March 17, 2017

A Catholic Priest has Extraordinary Powers--He Has Been Given the Power of Christ Himself

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

Recently I wrote about how being a Catholic caregiver gives that person an "edge". I had no idea that  only a day later I would be standing next to an unconscious body that was being kept alive through the use of mechanical means and medications. Somewhere inside that body was my wife, Marty. She was on "life-support"and my work as a caregiver was either on hold or would soon be ended.

Since early in 2011 Marty has had serious medical issues such as lymphoma and Alzheiemr's Disease. But entering the year 2017 things began spiraling downward. The Alzheimer's was markedly advanced and was even affecting her walking. Several times, she even forgot who I was. One day a week or so ago, I wanted to give her her afternoon meds. She refused to take them. She said she could not let a stranger give her poison. I was accustomed to her unpredictability but this was a first. I was stunned..

As weird as this may seem, I actually had a close friend, Geri, come over to "identify" me to Marty. My wife was unflappable and refused to give in. After about a half-hour of cajoling by Geri she finally, yet haltingly, relented. She gave in and took her pills.

Last Thursday, Marty spent most of the day sleeping. She ate nothing. I attributed it to new meds she had been prescribed. Friday the sleeping intensified and again she did not eat. Saturday was worse and late in the afternoon, when I checked here vitals, her oxygen level was at 82. I knew that was not good. I called 911.

Anointing of the Sick (Extreme Unction) en.wikipedia.com
The paramedics oxygenated her and took her to the ER. She was freezing cold and they discovered her core temperature was down to 93 degrees. Sepsis was suspected and later on validated. I had gone home because it was to be several more hours before a room opened up. I called in at 4 a.m. I was told that she was in CVICU and on "life-support". She had become "unresponsive" and needed to be intubated.  I was shocked to hear this.

To the point of this article. Through my jumbled thoughts one thought was crystal clear. Call the priest. I immediately did. I had instinctively reached out and taken advantage of my Catholic "edge". I am telling you, it felt good to make that phone call. I knew help was on the way---help for the spiritual side of my wife.

Fifteen minutes later I was at the hospital in the ICU unit,  standing next to my wife who was in her "life-support" bed. All the machines, tubes and hoses made the scene appear to be part of a science fiction movie.  The beeping and ticking was almost like the background for reggae music. All of this was supposed to help her get well. She was sedated and had no clue as to what was going on.

Shortly after,  Father Anthony Coppola, my pastor from Sacred Heart Church, came hurrying into the room. I always have had the utmost respect for the priesthood and the men who wear that collar. But I was about to appreciate the Catholic priesthood and the power that is in it in an entirely different way. I was also about to realize that  the purpose of God's plan for the three of us to be in in that room, together, at that moment, was about to come together.

What happened next is part of the mystery of Faith. It is that great intangible that cannot be seen or touched. If a person has been gifted with faith and has embraced this gift they understand. If not, they have chosen not to. As St. Thomas Aquinas said so long ago, "“To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.”

Father and I chatted briefly and then he went to work. He was about to administer the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick (formerly known as Extreme Unction). A Catholic priest is the only person who can offer the Holy Mass and administer the Sacraments of Penance, Confirmation (usually the bishop does this) and Anointing of the Sick. He has been given this power because he has received the Sacrament of Holy Orders.

He opened his prayer book and began to read. Then he took holy oil from a little gold receptacle, dipped his thumb in it, and anointed Marty's forehead and hands with it. He prayed some more and then it happened. He said these words, "By the authority which the Apostolic See has given me, I grant you full pardon and the remission of all your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." 

Marty had just been given what is known as the Apostolic Pardon. This was that moment in time where I understood everything that was going on. She was there, still alive, because God wanted her to be fully prepared for her impending journey, a journey that would now be straight and direct to Jesus Himself. I was there because without me, the priest would not have been available to impart his  power.

But this moment belonged to Father Anthony, a Catholic priest who had the power and authority to impart this pardon. Make no mistake, these are the moments when the radiance of the Catholic priesthood shines through because these are the moments a priest stands in the shoes of Christ . It was a beautiful and humbling thing to see.

                                  ©Copyright Larry Peterson 2017


March 10, 2017

The Priest asked, "He must be heavy?" The Boy answered, "No Father, He ain't heavy, He's my Brother." *

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

It was somewhere near Omaha, Nebraska and the year was 1918.  A young, Catholic priest was walking down the dirt road near the boy's orphanage he had recently opened. The priest came upon two boys, one carrying the other on his back. The priest stopped and said to the boy doing the carrying, "Well now lad, he must be heavy."

The boy, hunched over from the weight of the younger boy on his back, answered, "No Father, he ain't heavy. He's my brother."

Father Edward Joseph Flanagan, the priest from County Roscommon, Ireland, soon to become an American citizen, smiled and said, "Follow me boys and welcome. You're safe here."

The priest  had surely followed an unintended, circuitous route to find himself in Nebraska. It is believed that he entered the world prematurely. The story goes that during the first days of baby Edward's life (he was the eighth of eleven children) his grandpa, Patrick, clutched his tiny grandson close to his chest. Then he sat by the hearth for hours on end with his big, calloused hands enfolded around the tiny baby's body.  The warmth, prayers and love that engulfed the child brought him through and he survived.

Father Flanagan with kids at Boys Town  fatherflanagan.org

Edward came to America in 1904. He had graduated college in Ireland and was able to enter Mt. St Mary's University in Emmitsburg, MD. Here he received his BA degree in 1906 and his MA degree in 1908. From there he headed to Dunwoodie (just north of NYC, bordering Yonkers) and entered St. Joseph's Seminary (often referred to simply as Dunwoodie).

Double pneumonia complicated by weak lungs from his premature birth, forced Edward to leave Dunwoodie in his first year. He moved to Omaha, Nebraska, to be with his brother, Father Patrick Flanagan and his sister, Nellie. They helped him back to full health and then it was off to Italy for more study. His next stop would be Innsbruck, Austria where he was ordained a priest in 1912. After his ordination  he was assigned back to Omaha.

Ironically, Father Flanagan wound up at St. Philomena's Parish. St. Philomena, the patroness of babies and youth, may have been sending a subtle message from above as to where the young priest's life would be heading. It was a only a few years later that Father Flanagan opened up a home for homeless boys in Omaha.

Bishop Jeremiah Harty; Bishop of Omaha, after being pestered by the spunky and tenacious priest, finally relented and gave permission to Father Flanagan to open a home for boys. On December 12, 1917 (The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe) he moved five boys into his first boy's home. It was called "The City of Little Men". By June of 1918, there were 32 boys and by Christmas there were over 100 boys. By the spring of 1919 the capacity of 150 was reached and bigger facilities were in order.

On May 18, 1921, Father Flanagan secured the deed to Overlook Farm located about ten miles outside Omaha. He managed to get five buildings erected for "his" boys, and on October 22, 1921, they moved in. The Mother Superior of the Notre Dame Sisters with a well trained group of teachers set up a curriculum so all the boys could begin school at their own level. The name, Overlook Farm, was changed. The new name was The Incorporated Village of Boys Town.

As the years rolled by Boys Town grew and, under the watchful, caring and loving eyes of Father Flanagan became the new model for orphanages. Father had deep devotion to Our Lady and prayed the rosary every day. He encouraged every boy to pray but said, "Every boy should pray; how he prays is up to him."

Father Flanagan did not subscribe to the traditional reform schools with their harsh rules and severe discipline. Under his guidance and leadership the Boys Town community grew and prospered. It had its own boy-mayor, a chapel, school, a gymnasium and other amenities for boys aged 10 thru 16. Here, youngsters could learn a trade and receive an education. Father Flanagan's best known quote might be this one: "There is no such thing as a bad boy".

In 1938, MGM introduced the movie, Boys Town , starring Spencer Tracy and Mickey Rooney. It was a smash hit. Tracy won an Oscar for Best Actor and the world learned of the Irish priest and all about "his" boys. Father Flanagan gained worldwide recognition and was named a Domestic Prelate by Pope Pius XI and assigned the title,  Right Reverend Monsignor. After World War II, President Truman sent him as an emissary to Europe and Japan to advise officials about methods of dealing with all the war's orphaned and homeless children.

Today, Boys Town stretches across America as one of the largest non-profit child care agencies in the USA. Over 2 million people have had their lives impacted through Boys Town. The Boys Town Research Hospital has received more than 8 million calls since it opened in 1977.

On St. Patrick's Day, 2012, Right Reverend Monsignor Edward Joseph Flanagan was given the title, "Servant of God" and his cause for canonization was forwarded to Rome. Upon  Vatican approval  he will be declared "Venerable" Edward Flanagan.

Servant of God, Edward Flanagan, please pray for us.

*Edited version published in Aleteia on February 17, 2017

                           ©Copyright 2017 Larry Peterson All rights Reserved

March 6, 2017

Deacon Roger & Helena Cartier--A Catholic Love Story for Us All to Honor

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson


St. John Paul II said, “Marriage is an act of will that signifies and involves a mutual gift, which unites the spouses and binds them to their eventual souls, with whom they make up a sole family - a domestic church.”

The sainted Holy Father was referring to people like Roger and Helena Cartier when he made that statement. That is because this couple did, in fact, create a domestic church when they took their marriage vows so long ago. These two people, this man and woman, are a Catholic love-story not only for today but for all time. That is because they made the ultimate commitment to each other, emptied themselves for each other and never looked back.

 Secularism has convinced many the world over that marriage is what "you" want it to be, with whomever you want to be with. It also proclaims those of the Judeo-Christian faith have NO love in their cold hardened hearts. This secularistic atmosphere has cut deeply into the very fabric of our society and wounded it severely. That fabric is the family. And the family is the very nucleus of a nation.

Spread across the landscape of our society are many well-springs of marriage and family. These homes have one predominant thing in common. God is the essence and focal point of their lives. Roger and Helena are the patriarch and matriarch of one of those families.

 Roger is a retired letter-carrier. He is also an ordained Deacon in the Catholic Church. This past February 12, Roger and Helena celebrated their 68th wedding anniversary. Roger will be 91 years old in June and Helena trails him by a few years.

The Deacon is a World War II veteran. He got into the post office after he and Helena were married. A few years after that he became quite active in the Knights of Columbus. He rose to the position of District Deputy  giving him oversight of many K of C councils in the Connecticut area. Then his good friend, Father Kuzdal, suggested to Roger that he should apply to the Permanent Diaconate. Roger was horrified. He believed he was highly "unqualified" to do this.

What Roger and Helena did not realize at the time was that God had chosen both of them. Just as Mary Magdalene was there to help the apostles, Helena would be there to help her husband in a ministry that required ordination into the Sacrament of Holy Orders. They had embraced themselves with each other's love and wrapped their Catholicity around it creating the "domestic church" that St. John Paul II spoke of. God wanted the two of them because without each other, this would never have worked.

Deacon Roger told me how close he was to leaving the diaconate program. All the other candidates were college graduates, seemingly well versed in scripture and well spoken. He was sure he had no business being in such "lofty" company. He went to Father Kuzdal and voiced his concerns. Father looked at him and said, "Roger, you have a quality these other fellas do not have. You are a natural listener. You have a gift. You do belong here."

The final confirmation came from his partner in love and life, Helena. She agreed with Father Kuzdal and in 1986, L. Roger Cartier became Deacon L. Roger Cartier. He was ordained in the Diocese of Norwich, CT and remained there for a year. Then it was on to Pinellas County, Fl where he served until his recent retirement from ministry.

Deacon Roger assisted quietly and efficiently over the years always being there when needed. He was the spiritual director of The Legion of Mary, the spiritual director of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, he was always Santa Claus at the Christmas parties, he visited the school frequently, talking to the kids about "being Catholic".

He was always available for Stations of the Cross, or Benediction and novenas. Roger visited the funeral homes when folks passed, did internments at the cemetery and always spent time with the families. He was a constant fixture at the local hospital and nursing homes. He also presided over weddings, (mine included), and performed Baptisms.

The one thing that was most noticeable (at least to me) was the "one on one" conversations he always seemed to be having with someone. This is where Father Kuzdal, so many years earlier, had profiled Roger Cartier perfectly. The man was a "listener". People sought him out specifically for that reason. And they still do.

Deacon Roger and his Helena have three daughters, nine grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren. They are truly a "domestic church" within our midst. As for me, it is my honor and privilege to know them. As for all those who do not, comfort in the fact that people like Roger and Helena are always among us. Goodness does exist and it holds in its arms many a "domestic church".

“The union of man and woman in marriage [is] a unique, natural, fundamental and beautiful good for persons, communities, and whole societies.”

Pope Francis: Rome, Italy, November 17th, 2014
                          ©Copyright Larry Peterson 2017 All Rights Reserved

March 4, 2017

If You are Anti-Semitic, You are Anti-Catholic/Christian

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME 

By Larry Peterson

I have come to realize that I have changed. I am no longer the same cradle Catholic that espoused the brotherhood of Judaism. I am not the same because the words I was using then were never really heartfelt. I did believe them but I did not understand. Nor did I truly 'feel" them. How could I?  That all changed five years ago when I discovered my Jewish heritage.

I am a Catholic man. I love my faith and use it frequently as my steadfast companion, always ready to lean on it. Today I find myself actually sickened by the wave of anti-Semitism sweeping our nation and other parts of the world. My own people are being defiled by those consumed by a hatred towards people they do not know. 

Our maternal Grandmother was an immigrant from Austria who arrived here as a teenager in 1908. We kids grew up with Grandma living with us and we took her for granted. We gave it no thought as to "where did she come from?" She was just always there.

Those questions would have come after we grew up a bit. But she died first and the questions were never asked. Mom and dad had passed on too so we could not ask them either (you can see that story here  http://amzn.to/1T2soNh ). 

The thing is this. There was never any "grandpa". There was never a mention of him at all.  As we grew older and wiser and became very smart teenagers, we began to question the story behind the missing grandpa. Years went by with no information and the search became virtually non-existent.

But you never know how things will go. Lo and behold, about five years ago I received a message on Facebook (kudos to Facebook) from none other than my long lost cousin, Vicki. She had been on a “quest” and located me. Like dominoes perfectly colliding, my sister and brothers and cousins all reconnected. Now, to the point of this essay.

Vicki had been wondering about our missing Grandpa too. She also had a tenaciousness that none of her siblings or cousins possessed. She had plunged into the murky waters of genealogy and found our long, lost grandfather. His name was Isidore Schul and he was a Hebrew man from Krakow. Our maternal grandfather was Jewish. The immigration and naturalization papers all confirm this. He made it to America in 1907.

Star of David  US Holocaust Museum
 I have written a number of times how the very first Catholic/Christians were Jewish. Jesus was a Jewish man.  His mom, our sweet Blessed Mother, was Jewish. His step-dad, St. Joseph was Jewish, his apostles were Jewish and many of His followers were Jewish. Many of the first Jewish/Christians were killed for following and proclaiming Jesus Christ. They were martyrs for their new faith.

Understanding my heritage caused my transformation. I now embrace in my own heart the concept of my Jewish connection. The fact is, my maternal grandfather was a Hebrew man from Krakow. He was the only one on his side of OUR family who made it to America.  What we have discovered is that the rest of OUR relatives from his side died in the Holocaust. We have no way of knowing about the fate of our great grandparents, Simon and Regina Schul. Either they died before the death camps began or in one of them.  

 During the Holocaust supposedly civilized people, both men and women, willingly went about participating in the systematic annihilation of close to 12 million people, including six million Jews. Their leaders wanted to eliminate Judaism from the face of the earth. And the '"good" non-Jewish, Aryan citizens did as they were told. They followed "orders". They almost succeeded in their quest.

I do not understand this hate. I know the anti-Semitism will continue unabated. I know the elimination of Christianity through torture and mass murder in the Middle-East will continue because of hatred. Thomas Merton once said, “If you want to study the social and political history of modern nations, study hell.” 

I believe that is true. Satan rules hell. Satan put himself there and his followers plunged right in with him.  When I bring Holy Communion to someone the first prayer I say is, "We come to know and believe that God is Love. And he who abides in love abides in God and God in him."

We must never forget that Satan is hate. Anyone who chooses to embrace "hate" embraces Satan and Satan him. This war between Good and Evil will continue until the God of Love decides to end it. In the meantime we must fight for the God of Love, no matter what the cost. 

SHALOM

                           ©Copyright Larry Peterson 2017 All Rights Reserved