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
     

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.

     

Our Greatest Christmas Gift: God’s Earthly Trinity; A Young Man, His Teenage Wife and a Newborn Baby—

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

If it were two thousand years ago and you lived in Nazareth you might notice a young man packing items on a donkey in preparation for a trip. Early the next morning you see this fellow, with his pregnant teenage wife sitting on the back of the burro, heading down the road. They are in compliance with the law of the day. They are on their way to Bethlehem, the town of their ancestor’s birth, for the census.
We know so little about the lives of Joseph and Mary, yet they are THE integral part of the Salvation story.  Mary's acceptance of a pregnancy that might have resulted in her being stoned to death as an adulteress was an act of monumental humility. Joseph, a good man and a faithful Jew true to the law, accepted a pregnant woman as his wife, another act of extreme humility. (Imagine how much he must have loved this young woman)
Holy Family  & First Christmas  from Pineterest

To complete this humble family was none other than God Himself. The Creator of all that isbecame like one of His creations. He could have come in a majestic way, surrounded by armies and servants and glitter and pomp. He chose to come to us in the womb of his mom, just like all of us. He allowed Himself to be born among the animals in a cave. As He began His earthly life His body was wrapped in cloth and then placed on straw. Why would He do it this way?

He did it to show us…show us Goodness, show us Love and show us how to give those things from within ourselves.  Foremost, He did it to save us, save us from ourselves and Satan’s favorite tool, Pride, which had brought down Adam and Eve. The Holy Family was, and still is, the complete and perfect embodiment of Humility. It remains so to this very day. Of course, the antidote to Pride is Humility. 
Isn't God amazing in the way He does things? This is the story of our Salvation and the rebirth of Hope. This Salvation became available to all people for all time and its success was entrusted to a couple of have-not young people whose humility and love of God enabled them to conquer the seemingly impossible.
Guided by the Holy Spirit they united in marriage. Then, absorbed by each other’s love they took on the world. They traveled to Bethlehem while Mary was full term, a three to five day journey on the back of a donkey. Joseph walked guiding the donkey. Mary gave birth in a cave surrounded by smelly animals and filth and they watched and marveled as poor shepherds and rich kings worshipped their child side by side.
They managed to escape the soldiers of King Herod, who were trying to kill their newborn Son.  Imagine the fear in Joseph as he wondered how he could protect his little family from the forces of evil. And, lest we forget, he also got them safely to Egypt, about three hundred miles away. He must have been something. We know the rest of the story.
If you take a moment to ponder all that happened and how it happened and why it happened, it will leave you breathless. And then we remember it was all done for all of us. There was nothing done for themselves, not one thing. We need to get back to what "Family" is and the Holy Family is the model to build on.
We must never forget that within that family it was the husband and father who protected his wife and Son from the evils of the world. The Son humbled Himself and gave his life for us all.  And the Mom, our Mom too, the most humble of all women ever, stands ever vigilant and  ready to crush the head of the evil serpent who might harm any of her children. In so doing she is protecting all of us for all eternity. She is our protection against all wickedness. When we ask for her protection we cover ourselves with an impenetrable shield.
Fittingly, the Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of the Holy Family on the Sunday following Christmas. There are millions of folks who never pay an iota of attention to this family. Maybe it is time that they should for this is the family that "set the bar" for all families for all time.
The Salvation story comprises the greatest acts of human Love, Goodness and Humility ever. Mary, Joseph and their boy, Jesus, encompassed by an unconditional love for God and each other, offers that love to all of us.  God’s earthly Trinity has shown us the way.
How can anyone NOT Love Christmas?  
                                       ©Copyright Larry Peterson 2016 All Rights Reserved
     

Executed for Refusing to Say “Yes”*

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME 

By Larry Peterson


The pages of Catholic/Christian history are filled with countless names of those who came from virtual anonymity and proceeded to leave an indelible mark in our lives. St. Teresa of Calcutta is a prime example. Many have also reached the eternal heights of spiritual greatness but are not so well known. Meet Franz Jagerstatter.

Blessed Franz Jagerstatter    wikipedia commons

Franz was born in Austria in 1907. His father was killed in World War I and when Franz was around eight years old, his mom married Heinrich Jagerstatter who adopted young Franz, giving him his name. 


Franz received a basic education in the local schools and excelled in reading and writing. He learned religion from his maternal grandmother and would read the Bible and other religious works. He managed to develop a faith which nestled itself securely into his soul. As Franz grew older and wiser his faith grew right along with him.

In 1933, Franz, inherited his adopted father’s farm. He then met Franziska Schwaninger, a deeply religious Catholic woman, and they fell in love. They were married Holy Thursday, 1936, and after the ceremony proceeded on a pilgrimage to Rome. This is also when Franz’s spiritual life became his primary focus in all things.

Now possessing a deeply imbedded faith and love of Jesus, he soon was serving as a sexton at his local parish. He and Franziska would have three daughters and he began to live his life true to his faith and to Jesus Christ. He would no longer deviate from things that were “not right”. Some perceived him as “overly pious”.

He stopped going to taverns because, as a defender of truth, he was always getting into arguments about Nazism and wanted to avoid that. He stopped accepting donations he received as the church sexton and gave the money to the needy even though he and his growing family were poor too. Even though some folks mocked him, he was determined to do “what was right”.

In 1938, German soldiers began moving into Austria. Immediately, they began implementing the Nazification of the once peaceful nation. The "Anschluss", which was the creation of a German-Austrian State, was put to a vote in Franz’s village and he was the only one in his town to vote “no”. The authorities rejected his vote and claimed the vote was unanimous. However, Franz was now under watch by the Nazis.

It did not matter to Franz. He knew he must do the right thing and remained openly anti-Nazi. He joined the Third Order of St. Francis and began serving as a sacristan at the local parish. He managed to get several exemptions from military service. Time was not to be Franz’s friend.

In 1940, when he was 33, Franz was conscripted into the German army. He finished basic training but managed to stay out of the active service because he qualified for an exemption given to farmers. Back home he began to evaluate the morality of war and even discussed the subject with his bishop. His bishop did not encourage Franz.

And so it was that on February 23, 1943, Franz Jagerstatter was called to active duty. He and Franziska now had three daughters, the oldest only six. Franz stood strong and refused to fight for the godless, Third Reich. He declared himself a “conscientious objector” and offered to serve as a paramedic. He was ignored. A priest from his town came to talk him into serving but he refused. He was immediately put in prison.

Against all advice to stop resisting, Franz persisted in his opposition to the Nazis. He was told by his spiritual advisors that he had an obligation to his family to protect his life. He was told that he was required morally to obey the “legitimate” authorities. A friend told him, “Just say yes. You don’t even have to shoot straight. But take the oath.” Franz rejected all arguments. Atheistic Nazism could not be supported. He was determined to do the “right thing”.

Franz wrote, “Everyone tells me, of course, that I should not do what I am doing because of the danger of death. I believe it is better to sacrifice one’s life right away than to place oneself in the grave danger of committing sin and then dying.”

Franz Jagerstatter held fast to his principles. On July 6, 1943, he was tried and sentenced to death. On August 9, 1943, he was executed by guillotine at Brandenburg-Gorden prison. He was 36 years old.
Franz Jagerstatter led an obscure life and his death was no different. But a priest by the name of Father Jochmann spoke to Franz right before his execution. He said later that Franz was the only saint he had ever met.

In 1964 the American sociologist, Gordon Zahn, wrote a book about Franz Jagerstatter  titled, In Solitary Witness.  That was followed by the renowned Trappist,Thomas Merton, writing a chapter about Franz in one his books, Faith & Violence.

Eventually, Franz story weaved its way to the Vatican and came before Pope Benedict XVI. In June of 2007, the Holy Father issued an apostolic exhortation declaring Franz a martyr. On October 27, 2007, Franz Jagerstatter was beatified by Cardinal Jose Martins in Linz, Austria.

 Franz believed that Jesus wanted him to do the “right thing”.  He even gave his life to do it. He is known as the patron of “conscientious objectors”.

Blessed Franz Jagerstatter, please pray for us.
*This article appeared in Aleteia on October 19, 2016
                                        ©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
     

Krakow: The Pope and the Holocaust; I Am Proudly & Humbly Connected to Both*

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

Mom died from leukemia way back in 1961. She had just turned 40 and, at the time, there were no cures, no chemo and no bone-marrow transplants. She was dead within six months of diagnosis.

We lived in the Bronx in a five floor walk-up. Grandma lived up on the fifth floor and we were down on the third.  Grandma gave up her apartment and moved in with us downstairs. I guess it was to help take care of the “little ones”; I was 15, Carolyn was 13, Danny was 11, Bobby was six and Johnny was two). But, it was not a good thing. Grandma hated dad because, for some bizarre reason, she decided he had killed her daughter and let him know it every chance she had.
I have no explanation for this nor will I ever. None of us do. Hey, we were kids, what did we know. Grandma’s grief was so intense that Dad could not handle it. It was just the way it was. Dad solved the problem by avoiding Grandma as much as possible. He just began hanging out in the local saloons which actually gave Grandma a real reason to yell at him.

On March 8, 1963, Grandma had a massive stroke. I saw her standing seemingly twisted in a body spasm and managed to drag her to the bed. I held her in my arms as she summoned the strength to say an Act of Contrition.  Looking me dead in the eye, she slowly slurred each word. Then we said an “Our Father” together. I was crying like a baby and so were my sister and brother, Danny. Dad was in the other room with Bobby and Johnny, waiting for the priest to show up. He was not crying.

When we finished praying she closed her eyes and became comatose. Father Quirk arrived and administered Last Rites. She died a few hours later in the hospital. That moment is etched forever in my brain’s “like it just happened” memory section.

What does Krakow and World Youth day have to do with all of that? Well, the first question that must be asked is, who was Grandma’s husband, our Grandpa? We were kids and had never asked. We never thought about it. That’s what kids do—take things for granted.

But then Mom was gone and Grandma was gone and Dad was drinking heavily. He died two years later. We had never gotten to the point of asking, “Hey, where is Grandpa?” Just like that it was too late. As adults we never found out—until four years ago. And now, with the Pope going to Krakow, Grandpa is in the forefront of my mind.  Krakow was Grandpa’s hometown.

Forced deportation from the Krakow ghetto, 1942   wikipediacommons
Our Mom had a brother, my namesake, Uncle Larry. He had been in the 8th Army Air-Force during World War II and his plane had been shot down on a bombing mission. He survived the war as a POW in the infamous Stalag 17. One time I asked him about his dad. He told me, “He died.” He never said another word.  That was that. Then we grew up, our folks were gone, and we lost contact as we began our own individual lives.

About four years ago I received a message on Facebook (kudos to Facebook) by none other than my long lost cousin, Vicki, Uncle Larry’s oldest. 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.

What follows may seem implausible but it is true and we have the documentation to confirm it. Vicki had been wondering about the missing Grandpa too. Her dad told her the same thing he had told me. Now he was gone. But she never stopped wondering and began a journey into the world of genealogy.  Lo and behold, she unraveled the mystery of the missing Grandpa.

Our grandma was an immigrant from Austria. A devout Catholic who never missed Mass, she married a man by the name of Isidore Schul. This was our grandfather. He was a Hebrew man from Krakow. Our maternal grandfather was Jewish. Shocker of shockers, the immigration papers and naturalization papers all confirm this. He made it to America in 1907.

We cannot understand how these two unlikely people connected, got married and had two children, one of them our own mother. But it was so and that mystery will never be unraveled. We dubbed our long, lost, mysterious grandfather, Grandpa Irv. He and grandma split up when Mom and Uncle Larry were young children. Grandpa Irv died in the Bronx in 1965. We will never know more than I revealed here.

But here is the thing. Cradle Catholics, we are also 25% Jewish. Grandpa Irv was the only one of his family to get to America. His parent’s names were Simon and Regina Schul. Simon and Regina are our great-grandparents. We do not know if they died in the Holocaust or before it began but apparently, from what Vicki discovered, Grandpa Irv’s siblings did. Probably in Ravensbruck but it might have been Auschwitz.

For me, personally, I am humbled by this connection. Jesus, the Blessed Mother, St. Joseph, their  relatives, St. Ann, St. Joachim, and the apostles etc. were all Jewish. They were also the first Catholics. And today, as I write this, Pope Francis is in Krakow, Grandpa Irv’s hometown. I feel connected to it all and the Holocaust has a whole new meaning for me. It is all part of my heritage. My “own people” were killed there.  SHALOM

*This article also appeared in Aleteia. org on July 28,2016
                                     ©Larry Peterson 2016 All Rights Reserved
     

Missing From the 2016 Presidential Campaign—any Mention of God & Religion

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

There is an old cliche which says, "One thing you should never argue or discuss is politics or religion."

One thing is for sure, when it comes to politics and politicians no one is mentioning anything about religion. They leave the 'religion' out and argue 'politics'. They not only argue with each other they debase, defame, denigrate, disparage and verbally abuse each other relentlessly and with a no-holds, reckless abandon that is disgraceful but apparently acceptable because, "that's politics". On the other hand, they will rarely, if ever, mention God or religion.

 According to all of the latest polls, the items  of prime importance to the American voter in 2016 are: a)  the economy; b)  jobs; c) immigration and d)  terrorism. Unbelievably (to me) there is little mention about the incessant attacks and rulings against our religious freedom(s). How can this be?

I am fascinated by these polling results not so much for what they say and/or predict but for what they avoid. They completely seem to ignore the religious backdrop of the American story. Religious freedom is the cornerstone of our success. W must stop making believe it is insignificant.

These religious freedoms are the foundation for an ever expanding and vibrant economy. These freedoms are the fertilizer that helps grow jobs.These freedoms are so envied that people from all over the world continually want to come here. Yes, the fact is, Freedom of Religion is the very lynchpin that has held us together throughout our 240 year history.

                                                                                                     

But now I am afraid. I am afraid because the insidious, intentional eroding of the foundation of our nation is being completely ignored. We are witnessing the weight of a secular self-centeredness that is not only methodically erasing  God's presence in our country but, along with God, the religious tenets (also called Natural Law) used as building blocks by our Founding Fathers.

  When people have the freedom to worship God unencumbered and without reservation, it frees up their spirit. They embrace this great gift and it results in personal growth and fulfillment. The United States of America proved to be the greatest nation in history because of an individual's freedom to be who they would be.

 Over the course of our American history there have been numerous Freedom of Religion cases that have impacted our nation. However, over the last  decade, the anti-religion, anti-God rhetoric has seemingly taken a secure foothold in the battle against the"Creator who has endowed us ALL with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness". And yes, in the very first paragraph of the Declaration of Independence the name of GOD is actually used. He is NOT anathema to the United States of America.

It seems to me that we must stand up and fight back in defense of God and religion. Being a "none" is NOT a religion. being an atheist is NOT a religion and being a Satanist is NOT a religion. Religion is the means we use to worship God and we are free to do so. Religion does NOT define NOT worshiping God.

There is even an organization called the Freedom from Religion Foundation FFRF. Can someone explain to me how, in a country that proclaims Freedom of Religion as a fundamental right, a group can be legalized and can sue folks for expressing that freedom?   The Freedom From Religion Foundation is the antithesis of our primary, fundamental Constitutional right. It is even a functioning and approved non-profit 501(c)3 active in all 50 states. Does this make any sense at all? How can an entity whose primary purpose is to attack our First Amendment be legally sanctioned to do so?

Not worshiping or believing in God is our choice as Americans. Those of you who have chosen that route  have been blessed with this privilege. Many have died to secure this Freedom for you. Why, if you can non-worship the way you so choose, do you want to prevent others from worshipping as they choose? Why would the name of Jesus Christ, a simple carpenter who preached love and forgiveness, be offensive to anyone? Whatever is your self-absorbed, hateful motivation to attack the very freedom(s) that protect you? What are you so afraid of?

                                ©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




     

Two Teenagers, A Child and Christmas–a Perfect Mix

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME


By Larry Peterson
If it were two thousand years ago and you lived in Nazareth you might notice a young man packing items on a donkey in preparation for a trip. Early the next morning you see this fellow, with his pregnant teenage wife sitting on the back of the burro, heading down the road. They are in compliance with the law of the day. They are embarking on a three or four day journey to Bethlehem, the town of their ancestors' birth, for the census.
We know so little about the lives of Joseph and Mary, yet they are THE integral part of the Salvation story.  Mary's acceptance of a pregnancy that might have resulted in her being stoned to death as an adulteress was an act of monumental humility. Joseph, a good man and a faithful Jew true to the law, accepted a pregnant woman as his wife, another act of extreme humility.
To complete this humble family was none other than God Himself. The Creator of all  there is became like one of His creations. He could have come in a majestic way, surrounded by armies and servants and glitter and pomp. He chose to come to us in the womb of his mom, just like all of us. He allowed Himself to be born among the animals in a cave. As He began His earthly life His body was wrapped in cloth and then placed on straw. 


Why would He do this? He did it to show us Goodness, show us Love and show us how to do it.  Finally He did it to save us, save us from ourselves and Satan’s favorite tool, Pride, which had brought down Adam and Eve. The Holy Family was and still is, the complete and perfect embodiment of Humility. It remains so to this very day. Of course, the antidote to Pride is Humility. 
Isn't God amazing in the way He does things? This is the story of our Salvation and the rebirth of Hope. This Salvation became available to all people for all time and its success was entrusted to a couple of have-not teens whose humility and love of God enabled them to conquer the seemingly impossible. They married against incredible odds and traveled to Bethlehem while Mary was full term. Joseph walked guiding the donkey, protecting his young wife the entire time. Mary gave birth in a cave surrounded by smelly animals and filth and then they managed to escape the soldiers of King Herod who were trying to kill their newborn Son. Lest we forget, they somehow made it to Egypt, about three hundred miles away. We know the rest of the story.
We must never forget that within that family it was the husband and father who protected his wife and Son from the evils of the world. The Son humbled Himself and gave his life for us all.  And the Mom, our Mom too, the most humble woman ever created, stands ever vigilant ready to crush the head of the evil serpent who might harm any of her children. In so doing she is protecting all of her "children" (which includes you and I) for all eternity. She is our protection against all wickedness. Humility conquers pride. Just look to the Holy Family.

If you take a moment to truly ponder all that happened and how it happened and why it happened, it might leave you breathless. And then we remember it was all done for all of us. There was nothing done for themselves, not one thing. We need to get back to "Family" and the Holy Family is the model to build on. 
The Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of the Holy Family on the Sunday following Christmas. If you are among the millions of folks who never pay an iota of attention to this family, maybe you should. Why? Because this is the family that "set the bar" for all families. Comprised of two teenagers, Mary and Joseph and their boy, Jesus, their unconditional love for God and each other cannot be surpassed.  The Salvation story comprises the greatest acts of combined Love and Humility ever.
                                 ©Larry Peterson 2015 All Rights Reserved
     

I LOVE Christmas—No Matter What

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson
Turkey Day is over and  now the 2015 Christmas odyssey is underway. My personal pilgrimage began  Sunday at 5 AM, as I prepared my wife's medications for the week. There are fourteen different pills she takes at different times during the day for varied reasons and I do this every week. So, I pour a cup of coffee and spread the pill bottles in a row in front of my still-squinty eyes. I have a pill box with four rows of sevens so I can prepare meds for the entire week. The morning row gets five pills in each box, the noon row gets four, etc. When I am finished there are 112 pills sorted out for the week. I am proud of my system...most of the time.
I finish placing the the last pills in place and reach over to get the coffee. Ah yes, life is always an adventure. That's right;  I knocked over the coffee.  As I did, I leaned onto the bottom of the pill box and it flipped, ever so gracefully, end over end into the air spraying its newly received contents everywhere. Okay--you get the picture. Pills on the floor, pills on the table floating in coffee (too bad they were not donuts) and me staring, mouth hung open, in disbelief.

 Fortunately, God has blessed me with a self-deprecating sense of humor. I took a breath and began to laugh. Then I created some dialogue for the moment. I raised my hands, looked out across my random pill and coffee display, and announced to no one, "You are such an idiot!" Then I laughed some more and began Round Two of the weekly pill dissemination. That time I succeeded.

No matter, Christmas is my favorite time of the year. I love the 'reason for the season' which is the Baby Jesus. I love the awe in the faces of so many children and the extra smiles that come from the wonder and mystery surrounding Santa's impending visit. I love the cookies and candy and cake and even some of the anxiety and pressure and insanity that mixes in as we move forward. I even love eggnog, fruitcake and pfeffernuesse. I am a hopeless Chrismatist
More than anything, I love thinking about the Holy Family. Have you ever really thought about the Blessed Mother when she was  a young girl about 14 or 15 years old?   She was almost full-term in her pregnancy and was forced  to travel on the back of a donkey for over 80 miles to fulfill the census law. We have  to marvel at  her husband, Joseph,  who must have just loved her so much that he was willing to accept her Baby as his own. He led her and the unborn Child on this journey, protected them with his life and made sure that the Savior of all mankind lived to complete His mission. This was, after all, a very different time culturally. Mary's alternative could have been death by stoning. Thank you, St. Joseph. Thank you, Mother Mary. Thank you, Jesus.
I will finish this up by telling you I made it to eight o'clock Mass with the wife at my side. What better way to continue the day, especially after the pill and coffee fiasco.  Yes, the Season of Advent is upon us. I have no idea how the rest of this day or the days following will play out. No matter what, it will be OK.  We are on our way to Christmas. For all of you willing to embrace the season, it is a beautiful, wondrous time for family, friends, love, joy and miracles.

In closing, as we continue on this unpredictable and happy odyssey into  Christmas wonderment, I would like to wish you all a beautiful, blessed,  healthy and joy-filled Christmas.  (If I don't electrocute myself putting up my Christmas lights you may hear from me again before Christmas arrives.) 

“Celebrate the feast of Christmas every day, even every moment in the interior temple of your spirit, remaining like a baby in the bosom of the heavenly Father, where you will be reborn each moment in the Divine Word, Jesus Christ.” 
St. Paul of the Cross   (Catholicquotes.org)
                     ©LarryPeterson 2015                                    Photo courtesy  davidthig.org.uk
     

Goodbye “Little Bro”–You and Your Watermelon are Forever in Our Hearts

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

The picture to the right was taken at my daughter's wedding and it was a happy day. Facing the picture, the young fellow on the left is my "baby" brother, Johnny. The one to his left in the back is my brother, Bobby. I am to the far right, my sister, Carolyn, is in front of me and my brother, Danny, is to her left in front of Bobby. The young man with the silly grin on his face is my son, Larry Jr. who was really having a "good" time. The little guy is my grandson, Darren. He is now in college.

I posted this photo because there are very few photos of the five of us together.  There has been a lot of death in our family over the years. Bobby died in 2007 from cardiac failure. He was 53. Carolyn's husband, Bob, died back in 1993. He had a brain-stem tumor. He was almost 53. My wife, Loretta, died (melanoma) in 2003. She was 58. Danny's wife, Annie, died (emphysema) last April. She was 64. Our mom died at 40 from leukemia. Our dad died at 53 from Pancreatitis. We had a stillborn daughter, Theresa. Her life span ended while entering the world.  And then, the other day, our brother Johnny, (I also called him "Little Bro" and he called me, "Big Bro") died. He was 56. Unlike the others, Johnny's death was self-inflicted. This I do not understand. Therefore, I have turned  it over to God....totally.

It  is a beautiful thing when you do have an abiding faith in the God above to help you climb over the rubble of life. And yes, this left a serious pile of rubble for sure. I will not analyze or try to figure out "what happened".  I just ask anyone who might read this to say a prayer for "Little Bro" and for his wife and family. We have the peace of knowing that Johnny is now with his most loving and merciful Father and is in "GOOD HANDS".

Also, maybe say a prayer for me. I am unable to attend Johnny's funeral today and I am quite "in the dumps" about it. I should be with the rest of my family. However, being a caregiver to an Alzheimer patient (my wife) can sometimes leave you unable to act on unexpected life situations. I will go to 8 a.m. Mass in my parish and I will be OK.

Anyway, today we say GOOD-BYE to the "baby" of the family. It is a hard day for all of us but God and His Son and our Brother, Jesus, do have our backs.  WE will feel their comfort and the loving hand of Mother Mary will guide us along.  Love you "Little Bro".
                                                            ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
PART II

Our dear cousin, Vicki Nelson, had a wonderful memory of Johnny back when he was seven years old. She wrote an essay about it and it came straight from her heart and I am posting it now--in honor of "Little Bro".  Thank you Vicki.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Watermelon Story
  by Vicki Nelson
To look at him that summer morning, no one would ever guess he had a care in the world. And in that moment, I suppose he didn't. Still, it must have been confusing for him. Here he was ‐ a seven‐year old kid from the Bronx suddenly transplanted with his eleven year old brother for the summer in his uncle's new house in the New Jersey suburbs. The brothers were recently orphaned after a short span of time where first their mom, then their grandma, and finally their dad died. The two boys had three older siblings, one of whom was a bonafied teenager and the oldest two were barely old enough to be considered real grown‐ups. How it was going to work out, no one really knew. Uncle Larry had four kids of his own, plus a wife and mother‐in‐law to support. He had just bought a larger house to accommodate his growing family and they barely had two nickels to rub together in those days. He was a one man show with his nuts and bolts business that was touch and go lately. Still he did what he could for his sister's kids. He was their beloved Uncle Larry even if he did live in Jersey.
And in Jersey, everyone had lawns. Having a lawn and then complaining about cutting the grass was the main reason people moved across the Hudson River. Uncle Larry had not put in the backyard lawn yet. Hundreds of weeds needed pulling and rocks needed removing. The earth was soft, however, and Aunt Gloria promised to pay each working kid a penny a weed ‐ easy work for a bountiful harvest that awaited. Brother Bobby got the bright idea to remove some of the leaves from each weed thereby maximizing his profit for each weed. Aunt Gloria, originally a city kid from New York herself, quickly wised up to the shenanigans and so we all picked weeds for free from then on. I don't really remember how the next part came about ‐ maybe we just finally had enough land to do it. Or maybe it was just that we were already outside so much anyway, digging in the dirt and pulling weeds. Somebody got the idea to plant our own vegetable garden so we picked a nice flat spot way out back and sowed seeds from little packets. We planted the usual ‐ tomatoes and zucchini and bell pepper plants and ‐ Johnny's special request ‐ watermelons.
New Jersey is the Garden State and our plants just grew like crazy. The watermelon plants grew hundreds of leaves that spread out all over the place. Johnny would jump out of bed first thing every morning and run to the garden patch in hopes of spotting his first watermelon. The tomatoes eventually turned red, the bell peppers and zucchini grew in abundance too.  Meanwhile, Aunt Gloria was beginning to suspect that the watermelons were not going to produce much more than green leaves. So she planned a little surprise for Johnny.
The next morning, like clockwork, Johnny ran out the back door to check on his watermelon patch. In a few minutes we could all hear his ‘hootin' and ‘hollerin.' "I got one! I got one! I got my very own watermelon! Everybody ‐ come look!!!" 

We could see him from the window. He jumped up and down, hopping from one foot to the other with that blond curly hair bouncing and his blue eyes shining.

We all went running out the back door to meet him as he continued jumping with that toothless seven year old grin, as he proudly displayed the roundest most beautiful little Sugar Baby watermelon any of us had ever seen in our entire lives. Of course we older kids were in on it but congratulated Johnny heartily on his superior gardening skills and his prize watermelon. He just beamed from ear to ear. Aunt Gloria put it in the fridge so it would be a nice cold dessert on that hot, summer night.
I will never forget his little face or for a moment, the sheer happiness and delight that one watermelon could bring to one small boy. He never forgot it, either. Many years later, when we reconnected over the telephone after going our separate ways for a long time the way adults just do, we spoke with delight of the watermelon story again.
And just for that moment, remembering, we were those two kids again. Rest in Peace, Johnny. You and your watermelon are forever in my heart.
Love from your cousin,
  Vicki
     

What Would Have Been the Fate of Dutch Schultz if God Used Zero Tolerance?

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

This past Sunday two of my grand kids made their First Confession. It is always a beautiful thing when children receive their first sacraments. Invariably, they never forget those moments. I was seven years old when I made my First Confession and I can still vividly remember that day.  I do not remember what sins I confessed because, at seven, the only thing I can remember ever doing was picking on my little sister all the time. And I know I had been punished for that---numerous times.

Last Tuesday they had a penance service in my parish. I was stunned at the large crowd. Eight priests were available to hear confessions and the church did not close up until almost 10 p.m.  I wondered if any of the people who went to confession that evening were denied absolution because what they had done was considered "unforgivable"? Ridiculous, right? Everything is forgivable, isn't it? And it does not matter if you are six, seven or one hundred and eight.

To give an example of how God's mercy is ALWAYS available to those who seek it I would like to briefly mention a man by the name of Arthur Flegenheimer. Arthur was born in New York City in 1901. A German-Jew, by the time he was 27 he was known as Dutch Schultz and was quickly becoming one of the most feared mob bosses in New York. The "Dutchman" was a bootlegger (running illegal whiskey), a number's boss operating in Harlem and a "shakedown artist" within the NYC restaurant industry offering protection while using the restaurant unions as cover.

His main enforcer was the infamous, Vincent "Mad Dog" Coll, a brutal killer who did Schultz's bidding without hesitation. Eventually the "Dutchman" got tired of Coll's wanting more money. As "Mad Dog" sat in a telephone booth talking on the phone he was machine gunned to death by Schultz's henchmen. Dutch actually proved to be a more brutal killer then "Mad Dog" Coll. So how does my brain tie Dutch Schultz, the Sacrament of Penance and Zero-Tolerance together? Actually, it is not that hard to do.

Dutch Schultz wanted to kill U. S. Attorney Thomas E. Dewey (Later to be Governor of NY and the Presidential Candidate losing to Harry Truman in the 1948 election). The Mafia Commission told Schultz,  "NO, it would cause us too much trouble." Schultz refused to listen and decided to  kill Dewey anyway. The mob, under Lucky Luciano, sent "Murder Inc." after Schultz. They gunned him down in a restaurant in Newark, N.J  on October 23, 1935. Enter the sacrament of Penance and Forgiveness.

When Dutch Schultz was acquitted  on tax-evasion charges he converted to Catholicism. He believed that Jesus had saved him. (He was also trying to impress Lucky Luciano). When he was shot he did not die right away. He was taken to the hospital for surgery and he immediately asked for a priest. He was 34 years  old  and his last thought while he was dying was to  ask Jesus for forgiveness and mercy.  He went to confession, received absolution and was administered the Last Rites of the Church by a priest. Then he died.  Did Dutch Schultz go right to heaven? Did he get to the "pearly gates" and have St. Peter say, "Sorry Dutch, that priest made a mistake. What you did was "Unforgivable. We operate under a strict "Zero-Tolerance" policy. You are not welcome here." I think not.

Sunday is Palm Sunday. Holy week begins. All over the world Catholic/Christian people celebrate the bloodied, tortured and crucified Son of God, Jesus Christ. Jesus embraced forgiveness for all people and extended love to everyone. This is also what He wanted us to do. This is why he suffered and died for us. He offered Himself to His Father for us. His Father's gift back to us is the Risen Christ. We all have been saved and we all  can get to share eternal life with the Blessed Trinity. Because of God's mercy even Dutch Schultz can join in the celebration. It is a beauty beyond description.

The only people who remain among the ranks of the "unforgiven" during the Easter celebrations and all through the year are those who are subject to the man made rules of Zero-Tolerance. This includes  Zero-Tolerance rules as set in place by much of the Catholic hierarchy. But God Himself could never be party to Zero-Tolerance since it would be a contradiction of His perfection. Maybe this Easter the hierarchy of the Church, as they celebrate new Light during the Easter Vigil, should begin re-thinking this intransigent policy called Zero-Tolerance. If it did not apply to Dutch Schultz, well, ----who am I to judge?

                                      copyright © 2015 Larry Peterson

     

In a World Filled with “Overblown Egos” It Is Time to Pay Attention to the Gospel of Matthew

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

          By Larry Peterson

I watched with fascination Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netenyahu's, speech before a joint session of the United States Congress. I admire this man because I cannot think of any leader of any nation that has his own country virtually surrounded by those who have sworn to annihilate it. His responsibility to protect and defend his people is foremost in his thoughts and his presentation before the Congress was his way of defending them by letting the entire world know of Israel's plight. And he did it in front of an audience of "Big Shots". You know, those folks that have a grandiose and expanded sense of self. 

It seems our president, Barack Obama, was quite ticked off at the entire spectacle. The Prime Minister was asked to speak before the Congress by the Speaker of the House, John Boehner. In so doing, "protocol" was violated. Israel, supposedly our most important ally and friend, had its own Prime Minister boycotted by the entire executive branch of our government and about fifty of the legislative branch members who were all Democrats. They were all "offended" by his appearance because he was not invited by the President himself. 

Imagine that, their 'feelings' were hurt. President Obama even spent eleven minutes on CNN explaining why and how Netenyahu's talk was "nothing new". Whatever. I was thinking that how amazing it would have been if our president unexpectedly walked into the auditorium while Bibi was speaking and walked up to the podium, stepped up to his presidential colleague, and hugged him and shook his hand. What a show of unity and camaraderie between nations that would have demonstrated.  Alas, I am a bit of a dreamer; always have been and always will be. 

I am Catholic and I went to Mass this morning. The gospel reading for today throughout the Catholic world was from Matthew 23: 1-12. It was so timely and so on point to yesterday's spectacle (total coincidence) in Washington. I wish some of our leaders would read it. (Yeah right, like it would matter). Anyway, here it is:

Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, saying, "The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but DO NOT follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens and carry and lay them on people's shoulders, but they do not lift a finger to move them. All their works are performed to be seen. They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues, greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation 'Rabbi'. As for you, do NOT be called 'Rabbi'. You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers. Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven. Do not be called 'Master'; you have but one Master, the Christ. The greatest among you must be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted. 

So, how many of our leaders who claim to be Christian, "humble " themselves? Are we surrounded by hypocrites or what? All of us, myself included, have our own "puffed up" egos. We all have a sense of importance. But what happens to a person when they are empowered with a title or a sense of responsibility for others. TA-DA--a new Pharisee walks among us. It may not happen all the time but I think it happens more often than not.  

I watched the Democrat responses to Netenyahu's speech after it was over. The responses came from people who did not even attend the joint session yet they had an analysis and response prepared immediately afterwards. And all they did was 'trash' the talk and say how "offended" the president was. Our ally, Israel, is a nation always under the threat of imminent attack by those who would destroy her. And  her leader, a great friend to America, was rebuffed by many because they were 'offended'. How pathetic that is. 

 That picture in my mind of President Obama coming in to hug Bibi Netenyahu in front of the whole world dances within me and I imagine the possibilities including the example it would set for our children? Imagine, imagine, Yeah, right. Many of those 'offended' were Christian. Maybe it is time that  they read the Gospel they profess to follow. One thing is certain, when we die (and we all will one day) none of us will take our pride and egos before the Christ we say we follow. It will remain behind with all the rest of our distended arrogance and overblown egos. 

                                               ©2015 Larry Peterson All Rights Reserved

     

Why the USA Must Take the Lead in the War Against ISIS Barbarism: It is the Right Thing To Do

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

I sit here safe at 7 a.m. pecking away at the keyboard in front of me. My thoughts, for the moment, are focused on the words I make appear on the screen. A cup of coffee sits to my right . My freedom in America allows me to be a Catholic and practice my faith without interference (so far). So at 7:45 I will leave and go to Mass.This is what being an American and living in the greatest country in the world is like for me and millions like me. Being blessed beyond belief, we are FREE to do what we choose except break the law.

It is about 2 p.m. in Syria. There are Catholics/Christians there. As I sit at this keyboard reports are coming from Christian aid agencies that ISIS satanic fueled  savages have overrun the city of Hassakah, killing 15 young Assyrians who tried to defend their families. In Tel Hormizd, 14 of the defenders were killed including two women, one of whom was beheaded. So far over 350 men, women and children have been kidnapped and brought to the Sunni village of Bab Alfaraj. The word going out from ISIS is that today, Friday, February 27, 2015, "all people should come to the mountain of Abdul Aziz to attend "a mass killing of infidels".

Those "infidels" are our brothers and sisters in faith. They will be killed in horrible ways because they LOVE Jesus Christ. I pause and sip my coffee again. I have to take a breath. I LOVE the same Jesus. These people will be slaughtered today and I am no different in my core beliefs. If I were there I would not be here tomorrow. Yes, we Americans are so blessed yet---so many Americans don't seem to get it. They do not seem to realize that this could be us, anyone of us. Even being an American atheist qualifies you for ISIS extermination. In that regard they are the same as we Catholics and Jews.

We are all "infidels" to these maniacs. But who is supposed to lead the charge against the 21st century genocide taking place? Who is supposed to stand up for the weaker and more vulnerable of those who have knives to their throats waiting for their heads to be cut off, ropes tied around their necks waiting to have their necks snapped, and who wear gasoline soaked clothing ready to be burned alive? I say, without hesitation, the United States of America is the nation and people who must take charge. Why us? I'll tell you why us and it has to do with having God as our primary support.

We are still a Judeo-Christian nation and as such we have a responsibility. America is called the "melting pot" because we are unlike any other nation on the planet. We are Americans because we are all different. We are black, white, yellow, brown and red. We are Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, and Muslim. German, Irish, French, Tanzanian, Argentinian, Pakistani, Chinese, Indonesian, Mexican and on and on. We are everyone. We are supposed to be an American family. We are, in fact, the most diverse family ever. Since a family should take care of its own all of those being slaughtered in Syria, Iraq, North Korea, Nigeria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, France, Denmark and so on are our extended family.

We have all the resources, all the power and all the weapons. This is part of the privilege of being Americans. However, along with that privilege and honor comes responsibility to those of our extended family members that are weaker and less blessed than we are. If I have a family and a neighbor moves in and starts to attack my children I MUST defend them. It is the right thing to do. If I am incapable of fighting back myself and my family is at risk, I call upon my older and stronger brother(s) to help me. Since the family is the  basic unit of a society it follows that we, as Americans, must defend our  downtrodden brothers and sisters who have become the prime targets in the 21st century genocide, a genocide which actually began right here in America on September 11, 2001

At this very moment in Syria and Nigeria and in Iraq, Christians are being viciously murdered because they love Jesus Christ who preached the doctrine of Love Your Neighbor. It is time for the United States of America to unite the peace and freedom loving nations of the world and lead them in defense of  the freedom of all those who are extended family. It is the RIGHT THING TO DO.

                                     ©2015 Larry Peterson All Rights Reserved

     

The “Sin” of Blasphemy Is NOT “Free Speech”.

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

Asia Bibi, a mother of five and a Catholic, languishes in a Pakistani prison. She has been there for five years.  She waits for them to come and drag her to the gallows where she will be hanged by the neck until dead. Why? Because to the Muslims working alongside her in the fields, she was an "Infidel". They demanded that she bring them water and she "defiled" them by drinking some of it. They mocked her and cursed her religion and Jesus and she defended Him and her faith. She was summarily accused of "mocking" Allah. Her crime? Blasphemy.  In Pakistan "Blasphemy" is a capital crime punishable by death. Asia Bibi's death sentence has been upheld by the Pakistani Supreme Court.  May the God of Love help her.

We are quite the interesting species, aren't we? The fascinating twist in all of this Blaspheming thing is that our highly sophisticated and secular world mocks the idea of "Blasphemy" as a non-existent  "sin" and "crime". Instead, when people of this upscale, modern era blaspheme, they choose to call it "free speech".  The French publication, "Charlie Hebdo",  mocked and ridiculed Allah. They also have mocked and ridiculed Jesus Christ, the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Pope,  and all connected to Jesus. This publication continually strikes and cuts deeply at the very heart of a person's innermost core beliefs. But hey, it is OK because it is "Free Speech". This is an absurdity.

Blasphemy is defined as an "impious utterance or action concerning God or sacred things" or "an act of cursing or reviling God". Freedom of Speech is defined as "the right of people to express their opinions publicly without governmental interference, subject to the laws against libel, incitement to violence or rebellion, etc. Seems to me that they are two totally different things.

We sojourn back 2000 years and we remember a certain High Priest named Caiphas, symbolically tearing his robes when Jesus, asked if he was the Son of God, answered, "I am".

"Blasphemer!" he screamed. "Blasphemer!" And they took the Man who simply preached love and forgiveness away to be tortured and crucified. They even traded Jesus for the release of a convicted murderer and seditionist. Ah, Blasphemy, so vague, so ambiguous, so diabolical and so convenient to use as an excuse to do murder and/or get rid of political foes.

 Asia Bibi loved Jesus and her Catholic faith. Who do these people think they are to judge her and condemn her to be hanged for thinking differently than they do? Whoever gave them the right to deprive her five children of their mother? Who do they think they are to be able to decide her faith makes her a Blasphemer? The fact is, their actions make them the Blasphemers. This mind set is not only distorted and twisted it is just plain wicked. No God of love and mercy approves of this viciousness.

How many  people have been tortured and murdered over the centuries as Blasphemers because they followed Jesus Christ? We could never count that high. Ironically, as we have journeyed past the Age of Enlightment and onward into the 21st century with incredible advances in science, medicine, literature and civility, we can look over our shoulders and see people being hanged, beheaded, crucified and killed in unimaginable ways because of the ancient 'sin' of Blasphemy.

 There is an old  cliche that says, "Never discuss politics or religion with your friends". There is simple wisdom for you.  But today, a satirical publication like Charlie Hebdo, can ridicule and mock the things that demean and debase the very core of a person's heart and soul. And it is not only Charlie Hebdo. It is the entertainment world (Bill Maher says people who believe in God are "idiots"), school systems, city council men and women, school administrators, judges, lawyers, congressmen, senators and all who reject and trample on a person's religious beliefs by passing rules against these beliefs. When people do this they are, like it or not, blaspheming. So an outraged group of world leaders gather together and march together and suggest it is "Free Speech" that is under attack. The fact is Free Speech had nothing to do with the attack on "Charlie Hebdo". The paper is a blaspheming publication hiding behind a mask called 'satire'.

The United States of America was founded on Judeo-Christian principles. Our Declaration of Independence and Constitution were written with God's Natural Law as their foundation. We have been given by our Founders, Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Religion. Yet, we have all of these people in power at all different levels trying to squash religion within the same country that, by law, gives them that freedom and to which many swear allegiance and loyalty.

Comes a new day and these same people will turn around and be outraged when blasphemers are viciously attacked and murdered by psychopathic killers who have had their core beliefs mocked and trampled upon and believe that killing the "Blasphemer" is justified. These radical Islamists seem to forget that they also are Blasphemers the only difference being they carry automatic weapons and kill people they have passed judgement upon. It is sure a good thing that Christians believe in forgiveness.

Blasphemy and Free Speech are two different things. Free Speech never was put in place so people  could  dishonor and publicly mock and defile those whose religious beliefs they disagree with. NOT doing that is called respect. Whatever happened to that? The "sin of blasphemy" needs to be tossed back onto  the ash heap of historical hubris and buried forever under all the pain and heartache it has wrought. Those of us who are protected by laws allowing Free Speech need to once again incorporate some common decency and respect in the words we use  about those folks we do not agree with. You know, there was a time not too long ago where a mutual respect did exist among people.

Blaspheming others is NOT the exercise of Free Speech. It is the perversion of that God given right. May the  God of Love help us all.

                                                               Copyright © 2015 Larry Peterson

     

When Thinking Family Consider That Two Teenagers Set The Standard for Us All

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

by Larry Peterson

From the Book Of Sirach Ch 3: 2-4

For the Lord sets a father in honor over his children;
A mother's authority he confirms over her sons.
Those who honor their father atone for sins;
They store up riches who revere their mother.


N.B: In this essay the use of the word PRIDE refers to Negative Pride

The Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of the Holy Family on the Sunday following Christmas. If you are among the millions of folks who never pay an iota of attention to this family, maybe you should. Why? Because this is the family that "set the bar" for all families. Comprised of two teenagers, Mary and Joseph and their boy, Jesus, their unconditional love for God and each other cannot be surpassed.  The birth of Jesus is the greatest act of humility imaginable.

This was God, the Creator of all that there is, becoming like one of His creations. He could have come in a majestic way, surrounded by armies and servants and glitter and pomp. He chose to come in the simplest way of all, among the animals in a cave. As He began His earthly life His body was wrapped in cloth and then placed on straw. Why would He do this?

 He did this because he loved us unconditionally and wanted us to learn that Pride, the greatest of the deadly sins and the root cause of all the evil in the world,  must be kicked to the curb at all costs. Pride was the reason He came to us. From the first sins of Adam and Eve to the very present, Pride is the villain. Pride is why He had to redeem and save us. Incredibly, he became as HUMBLE as humanly possible to teach us that humility is what conquers Pride. Amazingly, He chose teenagers to set the example for everyone from that very night onward. They showed us that  the love between a man and a woman  will always conquer negative pride if tempered with Humility. For marriage is about loving and sharing and giving of oneself to another--totally. Humility is the virtue that effects that giving.

We know so little about the lives of Joseph and Mary, yet they are an integral part of the Salvation story.  Mary's acceptance of a pregnancy that might have resulted in her being stoned to death as an adulteress, was another act of monumental humility. Joseph, a good man and a faithful Jew true to the law, accepted a woman who was pregnant as his wife, another act of extreme humility. The Holy Family was the complete and perfect embodiment of Humility. It remains so to this very day .

 Isn't God  amazing in the way He does things? This is the story of our Salvation and the rebirth of Hope. This Salvation became available to all people for all time and its success was entrusted to a couple of have-not teens whose humility and love of God enabled them to conquer the seemingly impossible. They married against incredible odds and traveled to Bethlehem while Mary was full term, a three to five day journey on the back of a donkey. Joseph walked guiding the donkey. Mary gave birth in a cave  surrounded by smelly animals and filth and then they managed to escape the soldiers of King Herod who were trying to kill their newborn Son. Oh yeah, lest we forget, they also  made it to Egypt, about three hundred miles away. We know the rest of the story.

If you take a moment to ponder all that happened and how it happened and why it happened, it will leave you breathless. And then we remember it was all done for all of us. There was nothing done for themselves, not one thing. We need to get back to "Family" and the Holy Family is the model to build on. We must never forget that within that family it was the husband and father who protected his wife and Son from the evils of the world. The Son humbled Himself  and gave his life for us all.  And the Mom, the most humble of all women ever, crushes the head of the evil serpent with her heel. In so doing she is protecting all of her "children" (which includes you and I) for all eternity. Humility conquers pride. Just look to the Holy Family.

     

MERRY CHRISTMAS to ALL

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

Adoration of the Shepherds, Charles Le Brun


WISHING EVERYONE A BLESSED, PEACEFUL, and CONTENTED CHRISTMAS

GOD BLESS YOU ALL

Larry Peterson

copyright Larry Peterson 2014

                                                  
     

Celebrating Our First Alzheimer’s Christmas Together; Laughter Allowed

IT  MAKES SENSE TO ME

by Larry Peterson

I guess the first time I realized that something was really wrong was about a year and a half ago. I have a bedroom I turned into an office and I was sitting at the keyboard clicking away. I sensed someone behind me and turned to see my wife, Marty, standing there. She had a strange look on her face. I remember the moment because fear was etched across her face. "Hey," I said. "What's the matter?"

Then I noticed she was trembling. I stood up and went over to her and put my hands on her shoulders.  She stammered and sort of whispered, "I don't know. I think I need your help."

"Okay, what is it?"

Marty turned and headed down the hall past the living room and into the kitchen. I followed and noticed that she had her "cookie" stuff out. As she had done so many times in the past,  she was about to  make the best, old fashioned, home-made, chocolate-chip cookies I have ever had. Like a child, I said, "Oh, awesome, you're making cookies. So, how can I help?"

"She sighed and shook her head, She began to cry and, looking at me, said, " What is all this? I don't know what it is for?"

The woman who had made thousands upon thousands of these cookies over the years had no memory of previously doing what she had done so many times before. She had placed the needed supplies on the counter and went to use the bathroom. When she returned a few minutes later what had been virtually second nature to her had been erased from her mind. It was all gone. She had come back to me for help because she KNEW something was terribly wrong inside her head and this time the sudden, specific memory loss was scaring the hell out of her. She sobbed, "What is happening to me?"

She had been sick with Lymphoma since 2011. She had endured numerous cycles of chemotherapy to fight the disease. Anesthesia required because of surgery in August (needed to repair a broken ankle) and an attack of A-Fib (Atrial Fibrillation) in September exacerbated the cognitive dysfunction. She was officially diagnosed as having Alzheimer's Disease *on September 28. And now we are approaching our first Christmas together with  Alzheimer's as our unwanted Christmas guest. Guess what---it is OK. He will not ruin our Christmas. He is welcome to join us. That is because we have started to laugh again, more and more. And we are laughing at the insanity of living in Alzheimerville. And trust me, it can get quite wacky.

I have always had a bit of a "flip attitude". It probably has helped me get through some tough times. So when Marty goes to the cardiologist and goes to sign in and cannot remember her name she looks at me for help. I smile and say, "Who cares Lucy, they know who you are. Just put down Lucille Ball."  She starts to laugh and I laugh and I write her name down for her. Not an issue.

The past ten years of her life seem to have literally vanished from her brain. She does not remember us getting married. (We were both widowed and married eight years ago. She has no clue.) So she asks me if we are really married. I show her our marriage license and pictures from our wedding. She is shocked. "I can't believe it, " she says. We really ARE married." Now, every night I say to her, "Okay, we can sleep together tonight. Its not a sin."  She always laughs at that.

There are so many little, extraordinary things that happen every day. Being asked the same question over and over can become unnerving. I have turned it around where I start by giving her the answer.  For example, she asks me ten times a day, "How do you feel today?"  After  a few times I answer, "Today I feel like seeing you and that makes my day shiny."  It is a ridiculous answer but she likes it  and I like it too.

I cannot count the things that have been moved to the strangest places. I have found the Parmesan cheese in the towel closet,  unwashed clothes in the dryer. She makes coffee and tells me it is the worst coffee she ever had and I should let her make it. She has hair curlers that keep vanishing. I have found them in the garage, in the refrigerator and under the kitchen sink. We had been searching for them and when I found them in the refrigerator I said loudly, "Here they are."

She was standing nearby and turned to see me lifting the bag from next to the milk. I quickly asked, "Can  I use these for curly fries?"  I began to laugh and she shook her head and smiled. I gave her a hug opened the freezer door and tossed the curlers in. "They are not frozen enough," I said.  She began to laugh and so did I and, although shrouded in a dark moment, we laughed our way into the brightness of a new moment.

 Marty has been captured and imprisoned by the most insidious of diseases. It is like a computer virus slowly deleting what is in memory. So far the last ten years are gone. That cursor is still clicking, delete, delete, delete.. The day will come when she will not even know who I am. I will do my best to keep her laughing and smiling as long as I can and as long as she understands why we laugh.

As for me, I must admit, this entire situation has been wearing me down. There is a lot to do as a caregiver. I traveled a similar road with my first wife, Loretta, who died 12 years ago from cancer. She was sick a longtime but she never lost brain function. That is a very difficult thing to deal with 24/7. But you do what you have to do.  If a man and a woman love each other that is the way it should be, HAPPY to be there for each other, "no matter what". We both took vows before God and man to that effect and, for me, they remain in full force until death.

Our biggest friend in all of this is our Catholic faith. It is there for us through the Holy Mass, through Our Lord Jesus, through Our Blessed Mother and through the examples and intercessions of so many great saints and reinforced every day by prayers from our family and friends.  In fact, I did attend Mass this morning and I had a bit of an 'epiphany'. I was feeling a bit sorry for myself when I realized I had been given a Christmas gift from God Himself. (If you think I am crazy, I don't care).

This gift is my ill wife afflicted with a disease that is unstoppable and incurable. She is foremost, God's child, and now she needs someone to take care of her just as she did years ago when she was a child.  We met at church and were married in church. An unlikely couple, I know that God brought us together. Maybe this is why. Because during the Christmas season of 2014 I realized that besides a wife, HE has given me one of HIS children to care for. I will do my best to make Him proud. I will also do my best to keep us laughing. It is all GOOD.

MERRY CHRISTMAS
________________________________________________________________________

* In case you do not know this, Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia are NOT the same thing. Alzheimer's is the number one cause of Dementia but there are over 150 different causes.                                                                       copyright Larry Peterson 2014

     

Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi: Let’s All Pray to the “Prison Angel” (Mother Antonia) to Help Him

"IT MAKES SENSE TO ME" 

by Larry Peterson

We Catholics talk to, request help from, ask of, beseech, and sometimes even plead with our honored dead for their help in certain situations.  This is also known as praying.  We  believe that praying to the saints and asking for their help with a problem is perfectly okay.  We pray to them to help the sick, to assist those out of work in finding a job, for the poor, our friends and family, help with finances, and for all sorts of things over which we feel we have no control.  We believe that  since they are in heaven and have God's ear, they can put in a "good word" for us.  It is like we are having our request hand-delivered to God Himself by one of His special people.  The saints are our friends in heaven and  they are always ready to help us out.  WE just have to ask. Trust me, it works, it really does.  If you are non-catholic and think we are a bit whacky, so be it.  This is a FAITH thing and you can take a look here for more information about our saints.

Anyway, I am sending out this plea that everyone might pray (Catholic  and non-Catholics too) to Mother Antonia Brenner (click on her name),  a lady who is known as the "Prison Angel".  The prayers are for the well-being and  quick release of  Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi, the American Marine held prisoner in Mexico since March 31 of this year.  His crime: he made a wrong turn and crossed the Mexican border. (Click his name to see his story).

The United States government has made little, if any, effort, to secure the young man's release.  Sergeant Tahmooressi has served two tours of duty in Afghanistan, has been wounded in action and suffers from PTSD.  Fox News'  Greta Van Susteren has been waging a ongoing battle reporting about this over and over, seemingly to no avail.  She has even made trips to the border crossing, driven it herself and shown how easy it is to wind up in Mexico purely by mistake.  Over 150,00 people have signed petitions to gain his release yet the Mexican government refuses to so much as acknowledge we Americans. This is a disgrace. So I thought---we all need to pray to Mother Antonia. Time for us to call on the "Prison Angel".

Mother Antonia Brenner was born in Beverly Hills, California in 1926.  Her name was Mary Clarke. She was married and divorced twice and raised seven children while living in Beverly Hills.  She said that in 1969 she had a dream that she was at Calvary about to be executed when Jesus appeared to her.  He told her He was going to take her place. She touched Him on the cheek and told Him she would never leave Him no matter what might happen to her.  It was this dream that set her on a journey devoting her life to Christ and His Church.

Mary Clarke began her ministry by delivering  medicine, clothing, blankets and  food to La Mesa Prison in Tijuana, one of the worst prisons in Mexico.  In 1977, after her kids were grown, she received permission and moved into La Mesa  (the same prison Sgt. Tahmooressi was sent to).   As an older, divorced woman she was unable to join any religious order. So she made her own makeshift habit and began working on her own.  This led to her  founding the Eudist Servants of the Eleventh Hour, an order for older women who had a calling to a vocation later in life.  Eventually approval for her order was given by the Church.  Mother Antonia lived in La Mesa, in a cell, just like the prisoners, and she lived there for over thirty five years.

Through the years Mother Antonia, who became known as "La Mama" and "The Prison Angel",  ministered to thousands of inmates holding the faces of many of the dying in her hands just as she had promised Jesus in her dream. She stopped riots, worked with the sick and dying and lived her life in poverty, a far cry from the life of the well-to-do Beverly Hills socialite she had been.  Mother Antonia passed away on October 17, 2013. She was 86. I believe that one day she will be canonized a saint.  In my heart of hearts I know she has attained her heavenly reward and that now, Jesus,  holds her face in His hands.

Anyway, that is the reason I thought that maybe we should ask Mother Antonia  to help get Sgt. Tahmooressi released.  He is imprisoned in the world she devoted her life to.  She understands what he is going through.  So I ask that you choose your own way of praying and ask Mother  to ask God to keep Andrew safe and healthy and that he experience the love of God in his life and FEEL the prayers of so many of his fellow Americans wanting him to be set free.  Prayer is the most powerful weapon to secure kindness and justice that we possess.  Time to use as much of that weapon as we can.  Mother Antonia, we all ask you to help Andrew in his struggle to be free. Please pray for him.  He needs all the help he can get. Amen.

         Mother Antonia
     

The Savagery Against Christians Continues: Father Frans Van der Lugt; Murdered for Loving His Neighbor

Father Frans Van der Lugt: April 10. 1938---April 7, 2014
Murdered for Loving Jesus and Loving his neighbor

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

by Larry Peterson

Monday, April 7, 2014, was probably just another day for most of us.  Creatures of habit, we got up and, more than likely, went through the same repetitive routine from brushing our teeth, showering, putting the coffee on, getting dressed and doing the things we do in what ever order that is unique to each of us.  Then we lived the rest of  our day doing the same usual things we always do.  Of course there were those who did not have an ordinary, mundane day.  Some would get up and never make it to the next day.  Father Frans Van der Lugt, 75,  was one of them.  And he did not die due to age or illness.  He was brutally beaten and then shot to death with two bullets to the head. Why?  Because he loved Jesus and was  doing what Jesus asked of His followers; he had been loving his neighbors.

Father Frans had lived in Syria for 50 years.  In fact, he had been "loving his neighbors" very close to where Jesus actually lived and died and rose again.  A Jesuit priest, he had devoted his life to helping those in need especially the "young people with mental health problems".  He never asked for anything for himself  just for the Christians and Muslims he was trying to assist with food and medicine.  His Al-Ard Center, a community center and farm he started in 1980, was aimed to foster dialog between people of different faiths. Consequently, there were many in Syria who loved this man, this follower of the Christ.  It followed that there were also those who hated him.

In February, Father Van der Lugt appealed to the people of the world via YouTube for help for the people in Homs, the city where his AL-Ard Center was located.  His people were suffering from hunger and mental anguish resulting from the constant shelling and bombing.   The United Nations mediated a truce and food and water were brought in. Then 1400 people were allowed to leave. A city which once had a  Christian population of over 60,000 was now down to a few dozen. The people remaining wanted Father Frans to leave. He refused. He had said, "The Syrian people have given me so much, so much kindness, inspiration and everything they have. If the Syrian people are suffering now, I want to share their pain and their difficulties."

On Monday, April 7, as most of us were doing our 'regular' thing, unidentified assailants stormed into Father Frans monastery where he was tending to the few Christians left in the city.  The 75-year old priest was savagely beaten by masked cowards before being executed with two bullets to his head.  Father Frans Van der Lugt has now joined the ranks of martyred Catholic/Christians and I have no doubt that one day he will be declared a saint.  We pray for the soul of good Father Frans and ask him to pray for all of us.
                                 
                                              ©Larry Peterson 2014 All Rights Reserved

     

Killing & Persecuting Christians & Jews: The Evil of the Centuries Continues Unchecked

Jozef & Viktoria Ulma; Polish Catholics
Executed by the Nazis on March 24, 1944
Crime: Hiding a Jewish family
by Larry Peterson
Look at the picture of the people to the right.  There names are Jozef & Viktoria  Ulma.  Polish Catholics, they gave their lives so that their Jewish neighbors might live.  It happened 70 years ago and nothing has changed.  It is the year 2014 and Nazi goon squads, empowered by the "law" as defined by the Final Solution, are no longer around.  But their heirs apparent live and kill to this very day.  North Korea, the number one nation for Christian persecution, publicly executed  80 people last November  for 'possessing' Bibles.  Yes...Bibles. In that demonically controlled country alone  it is estimated that close to 70,000 followers of Jesus are suffering in prison camps for crimes such as going to church, sharing their faith or owning a Bible.  Where is the world's outrage and condemnation?

Feeding the Christians to ferocious, flesh-eating lions and tigers inside the Colosseum in ancient Rome was done for 'entertainment'.  Like a modern day Sunday football game packed with screaming fans, thousands upon thousands of shrieking spectators packed the seats and aisles inside the Colosseum as young men, women and even children were torn apart for the pleasure of the emperor and the citizens.  This inhumane and vicious bloodlusting  has been followed by centuries of Christian persecution.  Today it has mushroomed into a horrendous and bloody human rights crisis.  History has been witness to the wholesale slaughter of God loving people, both Christians and Jews.  Loving God has proven to be a dangerous and deadly love affair for many.

Joe Ulma was a librarian, a photographer, an experienced fruit grower and a  bee-keeper.  He was very active in his town of Markowa and was involved with the Catholic Youth Organization.  He was 12 years older than his wife, Viktoria, who was a homemaker and mom to their six children: Stanislaw, age 8,  Barbara, age 7,  Vladyslaw, age 6,  Franciszek, age 4,  Antoni, age 3, and Maria, age 2. In addition, Viktoria was pregnant with their seventh child and was almost full term.

During the summer of 1942 the Nazi military police began deporting Jewish families from Markowa to the Nazi death camps as part of the Final Solution.  The only way Jews in Markowa could survive was for them to be taken in and hidden by non-Jewish Polish citizens.  The Ulmas took eight Jews into their home.  They knew what the penalty would be if they were found out but, being devout Catholics, they were not about to turn their backs on their Jewish neighbors.  During the darkness of night the Szall family, which included  dad, mom, and four kids plus two sisters from the Goldman family, were snuck into the Ulma house and hidden in the attic.  Somehow they managed to stay in hiding for one and a half years.

Early on the morning of March 24, 1944,  Lt. Eilert Dieken led his band of German soldiers to the Ulma house and surrounded it. They had been informed that the Szall family had been hiding there. They promptly caught all eight of the Jewish people which included two adults and six children. The prisoners were brought outside and several witnesses were gathered to act as observers.  Each of the eight was summarily shot in the back of the head.  Then Lt. Dieken ordered the Ulmas outside. He had the Ulma children lined up and made them watch as their dad and pregnant mom were shot to death right in front of them. The children began screaming so 23-year old Joseph Kokott got permission from Dieken to quiet them.  He shot three of them while his fellow executioners, Michael Dziewulski and Erich Wilde, shot the rest.  In a matter of minutes the German squad had executed  17 people.  The 17th person was Viktoria's seventh child.  It was discovered upon exhumation to bury them in a cemetery that the child was almost born as Viktoria lay dead in the grave pit.  What evil there is in the hearts of so many.

I include the Ulma family in this essay because we always discuss the people who are tortured, raped, imprisoned, brutalized and killed for their religious beliefs in terms of hundreds and/or thousands; and in the case of the Holocaust, many millions.  We tend to lose sight of the individuality of each of those people.  The Ulmas were no different than the rest of us. And, like the Ulmas, each and every one of those who has suffered  the fear and agony of the religiously defiled, was an  individual person with feelings, hopes and dreams. They had family and friends whom they loved,  they laughed, they cried, they loved to dance and sing, to hug their children and to eat cake. They enjoyed a Sunday picnic and loved Christmas or Passover. And they all had every shred of personal  dignity  ripped unmercifully from their very existence.  Their crime, in the case of the Ulmas, loving their neighbor through Christ; in the case of the Szall family and Goldman children, being the Jewish neighbors that were loved.  To understand this heinous behavior by people against people is so hard to do. I can only surmise that it must be hatred of God Himself and, since  the God haters cannot see or touch Him, they hate and defile those that love Him.

We here in the United States have been blessed with religious freedom. It is under serious attack by those who would eliminate God from our society. They do this by using the very freedom this nation affords them. They must turn to history to see what has happened in non-God societies.  We can see the beginnings of serious Christian persecution right here in America.  I hope and pray that there is not a future Ulma family somewhere within our borders. We must always remember how blessed we are to live in this country with the freedoms it provides.  Freedoms worth dying for.  Especially our first freedom, Freedom of Religion.

Post Script: Jozef and Wiktoria Ulma were declared Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem in 1995 and their cause for Beatification  was presented to Rome by the  Catholic Church of Poland in 2003.

     

On Valentine’s Day a War on LOVE is Raging

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

by Larry Peterson

 Valentine's Day is here.  It is supposed to be all about Love. Yet beyond the heart covered Valentine cards, the flower bouquets and candy and all of that, we must, as unpleasant as it may be, recognize what we truly have going on this Valentine's Day of 2014.  Yes, make no mistake, Love is under attack this Valentine's Day and the war is brutal and bloody.

The Catholic News Agency (CNA/EWTN Newsreported today that Christians are the most persecuted people on earth.  Why is that?  Why is there such hatred by so many toward something that is all about goodness and love?  The word "CHRISTIAN" comes from the name of Christ, Jesus Christ.  Okay, is that a BAD thing? I don't think so.

All Christians  (including 1.2 billion Catholics and 800 million Protestants  of varied denominations) follow Jesus Christ. That is 2 billion people or two thousand million people who follow His teachings and His promise of Eternal Life. What is the crux of His teachings? Well now, the bottom line is this, LOVE your NEIGHBOR & FORGIVENESS. Yeah, yeah, I know that many who proclaim to follow Jesus  do not even make an attempt to Love their Neighbor or Forgive anyone for anything. They let that old, deadly sin of pride rule their roost. Oh well, it is part of God's gift of free-will allowing each and every one of us to make choices. However, the vast majority of Catholic/Christians do their feeble best  to follow His message.  For those that do it is a life-long work in progress and this was true even for the saints.

So, why the hatred? Why the persecution?  Why were more than 100,000 followers of Christ murdered in the past year alone?   The problem is the aforementioned  deadly sin of pride.  Why?  Because pride has filled the hearts of many and these are the people who now HATE. What they hate most is one word which is made up of  only two letters. That  word is NO. They want no-one dare telling them what to do or how to behave. They have embraced secularism (defined as: a system of political or social philosophy that rejects all forms of religious faith and worship). Christianity establishes boundaries.  Christianity tells us what God wants us to do and what NOT to do...why, the NERVE of Him!  So, many Secularists (not all) take it to another level in their personal, selfish requests to abolish the influence of institutions that have the temerity to say NO to certain behaviors. They even reject "natural law" for their own personal agendas.

They rant against Christmas which is all about "giving". They rail on about using the name of God in schools and at sports events. They want Crosses at cemeteries taken down from the graves of fallen soldiers. In many cases those who hate Christians kill them. Men, women and children die every day in different parts of the world simply because they are followers of Jesus. How can  Love & Forgiveness be things to hate?

Well, nothing has changed since Jesus walked the earth two thousand years ago.  He preached Love & Forgiveness so they beat  Him, tortured Him and killed Him.  The loving crowds who screamed "Hosanna" on Palm Sunday turned fickle and screamed "Crucify Him" the following Friday.  The list of  people murdered for following Jesus over the centuries (including his own apostles) is countless. Being a Catholic and Christian was never supposed to be easy.  Jesus Christ did nothing but Love us, each and every one of us. Look what happened to Him.

So, on this Valentine's Day, the question to be considered might be this. What is Love? The answer can be found in the Bible in the First Letter of John; Ch 4: 16-17.  "We have come to know and believe in the love God has for us. God IS Love, and whoever remains in Love remains in God and God in Him. 
Sadly today, February 14, 2014, the war on Love increases in intensity.

     

Satan Smiles as Political Correctness Conquers the Church of England

by Larry Peterson

 In the traditional form of baptism the Church of England has always asked the parents and godparents to "reject the devil".  Now, in keeping with the sophisticated and upscale politically correct world of the 21st century there is a new format for the ceremony.  An optional, alternative text has been introduced that allows for the name of Satan to be eliminated so no-one is "offended", including the Demon in Chief.  Oh yeah, they kind of left the word "sin" out of the new format too.  Fascinating stuff, don't you think.  If you think there is no devil and that "evil" is just some abstract concept based on what we as individuals think is right or wrong, you do not have to mention any of that at the Baptismal ceremony.  Golly gee, we must not hurt anyone's feelings, including our own and  especially Beelzebub's.  (I'm not sure if this is true but I heard that some satanist told the Church of England's hierarchy that his boss, Asmodeus,  had a whole bunch of  lawyers ready to go to court to sue if the church kept using his name without authorization.)  I cannot help but wonder if John the Baptist had people come up to him before he dunked them in the river Jordan and first ask if they could forget the "Satan and sin" thing and only worry about committing the sin of NOT recycling used newspaper?" I would think not.

I think I am being somewhat flippant here because this seems to me to be so out of whack with reality.  As a Catholic I know for sure that in the Rite of Baptism and in the renewal of Baptismal vows the following words are used: "Do you renounce Satan?"   The answer is, "I do."  "And all his works?"----"I do."  "And all his empty show (promises)?"----"I do."   This is cut in stone. The traditional form for the Church of England uses the words, "reject the devil". The person answering does not say, "Uh, well, I'm not sure" or "Um, Nah, I don't think so."  When you are baptized, whether in a Catholic church or in another christian church, you accept God, His Son, Jesus, and reject Satan.  End of story.  Using the new, alternative text  all  the person has to do is "reject evil". It is up to the person. But what is evil?

I was always under the impression that the Bible was used as the pathway to what is good and evil and right and wrong. Remember Moses and those tablets God gave him on Mount Sinai? How about  Jesus giving us the two GREAT commandments about "loving God and loving your neighbor as yourself" and that other one about "turning the other cheek". Things like that were used as the basis for our moral compass and the churches were the universities that disseminated this information to their spiritually ignorant pupils.

But now we live in a new, secular world where "relatavism" rules. In this world "good and evil" are reversed. "Good" is anything that satisfies your natural appetites. "Evil" is anything that tells you NO. "Evil" also attempts to lay waste to a hated word that keeps trying to stay in its world.  That word is morality.  Oh, religion promotes that word, doesn't it? Why, the nerve of that sanctimonious institution.  In the "goodworld of evil" Satan (aka Lucifer, Mammon, Leviathan, and others mentioned) is a mythological character dreamed up to keep folks under control and living in fear, and the Bible is a bunch of outdated rants written by former slaves and sheepherders without any education. Even some modern-day pundits and TV personalities have called Christians, "idiots" for believing all that "nonsense". But we Christians (and Jews too) have always had our churches and synagogues as our guides, our lighthouses if you will,  guiding us through the stormy seas of  "good and evil". We knew what "good and evil" was and we could choose which way to navigate our personal ship. The light shined brightly and the more one followed it the brighter it became.

But now, a Christian church has folded. It has been swallowed up by the powerful seas of pride and ego. The secular fools who approved this and who think they "know best" have been duped by the empty promises of self-gratification. They would rather avoid hurting someone's feelings than stand true to the church they are supposed to represent and defend. They are cowards.  They have allowed the  light from their beacon to be extinguished. Satan smiles. Even he did not think it would be this easy.

     

THANK YOU Lord, for Christmas

by Larry Peterson

 We Catholics have our "Catholic Hall of Fame" (I call it that) which is filled with people we call saints. The Blessed Virgin Mary is undoubtedly the greatest of all saints and, as the Mother of God, she is highly honored above all others.  But it is important to remember that when they were alive  they did not walk around with glowing orbs wrapped around their heads for all to see. They walked and talked and ate and slept and got sick and even woke up "on the wrong side of the bed" at times...just like the rest of us. They were people like we are. But they had made a choice to open their hearts to God's grace and once they did  there was no turning back.  No matter what they were confronted with, whatever hardship, obstacle, injustice or whatever it might have been, they were determined to serve God before all else even if it meant giving up their very lives. This is how certain people are able to rip their "pride filled egos" from inside themselves and leave it  in the pile of dust of what once was.

Christmas and the great lessons it teaches in giving of oneself to others is once again upon us. A young girl named Mary would listen to a message from the Angel Gabriel and unhesitatingly accept  being  the Mother of God. She would now be pregnant and unmarried. She did not understand any of it. She knew that under Jewish law this could mean her possible execution when people found out. It did not matter. Filled with the grace of God she gave all of her being to Him. She trusted Him completely. Her espoused, Joseph of Nazareth, a carpenter and "righteous" Jew,  kicked  his manly pride to the dusty curb and accepted the  pregnant woman as his wife. He would love her with all  his heart, protect her, provide her a home and be her best friend until the day he died. This was, indeed, a Holy Family.

We Christians believe that the infant born on that first Christmas night so long ago was and is the Son of God. The Creator Himself  sent His only Son to teach us and to save us. What did He have to teach us? He had to first and  foremost teach us how to love one another. Then we needed to learn that Pride leads to all sin. It is the parent of jealousy and greed, envy and anger, lust and gluttony. We needed  to know how to conquer the great sin of pride. So the baby grew and became the Man that preached love and forgiveness. He was kind and caring and cured sick people. He taught us about the evils of "pride". After He finished teaching us how did He save us? He allowed us to kill Him. His Mom was there, watching and feeling the searing pain of Simeon's  prophesied sword pierce her tender, loving heart. She gave Him to the world and watched as the world took Him away from her.

Jesus died for us. He poured out every last drop of His blood so we could once again have access to heaven. He did this out of pure love for each and every person that ever lived or will live. "We come to know and believe that God is Love and he who abides in Love abides in God and God in him"   1 John 4:16

Christmas begins the "Greatest story ever told". It is about love and forgiveness and kindness and sharing. It is about peace and joy. For children it can be about a man in a red suit with a "broad face and a little round belly, that shakes when he laughs like a bowl full of jelly---". It is a beautiful thing, Christmas, a beautiful thing. How can you not love the goodness and peace it represents.  God IS Love.  I would like to join the millions of others around the world and say THANK YOU Lord for Christmas and all it represents.

     

Evangelii Guadiam is about Dignity for ALL Men & Women; It Cares NOT for Politics

by Larry Peterson

When Pope Francis released his apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, he also  inadvertently released  a swarm of pseudo experts on Catholicism and the Papacy. Why even Rush Limbaugh, who acknowledged his own non-catholicity, has decided that the Pope  is nothing but a "pure Marxist". Those on the left have assumed that the Catholic Church's teachings on abortion,  contraception, women priests, and homosexual behavior and other issues are about to be changed. These folks, left & right,  are living in their own personal world of 'relatavism'. Caught up in the secular world of 'meism' they cannot grasp for one tiny moment that the primary purpose of the Catholic Church is the salvation of souls. First and foremost, the Church is here to guide ALL of us to an eternal life with God, our Creator. Jesus Christ, the Son of God,  founded the Church and appointed its first leader, the apostle Peter who was the first Pope. Pope Francis is #266. Their mission, which they graciously accepted, has always been the same, to lead the flock to Salvation. Nothing has changed.

Okay now, listen up all you clever pundits who have allowed yourselves to become  unknowing prisoners of the secular Age of Relatavism. Pope Francis has done no different than Pope Leo XIII who gave the world Rerum Novarum in 1891 and Pope Pius XI who gave us Quadragesimo Anno in 1931. These documents were papal encyclicals and they dealt with capitalism, socialism, labor, fair wages, working conditions etc. (Please feel free to see for yourself. Just 'google'). We need to remember that Catholic social doctrine deals with the DIGNITY of man/woman because they are made in the image and likeness of God.  Poor and rich alike have responsibility to each other because they are all part of the human equation. There is nothing evil in being rich. There is nothing wrong with workers wanting a better wage and improved conditions. Evil enters when the deadly sin of greed is embraced by people when  they begin thinking of themselves first instead of God. Consequently they want more for themselves at the expense of others. Employers and employees have a responsibility to each other to be fair and just at all times. As Leo XIII addressed the social order so did Pius XI wherein he wrote about the dangers of "unrestrained capitalism" and "totalitarian communism". John Paul II addressed the dignity of man in Centesimus Annus in1991 and  Benedict XVI followed with  Caritas in Veritate in 2009. Pope Francis has connected the dots with the Popes over the last 112 years. The dignity of all people from the lowest to the most exalted is considered. The Pope(s) wants all people to understand that justice must come from all of us not just from some of us.

The Catholic Church is primarily a ship navigating the turbulent and often times violent waters of pride and envy and greed. As the church forges through these deadly waters the ship's captain, (Pope), his officers, (bishops) and  crew (priests and religious)  are supposed to work together to  keep the ship safe and on a true course to Salvation . They are responsible for the millions of souls that are their passengers. They are supposed to be teaching them how to remain safe and secure as they travel along and how to be ready to confront any and all emergencies. Many times an experienced crew member ignore's his/her training. Often times untrained passengers do not listen. Sadly, they are lost. Pride, greed, envy, lust, anger, gluttony and even sloth combine to stretch their tentacles over the ship's railings and grab the indifferent pulling them over the side and down into the blackness. And to think, all they had to do was listen. In the meantime the ship's captain MUST stay the course even though at times he must adapt to changes in the weather. There is one thing he will not do, change the primary mission. No matter what, he will always move forward and never retreat from the goal of reaching the shores of Salvation.

I think we must remember that the Catholic Church is here to guide us to a reward greater than we can ever imagine. It is not here to make everyone feel good about indulging in their own "feel good" world. Just as a parent must say 'no" to their children the Church must say "NO" to ideas, behaviors and personal whims that violate the commandments. In today's world many people do not like being told NO. There seems to be an idea that if  "I'm not bothering you I can do what I want." Well, "NO"--none of us have that luxury. Pope Francis has embraced the people, the common people. It is a beautiful thing and God has done all of us a great favor in giving this man to the world. But make no mistake, he is the captain of the great ship and he is trying his best to guide it to "Salvation". That will always be his primary goal and the ship's ultimate destination.

     

A “Bah-humbug” to all you anti-Christmas Grinches

Ebeneezer Scrooge harbored such contempt for Christmas that four separate ghosts had to appear to him and scare the bejeebers out of him before he would actually see the error of his ways and be able to smile and shout out, "MERRY CHRISTMAS". Unfortunately, for all those pseudo Ebeneezer Christmas haters who seem to grab so many headlines, like the idiot judge in Texas who threatened anyone saying the word "amen" at a school during the Christmas season with jail, there will be no ghosts appearing to them to set them straight. Alas, Dickens is dead. Too bad.

The proliferation of 24/7 news broadcasts, on-line publications, "You-tube" etc., seems to bring to the forefront all of these "offended" folks who mock Christmas, treat it with disdain and contempt, and try to have reference to it, celebration of it and reverence for it removed from every nook and cranny throughout the land. (But they do not have a problem staying home for the Holiday--well, Christmas is a national holiday, right). Now, the Congress of the United States of America, yes, our Congress, has been told that they are not allowed to put "Merry Christmas" on their correspondence. I'm getting a headache.

Here's the thing and this is not easy for me to do.  Suppose we dare to take the religious aspect out of Christmas. Jesus of Nazareth was a historical figure, right? He did not go to the university but He was a teacher. He was poor and certainly had no servants but they called Him Master. He was not a doctor but He was called Healer. King Herod was so afraid of Him that, when Jesus was only a baby,  he had thousands of innocent boys, two and under, executed in an attempt to kill Him. The only reason he failed was because Jesus' dad was able to smuggle his wife and son out of the country and into Egypt. Not bad for a guy about 18 or 19 years old with no money caring for a girl about 14 or 15 and a baby.

It took them about 33 years and then they finally did kill Jesus. Why? Because he had the temerity to speak of love and forgiveness. He certainly never hurt anyone. His crime was being kind, helping others and loving His fellow humans. What a "monster"!!

So, to all you anti-Christmas loonies who are so obsessed with stopping the celebration of a Man who simply represented love to ALL mankind---whatever is your problem? You don't have to be Christian if you don't want to be. Why can't you leave us (the VAST majority) alone. This has nothing to do with the First Amendment. This has to do with having a common respect for what others think and feel. I shall close with the most defiled word in use today:  WHATEVER