All posts by Larry Peterson

About Larry Peterson

Basically I am a “blue-collar guy”. It is the world I come from, a world of hard working, hard drinking construction workers, cops, long-shoremen, firemen, railroad workers, bus drivers, truckers, sanitation workers, etc. who were, for the most part, family men who loved their God, their families and their country—unconditionally. Consequently, if you would ask me to describe my work as a writer I would call it “blue-collar” meaning that I believe my work is simple fair, easily readable, no-nonsense, minimally superlative, and flows quickly. There is lots of dialogue and my tendency to be omniscient is obvious. I think that is because the characters and I are part of each other and I know what they are thinking.

This Hairdresser Slave is on the Way to Sainthood*

Pierre Toussaint                                        en wikipedia.org

By Larry Peterson

There have been many great Black Americans who have stood tall to help make America the proud nation it is today. Rev.Martin Luther King Jr., Thurgood Marshall, Frederick Douglas, Rosa Parks, Clarence Thomas, Colin Powell, Condoleeza Rice and the list goes on.

Included, among those are also Black Catholic Americans *(Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is Catholic).  The names of these  people are not so recognizable as the aforementioned.  Such people as Father Augustus Tolton, born a slave he was the first African American to be ordained a priest in the United States.

Others include: Henriette Delille, the founder of The Sisters of the Holy Family; Mother Mathilda Beasley who became known as “The Idol of the Poor”; Daniel Rudd, a black Catholic journalist who founded the National Black Catholic Congress and  Elizabeth Mary Lang. Born a slave she became the co-foundress of the Oblate Sisters of Providence.

Another person who is part of the legacy that Black Catholic Americans left for all of us is Venerable Pierre Touissant.

Pierre was born a slave in Haiti in 1766. He was fortunate because his owner, Monsieur Berard, wealthy from raising and selling sugar, baptized Pierre into the Catholic faith and also educated him. He trained the boy as a house slave saving him from all the hard labor expended by those working out in the sugarcane fields.

Tensions were rising among the slave population in Haiti and the senior Berard returned to France. He left his son, Jean Berard, with the plantation. However, the pressure was building among the slaves over conditions and Jean decided it was time to leave. In 1787, he and his wife took five of his slaves with him including Pierre and his sister, Rosalie, and moved to New York City.

Jean Berard’s decision to leave Haiti proved to be a good one. In 1793, the slaves in Haiti revolted and Monsieur Berard heard that his plantation had been burned to the ground. He was so distraught that he passed away, probably from heart failure. Madame Berard was left without anything or anyone to help her, except, of course, Pierre.

When they arrived in New York several years earlier, Jean Berard had managed to get Pierre into an apprenticeship hairdresser program. The young man turned out to be an artist at hair styling. It was during  a time when the wealthy women had their hair stacked high with layers of curls and ribbons flowing down. Hair styling was time consuming and demanding and soon Pierre had more business than he could handle.

Pierre supported Madame Berard and was working almost 16 hours a day.  She eventually married a man named Monsieur Nicolas, also from Haiti. She made him promise that if anything happened to her he would make sure that Pierre was given his freedom. She passed away and Pierre was given his freedom. He had earned enough money to pay for the freedom of his fiancee, Juliette, and marry her. He also earned enough money to pay for Rosalie’s freedom. By this time Pierre was almost 45.

Pierre constantly spoke of the love of God and the beauty of the Catholic faith. He loved being Catholic and had no qualms about talking about it with his many customers. It did not matter to him that most were not Catholic and, for the most part, did not even like Catholics. He just wanted others to experience the joy he had in knowing his Catholic faith helped fill him with God’s love and they could have the same by embracing that same faith..

Pierre Toussaint was dedicated to the theological virtue of Charity (aka) Love. He cared for the sick and even brought them into his home nursing them back to health. He visited areas infected with disease and plague bringing food and clothing to the suffering. He even went to those who had been abandoned by their own families. He helped Mother Elizabeth Ann Seton (who had  an orphanage in the city) by raising money from his rich customers and giving the future saint his own money.

This was a Black Catholic man living during a time when being Catholic was even dangerous for white folks.  He attended daily Mass every day for 66 years. He sheltered orphans, provided foster care for children, helped them get into school and even helped some of them get their first jobs. During a cholera epidemic he crossed over the quarantine lines to help the sick without regard for his own well being.

Pierre Toussaint’s crowning achievement may have been his helping the Catholic Church raise the funds to build the first St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Mulberry St. He also provided and raised funding for the First Catholic School for Black children at St. Vincent de Paul in lower Manhattan.

Pierre Toussaint died on June 30, 1857. He was 87 years old. In 1991, based on documents and investigations into his life, Pierre was declared a Servant of God. In 1996 he was declared Venerable by Pope John Paul II reaching the second step on the journey to canonization. In addition, he was the first layman honored by having his remains moved to  the present St. Patrick’s  Cathedral on Fifth Avenue in midtown Manhattan.

Venerable Pierre Toussaint we thank you for your Love and ask for your continued prayers.

*This article first appeared in Aleteia on February 10, 2017

©Copyright Larry Peterson 2017   (©reprinted and updated  Larry Peterson 2020)

 

Are you Looking for an Answer? Take a few moments; you may find it here.

ECCE AGNUS DEI  (Behold the Lamb of God)

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass                               en.wikipedia.org

By Larry Peterson*

The following is for all people, the faithful and non-believers, including atheists, agnostics, nones, and secularists.  If you do not believe, you can make a choice and try to see with the eyes of a FAITH that is, for the next few moments, open to you. Or you can just not bother. You know, choices.

Something deeply mystical 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.

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 is when yesterday became today and tomorrow becomes 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 of the year round the clock. Imagine that, somewhere, every day, round 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 though the laity is not 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 by many 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.

 

Copyright©Larry Peterson 2020 (revised from 2015)

 

*About the writer:

Larry Peterson, a former reinforcing Iron-Worker from NYC,  is a Catholic/Christian blogger and posts commentary weekly. His work has appeared in such publications as Aleteia, Zenit from Rome, New Evangelists, Top Catholic Blogs, Big Pulpit, Catholic365.com, and others.

His first children’s picture book, “Slippery Willie’s Stupid, Ugly Shoes” was published in 2011. In 2012, his full-length novel, “The Priest and the Peaches” was released. His second novel, “The Demons of Abadon,” was released in the spring of 2016

Larry’s latest novel, “Horizon Homeless,” was released in ebook format in May of 2017, and the paperback followed on July 27, 2017.

Larry belongs to the Catholic Writer’s Guild, The Catholic Writer’s Society, The Knights of Columbus, and the St. Vincent de Paul Society. He has been an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion for over twenty years bringing communion to the homebound and hospitalized.

You can find more at     https://cradlingcatholic.com/

 

Planets, Time, Distance and Dr. Seuss; Combined Proof that there is a Creator

Earth vs Kepler452b                                                                   public domain

By Larry Peterson

I write of this because I am in awe of the perfection involved in the entire process, and also in the fact that we have people among us who are smart enough to understand this process and are able to predict precisely when different phenomena will occur.

Every few years, the moon’s orbit follows an invisible path that allows it to pass directly in front of the sun. The sun’s faint corona,  a halo of plasma that surrounds it, is thus revealed. This phenomenon is known as a Total Solar Eclipse. To witness this occurrence, you must be within the moons “umbral shadow” as it sweeps across the planet. This shadow is known as the Path of Totality.

Back in 2006, NASA’s New Horizon spacecraft left our humble, little planet and began its voyage to the edges of our solar system and beyond. After traveling three 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 manage 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. NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope, launched in 2009, found a possible ‘exoplanet,’ located 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 nearest 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 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. There are 24 hours in a day. There is  NEVER any other time within one day, NEVER.  Imagine if there were?  Nothing could ever be scheduled. Chaos would ensue. Life would be unmanageable and ordered life, as we know it, could never survive. So how did we get 24 hours in a day? I can promise you—it was NOT an accident.

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. (Think of Iraq, Afghanistan and Oklahoma City)? We can go back 75 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 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, did an incredible explosion took place or was it a giant balloon expanding and expanding until it “popped” spewing matter outwards? Maybe everything was just put in place, piece by piece, like a puzzle. Whatever occurred, it all had to be controlled and managed. How could that be? It could be if  Someone with intelligence planned it. There can logically be no other explanation.

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. 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 and the exact time they will occur. We know when an eclipse, whether solar or lunar will happen and where. We have learned how to use the world around us to maintain our very existence. Sometimes we are implicit in its destruction.

Does it not logically follow that because the universe is so vast and expansive (and 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. But our ability to reason tells us it must be so. The word that follows that is called FAITH.

A chaotic, random explosion eons ago could not have given us the monarch butterfly, music, or the magnificence of a setting sun.  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 hold a blooming rose, see a full moon,  a rainbow, .or hear the cry of a newborn baby. Did you ever ponder the magic of one snowflake? Millions of them fall together, yet each is unique in its shape and form, one of a kind, just like people who look the same but are uniquely different.

Maybe Dr. Seuss nailed it in his famous book, “Horton Hears a Who.” Maybe our planet Earth is no more significant than Horton’s, “Whoville.” Perhaps we are specks on the end of a ball of dust. Is it possible we are not as big and as smart as we think we are? We had to have an intelligent, all-knowing 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 person 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 believing that defies commons sense and reason. It is the ultimate case of “denial.

Copyright©Larry Peterson 2020

Madonna della Strada or Our Lady of the Way was an unknown Fresca that inspired St. Ignatius Loyola to help found the Society of Jesus

Our Lady of the Way                                             public domain

By Larry Peterson

The title “Our Lady of the Way” (Madonna della Strada) comes from a beautiful shrine kept in Rome, where a fresco (painted on wet plaster) during the 13th or 14th century was venerated. The fresco was a small painting of the Madonna and Child. For the previous 425 years, this painting had hung in the corner of Rome’s church of St. Mary of the Way (Santa Maria dell Strada). St. Ignatius Loyola had come across this painting on his first trip to the Eternal City in 1540. He preached day after day on an adjacent street corner and fell in love with the artwork.

Shortly after, Pope Paul III approved Loyola’s small band of “reformed” priests, and so was born the Society of Jesus. The Holy Father gave them Santa Maria della Strada as their home base and pastoral home. Ignatius effectively became the caretaker of the fresco.

In 1568, Cardinal Alessandro Farnese erected the Chiesa del Gesu (Church of Jesus) as the Mother Church of the Jesuits. The fresco was moved there in 1575 and placed in the chapel where the Jesuits took their vows.

Before he died, Ignatius left instructions for the Jesuits on how to preserve the image so it could eventually be enshrined in the new church, a church he would not live to see. It ultimately was transferred to its permanent place of honor above the ornately decorated chapel to the left of the high altar. It remained there until the present time.

The Chiesa del Gesu was not completed until 1584. By then, many people had come to venerate the painting, especially after Ignatius of Loyola had agreed it demonstrated healing powers. He also gave to the Blessed Virgin credit for saving his life during a battle in 1521. It was not until the 19th century that the image was transferred to canvas and affixed to a slate panel.

In the year 2006, the Madonna della Strada was long overdue for a “cleaning.”  The project quickly escalated into a much more complex task than anticipated. For starters, the image proved to be more than 200 years older than previously thought. And the quality of the artwork was much more intricate than believed.

The biggest and most profound revelations came from the Madonna and the infant Jesus. Working in a makeshift studio above the church’s lateral chapels, conservators slowly dissolved centuries worth of grime, mineral deposits, varnish, and overpainting from the image’s surface.  Brilliant colors began to poke their way through the cloudy old residue. After weeks of slowly but surely working a tiny piece at a time, a new Madonna della Strada appeared.

Faces once frozen tight under layers of dirt and resin reappeared fresh and lively. A rosy-cheeked baby Jesus with His little right hand raised in blessing was crystal clear. It was incredibly three dimensional as He sat in his Mother’s arm. The Virgin, wearing a stenciled crown, has a healthy complexion, a gentle face, and, as does the baby Jesus, looks at the viewer as if she is LOOKING at the viewer. Experts were the overseers of the project and agreed the work was most likely from the 13 or the 14th century. It is a rare example of late-medieval Roman wall painting.

Today, freed from its 19th century “protective coatings,” the Madonna della Strada aka Our Lady of the Way, is once again alive. Many more people now visit and venerate it. The icon is located between two altars, the first dedicated to Ignatius of Loyola, the second, the main altar of the church, dedicated to the Holy Name of Jesus.

Pilgrims visit the shrine every day, and many stories circulate of favors they receive from the Mother of God after praying before it. The feast day of Our Lady of the Way /Madonna della Strada is May 24.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2020

Matteo Farina; his Catholic faith was his strength as he fought brain cancer throughout his teenage years.

Venerable Matteo Farina                     catholicnewsagency.com

By Larry Peterson

Matteo Farina was born in Avellino, Italy, on September 19, 1990. It was apparent early in his life that Matteo possessed a deeply spiritual side. He would recite the Rosary every day, read the Gospel, and he developed a devotion to St. Padre Pio and St. Francis of Assisi.

This all happened before he was nine years old.  He made his first confession when he was eight and, on June 4, 2000, received his First Holy Communion. He would go to confession once a week and attend Eucharistic Adoration as often as he could.

On May 10, 2003, the Archbishop of Brindisi, Ostuni Settimo, confirmed Matteo. His sister, Erika, acting as his sponsor, stood behind him with her hand on his shoulder. Matteo had a dream several years earlier in which St. Pio came to him and revealed the secret of Christian happiness. Padre Pio asked Matteo to spread the message to others. The announcement was, “You must understand that who is without sin is happy, then you have to teach it to the others so that we can go all together happily in the heavenly paradise.”

This dream led Matteo to realize that his vocation was to evangelize, and he wrote, “I hope to succeed as an “infiltrator” among the young people, telling them what God wants. I look around me, and I want to enter in young people’s lives quietly like a virus, infecting them with an incurable illness called love.”

Matteo’s cancer first surfaced when he was 13 years old. Severe headaches and problems with his vision began to occur. His parents and his Uncle Rosario traveled with Matteo for health checks in Avellino and Verona, and those visits were followed by a journey to Hanover for a brain biopsy. It was discovered his brain was filled with malignant cells.

His strong faith and love of life never fades. He smiles at everyone, and even when recovering from surgeries, he tries to cheer up other patients. He would say, “It is useless to despond. We have to be happy and transmit happiness. The more happiness we give people, the more people are happy. The more they are happy, the more we are happy.”

In January 2005, he goes to Germany for a craniotomy operation to remove a third-degree brain tumor. He spends over a month in Milan receiving chemotherapy treatments and returns home on April 2, 2005. This was the date that Pope John Paul II died. Doctors believed the cancer was in remission, but at the end of 2007, his condition grew worse. By October 2008, his mom insisted he receive Anointing of the Sick.

It was during these teen years that he met a girl named Serena. They fell in love and always strived to have a chaste relationship. Serena remained at Matteo’s side until the end. He said of Serena that “she was the most beautiful gift the Lord could give.”

He underwent another operation, but by February 2009, his arm and leg were paralyzed, and he needed a wheelchair to get around. In late March 2009, he developed a high fever and was admitted to the hospital.  Archbishop Talucci visited him and gave him an Easter blessing.

However, doctors could do no more. Matteo received his last Holy Communion on April 13, 2009, and died one week later, on April 24. He was 19 years old.

Matteo Farina’s mission may be summed up in his own words, “My God, I have two hands, let one of them to be always clasped to You in order to hold You closer in every trial. And let the other hands fall throughout the world if this is Your will…as I know You by others, so let others know You through me. I want to be a mirror, the clearest possible, and if this is Your will, I want to reflect Your light in the heart of every man. Thanks for Life. Thanks for Faith. Thanks for Love. I’m Yours.

Matteo’s reputation for personal holiness had been witnessed by many. He was declared a   Servant of God on April 11, 2016. On May 5, 2020, Pope Francis declared him a person of “heroic virtue” and gave him the title of Venerable Matteo Farina.

Venerable Matteo Farina, please pray for us.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2020

Mother’s Day—Making Peace with my most UN-favorite Holiday

 Hug them and kiss them–Sometimes you don’t get a second chance. Trust me, I know.

Our Mom, Lillian      age 39;  1959        Passed in 1960

By Larry Peterson

Mother’s Day is here, and I will tell you immediately that it has never been my favorite holiday. Truth be known, it has been my most dreaded holiday. I know that is pathetic. So please bear with me as I share my journey to finally finding some inner peace with this beautiful holiday.

My mother died 59 years ago. She had just turned 40. (She had Leukemia, and if you had Leukemia 59 years ago, you were “toast.”)  For some reason, I have only a few faded memories of her. And, for me, that is an emptiness that has always exploded inside me during the Mother’s Day celebration.

We were kids when she died. There were five of us, and at fifteen, I was the oldest. My sister and brothers (the two youngest have now passed away) remembered details about her, such as the softness of her hair, her laugh, how she loved cherry vanilla ice-cream or pulling the shopping cart to the A&P. As for me, memories were almost all gone. Fortunately, I had the second-hand information my younger siblings shared.

Death visited us often when we were young. Grandma (she lived with us) died two years after Mom. Dad died two years after her. We were officially orphans (that became a novel, The Priest and The Peaches), and we hung together and survived and did okay. But ‘death” kept lurking, and over the years, my sister was widowed, my brother was widowed, and I was widowed—twice. The two youngest, Bobby and Johnny, also have passed. but it all began with Mom.

I always managed, fortified by my Catholic faith, to move through the grief process and learn to accept what happened. It was sort of like making peace with someone you wish you never met. But with my Mom, that process never completed itself until recently. (I never realized until years later how she was always teaching us a lesson as she lay there either holding her blue Rosary or having it next to her. It was like it was a part of her).

I finally came to understand why I have been “stuck in the mud” with my Mom’s sudden passing, albeit so long ago. I was selfish. I never thought about what must have been going through her mind as she lay dying at the age of 39. It was always about me and how MY Mom died. That was the reason for my decades’ old problem. Therein was the cause of my emptiness. It was never about her. I felt sorry for myself when she died and kept feeling sorry for myself, year after year after year.

I needed help, and finally, it came.  Out of the clear blue, my daughter, Mary, called me and, during the conversation, said, “Hey dad, do you realize I’m going to be 40 on my next birthday?”

Talk about being hit by lightning. My own daughter was going to be the same age as my own mother was when she was slowly being killed by an insidious, no holds barred, and merciless disease. I had never thought of my Mom as a 40-year-old woman with five kids. I thought of her as my Mom, who died on ME. How pathetic was that?

Mary, who also happens to look a lot like the grandma she never knew, had only asked me a simple question. She could not have known the power that was in it. She had no idea that at that moment, it removed the veil from my clouded “Mom world” and set me on my journey to discover the woman and person who was also my mother.

It had taken decades but I finally began to reflect and ponder about this woman I had called “mommy.”  Her name was Lillian, and she carried me in her womb. She fed me, bathed me, held me and hugged me, nursed my siblings and me through illnesses such as mumps, measles, and chickenpox (all of which I have no memory). This woman cleaned our house, washed and ironed our clothes, cooked, shopped, and even worked part-time. I cannot imagine how she must have felt as she prepared to leave her family knowing  death was getting  closer and closer.  How awful and terrifying that must have been for her?

How did she hold her not yet two-year-old son on her lap and look at him without going hysterical,? How did she handle thinking about her six-year old son, missing his front teeth, who she would never give a sweet hug to again?  She had a ten-year-old who was in fourth grade and always needed his Mom to help him with his homework. Would his dad help him? I never considered such a thing.

And of course, there was my sister, Mommie’s “little” girl. But she was 13 already, and she was growing up. She would need her Mom, to talk to about woman things.  How did she bare holding onto the knowledge that her children would soon be motherless? What did she say to our Dad, her husband, and lover, as they lay together in bed, in the dark of night waiting for the inevitable as their five kids slept?

The following part in italics pertains to my Dad. It fits into this short narrative

I have harbored one regret over the years, and it pertained to my Dad.  Four years after Mom passed, Dad had an acute attack of pancreatitis. He was in the hospital, and it was 11 P.M. I was standing by the door to his room looking in. He had IV lines and tubes coming out of him from who knows where. A big bottle of ‘gunk” was on the floor that these tubes were draining into. I thought I would be sick. He was looking at me, and I could see the fear in his face. Guess what I did? Nothing, yes, I did nothing.  I did not go over to him and hold his hand.  I never hugged him. I just said, “See ya tomorrow.”

I gave him a cursory wave, and then I left. He died three hours later. Yeah, I know, I was young and blah-[blah-blah. No matter—that is a REGRET. I left my own  Dad alone to die by himself. It has been 55 years, and the pain of my actions still has not subsided.

 It took a very long time but I have forgiven myself for being an insensitive kid. I am long past feeling sorry for “me.”  Those thoughts about my Mom have brought me to a better place. However, that refreshed mindset has unveiled a new regret. Now I have one for Dad and one for Mom. I guess I deserve them both. I earned them for sure.

Mom had been close to death several days before Christmas, 1960. But she made a miraculous recovery and came home. (See story here)  During the first part of February, she took ill again. I have this vivid memory of her lying in bed with Bobby, age six, and Johnny, who just had his second birthday, each nestled into the crook of her arms, one on the left and one on the right. Her best friend Adeline was standing there talking to her about something, and she was looking at me. I said, “Okay, I have to go to work.” (I worked for the local grocer delivering groceries) and I left. No hug, no kiss, I never even said good-bye.

When I got home, she was not there. She was back in the hospital. We were supposed to see her Saturday morning but she died before we got there. I will always regret that I never HUGGED or KISSED my Mom one last time that one damn day. Sometimes you don’t get a second chance. Trust me, I know.

On this Mother’s Day, I will also thank God for that phone call from Mary. I will then thank Him for my Mom. Then I will go home, and, fortified by a different mindset, will sit by myself and cry…just maybe not as much.

Copyright©Larry Peterson 2020

Little Nellie of Holy God the Toddler who inspired a Pope.

 

Little Nellie of Holy God wikipedia.jpg

LITTLE NELLIE of HOLY GOD

By Larry Peterson

Brief intro: 

What follows is the miraculous and wondrous story about a little girl who was known as “Little Nellie of Holy God.” Her real name was Ellen Organ, but everyone called her Nellie. By the time “Little Nellie” was only two years old, she already knew what the Holy Eucharist was.

___________________________________________________________________________Ellen Organ was born in Ireland on August 24, 1903. Shortly after Ellen’s birth, she was baptized into the Catholic faith at the Church of the Trinity in the town of Waterford. No one knows why, but from that point on, Ellen Organ was called “Nellie.”

By the age of two, Nellie displayed a deep holiness rarely seen in a child, especially one so young. While walking into Mass, holding her dad’s hand, she would regularly talk about seeing “Holy God.” It was something she began saying without having heard such an expression. Her mom and dad had no idea why she said that. Even the priest could not figure it out.

Little Nellie had two brothers and one sister; she was the youngest child. In 1906, a great sadness entered their lives. Their mom, Mary Organ, became very ill with tuberculosis. Nellie stayed by her mom’s side day after day, but after a short time, her mom died. Nellie, who was only three, was hugging her when she passed on.

Nellie’s dad, since he was in the army, could not provide proper care for his children. He turned to his parish priest for help. The priest helped get her brothers located with the Irish Christian Brothers. Nellie and her sister, Mary, were taken in by the Good Shepherd Sisters. The nuns treated the girls kindly, and Nellie was happy to call all of the sisters, “Mother.”

Nellie had a young girl assigned to sleep in her room with her. Her name was Mary Long, and at night she would hear Nellie crying and coughing in her sleep. She told the sisters about it, and Nellie was transferred to the infirmary, which was like a small hospital at the school.

When the doctor examined Nellie, it was discovered that she had a crooked spine. They learned that when she was only a baby, someone had dropped her, permanently damaging her spine. Even sitting up was very painful for Nellie, but she never complained. The doctor was amazed that a child of three would attempt to hide such pain. But try as she may, Nellie could not “fake” being well.  You could see the pain on her face because she kept trying to smile, but it was too hard to do. All the sisters could do was keep Nellie as comfortable as possible.

Nellie astonished the nuns with her insight and knowledge of the Catholic faith. The sisters and others that cared for her did not doubt that the child was not only humble but also saintly. These were qualities rarely seen in a three-year-old.

Nellie loved to visit the chapel, which she called “the House of Holy God.” The child fully understood the Stations of the Cross. Upon being carried to each station, she would burst into tears seeing how Holy God suffered for us. She also developed a clear understanding of the Blessed Sacrament.

Living on a military base, Nellie remembered how the jail was called a “lock-down.” She, therefore, referred to Jesus in the tabernacle as “Holy God’s lockdown.”

One day Nellie was given a box of beads and some string. Being a three year old she put some in her mouth and inadvertently swallowed them. People saw her gagging and choking and rushed her into the infirmary. The doctor present was able to remove the beads from Nellie’s throat.

They were all amazed how brave the little girl remained as the doctor probed into her throat, removing the objects. She never made a sound. At this time, it was discovered that, just like her mom, she had advanced tuberculosis. The doctor told the sisters there was no hope for recovery and gave Nellie only a few months to live.

Nellie loved the Holy Eucharist deeply. She desperately wanted to receive her First Communion. But she was only three years old and way too young. So she would ask the sisters to kiss her when they were coming back from Communion so she could share their Holy Communion. She told them she knew Jesus was in their mouth and that she could sense His presence.

When a priest, Father Bury, asked her, “What is Holy Communion?” she answered, “It is Holy God.” Then he asked her what would happen if she were allowed to receive Holy Communion. She answered, “Jesus will rest on my tongue and then go down into my heart.” Little

Nellie Organ knew exactly what Holy Communion was.

Nellie told of the visions she was having of “Holy God” as a child and the Blessed Mother standing nearby. Her faith was so pronounced that the Bishop agreed (since she was close to death) to confirm her. She received her Confirmation on October 8, 1907.

Then, on December 6, 1907, after considering all the facts, the local Bishop, in consultation with the priests, allowed Nellie Organ to receive her First Holy Communion. Nellie Organ died on February 2, 1908. She was three years and nine months old.

Nellie Organ’s story spread throughout Europe and reached the Vatican. It was presented to Pope Pius X.  It was perfect timing because the Holy Father had been looking for a reason to lower the age of receiving First Communion from the age of twelve to the age of seven. However, he was not sure about doing it.

When Pope Pius X read the documents about “Little Nellie of Holy God,” he immediately took this as a sign to lower the age. The Pope immediately issued a Papal Decree called Quam Singulari, changing the age of receiving First Holy Communion from 12 years old to age seven.

Pope St. Pius X commons.wikimedia.org

After issuing Quam Singulari, Pope Pius X, took up his pen and wrote, “May God enrich with every blessing —all those who recommend frequent Communion to little boys and girls, proposing Nellie as their model.”

Pope Pius X. June 4th, 1912.”

 Pope Pius X was canonized a Saint and became Pope St. Pius X on May 24, 1954

 

 

Copyright © Larry Peterson 2017 All Rights Reserved

cradlingcatholic.com