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.

Our Lady of Sion—aka The Queen of the Jews–The Unbreakable Bridge between Catholicism and Judaism

courtesy (fair deal)
Our Lady of Sion & the Jewish man, Alphonse Ratisboone     (his brother, Theodore was not present)

By Larry Peterson

The roots of Our Lady of Sion go back to the fourth or fifth century. Sion (or Zion) is a place in the Diocese of Toul in France where Christianity in the future nation took root. Writings from a Christian named Nicetius were found there, and it is recorded that a church dedicated to Our Lady was the center of a very large Catholic community. The Basilica of Our Lady of Sion is built over the ruins of a temple that had been dedicated to an unknown Roman goddess.

But we must leap forward to the 19th century to grab hold of what this all means today. The Congregation of Our Lady of Sion was actually two Catholic religious congregations founded in Paris. Two brothers, Theodore Ratisboone and Alphonse Ratisboone (some spell it Regensburg) founded the order for Religious Sisters in 1843 and the order for Catholic Priests and Brothers in 1852.

What intrigued me so much was their mission statement—“to witness in the Church and in the world that God continues to be faithful in his love for the Jewish people and to hasten the fulfillment of the promises concerning the Jews and the Gentiles.” (Constitution, article 2).

 I must admit that as a cradle Catholic who is the maternal grandson of a Hebrew man, and a descendant of  family members killed in the Holocaust, I was stunned to learn of The Congregation of Our Lady of Sion. Imagine, a Catholic organization dedicated to Jewish people. I had no idea.

God sure “writes straight with crooked lines” doesn’t he? The Ratisboone brothers and founders of the order, were Jews.  They were continually being drawn to the faith but Theodore converted first. Seeing some of his friends embrace Catholicism and after studying and reading about the faith, he was baptized in 1826. He was not done with his conversion. He was ordained a priest in 1830.

Alphonse was much more reluctant to embrace and believe in Jesus Christ. But on January 20, 1842, while on a trip to Rome before getting married, he happened to visit the Church of Sant’Andrea delle Fratte. It was here that the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to him. He hurriedly contacted Theodore and told him. Both brothers believed that God was calling them especially since Alphonse had been personally converted by none other than Our Lady. They both strongly felt that they had been called to bring their fellow Jews to Christianity.

Alphonse was baptized and entered the Society of Jesus where he spent several years. In 1843 Theodore founded a small community of women who wanted to join him in his ministry of teaching the faith to Jewish children.  In 1850, Alphonse, with permission from  Pope Pius IX  and the Superior General of the Jesuit Order, left the Jesuits and joined with his brother to work together. Side by side, in 1852, they founded the Congregation of the Fathers of Our Lady of Sion.

Eventually, Theodore Ratisboone wanted to continue his work of converting fellow Jews to Christianity. In 1842 while visiting Rome, Pope Gregory XVI, blessed Theodore’s ministry. He immediately formed a school for Jewish children in a Christian setting. As God will provide, two Jewish sisters came to him for spiritual advice. They converted to Christianity and became the starting point for the Congregation of Our Lady of Sion, found in 1847.

Alphonse moved to the Holy Land and in 1858 and, on the sight of the ruins of an old church, built and orphanage and vocational school which the Sisters ran. These schools were open to all children regardless of creed. In 1874, Alphonse began construction on the Ratisboone Monastery on the outskirts of Jerusalem.  It was a school for boys and today is a branch of the Salesian Pontifical University.

Today the Congregations of Our Lady of Sion are spread around the world from Australia to England, to Istanbul, Costa Rica, Rio de Janeiro and even Kansas City, Missouri.

Not bad for a couple of Jewish converts. Not bad at all.

At this time there is no cause pending for either of the Ratisboone brothers to have their causes for sainthood begun. But there are those who are diligently trying to get the process started.

Blessed Elena Aiello; Mystic, Victim Soul, and Founder of a Religious Order; She bore the Stigmata every Good Friday for 38 years.

Blessed Elena Aiello
mysticsofthechurch.com

By Larry Peterson

Elena Aiello was born in Cosenza, Italy, on April 10, 1895. She was the  third of eight children born to Pasquale Aiello, a tailor by trade, and Tereseina Pagilla. Sadly and unexpectedly, Tereseina died at an early age, leaving her husband with eight children in his care.

Pasquale was a man of great faith, and he imparted this to his children. In fact, he must have been one special man because his one-year-old child died after his wife’s passing and while carrying the extra grief, Pasquale diligently plied his trade and did his best to care for the kids.

Even as a young child, Elena was devout. She practiced doing penance on a daily basis and offered prayers for the souls in Purgatory. She received her First Holy Communion when she was only nine (at the time the age to receive was 12 to 14) and received her Confirmation when she was eleven years old.

She already was feeling a call to religious life, but her father asked to put her plans on hold because of the war (World War I began in 1915). During these war years, Elena helped refugees, assisted prisoners, nursed invalids and tended to the dying.

She never worried about the possible dangers to herself or of catching some contagious illness (this was before the age of antibiotics). She, in effect, had begun her earthly ministry on her own, before entering the convent.

After the war, Elena’s father gave her permission to enter the convent but insisted she join the Sisters of the Most Precious Blood; he gave no reason. Soon after joining the sisters, Elena was forced to leave because of a diseased shoulder that had been operated on improperly and had turned necrotic. Also, she now had stomach cancer and could not even hold down liquids.

When her doctor said she was incurable, Elena decided to turn to St. Rita for help. She told the doctor, “My dear doctor, it is you, who is going to die: I will not die from this disease, because St. Rita is going to make me well”.

Elena and her cousin went to a church and prayed to St. Rita begging her for a cure. Elena wrote in her notebook of how she saw flames all around St. Rita’s statue, while her cousin saw nothing. That night she dreamt of St. Rita who told her she wanted devotions held in Montalto in her honor to help rekindle the lost faith of the people.

Elena started a Triduum to St. Rita. St. Rita appeared to her and asked her to do a second triduum, telling her she would be cured. However, she also told her the pain in her shoulder would not go away because she had to suffer for the sins in the world. (Her spiritual director documented all these facts). One night Elena went to bed as usual. When she awoke in the morning, she was (except for the painful shoulder) completely cured. The year was 1921.

Elena Aiello was lying in bed on Good Friday in 1923. The time was 3 p.m. Her left shoulder was screaming in pain as she prayed her devotions. Suddenly, Our Lord appeared to her dressed in a white garment and wearing a crown of thorns. Jesus asked for her consent and then removed the crown from His head and placed it on hers. Blood began to flow, and Jesus told her He wanted her to be a victim soul, asking her to suffer for the many sins committed in the world. He wanted her to be a victim to appease Divine Justice.

Elena Aiello experienced the Stigmata each Good Friday until right before her death in 1961, a period of 38 years. Doctors tried to stop the bleeding; tried to understand the bleeding; tried to diagnose the bleeding; there just was no explanation known to modern medicine.

During this time Elena began having visions. Not only Jesus, but the Blessed Mother, St. Therese of Lisieux, and St. Francesco Paola, also appeared to her.  In 1928 she founded a new religious order and named it Minim Sisters of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Pope Pius XII, who knew of Elena, gave pontifical approval for the order in 1949.

Lastly, the many prophecies of Elena Aiello have been documented. (Please utilize the preceding link to find these prophecies).

Pope Benedict XVI decreed the second miracle attributable to Elena Aiello on April 2, 2011. Her beatification was presided over by Cardinal Angelo Amato  (representing Pope Benedict) in September 2011.

Blessed Elena Aiello, please pray for us.

 

 

 

The Martyrs of La Rioja; They died “In Odium Fidei” Two died on July 18; one was born on July 18.

 

The Martyrs of La Rioja; They died "In Odium Fidei" Two died on July 18; one was born on July 18.

 

By Larry Peterson

It is estimated that in Argentina during the years 1976 thru 1983, between 10,000 and 30,000 people died by torture and execution. They called it The Dirty War, and it was one of the darkest periods in the nation’s history.

Enrique Angelelli was born in Cordoba, Argentina on July 18, 1923. His parents were Italian immigrants and devout Catholics. Their influence certainly contributed to Enrique’s entrance into the Seminary of Our Lady of Loreto when he was only 15 years of age. He studied hard, was sent to Rome to finish his studies and was ordained to the priesthood in 1949.

Father Enrique Angelelli was a “man of the people.”  He was very devoted to the poor and needy and would visit the slums frequently, mixing with his “poor friends.”  He even founded youth movements among the street kids. On December 12, 1960, Pope St. John XXIII, appointed him Auxiliary Bishop of Cordoba. He and his close friend, Father Jorge Bergoglio, (who would one day become Pope Francis), were very much alike. The future Pope also loved the poor and marginalized and tried to help the workers.

Carlos de Dios Murias was born in Cordoba in 1945. His father was a wealthy real-estate man and also a well known radical politician in Cordoba. He wanted his son to be a military man, but Carlos had different desires. He had met Bishop Angelelli and the man’s spirituality and love of the poor inspired Carlos. He felt a religious calling and, in 1965, he became part of the Orders of Friars Minor. He made his “simple profession.” in 1966. On December 17, 1972, he was ordained to the priesthood. The Bishop who ordained him was Enrique Angelelli. Carlos de Dios Murias had specifically asked if he might ordain him.

Gabriel Longueville was born on March 18, 1931, in Ardeche, France. He was ordained to the priesthood by the Bishop of Viviers, Alfred Couderc, on June 29, 1957. He had asked to be assigned to areas where he could work with the poor.  In 1969 Father Longueville was transferred to Argentina by Bishop Jean Hermil.  He was assigned to La Rioja Diocese along with Carlos de Dios Murias. They were both under the authority of Bishop Enrique Angelelli.

Bishop Angelilli, Father Carlos Murias, and Father Gabriel Longueville could never have imagined how they and one other man, a layperson by the name of Wenceslao Pedernera, would soon be linked together in heavenly perpetuity. The evil politics of the day was rapidly turning into what seemed to be an unstoppable force.

In 1968, Pope Paul VI appointed Bishop Angelelli bishop of the Diocese of La Rioja. He quickly became involved with labor union disputes, encouraged domestic workers to form unions, and tried to form cooperatives for the people that manufactured bricks, clocks, bread, and knitted products. It did not take long for him to be arrested. He was an activist bishop, but he was doing what he thought best for his church and his people.

By 1969 Bishop Angelelli had been campaigning by both the printed word and radio broadcast about the plight of the farmers and the workers. He denounced the drugs, gambling, and prostitution that was supported by the wealthy.  He condemned human rights abuses by the governors and pushed for unionization of the workers.  Conservative Catholic organizations turned against him, and his radio programs were banned.

In 1973, political unrest saw the expulsion of nuns and priests from the town of Annilaco and the people began calling the Church of La Rioja, “communist.” In 1974 Bishop Angelelli visited Rome and was advised to stay there because of the danger to him back in Argentina. He was being threatened by the “Three A Group” made up of police officers and the Anti-Communist Alliance of Argentina. The bishop did not heed the warnings and returned home.

On July 18, 1976, Father Carlos de Dios Murias, 33,  and Father Gabriel Longueville, 44, were having dinner together when two men with federal police identification entered there home and questioned them for about ten minutes. Then they were told they had to go to La Rioja to identify some prisoners. The next day their bodies were found near some railroad tracks. The two priests had been tortured and shot to death.

One week later, on July 25, two hooded men went to look for the parish priest of Sanogasta, but because he had been warned by Bishop Angelelli, he had already fled the area. The men went to a nearby house to ask where the priest might be. Wenceslao Pedernera, a layperson, was there with his three young daughters. Terrified at the men wearing hoods, the girls cowered next to their father.  When Senor Pedernara told the men the priest was not there, they promptly shot him multiple times. His girls fell to the ground holding their dad’s body. They were physically unharmed. What psychological damage was done to them, we can only imagine.

Bishop Angelelli knew he was targeted and had told a close friend, “It’s my turn next.” On August 4, 1976, he was driving a truck with a priest friend, Father Arturo Pinto. He was on his way back from offering a memorial Mass for Father Gabriel and Father Carlos. Father Pinto said that a car was following them and at the right moments forced them off the road. The truck flipped over and when Father Pinto regained consciousness, he found Bishop Angelilli dead in the road. The back of his head had been smashed in with a blunt instrument. He had been beaten to death.

These four men were murdered “In Odium Fidei”; (In hatred of the faith). On June 8, 2018, Pope Francis approved the decree that Bishop Angelelli, Carlos  de Dios Murias, Gabriel Longueville, and Wenceslao Pedernara, will be beatified sometime in 2018. No date has been set.

We ask these four martyrs to please pray for us all.

 

 

 

Our Lady of Knock—The Silent Apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Photo Credit: Flickr/Wampa-One-Legarius – Our Lady of Knock_P1090939

 

By Larry Peterson

On the northwestern coast of Ireland sits County Mayo, and within that green, lush county lies what was once the Knock Parish Church. Today the name of this place has been elevated; it is now known as The Shrine of Our Lady of Knock for it was here that The Blessed Virgin Mary appeared on the night of August 21, 1879.

It was pouring down rain that evening when Mary McLoughlin, the parish housekeeper, looked out the window of the kitchen and noticed a mysterious light illuminating the stone wall. Even through the pouring rain, the light was visible and so were three figures standing in front of the wall. Mary thought they were the replacement statues for the ones destroyed by a storm a year or so earlier. Somewhat frightened, Mary ran through the rain to her friend Margaret Byrne’s house.

Mary stayed about a half hour and then decided to leave. Margaret’s sister, also named Mary, agreed to walk with her. As they passed the church, an amazing sight was clearly visible to the two women. They were sure they were seeing the Blessed Mother, St. Joseph, and St. John. To the left of St. John was an altar and on the altar was a lamb. Behind the altar was a cross and on each side of the altar but above it were adoring angels. Mary Byrne ran home to tell her family.

Word quickly spread and soon fifteen people were kneeling in the pouring rain praying the Rosary. They ranged in ages from six to seventy-five and even though they were soaked to the skin, not a drop of rain fell on the vision they were watching. Witnesses said the Blessed Mother stood erect with her eyes toward heaven and that she wore a large white cloak hanging in folds; on her head was a large gold crown.

Unlike the apparitions of Our Lady at Lourdes, La Salette, and Fatima where Our Lady spoke to the seers,  at Knock she remained silent. Nothing was said nor was a word spoken. Everyone present at the apparition saw the apparition and they all attested to the same thing about the unspoken word.

The next day a group of villagers went to the local priest and told him the story. He believed them and contacted the Bishop of Tuam. The Bishop set up a commission to interview the people who had witnessed the vision. The hierarchy was extremely doubtful that what they were hearing was true. They even considered the possibility that the local Protestant constable had orchestrated a hoax to make the Catholics look ridiculous.

The people, however, were not so skeptical, and pilgrimages to Knock began in 1880. Two years later none other than Archbishop John Joseph Lynch of Toronto, visited the site and claimed he had been healed by the Virgin of Knock. That was quite a lofty endorsement.

Most of the witnesses passed on but Mary Byrne married and raised six children while living her entire life in Knock. Interviewed again in 1936, when she was eighty-six, her account was the same as it was back in 1879.

The appearance of Our Lady, St. Joseph and St. John,  at Knock, transformed the quiet village as thousands now came to commemorate the vision and ask for healing from Our Lady. In 1976 a new church, Our Lady Queen of Ireland, was erected and it holds more than two thousand people. It needs to be enlarged as more than a half-million visitors come to Knock each year.

Inquiries set up by the local Bishop, and the Catholic hierarchy in Ireland formally approved the apparitions as worthy of devotion and Pope St. John Paul II, sealed it all when upon his visit in 1979, he called his stop the ultimate goal of his pastoral visit to Ireland.

Our Lady of Knock, pray for us.

St. Eustace the Hunter and the Magnificent “Stag”

Photo Credit: Flickr/jacquemart – Reliquary Head of St Eustace

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Larry Peterson

At the beginning of the second century there lived in Rome man named Placidus. Placidus was the commanding general of the Roman army under Emperor Trajan. He was an outstanding soldier who was also married to a woman who loved him dearly and respected him. He also respected her, and they had two sons.

Even though they worshipped pagan idols, Placidus and his wife always gave alms to the poor and helped the needy. They knew nothing of Jesus Christ, but indeed, God had filled them with the graces to perform the corporal works of mercy. They responded to these graces.  Many people receive these graces and ignore them. That is what is known as “making choices.”

Placidus was a great hunter and loved to spend spare time hunting with his soldiers. But there was one day that would change his life forever. He was riding through the woods with his men, following a herd a very fast deer aka “stags.” In unison, the herd would turn left and then turn right.

The men did their best to keep their eyes on the fleeing stags. Suddenly, one of the stags broke from the group and took off on his own. Placidus, telling his men to continue, turned his horse and followed the lone stag which led him deeper and deeper into the forest. Placidus tried to catch up to the stag but, try as he may, he could never quite get to it. Finally, the stag stopped.

Placidus reined his horse in and also stopped. He realized that they were on top of a high peak. Placidus quickly began planning how to catch the prize stag. Then the stag turned to Placidus and began staring at him. The magnificent animal had tremendous antlers.

Placidus became transfixed by them and just stared. Between the antlers was a bright light and within the light was what appeared to be a cross. On the cross was the image of a man. Then Placidus heard a man’s voice coming from the stag. “Oh Placidus, why are you pursuing me? For your sake, I have appeared to you in an animal. I am the Christ, the only True God.”

Jesus told Placidus that it was his acts of mercy that had  Him appear to him like an animal. Jesus told him that He could read all hearts and that and knew that Placidus searched for the truth. He was told that anyone who searches for the truth with good will, will always find Jesus.

Placidus, filled with fear, fell from his horse. When he recovered, Jesus explained who he was. Placidus said, “Lord, I believe you are the Christ, and that you made all things, and that you convert the erring.”

Placidus was instructed to go to the Bishop of the city and get baptized. He was also told to have his wife and sons baptized. Jesus told him he would come back with further instructions. Placidus went home, woke up his wife, and told her what had happened. Incredibly, she told him that she had a similar “dream” and knew what he was going to tell her.

They hugged and then gathered up the children and left immediately for the home of the bishop of Rome who was also The Holy Father, the Pope.  The Holy Father was thrilled with his new converts and gave them new names. Placidus’ wife would be called, Theospis, their one son, Agapetus, and the other, Theospitus. Placidus from then on would be known as Eustace.

It is recorded that Eustace and his family did experience much hardship after their conversion. But they were exalted in the richness of the Spirit and did not suffer long. It is reported that Eustace was martyred in the year 118, which would have been under the papal reign of Pope St. Sixtus I. How Eustace and his family died is not known.

Saint Eustace’s feast day is celebrated in the Roman Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox Church on September 20. Eustace is the patron saint of hunters, firefighters,  a patron of Madrid, Spain, and one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers of the Church.

St. Eustace, pray for us.

Venerable Maria Guadalupe Ortiz is a laywoman who will be beatified this year. Here’s her incredible story.

VENERABLE,MARIA GUADALUPE ORTIZ