SAINT OLGA

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

Sunday, November 5, 2017

PUT ON YOUR CATHOLIC GLASSES

Morning Walk
November 5, 2017



A fair number of Catholics have put down their Catholic glasses and put on their Republican glasses instead, trading in their faith for a political ideology that they've confused as an appropriate substitute. Many appear willing to do or say anything in support of their political candidate, even if it is dishonest, uncharitable, and slanderous.

Instead of examining what is happening in the White House today, for instance, these RepubliCatholics are fixated on Hilary Clinton, who is not in any public office, is not running for office, and has not been in office for years. Social media continues to be flooded with ridiculous conspiracy theories about her. Clearly, she's not even yesterday's news. She hasn't been in any political office for at least 5 years. Why beat the dead horse?

At the same time, Robert Mueller,  a man of sterling character and reputation, is being slandered by the RepubliCatholics, who are calling for him to be fired, supposedly because of Mueller's "professional relationship" with Comey, the former head of the FBI whom Trump fired after Comey initiated the investigation into Trump Campaign ties to Russia. If one is going to have an FBI investigation, it is obvious that the FBI employees are certainly going to know one another. Are we to surmise, then, that no FBI agent can head an FBI investigation because one of them was fired by the person being investigated? That would be convenient to the person being investigated, certainly.

Read about the motion to remove Mueller HERE

These RepubliCatholics are also mad that the FBI didn't find any wrongdoing with a Uranium deal with Russia, a deal on which 7 government agencies signed off and which was not engineered by then-secretary of state, Hilary Clinton. CLEARLY, Trump devotees are clutching at straws.


Who is Bob Mueller, anyway?



As Special Counsel for the FBI's investigation into Russian interference in the campaign of 2016, Robert Mueller's mandate is to investigate "any links and/or coordination between Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump, and any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation." [Rod Rosenstein's letter appointing Mueller as Special Counsel.]

Mueller is a war hero. He received the bronze star for combat for his service as a Marine during the Vietnam War. He was the director of the FBI for 12 years (originally appointed by President Bush.) He has served as a U.S. Attorney, an Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division, and as Acting Attorney General.

He was one of the "key players" in making America safer after the 9/11 terror attack on the twin towers. [See: "Robert Mueller, Known for His Integrity, Leads Historic Investigation as it Heats up." HERE]

Mueller has a solid reputation for equanimity and nonpartisan action. Mueller's reputation is such that, if he isn't fit to lead this investigation, then no one would be. (Read the articles through the links I provided.)

This investigation isn't partisan. Mueller, like Trump, is a Republican. The investigation has found quite a few Trump Campaign officials have strong ties to Russia. This isn't "business as usual." It's bizarre for an American politician to be surrounded by people who have so many ties to Russia, an enemy state, as I detail in the next paragraph. The timing of the Republican push to oust Mueller is suspicious, to say the least.

Charges may soon be filed against Mike Flynn, Trump's former National Security Advisor, having to do with Flynn's connections to Russia. [See: "Mueller Has Enough Evidence to Charge Flynn in Russia Investigation." HERE]


Mike Flynn


George Papadopoulos has already pleaded guilty to charges stemming from his work with Russia while a member of the Trump campaign. [Read his plea agreement and underlying confession of guilt HERE.]


George Papadopoulos
Former Foreign Policy Advisor to Donald Trump


Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, charged with tax fraud and money laundering, has Russian connections and is currently under house arrest, as is his long time associate, Rick Gates, who was also on Trump's team. [Read about them: HERE]



Paul Manafort
Trump's former campaign chairman
Rick Gates
Assistant to Manafort


As Catholics, our devotion to truth should be far stronger than our attachment to any public figure, otherwise, we are in service to Satan, the father of lies. If you find yourself in the position of fighting AGAINST the truth coming out about your favorite public figure, it may be time to rethink why he is your favorite to begin with.

God save us all.

Silver Rose Parnell
Copyright (c) 2017 - All rights reserved.

Monday, October 16, 2017

SAINT MARGARET MARY ALACOQUE

Saint Margaret Mary Allacoque
Receiving Jesus, when he gave her the
devotion to His Sacred Heart


"What a weakness it is to love Jesus Christ only 
when He caresses us, and to be cold immediately
 once He afflicts us This is not true love. Those 
who love thus, love themselves too much to love
 God with all their heart." 
~ Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque

Today is the "optional memorial" day for one of the most popular saints on the Catholic calendar.

I find this saint's words very inspiring, in the midst of my problems and afflictions.When I read these sort of quotes from the mystics who have experienced an intimate relationship with Our Lord, I am reminded of my own feelings, whatever is best among all the thoughts that go careening around in my brain, whatever is most beautiful in my inclinations. It is almost as if I breathe a breath of fresh air in the spiritual realm.

Today, in particular, I am reminded that, even though my earthly travails are many, my soul belongs to God, and, if I will only remember to look upon him throughout the day, I will experience great love.

When I was in the Hindu convent, I learned many techniques of directing the mind to what I wished it to think about or concentrate upon. While some people imagine that meditation involves "clearing the mind" and making it EMPTY, I rather found it to be an exercise of attention. One must gently take hold of the mind and, in one manner or another, restrain it from hopping from one topic to another, concentrating, instead, upon The Lord.

Now, when I say I was in a "Hindu convent," that is not strictly correct, as I belonged to a neo-Vedanta group that arose OUT of Hinduism, but which is not accepted as being Hindu at all, since it accepts that "all paths lead to God." (This is the Vedanta Society.) As with most religions, they are good people who mean well, and I respect anyone who is pursuing God.

While I no longer believe that "all paths lead to God" in a literal sense, I AM in tune with those aspects of that philosophical system that are true and useful. While the Vedantists certainly do not have what WE would term "the fullness of the faith," or "the fullness of Truth," one has to agree, as an obvious fact, that God cannot be restrained from entering the whole of His creation. We cannot limit him, no matter how much the fervor of our beliefs would have it otherwise!

There were several other nuns of my acquaintance who took as their "Ishta" or manifestation of God, Jesus Christ. This is not the same as being Christian, but it demonstrates the all- pervasive nature of Our Lord.

Noticing the presence of God in a non-Catholic establishment, many people become confused and come to believe that mixing up all the religions would be a good idea, plucking ideas out of a collection of religions, like plucking flowers for a bouquet. This never works, as the inconvenient practices or ideas are often dropped, to the detriment of the spiritual aspirant. Even Ramakrishna, the saint whose philosophy and life initiated the Vedanta Societies throughout the world, told his people to "dig deep" and not to run around digging shallow holes for their faith.





Saint Margaret Mary was instructed by Jesus to spread the devotion to Jesus' Sacred Heart, an image oft repeated in artistic renderings. Being reminded of it while reading about this saint, I have been given an idea to paint my own versions of Our Lord's most beautiful Sacred Heart, and thus have more of a direction to follow as I embark upon this series of 50 small paintings I have been talking about for some time. The canvases are ready. I must just start.

When the paintings are completed, and I have made the frames, I will post photographs of them, if possible.

This brings up a topic. In addition to the many items that are needed here at Silver Cottage, I am in desperate need of a digital camera, with an excellent zoom capacity. It doesn't need to be fancy, as I would not be able to figure it out, no doubt, but the resolution has to be good, and I will also need a tripod. This equipment will be used to photograph paintings for my portfolio, as well as for the craft items I produce, so that I may place them online to sell them and thus have the wherewithal to purchase medical equipment and other necessaries.

Please use the Paypal link, above right. If you have any questions, just make a comment. It won't be published, as I have to release comments prior to publication. This is a good way to contact me.

I look forward to hearing from you. In the meantime, God bless!

Silver Rose

Copyright (c) 2017, All rights reserved.


Sunday, October 15, 2017

LEARNING EVERY DAY

"Cake" of yarn that I made from a loose skein of commercial yarn,
an Amish yarn swift, and a hand-cranked yarn winder
ONE OF MANY LESSONS OF SELF SUFFICIENCY


Brothers and sisters:
I know how to live in humble circumstances;
I know also how to live with abundance.
In every circumstance and in all things
I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry,
of living in abundance and of being in need.
I can do all things in him who strengthens me.
Still, it was kind of you to share in my distress.

My God will fully supply whatever you need,
in accord with his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
To our God and Father, glory forever and ever. Amen.
Philipians 4:12-14, 19-20


While I had intended to abandon this blog in favor of Facebook, I had so many unpleasant experiences on Facebook that I realized that it is not the venue for me. While I had hoped to make friends and experience some sort of community on it, I found, instead, that others are not so inclined.

On Facebook, there is an alarmingly large group of people who, though claiming to be "Catholic" strongly express anti-Catholic views. Some are just downright crazy, imagining all sorts of conspiracy theories around the Popes. There are a lot of men who call themselves "Father" and wear a Roman collar, but are actually members of weird little cults that copy Catholic rituals. Another group of very hostile "Catholics" are actually just rabid Trump supporters whose minds are submerged in a soup of bigoted, elitist, "alt right" philosophy, a philosophy that is completely contrary to the teachings of Christ. Another group is composed of hostile and unrepentant Catholics who cling to visionaries and defrocked priests who've been unmasked as dangerous fakes. Many people make "friends" on Facebook so they can tell you what to do and preach at you with their own brand of religion. They try desperately to set themselves up as a spiritual leader on Facebook, since they are obviously unable to get their ego needs met in "real" life. The only reason any of these people added me to their friend list was to use me as an audience or as a tool to disseminate their wacky ideas, demanding that I spread their wacky messages to all my other Facebook friends. It was really too much.

Interacting with these people makes Facebook a hostile world - not the supportive community I had imagined, so I am back to the blog, to write an occasional entry. The majority of my attention has to be the writing of the book, of course, as well as my painting, but when I feel moved to write something here, I will.

In the four months or so that I have been away from this blog, I have learned from observation and experience, how to live with "abundance in every circumstance." Remaining connected with the Lord throughout all conditions of life, in being well fed and in going hungry, I've felt the continuity of spiritual experience that transcends the circumstances of earthly life.

In sickness and in health, in wealth and in poverty, my God will fully supply whatever I NEED.

Apparently, I need to have my car break down for the 3rd time in as many months. I don't pretend to know the lesson I need to learn from this. I feel I am already at one with the poor that Jesus loved so much.

Yesterday, I took my last 20 dollars, and another elderly neighbor, and got into the car to go to a local market to buy one or two simple things to stretch the food until the end of the month. When I tried to start the car, all I heard was clicking. The starter, once again, needs to be replaced. It is a very old car, at least 23 years old and, although a nice, dependable Toyota, it is on its last legs.

So, I am completely stranded. Let me explain why:

I am physically unable to ride buses, like MANY elderly people. I am not physically able to do stand and wait for them. The valves in the major vein of the left leg do not work, and my left leg goes completely numb and useless after 5 to 10 minutes of standing. My knees cannot get me up the steps. My scoliosis, when jostled by the buses typically bad shocks, causes my back to go into spasm after the first bump in the ride. By the time I get OFF the bus, I would have to call someone to come rescue me because I would be in extreme pain and completely bent over.

Also, buses, for vulnerable populations of elderly and/or disabled, are very dangerous. Any police officer will tell you that the bad guys target anyone who seems to be more vulnerable. Predators look for the sick member of the herd. Even apparently healthy men are sometimes the target of groups of predators here in Albuquerque. One of my neighbors, on his way to work, was beat up by several men who beat him for his wallet, which only contained $40. Imagined what they'd do to a disabled lady, traveling alone.

What will I do? Immediately speaking, a friend is bringing me the two items I'd gone out to get yesterday. Probably, I will borrow some money from one of the online loan sharks, add it to my food money for next month, and have the car towed to the local Pep Boys.  Blah Blah Blah. It is all so very annoying. While my mind wants to soar to the heavens, the disintegrating nature of this world keeps knocking at the door, insisting upon my attention.

While I had my momentary freakout yesterday, today I resumed my equilibrium, and was delighted to read the above Bible passage, which is the passage for today in the Catholic calendar. Something that we all have to learn is how to live in "abundance" while in need. My need is crushing, demanding, insistent, linked to basic survival issues that tickle the reptilian part of the brain. Directing the mind to the higher plane is made much more difficult in these circumstances. I think this may be the genius of poverty. While I would be just as glad to rejoice in abundance during times of good food and circumstances, I do appreciate the opportunity to practice abundance of mind in the midst of survival stress. Thanks be to God.

Silver Rose Margaret Parnell
All rights reserved.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

HIRE A HERMIT (update)

"Hermitage" garden feature on 
an English Country Estate

I recently learned that, in the 18th century, wealthy European landowners would frequently build a model "hermitage" as a garden feature on their extensive land holdings.  They would then hire a man to play the part of a hermit, but they had to give him his pay at the end of the year, and it was often a goodly sum, because it was so hard to keep a good hermit on one's land!

According to Wikipedia, Saint Francis of Paola may have been the first such "ornamental hermit" when he chose to live in a secluded cave on his father's property in the 15th century.  His parents were extremely pious people, however, and Saint Francis of Paola (named after St. Francis of Assisi) had shown sincere religious inclinations prior to the time he spent as a hermit in that cave.  Perhaps his sojourn there sparked the imagination of some nobleman who was charmed at the idea of a hermit on one's land and who didn't happen to have a religious son, so he hired someone to act the part!



I wonder how the actor playing the hermit would feel about this "job" and if any of them were suddenly struck with a real desire to adopt the hermit life?  Whose idea was it to create this fantasy on their land for the amusement of visitors?

Aristocrats spent quite a lot of money to accomplish this charade, and I can't help feeling a bit wistful that, instead of supporting a real hermit or two, these people were spending a huge amount of money on a Disneyland sort of re-creation.  If THAT doesn't say something profound about human nature, and how we value an entertaining fantasy over a substantial reality, I don't know what would.

For more information about this phenomena, check out Charlotte Brentwood's Blog, from whence I obtained the awesome picture, above.

There are varying degrees and types of hermits, from the fake hermits of the 1700's in England, who looked and behaved genuinely the part but were, from all accounts, spiritually bankrupt, to the modern day hermit living in a city apartment who appears to be quite normal and ordinary to the casual eye, but whose daily life centers around a profound prayer life in the company of the Lord.

As they say, "looks can be deceiving," and one never knows what someone is about until you dig a bit and see.

Many of us modern women wish to follow in the footsteps of the hermits of old insofar as our lives are meant to center around God, we live a retired solitary life to the best degree possible, and we eschew most entertainments. This is another reason why the fake "hermit" of the 1700's is so ironic, because his life is completely about entertainment, though not for himself.  His sole function is to charm and entertain the guests of the lord of the manor and to act the part of a religious.


Carmelite nun in her hermitage cell


I am fascinated with other independent hermits and how they manage to maintain their tranquility in a life that is not supported by any structure or organization.  How do they remain other-worldly while staying very much in the world?  Any hermits out there who would like to respond, please do.  I would love to hear from you.



Carmelite nuns of the Byzantine Catholic Rite



While I would have loved to have become part of a contemplative order like the Carthusians, I came to the faith much too late to adjust my life path in that direction. Clearly, God intends that I travel alone with Him, otherwise He would have seen to it that I was introduced to Christianity much earlier, and my health would have been good enough to withstand the rigors of The Rule of Life that each order maintains.




Carthusian nun

The form that my monastic "schedule" takes is still under construction, so to speak.  I imagined a robust schedule of formal prayers, but I am unable to do them, since my disabilities continue to worsen over time. I pray to be cured of my illnesses to the extent necessary to enable me to sit through mass, but my prayers have left me wanting. Still, I remind myself that nothing happens in this world without God directly willing it or at least ALLOWING it. I remind myself constantly that I need to adjust my desires to those of the Lord, which is why the Vedantists say that it is best not to HAVE any desires to begin with, so that one will not be yearning or disappointed.

Rather than "desires," I rather think I have a greater number of inspirations. The Lord has gifted me with numerous creative talents, and I use these as instruments of prayer, to the best of my ability. Painting of religious subjects, writing, making crocheted works of art, and other artistic ventures give me a concentrated space of time in which to keep the hands busy while I pray. I used to give away a lot of these things, but I have become so poor that I now find I must try to sell them, if I can, in order to buy medical supplies and other things required for my health.

I hate having to labor for myself. I had wanted to be saintly and, like Saint Rose of Lima, make beautiful works of art for the sake of other people. The disabilities and the cost of addressing them, have put a monkey wrench into that desire. I am going blind and need three separate types of eyeglasses to accommodate my visual disabilities. I need walkers to deal with mobility problems and special food to prevent allergic and asthma attacks that could kill me. The list goes on and on. Frankly, it is infuriating. It is also the method by which the Lord is humbling me, so I must thank Him.


Living Room prayer corner


Bedroom prayer corner


Although I am unable to live according to my aspirations, my life is somewhat more austere than most American's lives. I don't smoke, drink or take drugs. My entertainments are few. I haven't gone to a movie theater in more than 20 years. I do not travel. I do not eat in restaurants, except for the rare occasion when a friend will treat me. I don't attend parties. I don't play video games. Obviously, I do not date and have not done so for more than 20 years, having given up romance when I gave myself to the Lord.

I HAVE spent a lot of time writing this blog, which I am phasing out. It was originally started at the urging of a friend who imagined that I could supplement my income with it, but I have since learned that the only way one makes money is to "monetize" it with ugly advertisements for worldly goods. In addition to marring the beauty of the layout, the advertisements slow down the ability of the user to read the page. The many hours I have spent writing my posts are not recompensed, and if I am going to work at something, it needs to generate an income of some sort.



Sunflower I grew in a large pot outside my apartment


Some aspects of my life are hermit-like. I am nowhere near any of the stores that carry the supplies I need, so I have to order almost everything online and, while I do live in the heart of the city, I am fortunate that I can spy a bit of greenery and wildlife on the other side of the fence from the apartment complex.

Recently, I found some rose bushes on sale at a local hardware store and placed them in pots outside my living room window, very near a statue of the blessed virgin that I got for free (long story.) The arrangement gives the impression of a meditation garden, but the apartment is far too noisy and too open to foot traffic to operate as such. During the day, there is the constant flow of people going to and from the pool. At night, the sizable homeless community prowls about, looking for items to steal. Recently, my rolling walker was stolen from right in front of my apartment door. I heard them taking it but was not fast enough to catch them in the act. Apparently, they were prepared and had brought some kind of vehicle into which they tossed it.

Nonetheless, I am grateful to have a glimpse of garden outside my window, and I can pretend that I am living in a real hermit's cottage.




In the ditch, we have hawks, beavers, skunks, racoons, ground squirrels, herons, egrets, sandhill cranes, Canadian geese, wood ducks, mallards, owls, diamond back water snakes, bats, hummingbirds and a wretched infestation of June bugs that, for some reason, come to my front door to die every year.  Sweeping them from the door is a daily chore that makes me sad for them.  If they are still alive, they cling to my broom and make a type of hissing sound, poor things.  Still, I enjoy the many critters. Their presence contributes to the atmosphere.


Hawk on my back fence


While I am unsuited to the rigors of any established convent, I do my best to create my own convent atmosphere and habits, to the degree I am able.  At times, I am sad that my disabilities make me unacceptable for convent life and too poor to create a spiritual retreat on my own. I had hoped to be of some use in the world, but my entire life has been one long, stressful effort to simply survive, an effort which has become harder and harder, as the chronic illnesses worsen.

Compounding the difficulty is the lack of compassion in our government and among our Christian people. I am poor and unable to get basic needs met because I am too sick to work, but society would have us believe that I am poor because I have some character defect. It is a perverted point of view, and certainly not in step with our Lord Jesus, but the love of money has ALWAYS been a source of great evil. Those who love money usually hate people.

In my younger years, though ill with inherited things since my early 20's, I never imagined I would have difficulty supporting myself in my old age. I was supposed to have inherited a goodly amount from my father, who always promised it, but after he was stricken with Alzheimer's, a disreputable person had me written out of my father's will through an attorney who did not know him and had no clue that he had lost his mind. Alzheimer's patients can appear to be quite normal to other people, especially in the earlier stages. I tried to challenge it, but was surprised at the extent to which people will go for the sake of filthy lucre - how many lies they will tell, and just how long "the long con" can stretch, over time.

Well, if the Lord wanted my struggle to end, he would not have allowed all of this. I bow my head to his will and offer it all up as my penance. I do not wear a hair shirt, but I suffer enough without it. It has been valuable in many ways, especially in the formation of my consciousness and resolve to remain in the monastic state, regardless of its difficulties. I still pray for a religious patron to help support my spiritual life and the prayers that support the world, though! I have not given up hope for that. If God wills it, he or she will come, but I have the feeling that the patron will not appear until and unless I become more perfect in my vocation.

Artists and religious people have always needed the help and support of patrons. Even the fake "ornamental" hermits have had their patrons. That is another sort of vocation, that of patron or philanthropist.



Me - sitting with the swami (in the back ground)
 when I was in the Hindu convent


One of the issues that needs to be resolved is the issue of POSSESSIONS. Ideally, a monastic life is very spare, but a disabled person requires all sorts of physical aides in order to function in a minimal sense. It can really clutter the environment (especially in combination with art projects!) The disabilities make housecleaning extremely difficult, which also disturbs the atmosphere. In addition, it takes so much longer to actually DO the housework than it ever did before! It has become my full-time job, even though it is never really done.

When I was in the Hindu convent, prior to my conversion, I had far fewer possessions that belonged to me personally, but much more comfort and security than I have now.  Buying the furniture and other accoutrements that contribute to a restful atmosphere used to be someone else's job, and now it falls to me, along with everything else.

Gone are the days when I could live and sleep on the floor like a real acetic or hermit.  My aging body has rebelled against my former austerities.  These days, when I get down on the floor, I cannot get up by myself.  An electric bed and a recliner have become mandatory.  I cannot afford the electric bed, however, so have slept in my recliner for the last couple years or so.

My apartment is probably less believable as a hermit's cottage from outside appearances, but somewhat more authentic than the perfect looking hermit in the garden cottage on that big estate in England.

In any case, I am doing the best I can, between God's grace, my own efforts, and the occasional assistance of a Catholic friends.  I wouldn't mind if someone were to pay me to be a hermit, though, like that 18th century garden hermit - or at least to provide me a proper place to live!  Unlike the decorative garden hermit, I would actually be praying and devoting all my actions to God.  So far, there are no takers on that idea!

Until a religious patron appears, I will attempt to be more like Brother Lawrence. He was considered unfit to be either a priest or a choir monk. The choir monks were the high class monks who sang the beautiful Gregorian chants. Brother Lawrence was relegated to the kitchen where, among his pots and pans, he thought about the Lord all day, thus transforming his menial work into a glorious prayer.


I will take the example of Brother Lawrence and, no matter what form my monastic life takes, I gratefully offer it to the Lord, in reparation for my sins and the sins of the whole world.

God bless us all

Silver Rose Parnell
(c) 2015
All rights reserved

SOURCES:

Ornamental Hermits of Eccentric Modern England

Before the Garden Gnome, the Ornamental Hermit: a Real Person Paid to Dress Like a Druid

The Hermit in the Garden: From Imperial Rome to the Garden Gnome - by Gordon Campbell - AMAZON Link for purchase


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

REVIEW - VICTORIAN SLUM HOUSE - PBS

The cast of "VICTORIAN SLUM HOUSE"
PBS



Some people in America justify cuts to social programs by claiming that individuals and churches will take up the slack. They claim that no one should be "forced" to help the poor through the payment of taxes, and that it should be done by free will.

These people ignore the historical reality of what really happened the last time we left it up to the churches.

Watch Victorian Slum House on PBS and take a look at the horrific conditions in which these people had to live and toil.

In this case, it is in England. The "cast" are not actors, but British people whose ancestors lived in the slums during the Victorian era. It is a reality show with a tremendous amount of educational opportunity for young and old alike.

It isn't the jolliest thing you could watch on television, but I find myself riveted by it.

It may just touch the stony hearts of Americans with a "sink or swim" or "dog eat dog" vision of the world.

Check it out.

Silver Rose

Monday, May 8, 2017

PRAYER CORNERS

Living room prayer corner


I've written several times how important it is to have at least one prayer corner in one's house, where one can be quiet and spend time with the Lord, pray and bring all things to Him. I've taken some photos of my prayer corners, and I thought you might enjoy seeing them. I have a somewhat fussy style...a Victorian, shabby chic, East/West meld in the living room...and a more sober set-up in the bedroom.

Anyway...here are some photos.







Our Lady of Fatima
Statue I got in honor of the 100 year
anniversary of the apparitions
(The rose is from my potted garden!)




The icon, to the above-right of Our Lady of Fatima, is Saint Olga Equal to the Apostles, a great grandmother ancestor of some degree of mine.


The rose from the potted garden







My ancestor, Saint Anna of Novgorod













Many prayer corners are MUCH more streamlined and sedate. One doesn't have to have a plethora of icons. I just happened to collect a lot of them when I was attending a Byzantine Church. The Ukrainian pastor did not approve of the commercially made icons. He did not think they were "real" icons, and he put all of them on sale at a steep price cut because of it, and also because we had a huge stock and nothing was selling.

I was the happy recipient of much of it, spending far less than I normally would have spent.

It makes me very happy to be surrounded by pictures of the holy ones.

Have a blessed day.

Silver Rose Parnell

Enjoy!

Monday, May 1, 2017

BLESSED TEARS



Blessed tears that wash the heart of all impurity!

Thank you, Lord, for allowing me to be graced with the prize of being treated as the least of the least! From my place where I have been thrown upon the dirt, I see how brightly shines the lamb and how dark is the serpent, so I may crawl toward the lamb in humility, grateful for the ignominy I share with you.

Blessed tears that wash the mind of all impurity!

Thank you for the warning that the weeds would grow among the wheat until the day of harvest, when the tares would be thrown upon the pyre and burnt, while the authentic wheat is taken up and preserved. Grateful am I to receive the punishments from those who appear good but are devoted to the dark one, for I know to turn away from the false ones and follow the holy.

Blessed tears that wash the eyes of all impurity!

Thank you, Lord, for sharing the wisdom of the cross, so that I may see the road clearly, and walk it without being deterred by the pain that goodness earns us in this world. Thank you for purifying me in the crucible of pain I share with you at every step I make toward you on that rocky way.

Blessed tears that wash the will of all impurity!

Thank you Lord, that you allow me to exult in the joy of obedience to you, my Lord, though it brings me low in the estimation of the world.

It is a crying week, it is a crying month, it is a crying year, and years before. Blessed am I to be gradually hardened in the fire of your love, in the crucible of your promises, in the broken flesh of holy woundedness, then cooled in your own tears of suffering,

Sweet torture of wisdom descending and burning its mark into my flesh! I thank you, Lord for it all.

Silver Rose

Saturday, April 29, 2017

SAY HIS NAME

Saint Luke, painting Our Blessed Mother
and Baby Jesus


While I am crocheting lace chapel veils in the evening, carefully executing each blessed stitch made of fine crochet thread, I endeavor to say at least a few prayers over my work, after having dedicated the entire work session to the Lord's will in whatever person may use the object I am creating. Sometimes, it is a danger to repeat, for instance, the Jesus prayer, because I feel a deep thrill in my heart at the sound of his name, and I lose a few moments in happiness, perhaps missing a stitch and having to rework it.

I am so terribly grateful to have been led to our beautiful Lord, that I may even shiver at the thought of what might have become of me if the Lord's grace had not descended upon me, allowing me to begin to know him. It is such a treasure!

To become part of His family, when my earthly family was so wretched and devoted to their sin, is a bloomin' miracle. I was well on my way to sliding straight into hell myself, had the Lord not showered me with his grace, thanks be to God!

The Lord is Risen! He is risen indeed. He is risen in our hearts, in the depths of our being. Let us all adore Him in gratitude and love.

My quick thought for the day.

Silver Rose

Monday, April 17, 2017

THE CURRENT SITUATION

Fanciful cottage in the woods

For many years, I envisioned the institution of a contemplative ashram, where retired persons could gather together in a loose spiritual companionship to support one another, creating an environment conducive to prayer and welcoming of like-minded visitors. I had lived in a similar community in California and really loved the life. I wanted to share it with others.

After I became disabled, it became clear that I would not be able to realize this dream. I am financially limited, I am in constant pain, my mobility is impaired, and I am slowly going blind from macular degeneration. Bowing to the will of God, I resolved to live as a consecrated person by myself, at home, and I have done so, to the best of my ability, for the last 14 years.

Apartment living has grown increasingly more incompatible, as it is neither quiet enough nor private enough to live a life dedicated to prayer.   One of my neighbors is insane, apparently. She presses her face into my kitchen window while uttering incantations. One day, she was staring into my apartment while folding her hands in a prayer posture and SINGING something. Sometimes when she sees me, she crosses herself. If I actually open my windows, she can hear the noise from her apartment and comes running out to her patio and jacks up her radio. When I attach my hose to the faucet between our apartments, she sometimes comes flying out of her door and screeches like a witch doctor, several times, crosses herself, then hurries back into her house. Yesterday, I discovered that my patio had been vandalized, with potted plants thrown to the ground. It was her, no doubt, but what can one do? I just hope she doesn't start swinging her giant AXE around. (I saw her bring home a big axe with a long handle one day. The axe head was shiny, and glinted in the sun. Why does one need an AXE in an apartment, I wonder?)

When I walk the back side of the apartment, this pathetic woman bangs on a pile of noise makers until I disappear from her line of sight. Neighbors have reported to me that she has been spreading wild rumors and reporting conversations that we have never had. I suspect she is paranoid schizophrenic, but I really don't know. I haven't spoken to her in more than a year, except to tell her to get her nose off my window last week. I was lovely toward her, of course, when she moved in, and then something happened and she just cracked. It has nothing to do with me, but it IS a distraction.

One of the neighbors who lives an immoral life is prejudiced against Catholics and is encouraging her by spreading of weird rumors about me that are all lies.

Satan is alive and well, my friends. The more faithful you become to the commandments of the Lord, the more you will be harassed. Liars, thieves, gossipers, alcoholics and crazy people will target you. It has always been thus.


I have realized that what I need is a house, rather than an apartment, otherwise, I am just jumping from the frying pan into the fire. Who is to say that another apartment will be any better than this one? It could easily be worse, since all the affordable housing is in bad neighborhoods.

I know one woman who achieved her dreams of owning a house of retreat by marrying a man with money.  I won't be going that route.

Monastic institutions and the odd mystics scattered here and there used to live on the donations of a grateful people, but our world is overpopulated with scam artists, hackers and thieves, so much so that Americans are suspicious.

Every day in my email there are several letters from Nigeria telling me I have won a lottery and there is money waiting for me, if only I will pay the postage or SOMETHING. Every day through snail mail there are pleas for donations from at least 2 deserving Catholic institutions. Every Sunday, Catholics have to face the outstretched donation basket. Every time you drive in your car, there is at least one raggedy person holding a cardboard sign, asking for money. To whom does one give?

There is a donation button on this blog, but it is rarely used. I did get a nice donation once from someone who then began to direct my life in a flurry of emails. That's the risk you run when you accept donations. Many people feel they are entitled to tell you how to live your life, as if their donation has purchased you. It is much easier and less demeaning to find some commercial endeavor than to accept charity, with all its strings and indignities.

I am going to shift focus to finishing a book and selling it. I have been saying I will do this, on and off, for some time now. It is time to stop procrastinating and just do it. I will leave the blog open and check in occasionally.

At the same time, I will take up my art projects once more. I have sold sketches and paintings in the past, and will concentrate on religious subjects, for the most part. In addition to this, I have begun making crocheted lace baptismal blankets and hats, as well as chapel veils and shawl for adults. Warm ponchos, scarves and hats made from a very nice wool/acrylic yarn will be produced for the cold months. Having previous experience with jewelry making, I have begun collecting the necessary materials to make unique, high quality rosaries. When I have accumulated enough stock to open an Etsy shop or something similar, I will give it a whirl and see if I can make a little money to supplement my immediate needs.  I will keep you apprised of my progress, now and then, through either this blog or my art blog, Silver Cottage Creations on Blogspot.

I continue to remain available for genealogy projects. See my Silver Cottage Genealogy blog on Blogspot for details about that.

I love the freedom of this blog, and the newsy, intimate feel. Blogs have an immediacy that appeals to the moment of inspiration. It has been hard to tear myself away from it because I enjoy it so much, and I feel some connection with people of like mind, but it takes a surprising number of hours to produce even the shortest blog post, when I factor in all the changes to design elements, the sourcing of factual material, and so on.

Years ago, I wrote for television and made some money doing it. I won't return to that medium, as I loathe the business end of things, but I've been saying for years that I am going to finish at least ONE of the many books I have started, and it appears that now must be the time to do it, before I go blind. I hope I am able to produce something that is commercially viable but also of some redeeming spiritual value, as I've turned out to be a rather serious person, and it makes a difference to me as to whether or not I contribute something worth having in the world.

While I write the book, I will learn, more and more, to pray on my feet, in the noise, in the hostilities, in the midst of constant interruptions. I will try to be more like Brother Lawrence, among his pots and pans in the kitchen, and less like Thomas Merton. I don't have Merton's spiritual and institutional support.

Throughout this process, I intend to continue to listen for the word of the Lord, for His guidance and His presence. I know that He permits or decrees everything that happens. If I am blocked from achieving a vision, it is because it is not HIS vision for me. I will take solace in the knowledge that His will is being accomplished in me. Not my will, but thine, O Lord.

In the meantime, I ask for your prayers. You know you have mine.

God bless us all.

Silver Rose

P.S. Don't hesitate to contact me on Facebook, where I maintain somewhat of a presence. I often post inspiring quotes and beautiful religious art.


Sunday, April 16, 2017

THE JOY OF ABANDONING THE EGO




The older I get, the more I aspire to becoming humble. JUST as I have become accustomed to the idea that it is a great joy to bow my head to the inspirations and instructions of my Bible and my Church, I find that American society is going in the opposite direction!

Recently I watched a short talk by an expert of some sort. I am sorry, but I have forgotten what it is he does and his bona fides. I was impressed by them, but mostly I was riveted by what he had to say, the manner in which he said it, and his demeanor. He was discussing how Americans have come to discount, and in some instances almost despise, the advice of experts in their field. I sensed a tinge of wistfulness in his delivery, or perhaps sadness, for what this means for America and how it will affect us all, if appreciation for truth dies.

He said something to the effect that Americans think they are as smart as the experts, they know as much as the experts, and that their opinions are MORE valuable than the advice of the experts who have the education, the wisdom, the experience, and the specialized training in their field. To a great extent, these folks who consider themselves the ultimate experts on everything are responsible for the election of Donald Trump to the presidency. Donald Trump, who has no experience whatsoever in government, has no education in it, and no training, has strong opinions about government, nonetheless.

I have to ask myself, "from whence did these opinions arise?" From what I have seen so far, everything that he has sought to do has been in service to his personal agenda, i.e., those things which will benefit him, his family, and his billionaire friends and acquaintances. He was elected as a representative, in a bizarre sense, of "the common man," but the only thing he has in common with the common man is that the common man does not have expertise in governing, and that is where the similarity ends.

I see this trend in Catholicism where people feel it is their right to demand of the Pope that he adhere to a political orientation that these individuals think he ought to bow. Instead of opening their minds to the wisdom and guidance of the Pope, who is an expert in Catholicism and whose choosing has been inspired by the Holy Spirit, I am saddened to read criticisms of him by those who consider themselves his superiors and the arbiters of all his behaviors and guidance. This type of arrogance is the hard-heartedness discussed in the Bible at great length and with frequency, throughout the Old and New Testament.



I keep telling people that unless the Pope gets all liquored up and goes careening through Rome in a convertible with three ladies of the evening and sells indulgences so he can hire troupes of tango dancers to entertain him and his friends, we need to shut up and listen. Just shut up and listen. It is his role to guide, and it is our role to be led. While we would, perhaps have a right to comment on obvious mortal sins, we have no right to criticize his guidance. He is our shepherd, after all. Even I have the occasional befuddlement over something he has said. Sometimes his meaning is incomprehensible to me, but it isn't an occasion for criticism. I just wait for the Lord to inspire my understanding, and hope that understanding comes. If it does not, I endeavor to say nothing.

So, as usual, I am out of step with my culture. Ever the outsider, I now find myself in the weirdly surreal position of encouraging people to heed the words of experts.

Many people are terribly uncomfortable with truths that are not pretty, that do not entertain. This avoidance of unpleasant truth bespeaks a lack of emotional maturity. Everything must be bubble gum, unicorns and rainbows. Many people have turned Jesus into a vending machine covered with glitter. It's too bad, really. What He said about Himself is nothing like sweet candy man Jesus that dispenses gum drops on demand. Just insert one prayer. He said:

"Do not think I came to send peace upon earth; 
I came not to send peace but the sword. For I 
came to set a man at variance against his father, 
and the daughter against her mother, and the 
daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 
And a man's enemies shall be they of his 
own household."
Matthew 10:34-36

Becoming Christian, standing up for the truth, standing up for what is right, is not popular in an evil family, for instance. The aspiration to goodness is a slap in the face of selfish narcissistic family members, and you will be the black sheep for it. This is common, and Jesus promised this. Hearing this unattractive scenario is not popular, particularly among those Christians who do not stand up for Christian values in their families, but go along to get along.

Not only will your own family shun you, but Christians in name only will also shun you because your devotion to truth will convict them in their falsities. Jesus puts the sword in your hand, and life is a battle from then on, because it seems that everyone will fight you, even some of those who call themselves your brothers and sisters in Christ.

Despite the constant battle, we must learn to love truth because God is pure. There is no falseness in him. There are no lies. Satan is the father of lies, not God.

Climate change is an area of discussion in which a lot of people refuse to heed the warnings of the experts. 99.99% of climatologists say that global warming is mainly accelerated by the activities of man and that the situation is almost at the tipping point where, even if we DO stop our bad habits and invest ourselves completely in reversing the damage, we may still experience permanent damages. There are a large number of climate change deniers who tout the opinions of the tiny tiny percentage of "scientists" or pseudo-scientists in order to bolster their nutty idea that man has no or very little impact on the environment. It is ridiculous. It is dangerous.

Republicatholics quickly turned against the Pope when he wrote Laudato Si because it included an admonishment about heeding the advice of the climatology experts about global warming. Doing something about global warming will decimate the Republican agenda that caters to the oil companies and their billionaires. The Pope applies spiritual principles to weighty issues such as whether or not to destroy the planet that the good Lord gave us. He doesn't think it is a good idea.

Another aspect of that teaching was that the poor have been relegated to the world of cement, glass, asphalt and dirt, while only the wealthy have any ownership of the beauty of nature. Wealthy Republicatholics and their minions weren't happy about that, despite the clear Catholic teaching that the world has been given to every human being and was not meant for all its resources to be hoarded by a tiny percentage of people while everyone else drinks water with lead in it.

Ever since Laudato Si, social media has been ablaze with Republicatholic derision of the Pope. Some of the talk is extreme. A somewhat smaller faction is claiming that he is not the authentic Pope. It is all nonsense - just like the birther nonsense about our last president - just like the Holocaust deniers (who also deny they are white supremacists.)

I watched a program the other day about a sculptural artist who has created large sculptures of 5 of the birds that have become extinct in modern times. The carrier pigeon is one. I can't remember the others out of the hundreds of birds that man has killed. Another program that told the story of Audubon, the great painter/naturalist, showed a painting of a Carolina parrot that was gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. They're all gone - hunted to extinction. The dodo is famous, of course.

There was a particularly touching story of the last grouse of some type in America. There was just one male left. Just before he died, he flew to the top of the highest tree in his valley and called out over his territory, loudly, almost desperately. He had spent almost his entire life completely alone. Then, one day, he died.  And that was IT for this type of bird.

Of course, most Americans are familiar with the paroxysm of blood lust that decimated the buffalo, leaving entire herds on the plains, their heads chopped off for trophies, their corpses rotting in the sun.

There is a tendency in the heart of man that is called concupiscence. It is the desire for MORE, always MORE. Without restraint, a small number of people can bring to bear huge consequences on the delicate balance of the natural world. They've done it over and over again in our history. This gluttony is like the fuel in the engine of a car. Every car needs a driver, a controlling force - a regulator; otherwise, it is chaos. The car runs off the road, over the cliff, and into the ditch at the bottom of the canyon, a total wreck.

Intensive farming geared toward producing crops that travel well has hidden an incredible diversity of fruits and vegetables with which people used to be familiar. Lovers of the earth have begun to seek out heirloom varieties, as they are now called, and are furiously cultivating and collecting seed, and making these seeds available, so that the wonderful diversity of nature with which we have been gifted does not disappear entirely.

When I was in the convent, I walked through the kitchen after working in the garden and picked up a nice black plum from the basket on the counter. When I bit into it, I found it was very rich, creamy, and green. I had bitten into an heirloom variety of avocado that only grows in certain areas of Southern California and Mexico. The smooth black skin is edible. A light went off in my head after that. I began to understand this subject.



Fruits and vegetables, birds, Donald Trump, Catholicism and the Pope - What do these topics have in common with one another? History has proven that failing to heed the advice of experts results in disastrous losses for humanity.

So, here I am, writing a blog. Am I one of these people that elevates my opinion above all others? I hope I am not. Wherever I have wandered from the guidance of the experts, it is by accident and not by design. My intention is faithfulness. Even when I write an opinion piece, I am endeavoring always to keep it within the bounds of factual content. My aim is to always conform opinion to the best advice of experts in whatever field I am dancing.

Why write a blog at all? Writing is in my blood. I cannot stay away from it. It compels me. I would rather give it up, but I can not. I have tried several times, but always come back to it.

Sometimes writing is my art. Sometimes it is the expression of my religion. Sometimes it is the diary entry of a hermit seeking the ear of an understanding human being. Sometimes it is just my DNA speaking. I come from a long line of writers. It is an Irish thing.


A favorite writer of mine - Teresa of Avila


I strive to speak within the heart of humanity, to join with all people of good will in this process of writing and reading. I hope to speak with you, to spark our common light and join it together in a conflagration of understanding and joyous inspiration. Even a frustrated rant has this purpose at its core. I may fail in my intention, but I offer the best I can do on that day.

What I want to convey today is the great joy, the bliss even, of bowing one's head to the guidance of the Lord and the church, first of all. As guidance we have the Bible, the catechism, the Popes and the saints. Please join me in a mutual prayer that we may never become so educated that we consider ourselves superior to these. If we do not adopt this stance, disastrous events will occur.

Secondly, to remain faithful to all words of truth, to become more enamored of the pursuit of truth in all things, and to, most of all, always endeavor to speak Truth. It is better to say nothing at all than to spew an uninformed opinion. After all, there is nowhere in the Bible that says we should all keep our lips flapping with egotistical opinions. On the contrary, if we do not restrain our tongues, we run the risk of spreading lies, which is an invitation to Satan to pull up a chair and sit down in the kitchen.

Keeping this kind of restraint is not easy for some of us who gaily prattle on, as if leaving a moment of silence were a sin, but we can learn together that if a matter is not worth investigating fully, it is not worth discussing at all.

Like you, I am a work in progress in this matter, as in all others. I hope to get the hang of it before I'm dead. That's the best I can do. I hope you'll join me.

God bless us all!

Silver Rose


Friday, March 24, 2017

THE MOST IMPORTANT COMMANDMENTS




SACRED HEART OF JESUS

Today's gospel reading is particularly crucial for all Christians because, while the values put forth in the Bible are numerous, Jesus clearly and unequivocably sets before us the pivotal ideas around which our lives should revolve.

Gospel reading for today:
Mark 12:28-34

One of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him,
"Which is the first of all the commandments?"
Jesus replied, "The first is this:
Hear, O Israel!
The Lord our God is Lord alone!
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul, 
with all your mind,
and with all your strength.
The second is this:
You shall love your neighbor as  yourself.
There is no other commandment greater than these."
The scribe said to him, "Well said, teacher.
You are right in saying,
He is One and there is no other than he.
And to love him with all your heart,
with all your understanding,
with all your strength,
and to love your neighbor as yourself
is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices."
And when Jesus saw that he answered with understanding,
he said to him,
"You are not far from the Kingdom of God."
And no one dared to ask him any more questions.

Several people have expressed to me, and I have seen it written many times on social media and elsewhere, that the poor should be helped, but in a limited way. Many conditions are placed upon even the smallest amount offered to the poor, and some people express resentment when even a tiny amount of money is offered to the indigent from public monies.

One woman echoed the general feeling among the comfortable and well fed when she said, "Oh, I believe we should help the poor, but they don't deserve to benefit to the same degree that I do." Many people feel this way, but it isn't Christian.

Jesus asks us to love one another as much as we love ourselves. It's very clear in this passage, and there is no skirting around it.

Loving everyone as much as we love ourselves is a challenge to the natural selfishness that we all experience, at least part of the time. It forces us to loosen our attachment to false ideas of status. It pries open the hand that is grasping personal resources, and it presents an egalitarian worldview.

We cannot look down upon someone that we love as much as we love ourselves. We cannot wish them ill or wish that they remained in poverty. We cannot act in any manner that would take the food from their mouths or injure them in any way. In fact, it obviously advocates for the positive good of every person.

In another part of the Bible, we are taught that loving someone does not mean wishing them well and then moving along. It isn't enough to say, "oh, I love you so much, I wish you had the same good food that I eat, the same comfortable housing that I possess, and the same clothing that I wear." It isn't solely an intellectual orientation.

Today's Gospel reading is a really good one for Lent, when almsgiving is emphasized, but it certainly isn't limited to that aspect. It has global implications that require a revolution in our thinking and behavior. It requires a humble attitude toward our fellow man. This humble attitude is a riot against arrogance. It isn't an easy thing. 

For myself, I plan on meditating on its significance and how I might apply it in a better way. I highly recommend it.

God bless us all.

Silver Rose Parnell

Friday, February 24, 2017

MEDITATION FOR LENT - THE PURPOSE OF LIFE

Carmelite nun, praying in her cell


When I was young and writing for television, I used to see a lot of movies. It was part of the job to stay abreast of what was being made, and it was a good method of keeping the writing chops honed. I used to love French films because they didn't usually have a convenient sweet ending that tied up all the loose ends. The boy didn't always get the girl. The business venture did not always work out. Sometimes the hero ended up poor and disheveled at the fag end of his life. Most of the actors and actresses also looked like real people, rather than genetic marvels. The films were, in my estimation, more real, more authentic, than American films and television.

For the most part, we have a formula for American films in which there is usually a feel good "happy ending." There are a few remarkable exceptions to this rule, such as THELMA AND LOUISE and GRAN TORINO, both of which are examples of really fine films that have a considerable edge to them. Even at that, however, the protagonists in both these films "win" in the end, leaving us with a  satisfying feeling, albeit tinged with a bit of sadness. Bittersweet.

The American formula for films and television reflects the American ideal of the "right" to pursue happiness. It is what our country was founded upon. While happiness is a good thing, it is a pathetic goal, when you think about it. There is nothing grand in it. On the face of it, it is a narcissistic goal, but it is a goal that many people I've encountered in life have swallowed.

When I was in the Hindu convent, the purpose of life was to get oneself to a state of "realization of God." Taking anyone else along with you wasn't a focus and, although the occasional feeding of the poor was practiced, the goal was a solitary one. It was selfish at its heart, and this is what disenchanted me about the Vedanta philosophy, in the end.

A Mormon relative once said to me that "the purpose of life is to have as many fun experiences as possible," to which I replied that the purpose of life is get yourself, your family and your neighbor to heaven. It just popped out of my mouth, but I now realize that this is the profound difference between Catholicism and many other religions and philosophies.

The Catholic faith is like those French films I enjoyed when young. It is real. It is authentic. It doesn't promote the rainbows and bubble gum Jesus to whom so many people cling. It doesn't promise a happy life or wealth or "prosperity" because Jesus didn't promise those things. He promised the cross and the sword. Later, we enjoy the bliss of living with our heavenly father for eternity, provided that we follow his commandments, especially the two that he most emphasized.

"Jesus said unto him, thou shalt love the Lord thy
God, with all they heart, and with all thy soul, and
with all thy mind. This is the first and great
commandment. And the second is like unto it,
Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On
these two commandments hang all the law and
the prophets."
~ Matthew 22:37-40 ~

These greatest of commandments points away from oneself and toward God and neighbor, going so far as to decree that we love our neighbor as much as we love ourselves. In an era when conservative Catholics are promoting the idea that we all have the right to pursue success but the poor do not have the right to live as well as others, it is clear that we have lost our way, but what can I do about that, aside from mentioning it in my blog?

My meditation for this Lent will concentrate on what Jesus said are the two most important commandments. I plan to put this scripture passage before my eyes every day during the lectio divina portion of my prayers, and I will endeavor to listen to what the Lord has to say to me about these greatest of all commandments and how I may better practice them in my life.

What will YOU do for lent?

Silver Rose Parnell
Copyright (c) 2017
All rights reserved.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

CHECKING OUT FOR LENT



This year, I would like to try to withdraw a bit for Lent. Recent news has had me jangled, alarmed and shouting warnings from the rooftops. Now it is time to cuddle up with God and see if I can purify and calm myself. It may be more difficult this year, with all the giant machinery tearing up the roads outside my window, but I will just have to regard it as another penance.

Friends are giving up various things for Lent. One friend tells me she is giving up desert. Another is giving up music in the car, which is interesting because, for me, music in the car would be torture. It is too much stimulation for an activity that, for me, requires all my concentration.

Catholics are actually required to do specific things during Lent, unless they are under age 14 or are sick with something that will be affected adversely by fasting. There is an upper age limit also. I think it is 62, but I am not sure. I AM one of those people that fall into the illness category. I'm also too poor to have much control over what kind of food comes into the house, but I will do my best to get as close as possible to the rules.

Those wishing to refresh themselves on the rules, can read this handy ARTICLE.

One thing we are told to do is pray more. I plan to do that. Consequently, another reason not to write my blog during the Lenten fast. Instead of blabbing, I am going to spend time listening...to the Lord.

Lent doesn't start until March 1st, but I want to get ready for it: stock the pantry with the appropriate foods, find my Lenten reading materials, etc.

I hope you have a beautiful and fruitful Lent.

God bless us all.

Silver Rose Parnell
Copyright (c) 2017

Sunday, February 19, 2017

GOD BRINGS ALL THINGS TO THE GOOD FOR THOSE THAT BELIEVE




About halfway through the month, I typically run low on food. There are things to eat in the cupboard, but I have to be creative sometimes, and I often have to eat things I'm not particularly keen to have at that moment. I liken it to a type of perpetual fasting and, in that light, it becomes a blessing. Fasting as a method of sacrificing the ego, its will, and its constant need to be fed, enables one to grow closer to God. It has been continually advocated in the Judeo Christian world, as well as in other religions, for thousands of years. God brings all things to the good for those that believe - even when something looks bad at the outset  - even when something is uncomfortable or downright painful.

Tonight I was pondering dinner, when I noticed that I have a lot of half-and-half leftover, as I have reduced my consumption of tea over the last few months. Calculating that the half-and-half was going to go bad before I could use it all if I only used it for tea, I realized that I also had the other items necessary to make alfredo sauce with chopped walnuts. Sunday dinner was delicious. Another thing brought to the good that, on the outset, appeared to be somewhat sad.

If I stop to complain about whatever is going wrong, I may miss the good that the Lord wants to bring out of it and into my life. If I look at the deceptively empty refrigerator and become focused on THAT, it may never occur to me to become creative and make a masterpiece.

The last five years or so have been rough and getting rougher. Someone had me written out of my father's will after he got Alzheimer's. My father died, my uncle died, my son died, my dog died, my cat died. My relationship to the church I loved was destroyed by a callow young priest who ridiculed my weight in front of a group of people, pantomiming how funny it would be if he couldn't pull me out of a chair because my bottom is so big. He disparaged my disability status. He went on to harass me every time he got me alone, and I had to leave the church - the only Byzantine Church in New Mexico. My health has gotten worse and my illnesses have multiplied. Among other things, I am going blind, very slowly, from macular degeneration. My inability to find an appropriate place to live has been documented in other blog posts.

When I became disabled, friends of many years dropped me immediately. The few family who had the resources to help me picked a fight or found some bogus "reason" to be angry with me, giving themselves an excuse not to behave like the Christians they claim to be. They say that family is all one can count on, but but some families are not good. Some families hate God and goodness, living only for their own comfort.

It may never become apparent to me exactly what sort of good the Lord plans to bring out of all this pain. The good may not be realized during my lifetime. It may never make sense to me. It may never make sense to you, but sometime before my story comes to a close, I need to send out a reassuring message, and that is simply this: The Lord is bringing all these things to the good - for me and for others.

This is the blessing of living the Catholic faith, being a member of the church founded by Jesus - even if some of the priests are horridly broken and cruel people - even though I cannot get anyone from the bishop's office to return my phone calls about my vocation - even though our dear Papa is sometimes hard to understand - even though family and friends have left me twisting, by myself, at the end of a short rope - even though I have been suffering continuous pain FOR YEARS. I am being blessed.

Some people mistakenly believe that if we live the Christian faith well, Jesus will reward us with a comfortable life. That is not what he promised. This is what He said:

"Do not think that I came to send peace upon earth:
I came not to send peace, but the sword.
For I came to set a man at variance against his father,
and the daughter against her mother,
and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.
And a man's enemies are they of his own household.
He that loveth father or mother more than me, 
is not worthy of me;
and he that loveth son or daughter more than me,
is not worthy of me.
And he that taketh not up his cross, and followeth
me, is not worthy of me."
Matthew 10: 34-38

Christianity is the hardest gig you will ever do. It isn't rainbows, lollipops and unicorns, as some people believe. It isn't warm and cuddly. It isn't about prosperity. It is the sword and the cross, just as Jesus promised.

May we all be blessed.

Silver Rose Parnell
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