This Year Holy Week Sends a Perfect Storm: Embrace Its Power

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

If you are Catholic and have not been to Mass or confession in thirty years or more you might think that forgiveness is beyond your  grasp and that there is "no hope" for you. You might even think that if you walked into a church you would turn into a pillar of salt. Well, here is the deal. All of that negative, " I'm too bad to be forgiven" or "It's too late for me" stuff is bunk. It is what is known as a "cop-out". But there is great news for all of us, wicked sinners included.

You see, a Perfect Storm is approaching. This might even be a once in a lifetime occurrence. During the upcoming days, Holy Week, Easter Sunday and the Holy Year of Mercy will converge into a spiritual tsunami ready to wash us all with its unrivaled, avalanche of Love., Forgiveness and Mercy.

Even if you have been the most self-centered, egotistical, s.o.b. since Caligula busied himself ravaging Rome, it does not matter. We all have an opportunity to run into this storm, open our arms wide, and embrace the deluge of unconditional love and mercy that God will be pouring down upon us. There is a catch. We have to want it and ask for it. That's all there is to it. That seems simple enough but for so many it is so hard to do. That is because something called Pride stops us over and over.

Recently I wrote about Dutch Schultz. Dutch was one of the most feared and brutal murderers in the bootlegging business in the 1930s. He ruled the Bronx and, as he lay dying after being gunned down in Newark, N.J., asked for a priest. He had his confession heard, asked for and received Anointing of the Sick and received Holy Viaticum (last Communion). Was Dutch Schultz turned away and told he did not qualify for mercy? Answer, NO.

Let us look at another fellow who makes Dutch Schultz look like a "goody-two-shoes". His name was Rudolf Hoess *. This man was the Kommandant at Auschwitz, the deadliest and most efficient of the German death camps. Hoess designed the extermination processes that were implemented there and was responsible for the murders of over two and a half million people.  

Every day, Rudolf Hoess kissed his wife and kids good-bye and went to work. While at work he  supervised the killings and torturing of countless men, women and children. After work he went home, kissed his wife hello, ate dinner with his family, read a book to his children and then tucked them into bed. What a guy. What a dad. What a husband. He also can lay claim to the title, Greatest Mass Murderer in History. 

Here is something not too many people are aware of.  Hoess  had ordered the execution of a group of Jesuits, including their Superior, Father Wladyslaw Lohn. The priests  were all herded out together to be killed but, ironically,  Father Lohn  was not with the others. The priest was somehow "absent" for his execution and the executioners did not know it. Was it Providence?

Rudolf Hoess was raised in a strict Catholic household but rebelled against his faith as a teenager. Right before his execution  he asked for a priest. It was Father Lohn who was sent to him. It was Father Lohn who heard his confession, anointed him and gave him his final Holy Communion. Then Hoess was sent to the gallows.

Isn't it amazing but, no matter how evil any of us has been, as long as we have a breath left in us God will hear our cries for mercy. All we have to do is ask. Even a monster such as Rudolf Hoess was given a chance at forgiveness. He responded to grace, seized the moment and asked for God's mercy. Was he redeemed? What do you think? (See temporal punishment )

The point is this. Love, Forgiveness and Mercy are ours for the asking. And now, as Holy Week and Easter Sunday join The Holy Year of Mercy, a Perfect Storm is about to blow across our world, a storm that you will want to be sucked up in and transported to another spiritual dimension. No matter what you have done, it is never too late. God waits with open arms for all of his children. Some will seize the opportunity, swallow their pride and ASK for forgiveness and mercy.  Others will never do it. We all have a choice. We can embrace the storm or hide from it.

Rudolf Hoess* should not be confused with Rudolf Hess, who was Deputy Fuhrer under Hitler

                                      ©Larry Peterson 2016 All Rights Reserved

     

Meet a REAL Man; Joseph of Nazareth (Feast Day, March 19)

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

I call Joseph of Nazareth the "Shadow Saint" because so little is known about him. There is not even one spoken word he ever said that was recorded.  But his quiet life resonated like huge cymbals being smashed together over the ages and into our very 21st century existence. For it was Joseph of Nazareth who saved the Son of God so he could live to save all of us.
 God sent His Son to us because without His perfect sacrifice we would have been lost forever. All humankind contributed to the death of Jesus Christ. He suffered and died for us  because the love of God is so unfathomable it was the only way to give us all a second chance to grab onto the brass ring of Eternal Salvation. But without Joseph maybe the brass ring would not have been.
Joseph of Nazareth and his boy, Jesus Christ
The ONLY man who could ever call him "my boy"
Joseph, a carpenter from Nazareth, was obviously humble and egoless and gave of himself. He was a real MAN.  And it was this man, this quiet, shadow saint who single handedly saved the life of our Savior from being put to death while He was still an infant. Imagine if he had not been able to accomplish this.
As a man, I try to imagine having to confront what Joseph confronted as Mary’s husband. He accepted her pregnancy at a time when the scandal of such a thing oftentimes meant execution for the woman. He was forced to put her on the back of a donkey and take her 80 miles over rocky, dirt roads to Bethlehem for the census. She was almost full term and the trip would have probably taken three to five days. I would have been sick to my stomach praying we could make it. Then, upon arrival, his wife goes into labor. There were no ERs, no cell phones, no 911 calls, no paramedics…you are on your own, end of story.
He was in a strange town without friends and could find no shelter. He was probably trembling and telling his wife, “Stay calm sweetie, it will be all right. Don’t worry. Don’t worry.”  And he is forced to bring her to a dirty, smelly stable that is an animal shelter. Here she has to give birth to her child who is the Son of God. As a man, he must have felt so inadequate, so un-manly. His heart must have been breaking.
The miracle of the Virgin Birth takes place and mother and child are fine. But then Joseph discovers that King Herod wants to kill his baby boy. Okay guys, think about it. You have made it this far and now you learn the army has been ordered to find your child and kill him. They are out in force searching for YOU and YOUR family. They are killing all boys two years old and under so as not to miss killing your son. But it is you and your wife and child they want. Those other children are ‘collateral damage”, an afterthought to Herod’s vicious orders. The fear and anxiety within Joseph must have been overwhelming yet he did his best to remain upbeat.
Somehow, someway, with his resolve of faith and trust in God propelling him forward, he made it to Egypt and saved his family. I have no idea how he managed to do it. Egypt was three hundred miles away but he got them there safe and sound. He saved not only the Redeemer and probably the Blessed Mother from death, he made it possible for all of us to be saved too.

One final thought about this incredible person;  Joseph of Nazareth was the only man who ever lived who could point to the Son of God and say, "That's MY boy." Imagine that.

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

                                    
                          ©Larry Peterson 2016 All Rights Reserved




     

Zero Tolerance and God’s Mercy equals Oil and Water; They Do Not Mix

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

Last week I wrote a piece about Arthur Flegenheimer aka Dutch Schultz. The notorious bootlegger, gangster and murderer, along with his henchmen, prowled the streets of the Bronx during the 1930's spreading murder and mayhem wherever he took his negative pride and enormous ego. But the old cliche, "Live by the sword, die by the sword" rang true for the "Dutchman". On October 23, 1935, he was gunned down in a bar in Newark, N.J. The "hit" was ordered by Lucky Luciano and carried out by members of  Murder Inc. As things would have it,  Dutch did not die right away. Enter the sacrament of Penance and Forgiveness. Enter God's Mercy.

Pope Francis brought us into The Holy Year of Mercy on December 8, 2015. But I have come to believe, based on the rules of Zero Tolerance, true mercy can only come from God. Dutch Schultz was a bad guy who did very bad things. He murdered, he stole, he ruined people's lives. Yet, in the end, the man sought out God and His mercy. And he received it.

Dutch was a converted Catholic and, as he was dying, asked for a priest. He went to confession, received absolution and was administered the Last Rites of the Church. Dutch Schultz was granted mercy and forgiveness by God through the power given to the priest. What if Dutch had been applying for the job of a part-time school bus driver for a Catholic school? Zero Tolerance rules would NEVER have allowed it.

Therein lies the two edged sword for us Catholics. If God can give forgiveness and mercy to all who truly seek it, how can we, His good people, pick and choose from those doing so? Zero Tolerance, in my opinion, is the great enigma we all face as Catholics. We must always protect the vulnerable (young & old) against the predators out there. But what about the others? I think, especially during the Holy Year of Mercy, we must all pray for an answer to this dilemma.

My article on Zero Tolerance and The Holy Year of Mercy appeared in Aleteia last week. I ask you to refer to that link for more on this topic.

Slogan for The Holy Year of Mercy: "A Time to Heal, to Help, to Forgive"

©Larry Peterson 2016 All Rights Reserved