SAINT OLGA

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

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

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