On September 14 we celebrate the Exaltation of the Holy Cross— Question: Why do we honor the Cross that Jesus died upon?

Celebrating Easter in NYC 1956                                                 public domain

By Larry Peterson

The wooden cross was used as an instrument of torture for the vilest of criminals, fastening them to it and allowing them to hang there until they died. So why do we honor and revere the Cross that Jesus died on?  Because Jesus Himself said: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23) The cross for us is an instrument not only our own self-sacrifice but honoring it unites us to Christ on His Cross. We cannot get to the Resurrection without going first to the Cross.

Historically, (and according to Tradition) we know that after the Resurrection of Our Lord, the Jewish and Roman authorities did all that they could to hide Jesus’ tomb. The tomb and Calvary were very close to each other, and the Romans buried the sites under mounds of dirt so no one could find them. Underneath the tons of earth was also the True Cross. Over the next two centuries, pagan temples were built on the spot, and the site was more or less hidden and ignored.

Things changed dramatically in the year 306 A.D. That was when Constantine the Great became Emperor of Rome. In 313 A.D. he issued the Edict of Milan. This document approved of religious tolerance for Christianity throughout the Roman Empire. Constantine’s mother, Saint Helena, dreamed that she must go to Jerusalem to find the True Cross. She followed this inspiration, and in 326 she made a pilgrimage to the city to visit the Holy Sepulchre and to locate the True Cross.

History tells us that a Jewish man by the name of Judas, aware of the tradition of the “Hidden Cross” knew where to find it. It was quite close to the spot Helena, and the workers were excavating to uncover the Holy Sepulchre.  He approached Helena and her workers to tell them he knew where it was. Helena, believing God had sent this man to her, gladly followed him.

The ruins, rubble, and dirt that had been accumulated on the spot over the years were painstakingly removed. In due time, three crosses were found on the site.  Tradition says that the sign with the inscription “Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum (“Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews”) was still attached to the True Cross. (The more common tradition says that the sign was not there but was found close by). So what did they do to determine which was the True Cross?

Saint Helena and the Bishop of Jerusalem, Saint Macarius, decided to take a piece from each cross and take it to a dying woman. They assumed the wood from the True Cross would cure her. They were right, and the piece from the one cross did heal her. Then they brought the body of a dead man to the site and laid it on each of the crosses. The same cross that had cured the dying woman restored life to the dead man. Helena then knew in her heart that she had found the True Cross.

She journeyed back to Rome to inform her son, Constantine. He ordered two churches built; one at the site of the Holy Sepulchre and one at the site of Mount Calvary. The churches were dedicated on September 13 and 14 in the year 335.  The feast began to take root and spread out from Jerusalem to other provinces and by the year 720 A.D. the celebration was universal.

Today the Feast Day of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross is celebrated all through Christendom. Most Catholic Rites such as the Roman Catholic and Eastern Catholic, commemorate the day on September 14. The Syriac Church of the East celebrates it on September 13 while the Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine Rite Catholics celebrate it on August 1. It does not really matter because all the various Catholic rites celebrate and honor the True Cross as founded by St. Helena in 326 A.D.

The Entrance Antiphon for the Mass on the Feast of the Exaltation (September 14) of the Holy Cross reads as follows:

“We should glory in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ

In Whom is our salvation,  life, and Resurrection

Through Whom we are saved and delivered.”

Never forget that every time we make the Sign of the Cross we honor it and the Man-God that died on it.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019

The Feast Day of the Holy Name of Mary is September 12: Why do we honor Her name?

Honoring the Holy Name of Mary                                                wikipedia.org

By Larry Peterson

Why do we honor the name of Our Lady and hold it in such high esteem? Why not just honor her as the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of Jesus? Why did Pope Innocent XI, in 1683, proclaim that September 12 is the Feast day of the Most Holy Name of Mary?  ( In 1970, with the revised Roman Missal, the feast day was removed from the calendar. However, Pope St. John Paul II, reinstituted the feast in 2003 as an “optional memorial.” Check your missalettes; it is there).

The name, Mary,  has its origins in ancient languages such as; Aramaic Maryam; Old Testament Greek Mariam; Hebrew, Myriam, and from the New Testament Latin, Maria.

Some background about Our Lady and her name is as follows: It begins with why she was named, Mary. Her parents, St. Joachim and St. Anne, inspired by God, gave her the name of Mary. The name means a number of things; it means, ‘Lady,”  “The Enlightened One,” “The Light Giver,” “Star of the Sea,” “Myrrh of the Sea,” with  “Stella Maris,” being the favorite. Most importantly, just by saying  her holy name is saying a prayer. It pleases God and has power over Satan. Its significance is so profound.

The feast day o\f the Most Holy Name of Mary originated in 1513 in Cuenca, Spain. At the time it was a local celebration and was held on September 15. In 1587, Pope Sixtus V moved the feast day to September 17.  In 1622, Pope Gregory XV expanded the feast to the Archdiocese of Toledo, and in 1671, the entire kingdom of Spain was included.

But in the year of 1683, this feast day was inserted into the Roman Calendar. That was when Pope Innocent XI, made it a feast everywhere in the Catholic world. The feast was designated to be celebrated on September 12, four days after the birthday of Our Lady. Why did this happen?

The Battle of Lepanto took place in 1571 resulting in a great victory by the Holy League organized by Pope St. Pius V.  The naval forces of the Holy League conquered the overwhelming power of the invading Muslims. The date was October 7 and this day is celebrated as the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.  It was on this day that Catholics all through Europe prayed the Rosary for the Holy League Navy. Their victory saved Christianity in Europe.

In 1683, a huge Muslim army of over 300,000 had marched through Hungary destroying everything in its path. The army was now on Austria’s border preparing to vanquish Vienna. The papal nuncio and King Leopold of Austria pleaded with King Jan Sobieski of Poland, to help them stop the invading Muslims. King Sobieski immediately agreed to help. He had beaten back the invading Muslims a few years before, and although the army he commanded was small, he was undeterred.

On his march to Austria, King Sobieski and his army passed by the Shrine to Our Lady of Czestochowa, The King  pleaded with the Blessed Mother by invoking her name. He asked for her blessing and intercession. King Sobieski, allied with German warriors, tricked the Muslims into thinking they were retreating. As Sobieski’s forces feigned retreat the Germans attacked from the rear. The Muslims became confused and fled Vienna and Christian Europe. King Sobieski presented the Muslim standard, which read “Death to the Infidel”, to Pope Innocent XI. The Holy Father proclaimed the Polish King as the savior of Christendom.

King Sobieski triumphantly entered Vienna on September 12. He attended Mass and praised the Blessed Virgin as the cause and reason for their great victory. Pope Innocent XI thereupon declared September 12, as a date to honor the Most Holy Name of Mary, whose motherly intervention had saved Christendom.

St. Bernard of Clairvaux says:

“O most holy Virgin Mary, your name is so sweet and admirable that one cannot say it without becoming inflamed with love toward God and You.”

Blessed Raymond Jordano says:

“that however hardened and diffident a heart may be, the name of this most Blessed Virgin has such efficacy, that if it is only pronounced that heart will be wonderfully softened.”

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019

Remembering 9/11

By Larry Peterson

The posted picture shows what once was. No matter, it will live on in our hearts, minds and souls forever

                                                GOD BLESS AMERICA.

 

Twin Towers pre-9/11

“Say ‘NO’ to death, to hatred, to violence , to error to evil, to degradation.

Say ‘YES’ to the good, to the beautiful, to truth, to justice, to responsibility,

to life, to peace and to love.

SAINT JOHN PAUL II

copyright©LarryPeterson 2019

On Her Birthday, September 8: Why we Love Mother Mary (from a letter)

Blessed Mother and and Her Son                                   attribution unknown

Why we Love Mary (from a letter)

To my Son, Jesus—From your Mom,

If all in Heaven want to praise what they see in Me, it is because they see that I have no value which is not received from You. Yes, I am Your Mother, but You are infinitely more to Me, because You, My most beloved Jesus, are the Almighty, who demonstrates in Me how far reaching your Omnipotence can be.

My adored Son, for all that You have done for Me, I, with the power that You give Me, now gather souls in order to give them to You. For all the attention which You have lavished on Me, I now go around the world in order to light up the fire of charity [love] for You, My heavenly Son, the joy of My eyes, beauty without equal. I shall never be able to equal You in love, but, nonetheless, You have given Me so much that many in the world treat Me with immense love.

Love,

Mom

(author unknown)

His efforts are leading him to Sainthood: Meet Enzo Boschetti; the priest who reached out to teenage addicts

Venerable Enzo Boschetti                                                      youtube.jpg

By Larry Peterson

Enzo Boschetti was born on November 19, 1929, in Costa de ‘Nobili, which is in northern Italy. He was the second of three children, and his dad was a truck driver. His childhood was simple, and the family struggled to make ends meet.

As an adolescent Enzo attended local Catholic Action meetings which stirred his vocational feelings. He received a copy of the “Story of a Soul” by St. Therese of Lisieux and it had a profound influence on him. In 1949 he left home and joined the Discalced Carmelites at the convent in Monza taking the name Fra Giuliano.

Enzo’s initial feelings had been leading him to the priesthood, but his superiors directed him to the consecrated life. For the next seven years, he lived as a simple friar filling his days with fast, penance, and household tasks. His Carmelite experience was becoming part of who he was, but it was not overtaking his desire for Holy Orders.

His priestly calling took firm hold of him when in 1956 he was sent to the Carmelite mission in Kuwait. The calling to help others made him decide to seek the priesthood. The problem was the Order did not allow for a person to move from a religious to priestly life. Enzo truly loved the Carmelites and leaving them would be painful. However, after much prayer and after going through a discernment period that caused him to almost have a nervous breakdown, he decided to become a priest. To the dismay of his Carmelite superiors, he left the Order and headed to Rome.

On June 29, 1962, Enzo Boschetti was ordained to the priesthood by Carlo Allorio, the Bishop of Pavia. His first assignment was as a parish priest in Chignolo Po near Milan. But in 1965, he was reassigned to St. Salvatore parish in Ticinello, a poor area where there was much hardship.

He was appalled at the many teenagers roaming the streets and using drugs, gambling, selling stolen goods, not going to school, and living their young lives without purpose. He wanted to help them as much as he could. Drugs and gambling were a big part of the neighborhood culture and many people, including teenagers, were addicts. Father (Don) Enzo quickly decided he had to do something about it. He also knew that his primary focus would be to find a way to prevent young people from becoming addicts. He had embraced a daunting challenge.

Don Enzo’s evangelical response to the problems confronting him was to reach out and tell young people that he was available to talk to anyone who needed to talk or needed help. The area was filled with young people moving up from southern Italy, away from families, and looking for work. These young folks soon began knocking on Don Enzo’s door. In the beginning, he would let them stay in the prayer room for the night. The ping-pong tables, billiard tables, and the floor were used as beds. Word quickly spread and soon a bigger facility was needed.

Volunteers joined Don Enzo to help him, but the phenomenon of drug addiction led him to reach out for help. With the help of some evangelical laymen, a small building was purchased and was called  Casa del Giovane  (Young Man’s House). The plan was to use it for those that suffered from gambling or drug addictions, something he was deeply concerned about.

His promise to the  young people was that he would be there to help them if needed. He also committed to being there to intervene for adolescents who were beginning to show signs of addiction. He was an advocate for healthy living and would walk the neighborhoods making friends and talking about clean living as taught in the Gospel.

By the 1980s he had established workshops for addiction and set out to get courses included in schools. He loved St. Joseph and often encouraged the young and old alike to pray to him for help and protection. He proposed an educational method that included real sharing among educators, volunteers, and the addicts (children and adults alike) who were participating. All he ever suggested was inspired by the Gospel and supported by prayer.

Don Enzo Boschetti passed away from pancreatic cancer on February 15, 1993. He was 63 years old. He was declared “Venerable” by Pope Francis on June 11, 2019. Part of his legacy is the following prayer:

You must love today, not tomorrow
We must love this brother, not what we would like.
One must love to give, not to receive.
We must love to free ourselves from selfishness, not for personal gain.
We must love because this is our vocation!
(Don Enzo Boschetti)

Venerable Enzo Boschetti, please pray for us.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019

His crime…He Baptized another Prisoner—His “Reward”—He was hanged upside down. Meet Otto Neururer; the first priest executed in a Nazi concentration camp

Blessed Otto Neururer                                             commons.wikipediia.org

By Larry Peterson

The word  “Holocaust” has a number of synonyms:  annihilation, extermination, carnage, genocide, and slaughter, might be a few.   We tend to think of the “millions’ who perished but we rarely think of them as individuals unless some story grabs our attention such as; “The Diary of Anne Frank”,  “The Devil’s Arithmetic”, or bios about St. Maximilian Kolbe,, or St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein). What follows is the story of a simple, humble priest who simply loved his God, his Faith, and his fellow man. His name was Father Otto Neururer.

Each and every one of the people who had their very God-given existence taken away from them was like all of us.  They had their hopes and dreams.  They had families and friends. They loved, they worked, they played, they enjoyed holidays and walks in the park on a Sunday afternoon where the kids might feed the ducks or the squirrels.  They quietly embraced the dignity of their own selves, just as we all try to do. They were proud of their families and their jobs and professions.  They were living their God-given life.

And then they came. The other people. The ones in power. The ones who held the power of life and death in their hands.The ones who had the “law” on their side and the people following them willing to carry it out, no matter how heinous; even ready to commit torture and murder under the “rule of law.”

Yet through all of the Godless depravity that filled the very hearts and souls of those carrying out this abhorrent treatment of their fellow human beings there always rises an unquenchable love,  and respect for life from some of the victims. They try to help others who are suffering. Many who offer this Godly assistance are tortured and murdered for doing so.

Otto Neururer was born in Tyrol, Austria on March 25, 1881. He was the twelfth and youngest child of a peasant farmer, Alois Neururer and his wife, Hildegard. When Otto was eight, his dad died. His mom,  a devout Catholic, began suffering bouts of depression. Otto was a bit frail and also timid and, like his mom, also began experiencing bouts of depression. However, he did have a brilliant mind and recognized his vocation to the priesthood.  He followed his calling and was able to enter the seminary when he was 21 years old.

He was ordained to the priesthood in 1907 and celebrated his first Mass in his hometown. He wanted to join the Jesuits and do missionary work, but his frail health prevented that. He served as a  parish priest, teacher, and was finally assigned as pastor to  St. Peter and Paul Parish in Innsbruck.

In 1938, while he was still pastor, a young woman came to him for advice. She wanted his opinion on whether or not she should marry a divorced man. Father Neururer knew of this man and that he was a philanderer and a con-artist. He advised the woman against marrying him. She told her “fiancé” that she could not marry him and why. He was good friends with the Nazi party leader in the area and reported Father Otto to him. On December 15,1938, Father Otto was promptly arrested and charged with, “slander to the detriment of German marriage.”

On March 3, 1939, he was sent to Dachau, the first concentration camp established by the Nazis,  also known as the “priest’s barracks.” Here he was routinely tortured, but this would not be his last stop. On September 26, 1939, he was sent to Buchenwald, which was under the command of Martin Sommer, aka “the Hangman of Buchenwald.” This would be Father’s last stop.

A prisoner came to Father Otto and asked him to baptize him. The kindly priest could not decline and did as asked. The priest realized he was being ‘set-up” but would not refuse in case he was mistaken. He was not wrong, and Martin Bormann decided to make an example of the priest. He ordered him taken to the “punishment block” and hung upside down.

The chaplain who witnessed Father Otto’s torturous death said he never complained. The priest lived for 34 hours, and even towards the end, he could be heard mumbling his prayers. He died on May 30, 1940. He was fifty-eight years old. He was the first of more than 2600 Catholic priests killed during the Holocaust.

Father Otto Neururer died “in odium fidei” and was beatified at St. Peter’s Basilica on November 24, 1996, by Pope St. John Paul II.

Blessed Otto Neururer, please pray for us all.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019

Virgen de los Desparamados ( Virgin of the Abandoned) St.Teresa de Jesus Jornet

Virgin of the Abandoned Elderly                                            en.wikipedia.org

By Larry Peterson

Teresa Jornet Ibars was born into a family of farmers on January 9, 1843. Her dad’s name was Francisco Jornet, and her mom was Antonieta Ibars.  Teresa had two older sisters, Maria and Josefa, and an older brother, Juan who was married and had three daughters. The farm was in Lleida, located in Catalonia in the Kingdom of Spain.  She was baptized the day after her birth and received her Confirmation in 1849.  (In the 19th century a child could not receive First Communion until the minimum age of 12).

As a child, Teresa displayed a deep concern for the conditions of the poor, and she often would bring someone to the home of her Aunt Rosa for something to eat,  medical aid, and other necessities they might need. Aunt Rosa always did her best to help those Teresa brought to her home, and her example reinforced Teresa’s natural desire to help the poverty-stricken. After some time, Teresa moved to a different area of Llieida to live with another aunt, and while there she began studying to be a teacher.

When Teresa was nineteen, she began teaching in Barcelona. She also felt a strong calling to the monastic life. In 1868, she sought admission to the Poor Clares but anti-clerical laws of the day prevented that from happening. In 1870, she did become a Secular Carmelite to help develop her spirituality.

Toward the end of 1870, her father died, and she came down with tuberculosis. That kept her homebound for about six months. Fortunately, she did have a spiritual advisor. He was Father Saturnino Lopez, who greatly aided her recovery by encouraging her to begin caring for the many elderly people in the area. Most of these people were living alone and suffering from severe poverty. Her eyes opened wide at this concept, and she immediately accepted the challenge.

In 1872, Teresa Jornet Ibars opened her fist house in Barbastro, located in north-central Spain. Along with some followers and her sister Maria, the group took the habit and became a religious congregation. Teresa, who was already a  Lay Carmelite, took the name of one of the great Carmelites, St. Teresa of Avila. Her name became Teresa of Jesus Jornet. The official founding of the new order was January 27, 1873. The name the order was given was The Little Sisters of the Abandoned Elderly  (Not the Little Sisters of the Poor founded by St Jeanne Jugan in 1839)

Teresa of Jesus Jornet was unanimously elected the first Mother Superior of the new community. Their new ministry was totally dedicated to the care and well being of the aged. Mother Teresa of Jesus taught her Sisters to sacrifice whatever they had to help the men and women that were in their care. She explained that these people were God’s gifts to them and that they were serving Him as they cared for them.

Amazingly, even though Mother Teresa of Jesus had suffered from a debilitating illness, she was noted for the powerful sense of peace she always exuded. This inner peace drew many young women to join with her.

The mother house opened in Valencia on May 8,1873. Mother Teresa was confirmed as the superior in 1875. On December 8, 1877, Mother made her perpetual profession and was named Superior General for the entire order. Pope Pius IX issued the papal decree of praise for her order on June 14, 1876. This was followed by Pope Leo XIII giving the formal papal approval on August 24, 1887. When the General Chapter of the Order opened in Valencia on April 23, 1896, Mother Superior begged her Sisters to not re-elect her. But they did. They could not imagine anyone else as their leader.

In 1897 an outbreak of cholera hit Spain. Mother Teresa of Jesus joined her Sisters to help care for the victims of this dread disease. By the time it was over, 24 Sisters and seventy patients had died from the disease. Mother Teresa was exhausted and ill and was taken to the order’s house in Liria. She stayed here and met her spiritual guide, Father Saturnino, for the last time. The date was July 15, 1897.

Mother Teresa of Jesus Jornet died on August 26, 1897. She was 56 years old. When she died her congregation had 50 houses. She had gone from being ill and rejected to leaving a legacy that will live forever. Today there are over 2600 religious serving the elderly in 210 facilities in different parts of the world, including such places as Puerto Rico in the Caribbean and Mozambique in Africa.

She was canonized by Pope Paul VI on January 27, 1974

St. Teresa of Jesus Jornet, please pray for us.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019