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SAINT OLGA

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

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


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

THE SECRET OF THE COST OF LIVING INDEX

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Consumer Price Index upon which Social Security cost of living adjustments are based, actually deals with the spending patterns of younger WORKING individuals who buy high ticket items like cars, fancy telephones, electronics, etc.

Low income, older seniors, however, spend most of their money on rent, food, and utilities, therefore, our cost of living increases do not come anywhere near to addressing our ACTUAL cost of living.

Consequently, every year, we get poorer and poorer. Therefore, the longer one remains on Social Security, i.e., the longer you live, the further down the socio-economic ladder you descend.

This is not just a little bit true, this is true by a large amount. Let me give you an example:

This year, my cost of living increase is $5.10 a month. Yep. Five dollars and ten cents a month. That's $61.20 a year.

My COSTS, however, such as rent, medical insurance, medical co-pays, car insurance, utilities, are increasing by $515.10 this year, AT A MINIMUM, since I have no way of knowing how much food costs will increase. This means that I am "in the hole" a further $453.90 this year, at minimum.

This has been going on for twelve (12) years.

This is why I am frantically trying to figure out how to increase the income into my household. I'm always talking about it. How could I NOT? I am drowning in this dishonest, rigged system, despite having worked and paid taxes for more than 30 years.

Why should you care? Because some day, you could be in my position.

Of course, my situation is much worse than many women, who are better off, thanks to the incomes of their husbands and the help of their children and extended family. I don't have ANY of that.

Thanks be to God, I was gifted with many many talents, and I have faith that the Lord will help me to survive with those. It is almost as if He is FORCING me to use those gifts, so I am writing, painting, crocheting my little fingers off, hoping to keep myself afloat and not end up homeless. I also am a professional genealogy researcher, but no one wants to pay the fees. They want me to give them everything for free. I don't do that any more.

JUST IN CASE you have need of genealogy research, and you would like me to make you a nice little tree, you can order my services online at this link:

HIRE MY GENEALOGY RESEARCH SERVICES

JUST IN CASE you would like to help me survive, I have several Amazon wish lists where I have included all sorts of items I need to maintain myself and my little creative outlets. Here are the links:

LINK TO GENERAL LIST OF MOST-NEEDED ITEMS RIGHT NOW

LINK TO FIBER ART SUPPLIES

LINK TO FINE ART SUPPLIES FOR PAINTINGS

LINK TO FOOD SUPPLIES FOR THE PANTRY

LINK TO VITAMINS AND OTHER HEALTH NEEDS

Really, I'm not expecting much, as far as anyone else ordering from my lists, but I like to have them in a handy spot for my own reference.

I remember when I became disabled, the Swami told me, "Poverty makes you lose your virtue." I think it may be partially true, as it certainly has dragged my attention away from the Lord.

Being disabled is really the problem. I had wanted to just gracefully float through my final years, offering it all up and praying to the Lord through whatever came my way, but, you know, it is just not that simple. It is a mighty struggle.

The best I can do, I think, is ASPIRE to the consciousness of Brother Lawrence who, amid the pots and pans, prayed to the Lord while he scrubbed the dirty dishes.

I am sure, on some level, that the humility that disability and poverty bring, are very good for me. I feel like I am just groveling in the dirt, trying to create a living out of it. It's all good. It MUST be good, because God brings ALL things to the good for those that believe in Him. Amen.

God bless us all.

Silver Rose






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