Tuesday, October 18, 2016


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 The version I have is out of date, and I have to shuffle around through the pages a bit, as a result, but since I am alone in the room, I needn't worry about disturbing other worshippers.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


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 one except the Lord, of course.

Please pray for me, as I pray for you.

Silver Rose

Saturday, October 15, 2016


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