Don Ruggero M. Caputo –Apostle of the Eucharist–Recognized for “Heroic Virtue

Adoration Monstarnce no Flash                                                public domain

By Larry Peterson

He now bears the title of Venerable

Ruggero (Roger) Maria Caputo was born on May 1, 1907, in Barletta, Italy, located in the Italian peninsula’s southeastern section. He was born into a humble family with strong moral and religious principles. During his childhood and into his adolescence, he was fortunate to come under the guidance of Don Angelo Dimiccoli, a priest who loved his faith deeply.  Don Angelo had the ability to instill in his young students a strong desire to follow Jesus.. (Father Angelo would become Servant of God Archbishop Angelo Dimiccoli).

Father Angelo’s influence on Ruggero was quite powerful. When Ruggero was nineteen, he felt the call to the priesthood pulling at him. But he had left school in third grade to work in the fields. He now wanted to enter the seminary, but his education was almost non-existent. So he left his work behind him and found himself attending school sitting among third graders. He was determined to do what was necessary to become a priest. He wanted nothing less than to serve his Lord.

He studied hard to qualify for the Pontifical Regional Seminary so he could receive his high school education and move on to his theological studies. He worked intently and even had to squeeze in a year of military service for the province of Chieti. Ruggero never wavered in his quest, and on July 25, 1937, he was ordained a priest in the Cathedral of Barletta.

He was a simple and humble man content with being a shepherd

Don (Father) Caputo began his ministry serving an ongoing role as assistant pastor at many parishes. He was a simple and humble man and never aspired to high office. He was content with doing his work as a shepherd spreading devotion and love for God, and continually working to save souls.

During Don Ruggero’s lifetime, his deep love for God spread out to inspire at least a dozen vocations to the priesthood and over 150 women religious vocations. At the same time, he organized several lay apostolates for teens and young adults. His influence and success in fostering vocations came from his daily devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. Next to his love for offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, he loved Eucharistic Adoration. He spent as much time as he could in front of Jesus.

“He was a soul in love with the Blessed Sacrament.”

One of the women inspired by Don Ruggero to become a nun was quoted as saying, “Don Ruggero was a soul in love with the Blessed sacrament. We girls, if we needed his help, went to church to find him behind the column on his knees, on the ground, in front of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, absorbed in deep, silent, and mystical Eucharistic conversation. Here was the strength, the energy that he gave to us. This is what he put in our veins; to be all for Jesus.”

On July 1,1951, Don Ruggero Caputo was transferred as an assistant pastor to the Holy Spirit parish. This was the beginning of his moving from parish to parish because his superiors were alarmed at the notoriety Don Ruggero was receiving. The youth loved him and flocked to him, and his success with conversions had lit a fire of jealousy among the higher-ups. They were hoping to quiet the unexpected phenomenon.

“He forgave and consoled more than your own father—”

However, the more he was seen and the more women that heard him speak, the more his following increased. Sister Maria  Antonina said, “as soon as you approached him, you realized that he really loved Jesus and you.” Sister Antonia Distaso said, “He forgave and consoled more than your own father, even when he encountered opposition.”

Towards the end of his life, he was hospitalized with a painful illness that kept him bedridden. One of the nuns who was caring for him quoted Don Ruggero as saying, “Now I have to do my part. As St. Paul says, “I complete in my flesh what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ, in favor of His body which is the Church.”

Before dying, he said, “You will bury me underground among the people. Because even after I die, I want to stay a priest to the people.” Don Ruggero Caputo passed away on June 15, 1980.

On January 21, 2021, Pope Francis confirmed the “heroic virtues” of Servant of God Ruggero Maria Caputo. He now bears the title of Venerable, and his cause for beatification is moving forward.

copyright©LarryPeterson 2021


I am an EMHC and Honored to be One

Christ truly present on the altar                    Catholic Stand                                               

By Larry Peterson

I wish to clarify something right away. I am NOT a Eucharistic Minister. I am an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion (EMHC). Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion is the proper term for the people involved in this ministry. The term, “Eucharist” is never to be in their title. That term is reserved for the priest alone. (see Redemptionis Sacramentum).

I have been involved in many ministries over the years and have been an EMHC for 23 years. For me, nothing can compare to being an EMHC. It is all about Jesus, the person receiving Jesus, and you being the one who has brought them together. It does not get any better than that.

I rarely miss a visit to my homebound friends. As of this writing, I visit nine (9) every Sunday. Five of them are in their nineties. Honestly, it makes my day. Ironically, it makes their day too, (and sometime their week)  because they hardly see anyone during the week except home-health aides and folks like that.  All I come with is a smile, a church bulletin, maybe a prayer card and, of course, their BEST FRIEND.

I have a journaling book, and in the back, I have compiled names of people I have brought Holy Communion to over the years. I want to share a few of these folks with you. These are Catholic people who have lived their Catholic lives to the best of their ability. Many of them were children during the Great Depression and lived through World War II and into the 21st century. Like my friend, George.

George B.

George was  in the U.S. Navy and stationed in London in 1940 during the Blitzkrieg. He survived that, came home and wound up at Pearl Harbor. He was there on December 7, 1941, when the Japanese attacked. He and a Marine corporal manned a 50 caliber machine gun and shot down two Japanese Zeroes. The two of them then proceeded to pull men out of the burning water near the USS Arizona.

After the war, he was in the circus for over 20 years. George died several years ago at the age of 97. I loved his stories. He was a walking history book, and he would get all animated when he was telling you about his adventures. I brought him Communion every Sunday for more than two years. What an honor that was.

Anne S.

She was 90 and would be dressed to the “T” every Sunday when I arrived. She would ask, “Why does God keep me here, Larry?”

“Anne,” I would say. “He needs Prayer Warriors. That’s what you are, and that’s why you are here. There are many souls in Purgatory. They need your help.”

She would always smile and point to her Rosary and her prayer books on the table next to her. She would point to them and say, “Yes, I know. I do keep busy.” Recruiting “prayer warriors” is an important part of what I do. Anne has been gone for five years.

And my little pal, Scotty.

Scotty Walker.

He was a St. Jude baby because of a tumor on his brain stem. That was in 1977 when he was only two years old. He was now 25. Only 4 feet, 4 inches tall; he started   his own lawn service when he was about 17.

Scotty wore a big straw hat, and his nose would be just above the lawn mower handle as he pushed it along. At the same time, he was studying for his GED. He worked his tail off until he could not any longer. I brought him Communion every Sunday during the last two years of  his life. He died in 2002 when he was 27. I miss him a lot.

Virginia

I have been seeing Virginia every Sunday for almost five years now.  Sunday, March 7, was her 99th birthday.  She lives on the first floor of a senior independent living center.

I arrived at the center around 10 a.m.  I went to the rear of the building to use the paging system, accessed her number and dialed, but there was no answer.  I kept hoping someone would leave so the doors would open, but no one came out.

Since she lived on the first floor, I walked around to her apartment window.  I was not sure if she was sleeping, had fallen, or, God forbid, worse.  I climbed around four-foot-high hedges to get to the window and began banging on it only to off an alarm system.

No one came so I finally gave up and left.

When I arrived home, I managed to get someone from the center’s management on the phone.  They could not give me any information.  I asked nicely, “Just cough if she is dead.”

“Sorry, sir,” was the reply.  “We will give your name and number to her son, who is her contact person.”

No one ever called.  I had the church office call twice, and the pastor himself called, to no avail.

On April 1, Holy Thursday, Virginia called the church office looking for me.  (She could not find my number.)  She had fallen and had been taken to the hospital.  They quarantined her for two weeks, and she had returned home on Wednesday, March 31.

I was finally able to visit Virginia again on Easter Sunday.  I brought her flowers and a Mass card for Easter and her birthday.  And when her 100th birthday is celebrated next year I intend to be there.

A Rewarding Ministry

I have been blessed to part of this ministry.  Seven of the people I visited received Viaticum from me.  It was not planned that way – it just happened.  I pray for each of them all the time.  So far, my list includes over 40 people who have passed on, including my wives (my first wife died in 2003, and my second wife died in 2017).

I would suggest you look in to being part of  this ministry.  You get to leave the church accompanied by Jesus.  Then the two of you get to go visiting His homebound or hospitalized people.  It is a beautiful thing.


These six Nuns willingly gave their lives during the Ebola Outbreak of 1995*

Nun Praying                                                                                                public domain

By Larry Peterson

* Pope Francis issued declarations of “Heroic Virtue” for three of the sisters on February 20 and another on March 21. This essay is in two parts: A & B. All of the sisters belonged to the Sisters of the Poor

Sisters of the Poor.” should not be confused with the Little Sisters of the Poor” founded by St. Jeanne Jugan in 1839).

Part A:

The Sisters of the Poor, Palazzolo Institute, was founded in Bergamo, Italy, in 1869, by Blessed Luigi Maria Palazzolo. Pontifical recognition was given to the order in 1912. Members of the Order take vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience.  They dedicate their lives in service to the poor and orphaned children. Most are experienced nurses. The sisters serve in some of the world’s most deprived areas, such as Congo, Ivory Coast, and Kenya.

The Sisters of the Poor began their service outside of Italy after World War II. Their first country to go to was China, but that was put on hold after the Communist revolution. They then turned their attention to Africa and, in 1951, went to what was then the Belgian Congo (since then, it has been known as Zaire, and today it is the Democratic Republic of the Congo).

The sisters managed to build a hospital in Kikwit. By 1995 it had grown to have a main building with eleven pavilions. They treated all types of diseases and had 450 beds. The demand was so great most of the time, patients had to sleep two, sometimes three, to a bed. The Sisters from Italy, numbered 58 and 14, were located in Kikwit before the epidemic striking. More than 400 workers and eight doctors made up the staff.

Sister Floralba Rondi was the chief nurse in the operating room at the main hospital. She had been in the country since 1952, a period of more than 43 years.. She was born in Pedrengo, Italy, on December 10, 1924. She had professed her final vows many years earlier.

Sister Floralba had returned to Kikwit in 1994 after working in Kinshasha for six years treating leprosy patients. As the Ebola virus took hold of her, she thought she was coming down with typhoid. She planned to return to Mosang to get back to work with the leprosy patients. Then the vomiting and bloody stools took hold. She died on April 28, 1995. She was 71.

Alessandra Ghilardi, another member of the Sisters of the Poor, was born in Bergamo, Italy, on April 21, 1931. On September 8, 1952, the birthday of the Blessed Mother, she accepted her religious habit and took the name, Sister Clarangela. She was sent to the Belgian Congo in 1959. Trained in obstetrics, she worked her entire ministry in Kikwit, Mossango, and the Tumikia Missions. Sister had spent the last 30 years of her life in Zaire (the Democratic Republic of the Congo). On April 29, 1995, she fell ill. They thought she had a hemorrhagic fever. She died on May 6. Two days later, they discovered it was from Ebola.

Dinarosa Belleri; Born as Teresina, she entered the Sisters of the Poor of the Palazzolo Institute when she was 21 years old. Her first assignment was at a marine hospital in Cagliari. For the next seventeen years, she served in the Mosango Hospital Center. In 1983, she was transferred to Kikwit, where she cared for lepers, tuberculosis victims, and every other illness or injury imaginable. As the Ebola virus took hold of her,  Sister Dinarosa remained in her post. She was determined that she was supposed to be there, just as Blessed Luigi Maria Palazzolo had taught. She worked until it was impossible to stand. She died from Ebola on May 14, 1995.

Today the Sister of the Poor, Palazzolo Institute, has houses in Peru, Switzerland, Brazil, Italy, the Republic of the Congo, Ivory Coast, Malawi, and Kenya. The Mother House is in Bergamo, Italy, and close to one thousand sisters serve in 103 communities.

We ask Venrable(s) Floralba Rondi; Clarangela Ghilardi, and Dinarosa Belleri, to pray for us all.

 

Part B:

On March 21, 2021, Pope Francis declared three more Sisters of the Poor as women of “Heroic Virtue.” They also were present in the Congo during the Ebola epidemic and died while assisting the sick. They are now also worthy of the title of Venerable:

 

Celeste Ossoli knew from an early age that she wanted to serve God. She had confided to her mother about her vocation.  Her Mom helped her keep the ‘secret.’ They both knew that Celeste’s father would disapprove. When Celeste turned seventeen, she told her father she wanted to become a nun. Her father got angry and slapped her so hard that her tooth was knocked out, and she fell to the ground. After a time, he relented and gave his daughter his permission. She joined the Sisters of the Poor on October 5,1953. From then on, she was known as Sister Annalvira.

Sister Annalvira took her vows at the age of twenty and was sent to the Belgian Congo on November 1, 1961. Sister suffered from pulmonary tuberculosis. She fought hard to recover and managed to get into obstetrics school in Rome. She finished and returned to Africa. She worked in the Congo and delivered thirty to forty babies a day. She was honored with a nickname. They called her the “woman of life.”

Sister Annalvira became the Provincial Superior of Africa. The position required her to travel many places to visit the missionary communities. When Ebola struck,  her dear friend, Sister Floralba , was stricken. Sister Annalvira immediately traveled by jeep over 500 km to be with her. Sister Floralba died on April 28, 1995. Sister Annalvira, unable to escape the clutches of Ebola, died on May 23, 1995.

 

Maria Rosa Zorza was born in Palosco, Italy, on October 9, 1943. She was the youngest of seven children, and her mom died when she was only two. She was raised by her maternal grandmother. Maria felt called by God at an early age and entered the Congregation of the Sisters of the Poor on September 1, 1966. She took the name of Sister Vitarosa. She was sent to Milan, where she studied to be a nurse specializing in geriatrics. However,  her deepest wishes were to help take care of the poor children in Africa. -She never stopped trying, and finally, on October 20, 1982, she was sent to Kikwit to work in the civil hospital.

When the Ebola hit, Sister Vitarosa did not seem sick like the others. She was hurrying about doing her best to help the suffering. Asked if she was afraid, she amswered, “Afraid of what?” Then she would sing a song in the language of Kinshasa, “If in the church Jesus Christ calls you, accept to serve Him with all your heart.”     

Sister Vitarosa Zorsa fought the good fight but died from Ebola on May 28, 1995.

 

Anna Sorti was born on June 15, 1947, in Bergamo, Italy. She was the youngest of thirteen children, of whom only seven survived. Her mom and dad died a year apart in 1956 and 1957. The losses caused her much grief, and she fell away from the faith. She began to get in trouble as a teenager, but then she took charge of her life due to the influence of the Sisters of the Poor.   

At the age of nineteen, Anna entered the convent. She took the name of Sister Danielangela and took her temporary vows on September 29, 1968. She professed her perpetual vows in 1974. She was then sent to Milan to study nursing. 

Sister Danielangela Sorti often thought that she might have a short life.  In a letter she wrote on March 23, 1995, she said, “Time passes quickly for everyone, and we must be prepared because we do not know the hour o the day when the Lord can call us.” She finished by writing, “Stay in joy because love asks for love.”

Sister was working in Tumikia but volunteered to go to Mosango the help with the sick there. She contracted Ebola her first night and  was transferred to Kikwit. She died there on May 11, 1995. She was one month shy of her 48th birthday.

We ask Venerable(s) Annalvira Ossoli, Vitaros Zorsa, and Danielangela Sorti, to pray for us all.

 


The Last Supper–Jesus Christ, the God-Man, gives us the Heavenly Trifecta

Last Supper                        public domain

By Larry Peterson

Easter Sunday is fast approaching. That glorious day is the focal point of our faith. It is the day that all of us who have followed the Christmas Star have been preparing for. The day of our passing is our personal Easter. It has been promised to us if we lived as asked. On that day, it will not be the morning sun blinding us. We will be looking into a light brighter than the sun, and we will not squint or turn away. The light will be the Risen Christ as He welcomes us home. But we must always remember there can be no Resurrection without the Cross. We all must experience them both.

Lenten Mass Readings—A definite purpose

The Lenten readings for Mass on March 4 seem to sum up where our earthly life is taking us. As God’s children, we all make our choices. Some will take one path and some another. The first reading is from Jeremiah 17:5-10  (these are partial) “Thus says the Lord, cursed is the man who trusts in human beings, who seeks his strength in flesh, whose  heart turns away from the Lord—

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose hope is the Lord, He is like a tree planted beside the waters that stretches out its roots to the stream–its leaves stay green–

I, the Lord, alone probe the mind and test the heart, To reward everyone according to his ways, according to the merits of his deeds.

These words are followed by the Responsorial Psalm; “Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.”

Next is the Gospel. It is from Luke 16:19-31. This is the Gospel that tells the story of the rich man who sits at his table dressed in the finest clothes and eating the best food. Lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus, who would have gladly eaten the scraps that fell from the man’s table. He was such a mess that dogs came to him to lick his sores.

When the poor man died, he was taken into the bosom of Abraham. Not because he was poor but because he was kind. When the rich man died, he was not allowed into that place. He begs Abraham to allow Lazarus to dip his finger in some water to touch his parched tongue. His request is denied, and then he asks if he could allow his family to be told how things are? Abraham tells him, “if they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.”

That Mass and those readings were used precisely thirty days before Easter Sunday, which is April 4. This sets the table for the remainder of our Lenten Journey. There are thirty Collects, Epistles, Psalm readings, and Gospels between those two days. They all take us to Easter Sunday. And what is the most profound and deeply mystical thing that takes place as we complete our Lenten journey? Is it not the Last Supper?

Imagining the Last Supper

Have you ever imagined how the Last Supper was? These were thirteen men traveling around Galilee, sleeping under trees or in caves or wherever they may have been invited to stay. There were no showers or laundromats, so they must have smelled pretty bad. Now they all gather in a second-floor room in a building with no amenities to have a Passover dinner. It must have been something. And where did they cook the lamb?

None of that is important. What is important, what is profound, what is mystical and miraculous is what really happened at this Passover celebration. This is the moment in time, a moment carved into eternity, that Jesus Christ, the God-Man, gives us the Holy Eucharist. How? He is God and He takes on the role of the first Priest.  He gives us the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the Sacrament of Holy Orders. We, His people, have hit the Heavenly Trifecta. The Mass, The Holy Eucharist, and the Sacrament of Holy Orders all initiated at the same time, in the same place—in perpetuity—-forever.

Something deeply spiritual happens during the Catholic Mass that even many Catholics do not understand.   The Mass commemorates the night when Jesus instituted the Holy Eucharist giving us His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity forever. He did this within the framework of what we call the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

 

We must have the Mass to have the Eucharist. They are inseparable for it is within the Mass that the ordained Catholic priest can consecrate simple bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. Make no mistake, my friends, this is not a “remembrance” or a “memorial” or a “tribute.” It is the unbloody sacrifice of the Cross being offered again and again and again to God the Father for all of us, for all time, in perpetuity.

 

The True Presence

 

Our Catholic faith teaches us that Christ is TRULY PRESENT on the altar at Mass. These words are from the Roman canon: “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”. Christ is with us, and we, the people, are offering Him to God the Father. Our reward is the Risen Christ given back to us in The Eucharist by our Father in heaven. This is The Mystery of Faith , and this is what we believe. I know this is what I believe.

 

The meaning of this is beyond the pale. It transcends human comprehension. For this was when yesterday became today and tomorrow became yesterday. The Mass enables us to briefly step into eternity and to take a peek at the life within the Holy Trinity and the love being shared inside it. This Holy Sacrifice is being offered somewhere on planet Earth every day, around the clock. Imagine that, somewhere, every day, around the clock. It is the most beautiful thing this side of heaven. (Even during the pandemic, priests are offering Mass every day, all around the world, even if they were alone without laity in attendance).

 

I wrote this many years ago and I would like to share it with you.

 

The Answer

By Larry Peterson


Every minute somewhere

Upon this Earth

Amid chaos and pain

Shadowed by greed and pride

Perfection.


While within so many

Silent screams resonate

And fade unheard

Pain unanswered

Yet each minute

A constant Light

Always there for us to share

Somewhere—The Answer

 

But—choices

Perfection unbridled

That tells us why

And will let us understand

If we choose to see

this splendid Oblation

A perfect purity

This gift called The Mass


Ignored yet

Somewhere each minute

For us to share

The Answer there

The Perfect Love

But—choices.

 

The focus of life’s journey is preparation for our transition to and participation in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. When our Easter morning arrives, and we sing out, “Alleluia, Alleluia! Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again,” that is what will happen. Eternal life with the Risen Christ becomes ours. All we have to do is follow Him. If you do not know how or where to start, The Answer you are looking for is right here, in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

 

HAPPY EASTER


For Valentine’s day: A Love Story Embraced by the Love of God

By Larry Peterson

It was the spring of 2014. Ed and Cathy Carmello had only been my neighbors for a short time, less than a year, I think, but we had become good friends. 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 had been diagnosed with Stage IV melanoma. She told me about that when she had ‘maybe’ six months to live.   Since I was a prostate cancer survivor and my first wife had died of melanoma, they felt comfortable discussing their cancers with me. They knew I understood.

My daily routine usually starts at around 5:30 a.m. with a two-mile walk. For some reason, on this particular day, I decided to take another walk.  It was on a Thursday afternoon around 4 .p.m. I actually tried to talk myself out of taking this walk but finally “talked” myself into it.  

 Out the door I went and headed down the street.  Cathy and Ed’s house is three down from mine. Ed had a Ford pickup with a cap on the bed. As I passed the truck, I saw 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 are you doing?  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.”

There are times when things happen that cannot be explained. This was one of them. I had a chill run down my back. I really did.  I leaned against the pickup as she leaned heavily on her walker. “You know Ed is dying, right?”

“Yes, Cathy, I know.  We talked about it.  What about your prognosis? Any change?”

She smiled and looked me right in the eye and said, “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).  She told me that they had been non-practicing Catholics and had not been to church in years. Then she asked me if I could bring a priest over. 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 there waiting for you.”

I simply nodded. She smiled and thanked me, and asked me to come in and see Ed.  We slowly walked back to her 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.

I 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. 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 stared 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 witnessed before. I could actually feel it. I have no doubt that at that moment Jesus was there with them holding their hands in His.

Ed died the week after Easter.  A week after his funeral Mass, Cathy moved into Hospice House. Her nephew, home on leave from the Air Force for his uncle’s funeral, accompanied her. She lived another two weeks.  

As for me, I thank God for their friendship and for being a part of their final journey.  The love they shared together, and the peace and joy in their hearts as they knowingly approached the end of their lives on earth was so beautiful to watch. I was blessed to have been witness to it. Having faith is truly a beautiful thing.

Wishing all couples  a HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY and to those who have lost their spouse (me included) hope you have a heart filled with peace all day long.


Known as the “Boy Judge,” he was assassinated by the Mafia for upholding his Christian faith

Rosario Livatino soon to be Beatified

By Larry Peterson

Rosario Livatino was born in Sicily on October 3, 1952. He was the only child born to Vincenzo Livatino and Rosalia Corbo. Growing up, Rosario was a quiet boy, stayed out of trouble, and was an excellent student. He had a kind heart and never refused to help other students who were having difficulty with their studies. Most importantly, Rosario was devoted to his Catholic faith and loved it deeply.

After finishing high school, he attended the University of Palermo and in 1975 graduated magna cum laude. Three years later, he moved to Caltanissetta (located in central Sicily), where he began his career as a magistrate. After a few years, he became a public prosecutor in Agrigento, and in 1989 he was appointed a judge.

He helped the poor of his town as much as possible

He tried to keep his Christian life quiet and low-key. He helped the poor of his town as much as possible and always wanted to keep it secret. When he attended  Mass, he sat in the back pews trying to remain unnoticed. He kept a Crucifix on his desk and a Bible next to it. The Bible had many pages with verses underlined. Ironically, his church pastor in Agrigento only found out that he was a judge after his death.

Much of what is known about Livatino’s life comes from his diaries, which he began keeping in 1978. During that year, he wrote, “Today I took the oath, and I am a magistrate. May God assist me and help me respect this oath and to behave as demanded by the education I received by my parents.” Rosario took his work very seriously.

Rosario Livatino had to face the realities that were part of Sicily. The most intense reality was the presence of the mafia. The dreaded organization  was strongly connected to most of the local and national politics. Rosario knew he would have to stand for law and order or compromise his character to protect his own safety. As was his way, he turned to Jesus and Mary for their help.

The most intense reality was the presence of the mafia

Judge Livatino knew the identities of the mafia families and did his best to avoid granting them the smallest of favors. He also avoided contact with them as best he could. It was no easy task as he was always being invited to club meetings or even church gatherings. It was at these meetings that members of La Cosa Nostra were frequently in attendance. It was a thin wire he walked, and every day was a challenge.

When he sat on the bench, there was no “thin wire.”  He was a good man filled with God’s grace and determined to fulfill his duties. However, many of the defendants who appeared before him had mafia affiliations.  A just man could not avoid making enemies. As time went by and Judge Livatino meted out sentences prescribed by law, he became hated more and more. The local “bosses” had their form of justice. Many times it was an assassination.

In his diaries, Judge Livatino wrote that issuing judgments is one of the most challenging tasks that men are required to perform. He wrote, “The duty of the magistrate is to decide; however, to decide is also to choose. . . . that the judge who believes may find a relationship with God. It is a direct relationship because to administer justice is to realize oneself, to pray, to dedicate oneself to God.”

Rosario Livatino harbored many doubts and fears. He wanted desperately to meet a woman and get married, but it never happened. He began resigning himself to being alone, realizing it was better he had no family. Two years before his death, he received the sacrament of Confirmation. He knew he needed the strength of a Christian soldier. It was during this time that he rejected having a bodyguard.

The “Boy Judge” said goodbye to his parents and left for work—

On the last day of his young life, the man called the “Boy Judge” said goodbye to his parents and left for work in Agrigento. As he drove his car, he was rammed from behind and forced to stop. A motorcycle pulled up on the other side, and men from inside the vehicle and from the motorcycle opened fire, shooting through the windows. Rosario managed to get out and tried to run, but he fell. He rolled over on his back and watched as the assassins quickly surrounded him, pointed their guns down, and opened fire. The date was September 21, 1990.

A Martyr of Justice

Pope St. John Paul II said that Rosario Livatino was a “Martyr of Justice” and in an indirect way, of the Christian faith.”

Pope Francis has approved his decree of martyrdom and his beatification will take place during the spring of 2021.


Maria Luisa Josefa; a role model of holiness in the single, married, widowed, and religious life

Mother Maria Luisa Josefa                                      Carmelite Sisters of the Sacred Heart

By Larry Peterson

She was born on June 21, 1866, in Jalisco, Mexico.  Her full name was Maria Luisa de la Pena y Navarro. As the years passed, it would shorten and become Maria Luisa Josefa. Maria was the third child born to her parents and the first to survive. The births of eleven more children followed her arrival. Maria, as the oldest, felt a responsibility to set an example for her younger siblings. She did so by exhibiting gentle behavior and kindness to all of them. Through it all, she always felt called to religious life.  However, answering God’s calling would have to be delayed.

Maria’s parents had different plans for her. They wanted her to marry a prominent physician in the area by the name of Pascual Rojas. Always the obedient child, Maria agreed to do as her mother and father wished. At the age of fifteen, she put her calling to religious life on hold and married Pascual. He was twice her age. They were happily married for fourteen years. They even built a small hospital together to serve the poor and less fortunate. It was called the Hospital of the Sacred Heart.

Dr. Rojas died suddenly, and Maria became a widow. She was twenty-nine years old. She had no children and remained a single woman for the next eight years. Then she entered the Cloistered Carmelites and immersed herself in the deep spirituality of Carmel.

After only seven months, Archbishop Francisco Jiminez reached out to Sister Maria. He asked her to return to the hospital she and her husband had started. He wanted her to apply her administrative abilities as the operations were falling into chaos. Maria not only put the hospital operations back in order, but she also opened a school and an orphanage. The quiet display of holiness and the saintliness she always exhibited drew many more women seeking to join her ministry.

Archbishop Jiminez once again asked Sister Maria for her help. He wanted her to join another order called the Sister Servants of the Blessed Sacrament. Always obedient, Sister left her work behind and did as asked. She never asked why. She was with the Sister Servants for four years when the archbishop once again reached out to her. He needed her back at the hospital and the orphanage. The bishop let her settle in and then told her he wanted her to found a new congregation to identify with the work she and her followers were committed to. Sister Maria founded the Carmelite Sisters of the Sacred Heart. The date was February 2, 1921.

In 1926 the Cristero War began.  Under the secularist religion hating president, Plutarco Calles, priests, nuns, and countless Catholics were persecuted, many being tortured and killed. On June 24, 1927, Sister Maria and two of her sister Carmelites, dressed in disguise as homeless women,  escaped to Los Angeles, where they sought refuge.

Not knowing what to do or where to start, Sister Maria placed everything in God’s hands. On the Feast Day of the Sacred Heart of Jesus they are unexpectedly welcomed by the Archbishop of Los Angeles, John Cantwell, who had expected their arrival. He arranges shelter for them with the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. They remain there until August 3, 1927, and then move to Long Beach to Holy Innocents Parish. The pastor, Father Francis Ott, warmly welcomes them. And so begins the foundation for establishing the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles, a sister congregation to the order in Mexico.

After two years in the United States, Sister Maria Luisa Josefa returned to Guadalajara. She returned to work, giving help to the poor.  She died on February 11, 1937. Before she lost consciousness, she blessed the congregation gathered around her bedside. Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament was conducted and finished moments before her final breath

On July 1, 2000, Pope St. John Paul II declared Mother Maria Luisa Josefa, a woman of “Heroic Virtue.” He then bestowed the title of Venerable Maria Luisa Josefa upon her. Her feast day is February 11.

Venerable Maria Luisa, please pray for us.

 


She never left home yet became a Dominican and a Patroness of Catechists

Blessed Magddalena Panattieri Public Domain

By Larry Peterson

Her simple life shows how holiness can shine brighter than special gifts or talents

Magdalen Panattieri was born in the tiny town of Trino, Italy, in 1443. Her parents were pious and prayerful people, and their example helped set their daughter on a saintly course. While still a child, Magdalen made a vow of virginity and developed a great devotion to St. Catherine of Siena.  Before she was twenty, she joined the Order of Preachers (the Dominicans) as a layperson rather than religious. It was an unusual thing to do because most members were primarily widows and older women.

Magdalen, living at home, performed the apostolic works of charity that were part of the Dominican apostolate.  The young woman brought a new spirit of penance and sacrifice to her chapter and always remained cheerful and resourceful. She often spent her morning hours at Eucharistic Adoration.  During the afternoons, she would care for the sick and the poor. The people took notice of her austere and straightforward manner. She always wore a rough, woolen shirt when she would go on one of her frequent long fasts.

Her brother kept getting into trouble, and when he did, she would fall to her knees before the Crucifix begging God to help him. Her efforts were so powerful that the Order decided that they must pay stricter attention to this facet of the apostolate. They were so determined to promote this that, in 1490,  Sebastian Maggi was dispatched from Milan to set it all in motion.  

During this time, Dominican friars were involved in a lawsuit with a Milanese nobleman who had used his power so outrageously, that he was excommunicated from the church. The man was so filled with hatred toward the Dominicans and the church that when he saw Magdalen, he slapped her across the face so hard that she was knocked down. She looked up at him and said, “Brother, here is the other cheek. I give it to you for love of Christ.”  That made him angrier, and he hit her again. Before the year was out he died a violent death from an incurable disease.

In the meantime, Magdalen had begun teaching catechism to the local children, and this attracted adults to her teaching. She was an excellent speaker and was given the task of conducting conferences to women and children in the Dominican church. She became such an eloquent homilist that men, priests, and religious began to come to hear her speak. Within a short time, she was drawing crowds all over northern Italy.

Magdalen’s life of prayer and penance also included other mystical gifts. She not only received the stigmata, she also possessed the gifts of prophecy, visions, and ecstasy. She predicted Italy’s future political troubles and the impending French invasion of the country. She prayed God would spare her people, and although she did not live to see it, during the time of bloodshed, Trino was spared while all the surrounding towns were destroyed.  

The people loved Sister Magdalen. The Marquis of Monferrato held her in such high regard he called her “his mother.”  She predicted her death and said it would occur on October 13, 1503. When that day arrived Magdalen called her tertiary sisters to her bedside. She promised to pray for them and told them , “I could not be happy in heaven if you were mot there too.”

As her companions stood by her bedside, Magdalen began to softly sing. In a sweet voice, the lyrics from Jesu nostra Redemptio followed by Ave Maris Stella came from within her. When she finished singing, she passed on. She was 60 years old.

Pope Leo XII beatified Magdalen Panattieri on September 26, 1827. At that time, he confirmed that a “cultus” (popular devotion) had existed since her death. Her remains, which had been lost, were found in 1964. In 1970, with the authorization of the Vatican, she was solemnly relocated to the Church of St. Peter the Martyr in Trino.  Her feast day is October 13.

Blessed Magdalen Panattieri, please pray for us.


Unable to teach the “Undesirables” in India, this Bishop moved to Africa and died serving the poor during a Yellow-fever epidemic

Melchior de Marian Bressilac wikipediia.commons

By Larry Peterson

His full name was Melchior de Marion Bresillac. He was born in a town called Castelnaudary, located in southern France, on December 2, 1813, and was the oldest of five children.

Melchior’s father wanted his boy to pursue a military career. Melchior felt a special calling to the religious life and when he was 19, informed his father of his wishes to become a priest. His dad accepted his son’s wishes, and, in 1832,  Melchior entered the minor seminary at Carcassone to pursue his vocation. He was ordained to the priesthood on December 22, 1838, and assigned as an associate pastor to his hometown parish, the  Church of St. Michael, in Castelnaudry.  

Father Bresillac had a keen mind and prepared and delivered excellent sermons. He reached out to the sick and marginalized, taught catechism to the children, and had immense patience and understanding for others, especially the youth. However,  there was one thing nagging at Father Bresillac. He harbored a strong desire to serve in the missions.

In 1840, Melchior made a retreat with the Jesuits at Avignon. It was at this retreat that he made up his mind to follow his missionary calling. The young priest expressed his desires to his parents and his Bishop about becoming a missionary. They were strongly opposed, but Melchior knew that his calling to this ministry was from God and that he had to pursue it.

Melchior had to summon his courage to resist the heartbreak his mother was feeling. His father was unyielding in his objections. The Bishop refused to give his permission. The young priest never wavered and continued praying and trusting in the Lord. Eventually, both his parents relented. His father wrote him a letter which read, “Go, my dear son. Go where heaven is calling you. Now, I recognize the voice that summons you. May he protect you. Be happy. I submit!”

Melchior now wrote to his Bishop for final approval. The Bishop refused to give his permission. Melchior wrote again and was denied again. The third time was a charm because the Bishop gave Father Meklchior the permission he sought. In 1841, Father Melchior Bressilac left St. Michael’s Church and entered “Missions Etrngeres de Paris” (MEP), aka the Paris Foreign Mission Society. After nine months of missionary training, Father Melchior Bressilac was assigned to Pondicherry, India. He arrived there on July 24, 1842.

Father Melchior spent a few months learning about the culture and studying the Tamil language. The priest quickly realized that there was disagreement among the European missionaries about how to deal with the national customs. The Indian Christians did not like being told how to behave by foreigners. Consequently, the missionaries were resented for wanting to impose European ways on the natives of the country. And the caste system, where the people were divided into different levels of acceptance, hindered evangelization greatly. Contact among the castes was forbidden, and it went against all things regarding the teaching of “love your neighbor.” Creating Christian communities was a daunting task.

Father Melchior spent twelve years in India. He was elevated to Bishop of Prusa, and he was determined to make priests out of the indigenous people. He wanted the native people to have their own clergy, with the Europeans acting as assistants. Their resistance to his objectives was fierce. The people were classified as “desirables” and “undesirables.” Bishop Bressilac was disgusted that so many of his fellow priests agreed with the caste system. He resigned his post and returned home to France

Bishop Bressilac wrote to the Congregation for the Missions in Rome. He asked if he could begin a mission in Africa in order “to go to the most abandoned.” His request was granted, and on February 29, 1856, Rome gave him their permission to start a society. He founded the Society of African Missions and spent the next two years recruiting and training new missionaries. In 1858 the first SMA (Societas Missionum ad Afros).[4]missionaries set forth for the new Vicariate Apostolic of Sierra Leone in western Africa.

A total of six missionary priests (inluding Bishop Bressilac) were in Freetown, Sierra Leone, on May 14, 1859, when a yellow fever epidemic broke out. Undaunted, the priests and Bishop stayed to treat the ill. They all died with Bishop Bressilac passing on June 25, 1859,  six weeks after their arrival.  Father Augustine Planque and some seminarians back in France were the only members of the new order left. Father Planque determinedly continued forward with Bishop Bressilac’s missionary work.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2020


This “martyr for purity” was killed in 1982 in Brazil

Isabel Crisitna Mrad Campos                                  aleteia.org

By Larry Peterson

The date has not been set for the beatification of Isabel Cristina Mrad Campos

Isabel Cristina Mrad Campos was born in Brazil, in the ancient city of  Barbacena, on July 29, 1962. A few weeks later, on the feast of the Virgin Mary’s Assumption, her parents had her baptized in the parish church of Nostra Signora della Pieta in Barbacena. At the age of seven, she received her First Holy Communion at the school of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul.

Isabel grew up in a devout Catholic family and led an everyday life for a young woman of that era. She studied hard, dated and attended socials, participated in Church activities, and was even part of the local St. Vincent de Paul Conference. She cared for needy children, spent time in prayer, and planned on becoming a pediatrician. The world looked bright to Isabel Campos.

She studied at Immaculata College run by the sisters of the Daughters of Charity. She was an excellent student with above-average intelligence, applied herself well, was held in high regard by her teachers, and had a good relationship with everyone. Often, Isabel helped the sick and the elderly, giving them food while demonstrating love and kindness to all, no matter who they might be.

When Isabel was twenty years old, she and her brother, Roberto, moved to the city of Juiz de Fora, where Isabel was going to prepare for entrance into medical school. They found a small apartment to rent located close to the school. It was an excellent place to study, but, more importantly, it was close to the church and the Blessed Sacrament. Having little money, she began to furnish the house as best she could.

She managed to acquire a table and chairs, utensils and plates, and other necessary items. Included among them was a wardrobe closet that required assembly. She hired a young, local man who had a reputation as a reliable handyman who charged reasonable prices.

On August 30, the young man delivered the wardrobe and began to assemble it. He began to converse with Isabel.  She became very uncomfortable as the man started making suggestive comments to Isabel about her good looks and asking her to date him. Isabel asked him to please finish his work and told him she was not interested. He told her he had to leave to get a missing part and would return to complete the job in a day or two.

On September 1, the man returned to Isabel’s apartment to finish the work. Sadly, his intentions were not on work. No, he was focused on Isabel. He immediately put his arm around her. She pushed him away telling him to stop. The man became enraged at the rejection and threw Isabel to the floor. She screamed, so he grabbed a chair and hit her with it.

He continued to beat her with it and then tore some sheets into strips and gagged her. He tied her with rope and ripped her clothes off. She fought the best she could to protect her honor. He stabbed her fifteen times before she died. Isabel never let him accomplish his intent. She chose death rather than fail in protecting God’s virtue.

Her violent death triggered an outcry for her recognition as a martyr for the faith. Many compared her to St. Maria Goretti. Also, many testified to Isabel’s work with those with disabilities and those who were the poorest of the poor.

On January 26, 2001, she was declared a Servant of God and in September of 2009, she was declared Venerable. During October of 2020, Pope Francis has recognized her death as one of  “in defensum castitatis”  (in defense of purity). She has been.declared  a martyr and her cause for beatification has been approved. The date is still TBA.

copyright©LarryPeterson 2020