The Visit from St. Dymphna—What a Joy

Dymphna - Wikipedia

St. Dymphna                                            en.wikipedia.org

By Larry Peterson

Loretta and I were living in northern New Jersey and had two sons; Larry Jr was six, and Billy was two. We were hoping to have a girl, but Loretta had been told that she would never have any more children. We were disappointed but okay with the report. We had, after all,  been blessed with two healthy sons.

My mother-in-law had been visiting St. Benedict’s Abbey in Massachusetts. On the way home, she had planned to stop at our house and stay a few days. When she arrived, and while still walking into the house,  she said, “Wait until you see what I have.”

She reaches into her oversized purse and pulls out a beautiful gold container. “What is it?” I ask.

“Look inside the glass. It is a first-class relic of St. Dymphna. She is the patron saint of mental and emotional disorders. I asked the priest at St. Benedict if I could borrow this for Marion and Kelly (Marion was her granddaughter). I’m going to bring it to the hospital, touch it to both of them, and ask St. Dymphna to help them get better. They actually let me borrow it.”

Kelly was 16, and Marion was 14. Both suffered from Anorexia Nervosa. Kelly was down to about 45 pounds, and Marion, two years younger, was hovering around 65 pounds. My mother-in-law wanted desperately to help these girls who were slowly killing themselves.

My brother-in-law, Howard, came by later that afternoon, and he took his mom to visit the two girls. She held the relic next to each girl’s chest and prayed to St. Dymphna to intercede with God to help them get well. Time would tell how God would respond.

Doctors thought that Kelly would not survive, but both girls did miraculously recover. But the real surprise for me came about six weeks later. Loretta and I had the babysitter come over, and we headed to Luigi’s Italian restaurant. As we ate our lasagna, she said to me, “Oh, by the way, I’m pregnant.”

Holding a fork with lasagna stuck to it in front of my mouth, I stared at her. A moment or two passed, and as tears ran down her face, she said, “I used the relic.”

Unknown to me, she had taken the St. Dymphna relic and, holding it to her womb, prayed to the teenage saint. She asked her if she could help her with pregnancy issues. Seven and a half months later, our daughter was born. We named her Mary Dymphna.

The next day I was visiting Loretta, and, as she lay in her bed holding Mary Dymphna, an elderly lady poked her head into the room. She was delivering newspapers and nervously said, “I never speak to patients, but for some unknown reason, I felt I had to talk to you. Could you please tell me your baby’s name?”

We both looked at each other, and Loretta said, “Sure, its Mary Dymphna.”

So help me, this old lady started crying and said, “I knew it, I knew it. St. Dymphna saved my life a long time ago. I knew this baby had something to do with her.”

The lady came over, touched Mary’s face, and looked at her. She was seeing something we could not. It was an inexplicable spiritual moment that was born of faith. So, who was St. Dymphna, the teenage saint from 7th century Ireland who personally stepped into our lives so many years ago?

Dymphna was the daughter of a pagan king by the name of Damon. Her mom was Christian. When Dymphna was fourteen, she took a vow of chastity and dedicated her life to Jesus. Shortly after that, her mom passed away, and her father became very distraught. Under pressure to remarry, Damon insisted that any new wife would have to resemble his first wife. His aides searched far and wide but could find no one who resembled the dead queen, no one except the king’s daughter, Dymphna.

Damon, losing all sensibilities, demanded that Dymphna marry him. Horrified at such a demand, Dymphna and her confessor, Father Gerebernus, fled Ireland and landed in Belgium. After a while, King Damon tracked them down. He had Father Gerebernus killed and demanded that Dymphna return with him to Ireland. She refused. Her own father drew his sword and cut off her head. She was 15 years old.

When they discovered the remains of St. Dymphna, miracles began happening immediately. People with varied cases of mental illness were cured. In honor of the teenage saint, a church was built in Gheel, Belgium. To this very day, people in Gheel will always accept the mentally ill into their homes without question. Sociologists still study the success of this phenomenon.

The connection between me, my family, and St. Dymphna is a beautiful thing. So I will end with the following. The teenage saint is known as the “Lily of Eire” because of her virtue. My mom’s name was Lily. My daughter, Mary Dymphna, was baptized at St. Mary’s Church in Dumont, N.J. The US National Shrine of St. Dymphna is located at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Massilon, Ohio.

St. Dymphna is the patron saint of those suffering from; mental disorders, incest victims, victims of sexual assault, depression, sleep disorders, and of runaways.

St. Dymphna, please pray for us all (Feast Day is May 15)


Sickness, Drought, and Famine had decimated the Region—Our Lady came and Showered the People with Abundance

famine and drought                                            en.wikipedia.org

By Larry Peterson

“I have heard their prayers. Assure them that as of this day, their suffering has come to an end”.

There is a town located in Italy called Cursi. It is in the Apulia region of southeast Italy, and if you look at the map of the country, it is located on the heel of the boot. It is about as far southeast one can go before coming to the Adriatic Sea. It was in the seventeenth century when the Blessed Virgin came to this town and, reaching out with love and tenderness, saved all the people.

It had been three years since a drop of rain had fallen in the region. It was now 1641, and the summer heat was turned up full. The drought had led to famine, and the famine led to a lack of work. Sickness had erupted and began to spread among the people. Things had become genuinely desperate and even water to drink was getting scarce. The people had been praying every day to the Blessed Mother for help, but no relief appeared in sight.

It was in  April of 1641, (the actual date is unknown) that the son of a cattle farmer, Biagio Natali, was out herding some stray cattle back to the farm. Near the pasture was a chapel that had been dedicated to Our Lady.   Next to the chapel, near the edge of the road, was a barn. Inside the barn, on one of the walls, was a fresco someone had painted  (artist unknown) of the Madonna and Child.

As Biagio passed by the barn, he noticed a strange light coming from inside. He stopped and looked, and the light seemed to get brighter and brighter. Suddenly, the figure of the Mother and Child came from inside the light. Biagio fell to his knees and a beautiful voice said, “Don’t be afraid. I am the Queen of Heaven. Return to your village and try to placate your neighbors. I have heard their prayers. Assure them that as of this day, their suffering has come to an end. As a sign of my protection, you will have an abundant harvest.”

Realizing that the Madonna and Child were no longer there, Biagio got up and ran to Don Giovanni Domenico Coccioli, the parish priest. Don Giovanni was overjoyed to hear this message. He told Biagio that he had received a similar dream. The priest was so excited to hear Biagio’s story that he immediately ran out to announce the news to the people of the city. He organized them into a procession and all the townsfolk began marching while praying and singing in honor of Our Lady and Child. What an incredible faith the people had; nothing had yet to happen.

As the people processed toward the sight of the apparition, the clear, blue sky began to cloud over. The clouds grew darker, and the rains came down. The rain poured down for three days and nights with the fields soaking up every drop of the precious water. Since it was only April, the harvest that year was abundant. The famine ended, and the local granaries and cellars were filled with wheat and fruit.

The people of Cursi wanted to find a way to show their sincere gratitude to the Blessed Mother. They decided to enclose the small chapel and barn within a large church that would surround it. The fresco would be saved within the new church and hopefully become a place of pilgrimage. The church was finished in 1650 and, as hoped for, immediately became a popular place to visit. It was called the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Abundance. Biagio left his work as a farmer, donned the clothes of a hermit, and vowed to spend the rest of his life in prayer and fasting while looking after the shrine.

Some years after the new church was built, it was hit by lightning and it burned down. A bigger and more beautiful church was built with a magnificent sanctuary. In the sanctuary, above the high altar, is a Greco-Byzantine fresco of the Madonna of Abundance (sometimes called the Madonna of Prosperity). In it, the Blessed Virgin holds the Divine Infant and in their hands, they are holding sprigs of olives and ears of corn.

The Shrine is not only known for the “abundance” of rain but it is also a place for nursing mothers who lack the necessary milk to nurse their babies. Those who invoke her intercession are said to often develop an “abundance” of milk.

The shrine in Cursi is opened daily and Mass is offered at 5:00 p.m in the winter and at 6:00 p.m in the summer with the rosary preceding Mass.

 


Confession is the Soul’s Bath; St. Padre Pio

Bl. Fernando Olmeda Reguera                                                                              aleteia.org

By Larry Peterson

Defender of the Seal of Confession; Father Fernando Olmedo Reguera

On July 1, 2019, The Vatican issued the Note of the Apostolic Penitentiary  (a tribunal in the Roman Curia that deals with mercy and forgiveness) about the inviolability of the Sacramental Seal aka the Seal of Confession.

A Sacrament is of God—not man. “the sacramental seal is inviolable; therefore, it is a crime for a confessor in any way to betray a penitent by word or in any other manner or for any reason.”  CCC 2490

No human power has jurisdiction over the Seal of the Confessional

Fernando Olmeda Reguera was born in Santiago de Compostela (which is in the northwestern part of Spain) on January 10, 1873. Following his religious calling, he joined the Capuchin Order of Friars Minor and was ordained to the priesthood on July 31, 1904.

When the Spanish Civil War began on July 17, 1936, Father Reguera was serving as the provincial secretary for the Capuchin Order. As were many priests and religious, he was forced to go into hiding. He moved among different friends’ homes and tried his best to stay “under the radar.” He also carried on his priestly ministry as discreetly as possible. However, he was seen and apprehended during the first week of August 1936, when the Civil War was three weeks old.

The soldiers took Father Reguera to an old fortress outside of Madrid. The jails cells at the fort were filled with Catholic religious and laypersons alike. Father Reguera’s initial admission to the jail included a severe beating from the soldiers. It would not be his first.

Father Reguera was permitted to hear the cofessions of the condemned

Father was permitted to hear the confessions of the other prisoners, especially the ones who were about to be executed. He gladly heard the confessions. Ironically, since he was 63 years old,  many of the others imprisoned with him were much younger. So, besides being a priest, he presented a paternal quality that proved to be of extra comfort to the doomed prisoners. It may have been a small blessing, but it was still a blessing.

The Commandant demanded that Father Reguera reveal  what he had been told. He refused

Father Reguera quickly discovered that his captors wanted much more from him. He was brought into the commandant’s office and told he would have to write down all that he had heard in the confessional. The commandant told him his only other option was death. He adamantly refused and was severely beaten again. They gave him some time and asked him again to cooperate. He refused, and they beat him —again.

He was beaten and sentenced to death

They finally realized that Father Fernando Olmeda Reguera would never break his vow to protect the Seal of Confession and was of no  more use to them. A makeshift populist tribunal condemned father to death. His crime—”not revealing the secrets other prisoners had told him in confession.” He was taken outside the fort and executed by firing squad. The date was August 12, 1936.

Pope Francis beatified Father Fernando in Tarragona on October 13, 2013  His remains are entombed in the Basilica of Jesus of  Medinaceli in Madrid.

Blessed Fernando Olmeda Reguera, please pray for us.

 

These are the words of Pope Francis as quoted in the Apostolic Penitentiary:

“Reconciliation itself is a good that the wisdom of the Church has always safeguarded with all its moral and juridical strength with the sacramental seal. It, although not always understood by the modern mentality, is indispensable for the sanctity of the sacrament and for the penitent’s freedom of conscience; which must be certain, at any time, that the sacramental conversation will remain in the secret of confession, between one’s own conscience that opens to the grace of God, and the necessary mediation of the priest. The sacramental seal is indispensable and no human power has jurisdiction, nor can it claim it, on it.”

From St. Padre Pio:

“Confession is the soul’s bath. You must go at least once a week. I do not want souls to stay away from confession more than a week. Even a clean and unoccupied room gathers dust; return after a week and you will see that it needs dusting again!”

Copyright©Larry Peterson 2022 Originally posted with ©2019

 

 


Eucharistic Prayer I—from Daily use to Muted Gem.

Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist

By Larry Peterson

Before 1970, the only canon used during the Mass was the Roman Canon. Today’s standard missalettes carry six Canons; Eucharistic Prayers I thru IV and two Eucharistic Prayers for Reconciliation. The altar missal used by the priest has nine;  (the ones mentioned and there are three for children’s Masses). It seems the one most commonly used today is Eucharistic Prayer II.

Used every day for over 1300 years, it is rarely used today. 

The Roman Canon (Eucharistic Prayer I) was put in place by Pope St. Gregory the Great  in the seventh century. It remains virtually unchanged to this day. However, since the new versions of the Eucharistic Prayers were included in the Novus Ordo Mass, Eucharistic Prayer I is rarely used. I do not know why this is, but it certainly has withstood the test of time. (In fact, it remains the standard in the Extraordinary Form of the Mass aka the Latin Mass).

(Canon is the word used that refers to the fundamental part of the Mass that occurs between the Offertory and before Communion).

In the Roman Canon, a mystical beauty is portrayed by the words written. These words create visuals that can carry us to a different place. Focus, listen and read quietly along with the priest. You may actually get a tiny glimpse into heaven itself. Just let yourself feel the words grab you, and transport you to a different realm.

When you “arrive” you may be able to peel back the curtain and take a peek behind it. You might watch as the greatest love story ever told is taking place. It is the story of the perfect LOVE that exists within God and among the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, who is God. This is about the most profound mystery of our faith and how this perfect LOVE is about to be shared with us. It is the greatest of gifts imaginable, and all of us who choose to accept it are about to receive it. But how does the Canon of the Mass take us there?

I have before me a copy of the Breaking Bread Missalette for 2018. I also have a copy of the St. Joseph Daily Missal from 1956. One is post-Vatican II; the other is pre-Vatican II. The Roman Canon is the same in both. So let me share just one of the visuals I have mentioned. First we should all be aware that all canons are directed to God the Father.

The great Mystery of faith is shared with us by God the Father

We believe that through the consecrated hands of the ordained priest, Jesus is going to sacrifice Himself to His Father for us. The Father will accept this Gift of His Son’s human life and return His Risen Son back to us in Holy Communion. This is the Great Mystery of our Faith.

I will only mention a few words from this magnificent, 7th-century document that I believe captures it all. After the words of consecration are said, and the Body and Blood of Jesus are on the altar, we all recite the mystery of faith. Then the priest continues with:

Therefore, O Lord  (referring to the Father) as we celebrate the memorial of the blessed Passion, and the glorious Ascension into heaven of Christ, your Son, our Lord, WE, your servants and your holy people, offer to your glorious majesty from the gifts that you have given us, this pure victim, this holy victim, this spotless victim,  the holy Bread of eternal life and the Chalice of everlasting salvation.

We move down and read of Abel the just, the sacrifice of Abraham, and the offering of the priest, Melchizedek. So try to picture what happens next when God the Father hears our prayer:

In humble prayer we ask you, Almighty God; Command that these gifts be borne by the hands of your holy Angel to your altar on high in the sight of your  divine majesty, so that all of us, who through this participation at the altar, receive the most holy Body and Blood of your Son, and may be filled with every grace and blessing

(Through Christ our Lord. Amen).

As we watch the angel take our gifts up to heaven and then return them to us from our Father, we finish with the following words (how many of us think about them) before the Communion Rite begins:

Through Him, and with Him, and in Him, O God, almighty Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, forever and ever. AMEN.

All the Eucharistic Prayers are beautiful, but I must admit, I do love #1 the most.

There is a crisis in our treasured church consisting of a majority of people claiming to be Catholic not believing in the Real Presence. Ironically, many of these people will attend Mass on Easter, and most will receive Holy Communion. It may be the only Sunday they attend Mass all year. This is not shocking since many do not understand what they are doing or why they are even at Mass. Do they have any understanding of what the Mass is? I think not. Is it their fault?  Again, I think not.

Is it time for  the “old” Baltimore Catechism

There might be a simple solution. Has anyone ever thought of bringing back the “old” Baltimore Catechism? This little book has the core teachings of the Catholic faith written in terms for all to see and understand, from first graders on up. For example; from the St. Joseph First Communion Catechism; copyright 1963:

Lesson 1, First question: “Who made you?”  answer ;  “God made me.”

Lesson 2, First question: “Where is God?”  answer; “God is everywhere.”

Lesson 3, First question: “Is there only one God?” answer “Yes, there is only one God.”

Second question: “How many Persons are there in God.?

Answer: “In God, there are three Persons—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.”

Those simple phrases sum up the existence of God and the Blessed Trinity. Simplified explanations follow these questions. Parents could have these little paperbacks at home. Teachers could have them in the classroom. Even high school and college students could do ‘refreshers’ with these little books.

The First Communion Catechism finishes with lessons covering the Holy Eucharist and the Holy Mass. Remember, the lessons used here are for first and second graders. They can also be for adults, it does not matter.

Lesson 11: First question: “What is the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist?”

Answer: “The Holy Eucharist is the sacrament of the body and blood of Our Lord Jesus   Christ.”

From there, simple explanations are used to explain what this means. These are followed by a beautiful description of the Mass and how it is Jesus’ Act of Love for us.

Maybe it is time to reconsider using the ‘old” catechism or parts of it.

HAPPY EASTER everyone

 

Copyright©Larry Peterson 2022

 

 

 

 

 


The Father of Public Education in Puerto Rico never went to school.

Rafael Cordero y Molina             en.wikipedeia.org

By Larry Peterson

Rafael Cordero y Molina came into this world on October 24, 1790, in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He was born into a low-income family and had two older sisters.  His dad, Lucas Cordero, worked on a tobacco farm and his mom, Rita Molina, took care of the children and the home. Although considered “free,” they were also black, and because of that, their children were not allowed to attend school.

Rafael’s parents had a small amount of education and imparted what they could to their children. Rafael showed an instant love of reading and began to read as much as possible. He developed a passion for literature. That dedication, coupled with his determination to become a teacher, led him on his arduous journey to achieve his goal.

Rafael’s mom and dad did their best to instill the faith into their children. Instruction in the faith by the local priest was open to all.  At the age of 14, he received the Sacrament of Confirmation. From that point forward, he would continue to grow in faith and remain a devout Catholic his entire life.

Rafael began working in the tobacco fields at a young age. When he was twenty years of age, he managed to open a school in the town of  San German. From the very beginning of his career as a teacher, the young man would never accept any money or gifts for his teaching. His earnings as a tobacco farmer and maker of tobacco products were the only monies he would ever consider using.

Rafael’s school in San German was on the street known as Moon of San Juan. In the beginning, it was just black and mulatto children attending his school. As time went by, underprivileged white children also began attending. When racial segregation was a dominant factor in many places around the world, Rafael treated all people the same and never discriminated against anyone.

He would be at this school for the next 58 years. He taught children not only how to read and write, but also arithmetic, history, Catholic doctrine, and even calligraphy. The place was not only a school. It was also his home and a tobacco shop. He would instruct the children, and while they studied, he would roll cigars to sell. On the walls, he had images of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and his patron, St. Anthony of Padua. There also was a large Crucifix hanging for all to see.

In 1847 Juan Prim Prats became the Governor. He hated all non-whites and immediately set out to subjugate them.  Governor Prats instituted direct repression of blacks on the island. He decreed the “Bando Negro” law which justified any aggression against blacks, be they free or slaves. Writings show that Prim visited Rafael’s school several times and, unexpectedly, always approved of its operation. Rafael attributed that to prayer and protection from Our Lady. Prim lasted in power only a year, and all blacks and mulattos on the island breathed a deep sigh of relief.

Rafael Cordero’s reputation as a saintly teacher grew, and more people wanted to send their children to him, including the rich. People began calling him the “Maestro.” Some of those who studied under him included Alejandro Tapia y Rivera, a famous poet, and playwright; Roman Baldorioty de Castro, a professor and politician; and Jose Julian Acosta, the journalist.

“Maestro” Rafael Cordero devoted his entire life to the free education of children and young people. In 1868, sensing the end of his life was near, he called his students together and prayed with them. He gave them his blessing saying, “My children pray for this poor old man who has taught you how much he knew. He has nothing left but a breath of life.”

A few minutes later, at 5 p.m., he died. The date was July 5, 1868.  Next to him was a burning candle and scapulars sent to his bedside by the Carmelites. More than 2000 people attended his funeral, and he became known as the “Father of Public Education in Puerto Rico.”

Each year in Puerto Rico, the Rafael Cordero National Medal  is given to the annual Teacher of the Year. Schools are named after him in Puerto Rico and Jersey City, N.J., and Brooklyn, N.Y. Lastly,  the schoolhouse he taught in is registered as a historical site in the National registry of Historical Places of the United States.

In 2004 the process of Rafael Cordero’s canonization was begun. On December 9, 2013, Pope Francis declared that he had lived a life of “heroic virtue” and was worthy of the title, Venerable.

Venerable Rafael Cordero y Molina, please pray for us.

 



ACT OF CONSECRATION TO THE IMMACULATE HEART OF MARY

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O Mary, Mother of God and our Mother, in this time of trial we turn to you.  As our Mother, you love us and know us: no concern of our hearts is hidden from you.  Mother of mercy, how often we have experienced your watchful care and your peaceful presence!  You never cease to guide us to Jesus, the Prince of Peace.

Yet we have strayed from that path of peace.  We have forgotten the lesson learned from the tragedies of the last century, the sacrifice of the millions who fell in two world wars.  We have disregarded the commitments we made as a community of nations.  We have betrayed peoples’ dreams of peace and the hopes of the young.  We grew sick with greed, we thought only of our own nations and their interests, we grew indifferent and caught up in our selfish needs and concerns.  We chose to ignore God, to be satisfied with our illusions, to grow arrogant and aggressive, to suppress innocent lives and to stockpile weapons.  We stopped being our neighbour’s keepers and stewards of our common home.  We have ravaged the garden of the earth with war and by our sins we have broken the heart of our heavenly Father, who desires us to be brothers and sisters.  We grew indifferent to everyone and everything except ourselves.  Now with shame we cry out: Forgive us, Lord!

Holy Mother, amid the misery of our sinfulness, amid our struggles and weaknesses, amid the mystery of iniquity that is evil and war, you remind us that God never abandons us, but continues to look upon us with love, ever ready to forgive us and raise us up to new life.  He has given you to us and made your Immaculate Heart a refuge for the Church and for all humanity.  By God’s gracious will, you are ever with us; even in the most troubled moments of our history, you are there to guide us with tender love.

We now turn to you and knock at the door of your heart.  We are your beloved children.  In every age you make yourself known to us, calling us to conversion.  At this dark hour, help us and grant us your comfort.  Say to us once more: “Am I not here, I who am your Mother?”  You are able to untie the knots of our hearts and of our times.  In you we place our trust.  We are confident that, especially in moments of trial, you will not be deaf to our supplication and will come to our aid.

That is what you did at Cana in Galilee, when you interceded with Jesus and he worked the first of his signs.  To preserve the joy of the wedding feast, you said to him: “They have no wine” (Jn 2:3).  Now, O Mother, repeat those words and that prayer, for in our own day we have run out of the wine of hope, joy has fled, fraternity has faded.  We have forgotten our humanity and squandered the gift of peace.  We opened our hearts to violence and destructiveness.  How greatly we need your maternal help!

Therefore, O Mother, hear our prayer.
Star of the Sea, do not let us be shipwrecked in the tempest of war.
Ark of the New Covenant, inspire projects and paths of reconciliation.
Queen of Heaven, restore God’s peace to the world.
Eliminate hatred and the thirst for revenge, and teach us forgiveness.
Free us from war, protect our world from the menace of nuclear weapons.
Queen of the Rosary, make us realize our need to pray and to love.
Queen of the Human Family, show people the path of fraternity.
Queen of Peace, obtain peace for our world.

O Mother, may your sorrowful plea stir our hardened hearts.  May the tears you shed for us make this valley parched by our hatred blossom anew.  Amid the thunder of weapons, may your prayer turn our thoughts to peace.  May your maternal touch soothe those who suffer and flee from the rain of bombs.  May your motherly embrace comfort those forced to leave their homes and their native land.  May your Sorrowful Heart move us to compassion and inspire us to open our doors and to care for our brothers and sisters who are injured and cast aside.

Holy Mother of God, as you stood beneath the cross, Jesus, seeing the disciple at your side, said: “Behold your son” (Jn 19:26).  In this way he entrusted each of us to you.  To the disciple, and to each of us, he said: “Behold, your Mother” (v. 27).  Mother Mary, we now desire to welcome you into our lives and our history.  At this hour, a weary and distraught humanity stands with you beneath the cross, needing to entrust itself to you and, through you, to consecrate itself to Christ.  The people of Ukraine and Russia, who venerate you with great love, now turn to you, even as your heart beats with compassion for them and for all those peoples decimated by war, hunger, injustice and poverty.

Therefore, Mother of God and our Mother, to your Immaculate Heart we solemnly entrust and consecrate ourselves, the Church and all humanity, especially Russia and Ukraine.  Accept this act that we carry out with confidence and love.  Grant that war may end and peace spread throughout the world.  The “Fiat” that arose from your heart opened the doors of history to the Prince of Peace.  We trust that, through your heart, peace will dawn once more.  To you we consecrate the future of the whole human family, the needs and expectations of every people, the anxieties and hopes of the world.

Through your intercession, may God’s mercy be poured out on the earth and the gentle rhythm of peace return to mark our days.  Our Lady of the “Fiat”, on whom the Holy Spirit descended, restore among us the harmony that comes from God.  May you, our “living fountain of hope”, water the dryness of our hearts.  In your womb Jesus took flesh; help us to foster the growth of communion.  You once trod the streets of our world; lead us now on the paths of peace.  Amen.

Posted by Larry Peterson 3/25/2022


Pope recites special prayer for end to war in Ukraine

By Larry Peterson

The prayer was composed by the Archbishop of Naples, Domenico Battaglia. Pope Francis  read the prayer and pleaded with God to forgive all of humanity for the horrors of war. Pope Francis invited Christians to “ask God for forgiveness and to grant peace” in Ukraine.

The Pope pleads with God to forgive all of humanity for the brutality of war, which he said turns our hands—created to care and tend the earth—into instruments of death.

Before reciting the prayer, Pope Francis invited Christians to “ask God for forgiveness and to grant peace” amid the pain of the war in Ukraine.

Here below is an unofficial translation of the Pope’s prayer:

Forgive us for war, O Lord.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us sinners!
Lord Jesus, born in the shadows of bombs falling on Kyiv, have mercy on us!
Lord Jesus, who died in a mother’s arms in a bunker in Kharkiv, have mercy on us!
Lord Jesus, a 20-year-old sent to the frontlines, have mercy on us!
Lord Jesus, who still behold armed hands in the shadow of your Cross, have mercy on us!

Forgive us, O Lord.

Forgive us, if we are not satisfied with the nails with which we crucified Your hands, as we continue to slate our thirst with the blood of those mauled by weapons.
Forgive us, if these hands which You created to tend have been transformed into instruments of death.
Forgive us, O Lord, if we continue to kill our brother;

Forgive us, if we continue like Cain to pick up the stones of our fields to kill Abel.
Forgive us, if we continue to justify our cruelty with our labors, if we legitimize the brutality of our actions with our pain.
Forgive us for war, O Lord. Forgive us for war, O Lord.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, we implore You! Hold fast the hand of Cain!
Illumine our consciences;
May our will not be done;
Abandon us not to our own actions!

Stop us, O Lord, stop us!
And when you have held back the hand of Cain, care also for him. He is our brother.
O Lord, put a halt to the violence!
Stop us, O Lord!
Amen.

We might all post this prayer and say it every day that peace comes to Ukraine


A Caregiver Remembers; Living with Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s disease                                                                                          en.wikipedia.org

By Larry Peterson

What follows is some insight for those who have never been a primary caregiver. This is more like “a day in the life” of someone living and caring for an Alzheimer’s patient who is usually a spouse or a son or daughter.  Many folks have seen people with Alzheimer’s or have relatives or friends with the disease and think they “get it.”  Still, unless you, as a caregiver, live it, day after day after day, year after year, up until the end, you do not “get it.” You just can’t.

Simple memories triggered

My thoughts and I were sitting together reflecting the other night, just floating back to days long gone. The trigger for the thoughts was my wife, Marty, who passed away from cancer and Alzheimer’s Disease five years earlier on March 27. The thoughts kept bouncing around, and the “little things” that used to happen frequently began to dominate the memory flow. Anyway, I would like to share some of those simple memories. This is from an evening I remembered well. It was when I promised I would call her in sick for work.

It began like this. After dinner (I had turned into a pretty good cook), Marty asked me, “What time is my show on?”

Sundowning

Reflexively I would ask her, “Which one?” I knew she had no favorite show. I also knew she had stepped into what is known in Alzheimer’s disease as “sundowning.” I called it, ‘Uh-oh time.’ I called it this because these were the moments when she would unexpectedly become frustrated and agitated.

I could see her tensing. Then she would look at me and, raising her voice a decibel or two, would say, “You know what show. Just tell me what time it comes on.”

I had become a guilt-free liar

As a Catholic who loves his faith, I do not lie. However, the fact was, in my caregiver world, I had become a guilt-free, therapeutic liar. It was about survival, mine and hers. My justification was that without me, she was alone, and she was no longer able to survive on her own. “Sorry, sweetie, your show is not on tonight. There is a special about sharks on, and sharks scare you, right?”

“You know I don’t like sharks. I am scared of sharks. But that’s okay. I can watch the news, right?’

“Absolutely.” I had lied to my wife, Marty. I felt no guilt. It was a necessary tool for me to use in my role as her caregiver.

She headed to the sofa, sat down, and picked up her puzzle book. She always was good at doing the anachrostics (I find them incredibly difficult). Still, she would sit and look at the page, holding the pencil on it, which never moved. Then she said, “Do I have to go to work tomorrow? I’m so tired. I really could use a day off.”

Liar’s Hat on

Two years earlier, I might have tried to explain that she did not have a job and had not worked in seven or eight years. She still may have understood. Those days were gone. So, with my “Liar’s Hat” still in place, I answered, “You’re right. You do look tired. I think you need a day off too. Don’t worry. I’ll call in for you and tell them you’re sick.”

“You would do that for me?

“Of course, I would do that for you.”

That’s’ so nice. I’m so glad I don’t have to get up and go in. Is today Sunday?”

Whew, a relief question. I could  tell the truth. “No, it’s Wednesday.”

“Wednesday, are you sure?”

“Yes, it’s Wednesday.”

Things were quiet for a while It was about 9 p.m. when I walked back to the bathroom. Suddenly I hear smashing and banging coming from the utility room off the kitchen. I head in there, and in a matter of minutes, Marty had pulled out of the wall cabinet all of the plastic containers, glasses and cups, and other things inside and stacked them all on the washer and dryer below. “Hey hon, what are you doing?”

We have to get rid of the junk

She looks at me, and I can tell she is agitated. “We have all this junk. We have to get rid of it. Why do we have all this junk? We have to throw it out.”

Immediately, I switch back to my ‘Liar’s Hat’. “Okay, when should we throw it all out?”

“I don’t know, maybe right now?”

“Well, it is kind of late. Maybe we can do it in the morning.”

“I don’t feel like putting it all back tonight.”

“Don’t worry about it. I’ll do it.”

“Oh, thanks. I’m too tired

There was one final comment. She looks at me and asks, “We are married, right?”

“Yes Marty, we are married.” (That was not a lie)

She got into bed about 9:30 and was asleep in about two minutes. I was mentally worn out but I looked at her and realized that an innocence had come from an unknown place and  embraced her. I also knew that when she awoke in the morning, she would not remember anything of what had happened.

I was blessed

Since I do not “punch a clock” I have the joy of being able to attend daily Mass at 8 a.m.. Marty will wake up at about 7 a.m. and always ask me, “Are you going to church?”

I answer, “Yup.”

She will ask, “Will you take me with you?”

“Of course.”

From 1 Corinthians 13:4-5

 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

As a caregiver to a child of God, I was blessed.

Copyright©LarryPeterson 2022


From Slave to Priest—The Journey of Augustus Tolton

Father Augustus Tolton            public domain

By Larry Peterson

Something for Black History Month

This is about a man, born into slavery in Missouri, who became the first African American from the United States ordained a Catholic priest. I wish folks across America would learn about him. He was a man whose goodness shined like a brilliant star inspiring others by his gentle and caring example. Say “Hello” to Augustus Tolton.

On April 1, 1854, Peter Tolton paced nearby as his wife, Martha Jane, gave birth to her second son. They named him Augustus (after his uncle), and the baby was baptized soon after in St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Brush Creek, Missouri.  Mrs.Savilla Elliot stood as Augustus’ godmother.

It was a situation a bit out of the ordinary at the time.  That was because Mrs. Elliot was married to Stephen Elliot, who happened to be the “owner” of Augustus’ mom and dad.  The Tolton family was slaves, and their three children, Charley, Augustus, and Anne, were born into slavery.  Slave owners and their slaves all Catholic. It was quite uncommon, especially in the mostly Protestant south.

Augustus was seven years old when the Civil War began. This is when his history becomes a bit confusing. There are various accounts of his journey to freedom. You will find an account in Wikipedia of Stephen Elliot permitting Peter Tolton to head north, and join the Union Army.  A bit later, Elliot gave Martha and her children their freedom too.  They headed north, and with the help of Union Soldiers, crossed the Mississippi River and entered Illinois, a “free” state.  They settled in the town of Quincy.

The Encyclopedia Brittanica reports Augustus’ dad, escaped his bondage and fled north joining the Union army where he was killed in battle. His mom managed to escape with her three children, Charley, Augustus, and their sister, Anne, and get to Illinois, where they settled in Quincy. From this point on  most accounts agree about Augustus journey, beginning with his being discovered by Father Peter McGirr.

Father Peter McGirr

The pastor of St. Peter’s parish in Quincy was an Irish American priest, Father Peter McGirr.  Father McGirr had noticed a shabbily dressed African-American boy spending an excessive amount of time near the church.  After several days had gone by, Father walked across the street and introduced himself to the boy. After a brief conversation, Father asked him, ” Well, now lad, do you go to school?”

“No, sir.”

“Would you like to go to school?”

Augustus jumped into the air and yelled, “YES, Sir, YES!”

Father McGirr and Augustus headed to St. Peter’s.  The priest’s move was very controversial. Most white parishioners did not want a black student studying along with their children.  Father McGirr held firm and insisted that Augustus study at St. Peter’s.  He got permission from Augustus’ mom, who was shocked that this had happened to her son.  Augustus Tolton’s life had been placed on the road to his destiny.

Was the Holy Spirit at work?

The Holy Spirit may have moved Father McGirr because he saw something in Augustus that others did not.  Within one month, the boy had moved on to the ” second reader.”  Father approached Augustus and asked him if he would like to receive his First Holy Communion.  He did, and by the summer, Augustus was the altar boy for the 5 a.m. Mass.  After several years Father McGirr asked Augustus if he would like to become a priest.  He told him it would take about 12 years of difficult study and dedication.  Augustus said, “Let us go to the church and pray for my success.”

After graduation and with the unwavering support of Father McGirr, Augustus attempted to get into a seminary.  It was the 1870’s, and prejudice was taken for granted.  Augustus was rejected by every American seminary to which he applied.  But the young man did not despair, lose hope, or begin to get bitter.  On the contrary, he continued to pray, and his prayers, combined with the fearless determination of Father McGirr, enabled him to gain admission to St. Francis Solanus College (now Quincy College) in Quincy, Ill.

A brilliant student

Augustus proved to be a brilliant student and, upon graduation, was accepted into the Pontifical Urbaniana University in Rome.  Founded by Pope Urban VIII in the 17th century, this was a training ground for missionaries.  It was here that Augustus became fluent in Italian and studied Greek and Latin.  In 1886, at the age of 32, Augustus Tolton was ordained to the priesthood in Rome.  He was the first black Roman Catholic, American priest of African descent in the United States.

Newspapers from across the country told the story of the former slave, now ordained as a Catholic priest.  When Father Tolton arrived back in Quincy, he was greeted as a hero.  A brass band played, and Negro spirituals were sung as thousands of white and black people sang together, lined the streets together, and held hands together as they waited to catch a glimpse of the former slave boy who had grown up to be a Catholic priest.

Love of God replaced Prejudices

Father Tolton walked down the avenue dressed in his cassock and wearing the biretta.  When he arrived at St. Boniface Church, hundreds had crowded inside, wanting to receive his blessing.  His first blessing went to Father McGirr, who was still by his side. The next day Father Tolton said his first Mass at the packed church while thousands stood outside. For these few days, prejudices in Quincy, Illinois, were non-existent.  They had been replaced by the love of God instead.

Father Tolton remained at St. Boniface’s for five years.  He met with stiff resistance as prejudice again reared its ugly head.  But Father persevered and managed to start St. Joseph’s Parish in Quincy.  In 1892  he was transferred to Chicago and headed a mission group that met in the basement of St. Mary’s Church.  The work at St. Mary’s led him to develop the Negro National Parish of St. Monica’s Catholic Church.

“Good Father Gus”

He was such a kind, caring man that he came to be known as “Good Father Gus.”  The church grew quickly and soon had over 600 parishioners.  His next plan was to oversee new construction at St. Monica’s, which had begun to accommodate the swelling numbers of parishioners.  He would not live to see it.

Father Tolton had been ill for quite some time and had never told anyone.  On a hot July day in 1897, with the temperature at 105 degrees, Father Tolton had just returned from a retreat in Bourbonnais, Ill.  When he stepped from the train, he collapsed.  Taken to the hospital, Father Gus died a few hours later from sunstroke. He was 43 years old.  The community was shocked at the loss of their dear friend.  Father Tolton was buried at St. Mary’s Cemetery near Quincy.

The Road to Sainthood

In March 2010, Cardinal George of Chicago announced that he was beginning the cause for canonization for Father Tolton.  On February 24, 2011, the Catholic Church officially began the formal introduction of the cause for sainthood. Father Augustus Tolton was then formally designated as “Servant of God.”

Good Father Gus was declared a man of “heroic virtue” by Pope Francis on June 12, 2019. He is now known as Venerable Augustus Tolton. He is currently under consideration for Beatification.

Venerable Augustus Tolton, please pray for us all.

Copyright©LarryPeterson 2022