Category Archives: Christmas

“Ad Orientem”—the Symbolism is Truly Beautiful

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

Long ago, in a Church somewhat different, I was an altar boy (it was pre Vatican II and we never used the term altar server). It was a time when the Mass was said in Latin and the priest always faced “ad orientem”. (This actually means “toward the east” but, since so many churches do not have their altars facing east, it also refers to the priest offering the Holy Sacrifice with his back to the people.

Ad Orientem (Solemn High Latin Mass)  http://southernorderspage
The reason for this symbolism is profound and beautiful.  The sun rises in the east and we are coming out of the darkness to see the sun. The priest, who will stand in the shoes of Christ during the Consecration, is facing the newly risen sun, ergo, God. At that moment, the priest, upon elevating the consecrated host toward the EAST, is actually Jesus saying to God, “This is MY body which will be given for you. Then the consecrated wine is also elevated to the Father.”

When offering Mass “ad orientem” the priest has no distractions that are facing him. The congregation behind him is, in effect, present at the Last Supper. The altar boy would ring the bells to bring attention to this miraculous moment taking place before our very eyes. The people have just witnessed the most profound mystery of our faith and it all took place in only a few minutes.

And there we kneel, the faithful, some watching and adoring the Body and Blood of Christ while many others are looking around, fidgeting, checking their watches, yawning, skimming through the church bulletin they should have read when they got home, not having a clue as to what is going on at the Mass they are attending. But that’s okay because at least they made it to Mass and are not home “sleeping in”. What has just happened is beyond description and the very answer to life itself. Yet it all presents to many as a grand paradox.

A friend of mine, his name is Jeff, was injured in an accident years ago. He has a pronounced limp and uses a cane. Every week he comes to Sunday Mass and sits in the exact same seat. Every Sunday, without fail, he gets up at the beginning of the Consecration and slowly limps off to the bathroom. He always comes back after the wine is consecrated. He receives Holy Communion and, at a slightly accelerated pace, leaves Church before communion is even finished being distributed.  There are several others who, without fail, come every Sunday and miss the Consecration. They must not have a clue as to what is going on yet there they are, week after week.

Of course we all just had are influx of the C & E Catholics for Christmas. Although not “packed”, my church was definitely crowded. Interestingly, most every person at Mass received Holy Communion. Am I getting paradoxical yet? Is this why we have the phrase, “cafeteria Catholics” in our 21st century Catholic jargon?

Back in 1966, when Pope Benedict XVI was still Joseph Ratzinger, he said, “Is it actually that important to see the priest in the face or is it not truly healing to think that he is also another Christian like all the others and that he is turning with them towards God and to say with everyone ‘Our Father’?”

Pope Benedict XVI showed his love of ‘ad orientem’ 50 years ago. On October 12, 2016, (while meeting with Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, he reiterated his preferences in a reflection letterpublished in L’osservatore Romano: In the liturgy’s orientation to the East, we see that Christians, together with the Lord, want to progress toward the salvation of creation in its entirety. Christ, the crucified and risen Lord, is at the same time also the “sun” that illumines the world. Faith is also always directed toward the totality of creation. Therefore, Patriarch Bartholomew fulfills an essential aspect of his priestly mission precisely with his commitment to creation.”

                                      ©Copyright 2017 Larry Peterson

Five Things to Think of from St Joseph’s Perspective

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

Within the Christmas narrative I am always drawn to how Good St. Joseph must have felt with the responsibility of  caring for and protecting his immediate family, the Blessed Virgin and The Son of God.  As a man, I try to imagine having to confront what Joseph confronted as a  husband and new father. It makes me a bit sick to my stomach imagining myself in his sandals. 
Here are five moments I like to consider: 

St. Joseph, thank you and please pray for all of us.

Let the Children have Santa Claus—He's Heaven Sent and Lives Forever

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

by Larry Peterson

The title of my blog is It Makes Sense To Me.  I’m sure many will feel that the title of 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 3rd 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.

We have just been through the nastiest presidential campaign and election in our life times. Editorials about the candidates were often lies, innuendo, and falsehoods. Therefore, It Makes Sense To Me, to share an editorial from Mr. Francis Pharecellus Church, who was an editorial writer for the old New York Sun. The editorial was about Santa Claus. It was written during a time when there were no radios, phones, televisions, iPads, smart phones 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, It STILL Makes Sense To Me.  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 than 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’.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~photo courtesy  hollywoodreporter.com~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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 scepticism 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 andunseeable 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


Our Greatest Christmas Gift: God’s Earthly Trinity; A Young Man, His Teenage Wife and a Newborn Baby—

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

If it were two thousand years ago and you lived in Nazareth you might notice a young man packing items on a donkey in preparation for a trip. Early the next morning you see this fellow, with his pregnant teenage wife sitting on the back of the burro, heading down the road. They are in compliance with the law of the day. They are on their way to Bethlehem, the town of their ancestor’s birth, for the census.
We know so little about the lives of Joseph and Mary, yet they are THE integral part of the Salvation story.  Mary’s acceptance of a pregnancy that might have resulted in her being stoned to death as an adulteress was an act of monumental humility. Joseph, a good man and a faithful Jew true to the law, accepted a pregnant woman as his wife, another act of extreme humility. (Imagine how much he must have loved this young woman)

Holy Family  & First Christmas  from Pineterest

To complete this humble family was none other than God Himself. The Creator of all that isbecame like one of His creations. He could have come in a majestic way, surrounded by armies and servants and glitter and pomp. He chose to come to us in the womb of his mom, just like all of us. He allowed Himself to be born among the animals in a cave. As He began His earthly life His body was wrapped in cloth and then placed on straw. Why would He do it this way?

He did it to show us…show us Goodness, show us Love and show us how to give those things from within ourselves.  Foremost, He did it to save us, save us from ourselves and Satan’s favorite tool, Pride, which had brought down Adam and Eve. The Holy Family was, and still is, the complete and perfect embodiment of Humility. It remains so to this very day. Of course, the antidote to Pride is Humility. 
Isn’t God amazing in the way He does things? This is the story of our Salvation and the rebirth of Hope. This Salvation became available to all people for all time and its success was entrusted to a couple of have-not young people whose humility and love of God enabled them to conquer the seemingly impossible.
Guided by the Holy Spirit they united in marriage. Then, absorbed by each other’s love they took on the world. They traveled to Bethlehem while Mary was full term, a three to five day journey on the back of a donkey. Joseph walked guiding the donkey. Mary gave birth in a cave surrounded by smelly animals and filth and they watched and marveled as poor shepherds and rich kings worshipped their child side by side.
They managed to escape the soldiers of King Herod, who were trying to kill their newborn Son.  Imagine the fear in Joseph as he wondered how he could protect his little family from the forces of evil. And, lest we forget, he also got them safely to Egypt, about three hundred miles away. He must have been something. We know the rest of the story.
If you take a moment to ponder all that happened and how it happened and why it happened, it will leave you breathless. And then we remember it was all done for all of us. There was nothing done for themselves, not one thing. We need to get back to what “Family” is and the Holy Family is the model to build on.
We must never forget that within that family it was the husband and father who protected his wife and Son from the evils of the world. The Son humbled Himself and gave his life for us all.  And the Mom, our Mom too, the most humble of all women ever, stands ever vigilant and  ready to crush the head of the evil serpent who might harm any of her children. In so doing she is protecting all of us for all eternity. She is our protection against all wickedness. When we ask for her protection we cover ourselves with an impenetrable shield.
Fittingly, the Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of the Holy Family on the Sunday following Christmas. There are millions of folks who never pay an iota of attention to this family. Maybe it is time that they should for this is the family that “set the bar” for all families for all time.
The Salvation story comprises the greatest acts of human Love, Goodness and Humility ever. Mary, Joseph and their boy, Jesus, encompassed by an unconditional love for God and each other, offers that love to all of us.  God’s earthly Trinity has shown us the way.
How can anyone NOT Love Christmas?  

                                       ©Copyright Larry Peterson 2016 All Rights Reserved

Massacring Children; 2000 Years and Counting

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

Since I find myself still filled with the wondrous spirit of the Christmas season I have decided that this will be my final blog post for 2015. I am simply doing everything I can to keep that upbeat feeling a bit longer. I don’t care. I like it and I want to feel it and enjoy it a few more days. But right now I am going to smash that spirit with a right uppercut that will stagger it for sure. I am counting on my shaking it off and getting on with the true spirit of the season, feeling the peace and love that exploded all over.

Here is how it is (I am just speaking for me). We have the great celebration of the Birth of Christ and the next day we honor the very first martyr, St. Stephen, stoned to death for teaching about Jesus. Two days after that, on December 28th, we honor the Holy Innocents. In case you are unfamiliar with who the Holy Innocents are they are the baby boys massacred by King Herod in his quest to kill the Christ child. Herod, a seedy man insecure in his own pathetic skin, was afraid of toddlers. What a ‘man’. Anyway, those remembrances can short-circuit that whole peace and love thing going on.

The gospel reading for the Mass of the day  is about when Herod, in a fit of rage, ordered the slaughter of all baby boys, two and under, in Bethlehem and surrounding areas. He did this because he feared the Messiah, whose birth had been told to him by the visiting Magi. The gospel for the Mass ends this way:

The Gospel of Matthew 2: 17-18 reads;
Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah the prophet: (31: 15)
 A Voice was heard in Ramah,
sobbing and loud lamentation;
Rachel weeping for her children,
and she would not be consoled,
Since they were no more.

“Little Christy” pinterest.com

People have been massacring children for thousands of years. Last year I posted this picture of a child I named “Little Christy”. It is probably…no, it is, the most heinous, disgusting photo I have ever seen.  This Innocent was killed because she was a Christian. Her mom was murdered first and then, satanic fueled  terrorists, whose souls have been blackened by an unimaginable demonic presence in each and every one of them, staged this propaganda photo to strike fear into the people in Iraq and Syria and everywhere else they could do so. A picture says a thousand words and this one says it all. King Herod on one end of the spectrum of two thousand years and Little Christy on the other end with ISIS wielding not only knives and swords but also automatic weapons. How “brave” these killers are.

The photo below is from the Holocaust in Germany. sometime in 1943. This is a photograph of truth. This is what people do to people. And the most innocent of all, the children, are included.

History is filled with the destruction of people by other people. Here are links just to those genocides from the 20th century. This link will take you to all listed below:

Let us not forget the unborn, those in the womb, those unseen  who quietly call out to us all to please help them. Humankind has slaughtered over 50 million of these little people and the numbers are continuing to escalate. 
Finally, euthanasia is becoming an accepted means for people to end their lives “on their own terms”. In the United States, Oregon, Washington State, Vermont and Montana and “parts” of New Mexico have Euthanasia laws on the books. These laws are referred to as “Death with Dignity” laws. But the nation of Belgium, an upscale European nation of 7 million (two-thirds catholic) approved euthanasia for children.  Why not–lets let the little ones decide for themselves whether or not they like living. That’s “full circle” for you; from being murdered to being able to murder yourself—at any age
So now, as we approach the year 2016, children are being tortured, enslaved, and murdered…all over the world. ISIS has beheaded, crucified, drowned and burned countless children because they are considered “infidels”. Amazingly, there are some here in the United States, a supposedly highly civilized nation, who believe that Americans who have a different political viewpoint than they do, are more of an enemy to humanity than these monsters we speak of and hear of every day. 
The bottom line to all of this is; there is a war between Good and Evil. Satan exists and is having his way. He can never win the war but the damage he will have done before he and his followers are vanquished is hard to predict. And the children of today are still being turned into HOLY INNOCENTS  more than two millennia later. The Western world must wake up. The secularist worldview is wreaking havoc on society as God is continually taken out of our lives by the self-absorbed “meists” of today. We owe something to mankind and especially to the innocent children who, for the most part, just want to be lov
ed.
I’m done. I will now try to recapture a bit of the Christmas spirit that I have temporarily tossed aside. I am sure I will find some left somewhere. There are many millions of us who embrace GOD and LOVE and we can take solace in the fact that  GOD is LOVE. I know HE has our backs. Happy New Year to everyone.
                                               ©Larry Peterson 2015 All Rights Reserved

Two Teenagers, A Child and Christmas–a Perfect Mix

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME


By Larry Peterson
If it were two thousand years ago and you lived in Nazareth you might notice a young man packing items on a donkey in preparation for a trip. Early the next morning you see this fellow, with his pregnant teenage wife sitting on the back of the burro, heading down the road. They are in compliance with the law of the day. They are embarking on a three or four day journey to Bethlehem, the town of their ancestors’ birth, for the census.
We know so little about the lives of Joseph and Mary, yet they are THE integral part of the Salvation story.  Mary’s acceptance of a pregnancy that might have resulted in her being stoned to death as an adulteress was an act of monumental humility. Joseph, a good man and a faithful Jew true to the law, accepted a pregnant woman as his wife, another act of extreme humility.
To complete this humble family was none other than God Himself. The Creator of all  there is became like one of His creations. He could have come in a majestic way, surrounded by armies and servants and glitter and pomp. He chose to come to us in the womb of his mom, just like all of us. He allowed Himself to be born among the animals in a cave. As He began His earthly life His body was wrapped in cloth and then placed on straw. 


Why would He do this? He did it to show us Goodness, show us Love and show us how to do it.  Finally He did it to save us, save us from ourselves and Satan’s favorite tool, Pride, which had brought down Adam and Eve. The Holy Family was and still is, the complete and perfect embodiment of Humility. It remains so to this very day. Of course, the antidote to Pride is Humility. 
Isn’t God amazing in the way He does things? This is the story of our Salvation and the rebirth of Hope. This Salvation became available to all people for all time and its success was entrusted to a couple of have-not teens whose humility and love of God enabled them to conquer the seemingly impossible. They married against incredible odds and traveled to Bethlehem while Mary was full term. Joseph walked guiding the donkey, protecting his young wife the entire time. Mary gave birth in a cave surrounded by smelly animals and filth and then they managed to escape the soldiers of King Herod who were trying to kill their newborn Son. Lest we forget, they somehow made it to Egypt, about three hundred miles away. We know the rest of the story.
We must never forget that within that family it was the husband and father who protected his wife and Son from the evils of the world. The Son humbled Himself and gave his life for us all.  And the Mom, our Mom too, the most humble woman ever created, stands ever vigilant ready to crush the head of the evil serpent who might harm any of her children. In so doing she is protecting all of her “children” (which includes you and I) for all eternity. She is our protection against all wickedness. Humility conquers pride. Just look to the Holy Family.

If you take a moment to truly ponder all that happened and how it happened and why it happened, it might leave you breathless. And then we remember it was all done for all of us. There was nothing done for themselves, not one thing. We need to get back to “Family” and the Holy Family is the model to build on. 
The Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of the Holy Family on the Sunday following Christmas. If you are among the millions of folks who never pay an iota of attention to this family, maybe you should. Why? Because this is the family that “set the bar” for all families. Comprised of two teenagers, Mary and Joseph and their boy, Jesus, their unconditional love for God and each other cannot be surpassed.  The Salvation story comprises the greatest acts of combined Love and Humility ever.
                                 ©Larry Peterson 2015 All Rights Reserved

"HEADS UP" America! Drones are the Season's Hottest Gift

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

Yessiree, I always love the Christmas season.  It is my  favorite time of the year for sure. I always, “tongue in cheek”, brag that I still believe in Santa. The truth is, down deep inside of me there is a place that only I can go. I call it Stillness. When I travel to Stillness, Santa is always there. So is the  most beautiful Christmas tree I have ever seen and a lifesize manger with moving people (guess who).  I could go on about my favorite place but I have already revealed too much personal info and, if I am being monitored by the NSA or CIA or Starbucks, I could be profiled. Anyway, I have been momentarily kicked out of Stillness. My reality check started with the Sunday newspaper ads.

Trying to acquire some knowledge about today’s toy market (in case I need something to discuss with my grandkids at Christmas dinner) I flip open the Sunday flyer from Target. Immediately stunned, I know I must be looking at the ad of the year; it reads… “ready for takeoff” —-“Drones are the season’s hottest gift”. I can feel the instant pulsing coming from my temples.

The advertisement is for the Parrot Airborne Nightime mini-drone that flies in the dark with two headlights and an embedded camera. The price is $129.99. Next to the drone ad is a picture of a Darth Vader talking boom box. This page is for kids. Drones for kids??? What??? Oh, before I forget, all that is required to operate the drone is a smart phone or a tablet. Probably every kid in America over five has one of those. And some of those little tykes are pretty tech-savvy (temple pounding begins amping up).

   bestdronesforkids.com

I took a break and tried to get back to  Stillness. It took me until Monday afternoon to get back. Tuesday morning, bright and early and calm and tranquil, I scan the front page of the freshly tossed newspaper. On page one is the picture of a drone. A nice story accompanies the picture. “Santa bringing Drones—You have to register it”.  Yup, it seems that new FAA regulations are in force since Monday because first time flyers must register before flying their drones. You can register online but you have to be 13 or over. That should keep things safe. Headache has begun.

They expect that more than 800,000 drones will be sold this Christmas. Drone owners “are aviators (I had this ridiculous notion that you needed a bit of training to be classified as an aviator) and with that title comes a great deal of responsibility.” U.S. Transportation Secretary, Anthony Fox, said in a statement. “Ya think, Mr. Secretary?” And the FAA estimates that 1.6 million drones will be sold in 2015, more than half in the fourth quarter (in this case ‘fourth quarter’ may be a synonym for Christmas time). In less than two weeks we will have almost 2 million “responsible” drone owners of all ages filling the nation’s skies with their personal flying machines. Ah, progress.

There is a neat little caveat at the end of the advertisement for the Parrot Airborne Nightime mini-drone. It reads, “Prior to piloting your Parrot Drone please make sure you have authorization to pilot in the area you intend to fly. In some areas flying a drone is not permitted ie; such places as military bases, parks, cities and airports. Before starting, check local regulations prior to flying.”
For more information, visit  www.knowbeforeyoufly.org   (I did not make this up).

With less than two weeks to go before Christmas, Barack Obama and his supporters are talking about gun-control and climate change. Islamic terrorists are killing people all over the world including Americans right here at home and all of that has taken a back seat to politics. But now–we have approval for personal drones that kids will be flying near highways, cities, schools and airports, etc. All they need is a five dollar registration fee. I can leave my house right now and go to Walmart or Target and buy a drone for less than a hundred bucks, register online for five dollars more and I am now an ‘aviator’ capable of flying my own drone.. Imagine the possibilities.

I will have to pray and work very hard if I ever want to get back to Stillness. As long as I don’t get hit by a drone coming from the park two blocks away, I know I will make it. I am asking Santa for a football helmet.

                                 ©Larry Peterson 2015 All Rights Reserved