Tag Archives: fasting

Meet a few of the Hidden People of Lent

LENT–fast–give–pray                                                                allevents.in.jpg

By Larry Peterson

I left church on Ash Wednesday and, just like everyone else, I had freshly smeared ashes on my forehead.  I was ‘ready” to embrace the Lenten season. There was one difference. Four of us had small vials of ashes in our pockets along with our pyxes which contained the Holy Eucharist. We are EMHCs,  (Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion) and, besides Holy Communion,  we are privileged to be able to distribute ashes on Ash Wednesday.

My three friends were going to different places: one to the hospital, and the others to different nursing homes. As for me, I make individual home visits and I had five to do.

Three of the people I saw were in their mid-nineties, and one was eighty-six,  Then there was the “baby” of the group; TERRI. She is all of fifty-nine. This poor woman, because of a botched hernia operation last May, almost died, has had several surgeries since and faces another eight-hour operation in April. Through it all, when I arrive,  she always has a ready smile on her face. How uplifting that is to see.

So please; come with me as I stop at the homes of a few more of these “hidden” Catholics. You might enjoy the change of venue; (I will just use their first names).

EVELYN My first stop is at Evelyn’s. She is 94 years old and is always impeccably dressed when I arrive. Her hair is done, her makeup is on, and her lipstick has been perfectly applied. Evelyn is from New Jersey, and we get along great. I have been seeing her weekly for three years. She always asks, “Larry, when do you think God will take me. I’ve lived long enough.”

 I always tell her she is only “upper middle-age” and God needs prayer warriors so that is her job and to get out her Rosary and get busy working.

She smiles, reaches over to the table, and lifts her beads. “What do you think these are. I’m wearing them out.”

We both laugh, I hug her, and it was on to see Marie.

 Marie is 95 and is “all business.” She is waiting at the door for me, and it opens before I even knock. I ask her how she is, and she will answer, “Oh, I’m fine, thank you.” I am usually only with her for about five minutes. She smiles and tells me to have a nice a week and asks me to pray for her son who is having car trouble. I tell her I will even though he has “car trouble” every week.

“BIG JIM” Jim is an 86 year old ex-Marine, former Greyhound dog trainer and a baker. I arrive at his place, and after about fifteen minutes, I  will leave with three packages of freshly baked cookies and a loaf of still-warm banana bread. Jim has been sick since Thanksgiving with a deep infection that went into his lungs and caused blood poisoning; I know he is better because he is baking again. Praise the Lord.

VIRGINIA The highlight of my entire Lenten Season may be what happened next and I just wanted to share it with anyone who might read this. It just shows how little things can mean SO MUCH to someone.

My friend Virginia rarely has any visitors. Sunday she told me that her birthday was March 6, and she was going to be 97 years old. I knew she would spend the day alone. So Tuesday night I stopped in the supermarket and got her a small red-velvet cheesecake topped with cream and a cherry.

 I walked into Virginia’s small apartment and she was just sitting there as she always is. I said to her, “Before we do anything I have something for you.”

I took the small cake out of the container, placed the candle I had in my pocket in it, and lit it. Then I said, “I can’t sing Virginia but this is for you.”

I began to sing ‘Happy Birthday,’ and the biggest smile broke out on her face. This was followed by tears running down her cheeks. They began running down mine too. It turned into an unexpected special moment and her reaction demonstrates how sometimes the tiniest kindness can mean so much to someone, especially a lonely person in her late 90s.

Wishing everyone an uplifting and spiritually rewarding Lenten Season.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019

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

St. Mariana de Jesus   de Paredes                                     Aleteia.org

By Larry Peterson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

©copyright Larry Peterson 2019

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

Pope St. Telesphorus the 9th Pope                                     public domain

By Larry Peterson

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

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

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

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

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

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

©copyright Larry Peterson 2019