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SAINT OLGA

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

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 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