Halloween and the Legend of the Jack-O-Lantern (one version)*

Jack O’ Lantern                            en.wikipedia.org

By Larry Peterson

My Annual Halloween Post  (Written way back when on a  stormy All Hallows Eve)

Long ago in Ireland, the land of shamrocks, leprechauns, soft winds and smiles, there lived a man named  Jack. Jack was quite lazy and did not like to work. But he had the gift of “blarney” and could talk the peat off the moss.

He would tell wondrous tales about his adventures as a world traveler and the people in his village would be held spellbound by his golden tongue. Alas, Jack outsmarted himself when he stole money from the townsfolk. He thought that they were not very smart and would never find out. But they did find out and began chasing him down the streets of the village.

As Jack ran down the road as fast as he could he rounded a bend and ran smack into the devil. The devil smiled at Jack and told him it was time for him to die and that he was there to take his soul. Jack quickly convinced the devil that if he would let him go and promise to never take his soul he would give him all the souls of the folks who were chasing him. “And how do you plan to do that, Jack?” the devil asked.

“Well now, all ye have ta do is turn ye-self into a pot of gold coins. Then I will give the coins to the people and you will be in all of their pockets. They will be yours.”

Since many souls were better than only one, the devil readily agreed and turned himself into a pot of gold coins. Jack gave the coins to all the people and they went away smiling never realizing that they had given themselves to the devil in return for money.

So Jack lived on, grew old and, like all mortal men, finally died. His life had been so sinful on earth that he could not get into heaven and since the devil could not take his soul, he could not get into hell. He had nowhere to go. He asked the devil how he was supposed to see because he was in complete darkness. The devil laughed and tossed Jack a burning ember from the fires of hell, an ember that would never burn out.

Jack, using the ember to guide his way, found a pumpkin patch (some say it was turnips) and carved out a pumpkin. He put the ember inside and began carrying it around so he could see where he was going. To this day he wanders the earth seeking a resting place. And that is why he is known as “Jack-O’-Lantern” or “Jack of the Lantern”.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN

 

copyright Larry Peterson2015


Peter of Alcantara—This little know Franciscan mentored none other than St. Teresa of Avila

Peter of Alcantara                            en.wikipedia.org

By Larry Peterson

Peter of Alcantara was born in 1499 in the Province of Caceres in Extremadura, Spain. He was named after his father, Peter Gravita, who was the governor of Alacantara. His mom was from a noble family who came from Sanabia. Already as a child, Peter displayed an exceptional gift of prayer, and at times he was so absorbed it was if he was in a trance.  During those times, neither his parents nor their servants would be able to get the boy to respond to them.

When Peter was sixteen, he had already decided to be a Franciscan. It was during this time that his father sent him off to the University in Salamanca. Peter, deeply devout and pious even as a teenager, was seriously tempted during his early days at the university. The opportunity to lead a life of comfort and pleasure was in front of him.

He had to choose which it would be; humility, prayer, and penance or the things of the world. His answer was given to him as he was on his way to the monastery at Monjaresz. Peter came to a stream that had been swollen with floodwaters from the heavy rains. He had no way to cross to the other side, so he knelt down and asked God for help.

With his eyes closed in prayer, Peter prayed and prayed. When he opened his eyes he was on the other side of the rushing river. Peter knew that he had been given a sign that he must follow his vocation. The young man was thrilled because this event erased any doubt he may have had about what God wanted him to do. He distributed whatever inheritance he had to the poor and became a Franciscan friar. He was twenty-two years old.

Once he became part of the order, he gave himself up completely to God. He began to develop a life of daily mortification, penance, and frequent fasting. In fact, he monitored his natural senses and desires so carefully that when asked what the inside of his church looked like, he did not know. Peter was sent to found a new community at Badajoz.

He was ordained a priest in 1524, and the following year was appointed a Guardian at St. Mary of the Angels in Old Castile. The self-sacrifice and mortification he was practicing were intense. He wore an iron belt with sharp points that pierced his flesh. He refused to sleep more than an hour and a half a day and would do this while sitting on the floor.

On April 14, 1562, Peter wrote a letter to Teresa of Avila. He knew in his heart that God had chosen her for great things and he advised her to found her first monastery at Avila. Theresa responded to Peter and the monastery was established on August 24, 1562. Much of what is known about Peter of Alcantara has been taken from the writings of Teresa of Avila. She even confirmed that Peter would only eat once every three days. She wrote that he sometimes would go a week without eating. His regimen of offering himself to God was extraordinary, to say the least.

Teresa and Peter became close friends, and the priest became her mentor and counsel. She knew that he was also of God, and she wrote that the gift of miracles and prophecy he possessed were heaven-sent.  She credits Peter with her success in the reformation of the Carmelite Order. Peter also had another gift; he was a great preacher. He loved to preach to the poor, and they loved to listen because he had a unique way of expressing compassion and understanding to the lives they were enduring. None other than St. Francis Borgia wrote to him, “You remarkable success (as a Preacher) is a special comfort to me.”

Peter of Alcantara, in his efforts to please and imitate his Savior, lived a life of intense poverty and austerity. He traveled throughout Spain preaching the Gospel while eating and drinking a bare minimum to stay functioning. He wrote a Treatise on Prayer and Meditation which is considered a masterpiece by both St. Teresa of Avila and  St. Francis de Sales. He was often seen levitating and in ecstasy while in prayer.

Lastly, Peter of Alcantara is the Patron Saint of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. On his deathbed, he was asked if he wanted some water. He responded, “Even my Lord Jesus Christ thirsted on the Cross.”

On October 18, 1562, he died while praying. He was canonized a saint by Pope Clement IX on April 18,1622.

Saint Peter of Alcantara, please pray for us.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019


The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist is embodied in the Mass: The two are inseparable and it is an ongoing Miracle that is always occurring

Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist                    public domain

By Larry Peterson

The United States has a population of close to 330 million people. Of those, there are more than 74 million people who claim to be Catholic. 70 million are registered (signed in with a parish as members). That means that Catholics comprise more than 22% of the entire population of the USA. Approximately 38% of the 70 million attend weekly Mass (roughly 26.5 million).

Of those claiming to be Catholic, many do not practice their faith, and among the millions who do attend weekly Mass, many do not even believe in one of its most fundamental teachings. This teaching is known as the Real Presence. The Real Presence means that Jesus Christ becomes truly present, Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, under the appearances of bread and wine, on the altar during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass (note the word—Sacrifice). Pew Research did a recent survey and found that 7 out of 10 people who say they are Catholic do not believe this.

That finding is hard enough to comprehend, but this is the one that seems hardest to fathom; of those Catholics who attend Mass once a week, 63% know the church’s teaching, but 14% of those attending  do NOT believe it, and 23% say they “do not know of it.” That means that 37% of those going to Mass has no clue what is going on. Why are they coming to Mass? What’s the point?  Why not just go to a revival meeting in a tent? What happened to all the “believers?”

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.” This 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.

Something deeply mystical happens during the Catholic Mass that many Catholics do not seem to even be aware of, no less understand. When the Catholic priest bends forward over the bread and wine and says the words of consecration, “This is My Body—This is My Blood”  the bread and wine become the actual Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.

From the catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC 1376) “—this holy Council (The Council of Trent  1545-1563) now declares again, that by the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of His blood. This change the holy Catholic Church has fittingly and properly called Transubstantiation.”  

The Last Supper was the very first Mass celebrated, and it was offered by Christ Himself. Jesus instituted the priesthood at this moment in time, and the Apostles became the first priests (Judas had already left). This was when Jesus empowered them to do as He did.

Our Catholic faith teaches us that Christ is TRULY PRESENT on the altar at Mass. Pick up your missalettes in church and go to the Roman canon. See the wording after the consecration:

“—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.—“

“—In humble prayer we ask you, Almighty God: command that these gifts be borne by the hands of your holy Angel; to your altar on high in the sight of your divine majesty,So that all of us, who through this participation at the altar Receive the most holy Body and Blood of your Son, May be filled with every grace and heavenly blessing

Through Christ, our Lord. Amen

 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 (or are supposed to believe). I know this is what I believe.

The meaning of this is beyond the pale. It transcends human comprehension. This is when yesterday becomes today, and tomorrow became yesterday. The Mass enables us to briefly step into the “eternal now” and to take a peek at the life within the Holy Trinity and the love being shared inside it. And never forget that this Holy Sacrifice is being offered somewhere on the planet every day of the year, round the clock. Imagine that, somewhere, every day, round the clock. It is the most beautiful thing this side of heaven.

It is time for the clergy to lead us all forward in an ongoing offensive bombarding their worldwide flock with the truth of the Holy Eucharist. Then it is up to the laity to carry this fact forward. It is fundamental to the Catholic faith, and somehow, somewhere, this miraculous truth has been cast aside. Maybe a different kind of Resurrection is now needed, the Resurrection of Christ in the Eucharist.  (See tangible proof at this link  Eucharistic Miracles)

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.

Copyright©Larry Peterson 2019  


This Smiling Dominican Stigmatist, loved Children and became the Patroness of Catechists

Magdalena Panattieri                                                          public domain

By Larry Peterson

Magdalen Panettieri was born in Trino, Italy, in 1443. Her mom and dad were very devout Catholics, and their deep faith inspired their daughter. Even as a toddler, Magdalen exhibited a spirituality that was recognizable. When she was still a youngster she made a vow of virginity, and before her twentieth birthday she became a Dominican Tertiary.

This was very unusual because the Tertiaries were widows and older women who tended to the active charities within the Dominican Church. The young woman, Magdalen, fit right in and brought to the chapter a new spirit of penance and compassion that was an example for all of the others. The main ingredient that Magdalen possessed was a cheerful, happy, and outgoing attitude that was infectious. People enjoyed being near her because she made them smile. It was a gift she had that she was not even aware of.

Magdalen had a natural love for children, and the kids could sense it. They actually gravitated to her, sensing how genuine she really was. The young, joyful woman, began teaching the children their catechism and was remarkably good at it. She had a natural way of describing things and made the teachings of the Church clear and understandable. The kids loved to sit an listen to her. Her classes began to grow, and people from the neighborhood started to attend. The Dominican friars even had to open a large room next to the church for her to use as a classroom.

Magdalen lived at home with her relatives, and any spare time she had, she devoted to the poor and the sick. Her ability as a captivating speaker became known, and both nuns and priests began to come to hear her talk. Her mornings consisted of attending Mass and then Eucharistic Adoration. She was noted for her simple way of life an for her austere existence. She even wore a rough, woolen shirt and fasted often in acts of penance.

Magdalen’s youngest brother was always in trouble and had become an embarrassment to the family. It had gotten to the point that he had worn out his welcome at home, but Magdalen refused to give up on him. She fell down on her knees in front of a crucifix and refused to leave until Our Lord assured her that He would help reform the “black sheep” of the family. Jesus did come to her and say, “I cannot refuse you anything.”

Raymond da Capua, the man who initiated the needed reforms within the Dominican Order (he was beatified in 1899 by Pope Leo XIII) was highly respected by Magdalen, and she promoted his reforms in Trino. She was quite successful in her endeavors, and through her efforts the well known Dominican homilist from Milan, Sebastiano Maggi (he was beatified in 1760 by Pope Clement XIII), came to Torino and had a profound effect on all who heard him preach.

Magdalen Panattieri was also a mystic a recipient of  the Stigmata. She had predicted that Raymond da Capua’s reforms would be implemented in Trino, and she also saw the French invasion of Italy that was about to tear apart her country. She begged God for mercy for her people, and during the war with its horrors and bloodshed, the only town that was continually spared was Magdalen’s home town of Trino. The people of Trino always gave credit for the mercy showed them to Magdalen’s close relationship with Jesus.

As for the Stigmata; Magdalen never told anyone about her having it. It was discovered after her passing as they prepared her for internment.

The following is from the General Calendar of the Order of Preachers (the Dominicans):

Faithful God, you forsake no one who trusts in you and in your mercy hear the prayers of the devout. Through the help of Blessed Magdalen may we receive what we cannot obtain of ourselves. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. 

Blessed Magdalen Panattieri, please pray for us.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019


Rooted in the Incarnation of the Lord, the Confraternity de la Virgen de la Cinta has become a powerful weapon protecting the unborn

Blessed Virgin and Child                                                   en.wikipedia.org

By Larry Peterson

On April 12, 2019, Pope Francis welcomed a group to the Vatican known as the Archconfraternity of the Virgen de la Cinta (Ribbon). The group, led by Bishop Enrique Benavent Vidal of Tortosa, Spain, was celebrating their founding 400 years earlier, during the 17th century.

Honoring the Virgin of the Ribbon (the term girdle or belt is sometimes used) is rooted in the Annunciation of Our Lady which is also the Incarnation of Jesus. (The two individual occurrences did happen at the same time). So why did the celebration of the Virgin of the Ribbon only begin four-hundred years ago?

Contained in the archives of the Diocese of Tortosa were records of a spiritual event that took place on the night of March 24 thru the 25th in the year 1178. This was the Feast of the Annunciation. It is said that a priest who was about to begin Matins (early morning prayer) in the Cathedral.

As he began his prayer, the Blessed Mother appeared to him and said, “Since you have built this Church in honor of my Son and me, and because I love the people of Tortosa, I place this girdle of mine on the altar and I give it to you so that you may keep it as a sign of my love.” 

The “girdle” (belt or ribbon)  was wrapped around Her mantle (a gown or tunic). It was probably something that the women of Mary’s day wore when they were expecting a child.  She placed it on the altar. Then Our Lady was gone.

Bishop Benavent Vidal explained to the Holy Father, and others present how over the centuries women honored the Virgen de la Cinta, and many claimed how it was because of praying to her that their child was born healthy or saved from danger or illness. Groups began to form to honor the Virgen de la Cinta and then, during the 17th century, the Confraternity was founded to honor her.

Sometime around 1615 to 1617, Pope Paul V gave his blessing to the Confraternity of the Virgin of the Ribbon, and it has since been a steady and ever-growing force. The bishop went on to say, “during my years here I have heard the testimony of pregnant mothers in difficulty, who have protected the lives of their children entrusted to the Virgin, and who have experienced his protection over his unborn children.

Here are a few of the comments made by Pope Francis (full text here)  at the ceremony. “Looking to the example of Mary, you are called to take that fraternity to every corner of our society. You are present in different ecclesial realities in your diocese: in this way you collaborate so that the Church is first of all a home, a family, a place of welcome and love, in which everyone, especially the poor and marginalized, can feel a part, and never feel that they are excluded or rejected. Lived in this way, fraternity becomes a mission, which challenges us and does not leave us indifferent, because the mutual love that reaches out and is directed towards others is our letter of presentation. Thus, even those who do not believe can repeat that eulogy of Tertullian: “See how they love one another!”

Bishop Benavent Vidal also shared the following words, “thanks to this, devotion to the Virgen de la Cinta has been maintained and has grown. “It is a dedication that, from its origin (the feast of the Incarnation of the Lord)  leads to the protection and care for the life of the unborn human being.”

See the complete Vatican transcript here.

 copyright©Larry Peterson 2019


Saint Maria Soledad Torres y Acosta saw the Hand of God in everything around her

St. Maria Soledad Torres y Acosta                     en.wikipedia.org

By Larry Peterson

There are those people that are seemingly in-tune with the Holy Spirit from their earliest years. They sense His presence, understand His desires, and do their best to accommodate His requests. Such was the woman known as Maria Soledad Torres y Acosta. She indeed “heard the cry of the poor” and knew where that cry originated. She listened and followed and never looked back.

On December 2, 1826, Francisco Torres and Antonia Acosta welcomed their second of what eventually would be five children into the world. They gave her the name, Manuela, and she was baptized  as “Antonia Bibiana Manuela.” Her mom and dad operated a small business selling goods to tourists on the Plaza de Espana, in central Madrid.

Manuela attended a school run by the Vincentian Sisters. Founded in 1633, members of the order were dedicated to serving the poor through their devotion to the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. Manuela spent as much time as she could after school, helping the poor that were being taken care of by the Sisters.

Manuela’s life as a child and teenager was a simple, uncomplicated existence no different than most of the girls she grew up with. There was one thing that Manuela did possess that most others did not; she had a deep love for the Blessed Mother, and it was so profound many people could sense it in her. Manuela was determined to find a way to serve Our Lady by serving the poor. She tried to join the Order of Preachers (the Dominicans), but there was a waiting list, and she would have to wait.

Then, in 1851, she heard about a priest in another part of Madrid, who was starting a new group to help the poor. His purpose was to start an order that would take care of people in their homes. The priests’ name was Father Michael Martinez who was a Third Order Servite. When she asked him if she could join she was welcomed and became the seventh member of the founding group. From that point on she was known as Sister Maria Soledad. The new order began its work on August 15, 1851.

Sister Maria could feel the presence of Christ in everyone she cared for. She was able to empty herself for others and managed to understand the spiritual richness contained in the poorest of the poor. She embraced this and loved them as much as anyone ever could. In her humble eyes all of the patients were Christ himself, and there was nothing she would not do for them

In 1856, Father Micahel took six of the founding sisters and left to go to the mission in Bioko, on the African coast. Sister Maria Soledad took care of the remaining sisters and became the Foundress and Superior General of the Servants of Mary. From that point on, she was known as Mother Maria Soledad, and the new order was called the Servant’s of Mary.

Mother Maria and her followers were very poor and barely had enough to eat. There was jealousy and infighting among the clerics that were involved with overseeing the new order, and the politics became so intense that the bishop threatened to dissolve it. After meeting with Mother maria and talking to her he realized what a good and holy woman she was and re-appointed her as Mother Superior and officially sanctioned the name Servants of Mary.

Mother Maria Soledad lived long enough to see her congregation receive full papal approval in 1876. In 1887 she came down with pneumonia. She received Extreme Unction and passed away on October 11, 1887. She was buried at the local cemetery, where the sisters had a plot.

Sixteen years later, on January 18, 1893, her remains were exhumed for transfer to the mother-house. Her body was intact and emitted a sweet odor that everyone present could smell. It was as if a florist had opened its doors. After several years only the bones remained.

Mother Maria Soledad Torres y Acosta was beatified by Pope Pius XII in 1950 and canonized a saint by Pope Paul VI in 1970.

Saint Maria Soledad, please pray for us.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019


The “Angel of Dachau” stared into the faces of the dying every day and never turned away—

Bl. Engelmar  Unzietig                                          http://www.novinky.cz

By Larry Peterson

The first concentration camp to be opened by the Nazis was known as Dachau. It opened in 1933 under the direction of Hitler’s primary henchman, Heinrich Himmler. The initial idea was for Dachau to house political prisoners, but it quickly evolved into a death camp primarily for Jews.

Dachau also became known as the ‘priest’s barracks.” It earned that label because over 2720 clergy were imprisoned there, 95% of them being Catholic. The rest included Protestant, Greek Orthodox, Eastern Orthodox, and a few others. Among the Catholic priests was the man who came to be known as the “Angel of Dachau.”  His name was Father Engelmar Unzeitig.

Father Engelmar was born on March 1, 1911, in Austria-Hungary and was named Hubert by his parents. Not much is known of his parents, but he did have a younger sister. When Hubert was 18, he was accepted into the novitiate of the Marianhill Missionaries in Reimlingen. He had intended to be a part of the missions but became a student studying theology and philosophy. He made his final profession of vows in 1938 and was given the name of Engelmar.

Engelmar was ordained to the priesthood on August 6, 1939, and offered his first Mass on the Feast of the Assumption. From there, he was assigned as a parish priest to a church in Glokelberg, Austria. Father Engelmar had no problem defending the victims of Nazi persecution.

His sermons often defended the Jews, and he quickly became a bright blip on the radar of the Gestapo. Two years after he was ordained, he was arrested for preaching against the Third Reich and their treatment of the Jews. Without trial or fanfare of any kind whatsoever, he was sent to Dachau, a place that, besides being called the “priest’s barracks,”  became sarcastically known  as the “largest monastery in the world.”

Father Engelmar was 30 years old when he was arrested on April 21, 1941. When he arrived at Dachau he immediately set out to do his best to give all the help he could to his fellow prisoners. Many of them were older than Engelmar and were frequently in poor physical condition, unable to do what was demanded of them by their captors.

The conditions in the camp were inhumane and, for many incarcerated there, unbearable. Suicide was frequent, starvation was rampant, and sickness and death were everywhere. Father Engelmar, kept smiling and kept trying to cheer the despairing. Since there were so many Eastern European prisoners in the camp he secretly learned how to speak Russian so he could tend to the Russian prisoners.

Engelmar would try to move among his fellow inmates in such a way as not to be noticed. It was always a daunting challenge, and often he was punished for helping others. However, no matter what happened to him, he also had no intention of stopping his pastoral work, regardless of the consequences.  He worked tirelessly day after day, night after night, tending to and comforting his fellow prisoners. The began referring to the young man as the “Angel of Dachau.”

Conditions in Dachau were so filthy it was a perfect environment for disease to develop. Body lice, chiggers, and fleas, spread disease and these were running uncontrolled at Dachau. It was not long before Typhus became part of the conditions as it erupted in the camp, spreading like wildfire through the camp.

Father Engelmar, without hesitation, volunteered to work with the typhoid patients. The Nazi guards had tried to separate those infected from the others to keep the disease in check. It was an effort in futility. Father Engelamar was placed with the Typhus population towards the end of summer, 1944.

He immediately went to work to comfort and assist the infected the best he could. The disease found its way into the priest, probably during February of 1945. It was during the beginning of February when he noticed a nagging headache developing and a slight rash visible on his right arm and on his side. Typhus attacked the kindly priest and Father Engelmar Unzeitig died on March 2, 1945. Ironically, April 29, 1945, Dachau was liberated. For many thousands, including Father Engelmar, it was too late.

On September 5,1988, during the reign of Pope St. John Paul II, Father Engelmar was declared a Servant of God   Pope Benedict XVI declared the priest Venerable on July 3, 2009. On January 21, 2016, Pope Francis declared that Father Engelmar Unzeitig had died “in odium fidei” and was a martyr. The priest who gave his life at Dachau was beatified on Septemeber 24, 2016.

Blessed Engelmar  Unzeitig, please pray for us.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019


A holy time-saver: This saint recruited his donkey to help him multiply his hours and energy

St. John Macias                                                                           public domain

By Larry Peterson

Juan de Arcas y Sanchez was born on March 2, 1585, in the Palencia Diocese located in the northwest part of Spain. His mom and dad were poor peasant farmers who worked hard to take care of their children. Sadly, both of them died when Juan and his sister were both very young. The two of them were taken in by their uncle whose last name was “Macias.” The children took the name as their own. Juan’s uncle trained him as a shepherd, and the youngster would spend many of the long, tedious hours praying the Rosary.

When Juan was a teenager, he attended Mass in a nearby village. The Mass was offered by a Dominican, and his preaching touched young Juan deeply. He started to think about joining the Order and began praying hard for the wisdom to understand and accept God’s will for his life. He wrote that he was visited often by the Blessed Virgin and his patron, St. John the Evangelist. In one of these visions, he reportedly was commanded to travel to Peru.

At the age of 25, Juan began working for a man who had business interests in South America. Some years later, he was asked if he would like to go there. Remembering his vision, Juan immediately accepted the offer. It was 1619 when he set out for the Americas. He was 34 years old.

Juan traveled with soldiers, missionaries, merchants, adventurers, and those in poverty, hoping to find a second chance. Among those on board, he was considered among those in poverty. The ship sailed for several months before finally stopping in the place of his vision; Lima, Peru. He would remain in here for the rest of his life.

Never losing his desire to be a Dominican, Juan entered the Dominican convent of St. Mary Magdalene in Lima in the year 1622. He began as lay-brother who would not preach but would do the necessary manual labor required in the monastery. He became the doorkeeper, and one of his primary duties was to take care of the poor and needy who came to the door seeking material or spiritual assistance.

It is documented that Juan would greet over two hundred people a day. He was always cheerful and upbeat and tried to encourage all who came. His ability to help so many every day came to be recognized as miraculous. One reason was that he had a donkey that he would send out to collect food. He hung a sign on the donkey, and the animal knew what route to take.

Every day the donkey would walk through the neighboring town collecting food for Friar Juan to give to the poor. In fact, the donkey knew what homes to “Hee-Haw” in front of so the people would know he was there. He always came back with his carry-bags filled, and all the people who had come for food were able to be helped.

While in the monastery, Juan’s life was filled with fervent prayer, frequent penance, and charity. Like St. Dominic, he learned his theology not from books but by continually devoting himself to studying what is known as the “Book of Charity,” the Cross. He prayed the Rosary constantly and it is said that his prayers freed over a million souls from Purgatory.

He became best friends with another great Dominican, St. Martin de Porres. The two men would often meet as they made their daily rounds of Lima and were a steady and constant source of encouragement for each other. They were both beatified on the same day in a single ceremony by Pope GregoryXVI in 1837.

We shall finish with one last miracle from the life of Juan Macias. A little girl was the last one on line. When she reached Friar Juan, he asked what she needed, and she told him a new dress. Juan had nothing like that to give, but he asked the child to walk with him so they might check the storeroom. The entire way there, Juan prayed for a miracle. When they got to the storeroom on the bench near the door was a package neatly wrapped. Juan opened it and inside was a brand new dress in the exact color and size the girl had hoped for.

John (Juan) Macias was canonized a saint by Pope St. Paul VI in 1975.

St John Macias, please pray for us.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019


He was born in Venice and became the Apostle of Hungary: Meet St. Gerard Sagredo; Bishop and Martyr

Apostle of Hungary; St. Gerard Sagredo                              en.wikipedia.org

By Larry Peterson

Gerard Sagredo was born In Venice sometime near the end of the tenth century. Even though the exact year is not known, the date was confirmed as April 23, the feast day of St George. His father, who was named Gerard, and his mom, Catherine, had waited a long time for the birth of their child. So, in honor of the saint, they had their boy baptized giving him the name George. Several years later, when the boy’s dad died while on a pilgrimage, his mom changed her son’s name to Gerard, in honor of his father and her husband.

Gerard was a teenager when he entered the Benedictine monastery of San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice. He learned to read, write, and become knowledgeable in the rules of arithmetic. The young man observed the monastic life down to wearing course clothing for self-mortification. He also studied the words of the prophets and scripture.

When the Abbot of the monastery, John Morosini, died in 1012, Gerard was appointed Prior.  He was supposed to manage the monastery until a new abbot was appointed. Gerard had a desire to travel to Jerusalem but was willing to wait until a new abbot was named. To his surprise, he was appointed the Abbot to replace Friar Morosini. The year was 1015. After a short time, he asked to be excused from his duties as Abbot and managed to join a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

He planned to follow the example of St. Jerome and live a life of asceticism and penance. But on his way a storm swept his ship off course, and it finally made port in Istria located across the Adriatic Sea close to northern Italy. Here he met a man named Rasina who was the abbot of the nearby St. Martin Monastery. Rasina convinced Gerard to accompany him to Hungary. He told him,  “nowhere else in the world could one find today a more suitable place to win souls for the Lord.”

On January 1, 1000, the first King of Hungary was crowned. His name was Stephen I. This was when the deliberate and purposeful establishment of the Catholic Church in Hungary began in a systematic fashion. Rasina took Gerard to meet the Bishop of Pecs. Rasina was hoping for Geared to remain in Hungary and hoped the bishop would help to convince him. When the two clerics heard Gerard preach they were astounded at his eloquence. The bishop told him, “you are master of the word.” They then convinced Gerard to let them introduce him to King Stephen.

King Stephen was pleased with Gerard, so much so that he appointed him his son, Emeric’s, tutor. Gerard was elevated to Bishop, and besides teaching Emeric, he went on to found a monastery, a cathedral, and a seminary for future priests. He converted many Hungarians, and during this time he wrote the Deliberatio supra hymnum trium puerorum (Meditation on the Hymn of the Three Young men). This is the oldest surviving work of Hungarian Theological Literature.

In 1031, Emeric was killed in a hunting accident. King Stephen appointed his nephew, Peter Orseolo, as Emeric’s successor.  But when Stephen died in 1038, anarchy took hold, and a vicious fight ensued over whom would get the crown. Peter had claimed the crown but was dethroned by a man named Samuel Aba, in 1041.

Then, in 1044, the Holy Roman Emperor, Henry III, invaded Hungary and removed Aba. Henry restored Peter to power. He was not popular with the people, and another uprising began in 1046. It was known as the Vata pagan uprising, and it was a war on the Christians. On September 24, 1046, the rampaging pagans took aim at clerics and many priests and bishops were slaughtered.

It was during this time that Bishop Gerard Sagredo was martyred. The date was  September 24, 1046. There are several reports of what happened, but the most common is that Gerard was taken to Blocksberg Cliff, stoned, pierced with a lance, and then thrown from the cliff into the Danube.

Gerard Sagredo ( Bishop of Csanad) was canonized in 1083 by Pope Gregory VII. Also canonized with him was St. Stephen of Hungary and St. Emeric. St Gerard is one of the patron saints of Hungary and is known as the Apostle of Hungary.

We ask all three of them to pray for us.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019


Meet “Brother Ave”—the one armed Blacksmith

Venerable Anthony Kowalczyk                                                  fsspx.com

By Larry Peterson

Anthony Kowalcyzk was born in Dzierzanow, Poland, on June 4, 1866. He was the sixth child in a family of twelve, and his mom and dad were devout Catholics. They had Anthony baptized at the Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation in Lutogniew, Poland and it was here that young Anthony developed a great devotion to the Blessed Mother that would inspire him his entire life.

Anthony entered the local school at the age of seven.  Upon finishing his elementary education, his parents took him out of school so he could help them work their small farm. Anthony did that for three years, and then his parents allowed him to accept a position as an apprentice blacksmith.

At the age of twenty and having completed his training, he was classified as a “journeyman
blacksmith.” He then left for Hamburg, Germany to find a job. He found work in a factory, but to his dismay,  when his co-workers and “friends” discovered he was Catholic, they begin to mock and abuse him. He was continually made fun of and provoked. The constant abuse actually made him ill.

Praying hard for guidance, he left for Cologne.  His prayers were answered as a Catholic family took him in. They treated him as their own and introduced him to the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. It was then that Anthony heard the call to service through religious life.  He said good-bye to his friends in Cologne and traveled to Holland.  Here he was accepted into the Oblate novitiate.

He spent the next three years praying and learning and on October 2 1892, he made his vows of Chastity, Poverty, and Obedience. Two years later he renewed his vows for one year and was sent to the mission of St. Albert in what is today, Alberta, Canada. From there he traveled to Edmonton and then north to Lac la Biche to work among the Cree and Metis Indian tribes.

Brother Anthony worked hard and spent many hours in prayer while in Lac la Biche. He was an excellent mechanic and handyman and kept all the machinery running smoothly and the stationery equipment in perfect condition.  But he was soon to be faced with a tremendous challenge.

The friars were busy working in the lumber mill when the power belt turning the giant saw blade snapped. It sounded as if dynamite had exploded and the belt hit Brother Anthony in the right forearm mangling his hand and arm. When they helped him up, he said, “It is God’s will.”

It took four days for them to get Anthony to the hospital in Edmonton. When they finally reached the hospital, gangrene had already set in, and the arm and hand had to be amputated. They had no anesthesia, so Anthony asked for his Crucifix and held it tightly as they removed his lower arm. They say he never made a sound.

Recovery was hard, but Anthony worked every day to improve himself. In 1897, he was sent to the mission of St. Paul de Metis. He and two other Oblate brothers set up a sawmill and flour mill.  On January 17, 1899, Brother Anthony knelt before Bishop Legal and took his final vows accepting his role as an Oblate Brother for the rest of his life.

Brother Anthony was eventually sent to St. John’s College in Edmonton and would remain there for thirty-six years. In 1912, he was fitted for an arm prosthesis with a hook on the end.  He became so proficient with his “new hand” that he became the resident blacksmith, gardener, bell-ringer, sacristan, and even took care of the animals. He also repaired the hockey sticks and sharpened the blades of the student’s ice skates.

Most importantly, he was always there for the young people for words of advice, encouragement, and prayer. They called him “Brother Ave” because he had such devotion to Our Lady and the Rosary. Plus, he always asked those who requested his prayers to pray an extra AVE (Hail Mary).

On July 10, 1947,  after a brief illness, Brother Anthony Kowalcysk died.  He was 81 years old. He had been the first Polish Oblate to come to Canada.

On March 28, 2013, Pope Francis declared  Brother Anthony Kowlcyzk a man of “Heroic Virtue” and therefore worthy of the title of Venerable Anthony Kowalcyzk.

Venerable Anthony Kowlcyzk, please pray for us.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019