Sunday, December 10, 2017

Catholic Hermit: Man's Inhumanity to Man

This was a theme I wrote about often when in high school.  I'm not sure why, as one of my English teachers wrote on one essay how different for one my age, yet how so powerful were the depths and darkness the writing revealed on the reality of how we humans can be so inhumane to others.

Despite a sense of humor all my life, there has been a deep and contemplative side as well.  From my earliest memories, I pondered and saw beneath surfaces.  And I learned to speak up against some injustices when seen and when there seemed a hope of making progress in correcting them.

The man, a financial advisor and strong Catholic, had told me he'd visit the old priest and find out why it is he no longer has a stipend, why he has no money, and also to ascertain how much money he wants and needs.  I also asked the man to please check on the heat in the facility, for the priest had written to me that he was very cold and the heat was being kept too low.

Yet I realized after ten days, that the man was avoiding my calls and not reporting back as he'd promised, as to what he would find out in person.  On Friday when I called, the man answered rather than his secretary, and he awkwardly admitted he did not visit the priest.  Gave some weak excuses which I did put to an end by saying that I realize the man felt awkward about visiting the priest and ascertaining what was going on there--and that I understand.

I was upset, of course, for there is great concern for the old priest; and I knew something was not right.  I do not trust some of those around him and especially not the person he's had handle his checking account for a couple or more years.

I called a banker in the area in which the facility is, where the priest is.  I know this banker from years past, and there was a miraculous answer to prayer in her life, early on in a marriage.  She had come to me when I was in an extended time of bed rest due to pain, and she confided the problems, and we began a prayer mission resulting in a miraculous outcome for her marriage that has brought fruit now for many years.

I shared the problem I was having finding out what was occurring in the church-run retirement center, and she told me who to contact at the facility--a woman who attends the parish the banker attends, and where I attended years ago.  I placed the phone call.

What I learned is revealing.  The more I have mulled it and prayed about it, the more distressing it becomes, for I am amazed at how an elderly priest can be so treated by others in the diocese as well as those for whom he'd worked and served for years.

The reason he does not receive a stipend any more, is that the religious sisters have cut it off.  There is but a handful of them yet living, but they have not wanted him to celebrate Mass and thus the reason for ending his stipend.  The facility administrator explained when I asked why he was not allowed to celebrate mass.  (The priest had written to me of this a couple or more months ago.)  The administrator said it was due to the priest being unsteady on his feet. Well, I pointed out that St. Padre Pio sat on a stool the past couple of years of his life, and in fact others helped him walk to that stool, and toward the end even helped steady him on the stool.  

The administrator replied that they think of the old priest's "dignity", in not subjecting him to that.  Then she mentioned that there is a step up to the altar.  He might fall.  Yes, I know the place; there is also a rail and a ramp.  I mentioned even a wheelchair but did not continue the going-nowhere excuses when the administrator said that they had offered to the priest to let him celebrate Mass on his jubilee and his birthday, but he refused.  Well, I know why he refused, for he knew they did not allow him at other times to celebrate Mass; he is sharp, bright, and intuitive.  

I did have to refrain from asking the administrator that if they were so concerned about him falling and his dignity then why were they willing to risk his life and limbs on his jubilee and birthday?

We moved on to the topic of the facility seeming cold, as elderly people generally feel colder than active people; and the priest has low blood pressure as it is.  She said he can control a thermostat but also there are aides in and out of his room whom he could ask to do so.  I'm relieved to know that, and I wonder at why he has not asked them--or if he has, what has transpired.

It is so difficult not being there; and I did agree with the administrator that the priest is extremely private.

Then on to the money issue.  Besides his stipend being dropped because he does not celebrate Mass (truly, that was the religious sisters' doing, telling him he could not), the diocese also takes all his Social Security funds and uses them toward his room and board....

Oh.  So I was getting a better understanding as to why he is penniless, and that he probably would like some money to buy some postage stamps, some writing paper, to buy a few gifts for those around him, for Christmas, or to make some donations, or if he needs a lot of money, to help someone in need as he has done time and again when he had funds!

The administrator said she had a man who could speak with the old priest to find out if someone was asking him for money, for that would not be right; or if the woman handling his checking account somehow mismanaged or whatever.  But I know the old priest will not like this probing into whatever is going on, and yet if I send money, I need it to be in the hands of the priest and not the diocese, not the facility, not to the woman handling his checking account.

And this whole situation has disheartened me greatly.  How is it that a priest who has served selflessly there for years and as a priest for many decades, has ended up penniless?  Why can they not let him celebrate Mass any time he wishes and stop their thin excuses that he is unsteady or there is a step (and ignore a ramp) or that they are concerned for his "dignity"?  What dignity is there for a priest to have to write to one who is part of his soul life, to be demeaned and need to ask for money?

Why is it that a diocese can be so heartless as to take all his monthly Social Security checks and not give him even a small allowance?

Ah, man's inhumanity to man! 

I am ever amazed at how Catholics--clerics and diocese workers and often enough, parishioners--who either consecrate the Host and offer His Real Presence or go to Mass after Mass and receive His Real Presence, can be so nasty or at minimum unthinking when it comes to what is dignified, or even what is Christian behavior?

I am ever amazed at how inhumane Catholics can be to fellow Catholics.  I've never known the likes of it, for it stands out sharply in contrast due to what we espouse, to what we say we believe of the Living Word and the Sacraments.  We are to be dedicated in love and service to the least of these, of which an elderly priest certainly seems to be at this phase of his relative imprisonment.

The woman said she will get back to me when she knows more. I am grateful. It would be very wrong for someone to impose upon him for money when he has nothing.  But the more I ponder what the administrator said, the more I sense that he simply would like a little cash in order to buy incidentals and to gift others now and then. 

She also said she'd not be able to tell me what she finds out as far as the why, since she does not know me at all.  And I am increasingly appreciative that she does not know me nor do I know her, for I am not feeling good about the information she gave of his stipend being dropped, their reasons for not letting him celebrate mass regularly, and the diocese taking his Social Security payments--which to her thinking seemed logical and proper.  

I wish I'd not involved the administrator in the sense that the situation will become more invasive into the priest's situation, and I pray they do not berate him for not asking for the heat to be turned up.  Perhaps he has, and his request ignored; or perhaps the aides do not want to work in rooms too warm for their own comfort.

Yet, here again, I guess the Lord wanted me to know from listening to the administrator's explanations, just how repetitive is the inhumanity within the church in little details such as an old, devoted priest being penniless.  The administrator did point out he is allowed to stay there and has his meals....

I am so reminded of St. John of the Cross over four hundred years ago.  Many know of his being imprisoned for nine months by his Carmelite confreres and his miraculous escape from their brutal mistreatment of him.  That was earlier on in his priesthood.  But not many realize that toward the end of his not-lengthy life, his confreres and especially a superior, so envied and despised St. John's popularity and spiritual gifts, that they wanted to punish him yet with mistreatment.  

His superior decided to send him to Mexico where the order was setting up a new enclosure.  They figured John of the Cross would not want to be sent away from the many religious sisters and lay persons who relied upon him for counsel and spiritual direction.  But John of the Cross was pleased to be sent to Mexico, as he by then was in union with the Lord and also knew that distance from the conniving and cruel Carmelite brethren priests who despised him, was best for all.

When John of the Cross showed gracious acceptance of the superior's order to send him to Mexico, the superior did not like John's reaction!  So he changed the order and decided to send the saint to their Carmelite house in the worst climate of Spain, in the most remote area, with the greatest hardships.  

John graciously accepted this directive, as well, for by then he was so longing to be with the Lord in eternity, he knew nothing of the temporal mattered other than his ongoing love of God and of love of others as God loves.  The saint knew the climate and conditions would hasten his earthly death, and he had by that point in his 51 years of life, reached spiritual detachment of both the exterior and interior senses.

So the last two months of St. John of the Cross's life were spent with increasing suffering and ill health, as well as being kept in a small, dark, dank cell, given little to eat but mostly bread and water, not allowed to celebrate Mass, and brought communion only on occasion.  He accepted all this without a word of complaint but in a state of prayer for those who persecuted him, for he was subsumed into Christ while yet on earth.  

Three days prior to the saints death, his superior had a breakthrough moment (praise God), and went to John of the Cross's cell to ask forgiveness.  St. John readily forgave the man.  But of course there is always the judgment of God and whatever His consequences to be the plight of all of us at our own deaths.  And this is a good thing for us.  We can ask others' forgiveness but there are always consequences of our actions, especially our inhumanity to our fellow humans and our ugly attitudes, thoughts, words, and behaviors that are never hidden from God's omniscience.

I wrote some of this to the elderly priest, for if anything, God is having him share in sufferings such as John of the Cross suffered, in the dehumanizing aspects of being denied by those around him who see nothing wrong about their manipulations and their notion of "dignity".

And that, my dear readers, can be so easily true of any of us.  

Today I must pray for the Lord, on this Second Sunday of Advent waiting, to reveal to me any ways in which I display or enact inhumanity to man, or why it is that I tend to have these experiences come to light, that I do not shirk from taking them on.  Others perhaps wisely do not get involved, like the financial advisor who was gun-ho to find out the circumstances there only to have his courage fail.  And I am asking the Lord if I am doing His will by my involvement.

I admit that I did mention to the administrator, that I may need to start a GoFundMe page for the priest--given his circumstances there in the diocese and the facility.  I let it be known that I know any number of lay persons in that area as well as dotted around the country and some outside the country, who would be quite upset and thus willing to donate so that the priest will not be penniless after all his years of impeccable service as one of Christ's own.

Yes, I admit I was irked enough to consider what at least local exposure might do as a motivating factor to shake them into seeing a broader view of "dignity", but I trust the Lord will handle this far more gracefully than I.  That is my prayer, anyway.  Sometimes we are, however, called upon to reveal things not quite right, even when we do not want to!  I think often of Jeremiah and of Jonah, of Eli and Elijah and Ezekiel!

In the meantime I am making arrangements with a person I trust who lives near where the priest is, in the diocese-overseen facility.  I will send her money every two weeks, and she then will take it in person and place it in the priest's own hands.  And she will then procure whatever he needs of incidentals or make sure those he wishes to gift, are gifted.  It is the best I know to do from a distance and also to keep the process unentangled from the temporal system-at-large.

My mind and heart are calmed by the Holy Spirit and am assured that he is not being asked for thousands of dollars, although that had been a possibility earlier, roaming in my thoughts.  I guess it is good to find out, for if he wants to gift someone a large amount of money, then hopefully, fairly soon, I will be able help him with higher amounts of money.

And I must remember that much in the temporal Catholic world is as a business, such as this facility, and the diocese offices, and of the administrators as business people whether they be clerics or religious or lay persons.  Positions of prestige or power no matter the setting, can so easily alter our way of thinking that takes us farther from the spiritual view.  People working in a group or under cover of a large organization or business, can tend to do that which as individuals we might not dare do!  Herd mentality, safety in numbers, justifying actions in the security of group-think.

I can see how one can be distracted and also must involve in the temporal world by my own efforts here to finish this temporal abode.  If I let down my guard, I could easily ooze into the slime of how some employees operate in big box stores.  Hopefully, before long someone will be able to live in this dwelling--finished, comfortable, and not a rat or bird or many in the walls, attics or crawlspaces, not an infestation of coons, not bad plumbing with dangerous off-gasses, not a leaking roof nor dangerous electrical wiring.  And I can in wherever next, not need to interface as much with the snares of "businesses" be they in the secular or religious realms.  Whatever the Lord wills, of course....  He must be my portion and my cup.  I must follow where He leads.

In a few days I will celebrate in an extra-personal way, the feast day of St. John of the Cross.  I hope the priest across the miles will receive my letter in time to join with me in praising God for the saint's example of how he endured his superior's and fellow priests' inhumanity to him off and on in his life.  We are to rather expect (or perhaps hope for) a crucifixion at the end of our lives so as to share in the sufferings and likenesses of Jesus Christ.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Catholic Hermit: Happy Advent and Liturgical New Year!

A joyous day today with the first day of Advent.  We welcome a new liturgical year, and I consider the liturgical year the preeminent year, transcending the temporal calendar year.  The spiritual realm continues whether or not people recognize the fact; and thus the new year begins today, and the spiritual seasons evolve accordingly.

Here at Te Deum Hermitage, I so appreciated the couple from the parish bringing His Real Presence in the consecrated Host from Mass.  They greeted me with a "Happy New Year!"  Yes!  Someone else considers today the first day of the new year, for it is.  They said the priest proclaimed from the pulpit, "Happy New Year!" to all assembled.

The purple Advent and Lent pottery is now in use: a mug and saucer, and a bowl for a lentil-and-rice lunch.

The nausea is increased today despite the pain meds, but lo, there is a non-forecasted pressure front that rolled through in the form of a storm.  Yet, I filled holes in the closet frames that are now shimmed, with doors installed to see if they fit properly.  Next I will remove the doors only so that the frames can be painted.

If, and only if, the nausea subsides enough to get up and stay upright, I will begin installing the pocket door.  I've never done one of these (and I'd only framed and installed one other door before these closet doors), so I have some studying to do.

The theme of this First Sunday of Advent's Scripture readings is that of being prepared for Christ.  "Be aware!  Be watchful!"

It is true; we do not know the day or hour in which the Lord will come to take us with Him, to judge our lives, our minds, hearts, and souls.  He comes to take us with Him further into His Light and Love for eternity in heaven, or if we are to continue with learning our soul lessons and be purified enough for divine union, or if we are taken to the consuming fires where hope is no longer available to us.

Hard to think of the latter possibility.  Yet the Lord speaks of the fires of hell; and we are warned often enough.  The bridesmaids who do not keep oil in their lamps, the rich man who did not offer Lazarus even a drop of water or a crust of bread, and found himself in Sheol, wishing he'd lived his life compassionately and generously, and wanting others to be reminded and warned.  Too late!

Sometimes I take a good whiff of spiritual smelling salts, and it is enough to startle me into the reality of what on earth am I doing!  Have I grown lax?  Indeed, and surely I have.  Or does the Lord accept my penitential circumstances, my physical sufferings, my striving and trying to do all for God--is it what the Lord desires of me?  Is there enough delight and praise of God in my daily efforts?

Am I being foolish working on this place, trying to relate the efforts to omnia pro Deo prayers and praises?  Going through the process, suffering along the way, hoping to make good what was bad, to provide a lovely place for someone else who will not have to go through what I've been through, not be deceived by a realtor, inspector and first contractor?

Some look upon it as a financial must; and indeed I am stripped to nothing and now nearly nothing of the personal loan given.  But to me it is all spiritual, the purpose behind the efforts, the praying done in here in the silence of solitude, of being for the most part hidden from the eyes of men, just my entire being visible always to the Lord.

Today a man came for the new mattress; and I will get a refund from the company.  I am officially and forthwith sleeping on the floor, with the floor my only place to rest off and on, such as now with laptop, my head propped on a couple of pillows, taking a back break before I figure out how to hang the pocket door upstairs.  The mattress is a surprise for the man's four-year-old daughter--strangers, but now in my thoughts and prayers as people I can visualize and with whom I had brief conversation.

I suppose above all else, this place, this experience, this struggle of now nearly five years, has been a means of teaching me to be prepared.  I have had to prepare this place for whomever will be here next.  Each year at Advent, in here, I remind myself that I am preparing a place for Christ Himself.  A mattress on the floor used to be the manger, and now it is a sleeping bag laid out, and a couple blankets on top of it.  The hermitage is a stable, and in years past it was in far more rough condition with rats and birds coming inside and plenty of them dead and trapped in the wall and ceiling spaces.  So there were animals about the stable!

As to the soul itself, I am going to ask the Lord to guide me in what He desires that I prepare, that I become aware, of that which I should be watchful in my thoughts, words, and actions.  Already I've been shown some aspects to change, of which I've written previously, when others ask for counsel and advice, or even for my opinion on matters temporal as well as spiritual.

Mostly, though, today I am reminded to be as expectant and delighted with the first day of the liturgical new year as this is the beginning of waiting and watching, of growing and developing for and with and in the Lord.  For new birth comes forth when we give over to God's guidance and care, when we keep trying to love and to love to learn to love God and all His Creatures and Creation.

Happy New Year, one and all!  Happy New Year in the Lord Most High: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Catholic Hermit Ba-a-a-ck!

There are many "backs" in the past couple of days.  This nothing consecrated Catholic hermit's back, as in spine, is back to more functional thanks to a moment of clarity last Monday in which I had the sense to try pain meds at therapeutic dose and regular schedule.  The debilitating nausea from radiating low back pain was toned down just enough to be able to rise and even shim and hang a double closet door.

Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!

Then I received a call from the Apple Store in civilization that the laptop is repaired, thankfully under warranty to the last day or would not have had funds to fix it.  And also, I was able to manage to drive  "back" into civilization not only to retrieve the laptop but also to make the orthopedic hand surgeon appointment. 

The surgeon was most impressed with the x-rays showing a "most unhappy hand," as he put it.  He shook his head with how I've pushed the body, but when I explained the long-standing back pain, and that I'm no longer a good assessor of pain and thus at times can keep going beyond what is normal, he understood.  Thus when he asked if I could feel tingling here or there on various fingers, I could not.  He understood when I explained I so much keep my mind distracted and out of my back pain, that I have to actually make my thoughts return and enter the body and focus on feeling various aspects of the pain.

And thus, he talked over the surgery necessary, and the four-month recovery period, and he listened to my explanation of the mess I'm in financially and physically with needing to finish (if possible, of course) this abode I got myself into.  He thought perhaps best that I try to finish despite the hand pain and torn ligaments and tendons, to wear a brace, and finish if I can relatively soon.  For the length of recovery would take me into spring when I was hoping to list, in order to pay back the personal loan a family member gave last spring.  The hand is already a ruination, so it cannot get much worse!

I tried the brace yesterday morning when trim painting a final coat on some boards to finish upstairs closet openings, but the brace presses on some tissue that is most painful.  So I'm "back" to going without a brace and letting pain indicate what I can and cannot tolerate.  And the hand cannot tolerate much.  But more dictatorial is the low back pain which even with sleeping on the floor and dispensing with the mattress, is quite a load-full of suffering.  Even with the pain meds now, I was way too nauseous yesterday to continue with additional efforts, upright.

However, praise the Lord that the edge of pain, toned down, has been blessedly adequate to chase all morbid thoughts that were plaguing me and of which I had to battle increasingly--up to finally battling day-and-night.  It is no way to live, battling those dark thoughts!  Too much pain it was, more than the mind and emotions can bear over extended period of time!  God provides, and I'm thankful despite some family and friends making most unkind and ignorant comments regarding needing medication.

I've already started praying for the blind faith necessary to proceed and to hope that I can have that low dose of relief through the storm fronts that are a direct correlation to the high increase of back pain.  If not, God knows.  Will face whatever when that present moment arrives, one way or another.

I continue to be bolstered by a couple comments by St. Paul.  "That God may be all in all" and "I have not suffered yet unto blood."

I have called now two times to request anti-nausea medication and refill of pain medication, to the primary care doctor, with no response thus far.  Monday I will try again.  It is a shame to have to go "back" to any dose of medication, even low dose, but one must recognize the limits.  I have since asked two spiritual friends who keep in touch via email or texting, to remind me to take pain meds if I should get myself so crazed from pain as it has been, that I cannot think clearly as to what will help.

With the hand surgery, it will be a fascinating social experiment, or perhaps a test of the depth of charity in parishioners or anyone here, to see if there will be someone willing to drive me to have the hand surgery and to tote my carcass back to my hermitage!  I know God will provide, even if it means I remain at the surgery clinic until I have wits and energy enough to drive myself.

Then, I received a most unusual letter from my spiritual father, and he needs money.  Something is amiss for he no longer receives a stipend; and he has a woman there as his power of attorney and who handles his checking account.  He should not be hung out like this in his circumstances, now retired after offering of himself for years in service to the Church.  

A trusted financial advisor and tremendously faithful Catholic is one whom I turned to with a phone call. He is going to investigate.  In the meantime I sent what cash I had remaining from the vegetable stand, of which I had in an envelope in case one of the young men returned for a day to do some heavier yard work, on a non-stormy day...!  I am thankful to have it and to be able to send it. as the financial advisor thought that best until he can figure out what is going on.  The priest needs protection from whomever or whatever has left him in this financial state.

Bless his heart; he wrote that he evidently had mismanaged.  I don't believe that one bit.  He is the most prudent of souls, and also, though, generous.  There were some transitions going on in his living circumstances, and he did gift out much of his funds for the diocese was going to absorb, in the transition.  Yet, why he has no more a stipend is a mystery to be solved.

There is nothing I will not do for this holy soul, this marvelous priest, the only one who knows the innermost parts of my own soul and the souls of many, save of course, God's knowing all souls.

I am back to doing whatever I can--hand, back, nausea, counsel and prayer, meager acts of charity.  I am fine if my anam cara  and I go down together financially. What I have is also his.  That's how I view it, and I pray that the financial advisor can get to the bottom of the situation.  We need to establish a trusted means that what I share is going to the priest and none other.

Now to attempt some manual labor, praying the nausea does not take over.  Yesterday it did.  It is only pain, only nausea, and while this is true--pain is most powerful.  Human pain is what caused Jesus to cry out on the cross, what caused Him to cry tears of blood in Gethsemane, what caused Him to be disheartened that his beloved disciples could not wait but one hour with Him.  It was human pain that caused Jesus to weep over Jerusalem and to weep at the grieving love when going to raise Lazarus from the dead.

When suffering becomes heightened, pain becomes the constant, autonomic prayer.  In suffering, we pray always in an instant of our offering all to God.

And we know that with the Lord, and thus also with those of us who are through, with, and in Him, human suffering is also spiritual and divine suffering.  There is tremendous physical power in pain, enough to bring down the most stoic of persons, enough to create ancillary pain issues like debilitating nausea, tears, and wishes to die.  

And there is tremendous spiritual power in pain, enough to cause prayers to be highly efficacious; and in the divine aspect of pain, there is power enough to unite us with Christ in the present moments of agonizing suffering.

We are all back when we suffer with the Lord and offer our sufferings for the glory of God and His holy purposes in all matters of earth and heaven.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Catholic Hermit Apologizes for Writing Errors

My laptop needed repair so is in civilization for a week, more or less.  My iPad is having issues of not allowing me to scroll down to write or correct errors.  I do hope readers can figure out the gist of what is not all that crucial in content, regardless!  But it is an expression of some of the processes this  pain-nauseated, consecreted Catholic hermit is experiencing with the Lord and with temporal and spiritual daily life.

The previous post was concluding with the wisdom the Lord gives in simplicity and simply offering to pray for those who seek counsel and advice, especially ,when their seeking begins to keep,them from figuring out their issues when counsel has been given previously.  I must not hesitate to encourage others to live and learn and consult God in their on going journeys.

The Lord allows me pain and fatigue from pain to teach me much, even when it is to help me realize I ought not talk or to remain with written input which is far better in many instances. Mthe other can read what they want to express of their problems, and I can pray, discern, and respond.  Or not delve into repeating or fall into my own reaction of frustration and offer the most powerful help given us, and that is to pray for one another.

In this phase of my own spiritual journey as a co secreted Catholic hermit but more as simply a child of God, in processlike others, I must not become entangled unnecessarily but to devote much time to the silence of solitude and the prayer of listening to the Lord and of praising Him.

Catholic Hermit Learns Lessons

The Lord has graciously pointed out some flaws I've been inadvertently acting upon for awhile.  (I'm sure there are many more flaws than these but a few at a time are His helpful way to let me learn to correct.)

These flaws have to do with interactions with those who call and email with crises or issues in their lives.  And most of those have to do with their relationships.

I've called upon some psychological counseling skills learned years ago, but I've not utilized some others, well.  I tend to listen or read, and I can mirror the other person most of the time, which helps the other be comfortable in sharing problems.  But I've not adhered to the wisdom in refraining from overly investing in their lives, at times.

Also, I have at times fallen into what can seem manipulations or become part of another's unhealthy cycle of which they are struggling themselves to learn to stop being part of a recurring cycle of unhealthy relating.  The terms "transference" and "counter transference" are ways of identifying some of these aspects in relating.

Another flaw has been to repeat advice, counsel, and examples of implementing, more than once.  Or more than twice and three times--for some people do not grasp with one explanation, or they can repeat their issues but with differing circumstances and thus want counsel all over again....

I've often thought of Padre Pio and his reputation for being harsh in the confessional and abrupt in other interactions in which people want his input and advice. 

I do fairly well with not giving advice if not asked, although I do  converse and relate what insights if the person is indirectly asking.  Sometimes I did not detect the indirect asking or need only to receive an other email or phone call asking why I'd not responded to this or that issue or situation relayed.  Often enough, there are aspects that really do not require response.  These have to do with obvious incidents or if a person is seeking unnecessary feedback.

But I surely have failed in the areas of perhaps what is over-empathizing."  Or not remaining detached but repeating counsel and advice without realizing the one calling or writing does indeed know what to do but wants my involvement, with the root of their issues being from what all our issues stem:  the vices, the capital sins.

Even if I have mentioned or the other mentions the vice (and I then concur and praise them for recognizing it on their own), unless the person (and this of course is me, also, when my issues!) does not actively work toward resolving and turning the vice into virtue, repeated counsel is rather pointless.  That is when I become a part of the person's cycle of unhealthy manipulation, whether or
not they recognize I've it or intend it.

And especially if the person does the opposite of what is discussed and agreed upon as the Scriptural way or the healthy way to solve the issue or take positive action to change, there is really no more reason to discuss as passive aggressive personality disorder takes on going counseling to rid out.  And usually it is insidious to the person's way of relating, for they do not recognize it in themselves and have become attached to it, relative to other vices such as pride, envy, or anger.

I have come to finally learn what the Lord has tried to show me in some relationships, and that my way of listening, empathizing, and advising would have been more effective with Padre Pio's way.  Be more direct, limit the time involved, remain out of any cycles of unhealthy manipulations or attention seeking, and do not react with emotional investiture to problems brought forth for counsel.

Repeat advice and insights once or twice depending upon person's ability to absorb and grasp.  And if
   Provide feedback if they report how they handled a given situation or issue but not repeatedly.  The Lord is showing me to let others learn to seek and listen to God's will and guidance.  There comes a time when a spiritual so. Or daughter, sister or brother, needs to figure matters out for him-or herself.

And, what the Lord has shown me in setting boundaries and in discerning that some desire attention but really are not interested in conversion from vices to virtues or to let go of the hindering flaws that hold our lives and very souls in mire.

What the Lord is teaching me in the lesson I need to learn is to discern motives of those making contact and to also know that the best response often can be that I will pray for the person to seek and find God's will and wisdom in resolving their dilemmas and issues.  He has helped me learn by my physical fatigue and pain hindering me from accepting phone calls when He's also shown me in inner sight what the caller is about.  Or in other situations in which someone writes, I can see for myself if I react with frustration rather than breaking my own cycle within the person's cycle of needependency upon me, a sinner.x

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Catholic Hermit: The Lord Gives and Takes Away

Praised be the Name of the Lord!

Mercy, the right hand, particularly the thumb down to its base, is acutely painful. The Lord knows what finishing work inside and gardening work outside yet remains.  But the thumb that had a drill whip injury and periodic flare ups the past two years is now needing correction, it seems.  That right hand and the recent back pain siege has been an excellent way for the Lord to remind me of total dependence upon His will in all things.

Ran into temporal hassles trying to get into primary care doctors and Nurse practitioners.  But the pain motivated me, along with the thought from my angel via Holy Spirit, to do an online search for a hand orthopedist.  Found one with good reviews and amazingly with a number for new patients!  Did not need a referral from general practitioner and am going to be seen in a week if not cancellation sooner.  A drill whip injury is quite painful, the thumb laid back with force.  I hoped to avoid surgery but in the silence of solitude and enforced mattress rest for nearly three weeks, I realized I will not be able to use my right hand for much now or in future if not repaired.

The Lord gave me a specialist and not long to wait for some relief.

Yesterday I had quite the nudge to call for an appointment to get the laptop repaired.  Tracking pad has not worked well for awhile, and I thought the warranty up in early December.  But I called due to the nudge within to do so.  Turns out the warranty was up yesterday so was told to go as a walk in customer and wait.  May the Lord be praised!  I do not mind waiting; I've been waiting for Jesus to come for me for some time....  The laptop is out for a week, they think, and I could not have afforded the repair had I called today.  The Lord gives even if He takes temporarily, some tangible tool.

The use of the right hand is taken away for the most part.  When I do use it minimally, the Lord allows pain as the consequence.  I will attempt using the pneumatic Brad nailer to install baseboards upstairs, knowing that I will have increased pain.  When it becomes too much, I will stop.  And I must not complain for the consequences.  The Lord is providing help, on its way sooner than I could have hoped!  I will not push the hand beyond prudence, but I will put it to a small test.

The Lord gives and the Lord takes away.

In reading chapter five of Book Two of The Collected Works of John of the Cross, the gist is that of our letting go of attachment not only in the more temporal senses but to also let go of attachment of the interior senses, of the supernatural aspects of mind, heart and soul.  One is to allow blindness in knowledge, intellect, and understanding, for example, and to let go of attempts to figure out any visions and locutions.  We are to rest in darkness, passively, and allow the Lord full reign over our totality of being.  He will then introduce faith--that faith that passes all understanding and ushers our souls into union with God.

The Lord gives, thus, when attachments are taken away.  When our attempts to see are taken, blindness is given.  This type of blindness is good.  Blind faith is what God desires, yet it occurs by His grace and of taking our supernatural attachments and giving us divine union--that we then see as God sees, fully united within His will.

I hope and pray that is the path I'm on.  I have no idea, but I hope and pray that He takes whatever attachments and gives blind faith at some point.  Am very weary, and passivity is a welcome position.

The Lord decides.  The Lord wills and bequeaths the giving and the taking away.

With whatever we are, love God.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Catholic Hermit: Distraction, Devil, Discoveries with Desert Hermits

The physical pain continues at higher than average levels.  The weather shifts frequently, causing this nothing consecrated Catholic hermit to be mostly on the mattress.  And soon the mattress will be gone (too soft; company changed formula without notice of what used to be quite firm), and I will be not on the mattress but on the floor.  As well, I think.

With the increased pain (debilitating at times), I've utilized live-streaming the yacking of newscasters to distract my mind from the pain.  I came upon that by inspiration, and I praise God for how effective are the "talking heads."  Years ago when working on a master-doctoral program in clinical psychology in San Diego, CA (was not able to finish it due to...pain sieges), I learned some aspects of therapeutic distraction, of placing the mind from pain.

Meditation can be helpful, but my pain has been so wretched that my mind is quite exhausted, and thus the noise of news is quite simple.  Yet, I admit I've become rather sick of it; I'm not used to temporal noise in other aspects.  Yet I have praised God for such a simple "fix"; and now I pray for some divine intervention to help me cope with the pain.  Rather nauseated today, and my mind cannot think well due to the drain of the pain upon all aspects of body.

I will try music after awhile.

I've been, during less painful hours, reading another collection of writings of the desert hermits.  I'm making discoveries!  Their lives are helpful in the examples given of some of their circumstances and daily activities, as well as their reception of Holy Communion.  Thus far of over 15 hermit saints, only one received the Eucharist when someone brought once a week to his hut.  Most often, the hermit would by God's intervention and signaling, the hermit would be told of impending death, and to go to a monastery or cathedral and receive the Eucharist once prior to death.

So this morning the couple from the parish, returned from an extended time away, brought Holy Communion to my unfinished hermitage.  I shared with them, asking them to understand what I'd written to my spiritual father (who will understand), that I have not "missed" the Eucharist, yet I need the Eucharist whenever possible, while in my temporal body on this temporal earth.  I explained that ever since the first ecstasy during Mass, now over nine years ago, I never had the yearning nor did I miss not receiving the tangible, consecrated Host. The time of union with God filled me in ways I cannot describe; yet I do not miss the experience of the ecstasies.  

Those brief times of the of mystical union, of being not in this world but maybe more accurately on the stairway to heaven, sustained me and has continued to do so without my missing or yearning otherwise.  Yet since the couple has been bringing the Eucharist most Sunday mornings, I have considered that there has been a linkage as well as strengthening with the Body of Christ Militant.  The loving action of the couple has also been rather healing in many ways.

I think the couple understood as best they can, for I wanted to tell them of what occurred in the night.  I'd read a few more lives of the early hermit fathers of the desert, and another theme besides the harshness of conditions runs throughout: attacks by the devil.  So I wondered about this, relative to my hermit vocation now nearing the 17th anniversary of profession of vows (after a period of discernment and experiencing aspects of the vocation).  

I have not had for several years the types of demonic assault to which I used to be subjected--the more external and tangible, demonstrative demonic attacks.  (Not able to move, large dog standing on me, fire across the bed, being placed in a plastic bubble with a cat attacking, etc.)  I have had some temporal interferences, such as with manual labor and various such obstacles.  But I wondered about the seeming respite from demonic attacks as I've learned to put those other types aside: identify the culprit, turn the attack into good, laugh and praise God, then move on.

I had a dream last night.  It was of the couple who bring me Communion, and they were not at all as they are for what I've discerned over nearly a year of their coming here most Sunday mornings.  Perhaps they've grown to trust me, even, as today they invited me to their family Thanksgiving.  (I doubt I'll be able to go, mostly due to the increase of pain with its nausea and spinal headaches, but how open and kind of them, and we will see what that present moment brings, pain-wise.)  

Well, the couple were off kilter with deception, and there was great chaos going on in their household.  (To this, in my telling, the woman this morning laughed and said that would be Thanksgiving with five grandsons running around.)  But in the dream there was an element of some ugliness or even taints of evil surrounding them, and again, they were not themselves. I was saddened in the dream, and disconcerted, to see them as such.

Then when I awoke in the morning, the dream was not the first thought but was the second.  The first thought was to do myself in, to kill myself and be out of this constant and intractable high-level pain.  That thought created a brief scenario, and I dashed it as I always do.  However, I had my answer.  The level of demonic assault that goes on not uncommonly, as I reviewed it, is that of trying to get me to end my life of suffering by first-morning, insidious mental suggestion.

As I told the couple, it really gets "old."  But, now that I have it illuminated (and wonder why I did not before see this thread of the devil, through the needle poking at me more often than I kept tally (for I push it aside, of course, despite the prick of despair it can bring), I realize that I don't have someone coming with promises of wealth, nor is there some rescuer as in an earthly spouse tempting me to leave off my vocation and return to the world.  No, it is this other, the devil poking me often enough; and I might now pay more attention to just how often, and am going to experiment with ways that might put a stop to it, although I guess I've been successful by the grace of God thus far. I'm still around, suffering, enduring the suffering, and laughing when possible.

Anyway, after the first morning nastiness of the devil, I remembered the dream of the couple, and of course, immediately I identified their being not the loving Christian people they are as the devil creating that dream of chaos.  And, I realized that this, too, is another answer for me.  It was quite obvious the devil was not pleased with the couple bringing Holy Communion after being away five Sundays.   And that fact has me realize that the power of the Eucharist when I am able to receive, is what I must continue as long as God provides through such as this loving couple. 

Praise be to God for so many answers to thoughts and wonderings I've had on various fronts.

One time in years past, when I was having an extended pain siege, a monsignor was unsympathetic (not the half of it...) to my plight, and then I did yearn.  To no avail, on the temporal level, would I be brought Communion; but after the negative phone call, Jesus appeared in corporeal vision (this means He was tangibly present as a recognizable person) beside my bed of suffering. He reached over to me with His right hand in which He held a Host, and placed the Host on my tongue.

This is an event I will never forget, as I do not forget the power of union in the mystical ecstasies during Mass.

So it goes.

Another reminder I'm pondering from reading the hermit desert fathers (have read other books in the past but this covers yet more hermits of Orthodox connection in later centuries), is that of their ascetic existences, which are rather extreme in the telling of their lives.  Thus, I've considered how in the past I chose to rid myself of all but basic possessions in order to function in contemporary life, and it was simple and easy.  

And I stood out as ascetic and stood out as extreme.  And that very point of being "noticed" let me know that I thus was not so "hidden from the eyes of men" as is what, according to the Church, a consecrated hermit is to be.  

Thus began my journey, quite by accident or at least unexpected to my view and mind, to end up where I am now, and for the past nearly five years to be stripped and formed and pruned and emptied out in ways I could never on my own doing would or could have accomplished.  Even the mattress I have--purchased thinking it to be firm, as another I'd slept on elsewhere was firm--will bring about my sleeping, on the floor in here.  

The old, old mattress was increasing the back pain, making me more ill; the new mattress is not sufficiently better so is going to be donated.  If I can locate a very firm mattress to put on the floor, fine, but right now I'm too ill with pain to deal with any of the sort.  I have learned from my spiritual father to not create my own sufferings, at least not intentionally so.  

That point is where my hermit life intersects with austerities and ascetic practices.  I take what God decides, what God provides in detachment and austerity; and I take what God provides in sustenance and help when I call upon His Holy Name.

I have no idea what the future will bring, that is for sure.  And to refer back to a previous post and the love song I adapted to sing silently to Jesus, "I love Him, and that's all I know."