September 23, 2017

Rhoda Wise—Wife, Mom, Convert, Stigmatic and Mentor to Mother Angelica

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME


Rhoda Wise, 2nd from right; Rita Rizz (Mother Angelica) age 19 right side
www.mysticsofthechurch.com 


By Larry Peterson

The year was 1904 and Rhoda Wise was terrified. The sixteen year old girl was experiencing searing pain which was exploding in her lower abdomen. She was taken to Wheeling Hospital in Wheeling, West Virginia where she was about to have surgery to remove her ruptured appendix. She had no idea she was about to experience a turning point in her young life.

While she was recovering from her operation a Catholic Sister came to visit her. The nun gave Rhoda a St. Benedict medal. Rhoda told the nun that her parents, who literally despised Catholics, would never allow her to keep the medal. In fact, Rhoda was sure they would be furious that it had been given to her. 

Sister put the small medal inside a locket that Rhoda had. The sixteen year old was so moved by the kindly gesture that she kept that medal for the rest of her life. It also started her thinking about Catholicism.

Rhoda was born in Cadiz, Ohio on February 22, 1888. She was the sixth of eight children. Her dad, Eli Greer, was a bricklayer and her mom, Anna, was an active member in helping Civil War veterans. They were staunch Protestants and Rhoda grew up confronted by an unyielding Catholic bias. Most of Rhoda’s friends harbored anti-Catholic sentiments but she did manage to have a few Catholic friends.

Rhoda married Ernest Wissmar in 1915. Ernest was a widower from Canton, Ohio, and Rhoda moved there with her husband. Six months after their marriage, Ernest, a plasterer, suffered a cerebral hemorrhage on a job site and passed away. Rhoda, soon after being widowed, met George Wise, himself a widower, and they were married in January, 1917.

Rhoda loved George very much but he was a drinker and Rhoda would spend many married years confronting ongoing financial troubles, embarrassments and the many challenges that accompany the disease of alcoholism . Among these challenges was having to move seven times as George’s drinking caused him to have to frequently find new jobs.  Through it all, Rhoda, did her best to remain upbeat.

In 1931, Rhoda, developed a huge, 39 pound ovarian cyst. This cyst was so large there was no doctor in Canton who would attempt to remove it. A doctor in Wheeling agreed to do it.  The downside was Rhoda was told she might not survive the operation. Rhoda agreed to the surgery anyway.

She survived the operation but her gall bladder was affected and had to be removed. Soon after the gall bladder surgery she developed a painful bowel obstruction which had to be surgically repaired. Rhoda was never the same after this and then, in 1936, she stepped into a sewer drain severely damaging her right leg.

Her foot turned inward and, combined with a recurring infection, kept Rhoda Wise in and out of hospitals from that point on. Every few months it was now back to the hospital for new casting or additional surgery on her leg in attempts to straighten her foot. Besides the now chronic pain she had to endure, Rhoda’s immediate future saw her being confined to bed most of the time.

Rhoda’s first of many visions occurred while hospitalized and with George and Anna Mae, their adopted daughter, present. Rhoda saw Jesus as the Good Shepherd standing by the window. She told George and Anna Mae but they saw nothing. George thought she was hallucinating.

One of the nuns at Mercy Hospital, Sister Clement, a Sister of Charity, befriended Rhoda. Sister had great devotion to St. Therese of Lisieux  and gave Rhoda a small shrine of the “Little Flower” to put by her bed. Rhoda then asked Sister if she could hold her Rosary. When Sister handed it to her the Crucifix was very warm and Rhoda immediately asked Sister Clement to teach her about the beads. Graces were beginning to explode within her.

Rhoda fell in love with the Rosary and prayed it several times a day. She then asked Sister if she could make a novena to St. Therese. She had developed a brutally painful stomach cancer which was considered incurable. Jesus appeared to Rhoda on May 28, 1939 and told her He would come back with St. Therese on June 28.

Jesus returned as promised and, with St. Therese standing by His side, Rhoda’s incurable, open wounded stomach cancer vanished without a trace. On August 15, 1939, St. Therese visited Rhoda again and her cast broke apart and fell from her twisted foot. The foot was perfectly normal.

For lack of space here I shall finish this by mentioning a young woman by the name of Rita Rizzo. Rita was nineteen and suffered from what they called a “dropped stomach”. Her belly appeared discolored and deformed and the pain was excruciating. She went to see Rhoda who gave her a novena to St. Therese and told her to say it for nine days.

During the early morning hours on the ninth day pain exploded in Rita’s abdomen and then stopped. In the morning when she looked at her belly it appeared normal. The discoloration and deformity was gone and so was the pain. She had been cured and the pain never returned again. Rita Rizzo became Mother Angelica and founded EWTN. Rhoda Wise was the moving force in Mother Angelica’s becoming a nun.

On Good Friday, April 3, 1942, Rhoda Wise was given the Stigmata of the Crown of Thorns. Every Friday after,  until her death on July 7, 1948 , her forehead would bleed from noon until 3:00pm.

14,000 people showed up for her funeral. Countless cures were attributed to Rhoda and countless souls returned to Christ because of her. Ironically, Rhoda always felt the greatest miracle she witnessed was the day George stopped drinking and never had another drink as long as he lived. 

Rhoda Wise has been declared a Servant of God and her cause for sainthood has begun.

There is much to the story of Rhoda Wise. To learn more please visit http://rhodawise.com/



                                      copyright©Larry Peterson 2017

September 6, 2017

St. Mary of Cervellon: with Hurricane Irma fast approaching we should ask St. Mary of Cervellon for her Help and Protection

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson


She was born sometime in 1230, some think around December 1, and was baptized on December 8* in Santa Maria del Mar parish in Barcelona. Her name was Mary de Cervellon, and she was the daughter of a Spanish nobleman, William de Cervellon.

As a young woman, Mary, began working in Saint Eulalia Hospital tending to the sick, the poor and also those who were prisoners. One day she heard a sermon given by Bernard de Corbarie, who was the superior of the Brotherhood of Our Lady of Ransom, also known as Mercedarians. 

She was so moved by what she heard she vowed right then and there to do all she could to help alleviate the suffering and misery experienced by those who were prisoners of the Muslim Turks. Working at the hospital, Mary was able to come in contact with the great leaders of the Mercedarian order, including the order's founder, St. Peter Nolasco. Inspired by these pious people Mary, in the year, 1265,  joined a small group of women who lived near the monastery. These ladies spent their lives in constant prayer and doing good works for those in need.

In due time the women asked for and received permission to form the Third Order of Our Lady of Ransom. In addition to the normal three vows of poverty,  chastity, and obedience they also vowed to pray for all Christian slaves. They were all given permission to wear the white habit of the Mercedarians and Sister Mary de Cervellon was elected their first Mother Superior.

Sister Mary had such an empathy and devotion to the poor and needy that soon she began to be called Maria de Socros  (Mary of Help).  Mary de Cervellon passed away on Septemeber 19, 1290. During Mary's life and after her death, there were people who swore that they saw Mary literally on the "wings of the wind",  reaching down and saving floundering ships from rough seas so they might stay their course and continue on their journey to free Christian prisoners from the Muslims.

A great devotion grew in her honor and it was given approval by Pope Innocent XII in 1692. Paintings of Mary show her with a ship cradled in her arms as she saves it from the roaring seas around it.  Mary de Cervellon's body lies incorrupt to this very day in the Mercedarian Basilica in Barcelona, Spain.

At this very moment in time, a massive hurricane named, Irma, is talking dead aim at our homes in Florida and the Caribbean. The seas beneath Irma have turned into monstrous, walls of pounding destruction. Since St. Mary de Cervellon,  is the patroness of sailors and invoked especially against shipwreck, she is generally represented with a ship in her hand. We might invoke her name and ask her to help quell the pounding seas or maybe help divert Hurricane Irma in a diiferent direction. We could really use her help.

St. Mary de Cervellon, please pray for us all.

*the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception was not proclaimed until  Pope Pius IX did so in 1854.

August 28, 2017

Honoring our Dead: Catholic Funeral Rites and the Consolation Ministry

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

"Come to me, all you who are burdened, and I will give you rest"   Matt: 11:28

The Catholic Church has a rich history of respecting and honoring all human life. From conception until death the church considers each person as God's individual creation and therefore, sacred in His eyes. The funeral rites set in place by the church reflect the church's beliefs in these principles.

There are distinct affirmations in the funeral process. The steps taken from the death of a loved one until final committal are all tied together so that besides honoring the departed, we who remain behind, can acknowledge the sacredness and dignity of not only the deceased but of all human life.

Wikipediacommons.org
The entire Catholic funeral rite is divided into several parts: the Vigil Service (known as the Viewing or Wake); the Funeral Mass; and the Rite of Committal. The Vigil Service is usually at a funeral home of the family’s choosing or in the parish church prior to the funeral Mass. During the Vigil, family and friends gather together to honor the deceased by praying (the Rosary, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, reading Scripture, etc) and remembering the deceased in quiet conversation among the mourners.

The Funeral Mass is the second part of the process. Church tradition has always involved the celebration of the Mass with the body present. This reflects the honor and respect for the deceased who, during their life, had become temples of the Holy Spirit upon being baptized.

The Funeral Mass begins with the body being received at the church entrance by the priest and ministers. The body is brought into the church and the Mass begins. Select readings and songs, usually chosen by family members, are used during the liturgy. Finally, the body is escorted from the church. (Funeral Masses can now be celebrated in the presence of cremated remains).

The Rite of Committal follows the Mass. The general practice has always been to escort the body to the place of burial at the cemetery. This might be a gravesite, a mausoleum or a columbarium,
which is a place cremated remains are laid to rest. (This is a smaller version of a mausoleum). The Rite of Committal is celebrated at all of these sites and we all follow along as the priest leads us in prayer letting us know that our loved has “gone before us marked with the sign of faith”. We acknowledge that the deceased is now awaiting their resurrection, just as all of us will be doing one day.

Finally, there is the Consolation Ministry. This ministry is not available in many parishes but if yours has one, you are blessed. This is the ministry that will provide immediate outreach to a family and/or spouse upon the death of their loved one. My parish (Sacred Heart; Pinellas Park, FL) does have a Consolation Ministry.

When my wife, Marty died, the parish Consolation Ministry immediately reached out to us. They  helped us pick out the readings and music for the funeral. They were at the church (maybe 25 people) an hour before the service and they prayed the Rosary and Chaplet of Divine Mercy for Marty. They greeted friends and family when they arrived at the church and some even traveled over to the cemetery with us. They organized a reception that was held after the funeral at a local hall. The spread was fantastic. They stayed in touch via phone calls and email. This Ministry provided an unexpected support system and it demonstrated the family presence that exists in a Catholic parish.

Interestingly, our parish Consolation Ministry was the result of one parishioner’s desire to start something that grew and blossomed into a beautiful thing. Rita Belcastro took it upon herself to ask our pastor if she could organize this ministry (there was none). He gave the go ahead and today, several years later, her actions have now grown into a ministry that has managed to affect the lives of countless, grieving people over the years bringing them a semblance of peace and love during very bleak times in their lives.  KUDOS Rita--well done.   


Rita’s initiative is a fine example how one person can change things for so many. You might consider talking to some friends about starting one and then ask your pastor if he will support you. There are pamphlets and booklets available to guide you. (Check with your Diocesan office) You may also become an active part of your Catholic parish family.

             
                  Copyright©Larry Peterson 2017 All Rights Reserved        

August 14, 2017

(From March,2017) An example of the KKK's hatred against Catholics:An American story about an Irish priest, a brave girl, and the KKK*

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

Each and every one of us is an individual work of art, crafted by God for Himself. Why would He do that? Because He is Love and wants to share Himself with us. We all are truly special in His eyes. He loves us all, individually and without reservation.

He will forgive each and every one of us for anything we might do to offend Him. All we have to do is admit it and ask Him for his forgiveness. However, that great interloper called "Pride", oftentimes places for many, immovable roadblocks to humility, everyone's needed ally on their path to Love.
Father James Coyle circa early 1900s  en.wikipedia

What follows is an "American" story about a Catholic priest and a member of the Ku Klux Klan. It is about love and hatred in America. This is not about present day. This happened in Birmingham, Alabama in the year 1921.

Father James Edwin Coyle had been born and raised in Ireland and, at the age of 23, was ordained a priest in Rome. The year was 1896. That same year he was dispatched to the Diocese of Mobile, Alabama to begin his ministry. Father Coyle served eight years in Mobile. While there he also became a charter member of Mobile Council 666 of the Knights of Columbus.

Birmingham was rapidly growing and was turning into one of the primary steel-making centers in America. Thousands were flooding into the area and Bishop Patrick Allen assigned Father Coyle to be pastor of the Cathedral of St. Paul in Birmingham. This was in 1904.

In 1915, inspired by the silent film, "Birth of a Nation" , the second generation of the Ku Klux Klan rose up (the link can explain the first and third generations). These folks were not only anti-black they also hated Roman Catholics, Jews, organized labor and foreigners. They started the use of the "burning cross" as their symbol. By the mid 1920s, there were over 4 million klansmen nationwide.

Father Coyle was a passionate priest who loved his faith deeply and this love was infectious. He taught and inspired his parishioners about the beauty and importance of the Mass and Holy Eucharist and he held a deep devotion to Our Blessed Mother.

As the Catholic population in Alabama grew, virtual hysteria on the part of the Ku Klux Klan began to permeate daily life. The Klan was spreading rumors and innuendo about Catholics kidnapping protestant women and children and keeping them imprisoned in convents, monasteries and catholic hospitals. The Klan even spread the narrative that the Knights of Columbus was the military arm of the Pope and that they were stockpiling weapons for the upcoming insurrection.

One of the leading Catholic haters of the day was a klansman by the name of Edwin Stephenson. Stephenson lived about a block or two away from St. Paul's Church. His daughter, Ruth, at about the age of 12, had become fascinated by the coming and goings of the Catholics at St. Paul's every day. One day she walked down to the church and Father Coyle was outside. They began to talk. Her father saw talking to the priest and, screaming at his child, demanded she go home immediately. Then he had a few choice words to say to Father Coyle. He then went home and beat his daughter.

Young Ruth was undeterred and over the next several years even managed to secretly take instruction from the nuns at the Convent of Mercy. She was baptized a Catholic on April 10,1921. She was 18 years old. When her parents found out their wedding gift to her was the worst beating she had ever received.

On August 11, 1921, Ruth Stephenson, of legal age, was seeking full emancipation from her parents. She did this by marrying Pedro Gussman, a former handyman who had worked at the Stephenson house several years earlier. The priest that performed the wedding was a reluctant Father James Coyle.

Later that afternoon, Mr. Stephenson loaded up his rifle and began walking to St. Paul's Church. He had just found out that it was Father Coyle who had performed the wedding. His heart was not filled with love. Rather, with hatred spilling from his eyes, he walked up onto the porch of St. Paul's where Father Coyle was sitting down reading. and shot the priest three times. The final bullet went right through Father Coyle's head. He died in less than an hour.

Stephenson turned himself in and was charged with Father Coyle's murder. The KKK paid for the defense, the judge was a klansman and the lawyer who defended Stephenson was Hugo Black, the future U. S. Supreme Court Justice. Although not a Klan member at the time of trial, Black did become a member afterwards. The verdict took only a few hours to come in. It was "Not Guilty".

Father James Edwin Coyle was a Catholic priest who loved his God, his Faith and his Church. He was hated and murdered because of it. May he forever rest in peace.

 *This article appeared in Aleteia on March 17, 2017

                ©Copyright Larry Peterson 2017 All Rights Reserved

August 12, 2017

The Piano Farewell: My Wife’s Passing is Now Complete yet the Music Lives On*

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

“To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.”
St. Thomas Aquinas

Aleteia first ran an  article  about my wife, Marty, in January of 2016. By that time she had gone through four years of chemo treatments for Lymphoma, developed serious heart issues and had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease. She was also still recovering from a severely broken ankle which occurred in July of 2014.

Included among my archives in Aleteia are probably ten different articles about our journey together with her illness and cognitive decline. Some of those articles were about her and her piano. You might search them out if you like. I mention this because this will most likely be my last article about Marty. She passed away this past March and her piano remained behind. It was part of her, an extension if you will, for no matter how much of her memory vanished, every day she would still manage to play that piano.  The last few months of her life she probably sat, playing it,  two to three hours a day. It followed that after she was gone the piano stayed right where it had always been, the only difference being the silence resonating from it. 

                         Marty's Piano--The Music Lives On
The presence of her piano had extended the grief process for me. When you come in my front door it is right there, waiting to be brought to life. It was silent but when I looked at it I could see Marty sitting there playing. At times I could even hear the music. When I did it was so clear and vivid that at times I just had to leave the house. I even thought I was “losing” it.

After several weeks I covered the piano up with a large blanket. I placed a few knick-knacks on top and did my best to ignore it. The camouflage worked just a tiny bit but it was better than nothing. What to do? What to do? Here is where my faith comes in. Here is where I opened myself up and "let go and let God".

I thought of selling the piano but that thought evaporated quickly. There was no way I could "sell" Marty's piano. I wanted it to go to someone who could not afford one and who would be able to play. So I contacted my parish and after two or three weeks of "nothing" I forgot about it. So I just kept praying and waited.

Hospice had a bereavement group that had begun on May 10. I decided to attend. We met once a week for six weeks. I had discussed the piano with them. When we had finished our meetings we exchanged (there were only three of us left) our email addresses and phone numbers. On July 27, I received a facebook message from Sue, who was part of the bereavement group. She wrote that the music director at the Anona Methodist Church (who was also a piano teacher) might know a family that could use a piano.

I phoned the music director. Her name was Sandy and she told me that she knew a lady named, Sarah, who had a seven year old boy who was learning to play. They only had a keyboard as the family could not afford a piano. It was a perfect scenario. I asked Sandy if she would have Sarah call me and the next day she did. She was thrilled at the opportunity to get this piano for her son. And herein is when I fully understood  how God was in charge of this entire piano saga.

Marty began playing a piano at the age of six or seven. Sarah's son has begun playing at the age of six or seven. I thought about it and realized that it is possible that maybe 70 years from now, an older man might be playing a piano somewhere. He would have learned to play on the same piano that a woman named Marty played her last song on 70 years earlier.  In essence, the music coming from that piano had never stopped and now spanned four generations. And yes, the possibility exists that it may continue well after he is gone. Who knows, right?

 I have absolutely no doubt that this was "meant to be" and  here is why; the piano will be picked up and delivered to its new owner on August 10. That is the Feast Day of (this only happens once a year) St. Lawrence, who is my patron Saint (talk about messaging).  Having Faith (as quoted by Aquinas above) is a beautiful thing. My prayers were, without a doubt, answered. 


One final thought; I can see Marty looking down with that great big smile of hers stretched from ear to ear. She is watching as a little boy sits at her piano and fingers the very keys she had fingered only six months earlier.  And, as is God’s way of things, life goes on. On occasion, so does His music.
      
  *This article also appeared in Aleteia on 8/11/2017
                   
                          copyright©Larry Peterson 2017

August 5, 2017

Saint Anna Schaffer---Bedridden and in Constant Pain from being Burned, She Gave it all to Jesus

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME


By Larry Peterson

The number of saints in the Catholic Church numbers in the thousands.  In fact, the exact number is open to question.  Among these are many saints most of us have never heard of. These saints  are the obscure spiritual gems whose stories can take your breath away. Say "hello" to  Anna Schaffer.

Anna Schaffer was born into a simple, hardworking family in Mindelstetten in Bavaria on February 18, 1882. The third of six children, Anna was a fine student who studied hard and received good grades. When she was a small child she had felt a deep calling to the religious life but circumstances sometimes hurl themselves into your path changing your destination.

Anna made her First Holy Communion  on April 12, 1893. At that time she had a profound encounter with Jesus. She had not spoken to anyone about it but she wrote a letter to Our Lord telling Him to "do with me as you want...I want to atone and become a sacrifice to atone for all dishonor and offenses against you." She was 11 years old and was giving herself over to Christ.

Anna's dad passed away at the age of 40. The year was 1896.  Anna, now 14, had already been working part time for a household in Regensburg but now her family was thrust into poverty. She had dreamed of one day entering a religious order but circumstances now forced her to give up thoughts of any more schooling and find full time work to help support the household. She acquired several positions and finally landed a job in a pub called the  Gameskeeper's Cottage in nearby Stammham. Part of her job description included doing the laundry.

The Victorian era washing machines they were using were designed to have a fire underneath and the rising heat would boil the water in the tub above. These "machines" had galvanized metal smoke stacks to vent the smoke outside the building. The stack on the machine Anna was using came loose from the wall. She was sure she could fix it.

Anna climbed up on the edge of the tub to force the pipe back into the hole. As she stretched up to reattach the pipe she slipped and fell into the boiling, sudsy water. In a flash she was up to her knees in the bubbling cauldron having her legs boiled. The date was February 4, 1901. Anna was 19 years old and her life had been changed forever.

St. Anna Schaffer    en.wikipedia.org
Anna was rushed over to the nearby hospital. Everything they tried to do for her failed to help. They operated over thirty times and every time the pain was excruciating as they had to scrape dead skin away and re-bandage the poor girl's legs. She was given up as a “lost cause” and the experts assumed she would die from infection. Skin grafts would not take and Anna became immobilized.

However, for some unexplainable reason, Anna stabilized and three months later was sent home.
The local doctors, unable to help Anna, several times sent her to the University Clinic of Erlangen for treatment. But this brought her nothing but anguish as the "experts" experimented with various "new" treatments in their quest to help her. They even forcibly broke the joints in her feet several times to free them up from their immobility. The pain she endured must have been horrific. Her mother became her caregiver and would care for her daughter until the end of her life.

In 1898 Anna had seen a vision where Jesus appeared to her as the Good Shepherd and told her the suffering that was going to be hers before the age of 20. Jesus’ prediction had now come to pass and there was nothing anyone could do to help her.  Anna embarked on a journey of having to endure unimaginable pain every day as her legs would never heal. Open, festering wounds would always be present. But Jesus was in her life coupled with her deep devotion to the Blessed Mother. Anna Schaffer was about to inspire many more than just those in her local community.

Anna admitted in a letter that it took her two years to recognize God's will in her life as she had offered it to Him on her First Communion Day. She embraced God’s will fully and Jesus appeared to her saying, "I accepted you in atonement for my Holy Sacrament. And in the future when you receive Holy Communion you will feel the pains of My passion with which I have redeemed you."

On October 4, 1910, Anna received the stigmata. From that day forward Jesus would feel Anna’s pain as Anna felt His.  She wrote that she had the intense pain of the passion which increased on Thursday, Fridays, Sundays and on Feast days. She became a beloved person in the town and people began coming from everywhere to hear the gentle and comforting words she spoke. Every day she drew closer and closer to Jesus and the Blessed Virgin as Jesus united her suffering with His own.

In 1925 Anna developed colon cancer and, at the time, there was nothing anyone could do for that. On October 5, 1925, Anna was given Holy Communion. She opened her eyes wide and said, "Jesus, I live for you." Then she closed her eyes and journeyed home with her Lord.

Since 1929, Over 15.000 miracles have been attributed to the intercession of Anna Schaffer. In 1998 alone 551 miracles were recorded through her intercession (many of these have not yet been validated by the Church). Anna was beatified by St. John Paul II in1999 and canonized a saint by Pope Benedict in 2011.

Saint Anna Schaffer, please pray for us.



                                 ©Larry Peterson 2017 All Right Reserved

July 27, 2017

"Horizon Homeless"---a Novel by Larry Peterson about a Family's Journey into the Bog of Homelessness

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

ANNOUNCEMENT


NOW AVAILABLE IN PAPERBACK & E-BOOK

"HORIZON HOMELESS"

http://amzn.to/2uGI3LK
______________________________________

Introducing my new Novel: "Horizon Homeless" reality fiction inspired from more than 20 years of experience working with the homeless and the pre-homeless. 

From the beginning of Chapter 6: page 63

"Their newly discovered sense of helplessness had Bob and Tracey emotionally drained and exhausted. They had $40.00 to their name and the electricity had been turned off.  The inside of the house was hovering at about 90 degrees, the refrigerator was rapidly losing its coldness while the hot water heater was slowly losing its hotness. The stove could not be used and the washer and dryer had been temporarily relegated to useless objects just taking up space. Losing power because of a storm was one thing. Having it taken away from you on purpose by the power company was something totally different. A storm could not cause people to feel demeaned and degraded. People could."


Have you ever seen a homeless person and thought, Why don’t they just get a damn job? Did you stop and think that maybe they had a job and then, through no fault of their own, they lost it. Is it possible they tried as hard as they could but could not find another job?  Did you consider that maybe there was an illness that altered their life?  Maybe pain medications prescribed for an unwanted, debilitating injury turned them into a “victim addict”? Maybe they are a vet with a severe case of PTSD?  Maybe it is certain type of mental illness? Do you know anything about that person you are looking at? We should remember that before people become homeless, they lived somewhere.

Homeless sleeping at a bus stop:  commons.wikipedia.org
There are millions of people across this great land of ours that are pre-homeless. Please say hello to Bob and Tracey Slider and their son, Jake.  They are a composite of so many American families that cover our land from ‘sea to shining sea’. They are among the millions of unnoticed, hardworking, Americans, locked into survival mode while trying their best to do the “right thing” every day. What happens when they are confronted with circumstances which place them on a road heading downward where the horizon up ahead turns homeless?  Can they make the turn and begin heading uphill? What choices will they make? What will determine their success or failure? 
                       
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” Matt: 11:28


www.larrypeterson-author.com   All my books at this link

www.myhelpinghandspress.com   Books available through Helping Hands Press 

NOW AVAILABLE IN PAPERBACK & E-BOOK

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©Copyright Larry Peterson 2017

July 14, 2017

Remembering Alzheimer's Patients and their Caregivers

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson



Alzheimer's patient--Wikimedia Commons


Remembering Alzheimer's Patients
&
their Caregivers


Image may contain: text
Addendum: This poem was written by Owen Darnell from Daytona Beach, FL sometime during the mid 1990's
                        



July 1, 2017

"Little Nellie of Holy God"--The Toddler Who Inspired a Pope*

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

 Ellen Organ was born on August 24, 1903 in what was known as the "married quarters" of the Royal Infantry Barracks in Waterford, Ireland. Her dad, William, was a soldier in the British army. Shortly after Ellen's birth she was baptized into the faith at the Church of the Trinity. No one knows why, but from that point on Ellen Organ was called "Nellie".

"Little Nellie of Holy God"  en.wikipedia
Nellie's parents were both devout Catholics and her mom, Mary, had an especially deep devotion to the Blessed Mother. She would take walks with Nellie always talking about Jesus and Mary. She and her husband also made it a family custom to pray the family Rosary every day. Nellie, doing as her mom showed her,  always kissed the Crucifix and the large beads between decades. The first words she learned were "Jesus" and "Mary".

By the age of two, Nellie displayed a pronounced spirituality rarely seen in a child, especially one so young. While walking to Mass holding her dad's hand she would constantly talk about seeing "Holy God". This was something she began saying without having heard such an expression. Even her dad admitted years later he had no idea why his daughter began saying "Holy God".

Nellie's life and the lives of her brothers, Thomas, David and their sister, Mary, were about to change dramatically. Their mom became very ill with tuberculosis. Nellie, the youngest of her siblings, was by her side constantly and was actually hugging her mom when she died in January of 1907. Nellie was three years old.

 The children's dad could not provide proper care for them. Consequently, he turned to his parish priest for help. Thomas, who was the oldest at age nine,  was sent to the Christian Brothers and David to the Sisters of Mercy. Mary and Nellie were taken in by the Good Shepherd Sisters in Cork City. They arrived there on May 11, 1907. The sisters treated them kindly and were very good to the girls. Nellie was happy to call all of the sisters, "Mothers."

Nellie was three years and nine months old when she arrived at the Good Shepherd Sisters home. A young girl named Mary Long, slept next to Nellie. Nellie never complained but Mary heard her crying and coughing during he night. She told the sisters and Nellie was moved to the school infirmary.

Upon examination it was discovered that Nellie had a crooked spine (the result of a serious fall) that required special care.  Sitting up was very painful for the child and sitting still for any length of time caused her great pain. Her hip and her back were out of joint. She was only three and she tried to hide her pain. But she could not "fake" feeling well. All the sisters could do was make the child as comfortable as possible.

Nellie astonished the nuns with her insight and knowledge of the Catholic faith. The sisters and others that cared for Nellie Organ believed without reservation that the child was spiritually gifted. Nellie loved to visit the chapel which she called "the House of Holy God." She referred to the tabernacle as "Holy God's lockdown."  And she embraced the Stations of the Cross. Upon being carried to each station she would burst into tears seeing how Holy God suffered for us. She also developed an acute perception of the Blessed Sacrament.

One day Nellie was given a box of beads and some string. Being a three year old she put some in her mouth and inadvertently swallowed them. People saw her gagging and choking and rushed her into the infirmary. The doctor present was able to remove the beads from Nellie's throat.

They were all amazed how brave the little girl remained as the doctor probed  into her throat removing the objects. She never made a sound. At this time it was discovered that, just like her mom,  she had advanced tuberculosis. The doctor told the sisters there was no hope for recovery and gave Nellie only a few months to live.

Nellie loved the Holy Eucharist deeply. She would ask the sisters to kiss her when they were coming back from Communion so she could share their Holy Communion. She desperately wanted to receive her First Communion. But the rule of the Church was a minimum age of 12. Nellie was only three.

Nellie told of visions she was having of "Holy God" as a child and the Blessed Mother standing nearby. Her faith was so pronounced that the Bishop agreed (since she was close to death) to confirm her. She received her Confirmation on October 8, 1907. Then, on December 6, 1907, after considering all the facts, the local bishop, in consult with the priests, allowed Nellie Organ to receive her First Holy Communion. Nellie Organ died on February 2, 1908.

Nellie Organ's story spread throughout Europe and reached the Vatican. It was presented to Pope Pius X by his Secretary of State, Cardinal Merry del Val.It was providential because the Holy Father had been looking for a reason to lower the age of receiving First Communion to the age of seven  but was not sure about doing it.

When Pius X read the documents about "Little Nellie of Holy God", he immediately took this as a sign to lower the age. The Pope immediately issued a Papal Decree called QuamSingulari, changing the age of receiving First Holy Communion from 12 years old to age seven.

Pope Pius X, who would become St. Pius X, after issuing Quam Singulari, took up his pen and wrote, “May God enrich with every blessing ---all those who recommend frequent Communion to little boys and girls, proposing Nellie as their model.”

Pope Pius X. June 4th, 1912.”

*edited version published in Aleteia on March 3, 2017

                                    ©Copyright Larry Peterson 2017 All Right Reserved

June 28, 2017

Announcing a Book Giveaway by Award Winning Author, Theresa Linden

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

I am very pleased to present the following Book Giveaway Announcement  being presented by award  winning author, Theresa Linden.



Theresa Linden--Author



Liberty trilogy – A young woman named Liberty lives in a dystopian society where the earth has been elevated above man and the government controls everything. Moving from one trial to another—escapes, imprisonment, secret missions, rescues, 3D games—this action-packed trilogy follows Liberty to her final sacrifice as she learns that true freedom is within, cannot be taken away, and is worth fighting for.

Author bio:
Raised in a military family, Theresa Linden developed a strong patriotism and a sense of adventure. She began writing in grade school and her passion for writing has never waned. Love for faith, family, and freedom inspired her to write the Chasing Liberty trilogy, a dystopian story about a future she hopes never becomes a reality. Her other published works include award-winning Roland West, Loner, first in a series of Catholic teen fiction, Life-Changing Love, and her newest release, Battle for His Soul. A member of the Catholic Writers Guild and the International Writers Association, she balances her time between family, homeschooling, and writing. She lives in Elyria, Ohio with her husband, their three adopted boys, and a sweet old dog named Rudy.

Giveaway:
Enter the Chasing Liberty Trilogy Giveaway for a chance to win the complete trilogy!

Giveaway ends: 12:00AM July 9th
Winner will be announced at the end of Sabbath Rest Book Talk7:00PM July 9th and later posted on author website.

Fight for Liberty will be on Erin McCole Cupp’s Sabbath Rest Book Talk July 9th. The theme for the books discussed in July: revolution!

Book trailer:
Click HERE to watch the book trailer for Fight for Liberty.

Books are available in paperback and as Kindle and Nook eBooks (other eBook options atSmashwords):
Chasing Liberty on Amazon and at Barnes & Noble
Testing Liberty on Amazon and at Barnes & Noble
Fight for Liberty on Amazon and at Barnes & Noble

Visit Theresa on Facebook, her blog Things Visible & Invisible, or on her website.

May 29, 2017

Chaplain Emil Kapaun—from Farm boy, to Priest, to Medal of Honor Recipient and Future Saint*

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

Emil Joseph Kapaun, was born on a farm near  Pilsen, Kansas, in 1916. Pilsen was a tiny town of less than 100 people named after after the city of Pizen in the Czech Republic. His parents were Czech immigrants and devout Catholics. Emil, besides being an excellent student, became quite adept at repairing farm equipment and machinery. This knowledge would prove very beneficial later on when he was a prisoner-of-war.

Emil Kapaun was ordained a priest on June 9, 1940. In 1944, he joined the U.S. Army Chaplains Corps. and was assigned to  serve in Burma. He left the army in 1946 to seek an advanced degree in education. He knew in his heart that his priestly ministry was to be a chaplain so, upon graduating with a Master's Degree in 1948, he re-enlisted in the Chaplain Corps.

During the Korean War, Captain Emil Kapaun, U. S. Army,  was the Catholic chaplain assigned to the 3rd Battalion of the 8th Cavalry. On November 1, 1950, the feast of All Saint's Day, Father Kapaun celebrated Mass for the soldiers in his battalion. In the minds of the troops the war was about over.

The North Koreans had been beaten back by the U. S. and United Nations forces. The guys were starting to think about being home for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Those pleasant thoughts of being home for the holidays were a bit premature. Right after midnight of November 2, All Soul's Day, their world exploded. The area held by 3000 American soldiers was unexpectedly attacked by a force of more than 20,000 charging, Chinese troops. The Americans, taken by surprise and fighting valiantly, never had a chance.

Father Kapaun ran from foxhole to foxhole, dragging out the wounded and giving last rites to the dying. Over the sound of gunfire and explosions he heard confessions. Feverishly working beyond the American lines in "no-man's land", he actually stopped an execution and negotiated with the enemy for the safety of wounded Americans. No one knows how many young soldiers he carried to safety on his back. Going back again and again he was finally taken prisoner as he tried to rescue another wounded soldier. He was not the only American GI captured that night.

By daybreak the battle was over and hundreds of  newly captured American POWs, including Father Kapaun, began a forced 87 mile "death march" to a POW camp.  The earlier thoughts about Christmas in America and drumsticks on Thanksgiving quickly evaporated as every step in the mud and snow and freezing cold now occupied the minds of the young soldiers who had suddenly become prisoners-of-war.

The "march" was brutal. Those wounded an unable to continue were shot dead. Father Kapaun picked up a wounded POW and began carrying him on his back. He implored others who were still in fair condition to do the same. Some followed his example and somehow, someway, many managed  to make it alive to the prison camp.

Father Kapaun cared not an iota about himself. Against the orders of his Chinese guards he cared for the sick and wounded, built fires for warmth and cooking, searched for scraps of food, and even set up a make-shift system to purify drinking water. What infuriated the guards was how Father Kapaun managed to gather the men together, officers and enlisted men, black men and white men, even atheists, agnostics and others, to join together in saying the Rosary.

Father Kapaun became an inspiration to the other POWs. The priest would preach openly to the men even though his captors ordered him not to do so. He would pray one-on-one with POWs and some even embraced the faith and were baptized. Praying was banned and when Father Kapaun ignored it and prayed with his men they would strip him naked and make him stand on a block of ice for hours on end. It is hard to imagine enduring such cruelty.

On Easter Sunday, 1951, the bedraggled, starving prisoners saw a silhouetted figure standing alone,  illuminated by the morning sun. As the men approached they realized it was Father Kapaun. He was wearing his purple stole  and holding a Roman Missal. Somehow he had received permission to hold an Easter Service. He could not say Mass but he read some Psalms and everyone recited out loud the prayers from Good Friday including the Stations of the CRoss. Survivors say that some men openly wept.

Father Kapaun, worn down from the horrendous conditions and suffering from his own wounds and poor treatment, died on May 23, 1951. He was credited with saving hundreds of lives through the loving care, compassion and spirituality he demonstrated to all his men.

His  awards  include the Congressional Medal of Honor, the Distinguished Service Cross, the Bronze Star and many others.

In 1993, Captain Chaplain Emil Joseph Kapaun was declared a "Servant of God" by Pope John Paul II. The canonization process of this selfless priest is underway and there are two miracles under investigation at the present time. The simple priest from a little farm in Kansas is truly an inspiration for us all.

Servant of God, Emil Kapaun, please pray for us.

*This article appeared in Aleteia on Feberuary 21, 2017

                                         ©copyright Larry peterson 2017  All RightsReserved

May 12, 2017

Mother’s Day—After Years of Dreading It I Can Finally Embrace It

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

(updated  from 2016 article)

Mother’s Day is here and I will tell you immediately that it has never been my favorite holiday.

My mother died 56 years ago. She had just turned 40. (She had Leukemia and if you had Leukemia 56 years ago, you were “toast”.)  For some reason, I have only a few obscure memories of her. And, for me, that is an emptiness that has always exploded  inside me during the Mother’s Day celebration.

We were kids when she died. At fifteen, I was the oldest. My sister and brothers (the two youngest have now passed away) remembered details about her such as the softness of her hair, her laugh, how she loved cherry vanilla ice-cream, or pulling the shopping cart to the A&P. As for me, I had nothing except the information they had to share.

My Mom  circa 1939  age 19
I have been told that I was traumatized by her death and involuntarily blocked her out of my mind. I thought, how could that be true? I have experienced death taking my closest family members including: my wife, Loretta, 14 years ago married 35 years),  my second wife, Marty, only five weeks ago (we had been married for 10 years), a  stillborn daughter, my dad,  my two youngest brothers and Grandma, who died as I held her when I was 18. But, fortified by my Catholic faith, I always managed, to move through the grief process and learn to accept what happened.  But with my Mom that process never completed itself.

But I finally came to understand why I have been “stuck in the mud” with my Mom’s sudden passing albeit so long ago. I was selfish. I never thought about what must have been going through her mind as she lay dying at the age of 39. It was always about me and how MY mom died. That was the reason for my decades old problem. Therein was the cause of my emptiness. It was never about her. I felt sorry for myself when she died and kept feeling sorry for myself, year after year after year.

I needed help and finally it came.  Out of the clear blue my daughter, Mary, calls me and, during the conversation says, “Hey dad, do you realize I’m going to be 39 on my next birthday?”
Talk about being hit by lightning. My own daughter was going to be the same age as my own mother was when she was slowly being killed by an insidious, no holds barred, and merciless disease. I had never thought of my Mom as a 39 year old woman with five kids. I thought of her as my Mom, who died on ME. How pathetic is that?

Mary, who also happens to look a lot like the grandma she never knew, had only asked me a simple question. She could not have known the power that was in it. She had no idea that at that moment it removed the veil from my clouded “mom world” and set me on my journey to discover the woman and person who was also my mother.

Following decades of self-pity, I began to quietly ponder about this woman who carried me in her womb, who nursed me, fed me, bathed me, held me and hugged me, nursed me and my siblings through illnesses such as mumps, measles and chicken pox (all of which I have no memory), who cleaned, washed and ironed clothes, cooked, shopped and even worked part time, and how she must have felt as she prepared to leave her family behind while facing death. How awful and terrifying that must have been for her?

How did she hold her year and a half old son on her lap and look at him without going hysterical, knowing soon she would be gone? How did she handle thinking about her six year old son, missing his front teeth, who she would never give a sweet hug to again?  She had a ten year old who was in fourth grade and always needed his mom to help him with his homework. Would his dad help him? Probably not, he was so lousy at spelling and grammar.

And of course, there was my sister, her “little” girl. But she was 13 already, she was growing up. She would need her Mom, to talk to about woman things.  How did she bare holding onto the knowledge that her children would soon be motherless? What did she say to our dad, her husband and lover, as they lay together in bed, in the dark of night waiting for the inevitable as their five kids slept?

Sunday morning at Mass the priest will talk about mothers, living and deceased. This year I will be proud of the God loving, faithful, kind and courageous woman that was MY Mom. I may only have a few scattered memories of her but it doesn’t matter anymore. It was never about “poor me”, it was about her. I was such a jerk not to see it.

On this Mother’s Day I will also thank God for that phone call from Mary. I will then thank Him for my Mom. And to all the loving, caring Moms everywhere, God bless you all and Happy Mother’s Day.

                                ©Larry Peterson 2016