Loneliness and Thanksgiving: Thoughts from a Catholic man

God is the Answer because without Him there is no Hope

Loneliness & Thanksgiving                                                         metro.co.uk.

By Larry Peterson

“Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted
is the most terrible poverty.”
St. Teresa of Calcutta

This will be the third Thanksgiving since my wife passed away, and when you become widowed, there is an inescapable loneliness factor that enters your life. But I have learned that loneliness has no boundaries. It reaches out for everyone and captures many of the unsuspecting, including those who are seemingly happy, contented, and successful, dragging them into a world of hidden misery and often depression.

However, many who have experienced loss manage to bounce back and find contentment, peace, and even love again. Others cannot—why is that? The common denominator seems to be that those people who have God in their lives were never alone at all. Those who do not—remain alone. The first consequence of rejecting God is the loss of Hope.  They have allowed Hope to be erased from their spirit.

The results of losing Hope are devastating. In fact, the loneliness factor in the United States has reached epidemic proportions. Here are a few statistics that show how losing  Hope has affected our nation. Loss of Hope leads to despair, and the ones affected most by this loss are the Generation Z people, those who are in the 18 to 22-year-old range. I have grandchildren older than that. The entire concept of these young people, fresh out from adolescence and beginning adulthood, having lost Hope is so sad.  How can this be?

Cigna referenced a “Loneliness Index,” and it shows that loneliness has become rampant in the United States. This worldwide health service company used the UCLA Loneliness Scale  (yes, they have a loneliness scale), which is a 20 item questionnaire that was designed to determine a person’s social isolation and their subjective feelings. This evaluator is used frequently to track and measure loneliness. Some of the results were astonishing. This is from their report of May 1, 2018:

  • 47 percent of Americans sometimes or always feel alone
  • 27 percent of Americans feel no one understands them
  • 40 percent feel that their relationships have no meaning and feel isolated
  • 20 percent feel they feel close to no one and have no one to talk to
  • AMAZINGLY—the Generation Z people (18 to 22) are the loneliest generation. How heartbreaking is that?
  • Social Media users have a 43.5 percent loneliness factor, which was comparable to the 41.7 percent for those who do not use social media.

Isn’t it interesting that nowhere is the name of God mentioned in these findings? And nowhere is the importance of the traditional family considered. The numbers are mind-boggling. We are a nation of almost 330 million people. If 47% say they feel “alone” that is nearly half the country. We only have to go back 25 years to the early “90s to see the rapid decline in the absence of Hope.

Since then, there has been a 58% decline in club meetings, a 43% drop in family dinners, and children have their playtime regulated, depriving them of natural social development. People use their phones to message each other, apply for jobs, get interviewed, quit jobs, break up with their boyfriends or girlfriends, file divorce papers, and do all sorts of interactions without having to go face to face with a person, never saying one word.

Getting back to God and family would be akin to putting the lynchpin back into the hub of life. Then, people, kids included, might be taught that they can turn to Jesus and never be alone. They might be taught to think of His words from Matthew 28:20   And behold, I am with you always, until the end of this age.

We must count our blessings on Thanksgiving, especially knowing that more than half of all Americans still believe in and honor God in their lives and that we have the freedom to do it. This Thanksgiving, millions upon millions of us will pray together thanking God for all we have. We should also pray for all those who do not have Hope in their lives. We know it can always be reignited and prayer can be the kindling used to fire up the Hope lying dormant in so many. God is just waiting to be asked to light the match.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING

Copyright©LarryPeterson 2019

 


This Saint was Hanged for the Crime of ‘Harboring a Priest’—Her final words were, “I would have harbored a thousand priests.”

St. Anne Line                                                          en.wikipedia.org

By Larry Peterson

Anne Heigham was born in England in 1563 during the early years of the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. Her parents were wealthy Calvinists, and Anne was the eldest daughter of William Heigham, who was the son of Roger Heigham, a protestant reformer who worked for King Henry VIII. When Anne and her brother became teenagers, they converted to Catholicism. Their mom and dad wasted no time in disowning and disinheriting them. Both were sent away to survive on their own.

The Heigham siblings had converted along with a fellow by the name of Roger Line. It was during the time when the Catholic Church in England was undergoing harsh persecution.  Priests were hunted down and quickly executed.  Anyone who helped them, for any reason whatsoever, were also subjected to the death penalty. Many Catholic homemakers assisted priests in hiding by giving them refuge in hidden rooms or camouflaged areas near their homes. They also set up areas where the priests could say Mass in their homes. It was incredibly dangerous work.

Anne and Roger Line fell in love and were married. Roger held the English authorities in contempt and ardently supported Anne’s pro-Catholic zealousness. Anne joined the list of Catholic women who would harbor and care for priests in hiding.

She had a secret room built next to another room where a small altar and the necessities to offer Holy Mass were kept. Confession could be heard in this room and other sacraments administered, such as Baptism and First Holy Communion. It also acted as a prayer room and was a place for priests to hide if the authorities came by.

It was not long after Roger and Anne were married that he and Anne’s brother, William Heigham, were arrested while attending Mass, imprisoned, and fined. Roger was quoted as having said at the time, “If I must desert either the world or God, I will desert the world, for it is good to cling to God.”

Roger was summarily banished from England forever and went to Flanders. Alone in exile he died shortly after arriving. When word of her husband’s death reached Anne, she increased her efforts to help priests in hiding. She also managed a guest house for travelers, did the housekeeping, and handled all the finances. Then she met Father John  Gerard, S.J. He had opened a house of refuge for priests in hiding and asked Anne if she would manage it. She agreed.

Shortly after this, Father John was arrested and sent to the Tower of London. Here he was tortured repeatedly but with the help of some clandestine Catholics, managed to escape. Anne was in poor health, and with Father John imprisoned, her responsibilities grew immensely. Unfortunately for Anne Line, she had become very well known to many people. As a result, she was forced to wear disguises and travel from house to house as secretly as possible.

Things took a sour turn on February 2, 1601;  Candlemas Day (the Purification of Our Lady). An extra-large crowd showed up to attend Holy Mass. Neighbors noticed the large number of people and notified authorities. The constables arrived, searched the house, and found the hidden room with the altar. Father Francis page, the priest who was there to say the Mass, managed to shed his vestments and disappear into the crowd. Anne was immediately arrested.

On February 26, 1601, Anne was taken to the Sessions House on Old Bailey Lane. She was so weak with fever they had to carry her to the trial in a chair. Sir John Popham, the judge, sentenced her to death for the crime of assisting a priest. Two priests, Father Roger Filcock and Father Mark Barkworth, were condemned with her. Their execution was scheduled for the next day.

The next morning Anne Line was hanged. She was first to die, followed by the two priests. Before she was executed, she announced loudly, “I am sentenced to die for harboring a Catholic priest, and so far am I from repenting for having so done, that I wish, with all my soul, that where I have entertained one, I could have entertained a thousand.”

Anne Line was beatified by Pope Pius XI on December 15, 1929. She was canonized a saint by Pope St. Paul VI on October 25, 1970.

St. Anne Line, please pray for us.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019


John F. Kennedy, a Kid from the Bronx and a Moment in Time

The following was written on the 5oth anniversary of JFK’s death; November 22, 1963. It is a true story.

John F. Kennedy en-wikipedia.org

By Larry Peterson

 “The president is dead.”  For those of us who can remember those words from more than 50 years ago, they were seared into our brains like letters sand-blasted into a granite headstone forever: clear, succinct, and unmistakable in meaning. How could this be? Things like this did not happen, especially in the America of 1963.  But then a few days later, John-John, in his little top coat and short pants, saluted as the caisson went by holding his dad’s body covered by our flag. It was real all right, no doubt about it.

I had a personal connection to John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Just like the moment when I heard of his death, these moment(s), brief though they be,  are also seared into my brain, and the memories of them are as clear and vivid as if they happened ten minutes ago. The only difference is these are MY moments with JFK. No one else ever had these moments, just me and the 35th President of the United States. And I do not care if you believe me or not. I just felt that I should share. Let us go back to November 5, 1960.

The most famous hotel in the Bronx was the Concourse Plaza Hotel on the corner of 161st Street and the Grand Concourse. Built in 1922, it was an elegant 12-story hotel three blocks from Yankee Stadium. Many of the Yankees had stayed there, including Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, and others. The hotel had a grand ballroom and fancy dining rooms. On Saturday, November 5, 1960, Senator John F. Kennedy was to deliver a campaign speech at the hotel. His fateful election to the presidency was now only four days away.

I had an after-school job delivering groceries and stocking shelves for Harry “the Grocer”. I worked for Harry every day after school until 6 p.m. and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. One of my frequent delivery stops was the Concourse Plaza Hotel. There were a number of elderly tenants that lived there year round, and they always called Harry when they needed anything from bread to fruit to bologna to beer to Band-Aids or whatever. I would bag up the stuff, load it into a cart, and push it up the two hills to the hotel. I would go there at least twice a week, sometimes more.

I had made a delivery to a customer on the eighth floor on Friday, and she told me that Senator Kennedy was coming in the morning to give a speech. She was very excited about it and told me she was going to make sure she was down in the ballroom when he arrived. She said she thought he was going to be there at 10 o’clock. I had to start work at 10 o’clock, and I was quite disappointed that I might miss my chance to see the Senator. Then things changed.

That Friday night I saw my friend ‘Sticks’ (real name Tommy) and told him about JFK coming to the hotel in the morning. He said we should just go up there about 9 a.m. and see what happens. It made sense to me, so that is what we did. I do not remember why but we did not get up to the hotel until about 9:30. We came up to the hotel through the rear loading dock, which was off 162nd Street.

That was where I always came in to make deliveries, and I knew my way around the back and basement of the hotel like the back of my hand. It was a bit strange because there were no cars or trucks, or anything or anyone for that matter, at the rear of the hotel. The overhead doors for truck deliveries were closed, and the only way in was through a door up some stairs at the end of the loading dock.

‘Sticks’ hurried ahead of me and went through the door. I was not as quick, so it took me about an extra half minute to reach the door. By the time I did ‘Sticks’ had disappeared. I hurriedly walked down a short corridor and made a left. I can remember that it was quite dark. (Whew! Right now, as I write this so many years later, the memories have become crystal clear.) I made the turn and froze dead in my tracks.  Someone else had also stopped short.

The man I had almost walked into, and who was now looking me in the eye, was Senator Kennedy. We were less than a foot apart. He had finished his speech and was leaving via the rear entrance. He was with another man. That was it. No one else was there. Just me, John F. Kennedy  and some other guy.

The other man simply stepped near me and said, “Excuse us son.”  I said nothing and stepped back. Senator Kennedy looked me straight in the eye,  and said, “Good to see you.” He reached out his hand and I reached back and we shook hands.  He smiled ate me and then he and his friend walked down some stairs and exited the door that led to 162nd Street.

The rear stairwell was right in front of me, so I ran up a half flight to a platform and opened the big window. I looked out, and below me and maybe 50 feet away the next President of the United States was standing next to a limo, just talking to the man he had left the hotel with. There were no police, no guards in the street, no one else.

There I was, alone, staring out the window at John F. Kennedy. He was wearing a dark blue topcoat that had to be very expensive, and his face had a perfect tan, something you do not see in New York City in November. His thick, sandy hair was blowing a bit, and he ran his right hand up and across it.

Then it happened. He looked up at me, smiled (I can still see his teeth) and held up his hand. He did not wave it, he just held it up with his fingers spread apart. He probably held it up for about two seconds looking at me the whole time.

He was saying good-bye to ME, a kid from the south Bronx who just happened to be there at that moment. I held up my right hand to him and I guess I smiled. I don’t remember. Then he got into his limo and was gone. I watched as my new friend’s car turned onto the Grand Concourse. Talk about a “moment in time”.

“Hey, what are you doing?”  I turned and ‘Sticks’ was at the bottom of the stairs. “I didn’t see him,” he said. “Did you?”

“Yes, I did.”

copyright©Larry Peterson 2013


‘Virgen de Los Desamparados’ aka Our Lady of the Forsaken

Our Lady of the Abandoned           en.wilkipedia.org

By Larry Peterson

On Friday, February 24, 1409, Father Juan Gilberto-Jofre, a Mercedarian priest,  was on his way to the Cathedral to say Mass. He heard a commotion in the street and saw a man on the ground covering his head with his arms as a gang of young people were taunting and mocking and hitting him.

Father Jofre hurried over to the small crowd and demanded they stop hurting one of God’s children. Father Jofre rescued the man and brought him to the Mercedarian monastery where he was given shelter and had his wounds tended to. The following Sunday at Mass, he preached his first homily about the mentally ill.

In the homily, he included a plea for funds to start a place to care for and shelter these people. He was so forceful in his speech that the merchants, craftsmen, and businessmen at the Mass, gave generously.  The money became available, and before long a home and hospital were opened dedicated to the Blessed Mother under the title of “Our Lady of Innocents.”

On August 29. 1414, a Brotherhood was founded dedicated to caring for the mentally ill. It was called the Brotherhood of Our Lady of the Insane and the Forsaken Innocents. That name was soon changed.  A famine had struck the land, and many children had been orphaned. The Brotherhood quickly extended its care to not only the mentally ill but to the many orphaned children wandering the streets of Valencia. They refined the title, and the new dedication was to Our Lady of the Forsaken.

Father Jofre and his brother friars realized the hospital was lacking a prayer room. They built an oratory and when they were finished knew it was missing something; that something was a statue of Our Lady of the Forsaken. Since there was no such statue, they entered into prayer for help in acquiring one.

Legend has it that soon after three handsome young men knocked on the door seeking refuge. Thye offered to carve the needed statue as payment for allowing them to stay. They only asked to be left alone to work for at least three days. The friars accepted the offer.

As the three days went by the three young men remained in locked inside the room.  The Friars would listen by the door, but no sound was ever heard. At the end of the third day, they again knocked on the door, but there was no answer. Finally, they forced open the door only to find the three men gone. Who were these handsome men? Their identity was never discovered but most folks quickly came to believe they were angels sent by God.

What they found in the center of the room was a magnificent statue that the men had created. Miracles began to happen,  starting with the wife of a member of the Brotherhood. Paralyzed and blind, she was completely cured. Thus began the legend called, “Elferen els angels,” aka “Made by the Angels.”

The statue exhibited a demeanor that was called “majestic and protective.” The people took this to mean that it signified goodness, mercy, and assistance that comes from someone majestic. In 1885 the statue was named the Virgen de los Desamparados or Our Lady of the Forsaken and declared the Patroness of Valencia.

Today there is a Basilica of Our Lady of the Forsaken in Valencia, where the statue is on display. Every year on the second Sunday of May a huge festival is held in honor of Our Lady of the Forsaken Ones. It is said that Saint Bonaventure is connected to Our Lady of the Forsaken because of a quote attributed to him:

“When all human help fails, it is imperative that we not despair. For normally in this extreme situation, the divine help of Mary comes.”

‘Virgen de Los Desamparados’   (Our Lady of the Forsaken), please pray for us

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019


Planets, Dr. Seuss and Snowflakes—Combined Proof That There is a CREATOR*

Earth  vs  Keplar 452b                                                       public domain

From 2015;    In honor of our Creator

By Larry Peterson

Horizon spacecraft left our humble, little planet and began its voyage to to the edges of our solar system and beyond. After traveling 3 billion plus miles New Horizon finally passed Pluto, the furthest planet from our sun. I don’t know about you but I find it so humbling and awe inspiring that we human beings, using the perfection that surrounds us, can mange to find a planet that is so far away. Yet, within our universe, it would be as close as a neighbor down the street.

Let’s move past Pluto. It seems NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope, launched in 2009, has found a possible ‘exoplanet’; something worlds beyond our puny solar system. This exoplanet could be similar to our hometown, Earth. Hello sister planet, Kepler 452b.  The Kepler Telescope has identified close to 5000 exoplanets since it started scanning the deepest parts of space. But this is the first one that could be just like Earth. Now, get this–it is one thousand and four light years away. Our closest star system is Alpha Centauri, a mere 4.3 light years away. That means our closest star system is trillions of miles from our solar system and would take us tens of thousands of years to get there. Kepler 452b is 200 times further than that. My question is–how can  we know these things?

How can we possibly know how to measure distance and location and density and climate relating to places that are so unimaginably far away? The speed of light is 186,000 miles per second. Who figured that out? How do you measure the speed of light? Assuming the number is correct, that means in one minute light travels 11+ million miles. That would be almost 16 billion miles in one day. Multiply that number by four and a half years. Do you see where I’m going with this? The light from our own sun takes eight minutes to reach Earth. Yet Kepler 452b is more than  a thousand “light years” away and our scientists know it revolves around its sun in 385 days vs our 365 days. WHEW!

What about Earth? How much of what Earth does do we take for granted? Well, here is one thing it does that we never think about but without its never ending accuracy we would have chaos. That is TIME. There are 24 hours in a day. Not 25 or 23 or 24.8, but 24. Imagine if there were random hours in a day. Yeah, right. So how did we get 24 hours in a day? Enough—let’s just take it for what it is. MIND BOGGLING.

What about explosions? (Please bear with me–I do intend to make a point.) Explosions are destructive and, for the most part, maim, kill and destroy. This past Fourth of July a guy in Maine, in a festive frame of mind, brilliantly set a rocket off from the top of his head. He died instantly. Jason Pierre Paul,  the all-pro defensive star for the NFL’s N.Y. Giants, blew several fingers off his hand with fireworks. He will be out indefinitely.  C. J. Wilson, of the Tampa bay Buccaneers, retired because he blew several fingers of his hand with fireworks. We can go back 70 years and remember that on August 6, 1945, the atomic bomb blew the Japanese city of Hiroshima to smithereens. It also killed about 80,000 people. It follows that if I set a bomb off in my car the chances of the result being a nicer car are–well, ZERO.

So now–to the point.  The Big Bang Theory of Creation has become the favored explanation of how our seemingly infinite universe came into existence. Scientists do agree that the universe did, in fact, have a beginning.  They also know that the universe is expanding and changing and dying, just like we do.  To the question: At the moment of creation when the unimaginable explosion took place or whether it was something like a giant balloon expanding and expanding until it “popped” spewing matter outwards, it all had to be controlled. Who did that?

Random explosions do not and cannot result in perfection. Twenty-four hours in a day is perfect for us imperfect species to depend on, including the animals.  It is a contradiction to believe otherwise. Everything around us is perfect. We can predict the rising and setting of the sun to the second, the new and full moons to the minute. We know when the tides rise and fall and can predict their lowest and highest points to the minute. We know when an eclipse, whether solar or lunar will occur and where. We have learned how to use the world around us to maintain our very existence or, in many cases, destroy it.

Bottom line: because the universe is so vast and expansive (and apparently infinite) and all of it is moving and changing within a perfectly ordered system proves someone bigger and smarter than any of us put this in place. We cannot understand this. We cannot scientifically prove it. But, no matter what, we live in it and survive by it every second of every day of our lives. Perfection does not come from chaos. Perfection can only come from someone who is PERFECT. I know who that  Person is even though  I cannot see HIM or touch HIM. All I have to do is see a rising sun, a blooming rose, a full moon, a rainbow…or hear the cry of a newborn baby or ponder the magic of one snowflake, unique unto itself.

Maybe Dr. Seuss nailed it in his famous book, “Horton Hears a Who”. Maybe our planet Earth is really no bigger than Horton’s, “Whoville”. Maybe we are specks on the end of a ball of dust. Maybe we are not as big and as smart as we think we are. We had to have a Creator. It is common sense. It is ultimately all in HIS hands.  I am also sure HE subscribes to the famous sentence in Dr. Seuss’s book; “a persons a person no matter how small”. Maybe those very “smart” people who reject what must be so, need to breathe in a deep dose of humility and realize that this all did not just happen as the result of some random explosion or expansion. It is illogical and makes no sense (to me).

This was carried in ZENIT on May 11, 2016*

©2015 Larry Peterson All Rights Reserved

 


La Naval de Manila—Honoring the Great Lady of the Philippines; this devotion began in 1646

Our Lady of Naval de Manila                                       en.wikipedia.org

By Larry Peterson

Catholics in the Philippines are profoundly devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary. In fact, honoring her is at the very essence of their faith.  Every year, on the second Sunday of October, a grand celebration is held to honor Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary of La Naval de Manila. The first celebration of this feast occurred 373 years ago, on October 8, 1646.  So, how did this annual, time-honored celebration come about? Well, it started with a statue.

In 1593,  Don Luis Perez Dasmarinas was appointed the Spanish governor in the Philippines. Soon after his appointment, his father passed away, and he asked his trusted assistant, Captain Hernando Coronel, to have a sculpture made in his honor. Captain Coronel commissioned an immigrant Chinese artist to do the job. The man was also a convert to Christianity and had a sincere love for the Blessed Virgin.

The sculptor (name unknown) carved the statue out of hardwood. It was four feet and eight inches tall. He crafted the face and hands of the Blessed Virgin and the entire Child Jesus from solid ivory. The features of Our Lady’s face and the Child Jesus’s face are decidedly Asian due to the sculptor’s ethnicity. No matter, Governor Dasmarinas loved the statue and dedicated it to his late father. The statue was called Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary. Not long after, it was given to the Dominicans, and it was placed in the Church at Santo Domingo.

Some years later, the Dutch Republic wanted to establish a quicker trade route to Asia. The most direct route would be through the Philippines. As is the way of things, they decided that they needed to conquer the country. This would require forming a formidable naval fleet which they did. The Dutch began their attacks in 1646.

The Philippine forces had two galleons to go against the enormous Dutch fleet. They prayed before the statue of the Blessed Virgin and requested she intercede for them in their impending battle. Having placed themselves under the protection of Our Lady of the Rosary they began to pray the rosary over and over. They promised that if they were victorious they would march barefoot towards her shrine in Santo Domingo Church in Manila.

Five major naval battles ensued, and the tiny Philippine naval force, a combination of Spanish and Philippino sailors,  turned the Dutch forces back each time. Only fifteen members of the Spanish navy were lost. When the Dutch finally surrendered, the remaining Philippine and Spanish sailors, fulfilling the vow they had made, walked barefoot in gratitude to the Shrine of Our Lady in Manila. The Blessed Mother was given the name of La Naval and from then on was known as Or Lady of the Most Holy Rosary of La Naval of Manila.

On October 6, 1646, the first celebration to honor the great victory was held in Manila. On April 9, 1662,  the Bishop in the Archdiocese of Manila declared the naval victory a miracle that was owed to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Included in the declaration was the directive to celebrate, preach about, and hold festivities in remembrance of the miracles brought by “Our Most Blessed Virgin Mary and Her Holy Rosary.”

Five Popes have honored the statue and the miracles it brought forth:

  • Pope Leo XIII in 1903
  • Pope St. Pius X, bestowed a canonical crown on the statue in 1906.
  • Pope Pius XIIalso sent an Apostolic Letter on the occasion of the tricentenary of the Battle of La Naval de Manila on 31 July 1946.
  • Pope St. Paul VI declared her Patroness of Quezon City in 1973
  • Pope St. John Paul II dedicated the entire Asian continent to her in 1981.

Today the Santo Domingo Church is known as the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary of La Naval de Manila. Prior to the statue’s Canonical Coronation more than 310, 000 people donated jewels, gems, gold, and silver to adorn the statue.It is considered the oldest ivory carving in the Philippines. The church is the largest in Manila and one of the largest in all of Asia.

Copyright©Larry Peterson 2019

 

 

 


St. Malachy’s Church; Home to The “Actor’s Chapel” an Oasis of Catholicism in the Heart of the Broadway Theater District

St. Malachy’s Church (Actor’s Chapel) NYC                          wikipedia.org

By Larry Peterson

I was in New York City recently (my hometown), and I was blessed by being able to attend 9 A.M. Sunday Mass at St. Malachy’s Church. Located on W 49th Street between Broadway and 8th Avenue, this is the very heart of the Broadway theater district. This area of midtown Manhattan is just a few blocks from Times Square and is known around the world.

This church opened in 1902 and stepping into it is like a step back in time. The church is small in comparison to many others, but the gothic architecture is magnificent, and the white marble altar crowns the sanctuary with a pronounced transcendental presence. It is stunning to look at.

When the church opened, it was an average parish church tending to the needs of the local Catholics and their growing families. But shortly before 1920 things began to change. The section of Manhattan began to transform into the area known for theater. Soon it became known as the “theater district.”

The priests and the active parishioners of the day realized that they would have to adapt to the changing parish population. The area was becoming filled with actors, actresses, musicians, dancers, stagehands, craftsmen, and all the other personnel that were required to make entertainment possible. Masses were rescheduled and rearranged to accommodate the theater and nightclub workers. Scheduling a Mass at 4 A.M., required permission from the Vatican because church law did not allow Masses at that hour.

Toward the end of 1920, the “Actor’s Chapel” was completed below the main church. St. Malachy’s quickly became known as the center of worship for the entertainment industry. Celebrities who attended Mass at the church included George M. Cohan (who donated the altar rail for the chapel), Perry Como, Spencer Tracy, Jimmy Cagney, Bob Hope, and Rudolph Valentino, to name a few. Some of the actors who served Mass were Pat O’Brien, Jimmy Durante, and Don Ameche.

Someone not mentioned so far but who needs mentioning is the patron of the parish, the man the church is named after, St.Malachy. Who was he and where did he come from? Let’s find out.

We must travel back to Ireland in the year 1094. A baby was born and was baptized with the name Mael Maedoc which translated into Malchus in Latin and finally Malachy in English. His surname was Ua Morgair  making his full name, Mael Maedoc Ua Morgair.  That translates into the simple Irish name of Malachy O’More.

Malachy was the son of a teacher, and after his parents passed away, he entered the religious life. He was ordained a priest in 1119 by Bishop Cellach, who would become St. Cellach. Much of what we know about Malachy comes from the writings of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, who wrote a biography of Malachy and was with him when he died. He wrote of Malachy’s great preaching ability and his determination to reform abuses in the Irish church, including strict rules on celibacy.

Malachy was promoted to the position of Abbott, and a few years later, at the age of 30, was consecrated as the Bishop of Connor. He became a staunch supporter of Pope Gregory VII instituting the reforms that the Holy Father had initiated. This included introducing the Roman Liturgy into Ireland. He became a well-known miracle worker and healer where he reportedly cured people just by laying hands on them.

It is reported that Malachy was gifted with the gift of prophecy. While he was in Rome, in 1139, he had a vision of all the Popes from that day until the end of time. He wrote descriptions and poems about each of the future popes and eventually presented the manuscript to Pope Innocent II. It was apparently put to the side and did not resurface until the year 1590, a period of over 450 years. Ever since that time heated debates have arisen over its authenticity. The manuscript ends with the last pope being the one after Pope Benedict XVI.

For the most part these prophecies have been debunked. Accurate up until 1590 they get quite vague and inaccurate from that point on. Today, most scholars consider them a hoax. Thomas J. Reese S. J., of Georgetown University said, “St. Malachy’s prophecy is nonsense.” We can leave it there. But Malachy’s church leadership, reforms, and the many miracles attributed to him are unquestioned.

Malachy O/More died on November 2, 1148. He was canonized a saint by Pope Clement III in 1190.

St. Malachy, please pray for us.

P.S. If you ever have the chance go to the Sunday, 11 A.M. Solemn High Mass. The choir consists of professional singers from the Broadway stage. There is NO Charge

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019


His business failed, his wife died, he lost three children in succession, managed to become a Jesuit Lay Brother, and ultimately was canonized a saint. Meet St. Alphonsus Rodriguez

St. Alphonsus Rodriguez                                              wikipedia commons

By Larry Peterson

The friar pulled open the big, oak door, and before him stood a disheveled looking man staring at him. The year was 1571, and the down and out fellow was a thirty-seven-year-old cloth merchant seeking admission to the order. The weary, hunched man was not seeking to be a priest but, instead, he just wanted to be admitted as a lay brother. The friar shook his head and was about to dismiss the man when the man said, “Peter Faber was my friend.”

Peter Faber was probably St. Ignatius of Loyola’s best friend. He is considered by many as the co-founder of the Jesuits. He had passed away in 1545 at the age of thirty-nine but for the man to have said “he was his friend” made the friar pause and hold the door open. Staring at the wretched-looking fellow the friar asked, “And how do you dare claim to be friends with Peter Faber?”

The man introduced himself as Alphonsus Rodriguez. He explained that when he was a boy of about ten, Peter Faber had stayed with his family while he was preaching a mission in Segovia. Alphonsus also told him that Friar Peter had prepared him for his First Holy Communion. The man was allowed to come in, and the friar called another of the brothers over to hear the man’s story.

Alphonsus went on to explain that he had to quit school at the age of twelve. That was when his dad died unexpectedly, and he had to leave school because he had nine brothers and sisters, and his mother needed his help. Alphonsus eventually married a woman named Maria Suarez when he was twenty-six. They had three children together, and two died before the age of five.  Then Maria suddenly passed away, and Alphonsus was a widower with one child to raise. His last child also suddenly passed.

Alphonsus was now thirty-seven years old, worn out, and frail-looking. He explained he had no desire to re-marry and only wished to spend the rest of his life serving God. Fortunately, people who were having a tough time of it were always welcomed by the Jesuits. Having been instructed by Peter Faber himself, the resident Jesuits were quite willing to accept Alphonsus.

Alphonsus had minimal education, so he had to take courses at the College of Barcelona. His health was poor, and he only managed a year of studies. But he was then accepted into the Jesuit novitiate on January 31, 1571. It was said that the provincial joked that if Alphonsus could not qualify for the priesthood or become a brother maybe he could stay and become a saint. He was sent to the town of Palma where he did odd jobs at the Jesuit College of Montesino. He made his perpetual vows on April 5, 1573, when he was 41 years old.

In 1579 Brother Alphonsus became the porter at the college. He did odd jobs, answered the door welcoming travelers and guests, and did almost every type of different job that needed to be done. His position at Jesuit College was his first, last, and only assignment as a member of the Jesuits.

Brother Alphonsus experienced great heartache in his life. He had lost his young wife to disease, his three children, one after the other, and he also had lost his business as a wool merchant. He had become a lay Jesuit Brother and spent the rest of his life doing the most humble work imaginable.

Unknown to most, Alphonsus had developed a deep relationship with God and was given the gift of the spirit that enabled him to deeply affect anyone who spoke with him. He managed to bring countless people to peace within themselves, and his reputation spread far and wide.

Brother Alphonsus Rodriguez died on October 31, 1617. He was eighty-four years old.  He was canonized a saint by Pope Leo XIII in September of 1888.

St. Alphonsus Rodriguez, please pray for us.

Copyright©Larry Peterson 2019

 


ALL SOUL’S DAY—-It is NEVER too late to seek forgiveness

During November let’s never forget that God’s Mercy knows no Bounds; It can travel from War Criminal to Baseball Hero and to all points beyond.

All Soul’s Day                                                                        en.wikipedia.org

By Larry Peterson

All Soul’s Day is more than just a day to remember and pray for our departed loved ones. It is a day we should embrace fully because the faith we carry within us is validated.  That validation is there for all of us because we can see the Mercy and Love of God and how it is available to every person, everywhere—if they so choose.

An example of how this Love and Mercy shows no bounds can be found in the following two people who long ago left this life. They are an unlikely duo, and I am sure that while they were alive, they never met. They are Rudolf Hoess, the Nazi War Criminal (not to be confused with Rudolf Hess, Hitler’s Deputy Fuhrer), and  Babe Ruth, the greatest baseball player who ever lived;

  • Rudolf Hoess (sometimes spelled Hoss)

Rudolf Hoess is considered history’s greatest mass murderer. He was the SS Kommandant at Auschwitz who got up every morning, had a nice breakfast with his wife and five children, and then went to work where he supervised the deaths of thousands upon thousands of men, women, and children.

Hoess was a happily married Catholic man and would come home after “work” and have dinner with his family. He had a nice view from his dining room window. He could see the giant chimney stacks from the crematoria. He had an affair with an Auschwitz prisoner and to hide the evidence sent her to the gas chamber. He even wrote poetry about the “beauty” of Auschwitz.

Arrested as a war criminal Hoess was sentenced to death by hanging. Before his execution he asked for a priest. On April 10, 1947, he received the Sacrament of Penance. The next day he received Holy Communion which was also his Viaticum. He was hanged on April 16, 1947.

  • George Herman “Babe” Ruth

Babe Ruth was born in Baltimore in 1895. He was (according to his folks) an incorrigible child and at the age of seven they placed him in St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys. Babe remained there for the next twelve years. He was a baptized Catholic and had received his First Holy Communion.

Babe’s affinity for baseball became obvious quickly. Brother Mathias, who had become a father figure for Ruth, saw this and asked Jack Dunn, the owner of the minor league Orioles, to take a look at the boy. Dunn liked what he saw, took Ruth under his wing and became his legal guardian. The rest is history. Babe Ruth was and still is, inarguably, the greatest ballplayer who ever lived.

But Babe’s life off the field was a bit different. Living the “good life” he had forgotten one thing; his faith. He was a ball player by day, and a “party animal”  by night. He had fame and fortune and never looked back until—1946. That is when he was diagnosed with throat cancer.

He was scheduled for surgery and the night before his friend, Paul Casey, said to him, “Hey Babe,  don’t you think it’s time to put your house in order?”

Babe knew exactly what Paul was talking about and asked for a priest. That very night Babe Ruth made a full confession and the following morning received Holy Communion. Just a shell of the man he had once been the “Babe” lived two more years. He passed away on August 16, 1948.

That is a profile of two men: one who committed the most heinous crimes imaginable,  murdering callously and ruthlessly God’s creations every day. The other is about a happy, go-lucky, talented baseball player who forgot about God and enjoyed life, as he saw it, to the fullest.

Rudolf Hoess turned back to his faith when his own death was imminent. He asked for God’s mercy. If our Faith is what we are taught it is—he received it. Did he deserve it? As someone said a few years ago, “Who are we to judge?” The same applies to Babe Ruth and every other person God has created who seeks His mercy and forgiveness.

All Soul’s Day is a day to rejoice; a day to rejoice in knowing that our loved ones and friends who have gone before us were given every possible chance to attain their heavenly reward. God’s Love and Mercy has brought many of his fallen children home.

©Larry Peterson 2018


All Saint’s Day—- The Road to Sainthood is a Fascinating Journey into Human Holiness

All Saint’s Day                                                   achristianpilgrim.com

By Larry Peterson

November 1, we celebrate the Feast of All Saint’s Day. Interestingly, more than 10,000 saints are venerated in the Catholic Church. How did over 10,000 people manage to be canonized? For starters, it is probably safe to say that since the church has been around for 2000 years that only works out to five saints a year. So, as far as the numbers go, that seems irrelevant. What is relevant is the actual process of attaining sainthood. The procedure is exceptionally stringent since no mistakes as to a candidate’s eligibility can go uncovered.

It should be noted that prior to the tenth century there was no set procedure for canonization. Frequently, different communities honored or venerated people whose stories were not backed by solid fact. Some stories were made up. For example, St. George the Dragon Slayer, is from the third century. He is honored by both Muslims and Christians. Is the story fact or legend? In the French countryside St. Guinefort is venerated as the protector of babies. It seems that Guinefort saved a baby from a snakebite. The only problem was, Guinefort was a dog.

Interestingly, 52 of the first 55 popes became saints during Catholicism’s first 500 years. During the last one thousand years, only seven popes have attained sainthood, and that includes Pope St. John Paul II and Pope St. John XXIII.

The first saint formally canonized was St. Ulrich of Augsburg. He was canonized by Pope John XV in 993. During the 12th century, the church, realizing they needed an orderly system, began to put a process in place.  Then, in 1243, Pope Gregory IX proclaimed that only a pope had the authority to declare someone a saint. That process still exists to this day.

So, what is the actual process on the road to sainthood? We know this for sure, sainthood is not an easy honor to attain. There are five steps in the journey. The first step begins right in the neighborhood where the proposed saint lived and was known.

After a person has been dead for five years (this time frame may be waived by the Pope), friends and neighbors may get together and document all they can about that particular person. They would then present their evidence to the local bishop requesting he begin an investigation into the person’s holy and exemplary life.

If the bishop feels the evidence is worthy of the cause moving forward, he may appoint a “postulator” to represent the cause. If, after further investigation, they feel the cause is worthy, they forward it to Rome.  Now the evidence goes before the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.  At this point in the process, the person receives the title, “Servant of God.”

The Congregation for the Causes consists of nine theologians who thoroughly review all the documentation that has been presented to them. The person’s writings are examined, and all aspects of their life are picked apart. Nothing can go against the teachings of the Church.

The Congregation even has a “devil’s advocate” who raises questions and objections about the candidate. The Congregation must be sure before moving forward. If they decide the candidate has been a person of “heroic virtue,” they are declared “Venerable,” and their cause moves on towards the next step; Beatification.

Except in the cases of martyrdom, Beatification requires one miracle. The candidate’s character and holiness have already been established, but having a miracle attributed to someone can take centuries. If a person has been killed for their faith, they have been martyred “In Odium Fidei,” which means “In hatred of the faith.”

This death is honored with Beatification and the title Blessed is bestowed on the person. Father Jacques Hamel, who was murdered while saying Mass in France in 2016, is an example of someone experiencing this type of death.

Another death is called in defensum castitatis” meaning, in defense of purity.” This too warrants Beatification, and the person is given the title of Blessed. Two young Catholic heroines who died in this manner are St. Maria Goretti and Blessed Pierina Morosini.

Pope Francis recently introduced a new road to sainthood. It honors those who sacrificed their lives for others. (The Mercedarians are known for this). This is called “Maiorem hac delectionem (nemo habet)” which means; “Greater love than this (no man hath).”

Lastly, there is Canonization. At this point, we are waiting for one more miracle. Upon that happening it is given to the Pope who makes the final decision. It is then a person is declared a saint.

To all you saints (and those in the queue) above, please pray for us all.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019