St. John Berchmans; A Remarkable Role Model for our Youth. He is the Patron Saint of Altar Servers

By Larry Peterson

St. John Berchman's; Patron St. of Altar Servers...
en.wikipedia.org

This is about a young man who became a saint. He did not found any religious orders or have any miracles attributed to him. He did not commit ant great acts of heroism or adhere to a life of poverty. Rather, John Berchmans became a saint by being kind, courteous and incredibly loyal to the faith.

John was born on March 13, 1599, in a town called Diest,  located in the northeast part of Belgium. His father was shoemaker and John was one of five children. John became an altar boy at the age of seven and his parish priest, Father Emmerick, noticed his genuine piety and even commented to others that the Lord would work wonders in the boy's soul.

When John was nine, his mom took ill and he spent hours at her side doing his best to comfort and care for her. She passed on when he was about thirteen and Father Emmerick allowed John to move in with him and some others boys he had living there.

He became fast friends with the others at the priest's home and never failed to take on the most menial of tasks and complete them to the best of his ability. He was always kind and never would stray from doing what his conscience told him was right. His kindness and intelligence were a great example to the other students and the young man proved to be a profound influence on them.

John then read the biography of  St. Aloysius Gonzaga and decided he wanted to be a Jesuit. At the age of 17, he was able to enroll as a Jesuit novitiate at the Jesuit College at Malines, Belgium. He worked hard at his studies and, inspired by the life of St. Aloysius, had developed a desire to teach all the multi-lingual migrants that were in Europe. In 1618 he was sent to Rome for more education.

John Berchmans was very poor. His journey to Rome was not easy. He had to walk to Rome, a distance of 300 "leagues" or a distance of 900 miles. Carrying all his worldly goods in a  sack hung across his back, he made it to Rome. How long the journey took is unknown. He did arrive and began his studies.

In addition to studying rhetoric and philosophy, he managed to study different languages with his ultimate goal being to become a missionary in China. In his third year at the Roman College, John was selected to take part in a philosophy debate at the Greek College run by the Dominicans. John was brilliant in his arguments and carried the day. However, on the way home, he became very ill.

John Berchmans illness turned into a quick downward spiral. He seemed to have a cold which turned into other unknown maladies and he died within a week of becoming ill. The thought today is that it was dysentery that caused his death. The young man was only twenty-two-years-old and had not lived long enough to be ordained.

John Berchmans was known for his extreme piety and for being diligent in all matters, even involving the most trivial of tasks. When he died he was holding onto his rosary, a crucifix and the rules of his order. As he was dying he said: "These are my three treasures; with these, I shall gladly die."


There were many miracles attributed to John's after his death and, as a result, the famous "altar boy" developed a huge following, especially in Belgium. In fact, over 24,000 portraits of him were given out within a few years of his death. He is known for his devotion the Blessed Sacrament and to Our Lady, to whom he composed a Chaplet in honor of the Immaculate Conception.

John Berchmans died on August 13, 1621. He was canonized a saint on January 15, 1888. He is the patron saint of altar servers and students. He is also a true role model for all youth of today.

St. John Berchmans, please pray for us all.

     

John F. Kennedy, a Kid from the Bronx and a Moment in Time

The following was written on the 5oth anniversary of JFK's death; November 22, 1963. It is a true story.

John F. Kennedy en-wikipedia.org

By Larry Peterson

 “The president is dead.”  For those of us who can remember those words from 50 years ago, they were seared into our brains like letters sand-blasted into a granite headstone forever: clear, succinct, and unmistakable in meaning. How could this be? Things like this did not happen, especially in the America of 1963.  But then a few days later, John-John, in his little top coat and short pants, saluted as the caisson went by holding his dad’s body covered by our flag. It was real all right, no doubt about it.

 

I had a personal connection to John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Just like the moment when I heard of his death, these moment(s) are also seared into my brain, and the memories of them are as clear and vivid as if they happened ten minutes ago. The only difference is these are MY moments with JFK. No one else ever had these moments, just me and the 35th President of the United States. And I do not care if you believe me or not. I just felt that I should share. Let us go back to November 5, 1960.

The most famous hotel in the Bronx was the Concourse Plaza Hotel on the corner of 161st Street and the Grand Concourse. Built in 1922, it was an elegant 12-story hotel three blocks from Yankee Stadium. Many of the Yankees had stayed there, including Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, and others. The hotel had a grand ballroom and fancy dining rooms. On Saturday, November 5, 1960, Senator John F. Kennedy was to deliver a campaign speech at the hotel. His fateful election to the presidency was now only four days away.

I had an after-school job delivering groceries and stocking shelves for Harry “the Grocer”. I worked for Harry every day after school until 6 p.m. and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. One of my frequent delivery stops was the Concourse Plaza Hotel. There were a number of elderly tenants that lived there year round, and they always called Harry when they needed anything from bread to fruit to bologna to beer to Band-Aids or whatever. I would bag up the stuff, load it into a cart, and push it up the two hills to the hotel. I would go there at least twice a week, sometimes more.

I had made a delivery to a customer on the eighth floor on Friday, and she told me that Senator Kennedy was coming in the morning to give a speech. She was very excited about it and told me she was going to make sure she was down in the ballroom when he arrived. She said she thought he was going to be there at 10 o’clock. I had to start work at 10 o’clock, and I was quite disappointed that I might miss my chance to see the Senator. Then things changed.

That Friday night I saw my friend ‘Sticks’ (real name Tommy) and told him about JFK coming to the hotel in the morning. He said we should just go up there about 9 a.m. and see what happens. It made sense to me, so that is what we did. I do not remember why but we did not get up to the hotel until about 9:30. We came up to the hotel through the rear loading dock, which was off 162nd Street. That is where I always came in to make deliveries, and I knew my way around the back and basement of the hotel like the back of my hand. It was a bit strange because there were no cars or trucks, or anything or anyone for that matter, at the rear of the hotel. The overhead doors for truck deliveries were closed, and the only way in was through a door up some stairs at the end of the loading dock.

‘Sticks’ hurried ahead of me and went through the door. I was not as quick, so it took me about an extra half minute to reach the door. By the time I did ‘Sticks’ had disappeared. I hurriedly walked down a short corridor and made a left. I can remember that it was quite dark. (Whew! Right now, as I write this so many years later, the memories have become crystal clear.) I made the turn and froze dead in my tracks.  Someone else had also stopped short.

The man I had almost walked into, and who was now looking me in the eye, was Senator Kennedy. We were less than a foot apart. He had finished his speech and was leaving via the rear entrance. He was with another man. That was it. No one else was there. Just me, John F. Kennedy  and some other guy. The other man simply stepped near me and said, “Excuse us son.”  I said nothing and stepped back. Senator Kennedy smiled at me and said, “Good to see you.” Then he and his friend walked down some stairs and exited the door that led to 162nd Street.

The rear stairwell was right in front of me, so I ran up a half flight to a platform and opened the big window. I looked out, and below me and maybe 50 feet away the next President of the United States was standing next to a limo, just talking to the man he had left the hotel with. There were no police, no guards in the street, no one else.

There I was, alone, staring out the window at John F. Kennedy. He was wearing a dark blue topcoat that had to be very expensive, and his face had a perfect tan, something you do not see in New York City in November. His thick, sandy hair was blowing a bit, and he ran his right hand up and across it. Then it happened. He looked up at me, smiled (I can still see his teeth) and held up his hand. He did not wave it, he just held it up with his fingers spread apart. He probably held it up for about two seconds.

He was saying good-bye to ME, a kid from the south Bronx who just happened to be there at that moment. I held up my right hand to him and I guess I smiled. I don’t remember. Then he got into his limo and was gone. I watched as my new friend’s car turned onto the Grand Concourse. Talk about a “moment in time”.

“Hey, what are you doing?”  I turned and ‘Sticks’ was at the bottom of the stairs. “I didn’t see him,” he said. “Did you?”

“Yes, I did.”

 

     

The “Doorkeeper” — If I could be at Ford Field, I would definitely “take a knee”.

By Larry Peterson

Blessed Solanus Casey--en.wikipedia.org

 

On November 18, 2017, a great event will take place at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan, the home-field of the NFL's, Detroit Lions. Upward of 70, 000 people are expected to fill the stadium and they are not going to be there for a football game. Millions from around the world will be watching the event on television or whatever type of device they may have and they will not be tuned into the World Cup. This will be the largest Catholic event to take place in Detroit since St. John Paul II visited there in 1987. And, more than likely, this event will receive barely a mention by the mainstream Media. It is the way of things in 2017.

 

It does not matter. It does not matter because this day transcends any political motivation or bias. This is the beatification ceremony for Venerable Solanus Casey.  This is the day we celebrate a working man who, against all odds, became a priest and will enter the final chapter on his road to being canonized a saint, an American born saint.  This simple, unpretentious man, known as the "Doorkeeper", was the kindly priest who shed his ego so he might serve others. This was not a birth defect. Rather, like all those elevated through the process of sainthood, he had that beautiful quality of foremost loving God before all else---no matter what.

 

The sixth child of sixteen children, Bernard Francis Casey,  was born to poor, Irish immigrants in Oak Grove, Wisconsin, in 1870. His family and friends called him Barney. When Barney was a young boy he contracted diphtheria and this left him with a permanently raspy sounding voice. Barney was never going to be a singer but that never mattered to him. He had always felt the calling to the priesthood. Unfortunately, there was a 'bump' in the road for Barney. He had to go to work to help support the family.

 

Barney Casey did what he had to do to earn money. He worked as a lumberjack, a prison guard, a streetcar operator and even as a hospital orderly. He did whatever job he had to the best of his ability always keeping his serving God as his primary goal. Consequently, his education was put on hold and it took him five years to get back to high school. When he did it was at St. Francis High school seminary in Milwaukee. He spent five years studying before being able to join the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin. When he was accepted he took the name Solanus, after St. Francis Solanus.

 

Brother Solanus became Father Solanus Casey at the age of 33. He had to fight to get through his studies but he managed. However, upon ordination, he was given the title, "Sacerdos Simplex", which means, simple priest. He would not be allowed to preach or hear confessions. Father Casey never complained.

 

For more than 20 years Father Casey lived at St. Bonaventure Monastery in Detroit. His primary job was that of "doorkeeper". He became the finest "Doorkeeper" who ever lived and, unexpectedly, also became known for his service to the sick and for the advice he would give to the visitors who came by. After a while, people began attributing cures and other blessings to Father Casey's interaction with them.

 

Father Solanus Casey died in 1957. He was a man who opened and closed doors for people. A man who had no ego and was happy to serve God in the simplest of ways. A man who, because miracles have been attributed to his intercession, will be Beatified before tens of thousands of people in a football stadium on November 18, 2017, while millions more around the globe will watch the ceremony via television. If I could be at Ford Field, I would definitely “take a knee”.

 

Blessed Solanus Casey, please pray for us. And THANK YOU for your wonderful example of how to live.

 

 

 

     

The First Apparition of the Blessed Mother took place while she was still Alive. The year was 40 A.D.

By Larry Peterson

Only seven years after Jesus death and Resurrection, on October 12, 40 A.D., an incredible event took place. That was the day the very first Marian apparition ever recorded took place. And yes, Our Lady was still alive at the time. This apparition occurred in Spain and it was Jesus' apostle, St. James the Great, brother of St. John, who the Blessed Virgin appeared to. This apparition is known as Our Lady of Pillar.

 

During the very early days of Christianity, James had traveled to a pagan land called Zaragoza, in the Roman province of Hispania which today is better known as Spain or Espana. Zaragoza was a foreboding place and James was having a very difficult time evangelizing the people in the area. They just did not seem to care and they did not even like this strange man from a different country.

 

Legend has it that James, despondent and dejected had fallen into (what we call today), a terrible "funk". No matter how much he tried he could not seem to lift his own spirits. One night, James was praying by the banks of the Ebro River. Suddenly a great light engulfed him. James knelt, staring into the light, and what he saw was beyond description. In the light was the Virgin Mary and she was surrounded by thousands of angels.

 

She told James that he should persevere because, ultimately, his work for Jesus would have great results and many would turn to the Faith. She asked that a church be built on the place where she appeared and left behind a pillar of "Jasper" to mark the spot where she had been.  The Virgin Mary also left a small statue of herself holding the infant Jesus in her arms. The statue was sitting atop the Jasper pillar. Since the Blessed Virgin was still alive and living in Jerusalem, her appearance is considered an act of bilocation.

 

James immediately gathered some of his new followers and began work on a chapel on the designated site. The chapel is the first church ever dedicated to Mary and today, after many renovations, is known as the Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar. It is located in the exact place Our Lady appeared 2000 years ago.

 

James participated in the dedication of the small church and returned to Jerusalem. Ironically, he was the first apostle to die for the faith. In 44 A.D., Herod Agrippa, had James beheaded. The disciples of James took his body back to Spain for final burial. The statue and pillar were taken under the protection of the people of Zorogaza.

 

The many miracles surrounding the relic can attest to its heavenly origin. For example, it has been almost 2000 years and the statue has never needed dusting. In 1936, the Catholic-hating "Reds" bombed the shrine but the bombs that hit the church never exploded. No one is allowed to touch the statue except for the four priests assigned to its care and newborn infants can be lifted up to touch the image of their heavenly Mom.

 

Popes from the earliest times have attested to the authenticity of Our lady's appearance at the shrine. Pope Calixtus III issued a Papal bull in 1456 encouraging people to make pilgrimages to Our Lady of Pillar. The miracle of the shrine's foundation was even acknowledged.

 

The most prominent miracle occurred in the 17th century. A    beggar named Miguel Pellicer from the town of Calanda, could not work due to having an amputated leg. He was constantly praying at the shrine for the Blessed Mother's help. She answered his prayers for sure because his leg was restored. When word of this spread, pilgrimages greatly increased to the shrine and it has been so ever since.

 

Over the centuries many controversial stories arose concerning the authenticity of this shrine. Pope Innocent III, answering an appeal from Spain, had twelve cardinals investigate all the data available. On August 7, 1723, the Sacred Congregation of Rites, affirmed the original. In 1730, Pope Clement XII, allowed the feat of Our Lady of Pillar to be celebrated throughout the Spanish empire. Eventually she was declared Patroness of the Hispanic World. Our Lady of Pillar's feast day is October 12.

 

One final thought. As a young seminarian, St. Josemaria Escriva, made daily visits to the shrine of Our Lady of Pillar. He always prayed for guidance and eventually founded Opus Dei. The members honor her feast day each year.

 

Our Lady of Pillar, please pray for us.

Photo courtesy: commons wikimedia.org

     

I Watched in Awe as the Priest Stepped into the Sandals of Christ

By Larry Peterson

What follows is about a priest in a crowd, a famous poem, and a moment in time. The moment was like seeing a tiny flower growing out of a crack in a concrete sidewalk. That tiny flower is another example of God's creative beauty that surrounds us yet is barely noticed by anyone. The fate of that tiny flower is ominous. Even though no person anywhere at any time could ever create that fragile, work of living beauty, it more than likely will be ignored, stepped upon or sprayed with weed killer to get rid of it. Ah well, we "smarties" have no time for such trivialities and petty annoyances.

 

The poem I refer to is, "Trees" by Joyce Kilmer. Written in 1913, it has a timely message. There is a line in the poem that reads, "A tree that looks at God all day, And lifts her leafy arms to pray: the tiny flower in the concrete is a smaller version, is it not? So what about the priest in the crowd?

 

I was at a parish event the other evening which featured as speakers our Bishop, an author, a radio station personality, and our pastor. The Knights of Columbus (which included me) were the ones who prepared and served the free dinner to over 300 guests. The parish center was packed and when the final speaker had finished we began to serve the dessert.  I sensed something special was going on nearby. I do not know if anyone else but me was paying attention but I was about to witness one of those special moments in time.

 

There were a number of local parish priests in attendance and one of them was the chaplain at the local VA hospital. I was working in the kitchen assisting getting the cake plates on trays and handing the trays to those serving the guests. Outside the kitchen and to my left against the wall was the drink table where coffee, tea, cold drinks etc were available. At any given time there were at least ten people standing in line. Five feet away from the drink table was the first row of dinner tables. Father was sitting at the end of the first table talking to a woman.

 

At this point, the chatter was quite loud and people were up and moving about visiting other tables saying "HI" to other folks they knew. I noticed Father looking at the young lady very intently and purposefully. I knew this priest had put his Jesus' sandals on.

 

I kept working and watching the two of them. They were at least twenty feet away from me and, with all the activity and noise and people milling about and all around them, they had managed to be alone. The priest listened and listened and listened some more.  I watched as best I could because this was so awe-inspiring. I was witnessing Christ do His thing through His priest. This happens every time we attend Mass but how many of us think about what actually IS happening? We hear of this happening in other places but how often do we get to watch it happen? Hardly ever.

 

After a while, Father leaned his head to the right a bit and rested his chin on his upraised fist. He was not looking directly at the woman he was now sort of looking downward. He inconspicuously blessed her and, I assume, she was being given absolution. I was not positive because  I had heard nothing and never even saw her face. But it did not matter. Whatever was happening between them was spiritual and beautiful.

 

Like the tiny flower popping its little lavender petal through a crack in concrete or Kilmer's magnificent tree looking at God all day lifting its "leafy arms to pray" this moment was those moments. Few people notice the stunning Oak tree standing majestically alongside a roadway or a blade of grass pushing its way through a hairline crack in a slab of cement. Sadly, more and more people are losing sight of Christ in our midst and the hand of the Creator smiling down on His creations. I was blessed. I caught a glimpse the other night.

 

Joyce Kilmer's poem finishes up with the poignant words: "Poems are made by fools like me, But only God can make a tree."  We need to remember that.

Artwork from SimpleMassingPriest.com

 

     

A Mother’s Prayers are answered giving us Two Great Saints and a new Marian Feast Day

By Larry Peterson

Most of us know the story of St. Augustine. He was born in North Africa in the year 354. His father, Patricius, was a pagan landowner and his mother, Monica, a Christian. Monica prayed fervently for her wayward boy to become a Christian too. Eventually, her prayers were answered and her boy did embrace Christianity becoming a great Doctor of the Church.

 

However, many of us do not know of the influence of the Blessed Virgin in this transformation. It is because of the conversion of St. Augustine that one of the many titles she is venerated under is Our Lady of Consolation. And this never would have happened without his mom faithfully praying for her boy, a woman who would one day be known as St. Monica.

 

Monica is honored for her unyielding Christian virtues which included; dealing with the pain and suffering brought on by her husband's chronic acts of adultery and her own son's immoral ways. It was said she cried herself to sleep virtually every night. But she did not despair. Rather, she turned her heartache over to the Blessed Virgin asking for her help. And help she received. Our Lady appeared to Monica and gave her the sash she was wearing. The Virgin assured Monica that whoever wore the sash would receive her special consolation and protection.  It was given to her son and ultimately became part of the Augustinian habit.

 

Eventually, the Augustinian monks founded the Confraternity of the Holy Cincture (belt) of Our Lady of Consolation. The statues of Mary as Our Lady of Consolation depict her and the Christ child dressed in elaborate vestments. Mary's halo has twelve, small stars and her tunic is held in place by a black cincture.  The three patrons of the Augustinians are St. Augustine, St. Monica and Our Lady of Consolation. In addition, the devotion to Our Lady of Consolation inspired what is known as the "Augustinian Rosary" which is sometimes called the "Corona of Our Mother of Consolation."

 

During the early 1700s, the devotion to Our Lady of Consolation was introduced to Malta. It was here that people began asking for a special blessing invoking Our Lady of Consolation for the dying. It became such a popular custom that monks could leave the monastery without asking permission to confer this blessing.  Eventually, devotion to Our Lady of Consolation spread all over the world.

 

In the United States, the Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation are located in Carey, Ohio. The church was first built in 1868 and named St. Edward. When Father Joseph Growden was given the responsibility of caring for the church he asked the faithful in Carey to pray to Mary, Our Lady of Consolation for her help in getting a new church built. He promised to name the church "Our Lady of Consolation".

 

On May 24, 1875, a statue of Our Lady of Consolation, having been procured by Father Joseph from the Cathedral of Luxembourg, was carried from St. Nicholas church to the new church in Carey. News reports tell of the tremendous rains that fell that day and, during the seven-mile procession, not a drop fell on the statue or the people bringing the statue to its new home. Upon arriving in the new church the rain fell once again---everywhere.

 

Today devotion* to Our Lady of Consolation is of great importance in such places as Luxembourg, England, France, Japan, Manila, Turin, Malta, Australia, Venezuela and other places. Pope St. John Paul II visited the shrine in Germany. Our Lady of Consolation has certainly made herself available in many places so her children can quickly come to her if need be. The Blessed Mother is certainly a protective Mom, isn’t she? You just have to love being Catholic.

 

St. Augustine, pray for us; St. Monica, pray for us; and

Our Lady of Consolation, please pray for us all.

 

*Feast Days for Our Lady of Consolation are varied. The Augustinians celebrate it on September 4; the Benedictines on July 7. In the USA it is usually on October 22 or the last Sunday in October.

Image of Our Lady of Consolation            courtesy  en.wikipedia.org

Copyrght©Larry Peterson 2017

     

The Magnificent Dogma of the Divine Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary- —

By Larry Peterson

from catholicism.org

 

The Third Ecumenical Council held by the Catholic Church took place in Ephesus in 431. The Council was called to refute the teaching being put forth by the Patriarch of Constantinople, Nestorius. He held that the Virgin Mary may only be called the Christotokos (Birth Giver of Christ) and not Theotokos (Mother of God).

 

This teaching was condemned and the Council confirmed that indeed, since it was God who was the Father, Mary was truly the Mother of God. This settled for all time the central mystery of the Catholic faith which is the Incarnation; Jesus Christ is one person with two natures; one divine and one human. This is a mystery we embrace and believe but will never fully understand.

 

Pope Pius XI, who had a profound devotion to the Blessed Virgin, honored her by creating a new feast day in her honor. In 1931, 1500 years after the Council of Ephesus had proclaimed that Our Blessed Lady was truly the Mother of  God; Pope Pius XI instituted the Feast Day of the Divine Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This action not only reaffirmed the Council's dogmatic proclamation that Mary is Theotokos, it also set October 11 into the Roman calendar as the day the feast was to be celebrated.

 

Since Vatican II's changes were put in place the Feast Day of Divine Maternity has become somewhat overshadowed by the dogma of Mary's "Perpetual Virginity". But make no mistake, these two dogmatic pronouncements are eternally joined together and they are inseparable. October 11 is still an active feast in the 1962 Roman Missal which is used during the extraordinary celebration of the Mass.

 

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church 495: Mary's Divine Motherhood;

Called in the Gospels, 'the mother of Jesus,' Mary is acclaimed by Elizabeth, at the prompting of the Spirit and even before the birth of her son, "as the mother of my Lord." In fact, the One whom she conceived as man by the Holy Spirit, who truly became her Son according to the flesh, was none other than the Father's eternal Son, the second person of the Holy Trinity. Hence the Church confesses that Mary is truly the 'Mother of God' (Theotokos).

 

From the Catechism 496: Mary's Virginity:

From the first formulations of her faith, the Church has confessed that Jesus was conceived solely by the power of the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary, affirming also the corporeal aspect of this event: Jesus was conceived "by the Holy Spirit without human seed". The Fathers see in the virginal conception the sign that it truly was the Son of God who came in a humanity like our own...

 

Our Blessed Mother was a young, innocent woman of about 14 years of age when the Angel Gabriel came to her and announced to her what God wanted from her. What could have gone through her young mind as this was asked of her? She must have been so afraid. How could she have had any possible idea that she would be the New Eve who would give birth to the New Adam who, in turn, would save us all?

 

This mystery of faith is so profound. This young woman, in effect, was chosen by God Himself to be his spouse. Their child would be both God and Man. He would change the world forever.

Mary's virginal motherhood sealed in perpetuity the truth of the Incarnation. She gave Christ the body He possessed. She gave Him the humanity that was part of Him. And all the time he was God...and she was His Mom. WOW!

 

     

The Six year Papacy that Saved the Church and Christendom;.The Story of Pope St. Pius V

By Larry Peterson

Battle of Lepanto Wikipedia common.org

October is the month of the Holy Rosary. During the month we might also acknowledge the person known as the  Pope of the Rosary,  Pope St. Pius V.

 

In 1517, Martin Luther, a Catholic priest, posted his 95 Theses on the door of a church in Wittenberg, Germany. Within the Catholic world, a great theological revolt ensued. This revolt spread throughout Europe and it was focused on many of the practices taking place within the church at the time, such as the selling of indulgences, papal authority, and Transubstantiation. This "revolt" is more commonly known as the Protestant Reformation.

 

The Catholic Church did not begin to confront the Reformation seriously until Pope Paul III convened the Council of Trent in the year 1545.   This was to be a mammoth undertaking as virtually all church doctrines had been challenged by the Reformation including the Real Presence and the validity of the sacraments.

 

The Council did not adjourn until 1563, eighteen years after its inception. A period of 46 years had elapsed since the 95-Theses were first posted. But the final pronouncements of the Council had yet to be enacted and sealed as doctrinal law. Three years after the Council adjourned Michael Cardinal Ghislieri was elected to the papacy. He took the name of Pope Pius V.

 

Pope Pius V was a devout priest who found his strength in Christ crucified. He also held a deep devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. His first acts as pontiff were to give approval to the changes instituted by the Council of Trent and immediately implement the reforms set forth.

 

Pope Pius V codified the Tridentine Mass (Latin Mass) as the primary Mass for the Roman Church, He authorized a revised breviary and a new Roman Catechism and Missal. He approved the Council's teachings that Christ is present in both the consecrated bread and the consecrated wine. The Mass was defined as a TRUE sacrifice and he approved doctrinal statements on the sacraments of Holy Orders and Matrimony. He also affirmed church teachings on Purgatory and indulgences. He would quickly have much more to do. The Turks of the Ottoman Empire were determined to conquer Europe and Rome.

 

Deeply devoted to our Lady,  Pope Pius V, issued a document in 1569 called a Papal Bull . This document was called, Consueverunt Romani Pontifices (On the Rosary) and it set in place the permanent format for the Rosary, the same which is used today. This is the same Rosary that our Lady presented to St. Dominic in 1214.

 

The greatest challenge at the time to the papacy of Pius V and to the Catholic Church was the Ottoman Empire. Pius V understood the intense desire of the Muslim Turks to conquer the entire Mediterranean area. Just as it is today, jihad, had been declared by the Muslim imams and Pope Pius V knew full well this was spiritual war about to be waged.

 

Pope Pius called together the Christian nations of Europe and formed them into what became known as the Holy League. Both Protestants and Catholics from different nations came together under the guidance of Pope Pius V to fight back against the Ottoman Turks. Pope Pius asked all Catholics to pray the Rosary asking for our Lady's intercession when the battle ensued.

 

And so it was that on October 7, 1571, the Battle of Lepanto, took place.  As the Pope and thousands of his followers prayed the Rosary the Battle of Lepanto began. Under the military leadership of Don Juan of Austria, the Christian fleet won a resounding victory over the more powerful Ottoman Turks. This battle literally saved Christendom and western civilization. Pope Pius V declared that from that day on, the day would be called The Feast Day of Our Lady of Victory. Today it is called The Feast Day of Our Lady of the Rosary.

 

The papacy of Pope Pius V lasted a mere six years. During his reign, he led the forces of "good against the forces of "evil" literally saving Christianity throughout Europe. He gave all credit to our Blessed Mother and today she bears the title of Our Lady of the Rosary.

 

Pope Pius V also set in place the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass which was unchanged for over 400 years (until Vatican II), established the doctrines of Transubstantiation and the Real Presence, restored discipline in seminaries, republished the Roman Breviary and the Roman Missal. He was canonized a saint on May 22, 1712 by Pope Clement XI.  How honored he must be to be called the Pope of the Holy Rosary.

 

Pope St. Pius V please pray for us.

 

     

Common Decency & Respect Overshadow “Personal” Rights

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

Football season 2017 has been ruined by the pompous, over-inflated, spoiled millionaires who obviously know nothing about their own country. And PLEASE don't tell me "it is their right to protest". There is a Natural Law that speaks to a higher authority--Common decency and respect for each other never had to be written into the Constitution. People used to understand that. I guess those days are gone. It is very sad

     

Rhoda Wise—Wife, Mom, Convert, Stigmatic and Mentor to Mother Angelica

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

From 1942: Rhoda Wise; second from right: Rita Rizzo, age 19 (Mother Angelica) on right                                                         mysticsofthechurch.com

By Larry Peterson

The year was 1904 and Rhoda Wise was terrified. The sixteen year old girl was experiencing searing pain which was exploding in her lower abdomen. She was taken to Wheeling Hospital in Wheeling, West Virginia where she was about to have surgery to remove her ruptured appendix. She had no idea she was about to experience a turning point in her young life.

While she was recovering from her operation a Catholic Sister came to visit her. The nun gave Rhoda a St. Benedict medal. Rhoda told the nun that her parents, who literally despised Catholics, would never allow her to keep the medal. In fact, Rhoda was sure they would be furious that it had been given to her.

Sister put the small medal inside a locket that Rhoda had. The sixteen-year-old was so moved by the kind gesture that she kept that medal for the rest of her life. It also started her thinking about Catholicism.

Rhoda was born in Cadiz, Ohio on February 22, 1888. She was the sixth of eight children. Her dad, Eli Greer, was a bricklayer and her mom, Anna, was an active member in helping Civil War veterans. They were staunch Protestants and Rhoda grew up confronted by an unyielding Catholic bias. Most of Rhoda’s friends harbored anti-Catholic sentiments but she did manage to have a few Catholic friends.

Rhoda married Ernest Wissmar in 1915. Ernest was a widower from Canton, Ohio, and Rhoda moved there with her husband. Six months after their marriage, Ernest, a plasterer, suffered a cerebral hemorrhage on a job site and passed away. Rhoda, soon after being widowed, met George Wise, himself a widower, and they were married in January 1917.

Rhoda loved George very much but he was a drinker and Rhoda would spend many married years confronting ongoing financial troubles, embarrassments and the many challenges that accompany the disease of alcoholism. Among these challenges was having to move seven times as George’s drinking caused him to have to frequently find new jobs.  Through it, all, Rhoda, did her best to remain upbeat.

In 1931, Rhoda developed a huge, 39-pound ovarian cyst. This cyst was so large there was no doctor in Canton who would attempt to remove it. A doctor in Wheeling agreed to do it.  The downside was Rhoda was told she might not survive the operation. Rhoda agreed to the surgery anyway.

She survived the operation but her gallbladder was affected and had to be removed. Soon after the gallbladder surgery, she developed a painful bowel obstruction which had to be surgically repaired. Rhoda was never the same after this and then, in 1936, she stepped into a sewer drain severely damaging her right leg.

Her foot turned inward and, combined with a recurring infection, kept Rhoda Wise in and out of hospitals from that point on. Every few months it was now back to the hospital for new casting or additional surgery on her leg in attempts to straighten her foot. Besides the now chronic pain, she had to endure, Rhoda’s immediate future saw her being confined to bed most of the time.

Rhoda’s first of many visions occurred while hospitalized and with George and Anna Mae, their adopted daughter, present. Rhoda saw Jesus as the Good Shepherd standing by the window. She told George and Anna Mae but they saw nothing. George thought she was hallucinating.

One of the nuns at Mercy Hospital, Sister Clement, a Sister of Charity, befriended Rhoda. Sister had a great devotion to St. Therese of Lisieux and gave Rhoda a small shrine of the “Little Flower” to put by her bed. Rhoda then asked Sister if she could hold her Rosary. When Sister handed it to her the Crucifix was very warm and Rhoda immediately asked Sister Clement to teach her about the beads. Graces were beginning to explode within her.

Rhoda fell in love with the Rosary and prayed it several times a day. She then asked Sister if she could make a novena to St. Therese. She had developed a brutally painful stomach cancer which was considered incurable. Jesus appeared to Rhoda on May 28, 1939, and told her He would come back with St. Therese on June 28.

Jesus returned as promised and, with St. Therese standing by His side, Rhoda’s incurable, open wounded stomach cancer vanished without a trace. On August 15, 1939, St. Therese visited Rhoda again and her cast broke apart and fell from her twisted foot. The foot was perfectly normal.

For lack of space here I shall finish this by mentioning a young woman by the name of Rita Rizzo. Rita was nineteen and suffered from what they called a “dropped stomach”. Her belly appeared discolored and deformed and the pain was excruciating. She went to see Rhoda who gave her a novena to St. Therese and told her to say it for nine days.

During the early morning hours on the ninth day pain exploded in Rita’s abdomen and then stopped. In the morning when she looked at her belly it appeared normal. The discoloration and deformity were gone and so was the pain. She had been cured and the pain never returned again. Rita Rizzo became Mother Angelica and founded EWTN. Rhoda Wise was the moving force in Mother Angelica’s becoming a nun.

On Good Friday, April 3, 1942, Rhoda Wise was given the Stigmata of the Crown of Thorns. Every Friday after,  until her death on July 7, 1948, her forehead would bleed from noon until 3:00 pm.

14,000 people showed up for her funeral. Countless cures were attributed to Rhoda and countless souls returned to Christ because of her. Ironically, Rhoda always felt the greatest miracle she witnessed was the day George stopped drinking and never had another drink as long as he lived.

Rhoda Wise has been declared a Servant of God and her cause for sainthood has begun.

We the Servant of God; Rhoda Wise, to pray for us all.

There is much to the story of Rhoda Wise. To learn more please visit the link  http://rhodawise.com/

 

     

St. Mary of Cervellon: with Hurricane Irma fast approaching we should ask St. Mary of Cervellon for her Help and Protection

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

 

By Larry Peterson

 

She was born sometime in 1230, some think around December 1, and was baptized on December 8* in Santa Maria del Mar parish in Barcelona. Her name was Mary de Cervellon, and she was the daughter of a Spanish nobleman, William de Cervellon.

 

As a young woman, Mary, began working in Saint Eulalia Hospital tending to the sick, the poor and also those who were prisoners. One day she heard a sermon given by Bernard de Corbarie, who was the superior of the Brotherhood of Our Lady of Ransom, also known as Mercedarians. 

 

She was so moved by what she heard she vowed right then and there to do all she could to help alleviate the suffering and misery experienced by those who were prisoners of the Muslim Turks. Working at the hospital, Mary was able to come in contact with the great leaders of the Mercedarian order, including the order's founder, St. Peter Nolasco. Inspired by these pious people Mary, in the year, 1265,  joined a small group of women who lived near the monastery. These ladies spent their lives in constant prayer and doing good works for those in need.

 

In due time the women asked for and received permission to form the Third Order of Our Lady of Ransom. In addition to the normal three vows of poverty,  chastity, and obedience they also vowed to pray for all Christian slaves. They were all given permission to wear the white habit of the Mercedarians and Sister Mary de Cervellon was elected their first Mother Superior.

 

Sister Mary had such an empathy and devotion to the poor and needy that soon she began to be called Maria de Socros  (Mary of Help).  Mary de Cervellon passed away on Septemeber 19, 1290. During Mary's life and after her death, there were people who swore that they saw Mary literally on the "wings of the wind",  reaching down and saving floundering ships from rough seas so they might stay their course and continue on their journey to free Christian prisoners from the Muslims.

 

A great devotion grew in her honor and it was given approval by Pope Innocent XII in 1692. Paintings of Mary show her with a ship cradled in her arms as she saves it from the roaring seas around it.  Mary de Cervellon's body lies incorrupt to this very day in the Mercedarian Basilica in Barcelona, Spain.

 

At this very moment in time, a massive hurricane named, Irma, is talking dead aim at our homes in Florida and the Caribbean. The seas beneath Irma have turned into monstrous, walls of pounding destruction. Since St. Mary de Cervellon,  is the patroness of sailors and invoked especially against shipwreck, she is generally represented with a ship in her hand. We might invoke her name and ask her to help quell the pounding seas or maybe help divert Hurricane Irma in a diiferent direction. We could really use her help.

 

St. Mary de Cervellon, please pray for us all.

 

*the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception was not proclaimed until  Pope Pius IX did so in 1854.

     

Cover for My New Novel: “Horizon Homeless”

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

ANNOUNCEMENT

NOW AVAILABLE IN PAPERBACK & E-BOOK

 


"HORIZON HOMELESS"


http://amzn.to/2uGI3LK

______________________________________

Introducing my new Novel: "Horizon Homeless" reality fiction inspired from more than 20 years of experience working with the homeless and the pre-homeless. 

From the beginning of Chapter 6: page 63

"Their newly discovered sense of helplessness had Bob and Tracey emotionally drained and exhausted. They had $40.00 to their name and the electricity had been turned off.  The inside of the house was hovering at about 90 degrees, the refrigerator was rapidly losing its coldness while the hot water heater was slowly losing its hotness. The stove could not be used and the washer and dryer had been temporarily relegated to useless objects just taking up space. Losing power because of a storm was one thing. Having it taken away from you on purpose by the power company was something totally different. A storm could not cause people to feel demeaned and degraded. People could."

Have you ever seen a homeless person and thought, Why don’t they just get a damn job? Did you stop and think that maybe they had a job and then, through no fault of their own, they lost it. Is it possible they tried as hard as they could but could not find another job?  Did you consider that maybe there was an illness that altered their life?  Maybe pain medications prescribed for an unwanted, debilitating injury turned them into a “victim addict”? Maybe they are a vet with a severe case of PTSD?  Maybe it is certain type of mental illness? Do you know anything about that person you are looking at? We should remember that before people become homeless, they lived somewhere.

Homeless sleeping at a bus stop:  commons.wikipedia.org

There are millions of people across this great land of ours that are pre-homeless. Please say hello to Bob and Tracey Slider and their son, Jake.  They are a composite of so many American families that cover our land from ‘sea to shining sea’. They are among the millions of unnoticed, hardworking, Americans, locked into survival mode while trying their best to do the “right thing” every day. What happens when they are confronted with circumstances which place them on a road heading downward where the horizon up ahead turns homeless?  Can they make the turn and begin heading uphill? What choices will they make? What will determine their success or failure?

             “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” Matt: 11:28

www.larrypeterson-author.com   All my books at this link

www.myhelpinghandspress.com   Books available through Helping Hands Press 

NOW AVAILABLE IN PAPERBACK & E-BOOK


http://amzn.to/2uGI3LK

     

Saint Anna Schaffer—Bedridden and in Constant Pain from being Burned, She Gave it all to Jesus

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson        

 The number of saints in the Catholic Church numbers in the thousands.  In fact, the exact number is open to question.  Among these are many saints most of us have never heard of. These saints  are the obscure spiritual gems whose stories can take your breath away. Say "hello" to  Anna Schaffer.
 Anna Schaffer was born into a simple, hardworking family in Mindelstetten in Bavaria on February 18, 1882. The third of six children, Anna was a fine student who studied hard and received good grades. When she was a small child she had felt a deep calling to the religious life but circumstances sometimes hurl themselves into your path changing your destination.
 Anna made her First Holy Communion  on April 12, 1893. At that time she had a profound encounter with Jesus. She had not spoken to anyone about it but she wrote a letter to Our Lord telling Him to "do with me as you want...I want to atone and become a sacrifice to atone for all dishonor and offenses against you." She was 11 years old and was giving herself over to Christ.
 Anna's dad passed away at the age of 40. The year was 1896.  Anna, now 14, had already been working part time for a household in Regensburg but now her family was thrust into poverty. She had dreamed of one day entering a religious order but circumstances now forced her to give up thoughts of any more schooling and find full time work to help support the household. She acquired several positions and finally landed a job in a pub called the  Gameskeeper's Cottage in nearby Stammham. Part of her job description included doing the laundry.
 The Victorian era washing machines they were using were designed to have a fire underneath and the rising heat would boil the water in the tub above. These "machines" had galvanized metal smoke stacks to vent the smoke outside the building. The stack on the machine Anna was using came loose from the wall. She was sure she could fix it.
 Anna climbed up on the edge of the tub to force the pipe back into the hole. As she stretched up to reattach the pipe she slipped and fell into the boiling, sudsy water. In a flash she was up to her knees in the bubbling cauldron having her legs boiled. The date was February 4, 1901. Anna was 19 years old and her life had been changed forever.
 Anna was rushed over to the nearby hospital. Everything they tried to do for her failed to help. They operated over thirty times and every time the pain was excruciating as they had to scrape dead skin away and re-bandage the poor girl's legs. She was given up as a “lost cause” and the experts assumed she would die from infection. Skin grafts would not take and Anna became immobilized. However, for some unexplainable reason, Anna stabilized and three months later was sent home.
The local doctors, unable to help Anna, several times sent her to the University Clinic of Erlangen for treatment. But this brought her nothing but anguish as the "experts" experimented with various "new" treatments in their quest to help her. They even forcibly broke the joints in her feet several times to free them up from their immobility. The pain she endured must have been horrific. Her mother became her caregiver and would care for her daughter until the end of her life.
 In 1898 Anna had seen a vision where Jesus appeared to her as the Good Shepherd and told her the suffering that was going to be hers before the age of 20. Jesus’ prediction had now come to pass and there was nothing anyone could do to help her.  Anna embarked on a journey of having to endure unimaginable pain every day as her legs would never heal. Open, festering wounds would always be present. But Jesus was in her life coupled with her deep devotion to the Blessed Mother. Anna Schaffer was about to inspire many more than just those in her local community.
 Anna admitted in a letter that it took her two years to recognize God's will in her life as she had offered it to Him on her First Communion Day. She embraced God’s will fully and Jesus appeared to her saying, "I accepted you in atonement for my Holy Sacrament. And in the future when you receive Holy Communion you will feel the pains of My passion with which I have redeemed you."
 On October 4, 1910, Anna received the stigmata. From that day forward Jesus would feel Anna’s pain as Anna felt His.  She wrote that she had the intense pain of the passion which increased on Thursday, Fridays, Sundays and on Feast days. She became a beloved person in the town and people began coming from everywhere to hear the gentle and comforting words she spoke. Every day she drew closer and closer to Jesus and the Blessed Virgin as Jesus united her suffering with His own.
 In 1925 Anna developed colon cancer and, at the time, there was nothing anyone could do for that. On October 5, 1925, Anna was given Holy Communion. She opened her eyes wide and said, "Jesus, I live for you." Then she closed her eyes and journeyed home with her Lord.
 Since 1929, Over 15.000 miracles have been attributed to the intercession of Anna Schaffer. In 1998 alone 551 miracles were recorded through her intercession (many of these have not yet been validated by the Church). Anna was beatified by St. John Paul II in1999 and canonized a saint by Pope Benedict in 2011.
Saint Anna Schaffer, please pray for us.
                                                             ©Larry Peterson 2017 All Right Reserved
     

Antonia Mesina—Martyred “In Defensum Castitatis” (In Defense of Purity) at the age of 15

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

 

By Larry Peterson

 

Pierina Morosini and Antonia Mesina were two women from Italy. Born a generation apart they led strikingly similar lives. Pierina was the oldest of eight children and had to work and help her mother with her younger siblings. Antonia was the second born of ten children and was also required to help her mother with the younger children.

 

Both young women were exemplary Catholics and were determined to live chaste lives.  Both were martyred "in defensum castitatis" (in defense of purity), Antonia in 1935 and Pierina in 1957. They were both  declared Blessed on October 4, 1987 by Pope St. John Paul II. Even though their stories are similar they are also separate and unique. As a writer, I felt they each deserved individual space. This is about Antonia. (Pierina's story is in another article).

 

Antonia was born on June 21, 1919, in Orgosolo, a town high up in the mountains of Sardinia. She was the second of ten children. Her dad was a corporal in the cavalry who helped guard the town perimeter and her mom did her best to teach her children the Catholic faith. As was the custom at the time Antonia was baptized at the age of nine days and confirmed the following year.

 

Antonia was admired by her teachers and liked by all her classmates. She was kind and studied hard and was very respectful of others. When she was in fourth grade her mom developed a serious heart condition. The doctors ordered her to bed and Antonia was forced to leave school and take over her mother's duties. The young girl had to do the cooking, the cleaning, the baking, the laundry and go to the market. Her mom called her ,"the flower of my life". Antonia never complained and always seemed to manage a smile.

 

Every week Antonia had to bake the bread for the family. This was not a simple process. It included gathering the firewood and grinding the grain into flour. This was, indeed, making something from "scratch". On May 17, 1935, Antonia asked her friend, Annedda, if she would go with her to help her gather wood from the forest. Annedda agreed and off they went.

 

As they walked along, Antonia, who had joined Catholic Action a few years earlier, was trying to convince Annedda, that she should join too. Antonia was very enthusiastic about the spiritual benefits received and about all the good works that Catholic Action brought to members. She told her how they even were taught catechism at their meetings.

 

When they had gathered up enough wood they began their return walk home. Annedda noticed a young man in the woods nearby. She recognized him from school and knew it was Ignazio. When she looked again he was gone. A few minutes later Antonia screamed. The young man had snuck up behind Antonia and wrestled her to the ground. He was determined to have his way with the 15 year-old but she fought him furiously.

 

Twice Antonia managed to break free while Annedda ran screaming through the woods for someone to help them. The third time Ignazio managed to subdue her. She was fighting against his advances so hard that he went into a rage. He grabbed a nearby rock and began beating Antonia in the head with it. Over and over he pounded the innocent teenager until she stopped moving. It was discovered later that he had hit her 74 times. It was also found that she had never been violated.

 

 

Ignazio tried to deny his involvement but Annedda was able to identify him. In addition, his bloody clothes, which he tried to hide, were found near his home. The 19 year-old was sentenced to death and executed by firing squad on August 5, 1937.

 

 

Antonia Mesina's beatification process began under Pope John Paul I in September of 1978 and she was declared a "Servant of God". She was declared Venerable Antonia Mesina in 1986 and Pope St. John Paul II declared she had died "in defensum castitatis' in May of 1987. She and Pierina Morosini were beatified together, two young women who gave their lives for Jesus rather than submit to being forcibly assaulted.

 

Blessed Antonia Mesina and Blessed Pierina Morosini, please pray for us.

 

     

Remembering Alzheimer’s Patients and their Caregivers

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

Alzheimer's patient--Wikimedia Commons


Remembering Alzheimer's Patients
&
their Caregivers
 
Image may contain: text
                        
     

“Little Nellie of Holy God”–The Toddler Who Inspired a Pope*

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

 Ellen Organ was born on August 24, 1903 in what was known as the "married quarters" of the Royal Infantry Barracks in Waterford, Ireland. Her dad, William, was a soldier in the British army. Shortly after Ellen's birth she was baptized into the faith at the Church of the Trinity. No one knows why, but from that point on Ellen Organ was called "Nellie".

"Little Nellie of Holy God"  en.wikipedia

Nellie's parents were both devout Catholics and her mom, Mary, had an especially deep devotion to the Blessed Mother. She would take walks with Nellie always talking about Jesus and Mary. She and her husband also made it a family custom to pray the family Rosary every day. Nellie, doing as her mom showed her,  always kissed the Crucifix and the large beads between decades. The first words she learned were "Jesus" and "Mary".

By the age of two, Nellie displayed a pronounced spirituality rarely seen in a child, especially one so young. While walking to Mass holding her dad's hand she would constantly talk about seeing "Holy God". This was something she began saying without having heard such an expression. Even her dad admitted years later he had no idea why his daughter began saying "Holy God".

Nellie's life and the lives of her brothers, Thomas, David and their sister, Mary, were about to change dramatically. Their mom became very ill with tuberculosis. Nellie, the youngest of her siblings, was by her side constantly and was actually hugging her mom when she died in January of 1907. Nellie was three years old.

 The children's dad could not provide proper care for them. Consequently, he turned to his parish priest for help. Thomas, who was the oldest at age nine,  was sent to the Christian Brothers and David to the Sisters of Mercy. Mary and Nellie were taken in by the Good Shepherd Sisters in Cork City. They arrived there on May 11, 1907. The sisters treated them kindly and were very good to the girls. Nellie was happy to call all of the sisters, "Mothers."

Nellie was three years and nine months old when she arrived at the Good Shepherd Sisters home. A young girl named Mary Long, slept next to Nellie. Nellie never complained but Mary heard her crying and coughing during he night. She told the sisters and Nellie was moved to the school infirmary.

Upon examination it was discovered that Nellie had a crooked spine (the result of a serious fall) that required special care.  Sitting up was very painful for the child and sitting still for any length of time caused her great pain. Her hip and her back were out of joint. She was only three and she tried to hide her pain. But she could not "fake" feeling well. All the sisters could do was make the child as comfortable as possible.

Nellie astonished the nuns with her insight and knowledge of the Catholic faith. The sisters and others that cared for Nellie Organ believed without reservation that the child was spiritually gifted. Nellie loved to visit the chapel which she called "the House of Holy God." She referred to the tabernacle as "Holy God's lockdown."  And she embraced the Stations of the Cross. Upon being carried to each station she would burst into tears seeing how Holy God suffered for us. She also developed an acute perception of the Blessed Sacrament.

One day Nellie was given a box of beads and some string. Being a three year old she put some in her mouth and inadvertently swallowed them. People saw her gagging and choking and rushed her into the infirmary. The doctor present was able to remove the beads from Nellie's throat.

They were all amazed how brave the little girl remained as the doctor probed  into her throat removing the objects. She never made a sound. At this time it was discovered that, just like her mom,  she had advanced tuberculosis. The doctor told the sisters there was no hope for recovery and gave Nellie only a few months to live.

Nellie loved the Holy Eucharist deeply. She would ask the sisters to kiss her when they were coming back from Communion so she could share their Holy Communion. She desperately wanted to receive her First Communion. But the rule of the Church was a minimum age of 12. Nellie was only three.

Nellie told of visions she was having of "Holy God" as a child and the Blessed Mother standing nearby. Her faith was so pronounced that the Bishop agreed (since she was close to death) to confirm her. She received her Confirmation on October 8, 1907. Then, on December 6, 1907, after considering all the facts, the local bishop, in consult with the priests, allowed Nellie Organ to receive her First Holy Communion. Nellie Organ died on February 2, 1908.

Nellie Organ's story spread throughout Europe and reached the Vatican. It was presented to Pope Pius X by his Secretary of State, Cardinal Merry del Val.It was providential because the Holy Father had been looking for a reason to lower the age of receiving First Communion to the age of seven  but was not sure about doing it.

When Pius X read the documents about "Little Nellie of Holy God", he immediately took this as a sign to lower the age. The Pope immediately issued a Papal Decree called QuamSingulari, changing the age of receiving First Holy Communion from 12 years old to age seven.
Pope Pius X, who would become St. Pius X, after issuing Quam Singulari, took up his pen and wrote, “May God enrich with every blessing ---all those who recommend frequent Communion to little boys and girls, proposing Nellie as their model.”
Pope Pius X. June 4th, 1912.”
*edited version published in Aleteia on March 3, 2017

                                    ©Copyright Larry Peterson 2017 All Right Reserved

     

Chaplain Emil Kapaun—from Farm boy, to Priest, to Medal of Honor Recipient and Future Saint*

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

Emil Joseph Kapaun, was born on a farm near  Pilsen, Kansas, in 1916. Pilsen was a tiny town of less than 100 people named after after the city of Pizen in the Czech Republic. His parents were Czech immigrants and devout Catholics. Emil, besides being an excellent student, became quite adept at repairing farm equipment and machinery. This knowledge would prove very beneficial later on when he was a prisoner-of-war.

Emil Kapaun was ordained a priest on June 9, 1940. In 1944, he joined the U.S. Army Chaplains Corps. and was assigned to  serve in Burma. He left the army in 1946 to seek an advanced degree in education. He knew in his heart that his priestly ministry was to be a chaplain so, upon graduating with a Master's Degree in 1948, he re-enlisted in the Chaplain Corps.

During the Korean War, Captain Emil Kapaun, U. S. Army,  was the Catholic chaplain assigned to the 3rd Battalion of the 8th Cavalry. On November 1, 1950, the feast of All Saint's Day, Father Kapaun celebrated Mass for the soldiers in his battalion. In the minds of the troops the war was about over.

The North Koreans had been beaten back by the U. S. and United Nations forces. The guys were starting to think about being home for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Those pleasant thoughts of being home for the holidays were a bit premature. Right after midnight of November 2, All Soul's Day, their world exploded. The area held by 3000 American soldiers was unexpectedly attacked by a force of more than 20,000 charging, Chinese troops. The Americans, taken by surprise and fighting valiantly, never had a chance.

Father Kapaun ran from foxhole to foxhole, dragging out the wounded and giving last rites to the dying. Over the sound of gunfire and explosions he heard confessions. Feverishly working beyond the American lines in "no-man's land", he actually stopped an execution and negotiated with the enemy for the safety of wounded Americans. No one knows how many young soldiers he carried to safety on his back. Going back again and again he was finally taken prisoner as he tried to rescue another wounded soldier. He was not the only American GI captured that night.

By daybreak the battle was over and hundreds of  newly captured American POWs, including Father Kapaun, began a forced 87 mile "death march" to a POW camp.  The earlier thoughts about Christmas in America and drumsticks on Thanksgiving quickly evaporated as every step in the mud and snow and freezing cold now occupied the minds of the young soldiers who had suddenly become prisoners-of-war.

The "march" was brutal. Those wounded an unable to continue were shot dead. Father Kapaun picked up a wounded POW and began carrying him on his back. He implored others who were still in fair condition to do the same. Some followed his example and somehow, someway, many managed  to make it alive to the prison camp.

Father Kapaun cared not an iota about himself. Against the orders of his Chinese guards he cared for the sick and wounded, built fires for warmth and cooking, searched for scraps of food, and even set up a make-shift system to purify drinking water. What infuriated the guards was how Father Kapaun managed to gather the men together, officers and enlisted men, black men and white men, even atheists, agnostics and others, to join together in saying the Rosary.

Father Kapaun became an inspiration to the other POWs. The priest would preach openly to the men even though his captors ordered him not to do so. He would pray one-on-one with POWs and some even embraced the faith and were baptized. Praying was banned and when Father Kapaun ignored it and prayed with his men they would strip him naked and make him stand on a block of ice for hours on end. It is hard to imagine enduring such cruelty.

On Easter Sunday, 1951, the bedraggled, starving prisoners saw a silhouetted figure standing alone,  illuminated by the morning sun. As the men approached they realized it was Father Kapaun. He was wearing his purple stole  and holding a Roman Missal. Somehow he had received permission to hold an Easter Service. He could not say Mass but he read some Psalms and everyone recited out loud the prayers from Good Friday including the Stations of the CRoss. Survivors say that some men openly wept.

Father Kapaun, worn down from the horrendous conditions and suffering from his own wounds and poor treatment, died on May 23, 1951. He was credited with saving hundreds of lives through the loving care, compassion and spirituality he demonstrated to all his men.

His  awards  include the Congressional Medal of Honor, the Distinguished Service Cross, the Bronze Star and many others.

In 1993, Captain Chaplain Emil Joseph Kapaun was declared a "Servant of God" by Pope John Paul II. The canonization process of this selfless priest is underway and there are two miracles under investigation at the present time. The simple priest from a little farm in Kansas is truly an inspiration for us all.

Servant of God, Emil Kapaun, please pray for us.

*This article appeared in Aleteia on Feberuary 21, 2017

                                         ©copyright Larry peterson 2017  All RightsReserved

     

Mother’s Day—After Years of Dreading It I Can Finally Embrace It

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

(updated  from 2016 article)

Mother’s Day is here and I will tell you immediately that it has never been my favorite holiday.

My mother died 56 years ago. She had just turned 40. (She had Leukemia and if you had Leukemia 56 years ago, you were “toast”.)  For some reason, I have only a few obscure memories of her. And, for me, that is an emptiness that has always exploded  inside me during the Mother’s Day celebration.

We were kids when she died. At fifteen, I was the oldest. My sister and brothers (the two youngest have now passed away) remembered details about her such as the softness of her hair, her laugh, how she loved cherry vanilla ice-cream, or pulling the shopping cart to the A&P. As for me, I had nothing except the information they had to share.

My Mom  circa 1939  age 19

I have been told that I was traumatized by her death and involuntarily blocked her out of my mind. I thought, how could that be true? I have experienced death taking my closest family members including: my wife, Loretta, 14 years ago married 35 years),  my second wife, Marty, only five weeks ago (we had been married for 10 years), a  stillborn daughter, my dad,  my two youngest brothers and Grandma, who died as I held her when I was 18. But, fortified by my Catholic faith, I always managed, to move through the grief process and learn to accept what happened.  But with my Mom that process never completed itself.


But I finally came to understand why I have been “stuck in the mud” with my Mom’s sudden passing albeit so long ago. I was selfish. I never thought about what must have been going through her mind as she lay dying at the age of 39. It was always about me and how MY mom died. That was the reason for my decades old problem. Therein was the cause of my emptiness. It was never about her. I felt sorry for myself when she died and kept feeling sorry for myself, year after year after year.

I needed help and finally it came.  Out of the clear blue my daughter, Mary, calls me and, during the conversation says, “Hey dad, do you realize I’m going to be 39 on my next birthday?”
Talk about being hit by lightning. My own daughter was going to be the same age as my own mother was when she was slowly being killed by an insidious, no holds barred, and merciless disease. I had never thought of my Mom as a 39 year old woman with five kids. I thought of her as my Mom, who died on ME. How pathetic is that?

Mary, who also happens to look a lot like the grandma she never knew, had only asked me a simple question. She could not have known the power that was in it. She had no idea that at that moment it removed the veil from my clouded “mom world” and set me on my journey to discover the woman and person who was also my mother.

Following decades of self-pity, I began to quietly ponder about this woman who carried me in her womb, who nursed me, fed me, bathed me, held me and hugged me, nursed me and my siblings through illnesses such as mumps, measles and chicken pox (all of which I have no memory), who cleaned, washed and ironed clothes, cooked, shopped and even worked part time, and how she must have felt as she prepared to leave her family behind while facing death. How awful and terrifying that must have been for her?

How did she hold her year and a half old son on her lap and look at him without going hysterical, knowing soon she would be gone? How did she handle thinking about her six year old son, missing his front teeth, who she would never give a sweet hug to again?  She had a ten year old who was in fourth grade and always needed his mom to help him with his homework. Would his dad help him? Probably not, he was so lousy at spelling and grammar.

And of course, there was my sister, her “little” girl. But she was 13 already, she was growing up. She would need her Mom, to talk to about woman things.  How did she bare holding onto the knowledge that her children would soon be motherless? What did she say to our dad, her husband and lover, as they lay together in bed, in the dark of night waiting for the inevitable as their five kids slept?

Sunday morning at Mass the priest will talk about mothers, living and deceased. This year I will be proud of the God loving, faithful, kind and courageous woman that was MY Mom. I may only have a few scattered memories of her but it doesn’t matter anymore. It was never about “poor me”, it was about her. I was such a jerk not to see it.

On this Mother’s Day I will also thank God for that phone call from Mary. I will then thank Him for my Mom. And to all the loving, caring Moms everywhere, God bless you all and Happy Mother’s Day.
                                ©Larry Peterson 2016 
     

Rejecting “Common Sense” also Rejects the Golden Rule

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

en.wikipedia.com
It seems that the fear of litigation has triggered the ongoing evaporation of  "Common sense".  What triggered my need to defend "common sense" are three separate incidents that I experienced over the past month. As you will see, each of these incidents, though simple and uneventful,  not only rejected the use of "common sense" but the collateral damage from these rejections was the trashing of the Golden Rule.
Incident 1:
My wife was in the hospital during the middle of March. She had been taken off life-support and was in a room breathing on her own but unconscious. I was there with her and her head was bent over onto her shoulder. I thought I might try to lift her head and make her more comfortable. However, I was unable to do it by myself as she had a large CPAP mask strapped on.
Just then a young lady came into the room, gave me a big smile and asked, "Is there anything I can do to help you?"
I was thrilled at her timing and I explained how I just needed a bit of help repositioning my wife to make her more comfortable. The young lady shrugs and sheepishly says, "Oh sir, I'm sorry. I'm a volunteer and we are not allowed to touch the patients."
I quickly found out that the volunteers could not feed anyone, touch anyone and can basically do nothing more than be a "gopher" for the nurses or get me a cup of coffee. As far as helping the woman in the bed, NOT allowed.
Incident 2:
I am an EMHC and I bring Holy Communion to about a half dozen seniors in an assisted living facility on Sundays. One of my communicants had five or six newspapers in front of his door. I picked them up and headed to the main desk where a security guard was stationed. I dumped the papers on the countertop and said, "Hey Tony, what's going on down in 103. There is no answer and all his newspapers are outside his door?"
"Oh yeah, Mr. A is in the hospital. They took him earlier this week." Tony refused to tell me what hospital. So I asked, "How come no one picks up all these newspapers?"
He shook his head and shrugged, "We are not allowed to touch anyone including their “stuff”. In fact, if someone falls right in front of my desk I am not allowed to help them up or touch them. I have to call 911. If I touch them I will lose my job."
In my standard inbred NYC manner I say, "C'mon Tony. Gimme a break--whaddaya mean you can't help them. That's ridiculous."
He reached under the countertop and pulled out a sheet of paper. It was the rules and regulations from the facility. "Here, you think I'm making this up?" Everything he told me was on that sheet of paper.
Incident 3:
I have been getting three to four calls a day from a number in area code 954. I have no idea where that might be and I do not care. In addition, the caller(s) never spoke. They just disconnected.  I never answer the phone unless the caller identifies themselves but the relentless pursuit from area code 954 eventually beat me into submission.  I caved and answered the phone. A pleasant, melodic voice floats into my ear saying, "Is this Mr. Peterson?"
My immediate response (I love to get a bit flippy) was, "Ya think. You have been calling me over and over and over never leaving  a message and now you want to know who I am?  Who are YOU?"
“Heather” introduced herself and told me she was calling to see if I wanted to renew my newspaper subscription. "Heather, are you telling me that different phone solicitors from your paper have been calling me three to four times a day and not one of you left a message? Do I have that right?"
"Uh, yes, I'm sorry Mr. Peterson. We are not allowed to leave a message."
There is nothing I can add to that.  These "professional" people will call folks up all day long and never leave a message. They are not allowed. Whew! That, to me, that is harassment. Yet, it is justified because it is a "rule" or "policy" of an invisible entity called a “company”.
 Natural Law , present  in the heart of each man and established by reason, is universal in its precepts and its authority extends to all men. It expresses the dignity of the person and determines the basis for his fundamental rights and duties." CCC1956

I don't know about you but if I see someone fall I will (if possible) help them up. If I lose my job because of my actions--so be it. If I call someone and I hear a recorded response, I will leave a message.  The Golden Rule and “common sense” go hand in hand. This other stuff is “madness”.

                                 ©copyright Larry Peterson 2017

     

Although Pregnant, Imprisoned and Severely Abused, She Refused to Deny her Faith*

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

In 1936,  Civil War erupted in Spain after the Nationalists, led by General Francisco Franco, overthrew the government run by the left-leaning leaders of the Second Spanish Republic. What followed was a period in Spanish history that is known as the "Red Terror".

During the three year period of 1936 thru 1939, tens of thousands of people were murdered by those on the secularized "left" as  this faction enacted an anti-clerical reign of terror against religion and all things Catholic, especially the clergy, who they hated more than can be imagined. The violence was even directed to churches and monasteries and many were burned and pillaged.simply out of hatred.

 What follows is the story, not about a priest or a nun but, rather, about a gypsy girl whose name was Emilia Fernandez Rodriguez. On March 25 of this year, Emilia joined the ranks of those honored as martyrs from the Spanish Civil War. In addition, she will become the first gypsy woman ever beatified by the Catholic Church.

Blessed Emilia Fernandez Rodriguez:  infocatolica.com

Juan Jose Fernandez and his wife, Pilar Rodriguez, were gypsy people who lived in  a "grotto" (cave) in Tijola, Spain. On April 13, 1914, Pilar gave birth to a girl and she was named Emilia. Emilia, the second of three children,  was baptized on the same day of her birth in the Church of Santa Maria. As Emilia began to grow she was taught how to make wicker baskets. This was how the family earned their living.

Juan Fernandez and his wife were survivors. They had no political ideology and worked hard at their meager wicker basket business trying to live their lives as quietly as possible. So did most of the other gypsy people. When the Civil War of 1936 erupted there was no reason for the gypsies to feel in any way endangered. They just kept living their lives doing the best they could with what they had. But circumstances sometimes reach out and grab hold of the unsuspecting and pull them into a world they could never have imagined.

In 1938 Emilia entered into a marriage contract with Juan Cortes, who was her distant cousin and a year younger than Emilia. Emilia's new husband was apolitical and, like Emilia, did not care one bit about either side involved in the Civil War. But those on the "left" thought differently. They demanded that Juan Cortes join their ranks.

Juan had Emilia help him concoct a potion to rub in his eyes causing a temporary case of blindness.  His ruse worked and the powers to be considered him unfit for service. But his "blindness" began to clear up. When the soldiers came back and discovered that Juan could see again they were outraged. They knew Juan had tricked them.

 He and Emilia were immediately arrested and both sent off to prison to await trial.  The date was June 21, 1938.  A few weeks later, on July 9, 1938, Emilia was tried in "court" and sentenced to six years in prison. She was absolutely terrified. She was pregnant and feared for her baby's life.

Emilia felt completely alone in the dank, smelly confines of the prison. She tried to avoid the other inmates but her youth and vulnerability drew the sympathy of some of them. One girl, whose name was Lola and was about the same age as Emilia, was able to befriend her. Lola was a devout Catholic and began teaching Emilia about the faith she knew so little of.

Lola made sure that Emilia made the sign of the Cross properly and taught her the Our Father, the Hail Mary and the Glory Be. Emilia was soon participating in praying the Rosary with some of the others. She even learned to say "ora pro nobis" in response to the litanies being said in Latin. Soon, the commander of the prison, Pilar Salmeron Martinez, found out that Emilia, the uneducated, ignorant gypsy girl, could pray the Rosary. He was determined to find out who had the audacity to teach her.

Martinez called her into his office and demanded she tell him who taught her to pray. He even told Emilia that he would not only get her released from prison but would also get Juan out of his prison. He told her to think of her "poor baby" and how living in a prison cell was no place for a child. Martinez considered Emilia weak and was sure she would agree. He was wrong.

Emilia's faith was beginning to sprout strong and true. She was only 24 years old, was afraid and pregnant yet she would not reveal the name of Lola. Furious at this "gypsy girl", Martinez ordered her into solitary confinement. He also ordered Lola to be thrown into solitary also. He knew she was the "troublemaker" who was teaching prayers to the inmates. The conditions in solitary were horrendous.

Winter came and the evil Martinez, still trying to 'break" Emilia, cut her already meager food rations. The young woman was getting weaker and sicker by the day and her baby was soon to be full term. At two o'clock in the morning of January 13, Emilia gave birth to a girl on the  floor of her filthy cell. That same afternoon Lola baptized the baby. Emilia and her baby were taken to the hospital. Four days later they were returned to the prison.

Emilia became so ill that they had to return her to the hospital. She died on January 25th, never having turned on the one who had taught her to pray the Rosary. They dumped her body into a common, unmarked grave. No one ever knew what happened to the child. It is assumed she was put up for adoption.

The Catholic Church leaves no doubt that those who die from inhumanity inflicted upon them because of the 'hatred" of their faith are considered martyrs and attain beatification immediately. Many Catholics have died because of "hatred', especially in Nazi and communist internment camps. This is known as "in odium fidei" which means "in hatred of the faith".

Blessed Emilia Fernandez Rodriguez, please pray for us.

*This also appeared in Aleteia on April 11, 2017

                                  ©Copyright larry Peterson 2017 All Rights Reserved  

               

     

An American story about an Irish priest, a brave girl, and the KKK*

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

Each and every one of us is an individual work of art, crafted by God for Himself. Why would He do that? Because He is Love and wants to share Himself with us. We all are truly special in His eyes. He loves us all, individually and without reservation.

He will forgive each and every one of us for anything we might do to offend Him. All we have to do is admit it and ask Him for his forgiveness. However, that great interloper called "Pride", oftentimes places for many, immovable roadblocks to humility, everyone's needed ally on their path to Love.
Father James Coyle circa early 1900s  en.wikipedia

What follows is an "American" story about a Catholic priest and a member of the Ku Klux Klan. It is about love and hatred in America. This is not about present day. This happened in Birmingham, Alabama in the year 1921.

Father James Edwin Coyle had been born and raised in Ireland and, at the age of 23, was ordained a priest in Rome. The year was 1896. That same year he was dispatched to the Diocese of Mobile, Alabama to begin his ministry. Father Coyle served eight years in Mobile. While there he also became a charter member of Mobile Council 666 of the Knights of Columbus.

Birmingham was rapidly growing and was turning into one of the primary steel-making centers in America. Thousands were flooding into the area and Bishop Patrick Allen assigned Father Coyle to be pastor of the Cathedral of St. Paul in Birmingham. This was in 1904.

In 1915, inspired by the silent film, "Birth of a Nation" , the second generation of the Ku Klux Klan rose up (the link can explain the first and third generations). These folks were not only anti-black they also hated Roman Catholics, Jews, organized labor and foreigners. They started the use of the "burning cross" as their symbol. By the mid 1920s, there were over 4 million klansmen nationwide.

Father Coyle was a passionate priest who loved his faith deeply and this love was infectious. He taught and inspired his parishioners about the beauty and importance of the Mass and Holy Eucharist and he held a deep devotion to Our Blessed Mother.

As the Catholic population in Alabama grew, virtual hysteria on the part of the Ku Klux Klan began to permeate daily life. The Klan was spreading rumors and innuendo about Catholics kidnapping protestant women and children and keeping them imprisoned in convents, monasteries and catholic hospitals. The Klan even spread the narrative that the Knights of Columbus was the military arm of the Pope and that they were stockpiling weapons for the upcoming insurrection.

One of the leading Catholic haters of the day was a klansman by the name of Edwin Stephenson. Stephenson lived about a block or two away from St. Paul's Church. His daughter, Ruth, at about the age of 12, had become fascinated by the coming and goings of the Catholics at St. Paul's every day. One day she walked down to the church and Father Coyle was outside. They began to talk. Her father saw talking to the priest and, screaming at his child, demanded she go home immediately. Then he had a few choice words to say to Father Coyle. He then went home and beat his daughter.

Young Ruth was undeterred and over the next several years even managed to secretly take instruction from the nuns at the Convent of Mercy. She was baptized a Catholic on April 10,1921. She was 18 years old. When her parents found out their wedding gift to her was the worst beating she had ever received.

On August 11, 1921, Ruth Stephenson, of legal age, was seeking full emancipation from her parents. She did this by marrying Pedro Gussman, a former handyman who had worked at the Stephenson house several years earlier. The priest that performed the wedding was a reluctant Father James Coyle.

Later that afternoon, Mr. Stephenson loaded up his rifle and began walking to St. Paul's Church. He had just found out that it was Father Coyle who had performed the wedding. His heart was not filled with love. Rather, with hatred spilling from his eyes, he walked up onto the porch of St. Paul's where Father Coyle was sitting down reading. and shot the priest three times. The final bullet went right through Father Coyle's head. He died in less than an hour.

Stephenson turned himself in and was charged with Father Coyle's murder. The KKK paid for the defense, the judge was a klansman and the lawyer who defended Stephenson was Hugo Black, the future U. S. Supreme Court Justice. Although not a Klan member at the time of trial, Black did become a member afterwards. The verdict took only a few hours to come in. It was "Not Guilty".

Father James Edwin Coyle was a Catholic priest who loved his God, his Faith and his Church. He was hated and murdered because of it. May he forever rest in peace.

 *This article appeared in Aleteia on March 17, 2017

                ©Copyright Larry Peterson 2017 All Rights Reserved

     

A Catholic Priest has Extraordinary Powers–He Has Been Given the Power of Christ Himself

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

Recently I wrote about how being a Catholic caregiver gives that person an "edge". I had no idea that  only a day later I would be standing next to an unconscious body that was being kept alive through the use of mechanical means and medications. Somewhere inside that body was my wife, Marty. She was on "life-support"and my work as a caregiver was either on hold or would soon be ended.

Since early in 2011 Marty has had serious medical issues such as lymphoma and Alzheiemr's Disease. But entering the year 2017 things began spiraling downward. The Alzheimer's was markedly advanced and was even affecting her walking. Several times, she even forgot who I was. One day a week or so ago, I wanted to give her her afternoon meds. She refused to take them. She said she could not let a stranger give her poison. I was accustomed to her unpredictability but this was a first. I was stunned..

As weird as this may seem, I actually had a close friend, Geri, come over to "identify" me to Marty. My wife was unflappable and refused to give in. After about a half-hour of cajoling by Geri she finally, yet haltingly, relented. She gave in and took her pills.

Last Thursday, Marty spent most of the day sleeping. She ate nothing. I attributed it to new meds she had been prescribed. Friday the sleeping intensified and again she did not eat. Saturday was worse and late in the afternoon, when I checked here vitals, her oxygen level was at 82. I knew that was not good. I called 911.

Anointing of the Sick (Extreme Unction) en.wikipedia.com

The paramedics oxygenated her and took her to the ER. She was freezing cold and they discovered her core temperature was down to 93 degrees. Sepsis was suspected and later on validated. I had gone home because it was to be several more hours before a room opened up. I called in at 4 a.m. I was told that she was in CVICU and on "life-support". She had become "unresponsive" and needed to be intubated.  I was shocked to hear this.

To the point of this article. Through my jumbled thoughts one thought was crystal clear. Call the priest. I immediately did. I had instinctively reached out and taken advantage of my Catholic "edge". I am telling you, it felt good to make that phone call. I knew help was on the way---help for the spiritual side of my wife.

Fifteen minutes later I was at the hospital in the ICU unit,  standing next to my wife who was in her "life-support" bed. All the machines, tubes and hoses made the scene appear to be part of a science fiction movie.  The beeping and ticking was almost like the background for reggae music. All of this was supposed to help her get well. She was sedated and had no clue as to what was going on.

Shortly after,  Father Anthony Coppola, my pastor from Sacred Heart Church, came hurrying into the room. I always have had the utmost respect for the priesthood and the men who wear that collar. But I was about to appreciate the Catholic priesthood and the power that is in it in an entirely different way. I was also about to realize that  the purpose of God's plan for the three of us to be in in that room, together, at that moment, was about to come together.

What happened next is part of the mystery of Faith. It is that great intangible that cannot be seen or touched. If a person has been gifted with faith and has embraced this gift they understand. If not, they have chosen not to. As St. Thomas Aquinas said so long ago, "“To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.”

Father and I chatted briefly and then he went to work. He was about to administer the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick (formerly known as Extreme Unction). A Catholic priest is the only person who can offer the Holy Mass and administer the Sacraments of Penance, Confirmation (usually the bishop does this) and Anointing of the Sick. He has been given this power because he has received the Sacrament of Holy Orders.

He opened his prayer book and began to read. Then he took holy oil from a little gold receptacle, dipped his thumb in it, and anointed Marty's forehead and hands with it. He prayed some more and then it happened. He said these words, "By the authority which the Apostolic See has given me, I grant you full pardon and the remission of all your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." 

Marty had just been given what is known as the Apostolic Pardon. This was that moment in time where I understood everything that was going on. She was there, still alive, because God wanted her to be fully prepared for her impending journey, a journey that would now be straight and direct to Jesus Himself. I was there because without me, the priest would not have been available to impart his  power.

But this moment belonged to Father Anthony, a Catholic priest who had the power and authority to impart this pardon. Make no mistake, these are the moments when the radiance of the Catholic priesthood shines through because these are the moments a priest stands in the shoes of Christ . It was a beautiful and humbling thing to see.

                                  ©Copyright Larry Peterson 2017

     

The Priest asked, “He must be heavy?” The Boy answered, “No Father, He ain’t heavy, He’s my Brother.” *

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

It was somewhere near Omaha, Nebraska and the year was 1918.  A young, Catholic priest was walking down the dirt road near the boy's orphanage he had recently opened. The priest came upon two boys, one carrying the other on his back. The priest stopped and said to the boy doing the carrying, "Well now lad, he must be heavy."

The boy, hunched over from the weight of the younger boy on his back, answered, "No Father, he ain't heavy. He's my brother."

Father Edward Joseph Flanagan, the priest from County Roscommon, Ireland, soon to become an American citizen, smiled and said, "Follow me boys and welcome. You're safe here."

The priest  had surely followed an unintended, circuitous route to find himself in Nebraska. It is believed that he entered the world prematurely. The story goes that during the first days of baby Edward's life (he was the eighth of eleven children) his grandpa, Patrick, clutched his tiny grandson close to his chest. Then he sat by the hearth for hours on end with his big, calloused hands enfolded around the tiny baby's body.  The warmth, prayers and love that engulfed the child brought him through and he survived.

Father Flanagan with kids at Boys Town  fatherflanagan.org
Edward came to America in 1904. He had graduated college in Ireland and was able to enter Mt. St Mary's University in Emmitsburg, MD. Here he received his BA degree in 1906 and his MA degree in 1908. From there he headed to Dunwoodie (just north of NYC, bordering Yonkers) and entered St. Joseph's Seminary (often referred to simply as Dunwoodie).

Double pneumonia complicated by weak lungs from his premature birth, forced Edward to leave Dunwoodie in his first year. He moved to Omaha, Nebraska, to be with his brother, Father Patrick Flanagan and his sister, Nellie. They helped him back to full health and then it was off to Italy for more study. His next stop would be Innsbruck, Austria where he was ordained a priest in 1912. After his ordination  he was assigned back to Omaha.

Ironically, Father Flanagan wound up at St. Philomena's Parish. St. Philomena, the patroness of babies and youth, may have been sending a subtle message from above as to where the young priest's life would be heading. It was a only a few years later that Father Flanagan opened up a home for homeless boys in Omaha.

Bishop Jeremiah Harty; Bishop of Omaha, after being pestered by the spunky and tenacious priest, finally relented and gave permission to Father Flanagan to open a home for boys. On December 12, 1917 (The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe) he moved five boys into his first boy's home. It was called "The City of Little Men". By June of 1918, there were 32 boys and by Christmas there were over 100 boys. By the spring of 1919 the capacity of 150 was reached and bigger facilities were in order.

On May 18, 1921, Father Flanagan secured the deed to Overlook Farm located about ten miles outside Omaha. He managed to get five buildings erected for "his" boys, and on October 22, 1921, they moved in. The Mother Superior of the Notre Dame Sisters with a well trained group of teachers set up a curriculum so all the boys could begin school at their own level. The name, Overlook Farm, was changed. The new name was The Incorporated Village of Boys Town.

As the years rolled by Boys Town grew and, under the watchful, caring and loving eyes of Father Flanagan became the new model for orphanages. Father had deep devotion to Our Lady and prayed the rosary every day. He encouraged every boy to pray but said, "Every boy should pray; how he prays is up to him."

Father Flanagan did not subscribe to the traditional reform schools with their harsh rules and severe discipline. Under his guidance and leadership the Boys Town community grew and prospered. It had its own boy-mayor, a chapel, school, a gymnasium and other amenities for boys aged 10 thru 16. Here, youngsters could learn a trade and receive an education. Father Flanagan's best known quote might be this one: "There is no such thing as a bad boy".

In 1938, MGM introduced the movie, Boys Town , starring Spencer Tracy and Mickey Rooney. It was a smash hit. Tracy won an Oscar for Best Actor and the world learned of the Irish priest and all about "his" boys. Father Flanagan gained worldwide recognition and was named a Domestic Prelate by Pope Pius XI and assigned the title,  Right Reverend Monsignor. After World War II, President Truman sent him as an emissary to Europe and Japan to advise officials about methods of dealing with all the war's orphaned and homeless children.

Today, Boys Town stretches across America as one of the largest non-profit child care agencies in the USA. Over 2 million people have had their lives impacted through Boys Town. The Boys Town Research Hospital has received more than 8 million calls since it opened in 1977.

On St. Patrick's Day, 2012, Right Reverend Monsignor Edward Joseph Flanagan was given the title, "Servant of God" and his cause for canonization was forwarded to Rome. Upon  Vatican approval  he will be declared "Venerable" Edward Flanagan.

Servant of God, Edward Flanagan, please pray for us.

*Edited version published in Aleteia on February 17, 2017

                           ©Copyright 2017 Larry Peterson All rights Reserved

     

Deacon Roger & Helena Cartier–A Catholic Love Story for Us All to Honor

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

St. John Paul II said, “Marriage is an act of will that signifies and involves a mutual gift, which unites the spouses and binds them to their eventual souls, with whom they make up a sole family - a domestic church.”
The sainted Holy Father was referring to people like Roger and Helena Cartier when he made that statement. That is because this couple did, in fact, create a domestic church when they took their marriage vows so long ago. These two people, this man and woman, are a Catholic love-story not only for today but for all time. That is because they made the ultimate commitment to each other, emptied themselves for each other and never looked back.
 Secularism has convinced many the world over that marriage is what "you" want it to be, with whomever you want to be with. It also proclaims those of the Judeo-Christian faith have NO love in their cold hardened hearts. This secularistic atmosphere has cut deeply into the very fabric of our society and wounded it severely. That fabric is the family. And the family is the very nucleus of a nation.
Spread across the landscape of our society are many well-springs of marriage and family. These homes have one predominant thing in common. God is the essence and focal point of their lives. Roger and Helena are the patriarch and matriarch of one of those families.
 Roger is a retired letter-carrier. He is also an ordained Deacon in the Catholic Church. This past February 12, Roger and Helena celebrated their 68th wedding anniversary. Roger will be 91 years old in June and Helena trails him by a few years.
The Deacon is a World War II veteran. He got into the post office after he and Helena were married. A few years after that he became quite active in the Knights of Columbus. He rose to the position of District Deputy  giving him oversight of many K of C councils in the Connecticut area. Then his good friend, Father Kuzdal, suggested to Roger that he should apply to the Permanent Diaconate. Roger was horrified. He believed he was highly "unqualified" to do this.
What Roger and Helena did not realize at the time was that God had chosen both of them. Just as Mary Magdalene was there to help the apostles, Helena would be there to help her husband in a ministry that required ordination into the Sacrament of Holy Orders. They had embraced themselves with each other's love and wrapped their Catholicity around it creating the "domestic church" that St. John Paul II spoke of. God wanted the two of them because without each other, this would never have worked.
Deacon Roger told me how close he was to leaving the diaconate program. All the other candidates were college graduates, seemingly well versed in scripture and well spoken. He was sure he had no business being in such "lofty" company. He went to Father Kuzdal and voiced his concerns. Father looked at him and said, "Roger, you have a quality these other fellas do not have. You are a natural listener. You have a gift. You do belong here."
The final confirmation came from his partner in love and life, Helena. She agreed with Father Kuzdal and in 1986, L. Roger Cartier became Deacon L. Roger Cartier. He was ordained in the Diocese of Norwich, CT and remained there for a year. Then it was on to Pinellas County, Fl where he served until his recent retirement from ministry.
Deacon Roger assisted quietly and efficiently over the years always being there when needed. He was the spiritual director of The Legion of Mary, the spiritual director of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, he was always Santa Claus at the Christmas parties, he visited the school frequently, talking to the kids about "being Catholic".
He was always available for Stations of the Cross, or Benediction and novenas. Roger visited the funeral homes when folks passed, did internments at the cemetery and always spent time with the families. He was a constant fixture at the local hospital and nursing homes. He also presided over weddings, (mine included), and performed Baptisms.
The one thing that was most noticeable (at least to me) was the "one on one" conversations he always seemed to be having with someone. This is where Father Kuzdal, so many years earlier, had profiled Roger Cartier perfectly. The man was a "listener". People sought him out specifically for that reason. And they still do.
Deacon Roger and his Helena have three daughters, nine grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren. They are truly a "domestic church" within our midst. As for me, it is my honor and privilege to know them. As for all those who do not, comfort in the fact that people like Roger and Helena are always among us. Goodness does exist and it holds in its arms many a "domestic church".
“The union of man and woman in marriage [is] a unique, natural, fundamental and beautiful good for persons, communities, and whole societies.”
Pope Francis: Rome, Italy, November 17th, 2014
                          ©Copyright Larry Peterson 2017 All Rights Reserved
     

If You are Anti-Semitic, You are Anti-Catholic/Christian

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME 

By Larry Peterson

I have come to realize that I have changed. I am no longer the same cradle Catholic that espoused the brotherhood of Judaism. I am not the same because the words I was using then were never really heartfelt. I did believe them but I did not understand. Nor did I truly 'feel" them. How could I?  That all changed five years ago when I discovered my Jewish heritage.
I am a Catholic man. I love my faith and use it frequently as my steadfast companion, always ready to lean on it. Today I find myself actually sickened by the wave of anti-Semitism sweeping our nation and other parts of the world. My own people are being defiled by those consumed by a hatred towards people they do not know. 
Our maternal Grandmother was an immigrant from Austria who arrived here as a teenager in 1908. We kids grew up with Grandma living with us and we took her for granted. We gave it no thought as to "where did she come from?" She was just always there.
Those questions would have come after we grew up a bit. But she died first and the questions were never asked. Mom and dad had passed on too so we could not ask them either (you can see that story here  http://amzn.to/1T2soNh ). 
The thing is this. There was never any "grandpa". There was never a mention of him at all.  As we grew older and wiser and became very smart teenagers, we began to question the story behind the missing grandpa. Years went by with no information and the search became virtually non-existent.
But you never know how things will go. Lo and behold, about five years ago I received a message on Facebook (kudos to Facebook) from none other than my long lost cousin, Vicki. She had been on a “quest” and located me. Like dominoes perfectly colliding, my sister and brothers and cousins all reconnected. Now, to the point of this essay.
Vicki had been wondering about our missing Grandpa too. She also had a tenaciousness that none of her siblings or cousins possessed. She had plunged into the murky waters of genealogy and found our long, lost grandfather. His name was Isidore Schul and he was a Hebrew man from Krakow. Our maternal grandfather was Jewish. The immigration and naturalization papers all confirm this. He made it to America in 1907.
Star of David  US Holocaust Museum

 I have written a number of times how the very first Catholic/Christians were Jewish. Jesus was a Jewish man.  His mom, our sweet Blessed Mother, was Jewish. His step-dad, St. Joseph was Jewish, his apostles were Jewish and many of His followers were Jewish. Many of the first Jewish/Christians were killed for following and proclaiming Jesus Christ. They were martyrs for their new faith.

Understanding my heritage caused my transformation. I now embrace in my own heart the concept of my Jewish connection. The fact is, my maternal grandfather was a Hebrew man from Krakow. He was the only one on his side of OUR family who made it to America.  What we have discovered is that the rest of OUR relatives from his side died in the Holocaust. We have no way of knowing about the fate of our great grandparents, Simon and Regina Schul. Either they died before the death camps began or in one of them.  
 During the Holocaust supposedly civilized people, both men and women, willingly went about participating in the systematic annihilation of close to 12 million people, including six million Jews. Their leaders wanted to eliminate Judaism from the face of the earth. And the '"good" non-Jewish, Aryan citizens did as they were told. They followed "orders". They almost succeeded in their quest.
I do not understand this hate. I know the anti-Semitism will continue unabated. I know the elimination of Christianity through torture and mass murder in the Middle-East will continue because of hatred. Thomas Merton once said, “If you want to study the social and political history of modern nations, study hell.” 
I believe that is true. Satan rules hell. Satan put himself there and his followers plunged right in with him.  When I bring Holy Communion to someone the first prayer I say is, "We come to know and believe that God is Love. And he who abides in love abides in God and God in him."
We must never forget that Satan is hate. Anyone who chooses to embrace "hate" embraces Satan and Satan him. This war between Good and Evil will continue until the God of Love decides to end it. In the meantime we must fight for the God of Love, no matter what the cost. 
SHALOM
                           ©Copyright Larry Peterson 2017 All Rights Reserved
     

Alzheimer’s Keeps Reminding Me Why I Love being Catholic

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

I have written about my wife, Marty’s, Alzheimer’s Disease several times. This is another. It was unplanned and spontaneous, triggered by the unique world she and I have come to share together.

pineterest.com


I was trying to write something but I was stuck in “neutral”. No pencil scratching, no pen sliding, no keyboard clicking. Then Marty came in and stood there just looking at me and not saying anything.  I smiled at her and said, “What’s going on?”

She shakes her head and says, “I really do not feel like going to work tomorrow.” (She has not worked in almost ten years)

I nonchalantly reply, “Okay, then don’t.”

“Larry, please don’t start with me. You know I have bills to pay.”

“Well then, I’ll call in for you. I’ll tell them you are not feeling good.”

She quickly throws a curve at me. I back away, surprised at the sudden diversion. Raising her voice she says, “We had better get a few things straight. I have standards and I am not going to be living in sin. I cannot be living here if we are not married.”

I did not know what that had to do with her ‘job” but I mentally bobbed and weaved and circled around. Quickly I said, “We are married.”

She was stunned. She stared at me and I stared back. A moment passed and she said, “We are?”
“Yes Marty, we have been married for ten years.”

“I suppose you know this for a fact? How can you be sure?”

“We have the papers to prove it.”

 I quickly said an emergency “Hail Mary” asking for help. God knew I was in over my head and immediately sent one of His special people. Maybe it was St. Therese or St. Joseph or maybe St. Martha. I really did not care who it was but just like that I had a “thought”. (These folks do not fool around when sent on a mission).

I had her sit down on the sofa and wait for me. I headed back to my “office” (some may call it a man-cave) and began rifling through the file cabinet in the corner. The top drawer is stuffed with all sorts of “important” papers and I knew that somewhere amongst the mass of unorganized stuff was our marriage license. I started scratching away, peeling papers apart.

I did not keep track of the time but when I looked at the mess of papers I had strewn about it must have been fifteen minutes. Then I hit pay-dirt. I found our marriage license. I was sure this would prove to her once and for all that we were, in fact, married.

I hurried back to the sofa and to the woman who immediately asked if I had just gotten home. “Yes,” I shouted. “And look what I have.”

The Pinellas County Marriage License was too confusing for her to understand. The print was small and even though our names were legible and the paper was emblazoned with the words, “Marriage Record”, it did not convince her. I realized she needed “Catholic” proof. That was why she had used the words “living in sin”. Now we come to why I wrote this in the first place.

I slowly headed back to the file cabinet to put the marriage license away. But I had not noticed when pulling the marriage license out that behind it was the 8 X 11 marriage certificate that the church had given us. It was behind the license the whole time. I could not believe it.

It was not a legal document but it was a BEAUTIFUL CATHOLIC document. It had our names on it. On the left side was a Cross with connected wedding bands connected to it. The church’s name was there and it was signed by the deacon and the pastor. It was also perfect for framing.

I had an 11 x 14 frame that was unused. Ten minutes later I brought it out to her. I had her sit next to me on the sofa. “Are you ready?” I asked.

“For what?”

I held this framed certificate up in front of her. She stared and stared at it and then she looked at me and began to cry. She put her head on my shoulder and cried some more. We have used the Hail Mary and the Rosary to help us over some rough Alzheimer moments. This time the purely Catholic marriage document was the answer to the prayer. It now hangs in the Florida room and she can see it every day anytime she needs to. Damn—I love being Catholic.
                                        ©Copyright Larry Peterson 2017
     

He was a Catholic Priest–He was Martyred Because of it–He was only 22 years old–*

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

The damnable and malevolent Cristero War was officially considered ended in 1929. But that did not signal the end of the torture, murder and martyrdom of Catholic religious and lay-persons in Mexico.  The following happened in July of 1931 but first a bit of background.

Dario Acosta Zurita was born on December 13, 1908 in the town of Naolinco in the Mexican state of Vera Cruz. He was one of four boys and had one sister. His dad was a butcher and the family, like most other families in the area, struggled to make ends meet. Dario, like his siblings, was baptized in the local church of St. Matthew and it was his mom who was his catechist as he grew up.

Dario was well behaved, did what he was supposed to and was a relatively quiet boy. When his dad died the family fell into extreme poverty. Dario was forced to find work to help support the family. In his young heart he he had been hearing  the calling to the priesthood but he thought he would never be able to answer it. However, God must have had Dario on His radar screen.

Blessed Dario Acosta Zurita

 Not long after his father's passing Bishop Rafael Guizar y Valencia, ( an entire story unto himself--coming soon) visited Vera Cruz. He was looking for potential seminarians and Dario expressed his desire to become a priest. The bishop (who at one time had to disguise himself as a junkman because there was an order in place for him to be shot on site) told Dario that his responsibility to his mom and siblings superseded his personal wants. In addition, Dario was too young. The bishop told him to pray to Our Lady of Guadalupe for help and guidance.

Dario's mom knew of this and traveled to Xalapa to see the bishop. She pleaded with Bishop Guizar y Valencia to reconsider. Our Lady must have been in the room that day because the bishop relented and gave permission for Dario to enter the seminary. The young man won his superiors and class mates over with his kindness, charitable persona and his devotion to his faith. In addition, Dario was an excellent athlete and became captain of the seminary football team.

Dario Acosta Zurita became Father Angel Dario Acosta Zurita on April 25, 1931. The new priest was only 22 years old. He celebrated his first Mass in Vera Cruz on May 24 and began serving as a parochial vicar at the Parish of the Assumption in Vera Cruz. Father Dario was very dedicated to teaching the children catechism (adults too) and he loved being able to hear confessions.

At the same time, the Governor of Vera Cruz, Adalberto Tejeda, decided that he was "sick of the religious fanaticism of the people". He issued a decree called the "Tejeda  Law" which basically banned all priests from administering to their parishioners. Mass was banned, catechism classes were  halted and confessions were forbidden.  All priests in the diocese were notified by numbered letter advising them they MUST obey the "Tejeda Law".

However, the priests in the area had gotten together on July 21st and agreed that their responsibility was not to the government but to their priesthood and their faith. The decided that they would not obey the satanic inspired "Tejeda Law".

The law took effect on Saturday, July 25, 1931. It was sometime after 5 p.m. that afternoon the children began arriving for catechism classes at Assumption Parish while people began getting in line for confession. Three priests were in the church. Father Landa, Father Rosas and Father Dario who was in the baptistry. Suddenly, a little after 6 p.m., the three church doors to the church burst open and soldiers charged into the church.

These  men opened fire on the priests. Father Landa was gravely wounded. Father Rosas survived by hiding behind the pulpit. Father Dario, upon hearing the gunfire, rushed from the baptistry. His body was riddled  with bullets. He fell into the sanctuary as all the children and adults watched in horror. Father's last word before he died was , "JESUS!"

Father Dario Acosta Zurita was only 22 years old when he was martyred. He had been a priest for exactly three months.

Father Zurita was beatified and declared "Blessed" on November 20, 2005. The ceremony took place in front of thousands of the faithful at Jalisco Stadium in Guadalajara, Mexico.  Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins presided under the authority of Pope Benedict XVI.

Blessed Angel Dario Acosta Zurita--Please pray for us all

See edited version in Aleteia Jan 25, 2017

                                   ©Copyright Larry Peterson 2017 All Rights Reserved

     

A Few “Turtle” Thoughts during the March for Life, 2017

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson              

In Florida, sand as white as snow curls up the Gulf Coast from Naples north to the panhandle area with some of the most beautiful beaches on the planet. People come from all over the world to visit these beaches and bask in the brilliant Florida sun and fish and swim in the calm and clear Gulf waters. But there is one thing these folks and all folks had better not do while visiting these beaches. If they do not want to wind up in jail they had better not mess around with the sea turtles. They are on the Endangered Species List and they nest on the beaches.
We have in place in this country a law called the Endangered Species Act. Under this act wildlife considered "endangered" are protected by law from being killed, maimed or harmed in anyway. There are many good points to this law as some of our most revered wildlife, like the Bald Eagle, have been saved from possible extinction. But, what about the "Baby People"? Don't they count?

Loggerhead Turtle  Wikipedia common
The Loggerhead Sea Turtle is one of these protected turtles. It can be found (like baby people) all over the world. However, its primary habitat is the Florida coast north to Virginia. It is estimated that these turtles build 67,000 nests a year along the beaches. The female lays her eggs in the sand and buries them. After two months they hatch, crawl to the sea and begin their lives. Of all the hatch-lings maybe 8000 baby turtles survive.  They will live close to 60 years.
It is illegal to harm, harass, or kill any sea turtles, their eggs, or hatchlings. It is also illegal to import, sell, or transport turtles or their products. It is perfectly legal to kill baby people who have not been born. In the United States, since Roe vs Wade was passed in 1973, over 58,000,000 abortions have been performed. Fifty-eight million baby people have been vanquished from existence, many of them burned alive via the Saline Abortion method. That extrapolates out to 1,348,837 baby people a year killed in America.
In 2014 there were 3.93 million births in the United States. That means that approximately one out of every four pregnancies in our country results in a life extinguished. Sea turtles are given every chance to survive with the government going so far as to put people in prison who might interfere with their survival. On the other hand, baby people are welcomed into legalized and sweetly painted extermination camps and, unmercifully and without fanfare or emotion, eradicated.
Whatever are we doing? We civilized people have allowed a portion of our past to be destroyed. We are allowing our present to be vilified by what can only be called a great lie fabricated as the virtue of "helping" women. We have short circuited the future of our children and grandchildren by taking away from them the possibility of another Rembrandt, or a Mozart or a Jonas Salk, or a Martin Luther King Jr., or even an Abraham Lincoln living among them.
There is a world wide abortion counter that ticks off the abortions around the world as they happen. Look for yourself. More than one life a second is being aborted. Genocide of the innocent, living in and out of the womb, is rampant on planet Earth. Whatever have we wrought?
As the great St. John Paul II said, “A nation that kills its own children is a nation without hope.”                                                              
                                            ©Copyright Larry Peterson 2017 All Rights Reserved
     

“Ad Orientem”—the Symbolism is Truly Beautiful

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

Long ago, in a Church somewhat different, I was an altar boy (it was pre Vatican II and we never used the term altar server). It was a time when the Mass was said in Latin and the priest always faced “ad orientem”. (This actually means “toward the east” but, since so many churches do not have their altars facing east, it also refers to the priest offering the Holy Sacrifice with his back to the people.

Ad Orientem (Solemn High Latin Mass)  http://southernorderspage
The reason for this symbolism is profound and beautiful.  The sun rises in the east and we are coming out of the darkness to see the sun. The priest, who will stand in the shoes of Christ during the Consecration, is facing the newly risen sun, ergo, God. At that moment, the priest, upon elevating the consecrated host toward the EAST, is actually Jesus saying to God, “This is MY body which will be given for you. Then the consecrated wine is also elevated to the Father.”

When offering Mass “ad orientem” the priest has no distractions that are facing him. The congregation behind him is, in effect, present at the Last Supper. The altar boy would ring the bells to bring attention to this miraculous moment taking place before our very eyes. The people have just witnessed the most profound mystery of our faith and it all took place in only a few minutes.

And there we kneel, the faithful, some watching and adoring the Body and Blood of Christ while many others are looking around, fidgeting, checking their watches, yawning, skimming through the church bulletin they should have read when they got home, not having a clue as to what is going on at the Mass they are attending. But that’s okay because at least they made it to Mass and are not home “sleeping in”. What has just happened is beyond description and the very answer to life itself. Yet it all presents to many as a grand paradox.

A friend of mine, his name is Jeff, was injured in an accident years ago. He has a pronounced limp and uses a cane. Every week he comes to Sunday Mass and sits in the exact same seat. Every Sunday, without fail, he gets up at the beginning of the Consecration and slowly limps off to the bathroom. He always comes back after the wine is consecrated. He receives Holy Communion and, at a slightly accelerated pace, leaves Church before communion is even finished being distributed.  There are several others who, without fail, come every Sunday and miss the Consecration. They must not have a clue as to what is going on yet there they are, week after week.

Of course we all just had are influx of the C & E Catholics for Christmas. Although not “packed”, my church was definitely crowded. Interestingly, most every person at Mass received Holy Communion. Am I getting paradoxical yet? Is this why we have the phrase, “cafeteria Catholics” in our 21st century Catholic jargon?

Back in 1966, when Pope Benedict XVI was still Joseph Ratzinger, he said, “Is it actually that important to see the priest in the face or is it not truly healing to think that he is also another Christian like all the others and that he is turning with them towards God and to say with everyone ‘Our Father’?”

Pope Benedict XVI showed his love of ‘ad orientem’ 50 years ago. On October 12, 2016, (while meeting with Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, he reiterated his preferences in a reflection letterpublished in L'osservatore Romano: In the liturgy’s orientation to the East, we see that Christians, together with the Lord, want to progress toward the salvation of creation in its entirety. Christ, the crucified and risen Lord, is at the same time also the “sun” that illumines the world. Faith is also always directed toward the totality of creation. Therefore, Patriarch Bartholomew fulfills an essential aspect of his priestly mission precisely with his commitment to creation.”

                                      ©Copyright 2017 Larry Peterson

     

Five Things to Think of from St Joseph’s Perspective

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

Within the Christmas narrative I am always drawn to how Good St. Joseph must have felt with the responsibility of  caring for and protecting his immediate family, the Blessed Virgin and The Son of God.  As a man, I try to imagine having to confront what Joseph confronted as a  husband and new father. It makes me a bit sick to my stomach imagining myself in his sandals. 
Here are five moments I like to consider: 

St. Joseph, thank you and please pray for all of us.