June 26, 2014

Pride--the Main Ingredient in the Evil That Surrounds Us

by Larry Peterson

Eleven Nuns of Nowogrodek.jpg
Blessed Martyrs of Nowogrodek
The abuse, torture and killing of men, women and children continues. Throughout the history of humankind this has been so.  Why?  We might say it is because of  prejudice or pride or ego or just unabashed hatred.  Maybe contempt and envy enter into it.  Whatever it is, whatever causes human beings who are supposed to have the use of reason to turn against their own kind, eludes me.  It also sickens me.

What causes others to  purposely and oftentimes, gleefully abuse, torture, rape and kill their own kind, makes no sense.  Scorn, loathing and derision can combine and form a hatred so deeply imbedded that people actually kill themselves (suicide bombers) to destroy their perceived enemy even if that person is a little child.  Where can such hatred come from? How can it be so deep and vicious?  And why, why is it, that so many times the killings are carried out using God and virtue as justification.  The God I know is all about love and forgiveness.  We must not forget that He has given us free will and we choose our behavior.

Killing out of hatred while using God as the reason is an abomination of all that is good and pleasing to God. It is the ultimate hypocrisy committed by men and women and this even applies to avowed atheists who deny God's existence. They fit the profile simply because everyone knows, believer and non-believer alike, that NOT killing is the right thing.  It is part of our genetic material.

If you do kill due to pride, envy, anger, greed or lust you have abdicated your very self to the forces of evil.  Of all of these, pride is the greatest because it is the king of self-destruction and the primary portal to the evil that lurks waiting to embrace each and every one of us..                                                                                        

The word "genocide" was coined in 1948 by Raphael Lemkin. His word has been with us ever since. Scholars and historians can trace genocide all the way back to prehistoric man and some believe that even the Neanderthal was wiped out by genocide. The 20th century alone has seen seven periods of genocide.  It  started with the Armenians who were systematically murdered by the Turks between 1915 and 1918. The Turks managed to kill 1,500,000 of their "enemy".

In 1933 the Nazis opened their first concentration camp, Dachau.  Here over 25,000 Jews and Christians were killed as the Nazi genocide began. The atrocities continued until 1945.  When the allies finally liberated Germany it was found that Hitler's death machine had  managed to kill  more than 6,000,000 Jews and millions of others including Catholics and Christians, Gypsies, Hungarians, Romanians, Dutch, French, Poles, Russians, and the sickening list goes on.

We have seen genocide in Rwanda where, in 1994 alone, 800,000 people were brutally murdered.  Pol Pot in Cambodia managed to torture and kill over 2,000,000 people between 1975 and 1979.  Under Joseph Stalin's  forced famine over 7,000,000 Russians died between 1932 and 1933.  Many millions more died under his brutal and paranoid dictatorship. The 20th century alone has seen literally countless millions of people,  people just like you and I, systematically exterminated usually because some maniacal individual has seized power and the people who follow him are ready and willing to do his killing.

During the Nuremberg Trials how many of the accused Nazis used the excuse that they were just "following orders".  How cowardly to hide behind such an excuse. Yet, how many do that the world over?  Just because something has been declared a "law" does not necessarily mean it is right.  At what point do we as individuals stand up for what IS "right"?  How many of us would put ourselves on the line to defend what is 'right"?  The fact is, most of us know what "right" is but what price honor and integrity and freedom?  When it comes right down to it, many choose to turn their backs.

The picture in the upper right is of eleven nuns. These Sisters had honor, integrity and loved their fellow man. They were  prisoners of the Nazis in the town of  Nowogrodek in Poland. The year was 1942. The Nazis had already exterminated or sent to work camps all of the 10,000 Jews in Nowogrodek and now they were killing the Polish people.

The Sisters volunteered to die in place of 120 other prisoners who were scheduled for execution. The Nazis agreed and released half of the Polish prisoners, sending  the rest to work camps. The nuns were taken out into the woods, made to stand next to an open pit, and individually shot to death. The date  was August 1, 1943.  They had such respect for life they willingly died to save ten times their number.

We can only imagine what they were feeling as they watched their friends before them fall into that pit, holding hands with each other one moment and dead the next. Today they are known as the Blessed Martyrs of  Nowogrodek. They were beatified by St. John Paul II on March 5, 2000.  How many of us would do that for people we did not know?

Today we watch mass killings taking place throughout the Middle East and parts of Asia and Africa. The murder and attempted annihilation of Christians continues unabated and is on the increase at this very moment.  From the individual killing of  Father Frans Van der Lugt, beaten and murdered in Syria in April for being a Catholic priest, to the 80 people in North Korea executed last November for owning Bibles to the imprisonment of Meriam Ibrahim with her two babies for being Christian to the massacres of  Christians taking place in so many places around the world, the hatred and demonic behavior increases day by day. It has been going on since the existence of mankind has been recorded.  It is a behavior that flies in the face of what we are as a species.  Somewhere, it is happening at this very moment.
                                                          Father Frans van der Lugt

I believe there is a self-centeredness and false pride that exists in all of us.  It is the gateway for evil to enter into us.  Many reject this evil.  Many have too much love in their hearts to be influenced by such temptation. Many do not.  Lucifer is alive and well and using these open "gateways" that are available to him all over the world.  Quite often he is very successful at gaining entrance into available souls.

Bottom line, Lucifer, aka Satan, was the greatest of all God's angels. But his pride made him choose to challenge his Creator. He lost that battle and was cast out.  He is filled with a vitriolic hatred for God and Love and has been waging his evil war against  God and Love ever since.  Often time he finds an open "gateway" and has successfully used this path to recruit millions of willing souls. But, he can never win.

                                            ©Larry Peterson 2014 All Rights Reserved

    June 20, 2014

    The Holy Trinity Mirrors Traditional Marriage


    by Larry Peterson

    This past Sunday the Catholic Church celebrated Trinity Sunday.  The deepest and most profound mystery of our faith is the Blessed Trinity which says there is only ONE God consisting of three separate persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Simply put, there are Three individual Persons in  ONE God.  This is a mystery that cannot be understood.  We believe it because of a gift instilled in us at Baptism. This gift is called faith.

    On Thursday, June 19, the second annual March for Marriage took place in Washington D.C.   Times have changed, they surely have.  Why is it necessary to have such a march in the first place?  It is necessary because traditional marriage, marriage between a man and a woman, has been hijacked.  It has been hijacked by those who insist that marriage between same sex couples is no different than marriage between a man and a woman.   Please understand, the Catholic Church does NOT condemn anyone who is a homosexual.  Those persons can live in full communion with the church.  However, the Church has always taught that sexual acts outside of marriage, whether living together or not, are sinful.  This applies to a man and a woman as well as same sex couples.

    We live in the Age of Relativism or, as I like to call it, the Meistic Age or the Age of Me.  This Meistic Age has spawned many who now are afflicted with a self-centered mutated sense of Natural Law. This mutation   causes the disease of Meism.  Meism goes something like this: if a person likes something or wants to do something, no matter what that might be, and if it makes him or her feel good and has nothing to do with you personally, there is nothing wrong with it.  This includes marriage.  If a man wants to marry another man, that should be fine.  If a woman wants to marry another woman, that should be fine also.  Who should dare have the right or the audacity to deny those folks their happiness?  Meism does not allow discussion, debate, opinion or any other kind of anti-meistic thoughts into the equation.  It is like the old cliche, "My Way or the Highway".

    According to the LGBTQ and many of their supporters, anyone who opposes this type of "marriage" is guilty of homophobia and hate crimes and needs retraining to continue living in our sophisticated, Meistic society.  Simply disagreeing with the concept of gender neutral marriage or same sex marriage can get a person into a heap of trouble. Take Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco.  Appointed by Pope Benedict XVI in July of 2012 to head up the San Francisco Diocese, the traditionally minded priest is also one of the prime supporters of the March for Marriage.  As such he had incurred the wrath of that renowned  "theologian" and politician, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi.

    The former House Speaker, apparently a wannabe Catholic theologian, is truly one of the most prominent  Meistics of our time. She  has demanded that Archbishop Cordileone NOT  participate in this March because, as she sees it,  the March for Marriage is all about "hate".  She told the Archbishop that the March is "venom masquerading as virtue" and "it shows disdain and hate toward LGBT persons".   Then she quoted (out of context) the words of Pope Francis who had said, "If someone is gay and is searching for the Lord and has good will, then who am I to judge him."

    She missed the point.  The Pope does not know what is in their hearts. They could be quite willing to lead a celibate life as does a priest.  You can live with another person and NOT have sex with them.  Same sex marriage wants a sexual lifestyle included in the union. The Catholic Church has NEVER approved of this kind of behavior, even among heterosexual couples who are not married.  (By the way, Archbishop Cordileone  rejected her demand and was in the forefront of the parade. His name links to his speech)

    As mentioned in the first paragraph, the Holy Trinity is the mystery that there are Three Persons in one God. The Father is all knowing and this total knowledge of all that is, begets the Son, sometimes called the Word. The bond between the two is so profound that it is the ultimate expression of Love. This bond of pure LOVE is known as the Holy Spirit. We cannot understand this but our faith  leads us to believe it. It follows that the Trinity is reflected ( as I see it)  in the union between  a man and woman in the following manner:
          The Love of God the Father and God the Son culminates in the perfect Love called the Holy Spirit.  A man and a woman, in love and united in the Sacrament of Matrimony, share their love for each other in such a way as to bring forth a third person, a child.  That child  now completes an earthly trinity which is the result of God's creations uniting under the Natural Law and being sealed with the Sacrament of Matrimony. It is truly a beautiful thing when the newly married couple embraces the sacrament and uses it throughout their lives.

    Matrimony (Marriage) in the Catholic Church is one of the seven sacraments. It is spiritual and NOT secular.   A sacrament can never be compromised.  If you are having difficulty with this issue talk to a priest and seek the compassion and understanding that the church can offer. We must breathe and eat and sleep and relieve ourselves and swallow etc. to live.  We do not have to have sex to live.  Many people have chosen to live celibate lives. Marriage will always be the union between a man and a woman no matter what anyone says.  I, personally, am in favor of legal civil-unions if necessary. But the beacon that is the Catholic Church and which guides us toward our eternal reward cannot detour for  those that want it strictly their way.

    P.S. I am not a priest or a theologian. I am just a Catholic man trying to defend my faith and Church against so many unwarranted, uninformed and vitriolic attacks against it. This is the Church that was founded by Christ Himself  more than 2000 years ago. It is ready and willing to give all people a sanctuary and safe place that they can call home.  But, like it or not, as in any home there are rules that must be followed.                                                                                                    

    June 14, 2014

    Happy Father's Day to the Best "Dad" ever--St. Joseph

    by Larry Peterson

    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 FATHER'S  DAY ST.JOSEPH.  Thanks for being there for your Boy, your wife, and for setting such a magnificent example all of us.

    June 11, 2014

    Her Name was Anne Frank and June 12 is STILL Her Birthday

    Anne Frank with the first page of her diary, June 14, 1942
    by Larry Peterson

    During the first week of June, 1942, Anne Frank and her dad, Otto Frank, were walking down the street in Amsterdam on their way home. They were passing a shop when Anne abruptly stopped and began pulling on her father's hand. "Oh Poppa, please, come and look at this?"

    Her dad, his arm suddenly outstretched so as not to lose the grip on his daughter's hand, said, "What is it, Anne? What must I come and see?"

    Anne's face was now pressed up against the glass and her forefinger was pointing down at something behind the glass. "Look Poppa, look at that book. It is so beautiful. I have never seen such a beautiful book."

    Otto Frank was a bit confused. The only book in the window was a a small notebook with a red and white checkered cover. It had a small gold hasp with a lock and key. "I only see that notebook with the red and white cover. You don't mean that book do you?"

    "Yes Poppa, that one. I think it is so beautiful.  I will save my money and one day I will buy that book."

    Otto put his arm around Anne's shoulder and said, "Well now, that would be a fine thing to do. But for now we must get home. It is getting close to curfew."

    They continued walking and within ten minutes had reached their building on Merwedeplein Square. They had lived there since 1934 when Otto, a successful business man, had hurriedly moved his family from Frankfurt, Germany to Amsterdam in the Netherlands. The Nazis had come to power and immediately the anti-Semitism and hatred toward the Jews was apparent. Otto was afraid.  His fears were more than justified so he sent his wife, Edith, and his daughters, Margot, age 8, and Anne, age 5, to Aachen to stay with Edith's mom.  By February of 1934, Otto had managed to resettle the entire Frank family in Amsterdam.  He had done the best he could to evade the persecution he knew was coming.

    In May of 1940, Germany invaded the Netherlands.  Having already conquered Belgium, Luxembourg and France it took the Nazis only four days to defeat the country. When the Luftwaffe destroyed the beautiful city of Rotterdam it was over.  Hitler now also "owned" the Netherlands. He also was the new master of the newly conquered people.

    The new government immediately issued new restrictive and disciplinary laws against the Jews. Mandatory registration as Jews and segregation followed.  Margot and Anne were transferred from their schools into a Jewish school called the Jewish Lyceum.  From that point on it was deepening degradation and intensified abuse against the Jewish people in the Netherlands.  But nothing would ruin  June 12, 1942.  That was Anne's thirteenth birthday. And when she opened the neatly wrapped gift from her mother and father she began to cry.  It was the little book from the shop window she had seen the previous week. She hugged her Momma and Poppa and they all had some cake and sang "alles Gute zum Geburtstag" (Happy Birthday). After, Anne sat  near the window looking at the street below and wondered what was going to happen to all of them. Her birthday gift was clasped firmly in her hands.

    In the beginning of July, 1942,  Margot Frank received her notice from the Central Office for Jewish Emigration to report for relocation to a work camp. Her father knew what that meant and immediately moved his family into hidden rooms he had secretly been preparing above the premises of a work shop.  Avoiding the German authorities would be no easy task.

    The Franks manged to avoid detection until August 4, 1944. That was when an "anonymous" Nazi sympathizer turned the family in.  The family was captured along with the Van Pels family who the Franks had taken in and Fritz Pfeffer, a dentist and a friend of Ottos. They were all sent to concentration camps.

    Anne Frank's original diaries are included in three surviving copies. The red and white checkered book had its first entry placed in it by Anne on June 14, 1942. The last one in that book was December 5, 1942.  The volumes end on August 1, 1944.  Anne did not write, "Dear Diary" as she made her entries.  Rather, she addressed her notes to "Kitty".  No one is quite sure why she did that.

    Anne Frank died in early March of 1945 at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp of Typhus. She was 15 years old. She wrote about her life while under the German occupation until the Nazis arrested them in 1944.  The Diary of a Young Girl (Anne Frank) has sold millions of copies and allowed generations of people to get an insight into the horrors of Nazi Germany and how its evil empire destroyed so many innocents.  Today Anne Frank would have been 83. Happy Birthday Anne. Your very short life was a gift to us all.

    June 10, 2014

    Review Redux: The Priest and the Peaches

    3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars Very Well Written, June 10, 2014  (from an earlier post)
    This book is more than a story to be read... it holds lessons on life, love and happiness that we could all stand to revisit. What I found amazing as I read the story, only covers one week in the life of the Peach children. That one week, seven measly days, just so happened to be kicked off with the untimely death of a father they came to realize they barely knew.

    I like to consider myself a good Christian, but books like The Priest and the Peaches that have significant religious themes often make me uncomfortable. To be honest, I briefly thought of declining the request for a review. While the religious aspects of the story did have me squirming in my seat and uncomfortable, I am very glad I read this book. I not only learned about the emotional roller coaster the Peach children road the seven days just after their father passed, I learned a lot about myself.

    I learned I need to take a deep breath and try to not let my pride get in the way, I learned that everything and I mean everything happens for a reason. Don't get me wrong, I sort of knew these things about myself already but something about the Peach children and the other characters that populate their world has moved me in such a way that I can't exactly explain.

    I challenge you to read this book, I challenge you to not learn that something that will at least have you thinking for a second longer in the future. I dare you to look inside yourself and really think about whether you might misjudge a character in your life like Peach children were misjudged (and the people the Peach children misjudged). I challenge you to do more than acknowledge your neighbor, I challenge you to L-Y-N. Want to know exactly what I am talking about? Read the book.

    June 4, 2014

    70 years Later: Remembering D-Day: What Price Freedom? It is Always "Blood & Treasure".

    by Larry Peterson
    LCVP Landing Craft at Omaha Beach, June 6, 1944

    June 6, 1944: It was 6:30 a.m. in France.  In America it was 12:30 a.m. on the East Coast and still June 5 on the West Coast.  Most Americans at home were sleeping not having the slightest inkling that many of the best and the bravest of the American future were beginning their day by dying  for the most noble of reasons; to save the world from the maniacal Adolf  Hitler and his Nazi hordes. What price freedom?

    Look at the photo to the right. Those young men in that LCVP were about to land on the beach. They were probably so frightened as those sand dunes got closer and closer.  The fear was normal and justified. Fifteen (15) minutes after that picture was taken many of them were dead. Just like that. Sons, brothers, husbands, gone. Shredded by the relentless machine gun fire coming from the German bunkers.  Many killed were still teenagers. What price freedom?  The price never changes. It is always "blood and treasure", isn't it?

    Word of the invasion quickly reached the Jewish ghetto in  Lodz, Poland.  German authorities, hearing these "rumors", quickly began searching the ghetto for illegal radios. Six Jews were promptly arrested and just as promptly executed.  On the island of Corfu, located west of Greece, 1800 Jews were arrested by the Gestapo and summarily deported to Auschwitz. Upon detraining the transports, 1600 were immediately murdered in the gas chambers and the remaining 200 were sent off to forced labor. As word of the invasion began to take hold the Nazis took a ship with 260 Canean Jewish "passengers" aboard plus an untold number of corpses of Jews already murdered by the Nazis and sank it to destroy the evidence. The noose around the neck of the Third Reich was beginning to tighten. Another ship, bound for the trains to Auschwitz, was sunk by torpedoes from a British submarine. Besides all the Jewish people on board there were also 300 Italian POWs and 400 Greek civilians.  It was still June 6 and, as young men were dying by the thousands on the beaches of France, an uptick in the extermination of the Jewish people began to take hold.

    We know that Operation Overlord turned the tide of WWII in favor of the allies. It was the beginning of the end of the Third Reich and Adolf Hitler and his evil henchmen. Casualty numbers for the Normandy Invasion still stagger the mind. 29,000 Americans were killed and 106, 000 were wounded.  The British suffered 11,000  killed and 54,000 wounded. The Canadians lost 5,000 killed and 13,000 wounded.  The French, fighting as partisans, lost 12,200 killed and missing. The casualties were mind boggling. The allies lost 57,000 killed and more than 175,000 wounded. Factor in the 30,000 Germans killed and 80,000 wounded and it is simply hard to comprehend how one man, filled with an ego so massive it knew no bounds, could somehow influence such evil and destruction. But Adolf Hitler managed to do just that.  As always, evil could not and did not prevail.  But the cost to defend the freedoms threatened were profound. What price freedom?  It is always, just as it is to this very day, "blood and treasure".  It is always mostly taken from the young

    It would be almost another year before the war in Europe ended. On April 30, 1945 Adolf Hitler committed suicide in a bunker as the Battle of Berlin raged above.  On May 8, 1945, the war in Europe came to its official end with the German surrender.  It was President Harry Truman's 61st birthday.  He dedicated the victory to his predecessor, Franklin D. Roosevelt, who had died only a month before.

    Operation Overlord, aka D-Day, was the largest undertaking of its kind in the history of mankind. Thousands upon thousands of  soldiers: American, British, Canadian, French and others too, died that day. Many more were wounded.  An evil had taken root and festered and exploded like an unstoppable virus infecting  and killing millions.  But honor and integrity and justice coupled with a permeating belief in an almighty God saw victory come to those who respected GOODNESS.  What price freedom?  The price is always "blood and treasure". The alternative is bondage and tyranny.
                                      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Fast forward 70 years:

     On June 3, 2014,  Boko-Haram Islamist Militants (modern day, 21st Century cowardly and evil storm-troopers) entered the town of Gwoza in Nigeria. They were wanting to kill Christians. And kill they did. After they finished their "mission" of killing they had left behind at least 168 people dead, mostly women and children. An elderly Christian man faced the Boko-Haram and yelled, "IF YOU DO NOT REPENT OF KILLING INNOCENT CHRISTIANS THAT BELIEVE IN JESUS, THEIR BLOOD WILL JUDGE YOU."

    This statement enraged the insurgents and they slashed the man's body apart with their swords. Then they beheaded him.  He was 80 years old.  He died defending Jesus.  Whether it is a Jew or a Christian, not much has changed in 70 years.  Persecution of Christians and Jews continues.  The Nazis were ultimately crushed by GOODNESS.  Boko-Haram will be crushed the same way.  Make no mistake, the Battle for Goodness will require much blood and treasure but the battle will eventually be won.  For those yesterday, today and tomorrow who have fought, fight and will fight the evil in this world, God bless you all.