June 30, 2016

Meet the "Madman" of the Sacred Heart*


By Larry Peterson

*An edited version of this article appeared in Aleteia on June 3, 2016

Every year, exactly 19 days after Pentecost, the Catholic Church  celebrates the Devotion of the Sacred Heart of Jesus . It is a worldwide devotion and is always on a Friday. This year it will be celebrated on June 3. Stressing the profound relevance of this feast, Pope Benedict XVI said on June 5, 2007;
 "In the Heart of the Redeemer we adore God's love for humanity, His will for universal salvation, His infinite mercy. Practising devotion to the Sacred Heart of Christ therefore means adoring that Heart which, after having loved us to the end, was pierced by a spear and from high on the Cross poured out blood and water, an inexhaustible source of new life."

I have mentioned that this is a worldwide Catholic feast day our Pope Emeritus, has spoken to its importance. This caused me to wonder why so many Catholics around the world (including  those in the United States) have never heard about the man from Mexico whose name was Jose Maria Robles Hurtado .

St. Jose Robles Hurtado; "Madman of the Sacred Heart"

Jose Robles Hurtado was 25 years old when he was ordained to the priesthood. The year was 1913. He loved his priestly calling and, being a gifted writer, immediately began writing essays and lessons to teach and propagate the faith. He had such love of  Christ in the Eucharist that within two years of his ordination he founded an order of religious called the  Congregation of the Victims of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus. But his love for his Lord was also being noticed by the authorities. Father Hurtado was already going against the new laws being enacted in Mexico.

The young priest was so devoted to the Sacred Heart that his fervor for this devotion became known far and wide. He even became known as the "Madman" of the Sacred Heart. But that was in Mexico. It was also during the intense anti-religious era of Catholic/Christian persecution that was beginning to rear its demonic head in the country. Evil finally became the rule of law when in 1917 the anti-religious Constitution of Mexico was enacted.

The new constitution prohibited public professions of faith, public processions and most devotional practices "outside" of church. (Have we heard this narrative advanced in our country?) Father Hurtado promptly proposed a project where a huge cross would be placed somewhere in the center of Mexico to honor Christ as the true King of Mexico. He was now in direct violation of the law.

The plans for the project began  to come together as Father Hurtado led the  movement to erect the giant cross. Signs were distributed throughout Mexico declaring Christ as the King of Mexico. These signs also proclaimed the nation's devotion to the Sacred Heart. Word spread quickly throughout the country and a public ceremony was scheduled for the laying of the project's cornerstone.  Government leaders were furious.

In 1923 over 40, 000 Roman catholics headed to a spot in central Mexico called "La Loma" (the hill). The groundbreaking took place and the government decided it was time to intensify the "law". Persecution of Catholics intensified and Father Robles Hurtado was singled out for intense scrutiny to make sure he stopped his "anti-government" practices.

Father Hurtado, despite demands by the government that he leave the country, continued his ministry, offering Mass, hearing confessions for hours at a time, visiting the poor and the sick, performing baptisms, anointing the dying  and teaching the children.the faith. Then came 1924 and a new president. His name was Plutarco Elias Calles and he held a fierce hatred of Roman Catholics.

Presidente Calles was determined to stop all religious practices within Mexico. He ordered the Constitution of 1917 to be strictly enforced and the result was one of the bloodiest episodes in Mexican history. From 1927 through 1929 the Cristero War ravaged Mexico and Father Jose Robles Hurtado was destined to be one of its victims.

As has been proven throughout history, when certain people gain power that power can become an evil aphrodisiac. Hiding behind "laws" enacted to help them attain their goals of domination, they can kill with a reckless, oftentime vicious, abandon. The evil at work in Mexico was not about to ignore the young priest.

On June 25, 1927, while leading a family in prayer at their home, soldiers broke into the house and arrested Father Hurtado for "violating the law". He was immediately found guilty and sentenced to be hanged. In this world there would be no appeals.

The next morning, before dawn, Father Jose Maria Robles Hurtado, age 39, was led out to a nearby oak tree. The priest, facing his immediate death, offered an understanding and compassion for his executioners. He  forgave them and insisted that he be allowed to place the noose around his own neck. This way none of the men there would have to feel guilty about what was happening. He was handed the noose, kissed it, and slid it over his head. Then he went to meet his beloved Sacred Heart.
Several of the executioners openly wept.

Father Jose Robles Hurtado, the "Madman" of the Sacred Heart. was canonized a saint by Pope St. John Paul II on May 21, 2000.

                                     ©Larry Peterson 2016 All Rights Reserved

June 18, 2016

Pope Francis--The Foremost Ambassador of Humility


By Larry Peterson                                      

 This is from the Gospel of Luke; Chapter 9: vs 46-50
An argument arose among the disciples about which of them was the greatest.
Jesus realized the intention of their hearts and took a child and placed it by his side and said to them, "Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.  For the one who is least among all of you is the one who is greatest."

This gospel reading is all about the greatest of all the 'deadly' sins, Pride. It is also about the greatest of all 'heavenly' virtues, Humility. This is a "clash of the titans" of Evil vs Good. And it makes me think about Pope Francis with his innocent smile and his natural affinity to children and the disabled and downtrodden. It makes me realize that the most famous man on the planet is also the most humble.

 Pope Francis, without trying and by just being who God made him to be, wears this mantle of humility without fanfare, showmanship, pretentiousness or anything that might be self-serving in any manner.
Pope Francis

Yes, he wears that mantle and it is always fastened to his shoulders with the clasp of Love. In so doing he shows the whole world what it means to think of yourself last before all others. (Don’t you love the black shoes he wears)?

Jorge Mario Bergoglio never asked to be a bishop or a cardinal. He never "lobbied" for these positions or sought them out in any way. He did not have "super-pacs" at his beckoned call when the vacancy for Pope opened. He simply loved being a priest, working with the poor and homeless and doing his best to follow God's call so he would make his life pleasing to Him.

Make no mistake, God called him to the papacy. The secular world mocks that concept but that is why they cannot experience the joy the faithful experience when he visits other countries and millions of these folks turn out to see him, waving and singing and even crying as he goes by. If they could only swallow their damn pride a bit and open their hearts they may find the elusive peace that evades them.

Pope Francis is the successor to St. Peter. He is filled with the Holy Spirit. That Spirit leads him to stop his motorcade and wade into a crowd of children and hug them and kiss their foreheads. It compels him to embrace the crippled, the disfigured, the mentally challenged, the homeless as well as the "uppity-ups". He has no qualms about walking into a prison and embracing hard-core murderers, rapists, thieves, and drug dealers.

During his stop in Washington, D.C. last year, the Pope visited with President Obama and then, after offering Mass in the Cathedral, made a point of going to the offices of the Little Sisters of the Poor. He was sending a message to the entire world about the solidarity that exists within the Church when it comes to respect for life, ALL life.

That message required no words---just action. The Pope gave that message by meeting with the Sisters who take care of the elderly poor, free of charge and have been doing so since St. Jeanne Jugan founded the order back in 1841. The fact that the Holy Father had just visited with the President of the United States surrounded by the opulence attached to the visit and then, after being cheered by millions as he headed to the Cathedral, mattered not. His smile was broadest while he spent his short time with the Little Sisters of the Poor.

Pope Francis leaves every country he visits a more contented and inspired nation. He reaches out to everyone and many respond. And the reason is so basic; he represents the Goodness and Love that Jesus Christ brings to us. He is His ambassador on earth. He does his work well. But, as is the way of things, after he leaves a place, the pride that consumes humankind comes back and makes itself known again. The good news is, after a Papal Visit, pride has fewer followers.

Thank you Holy Father, for the grace, inspiration, love and example you give us. Hopefully we can get you back to America soon. Our country could use a booster shot of humility, especially in the political arena.

                                         ©Larry Peterson 2016  All Rights Reserved

June 12, 2016

The Catholic Church—Saying “NO” to a World Screaming “YES”


By Larry Peterson

How did the precepts of ethics and morality, based on the Ten Commandments and the "Golden Rule", become a pariah to so many? How did these principles ever become inverted?  Why have they seemingly been tossed by many into the dumpster of the outdated and irrelevant?

There is one critical aspect that drives this onslaught and I think we do not pay close enough attention to it. Those that are flailing away at our religious heritage and freedoms are not committing these attacks on their own. They have a brilliant, diabolical, hate-consumed leader inspiring them onward.

Their leader's name is Satan and he is the Master of deceit and deception. Satan's biggest and most hated enemy after Jesus Christ is the church that Jesus founded, the Catholic Church. Satan’s hatred for the true Church of Christ is unimaginable. That is because it still spits in his evil eye and says NO!

Over the centuries it has withstood his evil onslaughts even when they came from within. It also rejects today’s “liberation theology”, the perverse philosophy that suggests “Jesus wants you to be happy so just enjoy yourself.” The fact is, Jesus wants us to be happy with him in heaven. This is the testing grounds where we can earn the “right’ to join Him there—not decide what that “right” is.

 The Church has teachings that have been in place for two thousand years. But secularists maintain that the Church has "nerve and audacity" to use the words, SIN and MORALITY.  In today's self-indulged, secular world it seems anyone who might suggest that a particular behavior is "immoral" or "sinful" is branded and vilified as intolerant, hateful, racist and even uncaring.

 How pompous and pride filled this is. Only the new age secularists would have the audacity to suggest that their inverted "virtue" is GOOD and the concept of self-denial is SINFUL.

My favorite comic book character was, Superman. Occasionally, Superman would get stuck in an alternative universe called "Bizarro World". It was a place where everything was backwards. Up was down, hello meant good-bye and yes meant no. Even the planet, Htrae, (Earth backwards), was shaped like a cube. It is the same with the folly of inverted secular virtue. I call this world "Secularro".

On Secularro killing is "Good" and if you stand against it you are bad. For instance, take abortion, infanticide, euthanasia and partial-birth abortion. The church says NO! On Secularro the Church is now bad. Fornication and people "hooking up" for one-night stands is heralded as "Good". The church says NO!  On Secularro the church is told to mind its own business. Divorced and remarried Catholics want to receive the Holy Eucharist. The church, as it always has done, says NO!

On Secularro, the church is deemed intolerant and insensitive and is out of touch with the modern world and needs to get into the 21st century. Homosexuals demand to be married in the Church. The Church says NO!  Marriage is between a man and a woman ONLY. Satan screams from his evil world to his followers, Say “YES! YES! YES!" Holy Mother Church says “NO!” In the alternative universe, the Catholic Church is evil.

On Secularro the inverted unwittingly listen to Satan’s message and pound on the dogmatic doors of the Catholic Church demanding that they be opened to personal wants and desires. Unlike Bizarro World where things are just 'crazy' on Secularro, things are mean and vindictive. Secularro is ruled by hate. Satan is Hate.

There are other Christian denominations that have succumbed to outside pressures and reworked their "teachings" to accommodate the demands from Secularro. They have been praised as "progressive" and "in touch" with the needs of the citizens of Secularro. The reality is, they have failed their followers. But the Catholic Church has not caved into the demands and pressures and it never will. Therefore, Satan hates all things Catholic and always will.

The Catholic Church still teaches that there are Seven Deadly Sins. They are pride, greed,  lust, anger, gluttony, envy and sloth aka laziness. Note the key word in describing these sins is the word "deadly". The Church teaches that these sins can destroy the soul of anyone who might indulge these human appetites. The church also offers forgiveness for falling prey to these sins. This forgiveness is available 24/7.

On Secularro, the church is mocked and laughed at for suggesting these actions offend God. These acts are acceptable because an individual committing one of these sins is just being human and God made us that way and wants us to be "happy". So--sin away. Just remember, if you subscribe to that concept the victory in the fight for your soul goes to Satan.

It is time to start looking hard at the Bible. And we might start by going to St. Paul's Letter to the Ephesians. Chapter 6: 16-17.

In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield,
To quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit,
which is the word of God.

                                        ©Larry Peterson 2016 All Rights Reserved

June 4, 2016

Missing From the 2016 Presidential Campaign—any Mention of God & Religion


By Larry Peterson

There is an old cliche which says, "One thing you should never argue or discuss is politics or religion."

One thing is for sure, when it comes to politics and politicians no one is mentioning anything about religion. They leave the 'religion' out and argue 'politics'. They not only argue with each other they debase, defame, denigrate, disparage and verbally abuse each other relentlessly and with a no-holds, reckless abandon that is disgraceful but apparently acceptable because, "that's politics". On the other hand, they will rarely, if ever, mention God or religion.

 According to all of the latest polls, the items  of prime importance to the American voter in 2016 are: a)  the economy; b)  jobs; c) immigration and d)  terrorism. Unbelievably (to me) there is little mention about the incessant attacks and rulings against our religious freedom(s). How can this be?

I am fascinated by these polling results not so much for what they say and/or predict but for what they avoid. They completely seem to ignore the religious backdrop of the American story. Religious freedom is the cornerstone of our success. W must stop making believe it is insignificant.

These religious freedoms are the foundation for an ever expanding and vibrant economy. These freedoms are the fertilizer that helps grow jobs.These freedoms are so envied that people from all over the world continually want to come here. Yes, the fact is, Freedom of Religion is the very lynchpin that has held us together throughout our 240 year history.


But now I am afraid. I am afraid because the insidious, intentional eroding of the foundation of our nation is being completely ignored. We are witnessing the weight of a secular self-centeredness that is not only methodically erasing  God's presence in our country but, along with God, the religious tenets (also called Natural Law) used as building blocks by our Founding Fathers.

  When people have the freedom to worship God unencumbered and without reservation, it frees up their spirit. They embrace this great gift and it results in personal growth and fulfillment. The United States of America proved to be the greatest nation in history because of an individual's freedom to be who they would be.

 Over the course of our American history there have been numerous Freedom of Religion cases that have impacted our nation. However, over the last  decade, the anti-religion, anti-God rhetoric has seemingly taken a secure foothold in the battle against the"Creator who has endowed us ALL with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness". And yes, in the very first paragraph of the Declaration of Independence the name of GOD is actually used. He is NOT anathema to the United States of America.

It seems to me that we must stand up and fight back in defense of God and religion. Being a "none" is NOT a religion. being an atheist is NOT a religion and being a Satanist is NOT a religion. Religion is the means we use to worship God and we are free to do so. Religion does NOT define NOT worshiping God.

There is even an organization called the Freedom from Religion Foundation FFRF. Can someone explain to me how, in a country that proclaims Freedom of Religion as a fundamental right, a group can be legalized and can sue folks for expressing that freedom?   The Freedom From Religion Foundation is the antithesis of our primary, fundamental Constitutional right. It is even a functioning and approved non-profit 501(c)3 active in all 50 states. Does this make any sense at all? How can an entity whose primary purpose is to attack our First Amendment be legally sanctioned to do so?

Not worshiping or believing in God is our choice as Americans. Those of you who have chosen that route  have been blessed with this privilege. Many have died to secure this Freedom for you. Why, if you can non-worship the way you so choose, do you want to prevent others from worshipping as they choose? Why would the name of Jesus Christ, a simple carpenter who preached love and forgiveness, be offensive to anyone? Whatever is your self-absorbed, hateful motivation to attack the very freedom(s) that protect you? What are you so afraid of?

                                ©Larry Peterson 2016 All Rights Reserved