Category Archives: love

The Magnificent Dogma of the Divine Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary- —

By Larry Peterson

from catholicism.org

 

The Third Ecumenical Council held by the Catholic Church took place in Ephesus in 431. The Council was called to refute the teaching being put forth by the Patriarch of Constantinople, Nestorius. He held that the Virgin Mary may only be called the Christotokos (Birth Giver of Christ) and not Theotokos (Mother of God).

 

This teaching was condemned and the Council confirmed that indeed, since it was God who was the Father, Mary was truly the Mother of God. This settled for all time the central mystery of the Catholic faith which is the Incarnation; Jesus Christ is one person with two natures; one divine and one human. This is a mystery we embrace and believe but will never fully understand.

 

Pope Pius XI, who had a profound devotion to the Blessed Virgin, honored her by creating a new feast day in her honor. In 1931, 1500 years after the Council of Ephesus had proclaimed that Our Blessed Lady was truly the Mother of  God; Pope Pius XI instituted the Feast Day of the Divine Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This action not only reaffirmed the Council’s dogmatic proclamation that Mary is Theotokos, it also set October 11 into the Roman calendar as the day the feast was to be celebrated.

 

Since Vatican II’s changes were put in place the Feast Day of Divine Maternity has become somewhat overshadowed by the dogma of Mary’s “Perpetual Virginity”. But make no mistake, these two dogmatic pronouncements are eternally joined together and they are inseparable. October 11 is still an active feast in the 1962 Roman Missal which is used during the extraordinary celebration of the Mass.

 

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church 495: Mary’s Divine Motherhood;

Called in the Gospels, ‘the mother of Jesus,’ Mary is acclaimed by Elizabeth, at the prompting of the Spirit and even before the birth of her son, “as the mother of my Lord.” In fact, the One whom she conceived as man by the Holy Spirit, who truly became her Son according to the flesh, was none other than the Father’s eternal Son, the second person of the Holy Trinity. Hence the Church confesses that Mary is truly the ‘Mother of God’ (Theotokos).

 

From the Catechism 496: Mary’s Virginity:

From the first formulations of her faith, the Church has confessed that Jesus was conceived solely by the power of the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary, affirming also the corporeal aspect of this event: Jesus was conceived “by the Holy Spirit without human seed”. The Fathers see in the virginal conception the sign that it truly was the Son of God who came in a humanity like our own…

 

Our Blessed Mother was a young, innocent woman of about 14 years of age when the Angel Gabriel came to her and announced to her what God wanted from her. What could have gone through her young mind as this was asked of her? She must have been so afraid. How could she have had any possible idea that she would be the New Eve who would give birth to the New Adam who, in turn, would save us all?

 

This mystery of faith is so profound. This young woman, in effect, was chosen by God Himself to be his spouse. Their child would be both God and Man. He would change the world forever.

Mary’s virginal motherhood sealed in perpetuity the truth of the Incarnation. She gave Christ the body He possessed. She gave Him the humanity that was part of Him. And all the time he was God…and she was His Mom. WOW!

 

The Grand Finale to the Jubilee Year of Mercy is Upon Us—Thanksgiving*

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

The Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy began on December 8, 2015, and Pope Francis gave us a quote to coincide with the Holy Year; “It is a favorable time to heal wounds, a time to offer everyone the way of Forgiveness and Reconciliation.”

On November 20, the Solemnity of Christ the King, The Holy Year will officially end. We will have focused on mercy and forgiveness for a year and received the graces that came along with it. It seems so fitting that the beauty and meaning of this entire Holy Year can now be encapsulated by the impending holiday season. The Holy Father wanted us to direct our actions and attention “on mercy so that we may become a more effective sign of the Father’s actions in our lives . . . a time when the witness of believers might grow stronger and more effective”.

Four days after the Holy Year ends we celebrate our great American holiday, Thanksgiving, and this year the holiday presents us with an extraordinary opportunity. What better time to show mercy and love, on a nationwide scale, from sea to shining sea, than Thanksgiving. It can be our grand finale to this grace filled year.

Thanksgiving is the one day of the year where we pause and simply give “Thanks” for all that we have, even if it is just a “little”; a job, good health, a cancer in remission, the subsiding of a three day old migraine headache, connecting with a long lost relative, the birth of a child, surviving a natural disasterthere are so many things that we can be thankful for. Most importantly, there is that great intangible that spreads across our nation on this day and it ties right into the culmination of the Holy Year of Mercy. That intangible is the abundance of mercy, forgiveness and love that explodes within the hearts of so many millions of people.

No-one in America needs to go hungry on Thanksgiving Day. On this day people all across the country and from every economic situation can have a turkey dinner. Homeless shelters and soup kitchens and prisons serve turkey. Folks who have little or no money are able to receive turkey baskets from various charitable organizations so they can have a turkey dinner at home with their families. You do not need to purchase gifts. All you have to do is show up, hang out, eat and enjoy the uplifted spirit of family and friends that are with you, even if they are strangers turned friends you just met in a soup kitchen.
In my parish alone, we manage to supply complete Thanksgiving baskets to about 250 families, feeding about 1000 people for the holiday. All of the food is donated by parishioners. Some folks donate money and that is used to purchase the frozen turkeys. In effect, virtually all the parishioners participate in the Giveaway. (I am sure many of you have similar programs in or near your own parishes.)
On the Sunday before Thanksgiving we distribute the turkeys and all the trimmings to people of all denominations in our area to take home for “turkey day”. Everything has come from the hearts of parishioners and is joyfully given to strangers so they might enjoy the day. How cool is that? And doesn’t it also speak to the Holy Father’s call to evangelize?
All across the United States, Catholic parishes, churches of other denominations, soup-kitchens and shelters, etc. show Christ’s mercy and love to strangers on Thanksgiving. It is a wondrous thing and such a beautiful way to finish up the Jubilee Year of Mercy. Unexpectedly, in the year 2016, the end of Holy Year of Mercy collided with our Thanksgiving holiday. If we listen we may even hear the “Drumsticks” smashing cymbals of mercy which resonate nationwide with sounds of love.
As we cross the finish line of the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy we thank God for having allowed us to be part of such a grace-filled year. We also should thank Him for Thanksgiving. We can consider it the Grand Finale to the Holy Year just completed. It is a beautiful thing.

                       *This article appeared in Aleteia on November 18, 2016   

                                     ©Copyright Larry peterson 2016 All Rights Reserved.

This Year Holy Week Sends a Perfect Storm: Embrace Its Power

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

If you are Catholic and have not been to Mass or confession in thirty years or more you might think that forgiveness is beyond your  grasp and that there is “no hope” for you. You might even think that if you walked into a church you would turn into a pillar of salt. Well, here is the deal. All of that negative, ” I’m too bad to be forgiven” or “It’s too late for me” stuff is bunk. It is what is known as a “cop-out”. But there is great news for all of us, wicked sinners included.

You see, a Perfect Storm is approaching. This might even be a once in a lifetime occurrence. During the upcoming days, Holy Week, Easter Sunday and the Holy Year of Mercy will converge into a spiritual tsunami ready to wash us all with its unrivaled, avalanche of Love., Forgiveness and Mercy.

Even if you have been the most self-centered, egotistical, s.o.b. since Caligula busied himself ravaging Rome, it does not matter. We all have an opportunity to run into this storm, open our arms wide, and embrace the deluge of unconditional love and mercy that God will be pouring down upon us. There is a catch. We have to want it and ask for it. That’s all there is to it. That seems simple enough but for so many it is so hard to do. That is because something called Pride stops us over and over.

Recently I wrote about Dutch Schultz. Dutch was one of the most feared and brutal murderers in the bootlegging business in the 1930s. He ruled the Bronx and, as he lay dying after being gunned down in Newark, N.J., asked for a priest. He had his confession heard, asked for and received Anointing of the Sick and received Holy Viaticum (last Communion). Was Dutch Schultz turned away and told he did not qualify for mercy? Answer, NO.

Let us look at another fellow who makes Dutch Schultz look like a “goody-two-shoes”. His name was Rudolf Hoess *. This man was the Kommandant at Auschwitz, the deadliest and most efficient of the German death camps. Hoess designed the extermination processes that were implemented there and was responsible for the murders of over two and a half million people.  

Every day, Rudolf Hoess kissed his wife and kids good-bye and went to work. While at work he  supervised the killings and torturing of countless men, women and children. After work he went home, kissed his wife hello, ate dinner with his family, read a book to his children and then tucked them into bed. What a guy. What a dad. What a husband. He also can lay claim to the title, Greatest Mass Murderer in History. 

Here is something not too many people are aware of.  Hoess  had ordered the execution of a group of Jesuits, including their Superior, Father Wladyslaw Lohn. The priests  were all herded out together to be killed but, ironically,  Father Lohn  was not with the others. The priest was somehow “absent” for his execution and the executioners did not know it. Was it Providence?

Rudolf Hoess was raised in a strict Catholic household but rebelled against his faith as a teenager. Right before his execution  he asked for a priest. It was Father Lohn who was sent to him. It was Father Lohn who heard his confession, anointed him and gave him his final Holy Communion. Then Hoess was sent to the gallows.

Isn’t it amazing but, no matter how evil any of us has been, as long as we have a breath left in us God will hear our cries for mercy. All we have to do is ask. Even a monster such as Rudolf Hoess was given a chance at forgiveness. He responded to grace, seized the moment and asked for God’s mercy. Was he redeemed? What do you think? (See temporal punishment )

The point is this. Love, Forgiveness and Mercy are ours for the asking. And now, as Holy Week and Easter Sunday join The Holy Year of Mercy, a Perfect Storm is about to blow across our world, a storm that you will want to be sucked up in and transported to another spiritual dimension. No matter what you have done, it is never too late. God waits with open arms for all of his children. Some will seize the opportunity, swallow their pride and ASK for forgiveness and mercy.  Others will never do it. We all have a choice. We can embrace the storm or hide from it.

Rudolf Hoess* should not be confused with Rudolf Hess, who was Deputy Fuhrer under Hitler

                                      ©Larry Peterson 2016 All Rights Reserved

Valentine’s Day is Overshadowed by Pride

 IT MAKES SENSE TO ME
By Larry Peterson
 Valentine’s Day is here.  It is supposed to be all about Love. Yet beyond the heart covered Valentine cards, the flower bouquets and candy and all of that, we must, as unpleasant as it may be, recognize what we truly have going on this Valentine’s Day of 2016.  Yes, make no mistake, Love is under attack this Valentine’s Day and hatred seems to overshadow the Lovein the air.
Love is all about “Giving”, isn’t it? Christ loved us and GAVE His life for us. Now that is some serious “Giving”.  Most followers of Christ do their feeble best to follow His message. But—enter the deadly sin of pride. There is the demon that can grab us in its powerful grip and oftentimes, never let go. The great sin of pride is characterized by all those who seize onto words such as, hurt, libel, disrespect, impolite, mocked, uncivil, rude and the list can go on and on and on.
How sad it is that pride can destroy so much, from family relationships, to friendships, to nations. Whenever our “personhood” is offended by someone else, all that Love can vanish like a puff of smoke in a windstorm.  (Have you seen the “Love” extended by the candidates toward each other in the presidential debates?)
Oh well, it is part of God’s gift of free-will allowing each and every one of us to make choices. Some of us can forgive and “turn the other cheek”. Others—no way.
Today it seems that Pride* has filled the hearts of many to a point where these people, so consumed, now HATE unconditionally.  What many of them hate most is one word and what it means. That word is made up of only two letters. That word is NO. They want no-one dare telling them what to do or how to behave. They have embraced secularism (defined as: a system of political or social philosophy that rejects all forms of religious faith and worship). 
Here is their problem:  Judeo/Catholic/Christian has boundaries.  Christianity tells us what God wants us to do and what NOT to do…why, the NERVE of Him!  So, many Secularists (not all) take it to another level in their personal, selfish requests to abolish the influence of institutions that have the temerity to say NO to certain behaviors. They even reject “natural law” for their own personal agendas.
Catholic/Christians are the most persecuted people on earth.  Why is that?  Why is there such hatred by so many toward something that is all about goodness and love?  All Christians (including 1.2 billion Catholics and 800 million Protestants  of varied denominations) follow Jesus Christ. That is 2 billion people or two thousand million people who follow His teachings and His promise of Eternal Life. What is the crux of His teachings? Well now, the bottom line is this, LOVE your NEIGHBOR & FORGIVENESS. Yeah, yeah, I know that many who proclaim to follow Jesus do not even make an attempt to Love their Neighbor or Forgive anyone for anything. How powerful is the sin of pride?
The Prideful  rant against Christmas which is all about “giving”. They rail on about using the name of God in schools and at sports events. They want Crosses at cemeteries taken down from the graves of fallen soldiers. In many cases those who hate Christians kill them. Men, women and children die every day in different parts of the world simply because they are followers of Jesus. How can Love & Forgiveness be things to hate? How powerful is the sin of pride?
Well, nothing has changed since Jesus walked the earth two thousand years ago.  He preached Love & Forgiveness so they beat Him, tortured Him and killed Him.  The loving crowds who screamed “Hosanna” on Palm Sunday turned fickle and screamed “Crucify Him” the following Friday.  The list of people murdered for following Jesus over the centuries (including his own apostles) is countless. Being a Catholic and Christian was never supposed to be easy.  Jesus Christ did nothing but Love us, each and every one of us. Look what happened to Him. How powerful is the sin of pride?
So, on this Valentine’s Day, the question to be considered might be this. What is Love? The answer can be found in the Bible in the First Letter of John; Ch 4: 16-17.  “We have come to know and believe in the love God has for us. God IS Love, and whoever remains in Love remains in God and God in Him. 
Sadly,  on February 14, 2016, the war on Love increases in intensity.
*Pride: There are two kinds of pride; negative pride and positive pride. This column             references negative pride aka ‘selfishness’ or ‘meism’. Positive pride is the    good pride we take in working hard to do our best while loving our neighbor.
                    ©Larry Peterson2016 All Rights Reserved

Pope Francis: Pride, Humility and the Gospel of the Day After

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

Pope Francis has gone back to Rome. Sigh–I miss him. I live in central Florida so the closest he ever got to  me was probably about 330 miles away and that was in a foreign country, Cuba. The closest I got to him in the United States was when he traveled to Washington, D.C. which is over 900 miles away. No matter, I do miss him. His gentle, kind and loving face was all over the TV screen since last Tuesday. I have been among his captive audience. It was so uplifting and refreshing watching this apostle of Christ and descendant of St. Peter do his thing and, on TV no less, for all the world to see.. Yes, I miss him.

The Pope left last night at about 8 p.m. At 8 a.m this morning I was at morning Mass. The gospel reading for the day blew me away. This reading was not in place to reflect his visit but it did. The  reading was scheduled for today and put in place on the universal church calendar several years ago. So, it is pure coincidence this gospel reading and his visit overlapped. If not, it was inspired from above. (That one works for me).

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 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 Pope Francis, without trying and by just being who God made him to be, wore the mantle of humility without fanfare, showmanship, pretentiousness or anything that might be self-serving in any manner. Yes, he wore that mantle and it was fastened to his shoulders with the clasp of Love. In so doing he showed  the whole world what it means to think of yourself last before all others.  (Was that a Fiat Hatchback?)

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 would mock that concept but that is why they cannot experience the joy so many millions of faithful experienced in America over the past week. 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 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.

After seeing President Obama and offering Mass during his stop in Washington, D.C. he made a point of going to the offices of the Little Sisters of the Poor. He had to send 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 .

Pope Francis has left our country. He has left it a more contented and inspired nation. He has reached out to everyone and many have responded. He represents the Goodness and Love that Jesus Christ brought to us. He is His ambassador on earth. He did his work well. If this had been a baseball game it would have been called “Perfect”. But now it is over and the Prideful will resurface.

Thanks for the grace, inspiration, love and memories Holy Father. We have to get you back here more often.

                                    ©2015 Larry Peterson All Rights Reserved


Redux from June, 2015: Laudato Si is a Spiritual Document for Everyone; It is NOT Political

As I watched Pope Francis on the tarmac at Andrew’s AFB being surrounded by all the smiling, back-slapping secularist driven politicians who have been spitting in the very face of so many (myself included) intolerant, homophobic, hateful and mean spirited, Catholic/Christians, I knew I was viewing nothing more than “smiling” hypocrisy being confronted by a man filled with Love, Kindness, and a bit of Innocence. Anyway, I thought I would repost my blog on Laudato Si from June of this year.


IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

“Laudato Si” is here and I think many people are thinking/suggesting,accusing/ (pick your own medicine)  that Pope Francis has turned into a “pol”. Yup, he is just another politician on the world stage trying to advance an ideology. So everyone had better take a deep breath. Pope Francis has released a magnificent piece of work that demonstrates how WE (air/water/ trees/marine-life/plants/animals and human beings are all interrelated and depend on each other. Think how true that all is.

The earth is, in fact, our primary home. The sun and the rain nourish the earth’s soil and it gives forth food for animals and people. Some animals eat only plants and then other animals may feed on them (ie: Impalas feed on plants and grass while lions are carnivores and eat Impalas). People feed and survive from the plants and the animals. There is a magnificent balance in nature and we human beings are the most intricate part of it. That is because we are not only the ones who can nurture it, we are also the ones who can harm and destroy it. This is what the Holy Father is telling us. Start taking responsibility for our primary home, the planet we live on.

Pope Francis has nailed it. We are all an extension of each other in this world. Laudato Si reflects the very first chapter of the Bible: The Story of Creation (Please, before reading Laudato Si, re-read the first Chapter of Genesis).
           At the end of the first chapter, v28-29; God blessed them saying: “Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all the living things that move on the earth.”  God also said: See, I give you every seed bearing plant all over the earth and every tree that has seed bearing fruit on it to be your food; and to all the animals of the land, all the birds of the air, and all the living creatures that  crawl on the ground, I give all the green plants for food.” And so it happened, God looked at everything He had made, and He found it very good. Evening came and morning followed, the sixth day.

Pages and pages have already been written about this encyclical. It is being torn apart and analyzed by many and then all of these folks are offering their opinions as to what the document REALLY says. Naturally, almost all viewpoints differ. How fortunate we are to have such a wide variety of “expert” opinions to choose from. Well, here is an opinion no-one really gives much credence to–my own.

My opinion is simply this–Laudato Si is foremost a spiritual document reflecting the Word of God as set down in the very beginning of the Bible. God’s primary creation, people, were given dominion over all things on Earth. The Pope is reminding us that we are all connected and all depend on each other and have to nurture and look out for each other. The plants, the animals, the air, the sea, all do what they have to do without reason. They just DO.

On the other hand, we, the people, reason and think. We have pride and ego and greed infiltrates many of our species. We have poured poisonous chemicals into our pure waters, we have polluted the air and sea and lakes, we have destroyed the rain forests. I need not go on. Laudato Si tells us to take care of our primary home, Mother Earth. It is the responsibility of all of us. It is not political but that it is how it will be viewed.

I, for one, wish to thank Pope Francis for “smacking us upside the head” and reminding us that our planet is more than a big blue marble. It is our primary home. Therefore, it is our God given responsibility to keep our home neat and clean.

                                        ©Larry Peterson 2015  All Rights reserved