Sara Salkahazi…Another Holocaust Victim Who Will Always Be a Shining Star*

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

Embedded among the thousands of shining stars who have been elevated to the rank of Canonized Saint in the Catholic Church are those I call, "hidden gems". These are the  chosen folks more or less unknown to most Catholics. For me, when I decide to start looking for them, it is sort of like stopping at a yard sale. You never know what you may find. Well, I just stopped at a "cyber yard-sale". I do not remember the address and it cost me nothing but some time to look around. Lo and behold, I found another "hidden gem". Her name is Blessed Sara Salkahazi.

Image result for sara salkahazi
Blessed Sara Salkahazi   courtesy Aleteia .org

Sara was born in Hungary in 1899 and, from a young age, was a fiercely independent and strong willed girl.. Her brother described her as a "tomboy" who wanted to do things her way. The first thing she did as a young woman was to become a teacher.  She also began to write articles about the poor.

However, she did not like it that women were treated differently than men in society. She wanted to know why so she left teaching and took a job as a bookbinder's apprentice being relegated to doing the dirtiest and hardest work. She thought that if she did a man's job she might understand them better. She also continued writing about the disenfranchised.

Sara then went to work in a millinery shop selling and making women's hats. From there her life slowly morphed into one of a journalist and soon she was an editor for the newspaper put out by the Christian Socialist Party which focused mostly on women's issues. At this point in Sara's life she was not religious at all. In fact, she was mostly agnostic bordering on atheism.

But then Sara came into contact with  the Sisters of Social Service. She felt a strong calling to be part of their group and asked how she could join. The Sisters of Social Service was a fairly new order dedicated to charitable, social and women's issues. Sara, a fast talking, chain-smoking bastion of unbridled energy, was rejected as a possible candidate. She would not be deterred.

Sara kept trying to join the Sisters. She even quit her smoking habit which was more of a challenge for her than she ever imagined. Her perseverance paid off and in 1929, at the age of 30, Sara was admitted to the Sisters of Social Service. Her motto was from the Prophet Isaiah: "Here I am! Send me!" (Is 6:8b). Sara Salkahazi's agnosticism had completely disappeared in her own rear-view mirror.

 Sister Sara, a bundle of energy,  began organizing work for Catholic Charities, editing and publishing a women's journal, managing a religious bookstore, teaching and supervising a shelter for the poor. Sara was then asked by the Bishops of Slovakia to organize the National Girls' Movement. Her life was now busier than she could have ever imagined. More responsibilities were on their way. Some of the sisters in the order thought she was "showing off".

In one year Sara received 15 different assignments, from teaching at the Social Training Centre to cooking for the needy. She became exhausted, not only physically but spiritually. Sara's greatest challenge was dealing with the fact that the order deemed her "unworthy" to renew her temporary vows. Sara was heartbroken. She prayed and prayed and decided to "stay the course" for the ONE who had called her. About a year later, her prayers were answered and  she renewed her vows.

Nazi ideology was sweeping Hungary and the Hungarian Nazi Party was gaining strength. They began to persecute the Jews. The Sisters of Social Service began to provide safe havens for Jewish people. Sister Sara opened the Working Girls' Home to help those being displaced. In March of 1944, German troops began their occupation of Hungary.

Sister Sara, realizing the extreme danger now confronting all Hungarians, offered herself as a victim-soul for her fellow Sisters of Social Service. Permission was needed to do this and she asked her superiors for it. It was granted and, at the time, they alone knew about her self-offering.

In 1943 Sister Sara began smuggling Jewish refugees out Slovakia. During the final months of World War II, she helped shelter hundreds of Jewish people in buildings belonging to  the Sisters of Social Service. As director of the Hungarian Catholic Working Women's Movement, she smuggled over one hundred to safety all by herself. Unfortunately, time was not on her side.

On the morning of December 27, 1944, Sister Sara and another sister were returning from a visit to another Girls' Home. Little did they know that a woman who worked in the house had betrayed them. They could see the Nazis standing in front of their house. They could have snuck away but Sister Sara, as the director, would not do so. They went into the house and were immediately arrested.

That night, Sister Sara and her friend, four Jewish women and one Christian worker,  were loaded onto vehicles and driven to the edge of the Danube. They were stripped and shot to death, their naked bodies being tossed into the freezing river. Miraculously, Sister sara's sacrifice must have been accepted by the Lord. None of the other Sisters of her community were ever harmed.

Sister Sara Salkahazi was declared "Righteous Among Nations" by Yad Vashem in 1969. On September 17, 2006,  Peter Cardinal Erdo, the Archbishop of Budapest, read a proclamation from Pope Benedict XVI  beatifying Sister Sara as "Blessed", the last step before Sainthood. The proclamation said, "She was willing to assume risks for the persecuted...in days of great fear. Her matryrdom is still topical... and presents the foundations for our humanity."

Blessed Sara Salkahazi, please pray for us.

*An edited version of this article appeared in Aleteia on Sept 12, 2016

                                                   ©Larry Peterson 2106 All Rights Reserved

     

“Abortion in Good Faith” and “Abortion Care”: These Phrases Are Nonsense

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

I usually walk 45 minutes to an hour before dawn. A black sky, splattered endlessly with twinkling stars (sometimes accented by a full moon) allows a person to witness the handiwork of God’s creation up close and personal. It is (for me anyway) a magnificent and humbling sight. Perfection just does not happen. You know God is. The proof is right above you.

I get home and it is 5:40 and still black outside. I clean up, pour some coffee and open the newspaper. This is “my” time. I am seizing the moment. Today, staring at me is a full page, color ad from an organization called “Catholic for Choice”. The site is called, “Abortion in Good Faith”. The site wants you to “take the pledge”.  I breathe in, sip the coffee, and read on. The banner proclaims;

Public Funding for abortion is a Catholic social justice value.

Equal access to comprehensive healthcare, including reproductive health services, is a moral imperative.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The funny thing was, I was not appalled or even angry. Instead, I found myself actually shocked and scared. I was shocked at the seemingly Catholic nature of this ad and because I knew it was not. I was scared because it was so well done. Never doubt for a moment that the devil is the master of deceit and deception. He had prompted some fine work with this ad. It appeared to be, more or less, “Catholic”.

Pope Francis has said, “The right to life is the first among human rights. To abort a child is to kill 
someone who cannot defend himself.”

This tiny baby has a Right to Life

St. John Paul II said, “The cemetery of the victims of human cruelty in our century is extended to include yet another vast cemetery, that of the unborn.”


The preceding two quotes are from two Popes, one a canonized saint. They both were chosen to occupy the Chair of Peter and were entrusted with the Keys to the Kingdom. Their words express the teaching of Holy Mother Church, the Bride of Christ. We cannot claim to be Catholics and reject or ignore the teaching of the Church. We cannot be “cafeteria catholics”, picking and choosing what suits us. It is not about us. It is about following Christ and His teachings.

The Right to Life is our most basic and fundamental right as children of God and human beings. The miracles of science have shown us that a child is functioning in the womb at six weeks of development (I hate the word gestation). Usually, at that point, most women are just acknowledging what could be happening inside their womb. That is when testing begins.

Now is when the smooth pitch for “Abortion in Good Faith” kicks in. Here is the pledge:

The harsh restrictions on public funding for abortion mean that lower-income women don’t have access to abortion when they need it. Women who are dependent on Medicaid, employees of the federal and state governments, military members, and millions of others who are dependent on public funding simply don’t get the same kind of care as women with money. That is not Catholic.
Our campaign tells the stories of Catholics across the country who want meaningful, accessible reproductive healthcare choices for everyone, no matter how much money they have, where they live or what they believe.
We believe that everyone deserves access to abortion.
Join us. Sign the Pledge

Pledge Now
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
A young man named, John, who describes himself as a student community organizer and a Catholic says, “Denying someone abortion care, or any healthcare, simply because they cannot afford the procedure is an assault on their God-given dignity.” He never mentions that Planned Parenthood receives more than a half-BILLION dollars a year in taxpayer money and is the biggest abortion provider in the country.

“Abortion in Good faith”, “Abortion care”, “and an assault on our God- given dignity” are terms and phrases that do not even make any sense. Whatever is “abortion care”?  Emergency health care to save a life of a woman after a botched abortion would be “abortion care”. The sentence suggesting that denying someone an abortion is an “assault on their God-given dignity” is so far-fetched it rejects simple common sense.

Catholics who follow the tenets of their faith and all those who respect life are under serious attack in today’s secular driven environment. For some inexplicable reason many in today’s world have gone “meistic” (my word).  Self-gratification dominates the landscape. Self-sacrifice and saying no to one’s impulses and desires is mocked. We have heard the anti-Gods sing the song of, “Don’t worry-be happy, God loves you, wants you to enjoy yourself and would never punish you.”

God certainly does love us all and He wants us to enjoy eternity with Him in His home. But to get to His home there are rules to follow and consequences for not doing so. The “Abortion in Good Faith” ad is dangerous because so many Catholics are faith-deprived. They are easy prey to this genteel persuasion. They have lost the fortifications of a faith filled existence.

In today’s politically correct environment talking about our faith and Jesus and His church is not an easy thing to do.  But those of us who do believe and follow the guidance of Christ’s church have to somehow reach outside the doors of the church and grab some of those just looking in.

If all else fails maybe we could just get them to look up at a black, starlit sky. The proof is in the perfection right above them. Going back to basics may be a start.

                                      Copyright ©Larry Peterson 2016 All Rights Reserved
     

There is a Crisis of “Fatherless” Children in America; We Should Turn to St. Joseph for Help

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME 

By Larry Peterson

September 8 was the birthday of our heavenly mom, Mary. On her birthday I also always think of Mother Mary’s husband, St. Joseph.  Without him there would be no birthdays to celebrate, either on September 8 or December 25. When God chose Joseph of Nazareth to be the foster-father of His only Son, He certainly knew what He was doing.

I call St. Joseph the “Shadow Saint”. That is because so little is known about him. He never spoke a word that was recorded. He never wrote anything that was saved on parchment.  It does not matter. This young man, a “righteous Jew” true to the law, was confronted with being engaged to a woman pregnant with someone else’s child. The reality was a terrible thing for him to bear.

But Joseph, who was only about 19, was a man of faith and God was with him. The penalty for his betrothed could have been death by stoning. Joseph would have none of that. His Mary would not be harmed. He loved her. So he took her in and married her. The child she carried would be his.

St. Joseph’s example of selflessness is something that needs to be talked about with admiration, respect and pride. It might be used as a guide for so many who have, in this secular driven world, fathered children and then abandoned them. 

There is a crisis of “fatherless” children in America. Next to the disrespect and disregard for unborn life, this could be the most dangerous threat to our society. “Fatherlessness” is an ongoing tragedy that can find its roots planted when Roe vs. Wade was passed in 1973. When the destruction of human life was “legalized” the downward spiral of respect for life followed.


There is a "father factor"  involved in virtually all aspects of American life today. Yes, many homes still have fathers but many children live in homes with absentee fathers and the societal effects are felt all across the spectrum of American life.

Statistics show that in fatherless homes poverty is 4X  higher than average, teen pregnancy increases by a multiple of seven (7), abuse and neglect are much more widespread and drug use is more 
You tube.com

prevalent. The list goes on and on.


St. Joseph could be used as a shining example for all men to emulate. He was poor, he was chaste and he respected women, especially his teenaged bride.  He was a man of faith and stayed true to the laws of God and man. Foremost in his life was his faith in God. This was his strength. This is what fortified him. This is what is missing in so many lives today.

Joseph of Nazareth is an example of how one should respect the law. We could explain to young people how he had to put his teenaged and pregnant wife on the back of a donkey and then walk over rocky, dusty roads for over 80 miles, a journey that probably took three days. And why did he do this? He did this because he was required to go to Bethlehem for the census. It was the law.

The story of young Joseph, taking his teenaged wife and baby boy, and escaping Bethlehem because King Herod wanted to kill his son, Jesus, would make any young person’s pulse amp up. The poor guy’s child was being hunted by Herod’s soldiers. His wife was recovering from child birth. He had to make it to Egypt. And he did…for his family. This is what a REAL man would do, or at least try to.

Joseph did whatever he had to do to take care of his wife and son. He worked hard to keep a roof over their heads, to feed them, clothe them, and protect them. He did not care about himself. His family came first, no matter what. He would have gladly died for them if necessary. He was a real MAN. His sacrifice and efforts for his wife and son allowed them to survive so that the salvific narrative would be fulfilled. We owe him so much.

His faith, courage, integrity and love of God resonate like the smashing of cymbals and the banging of drums for all of us to listen to. We need to follow his example. We need to celebrate his life. We need to honor his commitment to his responsibilities. We should cherish his devotion to family.

I realize the possibility of teaching about this quiet hero in public schools might be a ‘pipe dream’ but  I would hope Catholic schools would use him as an example for students to look up to and respect as a role model for what a husband and dad should try to be like.
St. Joseph, two thousand years after his death, is still the finest role model for, not only husbands and fathers, but for all men for all time.
                                     ©Larry Peterson 2016 All Rights Reserved
     

Confused About Gender Identity? Time to Listen to St. John Paul II.

IT  MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

 “When a man loves a woman, he has to become worthy of her. The higher her virtue, the more noble her character, the more devoted she is to truth, justice, goodness, the more a man has to aspire to be worthy of her. The history of civilization could actually be written in terms of the level of its women.”
Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen
Venerable Archbishop Fulton J Sheen

In 1988 Pope John Paul II (now St. John Paul II) wrote an apostolic letter titled, Mulieris Dignitatem(On the Dignity and Vocation of Women).  It identified the complimentary roles of men and women in line with the true philosophy of feminism. In doing so it demonstrated the ultimate concept of “giving of oneself”.  With the furor over “gender identity” raging it is time to revisit this document.


When I was growing up, it was the norm for a man to give a lady a seat on the bus or subway, to open doors for women, let them go first in line and so forth.  Women were considered special by men and that type of behavior was more or less accepted and even taken for granted.  Grant you, it was not a perfect world (there have always been the abusers and the misogynistic). However, for the most part, men afforded women a deferential courtesy simply because they were women.
   
Fast forward fifty years to the present-day.  Now a senior citizen, I found myself stepping ahead of two younger women as we all approached the entrance to a shoe store. My motive, as it was fifty years before, was to open the door for them.  I reached for the handle, looked at them and smiled. The first woman presented me with a scowl and said, “I can open the door myself.”
I realize that most ladies would have accepted my gesture and said, “Thank you” or smiled at me or simply accepted my showing them respect. Rather, this woman exuded a certain loathing toward me. She did not know me which meant I represented that part of humanity she despised.  It was a bit unnerving. Anyway, I let the door go and the woman who rejected my momentary “doorman” status, opened the door, held it open for her friend and they both entered. So be it.
A few seconds later a man and woman with a child approached the very same entrance. They were either a married or unmarried couple in their middle to late twenties. He was a few steps ahead of them.  He opened the door and walked in. He never looked back and let the door go. His companion grabbed the door as it began to close and led her child in.  I watched as she and her child caught up to him. 
It appeared so perfectly normal. They proceeded to walk together completely in sync about how they had interacted with each other entering the store.  The behavior was obviously taken for granted. I viewed it as rude.  I am obviously not a millennial. (Please—I know there are lots of polite millenials).
Those few moments in time were a reflection to me of how the crusade for complete equality has taken a seriously convoluted turn.  Here (in my opinion) are the irrefutable facts in the order as I see them:  1)Man and Woman are both human beings;  2)Man and Woman are unique unto their own sex;  3)Man and Woman complement each other;  4)Man and Woman can form a bond with each other which allows them to be able to unite together  as one couple;  this natural, complimentary bond completes the Human equation;  5) the answer to the human equation is New Life.

Therefore  it follows that;  Man and Woman NEED each other; Man and Woman need to respect each other for their uniqueness which allows them to ‘complete‘ each other ; and finally, Man and Woman will cease to exist without each other.  This concept is generally mocked in a secular driven world.

In an age of social rudeness, I wonder it if might not be good for everyone to read Mulieris Dignitatem, just for the reminder that once upon a time, quaint-seeming social customs and courtesies were reflections of objective truths our society is now struggling with. Women deserve the dignity and respect that comes with being what God has created them to be. And men need to stand up for them. Imagine the possibilities.  It might be a purifying spring breeze blowing through the thrown-open windows of a stifling room.

From St. John Paul II, Apostolic Letter, Mulieris Dignitatem (1988), no. 18

"Parenthood - even though it belongs to both  man and woman - is realised much more fully in the woman, especially in the prenatal period. It is the woman who 'pays' directly for this shared generation, which literally absorbs the energies of her body and soul. It is therefore necessary that the man be fully aware that in their shared programme of parenthood he owes a special debt to the woman." 
                                        ©Larry Peterson 2016 All Rights Reserved
     

Reconnecting with an “Old Friend”..St. Therese, the “Little Flower”

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

I have a small bedroom I converted into an office. Against the wall next to the closet is a narrow bookcase. It is about seven feet tall and one foot wide and has seven shelves. It is a great dust collector. Anyway, I had this sudden urge to “straighten up” the mess of papers and supplies I had so “neatly” placed on those shelves over the past few years.  I reached for the stack of old Writer’s Digest and Writer magazines on the third shelf. I placed one hand on top and tried to get my other underneath the stack. As if working together in synchronized dance, they all slid out and landed in a pile on the floor. I shook my head and chuckled. “Idiot,” .
We Catholics have included in our  extended Catholic family, the saints. Regarding the saints, there are many of these family members I have never even heard of. But, I do know that if I ever hear about one of them and seek them out, they somehow heed my call. For example, recently I “met” St. John of God for the first time and I had never heard of him. After reading about him, suffice it to say that this saint is no longer extended family for me. No sirree, he is now close family. I give him a ‘shout-out’ every day. (You can Google his name and a wealth of info comes up).
But what about an old family member who you were very close to and then, for some inexplicable reason, you more or less ignored them for many years? How do you finally get back together with them? I’ll tell you one way it can happen. They might hit you upside your head with a clear and unmistakable message. The cascading magazines were the start of a message. Guess who my message sender was?

It was St. Therese, the “Little Flower.” Many of you know what I am talking about. There is no subtlety when she is communicating with you. You can do like me though. You might begin to take her for granted and then begin to ignore her. SIGH–I did that, I admit it. Not anymore. She quickly got my attention.

St. Therese of Lisieux, "The Little Flower"
I should explain that my family and I have had some profound experiences courtesy of this great saint. In fact, I could write an entire short story right now about each of several miraculous things that have happened in our lives courtesy of St. Therese’s intercession. (I actually started to do that so I just deleted more than 400 words of “stuff” that was turning this into a novella.) “C’mon Larry, get to the point.” (That’s me talking to me.)
I bend down to begin picking up the magazines which are spread evenly across the floor. The mastheads are all showing as if they were put on display. In the middle of the pile I see a thin box. It does not belong. It is an interloper. I pick it up and see it is an old Xerox box, 8.5 X 11 by about one half-inch thick that held something called transparency paper. I did not even know what that was and then the end of this box popped open and a bunch of photos slid out. Guess whose 8 X 10 photo is on top looking right at me with this satisfied smile that made my knees get weak? Yup–you got it, St. Therese.
Two hours later that photo of my sweet, little friend (and your friend too), was in a very nice 12 X 15 bordered frame hanging on the wall a few feet away. Now I get to see her every day and she still is smiling gently. Since we have reconnected I have seen more ROSES than I can count. I found the booklet, “Mary Day by Day” in the garage (don’t ask me how it got there) which was Blessed Mother Teresa’s favorite book.

I did not end there. I received an e-mail from someone named Therese Martin (St. Therese’s real name) and, thanks to the encouragement of Elizabeth Schmeidler, my book is coming out in print in a few weeks. I also am reading Connie Rossini’s book, “Trusting God with St. Therese.” How timely is that? I might add that our stillborn daughter’s name is Theresa Mary and my granddaughter’s name is Theresa Marie.

I shall end this now by simply asking St. Therese to please pray for all of us and by promising her that she can stay smiling at me from up on that wall for the rest of my life.

                                      Copyright © Larry Peterson 2016