Tag Archives: The Mass

When World War II ended the nightmare for others began: Meet the Thirty-Eight Martyrs of Albania

Stained Glass honoring 38 Matyrs of Albania
Stained Glass honoring 38 martyrs of Albania    public domain

By Larry Peterson

When the Nazis fled Albania at the end of WW II, the communists took control of the small country. From 1945 through 1974, they ruled Albania with an iron hand banning religion, especially Catholicism. Many Catholics were brutally tortured and murdered during this period. What follows is about the 38 Martyrs of Albania who were beatified on November 5, 2016.

Father Ernest Simoni had just finished saying Christmas Mass in 1963. Suddenly and unexpectedly he was surrounded by police and arrested. He was shackled and charged with the crime of  “saying Masses for John F. Kennedy,” the American president who had been assassinated the previous month in Dallas, Texas. His next stop would be in prison, where he would endure torture and forced labor for the next 18 years.

We move ahead to April of 2016. Pope Francis was holding a ceremony recognizing 38 people who had died in the dark, dank, and disgusting prisons of Albania. The group included mostly Albanians, some Italians, and one German.  Included among them were two bishops, 21 diocesan priests, three Jesuits, seven Friars Minor, a Franciscan novice-nun, three Catholic laymen, and one seminarian. Most of them died between 1945 and 1950.

The only woman among them, Maria Tucci, was arrested on August 10, 1949.  She refused to answer her captor’s questions and was tortured over and over until August 1950. She had been so brutalized over the previous year that she required hospitalization. She died from her injuries on October 24, 1950. She was 22 years old.

Not included among them was Father Simoni. He was standing before the Holy Father. He was  88 years old and holding a box which contained the bones of ten of his countrymen. They, too, had been imprisoned in Albania. Unlike Father Simoni, they had all been executed.

Pope Francis, was honoring  Father Simoni’s faithfulness to Jesus and the faith by elevating him to the rank of Cardinal. The Pope wept as he hugged the new Cardinal saying, “Today I touched martyrs.”

Those who were present that day heard how the Albanian martyrs were tortured to death and then executed or just tortured over and over and sent to forced labor camps. The one constant among all these holy martyrs was that they were always praying to God and asking Him to forgive their killers.

Here are brief bios of the three Jesuits who were among the martyred:

  • Giovanni Fausti: He was the oldest of twelve children born in Brescia, Italy, on October 19, 1899. He began his religious studies at the age of ten and was a classmate of Giovanni Montini, the future Pope St. Paul VI. After studying at the Pontifical Lombard College in Rome, he was ordained a priest on July 9, 1922. He entered the Society of Jesus on October 30, 1924. After serving in the Italian army, he entered the Pontifical Gregorian University and became a philosophy professor. He had been in Albania twice and was sent back in 1942. He was arrested by the communists on December 31, 1945. After being held for two months and tortured almost every day, he was shot dead on March 4, 1946.

 

  • Daniel Dajani: Daniel was born in 1906, and, by the time he was twelve, he felt the calling to the priesthood. He studied hard and began his novitiate with the Jesuits on July 8, 1926. He received his teaching credentials and made his solemn profession of vows on February 2, 1942. Similar to Father Fausti, Father Daniel was arrested on December 31, 1945. He also was held for two months having to endure constant torture. And, just like Father Fausti, Father Dajani was executed on March 4, 1946.

 

 

  • Gjon Pantalia: Gjon was born in Serbia in 1887 and was related to St. Teresa of Calcutta. He did not want to be a priest, so he joined the Jesuits as a Brother. He became a teacher specializing in chorus, theater, and socio-cultural activities. He also was a writer, composer, and a spiritual director to many of his students. He was called “Brother Cornerstone” of the College of Shkodra. He was arrested in 1946 and brutally tortured. He tried to escape from prison but broke his legs jumping from a window. He was captured and thrown back in his cell. Lack of treatment and constant, unbearable pain, took its toll. He died on October 31, 1947.

 

We ask all the Martyrs of Albania to pray for us.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2020

Are you Looking for an Answer? Take a few moments; you may find it here.

ECCE AGNUS DEI  (Behold the Lamb of God)

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass                               en.wikipedia.org

By Larry Peterson*

The following is for all people, the faithful and non-believers, including atheists, agnostics, nones, and secularists.  If you do not believe, you can make a choice and try to see with the eyes of a FAITH that is, for the next few moments, open to you. Or you can just not bother. You know, choices.

Something deeply mystical happens during the Catholic Mass that even many Catholics do not understand.   The Mass commemorates the night when Jesus instituted the Holy Eucharist giving us His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity forever. He did this within the framework of what we call the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

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.” It 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.

Our Catholic faith teaches us that Christ is TRULY PRESENT on the altar at Mass. These words are from the Roman canon: “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”. 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. I know this is what I believe.

The meaning of this is beyond the pale. It transcends human comprehension. For this is when yesterday became today and tomorrow becomes yesterday. The Mass enables us to briefly step into eternity and to take a peek at the life within the Holy Trinity and the love being shared inside it. This Holy Sacrifice is being offered somewhere on planet Earth 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. (Even during the pandemic, priests are offering Mass every day, all around the world—even though the laity is not in attendance).

I wrote this many years ago and I would like to share it with you.

The Answer

By Larry Peterson

Every minute somewhere, Upon this Earth, Amid chaos and pain

Shadowed by greed and pride, Perfection.

While within so many,  Silent screams resonate, And fade unheard,

Pain unanswered, Yet each minute, A constant Light, Always there for us to share,

Somewhere—The Answer

But—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 by many yet, Somewhere each minute, For us to share,

The Answer there,  The PERFECT LOVE

But—choices….

The focus of life’s journey is preparation for our transition to and participation in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. When our Easter morning arrives and we sing out, “Alleluia, Alleluia! Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again,” that is what will happen. Eternal life with the Risen Christ becomes ours. All we have to do is follow Him. If you do not know how or where to start, The Answer you are looking for is right here, in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

 

Copyright©Larry Peterson 2020 (revised from 2015)

 

*About the writer:

Larry Peterson, a former reinforcing Iron-Worker from NYC,  is a Catholic/Christian blogger and posts commentary weekly. His work has appeared in such publications as Aleteia, Zenit from Rome, New Evangelists, Top Catholic Blogs, Big Pulpit, Catholic365.com, and others.

His first children’s picture book, “Slippery Willie’s Stupid, Ugly Shoes” was published in 2011. In 2012, his full-length novel, “The Priest and the Peaches” was released. His second novel, “The Demons of Abadon,” was released in the spring of 2016

Larry’s latest novel, “Horizon Homeless,” was released in ebook format in May of 2017, and the paperback followed on July 27, 2017.

Larry belongs to the Catholic Writer’s Guild, The Catholic Writer’s Society, The Knights of Columbus, and the St. Vincent de Paul Society. He has been an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion for over twenty years bringing communion to the homebound and hospitalized.

You can find more at     https://cradlingcatholic.com/

 

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  

“Do not worry. All they can do is kill us, nothing more”

shutterstock                                                                            Aleteia.org

By Larry Peterson

It was April 14, 1905, when Angela Ginard Marti knelt at the altar rail. Dressed all in white with hands palm to palm, she raised her head and extended her tongue to receive her First Holy Communion. It was a transformational moment for the youngster. As she brought Jesus into her heart, she knew that God was calling her to the religious life.

Angela was born on April 3, 1894, in Majorca, Spain. Even as a toddler, Angela, exhibited a spiritual quality.  Her desire to the religious life was fueled not just by her devout, Catholic parents, but also by her frequent visits with her mom to visit her aunts who were both nuns.

Angela attended Mass as often as possible and made frequent visits to pray before Jesus present in the tabernacle. The example set by her aunts had a growing effect on Angela. She even began teaching her younger sisters and brothers how to pray, taught them their catechism and told them stories about the different saints.

Family responsibilities kept her at home until November 26, 1921. That was when Angela entered the convent of the Congregation of the Zealous Sisters of Eucharistic Adoration. She took the name of Maria de los Angeles and adapted quickly to the communal lifestyle. She became an example to the other Sisters of goodness, piety, and obedience. There was a subtle, supernatural way about Sister Maria that all of them recognized.

Angela received her habit in May 1922, and in 1923 she made her initial profession of vows. She was moved to Madrid where she renewed them in 1926 and made her final vows in Barcelona in 1929. She became the chief embroiderer for altar linens and was in charge of preparing the unleavened bread used to make hosts. She was in love with her simple, holy life.

Sister Mary of the Angels, the lover of simplicity and a shining example of humility, was quite surprised when she was named Mother Superior of the convent in Madrid.  She was there in 1936 when the Spanish Civil War erupted, and religious persecution began its ever winding, merciless assault on all things religious, especially clergy.

Sister Mary Angela, quite unsettled by the events and not knowing what to do, immediately began spending as much time as she could before the Blessed Sacrament. She turned her fears and anxiety over to God and offered Him her life as a martyr if it were His will.

On July 20, 1936, she and the other Sisters, using disguises, fled the convent and went into hiding. The Sisters were very concerned about their future. Before leaving, Sister Mary of the Angels said to them all, “Please do not worry. All they can do is kill us, nothing more.” Amazingly, these words brought comfort to the others with her.

Sister Mary was allowed to hide in the apartment of a family who lived near the convent. From the window, she could see the soldiers destroying the church, the convent, and other religious objects, including all the statues. The intentional destruction of all that was dear to her sickened her. For Sister, it was worse than being killed.

During the evening of Tuesday, August 25, 1936,  there came pounding on the door and loud voices.  A woman opened the door. It was the landlord’s sister. She was immediately arrested.

Sister Mary of the Angels came from the other room and said sternly to the soldiers, “The woman you have taken hold of is NOT a Religious. I am the only Religious here.”  They released the landlord’s daughter and bound the hands of Sister Mary. She was taken to a nearby holding cell.  Her future to become a martyr had been sealed. A soldier said to her, “Tomorrow you take the ‘little walk.” Everyone knew what that meant.

The next morning, as the sun was just peeking over the horizon, Sister Mary of the Angels was forced to take the “little walk” to Dehesa de la Villa. She stood erect facing the firing squad and was praying as the bullets ripped into her body ending her earthly life. Later, her body was recovered and today it rests in the chapel of the convent in Madrid.

Sister Mary of the Angels was declared killed “in odium fidei” (in hatred of the faith) and beatified on October 29, 2005

Sister Maria de los Angeles, please pray for us.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019