By Larry Peterson
We are now into the third week of Lent and the road to redemption has been halfway traveled. Throughout the world Catechumens have almost reached their goal of full inclusion into the Catholic Church which takes place during the Easter Vigil. It is a beautiful thing. In addition, this past December 8, Pope Francis started us on our journey into the Holy Year of Mercy. Forgiveness is everywhere.
To give an example of how God's mercy is ALWAYS available to those who seek it I would like to briefly mention a man by the name of Arthur Flegenheimer. Arthur was born in New York City in 1901. A German-Jew, by the time he was 27 he was known as Dutch Schultz and was quickly becoming one of the most feared mob bosses in New York. The "Dutchman" was a bootlegger (running illegal whiskey), a number's boss operating in Harlem and a "shakedown artist" within the NYC restaurant industry offering protection while using the restaurant unions as cover.
His main enforcer was the infamous, Vincent "Mad Dog" Coll, a brutal killer who did Schultz's bidding without hesitation. Eventually the "Dutchman" got tired of Coll's wanting more money. As "Mad Dog" sat in a telephone booth talking on the phone he was machine-gunned to death by Schult's henchmen. Dutch actually provedto be a more brutal killer than "Mad Dog" Coll. So how does my brain combine Dutch Schultz, The Holy Year of Mercy and Forgiveness together? Actually, it is not that hard to do, is it? This is the phenomenal redemption available to all through the Church and her Sacraments.
|Dutch Schultz: REDEEMED|
When Dutch Schultz was acquitted on tax-evasion charges he converted to Catholicism. He believed that Jesus had saved him. When he was shot he did not die right away. He was taken to the hospital for surgery and he immediately asked for a priest. He was 34 years old and his last thought while he was dying was to ask Jesus for forgiveness and mercy. The "Dutchman" went to confession, received absolution and was administered the Last Rites of the Church by a priest. Then he died. Did Dutch Schultz go right to heaven? Did he get to the "pearly gates" and have St. Peter say, "Sorry Dutch, that priest made a mistake. What you did was uunforgivable. You are not welcome here." I think not.
In a few weeks it will be Good Friday. Catholic/Christian people all over the world will mourn and honor the bloodied, tortured and crucified Son of God, Jesus Christ. Jesus, the God -man who embraced forgiveness for all people and extended love to everyone. This is also what He wanted us to do. This is why he suffered and died for us. He offered Himself to His Father for us. Then we celebrate His Father's gift back to us, the Risen Christ. We all have been saved and we all can get to share eternal life with the Blessed Trinity. All we need to do is seek forgiveness. Because of God's Mercy even Dutch Schultz can join in the celebration. It is a beauty beyond description.
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