December 23, 2016

A Tailor’s Inspiration Brought the World a Pope *

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME


By Larry Peterson

The influence of St. John of the Cross, the great poet and mystic of the 16th century, reached across the centuries and inspired a simple tailor in Nazi occupied Poland to aspire to sainthood. In turn, this simple man became the catalyst for another man who was not even considering becoming a priest. Yet, this aspiring actor would one day become Pope. The man’s name was Jan Tyranowski. The man who would one day be pope was Karol Wojtyla.

Born in Krakow in 1900, Jan Tyranowski was the son of a tailor. His dad had bigger plans for his boy and Jan became an accountant. Jan was a bit of a loner and enjoyed being by himself allowing his abundantly curious mind to fill his spare time.

He loved science, studying foreign languages, gardening and even the new science of psychology. He especially loved photography. Even though he kept his mind filled with the wonders around him he knew something was missing. There was an emptiness, an unexplained void, which he could not fill.
Jan took ill in 1930 with a chronic stomach ailment which rendered him constantly sick. So he left accounting and took up tailoring with his father. Amazingly, with his stress levels reduced in his new job, Jan became a much happier man. His faith also began to increase and he became more and more active in his parish.

Jan Tyranowski--Courtesy Salesianity Blogs
Then came Jan’s “enlighteneing”. It happened at a Sunday Mass sometime in 1935. He was at Mass and the Salesian priest saying the Mass made a statement during his homily that changed Jan’s life forever. The priest simply said, “It is not difficult to be a saint.”

To Jan this was unprecedented. He thought sainthood was only for priests and religious. There was no room in the saintly world for lay people---or was there? The priest went on to say that lay people could also live saintly lives by going to frequent Mass, saying their prayers and doing good works.

Jan Tyranowski listened and realized the spirituality he thought he was not permitted to have was available to him too. All he would have to do would was embrace the work needed to attain it. When he he left the church that Sunday, he was a changed man.

He began growing in spirituality praying and meditating every morning for up to four hours and then devoting other parts of his day to prayer and reflection. Jan asked a parish priest for advice on some quality reading material and the priest gave him a prayer manual he had used in the seminary. Jan poured through the manual and expanded his reading eventually coming across the works of St. John of the Cross. The writings of this saint became his constant companion for the rest of his life.

By 1940 more than half the priestly population of Krakow had been deported. One of the parish priests asked Jan if he would become more involved with the youth ministry in the parish. Jan became the youth leader at St. Stanislaus Parish which also happened to be the university parish attended by a young man by the name of Karol Wojtyla. Karol aspired to be an actor.

Jan had an innate ability to inspire spirituality in others. His apostolate to the young quickly grew and among those who were part of it were the future pope. At first, Karol was turned off by Jan Tyranowki’s seemingly overbearing and strict manner of dealing with prayer and meditation. But when Jan formed a “Living Rosary”, Karol began to soften.

Karol Wojtyla’s dad died in 1941. The young man had no immediate family and before long he became an eager recipient of Jan’s guidance. When Jan introduced the works of St. John of the Cross to young Karol it changed his life. The 16th century mystic became one of the future pope’s lifelong inspirations. Jan Tyranowski more or less became a father-figure to Karol. They became great friends and often walked together talking about the things of God.

Karol Wojytla was ordained a priest on November 1, 1946. Jan Tyranowski died on March 15, 1947. He had lived to see his favorite student attain the priesthood. Father Wojytla would become Pope John Paul II on October 16, 1978. He would be canonized a saint on April 27, 2014 by Pope Francis. Pope St. John Paul II credited Jan Tyranowski with his recognizing his vocation and rejecting an acting career. St. John Paul II wrote of Tyranowski:

“He was one of those unknown saints, hidden amid the others like a marvelous light at the bottom of life, at a depth where night usually reigns. He disclosed to me the riches of his inner life, of his mystical life. In his words, in his spirituality and in the example of a life given to God alone, he represented a new world that I did not yet know. I saw the beauty of a soul opened up by grace.”

The Salesians of Don Bosco have put forward Jan for beatification and he has been declared a Servant of God.  We ask Jan Tyranowski to pray for us all.

*This article appeared in Aleteia on Jan 7,2017

                                   ©Copyright 2016 Larry Peterson

December 22, 2016

Let the Children have Santa Claus---He's Heaven Sent and Lives Forever

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

by Larry Peterson

The title of my blog is It Makes Sense To Me.  I'm sure many will feel that the title of this article makes no sense at all. Well, I don't care. The fact is, Santa Claus is rooted in the great St. Nicholas and this 3rd century saint, heeding the words of Christ to "sell what you own and give the money to the poor", did just that; he gave everything he had to the poor  and needy. He devoted his very existence to serving God.

St. Nicholas morphed into the Santa we are familiar with today. But there is no getting away from the fact that his origin was heaven sent. The Santa Claus we know and all that goes with him has filled the hearts of children with wonder and awe since the 19th century. Why do so many folks want to take it way? Why does anyone feel the child must know the "truth". They find out soon enough what "truth" is. Believing in Santa Claus and the wonder he creates never hurt anyone.

We have just been through the nastiest presidential campaign and election in our life times. Editorials about the candidates were often lies, innuendo, and falsehoods. Therefore, It Makes Sense To Me, to share an editorial from Mr. Francis Pharecellus Church, who was an editorial writer for the old New York Sun. The editorial was about Santa Claus. It was written during a time when there were no radios, phones, televisions, iPads, smart phones or even blue-tooth. People talked to each other and used paper, pen and pencil to message each other. Can you imagine?

What follows was written back in 1897 and, It STILL Makes Sense To Me.  Some of you might have seen this before. If you have, enjoy it again. If not, enjoy it now. It is a letter written by eight year old, Virginia O'Hanlon, of West 95th Street in New York City, to the newspaper asking if  Santa Claus was TRUE. Her dad had told her that if the "Sun" said it was true than it must  be so. Enjoy a moment back in time when things were a bit simpler and the innocence of children was loved and respected by most 'grown-ups'.



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~photo courtesy  hollywoodreporter.com~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



Is There A Santa Claus?
From the editorial page of The New York Sun
September 21, 1897
_______________________________________________
Dear Editor---I am eight years old. Some of my friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, “If you see it in THE SUN, it’s so. Please tell me the truth. Is there a Santa Claus?
Virginia O’Hanlon
115 W. 95th St.
_______________________________________________
Dear Virginia, your friends are wrong. They have been affected by the scepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except what they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes Virginia, there isa Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginia. There would be no child-like faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence.We should have no enjoyment except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your Papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen andunseeable in the world.

You tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and  picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah Virginia, in all this world, there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God he lives! And he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten time ten thousand years from now , he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year


December 6, 2016

Our Greatest Christmas Gift: God’s Earthly Trinity; A Young Man, His Teenage Wife and a Newborn Baby—

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

If it were two thousand years ago and you lived in Nazareth you might notice a young man packing items on a donkey in preparation for a trip. Early the next morning you see this fellow, with his pregnant teenage wife sitting on the back of the burro, heading down the road. They are in compliance with the law of the day. They are on their way to Bethlehem, the town of their ancestor’s birth, for the census.

We know so little about the lives of Joseph and Mary, yet they are THE integral part of the Salvation story.  Mary's acceptance of a pregnancy that might have resulted in her being stoned to death as an adulteress was an act of monumental humility. Joseph, a good man and a faithful Jew true to the law, accepted a pregnant woman as his wife, another act of extreme humility. (Imagine how much he must have loved this young woman)

Holy Family  & First Christmas  from Pineterest
To complete this humble family was none other than God Himself. The Creator of all that is became like one of His creations. He could have come in a majestic way, surrounded by armies and servants and glitter and pomp. He chose to come to us in the womb of his mom, just like all of us. He allowed Himself to be born among the animals in a cave. As He began His earthly life His body was wrapped in cloth and then placed on straw. Why would He do it this way?

He did it to show us…show us Goodness, show us Love and show us how to give those things from within ourselves.  Foremost, He did it to save us, save us from ourselves and Satan’s favorite tool, Pride, which had brought down Adam and Eve. The Holy Family was, and still is, the complete and perfect embodiment of Humility. It remains so to this very day. Of course, the antidote to Pride is Humility. 

Isn't God amazing in the way He does things? This is the story of our Salvation and the rebirth of Hope. This Salvation became available to all people for all time and its success was entrusted to a couple of have-not young people whose humility and love of God enabled them to conquer the seemingly impossible.

Guided by the Holy Spirit they united in marriage. Then, absorbed by each other’s love they took on the world. They traveled to Bethlehem while Mary was full term, a three to five day journey on the back of a donkey. Joseph walked guiding the donkey. Mary gave birth in a cave surrounded by smelly animals and filth and they watched and marveled as poor shepherds and rich kings worshipped their child side by side.

They managed to escape the soldiers of King Herod, who were trying to kill their newborn Son.  Imagine the fear in Joseph as he wondered how he could protect his little family from the forces of evil. And, lest we forget, he also got them safely to Egypt, about three hundred miles away. He must have been something. We know the rest of the story.

If you take a moment to ponder all that happened and how it happened and why it happened, it will leave you breathless. And then we remember it was all done for all of us. There was nothing done for themselves, not one thing. We need to get back to what "Family" is and the Holy Family is the model to build on.

We must never forget that within that family it was the husband and father who protected his wife and Son from the evils of the world. The Son humbled Himself and gave his life for us all.  And the Mom, our Mom too, the most humble of all women ever, stands ever vigilant and  ready to crush the head of the evil serpent who might harm any of her children. In so doing she is protecting all of us for all eternity. She is our protection against all wickedness. When we ask for her protection we cover ourselves with an impenetrable shield.

Fittingly, the Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of the Holy Family on the Sunday following Christmas. There are millions of folks who never pay an iota of attention to this family. Maybe it is time that they should for this is the family that "set the bar" for all families for all time.

The Salvation story comprises the greatest acts of human Love, Goodness and Humility ever. Mary, Joseph and their boy, Jesus, encompassed by an unconditional love for God and each other, offers that love to all of us.  God’s earthly Trinity has shown us the way.

How can anyone NOT Love Christmas?  


                                       ©Copyright Larry Peterson 2016 All Rights Reserved