Manliness Personified; Joseph of Nazareth: The Saint Who Saved the Savior (Feast Day, March 19)

Joseph and Mary going to Bethlehem

By Larry Peterson

So little is known about Joseph of Nazareth. There is not even one word he ever said that was recorded.  But his quiet life resonated as if huge cymbals were being smashed together, their vibrating sounds marching over the ages of history and into the center of our 21st-century existence. For it was Joseph of Nazareth who saved the Son of God so He could live to save us all. I call Joseph, the “Savior Saint.”

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, savior saint who single-handedly saved the life of our Savior, Jesus Christ when He was still an infant. Imagine if he had not been available to protect his wife and child.

As a man, I try to imagine having to confront what Joseph had to deal with. As Mary’s betrothed, he quietly accepted her pregnancy at a time when the scandal of such a thing oftentimes meant execution for the woman. When Mary was almost full term, 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; a journey that 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, Mary, goes into labor. There were no ERs, no cell phones, no 911 calls, and no paramedics. You are a stranger in town and do not know anyone. Unable to find shelter, you realize you on your own. Being a man, you try to appear calm and cool, but your insides are knotted in fear.

He was probably trembling and telling his wife, “Stay calm sweetie, it will be all right. Don’t worry. Don’t worry.”  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, Joseph 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.

The soldiers, unflinchingly following orders, 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 after-thought 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, but he also 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.” And that Boy would look up at him and call him, “Daddy.”  Imagine that.

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

 Copyright Larry Peterson 2018


Blessed Alexandrina Maria da Costa; Mystic, Victim Soul, and member of the Salesian Cooperators

Blessed Alexandrina da Costa                                 

By Larry Peterson

Alexandrina Maria da Costa was born in Balazar, Portugal, in 1904. Her father abandoned his family when she was very young leaving his wife, and two daughters, Deolinda and Alexandrina, destitute. Consequently, Alexandrina, who had only attended school for a mere eighteen months, was forced to go to work. The young girl had unusual strength and was able to work long hours doing heavy farm work. She was all of nine-years-old when she began working in the fields.

Alexandrina came down with a severe infection when she was 12. She nearly died but did survive. The effects of the illness had left their mark, and the young girl suffered greatly every day.  Even though in constant pain she continued working in the fields. When she became a teenager, she began to work as a seamstress alongside her sister.

Things changed quickly for Alexandrina. It was Holy Saturday in 1918, and Satan was doing his best to destroy Holy Week for as many people as he could. Alexandrina, Deolinda, and an apprentice seamstress were working together when three men broke into the house. They were determined to sexually violate the three young women. Alexandrina, staring into the faces of evil, refused to be accosted. To preserve her purity, she managed to jump from a window. The distance down was almost 14 feet.

Alexandrina’s injuries were severe. She was paralyzed, and doctors described her condition as irreversible. They also said she would continue to deteriorate. However, Alexandrina, filled with faith, still managed to drag herself to church. Although hunched over from her injuries, she would remain in prayer for hours. Her condition continued to worsen, and she ultimately became immobile. By the age of 21, she was permanently bedridden and paralyzed.

Alexandrina had a great devotion to the Blessed Mother and prayed over and over for a miraculous cure. She promised to give away all her possessions, to cut off her hair, and wear black the rest of her life if she would get cured. However, that was not to be, but God did answer her prayers, albeit in another way.

Slowly but surely Alexandrina began to understand that her suffering was an actual vocation and that she had been called to be a “victim” for Jesus. She said, Our Lady has given me an even greater grace:  first, abandonment; then, complete conformity to God’s will; finally, the thirst for suffering.”

God poured down His graces on Alexandrina, and the young, paralyzed woman began to long for a life of union with Jesus. She now understood that to do this she would have to bear her debilitating condition for love of Him. This was the point where Alexandrina offered herself to God as a “victim soul.”

Starting on October 3, 1938, and continuing through March 24, 1942, every Friday Alexandrina would literally “live” the three-hour passion of Jesus. Her paralysis would seem to leave her, and she would relive the Stations of the Cross experiencing overwhelming physical and spiritual pain.

The following is from Pope St. John Paul II’s homily at her beatification: “On 27 March 1942, a new phase began for Alexandrina which would continue for 13 years and seven months until her death. She received no nourishment of any kind except the Holy Eucharist, at one point weighing as few as 33 kilos (approximately 73 pounds).——- Jesus himself spoke to her one day:  “You will very rarely receive consolation… I want that while your heart is filled with suffering, on your lips there is a smile.” From that point on Alexandrina, no matter the intensity of her pain always had a ready smile for anyone who came to see her.

In 1944, Alexandrina became a member of Don Bosco’s Association of Salesian Cooperators. She joined so she could offer her sufferings for the sanctification of youth. Alexandrina died on October 13, 1955. She was 51 years old.
On April 25, 2004, she was declared Blessed by Pope John Paul II who stated that “her secret to holiness was love for Christ.”

Blessed Alexandrina Maria da Costa, please pray for us.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2018


Baby Turtles vs. Baby People…and the Winner is?

By Larry Peterson

Loggerhead Turtle…wikipedia2common

In Florida, sand as white as snow curls up the Gulf Coast from Naples north to the panhandle area with some of the most beautiful beaches on the planet. People come from all over the world to visit these beaches and bask in the brilliant Florida sun and fish and swim in the calm and clear Gulf waters. But there is one thing these folks and all folks had better not do while visiting these beaches. If they do not want to wind up in jail, they had better avoid the Loggerhead Sea Turtles. They are on the Endangered Species List and they nest on the beaches.

We have in place in this country a law called the Endangered Species Act. Under this act wildlife considered “endangered” are protected by law from being killed, maimed or harmed in any way. There are many good points to this law as some of our most revered wildlife, like the Bald Eagle, have been saved from possible extinction. But, what about the “Baby People”? Don’t they count?

The Loggerhead Sea Turtle is one of these protected turtles. It can be found (like baby people) all over the world. However, its primary habitat is the Florida coast north to Virginia. It is estimated that these turtles build 67,000 nests a year along the beaches. The female lays her eggs in the sand and buries them. After two months they hatch, crawl to the sea and begin their lives. Of all the hatch-lings maybe 8000 baby turtles survive.  They will live close to 60 years.

It is illegal to harm, harass, or kill any sea turtles, their eggs, or hatchlings. It is also illegal to import, sell, or transport turtles or their products. It is perfectly legal to kill baby people who have not been born. In the United States, since Roe vs Wade was passed in 1973, over 58,000,000 abortions have been performed. Fifty-eight million baby people have been vanquished from existence, many of them burned alive via the Saline Abortion method. That extrapolates out to 1,348,837 baby people a year killed in America.

In 2014 there were 3.93 million births in the United States. That means that approximately one out of every four pregnancies in our country results in a life extinguished. Sea turtles are given every chance to survive with the government going so far as to put people in prison who might interfere with their survival. On the other hand, baby people are welcomed into legalized and sweetly painted extermination camps and, unmercifully and without fanfare or emotion, eradicated.

Whatever are we doing? We civilized people have allowed a portion of our past to be destroyed. We are allowing our present to be vilified by what can only be called a great lie fabricated as the virtue of “helping” women. We have short-circuited the future of our children and grandchildren by taking away from them the possibility of another Rembrandt, or a Mozart or a Jonas Salk, or a Martin Luther King Jr., or even an Abraham Lincoln living among them.

There is a world wide abortion counter that ticks off the abortions around the world as they happen. Look for yourself. More than one life a second is being aborted. Genocide of the innocent, living in and out of the womb, is rampant on planet Earth. Whatever have we wrought?

As the great St. John Paul II said, “A nation that kills its own children is a nation without hope.”

copyright©Larry Peterson 2017 All Rights Reserved


The “Little Flower” and Our Lady of the Smile

St. Therese; ‘The Little Flower”

By Larry Peterson

St. Therese was born January 2, 1873, and since it is still January, I thought I would mention my favorite story about this Saint. It happened when she was ten years old, and the result was not just the “Little Flower’s” miraculous recovery from an unknown and life-threatening illness, but it also was the beginning of devotion to what became known as Our Lady of the Smile.

Therese’s mom, Zelie, had begun to complain of breast pain in 1865, eight years before Therese was even born. In 1876, doctors told her of her condition. Zelie died of Breast Cancer on August 28, 1877. She was 45 years old.  Her youngest child, Therese, who was four years old, was crushed. Years later she would write that “the first part of my life stopped that day.”

Zelie Martin had asked her husband, Louis, to have Pauline look after Therese after she had passed. Pauline was twelve years older than her little sister and had been acting as a surrogate mom for Therese while their mom was sick. Therese loved Pauline very much and felt safe and secure with her by her side.

In October of 1882, when Therese was nine years old, Pauline entered the Carmelite monastery at Lisieux. Pauline was the child’s “second mother” and, once again, Therese was crushed. She believed that since Pauline was cloistered, she would never see her again. She cried, “—in the depths of my heart, I know Pauline is lost to me.”

Therese began to show signs of illness. Pauline’s leaving for the Carmelites had jump-started her memories of her mom’s passing. She wanted to join the Carmelites right away, but she was much too young. The three forces collided and Therese got sicker and sicker. Convulsions, fever, and hallucinations, began to overwhelm her. Her body exhibited tremors and her teeth clenched, and she could not speak. One doctor suggested that she was “emotionally frustrated and was experiencing a neurotic attack. She was ten years old.

The Martin’s had a beautiful statue of Our Lady of Victory. Louis Martin had been given the statue by a lady who knew him, and he placed the statue in his garden. When he and Zelie got married, the statue was moved into the house and given a place of honor. When the children were old enough, the entire family would pray before the statue.

The statue was three feet high and covered with a varnish that made it look like marble. The children loved that statue, and they would decorate it with flowers from the garden.  Their father told them they might wear the statue out from kissing it so much.

Therese was now suffering from severe headaches, strange apparitions and everything seemed to terrify her. She thought her bed was surrounded by steep cliffs and for a short period of time, Therese could not open her eyes.

During this time the statue was in the room with Therese. On May 13, 1883, Marie, the oldest sister, was sure Therese was dying. She fell to her knees before the statue begging Our Lady to cure her baby sister. Leonie and Celine came in and joined Marie in prayer.

Marie looked over at Therese and noticed that her little sister seemed to be transfixed on the statue. Therese was not looking at the statue. Rather, in a state of ecstasy, the Blessed Virgin was standing near her and that is who she was looking at.

Therese said later that Our Lady’s face glowed with a glorious beauty, but it was her wonderful smile, which filled the girl with joy. It was like a warm ray of sunshine. When everything was over, a period that lasted about five minutes, Therese Martin, was cured. Her sisters noticed two large teardrops fall from each eye. Later, when Marie asked her why she cried, she answered, “I cried because Our Lady had disappeared.”

Thus began the devotion known as “Our Lady of the Smile.”

In St. Therese’s autobiography, the “Story of a Soul,” on the first appendix page there is a prayer she carried with her the day she took her vows as a Carmelite. The date was September 8, 1890. (Interestingly, that is Our Lady’s birthday). The last paragraph of that letter is as follows:

Jesus, allow me to save many souls,

Let no soul be lost today.

Let all souls in purgatory be saved.

Jesus, pardon me if I say anything I should not say, I only want to give you joy and to console you.

St. Therese of Lisieux; Please pray for us all.

Christ had revealed the Treasures of His Sacred Heart to St. Margaret Mary. But it was St. Claude de la Colombiere who helped her reveal it to the world.


St. Claude de la Colombiere

By Larry Peterson

Claude de la Colombiere was born in 1641, in the old province of Dauphine, in France. He was the third child of Bertrand Colombiere and Margaret Coindat. Soon after Claude was born the family moved to the town of Vienne, and this is where the young boy began his education. It was during this time period that Claude began feeling the call to the Jesuits.

Claude began his secondary studies at the Jesuit school in Lyon. He was now seventeen and, wrote in his journal, that he had “a terrible aversion for the life embraced.” Later on, those who knew him, attributed those comments to his being away from home and missing his family who he was very close to. Plus, he loved the arts, literature and active social life. But the selfless side of Claude won out, and he entered the Jesuit novitiate at Avignon. Here he finished his studies in rhetoric and philosophy.

In 1666 he went to the College of Clermont in Paris to study theology. He took his first vows and completed his studies in philosophy. He became a professor of grammar and literature and stayed in that position for the next five years. Well known  for his tact, poise, and devotion to the humanities, his superiors appointed him the tutor for the children of France’s Minister of Finance, Jean Baptiste Colbert. Unknown to Claude, God had bigger plans for him.

Claude was now a priest and returned to Lyon. Here he taught in the college, became a full-time preacher, and also the moderator of several Marian congregations. After 15 years as a Jesuit, Father Colombiere began his probation in a Jesuit’s final spiritual formation. This is  known as the Tertianship, and it would be the final pathway for the priest to his still unknown destiny.

Upon Father Colombiere’s profession of solemn vows, he was named rector of the College at Paray-le-Monial. Most people who knew of Father Colombiere wondered why such a talented priest would be sent to such an unknown and obscure place. The answer was well known to the superiors’ who sent him.

The reason was for him to see a simple, humble nun at the Monastery of the Visitation. Her name was Margaret Mary Alacoque. The reports were that she told her superiors that Jesus was appearing to her  and revealing the secrets of His most Sacred Heart.

Sister Margaret Mary was being spurned by the other sisters and ridiculed. She tormented over and was  uncertain of what was actually happening. Jesus had told Sister Margaret that He would send her the “faithful servant and perfect friend.”

Sister Margaret Mary had endured much because of the disbelief of the other nuns at the monastery. She felt isolated and alone even though she had been chosen by Christ Himself to spread devotion to His Sacred Heart. When  Father Colombiere arrived at the monastery and began hearing the confessions of all the nuns, Sister Mary Margaret knew the “faithful servant and perfect friend”  that Jesus had promised her had finally come.

She willingly confided in Father Colombiere and opened her heart to him. After speaking and meeting with her a number of times Father Colombiere was convinced of the truthfulness and the validity of her visions. He became her most ardent supporter and apostle for her and devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Father Colombiere left Paray  in 1676 and headed for London. He kept in touch with Sister Margaret Mary by letter. He had been assigned to be the preacher to the Duchess of York and later, to the Queen of Great Britain. He even took up residence in St. James Palace.

Colombiere’s belief and loyalty to his Catholic faith never wavered, even under the intense pressure against the Catholic faith in England. In 1678 he was  accused and arrested as one of those involved in the fictional ‘popist plot’ designed to overthrow King Charles II. He spent over three weeks in squalid prison conditions weakening his frail health to the point of ‘no-return”.

After his release, in 1679, he was sent back to Paray.  Father Colombiere died on February 15, 1682, from severe hemorrhage. He was 41 years-old.

Jesus had appeared to St. Margaret Mary revealing His wishes for devotion to His Sacred Heart. But it was St. Colombiere who helped the quiet, humble visionary announce it to the world. Father Claude de la Colombiere was canonized a saint on May 31, 1992, by Pope St. John Paul II.

St. Colombiere, please pray for us. His feast day is February 15.


For Valentine’s Day–A Love Story Embraced by God (This is a true story)

By Larry Peterson

It was the spring of 2014. Ed and Cathy Carmello (not their real last name) had only been my neighbors for a short time, less than a year I think.   They had met when Ed was 60 and Cathy was 40. They fell in love and, never having been married, happily “tied the knot.”  They had just celebrated their silver wedding anniversary and were simply enjoying retired life together.

There was a problem. Ed’s prostate cancer had returned with a vengeance and was destroying him quickly. Cathy was in her final battle with  Stage IV melanoma. Since I was a prostate cancer survivor and my first wife had died of melanoma, I was able to discuss their cancers openly with them. They knew I understood.

It was a Thursday afternoon around 4 .p.m. when I left to take my daily walk. I headed down the street, and there was Cathy standing on her front lawn supported by her walker.  I could see she was fighting to hold herself up. A bit anxious, I hurried over and said, “Hey, Cathy, what’s going on? Is everything all right?”

“I was waiting for you, Larry.  I need to talk to you.”

I was dumbfounded. “Are you kidding me? I never walk at this time of day, and you say you were waiting for me?”

“I just knew you were coming by.  I can’t explain it.”

A bit unnerved, I leaned against her SUV as she leaned heavily on her walker. “You know Ed is dying, right?”

“Yeah, Cathy, I know.  We talked about it.  He’s an amazing guy. What about your prognosis? Any change?”

She smiled and looked me right in the eye saying, “They told me I only have a few weeks left.”

I tightened my lips, took a breath, and asked, “What can I do?”

They knew that I was Catholic and an EMHC (Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion).  Cathy asked me if I could bring a priest over. She told me that they had been non-practicing Catholics and had not been to church in years. It was time for them to “make things right with God.”  I said, “I will put a call into Father as soon as I get back to the house.”

“Thank you so much.  That is why I was out here waiting for you.”

I simply nodded. She smiled and thanked me and I walked her back to the house. She did not mention herself once, only her husband.  She told me how she wished she could ease his suffering and how wonderful it might be if they could go for a bicycle ride just one more time.  Then she mentioned how she thanked God for every moment they had had together.

We went inside and she, Ed, and I hung out for about ten minutes just chatting.  Cathy excused herself and slowly walked back to the bedroom.  Ed quickly told me how he wished he could ease her suffering and how God had been so good to him allowing him to find such a great woman to share his life with.  I took in a deep breath. (You know, when God is present sometimes it is hard to breathe).

I called our newly ordained priest, Father Scott. He came over the next day and spent about an hour with Ed and Cathy.  Ed and the young priest both had roots in Roanoke, Virginia, and talked and laughed and had a raucous good time together. Even though the two of them were separated by more than 50 years, it did not matter.  It was as if they had grown up together.  It was beautiful.

Father heard their confessions, anointed both of them and gave them Holy Communion. He told them he would come back the first chance he could.  Sunday was Palm Sunday. It was the beginning of Holy Week, and he would be busy.  They all hugged and said good-bye. On Palm Sunday I had the honor of bringing them Holy Communion.

Easter Sunday I was again privileged to bring Ed and Cathy Holy Communion. In so doing, an unexpected sight was forever etched in my mind.  They were lying next to each other in bed, holding hands.  Ed smiled and said, “Larry, we are SO happy. This is the greatest Easter we ever had.”

He turned and looked at his wife who was smiling lovingly at him. She reached over and wiped his wet, happy eyes. They kept looking into each other’s eyes, and I thought they were maybe looking into each other’s souls. It was a moment that was filled with a shared spirituality I had never seen before. I could actually feel it. I have no doubt that at that moment Jesus was there with them holding their hands in His.

As for me, I thank God for their friendship and for being a part of their final journey. Sometimes I like to think that I took two people in love to the airport and watched them get on a plane for a a true flight to paradise.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2014

Servant of God: Anna Louise Lateau –She Lived on Nothing but the Holy Eucharist for 12 Years

Servant of God; Anna Louise Lateau

By Larry Peterson

On January 13, 1850, a baby girl was born to Adele Pissens Lateau and her husband, Gregory. They named the child Anna Louise. Three months after Louise was born her dad passed away from smallpox. A healthy, powerful, 29-year-old metal worker, Gregory’s body was no match for the smallpox demon that ravaged him. His family was left in a terrible spot.

Adele had almost died giving birth to Louise and was still, for the most part, bedridden. The oldest child, Rosina, who was only three-years-old, actually tried her best to take care of her mom and two sisters. It was an unbelievably heroic attempt on the part of this small child. Her sister, Adelina, was only two and Louise, just three months old.  To make matters worse than they already were, Louise also contracted smallpox. Neighbors, fearing the dreaded disease, avoided the Lateau household and the family was virtually abandoned. How frightened Adele and her babies must have been.

A local doctor had been monitoring the Lateau family and told a local workman, Francis Delalieu*, about the family. He asked him if he could check in on them. A week later, Francis, entered the home to check on the occupants. What he found horrified him. The one child was wrapped in dried out, smelly bandages, all the children were filthy, and the mom was lying in bed in a state of despair. Francis, a kind, and decent man, immediately took charge of the house.

Francis immediately went and acquired food and the necessary provisions to care for the family. He treated baby Louise with extra loving care and, in effect, became “parental.” He cared for the family for the next two and a half years during which time Adele regained her full strength, and the children were healthy. That entire transformation in itself was miraculous.

When Louise was eleven-years-old, her mom allowed her to become a housemaid. Soon after she was trained as a dressmaker. When Louise was sixteen-years-old, a cholera epidemic struck Bois-D’Haine. Louise began caring for six of the victims and even assisted in burying the dead. She had no fear of catching the disease. That was not to be as she also came down with the illness. Louise remained seriously ill into 1868, and on April 15th of that year, she received last-rites. It was ten days after this that the stigmata began to appear

Louise noticed blood was dripping from her side. As was her personality, she said nothing. The following Friday the blood appeared again, but this time it was also coming from the tops of her feet. On Friday, May 8, the bleeding began to come from the front and back of both hands, and on Friday, September 25, the crown of bleeding spots appeared on her forehead.

She confided to her parish priest about it and, although quite stunned; he downplayed the entire phenomena. He asked her to not say anything about it. However, the experience for Louise continued every Thursday night until Friday evening for the rest of her life. Louise continued to work hard for the family as long as she could.

In 1871, Louise ceased to eat, drink and sleep. He only food was the Holy Eucharist which she received upon attending daily Mass. The Bishop of Tournai, Joseph Labis, opened an investigation into Louise’s inexplicable spiritual journey. Quickly word spread even traveling abroad. Crowds began to gather around the little house on a daily basis. That was the way it would be from then on.

Louise Lateau told her pastor of her visions which consisted of the Passion of Christ, the Virgin Mary and even some of the saints. She would go into ecstasy and remain that way for hours, oblivious to everything going on around her. She would seemingly remain painless as the phenomena continued and would have no recollection of the events that had happened while she was in ecstasy.

Renowned scientists and doctors were called in to examine and evaluate the young woman. None could find a rational explanation for her condition. Some of the atheistic and secular-minded scientists and doctors insisted what people were witnessing was nothing more than hysteria, blood anomalies or madness.

Anna Louise Lateau passed away on August 25, 1883. She was 33-years-old.  Her burial place became a place of pilgrimage, and over the years there has been evidence of miracles happening through Anna Louise’s intercession.

This negative input into Louise’s narrative was effective at putting her cause for canonization on hold for over a century. The cause for sainthood must always be meticulously evaluated. She was declared a Servant of God, but her cause for canonization was not opened in Rome until 1991. To date, the investigation has not moved forward.

Servant of God; Anna Louise Lateau, please pray for us.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2018 All Rights Reserved