March 27, 2014

Computers Do NOT Apologize

by Larry Peterson

Bear with me please, it has been a whacky week and this post might seem to be a bit disconnected at times. It is definitely too long.  That simply reflects my state of mind since last Friday.  I was sitting in front of that all familiar "liquidy" screen,  you know, the thing that looks like glass but it is soft and almost mushy and  ripples when you touch it.  I don't know about you but when I clean it I have this insane fear that the thing is about to suck me right inside of it just like the TV did to little Carole Ann in the movie, Poltergeist.  Sorry, to the point.  I decided to click on the link to my book located in the sidebar of my blogsite.  Anyway, a cyber window pops up and says "this book is no longer available."  I say to the screen,  "Duh, it is SO available."  The screen does not answer. As does the person who keeps pushing the elevator button that has already been pushed,  I keep clicking the cyber button with my mouse.  The screen has no sense of humor and keeps giving me the same answer, word for word, over and over.  I did not yell or throw anything or use one four letter expletive.  I just sighed and surrendered.  A moment passed and I breathed in deeply and began to investigate.

I have two books that have been published.  To show you how well they have sold I quickly found out that my publisher is going out of business.  Ah yes,  logic had poked its head  into the day and let me know there was a valid reason for the books being unavailable.  I looked  at the clock and it was now 5 p.m.  As we do every year during Lent, a group of us meet, go to the fish fry and then to Stations of the Cross (a Catholic devotion held  during Lent in most Catholic parishes) at 6:30 p.m.  Saturday would come soon enough and I could begin to figure out what to do about the books.  I powered down my personal cyber world.  It probably needed some downtime anyway.

Saturday morning arrived as expected and I hit the button to awaken cyber world. A few lights began to blink (these things have trouble waking up too) and then the rippling screen sang a brief tune and lit up.  Icons flashed into place and my cyber world was ready for its master to give it orders. I obliged and clicked my Microsoft Outlook icon to open my email.  Ta-dah---it opened and a little window popped up saying ERROR!  It even had a lock and key in the corner.  I did not flinch.  I exited and reentered.  ERROR!  Uh,oh, repeat ---ERROR!   Something is awry.

My email address was with Verizon.  Let me call them and---no, wait a minute, I can call Live-Technician.  I have them available if I have a problem.  They are great.  If your computer goes haywire they can fix it even if they are in India, Canada, Mexico or on the Moon itself.  I call and just like that I have a real, live person I am talking to.  When does that happen anymore?   His name is "Harry" and Harry takes charge (with my permission) of my computer.  I sit and watch the cursor fly all over the screen this way and that , hither and yon, and then it stops.  Harry says, "I must contact Verizon."  I watch and on the screen a live-chat begins to take place between Harry in India and Rose in China.  I am in Florida, USA.  Why worry about world peace when right before my eyes worldwide cooperation is happening.  I momentarily felt uplifted.  Okay now, it is time for the summation to this  gentle diatribe (wow,  an unintended oxymoron).

It took Harry and some of his buddies, David and Emmanuel, to finally find out from Rose and her friends in varied locations that Verizon, had in fact, terminated my email account.  I have had the same Verizon address for 13 years.  I had cancelled it in January of 2013 and was told I could keep using the address. Okay, I am an idiot. I believed them.  It was fine for almost 15 months and then the "computer" disconnected it.  No one, anywhere in the whole world, could do a thing about it.  After six hours of my life being hijacked,  I was compensated by receiving  apologies from almost every corner of planet Earth.  WOW!!  A world-wide apology to little old insignificant me. It does not get much better than that.  (The computer offered NO apology).

It is now seven days later.  My books have been resurrected and new options await.  I have a new gmail address that is working fine. I did lose a bunch of addresses but--they will eventually come back one way or another.   April is almost here and I am starting to smell the roses.

March 21, 2014

The Amazing Story of the Nativity Stones

review by Larry Peterson
Nativity Stone set in Gold Cross

To the right you see a picture of a gold filled cross and in the center of the cross you will notice a white stone.  Let me share with you about that stone.  It comes from the Manger Room of the Nativity in Bethlehem.  Yes, the stone is from the exact spot in the manger where Jesus Christ, the Messiah and the Son of God,  was born on the First Christmas over 2000 years ago.  This is true and has been documented and confirmed by the Vatican.

Back in 1963 philanthropist and archaeologist, Stanley Slotkin, was visiting the Cave of the Nativity and noticed a portion of the inside wall being removed.  His host, the mayor of Bethlehem, explained to him that the site was being expanded to make another exit so as to accommodate the thousands of visitors that came every year.  Slotkin asked for permission to have the excavated stones shipped to him in America and they were.  He began making crosses, each holding a precious Nativity Stone. These crosses he gave away to many charities and to the terminally ill providing comfort and peace to many while reinforcing their faith in Jesus.

It is important to remember that these stones are from the EXACT spot where Jesus was born.  The Church of the Nativity is the oldest Christian Church in the world.  Early Christians worshipped at this exact site soon after Christ's death and resurrection.  In 325 AD, the Emperor Constantine officially recognized this site as the true birthplace of Christ.  Imagine having an actual Nativity Stone that was there when Our Blessed Mother gave birth to our Saviour while St. Joseph stood by caring for and protecting them.

Recently, at his request, Slotkin's family made Nativity Stones available for a wider audience.  Jewelry was created that contained Nativity Stones. This jewelry is now available to everyone while supplies last.  Each cross comes in a case with  its own numbered Certification of Authenticity.  It makes a magnificent gift and will become a treasured keepsake to all who are able to acquire one.  For further information go to the link below. For visiting this blog you are eligible to use coupon code  "Honored15"  when ordering.  Just type it in the code box at checkout.   
 Origins of the Nativity Stones                                                                                                                                  

March 16, 2014

Honoring The "Shadow Saint"; Joseph of Nazareth


by Larry Peterson

March 19 is the day we honor St. Joseph.  I think we should give him the whole month of March.  I love this man.   I will run this (and nothing else) starting today  March 16, through Friday, March 21.

I call Joseph of Nazareth the “Shadow Saint” because, even though he was responsible for being foster-father to the God-man and husband to the God-man’s mom, the Blessed Virgin, his own life was so quiet and unknown.  He had to shelter them, protect them, feed them, provide for them.  He married Mary (who was a teenager) while the cloud of “adultery” (a sin punishable by death) hung over her head.

Imagine how incredibly difficult this must have been for him, a “righteous Jew” who followed the law and found himself betrothed to a pregnant woman who was not carrying his child.  He must have loved Mary so much and had such great faith.
Then he managed to take her to Bethlehem for the census when she was almost full term.  If that were I,  I would have been sick to my stomach the whole way, wondering if my wife could make it and if the child would survive.  This was an 80-mile trip over rocky and dusty roads and Mary had to ride a donkey.

Then, after the baby is born in a dingy stable with smelly animals, he had to hide his wife and Son and run from the maniacal Herod, who wanted the child dead and had ordered his soldiers to find Him so they could kill Him. Imagine the fear and anxiety as you try to avoid detection.  Feel your heart pounding faster and faster at the sound of every hoofbeat or snapping branch.  I cannot imagine.  Joseph must have had incredible courage.
Back in Nazareth he raised his Boy as any loving and caring father would.  He aided the Boy when he took his first steps, held Him on his lap when he scraped his knee causing it to bleed, showed Him how to eat, taught Him how to pray, read the scriptures to Him and tucked Him into bed at night.  No-one ever in the history of the world has ever been entrusted with such incredible responsibility.  No one in the history of the world could tell Jesus, the God-man, when to go to bed or when to wash His hands for supper or “not to interrupt” if mom or dad was speaking.

Yet, we know so little about this just and holy man.  What we do know is he saved the Son of God who, in turn, lived long enough to save us all.  Oh yeah, he also was married to the Blessed Virgin Mary.  He loved her with all of his heart, took care of her, and protected her against all dangers.  There is a love story for you.
There are no writings left behind by Joseph.  There are no words that were spoken by him that were ever recorded.  We have no idea as to what he might have even looked like.  None of that matters, because we do know he was there when God needed him to be there.  Last year Pope Francis picked St. Joseph’s Feast Day day to be installed as Pope.  This was no coincidence I am sure.

Joseph is considered the Protector of the Universal Church.  He is also the patron saint of fathers and families.  Next to his wife, he is the greatest of all other saints.  Just remember that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, called him, and only him, “dad”. And maybe (I like to think this) the Blessed Mother called him “sweetie” or “hon”.
Hey guys, imagine this. You get up in the morning and your wife says to you, “Good morning sweetie, want some scrambled eggs and toast for breakfast?”  You turn and look and the Blessed Virgin Mary is standing there in a housecoat holding two eggs in her hand.  That would have happened to only one man in all of history and his name was Joseph.  No one, anywhere, ever, was afforded such an honor. No one.
HAPPY FEAST DAY ST.JOSEPH.  Thanks for being there for your Boy, your wife, and for all of us.

March 13, 2014

Secularism's Optimal Success Story; The Legalization of Child Euthanasia

by Larry Peterson

The plague of secularism that has engulfed the entire world has possibly reached its optimal success. The highly civilized country of Belgium passed a law last month allowing children to choose to euthanize themselves; however, it did not become official until last week.  That is when the final seal of approval was placed on this bill by none other than King Philippe himself.  Yes, the Roman Catholic King of Belgium, Philippe Louis Leopold Marie,  signed the bill making it official.  Belgian children can kill themselves if they have "good reason".  (They also need a physician, a psychologist, and the parent(s) to approve their request).

I am also a Roman Catholic.  I know many people who are, Roman Catholics . You know what?   Ironically, much of the anti-Catholic sentiment comes from those who say they are Catholic.  Many approve of abortion, contraception and  gay marriage.  Heck, Belgium is a 75% Catholic country and they voted by a 2 to 1 majority for the Child Euthanasia Law.  But you cannot pick & choose what parts of the faith you like and do not like, especially when it comes to the sanctity of life.

 It is NOT easy being Catholic and God knows that. So all He asks us to do is try, try every day.  We Catholics have confession for a good reason and that is because we are always messing up.  But then you have the secularized Catholics, an oxymoron if ever there was one.  You cannot truly "love your neighbor" if you, conditions permitting, would sanction death whether through abortion or euthanasia.  The sanctity of life is God-given.  God has the power to give life and to take life.  Whenever did so many of our species get so smart that laws were enacted  giving people  the individual "right" to end the God-given life of someone else?  This, my friends, is an abomination of the Natural Law which was established by God and is "naturally" ingrained in each of us.  We instinctively know what is right and what is wrong.  C'mon, you know you do. But how many of us go against the Natural Law because we have been desensitized to the point that we delude ourselves into  thinking  something 'unnatural' is okay because it has been legalized.  Adhering to Natural Law often times involves self-denial.   However, secularism is the twisted religion of self-gratification. To hell with self-denial.

Jesus and the Little Children
There are many high profile secularized folks who also call themselves Catholics.  Let us start with King Philippe of Belgium.  He calls himself a Catholic but signs a law allowing children to kill themselves. Sorry King, you cannot have it both ways and you are supposed to set example.  The church you belong to rejects euthanasia as intrinsically evil.  You, therefore, have rejected Catholicism. You are a secularist and so are all those who helped pass the bill that you signed.  End of story.

The State of Oregon passed the "Death with Dignity" Act in 1997.  Washington, Montana and Vermont  have also passed Euthanasia laws.  Belgium passed their euthanasia law in 2002,  the second highly civilized nation to do so (The Netherlands was first).  In 2011, 1133 cases of euthanasia were reported in Belgium. In 2012, 1432. That figure represents 2% of all deaths in that country.  Statistics show that the suicide rate of those who have undergone sex change surgery is as high as 31%. Why such despair?  Why such hopelessness?  I say it is because many have the misguided and illogical notion that our happiness depends on "things".  Good health, money, position and  material goods have become the god that never satisfies. Worshipping those things are the violation of the very First Commandment. Secularism honors the god of hopelessness and despair. The God of mercy and love has been rejected for a false god.  And, after all those self-inflicted deaths, they pass a euthanasia law for children.  How sad this is.

King Philippe is one of many highly placed people who have embraced secularism and then pretend that they are being virtuous by giving approval to all things for all people.  Legalization of drugs, of abortion, of euthanasia, of same-sex marriage are all the result of a civilized society that has deluded itself into a false happiness.  This false happiness is never attained and ultimately leads people off a cliff into a sea of misery. Those that might have the "temerity" to say "NO" are branded as intolerant.  At least those folks can still sport a truthful smile even though it might have cost them defilement and persecution to keep it.

March 8, 2014

Book Review: AMERICAN SAINT; The Life of Elizabeth Seton by Joan Barthel

Book Review
by Larry Peterson

The Life of Elizabeth Seton

by Joan Barthel

Published by;
Thomas Dunne Books
 St. Martin's Press; New York

Copyright 2014;  Joan Barthel

First Edition: March, 2014

Wow! Reading this book was quite the experience.

At first I was a bit put off by the introduction because it was immediately referencing an out-of-context quote from "Father" Joseph Ratzinger from almost 50 years ago during the Second Vatican Council.  It was how he suggested obeying conscience before ecclesiastical authority.  Then it  jumped to a Pope Benedict XVI (the former Joseph Ratzinger) cracking down on American nuns who were obeying their consciences.  We get to all of 100 words and we are reading about the Vatican accusing the Leadership Conference of Women Religious of "promoting radical feminism".  Wait a minute--this is supposed to be about St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, not feminism and women's rights.  My antennae were extended. I took a deep breath and plodded on.

Whew--thank God I did because when you read this book you quickly learn that Elizabeth's agenda was always God-centered.  Her personal relationship with Him defined her.  He was the source of her strength and courage as she lived her amazing life.  If she succeeded in making women proud it was because she strived to make God proud first. This is very important for all to remember when thinking of this woman.

Joan Barthel manages to take us on a fabulous journey  through the life of Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first American born Catholic saint.  She manages to do this by pouring over more than three thousand pages of Elizabeth Bayley Seton: Collected Writings and filling her narrative with the words of St. Elizabeth herself. There are excerpts from letters to her husband, her children, her siblings, her spiritual advisors and others. The ten-year effort Ms. Barthel has put forth is truly remarkable and the result is worth the time spent reading to the end. This was not a "quick" read for me but the time spent with St. Elizabeth and her words, written in the English language of two hundred years ago, was worth every second.

The meandering journey through this book begins as Elizabeth wakes to the ringing of church bells. She is in a Lazaretto in Leghorn, Italy, having just arrived from America after a seven week journey. The year is 1803. Due to an outbreak of yellow fever Elizabeth, her husband, Will, and their daughter, Anna, had been quarantined and would not get out of the cold, dank room for weeks.  The irony was that Elizabeth had brought Will to Italy to help his tuberculosis, not make it worse.  From this point we skip back in time to New York City in 1767, meet Elizabeth's parents, Dr. Richard Bayley and his wife Catherine.  We read that Elizabeth Ann Bayley was born on Aug 28, 1774.  The family connections become very pronounced and complex as we move forward but suffice it to say it was a large, extended family and I had a bit of a time keeping track of all the members in it.  Onward to the life of this amazing woman.

Elizabeth  felt a closeness to God from when she was a child although she did not understand it.  At the age of 19 she married William Seton, a successful importer.  Socially prominent, she was a member of Trinity Episcopal Church and came under the influence of Reverend Henry Hobart, a no-nonsense Calvinist who despised Catholicism.  Hobart had a profound effect on Elizabeth and when she announced to him her decision to become a Catholic he was horrified.  He told her that she was jeopardizing her very chance of salvation.   "When I see a person whose sincere and ardent piety I have always thought worthy of imitation in danger of connecting with a communion which my sober judgment tells me is a corrupt and sinful communion, I cannot be otherwise than deeply affected."  (Nowadays someone would simply say, "I'm very disappointed in you.")

Elizabeth waivered. She was at a crossroads. Hobart was her mentor, spiritual director and a dear friend. She trusted him enough that she had asked him to take her sons if something ever happened to her. Protestant Episcopal or Catholicism, what should she do?  I leave it to you, the reader, to filter through the turmoil and doubt that filled Elizabeth Seton as she pondered her conversion.  It is a magnificent journey that took a little over three years from when she first entered a Catholic Church in Italy to when she received her First Holy Communion.  Her conversion brought her rejection by her family and friends and left her in a state of  poverty.  But her new found faith  filled her with a steely resolve.  Her love for Christ in the Eucharist and being able to attend Mass every day, receiving Him within her very self,  filled her with  a love of God that few people ever attain.

Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton died at the age of 46.  She had been a Protestant and a convert to Catholicism. She had been rich, she had been poor, she was among the socially prominent, she was an outcast, a wife, a mother (who worked and saw three of her five children die).  She was a widow, a teacher, a social worker, a nurse, the founder of the first active order of women religious in the United States known as the Sisters of Charity, and she started the first free Catholic school in America.  Quite a journey for a girl that danced at George Washington's 65th birthday party and ultimately was canonized in Rome by Pope Paul VI as the first American-born saint.

From the pen of St. Elizabeth Seton written on a fragment of paper; "Eternity---in what light shall we view it? What shall we think of the trials and cares, pains and sorrows we once had upon earth?  Oh! When a mere nothing!  Let then they who weep be as though they wept not; thought who obtain as though they possess not.  The world passes away.  ETERNITY!  That voice to be everywhere understood.  ETERNITY!"  (I had to read this a few times before the beauty of it impacted me)

St. Elizabeth Seton; a mother, a wife, a Catholic saint and an American woman who should be honored and respected by all. Do yourself a favor--Get this book, take your time and let her words draw you in.
Nicely done. Joan Barthel, nicely done.