Category Archives: Holy Spirit

Pope Francis–The Foremost Ambassador of Humility

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson                                      

 This is from the Gospel of Luke; Chapter 9: vs 46-50
An argument arose among the disciples about which of them was the greatest.
Jesus realized the intention of their hearts and took a child and placed it by his side and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.  For the one who is least among all of you is the one who is greatest.”
This gospel reading is all about the greatest of all the ‘deadly’ sins, Pride. It is also about the greatest of all ‘heavenly’ virtues, Humility. This is a “clash of the titans” of Evil vs Good. And it makes me think about Pope Francis with his innocent smile and his natural affinity to children and the disabled and downtrodden. It makes me realize that the most famous man on the planet is also the most humble.
 Pope Francis, without trying and by just being who God made him to be, wears this mantle of humility without fanfare, showmanship, pretentiousness or anything that might be self-serving in any manner.

Pope Francis

Yes, he wears that mantle and it is always fastened to his shoulders with the clasp of Love. In so doing he shows the whole world what it means to think of yourself last before all others. (Don’t you love the black shoes he wears)?
Jorge Mario Bergoglio never asked to be a bishop or a cardinal. He never “lobbied” for these positions or sought them out in any way. He did not have “super-pacs” at his beckoned call when the vacancy for Pope opened. He simply loved being a priest, working with the poor and homeless and doing his best to follow God’s call so he would make his life pleasing to Him.
Make no mistake, God called him to the papacy. The secular world mocks that concept but that is why they cannot experience the joy the faithful experience when he visits other countries and millions of these folks turn out to see him, waving and singing and even crying as he goes by. If they could only swallow their damn pride a bit and open their hearts they may find the elusive peace that evades them.
Pope Francis is the successor to St. Peter. He is filled with the Holy Spirit. That Spirit leads him to stop his motorcade and wade into a crowd of children and hug them and kiss their foreheads. It compels him to embrace the crippled, the disfigured, the mentally challenged, the homeless as well as the “uppity-ups”. He has no qualms about walking into a prison and embracing hard-core murderers, rapists, thieves, and drug dealers.
During his stop in Washington, D.C. last year, the Pope visited with President Obama and then, after offering Mass in the Cathedral, made a point of going to the offices of the Little Sisters of the Poor. He was sending a message to the entire world about the solidarity that exists within the Church when it comes to respect for life, ALL life.
That message required no words—just action. The Pope gave that message by meeting with the Sisters who take care of the elderly poor, free of charge and have been doing so since St. Jeanne Jugan founded the order back in 1841. The fact that the Holy Father had just visited with the President of the United States surrounded by the opulence attached to the visit and then, after being cheered by millions as he headed to the Cathedral, mattered not. His smile was broadest while he spent his short time with the Little Sisters of the Poor.
Pope Francis leaves every country he visits a more contented and inspired nation. He reaches out to everyone and many respond. And the reason is so basic; he represents the Goodness and Love that Jesus Christ brings to us. He is His ambassador on earth. He does his work well. But, as is the way of things, after he leaves a place, the pride that consumes humankind comes back and makes itself known again. The good news is, after a Papal Visit, pride has fewer followers.
Thank you Holy Father, for the grace, inspiration, love and example you give us. Hopefully we can get you back to America soon. Our country could use a booster shot of humility, especially in the political arena.

                                         ©Larry Peterson 2016  All Rights Reserved

The Synod has Opened: Hello Media!! It is About FAMILY!!

IT  MAKES SENSE TO ME

by Larry Peterson

The secular media (print & broadcast)  has been salivating over the Synod of Bishops that has officially opened in Rome. They have been pounding the drum about the birth of a NEW church filled with the progressiveness of the “modern, secular world”. They have also completely ignored the reason this Synod has actually been called together. HELLO media, the Synod is about Family.  Stop picking and choosing what you perceive as newsworthy. Do your job. Report the facts. The primary purpose of the Synod is discussing FAMILY.

Have any of you actually read the following. Oh, I guess not. You have been  speculating way before any of this even began. Please, listen to Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri. He is the Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops and in his opening statements said, “Feeling free to express what is believed or what is doubtful shows what distinguishes a human being from other creatures and makes him  a responsible person before God and man.”

“Consequently, discussion at the Synod is to be open. When differences arise, participants in their various roles are called NOT to stress their own interests or point of view but to seek the TRUTH which is not an abstract concept or the result of philosophical or theological speculation, but the person of Christ, the God-man, man born-in-time, and Son of the Father. ‘I am the Way, the Truth and the Life’ (John 14:6). He is the point of of departure. The first evangelizer is Jesus, who came down to walk among us and came to be known by His word and signs and, finally, with the witness of His life.”

Okay, one more time (albeit a bit shorter) “—to seek the TRUTH which is not an abstract concept or the result of philosophical or theological speculation, but the person of Christ, the God-man, man born-in-time, and Son of the Father.”

This Synod, called together by an organization that has been around for over 2000 years, will strive to adhere to the truth. It will do all in its power to defend and protect the bride of Christ which is His Church. It will do all in its power to be compassionate and understanding to all people are are hurting because of certain choices they have made and which are even given approval to by some in the Church. You see, the Catholic Church is guided by the Holy Spirit. (Hey, it really is and I do not care if you do not believe me. You simply have to open your hearts and you might understand. It is a Faith thing, okay.) When the bishops of the world conclave like this they call on the Holy Spirit to guide them. He does and as the cliche goes, “He has their backs”.

I think most people have been conditioned to giving the 1960s rave reviews. The decade began seeing John F. Kennedy elected the first Catholic President of the United States. It ended in a gathering of over 400,000 young people in the town of Bethel, NY. (Originally scheduled to be held in Woodstock, NY, the organizers could not get the necessary permits. It became known as “Woodstock” even though it took place over 40 miles south in Bethel.)  Woodstock had no sanitation facilities, no water except for hoses here and there and it poured rain for almost three days leaving most everyone wallowing in mud. Oh yeah, “It was great!!!”

The mid 60s, with the escalation of the war in Viet Nam and the rise of the “hippie” movement saw antiestablishmentism come under attack. Guys burned their draft cards and gals tore off their bras. This seemed to foment the start of the new generation where living together, premarital sex, birth control, and abortion started to become the new morality.  As we entered the 1970s, the family, as we knew it, was under attack and has been under attack ever since.

In his opening statement at the Synod, Cardinal Baldisseri has called for TRUTH. The truth is that the Family is the very nucleus of society. The Family has its beginning when a man and woman commit to each other and then join together as one in the Sacrament of Matrimony. This is how it is in the Catholic Church. Marriage unites God’s creations, a man and a woman. They vow (before God and man) to take each other and join together and remain together no matter what life hands them, until death separates them. Through the Sacrament they are strengthened and fortified to have the ability to confront all that comes their way. Most importantly, they will unite as one flesh and have children thus continuing the life of the family they have started. As the generations pass by this family grows and grows and the process continues expanding the human race as God planned.

It is not always a perfect marriage. We have this thing called Pride that is within us. We also have the Free Will that God has given us and, because He is perfect,will not ever tamper with. The secular world has promoted very successfully the beauty of self-gratification. Sacrificing for another is often times deemed foolish. The old cliche of “taking care of #1” has resonated in millions of minds. It has also been followed. Children, once thought to be the greatest joy that a husband and wife might be gifted with, are now planned and prepared for by having all the perceived material things that are deemed necessary to have before a trying to have children. Same sex couples are preaching the sermon that they have a right to “have” children too, even though this can never be and they must adopt or use an artificial means of having a child. The Church can never sanction these attitudes and these actions. In the Church the FAMILY is united in a Sacramental action and that is  how it is. This is what the media does not understand nor does it try to understand.

Everyone must remember that Marriage is not the key topic of the Synod of Bishops. FAMILY is and marriage begets a new family. The church leaders will do their best to promote a compassionate and understanding approach to divorced and remarried couples, to those who cannot receive Holy Eucharist, to those who decide to simply live together without marriage etc. But the Catholic Church cannot change its core teachings and/or principles to satisfy the mores of the current times.

Everyone should also realize that the church is always ready and willing to accept all people with open arms just as Jesus wants her to. But the individualistic and self-serving attitudes that some want to be accepted will never be. It is not about any of us as individuals. It is all about the Body of Christ which includes all of us in the Family of God. Some will accept that, some will never accept that.

One thing is for sure. The Synod will seek the TRUTH and we should all, Catholic and non/Catholic alike, appreciate their efforts to do so. In the year 2014 Truth often evades us and is even mocked. Not this time

From Missouri Slave to Catholic Priest to "Servant of God": A Shining Star for ALL Americans

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

by Larry Peterson

This is not about the Ferguson, Missouri of 2014 but it  is about the Missouri of the 19th century.  This is about a black man who I wish that not only the people of Ferguson would learn about but also the rest of Missouri and all of America.  This is about a man whose goodness shined like a brilliant star inspiring others by his gentle and caring example.  Say “Hello” to Augustus Tolton.

On April 1, 1854, Peter Tolton paced nearby as his wife, Martha Jane,  gave birth to her second son. They   named him Augustus (after his uncle) and the baby was baptized soon after in St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Brush Creek, Missouri.  Mrs. Savilla Elliot stood as Augustus’ godmother. This was a situation a bit out of the ordinary at the time.  That was because Mrs. Elliot was married to Stephen Elliot, who happened to be the “owner” of Augustus’ mom and dad.  The Tolton family were slaves and their three children, Charley, Augustus and Anne, were born into slavery.  Slave owners and their slaves, all Catholic. It was a unique situation, especially in the mostly Protestant south.

Augustus was seven years old when  Fort Sumter was attacked and the Civil War began.  Stephen Elliot permitted Peter Tolton to head north and he supposedly was able to join the Union Army.  A bit later, Elliot gave Martha and her children their freedom too.  They headed north and with the help of Union Soldiers crossed the Mississippi River and entered Illinois which was a “free” state.  They settled in the town of Quincy.  Martha and her oldest boy, Charley, were able to get jobs at the Harris Tobacco Company which made cigars.  Augustus looked after his little sister, Anne.  He also began spending a lot of time standing across the street from St. Peter’s Church which was not far from the rooms they lived in.  Augustus Tolton’s life was about to change.

The pastor of St. Peter’s was an Irish American priest, Father Peter McGirr.  Father McGirr had noticed a shabbily dressed African-American boy spending an inordinate amount of time near the church.  After several days had went by Father walked across the street and introduced himself to the boy. After a brief conversation Father asked him, ” Well now lad, do you go to school?”

“No sir.”

“Would you like to go to school?”

Augustus jumped into the air and yelled, “YES Sir, YES!”

Father McGirr and Augustus headed to St. Peter’s.  The priest’s move was very controversial and most of the white parishioners did not want a black student being taught along with their children.  Father McGirr held firm and insisted that Augustus study at St. Peter’s.  He got permission from Augustus’ mom, who was shocked that this had happened to her son.  Augustus Tolton’s life had been placed on the road to his destiny.

Father McGirr may have been moved by the Holy Spirit because he saw something in Augustus that others did not.  Within one month the boy had moved on to “second reader”.  Father approached Augustus and asked him if he would like to receive his First Holy Communion.  He did, and by the summer Augustus was the altar boy for the 5 a.m. Mass.  After several years Father McGirr asked Augustus if he would like to become a priest.  He told him it would take about 12 years of hard study and dedication.  Augustus said, “Let us go to the church and pray for my success.”

Father Augustus Tolton

After graduation and with the unwavering support of Father McGirr, Augustus attempted to get into a seminary.  This was the 1870’s and prejudice was almost taken for granted.  Augustus was rejected by every American seminary to which he applied.  Augustus did not despair, lose hope, or begin to get bitter.  On the contrary, he continued to pray and his prayers, combined with the undaunted determination of Father McGirr enabled him to gain admission to St. Francis Solanus College (now Quincy College) in Quincy, Ill.

Augustus proved to be a brilliant student and upon graduation was accepted into the Pontifical Urbaniana University in Rome.  Founded by Pope Urban VIII in the 17th century, this was a training ground for missionaries.  It was here that Augustus became fluent in Italian as well as studying Greek and Latin.  In 1886, at the age of 32, Augustus Tolton was ordained to the priesthood in Rome.  He was the first black Roman Catholic priest in the United States.

Newspapers from across the country told the story of the former slave now ordained as a Catholic priest.  When Father Tolton arrived back in Quincy he was greeted as a hero.  A brass band played and Negro spirituals were sung as thousands of  people, both white and black, sang together, lined the streets together and held hands together as they waited to catch a glimpse of the former slave boy who had been ordained a Catholic priest.

Father Tolton walked down the avenue dressed in his cassock and wearing the biretta.  When he arrived at St. Boniface Church, hundreds were crowded inside wanting to receive his blessing.  His very first blessing went to Father McGirr who was still by his side. The next day Father Tolton said his first Mass at the church which was once again packed inside while thousands of others stood outside. For these few days prejudices in Quincy, Illinois, were non-existent.  They had been replaced by love of God instead.

Father Tolton remained at St. Boniface’s for five years.  He did meet with stiff resistance as prejudice once again reared its ugly head.  But Father persevered and managed to start St. Joseph’s Parish in Quincy.  In 1892  he was transferred to Chicago and headed a mission group that met in the basement of St. Mary’s Church.  This led him to develop the Negro National Parish of St. Monica’s Catholic Church.  He was such a kind, caring man that he came to be know as “Good Father Gus”.  The church grew quickly and soon had over 600 parishioners.  His next plan was to oversee new construction at St. Monica’s which had begun  to accommodate the swelling numbers of parishioners.  He would not live to see it.

Father Tolton had been ill for quite some time and had never told anyone.  On a steaming July day in 1897, with the temperature at 105 degrees, Father Tolton was returning from a retreat in Bourbonnais, Ill.  When he stepped from the train he collapsed.  Taken to the hospital, he died a few hours later from sunstroke. The heat wave had killed him.  He was only 43 years old.  His community was shocked.  They had lost a dear friend.  Father Tolton was buried at St. Mary’s Cemetery near Quincy.

On March 2010, Cardinal George of Chicago, announced that he was beginning the cause for canonization for Father Tolton.  On February 24, 2011, the Catholic Church officially began the formal introduction of the cause for sainthood. Father Augustus Tolton is now designated officially as “Servant of God”.

 If 125 years ago white people and black people could join hands in song to honor a black Catholic priest, why could something like this not happen again?  We need to ask the Servant of God, Father Augustus Tolton, for his  intercession  to help us now with our own individual prejudices.  Maybe instead of the animus displayed in
Ferguson, Missouri we could once again join in prayer and remember people like Father Tolton, a slave who persevered and became a Catholic priest.  Maybe instead of a Ferguson, Missouri we could have a replay of a Quincy, Illinois circa 1889.  With God, anything is possible.  Maybe a new Augustus Tolton will step from the shadows  and unite us all in brotherhood.

The Holy Trinity Mirrors Traditional Marriage

by Larry Peterson

This past Sunday the Catholic Church celebrated Trinity Sunday.  The deepest and most profound mystery of our faith is the Blessed Trinity which says there is only ONE God consisting of three separate persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Simply put, there are Three individual Persons in  ONE God.  This is a mystery that cannot be understood.  We believe it because of a gift instilled in us at Baptism. This gift is called faith.

On Thursday, June 19, the second annual March for Marriage took place in Washington D.C.   Times have changed, they surely have.  Why is it necessary to have such a march in the first place?  It is necessary because traditional marriage, marriage between a man and a woman, has been hijacked.  It has been hijacked by those who insist that marriage between same sex couples is no different than marriage between a man and a woman.   Please understand, the Catholic Church does NOT condemn anyone who is a homosexual.  Those persons can live in full communion with the church.  However, the Church has always taught that sexual acts outside of marriage, whether living together or not, are sinful.  This applies to a man and a woman as well as same sex couples.

We live in the Age of Relativism or, as I like to call it, the Meistic Age or the Age of Me.  This Meistic Age has spawned many who now are afflicted with a self-centered mutated sense of Natural Law. This mutation   causes the disease of Meism.  Meism goes something like this: if a person likes something or wants to do something, no matter what that might be, and if it makes him or her feel good and has nothing to do with you personally, there is nothing wrong with it.  This includes marriage.  If a man wants to marry another man, that should be fine.  If a woman wants to marry another woman, that should be fine also.  Who should dare have the right or the audacity to deny those folks their happiness?  Meism does not allow discussion, debate, opinion or any other kind of anti-meistic thoughts into the equation.  It is like the old cliche, “My Way or the Highway”.

According to the LGBTQ and many of their supporters, anyone who opposes this type of “marriage” is guilty of homophobia and hate crimes and needs retraining to continue living in our sophisticated, Meistic society.  Simply disagreeing with the concept of gender neutral marriage or same sex marriage can get a person into a heap of trouble. Take Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco.  Appointed by Pope Benedict XVI in July of 2012 to head up the San Francisco Diocese, the traditionally minded priest is also one of the prime supporters of the March for Marriage.  As such he had incurred the wrath of that renowned  “theologian” and politician, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi.

The former House Speaker, apparently a wannabe Catholic theologian, is truly one of the most prominent  Meistics of our time. She  has demanded that Archbishop Cordileone NOT  participate in this March because, as she sees it,  the March for Marriage is all about “hate”.  She told the Archbishop that the March is “venom masquerading as virtue” and “it shows disdain and hate toward LGBT persons”.   Then she quoted (out of context) the words of Pope Francis who had said, “If someone is gay and is searching for the Lord and has good will, then who am I to judge him.”

She missed the point.  The Pope does not know what is in their hearts. They could be quite willing to lead a celibate life as does a priest.  You can live with another person and NOT have sex with them.  Same sex marriage wants a sexual lifestyle included in the union. The Catholic Church has NEVER approved of this kind of behavior, even among heterosexual couples who are not married.  (By the way, Archbishop Cordileone  rejected her demand and was in the forefront of the parade. His name links to his speech)

As mentioned in the first paragraph, the Holy Trinity is the mystery that there are Three Persons in one God. The Father is all knowing and this total knowledge of all that is, begets the Son, sometimes called the Word. The bond between the two is so profound that it is the ultimate expression of Love. This bond of pure LOVE is known as the Holy Spirit. We cannot understand this but our faith  leads us to believe it. It follows that the Trinity is reflected ( as I see it)  in the union between  a man and woman in the following manner:
      The Love of God the Father and God the Son culminates in the perfect Love called the Holy Spirit.  A man and a woman, in love and united in the Sacrament of Matrimony, share their love for each other in such a way as to bring forth a third person, a child.  That child  now completes an earthly trinity which is the result of God’s creations uniting under the Natural Law and being sealed with the Sacrament of Matrimony. It is truly a beautiful thing when the newly married couple embraces the sacrament and uses it throughout their lives.

Matrimony (Marriage) in the Catholic Church is one of the seven sacraments. It is spiritual and NOT secular.   A sacrament can never be compromised.  If you are having difficulty with this issue talk to a priest and seek the compassion and understanding that the church can offer. We must breathe and eat and sleep and relieve ourselves and swallow etc. to live.  We do not have to have sex to live.  Many people have chosen to live celibate lives. Marriage will always be the union between a man and a woman no matter what anyone says.  I, personally, am in favor of legal civil-unions if necessary. But the beacon that is the Catholic Church and which guides us toward our eternal reward cannot detour for  those that want it strictly their way.

P.S. I am not a priest or a theologian. I am just a Catholic man trying to defend my faith and Church against so many unwarranted, uninformed and vitriolic attacks against it. This is the Church that was founded by Christ Himself  more than 2000 years ago. It is ready and willing to give all people a sanctuary and safe place that they can call home.  But, like it or not, as in any home there are rules that must be followed.                                                                                                    

My Message to MY Pope, "LOVE YA MAN–It is ALL GOOD"

Pope Benedict XVI, this quiet, unpretentious, holy man with the brilliant mind will vacate the Papacy effective February 28, 2013. He is 85 years old and has accepted the fact that his frail body cannot  adequately perform the duties required of the awesome position to which he was entrusted. It is “ALL GOOD”. We Catholics believe that the church is the “bride of Christ” and that the Holy Spirit is always there to guide it. Personally, I am in awe as I watch this beautiful process unfold. I have not an iota of concern about the future of the Church or about the next Pope. This institution has been around for 2000 years, no problem.

Over the next several weeks the print and broadcast media will bombard us with their insight and the gaggle of expert pundits will tell us what is going on within the church. They know nothing of course and have probably (most of them anyway) been trashing and criticizing the church for years on church teaching (birth control, abortion, women priests, celibacy etc). Now suddenly they will be theologians and will share with an uneducated public their babble. I do not care. It is “ALL GOOD”. What I might advise all these newly ordained experts to do is to maybe make a visit to a nearby Catholic church and sit in front of the altar where the Blessed Sacrament is reposed in the tabernacle (I do not have to explain any of this to experts) and sit and LISTEN. Just sit there quietly and LISTEN. No talking, just LISTENING, to your heart. Maybe you might learn something useful to pass onto the folks.

Lent begins tomorrow with Ash Wednesday. It is a forty day journey that leads us to new-life, a rebirth, the Resurrection. It is a time for prayer, penance, alms-giving and self-denial. Millions of Catholic/Christians observe these traditions every year. It does not make the news. Countless people who have found  Christ will be welcomed into the church during the Easter Vigil when they are baptized and receive the sacraments and become Catholic. This will not make the news. It does not matter. It is “ALL GOOD”.

From a blue-collar catholic guy to my Pope, Benedict XVI…—“LOVE YA MAN”