal that many people I've encountered in life have swallowed.

When I was in the Hindu convent, the purpose of life was to get oneself to a state of "realization of God." Taking anyone else along with you wasn't a focus and, although the occasional feeding of the poor was practiced, the goal was a solitary one. It was selfish at its heart, and this is what disenchanted me about the Vedanta philosophy, in the end.

A Mormon relative once said to me that "the purpose of life is to have as many fun experiences as possible," to which I replied that the purpose of life is get yourself, your family and your neighbor to heaven. It just popped out of my mouth, but I now realize that this is the profound difference between Catholicism and many other religions and philosophies.

The Catholic faith is like those French films I enjoyed when young. It is real. It is authentic. It doesn't promote the rainbows and bubble gum Jesus to whom so many people cling. It doesn't promise a happy life or wealth or "prosperity" because Jesus didn't promise those things. He promised the cross and the sword. Later, we enjoy the bliss of living with our heavenly father for eternity, provided that we follow his commandments, especially the two that he most emphasized.

"Jesus said unto him, thou shalt love the Lord thy
God, with all they heart, and with all thy soul, and
with all thy mind. This is the first and great
commandment. And the second is like unto it,
Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On
these two commandments hang all the law and
the prophets."
~ Matthew 22:37-40 ~

These greatest of commandments points away from oneself and toward God and neighbor, going so far as to decree that we love our neighbor as much as we love ourselves. In an era when conservative Catholics are promoting the idea that we all have the right to pursue success but the poor do not have the right to live as well as others, it is clear that we have lost our way, but what can I do about that, aside from mentioning it in my blog?

My meditation for this Lent will concentrate on what Jesus said are the two most important commandments. I plan to put this scripture passage before my eyes every day during the lectio divina portion of my prayers, and I will endeavor to listen to what the Lord has to say to me about these greatest of all commandments and how I may better practice them in my life.

What will YOU do for lent?

Silver Rose Parnell
Copyright (c) 2017
All rights reserved.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

CHECKING OUT FOR LENT



This year, I would like to try to withdraw a bit for Lent. Recent news has had me jangled, alarmed and shouting warnings from the rooftops. Now it is time to cuddle up with God and see if I can purify and calm myself. It may be more difficult this year, with all the giant machinery tearing up the roads outside my window, but I will just have to regard it as another penance.

Friends are giving up various things for Lent. One friend tells me she is giving up desert. Another is giving up music in the car, which is interesting because, for me, music in the car would be torture. It is too much stimulation for an activity that, for me, requires all my concentration.

Catholics are actually required to do specific things during Lent, unless they are under age 14 or are sick with something that will be affected adversely by fasting. There is an upper age limit also. I think it is 62, but I am not sure. I AM one of those people that fall into the illness category. I'm also too poor to have much control over what kind of food comes into the house, but I will do my best to get as close as possible to the rules.

Those wishing to refresh themselves on the rules, can read this handy ARTICLE.

One thing we are told to do is pray more. I plan to do that. Consequently, another reason not to write my blog during the Lenten fast. Instead of blabbing, I am going to spend time listening...to the Lord.

Lent doesn't start until March 1st, but I want to get ready for it: stock the pantry with the appropriate foods, find my Lenten reading materials, etc.

I hope you have a beautiful and fruitful Lent.

God bless us all.

Silver Rose Parnell
Copyright (c) 2017

Sunday, February 19, 2017

GOD BRINGS ALL THINGS TO THE GOOD FOR THOSE THAT BELIEVE




About halfway through the month, I typically run low on food. There are things to eat in the cupboard, but I have to be creative sometimes, and I often have to eat things I'm not particularly keen to have at that moment. I liken it to a type of perpetual fasting and, in that light, it becomes a blessing. Fasting as a method of sacrificing the ego, its will, and its constant need to be fed, enables one to grow closer to God. It has been continually advocated in the Judeo Christian world, as well as in other religions, for thousands of years. God brings all things to the good for those that believe - even when something looks bad at the outset  - even when something is uncomfortable or downright painful.

Tonight I was pondering dinner, when I noticed that I have a lot of half-and-half leftover, as I have reduced my consumption of tea over the last few months. Calculating that the half-and-half was going to go bad before I could use it all if I only used it for tea, I realized that I also had the other items necessary to make alfredo sauce with chopped walnuts. Sunday dinner was delicious. Another thing brought to the good that, on the outset, appeared to be somewhat sad.

If I stop to complain about whatever is going wrong, I may miss the good that the Lord wants to bring out of it and into my life. If I look at the deceptively empty refrigerator and become focused on THAT, it may never occur to me to become creative and make a masterpiece.

The last five years or so have been rough and getting rougher. Someone had me written out of my father's will after he got Alzheimer's. My father died, my uncle died, my son died, my dog died, my cat died. My relationship to the church I loved was destroyed by a callow young priest who ridiculed my weight in front of a group of people, pantomiming how funny it would be if he couldn't pull me out of a chair because my bottom is so big. He disparaged my disability status. He went on to harass me every time he got me alone, and I had to leave the church - the only Byzantine Church in New Mexico. My health has gotten worse and my illnesses have multiplied. Among other things, I am going blind, very slowly, from macular degeneration. My inability to find an appropriate place to live has been documented in other blog posts.

When I became disabled, friends of many years dropped me immediately. The few family who had the resources to help me picked a fight or found some bogus "reason" to be angry with me, giving themselves an excuse not to behave like the Christians they claim to be. They say that family is all one can count on, but but some families are not good. Some families hate God and goodness, living only for their own comfort.

It may never become apparent to me exactly what sort of good the Lord plans to bring out of all this pain. The good may not be realized during my lifetime. It may never make sense to me. It may never make sense to you, but sometime before my story comes to a close, I need to send out a reassuring message, and that is simply this: The Lord is bringing all these things to the good - for me and for others.

This is the blessing of living the Catholic faith, being a member of the church founded by Jesus - even if some of the priests are horridly broken and cruel people - even though I cannot get anyone from the bishop's office to return my phone calls about my vocation - even though our dear Papa is sometimes hard to understand - even though family and friends have left me twisting, by myself, at the end of a short rope - even though I have been suffering continuous pain FOR YEARS. I am being blessed.

Some people mistakenly believe that if we live the Christian faith well, Jesus will reward us with a comfortable life. That is not what he promised. This is what He said:

"Do not think that I came to send peace upon earth:
I came not to send peace, but the sword.
For I came to set a man at variance against his father,
and the daughter against her mother,
and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.
And a man's enemies are they of his own household.
He that loveth father or mother more than me, 
is not worthy of me;
and he that loveth son or daughter more than me,
is not worthy of me.
And he that taketh not up his cross, and followeth
me, is not worthy of me."
Matthew 10: 34-38

Christianity is the hardest gig you will ever do. It isn't rainbows, lollipops and unicorns, as some people believe. It isn't warm and cuddly. It isn't about prosperity. It is the sword and the cross, just as Jesus promised.

May we all be blessed.

Silver Rose Parnell
Copyright (c) 2017
All rights reserved.

Friday, February 17, 2017

DONALD TRUMP DISMANTLES GOVERNMENT AND THE PLANET WHILE HIS FANS CHEER

Donald Trump (AFP Photo/Rhona Wise )

Scott Pruitt, who disputes the reality of climate change, despite the science that says otherwise, and in contradiction to the majority of the scientific community; who has spent many years of his career fighting the EPA and its regulations that are necessary to the preservation of clean water and air and life on earth as we know it, has been picked by Donald Trump to head that very same agency.

Ben Carson, a surgeon with no administrative experience, no government experience, and no applicable education, has been tagged to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development. His ideology is hostile to the poor, whose interests he is supposed to serve in his capacity as head of this department.

Betsy de Vos was made the Secretary of Education. She is a billionaire heiress with no experience in education whatsoever, who has spent tremendous amounts of money in an effort to abolish the public school system and turn it into a voucher system for privately owned schools. Betsy herself has never attended a public school, and neither have her children. She is an elder in the "Christian Reformed Church" which holds a Calvinist theology.

The most alarming appointment, Chief political strategist Steve Bannon, has declared himself a Leninist. Of his political viewpoint, Bannon once said:

"Lenin wanted to destroy the state, and that's my goal too. I want to bring
 everything crashing down and destroy all of today's establishment."
 ~ Steve Bannon  (SEE: THIS ARTICLE)

These are but A FEW of the incredible collection of billionaires Trump has begun to collect around himself; billionaires who are the opposite of the common man that voted him into office, and whose interests are the opposite of the common man. 

When you add up the fact that Trump's nominations, in the main, are people who have a long term antagonism toward the mission of the departments which Trump wants them to head, with the fact that Trump's primary political strategist is a Leninist who wants to tear down the government, and the added fact that they are all billionaires, all of us should be very very worried.

What will be left when Trump and his billionaire cronies destroy American democracy? Think about Cuba, where everyone is poor except the dictator and his cronies.

Trump's representatives have already begun to speak as if he is a dictator. 

“Our opponents, the media and the whole world 
will soon see, as we begin to take further actions, 
that the powers of the president to protect our 
country are very substantial and will not be questioned,” 
~ Stephen Miller, Trump's Senior Policy Director

It has become apparent, through comments made by Trump and his surrogates, that he is either ignorant of or dismissive of our government's system of checks and balances and he intends to behave as a king or dictator, rather than a part of a system into which he has been inserted.

God save us all.

Silver Rose Parnell
Copyright (c) 2017
All rights reserved.

Monday, February 13, 2017

THERE IS NO CASTE SYSTEM IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH


I am blessed to have some extremely pious, devoted and intelligent Catholic friends. One of them is Mary Hammond, whose recent Facebook post clearly articulates the Truth of a truly pro-life point of view that I have been trying to write but which has eluded me.

With her permission, I am copying her words here. Thank you, Mary, for letting me do this, and thank you for your heart-felt words.

Who Is Worthy?

When last October, Fr. Pavone answered my objection to Donald Trump's anti refugee and anti immigration stance with his view that American babies dying in American clinics should come before Syrian babies dying from bombings or drownings because abortion of the most vulnerable was the greatest evil, he unwittingly defined my entire objection to his brand of "pro life" and opened a new avenue for pro euthanasia advocates to follow.

Why? Because he created a "class" of persons set apart from the rest.

The Church does tell us we need to defend those who are most vulnerable, or the weakest. But in her wisdom she did not create classes of these and rank them for us. What does the Church say?

"CC 2274 Since it must be treated from conception as a person, the embryo must be defended in its integrity, cared for, and healed, as far as possible, like any other human being."

Father Pavone and "the old guard pro life" have most of the sentence correct. It's that sticky last part he eliminates from the discussion: "like any other human being".

One of the concerns of anti euthanasia activists is that euthanasia will be used to clear out, if you will, those persons defined on a secular basis of being no longer able to contribute meaningfully to society. Which really means nothing more than they will not be working and paying taxes.

But secular aside, Catholics should be more concerned with the creation of classes in society by some pro life activists - the reason being is God does no such thing.

It is theologically incorrect to state that unborn children being aborted in America are deserving of more help and attention than unborn children being bombed or starved in Syria because abortion in the womb is worse than being bombed in the womb. Does God make these distinctions? No. Does the Church really, actually, make that distinction? No. Father Pavone makes that distinction and he is wrong.

And his view can also over take the anti euthanasia movement if supporters of Pavone's peculiar theology apply it to euthanasia.

God is not petty. He does not operate on some weird value system making one unborn child more deserving of help than another unborn child based on which type of unjust death they are dying.
One wonders if, in the March For Life, mothers holding signs really believe their born children are not as worthy of life defense as the unborn child. When pregnant, do mothers view their older children as less deserving of assistance than the child they are carrying?

Are older people with cancer more deserving of life defense than the 40 year old in a serious car accident and on life support? Secularists would say no. The 40 yr old might recover and go back to work. What would the old guard pro lifer say?

If we logically follow Fr. Pavone's thinking we can say Jesus was most deserving of love, care and attention before he was born and it was all downhill from there- He was no longer worthy of our attention.

His importance, His value, if you will, lessened when He reached an age where He could heal people and multiply loaves and fishes by Himself. Presumably Fr. Pavone would have found Christ adequately vulnerable and worthy of his attention when Christ was dying on the Cross. We won't know of course until he decides to comment fully on end of life issues.
But does God really think this way? I think we would be hard pressed to find any Christian faith of any denomination, much less the Catholic faith, who has such an insulting view of God or accuses God of such minimalist care.

Copyright (c) 2017 by Mary Hammond
Copied here with permission.

Friday, February 10, 2017

THE BOOGEY MAN RETURNS



I know, as I write this, that my friends are going to give me a hard time for taking the dog out late at night for his doggy business, but I inadvertently took a super long nap this afternoon and evening, and the dog had not been out for a really long time. At 2:00 a.m., when I awoke, the pooch was doing the pee pee dance.

Sure enough, as soon as I snuck back toward my apartment from a quick trip to the back yard, I was approached by the same guy that I posted about on Sunday (see previous post!)

I raised my heavy wooden walking stick and raised it, yelling, "I don't know you! Get away from me."

Just like Sunday, he circled around and back, swearing at me, then he disappeared into an adjoining hallway of the apartment complex, which clued me into my suspicion that he had taken up residence in one of the building. Earlier this week, my neighbor told me that some of the homeless have been sleeping on the upper floors, surprising neighbors when they came home late or left for work in the morning.

His walk toward me, into the hallway, had been purposeful, and I think he had probably been heading back to the electrical outlet, not realizing that our maintenance man had plated over it this week.

Ironically, the little dog I got as a service dog and watch dog didn't even bark ONCE while I was yelling at the Intruder. Boo Boo just stood there. Some watch dog. As I explained to everyone before getting a service dog, my doctor felt I needed to get a large dog, for safety's sake and to help me get off the floor when I fall. Also, if the dog has to go outside at a weird time of day or night, or if there is someone unsavory waiting for me in the hallway, a large dog would be intimidating. I couldn't afford to buy one myself, no one was giving away hypoallergenic large dogs, and I was unable to raise enough money to purchase one. My little dog will bark if someone knocks on my door, and that is helpful. Plus, he's the cutest, most loving little dog in the world. There's that! He is a permanent part of the household, but I will need to add a large dog as a seeing eye dog in the years to come.





When I became disabled about 14 years ago, I looked upon it as a blessing from God. Although I was not able to hold down a regular job, I imagined I could lead a quiet life of prayer and meditation, devoted to the Lord, something I had wanted to do since leaving the Hindu convent to become Catholic in my late 30's.

My health and finances became worse and worse, however, and I have not been able to find a quiet place to lay my head. When I first moved into this low-income apartment complex, I was charmed by it, and had high hopes, but the management has gradually stripped away all the trees and greenery, while the number of noisy maintenance projects has increased. It got into a fight with the Mid Rio Grande Conservancy District, which then ripped out all the old trees that flanked the back side of the apartment complex that had helped to shelter us from wind and wanderers. This property is wide open to intruders, extremely noisy, and stuck in an isolated, crime ridden, unsafe area. It is a grave comment on the lack of compassion that Americans have, in general, about the poor and especially the disabled poor. Vulnerable populations need to live in safer, more protective environments, not neighborhoods where there are more criminals.

My doctor tells me I have developed a heart murmur, which doesn't surprise me, considering the stress I've been under. He is sending me for an EKG and an ultrasound of my heart in the near future. I'm waiting for a call from the hospital clinic. At the same time, I've been referred for genetic testing to pin down my illness and get a diagnosis. We think it may be Ehlers-Danlos, but we are not sure.

All of this seems like a great distraction to my deep desire for union with the Lord, but the words of the Hindu swami keep coming back to me. He would say, "Your whole life is your spiritual life." These words echo the sentiments of many Catholic saints and have given me solace, as well as a guide to handling this chaotic life that is the opposite of what I'd hoped for.

As much as possible, I pray always. All my actions are dedicated to the Lord, and I keep a running dialog with Him, Our Blessed Mother, the saints and the angels. I may have pictured myself sitting serenely on my recliner in front of my shrine, chanting the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary, various rosaries, special prayers and chaplets, but the reality is something else entirely. Simple care of the body and the house require much more time and effort than an ordinary person. My schedule is not my own and cannot be geared to the typical monastic routine, because of the nurses and caretakers that are coming to care for me, the maintenance crew that seems to have an unending "to do" list, the needs of the dog and his frequent walkies, and my doctor appointments.

Accepting the will of God is essential, so I have traded in the dreams of what I'd hoped my monastic life would look like, with the reality of what it must be.

In order to obtain needed medical equipment and supplies while finding an affordable house that accommodates my physical needs, I will make an effort to create more income, with my writing, religious paintings and crocheted lace projects. Fund raising will also be necessary, as my income producing abilities are very limited.

The details of the equipment needed and the donation options will be dealt with in my next blog post. As usual, the donation button on the upper right hand side of the column to the right is still working!

What I do not need is advice. If you are not able to help financially, please just pray for a happy outcome, a new residence that suits me, and the cure of my many illnesses (if God so wills it.)

In the meantime, God bless you!

Silver Rose



Monday, February 6, 2017

PLEASE PRAY FOR THE HERMIT



Things are looking more and more bleak, and I am beginning to understand the loss of heart, faith and hope among the poor.

Today, I woke from a nap to see a strange man staring at me through my window while fondling himself with a red bandana. I freaked out, of course, jumped up from my chair and did my best to wake myself up as soon as possible. I had the typical vertigo that I get when I awake, and it took a few minutes to get my bearings and try to decide what to do. My PTSD adrenaline kicked in automatically. I was spinning around the apartment.

Eventually, I heard a voice outside my door. I opened it to find the transient leaning against the opposite wall where there was an open electrical outlet. (The painters had been using it for their multiple electrical machineries and didn't bother to reinstall the locking cap.) He was talking on his cell phone while he continued to steal the electricity from the building.

The man was about 5 feet 10 inches tall, red haired, highly freckled. He was carrying a big black backpack that was wide open and revealed what appeared very much to be a policeman's baton. You can do a lot of damage with one of those.

My automatic reaction was to yell at him and tell him to get lost. What I didn't know is that he'd been there long enough to defecate ON THE SIDEWALK near my window.

I was flabbergasted, and running hot on adrenaline. I'd called a neighbor with whom I'm friendly. She's older than I am and a little more beaten up, but I wanted some company while I walked the dog. It was time for him to do his business and I didn't feel safe in the parking lot yet.

My neighbor didn't like it that I was upset and reeling from the experience, and she attempted to calm me down by telling me to calm down, which never works,of course. I don't know why people do that. Even though it is natural to be upset about something so bizarre happening to a person, they tell you relax, even though it is stupid and impossible. Perhaps the upset makes them nervous or uncomfortable. They can't themselves remain calm in the presence of someone who has been severely jangled.

There are some circumstances under which being calm is NOT the answer. Generally, I am calm, and I enjoy it, but when transients are violating your dignity through a plate glass window and depositing feces on the sidewalk before casually stealing electricity, being calm would be rather odd, in my mind.

I had to call the maintenance man, completely oblivious that it is super bowl Sunday and that he was most certainly watching the game. He did come out during half time, and I think he is a real brick for doing it. He cleaned up the feces from the sidewalk outside my window while the police office talked to me about what had happened.

We were promised that the police would keep an eye on us tonight, with the hope that the locking plate for the electrical outlet would be fixed ASAP.

This has happened before. Whenever the plate over the electrical outlet goes missing, word gets around the homeless population and there ensues a constant stream of transients outside my door, bellowing their odd personal business into their cell phones while the cell phone charges at the same time.

I told the police officer that I understand that most of these homeless people just CANT live like the rest of us do. If you put them into an apartment, they wouldn't know how to live there. Camping out in the Bosque is preferable to some people, even in the biting cold of winter. I crochet hats for them and give them to the Joy Junction people who send their van out on the cold nights to pick up the willing homeless and take them to their facility. They give the hats to the ones who refuse to go, the ones they leave behind. It isn't just poverty that keeps them in the street or in the Bosque. It's temperament and/or insanity. I understand. I am unusual, in my own way, and, although I have no problem living indoors, I have other problems with some parts of civilization with which most people have no problem coping. Perhaps coping isn't the word, really, because for most people these things are not problems at all.

For the last three years I have been trying to find another place to live, someplace near friends who have middle class lives, near middle class grocery stores. They have comfortable old houses, with landscaping of varying pleasantness. Nothing too fancy. I like it there, in the middle of the road of life. I don't crave excitement, but rather ordinariness and calm.

These friends, with their large families and regular church attendance and duties, are special to me. They are kind to me, and loving. They have been trying to get me to live closer to them so they can help me easier, but finding something suitable and affordable has proven to be impossible, so far. After 3 years, they won't say they would give up. They are sturdier stock than that! They won't give up, but I think they may also be losing hope.

All of the affordable housing is located outside the magical realm of the nice middle class neighborhoods and grocery stores. Every single one is in an awful part of town, on a busy main street. Nothing is available in any residential neighborhood. It is almost as if it was PLANNED that way...a plan to keep the poor away from anything pretty, good, nice or decent.

I wonder if the city planners, when they think of poor people, imagine people like the man who left excrement on my sidewalk. When people talk about what to do about the poor, is it them that they think of? In reality, poor people are mostly elderly and disabled. The homeless, in reality, take up less than 1% of the poor, but they are so visible and their behavior so memorable that they overshadow the rest of us - those who know how to keep an apartment and pay our bills.

If I was a saint, I wouldn't be so distraught. I would not concern myself with my comfort. I would simply feel sorry for the man who is so broken that he would do the things he did tonight outside my window. In reality, I feel trapped and sorrowful, stuck in an ugly life that has room for these kind of atrocities. I feel incapable of wanting to rise to sainthood. I don't even WANT to be comfortable with what has happened here tonight. Not a shred of my being is interested in self-abnegation.

I think about Mother Theresa and the hardships she CHOSE. I wish I was a better person. I don't know whether or not to pray for the courage to remain here, happily, without complaint...or run screaming to some other town or state or SOMEWHERE, anywhere but here, where the stains of that man still mar the sidewalk.

It is a sad night, my friends. Please pray for the little Hermit, that I may become better than I am.

God bless us all.

Silver Rose