SAINT OLGA

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

Saturday, December 17, 2016

WHAT I AM WATCHING NOW (SPOILER ALERT!)

Florence  Foster Jenkins
(nee Narcissa Florence Foster)
1868-1944

I don't require what you might traditionally call "entertainment" these days, as I find certain types of WORK to be my happiest compulsions; things like genealogy research which leads so naturally into historical research, and the making of hats for the homeless...or the occasional cold mail delivery lady. Writing is terrible work, and I just hate it, but I can't seem to get away from it as it also entertains me, in a grim fashion.

Having been given a television during the last year...and quite a large one (to accommodate my failing vision), I DO watch several programs, but I can't seem to generate much interest in anything more than the news channels, and I watch them all, even Faux News Channel, which seems to give credibility to some incredible things and which gives me anxiety, so that channel gets short shrift from me. Everything else, though, as long as people aren't arguing loudly over one another, I will "watch." Actually, the television might as well be one huge radio because I can't bear to just SIT there and watch it. I must be doing something else besides.

Crochet, painting and house cleaning are good accompaniments, except when doing dishes. I have to keep turning off the water to catch the drift of what's being discussed, now and then.

It goes without saying that there are certain PBS programs that are sacrosanct, and I watch them as if I am in a movie theatre; enrapt in the story line and watching every movement in the actors' faces, as if I am one of those human lie detectors I've heard about, the ones who watch the micro movements beneath the skin of a person's face and can tell when they're lying. When Downton Abbey finished its final season, I felt as if a best friend had died. There was so much about that series that I appreciated!

The beauty of the surroundings, the stately movement of time that became less stately over the long haul and more herky jerky over the landscape of what I consider to be a bad bit of historical geography. Anything later than 1925 is on shaky ground with me. Everything became so coarse after that time, while at the same moment congratulating itself that everything was becoming modern.

The grand dowager, Lady Grantham, if you haven't guessed, was my favorite character, and she took something of me with her when she disppeared from my weekly ritual of Downton Abbey worship. She represented the old guard which, to me, seemed very beautiful and lovely in many of its habits.

Recently, however, I was given a discount coupon from my internet carrier so that I could watch a pay-on-demand movie for free. I could have watched one in "high definition" and used up the whole $6.00 THAT way, but instead I decided to watch two movies in "standard def" so that I could have a double feature on an especially painful evening when I didn't have the energy to crochet or write. I got the first movie for free and then paid only $5.00 for the second one, which means each one cost $2.50 (in my mind, anyway.)

As luck would have it, I had snacks in the house, which is a rare thing. I typically eschew anything that isn't real food; that is to say, bread, eggs, fruits, veggies, meat, beans, nuts, seeds, filtered water. This year, when a friend called me from the grocery store and asked me what I wanted, I asked for "goodies" to share with any of the other old lady neighbors who may drop by. It's usually just my friend Ruby, but you never know. Anyway, I had PIE. It wasn't a very good pie, as it turned out, because it had NONFAT MILK in it, which makes me dreadfully sick, but I didn't know about the nonfat milk until it was too late. Anyway, I got to have my movie night with pumpkin pie that would not blow up inside me until a few hours later.

The movie blew up immediately, however. Forever the anglophile, I chose BRIDGET JONES'S BABY as the first feature. Never mind that the starring actress is actually an American. She did a fair job of ACTING as a Brit in the first film, so I thought she'd be good in this sequel.

Mind you, I am not one of those people that hate sequels. I will give them a chance, especially since I always have trouble remembering the FIRST film of the series, so I don't usually catch the little bumbles. If I happen to be sharp enough to catch a flub in the sequel, I yell to no one in particular, "continuity!" as if I was still in the movie business, watching to make sure that a 1960's timepiece didn't show up in a scene that was supposedly from the 1940's! The dog reacts in amusement whenever I talk to myself like this. He thinks his little human has gone mad...or something.

So, Bridget Jones's Baby immediately slapped me in the face with the most vulgar language and innuendo I could possibly imagine, even to the not-so-vague references to the size of a man's genitals, while all her girlfriends kept telling her, in the most chipper way, that she needed to have sex. This is where I learned that, while the first movie ended on a happy note that led us all to believe that Bridget was, finally, ending up with the equally adorable Mr. Darcy, it had not actually worked out with them, and they'd called it quits after 10 years together.

In this second movie Bridget is the head of a similar department in which she had suffered while juggling her boss and Mr. Darcy in that first movie. She has a vulgar sidekick who is the on-screen interviewer for their news program. Said chipper sidekick  pulls Bridget away for a girls weekend at a spa, supposedly, but has actually booked them into a yurt at some muddy rock festival where extremely short blue jean cutoffs are the costume of choice, despite the grim and continual rain.

Now, mind you, Bridget is, by this time, 43 years old, we are told, and the bloom is definitely off that rose. She's lost that bungling sweetness we loved about her in the first film. The camera keeps zooming in on her tight and trim upper thighs where they meet her bum, perhaps to keep us from looking at her face that wears a pained and rigid expression through most of the film. Or perhaps the cameraman got distracted.

I would suspect botox, except that an entire field of terrified wrinkles moves across her cheek bones whenever she mistakenly makes an expression. You could see those micro-expressions from outer space. I'm not being mean. Wrinkles are lovely when one is SMILING, but I can't tell you what to call that expression that happens on her.

It goes from bad to worse. In an extremely awkward set of scenes, she has sex with a man at the rock festival and then sex with her ex, Mr. Darcy, and ends up preggers, having to string along the both of them until they can figure out who is the father. (She won't submit to an amniocentesis test, with that long needle, and I don't blame her a bit.)

The movie slams from one nauseating scene to another, something like a distressed boat on the high seas during a deep sea fishing trip that's gone bad, with the audience mourning dear little Bridget who has obviously died before the movie began, and everyone is vomiting from sea sicknesses and sorrow.

Actress Emma Thompson puts in a highly credible performance as Bridget's gynecologist and is wryly funny despite the lukewarm jokes they make her say. She's a trooper, that one, and it was a relief to see her every time she popped up.  In fact, she may have saved our lives.

The ONLY laugh I got out of the whole movie was when dear Mr. Darcy was trying to carry this balloon of a pregnant woman through the streets of London whilst in labor. His facial expressions were priceless. The second man meets up with them halfway to the hospital, at which point carrying Bridget becomes a two-man job. We could have used a few more good men to carry this film.

Eventually, while giving birth, Bridget realizes she's still in love with Darcy and holds his hand with both of hers, leaving the other guy to just deal with it on the periphery. It was a clunky, heavy scene, with closeups of the hands involved. 1940's, anyone?

So, finally, I have arrived at my POINT.  Our modern world continues to express surprise that women want love, devotion, and family ties, NOT free-wheeling sexual encounters in yurts at rock concerts. We don't want to wait until we're 43 to have babies and get married. Careers, while wonderful and captivating, simply do not replace what we really want. We are biologically programmed for partnership, love and family. God created us for one another, and we keep pretending that it isn't necessary or that we can put it off until our FORTIES, or, indeed, forever...just fornicating our lives away until we're too old to do otherwise.

The developed world keeps fighting biology. Our prime baby making years are between the ages of 15 and 25, which makes sense, given that we are born with every egg we shall ever have. The older we grow, the older the eggs, and the more chance for birth defects or infertility. Believe me, I have heard all the reasons why couples shouldn't marry young or have children young, but the proof is in the pudding. What we are doing now does not work and is just plain sad.

The bleak and sodden love story that is BRIDGET JONES'S BABY is, in my mind, a cautionary tale, at best. Mostly, it is a bad movie because it is inauthentic. It tries to push concepts that do not work in real life. There are no happy feelings at the end of this movie.

Modern ideas about sex, love, marriage, children and abortion are all engineered and fueled by our hyper-capitalistic society, the corporate obsession with money. In short, it all boils down to GREED, but those of us suffering under the consequences of this soul-killing way of looking at the most important aspects of life are not even the people that BENEFIT from the modern philosophies about family, sex, etc. CORPORATIONS are the beneficiaries of this sort of cultural expression. If the corporations can keep us slaving away underneath them, (making slave wages), then the corporations and the CEOs at the top of the heap can benefit. Oblivious to the way that we are being used, movies like BRIDGET JONES'S BABY act like the Nazi propaganda films, trying to get us all heated about our "right" to kill our children or to put off conceiving for so long that children don't enter into the picture or there are damn few of them.  Bridget Jones is a success!  She is the boss at the news studio, churning out entertainment news, making the guy at the top of the heap very wealthy...and she can STILL have a baby, even though her eggs are geriatric. See, people? We can have it all.

Frances Foster Jenkins is also a movie about love, based upon a true story about a socialite who adored classic music and wanted to sing, sing, sing, but she had a tin ear and the vocal chords of a drunken raptor. I loved that movie, and I don't want to ruin it for you because it gives the payoff that Bridget Jones's Baby never could. I hope you see both movies and you can make your own comparisons.

God bless us all.

Silver Rose



Sunday, December 4, 2016

A MARVELOUS VISION OF HEAVEN



When I was a nun in the Hindu convent in Hollywood, I distinctly remember a short conversation in which the ersatz head nun waxed enthusiastic about how wonderful it would be when she died and just "merged" into God and became part of Him. Without thinking I said, "that sounds REVOLTING!"

It was then that I realized that my true inner knowing and belief was far different than the Hindu-style religion I'd entered in my late 20's. Even though I'd had almost NO exposure to Christianity while growing up, I somehow just knew that God was my creator and not my equal and that, if I was lucky enough to make it to heaven, it would not be a little Goddess on par with the great creator.

Many of these Hindu-based and "New Age" religions believe that the world is a horrible place and that the whole rationale for spiritual practice was to escape the grim and never ending cycle of birth and death. Some Christians, influenced by our pagan culture, believe that everything earthly, including our bodies, is bad and must be overcome. They believe that we are spirit beings stuck in the material world, but this is not Christian theology.

God created this world and pronounced it "good." He created us in His image, which, of course, is automatically good.

When I became disabled, and the illnesses worsened and accumulated with age, I forgot for a short time that the world is good and that our bodies are good. The horrible distraction of trying to get my needs met and my illnesses addressed pulled my mind away from the Lord to some extent. I was sad that my life had "ended up" like this, despite my joy at finding my Lord and experiencing the privilege of serving Him.

Thanks to a mini-series about heaven that I saw on EWTN, I was reminded of the truth, and I snapped out of my depression! My life has not "ended up like this" because my life has no end. My life has just barely begun, in the context of eternity. SO MUCH lays ahead!

In heaven, according to Anthony Destefano, the author of A TRAVEL GUIDE TO HEAVEN  our bodies will be transformed into our "most perfect selves-physically, emotionally, and spiritually." In addition to the deep, abiding joy that we naturally expect to experience in heaven, Anthony draws upon Biblical scripture and Catholic theology to fully develop a vibrant, soul-thrilling glimpse into the heavenly realm.

The Amazon.com page dedicated to this book says that heaven is "not only a spiritual place, but also a physical place, a fabulous "luxury resort," more sumptuous than any on Earth. The residents are real, their bodies transformed into their most perfect selves..."

The DVD based upon this book can be purchased at EWTN, the Eternal Word Television Network AT THIS LINK: DVD - 3 HOURS - TRAVEL GUIDE TO HEAVEN. I found it very entertaining, sometimes charming or funny, and often inspiring. Watching it helped me form a more specific expectation of heaven.

Since 2017 marks the 100 year anniversary of the miracles of Fatima, I intend to devote part of this year to the study of the Fatima miracles, the promises, and the instructions of our Lady. With a little help from my friends, I plan to give out rosaries, books about Fatima, and books about the rosary. Having a vision of heaven under one's belt is a fabulous inspiration to fuel a renewal of spiritual zeal, and is appropriate to any ministry, I would imagine.

Once we learn about the remarkable miracles that were witnessed by 70,000 people, "on cue," so to speak, how can we doubt the words of Christ or his blessed church? How can we not believe that, if we love Christ and follow his words, we are destined for that beautiful place called Heaven, where we will spend much more time than here on earth?

I would like to suggest that you purchase and watch the DVD: "TRAVEL GUIDE TO HEAVEN", which is sold through EWTN. Commemorative 100-year rosaries with attached special medal are sold by the Blue Army, otherwise known as the WORLD APOSTOLATE OF FATIMA.

I also recommend perusing the Catholic web websites and pick up anything you can on the Miracle of Fatima. The whole story is a wonderful aid to Evangelization.

If you can spare it, please donate on my website so that I can also distribute some rosaries and books this year. As usual, I have medical needs that are not being addressed, and if you God has graced you with the ability to help with those, I am grateful.

Most monastics have to do some sort of work to support themselves, since the generosity of modern man is limited, and the value of lives devoted to prayer is not appreciated. It is difficult to do this while disabled, which is the reason that most convents and monasteries will not accept disabled people, and some will even throw you our if you become ill while living as a monastic among them. Fortunately, the Lord has graced me with some creative skills.

In future, I may be uploading new blogs for the artworks.  In the meantime, my genealogy business can be found at: SILVER COTTAGE GENEALOGY



Please remember that I have professional genealogical skills, I paint, I write, and I make home-made lace chapel veils. I will be putting up some websites for these when I can, but keep it in mind for the time being. I am disabled for most functions, but I can produce a few items for sale, and perhaps I can make something for you. Christmas is around the corner.




May you be showered with blessings!

I pray for all of you, as I hope you pray for me.

God bless us all!

Silver "Rose" Parnell

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

SAINT AELIA FLACILLA - My 48th Great Grandmother



Many people are skeptical when they hear that I am descended from various saints and royals. It sounds like wishful thinking, or perhaps some sort of bragging, but it's not. Thousands of people are descended from the same families but have not substantiated their genealogy. The thing is, history books and other mentions in contemporaneous writings are available to us, either on the internet or in numerous reference books at the libraries. The royals are especially easy to follow through the centuries. Some of them happen to be saints, and carry that special significance through time.

Most inspiring to me are the early saints who were subjected to incredible persecution and whose efforts at evangelization were the building blocks of the early church. A lot of responsibility was on the shoulders of the royals, for instance, when introducing the faith as the standard of moral and theological thought upon which their respective countries would operate.

In the case of my 48th great grandmother, Saint Aelia Flaccilla, first wife of Emperor Theodosius, she was instrumental in advancing the case for the Nicene Creed being adopted by the faith itself.  In fact, she is said to have prevented a meeting between her husband and a promoter of the Arian heresy that would deny the Nicene Creed. Christian concepts were embodied in the Nicene Creed, not created by it, but heretics fought it.

Saint Aelia also helped and served the disabled, which appeals to me immensely, of course, not just because I am disabled but because I love the disabled who are usually ALSO poor and also have fewer of their needs met than an able bodied poor person. The disabled, who are one of the most vulnerable populations, are especially loved by God. He went so far to say that anyone who served the least of these (the most vulnerable) are serving Jesus Himself. The more I come to love Jesus, the more I feel love for "the least of these," because I recognize, bit by bit, that he is specially present with them.

The fact that an Empress, who could delegate any task to someone else, would herself put her hands to the service of the disabled, makes her a wonderful example for all of us. Since I am descended from her, I feel an especially strong desire to live up to her example, and I also feel a deep feeling of connection with her.

As far as we can tell, the saints have gone directly to heaven and are advocating for us, praying for us, and watching us. On the other side, I feel heard by them and am encouraged by it. I am not suggesting that a familial relationship to the saints is somehow superior to a relationship between a Catholic and his or her chosen patron saints. Not at all. It is just that, for me personally, having a familial relationship fills a giant void in my heart that other people may not have. My earthly family experience with my immediate family was just horrible, and I am completely detached from the few that remain. Jesus, Mary, the angels, the saints, and my Catholic family have become my real family.

"For my father and mother have abandoned me,
and the Lord has taken me up."
Psalm 27:10

In general, I recommend getting to know ALL the saints you possibly can. You may be surprised at the number of them for whom you feel some special connection. They're attentive to us and are waiting for us to appeal to them. I imagine they are already praying for us.

When I speak to the saints, I don't send my words out as if traveling over a far distance. For me, the saint to whom I speaking, whether it is Aelia or Olga or Margaret of Scotland, is sitting right next to me, holding my hand, their face drawn very close to mine. The breath of my words wafts across their ears. They're listening intently, and I am understood without explanation. It bouys me up.

With regard to Saint Aelia, she is a saint in the Orthodox Church and not the Catholic, even though her lifetime was long before the split between the two. I have often wondered if my strong desire for the reunion of the Catholic and Orthodox church can be traced to some genetic memory of my sainted Orthodox and Catholic ancestors. It could be that both Catholic and Orthodox ancestors are praying for all their descendants, and I feel love for both paths of the faith. It is interesting to speculate about the origins of my peculiar prayer ministry for the reunion, but I don't suppose I will know for sure until the Lord takes me home.

In the meantime, I call upon Saint Aelia (and others) for intercession of the Lord for the purpose of the reunion of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, so that the body of Christ may breath with both lungs once more. I invite you to join me!


God bless us all,
Silver Rose Parnell

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

THE SUN RISES EVERY DAY



One of the primary reasons the Jews didn't accept Jesus as the Messiah is that Jesus came as a poor person with no power, whereas they were expecting him to be an earthly king. They would say , "what good can come from Nazareth?"

Jesus emphasized, over and over again, that the meek will inherit the earth (meaning "everything"), not the powerful. The meek and tender of heart will inherit the true riches of human life, which is eternal relationship with him.

Political power and position were never held as the goal of Christians, which is why i am so surprised to see so many Christians become hysterical, getting angry, and generally expressing a doom and gloom vision of the future. While it is important to participate in the political story, it is not our story, and we need to remember that. We do the best we can, leaving the result to God.

If your candidate does not win, it isn't the end of the world. I promise. Jesus promised. Whatever the result, accept it and move on.

Yesterday, I awoke to hot air balloons in the sky with the sound of migrating sand hill cranes in the background. God is good. Life is good. Take heart.

Silver Rose

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

THE POOR DON'T OWE YOU ANYTHING




If an American makes $50,000 a year, he or she will pay about seven (7) dollars per year into the welfare system that supports the indigent on the bottom third of the poverty spectrum.

An in-depth analysis of the facts and statistics was done very nicely HERE on the blog Soapboxie. There are numerous other sources on the internet that echo this information, but I like the charts that this author provides, as well as the way he explains them. Very nice work, on his part.

In return for that seven dollars, a great number of tax payers are exceedingly interested in the activities of that person who receives that seven (7) dollars. They have a lot of opinions about what the poor, disabled and vulnerable should do in exchange for that tiny bit of assistance, and most of those opinions are damn mean.

In addition, the ratio of amount of assistance given, compared to the amount of control some people want over the recipients, would be hysterical if it weren't so sad. To be so focused on the money that drizzles into the pockets of the poor, while the corporate robber barons are emptying our bank accounts just doesn't make any sense.

Jesus would be appalled.

I do not receive any welfare, since I live on the Social Security that accumulated after working more than 33 years, but I very occasionally receive a donation on this blog. The cost of bringing internet into the home far exceeds the pittance I receive in donations, on a year by year basis. (I had hoped that the blog would at least pay for itself but unfortunately, it does not. I refuse to junk up my page with ads from marketers, however. I figure that, at the very least, I can give my readers a respite from the constant flow of sales pitches by corporations that they have to endure on every other page they access.)

Of the very few who donate, most are extremely kind. Others, in the guise of kindness, will assail me with a barrage of unsolicited "advice" that is not only unnecessary, but would also be insulting, if I was inclined toward that sort of response.

Although I have no choice as to whether or not I will be poor, the vast majority of monastics throughout time have been poor by choice and by chance. Ideally, it is a chosen thing, a sacrifice made for God. Even if poverty is thrust upon a monastic by circumstance, we are encouraged to embrace it. When poverty impinges upon the ability of the monastic to perform his or her functions, measures have to be taken to alleviate it. Poverty, in its essence, is not a "good" thing, but a tool in the hands of the spiritual aspirant.

Consequently, most monasteries rely upon a combination of donations and some type of work of the hands that they may sell. Whether it is coffee, candies, rosaries or liquor, most monastics have to produce something for sale in order to survive. In days gone by, most monasteries and convents survived by gifts alone, but modern times find us with far fewer devoted Christians who understand the value of what the monastic "produces" by his or her presence and prayers. Sadly, Westerners are capitalists first and Christians second, in most cases.

Being disabled and gradually becoming more so, I do not have the capacity to produce anything to any meaningful extent, which is why I have a donation request on my front page. Still, there are people who will insist upon gifting me with their opinion of what I must do to produce something worthy of payment. It is exhausting, especially since they fail to observe that I am already doing something worthy.

After trying, and failing, to get me to live under her rule, a recent small donor has gone off in a huff and unfollowed my blog. A relative who gave me a television similarly subjected me to an overbearingd brow-beating. Another who sent me a book a year or two ago erupted into a tirade of name-calling and public excoriation because I will not vote for her political candidate. Unfortunately, these people felt entitled to control my actions after contributing an extremely small amount to the household. People complain that the poor feel entitled, but my experience of life is the opposite. It is those who give with big strings attached who have a sense of entitlement.

The Bible tells us to invite those persons to our banquets who cannot afford to return a similar invitation. I definitely cannot afford to turn my life over to those who give me a few dollars. I have already given that life to God, and it is not for sale.

I have vacillated back and forth about whether or not to continue the blog or if I should dedicate the time spent writing it to some other endeavor. For the time being, I will keep it, because there are more than a few readers who tell me that their condition mirrors mine and that they receive encouragement and grace from my words.

Just as Jesus used parables to instruct, I offer the small circumstances of my life as an example that can be extrapolated to an understanding of the conditions of the poor, disabled and discarded in America, in order to rouse love in the hearts of those who denigrate the poor, and to support the faithful Christian in whom love already flows but who suffers from living in a hostile angry world.

God bless us all.

Silver Rose Parnell

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

GRAB YOUR INSPIRATION WHERE YOU FIND IT


The Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament
EWTN televised mass

I used to be uninterested in televised mass. I didn't see the point. There is no Eucharist, and "spiritual communion" didn't sound like an even mildly approximate replacement, despite the fact that my spiritual temperament runs to the mystical side, and I have an easy imagination.

Mother Angelica (God rest her soul) and her creation, the Eternal Word Television Network, along with its magnificent Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament have lightened this little hermit's world to a degree I did not imagine possible.

I began watching the 5:00 mass from a sense of duty, really. It just came to me. Or perhaps the Lord led me there. In any case, the timing is perfect. I generally take tea at 4 p.m. at the end of the day's exertions. An hour later, after refreshment and spiritual reading, I feel the tranquilIty of evening beginning to descend.

The mass is just beautiful. I happened to have a copy of the ADOREMUS HYMNAL, and I have no idea where I obtained it. Somehow it appeared in my books. The mass is about half Latin chant, half English, and the hymns, so far, are lovely. The version I have is out of date, and I have to shuffle around through the pages a bit, as a result, but since I am alone in the room, I needn't worry about disturbing other worshippers.

The mass is conducted in what seems to be a small chapel, probably just off of the main Shrine. You can see the picture, above. It is very beautiful and golden, but simple at the same time.  The mass is conducted with great reverence and beauty. There is no clapping, thanks be to God, no talking amongst the people in the congregation, and a certain gentleness pervades throughout.

I found myself being drawn into the mass. There, in my living room, I am learning the Latin chant, singing the hymns at full voice, and participating in all the responses and prayers. The spiritual communion is growing on me.

After only a few days, I've begun to anticipate 5:00 p.m. mass every day. It has quietly begun to smooth me into a rhythm that I haven't been able to establish on my own. Soon, I found myself scheduling reminders on the television set, but I suspect I will not need them.

When I was young, I was terribly disciplined. As an older lady, I am humbled with chronic pain, mobility issues and other problems. Things are quite different now, and I must find my inspirations and organizations where I can. Thanks be to God, he sends me enough aid to keep me on track.

For all the other elderly hermits out there, I recommend the televised mass on EWTN. In younger days, we may have made pilgrimage to the place: just hopped into the car and driven there over miles and days. Instead, we drive our recliners to a virtual wonderland of inspiration in a heavenly land.

Get the Adoremus Hymnal so you can fully participate, and you won't regret it.

God bless us all.

Silver Rose

Monday, October 17, 2016

GETTING OUT OF BED HAS BECOME AN ART

Sunset at the hermitage


In the sunset of my life, I am finding the simplest things most difficult. Getting in and out of bed, for instance, is a production, which is probably why I sleep so often in my recliner. I get a much better, much deeper and more restorative sleep, however, if I sleep in the bed, a bed, I might add, that cost me a fortune and took two years to pay for.

The problem is that, if I DO get a good night's sleep or 8 or 10 hours straight through, I wake with my lower spine and hips frozen in pain if I move. If I just lay there, I am alright. The mornings are beautiful and I can pray the time away, but at some time I have to get up, and this is when the morning comedy show begins.




All the icons appeared to be staring at me while I tried to wriggle myself out of bed one morning. The night before, I had finally put together a rolling bed cart so I could bring the computer into the bedroom on some evenings when the Pope is engaged in some special event and I want to see it on EWTN at 3:00 in the morning or whatever odd time of the early morning it had to be shown, due to time differences around the world. It is an inconvenience, but there is something wonderful about being included in an event as it happens.

The cart was blocking the side of the bed which I customarily use to crawl out in the morning, but it didn't occur to me that I might not be able to get out of bed on the other side.

Feeling very much like Kafka's cockroach, I wriggled and squirmed, trying to find a position that would allow me to exit the bed without wrenching my back and causing even more damage to it. It took a good ten minutes before my feet found the floor, finally, and I began the customary production involved in straightening my back.

It is on day's like this that I am grateful to be living alone, with no one to see my comedic stylings in my pajamas...no one except the Lord, of course.

Please pray for me, as I pray for you.

Silver Rose

Saturday, October 15, 2016

ONE RINGY DINGY



I have lived as a religious hermit for about 13 years. I became disabled before becoming Catholic, and I have been mostly housebound ever since.

Frequently, a hermit will enter into a relationship with a spiritual director, especially in the beginning and especially if the hermit is unfamiliar with monastic life.  Although I have lived a self-consecrated life devoted exclusively to God since 2003, and since I had several years of experience in monastic life prior to that, I wondered if I should attempt to find a spiritual director and if I should take more formal vows and increase my commitment, so, about a year ago, I started making telephone calls to vocation directors on the vocation committee for this dioceses.

What I did not know is that you practically have to be a rock star to get someone in the archdiocese to return your telephone call! According to someone "in the know," you have to be a known person to someone in the parish, otherwise the Catholic hierarchy ignores you, no matter how many emails you send, phone calls you make or letters you write. At the very least, you have to have a priest, a sister in a significant ministry, or someone IMPORTANT to champion you. Even a hard working layperson in long term ministry does not have enough Catholic currency to warrant a response to a heart-felt email on my behalf. She's not part of the Catholic hierarchy, so she doesn't warrant a response.

A year ago,  I did manage to reach a sister on the vocations committee, Lisa Marie Doty, on her cell phone that was given to me by a sister who has previously held that position. She promised me she would get in touch with our new bishop to see if he was inclined to have diocesan hermits among his flock. She also promised to find me a spiritual director. She then proceeded to duck every phone call and refused to return any of my telephone messages. That was last October, exactly one year ago on the 19th.

After my failure with Sister Lisa Marie Doty, I sent many emails and left many telephone messages for a long list of people at the Dioceses, from the Bishop's office on downward. No luck. No response. Two months ago I managed to connect with a lovely woman, Monica Justice, who is the assistant to Father Daniel, who, she tells me, is the person to speak with in regard to my situation. I left 4 messages with her and never received a response from Father Daniel. During my last telephone message, I asked her to call me back and tell me if I was doing something wrong or pursuing something inappropriately. No response.

Not returning telephone calls used to be considered very bad manners in days gone by, but I am afraid that it is endemic in our society. I don't know why this has happened, whether it is a sign of the times or a sign of my reduced circumstances in life. In my 20's, when I was writing for a powerful television producer, I don't recall my messages ever going unanswered. People wanted things from me. Now, I have nothing to offer but prayers, something which has no currency, even in the world of the professional religious.





I have a long list of telephone numbers and email addresses to which I have sent requests for help and none of them have responded over many months' time.

I was raised without religion and was in my late 30's before I learned anything about Jesus. From that time forward, gaining access to the Catholic Church was problematic.  I wanted to get baptized immediately, but a misinformed religious sister told me it would be YEARS before I could be baptized with the Catholic Church because, in the past, I had been divorced. She was terribly wrong. I was not living in any kind of irregular union and there was no reason not to be baptized, but there seems to be a strong elitist faction in the official church that thrives on pushing people away. (Baptism, for those that do not know, washes away all sin, and non-sacramental unions between people who haven't been baptized are NOT the types of unions that cannot be dissolved. The Catholic laws about divorce deal with "sacramental marriage" between baptized persons.)

Indeed, the religious sister that refused me baptism in the church behaved as if she enjoyed the power to say "no." I have to say that, in later years, I did learn that many Catholics are terribly ill-educated about the church, so I am not saying that this sister was deliberately lying, just that she seemed to enjoy pushing me away, thinking at the same time she was right to do so.

Eventually, another sister, an 11th cousin of mine, who DID know the Canon laws, helped to get me accepted into the Church, but even with her advocacy, I had a terrible time getting into the church.. Because of my disabilities, I had to have private instruction rather than attend an RCIA class. I couldn't sit through the classes and couldn't drive at night. Although the priest of the Byzantine Church I was attending gave permission for my cousin to walk me through the lacunas in my education, the deacon refused to allow it because he was in the middle of pursuing his career as a priest and said he didn't have time to help at all.

I am blessed to know many highly respectable, extremely kind Catholic lay people who have adopted me as their own and treat me like part of their families. My survival would be severely curtailed, were it not for my Catholic family, and I would have little, if any feeling of community without them.

These experiences just further my resolve to pray for the strengthening of the Catholic Church because, while I am disappointed in the Church's failure to include the marginalized, the poor, the disabled and the abandoned in the workings of the institution, I am absolutely convinced of THE FAITH, which is sublime.




There is a great wealth of spiritual currency amongst the marginalized members of the church, the lonely old ladies, the disabled, unmarried people, and many converts whose friends and families have abandoned them because of their faith. The man who came to fix my telephone service the other day told me that I remind him of his auntie who, when she retired, announced that she would be spending the rest of her life for the Lord. She too has a large prayer corner and altar, with statues and pictures all over the place. I'm sure she recites many prayers throughout the day and, like me, probably watches the mass on EWTN, reads the spiritual books and prays for everyone.

The natural inclination among retired people, especially those who find themselves alone and often disabled, is to throw themselves on the mercy of the Lord, and I know that I have many, many readers in that group

I want to ENCOURAGE my readers who are likewise living the eremitic life and to affirm the necessity of persistence against whatever obstacle appears to be standing in your way, either in the living of the life or the rejection of you by those in power in your parish or your diocese. Just remember what Jesus said, "Forgive them, Lord, for they know not what they do."

You DO have spiritual power and importance. Your prayers that you conduct privately in your homes, in the dead of night when you cannot sleep, in your heart when you are washing the pots and pans, these prayers, devotions and pains offered up to the Lord are beloved by the Lord, and your efforts are not in vain. None of us needs the permission of anyone to lead a life completely devoted to prayer. While true that many of us could benefit from spiritual direction from a reputable and soulful spiritual director, we have to have the faith that the Lord will take care of us, knowing our needs of every variety.

As long as we live a good Christian life and remain faithful to Catholic theology, we can't go wrong. I would insert a word of caution here, and that is that it is important that we do not entertain any spirit of anger or rebellion and that we are very careful to continue to educate ourselves in the doctors of the church, the Catechism, and the Bible.  Contributing to ersatz apparitions and seers that are not approved by the Catholic Church should NOT be done. Without the leadership of a spiritual director, we must play it safe, rather than be sorry later. We can never put ourselves forward as knowing a better way than the way the Church has outlined in faith and morals.

Just because fallible human beings populate the structure of the Holy Catholic Church and mistakes are made, I, for one, am convinced that it is essential to remain faithful to its requirements. While I am upset that no one in the church will return a telephone call from an unimportant Catholic with no 'pull', my obedience to and love of the church remains as strong as ever. I think the best approach is to continue on my own, trusting in the Lord to guide me. After all, if He thought I needed the cooperation of the Church in my prayer mission, He would have paved the way for it.





Let us stand together in solidarity with one another and pray for one another in our solitary lives. I would like to suggest that we offer prayers for one another at regular times throughout the day, to our best ability.

Generally speaking, I say prayers at noon, three o'clock and six o'clock. I also say "morning prayers" at whatever time I manage to arise, and evening prayers. Morning prayers would customarily be 6 a.m., but I am having some sleep problems just now and cannot manage to get up in the morning as my medications don't permit it. I have many rosaries and chaplets that I recite also, with some corresponding prayers.

If you are interested in praying "with" me at the same time, please contact me and we can work something out. I feel that this extra layer of prayer will bring a measure of strength into our spiritual practice.

Together, we can create our own support for our spiritual lives, absent the care and concern of the institutional church.

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

God bless us all!

Silver Rose Parnell


Thursday, September 29, 2016

STAY INSPIRED!

The Three Archangels


Those who read my blog might think it would be difficult to keep the spiritual inspiration going, considering the illnesses and difficulty performing natural functions. The simplest logistics are maddeningly difficult, it's true, but I use both the painful moments, as well as those spent recuperating in my recliner to keep my mind uplifted so that I can approach a state of "praying always." I have written before that surrounding myself with holy pictures uplifts my soul and keeps my mind at the feet of the Lord. There seems to be no end to it, until I run out of wall space and book shelves!

My living room prayer corner


I LOVE the beauty of the icons, candles, incense, photographs, and all the accoutrements that call to mind the Lord, his saints and angels, but also speak to the heart of PRAYER. My living room prayer corner is an invitation to a very special and intimate conversation with the Lord. Whether I am praying a simple contemplative prayer or chanting the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I am entering into a spiritual union with my beloved Lord. The candles are lit. The incense is burning. The conversation begins. This little prayer corner is directly across from my recliner, and I spend a lot of time just sitting and gazing at whichever icon appeals to me at that moment. I highly recommend that every household have AT LEAST ONE prayer corner. As it happens, I have two.

Modern life has one big advantage for someone like me who is disabled and nearly home bound. The internet and television bring me the world in a unique manner that all my books can't duplicate. It doesn't replace a good spiritual book, but introduces another dimension. First thing in the morning, I usually find the Bible reading for the day and read that. Afterwards, I meditate on the meaning and significance for me personally, which is known as "lectio divina."

Often, I resort to the EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network) and catch some special programming or participate in the televised mass, knowing that there are likely THOUSANDS of little old ladies like me who are participating at that very same moment. That idea makes me very happy.

Then I check out the saints for the day. There are two or three websites to which I can refer that give me those. Every day, there are MANY saints for whom we have a feast day, and it is wonderful to learn about a new saint or to reacquaint myself with a favorite. This may inspire me to recite a chaplet or some special prayers in honor of that saint. Sometimes I will write a blog post, and now that I have more reliable internet, there may be more of these.

I recommend subscribing to good magazines and circulars that are faithful to the magisterium, though I can't afford them at the moment. Being a member of the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary has been a source of great joy for me. The writings included in their modest little newsletter often give me great material for contemplation. I also am a supporter of the effort to have Blessed Margaret of Castello sainted, and their regular missives bring me holy reminders. There are other groups that send daily emails. Keep your eyes peeled for signs of heresy though, folks! There are plenty of groups that are actually created for the purpose of snatching the faithful AWAY from the church and into bizarre cults that have some problem with some arcane aspect of the Church.


Vintage rosary very similar to the one given to me
by a dear friend. Etsy is a good source for these.


My standard prayers are the rosary, but even in that case, I have several different rosaries. One is the St. Benedict rosary that a friend bought for me on pilgrimage to Rome. It gives me a sense of protection, both because of the prayers of protection against Satan that appear on each St. Benedict medal that is used to recite the "Our Father" prayers and because the friend who gave it to me is like a guardian angel for me.

Another beloved friend gave me a gorgeous moonstone rosary that is a vintage French piece of art, very delicate, with a beautiful feel to the beads. The granddaughter of a friend of mine made me a turquoise colored plastic and string rosary that I love to use on the days I honor Mother Teresa of Calcutta, a saint for whom I have a first class relic that this little girl gave me.

I have a faux pearl, lightweight rosary that I carry with me in my handbag, along with some very special medals given to me by friends who have traveled to various pilgrimage places and brought me items from those places. I've attached a small silver medal of Saint Jason, which is the name of my poor departed son who died a few years ago. I use that rosary while waiting for mass to start on the rare occasions when I am able to attend mass, and I use it while standing in front of the mausoleum where my son's ashes are interred. Always, I think about my son when I use that rosary and usually dedicate my prayers to him.




Chaplets are also a solid form of inspiration. I have a small statue of St. Michael in my living room prayer corner. Next to him, I keep a box with a small St. Michael chaplet. Another favorite is my chaplet of Divine Mercy. A beautiful picture of Divine Mercy Jesus features prominently on the wall across from my recliner and I can gaze at it while I use the chaplet.

St. Olga of Kiev, "Equal to the Apostles", is my 33rd great grandmother, and my deepest inspiration. She was JUST AWFUL before becoming Christian. If she can become a saint, we ALL have a chance! Recently, I was given a beautiful icon of her, made in the Ukraine where she lived. I also found a one-of-a-kind chaplet of her that came with instructions on how to recite a "niner" chaplet.


Baptism of St. Olga


Contemplation, lectio divina, the rosary, various chaplets, Bible study, study of the saints, big prayers, little prayers, the practice of the presence of God - All of these contribute to keeping my mind in the beauty of the Lord.

I have even developed quite a few methods of walking prayer while I am taking the dog out for his numerous constitutionals. All of the prayers are internal, so my neighbors don't think I've gone nuts and am talking to myself. Sometimes I simply recite the Jesus prayer, "Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me, a poor sinner." Often, I recite the Ave Maria. When I am mentally sharp and there are no neighbors in the parking lot, I will recite an Ave, then a very short prayer for a neighbor or a cause...something different between each Ave.

There is no reason to imagine that these are "rote" prayers. They are only rote if you let your mind wander elsewhere. Heart, mind and spirit have to be joined, and there is nothing rote about it.

The variety of Catholic practice and prayers is amazing, and I rely upon MANY, as you can see. They are a wonderful distraction to pull the mind away from from chronic pain, suffering, and the tedium of the constant round of chores that take SO long when one is physically challenged. No matter what I am doing, whether walking the dog, doing dishes, laundry or scrubbing, it is ALL prayer, either through actual prayers said in tandem with the task OR by dedicating a more complex task to the Lord and practicing the presence of God while doing it.

Stay inspired, my friends! And pray for me once or twice during all of it, won't you?

God bless us all

Silver Rose Parnell

Friday, September 16, 2016

REJOICING IN THE WILL OF THE LORD



After spending more than two years trying to find an appropriate hermitage that was both safe and close to doctors, shopping and my Catholic community, I have finally given up and resolved to stay where I am, make it as safe as possible, and return to writing books, with the intention of evangelizing, educating AND making some extra money to fund the PURCHASE of a small hermitage that can be outfitted to accommodate my numerous physical disabilities as well as my eventual blindness.

If the Lord had wanted me to move into another rental, we would have found something. I realized that it was God's will that I remain where I am for the time being. Many times, the will of the Lord is revealed to me by some FAILURE. Failure can serve as a beautiful message of the Lord's intentions, since nothing happens without his will or his permission.

Instead of feeling defeated by failure, I feel uplifted and joyful. The Lord has revealed at least PART of his will for me, and I feel so happy because I want nothing more fervently than to know and obey His will.

Faced with living in somewhat dangerous circumstances that do not meet my needs with regard to my disabilities, I resolved to just dig in and make the best of things. I will live with whatever I am able to endure, and I will do my best to improve the other conditions by begging for help from my Catholic friends.

The first thing I did was to have internet installed. Comcast had a special two year deal that included phone, television and internet. In order to get my writing "career" revved up again, I need access to good, fast internet. Also, I am an expert genealogist and will be open to taking genealogy research jobs, here and there, which also requires fast internet. The television gives me access to Catholic networks, the history channel, and news; while the home telephone is an added safety feature that I have been needing for some time. The cell phone service will be reduced to an emergency phone to take in the car with me on the rare occasions when I drive, which will radically reduce my usage and the cost for the cell phone.

My doctor wants me on a Mediterranean diet to address my numerous ailments, and I have resolved to follow his instruction more strictly as well as to reduce my portions, both to save money and to improve my health. The cost of the internet, cable and telephone will eat up the remainder of my food budget, so meals must be simple, albeit organic (because of asthma and allergies), and I'll have to beg for donations and/or supplies. Two of my Catholic friends have been subsidizing my diet for some time, but I will need to find some additional help. (Please don't write me and suggest the food bank. I am allergic to most of what they offer and I have had terrible luck with rancid and moldy food from them.)

Mostly, I will eat fresh organic fruits and frozen organic vegetables, brown rice, yogurt, bread and fish. My diet will closely resemble what I ate at the Hindu convent, though perhaps a bit more simple and strictly organic. I have made an Amazon wish list for food and household items that I need in this process of hunkering down and preparing for the next battle. Amazon knows my address and will mail to me directly. Otherwise, you could donate via Paypal (button on the right side of the screen.) Amazon links are at the bottom of this blog, and to the right.

Saint Jane and her husband, Dave, have already bought me a new computer, and it should arrive sometime this month. The one I am currently using is at least 8 years old. It was given to me by a neighbor who moved out of state. The screen is hanging on by a thread and is almost completely disconnected from the keyboard. It's a mess, and the software is ancient, so the time has come for a new one. (Personally, I don't like having to learn more computer programs, but it is a necessary trial.)

How do I know that writing a book is God's intention for me? I have the strong feeling that this is what He wants, but I really won't know until I finish the book and begin trying to SELL it. That is where the rubber hits the road. For myself, personally, I feel that, to the degree that I am able to support myself, I should do so. My abilities are very limited, but I should be able to get a book finished eventually. It is the last leaf on the tree I have been shaking for the last dozen years.

I won't give up my monastic routine, such as it is. Instead, I will write the book between prayer and meditation times. My heart and mind yearn to be united with Christ at all times, and I strive, in my limited ability to "pray always." Of great help is THE PRACTICE OF THE PRESENCE OF GOD by brother Lawrence of old, who said that he was equally present with the Lord amidst the pots and pans in the kitchen as he would be in the choir. He was an ordinary man with ordinary talents and a great inspiration to the rest of us ordinary people who strive to unite ourselves with the Lord.

If the sale of the book fails, then I suppose I will stop trying to do anything but PRAY and beg for my survival....like the mendicants of old.

In the meantime, I ask for your help and your prayers.

God bless us all!

Silver Rose Parnell

AMAZON WISH LISTS TO HELP ME HOBBLE THROUGH THIS PHASE:

RESEARCH AND WRITING NEEDS

WORSHIP NEEDS

FOOD, MEDICINALS AND HOUSEHOLD NEEDS

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

THE STINGINESS OF ADVICE



Yesterday I met with the priest of my ersatz parish. I was called into the office to have a meeting in response to a pleading email sent to numerous people on my behalf by Saint Jane. It outlined the harsh and dangerous conditions of my current living situation, my disabilities, the low income that does not meet my needs; and my worthiness, based on good character traits. (Thank you, Jane. The email was awesome.)

The priest, his “church manager,” Jane and I met in the conference room, at which point the priest revealed, basically, that he didn’t intend to help me. They have an empty house on the property, but it has furniture in it and the priest is “tired” of moving it in and out of the house (though I doubt seriously he himself lifts anything) and he wants $1200.00 a month in rent for the industrial looking building that sits like a beige toad on one side of the parking lot of the church. He WON’T move out the furniture, and he wants the full rent. Period.

The building was constructed as a rectory, but the current priest owns one or two pieces of property in Albuquerque and the mountains of Jemes, so he lives in one of those. Typically, there would be NO rent generated from the rectory, when it is used for its customary purpose. He just WANTS money for it if someone other than the parish priest is living in it. It is completely arbitrary. The dire need of a poor parish member is, apparently, of no concern to him.

The last residents who JUST moved out of that building, were paying $950.00 a month, and the priest, though he was informed I could pay no more than $440.00 a month before the meeting, raised the price of the rent by $250.00 a month, which, at $1200.00 a month comes close to being my entire monthly income. Clearly, he wished to discourage me.

Once he had made it plain that he would do nothing for me, he spent the rest of the meeting lecturing me on what I should do to find a place to live. He didn’t bother to ask me what I had already done. He just sailed into a useless bunch of suggestions. His assumption that I have done nothing in the way of research on this topic would have really insulted me, had I not seen this behavior over and over again over the last few years.  People aren’t willing to even spend the mental energy needed to think through the issue enough to reach the obvious conclusion that I have probably thought to research my housing dilemma before resorting to begging others for help. At the very least, they could ASK me what I had done so far, but no one does. This flurry of useless advice is just a smokescreen to hide the stinginess at the heart of the matter.

With all the talk that Jesus devoted to helping the poor, even one’s own parish priest can’t be bothered. Money RULES.

My country club aunt used to “tsk tsk” at my worsening health and financial situation, asserting first that my multi-millionaire father should help me and then, when he got Alzheimer’s and I was written out of his will shortly before he died, she switched to complaining about how my SISTER should do it. My aunt blathered on about how worried she was about me, but her worry only extended to giving me useless advice, like telling me to ask my sister to help, even though the Aunt was wealthy! (While waiting for my Social Security benefits to begin coming in, I asked this aunt for $30.00 for food. She flat out refused. Years later, when I told her about my diagnosis of impending blindness, her daughters sent me a fruit basket! Yep, that’ll fix it.)



When I did ask my sister for help, she claimed she could not afford more than $25.00 a month for internet fees to research housing in her area, then she purchased a brand new luxury car and big recreational vehicle.  She could have singlehandedly funded the move but chose not to. She chose, instead, to buy luxury vehicles to replace the 4 year-old luxury vehicle she already owned.

Typically, most Americans do not want to help you unless it benefits the giver. I am lucky enough to know a few people for whom this is not true. Unfortunately, none of them are wealthy! Isn’t that odd?

There was no point in contributing to the conversation with the priest yesterday. I tried to explain to him that his idea about mobile homes wouldn’t work because they were too expensive and the ramps were way too steep for me, but when I started out by mentioning that they aren’t usually rented, he got mad at me and said he knew of one that someone was renting just last month. Of course, he had no clue about the amount of the rent or the availability of other rentals. He was just talking out of his hat. Later in his monologue, he came back to the subject of mobile homes, as he was obviously peeved I had dared to contradict him and he repeated, “I know for a fact that there is one mobile home that is rented.” He had an angry glint in his eye.

Trying to fill in the blanks for him was useless, and I spent the rest of the meeting being pleasant and waiting for it to be over. At one point, I did try to appeal to his spiritual side by mentioning the crucial need for a quiet place, since I live a contemplative life, with hours of prayers in addition to reciting the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He told me not to tell anyone about my monastic routine because everyone would just think I was a kook. So much for his spiritual side!

At the end, I thanked him, although I do not know for what. Perhaps I was just being characteristically polite.

I woke up this morning wondering why on earth the man had summoned me to his office at all. I suspect that the heart of the church manager had been touched by Saint Jane’s email and that she had arranged it, dragging the priest into it without any enthusiasm on his part.

Now he can claim he “helped” me by giving me a stream of useless advice. It is just as well. When this priest retires, the next one is not likely to own his own home, as this one does. Usually, priests are rather poor, especially here in New Mexico, so the next good father will probably HAVE to live in the rectory, which would mean that I would get kicked out. I would have to spend my entire residency looking for another place to live in anticipation of that unavoidable resolution.

Meanwhile, my situation is the same – living on the edge of the barrio, in a noisy, crowded, unsafe apartment complex where the apartment manager snaps at me and treats me like dirt whenever I need something done, where criminals shoot up drugs in our back yard, and where my next door neighbor appears to be a paranoid schizophrenic who claims that I have been yelling at her and that she is afraid for her life because of me, when, in fact, I haven’t spoken to her since she moved in, basically. Evidently she is hearing voices.

Insanity gradually began to ensue after that woman moved in. First, she accused me of “reporting” her to the office, which was nutty and wrong. Then she tried to cover my windows with cardboard, for who knows what reason?

NOW she has started toting around large weapons that she drags from her car every time she sees me in the parking lot. The first weapon was a shiny new axe, with a handle about 3 feet long. Lately, she’s taken to drawing out a large rusty metal pipe of the same length, holding it in a menacing way when she sees me pass.

The apartment itself is just fine. If I could just transport it to another neighborhood, turn it into a cottage and have a small yard constructed in the back, it would be wonderful. It is getting harder and harder to walk my service dog, due to my severe arthritis, scoliosis, sciatica, and damaged knees, though, and one day in the not too distant future, I will have to stop. Then, of course, I don’t know how long it will be before I lose the rest of my eyesight. My understanding is that macular degeneration begins by slowly eroding the center of my vision until nothing is left but a little peripheral vision.

I shouldn’t complain.  Most saints had horrible lives and were treated very badly. Many died grisly, horrific deaths after years of persecution. Some, like Saint Theresa of Calcutta, endured many years of depression, with no consolations to help make the life more bearable. I will continue to be grateful for their example, and perhaps just give up trying to get my needs met. When I MOST want to pursue God, I am forced to pursue earthly remedies and, considering the many humiliations I have to endure as a result, it would seem better to lose myself in the Lord and forget everything else. Trying to get my needs met has been unsuccessful, so far, and my health is suffering from the added stress involved.

Perhaps Saint Jane will continue the search, though I wouldn’t blame her if she just threw up her hands in frustration and walked away from the whole mess.

One blessed, incredible favor bestowed upon me by the Lord recently is the additional friendship of a woman who brings me the Eucharist on Sundays. She is from a different parish that has pews that cripple me, BUT she has a very similar background to mine, having previously taken sannyas, as I did, in a Hindu-based group similar to the one in which I discovered Jesus and His Church. Her deep spirituality and generosity of spirit have been a balm to my soul, and I know the Lord has sent her to me to encourage me in this difficult path. Gratitude washes over me, and I know I can endure because of the love the Lord has shown me in the friendship of good Christian women.

I just hope the neighbor doesn’t have a full-on psychotic break and come after me with that huge axe. I am too decrepit to defend myself, and I am no longer able to run. Please pray to the Lord that, if it is not his wish that I find suitable housing for myself, could he at least find somewhere else for that crazy woman to live? That would be an improvement.

God bless us all,

Silver Rose Parnell

© Copyright 2016

All rights reserved.

Monday, May 30, 2016

VEILING

Long white lace chapel veil for sale on Etsy

Several weeks ago, I was sitting in church, my hands folded in my lap, my head bowed, in deep prayer after receiving the body and blood of Christ when some woman broke from the communion line, came over to me and grasping my hands, said, "your hair is SO beautiful!" I was astonished and appalled.

I hasten to add that I had done NOTHING to feature my hair. In fact, it was a mess. I hadn't even brushed it before leaving the house, as I was late getting ready for my ride. I had just put a few home-made scrunchies in it at varying spots down the length of it to keep it in line. It is a combination of gray and my natural reddish auburn color, and is on the frizzy side, so it isn't something I wear like a trophy.



To cover or not to cover?


Over the last couple of years, I had been considering the issue of veiling in church. Women originally veiled for another purpose, but having my hair become a distraction to someone else's devotions as well as my own was yet another reason to give serious consideration to the practice.

Of course, my physical condition has deteriorated to such an extent that I am currently unable to sit through mass, but I am praying for healing and I am also losing weight in the desperate hope that it will have some effect, even though I know that my joints are now "bone on bone" and my spine is becoming fused in the lower back. Hope springs eternal, especially when one is Christian and we have a long tradition of miraculous healings, going back to Christ Himself. I may or may not be able to return to regular mass attendance, so I have to get this issue of veiling settled in my mind for when and if I do return.

I know, of course, that women are no longer required to veil in church, but many Americans fail to recognize that the requirement having been dropped does not signify that it has no value. It just means that there is no longer an official proscription against women going bare headed into the church and one will not be PUNISHED in any fashion. One is no longer penalized for failing to veil in church, but it does not mean it should not be done.


Long white mantilla style veil
at



In all of the churches I have visited since I became Catholic about 9 years ago, I rarely see more than 2 or 3 women who are veiled. Many times, no one is veiled. I find no fault with that. It is just an observation about the current habit. Occasionally, I have remembered to bring a scarf or crocheted lace shawl with me to wear at church, and I noticed several women eyeing me as if I had broken some feminist code or something. Some women have told me that wearing a veil is a cooperation with the patriarchy that suppressed women for thousands of years.

1 Corinthians seems to be a problem for some women. They do not like the idea that the man is the head of the family

I was struck today by a response from a Muslim woman, ironically, with regard to the wearing of the Hijab, the large scarf that covers the hair and necks of Muslim women.


Malaysian woman wearing an hijab



Hanna Yusuf makes the point that the wearing of the head scarf is a way to opt out of the sexist culture that views all women as sex objects to be used in everything from selling cars to actually selling themselves. By dressing modestly and "covering up," a woman may reclaim her body. Obviously, she is not talking about those instances where a woman is forced, sometimes with violence, to wear obscuring clothing. She mentions that in her video. She makes her own case much better than I can, so, if you are interested, please see her video HERE.

When I was in the Hindu convent, several of us "younger ones" regularly wore simple handkerchiefs that were folded into triangles that were then tied at the nape of the neck, especially when doing dirty jobs, when the weather was breezy, or just for the heck of it. The tendency toward modesty is natural among those attracted to monasticism, in most instances. Then, there are the artists, and you never know what kind of getup they will adopt. Guilty, here, with my occasional outbreaks of pink. I still wear one of those headscarves on many occasions, especially as fall approaches.  These days, it is usually black in color, as a friend gave me 5 for my wardrobe. She is a lay Carmelite and wears a scarf to church.


Here I am, in the Hindu convent, wearing the scarf I mentioned.


In researching this article and studying the topic for myself, I found numerous fascinating articles and videos about veiling, both within the Catholic tradition and in others. Orthodox Jewish women, for instance, are required to cover their hair all the time unless in the presence of their husbands alone. Some Jewish ladies wear wigs, but a growing number of them are adopting an arrangement of a collection of scarves wrapped ingeniously around the hair that has been bound up in a scrunchy. Pretty elastic bands and sparkly brooches are sometimes added for extra flair.


This is an example of the Orthodox Jewish
"Tichel" I described, above.

While it is assumed that covering one's hair is simply a matter of some perceived modesty, in the Catholic tradition, it pertains rather more to the mass and to the Eucharist and probably has little or nothing to do with considerations of modesty or demure appearance. It is, in fact, a declaration of woman's essential holiness and special relationship with the Lord.

Everything considered holy in the Catholic mass is veiled or covered in some way. Woman is holy because she has an extremely intimate relationship with the Lord in which she helps bring God's beloved children into the world. For 9 months, a woman's body sustains two souls. Like the chalice that holds the precious blood in the mass, woman is the carrier of God's precious ones, just as Mother Mary carried Jesus within her womb.

Remember that the "holy of holies"  that was the inner sanctum of the Temple of Jerusalem in which the Ark of the Covenant was kept was separated from the rest of the temple by a veil, so the veil has great significance in the context of the mass, and it is deep and layered in meaning.

Rather than symbolizing the inferiority of women, the veil announces a woman's authority and close relationship with the Lord. It recognizes the essential holiness of the state of womanhood, in general. It is her crown and her privilege to wear.

One shouldn't extrapolate this meaning from the universal to the particular and think that if one is not of childbearing age or is infertile that the honor is not for them. No matter the condition of fecundity of the particular woman, this honor is proper to all womankind, as it is her sex that is elevated by its nature in the Lord's scheme of creation. A woman's receptive nature lends itself easily to an intimate relationship with the Lord, of a different type than that which a man may experience. It isn't just a woman's body that is honored, but the necessary emotional openness to the Lord 's love with which her sex is endowed which is a part of the great mystery of her vocation.

Ages ago, when a woman would enter a convent, it was often referred to as "taking the veil," and all nuns did wear veils, not like today, when you can hardly tell the difference between a nun and a random person walking down the street.

If a particular woman does not want the honor that the veil endows, the Catholic Church will not force it on them, but why renounce it over some false feminist doctrine that seeks to strip man and woman of their essential differences? I am not saying that this is the reason why every woman who has given up the veil has done so; I am speaking in general terms pertaining to the age in which we live and the concepts that currently inform it.

Silver "Rose" Parnell
Copyright (c) 2015


RETURNING TO THE SOURCE

Part of my living room shrine

I have written blogs for the last 4 or 5 years now, but have decided to retire the majority of my posts. It was never my idea to put myself "out there" in that way, but after several strong encouragements by a former friend, I began to write. She had anticipated this as a means of gaining some support for my solitary monastic life, since I have no community, but this did not happen. Not only did I receive almost nothing for my efforts, but the cost of internet and the upkeep of a computer proved to be extra expenses for which I do not possess the resources.

In addition, the time taken to research my posts distracted from my primary contemplative mission of prayer. I enjoyed the writing, especially my forays into educational topics, but the world can easily live without my musings on information that is available elsewhere.

For myself, I prefer reading the original saints and doctors of the church, as well as the Bible (of course!) and almost never read blogs. In that vein, I encourage the same for everyone. Blogs are a waste of our time, for the most part. Now that I have realized this, I am chastened by disappointment that I did come to this fact sooner!

There are many elderly, disabled ladies like myself who have dedicated the remainder of their lives to the Lord, however, and I wouldn't like to lose track of my fellow hermitesses, anchorites and other holy people, so I leave this page, by way of a method of contacting me, should they wish it.

If you leave a message on this blog, it will find its way to me. Forward your email address, and I will contact you.

In the meantime, may the Lord's blessings be upon you daily, and may our Blessed Mother lead you by the hand to Jesus.

In Jesus' precious name, I remain your friend,

Silver Rose Parnell

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Post Script – ENCOURAGEMENT TO THE OTHER HERMITS AND HALF-MONASTICS IN MY LIFE


Statue of Our Blessed Mother
In the Courtyard of the Church
in Old Town, Albuquerque
New Mexico
by
Silver "Rose" Parnell
(c) Copyright 2016
All rights reserved

I forgot to mention a few things in my farewell post that pertain to changes in my monastic routine, for the benefit of colleagues who are likewise inclined, but first, I have to express how much I will miss the support and companionship of my fellow travelers on the sometimes lonely road of the modern hermit. Whether by accident or design, it is a blessed vocation, a great gift from God, and I have enjoyed joining with you in the virtual community of like-minded souls around the world. I keep you in my heart and will continue to pray for you.

I am no longer able to afford internet, nor do I think that the amount of time one has to spend on it to get anything done is really worth the effort. An internet "hotspot" and a small amount of data has been donated to me, and I will appear online occasionally, as my prayer schedule permits.

I am attempting to resurrect my monastic schedule that had gone by the wayside, and I know that many of you also struggle with maintaining a monastic schedule while living in the world, albeit in a marginal sense.

With regard to my disabled and/or retired readers who are wrestling with the organization of their own prayer life, I know that many of you have expressed a wistful regret at being unable to become part of a real monastic community, rather than the virtual one that we have. My version of a monastic schedule may help you.  

Before making changes to your spiritual exercises, you may want to check with your spiritual director first, to avoid overtaxing yourself in the beginning, especially if you do not have previous experience. 

It is important to keep in mind that, for those of you managing multiple disabilities or advanced age, it is nearly impossible to maintain a strict schedule. I do whatever I have to do to handle whatever crisis appears, and then I return to whatever is on the schedule for that particular time. There are days that are so full of logistics that I can do little more than make a short mental prayer at the appropriate hours.

I don’t try to “make up” the prayers I have missed because it is just too stressful. In my mind, we cannot be perfect, so we must humbly offer our imperfections as a suffering to be used in saving souls.

Lacking the assistance of the movement of community around you, it will be necessary for you to find some way to keep yourself on some sort of loose schedule or it will slide into a ditch. The method I have chosen is to program the crucial hours into my telephone. I have picked the most melodic and least disturbing ring tone for the daily reminders, but it still is a bit jarring, so I may try to see if I can program something more appropriate…like Gregorian chant! In the meantime, it’s piano music.

The common prayer of the Catholic monasteries and convents is customarily the Liturgy of the Hours, but these are QUITE extensive and way beyond my capacity. All the flipping of pages back and forth is beyond me!  Some of the more active orders employ the much smaller “Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary” which is far easier to follow and is composed largely of some very lovely Psalms. Even so, I am not yet able to chant all of the hours, so I have decided to concentrate on those I consider most important: Matins (morning 6:30 a.m.), Sext (noon), None (3:00 p.m.) and Vespers (6:00 p.m.)

I also say something at bed time (compline and a rosary), but I tend to be so exhausted by that hour and in so much pain that I cannot get fancy with it.  Something short and sweet is the ticket. There is a wonderful little prayer in the PIETA PRAYER BOOK that a dear friend gave me, and I think it is just the perfect little thing to say at night. I will share it with you here:

“PRAYER FOR DAILY NEGLECTS:

Eternal Father, I offer thee the sacred heart of Jesus, with all its love, all its sufferings, and all its merits.

FIRST:  To expiate all the sins I have committed this day and during all my life. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end, amen.

SECOND:  To purify the good I have done badly this day and during all my life. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end, amen.

THIRD:  To supply for the good I ought to have done, and that I have neglected this day and during all my life. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end, amen.

(A Poor Clare nun, who had just died, appeared to her abbess, who was praying for her, and said to her, “I went straight to heaven, for; by means of this prayer, recited every evening, I paid my debts.”)”

The Pieta Prayer Book
From:
Miraculous Lady of Roses LLC
PO BOX 111
Hickory Corners, MI 49060-0111

One word of caution about this little pamphlet: While it contains a wealth of very beautiful prayers, not all of them are covered by an imprimatur from The Church, so be careful when choosing prayers from its contents.  The book itself will reveal the few devotions or promises that should not be used and/or relied upon.  For instance, here is a quote from the book with regard to the promises associated with the St. Bridget Prayers:

“The 21 St. Bridget Promises, while traditionally associated with the St. Bridget Prayers, are not covered by an imprimatur. In Jan. of 1954, the Holy Office issued a warning that the supernatural origin of these promises has not been proven.”

Most of the prayers have an imprimatur, and you will recognize some of your favorites. I am extremely fond of this book and have found it very useful. I keep it at my prayer corner in the living room and reach for it often.

Frequently, I have recommended that each household should contain at least one prayer corner. I have two: one in the living room where I spend my daylight hours and one in the bedroom for early morning and evening hours. Pictures, statues and icons that have meaning for you personally should be placed there, as well as candles and incense, if you can manage it.  

Bedroom prayer corner


I prefer tea lights placed in deeper votive light holders, as a safety measure against fire. I also use resin incense of frankincense and Myrrh, which are naturally occurring tree resins. This is the sort of incense used in Eastern Rite Catholic and Orthodox churches and is melted over charcoal discs manufactured for this purpose. I find that the smoke feels healing to my asthmatic lungs, as opposed to stick incense, which usually has a wood stick at its core.

I have been getting my tea lights, charcoals discs and incense from the Amazon website, believe it or not. I buy in large quantities and thereby save a little money. Being disabled, I require that most home goods are delivered, so I was thrilled to see that Amazon had these specialty items.

Most of us will need a comfortable chair in which to sit for prayer and meditation. Those who are more fit may want to sit on the floor or on their knees. If you are bedridden, then you may certainly recite your prayers in bed. Just make sure that you can see at least one little picture of Jesus and Mary, at the very least. Those who are quite ill may want to dispense with the candles and incense, preferring instead to use a small decorative electric lamp of some sort. [I found one of a praying angel, which I have faced toward my icon of our Lady of the Seven Sorrows.]

If you have the luxury of an extra room that can be converted into a prayer room exclusively for that purpose, I highly recommend it, but most single persons do not have the ability to do this. If you are a married person or there are other people in your household for some reason, for instance if you are caring for an elderly relative, a separate prayer room may be crucial to your practice!

I have retained a habit I learned in the Hindu convent which is to cover my head with a large shawl during prayers. It helps to block distractions and to provide a private little space for oneself. Long-time Catholics will recognize in this practice a hint of the veil that most women have given up wearing in our parishes. Notice that everything holy in the mass is veiled, therefore the veiling of women doesn’t demean them, but rather recognizes woman’s unique role in their intimate participation in creation. In my mind, it is an echo of our Blessed Mother Mary’s fiat, when she agreed to become the God Bearer ("Theotokos") out of humility and obedience to God. In saying “yes” to our Heavenly Father, she surrendered to His reign over her. He covers her completely in her humble acceptance of His will, just as the veil covers her in imitation of it. That which is humble therefore becomes exalted, just as Jesus came to earth in humble circumstances but was exalted in his resurrection. In my opinion, the veil is the mark of the dignity of woman and not a symbol of patriarchal oppression, as is asserted by some feminists.

On the other hand, I am not suggesting that you wear some sort of habit and veil, but if you wish to wear a hermit’s hooded robe while in the privacy of one’s own domestic church, I do not believe there is any prescription against it, only that none of us may present ourselves as anything other than lay persons, even though we follow a hermit or anchoritic path. The exception will be those rare individuals who are diocesan hermits.

I have tried to investigate the path of becoming a diocesan hermit, but the nun who is in charge of vocations in my diocese will not return my telephone calls, nor the emails of others who have contacted her on my behalf. I spoke to her in October of 2015, at which time she promised to speak to the Bishop and ask if he would entertain the idea of accepting a diocesan hermit. She made other promises, and nothing has come of it. I do not assume to know the motives of any person, so I will not guess what is her reason for failing to follow through with her promises and refusing to return my telephone calls or the emails of supportive Catholics, but I have heard from other Catholics around the United States that getting a bishop to return one's telephone calls is well nigh impossible, and I suspect that everyone has far too much work to do than to bother with the spiritual needs of one inconsequential person.

I don’t wear any special clothing outside of the hermitage. I purchase all my clothes from the clearance department, which means they are those things that other people avoid, the result of which you can imagine, especially since I must always wear a hat, due to failing vision. Whatever you wear, just make sure it is MODEST. I wear maxi skirts and dresses and am almost never seen in pants. You might as well be naked when you wear pants because, although everything is covered, everything is seen.

Obviously, I am addressing most of my comments to my fellow hermits who live alone. There IS a woman who calls herself "The Anchoress" and writes a very nice blog by that name, but she is a married woman with husband, children and house and does not meet even the basic requirements of an anchoress, which is extremely confusing to the neophyte. She is playing fast and loose with the meaning of the word and especially with the tradition, and I caution anyone who carelessly follows her lead and pretends to a state in life to which they are not equipped. This sort of pretense is a living lie, and we all know who is the father of all lies! 

Don’t get creative with the meanings of certain titles, such as “nun” or “monk” or “anchorite” – especially if your life circumstances are simply those of a lay person. There is absolutely nothing wrong or “less” in being a lay person, rather than a monastic, a hermit, a consecrated virgin, or an anchoress. We all have our role to fulfill in an authentic manner. Our focus is to be on the Lord, as it says in the first commandment. Love the Lord first, before all things. Anyone can love God, no matter what your state of life. Keep your eye on the prize at all times. Do everything that increases your love for God and don't worry about status or titles. You don't need them.

I write this post mostly to my dear friends and colleagues who follow a similar path to mine. There are many elderly and/or disabled persons who live alone and are very devout. They are hermits of a sort. If attached to a parish, they may even be somewhat like anchorites. Many would likely be in convents or monasteries, if their personal circumstances were different.

These days, Westerners tend to live a very long time, even after the appearance of chronic illnesses and disabilities that sideline us from active life. Many of us struggle alone with these chronic and painful conditions for 2o years or more. It would be a shame to waste the opportunity to consecrate our suffering for the remission of our sins and the sins of the whole world. Redemptive suffering is a shining gift to the church and to mankind in general. God brings all things to the good for those who believe.

Throughout the day, no matter what sort of prayer schedule one maintains, If you are suffering, it is important to say, “I offer this pain and suffering for the reparation of my sins and the sins of the whole world.” You will save souls by doing this, as well as saving your own!

The schedule that I outlined above is the bare structure into which I insert the various devotions that suit me. If nothing else, I suggest you pray at least ONE rosary every day. My intention is to pray three rosaries, as, follows:

Rosaries:
(1)            For our Holy Catholic Church:  I dedicate one rosary for the purification of our Holy Catholic Church, that those religious within it, who lobby for changes to the unchangeable, be converted, repent, and publicly renounce their heretical positions. If they will not repent, then I pray that the evil be cast out from our Holy Catholic Church. I pray that the body of Christ be healed in all ways, including the reunion of it with the Orthodox Churches, so that the body of Christ may breathe with two lungs, East and West, once more. I further pray that the laity be properly instructed in the Truth of the faith and not the heretical opinions of those who oppose Her eternal teachings or those whose understanding is malformed. I call out to all the angels, especially Archangel Michael, to protect our Holy Catholic Church and all those who are faithful to it.

(2)         FOR ALL SOULS:  I dedicate one rosary to the suffering souls on earth and in purgatory, so that they may be refreshed and encouraged on the path to righteousness. I ask for the intercession of Mary and all the saints in imploring our Sweet Jesus to shine his love into the stony hearts of the recalcitrant, the atheist, the agnostic, the non-believers, and all those hurt in any way by members of the Holy Catholic Church. May that light be so bright as to draw all souls to Him so that they may join us as part of the mystical body of Christ.

(3)         FOR MYSELF AND ALL OTHER DISABLED, ELDERLY, SICK, AND/OR FRAIL PERSONS WHO WISH TO CONSECRATE THEMSELVES TO THE SERVICE OF THE LORD: I dedicate one rosary for the healing and strengthening of those persons who suffer mental, spiritual, emotional and/or physical illnesses but who nonetheless desire nothing more than to love and serve God, offering up their every suffering in reparation for their sins and the sins of the whole world. I ask our Blessed Mother Mary, ever virgin, to take each of us by the hand and lead us to Jesus, never letting loose of us so that we are protected from the wiles of Satan who loves nothing more than to depress and discourage the victim souls who give their pain so that others may be saved.

In addition to the rosary, I will pray two chaplets:

(1)            The Divine Mercy Chaplet after the Little Office at 3:00 p.m.
(2)            The chaplet of Saint Michael, when I can fit it in…probably in the morning.

Other devotions and activities that I have to squeeze into my schedule, as illness permits, include:

(a)          Latin lessons
(b)         Bible Study course
(c)          Lectio divina
(d)         Holy reading on the saints
(e)          Padre Pio prayers
(f)            Prayers to my sainted ancestors and patrons
(g)          Piano lessons for Gregorian Chant, hymns, and the Byzantine Divine Office
(h)    The Jesus Prayer

This is a rather ambitious schedule for a disabled person, but it can be done, if life is simplified somewhat. It really depends on how many people depend upon you! In my case, I have been celibate for about 20 years, I have very few friends or family members who contact me regularly, I do not attend parties or social functions and I do not travel.

If you have a lot of friends or relatives who call you, or a few people that call you incessantly, it might work to corral them into specific time blocks. I TRY to make phone calls at 11:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Those are the two “tea times” I’ve worked into the schedule. I don’t know about all of you, but I loathe long conversations on the telephone. Sometimes that is the only way to communicate with some people, however. I prefer a person-to-person chat.

The one thing which I will have to figure out how to do is get my house clean, since there are many functions of house cleaning that are extremely difficult for me to do, given my disabilities. Others in my position have echoed that concern. It has become obvious that I need to hire someone to do it, but I can’t really afford it at the moment. I need to work on that because it takes me so long to maintain the house that it interferes with my prayer life. I can be like Brother Lawrence and pray amid the pots and pans, but I find it difficult to concentrate, especially when working through pain.

There is a chance I may be accepted into a special program for persons such as myself. They will come and clean my house, do my shopping and cooking, and transport me to doctor appointments. I must apply and then wait.  In any case, I will be better equipped to maintain a prayer schedule, I HOPE.

I do not have  reliable internet at home, but I will check it when I get the opportunity, so you CAN leave me messages on this blog, and I will eventually respond. If you can send me your snail mail address, I may write you.

By the way, the “DONATION” button still works on my blog, for future reference. It is pretty dusty, so, if history repeats itself, I’m not expecting much.

Please don’t forget to pray for me, as I pray for you, and may God bless us all!

Silver “Rose” Parnell
© Copyright 2016

All rights reserved.