Our Leaders take Oaths on the Bible to Defend Life

By Larry Peterson

Certain things are joined together in perpetuity. This is demonstrated when a president, or any public official, lays a hand upon a Bible and swears an oath to uphold the Constitution and defend life.

The Presidential Oath is administered by the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. The 35 words of the oath and the words in the Bible are forever embraced by the person who has just taken the Oath.  Think about that.

I base my thoughts here on the second sentence of the Declaration of Independence. It reads, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” Notice that the very first right is Life.

I would like to explore two separate cases that have to do with the very question of Life itself.

Alfie Evans

The first case is about Alfie Evans, the little boy from Liverpool, England.  Alfie was denied the right to live by the courts in Great Britain because the doctors did not believe the child could survive his illness.

Alfie suffered from a neurodegenerative disorder that would cause his lungs to fail. The medical experts at the Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool decided that ventilator support was unkind and inhumane and not in Alfie’s best interests.

Supported by Pope Francis

Thomas Evans and Kate James, Alfie’s parents, fought as best they could to keep their son alive. They even had the support of Pope Francis. The Holy Father actively helped Alfie obtain Italian citizenship in hopes that he might be brought to Italy to receive care there. It did not happen.

On April 23, 2018, strangers wearing medical garb disconnected Alfie from his ventilator. He lived five days gasping for breath and died at 2:30 a.m. on April 28, 2018. Alfie was two weeks shy of his second birthday.

On one side was the medical and government community.  The two are intrinsically linked because the government in Great Britain provides healthcare.  This is known as socialized medicine.

On the other side were the mother, father, and people of faith. God had no place in the former. People of prayer, including the Pope, were fighting to keep Alfie alive, praying that something miraculous and/or life-saving would enter Alfie’s shrinking world.  The secularists could not wait for such Pollyanna wishes to come to pass. Good-bye, little Alfie.

My Wife

The second case is deals with my wife, Loretta.  My wife was on life-support, but unlike Tom and Kate Evans, her family (led by me) could decide when to allow the machines to be turned off.  It was not a judge or a doctor or the courts or anything like that. The woman’s immediate family made the decisions.

The end result in my wife’s case was different than in Alfie’s. In our case, God had a prominent role in how we would proceed.  And the ending we received was completely unexpected.

Loretta, had been ill for a long time, and on April 6, 2002, she fell into a coma. By that evening, she was on life support. There was a Catholic living will on file for each of us.  As long as I was present, I had complete control over life-ending processes.

Although Loretta was a middle-aged adult and Alfie was a baby, the parallels in each case are quite similar.

At the age of seven months, Alfie developed seizures, which caused him to go into a “semi-vegetative state.” Alfie did have brain function, but most doctors agreed that his condition (which they were not sure of) was incurable. Most importantly, his parent’s rights to try to save him were stripped from them by the courts.

The primary difference between Loretta and Alfie was age and size. The similarities were that they each were both God’s individual and unique creations.

Weaning from the Ventilator

Two weeks passed by, and we began attempting to wean Loretta off the ventilator. Each time her breathing would stop in less than a minute. Six doctors told us it was “no-use.” On the third day, my grown children and I gathered together in the small hospital chapel to pray a Rosary. We asked Our Lady and Jesus for their help. My kids then took turns going to their mom’s bedside to say their “good-byes.”

One at a time, they came from that room sobbing like babies. I was last and sat by her side, looking at her, holding her hand, and saying whatever it was I said. Those words I do not remember. I was too busy watching a cascade of memories that suddenly were exploding in my head. It was not a happy time. The bottom line was, we had “Let go and Let God.” We had given it all over to Him.

Unlike Alfie’s parents, I had control over the machine doing her breathing. Three of the doctors were there and the chief-of-staff. I asked them to pray with us. Guess what? They all did.

As my children watched, I gave the order to disconnect the power. The machine was switched off. A minute passed by, and Loretta kept breathing. Then two minutes passed by, and then five, and then ten, and then one hour. The cardiologist said, “Don’t be fooled; she’s not going to make it.”

Three days later, she was up in a room, and three weeks later, she came home. Hospital staffers were calling her “The Miracle Woman of Northside.” Her recovery was not only baffling; it was unexplainable. God gave her back to us for one more year. Cancer killed her on April 4, 2003.

Our “Fortress of Solitude” — God

In Alfie’s case, his parents had no choice, even though they were invoking God along with countless others around the world.  The Pope had even secured citizenship for Alfie, and the Italians were ready to transport him to Italy to be cared for.

Unfortunately, in the world of the “nones,” secularists, and atheists, God is not part of the equation. We have been given free will and God shows us alternatives. But we make our choices and He does not interfere. He was not allowed to enter Alfie’s world. In our world – mine, Loretta’s and our kids – however, He was our “fortress of solitude.”

Virtually every court in the U.K. ruled against the parent’s rights. The government and their “experts” knew best. Alfie was doomed to die.

I cannot imagine how Thomas and Kate felt as their child’s Life was taken from them by court order. Thomas and Kate, the man and woman God had given Alfie to, his parents, were dismissed by those in power who “knew best.”

Trust not in Princes

The state took away the parent’s right to protect their child. They subjugated Natural Law and ignored the very nucleus of any thriving civilization – the family.  They pulled Alfie’s tube.  He lived for five days, struggling to breath on his own. Was that a message from above that those in charge should have tried harder?

Unfortunately for Alfie, his “quality of life” was not deemed worthy of moving forward. Loretta, on the other hand, kept breathing and did use oxygen intermittently. If the doctors were in charge of her breathing apparatus, they might have simply left it off when her breathing failed on the first day.

Unlike the Evans, we were able to make the decision remove the ventilator.  And on the third day, she kept on breathing on her own and came out of the coma.

Doctors do NOT know everything. They are definitely not equal to the God who created each and every one of them. They were wrong about Loretta. She lived.

Bible Passages About the Beginnings of Life

Presidents of the United States and many others across the country, from the federal to the local levels, have placed their hands on Bibles and sworn under oath to defend many different things. In so doing, they have joined together both the religious and civil sides of the equation. This is why the United States shouts to the world that we are “One Nation Under God.”  The two are inseparable. God’s greatest gift to us all is Life itself. Yet many oath takers become hypocrites by ignoring it.

And so it was on an April day in 2018, Tom and Kate Evans went home and closed the door behind them. They surely realized that little Alfie was gone—permanently. This is the lonely heartache they will forever live with. You cannot understand that unless you, too, have lived it. Their child was taken from them by strangers who permitted Alfie’s life to fade away. That choice should have been left to the parents.

The Bible contains a number of passages that show when life begins. Here are a few:

  • Psalm 139:13-14, You formed my inmost being, you knit me in my mother’s womb. I praise you, because I am wonderfully made; wonderful are your works! My very self you know.”
  • Jeremiah 1:4-5, ”The word of the LORD came to me: Before I formed you in the womb I knew you . . . “
  • Isaiah 44:2, “Thus says the Lord who made you, who formed you from the womb.”

And lastly, from Wisdom 14:27, “For the worship of infamous idols [power and money] is the reason and source and extreme of all evil.”


These Three Nurses accepted Martyrdom rather than Deny their Catholic Faith

By Larry Peterson

This is about three young women. They were all Red Cross nurses but had been mistaken for Catholic nuns. The year was 1936, and the Civil War in Spain was raging. The Catholic clergy was a prime target for the government militia. The three nurses were taken prisoner by the rebel soldiers.

The innocent women, who were Catholic,  had come to help and treat the sick and dying no matter what side they were on. It was all about taking care of those in need. Inspired by their love for Jesus, they were simply following His way, demonstrating love and kindness the way Jesus taught. Even though they were not nuns, they loved their faith deeply and were not about to denounce it.

The three ladies were beaten, tortured, and treated in the most degrading and heinous ways imaginable. This cruel treatment continued all through the night and then, for the grand finale, they were shot to death. Their names were Maria Pilar Gullon Yturriaga, age 25;  Octavia, Iglesias Blanco, age 42; and Olga Perez-Monteserin Nunez, age 23.  

After inflicting their degrading and painful acts upon the women, their torturers demanded that they renounce their Catholic faith. Exhibiting unbelievable courage and saying over and over, “Viva Cristo Rey” (“Long live Christ the King”), they died “in odium Fidei” (“in hatred of the Faith”).

  • Nurse Maria Pilar Gullon was born on May 29, 1911, in Madrid, Spain. Her mom and dad were devout Catholics, and Maria became a member of Catholic Action and the Daughters of Mary in Astorga, Spain.  She taught catechism and worked with the poor and the sick. But her calling was to nursing, and she became a Red Cross Nurse and wound up at the front during the Spanish Civil War. She was captured by the militia and (as mentioned) died a martyr’s death on October 28, 1936.
  • Nurse Octavia Iglesias Blanco was born on November 30, 1894, in Astorga, Leon, Spain. At age 42, she was the oldest of the three women and tried her best to be the “big sister” as they were beaten and violated. They apparently all stuck together as best they could because they all died the same way, “in odium fidei” never giving  up to the evil being showered upon them.
  • Nurse Olga Perez-Monteserin Nunez was born on March 16, 1913, in Paris, France. At the age of seven, she moved to  Astorga, Spain with her parents. At the age of 23, she was the “baby” of the group but just as determined and dedicated to helping the sick, wounded, and dying as her older nursing sisters. When she reported for duty at the Red Cross headquarters she was assigned to the front, the same as Nurse Maria and Nurse Octavia.

Prior to their Beatification Ceremony on May 29, 2021, Bishop Jesus Fernandez Gonzalez of Astorga said, “These martyrs were not linked to either side—the Red Cross went wherever it was summoned, regardless of who was in control. Nor did they carry weapons or even use words to attack anyone. They were simply moved by human compassion and Christian charity, knowing the risks and dangers when signing up as volunteers.”

Bishop Fernando Gonzalez also said that the three women had clung to their crosses and forgiven their executioners, offering a “model of the Christian lay vocation.”

The Bishop continued by saying, “Although they were given the opportunity to apostatize, they did not do so. They were people with their whole lives ahead—only a great hope could have enabled them to renounce it, and only a great love could have sustained such hope. The testimony of martyrs offers a lifeline, keeping us afloat in the truth that liberates,”

The Beatification ceremony took place on Saturday, May 29, 2021, at Santa Maria  Cathedral in Astorga.  The celebrant representing Pope Francis was Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, Prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Saint’s Causes. The newly Beatified women were originally buried in a mass grave at their execution site. They were re-interred at the Cathedral in Astorga in 1948.


She was executed for loving too much: Meet Sr. Aguchita

Sister Aguchita–                                               she loved too much

By Larry Peterson

Maria Agustina Rivas Lopez was born on June 13, 1920, in Coracora, Peru. She was the oldest of eleven children born to Modesta Lopez de Rivera and Damaso Rivas. They gave their daughter the name of Antonia Luzmilla. Antonia and her siblings had loving and caring parents who taught their children the Catholic faith and its virtues.

Antonia developed a deep love for the poor and, as she grew older, always did her best to help and protect them. She loved harvest time because she could give the poor much more than usual. The country atmosphere was well suited to Antonia as she loved nature with its abundance of plants and farm animals. She also liked helping her mom taking care of the house; no simple task with thirteen people living under one roof.

Antonia’s mom did her best to take her children to Mass every day. It was not always possible, but she sure tried. Her children attended Catechism class in the Parish. Her brother, Caesar, answered the call to become a priest, eventually being ordained a Redemptorist.

In 1938 Antonia was in Lima, visiting her brother, and was already feeling the call to service in the Church. It was during this time she had her first encounter with the Sisters of the Good Shepherd. Antonia began a vocational discernment with them, which ultimately led her to enter the Congregation  Antonia received her habit and, with it, a new name. From then on, she was known as Maria Agustina, but the sisters would call her Aguchita.

While she was still in her novitiate, her father passed away. Deeply saddened, she continued to move forward with her calling and, on February 8, 1945, professed her first vows. She prayed that she could always work with the poorest of the poor. She was steadfast in her commitment to serve Jesus by serving the poor, and in 1949, she made her Perpetual Profession of Vows. Aguchita had a dream and in it she was in the jungle working with the peasants in the “emergency zone” She was not sure what that meant, but it was real for her.

Aguchita lived for many years in Barrios Altos in Lima. During this time, her mom died. Aguchita worked in many different places, which included learning various jobs. This diversity put her organizational skills on display. leading to varied leadership levels within the Community. This included working with the poor and putting Aguchita in constant contact with young women who needed help.

Aguchita happily lived the charism of Mercy in her community life, always displaying her love and consideration for her Superiors. She always seemed to step in when a sister was ill or on vacation, tend to the sick whenever extra help was needed, assist in setting up meetings and assist wherever else help might be required. She truly loved being Sister Aguchita.

In 1987 Sister Aguchita remembered her dream of being sent to the “emergency zone” in La Florida. The Sisters had been working in the area for eleven years. La Florida had been among the most violent in Peru, and it was home to the poorest of the poor. This area saw constant skirmishes and bloodshed between the Peruvian Armed forces and the guerilla organization known as Shining Light, a Maoist group that hated Christians.

The Sisters knew the risks. They had a saying, “Leave the town or give your life for it.” After prayer and reflection, they choose to “give life” and stay there. Sister Aguchita had, from the moment she arrived in La Florida, devoted herself to the natives extending to them the same love she would give to anyone. She had written, “I was never a respecter of persons,  I loved everyone. To love the poor is to love life. Is to love the God of Life.

Sister Aguchita worked with the Ashaninka tribe, a people who had been almost wiped out in the early twentieth century. Rubber exporters destroyed the forests and brought disease to the natives. .Sister Aguchita spent most of her time working with the young women of the tribe.

On September 27, 1990, members of the guerilla band, Shining Path entered the village. Sister Aguchita was taken outside and stood in front of the villagers. Six of the local natives were also taken out to make examples of. A 17-year-old girl executed Sister by firing seven shots into her with a rifle. Sister Aguchita died “in odium fidei” (in hatred of the faith).

On May 21, 2021, Pope Francis confirmed the martyrdom of Sister Maria Agustina Rivas Lopez, fondly known as “Aguchita” and a member of the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd. The date for her Beatification has not been determined.


Don Ruggero M. Caputo –Apostle of the Eucharist–Recognized for “Heroic Virtue

Adoration Monstarnce no Flash                                                public domain

By Larry Peterson

He now bears the title of Venerable

Ruggero (Roger) Maria Caputo was born on May 1, 1907, in Barletta, Italy, located in the Italian peninsula’s southeastern section. He was born into a humble family with strong moral and religious principles. During his childhood and into his adolescence, he was fortunate to come under the guidance of Don Angelo Dimiccoli, a priest who loved his faith deeply.  Don Angelo had the ability to instill in his young students a strong desire to follow Jesus.. (Father Angelo would become Servant of God Archbishop Angelo Dimiccoli).

Father Angelo’s influence on Ruggero was quite powerful. When Ruggero was nineteen, he felt the call to the priesthood pulling at him. But he had left school in third grade to work in the fields. He now wanted to enter the seminary, but his education was almost non-existent. So he left his work behind him and found himself attending school sitting among third graders. He was determined to do what was necessary to become a priest. He wanted nothing less than to serve his Lord.

He studied hard to qualify for the Pontifical Regional Seminary so he could receive his high school education and move on to his theological studies. He worked intently and even had to squeeze in a year of military service for the province of Chieti. Ruggero never wavered in his quest, and on July 25, 1937, he was ordained a priest in the Cathedral of Barletta.

He was a simple and humble man content with being a shepherd

Don (Father) Caputo began his ministry serving an ongoing role as assistant pastor at many parishes. He was a simple and humble man and never aspired to high office. He was content with doing his work as a shepherd spreading devotion and love for God, and continually working to save souls.

During Don Ruggero’s lifetime, his deep love for God spread out to inspire at least a dozen vocations to the priesthood and over 150 women religious vocations. At the same time, he organized several lay apostolates for teens and young adults. His influence and success in fostering vocations came from his daily devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. Next to his love for offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, he loved Eucharistic Adoration. He spent as much time as he could in front of Jesus.

“He was a soul in love with the Blessed Sacrament.”

One of the women inspired by Don Ruggero to become a nun was quoted as saying, “Don Ruggero was a soul in love with the Blessed sacrament. We girls, if we needed his help, went to church to find him behind the column on his knees, on the ground, in front of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, absorbed in deep, silent, and mystical Eucharistic conversation. Here was the strength, the energy that he gave to us. This is what he put in our veins; to be all for Jesus.”

On July 1,1951, Don Ruggero Caputo was transferred as an assistant pastor to the Holy Spirit parish. This was the beginning of his moving from parish to parish because his superiors were alarmed at the notoriety Don Ruggero was receiving. The youth loved him and flocked to him, and his success with conversions had lit a fire of jealousy among the higher-ups. They were hoping to quiet the unexpected phenomenon.

“He forgave and consoled more than your own father—”

However, the more he was seen and the more women that heard him speak, the more his following increased. Sister Maria  Antonina said, “as soon as you approached him, you realized that he really loved Jesus and you.” Sister Antonia Distaso said, “He forgave and consoled more than your own father, even when he encountered opposition.”

Towards the end of his life, he was hospitalized with a painful illness that kept him bedridden. One of the nuns who was caring for him quoted Don Ruggero as saying, “Now I have to do my part. As St. Paul says, “I complete in my flesh what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ, in favor of His body which is the Church.”

Before dying, he said, “You will bury me underground among the people. Because even after I die, I want to stay a priest to the people.” Don Ruggero Caputo passed away on June 15, 1980.

On January 21, 2021, Pope Francis confirmed the “heroic virtues” of Servant of God Ruggero Maria Caputo. He now bears the title of Venerable, and his cause for beatification is moving forward.

copyright©LarryPeterson 2021


I am an EMHC and Honored to be One

Christ truly present on the altar                    Catholic Stand                                               

By Larry Peterson

I wish to clarify something right away. I am NOT a Eucharistic Minister. I am an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion (EMHC). Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion is the proper term for the people involved in this ministry. The term, “Eucharist” is never to be in their title. That term is reserved for the priest alone. (see Redemptionis Sacramentum).

I have been involved in many ministries over the years and have been an EMHC for 23 years. For me, nothing can compare to being an EMHC. It is all about Jesus, the person receiving Jesus, and you being the one who has brought them together. It does not get any better than that.

I rarely miss a visit to my homebound friends. As of this writing, I visit nine (9) every Sunday. Five of them are in their nineties. Honestly, it makes my day. Ironically, it makes their day too, (and sometime their week)  because they hardly see anyone during the week except home-health aides and folks like that.  All I come with is a smile, a church bulletin, maybe a prayer card and, of course, their BEST FRIEND.

I have a journaling book, and in the back, I have compiled names of people I have brought Holy Communion to over the years. I want to share a few of these folks with you. These are Catholic people who have lived their Catholic lives to the best of their ability. Many of them were children during the Great Depression and lived through World War II and into the 21st century. Like my friend, George.

George B.

George was  in the U.S. Navy and stationed in London in 1940 during the Blitzkrieg. He survived that, came home and wound up at Pearl Harbor. He was there on December 7, 1941, when the Japanese attacked. He and a Marine corporal manned a 50 caliber machine gun and shot down two Japanese Zeroes. The two of them then proceeded to pull men out of the burning water near the USS Arizona.

After the war, he was in the circus for over 20 years. George died several years ago at the age of 97. I loved his stories. He was a walking history book, and he would get all animated when he was telling you about his adventures. I brought him Communion every Sunday for more than two years. What an honor that was.

Anne S.

She was 90 and would be dressed to the “T” every Sunday when I arrived. She would ask, “Why does God keep me here, Larry?”

“Anne,” I would say. “He needs Prayer Warriors. That’s what you are, and that’s why you are here. There are many souls in Purgatory. They need your help.”

She would always smile and point to her Rosary and her prayer books on the table next to her. She would point to them and say, “Yes, I know. I do keep busy.” Recruiting “prayer warriors” is an important part of what I do. Anne has been gone for five years.

And my little pal, Scotty.

Scotty Walker.

He was a St. Jude baby because of a tumor on his brain stem. That was in 1977 when he was only two years old. He was now 25. Only 4 feet, 4 inches tall; he started   his own lawn service when he was about 17.

Scotty wore a big straw hat, and his nose would be just above the lawn mower handle as he pushed it along. At the same time, he was studying for his GED. He worked his tail off until he could not any longer. I brought him Communion every Sunday during the last two years of  his life. He died in 2002 when he was 27. I miss him a lot.

Virginia

I have been seeing Virginia every Sunday for almost five years now.  Sunday, March 7, was her 99th birthday.  She lives on the first floor of a senior independent living center.

I arrived at the center around 10 a.m.  I went to the rear of the building to use the paging system, accessed her number and dialed, but there was no answer.  I kept hoping someone would leave so the doors would open, but no one came out.

Since she lived on the first floor, I walked around to her apartment window.  I was not sure if she was sleeping, had fallen, or, God forbid, worse.  I climbed around four-foot-high hedges to get to the window and began banging on it only to off an alarm system.

No one came so I finally gave up and left.

When I arrived home, I managed to get someone from the center’s management on the phone.  They could not give me any information.  I asked nicely, “Just cough if she is dead.”

“Sorry, sir,” was the reply.  “We will give your name and number to her son, who is her contact person.”

No one ever called.  I had the church office call twice, and the pastor himself called, to no avail.

On April 1, Holy Thursday, Virginia called the church office looking for me.  (She could not find my number.)  She had fallen and had been taken to the hospital.  They quarantined her for two weeks, and she had returned home on Wednesday, March 31.

I was finally able to visit Virginia again on Easter Sunday.  I brought her flowers and a Mass card for Easter and her birthday.  And when her 100th birthday is celebrated next year I intend to be there.

A Rewarding Ministry

I have been blessed to part of this ministry.  Seven of the people I visited received Viaticum from me.  It was not planned that way – it just happened.  I pray for each of them all the time.  So far, my list includes over 40 people who have passed on, including my wives (my first wife died in 2003, and my second wife died in 2017).

I would suggest you look in to being part of  this ministry.  You get to leave the church accompanied by Jesus.  Then the two of you get to go visiting His homebound or hospitalized people.  It is a beautiful thing.


These six Nuns willingly gave their lives during the Ebola Outbreak of 1995*

Nun Praying                                                                                                public domain

By Larry Peterson

* Pope Francis issued declarations of “Heroic Virtue” for three of the sisters on February 20 and another on March 21. This essay is in two parts: A & B. All of the sisters belonged to the Sisters of the Poor

Sisters of the Poor.” should not be confused with the Little Sisters of the Poor” founded by St. Jeanne Jugan in 1839).

Part A:

The Sisters of the Poor, Palazzolo Institute, was founded in Bergamo, Italy, in 1869, by Blessed Luigi Maria Palazzolo. Pontifical recognition was given to the order in 1912. Members of the Order take vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience.  They dedicate their lives in service to the poor and orphaned children. Most are experienced nurses. The sisters serve in some of the world’s most deprived areas, such as Congo, Ivory Coast, and Kenya.

The Sisters of the Poor began their service outside of Italy after World War II. Their first country to go to was China, but that was put on hold after the Communist revolution. They then turned their attention to Africa and, in 1951, went to what was then the Belgian Congo (since then, it has been known as Zaire, and today it is the Democratic Republic of the Congo).

The sisters managed to build a hospital in Kikwit. By 1995 it had grown to have a main building with eleven pavilions. They treated all types of diseases and had 450 beds. The demand was so great most of the time, patients had to sleep two, sometimes three, to a bed. The Sisters from Italy, numbered 58 and 14, were located in Kikwit before the epidemic striking. More than 400 workers and eight doctors made up the staff.

Sister Floralba Rondi was the chief nurse in the operating room at the main hospital. She had been in the country since 1952, a period of more than 43 years.. She was born in Pedrengo, Italy, on December 10, 1924. She had professed her final vows many years earlier.

Sister Floralba had returned to Kikwit in 1994 after working in Kinshasha for six years treating leprosy patients. As the Ebola virus took hold of her, she thought she was coming down with typhoid. She planned to return to Mosang to get back to work with the leprosy patients. Then the vomiting and bloody stools took hold. She died on April 28, 1995. She was 71.

Alessandra Ghilardi, another member of the Sisters of the Poor, was born in Bergamo, Italy, on April 21, 1931. On September 8, 1952, the birthday of the Blessed Mother, she accepted her religious habit and took the name, Sister Clarangela. She was sent to the Belgian Congo in 1959. Trained in obstetrics, she worked her entire ministry in Kikwit, Mossango, and the Tumikia Missions. Sister had spent the last 30 years of her life in Zaire (the Democratic Republic of the Congo). On April 29, 1995, she fell ill. They thought she had a hemorrhagic fever. She died on May 6. Two days later, they discovered it was from Ebola.

Dinarosa Belleri; Born as Teresina, she entered the Sisters of the Poor of the Palazzolo Institute when she was 21 years old. Her first assignment was at a marine hospital in Cagliari. For the next seventeen years, she served in the Mosango Hospital Center. In 1983, she was transferred to Kikwit, where she cared for lepers, tuberculosis victims, and every other illness or injury imaginable. As the Ebola virus took hold of her,  Sister Dinarosa remained in her post. She was determined that she was supposed to be there, just as Blessed Luigi Maria Palazzolo had taught. She worked until it was impossible to stand. She died from Ebola on May 14, 1995.

Today the Sister of the Poor, Palazzolo Institute, has houses in Peru, Switzerland, Brazil, Italy, the Republic of the Congo, Ivory Coast, Malawi, and Kenya. The Mother House is in Bergamo, Italy, and close to one thousand sisters serve in 103 communities.

We ask Venrable(s) Floralba Rondi; Clarangela Ghilardi, and Dinarosa Belleri, to pray for us all.

 

Part B:

On March 21, 2021, Pope Francis declared three more Sisters of the Poor as women of “Heroic Virtue.” They also were present in the Congo during the Ebola epidemic and died while assisting the sick. They are now also worthy of the title of Venerable:

 

Celeste Ossoli knew from an early age that she wanted to serve God. She had confided to her mother about her vocation.  Her Mom helped her keep the ‘secret.’ They both knew that Celeste’s father would disapprove. When Celeste turned seventeen, she told her father she wanted to become a nun. Her father got angry and slapped her so hard that her tooth was knocked out, and she fell to the ground. After a time, he relented and gave his daughter his permission. She joined the Sisters of the Poor on October 5,1953. From then on, she was known as Sister Annalvira.

Sister Annalvira took her vows at the age of twenty and was sent to the Belgian Congo on November 1, 1961. Sister suffered from pulmonary tuberculosis. She fought hard to recover and managed to get into obstetrics school in Rome. She finished and returned to Africa. She worked in the Congo and delivered thirty to forty babies a day. She was honored with a nickname. They called her the “woman of life.”

Sister Annalvira became the Provincial Superior of Africa. The position required her to travel many places to visit the missionary communities. When Ebola struck,  her dear friend, Sister Floralba , was stricken. Sister Annalvira immediately traveled by jeep over 500 km to be with her. Sister Floralba died on April 28, 1995. Sister Annalvira, unable to escape the clutches of Ebola, died on May 23, 1995.

 

Maria Rosa Zorza was born in Palosco, Italy, on October 9, 1943. She was the youngest of seven children, and her mom died when she was only two. She was raised by her maternal grandmother. Maria felt called by God at an early age and entered the Congregation of the Sisters of the Poor on September 1, 1966. She took the name of Sister Vitarosa. She was sent to Milan, where she studied to be a nurse specializing in geriatrics. However,  her deepest wishes were to help take care of the poor children in Africa. -She never stopped trying, and finally, on October 20, 1982, she was sent to Kikwit to work in the civil hospital.

When the Ebola hit, Sister Vitarosa did not seem sick like the others. She was hurrying about doing her best to help the suffering. Asked if she was afraid, she amswered, “Afraid of what?” Then she would sing a song in the language of Kinshasa, “If in the church Jesus Christ calls you, accept to serve Him with all your heart.”     

Sister Vitarosa Zorsa fought the good fight but died from Ebola on May 28, 1995.

 

Anna Sorti was born on June 15, 1947, in Bergamo, Italy. She was the youngest of thirteen children, of whom only seven survived. Her mom and dad died a year apart in 1956 and 1957. The losses caused her much grief, and she fell away from the faith. She began to get in trouble as a teenager, but then she took charge of her life due to the influence of the Sisters of the Poor.   

At the age of nineteen, Anna entered the convent. She took the name of Sister Danielangela and took her temporary vows on September 29, 1968. She professed her perpetual vows in 1974. She was then sent to Milan to study nursing. 

Sister Danielangela Sorti often thought that she might have a short life.  In a letter she wrote on March 23, 1995, she said, “Time passes quickly for everyone, and we must be prepared because we do not know the hour o the day when the Lord can call us.” She finished by writing, “Stay in joy because love asks for love.”

Sister was working in Tumikia but volunteered to go to Mosango the help with the sick there. She contracted Ebola her first night and  was transferred to Kikwit. She died there on May 11, 1995. She was one month shy of her 48th birthday.

We ask Venerable(s) Annalvira Ossoli, Vitaros Zorsa, and Danielangela Sorti, to pray for us all.

 


The Last Supper–Jesus Christ, the God-Man, gives us the Heavenly Trifecta

Last Supper                        public domain

By Larry Peterson

Easter Sunday is fast approaching. That glorious day is the focal point of our faith. It is the day that all of us who have followed the Christmas Star have been preparing for. The day of our passing is our personal Easter. It has been promised to us if we lived as asked. On that day, it will not be the morning sun blinding us. We will be looking into a light brighter than the sun, and we will not squint or turn away. The light will be the Risen Christ as He welcomes us home. But we must always remember there can be no Resurrection without the Cross. We all must experience them both.

Lenten Mass Readings—A definite purpose

The Lenten readings for Mass on March 4 seem to sum up where our earthly life is taking us. As God’s children, we all make our choices. Some will take one path and some another. The first reading is from Jeremiah 17:5-10  (these are partial) “Thus says the Lord, cursed is the man who trusts in human beings, who seeks his strength in flesh, whose  heart turns away from the Lord—

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose hope is the Lord, He is like a tree planted beside the waters that stretches out its roots to the stream–its leaves stay green–

I, the Lord, alone probe the mind and test the heart, To reward everyone according to his ways, according to the merits of his deeds.

These words are followed by the Responsorial Psalm; “Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.”

Next is the Gospel. It is from Luke 16:19-31. This is the Gospel that tells the story of the rich man who sits at his table dressed in the finest clothes and eating the best food. Lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus, who would have gladly eaten the scraps that fell from the man’s table. He was such a mess that dogs came to him to lick his sores.

When the poor man died, he was taken into the bosom of Abraham. Not because he was poor but because he was kind. When the rich man died, he was not allowed into that place. He begs Abraham to allow Lazarus to dip his finger in some water to touch his parched tongue. His request is denied, and then he asks if he could allow his family to be told how things are? Abraham tells him, “if they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.”

That Mass and those readings were used precisely thirty days before Easter Sunday, which is April 4. This sets the table for the remainder of our Lenten Journey. There are thirty Collects, Epistles, Psalm readings, and Gospels between those two days. They all take us to Easter Sunday. And what is the most profound and deeply mystical thing that takes place as we complete our Lenten journey? Is it not the Last Supper?

Imagining the Last Supper

Have you ever imagined how the Last Supper was? These were thirteen men traveling around Galilee, sleeping under trees or in caves or wherever they may have been invited to stay. There were no showers or laundromats, so they must have smelled pretty bad. Now they all gather in a second-floor room in a building with no amenities to have a Passover dinner. It must have been something. And where did they cook the lamb?

None of that is important. What is important, what is profound, what is mystical and miraculous is what really happened at this Passover celebration. This is the moment in time, a moment carved into eternity, that Jesus Christ, the God-Man, gives us the Holy Eucharist. How? He is God and He takes on the role of the first Priest.  He gives us the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the Sacrament of Holy Orders. We, His people, have hit the Heavenly Trifecta. The Mass, The Holy Eucharist, and the Sacrament of Holy Orders all initiated at the same time, in the same place—in perpetuity—-forever.

Something deeply spiritual happens during the Catholic Mass that even many Catholics do not understand.   The Mass commemorates the night when Jesus instituted the Holy Eucharist giving us His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity forever. He did this within the framework of what we call the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

 

We must have the Mass to have the Eucharist. They are inseparable for it is within the Mass that the ordained Catholic priest can consecrate simple bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. Make no mistake, my friends, this is not a “remembrance” or a “memorial” or a “tribute.” It is the unbloody sacrifice of the Cross being offered again and again and again to God the Father for all of us, for all time, in perpetuity.

 

The True Presence

 

Our Catholic faith teaches us that Christ is TRULY PRESENT on the altar at Mass. These words are from the Roman canon: “we, your servants and your holy people, offer to your glorious majesty from the gifts that you have given us, this pure victim, this holy victim, this spotless victim, the holy bread of eternal life and the Chalice of everlasting salvation”. Christ is with us, and we, the people, are offering Him to God the Father. Our reward is the Risen Christ given back to us in The Eucharist by our Father in heaven. This is The Mystery of Faith , and this is what we believe. I know this is what I believe.

 

The meaning of this is beyond the pale. It transcends human comprehension. For this was when yesterday became today and tomorrow became yesterday. The Mass enables us to briefly step into eternity and to take a peek at the life within the Holy Trinity and the love being shared inside it. This Holy Sacrifice is being offered somewhere on planet Earth every day, around the clock. Imagine that, somewhere, every day, around the clock. It is the most beautiful thing this side of heaven. (Even during the pandemic, priests are offering Mass every day, all around the world, even if they were alone without laity in attendance).

 

I wrote this many years ago and I would like to share it with you.

 

The Answer

By Larry Peterson


Every minute somewhere

Upon this Earth

Amid chaos and pain

Shadowed by greed and pride

Perfection.


While within so many

Silent screams resonate

And fade unheard

Pain unanswered

Yet each minute

A constant Light

Always there for us to share

Somewhere—The Answer

 

But—choices

Perfection unbridled

That tells us why

And will let us understand

If we choose to see

this splendid Oblation

A perfect purity

This gift called The Mass


Ignored yet

Somewhere each minute

For us to share

The Answer there

The Perfect Love

But—choices.

 

The focus of life’s journey is preparation for our transition to and participation in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. When our Easter morning arrives, and we sing out, “Alleluia, Alleluia! Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again,” that is what will happen. Eternal life with the Risen Christ becomes ours. All we have to do is follow Him. If you do not know how or where to start, The Answer you are looking for is right here, in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

 

HAPPY EASTER


For Valentine’s day: A Love Story Embraced by the Love of God

By Larry Peterson

It was the spring of 2014. Ed and Cathy Carmello had only been my neighbors for a short time, less than a year, I think, but we had become good friends. They had met when Ed was 60 and Cathy was 40. They fell in love and, never having been married, happily “tied the knot.”  They had just celebrated their silver wedding anniversary and were simply enjoying retired life together.

There was a problem. 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 she had ‘maybe’ six months to live.   Since I was a prostate cancer survivor and my first wife had died of melanoma, they felt comfortable discussing their cancers with me. They knew I understood.

My daily routine usually starts at around 5:30 a.m. with a two-mile walk. For some reason, on this particular day, I decided to take another walk.  It was on a Thursday afternoon around 4 .p.m. I actually tried to talk myself out of taking this walk but finally “talked” myself into it.  

 Out the door I went and headed down the street.  Cathy and Ed’s house is three down from mine. Ed had a Ford pickup with a cap on the bed. As I passed the truck, I saw Cathy standing on her front lawn supported by her walker.  I could see she was fighting to hold herself up. A bit anxious, I hurried over and said, “Hey, Cathy, what are you doing?  Is everything all right?”

“I was waiting for you, Larry.  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.”

There are times when things happen that cannot be explained. This was one of them. I had a chill run down my back. I really did.  I leaned against the pickup as she leaned heavily on her walker. “You know Ed is dying, right?”

“Yes, Cathy, I know.  We talked about it.  What about your prognosis? Any change?”

She smiled and looked me right in the eye and said, “They told me I only have a few weeks left.”

I tightened my lips, took a breath, and asked, “What can I do?”

They knew that I was Catholic and an EMHC (Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion).  She told me that they had been non-practicing Catholics and had not been to church in years. Then she asked me if I could bring a priest over. It was time for them to “make things right with God”.  I said, “I will put a call into Father as soon as I get back to the house.”

“Thank you so much.  That is why I was out there waiting for you.”

I simply nodded. She smiled and thanked me, and asked me to come in and see Ed.  We slowly walked back to her 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.  Then 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.  I took in a deep breath. (You know, when God is present, sometimes it is hard to breathe).

I called our newly ordained priest, Father Scott. He came over the next day and 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 heard their confessions, anointed both of them, and gave them Holy Communion. He told them he would come back the first chance he could.  Sunday was Palm Sunday. It was the beginning of Holy Week, and he would be busy.  They all hugged and said good-bye. On Palm Sunday, I had the honor of bringing them Holy Communion.

Easter Sunday, I was again 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. They stared into each other’s eyes, and I thought they were maybe looking into each other’s souls. It was a moment that was filled with a shared spirituality I had never witnessed before. I could actually feel it. I have no doubt that at that moment Jesus was there with them holding their hands in His.

Ed died the week after Easter.  A week after his funeral Mass, Cathy moved into Hospice House. Her nephew, home on leave from the Air Force for his uncle’s funeral, accompanied her. She lived another two weeks.  

As for me, I thank God for their friendship and for being a part of their final journey.  The love they shared together, and the peace and joy in their hearts as they knowingly approached the end of their lives on earth was so beautiful to watch. I was blessed to have been witness to it. Having faith is truly a beautiful thing.

Wishing all couples  a HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY and to those who have lost their spouse (me included) hope you have a heart filled with peace all day long.


Known as the “Boy Judge,” he was assassinated by the Mafia for upholding his Christian faith

Rosario Livatino soon to be Beatified

By Larry Peterson

Rosario Livatino was born in Sicily on October 3, 1952. He was the only child born to Vincenzo Livatino and Rosalia Corbo. Growing up, Rosario was a quiet boy, stayed out of trouble, and was an excellent student. He had a kind heart and never refused to help other students who were having difficulty with their studies. Most importantly, Rosario was devoted to his Catholic faith and loved it deeply.

After finishing high school, he attended the University of Palermo and in 1975 graduated magna cum laude. Three years later, he moved to Caltanissetta (located in central Sicily), where he began his career as a magistrate. After a few years, he became a public prosecutor in Agrigento, and in 1989 he was appointed a judge.

He helped the poor of his town as much as possible

He tried to keep his Christian life quiet and low-key. He helped the poor of his town as much as possible and always wanted to keep it secret. When he attended  Mass, he sat in the back pews trying to remain unnoticed. He kept a Crucifix on his desk and a Bible next to it. The Bible had many pages with verses underlined. Ironically, his church pastor in Agrigento only found out that he was a judge after his death.

Much of what is known about Livatino’s life comes from his diaries, which he began keeping in 1978. During that year, he wrote, “Today I took the oath, and I am a magistrate. May God assist me and help me respect this oath and to behave as demanded by the education I received by my parents.” Rosario took his work very seriously.

Rosario Livatino had to face the realities that were part of Sicily. The most intense reality was the presence of the mafia. The dreaded organization  was strongly connected to most of the local and national politics. Rosario knew he would have to stand for law and order or compromise his character to protect his own safety. As was his way, he turned to Jesus and Mary for their help.

The most intense reality was the presence of the mafia

Judge Livatino knew the identities of the mafia families and did his best to avoid granting them the smallest of favors. He also avoided contact with them as best he could. It was no easy task as he was always being invited to club meetings or even church gatherings. It was at these meetings that members of La Cosa Nostra were frequently in attendance. It was a thin wire he walked, and every day was a challenge.

When he sat on the bench, there was no “thin wire.”  He was a good man filled with God’s grace and determined to fulfill his duties. However, many of the defendants who appeared before him had mafia affiliations.  A just man could not avoid making enemies. As time went by and Judge Livatino meted out sentences prescribed by law, he became hated more and more. The local “bosses” had their form of justice. Many times it was an assassination.

In his diaries, Judge Livatino wrote that issuing judgments is one of the most challenging tasks that men are required to perform. He wrote, “The duty of the magistrate is to decide; however, to decide is also to choose. . . . that the judge who believes may find a relationship with God. It is a direct relationship because to administer justice is to realize oneself, to pray, to dedicate oneself to God.”

Rosario Livatino harbored many doubts and fears. He wanted desperately to meet a woman and get married, but it never happened. He began resigning himself to being alone, realizing it was better he had no family. Two years before his death, he received the sacrament of Confirmation. He knew he needed the strength of a Christian soldier. It was during this time that he rejected having a bodyguard.

The “Boy Judge” said goodbye to his parents and left for work—

On the last day of his young life, the man called the “Boy Judge” said goodbye to his parents and left for work in Agrigento. As he drove his car, he was rammed from behind and forced to stop. A motorcycle pulled up on the other side, and men from inside the vehicle and from the motorcycle opened fire, shooting through the windows. Rosario managed to get out and tried to run, but he fell. He rolled over on his back and watched as the assassins quickly surrounded him, pointed their guns down, and opened fire. The date was September 21, 1990.

A Martyr of Justice

Pope St. John Paul II said that Rosario Livatino was a “Martyr of Justice” and in an indirect way, of the Christian faith.”

Pope Francis has approved his decree of martyrdom and his beatification will take place during the spring of 2021.


Maria Luisa Josefa; a role model of holiness in the single, married, widowed, and religious life

Mother Maria Luisa Josefa                                      Carmelite Sisters of the Sacred Heart

By Larry Peterson

She was born on June 21, 1866, in Jalisco, Mexico.  Her full name was Maria Luisa de la Pena y Navarro. As the years passed, it would shorten and become Maria Luisa Josefa. Maria was the third child born to her parents and the first to survive. The births of eleven more children followed her arrival. Maria, as the oldest, felt a responsibility to set an example for her younger siblings. She did so by exhibiting gentle behavior and kindness to all of them. Through it all, she always felt called to religious life.  However, answering God’s calling would have to be delayed.

Maria’s parents had different plans for her. They wanted her to marry a prominent physician in the area by the name of Pascual Rojas. Always the obedient child, Maria agreed to do as her mother and father wished. At the age of fifteen, she put her calling to religious life on hold and married Pascual. He was twice her age. They were happily married for fourteen years. They even built a small hospital together to serve the poor and less fortunate. It was called the Hospital of the Sacred Heart.

Dr. Rojas died suddenly, and Maria became a widow. She was twenty-nine years old. She had no children and remained a single woman for the next eight years. Then she entered the Cloistered Carmelites and immersed herself in the deep spirituality of Carmel.

After only seven months, Archbishop Francisco Jiminez reached out to Sister Maria. He asked her to return to the hospital she and her husband had started. He wanted her to apply her administrative abilities as the operations were falling into chaos. Maria not only put the hospital operations back in order, but she also opened a school and an orphanage. The quiet display of holiness and the saintliness she always exhibited drew many more women seeking to join her ministry.

Archbishop Jiminez once again asked Sister Maria for her help. He wanted her to join another order called the Sister Servants of the Blessed Sacrament. Always obedient, Sister left her work behind and did as asked. She never asked why. She was with the Sister Servants for four years when the archbishop once again reached out to her. He needed her back at the hospital and the orphanage. The bishop let her settle in and then told her he wanted her to found a new congregation to identify with the work she and her followers were committed to. Sister Maria founded the Carmelite Sisters of the Sacred Heart. The date was February 2, 1921.

In 1926 the Cristero War began.  Under the secularist religion hating president, Plutarco Calles, priests, nuns, and countless Catholics were persecuted, many being tortured and killed. On June 24, 1927, Sister Maria and two of her sister Carmelites, dressed in disguise as homeless women,  escaped to Los Angeles, where they sought refuge.

Not knowing what to do or where to start, Sister Maria placed everything in God’s hands. On the Feast Day of the Sacred Heart of Jesus they are unexpectedly welcomed by the Archbishop of Los Angeles, John Cantwell, who had expected their arrival. He arranges shelter for them with the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. They remain there until August 3, 1927, and then move to Long Beach to Holy Innocents Parish. The pastor, Father Francis Ott, warmly welcomes them. And so begins the foundation for establishing the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles, a sister congregation to the order in Mexico.

After two years in the United States, Sister Maria Luisa Josefa returned to Guadalajara. She returned to work, giving help to the poor.  She died on February 11, 1937. Before she lost consciousness, she blessed the congregation gathered around her bedside. Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament was conducted and finished moments before her final breath

On July 1, 2000, Pope St. John Paul II declared Mother Maria Luisa Josefa, a woman of “Heroic Virtue.” He then bestowed the title of Venerable Maria Luisa Josefa upon her. Her feast day is February 11.

Venerable Maria Luisa, please pray for us.