Tag Archives: marriage

Meet Saint Emil and Saint Lillian—-Strangers No More

Emil and Lillian Peterson long gone but never forgotten

By Larry Peterson

My parents would have celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary on September 19, 2018.  They had made it to their 17th anniversary when Mom died. Dad lasted four years and then he was gone. For some unknown reason, their anniversary played inside my head…over and over.

I have Masses offered for both of them and other family members during the year. But it occurred to me I had never had a mass offered for my mother and father as a husband and wife. Let’s face it; as a kid you do not think of your parents as regular “people.” Rather, they are just mom and dad.  So, in honor of their Diamond Jubilee Anniversary, a Mass was offered just for them.

When I opened the Sunday church bulletin and saw their names, Emil & Lillian Peterson,  together as a couple, I could not believe how I reacted; I was standing in the church narthex with some friends and tears started flowing down my face. Shocked at my own reaction, I hurried outside hoping no one had noticed. I took a few deep breaths and regrouped. Whew!

There was one more thing I needed to do. I have written about many, many saints; some known and many unknown. But I had never tried to find St. Lillian or St. Emil. It was time to see if they even existed. What follows is a result of my quest.

There was a Saint Lillian. She lived in the ninth century in Muslim controlled Spain. It was a time when Catholics lived in constant fear of the Moors. They had no problem torturing and killing “infidels,” and Catholics were definitely “infidels.” Lillian was a Catholic layperson and had to practice her faith in secret.

History tells us the during the reign of the Caliph Abdurrahaman II, a great persecution took place. Lillian, her husband, Felix, and a man named Aurelius, were exposed as Catholics. Lillian and Felix along with Aurelius stepped forward and publicly admitted that they were, indeed, Catholic. They knew full well that death would come with their admission.

The Moors gave them four days to renounce their Christianity and to embrace Islam. After four days they all refused, remaining steadfast in their beliefs. They were all sentenced to death.  Saint Lillian, Saint Felix, and Saint Aurelius, died in Cordova, Spain circa 892. A.D. They were all named saints during the pre-congregation era.

Saint Lillian’s  feast day is on July 27th. She is the patroness of women named Lillian, Lily (my Mom’ nickname) and Elizabeth. We are supposed to pray to Saint Lillian to help strengthen our faith and to help us spread unconditional love to our neighbors. Ironically, in my novel, the Priest and The Peaches, the character of Elizabeth was fashioned after my mother, Lillian. That was never planned.

There also was a Saint Emil aka Emilian. Emil was a shepherd living in North Africa sometime around the year 250 A.D. He became a hermit and after a while was ordained a priest. He was a natural organizer and was able to develop a large group of followers. He became their Abbott and is called the first Spanish Benedictine.

During the latter part of the third century, the Roman Emperor, Decius, began a relentless persecution of the Christians. Emil was arrested and, after being weakened by constant torture, was released. He regained some strength and returned to preaching again. He was brought before the same judge that had ordered him tortured.  This time he was sentenced to death.

Before being executed by fire, Emil was once again subjected to various, inhumane tortures. When his captors realized Emil would never renounce his faith, he was burned alive.

Saint Emil & Saint Lillian, please pray for us.

copyright ©Larry Peterson 2018

Alzheimer’s Disease—The Ultimate Enemy of the Lifelong Love Story

By Larry Peterson

If you and your spouse have lived within a marriage that has been filled with an unconditional, unselfish, love for each other, then you have been truly blessed. Giving of oneself to another “no matter what,” creates a connection that can never be broken, and it leaves behind a journey that has been sheathed with laughter, joy, comfort, and compassion powered by that love.

This was God’s plan, and many have embraced it and lived it and reaped the rewards of truly being ONE. Loving someone more than yourself can be a hard thing to do and many have tried but failed. But far more have tried and succeeded by emptying themselves for each other.

I have two dear friends, better yet I shall call them the BEST friends anyone could ever have. Their names are Mike and Roberta, and we met 35 years ago when our sons were playing youth baseball. Their friendship was unconditional, unquestioned, and given freely, without reservation. They were unhesitatingly there for my family and later, after my wife, Loretta had passed, for me.

As is the way of things time never waits for anyone and keeps moving forward.  Now Roberta looks at the dying person in the bed before her and realizes that part of herself is lying there too. Suddenly their lives together scroll before her. The courtship, the wedding, the birth of their child, the laughter, the good times and the bad, the crying, and so forth. This is when having God in your life is crucial. Hope springs eternal and therein lies the truth of the power of faith.

My friend, Mike, was raised in an orphanage in Philadelphia. Long ago, his mother dropped him off in front of the place on a snowy, Christmas Eve. She left him standing there with a note pinned to his jacket. He was four years old. When he turned eighteen, he was dismissed from the orphanage, given a few bucks, and offered “best wishes and God’s blessings.”

He walked away from that place and immediately joined the United States Marine Corp. From that day forward, Mike, who was a trucker, has walked, talked and looked like a Marine. Most of all he has loved his family and his country as completely as he could.

Roberta, who was a florist, was one of three sisters and was also from Philadelphia. Her life looks like different chapters in a novel whose genre could be considered “urban legend melodrama.” She was one of three sisters and was abused as a child. She lost her first husband to diabetes when she was thirty-one years old. Her father, an alcoholic, was burned over 75% of his body and she cared for him until he recovered and could somewhat function on his own.

Then she turned to alcohol which ultimately led her to Alcoholics Anonymous. Mike was also attending AA, and that is where they met. He became her sponsor, and he was relentless in his quest to get her to stop drinking. She eventually did, and they got married. (Neither of them has had a drink in over 50 years).

A half-century of climbing and struggling down into the valleys and over the mountains of the journey called “life” has passed. They never wavered, stood tall, and together stared down and conquered all obstacles in their path. They raised a son who grew up to be the chief pilot for a well-known airline. Mike and Roberta are a living definition of the word, marriage.

One more challenge stands before them. The only problem is, this time only one of them can confront the challenge. And, upon completing that challenge, that person will be alone.

Mike has been attacked by the cruel demon known as Alzheimer’s disease.  It began erasing his memory some years ago, and it has relentlessly worked its evil 24/7. Today Mike is in a “memory care unit” inside a nursing home. He remembers nothing yet his face lights up and he smiles ear to ear when his dear Roberta walks into the room. He thinks she is his “mommy.” Except she is not.  He also has lost the ability to swallow and can no longer eat or drink.

His lover and best friend is now faced with the task of watching him leave her forever. She has asked Hospice to keep him pain-free and as comfortable as possible. The journey of the long goodbye has reached the last turn before arriving at the station. All that Roberta can do is embrace what was and know that his spirit will always be with her. Then she can take comfort in knowing that one day, holding hands, they will stand together again.

May God bless and have mercy on all Alzheimer’s victims and their families.

 

 

 

St. Nonna—She Converted her Pagan Husband and raised three Children who became Saints

St. Nonna and her son St. Gregory the Theologian
by mike searle/CC BY Sa 2.0

By Larry Peterson

She was born in the year 305 AD in a place called Nazianus, Cappadocia, which today is present-day northern Turkey. At the time, the Roman Empire still ruled most of the world. St. Nonna was the daughter of Christians who were named Philotatos and Gorgonia. They raised their daughter in the ways of Jesus and the growing Catholic Church.

It is hard for us in the 21st-century to truly understand the mindset of those from more than 1500 years ago but suffice it to say, St. Nonna had been raised by parents who had instilled in their daughter a true sense of Christian identity. Her faith was about to be tested when she married.

St. Nonna entered into a marriage (most likely arranged) with Gregory of Arianzus, who was a wealthy landowner and had an estate nearby. The marriage caused great sadness for St. Nonna because her husband was a pagan and followed a sect called Hypsistyarii whose members venerated a supreme god and also observed select Jewish rituals. Oh yes, they also worshipped fire. St. Nonna immediately began praying fervently that her husband would turn to the One True God.

St. Nonna had three children and one of them, who became St. Gregory the Theologian, wrote that his mom “could not bear being half united to God, because he who was part of her remained apart from God. She wanted a spiritual union in addition to the bodily union. Day and night she turned to God with fasting and many tears, entreating Him to grant salvation to her husband.”

St. Nonna’s prayers were answered because, in due time, her husband had a vision while sleeping. St. Gregory wrote that “It seemed to my father,” wrote St. Gregory, “as though he was singing the following verse of David: ‘I was glad when they said to me, let us go into the house of the Lord’ (Ps. 121/122: 1). He had never done this before, though his wife had often offered her supplications and prayers for it.”

The dream was very strange to Gregory, but it brought a desire to him to go to church. When he told Nonna about this, she told him that the vision would bring him the greatest joy if it were fulfilled.

Gregory did, in fact, embrace the faith and traveled to the First Ecumenical Council of Nicea, where he announced his conversion to Christ. Gregory was baptized and then ordained presbyter and then Bishop of Nazianos. When he was ordained a bishop, Nonna was made a deaconess. St. Nonna, with the same intensity and fervor she put into converting her husband and teaching her children the faith, became completely involved in performing works of charity.

St. Gregory the Theologian wrote of his mom, “She knew one thing to be truly noble: to be pious and to know from where we have come and where we are going; and that there is one innate and trusty wealth: to use one’s substance on God and on the poor, especially the impoverished kin.”

St. Gregory the Theologian wrote about his mom as being strong and vigorous and free from sickness. But in her later years, she did become quite ill, and everyone thought she was about to die. She could not eat, and no remedy could be found. But she began to recover after a strange dream.

She dreamt that her son, Gregory, had appeared to her carrying a basket of the whitest bread anyone had ever seen. He blessed the bread with the sign of the Cross and fed his mom. Miraculously, by the next day, she was stronger and almost like her old self. Was this a Eucharistic Miracle?  Many believe it was.

In her final years, St. Nonna had much sorrow in her life. Her youngest son, Caesarious, died in 368. The following year her daughter died. Her husband had died several years earlier. St. Nonna bore these losses stoically and completely submitted to the will of God.

St. Nonna was a devoted wife, mother and, most of all, devoted to God and the Church. She is the patroness of servants and parents who have had children pass away. She became a saint in the pre-congregation era which was prior to the 11th Century. After that, the Catholic Church established strict guidelines for a person to be canonized by establishing the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

St. Nonna of Nazianus. pray for us.

copyright ©Larry Peterson 2018

Introducing “Anyone but Him” by Theresa Linden: A Christian-Mystery-Romance that will rivet you to your seat

Anyone But Him

A New Adult Mystery Romance

Theresa Linden

Caitlyn Summer had always followed the straight and narrow path. Her perfect husband would love Jesus more than her and love her because of her love for Jesus. He would be faithful and gentle and have a heart for others. So how did she end up marrying the bad boy who got her high school best friend pregnant then pressured her to abort?

Unable to remember the past three years or understand why she would’ve moved so far from home, Caitlyn can’t believe she willingly married such an overprotective, bossy, and jealous man. In this emotionally-charged, new adult mystery romance, ANYONE BUT HIM, Caitlyn struggles to solve the mysteries of her amnesia and her marriage. Suspicious circumstances surrounding her husband tempt her to leave and start life over, but they also challenge her Christian faith and convictions.

The arrival of her first love, her husband’s younger brother, intent on helping her regain her memory, offers a glimmer of hope. Together they uncover secrets involving her coworkers and the local abortion clinic, but nothing to explain why she married this man. Who changed – him or her?

Links:

The book is available in hardback, paperback, and Kindle:

https://www.amazon.com/Anyone-But-Him-Theresa-Linden/dp/0997674741

Author website: www.theresalinden.com

FB: https://www.facebook.com/theresalindenauthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LindenTheresa

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7537721.Theresa_Linden

Book trailer: https://youtu.be/A-R_7IagmV0

Author Bio:

Theresa Linden is the author of award-winning Catholic teen fiction. Raised in a military family, she developed a strong patriotism and a sense of adventure. Her Catholic faith inspires the belief that there is no greater adventure than the reality we can’t see, the spiritual side of life. She has six published novels, and two short stories in Image and Likeness: Literary Reflections on the Theology of the Body (Full Quiver Publishing). She holds a Catechetical Diploma from Catholic Distance University and is a member of the Catholic Writers Guild and the International Writers Society. A wife, homeschooling mom, and Secular Franciscan, she resides in northeast Ohio with her husband and three teenage boys.

Review Blurbs:

“The author has a lot of elements going on in this story – mystery, romance, amnesia, and a pro-life message. How she intertwines and weaves all these pieces together is perfection.” ~Leslea Wahl, author of award-winning The Perfect Blindside

“Anyone But Him had me hooked from the start! Theresa Linden unravels the mystery layer by layer as Caitlyn questions whom to trust, who has changed, and how an unfinished investigation may be the key to it all. Told through Caitlyn’s eyes, Anyone But Him will keep you doubting, guessing – and maybe even falling in love – alongside her.” ~Carolyn Astfalk, author of inspirational romance Stay With Me

For Valentine’s Day–A Love Story Embraced by God (This is a true story)

 

pineterest.com

By Larry Peterson

It was the spring of 2014. Ed and Cathy Carmello (not their real last name) had only been my neighbors for a short time, less than a year I think.   They had met when Ed was 60 and Cathy was 40. They fell in love and, never having been married, happily “tied the knot.”  They had just celebrated their silver wedding anniversary and were simply enjoying retired life together.

There was a problem. Ed’s prostate cancer had returned with a vengeance and was destroying him quickly. Cathy was in her final battle with  Stage IV melanoma. Since I was a prostate cancer survivor and my first wife had died of melanoma, I was able to discuss their cancers openly with them. They knew I understood.

It was a Thursday afternoon around 4 .p.m. when I left to take my daily walk. I headed down the street, and there was Cathy standing on her front lawn supported by her walker.  I could see she was fighting to hold herself up. A bit anxious, I hurried over and said, “Hey, Cathy, what’s going on? Is everything all right?”

“I was waiting for you, Larry.  I need to talk to you.”

I was dumbfounded. “Are you kidding me? I never walk at this time of day, and you say you were waiting for me?”

“I just knew you were coming by.  I can’t explain it.”

A bit unnerved, I leaned against her SUV as she leaned heavily on her walker. “You know Ed is dying, right?”

“Yeah, Cathy, I know.  We talked about it.  He’s an amazing guy. What about your prognosis? Any change?”

She smiled and looked me right in the eye saying, “They told me I only have a few weeks left.”

I tightened my lips, took a breath, and asked, “What can I do?”

They knew that I was Catholic and an EMHC (Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion).  Cathy asked me if I could bring a priest over. She told me that they had been non-practicing Catholics and had not been to church in years. It was time for them to “make things right with God.”  I said, “I will put a call into Father as soon as I get back to the house.”

“Thank you so much.  That is why I was out here waiting for you.”

I simply nodded. She smiled and thanked me and I walked her back to the house. She did not mention herself once, only her husband.  She told me how she wished she could ease his suffering and how wonderful it might be if they could go for a bicycle ride just one more time.  Then she mentioned how she thanked God for every moment they had had together.

We went inside and she, Ed, and I hung out for about ten minutes just chatting.  Cathy excused herself and slowly walked back to the bedroom.  Ed quickly told me how he wished he could ease her suffering and how God had been so good to him allowing him to find such a great woman to share his life with.  I took in a deep breath. (You know, when God is present sometimes it is hard to breathe).

I called our newly ordained priest, Father Scott. He came over the next day and spent about an hour with Ed and Cathy.  Ed and the young priest both had roots in Roanoke, Virginia, and talked and laughed and had a raucous good time together. Even though the two of them were separated by more than 50 years, it did not matter.  It was as if they had grown up together.  It was beautiful.

Father heard their confessions, anointed both of them and gave them Holy Communion. He told them he would come back the first chance he could.  Sunday was Palm Sunday. It was the beginning of Holy Week, and he would be busy.  They all hugged and said good-bye. On Palm Sunday I had the honor of bringing them Holy Communion.

Easter Sunday I was again privileged to bring Ed and Cathy Holy Communion. In so doing, an unexpected sight was forever etched in my mind.  They were lying next to each other in bed, holding hands.  Ed smiled and said, “Larry, we are SO happy. This is the greatest Easter we ever had.”

He turned and looked at his wife who was smiling lovingly at him. She reached over and wiped his wet, happy eyes. They kept looking into each other’s eyes, and I thought they were maybe looking into each other’s souls. It was a moment that was filled with a shared spirituality I had never seen before. I could actually feel it. I have no doubt that at that moment Jesus was there with them holding their hands in His.

As for me, I thank God for their friendship and for being a part of their final journey. Sometimes I like to think that I took two people in love to the airport and watched them get on a plane for a a true flight to paradise.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2014

Do You Have a Devotion to Our Lady of Cana?

By Larry Peterson

Wedding Feast at Cana/Our Lady of Cana
innsidethevatican.com

Looking toward the end of the first week of the new year I noticed a feast day that made me take pause. It falls on January 6 and is called Our Lady of Cana. We all know about the Wedding Feast at  Cana and how Jesus, at the request of His Mom, performed His first public miracle here. However, I had never heard it called the Feast of Our Lady of Cana.

There are only four instances in the Bible where Mary speaks: first, at the Annunciation; second, at the Visitation; third, when she and Joseph find their twelve-year-old son teaching in the temple; and finally, at the Wedding Feast at Cana, the only time in the entire New Testament when Mary speaks to her son as an adult.

In the Gospel according to John: Chapter 2: 3-5; it reads as follows: When the wine ran short the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servers, “Do whatever He tells you.”

I had never really thought about the significance of the Wedding Feast at Cana. Learning about this day suddenly made me realize I had never fully understood the magnitude and importance of this particular interaction between the Blessed Virgin Mary and her only Son, the God-Man. This was an incredible moment that happened in the Salvation story.

Christ, The Redeemer and King of the Universe, defers to His mom. She did not even have to discuss with Him what she had asked Him. She simply told Him what the situation was and then, without responding to His question,  told the stewards to do whatever He told them.

He acquiesced to her request and they followed His orders. Imagine that; The Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, honors, without question, a simple peasant woman, who had been given the ultimate tribute of giving Him human life.

The Wedding Feast at Cana and the Feast of Our Lady of Cana are completely intertwined. They show us how closely linked together are the Son of God and His earthly Mom. Without her there is no Him. Without Him there is no Salvation. The pathway to Jesus is through Mary. No one who ever existed was ever as close to Jesus as was Mary. Mary is the way for us to get to know Jesus.

It is very significant that Jesus’ first miracle took place at a wedding. He was there with His Mom. She asked Him for His help. Was this not all about family and the importance of marriage? St. Joseph had already passed, so it was Jesus and Mary representing their own family. The bride and groom the had just been joined together as a new family. Mary wanted to help the new family and bring them some joy on their wedding day. Jesus helped her to do so. Since she was given to all of us as our Mother too, does it not follow that she will always be there for each of us no matter what we may need. She will talk to Jesus for us.

For those of you who feel called to the married life maybe you might get together and offer Our Lady of Cana and her Son,  Jesus, an invitation to your wedding. On your wedding day, even if you cannot see them, they will be there, guaranteed. If you are already married, ask them over for a simple dinner some evening. They will be there also. Bottom line—keep them in your lives. Just ask Our Lady of Cana to pray for you and you will always be in good hands.

Finally, January 6 is traditionally known as the Epiphany or “Little Christmas.” In 2010 , January 6,  was also shared with  St. Andre Bessette.  No matter, this date  is still listed as the Feast of Our Lady of Cana and can be found on the Marian Calendar, in the listings of Roman Catholic Saints and among the many Titles of Mary that are listed in encyclopedias. When and where this title was bestowed on Our Lady is still unclear.

Our Lady of Cana, please pray for us all, especially all our families.