Snowflakes, Rainbows, & the Twenty-Four Hour Day—Proof there is a Creator

written after seeing a  rainbow—

 

Earth & Kepler 452b           public domain

By Larry Peterson

In 2006, NASA’s New Horizon spacecraft left our humble, little planet and began its voyage to the edges of our solar system and beyond. After traveling 3 billion plus miles New Horizon finally passed the dwarf planet Pluto, the furthest planet from our sun. I don’t know about you but I find it humbling and awe inspiring that we human beings, using the perfection that surrounds us, can manage to find a planet that is so far away. Yet, within our universe, Pluto is as close as a neighbor down the street.

Hello sister planet

Let’s move past Pluto. It seems NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope, launched in 2009, found a possible ‘exoplanet six years later.’This planet is worlds beyond our puny solar system. Incredibly, this exoplanet could be similar to our hometown, Earth. Hello sister planet, Kepler 452b.  The Kepler Telescope has identified close to 5000 exoplanets since it started scanning the deepest parts of space. But this is the first one that could be similar to Earth.

Now, get this–it is one thousand and four light years away. Our closest star system is Alpha Centauri, a mere 4.3 light years away. This means our closest star system is trillions of miles from our solar system and would take us tens of thousands of years to get there. Kepler 452b is 200 times further than that. My question is–how can our melon sized brains discover and learn about these things?

Light from the Sun takes eight minutes to reach us

How can we possibly know how to measure distance and location and density and climate relating to places that are so unimaginably far away? The speed of light is 186,000 miles per second. (Who figured that out)? How do you measure the speed of light? Assuming the number is correct, that means in one minute light travels 11+ million miles. That would be almost 16 billion miles in one day. Multiply that number by four and a half years. Do you see where I’m going with this? The light from our sun takes eight minutes to reach Earth. Yet Kepler 452b is more than a thousand “light years” away, and our scientists know it revolves around its sun in 385 days vs our 365 days. WHEW!

What about Earth? How much of what Earth does is taken for granted? Well, here is one thing it does that we never think about and completely take for granted, that is TIME. There are 24 hours in a day. Not 25 or 23 or 24.8, but 24. Imagine if there were random hours in a day. Yeah, right. So how did we get 24 hours in a day? Let’s just take it for what it is. Perfectly ordered.

Proof of Intelligent Design

We live on a planet that is simply a speck in the universe it occupies. It sustains our life by giving us the air we breathe, the resources to feed and protect us, and we possess minds that can figure it out. It is not only MIND BOGGLING it also is proof that it is the result of intelligent design. Common sense tells us (at least many of us) that all of this could not just be the result of some random, cataclysmic explosion in space eons ago. If this explosion did occur it was managed, controlled, and planned.  Question; by whom? Answer. He has many names but most of us call Him GOD.

What about explosions? (Please bear with me–I do intend to make a point.) Explosions are destructive and, for the most part, maim, kill and destroy. I can remember several Fourth of July celebrations ago when a guy in Maine, in a festive frame of mind, brilliantly set a rocket off from the top of his head. He died instantly. We can go back more than 75 years and read the history of August 6, 1945, when the atomic bomb blew the Japanese city of Hiroshima to smithereens. It ended World War II by killing about 80,000 people. It follows that if I set a bomb off in my car the chances of the result being a better and faster car are–well, ZERO.

So now–to the point. The Big Bang Theory of Creation  (it was a Catholic priest, Georges Lemaitre, who first advanced the theory of the “Big Bang”) has become the favored explanation of how our seemingly infinite universe came into existence. Scientists agree that the universe did have a beginning.  They also know that the universe is expanding, changing, and dying, just like we are.  To the question: At the moment of creation, when the unimaginable explosion took place who was at the controls getting all of these moving parts in order?  Reasoning and common sense give us the plausible answer. Trying to prove something else is simply the result of self-pride and self-serving egotism.

Twenty-four hours in a day is perfect for us

Random explosions do not and cannot result in perfection. Twenty-four hours in a day is perfect for us to depend on, including the animals.  It is a contradiction to believe otherwise. Everything around us is perfect. We can predict the rising and setting of the sun to the second, the new and full moons to the minute. We know when the tides rise and fall and can predict their lowest and highest points to the minute. We know when an eclipse, whether solar or lunar, will occur and where. We have learned how to use the world around us to maintain our very existence or, in many cases, destroy it.

Bottom line: because the universe is so vast and expansive (and apparently infinite) and all of it is moving and changing within a perfectly ordered system proves someone bigger and smarter than any of us put this in place. We cannot understand this. We cannot scientifically prove it. But, no matter what, we live in it and survive by it every second of every day of our lives.

Perfection does not come from chaos. Perfection can only come from someone who is PERFECT. I know who that Person is even though I cannot see HIM or touch HIM. All I have to do is see a rising sun, a blooming rose, a full moon, a rainbow…or hear the cry of a newborn baby or ponder the magic of one snowflake, unique unto itself. Oh yes, and I check my watch often!

“a persons a person no matter how small”

 Maybe Dr. Seuss nailed it in his famous book, “Horton Hears a Who”. Maybe our planet Earth is really no bigger than Horton’s, “Whoville”. Maybe we are specks on the end of a ball of dust. Maybe we are not as big and as smart as we think we are. We had to have a Creator. It is common sense. It is ultimately all in HIS hands.  I am also sure HE subscribes to the famous sentence in Dr. Seuss’s book; “a persons a person no matter how small”.

It seems those very “smart” people who reject what must be so, need to breathe in a deep dose of humility and realize all this did not just happen as the result of some random explosion or expansion. It is illogical and makes no sense (at least not to me).

Please Note: On  Christmas Day, 2021, a rocket lifted off from French Guiana launching the James Webb Space Telescope into orbit. This telescope replaces the famed Hubble Telescope as the biggest and most powerful in the world (Kepler was smaller) Incidentally, Hubble just celebrated its 33rd anniversary and is still on the job scanning the universe looking for new discoveries. The James Webb Telescope is able to see further than did Hubble and Kepler and capable of taking pictures thousands of light years away.

Copyright©Larry Peterson 2023

 

 

 


“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4).

Grief

By Larry Peterson

Some words from a Catholic man about grief and bereavement 

We say many “comforting” things to people in “mourning.” Still, I have discovered that for those who are in a “mournful” state, comforting them sometimes is not possible. Many have what is akin to a deep, open wound that is extremely painful. For many, the healing and scarring process takes a long time. The scar formed is always there to remind us of what was.

From the CCC 989: We firmly believe, and hence we hope that, just as Christ is truly risen from the dead and lives forever, so after death, the righteous will live forever with the risen Christ, and He will raise them up on the last day. Our resurrection, like His own, will be the work of the Most Holy Trinity. 

 Oh yes, we know all these things. We indeed say that we believe these things. Every Sunday, we profess our faith out loud and in public, saying, “and on the third day, He arose again.”.

As Catholic/Christians, our faith has comforted us during our lives. The belief that death is only a transition to a world filled with perfect happiness is instilled in us. We shall be sharing our heavenly world with Jesus, the Blessed Mother, angels, saints, and loved ones gone before us. There will be no more pain and suffering, no illness, and nothing negative. Shouldn’t we be jumping up and down with joy? Unfortunately, “tomorrow” now has a permanent hole in it, and we have no idea how to fill it.

Victims of Adam and Eve’s original sin

We are human beings after all. We are also victims of Adam and Eve’s original sin. This is the sin that brought us illness and death. This is the reason for our grief. This is the reason for our pain and suffering. This is the reason for “bereavement,” which means “deprivation” or to have “suffered a loss”.

“Big Boys don’t cry”

Having these feelings is “normal”. As a man, I have tried to stifle any outward display of emotion in public. (That is how we were raised—Big boys don’t cry—well, real men do.). At home, who cares. No one is there to see my crumblings. After my wife’s funeral a few years ago I did fail miserably at Walmart. It was several  days after her funeral and  I had gone there to get a few things. I noticed that there were no customers in the  cell-phone section  I needed a memory chip for my phone so I asked the clerk where they were. He pointed them out and I grabbed a new chip and handed it to him.

He offered to put it in the phone and transfer my photos into it. He opened the picture file and there is my wife smiling at me. I lost it and morphed into a babbling spectacle at, of all places,  Walmart. A nice little crowd gathered for my impromptu performance but kept their distance. Hey, I might have been a lunatic or an old terrorist…whatever. You get the picture (pun intended). I was told by the facilitator of a bereavement group that my reaction was perfectly normal. Maybe it was, but I sure was embarrassed

We come face to face with a journey we all must take

The point is, as Catholic/Christians, we all witness death during our lives. And we should remember that seeing death brings us face to face with a journey we all must make. Grief is an internal process, and everyone experiences it in their own unique way. We all know of the resurrection and the reward of eternal life. However, it can be tough to deal with when you get hit with the personal impact of a loved one’s death and the grief that instantly explodes inside you.

What she did for all of us is indescribable

Time and prayer help heal those deep wounds. The days come and go and it does happen. We are mortal humans. We must feel the pain. Imagine how our Blessed Mother felt watching them torture and kill her Son? What she did for all of us is indescribable.

From CCC 991: belief in the resurrection of the dead has been an essential element of the Christian faith from its beginnings. “The confidence of Christians is the resurrection of the dead; believing this we live.”

We should never forget this.Do not be afraid —the Eternal Now awaits us all. It will be a wondrous place indeed.

Copyright©Larry Peterson 2023

 

 

 

 

 

 


Don’t Believe in Christmas Miracles? Maybe You Should Reconsider

Our Mom, Lillian  age 39   1959

By Larry Peterson

I believe, without reservation, that the Christmas season is a time for miracles. I have, over the years, experienced more than one. This was my first. You can decide for yourself if it qualifies.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It was August of 1960 and our mom had just celebrated her fortieth birthday. I was the oldest of the five kids and what I remember about her birthday was that she kept saying that her back hurt and that she did not feel good. I honestly do not remember the next few weeks. I had just turned 16 and had other things on my mind, mostly Babs McNulty who lived around the corner and who, for some reason or another, was occupying  my thoughts most of the time.

All I remember about Mom from that time was that she began going to the hospital and staying there for four or five days at a time. I guess it was near the end of September, school had recently  started and for the first time she was not at home. Dad told us, “She has the ‘grippe’ real bad and they need to keep an eye on her for a few days.” Okay, what did we know. Back then it seemed that everyone got the ‘grippe’ (today we call it the flu). But Mom’s was “real bad” so we accepted that.

We were kids. My brothers were ten, six and “going on two”. I had no idea how they were doing with their mommy being absent but that was because Grandma was in charge and, to me, everything was almost normal. Plus, it seemed like every four or five days mom would be home again.

Personally, I was a bit upset that she never looked quite right. She was thinner, had this pasty complexion and black and blue marks covered her arms from her hands up to her shoulders. My sister, Carolyn, 13, told me it was from her being stuck with needles for IVs in the hospital. She was in eighth grade and, since she wanted to be a nurse, I figured she was speaking with some authority on the subject. The thing of it was you could tell she did not believe her own explanation.

Dad, well, he said nothing that helped. It was always the same thing, Don’t worry, it’s just  the ‘grippe’, a real bad grippe”. But he was noticeably more quiet than usual and was always getting home much later because he would go to the hospital every afternoon. When Mom was home she always tried to act like everything was “normal”. Unfortunately, she was a lousy actress and could not hide her strange bruises or the fact that she was sleeping so much. As for Grandma, she was quite happy to accept the “real bad grippe” story. Today I understand that is what is called Denial and Grandma had truly embraced it.

Mom was home for Thanksgiving but most of the work was handled by Grandma.  I do not remember much about that Thanksgiving Day or when Mom went back into the hospital but I do know it was a few days or maybe even a week before December 18. That was the day Dad, Grandma, Carolyn and myself, headed downtown to Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan for a simple Sunday visit. That visit turned out to be anything but simple.

Dad had left our little brothers with his good friends, John and Adeline Tosarello, who lived downstairs.  We arrived at the hospital around 1:30. I remember the time because it seemed to take forever to get there.  Anyway, I believe Mom was on the third floor and when we got to the room a swarm of doctors and nurses were inside scurrying about. Mom was on the bed, head to one side and her eyes were closed. She was not moving. Carolyn and I stared at our mother as an ominous fear grabbed hold of us. Grandma placed her  hand over her mouth and started to cry. One of the doctors pulled my dad to the side and quietly talked to him. I watched him shake his head ever so slightly and then he turned to me. and said (and this is almost a direct quote from that day), “Please, take your sister and Grandma to the chapel and say a rosary together. She needs all the prayers she can get right now.”

Grandma gasped and I do remember putting my arm around her shoulder and saying, “C’mon Grandma, let’s do like dad asked.” (I was trying to be grown up).  I knew that the small, interdenominational chapel was down on the second floor. When the elevator door opened we moved aside as a priest stepped out and headed down the hallway toward mom’s room. Grandma had tears running down her face but was stoic and got onto the elevator without saying a word. Carolyn and I followed and we went down to the chapel.

The chapel was empty and serenely quiet.  There were about ten small pews on each side of the center aisle. Flowers had been placed on the plain, flat altar that was up front. A stained glass window of an angel was centered high up on the wall in back of the altar. There were no kneelers so we sat down and began to say the rosary together. Grandma broke down and began to sob. I remember putting my arm around her and crying  too. Carolyn leaned her head into my other shoulder and cried along with us.

I have no idea how long we were there but we did pray two rosaries together. At some point in time a nurse came in and asked us to please come back to mom’s room. We were a bit shocked because the nurse was smiling and definitely not somber. Grandma asked the nurse, “How is my Lily? How is my Lily?” Can I see her?”

“Please ma’am, just go back upstairs. You can see her. She is anxious to see you.” Grandma, on her worn out arthritic knees actually tried to run to get back to her daughter. I hurried after her as she had just, for the moment, shredded 30 years of age.

When we walked into the room we were confronted with a sight to behold. Mom was sitting up in the bed, smiling. Dad was next to her leaning against the bed with his arm around her shoulder. He was sporting a grin that went from ear to ear and tears were streaming down his face. Standing on the other side of the bed was the priest we had seen leaving the elevator.  He was just standing with his hands clasped together and a look on his face I cannot describe. I did not know it but for me this was to  be a moment etched in time and I can still see that ‘moment’ as clear as I did then.

Our mom, who we were sure was dead or almost dead, extended her arms and said, “Well, don’t I get a hug from you two? C’mon, get over here.”

Carolyn ran over and I sheepishly walked. Dad stayed right where he was and then Grandma had her turn. She had mom’s face between her hands and was saying over and over,  “Oh mein Gott, Oh mein Gott”, (Oh my God in German).

Inexplicably, Mom was better, ALL better. Her arms were clear, her face had color, and her eyes were bright and cheerful. There were several doctors outside the room in deep conversation with each other. They were baffled and had no explanation for her sudden recovery. We learned that Mom had Leukemia and, in 1960, your chances with that disease were virtually non-existent. Dad had asked us to go to the chapel and pray because the doctors had told him she had only a very short time to live and he wanted to spare us having to watch her die. It did not happen. My father and the priest believed they had witnessed a miracle. Grandma, Carolyn and I had seen the results of that miracle. Mom came home the next afternoon.

Christmas fell on Sunday in 1960 so it was still a week away. All the heretofore stifled Christmas “spirit” suddenly exploded in the Peterson house. By Tuesday a tree had been bought and was up and decorated.  Mom was the tinsel expert and she, with Carolyn as her pupil, finished the tree off by meticulously hanging the shiny aluminum strands one at a time. Mom and Grandma baked cookies and cakes and pies and there was singing as they did their work and neighbors stopped by all week long with Christmas cheer and greetings. It turned out that the Christmas of 1960 was probably the best Christmas any of us had ever had.  Monsignor Martin even mentioned Mom at midnight Mass and how she and her family were given the great gift of her recovery during Christmas.

Danny’s birthday was January 12 and he was about to turn eleven.  Johnny’s birthday was January 17 and he was going to be two. Mom continued to remain healthy and strong and both boys had great birthdays.  The discoloration on Mom’s arms began to make its reappearance around a week after Johnny’s birthday. Mom tried to hide it but she could not.

She began to get weaker and weaker and by the beginning of February she was back in the hospital. On February 18, 1961, exactly two months after our family Christmas miracle, Mom passed away. We had all been granted one more Christmas to share with the lady of our house and home. It was the most beautiful Christmas we ever had.

copyright©2014 Larry Peterson

 


What are the origins of Adoration and Benediction ?

Adoration awash in bright lite   no flash used

By Larry Peterson

Growing up and going to Catholic school, we had religion class every day. One thing we all learned about was the “Real Presence.”  There was no doubt in our minds that inside the church, Jesus was truly present “body and blood, soul and divinity. He was inside the tabernacle, and He was waiting for us to “visit” Him. The phrase, “I’m going to pay a visit,” needed no explanation. So when did “visiting Jesus” start and where did Adoration and Benediction come from?

Adoration is a centuries-old practice that evolved from the earliest Christian days when the faithful, upon leaving Mass, brought the leftover consecrated bread home so it could be distributed to the sick and those who were unable to get to Mass (as an EMHC I do something similar today, but I do not take it home).

However, there were times when some of the consecrated bread was saved to distribute to the faithful during the week. This was a time when there were no daily Masses. This leftover consecrated bread had to be kept somewhere worthy of the Son of God. The people would make special places in their homes to keep the consecrated host in repose.

It appears that after Emperor Constantine stopped the persecution of the Christians in 313 A.D., construction of churches began in earnest. It was during this time that the Holy Eucharist began being kept in the churches for distribution to the sick. The sacristy was the usual place for repose.

Over the next several centuries, the Eucharist was relocated to the sanctuary near or above the altar. An unexpected result of this was that the faithful were drawn to Christ present and began praying to Him privately.

The Middle Ages is when actual Adoration began to take hold. People were receiving Holy Communion less frequently so the church decreed that people only had to receive Holy Communion once a year. The changing customs and attitudes also saw a separation take place between the altars and the congregation. It seemed that the churches were trying to separate the priest from the people.

Being distanced from the actions on the altar during Mass and combining that with the infrequent reception of Holy Communion gave rise to a new phenomenon; the people began staring and/or gazing at the vessel holding the Blessed Sacrament. Since the people could not receive communion as frequently as they wanted to, they began what became known as “Adoration.” Seeing Christ in the elevated Host oftentimes replaced receiving Holy Communion.

People even started coming to Mass extra early so they could get a good spot to watch the elevation of the Host. This was also when the ringing of the bells at the consecration took hold to alert the people to what was happening. People even timed services so they could go from one church to another to witness the elevation again. It was during his time that the idea of the monstrance began to take hold.

In 1264, Pope Urban IV ordered that the Feast of Corpus Christi be enacted throughout the universal church. Pope Urban passed away before it was implemented, so it was not until 1317 that Pope John XXII, added it to the church calendar. Since the laity was still not receiving frequent communion, this added to the practice of Adoration. Corpus Christi processions followed.

Soon the Holy Eucharist, contained in a monstrance, was being carried by the priest in procession. The procession began led by the clergy and followed by the laity. It  ended with a Benediction. By the 1600s, detailed instructions for holding Benediction were put in place by the church. Eucharistic Adoration can now be traced to the 16th century.  Guidelines were put in place in 1973.

In his 1980 Holy Thursday letter to priests, Dominicae cenae, Pope John Paul II wrote, “Since the Eucharistic mystery was instituted out of love, and makes Christ sacramentally present, it is worthy of thanksgiving and worship.  And this worship must be prominent in all our encounters with the Blessed Sacrament…”

 


Sickness, Drought, and Famine had decimated the Region—Our Lady came and Showered the People with Abundance

famine and drought                                            en.wikipedia.org

By Larry Peterson

“I have heard their prayers. Assure them that as of this day, their suffering has come to an end”.

There is a town located in Italy called Cursi. It is in the Apulia region of southeast Italy, and if you look at the map of the country, it is located on the heel of the boot. It is about as far southeast one can go before coming to the Adriatic Sea. It was in the seventeenth century when the Blessed Virgin came to this town and, reaching out with love and tenderness, saved all the people.

It had been three years since a drop of rain had fallen in the region. It was now 1641, and the summer heat was turned up full. The drought had led to famine, and the famine led to a lack of work. Sickness had erupted and began to spread among the people. Things had become genuinely desperate and even water to drink was getting scarce. The people had been praying every day to the Blessed Mother for help, but no relief appeared in sight.

It was in  April of 1641, (the actual date is unknown) that the son of a cattle farmer, Biagio Natali, was out herding some stray cattle back to the farm. Near the pasture was a chapel that had been dedicated to Our Lady.   Next to the chapel, near the edge of the road, was a barn. Inside the barn, on one of the walls, was a fresco someone had painted  (artist unknown) of the Madonna and Child.

As Biagio passed by the barn, he noticed a strange light coming from inside. He stopped and looked, and the light seemed to get brighter and brighter. Suddenly, the figure of the Mother and Child came from inside the light. Biagio fell to his knees and a beautiful voice said, “Don’t be afraid. I am the Queen of Heaven. Return to your village and try to placate your neighbors. I have heard their prayers. Assure them that as of this day, their suffering has come to an end. As a sign of my protection, you will have an abundant harvest.”

Realizing that the Madonna and Child were no longer there, Biagio got up and ran to Don Giovanni Domenico Coccioli, the parish priest. Don Giovanni was overjoyed to hear this message. He told Biagio that he had received a similar dream. The priest was so excited to hear Biagio’s story that he immediately ran out to announce the news to the people of the city. He organized them into a procession and all the townsfolk began marching while praying and singing in honor of Our Lady and Child. What an incredible faith the people had; nothing had yet to happen.

As the people processed toward the sight of the apparition, the clear, blue sky began to cloud over. The clouds grew darker, and the rains came down. The rain poured down for three days and nights with the fields soaking up every drop of the precious water. Since it was only April, the harvest that year was abundant. The famine ended, and the local granaries and cellars were filled with wheat and fruit.

The people of Cursi wanted to find a way to show their sincere gratitude to the Blessed Mother. They decided to enclose the small chapel and barn within a large church that would surround it. The fresco would be saved within the new church and hopefully become a place of pilgrimage. The church was finished in 1650 and, as hoped for, immediately became a popular place to visit. It was called the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Abundance. Biagio left his work as a farmer, donned the clothes of a hermit, and vowed to spend the rest of his life in prayer and fasting while looking after the shrine.

Some years after the new church was built, it was hit by lightning and it burned down. A bigger and more beautiful church was built with a magnificent sanctuary. In the sanctuary, above the high altar, is a Greco-Byzantine fresco of the Madonna of Abundance (sometimes called the Madonna of Prosperity). In it, the Blessed Virgin holds the Divine Infant and in their hands, they are holding sprigs of olives and ears of corn.

The Shrine is not only known for the “abundance” of rain but it is also a place for nursing mothers who lack the necessary milk to nurse their babies. Those who invoke her intercession are said to often develop an “abundance” of milk.

The shrine in Cursi is opened daily and Mass is offered at 5:00 p.m in the winter and at 6:00 p.m in the summer with the rosary preceding Mass.

 


Confession is the Soul’s Bath; St. Padre Pio

Bl. Fernando Olmeda Reguera                                                                              aleteia.org

By Larry Peterson

Defender of the Seal of Confession; Father Fernando Olmedo Reguera

On July 1, 2019, The Vatican issued the Note of the Apostolic Penitentiary  (a tribunal in the Roman Curia that deals with mercy and forgiveness) about the inviolability of the Sacramental Seal aka the Seal of Confession.

A Sacrament is of God—not man. “the sacramental seal is inviolable; therefore, it is a crime for a confessor in any way to betray a penitent by word or in any other manner or for any reason.”  CCC 2490

No human power has jurisdiction over the Seal of the Confessional

Fernando Olmeda Reguera was born in Santiago de Compostela (which is in the northwestern part of Spain) on January 10, 1873. Following his religious calling, he joined the Capuchin Order of Friars Minor and was ordained to the priesthood on July 31, 1904.

When the Spanish Civil War began on July 17, 1936, Father Reguera was serving as the provincial secretary for the Capuchin Order. As were many priests and religious, he was forced to go into hiding. He moved among different friends’ homes and tried his best to stay “under the radar.” He also carried on his priestly ministry as discreetly as possible. However, he was seen and apprehended during the first week of August 1936, when the Civil War was three weeks old.

The soldiers took Father Reguera to an old fortress outside of Madrid. The jails cells at the fort were filled with Catholic religious and laypersons alike. Father Reguera’s initial admission to the jail included a severe beating from the soldiers. It would not be his first.

Father Reguera was permitted to hear the cofessions of the condemned

Father was permitted to hear the confessions of the other prisoners, especially the ones who were about to be executed. He gladly heard the confessions. Ironically, since he was 63 years old,  many of the others imprisoned with him were much younger. So, besides being a priest, he presented a paternal quality that proved to be of extra comfort to the doomed prisoners. It may have been a small blessing, but it was still a blessing.

The Commandant demanded that Father Reguera reveal  what he had been told. He refused

Father Reguera quickly discovered that his captors wanted much more from him. He was brought into the commandant’s office and told he would have to write down all that he had heard in the confessional. The commandant told him his only other option was death. He adamantly refused and was severely beaten again. They gave him some time and asked him again to cooperate. He refused, and they beat him —again.

He was beaten and sentenced to death

They finally realized that Father Fernando Olmeda Reguera would never break his vow to protect the Seal of Confession and was of no  more use to them. A makeshift populist tribunal condemned father to death. His crime—”not revealing the secrets other prisoners had told him in confession.” He was taken outside the fort and executed by firing squad. The date was August 12, 1936.

Pope Francis beatified Father Fernando in Tarragona on October 13, 2013  His remains are entombed in the Basilica of Jesus of  Medinaceli in Madrid.

Blessed Fernando Olmeda Reguera, please pray for us.

 

These are the words of Pope Francis as quoted in the Apostolic Penitentiary:

“Reconciliation itself is a good that the wisdom of the Church has always safeguarded with all its moral and juridical strength with the sacramental seal. It, although not always understood by the modern mentality, is indispensable for the sanctity of the sacrament and for the penitent’s freedom of conscience; which must be certain, at any time, that the sacramental conversation will remain in the secret of confession, between one’s own conscience that opens to the grace of God, and the necessary mediation of the priest. The sacramental seal is indispensable and no human power has jurisdiction, nor can it claim it, on it.”

From St. Padre Pio:

“Confession is the soul’s bath. You must go at least once a week. I do not want souls to stay away from confession more than a week. Even a clean and unoccupied room gathers dust; return after a week and you will see that it needs dusting again!”

Copyright©Larry Peterson 2022 Originally posted with ©2019

 

 


The Last Christmas Tree (Inspired by a True Story)

The Last Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree  commons.wikimedia.org

A Short Story by

Larry Peterson

Inspired by a true story:

It was 6:00 A.M., and she was exhausted. She stood there, unblinking, looking into the mirror at the person staring back at her. Running her hands through her tousled, just-got-out-of-bed hair, she sighed deeply. She leaned forward, stared some more, and said to herself, “Oh my God, Sharon, you look just awful.”

She had to leave by 6:30, so she hurriedly washed her face, brushed her teeth, and tried to create some order with her hair. She had worked twenty-two days straight since Thanksgiving, and today would be the last day before the holiday. It was Christmas Eve, and there was still much to do, including getting a Christmas tree.

As Sharon, a meter reader and installer for the local utility company, pulled on her work shoes; a soft voice came from behind. It was her youngest, six-year-old Joey.  She turned, and he said, “Mommy, Santa can’t come here tonight.”

She was somewhat stunned by the unexpected comment. “Joey, why would you think that. Of course, he can come here.”

“But we have no Christmas tree. Can’t you stay home from work and get us a tree?”

They had kept asking, and she had kept promising, and it was always “later” or “tomorrow,” and now, just like that, time was up. She turned and held out her arms to her boy. “Come over here, “ she said.

He ran over, and she hugged him. She looked into his nervous eyes and said, “Don’t worry Joey, I only have to work a little while today, and then I will get the tree. I will have it when I get home from work. Then we will all decorate it, and Santa will have a tree to put the toys under. Don’t worry.”

Oozing innocence, he simply looked at her and believed it would be so. “Okay, mommy.”

She stood up and said, “C’mon, sweetie. Let’s get you back in bed. I will tell April you are awake.”

“No need, mom. I’m up. C’mon with me, Joey. We can watch some TV.”

It was her twelve-year-old son, Alvin. She turned and smiled at him. “Thanks, hon. They promised us we would be home early. Say a prayer it actually happens.”

“Mom, what about a tree?”

“Alvin, I know,  I know. I promised Joey, and I promise you, we will have a tree. Don’t worry. These last 20 days just seem to have run together, and—don’t worry, we will have a tree.”

It was about 6:50 when she pulled into the loading dock area to pick up her assignments and needed materials. The parking lot was already empty of the work trucks as all the crews had left for their assigned destinations. Sitting in her vehicle, she took out her Rosary and held it tightly. A “single” mom and devout Catholic, prayers had brought her through some, lonely, harsh and scary days after her husband had walked away from her and the children. She blessed herself and began to pray.

She was quietly asking the Blessed Virgin to allow Christmas Eve to go smoothly and for her to be able to get a tree when a tap on her window startled her. She turned to see her field supervisor, Herb Guerin, standing there. She rolled down the window, “Hi Herb, what do you have for me today?”

“Here you go, Sharon.” As he handed her the work orders he said,  “I’m sorry, but I have to dump two more on you. They just came in but they are right next to each other, so it should go quick.”

“Please, Herb, I still have to get a Christmas tree. Can’t you get someone else? My six-year-old is thinking that Santa won’t come to our house. I have to get a tree.”

“Look, I understand. But this is about five minutes away from where you are going. A transformer blew up, and 1400 homes are without power. That could be more than 4000 people. It is Christmas Eve, and they need their power. The line crew is on-site but there are two new meters we need installed. You should be able to squeeze that in, don’t you think? Those people are counting on us to get their power on.”

“Okay, Herb, okay. What are the addresses?” He handed her the add-ons, and they wished each other Merry Christmas. She drove away, fingering her rosary beads. That proved more soothing for her than a cup of morning coffee.

Sharon had finished her regular assignments by noon and it should have been the end of her workday. But, as is the way of things, the transformer was not delivered until 2:00 .P.M and she could not install the new meters until after the transformer was replaced. It was 4:00  P.M.when she finally started for home.

Heading home, she kept looking for Christmas trees for sale. Even the seasonal tree lots that sold trees every year were empty. She had been confident that she would find a tree quickly. Now her confidence was being shattered. There were no trees anywhere. She thought a moment and then prayed, St. Anthony, please help me find a tree for my kids?”

Sharon did not plan to go home until she had found a tree. But she had not eaten, she felt sick to her stomach and needed to stop by the house which was only five minutes away. She thought she could just run inside, use the bathroom and simply “chill” for a few minutes. She looked at the clock; it read 5:35. A shiver ran down her spine.

She stepped from her van as Joey came running out of the house, “Hi Mommy, did you get our tree? Did you?  Where is the tree? Where is the tree? You got the tree, right?”

Sharon took a deep breath and knew she should have found a tree before coming home. Looking upwards, she quickly and quietly prayed, “Dear God, I need Your help. Please.”

Just like that, April, who was fourteen, Alvin, eleven, and Austin, eight,  were standing in front of her. Joey was in front of them. All she could see were four sets of insecure and nervous eyes looking  at her. A sudden blanket of fear seemed to come out of nowhere and grab hold of her. Oh my God, I do not know if I can do this. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, I need your help. Tears came to her eyes.

April quickly went to her mom and gave her a hug. She said, “Mom, it’s okay. Don’t worry.”

Then Alvin was standing next to her, and Austin and then Joey was hugging her leg and she felt the love of her children and blurted out, “Okay, listen to me. I did not get the tree yet. I just needed to get a drink and use the bathroom. Then I will get it. Alvin, can you come with me to help?

“Why should Alvin get to go?” Austin asked. “Why can’t we all go?”

“Yes, yes, yes,” said April, “All of us should go. It will be all of us finding our family Christmas Tree.”

Sharon looked at the four of them and was suddenly buoyed with a sense of “Christmas.” Everything was feeling right. She had been slowly buying and hiding things since July. Toys and other gifts were in the back of her work truck, and more were stashed in the shed in the back yard. (The kids never let on that they knew). “Okay,” she said.  “Let’s get in the car and go find a tree.”

They piled into their fourteen-year-old 1988 Chevy Corsica, and Sharon headed toward Washington Ave. Her children had no idea how tired and worn out their mom was. Well, why would they; their Mom was not like other people; she was MOM. Being up since 6:00 A.M., not eating all day except for some stale chocolate chip cookies and two containers of coffee, was not something that could stop their Mom. That possibility was never considered.  They did not grasp that it was she who was hungry, tired, and feeling a bit weak. She said, “I hope we can find a tree quickly. You kids must be starving.” Things were never about her.

They were all focused on a tree, not food.  Alvin said, “ We can eat later, mom. Let’s check Walmart first; they have tons of trees.”

Sharon sighed and made a quick left onto Highway 19 N. They pulled into Walmart’s parking lot five minutes later. The store was just closing. They drove over to the nursery and found out there were no trees left. Al tried to run into the store to look for an artificial tree, but the doors were already locked.

Sharon said, “There is a Christmas tree lot over on Belcher Rd. They might have something.”

That lot was empty, and the search continued, from supermarket to supermarket, to home-improvement centers and discount outlets, to nurseries, and even looking outside convenience stores. Sharon was now driving and not thinking. They had searched for a tree for over two hours, finding more than a dozen places that sold trees but now had none. It was now almost eight o’clock.

She was feeling a sense of despair. It was dark, and most stores had already closed. April suddenly blurted out, “Hey Mom; there is the Burger Barn. Can we get something to eat? I’m starving.”

They all chimed in, “yeah, mom—c’mon Mom—we’re starving, Mom!”  Sharon knew that sitting in the car with the four kids eating cheeseburgers, fries, and holding drinks would be a disaster. “Okay, stop yelling; I can hear you. But there is no way we eat in the car. Lets park and go inside. We need a break anyway.”

As they walked toward the entrance, Austin said, “Mom, we just better face it. We aren’t going to find a tree. It’s too late. They’re all gone.”

“Stop it, Austin, have some faith. As soon as we sit down, we will all say a Hail Mary together and ask our Mother Mary to help us find one. And you watch, she WILL help us find one.”

They walked inside, found an empty table, and sat down. Sharon’s faith had helped her through incredibly difficult times, and she was about to call on it again. She reached out her hands, and they all followed her lead, holding each other’s hands. Bowing their heads, they prayed a Hail Mary together. When they finished, Sharon and Alvin headed to the counter to get their food.

The impromptu Burger Barn  “dinner” went reasonably well. The order came out quickly. Nothing was dropped or spilled, and, to top it off, everyone was quiet as they devoured their food. After spending a calm and pleasant fifteen minutes, it was time to find their tree.

As they stood up to leave, an old man, disheveled and dirty, approached them. Nervously, the man said, “Excuse me, ma’am. I think I can help you.”

Sharon had watched as he approached and haltingly said, ‘Huh…help me? What do you mean? We are fine. We do not need any help. Please, we have to go.”  She turned to her nervous children and said, “Okay kids, it’s time to leave. Let’s go.”

“Ma’am, please, don’t be afraid. I watched you and your children praying and it was a beautiful thing. And— I heard your boy say you needed a tree. I can help you.”

“How can you help us? I suppose you know where a tree is?” Sharon asked.

“Yes, I do,” said the man. “But you have to trust me and follow me. I will take you to it.”

“Follow you? We don’t even know you. Why should we follow a complete stranger to an unknown place? I have my children with me. Look, sir, I’m sure you are a very nice man, but I’m not following you anywhere.”

The man quietly said, “I’m sorry to have bothered you and your family. You all have a merry Christmas.”

They were all watching him as he walked toward the exit. As he disappeared, one of the workers came by and smilingly said, “I hope that man didn’t frighten you. He is harmless. He’s just a kind old man who  stops in here every so often for some coffee.”

Sharon, hearing this, quickly huddled her kids around and said quietly, “Look, we just prayed to the Blessed Virgin for help, and this old man comes out of nowhere and offers us a tree. It seems a bit crazy, but it is Christmas Eve. They know him here, so he must be harmless. We have to trust that Jesus and His Mom are helping us. As foolish as it sounds, I say we follow him. What do you kids think?”

“Why not, mom.,” April said. “Jesus will protect us.”

They all agreed, and Sharon said, “Okay, let’s see if we can find him.”

They hurried outside, and the old man was just standing there. As Sharon approached him, he smiled and said, “I thought I would wait to see if you changed your mind. I’m glad you did.”

Across the road from Burger Barn was a golf course. The man told Sharon, “There is a gravel service road at the end of the golf course parking lot. Drive down that road for about a half-mile, and you will find your tree. All I ask is that you say a prayer for all of those folks who have no home to go to on this cold, Christmas Eve.”

The surrounding golf course was unlit and pitch black. The headlights from the car cast an eerie glow as they slowly drove forward. Sharon had them all praying together as they ventured into the unknown. The mother of four was driving using faith for fuel. She was afraid. So were her children. The only sound that could be heard was the gravel crunching beneath the tires.

And then, as they turned around the bend in the road, there it was. A Christmas tree, not just any Christmas tree but the most beautiful tree they had ever seen. It was fully decorated, and all lit up. It was as if a light was shining down upon it. The entire area was lit up. As they got out of the car, an older woman stepped out from behind the bushes. Sharon and her kids just stared at her, not knowing where she came from, who she was, or how all this was happening. The woman asked, “Do you like the tree?”

Sharon said, “Who are you? What is going on? Are we all dreaming?”

“No, Sharon, you are not dreaming. Do you like the tree? What do you kids think? Do you like it?”

Austin said, “It is the most beautiful tree I ever, seen, ever.”

“Does everyone agree with Austin?”

They all agreed, and the woman said,  “Well then, Sharon, you just take your family home. When you arrive, the tree will be waiting for you. And, Joey, don’t worry, Santa will be coming to your house tonight.”

Sharon asked, “What do you mean, just go home. What about the tree?”

“Don’t worry about the tree. It is yours. Trust me. All I ask is that you say a prayer for all of those folks who have no home to go to on this cold, Christmas Eve.”

“I don’t understand. How will the tree….?”

The lady smiled and said, “Have faith, sweetie. It got you here, didn’t it?”

Sharon and her kids got into the car and began their ride home. As they passed the Burger Barn, they looked for the old man, but he was nowhere to be seen. Alvin said, “How did she know all of our names?” No one said anything.

While driving, Sharon had them all praying for homeless people, and, for the most part, all of them were trying to understand what had happened.

When they pulled up to their house, all they could see was the Christmas tree that had been at the golf course only a short time before. It was standing in their living room in front of the window. They got out of the car and just stood there, in shock, not understanding, but seeing what they thought impossible. When they went inside, the house smelled like fresh carnations mixed with a hint of pine. Underneath the tree was a creche with figures carved from ivory. It was beautiful.

It was almost midnight when all the kids were finally in bed. Sharon got the gifts from her truck and the shed out back and placed them around the tree. Then she sat down, took out her Rosary, and began crying and praying simultaneously.

Christmas morning came, and Sharon made sure everyone was up, dressed, and ready to go to 8 A.M., Mass.  After Mass, she told the kids that they were going back to the golf course to find the man and woman who helped them. She wanted to thank them and invite them for Christmas dinner. The kids readily agreed.

The course was crowded with golfers, many out to show off their new clothes and golfing equipment. The gravel road was blocked off, so they got out of their car and began to walk. When they reached the bend in the road, they stopped. Nothing was there except a golfer looking for his shanked golf shot.

Sharon said to the man, “Excuse me, sir, did you see an elderly man and woman anywhere around here?”

“Sorry, lady, the only thing I’m hoping to see is my missing golf ball.”

As they slowly walked back to the car a white dove flew down from a tree and landed facing them. The bird seemed to be looking up at them. They all stopped and marveled at this snow-white bird.

The bird stayed looking at them for about ten seconds, then slowly fluttered its wings, flew up and landed on Sharon’s shoulder. She remained still. Turning her head ever so slowly, she looked at the dove. The bird looked back at her, and their eyes connected. The bird leaned in and rubbed its face against Sharon’s cheek. Then it flew away.

MERRY CHRISTMAS

Copyright©Larry Peterson 2019 updated 2021

 


I am a Grandpa and YES! Just like Francis P. Church, I Believe in Santa, too

A Trip back in Time to when Fairies and Elves and Innocence were embraced by most people both young and old

By Larry Peterson

Most folks do not know much about a man by the name of Francis Pharcellus Church. Heck, most people have never even heard of him. However, to me, he is one of the greatest newspaper editors of all time. That is because he took on a skeptical world and dared try to prove the existence of Santa Claus.

Francis Church was born in Rochester, New York, on February 22, 1839. At the age of 21, he graduated from Columbia College (now Columbia University). Francis had considered a career in law but opted instead for a life in journalism.

During the Civil War, he worked as a war correspondent. Together, with his brother, William, he worked on The Army and Navy Journal.  In 1869 Francis and William launched a literary publication called Galaxy Magazine. Contributors to Galaxy included Mark Twain and Henry James. But it was his position at the  New York Sun that would propel him to fame. And all he had to do was reach into his heart and write what he was feeling and believing.

A letter had arrived at the editorial office of the New York Sun. The letter read: Dear Editor—I am eight years old. Some of my friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, “If you see it in The Sun, it is so. Please tell me the truth. Is there a Santa Claus?

Virginia O’Hanlon  115 W. 95th St.

Francis P. Church just happened to be the lead editorial writer for the paper. He had a reputation as a man who was cynical, was an agnostic, and overall, more or less a grouch. Ironically, he was given the task to answer.

What follows is the exact letter written by Francis Pharcellus Church and printed in The New York Sun on September 21, 1897. It was directed to Virginia O’Hanlon. What follows is only parts of the letter. To see the entire letter just click on the link above.

Dear Virginia, your friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except what they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible to their little minds….

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus? It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginia. There would be no child-like faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished…

Not believe in Santa Claus! Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world….

Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah Virginia, in all this world, there is nothing else real and abiding…

No Santa Claus! Thank God he lives! And he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten time ten thousand years from now , he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

 Francis Pharcellus Church, a cynic, and grouch, latched onto a hidden faith and gave Virginia and all those children from 1897 and after, the joy of believing in Santa Claus. I think that Santa is God’s Christmas angel and HE allows him to do his thing every Christmas Eve. Go ahead; I dare you—prove me wrong.

MERRY CHRISTMAS

 


Evangelizing—What is it, and how can we, as individuals, Evangelize?

Holy Spirit, Pentecost, Evangelize

By Larry Peterson

What is Evangelization?

We Catholic/Christians are asked to ‘evangelize.” But for me, the word, Evangelize, has always been intimidating. And what does that word actually mean?  The Merriam-Webster Dictionary says that the word, evangelize, is a verb that means “to preach the gospel to” or “to convert to Christianity.” St. Pope Paul VI said, “Evangelizing means to bring the Good News into all the strata of humanity, and through its influence transforming humanity from within and making it new.”

Are we called to Evangelize?

Does the Bible call on us to Evangelize? It sure does, and here are two short examples. Matthew 4:19 says, He said to them, come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Another is in John 20:21, it says, Jesus said to them, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”

Evangelli Gaudium—the new evangelization summons us all

Lastly, I will call upon Pope Francis and his Evangelii Gaudium. In his apostolic exhortation,  published in 2013, the Holy Father “reaffirmed that the new evangelization is a summons  to all the faithful, and is to be carried out in three principal settings.” The three settings are 1) ordinary pastoral ministry (to inflame the hearts of the faithful), 2) outreach to “the baptized whose lives do not reflect the demands of Baptism” and 3) “evangelization to those who do not know Jesus Christ or who have always rejected him.

First of all, when I think of Evangelizers, I envision people such as Billy Graham speaking to a stadium filled with thousands of people or Venerable Fulton Sheen teaching class on television so many years ago. I have even thought of Burt Lancaster playing the character of Elmer Gantry, reigning down words of “fire and brimstone” inside a tent filled with a captive audience. To this very day, we have street preachers praising Jesus and doing their best to convert the unbelievers. As for me, I have never been able to do that.

Do not get me wrong. I have never backed away from a discussion about my faith. If I was in a group or among friends and my Catholic faith was challenged or ridiculed, I would not be quiet. On the contrary, I would defend it the best I could. But I was never one to initiate a conversation. I can still remember my dad telling me, “Never get into a discussion about religion or politics. You can never win.” Well, my dad was wrong. I finally found a way to evangelize.  And, I want to share it with you, the reader.

Evangelizing is not complicated—You just have to be ready for the moment

The first thing I have come to understand is that the ‘evangelizing” business  can simply begin as a “one on one” interaction.  Since we are all called to evangelize, we have to be ready for the “moment. “Okay, what does that mean?

First of all, the “moment” to evangelize is hard to plan. The fact is, the moment can spring up at the most unexpected times or in the strangest of places. You just have to be ready. Here is an example. The following happened to me while in line at a supermarket.

There was a young lady in front of me, and she had a child sitting in her cart. The cashier was shaking her head and returning the woman’s debit card to her. The lady slid it back into the scanner. Again it was rejected. A tear ran down the woman’s face. Her child, sensing her mom’s distress, also began to cry. Can you seize this unexpected moment and “evangelize?” Why not?

The first thing you have to do to be an effective evangelist is smile at people you do not know. Since you are an evangelizer, you have already smiled at both the woman and her child. Okay, she did not want to make new friends but trust me, she saw your smile. You have also noticed that her grocery cart has about thirty dollars worth of groceries in it. Your moment to begin evangelizing has arrived.

You take your debit card and ask the cashier to put the woman’s charge on your card (I do not do this very often). What do you think might happen? Here are a few examples from personal experience; a) The lady tells you, “Please mind your own business.” b) The lady tells you, “No, thank you,” She lifts the child from the cart and leaves the store.  c) The lady gives you a dirty look and says, “That’s not necessary  I have the cash right here.” d) The lady says, “Thank you,” and accepts your offer. e) You might have a few expletives thrown your way. You never know.

Paying it Forward

In this case, I am dealing with the d). You help her save face by saying, “Look, I’m paying it forward.” One of these days, you do something for someone else. That’s all there is to it.”

The lady gives you a final “thank you” and begins to leave. I call after her, “Maam, can you wait one second. I have something for you.”

She stops and waits while you check out.. My moment has arrived. I walk over to her and say, “I was wondering. Do you have Jesus in your life?”

I have thrown it out there, and now I wait. She sighs and looks at me. I sense her nervousness, so I quickly say, “No problem, it’s okay. I just wanted to give you this.”

Evangelizers must choose a primary tool

I have discovered that evangelists need a primary tool in their evangelizing kit. Most evangelists seem to have a Bible in their hand. Not me. I have a cross, a small cross. You cannot see it because it is in my pocket. It is 1.5 X 2.5 inches in size. It is made of  Olive Wood from the Holy Land and is blessed by a priest. I did not invent this idea, I found these crosses online. They are called Comfort Crosses or Caring Crosses. They have turned me into a quiet evangelizer. I love them. (If you want, you can find them online too).

I reach into my pocket, and I pull out the Comfort Cross. I hold it up between my thumb and forefinger and begin to explain to her what it is. She is just looking at me, but I cannot get a feel for what is going on inside her. I tell her, “Jesus loves you, and this Cross will keep you close to Him.”

She is pursing her lips, and I know it is time to finish what I started. I say to her, “Carry it with you in your pocket or purse. Take it to bed with you. Just always keep it close to you. Squeeze it and tell Jesus you love Him. Trust me, you will feel His love returning to you.”

This turned out to be a GOOD moment. A tear rolls down her cheek, and she blurts out, “You have no idea what this means to me. Thank you, thank you.”

The lady takes the Cross and, through her tears, smiles. She leaves the store, and I never expect to see her again.

I certainly am no Billy Graham or Venerable Fulton Sheen. But the moments for me to be a one on one evangelizer pop up in the strangest places. Supermarkets, gas stations, convenient stores,  auto repair shops, doctor’s offices, hospital lobbies, McDonald’s, and Walmart. I have handed out my comfort crosses in all of those places. And, of course, many of my attempts are not appreciated. It is okay. At least I gave it a shot. I figure they threw rocks at Jesus and look what He did for me; the least I  can do is try.

I will finish by mentioning the woman I profiled. Almost a year later, I was in the same supermarket. A lady comes up to me and says, “Oh my God, it’s you. I can’t believe it. Remember me?”

I was almost sure I did, but I was not positive. She says, I’m the person you gave the Comfort Cross to, and you “paid it forward for me. Remember?”

I sure did remember. “Yes, of course. How are you?”

She says, “I have been back to this store four or five times hoping to see you. And finally, here you are. I cannot believe I found you.”

I’m thinking, what does she want? I say, “Wow, I can’t believe it either. So why were you looking for me?”

“Well, I loved the Cross you gave me and carried it everywhere. And then I lost it, and I miss it so much.  I wanted to find you to see if I could get another one.”

Suddenly I teared up. I reached in my pocket and pulled out two crosses. “Here you go. You now have a spare.”

She gave me the biggest hug I could imagine and thanked me again. It was an evangelizing bonus. You never know what to expect when you evangelize.

One final thought. If you want to evangelize you have to be willing to talk to strangers. Once in a grocery store or a doctor’s office, or a lab for bloodwork, or wherever you may be, the opportunity is usually there. Take a chance—say “Hi” to someone nearby, talk about the weather, or even mention the cold pizza delivered to you. You never know if an “evengelizing moment” is coming your way.

Copyright Larry Peterson 2021


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