Loneliness in America—A Growing and Deadly Epidemic spurred on by the Covid-19 Pandemic; where is God in all of this?

LONELINESS                                                                                                                        cs.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Larry Peterson

I have learned that loneliness has no boundaries. It stretches out its tentacles and wraps them around those who may have lost a spouse, a child, a parent, a sibling, or even a dear friend. I have been widowed twice and know full well how loneliness can create a desolate place in the widowed equation.

Loneliness holds no prejudice. It randomly chooses those it has decided to torment, and once it does, it attacks mercilessly. Its victims include people from every conceivable walk of life,  especially the unsuspecting. Many times the dull ring of the phone or a knock at the door is all it takes to hurl someone into the pit of loneliness. It can attack anyone at any time, and it has become a social condition of almost epidemic proportions.

Incredibly, during early March of 2020, loneliness was gifted with a new victim to feast on: it extended its ravenous appetite into the pandemic known as COVID-19, aka the coronavirus.  Loneliness and the pandemic joined forces with “experts” and began to ravage thousands upon thousands of people with loneliness, especially senior citizens.  One way was to take away their chairs and sofas. Let me explain.

I have been bringing Holy Communion to the homebound on Sundays for over twenty years. It may be the most uplifting thing I do, and I know I have been spiritually rewarded many times over. It was early March when I confronted a new wrinkle among my visits. I have one lady, Virginia (she is 98), who resides in an apartment which is part of a  single person, independent living facility. It is a reasonably long walk from the parking lot to the building entrance. Once there, you use a keypad to gain access. I scroll to Virginia’s name and get her on the speaker. She buzzes me in.

As the sliding doors open, I stop short. No one is there. Every Sunday, there are four or five, maybe six, people in the lobby sitting around chatting and just visiting with each other. They know my name, and I always get a friendly welcome from them.  We exchange a few pleasantries (I usually joke about something), and then I go on my way.

But this Sunday, the lobby was empty. I just stood there because it took me a few seconds to realize that the furniture was gone. There was no sofa, or chairs, or coffee table. Management had decided that “protecting” the residents against COVID-19 was of prime concern. So they had the furniture removed. That simple decision changed the lives of the half dozen people I knew in ways management could not have imagined. It also changed the lives of many others, of whom I was not aware. Management’s action was successful; with no place to sit, the tenants remained in their small apartments—ALONE.

The situation impacted me deeply. I have been visiting the sick and homebound for a long time, and they do not ask for much. However, in their low profile,  quiet world, they look forward to sitting together (if possible) and just talking about whatever it is they talk about. My visit is a big deal for them. I see each of my folks from maybe ten minutes up to thirty minutes, depending upon how much “chatting” is needed. I may be the only visitor they see all week. Yet my visit buoys them up for my next visit, which is a week away.  The folks that gather in the lobby every week are non-Catholic and do not receive Communion. But I do get to say a short prayer with them, and they like my doing it. So do I.

But on this Sunday morning in March of the year 2020, things changed in a way no one could have ever imagined.  The powers that be decided we should be isolated from each other.  They want us to avoid each other, not touch each other, and become individual entities. But we are social beings and like it or not; we need each other. We need to touch and hold and shake hands and hug, especially among family and friends. Mandated loneliness could prove to be, in some cases, more deadly than the actual virus.

The headline for this piece used the word epidemic in referring to loneliness. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the loneliness factor, not just in America, but around the world. Cigna referenced a ‘Loneliness Index,” which shows how loneliness is an actual epidemic in the United States. This worldwide health service company used the UCLA Loneliness Scale (yes, there is a loneliness scale) in a questionnaire used to determine a person’s social isolation and their subjective feelings. What follows is from their report of May 1, 2018.  

  • 47 percent of Americans sometimes or always feel alone
  • 27 percent of Americans feel no one understands them
  • 40 percent think that their relationships have no meaning and feel isolated
  • 20 percent feel they feel close to no one and have no one to talk to
  • AMAZINGLY—the Generation Z people (18 to 22) are the loneliest generation. How scary is that?
  • Social Media users have a 43.5 percent loneliness factor which was comparable to the 41.7 percent for those who do not use social media.

If we think about the actual numbers, these percentages refer to it is mind-boggling. In a nation of almost 330,000,000 people, 20 percent is 66.000,000 of us. When we say 47 percent, we are almost at 150,000,000 people. How can close to half the population of the United States of America, feel alone? How can 66,000,000 people feel close to no one or have no one to talk to? And all of this is prior to the Covid-19 pandemic and its forced isolation.

Over the past 25 years, there is a 58 percent drop in attendance at club meetings, a 43 percent drop in family dinners, and a 35% drop in having friends over. Children have regulated play-time while deprived of social development. We reach in our pockets and pull out electronic devices that allow us to instantly reach each other day or night anywhere in the world, but how many of us are talking to each other. This behavior is fertilizing the seeds of future loneliness.

Is our primary mode of communication now email? How many young people can even write a letter or address an envelope? Job applicants interview over the phone or skype, couples break up via text message. Families are also having birthday parties for a loved one on ZOOM. Is this a GOOD thing?  Where is the hugging, the handshaking, the cheek kissing, the eye contact? We need that—it is who we are. Are we teaching the younger generation how to be lonely? How many families are holding hands as they thank God for the food they are about to eat, together, as a family?

Loneliness is brought upon us by things we have no control over, such as death, injury, accidents, and natural disasters. This, we understand, because this makes sense. Why are so many, especially among the young, feeling so alone with no one to turn to? This must count as one of the saddest commentaries of our era. This does NOT make sense.

The remedy may be right in our face, but the secular world will never factor it in. You see, nowhere is the name of God mentioned in these findings. In fact, nowhere is the importance of the  God-based, family even considered.

Regarding our faith, often called the One, True Faith, we have this incredible gift of The Holy Eucharist. Our core teaching is that Transubstantiation occurs when the priest says the words of consecration over the bread and wine during the celebration of Holy Mass. The bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ Himself. It is NOT symbolic. Yet 70% of professed Catholics reject this dogmatic teaching. This leads back to the loneliness factor.

We have this beautiful tradition of having Eucharistic Adoration.  Christ, truly present in the consecrated Host, is placed in a monstrance and put on the altar. We believers can come and visit with Him, sit with Him, talk to Him, even simply just look at Him. On First Fridays, we have all night Adoration at my parish, which ends with  8 am. Mass on Saturday morning.

During the night, there will be those of us who will come and sit with the Christ present in the Eucharist, and just “hang out” with Him. For you lonely Catholics who do not believe, you are missing so much. You do not need to be alone. Jesus is there for you—and for all of us—all the time. If you are feeling lonely, why not call your local parish and ask them when they have Adoration. Then go over and sit with Jesus. You will not be alone.

Getting back to God and family would be akin to putting the lynchpin back into the hub of life. Then, people, kids included, might be taught that they can turn to Jesus and think of His words from Matthew 28:20   And behold, I am with you always, until the end of this age.

Interestingly, the first three words of the Bible are; “In the beginning—” Could the Bible or an app for the Bible be the beginning for someone to believe that they are NEVER alone?

“Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted
is the most terrible poverty.”
St. Teresa of Calcutta

Copyright©LarryPeterson 2020

 


The Catholic Church—Saying “NO” to a World Screaming “YES”

St. Peter’s Balcony; Vatican pixabay

By Larry Peterson

How did the precepts of ethics and morality, based on the Ten Commandments and the “Golden Rule”, become a pariah to so many? How did these principles ever become inverted?  Why have they seemingly been tossed by many into the dumpster of the outdated and irrelevant?

There is one critical aspect that drives this onslaught, and I think we do not pay close enough attention to it. Those that are flailing away at our religious heritage and freedoms are not committing these attacks on their own. They have a brilliant, diabolical, hate-consumed leader inspiring them onward. Their leader’s name is Satan, and he is the lover of evil and the master of deceit and deception.

I believe we do not pay enough attention to God’s first creation, the angels. These were the spirit beings that God created, endowing them with knowledge, abounding love, and happiness. They lacked nothing and were to spend eternity in the presence of their Creator, the Triune God.  But God, as he did to His human creations, had given the angels free will.

Unlike humankind, the angels had one choice to make. They could return the love given to them back to God or refuse. Some, led by Lucifer, the greatest of angels, turned on God believing Lucifer’s prideful boast that they could become like God.  This choice caused the creation of Hell, and the newly “fallen angels” became Hell’s permanent residents.

This takes us to knowing and believing that which comes from 1 John 4:16,  “We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us. God is Love, and whoever remains in Love remains in God and God in Him.” Satan and his followers are consumed with anti-love, commonly called hate. And their biggest and most hated enemy after Jesus Christ is the church that Jesus founded, the Catholic Church.

Satan’s hatred for the true Church of Christ is unimaginable. It fills him and his minions with an inconceivable rage, a force so powerful if we could hear the sound it makes we would turn instantly deaf as our ear drums start exploding.  But, no matter how fierce and intense the onslaught, Holy Mother Church still spits in his evil eye and says NO!

Over the centuries, the Church has withstood Satan’s evil attacks even when they came from within. It also rejects today’s “liberation theology,” the perverse philosophy that suggests, “Jesus wants you to be happy, so just enjoy yourself.” The fact is, Jesus wants us to be happy with him in heaven. God’s creation, Mother Earth, is the testing grounds where we can earn the “right’ to join Him there. While we live out our lives on earth, we do not get to decide what that right might be. We have the commandments, the Magisterium, and the Tradition of the Church to guide us on our life’s journey. As did the fallen angels, we get the right to choose whether to follow or not

The Church has teachings that have been in place for two thousand years. But secularists maintain that the Church has “nerve and audacity” to use the words, SIN, and MORALITY. In today’s self-indulged, secular world, it seems anyone who might suggest that a particular behavior is “immoral” or “sinful” is branded and vilified as intolerant, hateful, racist and even uncaring. How pompous and pride filled this is. Only the new age secularists would have the audacity to suggest that their reversed “virtue” is GOOD and the concept of self-denial is SINFUL.

My favorite comic book character was, Superman. Occasionally, Superman would get stuck in an alternative universe called “Bizarro World”. It was a place where everything was backwards. Up was down, hello meant good-bye and yes meant no. Even the planet, Htrae, (Earth backwards), was shaped like a cube. It is the same with the folly of reversed secular virtue. I call this world “Novis,” which is Latin for the word “reverse.”

On Novis, killing is “Good” and if you stand against it you are evil. For instance, take abortion, infanticide, euthanasia and partial-birth abortion. The Church says NO! On Novis, the Church is now bad. Fornication and people “hooking up” for one-night stands is heralded as “Good”. The Church says NO!  On Novis the Church is told to mind its own business. Divorced and remarried Catholics want to receive the Holy Eucharist. The Church, as it always has done, says NO!  On Novis, the Church is called intolerant. On Novis, if it makes you “happy”, ENJOY!

In this new world, the Church is deemed intolerant and insensitive and is out of touch with the “times” and needs to get into the 21st century. Homosexuals demand to be married in the Church. The Church says NO!  Marriage is between a man and a woman ONLY. Satan screams from his evil world to his followers, Say “YES! YES! YES!” Holy Mother Church says “NO!” In the alternative universe, the Catholic Church is evil.

On Novis the Novitians unwittingly listen to Satan’s message and pound on the dogmatic doors of the Catholic Church. They demand that they be opened to personal wants and desires. Unlike Bizarro World, where things are just ‘crazy’ on Novis, things are mean and vindictive. Novis is ruled by hate. Satan is Hate.

There are other Christian denominations that have succumbed to outside pressures and reworked their “teachings” to accommodate the demands from the people of Novis. They have been praised as “progressive” and “in touch” with the needs of the citizens of Novis. The reality is, they have failed their followers. But the Catholic Church has not caved into the demands and pressures and it never will. We all know that there re those within the church who would dare to destroy it. They have cast their lot with the unholy one who hates anything Catholic in unimaginable ways.

The Catholic Church still teaches that there are Seven Deadly Sins. They are pride, greed,  lust, anger, gluttony, envy and sloth aka laziness. Note the key word in describing these sins is the word “deadly”. The Church teaches that these sins can destroy the soul of anyone who might indulge these human appetites. The Church also offers forgiveness for falling prey to these sins. This forgiveness is available 24/7.

On the reverse world of Novis, the Church is mocked and laughed at for suggesting these actions offend God. These acts are acceptable because an individual committing one of these sins is just being human and God made us that way and wants us to be “happy”. So–sin away. Just remember, if you subscribe to that concept the victory in the fight for your soul goes to Satan.

Both the clergy and the laity need to be more protective of the faith we love. Many worry about being “PC” and not offending anyone.  We might start by going to St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians. Chapter 6: 16-17.

In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield,

To quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit,

which is the word of God.

copyright© Larry Peterson 2020


Satan tried to give us The Darkest Sunday Ever —Once again He Failed Miserably

St. Joseph Calasanz–Patron of Catholic Schools                 public domain

By Larry Peterson

It is Sunday morning, March 22, 2020. What follows is simply this man pondering a  morning that he never in a million years could have imagined happening. It is a Sunday morning without Mass. Yes, the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is nowhere to be found. Nowhere in my town, my county, my state, or my country is Mass being offered. Or is this just more “fake news?”

This unimagined directive was ordered by each of the Bishops and Archbishops and Cardinals, who oversee the 177 dioceses that occupy the entire United States of America. They did it to save us from a virus, known as COVID-19.  They were worried about us getting sick and were trying to protect us.

So today, Sunday, March 22, 2020, as the secular world rejoices, its best friend and biggest cheerleader, Satan, does not. He outsmarted himself. The Master of Darkness simply used the smallest weapon in his arsenal to halt the thing he hates more than anything else on this planet,  Christ present in the Holy Eucharist.  He used a virus; tiny, invisible, yet deadlier than the dreaded AK-47. But he failed because hate gets you nothing but more hate, and that is what Satan once again achieved, stuffing more hatred into his blackened spirit.

You see, Satan, shrouded in his hate-consumed black spirituality, forgot one thing; he forgot about the Catholic Priesthood. He may have been influential in having the churches close down, but he was unable to stop the celebration of the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Christ’s thousands of ordained priests will still be celebrating Mass in the churches.

Along with a few attendees to assist, the Most Holy Sacrifice will go on in individual parishes all over the United States and throughout the world. The faithful Catholics that attend Sunday Mass will not be present. They may be watching the Mass live-streamed or on TV. It will not be the same for them. They will be unable to receive Christ in the Eucharist. Maybe it is good for the laity to be deprived of this great gift anyway. A few weeks being told “NO” may help many of us appreciate a bit more what a great gift this is.

We must remember that the primary purpose of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is for the Son of God, Jesus Christ, to continue offering  Himself to His Father, in heaven, for all of us here who are sinners. Calvary lives on in perpetuity through the power of the Holy Priesthood and the Sacrament of Holy Orders.  The priest stands in the shoes of Christ and changes bread and wine into the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ Himself. Upon completion of the consecration, God’s angels escort the precious Gifts to God the Father Who, after accepting them, asks the Holy Spirit to give the now Risen Christ back to all of us  as His great gift of Salvation. We  are then able to receive HIM within our very selves, sharing in the life of God.     (See Eucharistic Prayer #1 The Roman Canon).

We should not worry because, on this day, March 22, 2020, there are still Masses being offered all around the world. We also might remember that a Mass being offered by a missionary alone in a cave in some faraway place has the same intrinsic value as the Holy Father offering a Mass St. Peter’s Basilica on Easter Sunday. Satan tried again and once more, failed to stifle the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. He will never quit trying. He will always fail. But we all must always be vigilant because Satan and his minions never rest.

From the Roman Canon:

With deep reverence we ask you, almighty God: command that these gifts be carried by the hands of your holy angel to your altar on high in the sight of your divine majesty. And for all who will receive the most holy body and blood of your Son in this communion at the altar, let them be filled with all the blessings and gifts of heaven. (Through Christ our Lord, Amen.)

copyright ©Larry Peterson 2020


The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist is embodied in the Mass: The two are inseparable and it is an ongoing Miracle that is always occurring

Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist                    public domain

By Larry Peterson

The United States has a population of close to 330 million people. Of those, there are more than 74 million people who claim to be Catholic. 70 million are registered (signed in with a parish as members). That means that Catholics comprise more than 22% of the entire population of the USA. Approximately 38% of the 70 million attend weekly Mass (roughly 26.5 million).

Of those claiming to be Catholic, many do not practice their faith, and among the millions who do attend weekly Mass, many do not even believe in one of its most fundamental teachings. This teaching is known as the Real Presence. The Real Presence means that Jesus Christ becomes truly present, Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, under the appearances of bread and wine, on the altar during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass (note the word—Sacrifice). Pew Research did a recent survey and found that 7 out of 10 people who say they are Catholic do not believe this.

That finding is hard enough to comprehend, but this is the one that seems hardest to fathom; of those Catholics who attend Mass once a week, 63% know the church’s teaching, but 14% of those attending  do NOT believe it, and 23% say they “do not know of it.” That means that 37% of those going to Mass has no clue what is going on. Why are they coming to Mass? What’s the point?  Why not just go to a revival meeting in a tent? What happened to all the “believers?”

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

Something deeply mystical happens during the Catholic Mass that many Catholics do not seem to even be aware of, no less understand. When the Catholic priest bends forward over the bread and wine and says the words of consecration, “This is My Body—This is My Blood”  the bread and wine become the actual Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.

From the catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC 1376) “—this holy Council (The Council of Trent  1545-1563) now declares again, that by the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of His blood. This change the holy Catholic Church has fittingly and properly called Transubstantiation.”  

The Last Supper was the very first Mass celebrated, and it was offered by Christ Himself. Jesus instituted the priesthood at this moment in time, and the Apostles became the first priests (Judas had already left). This was when Jesus empowered them to do as He did.

Our Catholic faith teaches us that Christ is TRULY PRESENT on the altar at Mass. Pick up your missalettes in church and go to the Roman canon. See the wording after the consecration:

“—we, your servants and your holy people, offer to your glorious majesty from the gifts that you have given us, this pure victim, this holy victim, this spotless victim, the holy bread of eternal life and the Chalice of everlasting salvation.—“

“—In humble prayer we ask you, Almighty God: command that these gifts be borne by the hands of your holy Angel; to your altar on high in the sight of your divine majesty,So that all of us, who through this participation at the altar Receive the most holy Body and Blood of your Son, May be filled with every grace and heavenly blessing

Through Christ, our Lord. Amen

 Christ is with us, and we, the people, are offering Him to God the Father. Our reward is the Risen Christ given back to us in the Eucharist by our Father in heaven. This is the Mystery of Faith, and this is what we believe (or are supposed to believe). I know this is what I believe.

The meaning of this is beyond the pale. It transcends human comprehension. This is when yesterday becomes today, and tomorrow became yesterday. The Mass enables us to briefly step into the “eternal now” and to take a peek at the life within the Holy Trinity and the love being shared inside it. And never forget that this Holy Sacrifice is being offered somewhere on the planet every day of the year, round the clock. Imagine that, somewhere, every day, round the clock. It is the most beautiful thing this side of heaven.

It is time for the clergy to lead us all forward in an ongoing offensive bombarding their worldwide flock with the truth of the Holy Eucharist. Then it is up to the laity to carry this fact forward. It is fundamental to the Catholic faith, and somehow, somewhere, this miraculous truth has been cast aside. Maybe a different kind of Resurrection is now needed, the Resurrection of Christ in the Eucharist.  (See tangible proof at this link  Eucharistic Miracles)

CHOICES

Perfection unbridled
That tells us why
And will let us understand
If we choose to see
this splendid Oblation
A perfect purity
This gift called
The Mass Ignored yet
Somewhere each minute
For us to share
The Answer there
The Perfect Love
But—choices.

Copyright©Larry Peterson 2019  


Pope St. Pius X: His motto was “Restore all things in Christ” and he did his best to do just that.

Pope St. Pius X               commons.wikimedia.org

By Larry Peterson

The two most beloved Popes of the twentieth century lived during the beginning and at the end of that century. We all know of Pope St. John Paul II who guided the Church from 1978 into the new millennium. However, not as many people know about the man who became pope during the beginning of the century. His name was Pope St. Pius X who was elected in 1903.  He went on to be known as the Great Reformer who called the modernism of the day, “the synthesis of all heresies.”

He only reigned as pope for eleven years, but during his pontificate, he initiated reforms in sacred music, biblical studies, seminary life, Canon Law, and the Holy Eucharist making it available for all starting at the age of seven. Before that, the minimum age was twelve.

Giuseppe Melchiore Sarto was the oldest of eight surviving children of Giovanni Battista Sarto and Margarita Sanson. He was born June 2, 1835, in the Lombardy-Venetian area of Italy. The family had little because Giovanni supported them by working for the government as the local postman. The pay was steady, but it was barely enough to live on.

While still a pre-teen, Giuseppe studied Latin with his village priest. In time he received his Confirmation and Communion (at the time First Communion could not be received until the age of 12). The priest recognized the keen mind Giuseppe had been blessed with, and before long, the boy was in the upscale secondary school known as Castelfranco Veneto.

Throughout his four years at the school, he always held the number one rank in his class. He developed a deep devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and to the Blessed Virgin, and when he announced he was considering becoming a priest, no one was surprised.

The Sarto family were in no position to finance their son’s seminary studies when the hand of providence reached in, and Giuseppe found himself with a scholarship to the Seminary of Padua, considered among the best in all of Italy. He was ordained to the priesthood on September 18, 1858, by the Bishop of Treviso, Monsignor Zinelli.

His priestly career began as a parish priest, then he became a pastor, then a canon, moved on to be the spiritual director at the seminary, then diocesan chancellor.  Pope Leo XIII appointed him Bishop of Mantua on November 6, 1884. Lastly, on June 12, 1893, Bishop Sarto was elevated to Cardinal by Pope Leo. All the positions he had held leading up to this point had prepared him well for a future he never could have imagined.

Pope Leo XIII, after serving as Pontiff for 25 years, passed away on July 20, 1903. He had issued eleven papal encyclicals on the Rosary and earned the title, The Rosary Pope. He also wrote the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel and the famous encyclical, Rerum Novarum (Rights and Duties of Capital and Labor). His successor would have a tough act to follow. On August 4, 1903,  Cardinal Giuseppe Sarto was elected to the Papacy. He became Pope Pius X.

Pope Pius X was deeply concerned at the cultural Modernism infecting the church and society. He decided it was essential to focus on apostolic problems and to defend the Catholic Church against all attacks which had become many. There was much backlash from the Modernists, the intellectual elites who were trying to reinterpret Catholic teaching. However, Pope Pius was determined to withstand the onslaught.

Modernism was ambiguous because it had no particular definition. People had begun to reject the doctrinal and moral teachings of the church and embrace what felt good for themselves. In 1907, the Holy Father issued the encyclical, Pascendi Dominici Gregis (Feeding the Lord’s Flock).

He wrote this because he recognized how Modernism rejected the morals and doctrines of the church. He wanted Catholics the world over to know that doctrine is unchanging and does not evolve and not to be fooled by the ever-changing culture. He wrote:

“It is an error to believe that Christ did not teach a determined body of doctrine applicable to all times and to all men, but rather that He inaugurated a religious movement adapted, or to be adapted, to different times and different places.”

Pope Pius had a deep love for the Holy Eucharist and wanted it to have a daily impact on Catholics everywhere. At the time people only received about three or four times a year. He wrote a decree, Sacra Tridentina Synodus in 1905 which promoted Holy Communion on a daily basis. He said Communion was not a reward for good behavior but, as the Council of Trent noted, “it is“the antidote whereby we may be freed from daily faults and be preserved from mortal sins.”   

This was followed by Quam Singulari in 1910. Inspired by a three-year-old girl named Nellie Organ aka “Little Nellie of Holy God,” he lowered the age for receiving First Holy Communion to seven. That is still the way it is today.

Of course, we have the miracles that were attributed to this holy man. There were the miracles reported after Pope Pius’ passing but let us just focus on ones that occurred while he was still alive:

  • During a papal audience, Pius X was holding a paralyzed child. Suddenly the child started squirming and wiggling and then broke free from the Pontiff’s arms and began running around. The child was cured, and it was spontaneous and inexplicable.
  • Another time the Holy father received a letter from a couple, he knew from when he was Bishop of Mantua. Their two-year-old child was dying from meningitis, and they asked the pope to pray for him. Two days later, the child was cured.

Much more can be written about Pope St. Pius X. His holiness and contributions to the welfare of the Church entrusted to him is everlasting. When his body was exhumed in 1944, it was perfectly intact. As per his request, it had never been embalmed.

Pope St. Pius X, we ask for your prayers and protection as we travel forward through the 21st century.

 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


Saint Alice: The Patroness of the Blind and Paralyzed entered the Cistercian Order at the age of Seven

Photo Credit: wiki/Alice_of_Schaerbeek#/media/File:Schaerbeek_Eglise_Sainte-Alice_010.jpg

By Larry Peterson

Sometimes we read or hear stories about certain saints that make us simply “wonder” how can this be? For example here are two;

  • Her name was Nellie Organ but she was called Little Nellie of Holy God. This innocent child understood the Real Presence at the age of two. She inspired Pope St. Pius X to lower the reception of First Holy Communion from twelve to seven.
  • Then we have Marthe Robin, the French Stigmatic and Mystic, who defied all logic and human knowledge by surviving on nothing but the reception of the Holy Eucharist for 51 years.

These two people are from our own time. Marthe Robin died in 1981 after over 100, 000 people had visited her. Little Nellie was validated by a pope in 1907, a pope who became a saint, Pius X. Everything is witnessed and documented yet many refuse to believe. Why is that? It is all about the great gift of Faith.

Here is another for the Christmas season. Her feast day was on December 16, but it was moved to June 15. She was only a seven-year-old child when she entered the Cistercian Order. Her name was simply, Alice.

Alice was born in 1204 in a place called Schaerbeek, near Brussels, which is now in Belgium.  Surnames were often the names of places a person came from, i.e., Jesus of Nazareth and Paul of Tarsus. Alice was known as Alice of  Schaerbeek.

Alice seemed to be a healthy child but became increasingly frail and weak. At the age of seven, she was sent to the Cistercian La Cambre Abbey in the hopes of her regaining some of her strength.

She was a beautiful girl and had a brilliant mind. Most importantly, she had a great love of God and wanted to do everything she could to please him. Soon after arriving at the monastery she became a laysister (her exact age at this time is unknown; she was probably a teenager), and she would remain there for the rest of her life.

When Alice was about twenty years old, she developed leprosy (medical name is Hansen’s Disease) and was isolated in a small hut. Her illness caused her chronic, ongoing, and intense suffering.  A girl of great faith, she told Jesus that she accepted her sufferings readily and wanted to use them to help the souls in Purgatory.

It was not long after the onset of her disease that she became paralyzed. She was suddenly unable to walk but her challenges kept mounting; soon after the paralysis set in she lost her sight and became blind.

Alice amazed everyone with her demeanor and attitude. That was because she received such joy and consolation from receiving the Holy Eucharist. She was not allowed to sip from the chalice because of fear of contaminating others, but that was not a problem. It was reported that Jesus appeared to her and told her that He was present in either the bread or the wine and that she should not worry because He was with her.

Sister Alice died in 1250, at the age of 46. She had lived blind, paralyzed, and in intense pain for more than twenty-five years. During that time she remained joyful because Jesus was with her and came to her in the Holy Eucharist. Her powerful faith is an example for us all.

On July 1, 1702, Pope Clement XI granted the monks of the congregation permission to honor the Cultus of Alice. In 1907 Pope Pius X confirmed her status as a canonized saint.

St. Alice is the patroness of the blind and the paralyzed.

Saint Alice’s theology of suffering was that of St Paul: “Death is at work in us, but life in you”  (2 Cor 4:12)

St. Alice, please pray for us.

©Larry Peterson 2019

 

 

 

 

 


Servant of God: Anna Louise Lateau –She Lived on Nothing but the Holy Eucharist for 12 Years

Servant of God; Anna Louise Lateau
                          mysticsofthechurch.org

By Larry Peterson

On January 13, 1850, a baby girl was born to Adele Pissens Lateau and her husband, Gregory. They named the child Anna Louise. Three months after Louise was born her dad passed away from smallpox. A healthy, powerful, 29-year-old metal worker, Gregory’s body was no match for the smallpox demon that ravaged him. His family was left in a terrible spot.

Adele had almost died giving birth to Louise and was still, for the most part, bedridden. The oldest child, Rosina, who was only three-years-old, actually tried her best to take care of her mom and two sisters. It was an unbelievably heroic attempt on the part of this small child. Her sister, Adelina, was only two and Louise, just three months old.  To make matters worse than they already were, Louise also contracted smallpox. Neighbors, fearing the dreaded disease, avoided the Lateau household and the family was virtually abandoned. How frightened Adele and her babies must have been.

A local doctor had been monitoring the Lateau family and told a local workman, Francis Delalieu*, about the family. He asked him if he could check in on them. A week later, Francis, entered the home to check on the occupants. What he found horrified him. The one child was wrapped in dried out, smelly bandages, all the children were filthy, and the mom was lying in bed in a state of despair. Francis, a kind, and decent man, immediately took charge of the house.

Francis immediately went and acquired food and the necessary provisions to care for the family. He treated baby Louise with extra loving care and, in effect, became “parental.” He cared for the family for the next two and a half years during which time Adele regained her full strength, and the children were healthy. That entire transformation in itself was miraculous.

When Louise was eleven-years-old, her mom allowed her to become a housemaid. Soon after she was trained as a dressmaker. When Louise was sixteen-years-old, a cholera epidemic struck Bois-D’Haine. Louise began caring for six of the victims and even assisted in burying the dead. She had no fear of catching the disease. That was not to be as she also came down with the illness. Louise remained seriously ill into 1868, and on April 15th of that year, she received last-rites. It was ten days after this that the stigmata began to appear

Louise noticed blood was dripping from her side. As was her personality, she said nothing. The following Friday the blood appeared again, but this time it was also coming from the tops of her feet. On Friday, May 8, the bleeding began to come from the front and back of both hands, and on Friday, September 25, the crown of bleeding spots appeared on her forehead.

She confided to her parish priest about it and, although quite stunned; he downplayed the entire phenomena. He asked her to not say anything about it. However, the experience for Louise continued every Thursday night until Friday evening for the rest of her life. Louise continued to work hard for the family as long as she could.

In 1871, Louise ceased to eat, drink and sleep. He only food was the Holy Eucharist which she received upon attending daily Mass. The Bishop of Tournai, Joseph Labis, opened an investigation into Louise’s inexplicable spiritual journey. Quickly word spread even traveling abroad. Crowds began to gather around the little house on a daily basis. That was the way it would be from then on.

Louise Lateau told her pastor of her visions which consisted of the Passion of Christ, the Virgin Mary and even some of the saints. She would go into ecstasy and remain that way for hours, oblivious to everything going on around her. She would seemingly remain painless as the phenomena continued and would have no recollection of the events that had happened while she was in ecstasy.

Renowned scientists and doctors were called in to examine and evaluate the young woman. None could find a rational explanation for her condition. Some of the atheistic and secular-minded scientists and doctors insisted what people were witnessing was nothing more than hysteria, blood anomalies or madness.

Anna Louise Lateau passed away on August 25, 1883. She was 33-years-old.  Her burial place became a place of pilgrimage, and over the years there has been evidence of miracles happening through Anna Louise’s intercession.

This negative input into Louise’s narrative was effective at putting her cause for canonization on hold for over a century. The cause for sainthood must always be meticulously evaluated. She was declared a Servant of God, but her cause for canonization was not opened in Rome until 1991. To date, the investigation has not moved forward.

Servant of God; Anna Louise Lateau, please pray for us.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2018 All Rights Reserved