Category Archives: Mass

Chaplain Emil Kapaun—from Farm boy, to Priest, to Medal of Honor Recipient and Future Saint*

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

Emil Joseph Kapaun, was born on a farm near  Pilsen, Kansas, in 1916. Pilsen was a tiny town of less than 100 people named after after the city of Pizen in the Czech Republic. His parents were Czech immigrants and devout Catholics. Emil, besides being an excellent student, became quite adept at repairing farm equipment and machinery. This knowledge would prove very beneficial later on when he was a prisoner-of-war.

Emil Kapaun was ordained a priest on June 9, 1940. In 1944, he joined the U.S. Army Chaplains Corps. and was assigned to  serve in Burma. He left the army in 1946 to seek an advanced degree in education. He knew in his heart that his priestly ministry was to be a chaplain so, upon graduating with a Master’s Degree in 1948, he re-enlisted in the Chaplain Corps.

During the Korean War, Captain Emil Kapaun, U. S. Army,  was the Catholic chaplain assigned to the 3rd Battalion of the 8th Cavalry. On November 1, 1950, the feast of All Saint’s Day, Father Kapaun celebrated Mass for the soldiers in his battalion. In the minds of the troops the war was about over.

The North Koreans had been beaten back by the U. S. and United Nations forces. The guys were starting to think about being home for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Those pleasant thoughts of being home for the holidays were a bit premature. Right after midnight of November 2, All Soul’s Day, their world exploded. The area held by 3000 American soldiers was unexpectedly attacked by a force of more than 20,000 charging, Chinese troops. The Americans, taken by surprise and fighting valiantly, never had a chance.

Father Kapaun ran from foxhole to foxhole, dragging out the wounded and giving last rites to the dying. Over the sound of gunfire and explosions he heard confessions. Feverishly working beyond the American lines in “no-man’s land”, he actually stopped an execution and negotiated with the enemy for the safety of wounded Americans. No one knows how many young soldiers he carried to safety on his back. Going back again and again he was finally taken prisoner as he tried to rescue another wounded soldier. He was not the only American GI captured that night.

By daybreak the battle was over and hundreds of  newly captured American POWs, including Father Kapaun, began a forced 87 mile “death march” to a POW camp.  The earlier thoughts about Christmas in America and drumsticks on Thanksgiving quickly evaporated as every step in the mud and snow and freezing cold now occupied the minds of the young soldiers who had suddenly become prisoners-of-war.

The “march” was brutal. Those wounded an unable to continue were shot dead. Father Kapaun picked up a wounded POW and began carrying him on his back. He implored others who were still in fair condition to do the same. Some followed his example and somehow, someway, many managed  to make it alive to the prison camp.

Father Kapaun cared not an iota about himself. Against the orders of his Chinese guards he cared for the sick and wounded, built fires for warmth and cooking, searched for scraps of food, and even set up a make-shift system to purify drinking water. What infuriated the guards was how Father Kapaun managed to gather the men together, officers and enlisted men, black men and white men, even atheists, agnostics and others, to join together in saying the Rosary.

Father Kapaun became an inspiration to the other POWs. The priest would preach openly to the men even though his captors ordered him not to do so. He would pray one-on-one with POWs and some even embraced the faith and were baptized. Praying was banned and when Father Kapaun ignored it and prayed with his men they would strip him naked and make him stand on a block of ice for hours on end. It is hard to imagine enduring such cruelty.

On Easter Sunday, 1951, the bedraggled, starving prisoners saw a silhouetted figure standing alone,  illuminated by the morning sun. As the men approached they realized it was Father Kapaun. He was wearing his purple stole  and holding a Roman Missal. Somehow he had received permission to hold an Easter Service. He could not say Mass but he read some Psalms and everyone recited out loud the prayers from Good Friday including the Stations of the CRoss. Survivors say that some men openly wept.

Father Kapaun, worn down from the horrendous conditions and suffering from his own wounds and poor treatment, died on May 23, 1951. He was credited with saving hundreds of lives through the loving care, compassion and spirituality he demonstrated to all his men.

His  awards  include the Congressional Medal of Honor, the Distinguished Service Cross, the Bronze Star and many others.

In 1993, Captain Chaplain Emil Joseph Kapaun was declared a “Servant of God” by Pope John Paul II. The canonization process of this selfless priest is underway and there are two miracles under investigation at the present time. The simple priest from a little farm in Kansas is truly an inspiration for us all.

Servant of God, Emil Kapaun, please pray for us.

*This article appeared in Aleteia on Feberuary 21, 2017

                                         ©copyright Larry peterson 2017  All RightsReserved

Mother’s Day—After Years of Dreading It I Can Finally Embrace It

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

(updated  from 2016 article)

Mother’s Day is here and I will tell you immediately that it has never been my favorite holiday.

My mother died 56 years ago. She had just turned 40. (She had Leukemia and if you had Leukemia 56 years ago, you were “toast”.)  For some reason, I have only a few obscure memories of her. And, for me, that is an emptiness that has always exploded  inside me during the Mother’s Day celebration.

We were kids when she died. At fifteen, I was the oldest. My sister and brothers (the two youngest have now passed away) remembered details about her such as the softness of her hair, her laugh, how she loved cherry vanilla ice-cream, or pulling the shopping cart to the A&P. As for me, I had nothing except the information they had to share.

My Mom  circa 1939  age 19

I have been told that I was traumatized by her death and involuntarily blocked her out of my mind. I thought, how could that be true? I have experienced death taking my closest family members including: my wife, Loretta, 14 years ago married 35 years),  my second wife, Marty, only five weeks ago (we had been married for 10 years), a  stillborn daughter, my dad,  my two youngest brothers and Grandma, who died as I held her when I was 18. But, fortified by my Catholic faith, I always managed, to move through the grief process and learn to accept what happened.  But with my Mom that process never completed itself.


But I finally came to understand why I have been “stuck in the mud” with my Mom’s sudden passing albeit so long ago. I was selfish. I never thought about what must have been going through her mind as she lay dying at the age of 39. It was always about me and how MY mom died. That was the reason for my decades old problem. Therein was the cause of my emptiness. It was never about her. I felt sorry for myself when she died and kept feeling sorry for myself, year after year after year.

I needed help and finally it came.  Out of the clear blue my daughter, Mary, calls me and, during the conversation says, “Hey dad, do you realize I’m going to be 39 on my next birthday?”
Talk about being hit by lightning. My own daughter was going to be the same age as my own mother was when she was slowly being killed by an insidious, no holds barred, and merciless disease. I had never thought of my Mom as a 39 year old woman with five kids. I thought of her as my Mom, who died on ME. How pathetic is that?

Mary, who also happens to look a lot like the grandma she never knew, had only asked me a simple question. She could not have known the power that was in it. She had no idea that at that moment it removed the veil from my clouded “mom world” and set me on my journey to discover the woman and person who was also my mother.

Following decades of self-pity, I began to quietly ponder about this woman who carried me in her womb, who nursed me, fed me, bathed me, held me and hugged me, nursed me and my siblings through illnesses such as mumps, measles and chicken pox (all of which I have no memory), who cleaned, washed and ironed clothes, cooked, shopped and even worked part time, and how she must have felt as she prepared to leave her family behind while facing death. How awful and terrifying that must have been for her?

How did she hold her year and a half old son on her lap and look at him without going hysterical, knowing soon she would be gone? How did she handle thinking about her six year old son, missing his front teeth, who she would never give a sweet hug to again?  She had a ten year old who was in fourth grade and always needed his mom to help him with his homework. Would his dad help him? Probably not, he was so lousy at spelling and grammar.

And of course, there was my sister, her “little” girl. But she was 13 already, she was growing up. She would need her Mom, to talk to about woman things.  How did she bare holding onto the knowledge that her children would soon be motherless? What did she say to our dad, her husband and lover, as they lay together in bed, in the dark of night waiting for the inevitable as their five kids slept?

Sunday morning at Mass the priest will talk about mothers, living and deceased. This year I will be proud of the God loving, faithful, kind and courageous woman that was MY Mom. I may only have a few scattered memories of her but it doesn’t matter anymore. It was never about “poor me”, it was about her. I was such a jerk not to see it.

On this Mother’s Day I will also thank God for that phone call from Mary. I will then thank Him for my Mom. And to all the loving, caring Moms everywhere, God bless you all and Happy Mother’s Day.

                                ©Larry Peterson 2016 

A Tailor’s Inspiration Brought the World a Pope *

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

The influence of St. John of the Cross, the great poet and mystic of the 16th century, reached across the centuries and inspired a simple tailor in Nazi occupied Poland to aspire to sainthood. In turn, this simple man became the catalyst for another man who was not even considering becoming a priest. Yet, this aspiring actor would one day become Pope. The man’s name was Jan Tyranowski. The man who would one day be pope was Karol Wojtyla.

Born in Krakow in 1900, Jan Tyranowski was the son of a tailor. His dad had bigger plans for his boy and Jan became an accountant. Jan was a bit of a loner and enjoyed being by himself allowing his abundantly curious mind to fill his spare time.

He loved science, studying foreign languages, gardening and even the new science of psychology. He especially loved photography. Even though he kept his mind filled with the wonders around him he knew something was missing. There was an emptiness, an unexplained void, which he could not fill.
Jan took ill in 1930 with a chronic stomach ailment which rendered him constantly sick. So he left accounting and took up tailoring with his father. Amazingly, with his stress levels reduced in his new job, Jan became a much happier man. His faith also began to increase and he became more and more active in his parish.

Jan Tyranowski–Courtesy Salesianity Blogs
Then came Jan’s “enlighteneing”. It happened at a Sunday Mass sometime in 1935. He was at Mass and the Salesian priest saying the Mass made a statement during his homily that changed Jan’s life forever. The priest simply said, “It is not difficult to be a saint.”

To Jan this was unprecedented. He thought sainthood was only for priests and religious. There was no room in the saintly world for lay people—or was there? The priest went on to say that lay people could also live saintly lives by going to frequent Mass, saying their prayers and doing good works.

Jan Tyranowski listened and realized the spirituality he thought he was not permitted to have was available to him too. All he would have to do would was embrace the work needed to attain it. When he he left the church that Sunday, he was a changed man.

He began growing in spirituality praying and meditating every morning for up to four hours and then devoting other parts of his day to prayer and reflection. Jan asked a parish priest for advice on some quality reading material and the priest gave him a prayer manual he had used in the seminary. Jan poured through the manual and expanded his reading eventually coming across the works of St. John of the Cross. The writings of this saint became his constant companion for the rest of his life.

By 1940 more than half the priestly population of Krakow had been deported. One of the parish priests asked Jan if he would become more involved with the youth ministry in the parish. Jan became the youth leader at St. Stanislaus Parish which also happened to be the university parish attended by a young man by the name of Karol Wojtyla. Karol aspired to be an actor.

Jan had an innate ability to inspire spirituality in others. His apostolate to the young quickly grew and among those who were part of it were the future pope. At first, Karol was turned off by Jan Tyranowki’s seemingly overbearing and strict manner of dealing with prayer and meditation. But when Jan formed a “Living Rosary”, Karol began to soften.

Karol Wojtyla’s dad died in 1941. The young man had no immediate family and bef
ore long he became an eager recipient of Jan’s guidance. When Jan introduced the works of St. John of the Cross to young Karol it changed his life. The 16th century mystic became one of the future pope’s lifelong inspirations. Jan Tyranowski more or less became a father-figure to Karol. They became great friends and often walked together talking about the things of God.

Karol Wojytla was ordained a priest on November 1, 1946. Jan Tyranowski died on March 15, 1947. He had lived to see his favorite student attain the priesthood. Father Wojytla would become Pope John Paul II on October 16, 1978. He would be canonized a saint on April 27, 2014 by Pope Francis. Pope St. John Paul II credited Jan Tyranowski with his recognizing his vocation and rejecting an acting career. St. John Paul II wrote of Tyranowski:

“He was one of those unknown saints, hidden amid the others like a marvelous light at the bottom of life, at a depth where night usually reigns. He disclosed to me the riches of his inner life, of his mystical life. In his words, in his spirituality and in the example of a life given to God alone, he represented a new world that I did not yet know. I saw the beauty of a soul opened up by grace.”

The Salesians of Don Bosco have put forward Jan for beatification and he has been declared a Servant of God.  We ask Jan Tyranowski to pray for us all.

*This article appeared in Aleteia on Jan 7,2017

                                   ©Copyright 2016 Larry Peterson

Asia Bibi–Wife & Mom; Catholic/Christian and "Blasphemer"; Sentenced to Death for Loving Jesus

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

 Asia Bibi is a Catholic wife,  mother of five and our sister in faith. She will stand before the Supreme Court of Pakistan during the month of October, 2016, and hear the final verdict as to whether or not she should be executed by hanging. You see, Asia has been convicted  of being a “blasphemer”. She has been in prison for the past seven years.

Imagine being this woman. You have been living amidst the filth and squalor of a Pakistani prison. You wonder about your children You miss them so much. You need to hug them, touch them, feel their hair or just squeeze their hands(s). Then a distant memory floats to the forefront of your worn out mind. You remember that day in 2009…was it June..no, maybe August.  You remember being out in the field picking berries. There are other women working alongside you but…there is a difference. They are Muslim and, to them, you are “unclean”. They despise you. You are a Catholic.

Asia Bibi & Children  courtesy gatestoneinstitute.org

These other women demanded you fetch them water from a nearby well. You were not their “equals” and did what you were told. You went to the well, filled a jug for the women and brought it back to them. But you made a mistake. You knew you could not drink from the same jug so you found an old tin can and poured water into it for yourself. You remember the momentary relief as the water slid down your throat..

Alas, using the dirty, rusted cup to drink from mattered not. A field hand angrily tells you that you are forbidden to drink the SAME water as a Muslim. You are already considered “unclean” because you are a Catholic/Christian. The other workers hurriedly gathered around you and started cursing you and your religion. Your faith must have been exploding in you because you defended it immediately. You summoned your resolve and remember saying, “I believe in my religion and in Jesus Christ who died for the sins of mankind. What did your prophet Mohammed ever do to save mankind?”

The other women exploded with rage. You were beaten and arrested. Under the country’s Sharia Law you are not equal to a Muslim so what you had to say was only considered “half” as important as what they had to say. Trying to defend yourself was an effort in futility. They hold you in a local jail for one year and then you are found guilty of blasphemy. Your sentence is death by hanging. You are shocked and horrified and helpless. Your husband is sickened and your children lost inside themselves. You can do nothing.

You are sent to prison and placed on death row. Five years later the Pakistani Supreme Court upheld the verdict. That was appealed and the hanging was put on hold. It has been announced that sometime during the middle of October, 2016, the High Court of Pakistan will render a FINAL verdict. Asia Bibi, Catholic “blasphemer “, lover and defender of Jesus Christ, will hear whether or not she lives or dies.

I cannot help but feel a deep affinity for Asia Bibi and all those who live under such incredibly hateful conditions.. After all, we are all part of the same spiritual family. They are people just like you and I. They love their spouses and children and their moms and dads. They get the flu and upset stomachs. They get rashes and toothaches and they have wants and desires. They want a nice home that is safe and secure. They would like to have a church they can go to without a fear of being killed or maimed for doing so. They just want to worship the God they love and have some peace in their lives. Yet, they are hated and despised. Why–because they are just like us. They are Catholic/Christian and believe in Jesus Christ.

This morning, I was able to drive over to my church and attend morning Mass. No fuss, no muss, no anxiety existed. No one mocked me. No one cursed me. On the contrary, going to Mass in America is a beautiful experience that is filled with peace and love. After all, we are free Americans allowed to practice our religion unencumbered (so far).

Asia Bibi is just one of thousands of our brothers and sisters in faith whose lives are in jeopardy at this very moment. Just like us, they love Jesus Christ. There is a glaring difference. We Americans  can pour another cup of coffee and say another prayer. Our brothers and sisters in faith, living in the lands of the persecuted,  can be brutally killed for doing the exact same thing.

The winds of secularism are growing stronger and stronger, blowing  against the doors and walls of America’s churches. Behind those doors and walls our religious freedoms are still secure. Venturing outside those walls we find that across America those freedoms are being eroded right before our eyes. We had better be careful. As St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein) said, The nation doesn’t simply need what we have. It needs what we are.”  

We must fight to stay who we are, inside and out.

 Please pray for our sister, Asia Bibi. She faces a horrible death because she loves Jesus. A different place or a different time, that could be any one of us.

                               Copyright ©Larry Peterson 2016

The "Protector" Saint of the Mexican Border*

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

Sometime during the early summer of 1973, Jesus Gaytan and two friends began making their way north to the United States. They were planning to ‘”sneak” across the border and find work as farmhands. They did not care where, they just wanted to work.

At the border their plans quickly unraveled. They were spotted by the Border Patrol and, frightened, ran back toward Mexico. Jesus became separated from his friends and began wandering around the desert. He had no idea where he was. After several days of walking and wandering and without any food or water left, Jesus was sure he would die.

As he stared across the bleak landscape peering through the undulating heat waves rising from the ground, he saw a pickup truck coming his way. Not knowing who was approaching, he became instantly afraid and yet also relieved. The truck pulled up and a young man with light skin and blue eyes stepped out. He smiled and gave Jesus food and water. Then he directed him to a nearby farm where they needed workers. He also gave Jesus a few dollars to keep in his pocket. Jesus thanked him profusely and asked him where he could return the money to him.

Speaking perfect Spanish the man said to him, “When you finally get a job and money, look for me in Santa Ana de Guadalupe, Jalisco. Ask for Toribio Romo.”

And so the story goes that years later Jesus Gaytan did make that trip to Santa Ana de Gaudalupe. When he arrived he asked how he could find Toribio Romo. He was directed to the small church nearby. Hanging on the outside of the chapel was a large picture. Jesus stared wide-eyed looking up at the picture. It was the man from the desert, Toribio Romo.

Jesus had arrived at Toribio’s shrine where his remains were kept. He was shocked to learn that the man who had helped him in the desert 20 years before had been beatified in 1992 by Pope John Paul II. He was doubly shocked that his rescuer had been murdered in 1928 during the Cristero War.  Jesus Gaytan realized he had been saved by a man sent from heaven.

Luciano Lopez tells of being on his way to Colorado to find work when he got lost in the encapsulating heat of the Arizona desert. Luciano tells of seeing a “shadowy” figure standing next to what appeared to be an ocean. Luciano told how the person waved him to him and how he began walking. He was led right to a rest-stop with food and water and he was saved. When he told his wife back in Mexico she said, “It was St. Toribio, the migrant-smuggling saint, leading you to safety. I have been praying to him for your well-being.”

Toribio Romo was born on April 16, 1900 in Santa Ana de Guadalupe, Jalisco, Mexico. He was, with permission from the bishop, ordained a priest at the young age of 22. His age did not matter to the authorities. The anti-religious Constitution of Mexico had been enacted in 1917. Toribio may have been only 22 but he was immediately placed under watch by the government. Then along came the fateful year of 1927. That was the year that the Catholic hating president of Mexico, Plutarco Ellas Cartes, ordered his soldiers to strictly enforce the anti-religious Constitution of 1917.

Besides saying Mass “under the radar” and making sick calls and hearing confessions, Father Toribio had also been teaching catechism to both children and adults. Now he was told to confine himself to his residence and to not say the Rosary in public or offer Mass. The young priest took up refuge in an old factory near a town called Agua Caliente. Here he defied the secular authority and celebrated Mass and tended to his ministry the best he could.

On February 22, 1928,  Father Toribio, began organizing his parish registry. He finished doing that on February 24. Father Toribio knew the danger he was in and he was afraid. He prayed daily for God’s grace and strength but would not let his fears stop him from doing his work. It was 4: 00 am on February 25 when the young priest climbed into his bed to get some sleep.

An hour later government troops stormed the place and broke into the priest’s bedroom. One soldier shouted, “I have found the priest. Kill him!”

Father Toribio said, “Here I am but you do not have to kill me.”

The soldiers did not care. One soldier fired and the wounded priest stood up and began to walk toward the soldiers. After a few steps they opened fire and Father Toribio Romo fell dead. The story of the young priest’s martyrdom spread quickly and his popularity soared. Many Mexicans who have headed north tell inspiring stories about how their lives were saved through the intervention of Father Toribio.

In 2000, Pope John Paul II canonized Father Toribio and 24 other martyrs murdered for their faith during the Cristero War. Today, Santo Toribio Romo, is honored as the Patron Saint of Mexican migrants and “border crossers”. He is a saint who all Mexican and American Catholics should pray to for help with the border crisis confronting us today.

Saint Toribio Romo, pray for us.

*This article appeared in Aleteia in June of 2016

                                   ©Larry Peterson 2016 All Rights Reserved

My Pal Jumbo Never Went To Mass Until—-Then He Never Missed Mass Again*

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

*This column also appeared in Aleteia on Easter Sunday, 2016

Jumbo Feeney and I grew up together in the Bronx and we have been best friends since “Hector was a pup”. We can go a year without talking to each other and when we get on the phone together it is just like we spoke ten minutes ago. I love the guy. But sometimes he drives me nuts. Why? Because he has an opinion on most things known to man (oops,and woman) and will never admit he is wrong.

When I see his name and number on the screen of my smart phone I usually do not answer right away. I need time to mentally prepare for the impending event. I know that invariably, when I answer, Jumbo will be in mid sentence having been already talking as if I had been on the phone the last minute or two. I will not have a clue as to what he talking about and it takes me a minute or two to figure it out. By the time I do he is already four minutes into his conversation of speaking to no-one.  It is a fantastic dynamic we have. So the first thing I do is  quickly pray very hard for all the gifts of the Holy Spirit to immediately explode within me . I need all the help I can get.

 Yesterday I see Jumbo’s name and number on the screen. (If my phone was truly smart it would wait until I was ready for the call but it doesn’t care). I immediately violate my own rule and answer the phone. Jumbo is talking and already in mid sentence, “—you know what I’m talking about Petie, right?”

I think fast and say, “Uh, sure Jumbo. What was that you said first? You couldn’t do what?”

It was a smart move on my part. Jumbo says, “Oh man, weren’t you listening?”

“I was hanging on every word, Jumbo, but you were talking so fast I missed part of it.”

“Petie, (he has always called me Petie) I am going to Mass this Sunday. What do you think of that?”
He paused and waited for my non-reply. Then he hollered into the phone, “Hey Petie, you there? Say something, will ya? Hope I didn’t give you a heart attack or something.”

Jumbo Feeney had not been to Mass in decades. He would go for a social event like a wedding or a funeral but never on his own. But he sounded different. As if he really meant it.

I recovered and said, “Uh, no, nothing like that. Just some mild chest pains and a headache. They are subsiding.”

I waited a moment and said, Okay Jumbo, what happened? It has been many years since you went to Mass on your own.”

“Okay Petie, here it is. And I ain’t never told this to anyone so keep it under your hat. Every night when Midge and I go to bed she grabs my hand and we say a Hail Mary. Then she says, “God loves you Jumbo.” Then we go to sleep.”

“That’s a beautiful thing, Jumbo. Midge is a great gal. She loves you a lot.”

“Yeah, I know, I know. But I never paid attention and just let her say her prayer and that was that. And she never bugged me about it, ever.”

“So what happened?”

“Well, last night, Midge was acting weird and suddenly passed out. I kind of freaked out. She fell down on the floor and was out cold. Jimmy quickly says to me, “Grandpa, its grandma’s blood sugar. She needs something sweet to eat. You have  to check her blood sugar. “

I said, “Damn Jumbo, so what happened?”

“Petie, I didn’t know what to do. She has diabetes all these years and I didn’t know what to do. I went blank. So, my twelve year old grandson gets Midge’s blood sugar kit out, sticks her finger and finds out her sugar is 39. He gets some OJ and some sugar and some stuff for her to eat and he saved her Petie. My grandson  saved my wife while I stood there like a useless ass. If he wasn’t there I—-.” Then I heard my 6’5″, 250 pound buddy, stifle a sob.

It was a startling story and I didn’t know what to say to him. I can hear Jumbo’s tear filled voice say to me, “Petie, Jimmy and I got her  on the couch and she is now sitting up. She takes a deep breath, looks at me and asks me if I will you please go to Mass with her on Easter Sunday.”

“So, what did you tell her?”

“I put my arm around her shoulder, looked her square in those beautiful green eyes and said, ‘Midge, I swear to you, I will go to Mass with you every Sunday from this Easter on. I swear it. All those times you told me that ‘God loves me’, well Midgie, you were right. The least I can do is give Him some time back. After all, He gave me you back. I owe Him big time.”

“Hey Jumbo, give Midge  a hug for me, will ya. And, Happy Easter. Love ya, man.”

“Yeah, love ya too, Petie. Happy Easter.”

                                 ©Larry Peterson2016 All Right 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

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