SAINT OLGA

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

Friday, December 11, 2015

WAITING FOR THE LOCUSTS

The Plague of Locusts - Holman

In my last post I mentioned that I had been diagnosed with macular degeneration, but I somewhat "hid the lead" as there is so much going on right now, I hardly know what to mention first.

A few days before my doctor appointment, I was praying, and suddenly a voice came to me and said, "You have macular degeneration." I dismissed it as a trick of the mind. I refuse to be one of those people that clings to the oddly fantastical. I will not be oohing and ahhing over the face of Jesus appearing on a tortilla, nor am I interested in becoming an oracle for the entertainment of others. I just heard this voice and dismissed it.

A couple days later, however, when I heard the same words being said to me by the eye doctor, I was stunned. I have no idea what it means that I was given knowledge of this ahead of time. It could have been God talking to me or it could have been Satan. Chances are, it was probably Satan.

We sometimes forget that Satan will offer us powers and other emoluments to get us under his spell. When some people imagine the workings of Satan, they picture ugliness and horror. They forget that the Devil was originally created as an angel and has angelic powers. Even HE knows that you get more flies with honey than vinegar, so he will offer a person the chance to be admired by others, to be special in some way, to see the future, tell fortunes, etc. I imagine this is the reason that the Christian faith is firmly opposed to Ouija boards, palm reading, and all the related attempts at divination. This is Satan's territory, and you open yourself up to demons when you play around with these things.

It is not fashionable to believe in Satan these days. Even some men of the cloth will say they do not believe, but I assure you that Satan believes in YOU and wants nothing more than to steer you away from Jesus and his Holy Catholic Church. He is delighted that people no longer believe in him, because it allows him to move among us unseen and unrecognized.

Wolf in Sheep's Clothing
by Tracey Long


I steer clear of all mystics, visionaries and supernatural phenomena until The Church investigates and gives thumbs up or thumbs down on its origination. It bothers me that so many have thrown themselves wholeheartedly into the Medjugorje circus, as it has several signs of being a fraud, and it is going to really upset some people when The Church refuses to sanction it. Some will leave the church, probably, as they have made it their pet project. Some will defy The Church and continue promoting it. This is classic Satan side show. Give the people something that is fantastical and otherworldly, pretending to be of God, get them hooked, and then pull them away from The Church with it. I have friends who dearly love the Medjugorje thing, and I worry about them very much. I don't think they will give it up, if The Church's decision is against it.

Anyway, I digress.  Back to the macular degeneration. I really would have rather gone deaf than blind because noise really bothers me and I use my eyes a LOT in my art and my writing. We don't get to choose the crosses with which we are loaded down, however, so I must get used to this idea and try to prepare myself as best I can for what lays ahead.  My philosophy is to prepare myself for the worst case scenario, and then I will be ready for anything.

Don't think I am sanguine and all relaxed about this situation, however. I do try to look on the bright side of things and accept what comes, but I admit to being very unhappy about this latest development. My entire life, I have been overshadowed by a black cloud and have always felt an almost palpable pressure, as if a great big ugly toad was sitting on me and preventing progress. Even if I made the best decision in any given situation, I always got a bad result. The last 5 years or so has been the worst, with deaths, illnesses and financial setbacks galore. People have noticed and commented that if I did not have bad luck I would have no luck at all.

The deacon at my church suggested I may be under a family curse. On both sides of the family, we were devout Catholics.  In fact, I am descended from quite a few saints!  In the era of the great grandparents, all of them disconnected from The Church. Many divorces, alcoholism, children abandoned, and general moral decay followed.

Now, I have this disease in both eyes which will eventually blind me, and I think, "What's next? Locusts?"  There is a sweatshirt in the "Signals" catalog I received yesterday. It is black and has white lettering that says, "Oh, what FRESH HELL is this?" I don't usually buy t-shirts or sweatshirts with sayings on them, but I almost can't resist this one.

When I finish complaining about this latest news and I have adjusted myself, I plan to concentrate on getting a few things done before the sight gets worse. I need to work on memorizing a few things for which I currently rely on the written word. If I can, I need to memorize the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary or, in the alternative, make some CDs for myself, which necessitates learning how to do that particular thing. I would also like to memorize all the meditations and the days on which they belong on the rosary.

Of particular importance to me is some serious Bible study. I just received a free course in the mail today. It is a small book, so I don't how thorough it is, but I will start with this one and move on. I would also like to memorize some favorite Bible passages.

There are MANY books I want to read, most especially the fathers and mothers of the church. There is a very large, complete set on Amazon which is about $400. It is on my wish list. I will be asking a Catholic friend if they would be willing to get it for me.

Painting is liable to become more and more difficult for me. I would like to get some paintings finished, particularly those of the saints from whom I descend, and some patron saints for a few friends of mine.

I have a 75,000 person genealogy database and have a long list of corrections and additions to make to it, but this is not something at the top of my priority list and I may eliminate it entirely. I have a cousin who is interested in genealogy. I may just give her editorial capacity on it so that she can take it up and keep it going.

I do not know how much work I will put into this blog. I will meditate on it and decide later.

Most important is getting myself moved into a more suitable housing situation. This has been on the menu for several years because I am far away from shopping and friends, and the apartment management is almost hostile toward disabled people. This particular task is somewhat daunting, and I could use some prayers with regard to this.

I do not really want to remain in Albuquerque, for many many reasons. The climate is not good for me, particularly for my eyes, as I have allergic conjunctivitis because of the dryness and wind, in addition to the macular degeneration. I don't care for the culture, and there are not many services for the poor and disabled. I DO, however, have a few friends here that I dearly love.

I need heavenly guidance on WHERE to go, whether to stay in this town or try to relocate to Oregon, where I have wanted to live for some time. I would go back to Northern California, except that the expense is way beyond me. I do have a lot of long-time friends and distant but lovely relatives who live in California, however, which is a big bonus.

I need help with all of this, and I would dearly appreciate all the prayers that you can send my way so that I am given the wisdom to make the right choices. Please ask for the intercession of the saints that I may be receptive to the guidance that the Lord sends me. Thanks so much.

God bless us all,

Silver Rose Parnell

 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

THE SUPER ICKY, VERY AWFUL, TERRIBLY TERRIBLE DAY


My solace at the crescendo of my crappy
day - Home made, organic hot cocoa
with very unorganic marshmallows



As previously mentioned, I am embroiled in a long term, frustrating attempt to coax my apartment complex into giving some attention to safety and handicap access issues, instead of discounting them (and me.) They continue to allow people to block my garage, and it is a maddening battle. It isn't legal for them to do this, yet they persist. Also, there have been people parking against our only emergency exit, but I dealt with that issue in another blog.

The complex is owned by the City of Albuquerque, and I am surprised that their representatives are so unsympathetic to the limitations of the frail elderly and handicapped. Usually, government types are more savvy about discrimination issues and potential lawsuits.

I am also in shock from the nasty and unprofessional treatment I received from the new apartment manager when I questioned the advisability of having tenants and visitors block our only emergency exit with their cars. After a lifetime of living in apartments, it blows my mind that my experience with people like her is so radically different than anything I had in California. I know that, when I drove across the state line 17 years ago, I did not suddenly become a different person. Nope, it's this place. It is stuck in time somewhere.

Aside from living in a backwards state, we also live in a very rude era, throughout the United States. Customer service people are nasty and behave as if the customer is their employee or their underling in some significant way. I suppose they are unhappy. Everyone is underpaid and overstressed. I think one of the reasons we have so many people unemployed is because everyone who works is expected to do the job of three people. That sort of nonsense was just beginning when my health became noticeably worse from inherited illnesses and the effects of old injuries. I couldn't take the stress. I had a high powered job in the legal field and, suddenly one day, I could no longer do it. That's what our modern world does to you. It chews you up and spits you out, then moves on to the next young victim. The young have contempt for the old, never thinking that one day, pretty quick, they will be old too!

If it was only for myself, I might just say, "Oh, forget it," and try to live with it until I can find another place to live, but there are a lot of disabled and frail elderly people who live here who are likewise affected by some of these shenanigans, and my inner Saint Joan of Arc just can't stand it. She has to go on Crusade.




Judging from appearances, this is not appreciated by management, for whom the bottom line is their only obvious concern. I was inspected yesterday, something that is endured by the low income people every year. According to the lady from the mortgage authority, it is to ensure that the apartments are being "kept up."

Our property is what you call a "mixed use" property, actually. One third of the people who live here are on a reduced rent, according to income. The last manager, who ran the place for 25 years, told me many times that the low-income tenants should just be grateful they have somewhere to live and they shouldn't ask for anything or expect the same level of service that the full-paying tenants receive. She was a super person in many ways, with a great personality and a feel for real community, so I am not sure if this wacky idea was her own or if she was specifically told that by her bosses at "corporate."

Of course, I have had a lot of such shocks since becoming poor.  I never had to deal with any of these apartment issues I've had to manage since moving into the low-income program in New Mexico. The complexes were run much better and the managers were very sweet and polite. There was only one incident in an apartment owned by a married couple in Burbank. The man was an alcoholic and was always trying to paw me, and I had to move out to save myself the aggravation.


My living room window. I have to keep towels stuffed in the
channel all year long because the window floods my apartment
every time it rains. I requested a new window years ago, and
management denied the request.


The inspector appeared to ignore my concern over the window that floods my apartment each and every time it rains, and a huge planter outside my bedroom window that would completely prohibit my escape if there were to be a fire, but she was very concerned that when the closet doors had been removed, the hardware was left on and nothing was done to pretty it up and make it look like the opening was intentional. She kept talking to the apartment supervisor and, even when I spoke, would not look at me or speak to me. I directed a couple questions to her and she ignored me. She avoided eye contact. It was bizarre.


The closet from which the door has been removed.


The hardware about which the inspector was concerned.



To my mind, that is a cosmetic issue I could live with, either way. I would rather have a window that doesn't flood my apartment and free access from the bedroom window without having to crawl over a black widow infested wine barrel filled with cinderblocks and dirt.

I tried to explain to the apartment supervisor that a professional window installer had already examined the living room window that leaks and that HE said that it had to be replaced with a different variety, but she wouldn't listen to me and kept talking at me as if my words had evaporated before they hit her ears. She kept saying that she would have to have a professional look at it before she would discuss it with me. This is typical of what happens at this apartment complex. We keep doing the same things over and over again, so even the smallest things get dragged out so long that employees change jobs at the main office in the middle of it, and the matter gets dropped unless I bring it up again. Then we have to start all over.


Old wine barrel that blocks the exit


The maintenance man was dispatched to take the screws off the bedroom window screen, as he had previously screwed it onto the frame, impeding access (years ago). Neither of us could remember why he had to do that in the first place, but I think the window is an odd size and he couldn't find a ready-made screen to fit, so he screwed it into place.  It isn't his fault. Management refused to have a screen made that fit the window.

The management supervisor dismissed my concern about the planter, despite my repeating that my disabilities would not allow me to navigate that planter if I needed to get out of the apartment through that window. Her response was, "It's been there for years, hasn't it?"  Well, yes, it has been dangerous for years, but are we to promote an unsafe condition simply because it has been done for some time? I kept telling her that my disabilities wouldn't allow me to get past that planter and she ignored me. (I notice today that the planter was moved off to one side, which doesn't solve the issue for me, but able-bodied people are continually trying to decide what handicapped and poor people "should" be able to deal with, and they don't know what they're talking about. If I tell someone that I can't manage it because of my disabilities, that should be IT.)

I told her that my disabilities were worsening and that I had just been diagnosed with macular degeneration, which will lead to blindness at some point. She made no comment. She just looked at me with an ugly face, then turned on her heel and walked away while I was in mid-sentence. She was visibly irritated. I suppose she didn't like it that I was bringing up issues that needed to be addressed in the apartment. I guess she was trying to get the best 'score' she could from the inspector and I was interfering. Who knows?

In addition to being treated like the scullery maid who has somehow found herself upstairs in the parlor during a grand ball, I have experienced, over the years, a continual slow-down of work on my apartment. I might as well talk into the wind when I ask for something to be done. Occasionally, it would be dispatched quickly, but usually only a portion of the job would be completed, and I would receive an email saying the job had been done! I had to contact the manager and say, hey, this job is not done, but her practice was to assign each portion of a job a separate work order so that it appeared that a lot of jobs were being completed when, in fact, nothing was completed.

Often times, the last manager would "forget" to write the work order, then forget again and again. I am astonished and frustrated at the amount of effort that it takes to get the smallest thing taken care of. This was not the case with every issue, but was true for most.  Other people, however, who ask for the same thing, were serviced immediately. I have been waiting since May of 2015 to get water in my back yard. All my plants have died, and I am STILL waiting, despite the fact that I have 2 or 3 emails from the office claiming that the job is done. Meanwhile, another resident asked for the same thing and received it immediately.

Before the old manager left, she promised me that she would get me a hose, as she had already done for the other tenant, and would attach it to the spigot, put it onto a wheel somewhat like the one they use elsewhere on the property, and then we would put it on top of a table on my patio so that I could reach it. Because my lower spine is "ossifying" bending over and performing tasks is very difficult. Of course, she did not do it.  7 months and counting...since I asked for access to the water.



dead plants and planters that have been emptied of
dead plants

dead plants

dead plants


While I was also promised two trees, of my choosing, to be planted alongside an unsightly wall that radiates heat into the yard, the only activity behind my apartment is a weekly leaf blowing in which the "landscapers" stomp all over my garden decorations and shatter them.




Yesterday, as the mob was exiting my apartment, leaving me limp as a dishrag, I quietly asked the management supervisor, "I suppose I will be talking with you at some time in the near future?" She looked surprised and scowled at me. We had spoken on the phone once during this week when she had FINALLY returned my telephone calls and emails and she had promised she would "address" the issues that I had brought up to her, but I have heard this before, and things never changed. I guess she thought that all she had to do was say she would "address it" and we were done. The apartment manager has not apologized for her terrible behavior. How is it addressed, exactly?


Back fence


Shortly after the inspection committee left my apartment, I took the dog for a hobble around the apartment complex to get some fresh air and alleviate some of the stress. A neighbor was sitting outside his apartment smoking, and I raised my hand in greeting. He studiously ignore me.

Now, what is ironic about this is that, back when that neighbor began to experience a severe downturn in health, I took his family under my wing, paying his wife $10 an hour to clean my house ($100 a month), giving them some beautiful furniture, large framed wall mirrors, kitchen appliances, jewelry, and several large and labor-intensive baby blankets and hats for their grandchild. I obtained a walker for the man and got him in touch with a disability expert so he could get some help getting disability benefits, as he seriously needs it.

The wife began to ask for many things during this time, eyeing my furniture and other items and asking that I give them to her. She "borrowed" so many paper goods and cleaning supplies that I began to run out at the end of each month and a friend had to bail me out and buy me replacements, while the wife never made a move to return any of the items she had borrowed. The last time she asked to borrow rolls of toilet paper, I told her I could no longer afford to supply her with household goods. She was insistent that she had no money to buy it and they were out, so I felt sorry for her again and loaded her down with three bags of paper towels, toilet paper and cleaning supplies. In return, I asked her to wash a sink of dishes as repayment, as I knew I she would never return the items she "borrowed."  I was hoping that having to do my dishes would discourage her from asking again, and it did. The next time she came over, she just stole what she wanted, stashing the items in her sweatshirt, probably, as I did notice that her stomach seemed an awful lot bigger than I remembered.

I did call that woman and gently brought up the topic, at which point she began shrieking at me, shrieking at the daughter, whose baby I had given many things and who was there with her in the apartment, and generally protesting far too much. She had stolen from me. She knew she had done it. I knew she had done it. God knew she had done it, but she made sure thereafter to loudly advertise her indignation that I would dare suggest that she would steal something. Her husband has to believe her, of course, and has even gone so far as to make threatening gestures when he drove past me in the parking lot one day.





So, I walked on and had to pass the apartment of a woman to whom I had similarly devoted much time and effort to help her, driving her on shopping trips, cooking many meals for her, giving her expensive wall art she had admired as it was her favorite artist, and even helping her trim her Persian cat. She became furious with me because of my Catholicism. (She is a Protestant with some odd ideas about Catholicism and an almost complete lack of knowledge of the history of the Christian faith.)  I had tried to explain some part of history to her, as she had made a claim that was completely off the beam. She was sitting in my apartment, eating a meal I had engineered specifically for her, because she was an extremely picky eater, and began to verbally rip me to shreds in a full-on attack that nearly took my breath away. The expression on her face was like Satan has taken her over. Another person was eating dinner with us and was astonished.

This wasn't the first time she had verbally attacked me. She criticized me constantly for countless things she did not like about me, about my apartment, my religion, my driving, and I put up with all of it in an attempt to be kind and patient with an elderly disabled woman who needed some help. I realized that my desire to give love and assistance to someone in need had, once again, backfired on me, and I had to step away from association with her, as I can only tolerate a certain amount of verbal abuse in my own apartment before my PTSD kicks in and I become a nervous wreck. Immediately she latched onto another woman in the apartment complex who has a car and who began driving her on shopping trips. I passed the two of them as they walked into an apartment a little further down the path, and they both pointedly ignored me.



Then I had to walk past the apartment of the man that gossips about me with the office staff and even tried to stir up trouble over one of my blog posts. Evidently, he must read my blog, at least occasionally.  Have fun with this one, guy! Run right over to your buddy and complain about me.

Further down the line is an older lady who once told me she was lonely and wanted me to drive her to the Bible class I was attending at the time. While driving, she criticized my driving and my life choices, called me vulgar names, and used swear words worthy of a sailor.  Then, she announced in class that she did not believe in forgiveness and how, if someone does her wrong, she not only won't forgive them but she will try to get back at them if she can. That was embarrassing.

 
 


I have since been informed that I made a terrible mistake in catering to these people and their demands. Evidently, it is typical that when a new person moves into a low-income property, some of the people will


Forgiveness is one of the central tenants of the Catholic faith that she professes, which is why I have had to forgive the management staff for their callousness and petty retaliation and the neighbors who took advantage of my generous nature and abused me.  I pray for them and discuss them, at length, with the Lord.  This is why I wave benignly at all of these neighbors I have mentioned, as I pass them on my walk, despite the lump in my throat and the nausea I feel in the pit of my stomach. When you have PTSD and you must live in an environment in which people return kindness with lies, hostility, and abuse, it is very stressful.

I do not want or expect to be lauded or rewarded for my kindness, but it is surprising to be treated so poorly in return.  No good deed goes unpunished, I suppose. To be reminded of these things every day as I pass these people on the grounds saddens and depresses me. I regularly smile, wave and sometimes chat with my other neighbors, but my experience with the people I've mentioned has discouraged me from getting close to any neighbor ever again. It doesn't help anyone to give them an opportunity to sin.

As far as my dealings with the management are concerned, I will have to plug away at it and follow through with the handicap discrimination case. I have been patient for ten years. That is enough.

Many of you will wonder why I stay in this place, and it is very simple. I am poor, there are very few low-income housing facilities in this city, and this one is the lesser of all the evils. If I had the money, believe me, I would not be here. The management knows this, and takes advantage of it. There are compensations. I am closer to nature here than elsewhere in Albuquerque and occasionally see some wildlife that is unusual to be found in the middle of the city. Beavers in the creek behind my apartment, muskrats, snakes, skunks, chipmunks, cranes, egrets, ducks, geese...and the quintessential New Mexico bird...the roadrunner.  I just had to include him, as I saw him walk past my apartment while I was writing this!





I have had a very difficult life, in general, am saddled with many chronic illnesses, and now I learn I will probably go blind  in my old age. To be dealing with all that, as well as reluctance on behalf of the apartment management to cooperate with reasonable measures to ensure our safety. and to be surrounded by people who have abused my kindness, is extremely difficult.

When I got the diagnosis of macular degeneration, I asked God, "Really? REALLLY, God? What is next? Locusts? Boils? " As St. Teresa of Avila once said, "If this is how you treat your friends, it's no wonder you have so few of them" Still, I cling to Him.  I simply will not be thrown off. I'm stubborn that way.

If God is all good, and if nothing happens without the express will of God or God allowing it to happen, who am I to complain about the circumstances? I certainly can't see the good in any of it, but at least I trust that it is there, somewhere, and that God has everything in hand. I'll do my part to ameliorate the situation, of course, but God is in charge, and I just have to follow through with what I know is right and good, having faith that He is doing His part and that all is good.

Still,....I really needed a big mug of hot chocolate with marshmallows yesterday. I'm not superwoman and I have my limits.

Silver Rose Parnell
(c) 2015 All rights reserved.

Monday, December 7, 2015

DAILY MIRACLES

Saint Anthony of Padua
 

I frequently fall asleep in my recliner while reading, crocheting or praying. I have no recollection of dozing off. I wake a few hours later and toddle off to bed. Sometimes I sleep the whole night in the chair. Today was no different. I woke at 4 in the morning feeling very cold. The weather has turned winterish, finally, and I keep the thermostat low so as not to balloon the electric bill. Shocked awake by the chilled air, I was a bit woozy but quickly got into bed and slept until I was awakened by the infernal workmen and by my dog's barking.

When I opened the eyeglasses case by the side of my bed, it was empty! My vision is extremely bad and I cannot function without my eyeglasses. Yet, they were gone. I thought perhaps they had fallen off or I had taken them off when I was asleep in the recliner previous night. I looked there and elsewhere, scouring the apartment and every nook and cranny where I may have laid them down. I even looked in the bed, wondering if I was so woozy when I went to bed that I forgot to remove my glasses.

Finally, I speak to St. Anthony about my eyeglasses. I apologize that I only talk to him when I need something to be found for me, but I ask him to forgive me in a roundabout way and continue to talk about how crucial it is that I find those darn glasses! I began to look everywhere once more, and I open the eyeglasses case again, and my glasses are sitting there, pretty as you please.

I can tell you with absolute certainty that the eyeglasses were not there when I first looked for them, and suddenly they WERE there, thanks be to God.

Sometimes I fret that I have no family or monastic community to help me, that I am alone, battling the world, the flesh and the  Devil all by myself. Then something like this happens, and my mind is ordered aright once more.

Thanks be to God.

Silver Rose Parnell
(c) 2015 - All rights reserved

Saturday, December 5, 2015

MY OWN BRAND OF CRAZY

Starry Night - by Vincent van Gogh

I received a notice on Facebook today that a Catholic acquaintance was selling a book on Catholic apologetics, and he previewed a bit of it having to do with the date of Jesus birth. According to him, it is Catholic belief that Jesus was definitely born on December 25th.

Catholics do not know the date of Jesus' birth. In fact, we aren't really sure about the year, except that scholars have realized that he was probably born up to 8 years prior to when the Christian calendar fixed it. As for the date, we aren't even sure of the season. In one of the gospels, it does say that He was born when the lambs were in the field. Lambing season in Israel IS around that time, but there is a stretch of a couple of months, nothing to pin any certainty on the actual date.

Anyway, I contacted this "author" and explained to him that he was asserting something that was definitely NOT church teaching, and he came back with a lot of colorful comments. When I mentioned the season being lambing season, he expressed disdain for my idea that lambs were only born during one time of year. (Clearly, he's a city boy.)

He also said Mary should have known for sure the date of the birth of her own son, and I am sure that she might, but there is no record of her having let US know. It is certainly not in the Bible or any extant documents from the time period, and the Catholic faith does not claim that there is any record.

When I offered him an article in which Pope Benedict specifically says that we have no idea the date of Jesus' birth, but that it was probably not December 25th, the author told me to go peddle my brand of crazy somewhere else, so I am...right here.

Almost anyone can be an "author" these days, and some of them fraudulently put themselves out there as authorities on the faith, but they are apologists for a faith that is unrecognizable as Catholic. It is hard to wade through all the crazies and the heretics, but we have to do it. When you read something that smacks of some arbitrary fundamentalism, you can be sure that it is probably not Catholic. The exact date of Jesus' birth, for instance. It isn't something that is considered terribly important. That isn't the type of hill on which we want to die. Catholicism is much deeper and more profound, and we have better things to do than hotly defend some imagined date of Jesus' birth because it just doesn't matter.

If you want to know what the faith believes, read the Catechism, a good Catholic Bible (I like the Douay Rheims), and orthodox Catholic reporting agencies. Read the Encyclicals, which you can find on the Vatican website. Read the doctors of the church. Read as much of the church fathers and mothers as you can.  I will be right along there with you, as I am on a campaign to educate myself as much as possible. The first thing I got under my belt was to identify reliable sources, and I recommend the same to you.

God bless us all.

Silver Rose Parnell
(C) 2015, All rights reserved.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

SAND HILL CRANES IN THE MORNING

Early Winter landscape

I heard the distinctive crackling cries of sand hill cranes toward the end of our morning constitutional and looked up to see a large flock of these giant birds sailing in a wide, lazy circle over the trees. Migration time. A bit late in the year, compared to earlier days when I would see them traveling in October, around the time of the balloon fiesta. They are going South to Bosque del Apache, the nature reserve a couple hours south from here by car. There, they will have a field of corn, grown just for them, that has been threshed and left to dry on the ground. They will mingle with the fat white snow geese and smaller varmints that cannot resist the sweet fresh smell of high quality food that is spread across the earth just for them, an incredible banquet.

Across the wide viewing path and boggy wetlands, the raptors will perch in giant trees. I saw a bald eagle there once, and many goldens. The memory of a brilliant male pheasant, arrayed in the height of his glory with gorgeous glistening plumes of bright feather, has stayed with me for more than 14 years. Glimpses of the timid are treasured.

Though I usually try to keep moving on my slow, shuffling walks around the property, I stood for several minutes, leaning on my cane, watching as the cranes slowly formed themselves into three parties of about 25 each. In beautiful "v" formations, following one another, they flew out of their orbit around the patch of cottonwoods and headed south.

These infusions of natural life sustain me and speak to a spot in my soul that is unnamable but gives me a deep sense of satisfaction. On the other hand, a wild sorrow grips me each time a bit of access to nature is eaten away by the dictates of government types for whom the bottom line is the ONLY priority, and the beauty of nature is irrelevant, inconvenient, or allowed only for the wealthy.

No sooner did I get inside my apartment, than the "landscapers" showed up with their infernal, roaring instruments of torture, otherwise known as leaf blowers. They blasted my front door with the vengeance, with me sitting just two feet away. The powered air forced dirt into my apartment through every crack between the door and the sill. After they covered every surface in my apartment with all the fine bits from the parking lot, they blew leaves and detritus into my garden and left me sneezing in fits, another tortured city asthmatic.

As soon as they were finished, a large machine on the golf course began chewing up the air with its artificial noise, mowing or sowing or who-knows-what. It continued for quite a long time, causing me to begin the now too familiar battle to calm nerves that have been jangled by the chaos of modern life.

Soon, the workmen that have been spackling the ceilings of the outdoor spaces will return with their ladders, their loud laughter, and their yelling to one another from one building to another. Hovering outside the windows of the many retired tenants, and slopping white spackling material all over the sidewalks, in the dirt and on the glass of the windows, they have been a constant presence for weeks now.

The building has gotten to the age where numerous repairs are required and, because the building was constructed so poorly to begin with, and the repairs are done in a slap-dash manner by non-professional, untrained laborers who do not speak English and are probably not even legally in this country, the repairs have continued for a couple of years now.

Every year, the activity in this complex becomes more and more intrusive, noisy, inconvenient and not conducive to the life of silence and contemplation of a hermit type person. Imagine, if you will, sorting oneself out so that the soul is in silence and ready to receive the Lord, and, suddenly, the place is overrun with jabbering, clueless workmen who are clanging pails and scrapers and paint brushes and thermoses in a cacophony of disorganization.

A few quiet moments of watching the sand hill cranes was a blessed (and rare) break from the mayhem of the majority of the rest of the day. I will be grateful for it and cling to it, thinking back to when life was much more like the former than the latter and how the balance has shifted so dramatically that I hardly feel as if I live on the same planet as I did in 1970 or 1980.

How will I meditate on God and say my prayers in the midst of this grotesquerie? How can one established sacred space when noise and the constant presence of strangers invades my privacy and seeps in with the dirt from the parking lot? All the icons in the world can't keep out this sort of invasion.

Please pray for me, as I pray for you.

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

Saturday, November 28, 2015

THREE GOOD THINGS

My pink Christmas tree

As an introvert often saddled with a certain ennui and melancholy, in addition to a righteously earned case of well-managed, but still ever present, PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) I was thrilled to hear from a Catholic psychologist on Immaculate Heart Radio that everyone is born with a certain set-point for happiness, where the psyche naturally rests. The happiness quotient is on a continuum. He kept saying, "It's not your fault." After a lifetime of people blaming me and finding fault, here is this man who really knows something, and he kept saying, "It's not your fault."

He also said there are some things that we can do to naturally improve our moods, no matter what we are dealing with, whether born with a melancholy temperament or having earned one through a brutal childhood or other traumas. I am all for that, being a naturally pro-active person, so I was all ears.

The recipe he proposed was very simple. Every day, think of three good things that happened for you that day.  That's all - just three. He said that one would find (and it is true) that, once the brain starts to look for three good things, scores of good things come to mind and it becomes hard to pick just three! 

What this does is to train the brain to seek out positive things, things that make us happy, give us joy, a sense of accomplishment, etc. The brain will develop new habits, new neural pathways, and the happiness level will be raised.

I have been doing this now for a few weeks, I think. I post my 3 good things every day on Facebook and I ask my friends to chime in with theirs, if they want to do it, and I have found that some of my most sincere religious friends who have time to play on Facebook, are also keeping up this practice.

I highly recommend giving this a try, even if you are the most ebullient person, because it brings epiphanies in its wake and, best of all, a continuous stream of feelings of gratitude, which leads into praises to God throughout the day.

Give it a try. Keep up the practice for a few weeks and see how you like it. The effects may be subtle at first, but, after a while, you may find that your way of doing things has shifted slightly, your mental orientation is slightly different, and your mood may be, generally, much better.

This practice hasn't stopped bad things from happening in my life. It hasn't prevented me from becoming upset when the logistics of life work against me at every turn. I still get mad or frustrated, but I am easily distracted from it by something good. My mind is gradually changing its operation. It is always on the lookout for THE GOOD, and we know where ALL GOOD COMES FROM, don't we?  Yep.

My three good things for the day:

(1) I found some DEEPLY DISCOUNTED yarn on Amazon that is perfect for some warm and snuggly hats and neck warmers for the poor and homeless this Christmas, as well as a discounted yarn to complete a small project for myself.
(2) I had a lovely romp in a big pile of leaves with my little service dog. (He actually did the romping, since I am on a cane, but I enjoyed seeing his joy.)
(3) I got to eat pizza today. I hardly ever get to eat pizza because it is expensive to have it delivered, and I really don't go to restaurants, but every once in a while I relax the rules and have a treat. Chicken, pineapple and jalapenos. Delicious!

What were YOUR "three good things" today? Let me know. I will love to hear about your happiness.

God bless us all,

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

Friday, November 27, 2015

THE CHAIR OF PETER, MODERNISM, AND THE LAITY

the chair of St. Peter in Rome


I would like to take a moment to clarify that, just because I have written lately that modernism has infected the Holy Catholic Church and we DO have a number of clerics spouting heretical ideas, and some living in luxury in palatial mansions, this does not mean that I think we should abandon Holy Mother Church. To the contrary, as Michael Voris recently said, we need to "step it up." What is meant by that? We can't sit around mooning about how much we looooove Jesus, batting our eyelashes and sighing over our great love for Him or, in the alternative, stomp out in a huff because the administrators of the faith are not protecting it and propagating it.

The Church is in crisis, and we have to get busy. Yes, we have to be busybodies. We have to actively energize our own faith and the faith of others. We have to study, pray and preach The Truth until Jesus comes again. We can no longer sit back in the pews and soak up the holiness and knowledge from the guy at the altar. There are some fabulous priests in the Catholic Church, probably some very holy ones, but there are a lot of guys at the altar whose Catholic education is faulty, or who disagree with aspects of the faith, or who have just lost their zeal. Some are struggling with ill health that would sideline someone working in the secular world, but they keep plugging away, delivering lukewarm homilies because they're exhausted.

Some priests work long past retirement age, pouring themselves out for the church because we aren't getting enough priestly candidates and/or the candidates that we ARE getting, many of them, are homosexuals intent on changing the church's teaching about this type of sin. Holy priests see this state of affairs and can't bear to remove their orthodox voice from the mix, and I am grateful for them.

The congregation is not an audience. Mass is not another piece of entertainment. We are participants in the mass, just as much as the guy at the altar. We are responsible for the faith and for our own education in it. We can't turn it off like a television show that gets boring. We don't change the channel for another faith because this one is too taxing. We don't throw up our hands in despair because "it's not our job" to help correct the errors in the church. It IS our job. We just have to do the right things in the right way. Most of all, we have to be prepared for backlash, and a lot of it.

We are not alone, however. The Holy Spirit is with us. The current batch of schismatic, heretic, and/or greedy prelates will be taken care of by Christ's church, in time. Sometimes it takes a long time, but I trust The Lord's Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, established by Jesus Christ himself upon "the rock" - Saint Peter - the first Pope. I will not leave it, even when the behavior of some of its ersatz leaders is alarming. Their behavior is not the fault of the religion, which is perfect. It is perfect because it came from Jesus Christ.

Christ infused His Church with authority, responsibility for souls, and with grace. He transmitted something real when he gave his breath upon the disciples. The faith came directly from Jesus. The church is administered by sinners like you and I. Of COURSE some of them are going to fall off the rails and land in a ditch on occasion. They're human. We have to lift them up, not stand at the sidelines saying, "Tsk, tsk, he had such promise!" They need our prayers and our voices, but we must have informed, educated voices that ring with the Truth of Christ.

Satan has always attacked the Catholic Church, from both within and without, yet it has endured for 2,000 years. The Catholic Church will prevail, even against the "gates of Hell." Jesus promised he would be with us until the end of time. Time has not ended, so He is still here, and I take comfort in that. I pray for his guidance in the steps that I take.

As long as I continue to study and practice my faith, I should be inoculated against the erroneous messages that come from some of the clergy. I will know my faith and I will recognize when I am hearing something else, and I can simply dismiss the crazy talk and stick to the Truth, while I pray for the church and for these misguided men. Sometimes I write about this process on this blog, but I wish to be clear that my intention is to be completely faithful to the Holy Mother Church and her magisterium and that I recommend that we remain respectful to the positions that these men hold while at the same time ordering our minds to the True Faith.

Yes, The Church may be in crisis at the moment, but it has always fought Satan in one guise or another. Satan would love nothing more than for us to become discouraged and abandon the faith because the discord and disobedience of those that should know better has reached a crescendo, but that isn't right. We, the true believers, are faithful to the church that Jesus started and we will not abandon it. We will study, pray and preach the Truth until Jesus comes again. We are to participate in the work of keeping the True Faith alive.

In order to know the faith, what it teaches and why it teaches it, I have previously recommended that we study as much as we can. There is so much misinformation flying around the media and in the parishes, you pretty much have to conduct an independent course of study, unless you are lucky enough to have access to a good educational system. I am poor and disabled, so I have to do what I can within the boundaries of my abilities.

In service of this goal, I am giving you a link to a list of recommended books to read and to keep in one's library as resource material. These are in addition to The Holy Bible, The Catechism of the Catholic Church, and Papal Encyclicals that are available on the Vatican website. This list includes the early fathers and mothers of the church, the doctors of the church, and some saints.

I have read many of these books, years ago, but do not currently have them in my library and wish to read them again and to make use of them when writing my blog, which is why I initially started this list.  I would like to share it with you, in case there are any offerings on it that you've not heard of. Perhaps some of us can read these books together and compare notes. Let's see how it goes.

You may find this list HERE

God bless you,

Silver Rose Parnell
(c) Copyright 2015
All rights reserved

Friday, November 20, 2015

COVER THE NAKED



"Naked, and you covered me: sick, and you
visited me: I was in prison, and you came to me.
Matthew 25:36

I have great sympathy for those who lack proper clothing, decent clothing, appropriate clothing that fits well, serves the appropriate function for the appropriate body part, and all that entails.

My mother was insane, and when I was a little girl, she announced that she would not buy me any clothing until I "lost weight." I was 7 years old and had no idea what this meant. The only food to which I had access was whatever she gave us when she remembered to feed us. She would leave us alone for days at a time with nothing but a sack of potatoes in the refrigerator. Once, her sister came to visit us from thousands of miles away and, even though she was expected, my mother did not bother to meet her when she arrived. My aunt found us half naked, hungry and filthy.

I remember laying on my bed when I was 7, staring into my empty closet, save for one sweet little blue plaid dress with a built-in apron and puffy short sleeves. It was 2 sizes too small for me and I could no longer wear it, but I loved that dress. It was the only one I had. Other than that, I had one pair of shorts and a few ratty tops. I prayed every night that I would wake up the next morning and "be thin."

When I was about 10 or 11, my mother was having clothes tailor made for herself, but she forced me to wear either one of two old cocktail dresses to school, along with a pair of oxfords she had painted pea green. I was blind as a bat and wore glasses. She refused to let my hair grow and, instead, took scissors to it now and then and chopped at it until it was short enough to comb without any trouble. I looked like a horror show. I was routinely picked on and beaten up. Once an entire gang surrounded me on my way home from school. Two girls beat me while the crowd hooted and hollered and contributed kicks and fists when I tried to escape that diabolical circle.

To this day, I am extremely picky about my clothes. I will not wear used clothing, and I have learned how to assemble a nice looking wardrobe on a tight budget. Except on those days when I am physically unable to get out of my pajamas, I dress, even though I will not leave my apartment, except to walk my dog and no one but the neighbors will probably see me. It isn't for them. It is for my own sense of personal dignity. It helps mitigate the damage of my brutal childhood that gave me post traumatic stress disorder.  It is a coping mechanism.

I have seen the looks on people's faces when the homeless come begging, with their long ratty hair and their dirty and ill-fitting clothing. It reminds me of the stares and hostility of the other kids, when I came walking onto the playground in an old pink polyester cocktail dress and pea green oxfords. I didn't have a friend in the world.

Except for other homeless people, I imagine the homeless have no one either. I have this feeling that I desperately want them to have some nice things to wear, at the very least a warm hat to help preserve their health and their comfort. I don't want to give them some hand-me-down or some machine made, flimsy thing from China, as if they only deserve to have the cast-offs of other people or the very cheapest of goods.  I want to give them something made with love and prayers, from good yarn, made well, and attractive, because these are things I want for myself and I am to love my neighbor as much as I love myself.  These people ARE my neighbors. I live in an apartment in an area that is saturated with the homeless and the poor, and I can't leave the apartment without encountering at least one such person.

The only way I can produce hats and scarves for the homeless is to ask for donations of yarn vis-a-vis my Amazon wish list. I currently have enough yarn to make another 2 or 3 hats, and that's it.

A typical hat made from super chunky yarn,
knit for the homeless. (The color is MUCH
prettier than what you see here, but I had
trouble with the camera. I am no photographer!)


If you have the wherewithal to donate some yarn, you can contribute by ordering from my Amazon wish list for this purpose. Please remember that it is very difficult to make anything from only one skein of yarn, so please pick one color and purchase as many skeins of that color as you feel you can afford. The web site will require you to enter that number before checkout.  Amazon has my address and will ship directly to me.

You can find the Amazon wish list HERE.

THANK YOU for your generosity.

[PLEASE NOTE: Since writing this post, my carpal tunnel and arthritis have ramped up and I am having a hard time knitting the hats. Thus, I have plenty of yarn for this purpose, and it will take me some time to use it all up.

On the Amazon list you will find some different colored CROCHET THREADS that I could use for my lace making. I donate hand-made lace Bible markers to my parish for special occasions, and I also make chapel veils.  Sometimes I make ribbons of lace to attach to the bottom of skirts or the tops of blouses to convert them into more modest attire.]

Silver Rose Parnell
(c) 2015, all rights reserved.

Monday, November 9, 2015

MILKING THE SYSTEM


Chart showing distribution of entitlement benefits from data obtained
from:
the Office of Management and Budget,
The U.S. Department of Agriculture
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,
The U.S. Department of Labor
and
The U.S. Census Bureau


It seems like every time we approach a new election period, unscrupulous politicians start belittling the poor and claiming that there is "massive fraud in the Welfare system" and that the poor are "milking the system." They actually have the nerve to blame the poor for the awful economy and perpetuate the myth that we are all living the life of luxury. Social Security payments, for those who worked enough to qualify, average $1,000 a month. Supplemental Security is a maximum of $560 a month.

The first thing I point out to anyone who will listen is that less than 3% of all entitlement monies that are paid out are given to able-bodied people who choose not to work, yet the entire demographic of poor people is painted with the idea that there are massive numbers of criminals who have managed to scam their way into "the system" and are getting rich. There is absolutely no proof of this, of course, but who needs proof when people are so ready to buy this rotten lie? Selfish people want to believe this because it justifies their reluctance to help the poor that they deem undeserving.

This readiness to believe these wild claims against the poor and to use them as justification for reducing or eliminating assistance is the antithesis of the Christian message.

Jesus says: "If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, give him your coat as well."
Matthew 5:40

Notice that he DOESN'T say to fight like the Devil to keep him from getting your coat, nor does he say that you should make sure that the person is deserving of your shirt or your coat. This particular quote is about one's enemy.  How much more giving does Jesus expect us to be when it comes to His beloved poor?  The Bible is full of references to our expected generosity toward the poor:

In Deuteronomy 15, it says, "Therefore I command you, 'You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land."

In Mark 10, when the rich man asks Jesus what he must do to follow Him, Jesus says, "You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me."

In Luke 6, He says, "But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation."

Again, in Mark 10, He says, "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God."

Notice that, in our sinful world, it is the rich person who is given great credit and adulation, who is served and fawned upon. The rich feel superior because of this and look down upon the poor, making them squirm and cry for every pittance. The rich are loathe to give any of their riches to the poor, but instead take the money from the labors of the poor.

In Proverbs 19, we read, "Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed."  The Lord is watching how we treat the poor and will treat us with the same generosity we exhibit toward them.

In Matthew 25, we are told, "Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me."  When we defame the poor, we defame Jesus.  When we help to supply the needs of the poor, we are supplying Jesus with what He needs.

In Luke 3, He says, "Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise."

In Luke 12, He admonishes his followers to "Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions," telling them once more that the Christian life is not about how much riches one can retain.

In Proverbs 21, we learn that, "He who shuts his ear to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be answered."  Enlightened self-interest would be enough to encourage us to respond to the poor with compassionate kindness and to supply their need, what to speak of Christian charity and love!

Instead of listening to politicians who have their own agendas, we need to look to the Bible and to the Catholic faith for guidance in this matter of how we treat the poor.

As far as the rumors of "massive fraud" by the poor, that has not been proved.  There are, however, criminals in every walk of life. The only difference between the rich criminals and the poor ones is that the rich steal MORE from us than the poor ever could. .It is ludicrous to punish 97% of the poor people because some of the remaining 3% might be dishonest!

Catholics, take note:  Here is the official position of the Catholic Church with regard to the government's care for the poor:



"The function of the rulers of the state,
moreover, is to watch over the community 
and its parts; but in protecting private
individuals in their rights, chief considera-
tion ought to be given to the weak and 
the poor.  "For the nation, as it were, of
the rich is guarded by its own defenses
and is in less need of governmental protection,
whereas the suffering multitude, without the
means to protect itself, relies especially on the
protection of the State.  Wherefore, since
wageworkers are numbered among the great mass
of the needy, the State must include them under
its special care and foresight."
Quadragesimo anno Encyclical on
Reconstruction of the Social Order
His Holiness Pope Pius XI
May 15, 1931

Here is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church has to say about the poor:

2446 "Not to enable the poor to share in our goods is to steal
from them and deprive them of life.  The goods we possess are
not ours, but theirs.  The demands of justice must be satisfied
first of all; that which is already due in justice is not to be offered
as a gift of charity." ... "When we attend to the needs of those in
want, we give them what is theirs, not ours.  More than performing
works of mercy, we are paying a debt of justice."

Note: "The goods we possess are not ours, but theirs." We do not have the right to make these poor people jump through hoops and perform some dog-and-pony show to prove that they are worthy of receiving what is already theirs to begin with!

If you decide to spread the gospel of the greedy politician and help him to spread scandal and lies about the poor, then you are free to do so.  This is America.  But know, when you do that, you are stepping away from the Christian faith and into another world.

Silver Rose Parnell
(c) 2015
All rights reserved.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

A WORD OF ENCOURAGEMENT

Saint Luke
Feast day: October 18

Typically, I write a blog about an obscure saint of the day, but Luke overshadows the calendar.  I couldn't find much about the other saints that share this feast day with him. Much is already written about Luke by great theologians and writers far more gifted than me, and I decided not to bring coals to Newcastle, as they say, but to make a comment about something that is happening in our "modern" Catholic Church.

It has come to my attention that certain priests and lay persons are publishing dissent against the faith and criticism of Pope Francis. Rather than humbly consenting to be led by the pontiff, these persons have, instead, decided to broadcast their disapproval of his approach in blogs, on television, in newspapers, and wherever else their opinion can find a foothold.

No one ever became a saint by publishing complaints about the Pope and The Holy Catholic Church. They became protestant. Remember Martin Luther. He published his condemnation by hammering it onto the door of the church. His role in separating thousands of people from the church that Jesus founded was not rewarded in heaven, I can assure you. I am not presuming to know whether or not Luther is in heaven. He may be in heaven despite his break with the faith, but certainly not because of it.

Like most of you, I absolutely love Holy Mother Church. There are some things that bug me about the modern church in America, but it isn't helpful for me to air my grievances. I will not become a saint by doing that.

Our whole mission in life is to become saints so that we can spend eternity in heaven, gazing upon the Lord, being with Him, experiencing Him. It isn't a question of "earning" it, because no one can deserve union with God. We have to prepare ourselves to be with God by becoming more like God, so that we can be in harmony with Him.

As I study the saints throughout the years, I have yet to find one that became a saint because they publicly dissented with the Pope and the church and tried to get others involved in their dissatisfaction.

Prayer, fasting, alms giving, performing spiritual and corporeal works of mercy, forgiving our enemies and doing good toward those who harm us, loving our neighbor as much as ourselves. We know these things. They involve an emptying of ourselves and our petty egos and opinions so that we can be filled with and led by God.

If the Pope was having a mistress or stealing from the coffers or committing mortal sins, we would have to admonish the sinner, at least someone would have to be doing that, but this is not the case in the current instance. Some people, apparently, do not like his style of leadership and they are fomenting fear among the laity that Pope Francis will destroy the church by his mode of leadership.

Jesus promised us that His Church would last until the end of time and that He would be with us until the end of time. Even the "gates of hell" can not withstand the Holy Catholic Church. We have assurances from Christ Himself that no one can destroy His Church.

All of this controversy about the Pope, the current Synod, and the various factions that are trying to change the unchangeable...all of it...is a distraction and a detour away from what we have been told to do by Christ Himself.

Please join me in praying for The Church and everyone in it. Pray for Pope Francis, as he has many times asked us to do, and refrain from engaging in or encouraging this useless chatter that is exploding all around us. Continue your devotions and increase your prayers if you can. This is what Jesus was talking about when He said to remove the beam from our own eye before we try to remove the speck from our neighbor's!

Have confidence in the promises of Jesus. He will not fail.

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

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

SAINT THEOPHILUS OF ANTIOCH AND THE BIBLE

Saint Theophilus of Antioch
d. circa 181
Feast day - October 13



Saint Theophilus of Antioch was an early apologist for the Christian faith, who died in about the year 181.  Born in what is now Turkey, he originally began to address the faith with an eye to destroying it, and, with this in mind, began a study of the Holy Scriptures, particularly the prophetic works. Instead of arming him with the tools he needed to dismantle the Christian religion, he became convinced of its truth and was converted from paganism. Some of his writing remains, with other texts alluded to by Eusebius and others.  He is the first philosopher on record to use the word "triad" (trinity) to describe Father, Son and Holy Spirit, which he named "God, His Word (Logos), and His wisdom (Sophia.)  He was the Patriarch of Antioch after Eros and was succeeded by Maximus in about 181-183.



The Holy Trinity


Theophilus became a vigorous defender of the faith and speaks of his zealous condemnation of the heretic Marcion, who believed that Jesus was the savior sent by God, but he rejected the Hebrew God and the Old Testament. Marcion's beliefs were similar to the Gnostics in their dualistic nature. Marcion's writings are not extant but his philosophy can be deduced from Tertulian's Adversus Marcionum, written in about 202 A.D.

During the time of Theophilus, there were a great number of books about Christianity that were in circulation, both spurious and those that would later be recognized in the official canon, and he would have had access to these. The final canon of the Bible was not established during his lifetime, although an interim Bible, the Muratorian Canon, was compiled in 170 A.D., about 10 years before Theophilus died. This canon wasn't complete, however, lacking Hebrews, James and 3 John, around which there was much discussion. The Hebrew scriptures (the "Old Testament") were already established, with very little controversy, if any, on their legitimacy and place in the Canon.

It wasn't until 363 at the Council of Laodicea, that the Canon of scripture was firmly established as the Old Testament (with Apocrypha), and the 27 New Testament books. This collection was affirmed at the Council of Hippo in 393 A.D., and again in the Council of Carthage in 397.



Ecumenical Council



Meditating on the life of Theophilus brings home the fact that Christ's church was not dependent upon the written scriptures alone, as it lived and thrived and grew for 330 years before "the Bible" was established. Yes, there were many books in circulation and certain of these books were permitted to be read in the churches, but "the Holy Bible," as such, did not exist. Our tradition grew out of the instructions and teaching that Jesus had left with the apostles,who, at Jesus' command, then went out and spread the good news, and the traditions that we keep today. This combination of tradition and sacred scripture is known as the "deposit of the faith,"

The Bible is only one part of what was passed down to us, therefore to rely upon the Bible alone is to sit on a stool with one leg, and I marvel at those who broke away from Christ's church to start something else.  Christ said that His church would stand forever and that even the gates of hell could not withstand it.



"I will be with you until the end of time."
Matthew 28: 18-20


With regard to the writings and the selections that were accepted into the Bible, it may appear to some that these were the workings of human beings, but Jesus promised that his disciples would be prompted, informed, and led by the Holy Spirit. Jesus breathed upon them, and the Holy Spirit also descended on them at Pentacost. When I remember that Jesus is Lord, I have no problem accepting the divine inspiration of our scriptures, our tradition, and our faith and that the Truth of our faith never grows cold, as Jesus promised He would be with us until the end of time.

Theophilus "got in on the ground floor" of the Christian movement and, like many others, was initially a skeptic that sought to discredit our Lord and his Church, but the weight of the evidence of Truth was too great. Once one becomes convinced that Jesus is God, one must naturally accept his commandments, His promises and His church. To do otherwise is to deny that He is God.

Silver Rose Parnell
(c) 2015
All rights reserved.


LINKS:

BIOGRAPHY ON CATHOLIC ONLINE

LINKS TO TEXTS OF THE WRITINGS OF THEOPHILUS

INFORMATION ON THE CONSTRUCT OF THE HOLY BIBLE

BIOGRAPHY OF THEOPHILUS ON WIKIPEDIA

MARCIONISM

TERTULIAN

THE DEPOSIT OF FAITH

WHICH CAME FIRST - THE CHURCH OR THE NEW TESTAMENT

SYNOD OF LAODICEA


Saturday, September 26, 2015

WALKING WITH THE POOR AND THE DISABLED

Pope Francis and the poor, victims of a typhoon,
in the Phillipines


Americans tend to live in their own bubble and not venture too far out of it. Our concept of "family" is typically very narrow, consisting mostly of what is termed "the nuclear family" of mom, pop, kids, and maybe grandparents or grandchildren.  Everyone else is a distant relative, living in their own bubble and, while we may be interested in receiving a card from them at Christmas, their lives are irrelevant to us, especially if they are in a different socio-economic bubble.





Pope Francis challenges us to pop that bubble and embrace the human race of which we are a part but the majority of which we keep at a distance, based largely on the artificial pretext that they are not "one of us," not related to us, "foreigners" and, in the extreme cases, an "enemy."  When fellow Americans are thought of in this way, it is no wonder there is such animosity against the refugees who come to this country trying to escape death and torture in their own country, or the simple migrant seeking food and housing for a hungry family.






If we stay in our bubbles, ignorant of the actual condition of the needy, we can invent whatever fanciful opinion we would like to have about them without letting the facts get in the way. There is a strong tendency to blame the poor for their own condition and to demonize millions of people, based upon the unethical actions of a few, when, in fact, most of the poor are grandma, grandpa, the disabled, and "the working poor." Less than 1% of the poor population are criminals 'working the system,' yet the rest of us are tarred with that same old, tired, brush. The worst lie of all is that "the government" supplies all our needs.






I used to know a wealthy woman who had inherited her money and never had to work to survive. She was under the impression that "the government" had to pay my moving costs when I was stranded in an apartment at the top of stairs I could no longer climb. The smaller the bubble, the more outlandish the ideas.

As a senior, disabled person in America, I receive Social Security and a small discount on my rent from the City of Albuquerque, and that is IT.  I am expected to pay for medical and prescription insurance, dental appointments, eyeglasses, orthopedic shoes, service dog training, adaptations to my apartment to address physical needs, a scooter to address mobility issues, the mechanism that fits on the back of the car for the scooter, a car that can handle the weight of that extra equipment, and special modifications to the steering column so that I can drive with my hands, rather than my feet.  Being disabled is extremely expensive. Out of all those needs, I can only manage to pay the medical insurance and prescriptions. This leaves me stranded, except for very short drives to local stores for a quick pick-up of essential needs.

As it happens, I have grown into the monastic vocation of a hermit, and I have become used to the poverty to which one would voluntarily commit. In my case, it is a concomitant condition with my disabilities. As such, however, I become the perfect witness to the typical lot of the American senior struggling to live on Social Security alone, and I can speak with authority born of experience in addition to the research that I do on the topic of American economics and the poor. My poverty is a blessing from God and an aid to my vocation, and I am grateful for it.




Many people around the world have it much worse than I do.  At least I have food and shelter and clothing.  I am not among "the poorest of the poor," but I was getting close to having to go barefoot. Let me explain:

I was born with oddly shaped feet, which have only grown more odd with time. There isn't a single manufacturer of women's shoes that make any shoe in my width. There are a few men's shoes that are made in my width but do not fit my narrow heels and are, therefore, dangerous to wear, since the heels flop around like crazy and trip me up, what to speak of being downright ugly, especially on a woman who wears only dresses and skirts.  I might as well wear clown shoes.





I am told by every specialty shoe store that shoes must be custom made for me and that these will cost between $500 and $1,000 for each pair.  Even the plastic shoes made by Crocs will no longer fit me, since that manufacturer has narrowed their footbed and hardened the material they use to produce their shoes. My old Crocs have worn through so that there is but a fraction of an inch of rubber between me and the road. I can feel the gravel poking into my skin when I walk the dog. Already I have slipped and fallen on the wet cement in the garage because of the slick, worn soles.







Like many senior American women, I have are no immediate relatives in my life, or at least in the same town.  My only son died a couple years ago.  I have an aunt and numerous cousins, but they are all in another bubble. A wealthy relative tells me how much she loves me and that she hopes I get my needs met. This relative speaks disparagingly about other poor relations.  I know where I stand.







I have a wonderful, faith-filled and faithful Catholic friend who has taken me under her wing and has been helping me get some of my needs me.  Lately, she has been tirelessly pursuing a solution for the shoes, hoping that my research, to date, had missed something.


"Seeking the face of God in everything,
everyone, all the time, and His hand in
every happening; This is what it means
to be contemplative in the heart of the
world.  Seeing and adoring the presence
of Jesus, especially in the lowly appear-
ance of bread, and in the distressing
disguise of the poor."
~ Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta ~


Getting up to speed on the resources (or, rather, the lack thereof) has been frustrating for her, I imagine, and I thank God for every day she hangs in there with me, enduring the disappointments with me. She lives her faith, no matter how inconvenient and frustrating it is. Walking into the bubble of the poor and the disabled can be a depressing venture for anyone. It has taken me 12 years to slowly accustom myself to it, since I had been a lower middle class working woman most of my adult life and had not had to struggle to pay rent and food costs since my late teens.

Birkenstock "Boston" clogs
European size 41, wide (called "regular")


Recently, I received one of those catalogs that come with their own pay-as-you-go plan, like a credit card, but it had a Birkenstock clog featured.  It was $149.00 - including shipping and handling fees, and I ordered it.  The shoe almost fits me and, after getting them professionally stretched by a local shoe salesman, I am able to walk without as much pain. The shoes flop about on my feet a bit, but if I wear some thick socks, will be better.

I can't get any shoes that actually fit me because of the expense, but I am grateful to have shoes that don't HURT me, at the very least.

Medicare does not pay for orthopedic shoes, except for diabetics. I do not have diabetes.







Mother Teresa did not bother to get her needs met when it came to her feet. I've written about this before. She simply picked the most pathetic and run-down pair of sandals from the donation box and wore those. If her feet were not deformed before this process, they were certainly deformed after wearing this footwear for so many years. I don't understand how she endured the pain!  In any case, I can't afford to follow her example, since I am barely able to walk as it is.


Mother Teresa's feet.  They look a bit like
mine, only hers were not as wide.



Sometimes I feel like a bottomless pit. Once one issue is addressed, another pops up to take its place. If I did not have the assurances of my faith and the hope of heaven before me, I can't imagine how I would keep up my spirits.  Particularly helpful are the examples of the saints who lived among the poor, such as Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta. For those needs that I cannot get met, I can do as she did and turn to embrace them as a means to salvation. I have no doubt she did a lot less complaining than I do, if she complained at all. That's why she is a saint and I am not.






These experiences of mine have given me a deeper compassion for the problems of the poor in the world. The thing that tugs on my heartstrings the most is the degrading attitudes about the poor that I see all around me. It isn't enough that the poor have to struggle to get their needs met, but they also have to endure the disdain of the rest of the world.






This is why I write this blog. In addition to educating others about the saints and The mystical heart of the Church, I primarily want to bring the Truth to the forefront and combat these urban myths about the poor that have multiplied exponentially, thanks to the media. My struggles to get my needs met are common to at least three quarters of the poor population, yet I practice none of the unacceptable social vices that it is assumed I practice, based upon those myths. I am the ordinary standard that represents the poor, not the drug addled, alcoholic, thieving, dishonest characters that are pushed into the media as prime examples. This is why I bring my pedestrian life problems into public view. Showing how the grinding logistical nightmares can wear down a person, and how many blockades there are to survival, has to shatter these preconceived notions about how the poor are too lazy to work and that they just want everything handed to them. Work was never this difficult.

When I left the Hindu convent, I wanted to become a Catholic nun, but numerous blockades came before me, and then chronic health issues multiplied and worsened over the years, so much that I am now unable to be of any use to a community. I knit a few hats for the homeless in winter, crochet some baby blankets for poor mothers, pray for the world, and write this blog. The Lord has placed me in this condition, and I must practice some obedience and say "yes" to his wishes. Keeping the example of our Blessed Mother before me is crucial to my ability to do that. She said "yes" to God in all things, and especially to the most fantastical of requests of His, so I keep my eye on her and ask her to remain with me as a constant reminder of receptivity to the will of the Lord.

In my own fashion, I live as a hermitess here in my city apartment.  I have my own little "convent," of sorts, and I work toward a state in which I am praying always. I beg for your prayers, that my monastic life becomes more true, regardless of where I find myself. Mostly, however, I ask that you please pray for the poor and be kind to them. Don't support the urban myths about them. Love them instead. Pop whatever bubble in which you live and go out among the poor so beloved by Christ.

God bless you all.

Silver Rose Parnell
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