Tag Archives: St. Therese of Lisieux

My Wife and The Little Flower joined forces and gave me a Miracle

St. Therese,The Little Flower                                              franciscansite-oct1

By Larry Peterson

For those who believe in God, no explanation is necessary,

For those who do not believe, no explanation is possible.

                                                                                                            St. Thomas Aquinas

Loretta was my high school sweetheart and we began “dating” when we were about 15. Several years later, after both my parents had passed, and even though I now had three younger brothers to care for, she stood by me.  Her family, especially her mom,  was somewhat horrified at the thought of her daughter getting involved with a young guy with all the “extras” and tried her best to stop her from marrying me.

However,  she stood by my side, we got married, and came home from our honeymoon with only two of my brothers waiting for us. The youngest, Johnny, had moved in with my sister and her new husband, Bob.  Everything, although not traditional, was okay. We had stayed together as a family, and we had a home.

I had been sponsored into the Lather’s and Reinforcing Iron Workers Union, one of the best building trades unions in New York City. By the time I was 22 I had finished my apprenticeship and was earning journeyman wages. Loretta and I got married when we were both 23 and moved to New Jersey from the Bronx. My brothers were both in high school, one a senior and the other a freshman, and besides feeling totally out of place at parent’s/teacher’s conferences, all was okay.

A few years passed by and I started to stumble a bit and lose my balance. Sometimes I appeared to have been drinking. Then I experienced what is known as a ‘foot drop.” My left foot was flopping around as I walked. It was like it was not mine. I remember it so well; as I walked the foot would go “splat-splat splat” with every step I made. It was like it belonged somewhere else, not at the end of my leg.

I was admitted to the Neurological Insitute at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in NYC. After five days undergoing various neurological tests including a myelogram, it was determined that I “probably” had Multiple Sclerosis. My doctor informed me that it would gradually get worse but  was very unpredictable and it could go into remission. At that time, it was impossible to give a precise course for the illness.

I could no longer work in the construction industry but was still getting around okay. Physical therapy had helped me to get some of my foot function back and I could walk with a limp and drag the foot instead of having it go “splat-splat.” So I bought a used van and started a small package delivery service.

I managed to make ends meet for a while and then the illness reared its ugly head and the exacerbation was quick.  I could barely stand and before I knew it I was using Canadian Quad canes for support to get around. My doctor recommended we move to Florida. The rationale was simple; no ice, no snow, and it would be much easier to walk around with crutches.

Loretta’s maid of honor and best friend, Angie, had moved to Florida several years earlier. She was encouraging us to move there. My brothers were young men and now on their own. Danny, had gotten married and Bobby was working as a trucker. It was just Loretta and I and the kids. We sold our small house and headed south.

Angie updated us about the area and the schools and helped us find a place. I actually managed to start making some money writing resumes, but I was getting worse and my new neurologist told us I would be blind, incontinent, and in a wheelchair within a year or two.

It was Christmas of 1980,  we had three small kids, no money, and things were looking bleak. I had received medical assistance from County Social Services, food stamps, and prescriptions (Billy, age seven, was asthmatic and needed inhalers and a few other things which I cannot remember. Loretta was diabetic and needed some meds to help her keep her blood sugar at acceptable levels. The insulin would come a few years later. And that is how it was. Enter The Little Flower.

Thursday, January 8, 1981,  was Loretta’s birthday. I had taken the boys to school and on the way home picked up Egg McMufins at McDonald’s. Loretta loved those, and it was her birthday. Mary was only three, and I know I got her something; what, it was, I can’t remember.

When I walked back into our apartment my dear wife was standing there next to the dining room table. She had her arms outstretched and was smiling ear to ear. I was quickly trying to process whatever was happening. “Well,” she says, “What do you think?”

I said nothing but on the table were all these birthday cards, all opened and standing next to each other forming a semi-circle. She pointed to the cards and said, (I remember the words as if it was yesterday:“Today is my birthday, and I got the only present I wanted.

“Please,  tell me what is going on? What am I missing here?”

She raises her voice and says, “Look at the cards, look at the cards. Every single one is covered with roses. I prayed a novena to St. Therese that you would get better and just look. I don’t even know half the people who sent these. But every card has roses on it. You are going to be fine. St. Therese just told us. You will be fine.”

There was no instant cure but that very day I tossed my Canadian Quads and began using a regular cane. I started going to Easter Seals for rehab and after three months I was doing a lot better than expected. In due time I tossed the cane too. If you saw me today you would never know I had MS. My urologist who treated my prostate cancer and is a great doctor tells me, “I think they made a mistake. I don’t believe you had MS. Most of my friends have no clue either, just some old ones from way back when.

Our fourth child was stillborn during Loretta’s sixth month. She was a girl and we named here Therese. I am so glad we did.  Happy Feast day Little Flower, I love you. Thanks again.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019

His efforts are leading him to Sainthood: Meet Enzo Boschetti; the priest who reached out to teenage addicts

Venerable Enzo Boschetti                                                      youtube.jpg

By Larry Peterson

Enzo Boschetti was born on November 19, 1929, in Costa de ‘Nobili, which is in northern Italy. He was the second of three children, and his dad was a truck driver. His childhood was simple, and the family struggled to make ends meet.

As an adolescent Enzo attended local Catholic Action meetings which stirred his vocational feelings. He received a copy of the “Story of a Soul” by St. Therese of Lisieux and it had a profound influence on him. In 1949 he left home and joined the Discalced Carmelites at the convent in Monza taking the name Fra Giuliano.

Enzo’s initial feelings had been leading him to the priesthood, but his superiors directed him to the consecrated life. For the next seven years, he lived as a simple friar filling his days with fast, penance, and household tasks. His Carmelite experience was becoming part of who he was, but it was not overtaking his desire for Holy Orders.

His priestly calling took firm hold of him when in 1956 he was sent to the Carmelite mission in Kuwait. The calling to help others made him decide to seek the priesthood. The problem was the Order did not allow for a person to move from a religious to priestly life. Enzo truly loved the Carmelites and leaving them would be painful. However, after much prayer and after going through a discernment period that caused him to almost have a nervous breakdown, he decided to become a priest. To the dismay of his Carmelite superiors, he left the Order and headed to Rome.

On June 29, 1962, Enzo Boschetti was ordained to the priesthood by Carlo Allorio, the Bishop of Pavia. His first assignment was as a parish priest in Chignolo Po near Milan. But in 1965, he was reassigned to St. Salvatore parish in Ticinello, a poor area where there was much hardship.

He was appalled at the many teenagers roaming the streets and using drugs, gambling, selling stolen goods, not going to school, and living their young lives without purpose. He wanted to help them as much as he could. Drugs and gambling were a big part of the neighborhood culture and many people, including teenagers, were addicts. Father (Don) Enzo quickly decided he had to do something about it. He also knew that his primary focus would be to find a way to prevent young people from becoming addicts. He had embraced a daunting challenge.

Don Enzo’s evangelical response to the problems confronting him was to reach out and tell young people that he was available to talk to anyone who needed to talk or needed help. The area was filled with young people moving up from southern Italy, away from families, and looking for work. These young folks soon began knocking on Don Enzo’s door. In the beginning, he would let them stay in the prayer room for the night. The ping-pong tables, billiard tables, and the floor were used as beds. Word quickly spread and soon a bigger facility was needed.

Volunteers joined Don Enzo to help him, but the phenomenon of drug addiction led him to reach out for help. With the help of some evangelical laymen, a small building was purchased and was called  Casa del Giovane  (Young Man’s House). The plan was to use it for those that suffered from gambling or drug addictions, something he was deeply concerned about.

His promise to the  young people was that he would be there to help them if needed. He also committed to being there to intervene for adolescents who were beginning to show signs of addiction. He was an advocate for healthy living and would walk the neighborhoods making friends and talking about clean living as taught in the Gospel.

By the 1980s he had established workshops for addiction and set out to get courses included in schools. He loved St. Joseph and often encouraged the young and old alike to pray to him for help and protection. He proposed an educational method that included real sharing among educators, volunteers, and the addicts (children and adults alike) who were participating. All he ever suggested was inspired by the Gospel and supported by prayer.

Don Enzo Boschetti passed away from pancreatic cancer on February 15, 1993. He was 63 years old. He was declared “Venerable” by Pope Francis on June 11, 2019. Part of his legacy is the following prayer:

You must love today, not tomorrow
We must love this brother, not what we would like.
One must love to give, not to receive.
We must love to free ourselves from selfishness, not for personal gain.
We must love because this is our vocation!
(Don Enzo Boschetti)

Venerable Enzo Boschetti, please pray for us.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019

Motherhood—One of God’s greatest gifts is the Instinctive Love of a Mother for her Child…no Matter what their Age

 

even a grown man can be mommy’s “little boy”

public domain

By Larry Peterson

“All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.”

Abraham Lincoln

What follows took place over a period of a few minutes.

The man presented an imposing figure. He was dressed in his Air Force uniform which had a crowd of ribbons on the left breast which covered his heart. He stood, paused and then stepped from his pew. Walking purposefully, he moved and strode up the four steps into the sanctuary. He walked over to the ambo, turned and looked out at the people now before him. He grabbed each side of the ambo, and each of his hands squeezed it tightly.

He turned his head left and peered downward. In the center aisle at the foot of the altar were the remains of his dad. The middle-aged man, a disciplined officer in the United States Air Force, shook his head, pursed his lips, and looked out at those before him and tried to speak. He did not succeed. Instead, what came from within him were soft, quiet sobs.

There was a woman sitting in the first row. Stepping from the pew she calmly walked up the sanctuary steps and over to the sobbing man. She sidled up to him and leaned into his side. Then ever so softly, she leaned her head against his shoulder. He turned and looked down at her. She turned and looked up at him. She extended her arm in back of him and rubbed his back. After several moments, she smiled at him and headed back to her pew.

It had been a spontaneous moment in time as the natural love of a mom for her child compelled her to rescue him. There was no thought about it. No, it was instinctive, a God-given trait that is instilled in mothers. It is a powerful love that only exists between a mother and her child. How powerful that love is that it can quickly calm a professional military officer who had lost his composure because of the death of his dad.

He had once again become a little boy. Mommy, ignoring the pain of her own personal heartache, instinctively knew it and went to him, embraced him and comforted him and made it “all better.” And therein lies the magnificence of one of God’s greatest gifts, the love of a mom for her child, no matter what their age. It is a beautiful thing.

 

The loveliest masterpiece of the heart of God is the love of a Mother.

-St. Therese of Lisieux

Copyright Larry Peterson 2018

The “Little Flower” and Our Lady of the Smile

St. Therese; ‘The Little Flower”

By Larry Peterson

St. Therese was born January 2, 1873, and since it is still January, I thought I would mention my favorite story about this Saint. It happened when she was ten years old, and the result was not just the “Little Flower’s” miraculous recovery from an unknown and life-threatening illness, but it also was the beginning of devotion to what became known as Our Lady of the Smile.

Therese’s mom, Zelie, had begun to complain of breast pain in 1865, eight years before Therese was even born. In 1876, doctors told her of her condition. Zelie died of Breast Cancer on August 28, 1877. She was 45 years old.  Her youngest child, Therese, who was four years old, was crushed. Years later she would write that “the first part of my life stopped that day.”

Zelie Martin had asked her husband, Louis, to have Pauline look after Therese after she had passed. Pauline was twelve years older than her little sister and had been acting as a surrogate mom for Therese while their mom was sick. Therese loved Pauline very much and felt safe and secure with her by her side.

In October of 1882, when Therese was nine years old, Pauline entered the Carmelite monastery at Lisieux. Pauline was the child’s “second mother” and, once again, Therese was crushed. She believed that since Pauline was cloistered, she would never see her again. She cried, “—in the depths of my heart, I know Pauline is lost to me.”

Therese began to show signs of illness. Pauline’s leaving for the Carmelites had jump-started her memories of her mom’s passing. She wanted to join the Carmelites right away, but she was much too young. The three forces collided and Therese got sicker and sicker. Convulsions, fever, and hallucinations, began to overwhelm her. Her body exhibited tremors and her teeth clenched, and she could not speak. One doctor suggested that she was “emotionally frustrated and was experiencing a neurotic attack. She was ten years old.

The Martin’s had a beautiful statue of Our Lady of Victory. Louis Martin had been given the statue by a lady who knew him, and he placed the statue in his garden. When he and Zelie got married, the statue was moved into the house and given a place of honor. When the children were old enough, the entire family would pray before the statue.

The statue was three feet high and covered with a varnish that made it look like marble. The children loved that statue, and they would decorate it with flowers from the garden.  Their father told them they might wear the statue out from kissing it so much.

Therese was now suffering from severe headaches, strange apparitions and everything seemed to terrify her. She thought her bed was surrounded by steep cliffs and for a short period of time, Therese could not open her eyes.

During this time the statue was in the room with Therese. On May 13, 1883, Marie, the oldest sister, was sure Therese was dying. She fell to her knees before the statue begging Our Lady to cure her baby sister. Leonie and Celine came in and joined Marie in prayer.

Marie looked over at Therese and noticed that her little sister seemed to be transfixed on the statue. Therese was not looking at the statue. Rather, in a state of ecstasy, the Blessed Virgin was standing near her and that is who she was looking at.

Therese said later that Our Lady’s face glowed with a glorious beauty, but it was her wonderful smile, which filled the girl with joy. It was like a warm ray of sunshine. When everything was over, a period that lasted about five minutes, Therese Martin, was cured. Her sisters noticed two large teardrops fall from each eye. Later, when Marie asked her why she cried, she answered, “I cried because Our Lady had disappeared.”

Thus began the devotion known as “Our Lady of the Smile.”

In St. Therese’s autobiography, the “Story of a Soul,” on the first appendix page there is a prayer she carried with her the day she took her vows as a Carmelite. The date was September 8, 1890. (Interestingly, that is Our Lady’s birthday). The last paragraph of that letter is as follows:

Jesus, allow me to save many souls,

Let no soul be lost today.

Let all souls in purgatory be saved.

Jesus, pardon me if I say anything I should not say, I only want to give you joy and to console you.

St. Therese of Lisieux; Please pray for us all.