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!
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.
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.
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