Category Archives: Holy Week

A Love Story that Embraced God's Love

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

by Larry Peterson

This is about a love story and, I have no doubt whatsoever, God has been involved.   Why I was allowed to be a small part of this story is beyond me.  But I was and I thank HIM for it.  Anyway,  please allow me to share my experience(s) of the past several months.  I was witness to the love shared between Ed and Cathy, husband and wife, both dying from cancer, together, holding hands, smiling at each other and at peace as the days passed by.
Ed and Cathy Caramiglio  had only been my neighbors for a short time, less than a year I think.  Ed was a retired commercial painter and also a master wood carver who had his magnificent creations all around his house.  Ed and Cathy were simply enjoying life together.  I guess the two of them might be considered an unusual couple.  They had  met when Ed was 60 and Cathy was 40 and neither had ever been married.  Now, after celebrating their silver wedding anniversary, Ed’s prostate cancer had returned with a vengeance and was destroying him quickly.  Cathy had been diagnosed with Stage IV Melanoma. She told me about that when ‘maybe’ she had six months to live. ( It was the exact same thing my first wife had died from 12 years earlier.)  So there they were,  three houses down, spending their last months together and making the best of what still was.
They had no children and it was just the two of them.  How did I fit in?  Well, besides being a neighbor, we were all Catholic and they knew  that I was an EMHC (Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion).  They asked me if I might bring Holy Communion to them if they could not make it to Mass.  I told her I would be honored and to “just let me know when.”
A few more months went by and Ed moved  slower and slower.  Then he began using a walker to get around. He would come over and we would just joke around about silly stuff, like  how many cream donuts he had eaten that morning or how much money he lost one night at Yonker’s Raceway in New York. The guy was only about five feet four but he loved to talk and laugh and had a sparkle in his eye that caught your attention instantly. I would ask if they could make it to Mass and he  would always smile and say, “Thanks,  Larry,  Cathy will let you know if we can’t.”  Unable to push that walker for more than ten feet it quickly became necessary for me  stop by and see how they were doing. Hospice was now there on a daily basis but they were still managing to function okay.
My daily routine usually starts at around 5:00 a.m.  with a one-hour walk.  A few weeks ago, I inexplicably decided that I needed  to take another walk. It was around 4 p.m.  I actually tried to talk myself out of taking this walk but finally “talked” myself into it.  (I guess I do talk to myself a lot.)  Out the door I went and headed down the street.  Ed has an F-150 brown Ford pick-up with a cap covering the truck bed.  As I walked past the truck I was dumbfounded to see Cathy standing there on the front lawn supported by her walker.  I stopped short and said, “Oh, Cathy, hi. Wow, I did not expect to see you standing here.”
“I was waiting for you. I need to talk to you.”
I was dumbfounded. “Are you kidding me? I never walk at this time of day and you say you were waiting for me.”
“I just knew you were coming by.  I can’t explain it.”
I had a chill run down my back. I really did.  I leaned against the truck as she leaned heavily on her walker. She could hardly stand up. “You know Ed is dying, right?”
“Yes Cathy, I know. And how about you? How are you doing?”
She smiled and looked me right in the eye  saying, “I have a few weeks left.”
I tightened my lips, took a breath, and asked, “Do you want a priest?”
“Oh yes, please, can you do that for us?  That is why I was out here waiting for you. We need a priest right away.”
It was not necessary that a priest come at that very moment so I told her I would bring a priest over ASAP. She smiled and thanked me and I walked her back to the house. She did not mention herself once, only her husband.  She told me how she wished she could ease his suffering and how wonderful it might be if they could go for a bicycle ride just one more time.  She mentioned how she thanked God for every moment they had had together.
I went inside and she, Ed, and I hung out for about ten minutes just chatting.  Cathy excused herself and slowly walked back to the bedroom.  Ed quickly told me how he wished he could ease her suffering and how God had been so good to him allowing him to find such a great woman to share his life with.  When God is present sometimes it is hard to breathe. So I took a deep breath, exhaled, and  gave Ed a hug and left.
We have a young priest at our parish, Father Scott.  He just turned 32.  I saw him Monday morning of Holy Week and told him about Ed and Cathy. He had to preside at a funeral at 10 a.m. and then go to the cemetery.  He said he would be free in the early afternoon and would then come over.  I headed to the church office and registered them as parishioners, something they had never done.  I went home and told my neighbors Father would be over later in the day and that they had been registered as parishioners at Sacred Heart Church. Ed started to cry.  Cathy hugged him and joined him crying.   Next thing  I knew my forefinger  was swiping itself  under the bottom of my right eye.  I told them I would be back later with Father Scott and left.
Father Scott spent about an hour with Ed and Cathy.  Ed and the young priest both had roots in Roanoke, Virginia, and talked and laughed and had a raucous good time together. Even though  the two of them were  separated by more than 50 years  it did not matter.  It was as if they had grown up together.  It was beautiful.  Father anointed* both of them and told them he would come back the first chance he could.  It was the beginning of Holy Week and he would be busy.  They all hugged and said good-bye
Easter Sunday I was privileged to bring Ed and Cathy Holy Communion. They were lying next to each other in bed, holding hands.  Ed smiled and said, “Larry, we are SO happy. This is the greatest Easter we ever had.”  He turned and looked at his wife who was smiling lovingly at him. She reached over and wiped his wet happy eyes.
Ed died last week.  Cathy is now a patient in Hospice House with little time left.  I will never forget Ed and Cathy because the love between them shined so brightly and was a beautiful, inspiring, God-given thing.  As for me, I just want to thank God for allowing  me to be their friend and a part of their final journey,  albeit for the briefest of moments.  I have been blessed.
                                                           ©Larry Peterson All Rights Reserved

From the First Good Friday through Today, the Persecution of LOVE & GOOD Has Never Ended

by Larry Peterson

On Palm Sunday, Christians the world over remember the triumphant entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem more than 2000 years ago.  Riding on the back of a donkey, He was welcomed and praised as the Saviour and Messiah by people waving palms and laying palm fronds in front of Him.  Five days later, many of these same people, suddenly bloated with an evil-induced hatred,  scornfully screamed for him to be crucified.  Jesus Christ changed the world forever. He was the ultimate example of LOVE and GOOD. He loved His brothers and sisters, no matter who they were.  I guess that made Him a threat to many so they tortured and killed Him.  As the centuries passed by, countless followers of  LOVE and GOOD have met similar fates and this persecution and savagery continues unabated to this very day.

Only last week on April 7, Father Frans Van der Lugt, 75, was brutally beaten and shot to death in Syria. Why? He followed Jesus and loved his neighbor.  Last November, North Korea executed 80 Christians. Why? They each had their own bible. As we travel back over the timeline of history Christian persecution is splattered all over it.  Sister Maria Restituta was a nun and a nurse in Germany during World War II. She was guillotined in 1944. Why?  Because she refused to take down a crucifix from a bedroom wall in a hospital.  Father Otto Neururer was a Catholic priest who had the audacity to perform an “illegal” baptism.  He was sent to Buchenwald concentration camp and, under the direction of Martin Summer, aka “The Hangman of Buchenwald”, was hanged upside down and left that way until he died. The Nazi era is littered with the corpses of not only millions of Jews, but also of Catholic/Christians whose main crime was usually helping their brother and sister Jews. When all is said and done their crime was always one of embracing what is LOVE and what is GOOD.

There are the Martyrs of Nagasaki, 26 men and boys, crucified in Japan on February 5, 1597. Why?  They followed and preached LOVE and GOOD.  Pope John Paul II canonized 25 martyred priests who had been murdered between 1927 and 1928 during the Cristero War in Mexico.  During these dark days in Mexico thousands of others were also killed for following LOVE and GOOD.  From Jesus Christ, to his apostles, to the early Christians being mauled to death in the Colosseum,  to the Holocaust and onward to Father Frans Van der Lugt on April 7, 2014, the bloody war against LOVE and GOOD advances undeterred.  Ironically, this war can never win its hate-filled quest to rid the world of its despised enemy.

I could go on and on because there have been so many, many people tortured and killed for following LOVE and GOOD that the stories would fill volumes. But there is one group of 16 followers of LOVE and GOOD that I must mention because I believe they saved a nation from its own self-destruction. Those 16 people are all women and are known as  the  Carmelite Martyrs of Compiegne. These women, holding hands and singing, willingly offered themselves to the guillotine if it could bring an end to the horrors of the French Revolution. One by one they smilingly went to their deaths. Under Maximilien Robespierre the bloodlust and hatred toward Catholics raged as the twisted virtues of the Age of Enlightenment and the Reign of Terror mixed their evil brew into a daily severing of heads before screaming mobs. Not this time. On July 17, 1794 that all ended.

The mob was gleefully screaming when the nuns were brought to the execution site. While holding hands the  nuns began singing  Salve Regina and Veni Creator Spiritus. Suddenly, the thousands of people present fell silent. The only sound to be heard was the thump of the guillotine as it went about it its impersonal savagery. When the executions were finished the witnessing mob had changed.  Instead of cheers there were tears and sobs and heads hung low. People began to pray.  Ten days later Robespierre was executed and the French Revolution and Reign of Terror ended.  The evil was evaporated under the power of LOVE and GOOD.  The 16 courageous nuns were beatified and declared “Blessed” in May of 1906 by Pope St. Pius X. Their canonization is pending. Talk about courage. Talk about LOVE. Talk about all that is GOOD.  Theirs changed a nation.

 The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the very fulfillment of all that is LOVE and GOOD because GOD is LOVE and LOVE is GOD. The fact that His life and death changed the world forever seems to be passed over by many who think  that part of the story is a mere fable.  Well, for those who believe, no explanation is necessary and for those who do not, none is possible unless they open their minds and hearts and ask to see the unseeable. Then, they too will see. For all those who have given their very lives for this LOVE and for those who will in the future, theirs are the stories we should all honor and embrace.  HAPPY EASTER & HAPPY PASSOVER

P.S.  Question: How come no one was ever able to find the Body?