“YES Virginia, there is a Santa Claus!”

Celebrating the 125th Anniversary of Virginia O’Hanlon’s Santa Claus Letter

Santa Claus and Child               photo   Hollywoodreporter.com

By Larry Peterson

I wrote this blog  years ago and except for a few minor changes,  I am re-blogging it for Christmas, 2022.  The reason is simple. I believe in Santa Claus and I am sick of hearing these elitist-know-it-all-uppity-ups declaring that “lying” to your children about Santa Claus is wrong and traumatic and teaches the wrong lesson and blah-blah-blah. That is NONSENSE.

Christmas with  Jesus and Santa (yes, they are tied together) is not about a day in time. No, it is about a seasonal spirit in time: a season where the spirit of kindness, and goodness, and charity, and most of all love explode around us. It is a time of wonder and miracles. Damn right I believe!

Many may feel this article makes no sense at all. Well, I don’t care. The fact is, Santa Claus, is rooted in the great St.Nicholas and this 4th-century saint, heeding the words of Christ to “sell what you own and give the money to the poor,” did just that; he gave everything he had to the poor and needy. He devoted his very existence to serving God.

St. Nicholas morphed into the Santa we are familiar with today. But there is no getting away from the fact that his origin was heaven sent. The Santa Claus we know and all that goes with him has filled the hearts of children with wonder and awe since the 19th century. Why do so many folks want to take it way? Why does anyone feel the child must know the “truth”. They find out soon enough what “truth” is. Believing in Santa Claus and the wonder he creates never hurt anyone. Rather, it is one of the great unheralded examples of all that is GOOD.

Therefore, I would like to share an editorial from Mr. Francis Pharcellus Church, who was an editorial writer for the old New York Sun. The editorial was about Santa Claus. It is an example of what the media people of today should be telling our children, (fat chance of that happening). It was written during a time when there were no radios, phones, televisions, iPads, smartphones or even blue-tooth. People talked to each other and used paper, pen, and pencil to message each other. Can you imagine?

What follows was written back in 1897 and, in my opinion (given a chance), is still timely.  Some of you might have seen this before. If you have, enjoy it again. If not, enjoy it now. It is a letter written by eight-year-old, Virginia O’Hanlon, of West 95th Street in New York City, to the newspaper asking if  Santa Claus was TRUE. Her dad had told her that if the “Sun” said it was true then it must be so. Enjoy a moment back in time when things were a bit simpler and the innocence of children was loved and respected by most ‘grown-ups’.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Is There A Santa Claus?             

From the editorial page of The New York Sun

September 21, 1897

_______________________________________________

Dear Editor—I am eight years old. Some of my friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, “If you see it in THE SUN, it’s so. Please tell me the truth. Is there a Santa Claus?

Virginia O’Hanlon

115 W. 95th St.

_______________________________________________

Dear Virginia, your friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except what they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes Virginia, there isa Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus? It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginia. There would be no child-like faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your Papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah Virginia, in all this world, there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God he lives! And he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten time ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

©Larry Peterson 2022


A Mirror of Christmas— the Happily Married Couple

By Larry Peterson

 

Honoring Traditional Marriage during the Christmas Season

 

Joseph and Mary set the standard for married couples.. This is about a couple who did their best to meet that standard. There are many more like them. No couple can compare to Joseph and Mary but many do try to follow their example. This couple did for 68 years.

Roger and Helena Cartier on their 65th Wedding Anniversary

St. John Paul II said, “Marriage is an act of will that signifies and involves a mutual gift, which unites the spouses and binds them to their eternal souls, with whom they make up a sole family, a domestic church.”

The sainted Holy Father was referring to people like Roger and Helena when he made that statement. That is because this couple did, in fact, create a domestic church when they took their marriage vows so long ago. These two people, this man, and woman are a Catholic love-story not only for today but for all time. They made the ultimate commitment to each other, emptied themselves for each other, and never looked back.

.I am using them as examples of the countless couples like them, past and present, who have also joined together to create “domestic churches.” These domestic churches that supported their love were built on the cornerstone we know as faith; faith in Jesus Christ. And it was Jesus who was the cornerstone of the first domestic church, which included Mary and Joseph.

Spread across the landscape of our society are many well-springs of marriage and family. These homes have one predominant thing in common. God is the essence and focal point of their lives. Roger and Helena were the patriarch and matriarch of one of those families.

The family is the nucleus of any society

Of course, we all know that many marriages have not worked out. But this essay is not about failed marriages. This is about the millions of marriages that have stood the test of time and became “domestic churches.” Sadly, secularism has convinced many the world over that marriage is what “you” want it to be, with whomever you want to be with. It also proclaims those of the Judeo-Christian faith are intolerant and have NO love in their cold hardened hearts for diversity. This secularistic atmosphere has cut deeply into the very fabric of our society and wounded it severely. That fabric is the family. And the family is the nucleus of any society.

Roger passed away in 2017. He was 91. Helena passed in in 2019.at the age of 90.  Roger was a retired letter-carrier. He was also an ordained Deacon in the Catholic Church. When Roger passed on to his eternal reward, he and Helena had just celebrated their 68th wedding anniversary.

The thought of applying to the Permanent Diaconate horrified him

The Deacon was a World War II veteran. He was hired by the post office after he and Helena were married. A few years after that, he became quite active in the Knights of Columbus. He rose to the District Deputy’s position giving him oversight of many K of C councils in the Connecticut area. Then his good friend, Father Kuzdal, suggested to Roger that he should apply to the Permanent Diaconate. Roger was horrified. He believed he was highly “unqualified” to do this.

What Roger and Helena did not realize at the time was that God had chosen both of them. Just as Mary Magdalene was there to help the apostles, Helena would help her husband in a ministry that required ordination into the Sacrament of Holy Orders. They had embraced themselves with each other’s love and wrapped their Catholicity around it. The “domestic church” they created was what St. John Paul II spoke of.

Deacon Roger told me how close he was to leaving the diaconate program. All the other candidates were college graduates, seemingly well versed in scripture and well-spoken. He was sure he had no business being in such “lofty” company. He went to Father Kuzdal and voiced his concerns. Father looked at him and said, “Roger, you have a quality these other fellas do not have. You are a natural listener. You have a gift. You do belong here.”

The final confirmation came from his partner in love and life, Helena. She agreed with Father Kuzdal, and in 1986, L. Roger Cartier became Deacon L. Roger Cartier. He was ordained in the Diocese of Norwich, CT, and remained there for a year. Then it was on to Pinellas County, Fl, where he served until his retirement from ministry.

Deacon Roger assisted quietly and efficiently over the years, always being there when needed. He was the spiritual director of both The Legion of Mary and the St. Vincent de Paul Society. Roger always donned his Santa outfit for the Christmas parties delighting countless children, and he visited the school frequently, talking to the kids about “being Catholic.”

He was always available for Stations of the Cross, or Benediction and novenas. Roger visited the funeral homes when folks passed, did internments at the cemetery, and still spent time with the families. He was a constant fixture at the local hospital and nursing homes. He also presided over weddings and performed Baptisms.

“…the man was a listener. People sought him out specifically for that reason.”

The one thing that was most noticeable (at least to me) was the “one on one” conversations he always seemed to be having with someone. This is where Father Kuzdal, so many years earlier, had profiled Roger Cartier correctly. The man was a “listener.” People sought him out specifically for that reason. He would look them in their eye and listen.and he would remember to ask them the next time he saw them how things were going with “such and such,” ie;  (lousy back, a surgery, kids, financial worries, family problems, or whatever it might be. People loved him because they knew he cared about them. He was REAL.

Deacon Roger and his Helena left behind three daughters, nine grandchildren, and 14 great-grandchildren. They had formed a “domestic church” within our midst, and today it has expanded to over a dozen more domestic churches. . As for me, it was my honor and privilege to know them. As for all those who did not, comfort in the fact that people like Roger and Helena are always among us. Goodness exists and is often part of a “domestic church” that extends its loving arms to all that may cross its path.

Christmas is about love and giving. A young, happy couple celebrated the first Christmas by greeting their newborn Son. The Cartiers, and those like them, are the reflection in the mirror of that very first Christmas.

Man and woman are created in God’s image and likeness; and for this reason, marriage likewise becomes an image of God.

Pope Francis: Rome, Italy, May 25, 2018

Copyright©Larry Peterson 2017; 2022

 


Don’t Believe in Christmas Miracles? Maybe You Should Reconsider

Our Mom, Lillian  age 39   1959

By Larry Peterson

I believe, without reservation, that the Christmas season is a time for miracles. I have, over the years, experienced more than one. This was my first. You can decide for yourself if it qualifies.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It was August of 1960 and our mom had just celebrated her fortieth birthday. I was the oldest of the five kids and what I remember about her birthday was that she kept saying that her back hurt and that she did not feel good. I honestly do not remember the next few weeks. I had just turned 16 and had other things on my mind, mostly Babs McNulty who lived around the corner and who, for some reason or another, was occupying  my thoughts most of the time.

All I remember about Mom from that time was that she began going to the hospital and staying there for four or five days at a time. I guess it was near the end of September, school had recently  started and for the first time she was not at home. Dad told us, “She has the ‘grippe’ real bad and they need to keep an eye on her for a few days.” Okay, what did we know. Back then it seemed that everyone got the ‘grippe’ (today we call it the flu). But Mom’s was “real bad” so we accepted that.

We were kids. My brothers were ten, six and “going on two”. I had no idea how they were doing with their mommy being absent but that was because Grandma was in charge and, to me, everything was almost normal. Plus, it seemed like every four or five days mom would be home again.

Personally, I was a bit upset that she never looked quite right. She was thinner, had this pasty complexion and black and blue marks covered her arms from her hands up to her shoulders. My sister, Carolyn, 13, told me it was from her being stuck with needles for IVs in the hospital. She was in eighth grade and, since she wanted to be a nurse, I figured she was speaking with some authority on the subject. The thing of it was you could tell she did not believe her own explanation.

Dad, well, he said nothing that helped. It was always the same thing, Don’t worry, it’s just  the ‘grippe’, a real bad grippe”. But he was noticeably more quiet than usual and was always getting home much later because he would go to the hospital every afternoon. When Mom was home she always tried to act like everything was “normal”. Unfortunately, she was a lousy actress and could not hide her strange bruises or the fact that she was sleeping so much. As for Grandma, she was quite happy to accept the “real bad grippe” story. Today I understand that is what is called Denial and Grandma had truly embraced it.

Mom was home for Thanksgiving but most of the work was handled by Grandma.  I do not remember much about that Thanksgiving Day or when Mom went back into the hospital but I do know it was a few days or maybe even a week before December 18. That was the day Dad, Grandma, Carolyn and myself, headed downtown to Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan for a simple Sunday visit. That visit turned out to be anything but simple.

Dad had left our little brothers with his good friends, John and Adeline Tosarello, who lived downstairs.  We arrived at the hospital around 1:30. I remember the time because it seemed to take forever to get there.  Anyway, I believe Mom was on the third floor and when we got to the room a swarm of doctors and nurses were inside scurrying about. Mom was on the bed, head to one side and her eyes were closed. She was not moving. Carolyn and I stared at our mother as an ominous fear grabbed hold of us. Grandma placed her  hand over her mouth and started to cry. One of the doctors pulled my dad to the side and quietly talked to him. I watched him shake his head ever so slightly and then he turned to me. and said (and this is almost a direct quote from that day), “Please, take your sister and Grandma to the chapel and say a rosary together. She needs all the prayers she can get right now.”

Grandma gasped and I do remember putting my arm around her shoulder and saying, “C’mon Grandma, let’s do like dad asked.” (I was trying to be grown up).  I knew that the small, interdenominational chapel was down on the second floor. When the elevator door opened we moved aside as a priest stepped out and headed down the hallway toward mom’s room. Grandma had tears running down her face but was stoic and got onto the elevator without saying a word. Carolyn and I followed and we went down to the chapel.

The chapel was empty and serenely quiet.  There were about ten small pews on each side of the center aisle. Flowers had been placed on the plain, flat altar that was up front. A stained glass window of an angel was centered high up on the wall in back of the altar. There were no kneelers so we sat down and began to say the rosary together. Grandma broke down and began to sob. I remember putting my arm around her and crying  too. Carolyn leaned her head into my other shoulder and cried along with us.

I have no idea how long we were there but we did pray two rosaries together. At some point in time a nurse came in and asked us to please come back to mom’s room. We were a bit shocked because the nurse was smiling and definitely not somber. Grandma asked the nurse, “How is my Lily? How is my Lily?” Can I see her?”

“Please ma’am, just go back upstairs. You can see her. She is anxious to see you.” Grandma, on her worn out arthritic knees actually tried to run to get back to her daughter. I hurried after her as she had just, for the moment, shredded 30 years of age.

When we walked into the room we were confronted with a sight to behold. Mom was sitting up in the bed, smiling. Dad was next to her leaning against the bed with his arm around her shoulder. He was sporting a grin that went from ear to ear and tears were streaming down his face. Standing on the other side of the bed was the priest we had seen leaving the elevator.  He was just standing with his hands clasped together and a look on his face I cannot describe. I did not know it but for me this was to  be a moment etched in time and I can still see that ‘moment’ as clear as I did then.

Our mom, who we were sure was dead or almost dead, extended her arms and said, “Well, don’t I get a hug from you two? C’mon, get over here.”

Carolyn ran over and I sheepishly walked. Dad stayed right where he was and then Grandma had her turn. She had mom’s face between her hands and was saying over and over,  “Oh mein Gott, Oh mein Gott”, (Oh my God in German).

Inexplicably, Mom was better, ALL better. Her arms were clear, her face had color, and her eyes were bright and cheerful. There were several doctors outside the room in deep conversation with each other. They were baffled and had no explanation for her sudden recovery. We learned that Mom had Leukemia and, in 1960, your chances with that disease were virtually non-existent. Dad had asked us to go to the chapel and pray because the doctors had told him she had only a very short time to live and he wanted to spare us having to watch her die. It did not happen. My father and the priest believed they had witnessed a miracle. Grandma, Carolyn and I had seen the results of that miracle. Mom came home the next afternoon.

Christmas fell on Sunday in 1960 so it was still a week away. All the heretofore stifled Christmas “spirit” suddenly exploded in the Peterson house. By Tuesday a tree had been bought and was up and decorated.  Mom was the tinsel expert and she, with Carolyn as her pupil, finished the tree off by meticulously hanging the shiny aluminum strands one at a time. Mom and Grandma baked cookies and cakes and pies and there was singing as they did their work and neighbors stopped by all week long with Christmas cheer and greetings. It turned out that the Christmas of 1960 was probably the best Christmas any of us had ever had.  Monsignor Martin even mentioned Mom at midnight Mass and how she and her family were given the great gift of her recovery during Christmas.

Danny’s birthday was January 12 and he was about to turn eleven.  Johnny’s birthday was January 17 and he was going to be two. Mom continued to remain healthy and strong and both boys had great birthdays.  The discoloration on Mom’s arms began to make its reappearance around a week after Johnny’s birthday. Mom tried to hide it but she could not.

She began to get weaker and weaker and by the beginning of February she was back in the hospital. On February 18, 1961, exactly two months after our family Christmas miracle, Mom passed away. We had all been granted one more Christmas to share with the lady of our house and home. It was the most beautiful Christmas we ever had.

copyright©2014 Larry Peterson

 


The “Piano Smile” A Christmas Season Moment

Through the fog of Alzheimer’s–The Piano Smile

 

By Larry Peterson

What follows happened several years ago. The time or date does not matter but the moment is timeless.

Occasionally a smile unexpectedly bursts forth from someone and transforms the day into pure sunshine. That person might be a spouse, your child, a relative, a friend, or even a stranger. This is about one of those smiles. This smile came from my wife, Marty.

Marty was diagnosed with cancer (lymphoma) in 2010. After many cycles of chemotherapy, the cancer seemed to be in remission. But her memory had been slipping and three years later she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. As her primary caregiver, what I had learned was that   Marty had taken a journey (as do all Alzheimer victims) into a nether world, a nether world with an ever-vanishing landscape of what once was. An invisible eraser had entered her mind and was moving back and forth, making her memory vanish with its incessant woosh, woosh.

My task as her caregiver was to do my best to guide her through the ever-increasing unknown world she had entered. If that sounds bizarre, unusual, or weird, that’s because it was. I, as do all caregivers to those with this illness, do our best to navigate this strange world where nothing is ever the same and every day is unpredictable.

Patches of beauty in a world of expanding nothingness

The nether world mentioned does have patches of beauty, little islands if you will, strewn randomly about the expanding nothingness. What follows is about finding one of these little islands, stopping there and thanking God for the moment. These moments were one of my perks. I never knew when they would appear but, when they did, I was always grateful.

Two years before, Marty had fallen and broken her right ankle. It was a severe break that required surgical repair. The rebuilding process included the use of various pins and screws. The course to recovery included time in a rehab center, ongoing physical therapy at home, and increased doctor visits. The Alzheimer’s had rapidly exacerbated. I realized that the combination of trauma, hospitalization, surgery, anesthesia, rehab, and time away from home contributed to her rapid cognitive decline. Breaking her ankle had just added ‘fuel to the Alzheimer’s fire.”

Marty began complaining of pain in her surgically repaired ankle the day before Thanksgiving, 2016.  Thanksgiving Day, the ankle was discolored and quite swollen. She could not stand up, and even touching it resulted in severe pain.  Our Thanksgiving holiday proved to be far from traditional.

The first thing Friday I brought her to the doctor. He immediately knew it was seriously infected and prescribed antibiotics. The medication did not help, and by Tuesday she was in the hospital. Thursday her ankle was operated on, and all the hardware was removed. They cleaned the infection from the site the best they could. However, the infection had traveled deep into her bone—Onward to a rehab facility.

Marty was taken by ambulance from the hospital to Bon Secours, Maria Manor, in St. Petersburg, Fl. I arrived a bit after she did. When I walked into the lobby and down the hall, to my right was the chapel, and to my left a spacious room they used for events. In the rear corner of this room, I noticed a grand piano sitting quietly by itself, minding its own business. Marty, who began playing the piano at the age of six, always talked about how she wished she could play a Grand Piano.  My “wheels” began spinning, and an idea was born.

We had a piano at home, and she played it every day. The Alzheimer’s Disease had not seemed to have affected that part of the brain, and she could still read and play music. But she would not play in front of people. She even shut the front door when she played at home so no one would hear her (that drove me a bit crazy). Anyway, I was determined to get her to sit at that Grand Piano and begin fingering those keys. I knew it would be no easy task.

“that’s a Grand Piano in the corner”

She had been admitted on Saturday evening, and on Sunday afternoon I got her into the wheelchair and took her for a tour of her temporary home (She was to be there until at least the beginning of January–maybe longer). We took the elevator down to the first floor and somehow “managed” to find our way into the event room. No one was in there, and I said, “Hey–check it out, Marty. That’s a Grand Piano in the corner. Let’s take a look.”

My goal was to get her to simply sit on the stool. She refused. I knew that timing was everything, and this was not the time. She would not remember that we were there, so I would have to choose a better time and a better way of introducing her to the piano. Sometimes people with Alzheimer’s do not remember things that happened minutes earlier.

Tuesday, I managed to get her to slide out of the wheelchair and onto the piano stool.  She felt the keys and grinned. Then she got back into the wheelchair. Thursday was the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, and I knew in my gut this would be the day. I brought sheet music with me from home and stuck it in the pouch in the back of the wheelchair. She had no idea.

Thursday, I took her down to the chapel for the 11 a.m. Mass.  Mass ended at 11:45, and I casually began pushing the wheelchair toward the side entrance of the event room. She had no idea where we were going, but before she knew it, she was next to that Grand Piano. This time she pushed herself up and immediately sat on the stool. Her fingers instinctively reached for the keys in front of her. At first, they remained still.

Slowly her fingers began to feel their way around the keys under them. They were not pushing down, but I knew the moment had come. I reached into the pouch behind her and pulled out sheet music. I placed it in front of her and softly said, “Here ya go.”

Her fingers began to move—

Her fingers began to move, and the next thing I knew that event room was filled with the music of the Skater’s Waltz. They say a “picture says a thousand words” so I quickly grabbed my phone and took her picture. We had landed on one of those little islands of beauty and the “Piano Smile” captured in the photo proved that to be true.  For me, that “Piano Smile” is one of the greatest Christmas gifts I have ever received.

She did not remember being there and she had no idea that more than 30 people filtered in and took seats to listen to her playing. I did bring her back again and I showed her the photo I had taken. I had it enlarged and framed. When I showed her, she stared at it and stared at it and then tears came to her eyes. I was not sure what was happening inside her head but I believed there was some ‘remembering” going on.

I insisted on bringing Marty home earlier than they had planned and her doctor agreed. .She came home Christmas Eve. The Alzheimer’s and lymphoma combined to take her on her final journey March 27, 2017.I still have the picture and her Piano Smile lives on.

Merry Christmas  to everyone

Copyright©Larry Peterson 2022

 

 


The Thanksgiving Day Parade and the Hot Chocolate Miracle

Macy's Thanksgiving day Parade

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade from “back when”    wikipedia common

The Thanksgiving Day Parade and the Hot Chocolate Miracle

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

 


One Legend of the Jack-O-Lantern—Fact or Fiction

  Jack-O-Lantern   en.wikipedia.org

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

 


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

All Saint’s Day                                      achristianpilgrim.com

By Larry Peterson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Congregation must be sure before moving forward. If they decide the candidate has been a person of “heroic virtue,” they are declared “Venerable,” and their cause moves on towards the next step; Beatification. Except in the cases of martyrdom, Beatification requires one miracle. The candidate’s character and holiness have already been established, but having a miracle attributed to someone can take centuries. If a person has been killed for their faith, they have been martyred “In Odium Fidei,” which means “In hatred of the faith.”

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

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

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

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

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

 

Copyright© Larry Peterson  2022

 


Pope St. Pius V saved Christianity—he is known as the Pope of the Holy Rosary

The Pope of the Holy Rosary; Pius V

By Larry Peterson

October is the month of the Holy Rosary. During the month we might also acknowledge the person known as the Pope of the Rosary, Pope St. Pius V.

In 1517, Martin Luther, a Catholic priest, posted his 95 Theses on the door of a church in Wittenberg, Germany. Within the Catholic world, a great theological revolt ensued. This revolt spread throughout Europe and it was focused on many of the practices taking place within the church at the time, such as the selling of indulgences, papal authority, and Transubstantiation. This “revolt” is more commonly known as the Protestant Reformation.

The Catholic Church did not begin to confront the Reformation seriously until Pope Paul III convened the Council of Trent in the year 1545.   This was to be a mammoth undertaking as virtually all church doctrines had been challenged by the Reformation including the Real Presence and the validity of the sacraments.

The Council did not adjourn until 1563, eighteen years after its inception. A period of 46 years had elapsed since the 95-Theses were first posted. But the final pronouncements of the Council had yet to be enacted and sealed as doctrinal law. Three years after the Council adjourned Michael Cardinal Ghislieri was elected to the papacy. He took the name of Pope Pius V.

Pope Pius V was a devout priest who found his strength in Christ crucified. He also held a deep devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. His first acts as pontiff were to give approval to the changes instituted by the Council of Trent and immediately implement the reforms set forth.

Pope Pius V codified the Tridentine Mass (Latin Mass) as the primary Mass for the Roman Church, He authorized a revised breviary and a new Roman Catechism and Missal. He approved the Council’s teachings that Christ is present in both the consecrated bread and the consecrated wine. The Mass was defined as a TRUE sacrifice and he approved doctrinal statements on the sacraments of Holy Orders and Matrimony. He also affirmed church teachings on Purgatory and indulgences. He would quickly have much more to do. The Turks of the Ottoman Empire were determined to conquer Europe and Rome.

Deeply devoted to our Lady, Pope Pius V, issued a document in 1569 called a Papal Bull . This document was called, Consueverunt Romani Pontifices (On the Rosary) and it set in place the permanent format for the Rosary, the same which is used today. This is the same Rosary that our Lady presented to St. Dominic in 1214.

The greatest challenge at the time to the papacy of Pius V and to the Catholic Church was the Ottoman Empire. Pius V understood the intense desire of the Muslim Turks to conquer the entire Mediterranean area. Just as it is today, jihad, had been declared by the Muslim imams and Pope Pius V knew full well this was spiritual war about to be waged.

Pope Pius called together the Christian nations of Europe and formed them into what became known as the Holy League. Both Protestants and Catholics from different nations came together under the guidance of Pope Pius V to fight back against the Ottoman Turks. Pope Pius asked all Catholics to pray the Rosary asking for our Lady’s intercession when the battle ensued.

And so it was that on October 7, 1571, the Battle of Lepanto, took place.  As the Pope and thousands of his followers prayed the Rosary the Battle of Lepanto began. Under the military leadership of Don Juan of Austria, the Christian fleet won a resounding victory over the more powerful Ottoman Turks. This battle literally saved Christendom and western civilization. Pope Pius V declared that from that day on, the day would be called The Feast Day of Our Lady of Victory. Today it is called The Feast Day of Our Lady of the Rosary.

The papacy of Pope Pius V lasted a mere six years. During his reign, he led the forces of “good against the forces of “evil” literally saving Christianity throughout Europe. He gave all credit to our Blessed Mother and today she bears the title of Our Lady of the Rosary.

Pope Pius V also set in place the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass which was unchanged for over 400 years (until Vatican II), established the doctrines of Transubstantiation and the Real Presence, restored discipline in seminaries, and republished the Roman Breviary and the Roman Missal. He was canonized a saint on May 22, 1712 by Pope Clement XI.  How honored he must be to be called the Pope of the Holy Rosary.

Pope St. Pius V please pray for us.

copyright Larry Peterson (2017) 2022


This College Kid Can Teach All of Us a Lesson*

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME 

By Larry Peterson

Celebrating the Founder of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, Blessed Frederick Ozanam:   

September 7 is his Feast Day   (First posted in 2016)

Most Catholics know of the St. Vincent de Paul Society. The Society has been helping people in need for over 180 years. What most Catholics do not know is that St. Vincent de Paul is not the founder of the society. It is simply named after him because of his lifelong example of Christian charity. So, if it was not founded by St. Vincent de Paul where did it come from? How did it begin? What does St. Vincent de Paul have to do with it?
 
This is the very first paragraph from the Mission Statement of the St. Vincent de Paul Society
 
Inspired by Gospel values, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, a Catholic lay organization, leads women and men to join together to grow spiritually by offering person-to-person service to those who are needy and suffering in the tradition of its founder, Blessed Frédéric Ozanam, and patron, St. Vincent de Paul.”
 

As you finish that paragraph you will notice the name of Frederick Ozanam. Please, take a moment to meet him here. He happens to be the founder of the oldest Catholic charity in the United States of America, The St. Vincent de Paul Society.

Bl. Frederick Ozanam (as young man) courtesy slideshare.net

Frederick Ozanam was born in Milan, Italy in 1813. He was the fifth of fourteen children of Jean and Marie Ozanam and only one of three who lived into adulthood. The family moved to Lyons, France and this was where Frederick grew up. As a teenager the young man was strongly influenced by the elitists of the day and his Catholic faith began to waiver. Frederick fought his doubts and overcame them. Vowing to consecrate himself to the defense of his faith he moved to Paris. He was 18 years old.

 
Frederick entered the University of Paris and took up journalism. He made friends with some other young Catholic men and soon he and a few of his new friends were involved in vigorous debates among secular students who challenged their preaching for lack of action.
 
The secularists told them that maybe ‘long ago’ the Catholic Church was a benefactor of humanity but those days were over. They were then asked what they were doing for people now? Frederick and his pals had no answer. They were laughed at and told they were hypocrites and basically did nothing but talk.
 
Frederick’s friend, Augustus Le Tailandier, asked Frederick if they might be able to put together a small group of Catholics to bring to action the Gospel message of “doing” instead of just ”talking”. Thus was born the “Conference of Charity”. This small group of Catholic/Christian young men who would not only devote themselves to helping the needy but would also advance Christian friendship.
 
Frederick had been submitting copy to Joseph Emmanuel Bailly who published the Tribune Catholique. He asked Mr. Bailly what he thought of their idea. He liked it so much that he joined Frederick and together they and four other young men held their very first meeting on April 23, 1833. Frederick Ozanam was 20 years old.
 
At that first meeting Emmanuel Bailly sent Frederick to see Sister Rosalie Rendu, a “Daughter of Charity”. Sister Rosalie became Frederick’s mentor and set him and his fledgling organization on its course by focusing them on doing “home visits” to those in need. This method of interaction was to become the primary way members would interact with those seeking their help. It remains that way to this day.
 
 In the spirit of St. Vincent de Paul, the founder of her order, she also taught Frederick and his followers the techniques of helping the poor and the sick by being compassionate and always treating people with their God given dignity. They invoked St. Vincent de Paul as their patron and named the group, in his honor, The St. Vincent de Paul Society.
 
Frederick Ozanam and his friends could never have dreamed of the way the Society would grow. Within 12 years from its inception it
had spread to Italy, England, Belgium, Scotland and the United States. The society chose St. Louis, Missouri as its headquarters in America and to this day the National Council of The St. Vincent de Paul Society USA is located there.
 
Today in the United States there are more than 160,000 trained volunteers who provide almost 12 million hours of volunteer service helping those in need. There are close to 750,000 members doing volunteer work all around the world. And all of it was started by a 20 year old kid responding to the graces showered down upon him and inspiring those around him to join in his quest to stop “talking and start doing”.
Frederick Ozanam was beatified on August 22, 1997 by Pope John Paul II. His mentor, Sister Rosalie, was beatified on November 9, 2003. We ask them both for their continued prayers for all of us, especially those in need.

*An edited version of this article appeared in Aleteia on August 15, 2016
 
                                 ©Larry Peterson 2016  All Rights Reserved

You cannot love the child’s home and then kill the child.

By Larry Peterson

A Person’s a Person : End of Story

A Person’s A Person No Matter How Small  (Dr. Seuss)

The drums of Climate Change are pounding harder and harder every day. School children are being indoctrinated about the cataclysm posed to destroy the Mother Planet. Purveyors of the “existential threat” about to waste us are in our face 24/7. We hear about the “science” of climate change and that we should embrace it. If you do not, you are labeled a “denier.” We have been told that Miami will be underwater in three years and the world will end in ten.  The projected Ice Age of the year 2000 never happened but trouble is still coming to get us. So say the “experts.”

In religion, if you deny a tenet of faith such as the Divinity of Jesus Christ, you would be classified as a “heretic.”  It seems we have finally advanced the theory of Climate Change into the Church of Climate Change. Yes, it is a theory, and a theory means MAYBE or POSSIBLY (Evolution is a theory—not a fact; Gravity is a Law—it is a fact).

In my opinion, the Climate Change hysteria reached new heights on September 18, 2019. That was the day that NBC, the National Broadcasting Company, presented the  Climate Change Confessional to the world. This was a place where Climate Change “deniers” could confess their Climate Change “sins.” Yes, they could now admit their sins anonymously, cleansing their consciences of harm they caused to the planet. God gave Moses the Ten Commandments about 3500 years ago.  Now, in the 21st century, NBC has given the world six Climactic Commandments: they are as follows:

  • Thou shalt not use plastic, including straws, bottles, etc.
  • thou shalt not eat meat (cows, pigs, turkey), etc.
  • thou shalt not use energy (natural resources such as oil, natural gas, coal), etc.
  • thou shalt not use transportation (cars, planes, all vehicles propelled by fossil fuels).
  • thou shalt not use paper (does that mean toilet paper?—must mean paper plates)
  • thou shalt not waste food (i.e., leftover kale must be eaten ).

Those are the first six commandments of Climate Change. The good news was there were “climate sins” posted anonymously by others for you to reference. Sort of an examination of your climate conscience. Yes, my friends, you can unburden yourself of your “Climate Sins” in the NBC “Climate Confessional” and do it anonymously. The concept is not new; we Catholics have been going to Confession for 2000 years. (The big difference is a priest will give his life rather than violate the Seal of Confession. I don’t know if an NBC employee would go that far).

The Democratic candidates running for president are all in favor of abortion. Most of them believe in abortion up to birth. Many, including myself (the father of a stillborn daughter who did not survive past the sixth month of pregnancy), consider that infanticide. The definition of infanticide is as follows:

Infanticide

[in-fan-tuh-sahyd]

noun

  • the act of killing an infant
  • the practice of killing newborn infants
  • a person who kills an infant

Many people proclaim that they believe in God. Many claim the Bible as God’s word. I am a Catholic, but this piece is non-denominational. It is for any and all who believe in a Creator. Many who proclaim God proclaim their fears about Climate Change and want to save the planet. Mother Earth is their home—it is my home. It is every living being’s home. So that makes sense—let us be kind to our home.

However, I believe that many of those who are pro-abortion also proclaim that they believe in God. It follows that they all believe in His creation, the Universe, wherein our planet resides. The following high-profile Democrats are all in when it comes to Climate Change. They are also all in when it comes to being pro-abortion. They are all hypocrites and include:

  •  Joe Biden—Catholic
  • Robert Beto O’Rourke—Catholic
  • Cory Booker—Baptist
  • Kamala Harris—Baptist
  • Amy Klobuchar—United Church of Christ
  • Bernie Sanders—Jewish
  • Elizabeth Warren—Methodist
  • John Delaney—Catholic
  • Andrew Yang—Christian Reformed Church
  • Pete Buttigieg—Episcopalian

Proclaiming your belief in God and His creation and wanting to protect it is a noble thing to do. But you cannot leave out the most essential part of God’s creation and make-believe it is NOTHING just to save your politics. It is not only hypocritical; it is downright shameful.

All the religions listed above proclaim and teach the Ten Commandments. They are the Law handed down by God himself to Moses on Mount Sinai. That is how it has been for over three thousand years. If you want to reject it and mock it, knock yourself out. But don’t stand there and proclaim your Godly ways when you willingly are ready to destroy God’s most precious creation, a newborn child. Yes—the most important and magnificent creation of the very God you proclaim.

The Bible says that God made the Universe out of nothing. It took Him six biblical days, and he began with light and then the heavens and the planets and the land and the oceans and the plants, followed by the living things. Then, on the sixth day, God created His masterpiece, the Human Being, both man and woman, and told them to be fruitful and multiply. God looked at what He had done and was pleased. Lastly, on day seven, He took a well-deserved rest.

So I ask; how can people of faith embrace the parts of creation that they can use for their advantage, i.e., Climate Change, and reject with a dogged determination the commandment that says “Thou shalt not kill.’ You cannot because doing so makes you all “DENIERS.” The science is in and according to all the experts, the science is fact—human life begins at the moment of Conception. So how can anyone embrace the child’s home and then kill the child? You can if you are the ultimate hypocrite.

Yes—all you promoters of infanticide, partial-birth, and third-trimester abortion are the real DENIERS of truth. You have compromised your integrity and character for a political agenda. NBC might consider referring those they have directed to Climate Confessionals to the pastors of their respective churches. They can ask their opinions on Climate Confessions when they get there. Somehow, I doubt they will give that referral.

Copyright©Larry Peterson 2022  (original version published 2019)