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SAINT OLGA

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

Sunday, August 30, 2015

JESUS IGNORED POLITICS

***NOT***

Yesterday I sat, horrified, through a supposed homily that was, instead, a comment on modern politics, in particular REPUBLICAN politics, and a complaint by this priest that the moderator for the recent Republican debates overstepped her role by leading the questions in a direction that the priest thought should not have been done.

Although he did not specifically reference Megyn Kelly's pointed questions to Donald Trump about his frequent and many instances in which he called women disgusting names, I got the point, loud and clear.  He is a Republican, thinks that our God is a Republican, thinks that Catholics are automatically Republican, and probably approves of Donald Trump's misogynistic attitudes, or at least feels that they aren't important enough to call him on his actions during the debates, which is even worse when I think about it.

There is an insidious disease in the Catholic Church in America.  A great number of Catholics have become obsessed with politics, including our priests, which makes me very sad.  Instead of looking at the world through the eyes of Christ, they are looking at the world through Republican eyes and, in doing so, are perverting the faith.  Over and over again, I see "Catholics" posting in social media and all over the internet and being interviewed on television programs whose faith is being twisted to accommodate those aspects of the Republican platform that are the antithesis of the Catholic faith.  Hardly anyone talks about the words of Jesus any more, even when, as in the case of priests, they really ought to be focusing on Him.  It is unquestionably an aspect of their function to do so.

Catholic values have to be applied to our entire lives, of course.  This includes how we vote, no doubt, but a political party should not define us.  For some people, however, it does.  I call these people "Republicatholics."  They are all over social media and in our churches, peddling a philosophy that is not Catholicism.  Hell, it isn't even Christian.  It is a political orientation.  Look at some of the Facebook pages of priests and laity and you will find nothing but political memes, cartoons, blog links and articles.  Some of these offerings are broadly vulgar and offensive.  Many of them are obviously intended to start rumors.  Some are just nasty comments about Hilary Clinton or Barack Obama.  Many cite "facts" that are not facts at all.  It is, for the most part, low brow stuff.

It isn't just that we are nearing an election year.  This situation has been building for at least 6 years.  It has gotten worse and worse over time.

Jesus was not accepted by most Jews as the promised Messiah because he did not come as an earthly King.  Jews were expecting him to come and conquer their overlords.  They'd been under the tyrannical rule of so many despotic regimes in their history that they'd had just about enough of that, and their idea of a King was someone who would change the government.  He disappointed them by coming into our world as a poor person with no political clout whatsoever.  He didn't advocate the overthrow of the Roman government.  He mostly talked about love and taking care of the poor.

The Republican political platform, with the exception of their supposed "pro-life" plank, is in direct opposition to the Christian faith.  The Democratic platform is likewise in direct opposition to the Christian faith in the matters of morality and abortion.  This is the classic "no win" situation for the Christian.  We just have to do the best we can in that arena and then move on.

Political action is not going to save us and should not define us.  It didn't define Jesus, and we need to follow Him and be faithful to Him.  Jesus did not identify with any earthly power structure.  He was a man of the people...the poor...the sick...the needy.  He didn't stand on a box in the town square and advocate a change in government.

Before the steam starts coming out of your ears and you pounce on the keyboard to write me an hysterical note to the effect of "WHAT ABOUT ABORTION?" I will simply say that, had we done what Jesus told us to do, no one would be wanting an abortion.  Abortion is legal because a great number of people want it, and, although I favor making it illegal, I have the suspicion that it will never be illegal until the hearts of Americans are changed.  Jesus left us with instructions on how to do that.

When we have helped to transform the hearts of Americans into loving, generous, grace-filled Christian hearts, the government will naturally follow.  How this has escaped the notice of so many is a mystery to me, except that it is a heck of a lot easier to campaign against something with righteous indignation than it is to follow the commands of Jesus.

As for me, I will no longer have to endure civics and politics classes masquerading as homilies.  My physical condition has become so severe that I am no longer able to sit through mass and, unless something changes, I will not be able to attend.  Fortunately, no matter how far off the beam the priest becomes, his ability to confect the Eucharist is not affected.  A friend will bring me the body of Christ, and I am very grateful for that.  In the meantime, I pray for our priests and for all Christians who have become enamored of the political circus instead of their faith.  I pray they return to a Christian focus instead of a political one.

God bless us all.
Copyright (c) 2015, Silver Rose Parnell
All rights reserved

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

THE PARABLE OF THE TARES AND THE WHEAT

The Parable of the Tares
by
Bassano-Schule
17th Century Master


When I was a brand new Catholic, I used to be shocked by the number of people who call themselves "Christian" or "Catholic Christian" yet live and think in an unChristian manner.  Not only do they cling to their own sin, but they celebrate the sins of others and try to get Catholics to support things that are strictly forbidden by the Bible, Tradition, and the deposit of the faith.  If you don't agree that their sin is O.K., they can really slap you around.  The parable of the tares and the wheat give me insight into why these weeds are allowed to grow up in our church.

"Jesus presented another parable to them, saying, "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field.  But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away.  But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also.  The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, 'Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field?  How then does it have tares?  And he said to them, 'An enemy has done this!' The slaves said to him, 'Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?  But he said, 'no; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them.  Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, "first gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn."  Matthew 13:24-30

In the next versus, Jesus explains that He is the one that sows the good seed that produces the children of the kingdom.  The tares are the children of Satan.  He sends the angels to reap at the time of harvest, which is the end of the world.  At that time, when the wheat is strong and mature, it is harvested.  The angels bind up the children of Satan and throw them into the fire.  All things that offend God, everyone who does iniquity, will be cast into the furnace of fire where they will wail and gnash their teeth.  The righteous, however, will "shine forth" in the kingdom of their Father.

The promises of Jesus bear no resemblance to the unicorns, candy and rainbows faith that so many people believe in these days.  They think they can contradict the scriptures and do anything they like, willfully perform all manner of sin of which they have no intention to repent, and they will go to heaven to live with our Heavenly Father in eternity.  Not.

While it is one of the spiritual works of mercy for me to counsel my Christian brothers and sisters when they fall off the path, I sometimes also have to recognize that many have chosen to stray and will not be pulled back.  They let me know with vigorous verbal slaps, slander, threats and all manner of shenanigans that they're not going to stay on "the straight and narrow."  They've chosen another way. Just as the Father has given us all free will, I have to respect the free will of the Catholic who decides that he knows better than 2,000 years of Catholic tradition, the Bible, the fathers and mothers of the church, the saints, the Popes and all the Bishops down through the ages.

Once I have given my counsel and it is met with violent protest, I have to stand back. I can't go in after them and drag them back from the hole they've dug for themselves.  But I do wait on the path and pray for them, ready to welcome them back with open arms, should they come to their senses. The parable of the prodigal son tells me that Jesus will be merciful to any repentant sinner, even until the last minute. There is hope for everyone, and I find great joy in that.

The parable of the tares among the wheat is a cautionary tale that puts the fear of God in me.  I sometimes say to myself, "what if I only think that I am one of the wheat stalks, when I'm really just another tare?"  I don't want to end up in that bonfire on judgment day.  It keeps me on my toes.

I'll pray for you, as I hope you'll pray for me.

Silver Rose Parnell
(c) 2015
All rights reserved.

Friday, August 7, 2015

SAINT ALBERT OF TRAPANI - CARMELITE PATRON



Saint Albert of Trapani
( Albert degli Abbati )
Feast Day - August 7

I was delighted to learn about today's saint, since my love of the Carmelite Order began as a young girl (long story) and I further took Teresa of Avila as my patron saint when I was baptized at age 38 by the Episcopalians (again, a long story.)  Saint Teresa, a doctor of the church and another Carmelite, was very devoted to Albert of Trapani, and I am surprised that I had not recalled learning anything of him before today.  He is one of those saints that had a profound effect on the Church as a whole, as well as the Carmelite Order of which he was a part, but whose public popularity is somewhat dimmed in this country.  I do not know why.

Albert degli Abbati was born in Trapani, Sicily in the 13th century.  More than one of my sources claims that his parents dedicated him to the Catholic Church prior to his birth.  It is also said that his parents were unable to have children for the first 26 years of their marriage, until he was born.  There is some evidence that this is a factual account.

A collection of legends that grew up around him appears on the St. Joseph's Carmelite Monastery of Kilmacud website (link at bottom of page.)  The oldest biography was written shortly after 1385, a copy of which is preserved in the Vatican, thus we are fairly sure of the basic facts of his life.




Albert was very young when he entered the Carmelite house in Trapani, which was only one of about fifteen friaries in Sicily at that time.  Later, he transferred to a house in Messina.  His mission was primarily that of preaching to the Sicilian people, and he is known both for his inspired oratory and many miracles and cures, both physical and spiritual, among them exorcisms.  He was known in his time as a "wonder worker," and the miraculous healings attributed to his intercession occurred even after his death.





It is said that Albert had many converts among the Jews that lived near Messina and that he also wrote books, but none are extant.  He spent some time as the provincial superior at the house in Messina, as late as 1297, but lived as a hermit for the last few years of his life, until his death in 1307. By about 1317, his relics were "translated" and there are pieces of that saint all over the place, mostly in Sicily. Trapani has his skull.  In Sicily there are many reminders of the Saint's life.  In Agrigento is a well, the waters of which were purified by the saint.

In the 16th Century, it was established that every Carmelite Church should have an altar dedicated to him.




Ancient Prayer for healing attributed to Saint Albert:

"O my God, you have created the human race by your wonderful power.  It is an act of your clemency that has called us to share your glory and eternal life.  When the first sin condemned us to suffer death, out of your goodness you wished to redeem us through the blood of your Son, to unite us to you through our faith and your great mercy.  You have brought us back from the shame of your sign; you have veiled our dishonour in the brightness of your glory.  Look now and see that what you have created, giving it subtle limbs and joints and made beautiful through its immortal soul, is now subject to the attack of Satan.  Be pleased Lord to reconstitute your work and heal it.  May your power be glorified and may the malice of the enemy be stunned."

Our Lady of Mount Carmel


Carmelite Prayer:

"Lord God, you made Saint Albert of Trapani a
model of purity and prayer, and a devoted
servant of Our Lady. May we practice these
same virtues and so be worthy always to share
the banquet of your grace. Grant this through
our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives
and reigns with you and the Holly Spirit, one
God, forever and ever."

The propers for the Carmelite Office of Blesseds and Saints can be found HERE, if you would like to include those in today's prayers.

Having learned a bit about this saint, I plan to add him to my personal "committee" of intercessors I call upon for help.  Perhaps he can help you also.  This blog represents a slight sketch about Saint Albert.  If it has piqued your curiosity, please refer to the source links I have included below my by-line.

In the meantime, please pray for me as I pray for you.


Silver "Rose" Parnell
(c) 2015
All rights reserved

SOURCE LINKS:

ST. JOSEPH'S CARMELITE MONASTERY, KILMACUD

ALBERT OF TRAPANI: a saint of yesterday for today Giovanni Grosso, O.Carm. translated by Paul Chandler, O.Carm.

ORDER OF THE BROTHERS OF THE MOST VIRGIN MARY OF CARMEL

MEDITATIONS FROM CARMEL




Tuesday, August 4, 2015

SAINT BEGGA OF LANDEN



Saint Begga of Landen
615 - 17 December 693
Great Great Great Grandmother of Emperor Charlemagne
My 38th Great Grandmother


As with many saints from whom I descend, the family of Saint Begga is rife with other saints, both ancestrally and among their descendants.  I am fervently praying that some of this sanctity will rub off on me! Begga's mother was Saint Itta (Saint Ida) and her older sister was Saint Gertrude of Nivelle. Mother and sister established a monastery of Benedictine nuns at Nivelles, which is now in Belgium.  Saint Gertrude was Abbess.  She is the patron saint of travelers, gardeners and cats.  If you have a rat infestation, she's the saint to call upon, and she is also invoked for intercession in cases of mental illness.   Gertrude died at a young age, no doubt due to illnesses induced by exhaustion from too rigorous a program of austerities such as long vigils and short rations.  This aspect of a saint's life has no appeal for me whatsoever.  I would like to live for a long time so I have a chance to make up for all the mistakes in the early years, before I became a Christian and when I was lost in my sin.


Saint Gertrude of Nivelles, Begga's sister
Photograph of the statue at Nivelles 
by Jean-Pol Grandmont

Begga's father was Pepin of Landen, who was mayor of the palace of Austrasia, which was in the northeastern section of the Merovingian Kingdom of the Franks in the 6th, 7th and 8th centuries.  The Frankish tribes occupied this territory until Clovis I unified them.  During the Carolingian Empire, the territorial character of the region dissipated.  (For more information about the time period in question, and a rather good dissertation on the main historical events and personages of the area of Austrasia, see the Wikipedia page HERE)

Begga also married into a saintly family when she took Ansegise as husband, who was the son of Saint Arnulf (sometimes "Arnoul" or "Arnold," depending on the language of the person referring to him.)



Painting by an anonymous artist who loosely 
copied a Reubens painting of the saint and
her husband. It is in the Royal Museum of 
Fine Arts in Brussels, Belgium
Emerson Kent.com



Begga's son, Pepin of Herstal, was the founder of the Carolingian dynasty of the rulers of France, also my ancestors.

When her husband was killed by his enemy Gundewin during a feud, Begga made a pilgrimage to Rome, then took the veil, rapidly founded seven churches and built a convent at Andenne on the Meuse River.  Her sister supplied her with a small number of nuns who laid the foundation of the monastic observance in that institution.  Begga was abbess there for the rest of her life, dying in 693 at the age of 78, which was quite an advanced age at that time.  The Monastery was thereafter converted into a "collegiate church"  of thirty two canonesses from the noble families.  According to the definitions I have been able to find, a "collegiate church" is a church in which the daily office and worship is maintained by a college of canons.  It is a lay institution presided over by a dean or provost.  I will have to research it some more because it doesn't sound quite Catholic, does it?


Convent at Andenne


Collegiate Church at Andenne,
Where Saint Begga is buried.


Saint Begga has two feast days: September 6 and December 17.  Some people attribute the founding of the Beguines to Saint Begga, but this is almost certainly myth.  The Beguines are thought to have gotten their name from Father Lambert le Begue, whose protection they enjoyed.



The thing that impresses me about these saints is that they joyfully abandon prestige, money, fame and comfort to pursue what was usually an extremely hard life of monastic penance. I wonder if the certainty of judgment day and the possibility of hell was more real to them than it is to many of us. Did they have more faith, or were the austerities and penances a fad of the time?



Bust in the entrance gate of the beguinage in the Turnhout
District, Antwerp.  Stone bust is in a large round niche in
the gate of the Begijnhof (beguine house.)  Bust was donated 
by J.B. Cleeren in 1768
Image found on "Statues - Hither & Thither"



LINKS TO SOURCES

Wikipedia

Catholic Online

Bartleby.com

National Society of Saints and Sinners

Saints and Blesseds who Left Descendants

Find a Grave Memorial Page

Satues - Hither & Thither

Emerson Kent - World History for the Relaxed Historian


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