SAINT OLGA

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

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