My Son’s Wedding proved to me that “ONE, HOLY, CATHOLIC, and APOSTOLIC” is the perfect description for our Church

Larry & Philomena Peterson married 2/17/2018

By Larry Peterson

We define the Catholic Church as “One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic” church. But when you witness those words coming to life right before your own eyes, it is an experience you will never forget.

My oldest son had been married in the Catholic Church once but due to unforeseen circumstances was granted an annulment. He married again on February 17. I freely admit; I had my doubts about this wedding. But I had forgotten something; I had forgotten this was a Catholic thing. I had also forgotten about the HOLY Sacrifice of the Mass.

When I arrived at Most Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church in Gulfport, FL, I was still feeling doubtful about what was about to happen. But something was different this time. I had not yet put my finger on it.

The pastor of Holy Name of Jesus Church was a man from Kenya. He was a man of color and had been ordained in Kenya. His name was Father George Iregi. This day would be the first time he and I had met. About a third of the congregation was also people from Kenya.

The church was filling up, and the only the people I knew were those in my immediate family. In the back of us, occupying the next two pews were elderly nuns, Benedictine Sisters who lived in the monastery of St. Leo University about 40 miles north near Tampa, FL. Oh yes, the bride, my about to be daughter-in-law, was Father George’s sister, Philomena. She had lived with  the Benedictines while she was studying for her degree (She had just received her Master’s Degree in Education).

The rest were parishioners of Holy Name parish, friends of Father George. It suddenly dawned on me that there was a common denominator among all of us. Whatever our skin color was (the word ‘diverse” fit perfectly), we were all CATHOLIC, and we all would be attending Mass together as ONE congregation. Skin color was irrelevant.

Father George had made arrangements for his parents to fly here from Kenya. They had never been out of Kenya and were in their late 70s. It was to be a surprise for his sister who had not seen them in three years while she was in school. And  surprised she was.

Father George walked out into the sanctuary accompanied by Father Daniel Bowen, a Mercedarian priest who is stationed at my parish of Sacred Heart. Father Daniel had taken Jr. and Philomena through their marriage preparations (APOSTOLIC) and would perform the wedding ceremony. Father George would be the celebrant of the Mass and Father Daniel would concelebrate.

Everyone stood as the bride, with her mom and dad at her sides, began to walk down the aisle. The Kenyan wedding dress that Philomena wore was something I could not have imagined. It was absolutely beautiful with its display of colors and a  headpiece that looked like a crown. They exchanged vows, and the intensity between them was pronounced. I believe everyone could feel that they meant every word they said to each other.

During the Mass, the diverse congregation sat, stood, and knelt in unison when appropriate. The Sign of the Cross was made by all when required. Even though many of us did not speak the same language, our Catholic faith united us all.

The wedding reception was attended by white Americans and dark-skinned Kenyans. We prayed together, ate together, laughed together and danced together. They served Kenyan food alongside Chicken Parmigiana and pasta. Much of the music was Kenyan, and some were standard pop and contemporary. The fact was, it was a wonderful wedding reception.

The significance of this marital union and the joining of such diverse families did not fully impact me until the next morning. And once again it was the Mass that framed the moment. February 18 is the anniversary of my mom’s death. She died 57 years ago, and the 8 a.m. Mass was being offered for her. I am an usher at that Mass, and since I did not expect anyone from my family to be there, I was planning to get someone to assist me in bringing up the gifts.

At 7:00 a.m., I received a text message from Jr. He and his new wife had decided to attend that Mass. They did not know it was for his grandma, a woman he had never even seen. The tears welled up as I watched  my  caucasian son walk with his Kenyan bride down the aisle with the gifts to be offered at his grandma’s anniversary Mass.  The message for me was clear; “Everything is okay, Larry. Congratulations.

Being Catholic is truly a beautiful thing. But for human pride, it actually could unite the entire world.

copyright©LARRY PETERSON 2018

Cardinal Merry del Val—He not only was chosen by Pope St. Pius X to be “his Cardinal” , he also penned the Litany of Humility which he said every day after Mass.

Cardinal Merry del Val              en.wikipeida.org

By Larry Peterson

The definition of a litany: a prayer consisting of a series of invocations and supplications by the leader with alternate responses by the congregation.

We Catholics have many litanies we can turn to in time of need. However, there is one Litany we do not hear used much. I believe it is among the most beautiful in the list of Litanies we have available to us. It is the Litany of Humility. And most folks attribute it to the pen of the most humble of all cardinals, Merry del Val

From the Litany of Humility: “That  others may be praised and I unnoticed, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.”

Rafael Merry del Val y Zuelta was the second of four sons born to Carlos Merry del Valas and  Sofia Josefa de Zulueta. Rafael was born in the Spanish embassy in London, England, in 1865. The unusual surname,“Merry” came from Irish merchants who had settled in Seville, Spain in the eighteenth century. His family could trace their lineage back to the 12th century.

Living and growing up in London allowed for young Rafael to receive the best academic training offered by the British schools. However, despite his aristocratic background, young Rafael always displayed a genuine and personal humility tempered by integrity and modesty that he carried throughout his life.

From an early age, Rafael felt the call to the priesthood.  He attended a Jesuit preparatory school and from there went on to Upshaw College. He already had earned a Doctorate in Philosophy at Pontifical Gregorian University when he was ordained to the priesthood on December 30, 1888. He followed by earning a Doctorate in Theology and then a Licentiate in Canon law. He was already visible on Pope Leo XIII’s  radar.

He was entrusted by Pope Leo with studying the question of the validity of Anglican orders. This was a huge issue at the time, and Merry del Val was the main architect of the Church’s response to this question. The result of his work was the Papal bull, Apostolicae Curae.

The lives of Pope Pius X and Cardinal Merry del Val would never have crossed paths if God did not have a plan. The pope was born poor and had spent his entire life among the poor. Cardinal del Val came from one of the most prominent families in Europe. He had been educated in the best schools and was at home at any embassy in Europe.

During the Papal Conclave of 1903, the Austrians stopped the election of Cardinal Tindaro. Ironically, the secretary of the College of Cardinals had died almost the same time as Pope Leo

XIII. In their quest to hurry and get someone to coordinate the papal election, the pontifical academy chose Merry del Val. He had only been a bishop for three years. After four days and on the seventh ballot, a relatively unknown cardinal from Venice was elected. Guiseppe Cardinal Sarto was elected to the papacy. He took the name, Pope Pius X. He and Bishop Merry del Val, two total opposites, became fast friends.

After two months Bishop del Val was elevated to cardinal and, next to the Pope,  the most powerful position in the Vatican; that of Secretary of State. He was the first Cardinal elevated by Pope Pius X and the Holy Father, upon bestowing the cardinal’s hat upon him said, “The good odor of Christ, lord cardinal, that you have spread in every place, even in your temporary dwelling, and the many works of charity to which you have dedicated yourself constantly in your priestly ministry, especially in this our city of Rome, have won for you, with admiration, universal esteem.[1]

Pope Pius X passed away on August 20, 1914. Cardinal Merry del Val passed away in 1930. But perhaps more than anything else, Cardinal Merry del Val is known  for the Litany of Humility.  Many insist he is the one who actually wrote  it. It is known that he said it every day after he celebrated Mass. C.S. Lewis gave Cardinal del Val credit for composing it. So did Father Charles Belmont of Opus Dei. There wasa similar version found that was supposedly published in 1867 but the author of that seems to vanish into obscurity.

You might open the link and print out a copy. It is a beautiful Litany to have available.

Servant of God,  Cardinal Merry del Val; please pray for us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Manliness Personified; Joseph of Nazareth: The Saint Who Saved the Savior (Feast Day, March 19)

Joseph and Mary going to Bethlehem
stjosephnewpalz.org

By Larry Peterson

So little is known about Joseph of Nazareth. There is not even one word he ever said that was recorded.  But his quiet life resonated as if huge cymbals were being smashed together, their vibrating sounds marching over the ages of history and into the center of our 21st-century existence. For it was Joseph of Nazareth who saved the Son of God so He could live to save us all. I call Joseph, the “Savior Saint.”

Joseph, a carpenter from Nazareth, was obviously humble and egoless and gave of himself. He was a real MAN.  And it was this man, this quiet, savior saint who single-handedly saved the life of our Savior, Jesus Christ when He was still an infant. Imagine if he had not been available to protect his wife and child.

As a man, I try to imagine having to confront what Joseph had to deal with. As Mary’s betrothed, he quietly accepted her pregnancy at a time when the scandal of such a thing oftentimes meant execution for the woman. When Mary was almost full term, he was forced to put her on the back of a donkey and take her 80 miles over rocky, dirt roads to Bethlehem for the census; a journey that would have probably taken three to five days. (I would have been sick to my stomach praying we could make it).

Then, upon arrival, his wife, Mary, goes into labor. There were no ERs, no cell phones, no 911 calls, and no paramedics. You are a stranger in town and do not know anyone. Unable to find shelter, you realize you on your own. Being a man, you try to appear calm and cool, but your insides are knotted in fear.

He was probably trembling and telling his wife, “Stay calm sweetie, it will be all right. Don’t worry. Don’t worry.”  He is forced to bring her to a dirty, smelly stable that is an animal shelter. Here she has to give birth to her child who is the Son of God. As a man, Joseph must have felt so inadequate, so un-manly. His heart must have been breaking.

The miracle of the Virgin Birth takes place, and mother and child are fine. But then Joseph discovers that King Herod wants to kill his baby boy. Okay guys, think about it. You have made it this far, and now you learn the army has been ordered to find your child and kill him.

The soldiers, unflinchingly following orders, are out in force searching for YOU and YOUR family. They are killing all boys two years old and under so as not to miss killing your son. But it is you and your wife and child they want.

Those other children are ‘collateral damage,’ an after-thought to Herod’s vicious orders. The fear and anxiety within Joseph must have been overwhelming, yet he did his best to remain upbeat.Somehow, someway, with his resolve of faith and trust in God propelling him forward, he made it to Egypt and saved his family.

I have no idea how he managed to do it. Egypt was three hundred miles away, but he got them there safe and sound. He saved not only the Redeemer and probably the Blessed Mother from death, but he also made it possible for all of us to be saved too.

One final thought about this incredible person; Joseph of Nazareth was the only man who ever lived who could point to the Son of God and say, “That’s MY boy.” And that Boy would look up at him and call him, “Daddy.”  Imagine that.

St. Joseph, thank you and please pray for all of us. HAPPY FEAST DAY

 Copyright Larry Peterson 2018

 

Blessed Alexandrina Maria da Costa; Mystic, Victim Soul, and member of the Salesian Cooperators

Blessed Alexandrina da Costa                                           en.wikipedia.org

By Larry Peterson

Alexandrina Maria da Costa was born in Balazar, Portugal, in 1904. Her father abandoned his family when she was very young leaving his wife, and two daughters, Deolinda and Alexandrina, destitute. Consequently, Alexandrina, who had only attended school for a mere eighteen months, was forced to go to work. The young girl had unusual strength and was able to work long hours doing heavy farm work. She was all of nine-years-old when she began working in the fields.

Alexandrina came down with a severe infection when she was 12. She nearly died but did survive. The effects of the illness had left their mark, and the young girl suffered greatly every day.  Even though in constant pain she continued working in the fields. When she became a teenager, she began to work as a seamstress alongside her sister.

Things changed quickly for Alexandrina. It was Holy Saturday in 1918, and Satan was doing his best to destroy Holy Week for as many people as he could. Alexandrina, Deolinda, and an apprentice seamstress were working together when three men broke into the house. They were determined to sexually violate the three young women. Alexandrina, staring into the faces of evil, refused to be accosted. To preserve her purity, she managed to jump from a window. The distance down was almost 14 feet.

Alexandrina’s injuries were severe. She was paralyzed, and doctors described her condition as irreversible. They also said she would continue to deteriorate. However, Alexandrina, filled with faith, still managed to drag herself to church. Although hunched over from her injuries, she would remain in prayer for hours. Her condition continued to worsen, and she ultimately became immobile. By the age of 21, she was permanently bedridden and paralyzed.

Alexandrina had a great devotion to the Blessed Mother and prayed over and over for a miraculous cure. She promised to give away all her possessions, to cut off her hair, and wear black the rest of her life if she would get cured. However, that was not to be, but God did answer her prayers, albeit in another way.

Slowly but surely Alexandrina began to understand that her suffering was an actual vocation and that she had been called to be a “victim” for Jesus. She said, Our Lady has given me an even greater grace:  first, abandonment; then, complete conformity to God’s will; finally, the thirst for suffering.”

God poured down His graces on Alexandrina, and the young, paralyzed woman began to long for a life of union with Jesus. She now understood that to do this she would have to bear her debilitating condition for love of Him. This was the point where Alexandrina offered herself to God as a “victim soul.”

Starting on October 3, 1938, and continuing through March 24, 1942, every Friday Alexandrina would literally “live” the three-hour passion of Jesus. Her paralysis would seem to leave her, and she would relive the Stations of the Cross experiencing overwhelming physical and spiritual pain.

The following is from Pope St. John Paul II’s homily at her beatification: “On 27 March 1942, a new phase began for Alexandrina which would continue for 13 years and seven months until her death. She received no nourishment of any kind except the Holy Eucharist, at one point weighing as few as 33 kilos (approximately 73 pounds).——- Jesus himself spoke to her one day:  “You will very rarely receive consolation… I want that while your heart is filled with suffering, on your lips there is a smile.” From that point on Alexandrina, no matter the intensity of her pain always had a ready smile for anyone who came to see her.

In 1944, Alexandrina became a member of Don Bosco’s Association of Salesian Cooperators. She joined so she could offer her sufferings for the sanctification of youth. Alexandrina died on October 13, 1955. She was 51 years old.
On April 25, 2004, she was declared Blessed by Pope John Paul II who stated that “her secret to holiness was love for Christ.”

Blessed Alexandrina Maria da Costa, please pray for us.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2018

 

Baby Turtles vs. Baby People…and the Winner is?

By Larry Peterson

Loggerhead Turtle…wikipedia2common

In Florida, sand as white as snow curls up the Gulf Coast from Naples north to the panhandle area with some of the most beautiful beaches on the planet. People come from all over the world to visit these beaches and bask in the brilliant Florida sun and fish and swim in the calm and clear Gulf waters. But there is one thing these folks and all folks had better not do while visiting these beaches. If they do not want to wind up in jail, they had better avoid the Loggerhead Sea Turtles. They are on the Endangered Species List and they nest on the beaches.

We have in place in this country a law called the Endangered Species Act. Under this act wildlife considered “endangered” are protected by law from being killed, maimed or harmed in any way. There are many good points to this law as some of our most revered wildlife, like the Bald Eagle, have been saved from possible extinction. But, what about the “Baby People”? Don’t they count?

The Loggerhead Sea Turtle is one of these protected turtles. It can be found (like baby people) all over the world. However, its primary habitat is the Florida coast north to Virginia. It is estimated that these turtles build 67,000 nests a year along the beaches. The female lays her eggs in the sand and buries them. After two months they hatch, crawl to the sea and begin their lives. Of all the hatch-lings maybe 8000 baby turtles survive.  They will live close to 60 years.

It is illegal to harm, harass, or kill any sea turtles, their eggs, or hatchlings. It is also illegal to import, sell, or transport turtles or their products. It is perfectly legal to kill baby people who have not been born. In the United States, since Roe vs Wade was passed in 1973, over 58,000,000 abortions have been performed. Fifty-eight million baby people have been vanquished from existence, many of them burned alive via the Saline Abortion method. That extrapolates out to 1,348,837 baby people a year killed in America.

In 2014 there were 3.93 million births in the United States. That means that approximately one out of every four pregnancies in our country results in a life extinguished. Sea turtles are given every chance to survive with the government going so far as to put people in prison who might interfere with their survival. On the other hand, baby people are welcomed into legalized and sweetly painted extermination camps and, unmercifully and without fanfare or emotion, eradicated.

Whatever are we doing? We civilized people have allowed a portion of our past to be destroyed. We are allowing our present to be vilified by what can only be called a great lie fabricated as the virtue of “helping” women. We have short-circuited the future of our children and grandchildren by taking away from them the possibility of another Rembrandt, or a Mozart or a Jonas Salk, or a Martin Luther King Jr., or even an Abraham Lincoln living among them.

There is a world wide abortion counter that ticks off the abortions around the world as they happen. Look for yourself. More than one life a second is being aborted. Genocide of the innocent, living in and out of the womb, is rampant on planet Earth. Whatever have we wrought?

As the great St. John Paul II said, “A nation that kills its own children is a nation without hope.”

copyright©Larry Peterson 2017 All Rights Reserved

 

The “Little Flower” and Our Lady of the Smile

St. Therese; ‘The Little Flower”

By Larry Peterson

St. Therese was born January 2, 1873, and since it is still January, I thought I would mention my favorite story about this Saint. It happened when she was ten years old, and the result was not just the “Little Flower’s” miraculous recovery from an unknown and life-threatening illness, but it also was the beginning of devotion to what became known as Our Lady of the Smile.

Therese’s mom, Zelie, had begun to complain of breast pain in 1865, eight years before Therese was even born. In 1876, doctors told her of her condition. Zelie died of Breast Cancer on August 28, 1877. She was 45 years old.  Her youngest child, Therese, who was four years old, was crushed. Years later she would write that “the first part of my life stopped that day.”

Zelie Martin had asked her husband, Louis, to have Pauline look after Therese after she had passed. Pauline was twelve years older than her little sister and had been acting as a surrogate mom for Therese while their mom was sick. Therese loved Pauline very much and felt safe and secure with her by her side.

In October of 1882, when Therese was nine years old, Pauline entered the Carmelite monastery at Lisieux. Pauline was the child’s “second mother” and, once again, Therese was crushed. She believed that since Pauline was cloistered, she would never see her again. She cried, “—in the depths of my heart, I know Pauline is lost to me.”

Therese began to show signs of illness. Pauline’s leaving for the Carmelites had jump-started her memories of her mom’s passing. She wanted to join the Carmelites right away, but she was much too young. The three forces collided and Therese got sicker and sicker. Convulsions, fever, and hallucinations, began to overwhelm her. Her body exhibited tremors and her teeth clenched, and she could not speak. One doctor suggested that she was “emotionally frustrated and was experiencing a neurotic attack. She was ten years old.

The Martin’s had a beautiful statue of Our Lady of Victory. Louis Martin had been given the statue by a lady who knew him, and he placed the statue in his garden. When he and Zelie got married, the statue was moved into the house and given a place of honor. When the children were old enough, the entire family would pray before the statue.

The statue was three feet high and covered with a varnish that made it look like marble. The children loved that statue, and they would decorate it with flowers from the garden.  Their father told them they might wear the statue out from kissing it so much.

Therese was now suffering from severe headaches, strange apparitions and everything seemed to terrify her. She thought her bed was surrounded by steep cliffs and for a short period of time, Therese could not open her eyes.

During this time the statue was in the room with Therese. On May 13, 1883, Marie, the oldest sister, was sure Therese was dying. She fell to her knees before the statue begging Our Lady to cure her baby sister. Leonie and Celine came in and joined Marie in prayer.

Marie looked over at Therese and noticed that her little sister seemed to be transfixed on the statue. Therese was not looking at the statue. Rather, in a state of ecstasy, the Blessed Virgin was standing near her and that is who she was looking at.

Therese said later that Our Lady’s face glowed with a glorious beauty, but it was her wonderful smile, which filled the girl with joy. It was like a warm ray of sunshine. When everything was over, a period that lasted about five minutes, Therese Martin, was cured. Her sisters noticed two large teardrops fall from each eye. Later, when Marie asked her why she cried, she answered, “I cried because Our Lady had disappeared.”

Thus began the devotion known as “Our Lady of the Smile.”

In St. Therese’s autobiography, the “Story of a Soul,” on the first appendix page there is a prayer she carried with her the day she took her vows as a Carmelite. The date was September 8, 1890. (Interestingly, that is Our Lady’s birthday). The last paragraph of that letter is as follows:

Jesus, allow me to save many souls,

Let no soul be lost today.

Let all souls in purgatory be saved.

Jesus, pardon me if I say anything I should not say, I only want to give you joy and to console you.

St. Therese of Lisieux; Please pray for us all.

Christ had revealed the Treasures of His Sacred Heart to St. Margaret Mary. But it was St. Claude de la Colombiere who helped her reveal it to the world.

 

St. Claude de la Colombiere en.wikipedia.org

By Larry Peterson

Claude de la Colombiere was born in 1641, in the old province of Dauphine, in France. He was the third child of Bertrand Colombiere and Margaret Coindat. Soon after Claude was born the family moved to the town of Vienne, and this is where the young boy began his education. It was during this time period that Claude began feeling the call to the Jesuits.

Claude began his secondary studies at the Jesuit school in Lyon. He was now seventeen and, wrote in his journal, that he had “a terrible aversion for the life embraced.” Later on, those who knew him, attributed those comments to his being away from home and missing his family who he was very close to. Plus, he loved the arts, literature and active social life. But the selfless side of Claude won out, and he entered the Jesuit novitiate at Avignon. Here he finished his studies in rhetoric and philosophy.

In 1666 he went to the College of Clermont in Paris to study theology. He took his first vows and completed his studies in philosophy. He became a professor of grammar and literature and stayed in that position for the next five years. Well known  for his tact, poise, and devotion to the humanities, his superiors appointed him the tutor for the children of France’s Minister of Finance, Jean Baptiste Colbert. Unknown to Claude, God had bigger plans for him.

Claude was now a priest and returned to Lyon. Here he taught in the college, became a full-time preacher, and also the moderator of several Marian congregations. After 15 years as a Jesuit, Father Colombiere began his probation in a Jesuit’s final spiritual formation. This is  known as the Tertianship, and it would be the final pathway for the priest to his still unknown destiny.

Upon Father Colombiere’s profession of solemn vows, he was named rector of the College at Paray-le-Monial. Most people who knew of Father Colombiere wondered why such a talented priest would be sent to such an unknown and obscure place. The answer was well known to the superiors’ who sent him.

The reason was for him to see a simple, humble nun at the Monastery of the Visitation. Her name was Margaret Mary Alacoque. The reports were that she told her superiors that Jesus was appearing to her  and revealing the secrets of His most Sacred Heart.

Sister Margaret Mary was being spurned by the other sisters and ridiculed. She tormented over and was  uncertain of what was actually happening. Jesus had told Sister Margaret that He would send her the “faithful servant and perfect friend.”

Sister Margaret Mary had endured much because of the disbelief of the other nuns at the monastery. She felt isolated and alone even though she had been chosen by Christ Himself to spread devotion to His Sacred Heart. When  Father Colombiere arrived at the monastery and began hearing the confessions of all the nuns, Sister Mary Margaret knew the “faithful servant and perfect friend”  that Jesus had promised her had finally come.

She willingly confided in Father Colombiere and opened her heart to him. After speaking and meeting with her a number of times Father Colombiere was convinced of the truthfulness and the validity of her visions. He became her most ardent supporter and apostle for her and devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Father Colombiere left Paray  in 1676 and headed for London. He kept in touch with Sister Margaret Mary by letter. He had been assigned to be the preacher to the Duchess of York and later, to the Queen of Great Britain. He even took up residence in St. James Palace.

Colombiere’s belief and loyalty to his Catholic faith never wavered, even under the intense pressure against the Catholic faith in England. In 1678 he was  accused and arrested as one of those involved in the fictional ‘popist plot’ designed to overthrow King Charles II. He spent over three weeks in squalid prison conditions weakening his frail health to the point of ‘no-return”.

After his release, in 1679, he was sent back to Paray.  Father Colombiere died on February 15, 1682, from severe hemorrhage. He was 41 years-old.

Jesus had appeared to St. Margaret Mary revealing His wishes for devotion to His Sacred Heart. But it was St. Colombiere who helped the quiet, humble visionary announce it to the world. Father Claude de la Colombiere was canonized a saint on May 31, 1992, by Pope St. John Paul II.

St. Colombiere, please pray for us. His feast day is February 15.