Can People who do not Believe in Jesus Christ get into Heaven; Dad said, “Absolutely.”

My Dad, Emil Peterson 1912–1965

By Larry Peterson

There are 2.2 billion Christians in the world of which 1.2 billion are Catholic. That is almost one-third of the world’s population. Obviously, there are many Christians in our world so, to the question: Can all those who call themselves Christians, be saved?

The answer is YES! Not only Catholics but  Presbyterians, Lutherans, Baptists, Evangelicals, etc., can be saved and get to heaven. The fact is, any one of God’s human creations can be saved. If a person truly seeks God and demonstrates by living their life “loving his neighbor as himself,” how can they not?

There are those in the Catholic Church who might insist that ”outside of the Church there is no salvation.”  The Catechism of the Catholic Church is clear on this topic; it reads, “all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body” (CCC 846). Well, what about our Jewish brethren? What about Buddhists and Hindus and others?

The Catechism follows with; “this is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church”  Indeed, if these people seek God with a sincere heart, and try, in their actions to do his will as they know it, they may also attain heaven (CCC 847).

My dad died 54 years ago, and memories of him are faded at best. (we were all very young).  It was Christmas day and, as was the custom in our five-story walk-up, everyone traveled from apartment to apartment on Christmas sharing food and drink and laughter and conversation.

A group of neighbors, including dad, my brother Bobby and I, were gathered in the apartment below ours. Suddenly, a man’s voice, much louder than any of the others speaking, blurted out, “Sorry Emil, (my father’s name) that’s what the church teaches. I did not make it up.”

There are few vivid memories of my dad that I still have. But this is one that stuck like glue. As the people all grew quiet and turned to listen in, my father leaned forward in his chair and slowly and purposely said, “ Listen, Walter, let me tell you something. Any human being God ever created can get to heaven. All they have to do is love their neighbor. It doesn’t matter where they come from or even if they have a religion. We all are born knowing what is right and wrong. Heaven is every person’s choice.”

I never forgot those moments.  My young head knew he had it right. What he also had right was when he said, “we are all born knowing what is right and wrong.” He did not realize he was validating and defending the Natural Law; I do not even know if he had ever heard of it. It just means that each of us instinctively knows what “right” is and what “wrong” is. We all have the ability to choose.

Many years later, inside my much older head, I still know dad had it right. We are, in fact, ALL God’s children. He was a man who never finished high school no less attend a catechism class. But he had it right, and this was way before the Catholic Church clarified the question of who can obtain salvation.

The Natural Law predicated our behavior. The Founding Fathers used it as a basis for the Declaration of Independence. Whatever happened to common courtesy among people and the common respect we gave each other? Heck, recently I was reprimanded by a woman because I held a door open for her.

It was never a perfect world but the concept of  “love your neighbor” seems to have been devoured by a secular society that tolerates no opinions that might disagree with another’s life choices. The primary result of secularism seems to be “As Long as I’m Happy that is all that Matters. Too bad if you don’t like it.”

My dad was a man of faith, and because of his faith he got it right. When he said, “Heaven is every person’s choice,” he was spot on.

copyright©Larry Peterson

My Dad, Emil Peterson 1912–1965

2018

Our Lady, Health of the Sick: Honoring Mary as the Ideal Model for Care of all People

Our-Lady-of-Health-and-Sickness—-kevin-dooley-cc-by-2-0

By Larry Peterson

It was in December of 1531 when  Juan Diego, alone on Tepeyac Hill (in the area which is now called Guadalupe),  was praying to the Blessed Mother asking if she could cure a sick relative. Our Lady appeared to Juan Diego and said this to him, “Do not worry about this illness or about any other misfortune. Am I, your Mother, not here at your side? Are you not protected by my shadow? Am I not your safety?”

We celebrated the great feast of The Queenship of Mary on August 22nd. This feast is so important that there are those who believe it should be declared a Holy Day of Obligation replacing the Assumption celebrated on August 15. What is not so celebrated and well known is the feast day that follows. It is always held on the Saturday before the last Sunday in August. This feast day is known as Our Lady, Health of the Sick.

If we stop to think about it, we can quickly see that our Blessed Mother stands out in the gospel readings as someone who was always there to help others. She gives herself over starting at the Annunciation. A teenager, she is asked to be a mother to the Son of God. She said to the Angel Gabriel, “but I know not man.” She understood the ramifications of what she was accepting. But she embraced God’s calling willingly not worrying about herself.

Next, it is on to her cousin Elizabeth’s house. Why? To assist her aging cousin in giving birth to her child. Mary must have stayed for about six months before leaving for home. Unselfishly, she stayed until Elizabeth was healthy enough to take care of baby John, by herself. Mary would have been almost six months pregnant when she returned home.

Classic artwork always depicts Mary’s parents, St. Joachim and St. Ann, as loving parents who took wonderful care of their special child. It is not written in the gospels, but it is safe to assume that Mary was with them when they were old, caring for them and even being with them as they passed on to their waiting reward.

We see her and her Son, Jesus, sitting with St. Joseph as he is old and dying. St. Joseph, the Patron of the Dying, has his true love by his side wiping his brow, wetting his lips, keeping vigil, and not leaving her husband’s side until his time is done. There are those that believe that it was these actions which first brought her to be called, “Health of the Sick.”

A true Angel of Mercy, Mary’s greatest challenge, and heartbreak came as she had to watch her Son, who was immune to sickness and death, willingly allow Himself to be whipped, beaten, crowned with thorns, mocked and ridiculed. Then she had to follow Him, bloodied, and battered, as He carried His cross to Calvary. She watched Him die and held His blood-soaked, lifeless body in her arms before he was buried.

Jesus gave his Mother to all of us as He lay dying on the cross. Mary gave her all to Him and, as our Mother, will do so for us. This is why she is called Our Lady, Health of the Sick.”

The magnificent Stabat Mater (translated means Sorrowful Mother), was written to describe the pain and suffering Mary had to endure during her Son’s crucifixion and death.  What follows are the first two and the next to last verses of the Stabat Mater. They are quite poignant and frame the entire hymn. The link above will give the entire hymn, considered among the top seven hymns ever written.

At the Cross, her station keeping
stood the mournful Mother weeping,
close to her Son to the last.

Through her heart, His sorrow sharing,
all His bitter anguish bearing,
now at length the sword has passed.

Christ, when Thou shalt call me hence,
be Thy Mother my defense,
be Thy Cross my victory;

 

As She said to Juan Diego at Guadalupe, 1500 years later,  Am I, your Mother, not here at your side? Are you not protected by my shadow? Am I not your safety?”

Our Lady, Health of the Sick; Please pray for us.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2018

The Gentleman Saint—St. Louis IX; King of France

Louis-IX -of-France-pd (Public domain)

By Larry Peterson

This remarkable man was born on April 25, 1214, near Paris, France. When his grandfather, King Philip II of France, passed away, his son, Prince Louis the Lion, became  King Louis VIII. His wife became Queen Blanche. Their son, now Prince Louis, was only nine-years-old.

Three years later Louis’ father died, and the boy was crowned King Louis IX. Because of his young age the Queen Mother, Blanche, took over the reins of government. A great woman in her own right she made sure her son would be prepared for his life as King.

Queen Blanche, also known as Blanche of Castille, took her Catholic faith very seriously. She was rigid and determined in teaching her son the faith and managed to instill genuine piety and a  deep sense of devotion in him. She was quoted as having told her son, “I love you, my dear son, as much as a mother can love her child but I would rather see you dead at my feet than that you should commit a mortal sin.”

At the age of 21, Louis took charge of the government. His mother’s influence in his life was apparent because there was a force within Louis that made him strive to rule justly and to attain sanctity. King Louis had a pronounced affinity for the sick and poor of his kingdom. He treated the downtrodden with compassion, understanding, and with a humility that was unheard of in a king.

Imagine this—every day king Louis IX would have three special guests called in from among the poor to have dinner with him…EVERY DAY! Since there were always crowds of poor and hungry outside the palace, he would try to have as many of them fed as was possible. During Lent and Advent anyone who presented themselves before him was given a meal and often, the King served them himself. He even had lists compiled of needy people in every province under his rule.

Louis married his true love, Margaret of Provence on May 27, 1234. Queen Margaret was filled with religious fervor as was her husband and they truly made a beautiful couple while setting a fine example for all married couples. They both enjoyed each other’s company and liked riding together listening to music and reading. King Louis and Queen Margaret had eleven children.

Louis was a strong-willed and strong-minded man with a powerful faith. His word was trusted throughout the kingdom, and his courage in taking action against wrongs was remarkable. Amazingly,  this king had true respect for anyone with whom he had dealings with, especially the poor and downtrodden.

King Louis built churches, libraries, hospitals, and orphanages. He treated both princes and commoners equally. His wishes were to be treated the same by the real King of Kings, to whom he pledged to give his life, his family, and his country.

To sneak a peek into the heart of whom this saintly king was, one might just read the quote from a letter he gave to his oldest son:

“If God send thee adversity, receive it in patience and give thanks to our Saviour and bethink thee that thou hast deserved it, and that He will make it turn to thine advantage. If He send thee prosperity, then thank Him humbly, so that thou becomest not worse from pride or any other cause when thou oughtest to be better. For we should not fight against God with his own gifts.”

King Louis had taken his army on the 7th Crusade in 1248. This proved to be a disaster and the king was captured by the Muslims. After an absence of six years, he was successfully ransomed and returned home. In 1270 he sought redemption for his first failure and embarked on another crusade. It was the dead of summer in northern Africa and dysentery and typhoid swept through the dirty camps. King Louis IX, died while lying on a bed of ashes saying the name of the city he never conquered; “Jerusalem, Jerusalem..

Pope Boniface VIII, proclaimed Louis a saint in 1297. He is the only king of France named a saint by the Roman Catholic Church. This man was a true gentleman as he tried to treat everyone with courtesy and respect while remaining strong and compassionate at the same time. His feast day is August 25th and he is the patron of the Third Order of St. Francis, the nation of France, and hairdressers.

St. Louis IX, please pray for us.

copyright©Larry Peterson2018

Our Lady of the Rosary of Chiquinquira—The Miraculous Story of the Patroness of Columbia

 

Our-Lady-of-the-Rosary-of-Columbia beria-lima-cc-by-sa-3-0

By Larry Peterson

Last September, Pope Francis visited Columbia, South America. Before leaving on his trip, he asked that the miraculous painting of the Patroness of Columbia, Our Lady of the Rosary of Chiquinquira, accompany him on his journey. The Pope planned to spend time in front of the painting which had received a Canonical Coronation from Pope St. Pius X on January 9, 1910. The story behind this magnificent painting is quite remarkable.

If you are an artist in the 21st century and you need paints for your creations, you might go to a craft store to purchase them. More than likely, most every pigment and painting tool needed to do your work will be available. However, in the 16th century, acquiring artist’s supplies was not so convenient.

Alonso de Narvaez was a Spanish painter who plied his craft during those days. He had been asked to create an image of the Blessed Virgin by Don Antonio de Santana for an oratory he had built. Alonso immediately got to work.

There were no craft stores in those days, so he painted in pigments he created himself using the soil, herbs, and flowers in the region (modern Columbia) in which he was working. His canvas was more than likely a woven cloth made by the local Indians.

Alonso began applying his self-created pigments to the woven cloth “canvas.” The cloth canvas was about forty-four inches wide by about forty-nine inches in length. The image of Our Lady is about one meter (39.37 inches) high, and she is standing on a half moon.

Our Lady has a sweet smile on her face and is holding the Christ Child in her left arm. Jesus has a small bird tied to His right thumb. A Rosary hangs from Our Lady’s hand. Since there was extra space on the cloth canvas, Alonso painted St. Anthony of Padua and St. Andrew the Apostle on either side of her.

Using this archaic equipment and combining it with incredible creativity and resourcefulness, Narvaez created one of the most magnificent Marian paintings of all time, Our Lady of the Rosary of Chiquinquira.

Unfortunately, the paints and cloth canvas were unprotected in the poorly built oratory. The painting became worn and faded and was removed and taken to Chiquinquira and used as a bed to dry wheat in the sun. It remained there for seven years. That is when Dona Maria Ramos arrived from Spain and was heartbroken to find the chapel being used for animals and the painting in such a horrid condition.

Day after day she prayed for the rebirth of the chapel.  On  December 26, 1586, at 9:00 o’clock in the morning, the canvas began to brighten as the sun’s rays shined upon it. Suddenly it was brightened by the image of the Holy Virgin, and then the entire image was restored. The image actually healed as holes and tears in the cloth seemed to seal themselves.

Maria was astonished, and soon the miracle was drawing crowds of people. Miraculous cures followed, and church officials ordered an investigation into the validity of such claims. Many were validated.

In 1630 the Archbishop of Bogota authorized the Dominican Brotherhood to take charge of the chapel, and it was replaced by a regular church. In 1801, the present Basilica was built replacing the smaller church, and the Holy See granted a liturgical feast day that is celebrated also in Ecuador and Venezuela.

Pope Pius VII, declared Our Lady of Chiquinquira, Patroness of Columbia in 1829. In 1910 Pope St. Pius X granted the image a Canonical Coronation.  Pope  Benedict XV carried out that decree in 1919 because it had been put on hold due to the political climate in the country. Finally, Pope Pius XI elevated her sanctuary to a minor Basilica in 1927..

The actual feast day of Our Lady of the Rosary of Chiquinquira is July 9, the actual day of coronation.

Our Lady of the Rosary of Chiquinquira, please pray for us all.

copyright©Larry Peterson2018

St. Nonna—She Converted her Pagan Husband and raised three Children who became Saints

St. Nonna and her son St. Gregory the Theologian
by mike searle/CC BY Sa 2.0

By Larry Peterson

She was born in the year 305 AD in a place called Nazianus, Cappadocia, which today is present-day northern Turkey. At the time, the Roman Empire still ruled most of the world. St. Nonna was the daughter of Christians who were named Philotatos and Gorgonia. They raised their daughter in the ways of Jesus and the growing Catholic Church.

It is hard for us in the 21st-century to truly understand the mindset of those from more than 1500 years ago but suffice it to say, St. Nonna had been raised by parents who had instilled in their daughter a true sense of Christian identity. Her faith was about to be tested when she married.

St. Nonna entered into a marriage (most likely arranged) with Gregory of Arianzus, who was a wealthy landowner and had an estate nearby. The marriage caused great sadness for St. Nonna because her husband was a pagan and followed a sect called Hypsistyarii whose members venerated a supreme god and also observed select Jewish rituals. Oh yes, they also worshipped fire. St. Nonna immediately began praying fervently that her husband would turn to the One True God.

St. Nonna had three children and one of them, who became St. Gregory the Theologian, wrote that his mom “could not bear being half united to God, because he who was part of her remained apart from God. She wanted a spiritual union in addition to the bodily union. Day and night she turned to God with fasting and many tears, entreating Him to grant salvation to her husband.”

St. Nonna’s prayers were answered because, in due time, her husband had a vision while sleeping. St. Gregory wrote that “It seemed to my father,” wrote St. Gregory, “as though he was singing the following verse of David: ‘I was glad when they said to me, let us go into the house of the Lord’ (Ps. 121/122: 1). He had never done this before, though his wife had often offered her supplications and prayers for it.”

The dream was very strange to Gregory, but it brought a desire to him to go to church. When he told Nonna about this, she told him that the vision would bring him the greatest joy if it were fulfilled.

Gregory did, in fact, embrace the faith and traveled to the First Ecumenical Council of Nicea, where he announced his conversion to Christ. Gregory was baptized and then ordained presbyter and then Bishop of Nazianos. When he was ordained a bishop, Nonna was made a deaconess. St. Nonna, with the same intensity and fervor she put into converting her husband and teaching her children the faith, became completely involved in performing works of charity.

St. Gregory the Theologian wrote of his mom, “She knew one thing to be truly noble: to be pious and to know from where we have come and where we are going; and that there is one innate and trusty wealth: to use one’s substance on God and on the poor, especially the impoverished kin.”

St. Gregory the Theologian wrote about his mom as being strong and vigorous and free from sickness. But in her later years, she did become quite ill, and everyone thought she was about to die. She could not eat, and no remedy could be found. But she began to recover after a strange dream.

She dreamt that her son, Gregory, had appeared to her carrying a basket of the whitest bread anyone had ever seen. He blessed the bread with the sign of the Cross and fed his mom. Miraculously, by the next day, she was stronger and almost like her old self. Was this a Eucharistic Miracle?  Many believe it was.

In her final years, St. Nonna had much sorrow in her life. Her youngest son, Caesarious, died in 368. The following year her daughter died. Her husband had died several years earlier. St. Nonna bore these losses stoically and completely submitted to the will of God.

St. Nonna was a devoted wife, mother and, most of all, devoted to God and the Church. She is the patroness of servants and parents who have had children pass away. She became a saint in the pre-congregation era which was prior to the 11th Century. After that, the Catholic Church established strict guidelines for a person to be canonized by establishing the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

St. Nonna of Nazianus. pray for us.

copyright ©Larry Peterson 2018

A Beautiful Devotion—The Rosary for the Holy Souls in Purgatory

Rosary for the Holy Souls
—catholic.org

By Larry Peterson

The Souls in Purgatory hold a place of high esteem within the Catholic faith. These are our relatives and friends and fellow Catholics who have gone before us and prior to entering heaven must spend a period of purification in a place called Purgatory

What follows will help us learn how to help our family and friends and fellow Catholics gain release from Purgatory.

There is a prayer that St. Gertrude received from Our Lord. We are taught that every time we say it, 1000 souls are released from Purgatory. St. Gertrude’s Prayer is below:

“Eternal Father, I offer You the most precious blood of thy Divine Son, Jesus,
in union with the Masses said throughout the world today, 
for all the Holy Souls in Purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal Church, for those in my own home, and in my family. Amen.”

Besides St. Gertrude’s Prayer for the Souls in Purgatory there are two other distinct methods of reaching out to help the Faithful Departed. The first is the Chaplet of the Holy Souls as profiled in Aleteia last year. The other is the Rosary for the Holy Souls  which is a bit more detailed and offers prayers that everyone from our parents, grandparents, children, down to those who suffered heart attacks, died suddenly in car accidents and even those who died without receiving the Last Rites of the Church. It even mentions every one of us when we face our particular judgment day.

How to Pray the Rosary for the Holy Souls:

 We Begin:

Let us pray:
May the prayer of Your suppliant people, we beseech You, O Lord, benefit the souls of Your departed servants and handmaids, that You both deliver them from all their sins and make them partakers of Your redemption. Amen.

Sign of the Cross +

  1. O Lord, open my lips.
  2. And I shall praise your name.
    V. O God, come to my aid.
    R. O Lord, make haste to help me.
    V. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
    R. As it was in the beginning…

Now We Pray for Specific Souls in Purgatory:

O Jesus, You suffered and died that all mankind might be saved and brought to eternal happiness. Hear our pleas for further mercy on the souls of:

Choose all those you wish to pray for:  parents, grandparents and spouse, brothers and sisters and other near relatives, teachers, priests, convicts, cancer patients, and on and on, including those who have wronged you and those that were your enemies.

Response to each special intention: Jesus, have mercy!

Using your Rosary, Begin with the Crucifix and then Pray on each Bead as Noted

 Apostles’ Creed
I believe in God, the Father almighty…

For the intentions of our Holy Father, the Pope:
Our Father, Hail Mary (x 3), Glory be..

Pray the Decades As Follows:

  • Our Father…
  • Hail Mary…(x 10)
  • Glory be…
  • Fatima Prayer…(Oh my Jesus, forgive us our sins etc.)

Use the Sorrowful Mysteries:

  • The Agony in the Garden
  • The Scourging at the Pillar
  •  The Crowning with Thorns
  • The Carrying of the Cross
  • The Crucifixion

After the fifth decade we pray:
Lord, Jesus Christ, through Your five Holy Wounds and through all of Your Sacred Blood that You shed, we ask You to have mercy on the Holy Souls in Purgatory, and in particular on our parents, spouses, relatives, spiritual guides and benefactors. Complete the healing of their purification and let them enjoy and participate fully in Your Salvation. Amen.

Hail Holy Queen…etc.

  • Let us pray
    O God, Whose only begotten Son, by His life, death and resurrection, has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life, grant, we beseech Thee, that meditating upon these mysteries in the most holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.
  • The Memorare…Remember oh most compassionate Virgin Mary etc…
  • St Michael Archangel, defend us in battle…etc.

Finish:

Grant them eternal rest, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them with your Saints forever more because You are gracious.

May the divine assistance remain always with us.  And may the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

The Incredible Story of Four Nuns Trapped in the South Pacific during World War II. There only means of Escape—via Submarine

Trapped in Paradise–true story from WWII in the Pacific
Sisters of St. Joesph of Orange

By Larry Peterson

There is a touch of irony to this story. On July 8, 2018,  Aleteia ran a story about Our Lady of Puy. This is the site of the Blessed Mother’s very first apparition after her Assumption into Heaven. The irony is in what follows.

The Sisters of St. Joesph are a worldwide organization representing more than 14,000 Sisters around the world. The Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange is the congregation based in California and was established in 1912 by Mother Bernard Gosselin. It is one of many congregations worldwide. In 1966 The Federation of the Sisters of St. Joseph, which comprise all the congregations in the United Staes, was formed; all having their origin in LePuy.

This is about four nuns from California who somehow became stranded behind Japanese enemy lines during World War II.  They happened to be members of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange. The foundation for this order was set in place in LePuy, France, in 1650. As the Feast of the Assumption approaches, it is an honor to mention them.

Two of the Sisters were teachers, and two were nurses. They had arrived in the Solomon Islands in December, 1940. These young women were new to missionary life, confronting an unknown culture for the first time, and did not speak the languages spoken on the different islands. Also, they had to learn how to get around the jungle. One year after they arrived, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.

The Japanese quickly occupied many of the islands in the South Pacific. The nuns had been deeply involved in a village on the island of Buka. They had no idea that the Japanese wanted Buka for an airfield. Sister Hedda Jager was the nun in charge of journaling their experiences. No matter what kind of day she was having, she always managed to record the day’s happenings.

As the Japanese get closer and closer Sister Hedda records how their lives morphed from working as missionaries to being filled with sheer terror as the invading Japanese got closer and closer. They made it to Bougainville where they learned  how other missionaries in the Solomons had been tortured and executed.

There were Marist missionary priests on the island and, knowing what the fate of the nuns would be if captured, managed to hide the Sisters for months in the jungle. On New Year’s Eve, 1942, the priests managed to get the Sisters and twenty-five others, to the beach in Teop Harbor. It was then they all learned that a submarine would be their means of rescue.

On New Year’s Day,1943, in the early morning darkness, the submarine Nautilus, pulled to within 100 feet of the beach and the terrified passengers were safely taken on board and brought to safety. Sister Hedda wrote in her journal: “You cannot put into words the feeling that one has for those of one’s own country, especially when one is miles from home and running away from the Japanese.”

When the war ended the four Sisters returned to Buka to continue their work. The last of them passed away in 1999. These Sister of St. Joseph of Orange will forever remain a true inspiration to us all.

The book by Sister Hedda; Trapped in Paradise, is previewed below.