Tag Archives: Lent

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

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

Saint Jane Frances de Chantal; widowed with four small children she founded the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary (VHM) the first order to accept women of older age and those in poor health

St. Jane Frances de Chantal                             www.catholicculture..org

By Larry Peterson

Jane Frances de Chantal was born into an upper-class family in  Dijon, France, in 1572. Her dad was the president of the Parliament of Burgundy, and the family was well connected. Jane’s mom died when she was only 18 months of age, and her upbringing was taken over by her dad.

Under the watchful and loving care of her dad, Jane developed into a woman of true beauty and grace.  One attribute of Jane’s that stood out from the time she was a child was her desire to help others.

Jane married the Baron de Chantal when she was 21. She and her husband were completely in love with each other, but tragedy struck during their seventh year of marriage. In 1601, the Baron was killed while practicing shooting with friends. The Baroness de Chantal, only 28 years old and the mother of four young children had become an accidental, heart-broken widow.

Because of estate issues, and wanting to protect her children’s rights to the property involved, Jane was forced to move in with her father-in-law in, Mothelon. He was ruled over by a nasty and wicked servant and quickly Jane and her children were the servants of the servant.  Jane took a vow of chastity and prayed to God to send someone to help guide her on her journey forward. A short time later she had a vision of the spiritual director that God was going to send her.

During Lent of 1604, Jane visited her hometown of Dijon. While attending Mass, she thought she recognized the celebrant, and when he stepped up to preach she was sure of it; it was the spiritual guide that God had shown her in her vision. After Mass, she went to meet him and placed herself under his guidance. His name was Bishop Francis de Sales. They became close friends.

Jane informed the future saint that she wanted to become a nun, but Francis asked her to wait for a time. She took a vow to stay unmarried and to obey her director. After a period of three more years, Francis de Sales told Jane of his plan to start an institute of women, and it would be unlike all others. His dream was to create a haven for women that were rejected everywhere else.

Age, health, or deformity, would not be a reason to stop someone from joining. Also, there would be no cloister, and these sisters could partake in the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. It was a monumental ambition by Francis de Sales. The women that joined this new order would be called the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary or the Visitation Nuns. That was because they were to practice the virtues the Blessed Virgin exemplified at the Visitation; meekness and humility.

With the help of her father and brother (who was married to the sister of Francis de Sales), Jane made solid arrangements for the well-being and future of her children. She then left for Annecy. On Trinity Sunday, June 6, 1610, the Congregation of the Visitation was canonically established at Annecy.

When St. Francis de Sales died in 1622 there were already 13 convents for Visitation Sisters. When Jane Frances de Chantal died in 1641, there were 86. Also, after Francis de sales died his dear friend, Vincent de Paul became Jane’s confessor and remained with her until her death.

Jane Francis de Chantal was beatified on November 21, 1751, by Pope Benedict XIV and canonized on July 16, 1767, by Pope Clement XIII. There were already 164 convents in existence at this time. Today, the Visitation Sisters are spread all over the world from Portugal to Korea to Ireland,  Germany, and England.  In the United States, there are ten monasteries.

Some of the noted Visitation sisters include St. Margaret Mary Alocoque and Servant of God; Leone Martin, St. Terese’s sister. In 2010,  Pope Benedict XVI granted a plenary indulgence to anyone who makes a visit and prays at a Visitation Monastery.

Up until 2001, her feast day was on December 12.  Then it was changed to August 12. She is invoked as the patron of widows, forgotten people, and parents separated from their children.

Saint Jane Francis de Chantal, please pray for us.

©Larry Peterson 2019