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Archive for September, 2012

Wisdom and Old Age.

Fear of God is the beginning of Wisdom

                   When Moses did not know what to do any more about the disputes, arguments and disagreements among the 400,000 men plus women he was leading across the 40 yr journey, totally exhausted and at wit’s end he went to God to complain, that’s a very Jewish thing, complain, that is what Fiddle on the Roof said, and they are our older brothers and they taught us well.

The dispute issue is so second nature to us, no?. I find it most revealing what God did to settle things.

He asked Moses to gather the ELDERS, and delegate to them the dispute resolving tasks, reserving for Moses the most difficult ones. This so very revealing of God and His creation, how He reserved for the elders the wisdom to pry apart the human condition.

So if they have been gifted naturally to clarity to see the human entanglement in the midst of arguments… I wonder why is that they are exclusively the ones to be afflicted with dementia, Alzheimer, those impairments that not only obscure the clarity in wisdom but takes away the ability to remain clear, cognitive and engaged with reality. I wonder what God thinks of this.

A very good friend of mine, while caring for her Alzheimer afflicted husband, discovered the most amazing thing that had not been discovered before about the disease. The person regresses his life, identically stepping on the very steps he stepped on the way forward. Most interesting!!

Years ago, while visiting nursing homes with the missionaries of charity, I must confess that was the absolute most difficult ministry for me EVER, more that prisons, catechism, marriage counseling, there is nothing I have done that is more difficult to take than nursing homes. I see to perfection what Blessed Mother Teresa meant when she said that the greatest poverty is loneliness. How true. Those poor old committed for the rest of the lives people were abandoned for the most part by their closest family members. There were people there that had not had visitors for years and years; some, never.

Yet….. they looked expectantly at the door whenever someone went by. I could not bear it then and I can’t bear it now. It all comes rushing back as my father faces the very same dead-end end.

My mom died at 57 of a heart attack during her sleep, escaping the very same end her 2 sisters met, one died of Alzheimer and the other of dementia. Her brother died of a heart attack at 57.

My father’s 3 sisters died of Alzheimer, and his one brother was the only one that was cabal to the end. He is the one that fought hardest with God all his life. Consumed with rage against Him, he would tell anyone who would listen, most specially priests that Jesus was Prometheus, of the Greek Mythology and he came back to earth to beg for forgiveness for having brought the fire of the gods down to us. Yes, my friends, Jesus came to ask for forgiveness, ironically, he of that entire generation has been the only one who died in his own bed, surrounded by his own family, him and them praying the rosary. Who would have thought it….. Not in my wildest dreams.

                                                             Mercy, unadulterared MERCY.

                    My father now is well on his way to dementia, brutally fighting everyone around that wants to help, the traffic, the doctors, the cleaning woman, the guy who cuts his lawn, who ever at McDonald’s that brushes against him slightly, but since he has no one to talk to anymore, he calls me. The one he wants to call least.

And as irrational he has always been, I find interesting that he can be even more irrational still. So, I wonder if there is a consequential connection in the life of the person that ends up disconnected from reality yet spending the rest of his days in an inescapable regressing journey. And what of that wisdom specifically reserved by God to be bestowed upon the elders as to help society pry apart the thick confusion mankind lives in today .

Are there elders worthy of such grace left today??

For those who met Father John Hardon, he oooozzed wisdom. Anyone standing near him would slosh around the oozings from Father’s spilling wisdom. I was with him during 3 retreats among the many he gave. I did not recognize the incredible grace I received by having been taught by one of the greatest minds of the 20th century.

I wish I could ask him now.

                   God chose the elder to be the ones to help us think thru the muddled messes we get into, yet, a massive amount of our elders are been stricken with dementia, another bunch are discarded as human garbage. I wonder how many are left as patriarchal or matriarchal pillars upon which families build their futures upon, like God said to Moses. Choose from among the elder…. There are not enough. And those in the US supreme court …..scare me. That’s no wisdom. No God given wisdom.

this is how I remember him

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            Some years ago, I heard a talk by an amateur kindergarten theologian. I found that talk the most interesting way to explain how it is that Divine Mercy works on us.

Let’s call him John, and he was intent on having a large family. But I met him and his family on baby #3. He has 8 now. And he described how happy they all were most of the time with 3 kids in 4 yrs., meaning mom had one more in the oven.

He was used to coming home to noisy, happy milieu of games on the floor, mom with someone in her arms, cooing and musings, and tiny hootings.

One day, he tells, he entered his house and all the glee is was used to had turned into a pandemonium of cries, screams, disarray of …. everything!! Without having closed the door yet, he glanced at his usually calm, collected, smiley wife with a tot in her arms equally calm, collected and smiley. She looked desperate, tired, and quietly in anguish for her husband’s help.

There, somewhere among the toys, blankets, spills, vomit, cups, spoons, all over the floor was child #2, a 2 yr old, screaming, crying, thrashing and kicking on the floor.

Dad closed the door, dropping all he had in his arms on the floor and went immediately toward the tiny mayhem who upon seeing dad come towards him began to scream all the louder and began to crawl away. Dad tried over and over to pick him up…. The tot would wildly scream, arch his back, refusing to let dad touch him. Never mind that the diarrhea was burning his little butt and legs something awful, that the fever made him feel absolutely miserable, that he had thrown up all over himself and his little upper lip was bright red from the nose drips but he would not let dad come near.

Dad sat on the floor, near, just waiting for the tot to allow him to come near, softly inviting him to daddy’s arms. He chose to allow his little son to decide when he would accept daddy’s love. He would not allow mom near all day. This baby was in such a mess, feeling so sick and yet did not want to be touched by anyone.

As daddy sat on the floor, he would speak softly of how much he wanted to relieve his little tot of the terrible discomfort he was in, he thought how much his tiny mayhem needed to be cleaned and loved; he pondered why his little baby was so adamant….

He said that it was 45 minutes, 45 minutes whimpering in such awful discomfort as long as daddy did not move, not away, not closer. The baby laid on the floor for 45 minutes and dad asked again and to come to daddy, to let daddy love him.

Finally!! the little boy slowly walked to daddy and melted in dad’s arms this time crying of exhaustion, of pain, and relief. He laid his head on dad’s shoulder and  dad got up and began to take his clothes off, and put him in a shallow tub of water, his little boy still unresponsive but allowing daddy to bathe him, but more than anything, to love him.

That night, as dad and mom laid in bed, he replayed that most unusual scene that his ordinarily loving, playful and charming little boy had shown him just how it is that we, God’s little tots act when we are deepest in sin, in anguish entangled in briers and thistle, overwhelmed by personal sin that eclipses the Face of God.

Daddy never saw the diarrhea or the vomit. Nor heard the screams and kicking, he saw a hurting little boy who needed love more than anything.

He realized that we act just like his little boy; we reject the One who can clean us off, heal our sickness, make us well and bring us into His rest.  Abba’s Perfect Love is just too much to take when we are ugliness and repugnance.

Divine Mercy does not look at our leprosy, our stink, our rejection but the hurting little tot inside.

Yolanda Bello

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           Last Summer, on a Sunday I was coming home at about 4pm. The temperature was about 100 F degrees. I was coming down the alley behind my  house when I noticed that there was a police car parked there, behind my house.

                    As I got there I squeezed passed him to get into my parking when I saw the policeman and a group of people in a tight gathering in my neighbor’s  yard  across the alley from me. I came out to the alley curious, of course, to see what was happening when one lady came out to the alley to tell me that she had called the police because she had found a kitten with the head stuck inside a Campbell soup can and as she tried to pry it off the kitten, he was scratching her terribly, so she called the police.

                   Apparently, that had been going on for a bit of time and no one could budge the can off, so the policeman called the humane society to come and do something. Shortly after, not even 10 minutes, there came a woman from the humane society, in her humane society uniform, well, animal control uniform, and she went into the yard with a cage in hand.

                  As that person was trying to do something with the kitten, my neighbor came out to the alley again where I was to tell me a bit more about it…. She said that the neck of the kitten was full of maggots.

                   ……..I felt like I could not get my breath. I felt I could not breathe at the thought of the helplessness and horrific anguish of that kitten; he had to be in that demise for some time to have maggots all around the neck. She left again and I stood there trying to catch my breath. I opened my eyes in an attempt to get that image out of my head and something else caught my eye.

                   As I looked to my left I could see Planned Parenthood across the street from my house where about 100 girls per week come and pay $1000 + to get the RU486 pill to abort their baby. I was then overcome by a bigger and more awful awareness. Where I stood, to my right was the poor kitten surrounded by a group of concerned, empathetic people and a woman who obviously heard it’s cry and she answered, and her intervention  mobilized the police force who in turn mobilized the Humane Society, Animal Control Dept. on a Sunday afternoon at 4pm, in a 100 F degree weather. But to my right, 100 babies per week are killed in the most barbaric of ways and there is no one on this planet that can be called to intervene for those babies, not even their own father.

                      And when I looked straight ahead, caddy corner from my house, is our Crisis Pregnancy Center, where we have a Chapel, and in the Chapel is a tabernacle with Jesus hidden inside.

                      I was overwhelmed by the incongruency and irony.  I could hardly wrap my mind around it. It occurred to me to pray.

                     I meant to pray, but I was mute. Totally mum. I did not know what to pray for. I only could think of a rapid escalating set of motives that end with the protection of the most inhuman act in the history of mankind and the protection of a kitten fighting to live while no one was trying to kill it, but instead they are trying to save it. What do I pray for?

                  So it occurred to me to ask you all. Those kind souls that follow this blog.

                  At the end I wondered if I should pray the elections, except some believe that it’s ok to kill a baby when the father is a rapist and the mother then becomes a murderer. That baby is sentenced to death, and I ask….”what did the baby do to deserve death?” the father will unlikely spend time in jail if at all, and mom becomes a murderer and that is celebrated and protected by the law…. the baby is the last to arrive at the scene; the crime was already committed, why then is the baby the one to have to die?

                                            But Jesus lives, I wondered if I should pray that Jesus would come back before the elections and save us all.               

    Tenderness beyond understanding,

    Mother of us captives

    And giver of the Living Waters.

    By this prayer bind us to Thee

   Who contains the uncontainable

   The Most Holy Trinity,

    That we may offer these pleas

   For Thy intentions since

   Thou know ours.

Ladder thru which we only ascend to holiness,                            

                                                                  Grant us the grace to be like Thee in all things.

                                                                  To God be all the Praise and Glory.

                       What do you all pray for?                         

                                                                                                                                     

                          

 

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Tempest and Olivia, from the novel “Whispers of Yesterday” by Yolanda Bello

 

                           I have a great friend. We met in 1988 and she is a nun. I grew to love her very much though not my other friends. No five star general in the midst of a fierce battle can hold a candle to her, believe me!. People tremble at her entering the room. Others that knew her called Sr Gestapo.

In her gruffiness she was more influential in my life than anyone else. She taught me the lessons that not only endure but build a bridge between points where there is no way to cross.

She came from redwood tree stock, incredibly strong and perseverant. But being up in age, her bones were beginning to make themselves known. So when one year all the transfers for all the sisters came down, she was sent to New York and the rest of the sisters, up in age, to a nice warm climate. So I asked her, thinking that I knew more than her superiors, of course, if should she not have gone to the warm climate as well, and she said in a most brusque and loud way: “God thinks that the air in New York is the best for me”!!!!!

Not only did she put me in my place, but that lesson has been unforgettable to me, it has answered more crises than I can count. It has explained life for me. It has put everything in the correct perspective.

Our group of friends also knew a priest that was young, incredibly active, funny, and we all confided in him knowing that he seemed to have an uncanny wisdom rarely seen in someone that young.

Sister was becoming so very hard to take that several of the group went to father to ask him to go speak to her to turn down the volume of her aggressive commands and comments. So he did.

At Mass, a few days later, came the talk.

Father customarily had homilies that needed to be recorded. They were all spectacular. He would stand at the ambo and pour himself over it with arms waving and his veins threatening to burst. His chasuble would be flying about him, his arms gesticulating enough to create a breeze that would move the hair of the entire front pew. But this one homily was the best I ever heard.

He did not go to the ambo; he stood in front of the congregation at the foot of the altar. He inhaled and ….. promptly turned towards the side window of the church… and he said the entire homily facing side the window!!!

He began to speak about Jesus as The Vine, and how we are the branches. It was as usual a most captivating narration of that parable. Perhaps it was his plan, perhaps it was the Holy Spirit, but he began to describe the fruits of the branches. How the fruit is usually inviting to the eye, but is it sweet to the taste? Or when someone eats of the fruit of that branch is it a sour taste, bitter, leaving such a disagreeable taste in our mouth……

At this point…. Sister leaned toward me and said softly…. “why do I think he’s talking about me???”

I shrugged my shoulders slightly, looking perplexed somewhat…..    but I knew darn well that he WAS talking about her!!!. He went on for about 10 minutes elaborating how the fruit we are affect those who come to eat of us.

At the end, he just turned to the altar and never looked out towards the congregation. That may have confirmed to sister that it was about her.

I don’t know if sister changed, I loved her before, during and after her crustiness, I don’t know why, but there was such a understanding between us even though she was ruthless, ruthless with me.

It’s been 15 yrs. since that incident, and she has hovered about several cities in the cold winter weather, and all the other sisters her age remain in the warm weather. Sometimes I wonder if they all asked she not be sent, so they all could have a peaceful retirement, which otherwise they would not have. There was a contemporary of hers that was also a close friend of mine but they were not friendly to each other. And when one sister would come into the room where the other sister was, you would see both their faces visibly crinkle at the middle.  That was so, so funny. They were both so candid about their reactions for each other. Neither was shy about expressing their feelings for the other.

I carry her letters with me all the time. Without meaning to, she has given me the greatest spiritual direction with her short brusque statements. Among the best ones was how to discern what God thinks is best for me.

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     John 2:19

 rubble, all that is left.

                     In 1997 I was born again.                     

 WOAAH!!!!    Back off evangelicals!!!!, it’s not what you think!.                      

The other day I was watching something on TV about the tallest ocean waves and this surfer was coming down it. It was incredibly frightening. The wave was curving over him so fast and he was sliding, cutting across the water just as fast… the white water began to cover him but he would emerge out from the foam…..                     

Watching that reminded me of my born again experience.                     

I’ll leave for another storiette the why it happened, but over night I became homeless. The IRS thought that I should give them all my income to pay for a fictitious debt, minus about 10% and I disagreed. God gets the first 10%, neither them nor me get it  Well, that’s what the paper work says. But I am going to tell you what really happened.                    

Because they levied my salary, I could not pay any of my expenses, so my house now had a date with a foreclosure; all my utilities were about to be disconnected and my car….. well, let me tell you a little about my car, it’s a hysterical story.                    

I had leased a minivan. Those familiar with leases may know to NEVER DO THAT EVER AGAIN!!!!  UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES LEASE A CAR!!!! You cannot EVER change your mind!!! I never realized that I put more miles on a car than Mario Andretti drives in circles. So a small paragraph in the contract said that if the car is stolen or totaled, the contract is null and void. WELL! There began in earnest my intent to get rid of that car in no time at all.  When I would go visit the Missionaries of Charity, who, of course are always in poor, bad neighborhoods, I would double park my car in front of their convent,….. take all my valuables, leave the car running, with the key in the ignition AND the door open……. So I then would  stay any amount of time inside; confident that the car would be gone by the time I came out…..                     

Well, the only thing that would be gone was the gas. It would be blinking empty when I got back in…..                    

I would look for working cranes and put my car in the path of it falling….. all I got was tired of waiting around the corner.                   

For a few months I just kept trying to get that car stolen, crashed, vandalized…. but NOTHING!!! Each time it would be sitting there victoriously grinning showing me that it was still mine.                      

On Christmas Eve day, I had to go pick up the Missionaries of Charity, 60 miles away to go the Christmas Tritium. I left my house, which was on a street that was a large slow curve. When I got to the end of the curve.. I remembered I forgot to bring something with me and I turned back to go get it. I was very cold and it had snowed a micro-nano-millimeter and instead of my car following the curve, it went straight over the curve and crashed into a dinky tree, no more than 2 inches across. My airbag went off…. and gave me a bloody lip and just about a heart attack given that tree belonged to the neighborhood troglodyte. Blessed be God, my car started , I backed it up and moving like it had square wheels I drove it home and quickly hid it in the garage. It was exactly 12 noon.                      

It was declared totaled by my insurance company!!!! I love those guys!!!!                     

And there began my re-birth.                    

Among the things that happen during birth is that you are naked. Well, taking my car was the first item towards my naked-ing by God, the giver of life.                      

Back to losing my house, my best friends helped me sell everything in my house, and believe it or not, all the money from the sale paid all my bills, READ IT  AGAIN PLEASE….ALL MY BILLS TO THE LAST PENNY!!!.  And I had not a penny left at all. Nothing.                      

There went one more article of clothing off towards nakedness.                     

  February 16, a Monday, was the date of the foreclosure. On Friday 13th, all that was left to sell in my house was a very snazzy pool table and a gent came to see it about 9 pm that night. He came in and close behind there was a second gent and both came in. I went to the basement with the first guy and the second just wondered about and that was freaky. He stayed about the same area but not together with the first guy.                     

So the first guy asked my how much for my pool table and I said: “$420,000  and you get a free house with it”.  After his shock, we both laughed heartily.  I corrected the figure… so he said he’d let me know and I said that he had 2 days only to decide.                    

The other gent was standing about 30 ft from us and when I turned towards him since he was not looking at the pool table,  he approached me and said almost in a whisper: “I’ll take that deal” and I did not know what he was referring to…. So he reiterated that he’ll take the pool table for the       $ 420,000 with the free house!!!!!                     

It was my turn to be shocked. He went on to insist that I sell him that pool table with the free house that night!!! It was now about close to 10 pm! So I said that I promised I would not sell it to anyone else during the night and to come back next morning. There began the saga… with great anguish he left to go get his realtor to come back that night to buy that house! About 10:30pm his realtor called sleepily asking if I could wait until morning to sell the house to this guy and to no one else during the night. That was so funny, so funny.                       I told him to come about 9 am because I go to Mass every morning. Well, when I got back from Mass, they were both there waiting for me. The house sold the next day, the day before the foreclosure. My pool table with the free house sold on Sunday February 15th  for the amount I owed on it…. .                      

That Sunday night I was beginning to feel very uneasy. From the loss of my car of Christmas Eve day until that day I had been riding a high that I could not describe. I was floating. I was so joyful and for brief moments I would I would take in that all my friends were sobbing over my misfortune. They all were crushed at what was happening to me. Some that I thought were only acquaintances showed up at my door and amid sobs would be offering to help somehow. I ponder those moments still today.                     

But I was almost oblivious to their pain…. I was riding so high; I was so happy, totally unaware of the real significance of my tragedy. I was caught up in the many funny incidents. For example, all the checks cleared, 100% all the checks cleared except the one for the water bed, that one bounced   ……….      I had been in a civil marriage for 20 yrs.                     

That was my first clue that all this was a God thing.                   

  That night, Sunday, after all were gone, the only things left in the house were about 10 holy statues from life size to 3 ft. tall, and a carryon size suitcase with some summer clothes, and a bag with my art supplies.                       

I knelt before the most beautiful life size statue of the Sacred Heart and I began to pray. As my anguish grew I got louder and louder then I began to cry, louder and louder as I began to size up my situation. I began to scream at Jesus, pounding on the floor, demanding He tell me what to do. I asked if I am to serve Him, I did not care where or how, if He wanted me in the streets, FINE!!! to the street I will go!! But if He had made me an artist, how could I glorify Him sitting under a bridge, roaming the streets  penniless but with a bag of art supplies. I pounded the floor screaming over and over to tell me what to do!!!.                           

Then the phone rang.                       

  I wiped my nose and answered. It was Sr Superior of the Missionaries of Charity,  asking me if I wanted to go to Mexico.                             

………..Mexico???????                            

 

  She did not wait for my answer, she said to be ready and they would be coming to get me in the morning so I could stay at the convent for a few days until the  date of the flight……..”click”…..                       

  I hung up slowly….. and looked up at Jesus puzzled….. I asked why could He not arraign to send me to Venezuela…. I have family there……                       

  That’s how I ended up living in Mexico for those who read the stories of my time there.                         

He, my Loving Creator, destroyed my temple to ashes. There was nothing, nothing left. On Monday, February 16 of 1997, I was born again. copyright 2012 Yolanda Bello

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