You cannot claim to be Catholic if you do not believe in the Mass and Holy Eucharist

Catholic Mass                                                                                     en.wikipedia.org

By Larry Peterson

What follows are quotes about the Catholic Mass. It would be best if you remembered that only within the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass can the Holy Eucharist become present. That happens by the actions of ONLY an ordained Catholic priest. It is he who stands in the shoes of Christ (in persona Christi) and says the words of consecration over the bread and wine, giving us Jesus Christ under the appearances of bread and wine.

 

                   A FEW WORDS FROM SOME GREAT SAINTS ABOUT HOLY MASS

The following quotes are from some of the greatest Catholic Saints who ever lived. These quotes are about the Mass in which the Holy Eucharist becomes the REAL PRESENCE.

When Mass is being celebrated, the sanctuary is filled with countless angels who adore the Divine Victim immolated on the altar.”  St. John Chrysostom 347-407 A.D.

“If we really understood the Mass, we would die of joy.” –  St. John Vianney 1786-1859

The angels surround and help the priest when he is celebrating Mass.” – St.Augustine of Hippo 354-430 A.D.

It would be easier for the world to survive without the sun than to do without Holy Mass.” – St. Padre Pio 1887-1968

“The heavens open and multitudes of angels come to assist in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.” – St. Gregory the Great 540-604 A.D.

“How happy is that guardian angel who accompanies a soul to Holy Mass!” – St. John Vianney 1786-1859

“I believe that were it not for the Holy Mass, as of this moment, the world would be in the abyss.” St. Leonard of Port Maurice  1676-1751

And from Pope St. John Paul II  1920-2005

From this moment on, live the Eucharist fully; be persons for whom the Holy Mass, Communion, and Eucharistic adoration are the center and summit of your whole life.”  

Let us thank God daily for the Holy Mass and the gift of Jesus in the Eucharist!

Copyright©Larry Peterson 2021

 


The Thanksgiving Day Parade and the Hot Chocolate Miracle

Thanksgiving Prayer                               public domain

By Larry Peterson

During the early morning hours of November 24, 1906, a ship quietly slid against the ebb-tide waters of the Narrows and entered New York harbor. Onboard were almost 2000 people, mostly immigrating Europeans. Through the emerging light of the new dawn, the Statue of Liberty came into view. The appearance of the great icon had them mesmerized. They had arrived at their new home, America.

Among the people on board was a little girl from Hungaria. Her name was Julia, and she was four years old. She held a small rag doll tightly in her arms. At that moment in time, it was the only link she had to security and happiness.

Eight days earlier, Julia had hugged her poppa goodbye. She remembered his stubbly beard tickling her face and how he had reached into the pocket of his big wool overcoat and pulled out a surprise. It was a doll. He smiled and said, “For you, Shkutabella (my little pretty).  Her name is Rachel, and I made her for you. As long as you have her, I will always be with you even if I am not there. Do you understand?”

Julia nodded her head up and down, and her mom said, “Please, Bollassar, please come with us. I do not like going without you.”

“Viola, it is all right. I will be over in a year. My brother George will take care of you. It is all right. Our love will keep us close to each other.”

A week had passed, and as Viola and Julia stood on the deck, a lifeboat broke free from its support cable. It fell and hit Viola, killing her instantly. Julia’s mom had been standing next to her, and then suddenly, she was lying lifeless on the deck. The child’s young mind could not understand why her mom did not move. She screamed at her to wake up.  That would never happen. As the ship docked at the pier, all Julia could feel was fear and loneliness.

At Ellis Island, a bizarre series of events saw Julia shuffled from one official to another. When a lady smiled at her, the official nearby assumed they were together and made Julia go with the lady. The woman took Julia as far as Broome and Varick Streets in lower Manhattan. She told the child to stay there and walked away.  The little girl did as told, and just like that, Julia had become another abandoned child on the crowded and dangerous streets of lower Manhattan.

Little Julia, holding Rachel, had been standing in the same spot for more than an hour. She was cold, hungry, and frightened. Wiping her tears had left gray smudges across her puffy cheeks. Then her guardian angel stepped in. Turning the corner was the beat cop, Paddy Dolan. He was instantly smitten with the dark-haired, blue-eyed child and asked her her name. Hesitatingly she said, “Julia.”

The policeman knelt in front of Julia and placed his hands on her tiny shoulders. He smiled at her, and for the first time since she saw her mom’s lifeless body lying next to her on the ship’s deck, she felt a sense of peace grab at her. Officer Dolan brought her with him to the station-house

After reporting in and signing out and checking as much as anyone could in 1906, Julia was declared an orphan. But this orphan was not going to an orphanage. Paddy Dolan brought her home.

Paddy’s wife, Aileen, a wee wisp of a gal from County Galway in Ireland, could not have children. Paddy and Aileen adopted Julia, and she became Julie Dolan. She grew up to be a teacher, married a man named Tommy O’Rourke, (also a policeman), and they had three children, two boys and a girl. The girl was named Viola.

On Thanksgiving day, 1951, Julia, her daughter Viola, and Viola’s four-year-old daughter, Karen, went to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. They stood in the crowd at 63rd Street and Central Park West, and, as Santa passed by, Viola suggested that they go to the Squire’s Restaurant a few blocks away and get some hot chocolate.

Karen was holding Rachel, Julia’s doll. Karen loved the doll and, in a moment of weakness, grandma Julia had allowed her to take the doll with her to the parade. Rachel had not been out of the house in over forty years.

They sat in a booth, sipping their hot chocolate, and Karen placed Rachel on the table. Julia reached over and fingered the doll lovingly.  Suddenly a man stood by their table. He was old and weathered and quite nervous. Julia turned her head and looked up at him. Instantly, a chill ran down her spine. The man pointed to the doll and nervously said, “Excuse me…is..is that doll’s name, Rachel?”

Not seeing her mother turning pale, Viola looked at him and answered, “Why yes, how could you know such a thing?”

As tears fell from the old man’s eyes, he looked at Julia and softly said, “Is it really you, Shkutabella?”

Julia jumped from her seat and threw her arms around the old man. “Oh Poppa,  Poppa, Poppa.  I can’t believe it. Yes, it is. It is. It is ME.”

 

HAPPY THANKSGIVING

Copyright©Larry Peterson2021


A President, a Kid from the Bronx, and a moment in Time

John F. Kennedy                                   en-wikipedia.org

By Larry Peterson

 “The president is dead.”  For those of us who heard those words from more than 50 years ago, they were unforgettable. They seared into our brains like letters sand-blasted into a granite headstone forever: clear, concise, 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, wearing his little topcoat and short pants, saluted as the flag-covered caisson went by, holding his dad’s body. It was a moment that would never be forgotten.

I had a personal connection to John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Just like when I heard of his death, those moment(s) are also seared into my brain, and their memories 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. They were unplanned and spontaneous, just the 35th President of the United States and me; at the time, age 15. 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 located on 161st Street and the Grand Concourse. Opened 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 delivered 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. Several elderly tenants 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 else a customer might want. I would bag up the items, load them 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 would 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 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. 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. I made the turn and bumped into someone. I froze dead in my tracks. Then I stepped back a bit.

The man I had walked into, 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. There was another man with him. That was it. No one else was there. Just me, John F. Kennedy, and some other guy. The other man stepped near me and said, “Excuse us, son.”  I said nothing and stepped back some more. Senator Kennedy smiled at me and said, “Good to see you. Did you hear my speech?”

“Uh…uh…no, we just thought we might get to see you.”

The next President of the United States laughed a little and said, “Well, I think you were successful. Here I am, and now I have to leave. Nice seeing you.”  Then he and his friend 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 30 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 slightly, 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. Instead,  he just held it up with his fingers spread apart. He probably held it up for about two or three seconds.

He was saying goodbye 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.”


INFANTICIDE has only one meaning; the act of killing an infant

A person is a person, no matter how small

By Larry Peterson

Freedom Tower was illuminated in pink to celebrate legalizing infanticide

In January 2019, New York State passed its own RHA (Reproductive Health Act). Amidst hoots, hollers, .and the Freedom Tower illuminated in pink, the “devout” Catholic governor of N.Y, signed the bill into law. Today, to the delight of many, infanticide is legal in N.Y. State.

Many people in our supposed civilized society have moved into a different universe. They have embraced the legal execution of our most vulnerable children (babies are children). We have moved from killing them from conception to killing them born full-term and breathing on their own. No matter the size, kill them if you wish, no problem.

These tiny people are just like us, only smaller.

As the parents of a daughter who was stillborn on September 6, 1978, my wife and I were fully aware of the LIFE that we had lost. Loretta (who passed away from cancer in 2003) almost died that day in a valiant attempt to get to a Catholic hospital so her baby would be baptized. That is a story for another time, but we both understood the insanity of treating tiny people in-utero as nothing more than “products of conception” or “blobs of tissue.” They are no such thing. They are people, just like us–only a lot smaller.

Our two-pound daughter was named Theresa Mary, and she is buried with my parents in Gate of Heaven Cemetery outside New York City. She was a person who lived and died. And her mother, who never saw her or held her was willing to die for her, unseen and unheard. Her actions exemplify what respecting God-given life is all about. It is the ultimate act of love and unselfishness. Secularism does not understand this. It never will.

Many people accept the undeniable truth that life is a precious gift from God.  This belief is backed by science. Life is life, no matter how big and no matter how small. No life belongs to another, and the fact that a child needs a mother’s womb to grow changes nothing. That child is unique and special with its own DNA, character, and personality. That little person has as much right to live as do any of us, no matter what age.

63 million lives snuffed out since 1973

We live with the infamous Supreme Court ruling of Roe vs. Wade passed in 1973. Since then, over 63 million little lives have been snuffed out under the guise of “reproductive rights.” No one has ever taken away a woman’s right to reproduce. The fact that seven men voted for a law that allows a woman to destroy her child does not make it right. Far from it, it has allowed for an ongoing abomination.

What is so astonishing is that so many folks do not see anything wrong with participating in a holocaust that has claimed more than sixty million lives. Most of these people seem to be no different than anyone else. They work, pay their bills, mow their lawns, and celebrate Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July. Yes, and they go to church and pray too. I do NOT understand. Whatever have we wrought?

Having laid out those thoughts, I now go back to an article from Catholic Online from 2017.  It is about the former “champion of abortion,” Stojan Adasevic. Throughout 26 years, this man performed 48,000 abortions, sometimes as many as 35 a day. Then, miraculously, he became the most important and influential pro-life leader in Serbia.

He saw the human heart beating and beating and thought he would go mad

What happened to him is well worth paying attention to. ‘Stojan’s conversion came about from an experience he had in performing what would be his final abortion.  These are the words of Stojan after that termination procedure:

“As I pull out the mess, thinking it will be bone fragments I lay it on the cloth, I

look, and I see a human heart, contracting and expanding and beating, beating, beating.

I thought I would go mad. I can see the heartbeat is slowing, ever more slowly, and 

more slowly still, until it finally stops completely. Nobody could have seen what I

had seen with my very own eyes, and be more convinced than I was—

I had killed a human being.

 The man he saw was Thomas Aquinas

After that, Stojan had an ongoing dream where children were playing and laughing but ran away when they saw him because they feared him. There was a man in the dream. He was dressed in black and white, and when Stojan asked him who he was, he told him he was Thomas Aquinas. Suffice it to say that Stojan Adasevic has told his story throughout Europe. He  returned to the Orthodox faith and became a student of St. Thomas Aquinas.

It is now November 2021. The following link directs to abortion laws by state. It  was taken from U.S. News from September 1, 2021.

The master of lies and deception is waging war

In the war being waged by Satan, the master of lies and deception, his influence is so significant and the deception so pronounced it takes many years of flowing graces from God before the light begins to enter the darkness. We must continue to pray as hard as we can until this scourge against human life is stopped.

Two major cases (one from Texas and one from Mississippi) dealing with abortion are scheduled to be heard in the United States Supreme Court. So let us pray every day for the sanctity of life to be upheld.  Prayer is the most potent weapon we have, and we MUST  defend the smallest of the small.

Human rights are not a privilege conferred by the government. They are every human being’s entitlement by virtue of his humanity.

Mother Teresa

copyright©larry Peterson 2021


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

By Larry Peterson

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

HAPPY HALLOWEEN

 


Meet this newly beatified wife, mother, widow and foundress who sheltered pregnant women

Maria Lorenza Longo

After Our Lady of Loreto obtained her healing, Blessed Maria Llong devoted herself to the poor.

By Larry Peterson

Maria Llorenca Llong was born in Lieida, Spain, in 1463. Born as Maria de la Estirpe, she was the daughter of the noble Requences family and a descendant of a famous Spanish navy captain. In 1483 she married the prosperous lawyer Juan Llong, a friend of Ferdinand II, the Catholic king of Aragon.

During her early married life, tragedy struck young Maria. An angry servant, obsessing over how Maria had scolded him for an infraction of his duties, poisoned her by pouring a deadly mix into her wine glass during a family celebration. The servant failed in killing her, but Maria suffered intense pain and wound up paralyzed, unable to walk.

In 1506, King Ferdinand appointed Maria’s husband, Juan, as the Viceroy of Naples. Despite her condition, she and Juan moved to Naples. But Juan Llong died suddenly in 1509, leaving Maria with three children to raise. She was only 43 years old.

Possessing a great devotion to the Blessed Virgin, Maria decided to make a pilgrimage to Loreto, Italy. Today it takes close to four hours to make the journey by car. Maria had to be carried on a litter with three young children in her care. But she was sure Our Lady would help her.

Maria arrived in Loreto and attended Mass.  While saying prayers of thanksgiving, she experienced a complete cure for her paralysis. She just knew that the Blessed Mother had interceded for her and believed it was a sign from Jesus to devote herself to Him and all of mankind.

Soon after, she put on the habit of a Third Order Franciscan and began calling herself Maria Lorenza. Many thought she took that name because of her devotion to St. Lawrence, who was so devoted to the poor. Nothing can confirm that. But she did return to Naples, arranged for her children to be cared for, and began going about the city helping the sick and the poor the best she could.

In 1519, as a Franciscan tertiary, she established a hospital called  Santa Maria del Popolo and also founded a house to care for prostitutes. She dreamed of starting a convent and calling it Santa Maria in Gerasalamme. It would follow the efficiency and austerity of St. Francis of Assisi and St. Clare. Her goal was to stay as simple and as humble as possible.This was in 1526.

The noted philanthropist, Ettore Vernazza, joined forces with Maria in Naples. They combined their resources and built Santa Maria del Popolo dei Incurabili (Hospital of the Incurables). This facility, meant to treat those with chronic and incurable illnesses such as syphilis. It had a pharmacy, housed a research lab, and provided accommodations for patients’ relatives. Before long, doctors were coming from all over Europe to get the drugs sold there and review the ideas brought to life at this place.

Following Matteo da Bascio, the founder of the Capuchin monks, Maria started a new order called the Capuchin Poor Clares. Similar to the monks, the nuns wore a simple brown tunic with a cord at the waist and a short cape. Members became known as Capuchinesses. Maria wanted to start the order along the lines of St. Clare of Assisi by following a similar plan as used by St. Clare back in 1212. Maria chose as her spiritual director, St. Cajetan.

Maria’s devotion to her patients was so great that she moved into the hospital to be near them. After a time, services were offered for pregnant women. Sister proclaimed, “Any woman, rich or poor, patrician or plebian, indigenous or foreign, while pregnant, may knock on our door and it will be opened.” Many women were saved because of the expert Caesarean sections perfomed by the hospital’s doctors.

Sister Maria sought papal approval for her new order and on February 19, 1538, Pope Paul III, issued his approval. The official founding was done on December 10, 1538. In addition to the founding, numerous papal privileges were given from Pope Leo X,  Pope Adrian VI, and Pope Paul IV.

Sister Maria Llorenca Llong passed away on December 12, 1539. She was 76 years old. She was declared Blessed Maria Lloorenca Requenses Llong on October 9, 2021 in Naples, Italy by Cardinal Marcello Semeraro by the authority of Pope Francis.

Blessed Maria Llorenca Llong, please pray for us.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019


Servant of God; Father Varghese Payyappilly Palakkappilly (Kathanar)

Cradling Catholic

Venerable Payyappilly Varghese Kathanar

By Larry Peterson

On April 14, 2018, Pope Francis met with Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. He presented the cardinal with the names of eight Catholics who have attained the designation of Servants of God. This designation is awarded to those who have attained the first pedestal on their road to canonization. Among those named was Servant of God, Father Varghese Payyapilly Palakkappilly (yes, that is a definite tongue-twister so we will keep it at Father Varghese).

Cardinal Amato was authorized by the Holy Father to place those named worthy of receiving a promulgation of “the Heroic Virtues.” Pope Benedict XIV, 1740 to 1758, who is considered the defining authority on these virtues, wrote five volumes about them. They are still used in determining if a Servant of God meets the criteria of demonstrating ‘heroic virtue.’

A simple way…

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Evangelizing—What is it, and how can we, as individuals, Evangelize?

Holy Spirit, Pentecost, Evangelize

By Larry Peterson

What is Evangelization?

We Catholic/Christians are asked to ‘evangelize.” But for me, the word, Evangelize, has always been intimidating. And what does that word actually mean?  The Merriam-Webster Dictionary says that the word, evangelize, is a verb that means “to preach the gospel to” or “to convert to Christianity.” St. Pope Paul VI said, “Evangelizing means to bring the Good News into all the strata of humanity, and through its influence transforming humanity from within and making it new.”

Are we called to Evangelize?

Does the Bible call on us to Evangelize? It sure does, and here are two short examples. Matthew 4:19 says, He said to them, come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Another is in John 20:21, it says, Jesus said to them, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”

Evangelli Gaudium—the new evangelization summons us all

Lastly, I will call upon Pope Francis and his Evangelii Gaudium. In his apostolic exhortation,  published in 2013, the Holy Father “reaffirmed that the new evangelization is a summons  to all the faithful, and is to be carried out in three principal settings.” The three settings are 1) ordinary pastoral ministry (to inflame the hearts of the faithful), 2) outreach to “the baptized whose lives do not reflect the demands of Baptism” and 3) “evangelization to those who do not know Jesus Christ or who have always rejected him.

First of all, when I think of Evangelizers, I envision people such as Billy Graham speaking to a stadium filled with thousands of people or Venerable Fulton Sheen teaching class on television so many years ago. I have even thought of Burt Lancaster playing the character of Elmer Gantry, reigning down words of “fire and brimstone” inside a tent filled with a captive audience. To this very day, we have street preachers praising Jesus and doing their best to convert the unbelievers. As for me, I have never been able to do that.

Do not get me wrong. I have never backed away from a discussion about my faith. If I was in a group or among friends and my Catholic faith was challenged or ridiculed, I would not be quiet. On the contrary, I would defend it the best I could. But I was never one to initiate a conversation. I can still remember my dad telling me, “Never get into a discussion about religion or politics. You can never win.” Well, my dad was wrong. I finally found a way to evangelize.  And, I want to share it with you, the reader.

Evangelizing is not complicated—You just have to be ready for the moment

The first thing I have come to understand is that the ‘evangelizing” business  can simply begin as a “one on one” interaction.  Since we are all called to evangelize, we have to be ready for the “moment. “Okay, what does that mean?

First of all, the “moment” to evangelize is hard to plan. The fact is, the moment can spring up at the most unexpected times or in the strangest of places. You just have to be ready. Here is an example. The following happened to me while in line at a supermarket.

There was a young lady in front of me, and she had a child sitting in her cart. The cashier was shaking her head and returning the woman’s debit card to her. The lady slid it back into the scanner. Again it was rejected. A tear ran down the woman’s face. Her child, sensing her mom’s distress, also began to cry. Can you seize this unexpected moment and “evangelize?” Why not?

The first thing you have to do to be an effective evangelist is smile at people you do not know. Since you are an evangelizer, you have already smiled at both the woman and her child. Okay, she did not want to make new friends but trust me, she saw your smile. You have also noticed that her grocery cart has about thirty dollars worth of groceries in it. Your moment to begin evangelizing has arrived.

You take your debit card and ask the cashier to put the woman’s charge on your card (I do not do this very often). What do you think might happen? Here are a few examples from personal experience; a) The lady tells you, “Please mind your own business.” b) The lady tells you, “No, thank you,” She lifts the child from the cart and leaves the store.  c) The lady gives you a dirty look and says, “That’s not necessary  I have the cash right here.” d) The lady says, “Thank you,” and accepts your offer. e) You might have a few expletives thrown your way. You never know.

Paying it Forward

In this case, I am dealing with the d). You help her save face by saying, “Look, I’m paying it forward.” One of these days, you do something for someone else. That’s all there is to it.”

The lady gives you a final “thank you” and begins to leave. I call after her, “Maam, can you wait one second. I have something for you.”

She stops and waits while you check out.. My moment has arrived. I walk over to her and say, “I was wondering. Do you have Jesus in your life?”

I have thrown it out there, and now I wait. She sighs and looks at me. I sense her nervousness, so I quickly say, “No problem, it’s okay. I just wanted to give you this.”

Evangelizers must choose a primary tool

I have discovered that evangelists need a primary tool in their evangelizing kit. Most evangelists seem to have a Bible in their hand. Not me. I have a cross, a small cross. You cannot see it because it is in my pocket. It is 1.5 X 2.5 inches in size. It is made of  Olive Wood from the Holy Land and is blessed by a priest. I did not invent this idea, I found these crosses online. They are called Comfort Crosses or Caring Crosses. They have turned me into a quiet evangelizer. I love them. (If you want, you can find them online too).

I reach into my pocket, and I pull out the Comfort Cross. I hold it up between my thumb and forefinger and begin to explain to her what it is. She is just looking at me, but I cannot get a feel for what is going on inside her. I tell her, “Jesus loves you, and this Cross will keep you close to Him.”

She is pursing her lips, and I know it is time to finish what I started. I say to her, “Carry it with you in your pocket or purse. Take it to bed with you. Just always keep it close to you. Squeeze it and tell Jesus you love Him. Trust me, you will feel His love returning to you.”

This turned out to be a GOOD moment. A tear rolls down her cheek, and she blurts out, “You have no idea what this means to me. Thank you, thank you.”

The lady takes the Cross and, through her tears, smiles. She leaves the store, and I never expect to see her again.

I certainly am no Billy Graham or Venerable Fulton Sheen. But the moments for me to be a one on one evangelizer pop up in the strangest places. Supermarkets, gas stations, convenient stores,  auto repair shops, doctor’s offices, hospital lobbies, McDonald’s, and Walmart. I have handed out my comfort crosses in all of those places. And, of course, many of my attempts are not appreciated. It is okay. At least I gave it a shot. I figure they threw rocks at Jesus and look what He did for me; the least I  can do is try.

I will finish by mentioning the woman I profiled. Almost a year later, I was in the same supermarket. A lady comes up to me and says, “Oh my God, it’s you. I can’t believe it. Remember me?”

I was almost sure I did, but I was not positive. She says, I’m the person you gave the Comfort Cross to, and you “paid it forward for me. Remember?”

I sure did remember. “Yes, of course. How are you?”

She says, “I have been back to this store four or five times hoping to see you. And finally, here you are. I cannot believe I found you.”

I’m thinking, what does she want? I say, “Wow, I can’t believe it either. So why were you looking for me?”

“Well, I loved the Cross you gave me and carried it everywhere. And then I lost it, and I miss it so much.  I wanted to find you to see if I could get another one.”

Suddenly I teared up. I reached in my pocket and pulled out two crosses. “Here you go. You now have a spare.”

She gave me the biggest hug I could imagine and thanked me again. It was an evangelizing bonus. You never know what to expect when you evangelize.

One final thought. If you want to evangelize you have to be willing to talk to strangers. Once in a grocery store or a doctor’s office, or a lab for bloodwork, or wherever you may be, the opportunity is usually there. Take a chance—say “Hi” to someone nearby, talk about the weather, or even mention the cold pizza delivered to you. You never know if an “evengelizing moment” is coming your way.

Copyright Larry Peterson 2021


They desired to help the poor and their lives connected across the ages–Today they are all saints

   St. Vincent de Paul; Bl. Frederick Ozanam; St. Jeanne Jugan                      public domain

By Larry Peterson

Saint-Servan, France,1839:  On a bitterly cold winter night,  Jeanne Jugan, 47, looked out from her bedroom window and saw a person huddled outside. She went out and somehow managed to carry the shivering woman into her own home and place her in her own bed.

The woman’s name was Anne Chauvin and she was blind, paralyzed and quite old. She was also close to freezing to death. And so it began, for on that very night Jeanne Jugan turned her life to serving God by caring for the elderly poor.

Word spread quickly throughout the small town and before long more elderly sick and poor were being brought to Jeanne. Other women, younger and healthier, were coming to her also. But they were coming to join her in her work. The small group of women grew and became known as The Little Sisters of the Poor.

Forty years, in 1879, there were over 2400 Little Sisters of the Poor in nine countries. That year was also the year that Pope Leo XIII approved the by-laws of the order. Ironically, it was also the same year Jeanne Jugan died at the age of 86. She was canonized a saint on October 11, 2009 by Pope Benedict XVI.

Saint Jeanne Jugan never knew that when she was founding the Little Sisters of the Poor a young countryman of hers in Paris was responding to God’s flowing graces. Frederick Ozanam was a 20 year old student at the University of Paris. Challenged by his “enlightened” college peers, he embraced their taunts “to practice what you preach”.  So he went out and gave his coat to a beggar.  Then he and his four pals founded the St. Vincent de Paul Society. That was in May of 1833.  They named the  society after St.Vincent because he was known for his work with the poor.

Vincent de Paul never knew that 170 years after his death an organization named after him would take up the mantle of helping the poor all over the world. Fred Ozanam died at the age of 40 and was beatified and declared ‘Blessed’ by Pope John Paul II in 1997. Fred would never know that the organization he had founded would one day work side by side with the Little Sisters of the Poor in their mission of charity toward the elderly poor.

St. Jeanne Jugan could never have known that from the moment she carried Anne Chauvin into her home she would change the world for thousands upon thousands of the sick and disabled elderly. She could never have imagined that in the 21st century her order would be serving the poorest of the elderly in cities all over the United States and in 31 countries around the world.

Blessed Fred would never have imagined that his Society of St. Vincent de Paul would become a worldwide organization with close to a million members helping the needy all over the world. The grand irony is that over the course of several centuries the paths of these three saints have been interwoven dramatically as their followers help the poor, homeless and downtrodden no matter where they may be.

The three saints mentioned here never knew what their simple acts of kindness would lead to. The difference with them was that, unlike most folks, they responded to God’s grace. Jeanne took care of that sickly woman and Fred gave away his coat. Vincent worked with poor tenant farmers and founded the Daughters of Charity.

These three unpretentious, God loving people had two things in common.  First, they embraced God’s grace and followed His call. Secondly, they asked for NOTHING for themselves and welcomed whatever came their way, including poverty. Their legacies live on in the thousands upon thousands of their followers and in all those millions who have been helped by their simple acts of faith. This is a beautiful thing.

As a Catholic I love all of these people and I am proud to consider myself part of their extended family. They set examples for us that we are supposed to emulate. They are our Catholic heroes and therefore members of our Catholic Hall of Fame. They asked for nothing and gave everything. I love being able to talk to them. What I love best is when they talk back. And they do, sooner or later and one way or another.

St. Vincent de Paul, St. Jeanne Jugan and Blessed Frederick Ozanam, please keep praying for all of us. And —THANK YOU.

copyright© Larry Peterson 2021


We learned Latin and were known as Altar “Boys.”

mass, processional, dress like a man for mass, altar boys

By Larry Peterson

Recently I found an old picture from my grade school days. It was taken inside the church in the parish where I grew up (circa the late 50s to early 60s).  Just like that, it escorted me back in time.

In the picture, the church was filled with all the kids from the school and many parishioners. The photo was taken from the church balcony, but what the occasion was, I do not know.  As I stared at that picture, however, my memory jumped into overdrive.

They called us Altar Boys

 Back then, I was part of a unique group of young men called “altar boys.”  Boys historically served at the altar during Mass to encourage priestly vocations.  Traditionally boys became acolytes (altar servers) as the first step in the “minor orders” of a seminarian’s training for the priesthood. This changed in 1972 when St. Pope Paul VI issued the motu proprio Ministeria Quaedam.  (Also, see here for more information.)

In 1994 the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments (CDWDS) issued a ruling saying that the correct interpretation of Canon 230.2 allows for girls to be altar servers.  The CDWDS further clarified the ruling in 2001 saying “that diocesan bishops could not oblige priests to implement a diocesan policy allowing for female altar servers.”  (See here for more information.)

I began my tenure as an altar boy in fifth grade. We were around ten or eleven years old. This was the earliest age Father Hyland would allow us to enter “service to the Lord.”  Recruiting and training altar boys was serious business to Father Hyland. If you wanted to become an altar boy you had to let your teacher know.  Your teacher would then inform Father and he would personally interview you.

We were youngsters, and Father Hyland, in his wrinkle-free, black cassock and shiny black shoes, was an intimidating figure. His white, cellulose priest collar seemed so tight that you thought he might choke at any moment. And the aftershave lotion he wore was so intense that it took several seconds to get used to the powerful fragrance.

The “Interview”

We stayed after school for the “interview.” Father was in a classroom, and the “wannabe” candidates would stand out in the hall. Father called us in one at a time.I can still remember how terrified I was when my turn came. After all these years, I only remember the first question, “Well, son, tell me, why do you want to be an altar boy?”

I do not remember how I answered or what I said. All I can recall is being handed a small booklet with the Latin responses printed out phonetically. This was so we could learn to pronounce every syllable correctly.  Ad Deum qui laetificat juventutem meum and underneath was printed  Ad Deum qwee lay tif ee cot yu ven tu tem mayhem (or something like that). The last thing I remember of that meeting was him saying, “Be here tomorrow after school.”

 Learning to speak Latin

Learning to speak in Latin and when to respond was a challenge. When you got to the Suscipiat Dominus sacrificium etc., at the end of the offertory prayers, there was a tongue-twister that gave all of us trouble.

Today, in the Novus Ordo Mass at the end of the Offertory, the priest, facing us, says: Pray, brethren, (brothers and sisters), that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God, the almighty Father.”  The congregation responds, “May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands for the praise and glory of his name, for our good and the good of all His holy Church.”

I included the above in English to give you an idea what we fifth graders had to learn in Latin way back when.   In Latin the priest says, “Orate Fratres, ut meum ac vestrum sacrificium acceptabile fiat apud deum Patrem omnipotentum.” The altar boys would promptly respond, “Suscipiat Dominus sacrificium de manibus tuis, ad laudem et gloriam nominis sui, ad utilitatem quoque nostrum, totiusque, ecclesiae suae sanctae.”

The part of the response highlighted above gave us all fits. A few of us got through it somewhat unscathed, but for some reason, most of us suddenly had marbles in our mouths and what would come out was a language of unknown origin. It took a year or two for most of us to get it “almost” right.  We were lucky because Father Hyland, demanding as he was, knew us.  He knew we would never pass the Latin test we had to take before being officially presented with our Surplice (the white puffy shirt with the over-sized sleeves we wore over our cassocks).

The Altar Boy Exam

The final exam required before being elevated to “Altar Boy” status was verbal.  Father brought us into church one at a time and began saying a “rehearsal” Mass. He would start at the beginning of the Mass and keep going. We needed to respond at the proper time. If we did not make the correct Latin response, we would have to write the Confiteor 10 times for extra homework.

That night, besides doing Mother Mary Gabriel’s fractions, I had to write the Confiteor in Latin 10 times. I remember wanting to watch “Captain Video and His Video Rangers” so bad, but I couldn’t. I had to write the Confiteor. You had to really want to be an altar boy to stick it out.

All of us passed our exam, however, and received our Surplus. Years later, I realized that Father knew we would never get it right, so we all “graduated.”  After all, we were 5th graders, and he knew we were afraid of him.

Father Hyland may have been a demanding taskmaster, but we were the best altar boys in the south Bronx. At least, that is what Mother Mary Augustine told us.

The Masses

I served as an altar boy into my first year in high school. Back then, we had the regular Low Mass, celebrated by one priest and two altar boys without music.  There was also the Missa Cantata Mass, which was the Mass done in song. It had one priest, and a master server plus two servers called acolytes.

The Solemn High Mass was, and still is, the most beautiful presentation of the Mass. This holy offering of the Mass includes three priests; the celebrant, the deacon, and the sub-deacon, usually all priests. There is the master altar boy, the crème de la crème of all the other altar boys. That position Eddie O’Reilly and I ascended to in eighth grade. Two other acolytes were responsible for the censer and boat (the incense and charcoal guys).When the occasion called for it (Christmas, Holy Week, etc.) there were also Torchbearers and a Cross Bearer. Yup—there would be altar boys all over the place. A Solemn High Tridentine Mass is still something to behold.

Much was expected of us

Much was expected of us. We wore black cassocks during the week and red on Sundays and Holy Days. We also wore those stiff, celluloid collars with the big red or black bows tied in front of them. I hated them, especially in the summer.I also did not like serving at funerals. The only upside was that we would get called out of class to serve. The fact is, there were many funerals and, even as a kid, I would rather have stayed in class. And every Monday night was a Novena and Benediction at 7 p.m. We all took turns serving at those devotions.

There was one great perk in being an altar boy.  It was when you were assigned to serve at a wedding. You always received an envelope with money. Sometimes one dollar. Sometimes two dollars or five. Once, Ronnie Murray and I got $10 each, but Father Quirk made us give it back. He said it was too much. He let us keep two dollars each. We were really ticked of and said a lot of grumbly things. But we made things right – we went to confession the following Saturday.

You know, it is a funny thing, but I am quite happy I found that old picture. I had a lot of wonderful memories hidden away that came back to life. Sometimes an unexpected journey back in time can be a beautiful thing.

copyright©LarryPeterson 2021