Category Archives: pregnancy

Although Pregnant, Imprisoned and Severely Abused, She Refused to Deny her Faith*

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

In 1936,  Civil War erupted in Spain after the Nationalists, led by General Francisco Franco, overthrew the government run by the left-leaning leaders of the Second Spanish Republic. What followed was a period in Spanish history that is known as the “Red Terror”.

During the three year period of 1936 thru 1939, tens of thousands of people were murdered by those on the secularized “left” as  this faction enacted an anti-clerical reign of terror against religion and all things Catholic, especially the clergy, who they hated more than can be imagined. The violence was even directed to churches and monasteries and many were burned and pillaged.simply out of hatred.

 What follows is the story, not about a priest or a nun but, rather, about a gypsy girl whose name was Emilia Fernandez Rodriguez. On March 25 of this year, Emilia joined the ranks of those honored as martyrs from the Spanish Civil War. In addition, she will become the first gypsy woman ever beatified by the Catholic Church.

Blessed Emilia Fernandez Rodriguez:  infocatolica.com

Juan Jose Fernandez and his wife, Pilar Rodriguez, were gypsy people who lived in  a “grotto” (cave) in Tijola, Spain. On April 13, 1914, Pilar gave birth to a girl and she was named Emilia. Emilia, the second of three children,  was baptized on the same day of her birth in the Church of Santa Maria. As Emilia began to grow she was taught how to make wicker baskets. This was how the family earned their living.

Juan Fernandez and his wife were survivors. They had no political ideology and worked hard at their meager wicker basket business trying to live their lives as quietly as possible. So did most of the other gypsy people. When the Civil War of 1936 erupted there was no reason for the gypsies to feel in any way endangered. They just kept living their lives doing the best they could with what they had. But circumstances sometimes reach out and grab hold of the unsuspecting and pull them into a world they could never have imagined.

In 1938 Emilia entered into a marriage contract with Juan Cortes, who was her distant cousin and a year younger than Emilia. Emilia’s new husband was apolitical and, like Emilia, did not care one bit about either side involved in the Civil War. But those on the “left” thought differently. They demanded that Juan Cortes join their ranks.

Juan had Emilia help him concoct a potion to rub in his eyes causing a temporary case of blindness.  His ruse worked and the powers to be considered him unfit for service. But his “blindness” began to clear up. When the soldiers came back and discovered that Juan could see again they were outraged. They knew Juan had tricked them.

 He and Emilia were immediately arrested and both sent off to prison to await trial.  The date was June 21, 1938.  A few weeks later, on July 9, 1938, Emilia was tried in “court” and sentenced to six years in prison. She was absolutely terrified. She was pregnant and feared for her baby’s life.

Emilia felt completely alone in the dank, smelly confines of the prison. She tried to avoid the other inmates but her youth and vulnerability drew the sympathy of some of them. One girl, whose name was Lola and was about the same age as Emilia, was able to befriend her. Lola was a devout Catholic and began teaching Emilia about the faith she knew so little of.

Lola made sure that Emilia made the sign of the Cross properly and taught her the Our Father, the Hail Mary and the Glory Be. Emilia was soon participating in praying the Rosary with some of the others. She even learned to say “ora pro nobis” in response to the litanies being said in Latin. Soon, the commander of the prison, Pilar Salmeron Martinez, found out that Emilia, the uneducated, ignorant gypsy girl, could pray the Rosary. He was determined to find out who had the audacity to teach her.

Martinez called her into his office and demanded she tell him who taught her to pray. He even told Emilia that he would not only get her released from prison but would also get Juan out of his prison. He told her to think of her “poor baby” and how living in a prison cell was no place for a child. Martinez considered Emilia weak and was sure she would agree. He was wrong.

Emilia’s faith was beginning to sprout strong and true. She was only 24 years old, was afraid and pregnant yet she would not reveal the name of Lola. Furious at this “gypsy girl”, Martinez ordered her into solitary confinement. He also ordered Lola to be thrown into solitary also. He knew she was the “troublemaker” who was teaching prayers to the inmates. The conditions in solitary were horrendous.

Winter came and the evil Martinez, still trying to ‘break” Emilia, cut her already meager food rations. The young woman was getting weaker and sicker by the day and her baby was soon to be full term. At two o’clock in the morning of January 13, Emilia gave birth to a girl on the  floor of her filthy cell. That same afternoon Lola baptized the baby. Emilia and her baby were taken to the hospital. Four days later they were returned to the prison.

Emilia became so ill that they had to return her to the hospital. She died on January 25th, never having turned on the one who had taught her to pray the Rosary. They dumped her body into a common, unmarked grave. No one ever knew what happened to the child. It is assumed she was put up for adoption.

The Catholic Church leaves no doubt that those who die from inhumanity inflicted upon them because of the ‘hatred” of their faith are considered martyrs and attain beatification immediately. Many Catholics have died because of “hatred’, especially in Nazi and communist internment camps. This is known as “in odium fidei” which means “in hatred of the faith”.

Blessed Emilia Fernandez Rodriguez, please pray for us.

*This also appeared in Aleteia on April 11, 2017

                                  ©Copyright larry Peterson 2017 All Rights Reserved  

               

Two Teenagers, A Child and Christmas–a Perfect Mix

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME


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


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

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

The "Double Whammy" of January 22, 1973: Roe V Wade & Doe V Bolton

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

This coming Thursday is the 42nd anniversary of Roe vs Wade and  the annual March for Life will take place in Washington, D.C. Thousands upon thousands of “Pro-Life” advocates will  brave the freezing weather in defense of the unborn.  Millions more across the country will gather at state capitols, cities and small towns  lending their support to the most defenseless of the defenseless.  The hopes and prayers of all these folks (including myself) are for the High Court to overturn Roe vs Wade.  I am  a “pro-life” person who had an “up close and personal” experience with the miracle of life and the pain of death all on the same day.  If I had harbored any doubt whatsoever about the “viability of a fetus” that doubt was vanquished  forever 36 years ago.

At the beginning of Loretta’s sixth month of pregnancy she unexpectedly went into labor. Bleeding profusely she was rushed by ambulance to the hospital and our fourth child, a daughter, was born. She also lived and died very quickly, within minutes.  I had called ahead to Holy Trinity Catholic Church and a priest, Father Murray, was waiting for our arrival. Our baby was baptized and buried with my parents. She was our child and was a gift from God. We had  been preparing  for the arrival but it came three months earlier than expected.  No matter, she was a real person who lived and died.  Her name is on a tombstone. It simply reads: Theresa Mary Peterson. September 6, 1978—September 6,1978.

Theresa was not simply a “fetus”.  She was not “products of conception”. She was not an “annoyance”, or an extra pair of shoes to worry about or another potentially “sleepless night”. She did not mean  less money in the bank.  No, Theresa Mary was worth far more than any of that multiplied a thousand times over.  Nothing can change the fact that she did exist, albeit for the briefest of moments. In God’s world there is no “time” as we know it. HE lives in the “Eternal Now”.  Theresa Mary now lives there with HIM. (I like to think she is close friends with her namesake, St. Therese)

My own daughter was born premature for unknown reasons. But she was alive and fully intact from head to toe. She only lacked  additional time in the womb.  Today she would have probably been saved. Knowing that, I cannot help but  think of the millions of little people like Theresa Mary who have been intentionally put to death in a heinous fashion because they  they might cost too much money or might interfere with a career.  Maybe they were vanquished simply because they were an unexpected inconvenience. How many have been eradicated simply because people take no responsibility for having sex, getting pregnant, and deciding that this “thing” has to go before it “ruins” their lives.

 Here is a quick “news flash” (hopefully at least a few young people will see it): You can actually wait until you are married to have sex. Then you have it with the person you are married to and expect to spend your life with. That type of relationship captures the true beauty and wonder of not only the sex act but also of having children. It is the continuation of God’s plan for the human race.  It comes from the Natural Law.

Today many people mock those concepts. Self-gratification seems to be the secular battle cry for continual pleasure. This is an illusion that oftentimes simply leads to sadness. Having sex just to have sex, can be demeaning and self-destructive. In addition, it is NOT the same thing as breathing, eating, and sleeping. Those bodily functions are instinctive and necessary for us to live. We do NOT have to have sex to live. We won’t die if we say NO.  Many people actually choose to live a life of celibacy.  It is OKAY to do so. And make no mistake, none of them die from NOT doing “it”.

January 22nd  will be the 42nd anniversary of the Supreme Court’s ruling known as “Roe vs Wade”.  Simply put, the court, by a 7 to 2 majority, said that abortion is a citizen’s fundamental right under the United States Constitution.  You are all familiar with how that ruling  has torn our nation apart.  What many people do not seem to be aware of is the other ruling that took place on that very same day.  It provided the proverbial  “double whammy” to the abortion issue. That  ruling is called “Doe Vs Bolton”.  Once again, it was a 7 to 2 majority vote affirming the ruling.  The US Supreme Court had given birth to the “Roe & Doe” twins.

The ruling in the “Doe Vs Bolton” case is summed up here: (The link supplies the details:
The Court’s opinion in Doe vs bolton stated that a woman may obtain an abortion after viability, if necessary to protect her health. The Court defined “health” as follows:

         “Whether in the words of the Georgia statute, “an abortion is necessary” is a professional judgement that the Georgia physician will be called upon to make routinely. We agree with the District Court, 319 F. Supp., at 1058, that the medical judgement may be exercised in the light of all factors-physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age-relevant to the well being of the patient. All these factors may relate to health.”

Amazing as it is, if Roe vs Wade was ever overturned, Doe vs Bolton would take its place. Doe vs Bolton allows for abortion “after viability” for almost any conceivable reason. Read the excerpt above closely. According to Doe vs Bolton an abortion could be permitted at full term because the baby’s crying when born might cause too much stress for someone in the house who has a psychological problem. Far fetched? Not really. Just get a doctor to sign off on it.

God help us today and tomorrow.

                                                                    copyright 2105 Larry Peterson
                                                               

Repost: New Year's Day & The Blessed Virgin Mary

by Larry Peterson

This is a redux of last years New Year’s blog  that won the “Frankie” Award  ( named after St. Francis de Sales) as the best catholic spirituality blog of  2013.

JANUARY 1, 2013  (and 2014)

New Year’s Day & The Blessed Virgin Mary

A little about Catholics (myself included)  and the Blessed Virgin Mary.

We Catholics have adorned our Blessed Mother with many titles (47 different ones I believe) and she is the greatest of all saints. We believe that she has been spared from original sin and was taken into heaven body and soul never having to die in this world. But, before she left here she lived here, as a woman, a mom and a housewife.  I think we do not pay enough attention to the earthly life of our spiritual Mom. January 1st of each year we Catholics honor her  with a day we call the Solemnity of Mary; the Mother of God. In the catholic world today is a Holy day of Obligation and, just like on Sundays, going to mass is required. This woman is worthy of and deserves this special day of honor..
Remember that Mary  had already survived the possibility of execution by stoning  because she was pregnant prior to her marriage. You can’t tell me that she did not think about the potential consequences of her pregnancy. (Even her Son, the God Man, broke into a sweat in the Garden of Eden thinking about what was coming. Why wouldn’t  Mary be worried?) She knew she was pregnant, she knew this was an extreme violation of Jewish law and she knew the penalty.  Her life was out of her hands and her fate thrust into  the hands of another, a man named Joseph, her betrothed. Fortunately, he was the best fiancé ever, married her, took her in and accepted her child as his.
Then, at full term in her pregnancy,  she has to travel with her husband over 80 miles on a donkey to be counted in a census.  She survives the four or five day journey (no rest-rooms between Nazareth and Bethlehem)and the countless contractions she must have had along the way to discover that her frantic husband cannot find a place for them to stay.  She winds up giving  birth in a stable with smelly animals,  lots of straw, no running water and who knows how clean those swaddling clothes were. She was probably all of 14 years old.
Let’s not forget that after  awhile word comes to them that Herod wants to kill their baby. Hey, all you moms and dads, how would you like to know the head of the government has authorized your child’s execution? Can you imagine? So, this poor young mom  is forced to make a 300+ mile journey to Egypt, hiding her child as best she can, while  all the time hoping her carpenter husband can elude the soldiers searching for them. Talk about  anxiety. Talk about fear. Talk about having Faith and praying like you never prayed before.
It probably was a year or two before the family made it back to Nazareth. Here they probably lived in a  typical baked clay and straw brick house. Each day Mary would have to sweep the beaten clay floor, go to the cistern for water, travel outside the town walls for daily necessities such as spices and grain which she would have to grind  into flour to bake fresh bread (no preservatives in those days) . Of course, there was the laundry.  Trust me, there were no laundromats and there were no detergents. There were also no diapers or Pampers or band-aids or cough syrups or baby powder or microwave chicken nuggets or McDonald
‘s either.  Her husband would be in his shop doing his carpentry chores and her boy, Jesus, would be with His dad or maybe helping His mom. And life would go on, day after day after day. The years go by and  she is witness to  his horrendous execution. No mom should ever have to witness her child being butchered. She was there for His first breath and His very last.


In conclusion, He came here for us and she gave birth to Him for us. She wiped His runny nose, changed His dirty diaper and watched Him grow up and be killed for us. That is why we call her MOM too. We believe that she is still watching out for us, her other kids. Ultimately, this  transposes into the Greatest Story Ever Told. Jesus was the leading Man and Mary, the leading woman . You have to LOVE this story and its two main characters, from Beginning to Never-Ending.

New Year's Day & The Blessed Virgin Mary

A little about Catholics (myself included)  and the Blessed Virgin Mary.

We Catholics have adorned our Blessed Mother with many titles (47 different ones I believe) and she is the greatest of all saints. We believe that she has been spared from original sin and was taken into heaven body and soul never having to die in this world. But, before she left here she lived here, as a woman, a mom and a housewife.  I think we do not pay enough attention to the earthly life of our spiritual Mom. January 1st of each year we Catholics honor her  with a day we call the Solemnity of Mary; the Mother of God. In the catholic world today is a Holy day of Obligation and, just like on Sundays, going to mass is required. This woman is worthy of and deserves this special day of honor..
Remember that Mary  had already survived the possibility of execution by stoning  because she was pregnant prior to her marriage. You can’t tell me that she did not think about the potential consequences of her pregnancy. (Even her Son, the God Man, broke into a sweat in the Garden of Eden thinking about what was coming. Why wouldn’t  Mary be worried?) She knew she was pregnant, she knew this was an extreme violation of Jewish law and she knew the penalty.  Her life was out of her hands and her fate thrust into  the hands of another, a man named Joseph, her betrothed. Fortunately, he was the best fiancé ever, married her, took her in and accepted her child as his.
Then, at full term in her pregnancy,  she has to travel with her husband over 80 miles on a donkey to be counted in a census.  She survives the four or five day journey (no rest-rooms between Nazareth and Bethlehem)and the countless contractions she must have had along the way to discover that her frantic husband cannot find a place for them to stay.  She winds up giving  birth in a stable with smelly animals,  lots of straw, no running water and who knows how clean those swaddling clothes were. She was probably all of 14 years old.
Let’s not forget that after  awhile word comes to them that Herod wants to kill their baby. Hey, all you moms and dads, how would you like to know the head of the government has authorized your child’s execution? Can you imagine? So, this poor young mom  is forced to make a 300+ mile journey to Egypt, hiding her child as best she can, while  all the time hoping her carpenter husband can elude the soldiers searching for them. Talk about  anxiety. Talk about fear. Talk about having Faith and praying like you never prayed before.
It probably was a year or two before the family made it back to Nazareth. Here they probably lived in a  typical baked clay and straw brick house. Each day Mary would have to sweep the beaten clay floor, go to the cistern for water, travel outside the town walls for daily necessities such as spices and grain which she would have to grind  into flour to bake fresh bread (no preservatives in those days) . Of course, there was the laundry.  Trust me, there were no laundromats and there were no detergents. There were also no diapers or Pampers or band-aids or cough syrups or baby powder or microwave chicken nuggets or McDonald’s either.  Her husband would be in his shop doing his carpentry chores and her boy, Jesus, would be with His dad or maybe helping His mom. And life would go on, day after day after day. The years go by and  she is witness to  his horrendous execution. No mom should ever have to witness her child being butchered. She was there for His first breath and His very last.

In conclusion, He came here for us and she gave birth to Him for us. She wiped His runny nose, changed His dirty diaper and watched Him grow up and be killed for us. That is why we call her MOM too. We believe that she is still watching out for us, her other kids. Ultimately, this  transposes into the Greatest Story Ever Told. Jesus was the leading Man and Mary, the leading woman . You have to LOVE this story and its two main characters, from Beginning to Never-Ending.
                                                 copyright © 2013 Larry Peterson