The Lily of Quito; St. Mariana de Jesus de Paredes; This orphaned girl grew up to be the “Heroine of the Nation.”

St. Mariana de Jesus   de Paredes                                     Aleteia.org

By Larry Peterson

On October 31, 1618, a baby girl was born in the city of Quito, which was located in the New Kingdom of Grenada. Today this area is known as Ecuador. The child’s father was an upstanding and respected Spanish nobleman from Toledo by the name of Don Girolamo Flores de Paredes. Her mother’s name was Dona Mariana Cranobles de Xaramilo and she was descended from the most highly respected of Spanish families. Girolamo and Mariana named their daughter,  Mariana. She was the youngest of eight children.

Mariana was orphaned at the age of seven, and her upbringing was taken over by her older sister, Jeronima, who had already married. Mariana had an obvious sense of piety and humility that seemed part of her persona and her sister and her brother-in-law, Cosme de Caso,  decided they would allow her to live in seclusion in their house. Mariana did not live in total isolation because there was a Jesuit church nearby and she spent as much time there as she could praying before the Blessed Sacrament.

Mariana instinctively began to develop a deep sense of piety and self-mortification, denying herself food, drink, and sleep. Her brother-in-law had the Jesuit priest, Juan Camacho, guide her in her development. Like St. Rose of Lima (who she is compared to) she did not enter a convent but rather, stayed in her home devoting herself to prayer and penance and practicing self-mortification and fasting.

It is reported that Mariana’s fasting was so intense and strict that she ate only an ounce of food every eight to ten days. This is impossible for a person to survive on, but similar to St. Catherine of Siena and Saint Rose of Lima, .Mariana’s life was miraculously sustained by the Holy Eucharist. Many witnesses swore testimony to the fact that Mariana did receive Holy Communion each morning. She was determined to follow the mandate of Jesus: Who wants to follow me should deny herself.”

Mariana’s spirituality and the gifts attached to it included her being able to predict the future, see future events as if they were passing before her, look into the very hearts of people, cure disease by making the sign of the cross on someones or sprinkling them with holy water. It was documented that she even restored a dead person to life. The reputation of the holy woman called Mariana spread far and wide.

In 1645 there was a great earthquake in Quito. Many people died as a terrible epidemic of disease swept through the city. A Jesuit priest gave a homily in church and prayed aloud, “My God, I offer you my life so that the earthquakes are over.”

But Mariana quickly came forward and exclaimed, “No Lord, the life of this priest is necessary to save many souls, but I am not necessary….I offer you my life to stop these earthquakes.”

The very next day Mariana began to feel very sick. Shortly after, on May 26, 1645, Mariana died. She was 27 years old. There were no more earthquakes, and no one else died from disease. It is reported that on the day she died her sanctity became visible to all who were there. A pure white lily sprouted from her blood, blossomed, and bloomed for all to see. Because of this she became known as the Lily of Quito. In 1946 the Republic of Ecuador declared her a national heroine giving her the title, Heroine of the Nation.

St. Mariana de Jesus de Paredes, was beatified by Pope Pius IX on November 20, 1853 and canonized by Pope Pius XII on June 4, 1950. She is the patroness of those with bodily ills, people rejected by religious orders, and those who lose their parents, especially while children.

St. Mariana de Jesus de Paredes, please pray for us.

©copyright Larry Peterson 2019

St. Telesphorus —The Pope who began the practice of Lenten Fasting

Pope St. Telesphorus the 9th Pope                                     public domain

By Larry Peterson

The eighth pope in the line of succession that began with St. Peter was Pope Telesphorus. He was a pope from 126 AD until 137 AD. He was followed by Pope Hyginus, who reigned from 136 AD to 142 AD. Both of these sainted popes have feast days in January and both established traditions that are still in use to this day.

The exact birth date of Telesphorus is unknown, but he was born in Calabria, Italy and was of Greek descent. It is said that he had been a religious hermit before being chosen as the Bishop of Rome.

Pope Telesphorus is responsible for beginning the custom of  fasting for six weeks before Easter. He also was the pope who introduced the Gloria in Excelsis Deo into the Mass. The message Pope Telesphorus wanted to give to everyone was that the words, “Glory to God in the Highest, and on earth peace to men of good will,” meant that anyone who does not believe that Jesus Christ is the  true God, is not a man of good will, and has himself to blame for his unbelief.

Lastly, Pope Telesphorus is the pope that initiated the practice allowing priests to say three Masses on Christmas. The first Mass is held at Midnight because that is the hour Christ was born.

It is said that Pope Telesephorus was put to death during the last year of Emperor Hadrian’s reign, in the year 137 AD. It is also said that he “bore witness gloriously” and he is the only second-century pope whose martyrdom has been reliably confirmed..

In Roman Martyrology, his feast day is celebrated on January 5th. (The Greek Church celebrates it on February 22).  Pope St. Telesphorus, please pray for us.

©copyright Larry Peterson 2019

He watched the Little Heart beating—-beating, beating, beating—and then it just stopped. The suddenly still heart caused the conversion of the “Champion of Abortion.”

 

Baby—legal to kill in America            stock photo

By Larry Peterson

INFANTICIDE is a noun: It means: 1) the act of killing an infant. 2) the practice of killing newborn infants. 3) a person who kills an infant.    That is what Infanticide means; simple as that.

In January 2019, New York State has passed its own RHA (Reproductive Health Act). Amidst “hoots & hollers” and the Freedom Tower being lit up in pink, the bill was signed into law by the devout Catholic governor of N.Y. Today, to the delight of many, infanticide is legal in N.Y.

Many people in our supposedly civilized society, have moved into a different universe. They have embraced the legal execution of the most vulnerable of us all…children (babies are children). We can now legally kill them from conception to fully born and breathing on their own. No matter the size, kill them if you wish…no problem

As the parents of a daughter who was stillborn on September 6, 1978, we were fully cognizant of the LIFE that was lost to us and her siblings. My wife (who passed away from cancer in 2003) almost died that day in a valiant attempt to get to a Catholic hospital so the baby might be baptized. That is a story for another time but we both understood the insanity of treating tiny people in-utero as nothing more than “products of conception” or “blobs of tissue”. They are no such thing. They are people, just like us–only a lot smaller.

Our almost two-pound daughter was named Theresa Mary, and she was buried with my parents. She was a real person who lived and died. And her mother, who never saw her or held her was willing to die for her, unseen and unheard. This is what respecting God-given life is all about. It is the ultimate act of love and unselfishness. Secularism does not understand this. It never will.

Many people accept the undeniable truth that life is a precious gift from God.  This belief is also backed by science. Life is life, no matter how big and no matter how small. No life belongs to another and the fact that a child needs a mother’s womb to grow changes nothing. That child is unique and special with its own DNA and character and personality. That little person has as much right to live as do any of us, no matter what age.

We live with the infamous Supreme Court ruling of Roe vs. Wade passed in 1973. Since then over 61 million tiny lives have been snuffed out under the guise of “reproductive rights.” No one has ever taken away a woman’s right to reproduce. The fact that seven men voted for a law that allows a woman to destroy her own child does not make it right. Far from it, it has allowed for an ongoing abomination.

What is so astonishing is that so many folks do not see anything wrong with participating in a holocaust that has claimed more than sixty million lives. Most of these people seem to be no different than anyone else. They work, pay their bills, mow their lawns, and celebrate Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July. Yes, and they go to church and pray too. I do NOT understand. Whatever have we wrought?

Having laid out those thoughts, I now go back to an article from Life Site News from November of 2008.  It is about the former “champion of abortion”, Stojan Adasevic. This man performed 48,000 abortions, sometimes 35 a day, throughout 26 years. Then, miraculously, he became the most important and influential pro-life leader in Serbia.

What happened to him is well worth paying attention to.  ‘Stojan’s conversion came about from an experience he had in performing what would be his final abortion.  These are the words of Stojan after that procedure:

“As I pull out the mess, thinking it will be bone fragments I lay it on the cloth. I look, and I see a human heart, contracting and expanding and beating, beating, beating.  I thought I would go mad. I can see the heartbeat is slowing, ever more slowly, and more slowly still until it finally stops completely.  Nobody could have seen what I had seen with my very own eyes, and be more convinced than I was I had killed a human being.

After that, Stojan had an ongoing dream where children were playing and laughing but ran away when they saw him. They were filled with fear. There was a man in the dream. He was dressed in black and white and when Stojan asked him who he was, he told him he was Thomas Aquinas. You can read the entire story by opening this link

Suffice it to say that Stojan Adasevic has told his story throughout Europe. He has returned to the Orthodox faith and has become a student of St. Thomas Aquinas.

It is now February 2019. Illinois is not to be outdone by New York. They are going to propose their own RHA. Their proposed law says that women “who become pregnant [have] a fundamental right…to have an abortion,” and “provides that a fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus does not have independent rights under the law of this state.”  This bill would reportedly void existing statute(s)  protecting the life of a child born alive during a late-term abortion. Infanticide will be “all the rage” in the great state of Illinois.

Last but not least, Senate Democrats on Monday (February 25, 2019) blocked a Republican bill that would have threatened prison for doctors who don’t try saving the life of infants born alive during abortions. These “upstanding”, “reputable” American legislators who have taken an oath to protect the Constitution, willingly have agreed that doctors can allow born-alive children to die.

In the war being waged by Satan, the master of lies and deception, his influence is so great and the deception so pronounced it takes many years of flowing graces from God before the light begins to enter the darkness. We must continue to pray as hard as we can until this scourge against human life is stopped. The most powerful weapon in our arsenal to combat this genocide is prayer.

“Human rights are not a privilege conferred by government. They are every human being’s entitlement by virtue of his humanity.”

Mother Teresa

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019

Smoking and Catholicism—Can it go from being Socially Acceptable to becoming a Mortal Sin?

Cigarette ad from the 1950s..                                                public domain

By Larry Peterson

The Baby Boomer generation (1946 thru 1964) will fully understand what follows. The Generation Z crowd (age 8 thru 23) will not. The generations in between, Gen X and Millenials, I leave for another time. This has to do with smoking.

I grew up way back in the 50s. It was an era when people not only ate and drank, they also smoked. In fact, close to 50% of Americans smoked cigarettes. Both of my parents smoked, and all five of us kids became smokers. It seemed as if everyone smoked and we never even thought about it. It was just the way it was. Doctors even did commercials promoting cigarettes.

Like many others have done, I stopped smoking a long time ago. I used to think about having a “smoke” quite often after quitting, but I have come to a point I no longer give it any thought…until the other day. That is when I heard that smoking was a mortal sin. That was, for me, a shocker.

I was at a weekday Mass in a neighboring parish, and the priest gave a short homily about addiction. He said as plain as can be that smoking cigarette was a mortal sin because it was self-abuse and smokers were violating and harming the body that God had given them. Instantly my mind took me back in time back to a world where smoking was a “good thing.”  A time when even priests smoked—in public no less.

Baby Boomers will remember the times to which I now refer. A time when smoking was allowed virtually everywhere. People smoked in supermarkets, in doctor’s offices, in hospitals, in movie theatres, and most everywhere. We never smoked in church and smoking was not allowed on the subway or buses although many people did “light up” on the bus.

When our first son was born—and so help me, this is true—my wife, Loretta, was lying in bed holding our new baby in the crook of her left arm. She was holding a lit cigarette in her other hand. She was smoking and so was the lady in the next bed who was also holding her baby. A few minutes later, Dr. Karpen, the Ob-Gyn, came in to see how Loretta was doing. He looks at me, shakes my hand, and say, “You have an extra smoke?”

I handed him a cigarette. and both of us lit up, me holding the lighter for him. That’s right; there were four adults smoking, around two newborns, as if it was the most normal thing to do. I imagine in today’s world they would slap handcuffs on us and take the babies away and turn them over to social services.

We had a pediatrician by the name of Jerry Ferber. Dr. Ferber was always quitting smoking. When you would take the little one for a visit he would more often than not say, “Listen, I have not had a cigarette all day. Give me one and there will be no charge for the visit.”

In 1964 the Surgeon General, Luther Terry, issued the first report on the dangers of smoking. It has taken decades to get to a point in time where most everywhere is “smoke-free.” They are even banning smoking in public housing. But to hear a priest say in his homily that smoking is a mortal sin just rattled my cage. I understand that to commit a mortal sin you must know it is a serious sin and you must willingly commit the act anyway.

Millions of kind, decent people who have left this world for the next were smokers. I’m sure they were never judged on their smoking habits. There are people today who still smoke and I doubt they have never (if Catholic) imagined they were sinning when lighting a cigarette.

The bottom line is this; smoking is addictive. It is very hard to stop doing it. Some people try over and over and never succeed. Many do. But to classify smoking as a mortal sin seems kind of heavy-handed. We pray for the drug addicts and we have rehab centers for them and all sorts of government programs to help.

To get help in quitting smoking click this link.

©copyrighjt Larry Peterson 2018

 

Pope St. Hyginus–The Pope who initiated having Godparents for the Newborn

Pope St. Hyginus the tenth Pope 137-142 AD                      ucatholic.com

By Larry Peterson

The ninth pope in the line of succession and the person who succeeded Telesphorus was a man named Hyginus. According to the Liber Pontificalis (this is the widely referenced history of the Popes from St. Peter up until the 15th century) Hyginus, a contemporary of St. Justin Martyr, was a Greek from Athens who had been a philosopher and a Christian apologist. He attained the Chair of Peter during a time when the Gnostic heresies were taking hold with the church.

Valentinus was a candidate to be Bishop of Rome but when that did not happen, he began his own school of thought. This became known as Gnosticism which basically teaches that the primary way to learn about God is through your own reason and not from revelation or tradition. This concept was against all that was part of Catholic teaching.

Hyginus fought vigourously against the Gnostic heresy and managed to overcome it. Many of the followers of Valentinus rejected his teachings and returned to the church. Some did not.

In addition to confronting and defeating the Gnostics, Hyginus also defined the various levels of the hierarchy and the responsibilities attached to the different positions.

Hyginus, although only pope for a short time, established the practice of including godparents to assist the newly born, not only at the Baptism but throughout their Christian life. He also decreed that all churches must be consecrated before Masses could be offered in them.

It is said that Pope Hyginus died a martyr. However, this has not been fully documented. When he died, he was buried on the Vatican Hill, close to St. Peter’s tomb.  His feast day is January 11.

Prayer to Pope St. Hyginus:

O eternal Shepherd, watch over the peace of the flock, and through Blessed Hyginus, Thy martyr and sovereign pontiff, whom thou didst appoint shepherd over the whole church, keep her under Thy constant protection. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.

 ©Larry Peterson copyright 2019

Celebrating Catholic Black History Month: Meet Mother Mary Elizabeth Lange*

Servant of God; Mother Mary Elizabeth Lange            public domain

Honoring Black History Month; 2019

By Larry Peterson

In July of 1990, the National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus of the United States designated November as Black Catholic History Month. To be truthful, up until that time, I had never even heard of the Black Catholic Clergy Caucus or any other black Catholic organizations. I was truly pleased to find they existed.

Then a few years ago, I discovered a man named Augustus Tolton. Born a slave in Missouri, Augustus became the first ordained, African-American Catholic priest in America. Declared a “Servant of God”, Father “Gus” may well become the first African-American to be canonized a saint. Time will tell.

Discovering Father Tolton led me to other Catholic people of color,  people that were ridiculed and persecuted because of their African-American heritage, people who stood tall in the face of adversity and, most of all, people who embraced their Catholic faith and became shining stars on the road to sainthood.

People like Venerable Henriette Delille (profiled in Aleteia) who not only opened schools and homes for the sick and elderly but also founded a religious order, The Sisters of the Holy Family. “Servant of God”; Mother Mary Lange, is another great Catholic woman who led a remarkable life and also has been placed on the path to canonization.

There is a bit of confusion about where Elizabeth Clarisse Lange was born. It probably was Haiti somewhere around 1790. That is not an absolute but it is known that she did grow up in Santiago de Cuba and that is considered her birthplace. Elizabeth grew up in the French-speaking area of the city and became well educated. The “oral” history of the time stated she came from a family with an elevated “social standing”.

Beyond that not much more is known of her early years except for the fact she did leave Cuba to seek peace and security in the United States. She eventually settled in Baltimore, Maryland where many French-speaking Catholic refugees from Haiti had settled. Elizabeth quickly recognized that the children of the many Caribbean immigrants needed education. A loving, courageous and deeply spiritual woman, Elizabeth was not only an independent thinker, but she was also a woman of action.

Somewhere around 1818,  Elizabeth and her friend, Marie Magdelaine Balas, began offering free education to children of the migrants. They opened their home in the Fells Point area of Baltimore City and began teaching. They were black women in a slave state and the Emancipation Proclamation was still 50 years in the future. Elizabeth used her own money for supplies and charged nothing for her services. Since free public schools would not be available for children of color until 1866, the poor children in the area had become recipients of a miraculous opportunity.

Sometime around 1828 the Archbishop of Baltimore, James Whitfield, asked Father James Joubert, S.S. if he would ask Elizabeth Lange if she would consider starting a school for “girls of colour”.  For Elizabeth, this was an answer to her prayers. She confided in father Joubert that she had been waiting for God’s call for more than ten years. She asked if she could start a religious order and father Joubert thought it was a fine idea. He agreed to provide guidance, solicit funds and encourage other “women of colour” if they would consider joining the first congregation of women of African heritage. Elizabeth was overjoyed.

There was one significant problem with their plans. Black men and women were not allowed to part of or even aspire to a religious calling. Once again, the hand of God would be needed to grace those involved, mainly Archbishop Whitfield. Amazingly, standing against the culture of the day, the Archbishop agreed to allow Elizabeth and three other women to take vows of poverty, obedience, and chastity. They were to pledge obedience to the Archbishop.  Thus began the order that is called the Oblate Sisters of Providence. From that point on Elizabeth Clarisse Lange was know as Mother Mary Lange.

Mother Mary worked tirelessly helping and teaching those who so desperately needed her and her followers. She was the Superior General of the order during the 1830s. She assisted night and day during two separate Cholera Epidemics, one in the early 1830s and another in the 1840s. She worked as a domestic and as the novice mistress as her newly founded order began to grow.

Being a black woman and a nun Mother Mary had to fight off hatred, poverty and racial injustice. She never tired of fighting for those in need and lived to see the fiftieth anniversary of her order. Mother Mary Lange, feeble and almost blind, was relieved of her duties in 1876. She lived another 16 years and passed away on February 3, 1882. She was 92 years old, give or take a year or two.

In 1991, William Cardinal Keeler, the Archbishop of Baltimore, received permission from Rome to officially open a formal investigation into the life of Mother Mary Lange’s life and works. Since the cause for her beatification was started she has been honored as a “Servant of God”, the first step in the canonization process.

 Servant of God , Mother Mary Lange, please pray for us.

©Larry Peterson 2016 All Rights Reserved

Daniel Rudd; Born into Slavery, He Became One of the Great Black Catholics in American History

Daniel Rudd                                                                                catholic365.com

By Larry Peterson

Honoring Black History Month; 2019

Daniel Rudd was born on August 7, 1854 and was one of twelve children. His dad was a slave on the Rudd estate close to Bardstown, Kentucky and his mom was a slave on the Hayden plantation in Bardstown. Since the Rudd’s and Hayden’s were Catholic, so were Daniel’s parents. It followed that Daniel was baptized into the Catholic faith at St. Joseph’s Church. The fifteen year old daughter of his owner stood up for him as his God-mother.
 

Daniel’s relatives had been church sextons at St. Joseph’s for three generations and Daniel was taught how to care for the church. He was quoted as saying he never experienced any segregation in his church. “We have been all over St. Joseph Church from foundation stone to pinnacle and no one ever told us to move.” Daniel Rudd grew up loving his Catholicism.

During the pre-civil war era of slavery, slaves were not allowed to attend school. It is thought that Daniel’s priest at St. Joseph’s is the one who tutored him. After the Civil War, Daniel moved to Ohio with his brother, Charles. He actually managed to finish high-school (at the time a rare achievement for a young, white man, no less a black man) and, upon graduating, became a political activist in the fledgling and dangerous civil rights movement. This is also when he landed his first job at a newspaper. The year was 1880.

 
Daniel Rudd, filled with an entrepreneurial spirit, opened the first newspaper by and for African- Americans in January of 1885. It was called the “Ohio State Tribune”. One year later the name was changed to the “American Catholic Tribune”. The opening statement emblazoned across the front page was; 
 
“We will do what no other paper published by colored men has dared to do—give the great Catholic Church a hearing and show that it is worthy of at least a fair consideration at the hands of our race, being as it is the only place on this Continent where rich and poor, white and black, must drop prejudice at the threshold and go hand in hand to the altar.”
 
This was an incredibly courageous way to launch his paper. At the time Catholics were, for the most part, looked down upon. Most African-Americans were Protestant and knew nothing about the Catholic Church. Yet Daniel Rudd, who was an “outsider” to his own people, was reaching out to them and asking them to consider converting. He let them know the Catholic Church was the “real answer” because it welcomed everyone. Somehow Daniel stood firm in the face of danger. His faith was his fortress because even the Ku Klux Klan, who were continually persecuting blacks, hated the Catholics too.
 
Daniel Rudd managed to stay safe and went on to become a noted journalist, speaker and advocate for Black Catholicism. In 1889, he and Father Augustus Tolton (a former slave and the first ordained African-American priest in America) began the National Black Catholic Congress in Washington D.C.  By then his newspaper had a circulation of 10,000 readers. Mr. Rudd also was a leader of the Afro-American Press Association, was a founding member of the Catholic Press Association and helped found the Black Lay Catholic Movement. 
 
Daniel Rudd, born a slave, became one of the most influential African-American Catholics in American history. In 1912 he moved to Arkansas where he taught in local schools and co-authored the biography of the first black millionaire in Arkansas, Scott Bond. Daniel Rudd’s Catholic faith was his anchor in the storm, the foundation for his courage and his comfort in the darkness he experienced. He passed to his eternal reward in 1932.
 
His message to his African-American brothers and sisters was:
 
“The Negro of this country; abused, downtrodden, and condemned, needs all the forces which may be brought to bear in his behalf to elevate him to that plane of equality. The HOLY ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH offers to the oppressed Negro a material as well as a spiritual refuge. We NEED the Church, the church WANTS us. Investigate brethren!”
 
                               ©Copyright Larry Peterson 2016 All Rights Reserved