Meet “The Doorkeeper”, Solanus Casey, The Man with No Ego

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson
Solanuscasey.jpg
Venerable Solanus Casey, "The Doorkeeper"

The 2016 election (more than a year away) has already worn me down. The pundits include the greatest thinkers of our time. I know this because virtually all of the TV and radio commentators, campaign officials, editorial writers, government officials, TV talk show hosts, comedians and, of course the candidates are always saying , “I THINK…this" or I THINK …that.” Those folks sure do a lot of thinking. And I know it must be important thinking because the ones doing all the thinking are doing it on TV, radio, in print  or somewhere in cyber-land. It MUST be important, right? Wrong!
They are all experts in everything you can think of and, filled with their own sense of grandiosity, vilify, name call, and besmirch those with an opposing viewpoint or philosophy.They even attack their opponent's families. Then you hear the great Machiavellian disclaimer of, "Hey, that's politics". You know what, I have my own phrase for all of it, rude, obnoxious, self-gratified Egomania. I’m so over it.
I decided to begin a search for someone sans EGO. I was sure it would be almost next to impossible. But guess what, it was not.  We Catholics celebrate the great feast of All Saint’s Day on November 1. The saints are members of the Catholic Hall of Fame (I call it that). They are the best of the best, the crème de le crème, the most selfless of the unselfish. These are the people who loved God unconditionally and, in some cases, failed many times before they got it right. But they all invariably emptied themselves for others before they died, many times giving their lives in doing so.
Let me tell you about one of them who was a quiet, uncomplicated  man who never aspired to be anything more than a simple priest. His name was Bernard Francis Casey and his family and friends called him Barney. There are many guys and gals like Barney in our Catholic Hall of Fame and they, like Barney, were ‘ego-less’. This was not a birth defect. Their secret simply was knowing how to love God with all their mind, heart and soul. That led them to love others more than themselves. It was NEVER about them.
Barney was born in Oak Grove, Wisconsin back in 1870. He was the sixth of 16 kids of Irish immigrants. When Barney was a boy he contracted diptheria and it left him with a permanently raspy sounding voice. (Barney would never have qualified for American Idol). Barney felt the call to the priesthood but, at the age of 16, he hit a detour. He had to go to work to help the family and worked at jobs in Minnesota and Wisconsin as a lumberjack, a prison guard, a streetcar operator and a hospital orderly. 
Barney Casey always did whatever job he had to the best of his ability wanting to serve his God in all things. Five years later he was able to enter St. Francis High School seminary in Milwaukee. He spent five years there before being able to move on and join the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin. Upon his acceptance he took the name of Solanus after St. Francis Solanus, a 17th century missionary.
Solanus Casey was finally ordained a priest at the age of 33. He had to study extremely hard to reach that goal and when he was finally ordained he was given the title "Sacerdos Simplex" which means "simple priest". This meant he was not permitted to preach or to hear confessions. He never complained and took joy in just being a "simple priest".
Father Solanus Casey's lived in Detroit and his main job at the monastery was that of "doorkeeper". Father Casey, wanting to the absolute best at whatever God chose for him, became the finest doorkeeper that ever lived. He did this for well over 20 years and also became known for his service to the sick and the advice and consultations he would have with visitors. People began attributing cures and other blessings to his interaction with them or others.
Father Solanus Casey, 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, was declared "Venerable" by Pope John Paul II in 1995. This is the first step toward canonization as a saint. Father Solanus Casey died in 1957.
Father Casey is the first man born in the USA to be on the road to full sainthood. And all he did was humbly and happily open doors for people and talk to them if they wanted. A Catholic Hall of Famer for sure and quite the contrast to the gaggle of egotists that bombard us daily with their "I think" wisdom. Solanus (Barney) Casey has re-charged me. It might be nice if all of today’s bloviating pundits could hear or read his story.
                                      ©Larry Peterson 2015 All Rights Reserved
     

Halloween and the Legend of the Jack-O-Lantern (one version)*

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME
By Larry Peterson
Long ago in Ireland, in the land of shamrocks, leprechauns, soft winds and smiles, there lived a man named Jack. Jack was quite lazy and did not like to work. But he had the gift of "blarney" and could talk the peat off the moss. 

He would tell wondrous tales about his adventures as a world traveler and the people in his village would be held spellbound by his golden tongue. Alas, Jack outsmarted himself when he stole money from the townsfolk. He thought that they were not very smart and would never find out. But they did find out and began chasing him down the streets of the village.

 As Jack ran down the road as fast as he could he rounded a bend and ran smack into the devil. The devil smiled at Jack and told him it was time for him to die and that he was there to take his soul. Jack quickly convinced the devil that if he would let him go and promise to never take his soul he would give him all the souls of the folks who were chasing him. "And how do you plan to do that, Jack?" the devil asked.

"Well now, all ye have ta do is turn ye-self into a pot of gold coins. Then I will give the coins to the people and you will be in all of their pockets. They will be yours."

Since many souls were better than only one, the devil readily agreed and turned himself into a pot of gold coins. Jack gave the coins to all the people and they went away smiling never realizing that they had given themselves to the devil in return for money.


So Jack lived on, grew old and, like all mortal men, finally died. His life had been so sinful on earth that he could not get into heaven and since the devil could not take his soul, he could not get into hell. He had nowhere to go. He asked the devil how he was supposed to see because he was in complete darkness. The devil laughed and tossed Jack a burning ember from the fires of hell, an ember that would never burn out.

Jack, using the ember to guide his way, found a pumpkin patch (some say it was turnips) and carved out a pumpkin. He put the ember inside and began carrying it around so he could see where he was going. To this day he wanders the earth seeking a resting place. And that is why he is known as "Jack-O'-Lantern" or "Jack of the Lantern".

"HAPPY HALLOWEEN"               photo courtesy of allgreatimages.org                                  

*Posted by Larry Peterson on Halloweens past
                                  Copyright 2015 Larry Peterson All Rights Reserved                                                 

     

Remembering the “Prison Angel”, Mother Antonia Brenner: On the 2nd Anniversary of Her Passing

(Except for some minor minor edits and photo additions, this is the same blog post from last year written on the first anniversary of Mother Antonia's passing. It is still as timely today. She was and still is a shining example for all of us as to what it means to take up one's cross and follow Christ.) 

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

by Larry Peterson

This is a love story. No, it is not about romantic love. Rather, it is about the love of Christ exploding in the soul of a woman who ran with her God given gift and did her best to shower it upon some of the meanest and worst criminals in Mexico.

This is about Mother Antonia Brenner, who was born in Beverly Hills, CA, married and divorced twice, had seven children and ultimately became known as the "Prison Angel" of La Mesa Prison, the worst and most dangerous prison in all of Mexico.  Mother Antonia died two years ago on October 17. On the anniversary of her passing I just thought I would remember her with a few words.

Mother Antonia praying with the convicts
 Mary Clarke was born in Beverly Hills on December 1, 1926. Her dad, Joe Clarke, was a successful businessman and Mary and her two siblings grew up surrounded with affluence and the glitz of the movie world. One thing was certain about Papa Joe. No matter how good life was for his family he made sure his kids were always taught to help the less fortunate. The desire to help others would blossom in Mary and was one day, destined to explode. However, before the "explosion" Mary embarked on a circuitous life journey.

Mary married at 18 and had three children. The first died shortly after birth. That marriage ended in divorce and then Mary married again. The wedding took place in Las Vegas and it was to a man named Carl Brenner. She and Carl had five children together but ultimately, that marriage also ended in divorce. Mary had somehow distanced herself from her strict Catholic upbringing. No matter, it seems that the Holy Spirit had his eye on Mary Clarke her entire life. It was time for Him to shower His grace on His daughter.

Mary became more and more involved in charity work and has her seven children got older she began to visit La Mesa Penitentiary to deliver donations such as  food, medicine and clothing to the prisoners. The plight of the prisoners at La Mesa began to impact her greatly and as time went by her growing compassion and love of neighbor would become focused on these people. They would become her specialty, her ministry, her purpose in life.

In 1977, after her kids were grown and her second divorce was final, Mary gave away her expensive belongings, moved out of her home in Ventura and headed to La Mesa. She had received permission to move there. Her new home was to be a 10' by 10' cell. She would live as any other inmate, sleeping in her concrete cell and having only cold water and prison food. The amenities in her room included a Crucifix on the wall, a Bible and Spanish dictionary nearby and a hard, prison bed. In the morning she lined up with the other prisoners for roll call. This was to be her home for the next thirty years.

The story of how this twice divorced woman and mother of seven kids from two marriages was accepted by the Catholic Church as a Sister and founder of a new order can be found at the links provided. Suffice it to say that as time went by Sister Antonia became "La Mama" (Mother Antonia) aka The Prison Angel,  She moved freely among the drug traffickers, thieves, murderers, rapists and others touching cheeks and offering prayers. Many of these people were among the most violent and desperate of men. Yet she happily walked with them and comforted and consoled them and held their heads between her hands as they were dying.

Mother Antonia comforting an inmate

Mother Antonia Brenner truly saw the face of Christ in each and every prisoner she came in contact with. She loved them all. Why else would hardened criminals, some who had never loved or been loved, call the diminutive woman who hailed from Beverly Hills, "La Mama"? They loved her in return.

I believe that one day Mother Antonia Brenner will be canonized a saint. She was an example for each and every one of us showing us how to selflessly "love our neighbor" no matter who they might be. Her life also shows all of us that no matter who or what we are or where we have been or what we have done, God is always calling us. Like Mother Antonia, all we have to do is listen to His call.

Mother Antonia, please pray for us.     Please remember her followers, The Eudists Servants of the Eleventh Hour  and consider donating to their prison ministry.

                               ©Larry Peterson 2015 All Rights reserved

     

Euthanasia: The Catastrophe of Honoring “Non-Life”

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson                                                                                    

from nypost.com

Euthanasia is upon us. And, like an insidious, unstoppable virus it spreads and spreads. And it kills. And the true vaccine that can conquer this madness has been rejected by those who embrace this practice. Yes,  God is not in that syringe. How far we have come as a civilized people.

Life and its creative mystery and beauty was officially relegated to second place back in 1973 when the United States Supreme Court voted 7 to 2 that women had the right to abort their pre-born children. The Roe vs Wade ruling by the SCOTUS was the rock dropped in the pond of Sacred 

Life that created ripples so intense that they became waves of  death for millions of the pre-born.  The decision was all clinical and legal. The fact that the country which they were chosen to represent was founded on the Judeo-Christian principle and Natural Law never entered into their deliberations. The tsunami that followed their decision now has given birth to a false wave of 'pretend' compassion and dignity. Camouflaged inside that relentless and deadly wave was something called euthanasia 

Back in 1787, our Founding Fathers adopted a Constitution. It was going to be different. It was going to respect individual life. People would come first and the government would be subservient to them. (see Tenth Amendment) It took time and the nation suffered through a bloody and horrific Civil War and two World Wars. But we did do better. The Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 60s came and  transformation  began in race relations. That took time too, but it truly began to work. It was never perfect but it was always a work in progress showing improvement. 

The years passed by and we became smarter. More years passed by and, as we grew even  'smarter', we decided it was smarter to be more "more-free". Then there were those who decided they wanted to be "me-free". Meism grew and self-gratification became the rallying cry for the 'meists'. Religion became an albatross around the necks of many. Why? Because religion had rules and among those rules the word "NO" was used. Freedom was being transformed from self-sacrifice into self-gratification.  Eliminating respect for others began to wane and freedom was hijacked by the self-serving.

As time went by, those who dared say they objected to the world of the 'meist' were classified as haters. bigots, racists, and even homophobes. Today we have become so civilized and sophisticated that the courts in Oklahoma have ruled that the Ten Commandments must be removed because they violate the Constitution (doublespeak for "offending non-Christians"). The original rules used by the Founders in their American creation were tossed out by the same court system they had started. Ah yes, there is some serious "tolerance" going on in America.

Today the word "freedom" is missing its most vital ingredient. The freedom that made us truly free was filled with a common respect for others and especially for the lives of others. The primary ingredient within that respect is a love and honor for our Creator, who gave us all of this to begin with and without whom there would be nothing. Our Founding Fathers knew this. They were not adherents to any particular religion but they were Deists. They understood that we did, in fact, have a Creator. And to Him they showed all the respect they could muster.

Image result for brittany maynard
Brittany Maynard  1984-2014    cbsnews.com
So the great American experiment, where people would be free and government would be subservient to the people has become a "reverse" experiment where even the most vulnerable lives are subject to the mindset of others. Without the God factor, (and God had to be removed from the equation to accomplish these goals), individual freedom has become an illusion. Over 50,000,000 pre-born children have been killed in utero. Think of the doctors, and scientists and musicians and great writers and leaders and others who never saw the light of day. And now, with the need to be 'compassionate' we are embracing the 'dignity' of euthanasia. 
Belgium passed their euthanasia law back in 2002. Last year they passed a Childhood Euthanasia Law with NO AGE LIMITS. A predominantly Catholic country, Belgium's bishops railed against this law. Two-thirds of the population ignored them and approved. What does that tell you about "meism"? Of course, in the Netherlands, doctors euthanized 650 babies in 2013.  I mean babies and even toddlers who were alive. Why?  The parents could not "deal with their suffering". Whatever does that mean? There is so much quality palliative care available today. How can doctors go along with this? 
Brittany Maynard (pictured above) lived in California and had a brain tumor. California did not have a euthanasia law and could not get one passed. Brittany moved to Oregon where they have the Oregon Death with Dignity Law. With her family wishing her "adieu" she ended her own life. Compassion & Choice made a video showing her last days and promoted it all over California TV. California then passed a euthanasia law and Governor Jerry Brown, a Catholic and former seminarian, signed it into law last week. (go here for euthanasia laws nationwide)

Today, California, Oregon, Vermont, and Montana have euthanasia laws. Yes folks, you can go there and end it all. First it was Roe v Wade and now it is euthanasia. Belgium is killing children, living children, who are ill. All they need is their "permission" along with the parents. How hard is it to convince a child that dying is a "good thing" because you won't hurt anymore. 

This is what happens when you take God and His love and goodness out of life. You wind up with NOTHING. "Non-Life" becomes a dignified goal to seek. People like myself, who are against the assault on the sacredness of God given life, are now deemed "intolerant" and "hateful".  How sad this all is.

                               ©Larry Peterson 2015 All Rights Reserved

     

Euthanasia–Celebrating the Destruction of God’s Greatest Gift–Life

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

Milou de Moor, dead at 19

By Larry Peterson       
Euthanasia (aka assisted suicide), is a pathetic concept promoted under the guise of compassion, mercy and kindness. It is no such thing. Euthanasia is not compassionate. It is not merciful. And---it is not kind. It is an abomination because it celebrates  the destruction of the greatest gift each and everyone of us has been given by God, the gift of life. 
Enter the glorification of this process via legalization. The "muckety-mucks" and sophisticates who know what is best for everyone have succeeded in having this practice legalized in Belgium, the Netherlands, the states of Oregon, Washington and Vermont and one county in New Mexico. In the state of Montana they have what we would call "de facto' euthanasia. There is no law on the books. They "just do it"---no problem. The twisted logic in this narrative called euthanasia or assisted suicide is nothing more than egotism and meism stretched to its secular limits. The fact is this; every human life is sacred unto itself. It is a gift from our Creator and we are each responsible for how we treat this gift. It is NOT up to governments and people to decide who should live or die.

Look at the photo above. Her name was Milou de Moor. Milou was stricken with lupus when she was 12. The course of the illness caused her not only pain but also mood swings, blackouts and depression. By the time she was 16 she requested to be euthanized. Life had become too hard and painful to bear any longer. And her own mother and father and sister, encouraged her to do it.

It makes sense to me that if a teenager is afflicted with an auto-immune disease and is severely depressed and requests to end her life, all she might need is the encouragement of her parents and sibling(s) to push her to finalize that request. If her doctors are telling her how painless her non-life will be and how easy it is to arrive in non-life, how easy does it become to go there. People who encourage another who is weak and vulnerable to begin with, to take his or her own life and help them to do it,  have entered into a dark celebration of nothingness. They have joined forces with others who rejoice in choosing death over life. How utterly sad that is.

There is such a thing as palliative care which  includes end of life care rather than the option of ending life. There are medications, and counselors and treatments for all types of illnesses and disabilities, Drugs for depression and severe pain are available. But what is always most important is the great intangible that you cannot see or swallow or touch. This I can attest to from experience; that  the love and support of family and friends combined with an abiding faith in the Creator of life.is the true power that transcends any celebration of nothingness.

There is a strange irony in the tragic saga of Milou de Moor. Apparently her date to be euthanzied had been set. Then at the last minute her general practitioner decided that he could not go along with her dying. When Milou heard this she ran off to her family's apple orchard and hanged herself. The parents are outraged at the doctor and are suing him for NOT killing their daughter. Think of the long term ramifications of such a thing. Will doctors now be told that they MUST take lives to spare their own careers and futures?   California is next up to bat. Their euthanasia law has been passed and it awaits Governor Brown's signature. Whatever have we wrought?

                          ©2015 Larry Peterson All  Rights Reserved