December 13, 2019

Is Christmas a Time for Miracles? The Answer is YES, and we can prove it.

We thought Mom was dead, but she opened her eyes and said, “Come here and give me a hug.” 
Believe in Miracles                                                                    en.wikipedia.org

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

During the Christmas season, I believe God’s loving hand sweeps down and touches many of us with a little extra something when we might need it most. Haven’t you ever, after having something unexpected and beautiful happens, blurted out, “I can’t believe it, it’s a miracle!”

Sometimes what happens to you or someone close to you is inexplicable, mystifying, and mysterious and you just know in your heart that God had His hand in the mix. The following is true, and it happened to my family during the Christmas season of 1960. I can remember it as if it happened today. There is no logical explanation save God intervened and gave us an unexpected Christmas gift.

Our Mom had just turned forty and suddenly was going back and forth to the hospital for two or three days at a time. I had just turned 16 and was more or less oblivious to most everything except Barbara McMahon, who lived around the corner. Every time Mom came home, she looked worse. My sister, Carolyn, 13, told me the black and blue marks on Mom’s arms were from IV needles. I figured she knew what was up especially since she wanted to be a nurse.

Dad just kept telling us it was the “grippe” (today we call it the flu). “Don’t worry,” he’d say, “It’s just a really bad grippe.” Grandma, who lived with us, embraced that concept without question. Today, the psyche experts call that Denial. Grandma proved to be really good at it.

Mom was home for Thanksgiving, but Grandma was doing most of the work using my poor sister as her trainee. I know that it was sometime after Thanksgiving that Mom went back into the hospital. Then came December 18. That was the day Dad, Grandma, Carolyn and myself, took the subway down to Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan for a simple Sunday visit with the woman who was the wife, mother and daughter in our lives. Christmas was one week away and that visit turned out to be anything but simple.

Mom was on the third floor, and when we got to her room,  several doctors and nurses were standing around her bed. Mom was on the bed, her head on the pillow and turned to one side. Her eyes were closed. I remember how still she was. I was instantly frightened. Carolyn and I looked at each other and she too was filled with fear. It is incredible how fast fear can embrace you.

Grandma placed her hand over her mouth and started to cry. One of the doctors pulled our dad to the side and quietly talked to him. I watched him shake his head ever so slightly. Then he came over to me and (this is a direct quote from him on that day), “Please take your sister and Grandma to the chapel and say a rosary together. Your Mom needs all the prayers she can get right now.”

Trying to grow into a man in a matter of seconds, I put my arm around Grandma’s shoulder and said, “C’mon Grandma, let’s do what Dad asked.” She was so distraught she simply complied and followed my lead. As we headed to the inter-denominational chapel, a priest hurried towards Mom’s room.
I have no idea how long we were in that little chapel, but I do know we had prayed two rosaries when a nurse came in and asked us to go back to the room. We were a bit shocked because the nurse was smiling. Grandma, with her worn-out arthritic knees, jumped up and broke into the funkiest sprint I have ever seen. She had erased thirty years just like that.

When we walked into that room, we were confronted with a sight to behold. Mom was sitting up in bed, smiling. Dad was next to her with his arm around her shoulder. He was sporting a grin that spread across his entire face and tears were streaming down his cheeks. Standing on the other side of the bed was the priest we had seen in the hallway. He was standing there with his hands clasped together with a look on his face I cannot describe. For me, it was a moment etched indelibly in my mind and I can see it as clearly as I did back then.

Our Mom, who we thought was dead, extended her arms and said, “Well, don’t I get a hug from you two? C’mon, get over here.”

Mom was not only better, but she was also ALL better. Her arms were clear, her face had color and her eyes were bright and cheerful. Several doctors were outside huddled together in disbelief. They had no explanation for her sudden recovery. We finally learned that Mom had Leukemia, and in 1960, your chances with that disease were virtually non-existent. We also learned that Dad had asked us to go to the chapel because the doctor had told him she only had moments left. He did not want us to see her pass on.

My father and the priest believed they had witnessed a miracle. Grandma, Carolyn, and I saw the results of that miracle. Mom came home the next afternoon.

Christmas of 1960 was spiritual and fabulous. What had happened filled us all with an awe-inspiring sense of what Christmas means…New Life.  As for Mom, she was fine until the end of January. She enjoyed Johnny’s second birthday and Danny’s eleventh birthday. In early February, she was back in the hospital. She died on February 18, 1961. God gave her back to us for one last Christmas and it was the best Christmas ever.

So please, trust me when I tell you it is okay to believe, Christmas really is a time for miracles.
Wishing God’s blessings and a MERRY CHRISTMAS to everyone.

Copyright©Larry Peterson2019 (first print 2015)

November 28, 2019

Loneliness and Thanksgiving: Thoughts from a Catholic man


God is the Answer because without Him there is no Hope




By Larry Peterson
“Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted
is the most terrible poverty.”
St. Teresa of Calcutta

This will be the third Thanksgiving since my wife passed away, and when you become widowed, there is an inescapable loneliness factor that enters your life. But I have learned that loneliness has no boundaries. It reaches out for everyone and captures many of the unsuspecting, including those who are seemingly happy, contented, and successful, dragging them into a world of hidden misery and often depression.

However, many who have experienced loss manage to bounce back and find contentment, peace, and even love again. Others cannot—why is that? The common denominator seems to be that those people who have God in their lives were never alone at all. Those who do not—remain alone. The first consequence of rejecting God is the loss of Hope.  They have allowed Hope to be erased from their spirit.

The results of losing Hope are devastating. In fact, the loneliness factor in the United States has reached epidemic proportions. Here are a few statistics that show how losing  Hope has affected our nation. Loss of Hope leads to despair, and the ones affected most by this loss are the Generation Z people, those who are in the 18 to 22-year-old range. I have grandchildren older than that. The entire concept of these young people, fresh out from adolescence and beginning adulthood, having lost Hope is so sad.  How can this be?

Cigna referenced a “Loneliness Index,” and it shows that loneliness has become rampant in the United States. This worldwide health service company used the UCLA Loneliness Scale  (yes, they have a loneliness scale), which is a 20 item questionnaire that was designed to determine a person’s social isolation and their subjective feelings. This evaluator is used frequently to track and measure loneliness. Some of the results were astonishing. This is from their report of May 1, 2018:
·                   47 percent of Americans sometimes or always feel alone
·                   27 percent of Americans feel no one understands them
·                   40 percent feel that their relationships have no meaning and feel isolated
·                   20 percent feel they feel close to no one and have no one to talk to
·                   AMAZINGLY---the Generation Z people (18 to 22) are the loneliest generation. How        heartbreaking is that?
·                   
           Social Media users have a 43.5 percent loneliness factor, which was comparable to the 41.7      percent for those who do not use social media. Isn’t it interesting that nowhere is the name of God mentioned in these findings? And nowhere is the importance of the traditional family considered. The numbers are mind-boggling. We are a nation of almost 330 million people. If 47% say they feel “alone” that is nearly half the country. We only have to go back 25 years to the early “90s to see the rapid decline in the absence of Hope.

Since then, there has been a 58% decline in club meetings, a 43% drop in family dinners, and children have their playtime regulated, depriving them of natural social development. People use their phones to message each other, apply for jobs, get interviewed, quit jobs, break up with their boyfriends or girlfriends, file divorce papers, and do all sorts of interactions without having to go face to face with a person, never saying one word.

Getting back to God and family would be akin to putting the lynchpin back into the hub of life. Then, people, kids included, might be taught that they can turn to Jesus and never be alone. They might be taught to think of His words from Matthew 28:20   And behold, I am with you always, until the end of this age.  

We must count our blessings on Thanksgiving, especially knowing that more than half of all Americans still believe in and honor God in their lives and that we have the freedom to do it. This Thanksgiving, millions upon millions of us will pray together thanking God for all we have. We should also pray for all those who do not have Hope in their lives. We know it can always be reignited and prayer can be the kindling used to fire up the Hope lying dormant in so many. God is just waiting to be asked to light the match.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING

Copyright©LarryPeterson 2019


November 22, 2019

John F Kennedy, a Kid from the Bronx and a Moment in Time

Pres. John F Kennedy                     public domain
IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

by Larry Peterson


 “The president is dead.”  For those of us who can remember those words from more than 50 years ago, they were seared into our brains like letters sand-blasted into a granite headstone forever: clear, succinct, and unmistakable in meaning. How could this be? Things like this did not happen, especially in the America of 1963.  But then a few days later, John-John, in his little top coat and short pants, saluted as the caisson went by holding his dad’s body covered by our flag. It was real all right, no doubt about it.

I had a personal connection to John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Just like the moment when I heard of his death, these moment(s) are also seared into my brain, and the memories of them are as clear and vivid as if they happened ten minutes ago. The only difference is these are MY moments with JFK. No one else ever had these moments, just me and the 35th President of the United States. And I do not care if you believe me or not. I just felt that I should share. Let us go back to November 5, 1960.
The most famous hotel in the Bronx was the Concourse Plaza Hotel on the corner of 161st Street and the Grand Concourse. Built in 1922, it was an elegant 12-story hotel three blocks from Yankee Stadium. Many of the Yankees had stayed there, including Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, and others. The hotel had a grand ballroom and fancy dining rooms. On Saturday, November 5, 1960, Senator John F. Kennedy was to deliver a campaign speech at the hotel. His fateful election to the presidency was now only four days away.
I had an after school job delivering groceries and stocking shelves for Harry “the Grocer”. I worked for Harry every day after school until 6 p.m. and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. One of my frequent delivery stops was the Concourse Plaza Hotel. There were a number of elderly tenants that lived there year round, and they always called Harry when they needed anything from bread to fruit to bologna to beer to Band-Aids or whatever. I would bag up the stuff, load it into a cart, and push it up the two hills to the hotel. I would go there at least twice a week, sometimes more.
I had made a delivery to a customer on the eighth floor on Friday, and she told me that Senator Kennedy was coming in the morning to give a speech. She was very excited about it and told me she was going to make sure she was down in the ballroom when he arrived. She said she thought he was going to be there at 10 o’clock. I had to start work at 10 o’clock, and I was quite disappointed that I might miss my chance to see the Senator. Then things changed.
That Friday night I saw my friend ‘Sticks’ (real name Tommy) and told him about JFK coming to the hotel in the morning. He said we should just go up there about 9 a.m. and see what happens. It made sense to me, so that is what we did. I do not remember why but we did not get up to the hotel until about 9:30. We came up to the hotel through the rear loading dock, which was off 162nd Street. That is where I always came in to make deliveries, and I knew my way around the back and basement of the hotel like the back of my hand. It was a bit strange because there were no cars or trucks, or anything or anyone for that matter, at the rear of the hotel. The overhead doors for truck deliveries were closed, and the only way in was through a door up some stairs at the end of the loading dock.
‘Sticks’ hurried ahead of me and went through the door. I was not as quick, so it took me about an extra half minute to reach the door. By the time I did ‘Sticks’ had disappeared. I hurriedly walked down a short corridor and made a left. I can remember that it was quite dark. (Whew! Right now, as I write this so many years later, the memories have become crystal clear.) I made the turn and froze dead in my tracks.  Someone else had also stopped short.
The man I had almost walked into, and who was now looking me in the eye, was Senator Kennedy. We were less than a foot apart. He had finished his speech and was leaving via the rear entrance. He was with another man. That was it. No one else was there. Just me, John F. Kennedy and some other guy. The other man simply stepped near me and said, “Excuse us son.”  I said nothing and stepped back. Senator Kennedy smiled at me and, extending his hand, said, “Good to see you.” I reached out and shook his hand and then he and his friend walked down some stairs and exited the door that led to 162nd Street.
The rear stairwell was right in front of me, so I ran up a half flight to a platform and opened the big window. I looked out, and below me and maybe 50 feet away the next President of the United States was standing next to a limo, just talking to the man he had left the hotel with. There were no police, no guards in the street, no one else.
There I was, alone, staring out the window at John F. Kennedy. He was wearing a dark blue topcoat that had to be very expensive, and his face had a perfect tan, something you do not see in New York City in November. His thick, sandy hair was blowing a bit, and he ran his right hand up and across it. Then it happened. He looked up at me, smiled (I can still see his teeth) and held up his hand. He did not wave it, he just held it up with his fingers spread apart. He probably held it up for about two seconds.
He was saying good-bye to ME, a kid from the south Bronx who just happened to be there at that moment. I held up my right hand to him and I guess I smiled. I don’t remember. Then he got into his limo and was gone. I watched as my new friend’s car turned onto the Grand Concourse. Talk about a “moment in time”.
“Hey, what are you doing?”  I turned and ‘Sticks’ was at the bottom of the stairs. “I didn’t see him,” he said. “Did you?”
“Yes, I did.”
 copyright©Larry Peterson 2019


November 2, 2019

The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist is embodied in the Mass: The two are inseparable and it is an ongoing Miracle that is always occurring

Christ & the Eucharist One & the Same   Public domain
IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson


The United States has a population of close to 330 million people. Of those, there are more than 74 million people who claim to be Catholic. 70 million are registered (signed in with a parish as members). That means that Catholics comprise more than 22% of the entire population of the USA. Approximately 38% of the 70 million attend weekly Mass (roughly 26.5 million).

Of those claiming to be Catholic, many do not practice their faith, and among the millions who do attend weekly Mass, many do not even believe in one of its most fundamental teachings. This teaching is known as the Real Presence. The Real Presence means that Jesus Christ becomes truly present, Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, under the appearances of bread and wine, on the altar during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass (note the word—Sacrifice). Pew Research did a recent survey and found that 7 out of 10 people who say they are Catholic do not believe this.

That finding is hard enough to comprehend, but this is the one that seems hardest to fathom; of those Catholics who attend Mass once a week, 63% know the church’s teaching, but 14% of those attending  do NOT believe it, and 23% say they “do not know of it.” That means that 37% of those going to Mass has no clue what is going on. Why are they coming to Mass? What’s the point?  Why not just go to a revival meeting in a tent? What happened to all the “believers?”

We must have the Mass to have the Eucharist. They are inseparable for it is within the Mass that the ordained Catholic priest can consecrate simple bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. Make no mistake, my friends, this is not a "remembrance" or a "memorial" or a "tribute." This is the unbloody Sacrifice of the Cross being offered again and again and again to God the Father for all of us, for all time, in perpetuity.

Something deeply mystical happens during the Catholic Mass that many Catholics do not seem to even be aware of, no less understand. When the Catholic priest bends forward over the bread and wine and says the words of consecration, “This is My Body---This is My Blood”  the bread and wine become the actual Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.  

From the catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC 1376) “---this holy Council (The Council of Trent  1545-1563) now declares again, that by the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of His blood. This change the holy Catholic Church has fittingly and properly called Transubstantiation.”  

The Last Supper was the very first Mass celebrated, and it was offered by Christ Himself. Jesus instituted the priesthood at this moment in time, and the Apostles became the first priests (Judas had already left). This was when Jesus empowered them to do as He did.

Our Catholic faith teaches us that Christ is TRULY PRESENT on the altar at Mass. Pick up your missalettes in church and go to the Roman canon. See the wording after the consecration:  

"---we, your servants and your holy people, offer to your glorious majesty from the gifts that you have given us, this pure victim, this holy victim, this spotless victim, the holy bread of eternal life and the Chalice of everlasting salvation.---"
“---In humble prayer we ask you, Almighty God: command that these gifts be borne by the hands of your holy Angel; to your altar on high in the sight of your divine majesty,
So that all of us, who through this participation at the altar
Receive the most holy Body and Blood of your Son,
May be filled with every grace and heavenly blessing
Through Christ, our Lord. Amen

Christ is with us, and we, the people, are offering Him to God the Father. Our reward is the Risen Christ given back to us in the Eucharist by our Father in heaven. This is the Mystery of Faith, and this is what we believe (or are supposed to believe). I know this is what I believe.

The meaning of this is beyond the pale. It transcends human comprehension. This is when yesterday becomes today, and tomorrow became yesterday. The Mass enables us to briefly step into the “eternal now” and to take a peek at the life within the Holy Trinity and the love being shared inside it. And never forget that this Holy Sacrifice is being offered somewhere on the planet every day of the year, round the clock. Imagine that, somewhere, every day, round the clock. It is the most beautiful thing this side of heaven.

It is time for the clergy to lead us all forward in an ongoing offensive bombarding their worldwide flock with the truth of the Holy Eucharist. Then it is up to the laity to carry this fact forward. It is fundamental to the Catholic faith, and somehow, somewhere, this miraculous truth has been cast aside. Maybe a different kind of Resurrection is now needed, the Resurrection of Christ in the Eucharist.  (See tangible proof at this link  Eucharistic Miracles)

   CHOICES
Perfection unbridled
That tells us why
And will let us understand
If we choose to see
this splendid Oblation
A perfect purity
This gift called The Mass
Ignored yet
Somewhere each minute
For us to share
The Answer there
The Perfect Love
But---choices.

Copyright©Larry Peterson 2019

November 1, 2019

All Saint’s Day---- The Road to Sainthood is a Fascinating Journey into Human Holiness



All Saint's Day                                                                                  achrsitianpilgrim..com
IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

November 1, we celebrate the Feast of All Saint’s Day. Interestingly, more than 10,000 saints are venerated in the Catholic Church. How did over 10,000 people manage to be canonized? For starters, it is probably safe to say that since the church has been around for 2000 years that only works out to five saints a year. So, as far as the numbers go, that seems irrelevant. What is relevant is the actual process of attaining sainthood. The procedure is exceptionally stringent since no mistakes as to a candidate's eligibility can go uncovered.

It should be noted that prior to the tenth century there was no set procedure for canonization. Frequently, different communities honored or venerated people whose stories were not backed by solid fact. Some stories were made up. For example, St. George the Dragon Slayer, is from the third century. He is honored by both Muslims and Christians. Is the story fact or legend? In the French countryside St. Guinefort is venerated as the protector of babies. It seems that Guinefort saved a baby from a snakebite. The only problem was, Guinefort was a dog.

Interestingly, 52 of the first 55 popes became saints during Catholicism’s first 500 years. During the last one thousand years, only seven popes have attained sainthood, and that includes Pope St. John Paul II and Pope St. John XXIII.

The first saint formally canonized was St. Ulrich of Augsburg. He was canonized by Pope John XV in 993. During the 12th century, the church, realizing they needed an orderly system, began to put a process in place.  Then, in 1243, Pope Gregory IX proclaimed that only a pope had the authority to declare someone a saint. That process still exists to this day.

So, what is the actual process on the road to sainthood? We know this for sure, sainthood is not an easy honor to attain. There are five steps in the journey. The first step begins right in the neighborhood where the proposed saint lived and was known.

After a person has been dead for five years (this time frame may be waived by the Pope), friends and neighbors may get together and document all they can about that particular person. They would then present their evidence to the local bishop requesting he begin an investigation into the person’s holy and exemplary life.

If the bishop feels the evidence is worthy of the cause moving forward, he may appoint a “postulator” to represent the cause. If, after further investigation, they feel the cause is worthy, they forward it to Rome.  Now the evidence goes before the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.  At this point in the process, the person receives the title, “Servant of God.”

The Congregation for the Causes consists of nine theologians who thoroughly review all the documentation that has been presented to them. The person’s writings are examined, and all aspects of their life are picked apart. Nothing can go against the teachings of the Church.

The Congregation even has a “devil’s advocate” who raises questions and objections about the candidate. The Congregation must be sure before moving forward. If they decide the candidate has been a person of “heroic virtue,” they are declared “Venerable,” and their cause moves on towards the next step; Beatification.

Except in the cases of martyrdom, Beatification requires one miracle. The candidate's character and holiness have already been established, but having a miracle attributed to someone can take centuries. If a person has been killed for their faith, they have been martyred “In Odium Fidei, which means “In hatred of the faith.”

This death is honored with Beatification and the title Blessed is bestowed on the person. Father Jacques Hamel, who was murdered while saying Mass in France in 2016, is an example of someone experiencing this type of death.

Another death is called in defensum castitatis meaning, in defense of purity.” This too warrants Beatification, and the person is given the title of Blessed. Two young Catholic heroines who died in this manner are St. Maria Goretti and Blessed Pierina Morosini.

Pope Francis recently introduced a new road to sainthood. It honors those who sacrificed their lives for others. (The Mercedarians are known for this). This is called “Maiorem hac delectionem (nemo habet) which means; “Greater love than this (no man hath).”

Lastly, there is Canonization. At this point, we are waiting for one more miracle. Upon that happening it is given to the Pope who makes the final decision. It is then a person is declared a saint.
To all you saints (and those in the queue) above, please pray for us all.


 copyright©Larry Peterson 2019

October 30, 2019

Halloween and the Legend of the Jack-O-Lantern (one version)*

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

This is posted every year for Halloween. Fun to read to the kids.
Jack-O-Lantern      en.wikipediacommons.org


By Larry Peterson

Long ago in Ireland, the land of shamrocks, leprechauns, soft winds and smiles, there lived a man named  Jack. Jack was quite lazy and did not like to work. But he had the gift of "blarney" and could talk the peat off the moss. 

He would tell wondrous tales about his adventures as a world traveler and the people in his village would be held spellbound by his golden tongue. Alas, Jack outsmarted himself when he stole money from the townsfolk. He thought that they were not very smart and would never find out. But they did find out and began chasing him down the streets of the village.

 As Jack ran down the road as fast as he could he rounded a bend and ran smack into the devil. The devil smiled at Jack and told him it was time for him to die and that he was there to take his soul. Jack quickly convinced the devil that if he would let him go and promise to never take his soul he would give him all the souls of the folks who were chasing him. "And how do you plan to do that, Jack?" the devil asked.

"Well now, all ye have ta do is turn ye-self into a pot of gold coins. Then I will give the coins to the people and you will be in all of their pockets. They will be yours."

Since many souls were better than only one, the devil readily agreed and turned himself into a pot of gold coins. Jack gave the coins to all the people and they went away smiling never realizing that they had given themselves to the devil in return for money.

So Jack lived on, grew old and, like all mortal men, finally died. His life had been so sinful on earth that he could not get into heaven and since the devil could not take his soul, he could not get into hell. He had nowhere to go. He asked the devil how he was supposed to see because he was in complete darkness. The devil laughed and tossed Jack a burning ember from the fires of hell, an ember that would never burn out.

Jack, using the ember to guide his way, found a pumpkin patch (some say it was turnips) and carved out a pumpkin. He put the ember inside and began carrying it around so he could see where he was going. To this day he wanders the earth seeking a resting place. And that is why he is known as "Jack-O'-Lantern" or "Jack of the Lantern".

HAPPY HALLOWEEN


                       copyright©Larry Peterson 2015,2016,2017,2018,2019

October 29, 2019

Peter of Alcantara---This little know Franciscan mentored none other than St. Teresa of Avila

Peter of Alcantara     en.wikipedia.org

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

Peter of Alcantara was born in 1499 in the Province of Caceres in Extremadura, Spain. He was named after his father, Peter Gravita, who was the governor of Alacantara. His mom was from a noble family who came from Sanabia. Already as a child, Peter displayed an exceptional gift of prayer, and at times he was so absorbed it was if he was in a trance.  During those times, neither his parents nor their servants would be able to get the boy to respond to them.

When Peter was sixteen, he had already decided to be a Franciscan. It was during this time that his father sent him off to the University in Salamanca. Peter, deeply devout and pious even as a teenager, was seriously tempted during his early days at the university. The opportunity to lead a life of comfort and pleasure was in front of him.

He had to choose which it would be; humility, prayer, and penance or the things of the world. His answer was given to him as he was on his way to the monastery at Monjaresz. Peter came to a stream that had been swollen with floodwaters from the heavy rains. He had no way to cross to the other side, so he knelt down and asked God for help.

With his eyes closed in prayer, Peter prayed and prayed. When he opened his eyes he was on the other side of the rushing river. Peter knew that he had been given a sign that he must follow his vocation. The young man was thrilled because this event erased any doubt he may have had about what God wanted him to do. He distributed whatever inheritance he had to the poor and became a Franciscan friar. He was twenty-two years old.

Once he became part of the order, he gave himself up completely to God. He began to develop a life of daily mortification, penance, and frequent fasting. In fact, he monitored his natural senses and desires so carefully that when asked what the inside of his church looked like, he did not know. Peter was sent to found a new community at Badajoz

He was ordained a priest in 1524, and the following year was appointed a Guardian at St. Mary of the Angels in Old Castile. The self-sacrifice and mortification he was practicing were intense. He wore an iron belt with sharp points that pierced his flesh. He refused to sleep more than an hour and a half a day and would do this while sitting on the floor.

On April 14, 1562, Peter wrote a letter to Teresa of Avila. He knew in his heart that God had chosen her for great things and he advised her to found her first monastery at Avila. Theresa responded to Peter and the monastery was established on August 24, 1562. Much of what is known about Peter of Alcantara has been taken from the writings of Teresa of Avila. She even confirmed that Peter would only eat once every three days. She wrote that he sometimes would go a week without eating. His regimen of offering himself to God was extraordinary, to say the least.

Teresa and Peter became close friends, and the priest became her mentor and counsel. She knew that he was also of God, and she wrote that the gift of miracles and prophecy he possessed were heaven-sent.  She credits Peter with her success in the reformation of the Carmelite Order

Peter also had another gift; he was a great preacher. He loved to preach to the poor, and they loved to listen because he had a unique way of expressing compassion and understanding to the lives they were enduring. None other than St. Francis Borgia wrote to him, “You remarkable success (as a Preacher) is a special comfort to me.”

Peter of Alcantara, in his efforts to please and imitate his Savior, lived a life of intense poverty and austerity. He traveled throughout Spain preaching the Gospel while eating and drinking a bare minimum to stay functioning. He wrote a Treatise on Prayer and Meditation which is considered a masterpiece by both St. Teresa of Avila and  St. Francis de Sales. He was often seen levitating and in ecstasy while in prayer.

Lastly, Peter of Alcantara is the Patron Saint of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. On his deathbed, he was asked if he wanted some water. He responded, “Even my Lord Jesus Christ thirsted on the Cross.”

On October 18, 1562, he died while praying. He was canonized a saint by Pope Clement IX on April 18,1622.

Saint Peter of Alcantara, please pray for us.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019



October 23, 2019

A saint from Fatima’s neighboring town: St. Irene was a victim of sexual abuse

St. Irene of Tomar being martyred                               aleteia.org


IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson


Many of the stories and accounts of the early saints have facts intermingled with legend. During October, when we focus on Fatima,  the Miracle of the Sun, and the Holy Rosary, we might take a look at the story of a revered saint from Fatima’s neighboring town, Tomar.  Her name is St. Irene of Tomar, and she was martyred in 653 A.D.

Legend says that Irene was born in a place called Nabancia, which is known today as Tomar, located in Portugal. Irene was born into an affluent and influential family.  Her parents, living during an era when young girls had to be protected, secured a private tutor for Irene and sent her to a  convent school. Their purpose was served well for the only time Irene left the convent was to attend Mass or make a visit to the church to pray.

Apparently, Irene was quite beautiful, and the few men who actually got a chance to see her were always enamored by her beauty. There was one such man in the area named Britald. He was a nobleman, and the first time he saw Irene, he fell in love with her. He began to watch for her to leave for church and then follow her.

The man became obsessed and finally approached Irene and asked her to marry him. She made it clear to Britald that she had taken a vow of celibacy and had given herself to God as a nun. The man was crushed and walked away.

However, there was another man who had hidden designs on Irene. It was her tutor, Remigio. He was a monk entrusted by Irene’s parents not only to teach their daughter but to guard her also. As time went by, Remigio could not contain himself any longer and shocked Irene by making unreasonable and impure advances towards her. She turned him away as forcefully as she could, but Remigio would not merely go away. Instead, he became furious, quit as her tutor, and plotted revenge.

Soon after,  people began asking Remigio why he was not tutoring Irene. He started telling people that he had found out she was pregnant and that there was no way he would have anything to do with her. He sent a message to Irene, asking if he could meet with her for a few moments to give her some material to study.

As the rumors of her pregnancy continued to spread, Irene agreed to meet with Remigio. He managed to offer her a drink, and she accepted. In it was a poison that was not meant to kill her but would, instead, cause her abdomen to swell up. When people saw Irene with her swollen belly, they believed Remigio’s lie. Word got back to Irene’s first rejected suitor, Britald. He had not seen any other women and was absolutely livid that Irene had lied to him and had been promiscuous. He was not about to let this behavior stand.

Britald hired a mercenary to kill Irene. Shortly after Britald’s “arrangement” had been made, Irene was walking home from afternoon prayer when the assassin struck. He snuck up from behind her, placed his big arm across her face, and cut her throat. He dragged her lifeless body to the Tagus River and threw it in. Folks, no longer seeing Irene either going to Mass or praying in church, thought that she had left the city in shame. What else could have possibly happened to her?

According to legend, Irene’s uncle, the abbot Celius, had received a revelation from Jesus about the truth of Irene’s death and the location of her body. The time frame for this is not precise, but her uncle gathered a procession of people and made a journey to the place where he said her body would be found.  The water’s currents had carried Irene’s body to the shores of Scalabis (which is known today as Santarem, which means Saint Irene).

When the procession reached the site, the waters receded, and the intact remains of Irene were found. It was also noted that she was not pregnant and that she had been a victim of lies and slander. The monks gave her a formal burial, and the story of St. Irene (Santa Iria) began to spread.
Today, St. Irene of Tomar is honored as a saint and martyr throughout Portugal and in the Catholic Church. She is the patron saint of Tomar and Santarem, and her feast day is October 20.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019


October 1, 2019

My Wife and The Little Flower joined forces and gave me a Miracle

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St. Therese of Lisieux  The Little Flower                                                                          public domain                                                        

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME


By Larry Peterson


For those who believe in God, no explanation is necessary,
For those who do not believe, no explanation is possible.
                                                         St. Thomas Aquinas

Loretta was my high school sweetheart and we began “dating” when we were about 15. Several years later, after both my parents had passed, and even though I now had three younger brothers to care for, she stood by me.  Her family, especially her mom,  was somewhat horrified at the thought of her daughter getting involved with a young guy with all the “extras” and tried her best to stop her from marrying me. 

However,  she stood by my side, we got married, and came home from our honeymoon with only two of my brothers waiting for us. The youngest, Johnny, had moved in with my sister and her new husband, Bob.  Everything, although not traditional, was okay. We had stayed together as a family, and we had a home. 

I had been sponsored into the Lather’s and Reinforcing Iron Workers Union, one of the best building trades unions in New York City. By the time I was 22 I had finished my apprenticeship and was earning journeyman wages. Loretta and I got married when we were both 23 and moved to New Jersey from the Bronx. My brothers were both in high school, one a senior and the other a freshman, and besides feeling totally out of place at parent’s/teacher’s conferences, all was okay.

A few years passed by and I started to stumble a bit and lose my balance. Sometimes I appeared to have been drinking. Then I experienced what is known as a ‘foot drop.” My left foot was flopping around as I walked. It was like it was not mine. I remember it so well; as I walked the foot would go “splat-splat splat” with every step I made. It was like it belonged somewhere else, not at the end of my leg.

I was admitted to the Neurological Insitute at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in NYC. After five days undergoing various neurological tests including a myelogram, it was determined that I “probably” had Multiple Sclerosis. My doctor informed me that it would gradually get worse but  was very unpredictable and it could go into remission. At that time, it was impossible to give a precise course for the illness.

I could no longer work in the construction industry but was still getting around okay. Physical therapy had helped me to get some of my foot function back and I could walk with a limp and drag the foot instead of having it go “splat-splat.” So I bought a used van and started a small package delivery service. 

I managed to make ends meet for a while and then the illness reared its ugly head and the exacerbation was quick.  I could barely stand and before I knew it I was using Canadian Quad canes for support to get around. My doctor recommended we move to Florida. The rationale was simple; no ice, no snow, and it would be much easier to walk around with crutches.

Loretta’s maid of honor and best friend, Angie, had moved to Florida several years earlier. She was encouraging us to move there. My brothers were young men and now on their own. Danny, had gotten married and Bobby was working as a trucker. It was just Loretta and I and the kids. We sold our small house and headed south.

Angie updated us about the area and the schools and helped us find a place. I actually managed to start making some money writing resumes, but I was getting worse and my new neurologist told us I would be blind, incontinent, and in a wheelchair within a year or two.

It was Christmas of 1980,  we had three small kids, no money, and things were looking bleak. I had received medical assistance from County Social Services, food stamps, and prescriptions (Billy, age seven, was asthmatic and needed inhalers and a few other things which I cannot remember. Loretta was diabetic and needed some meds to help her keep her blood sugar at acceptable levels. The insulin would come a few years later. And that is how it was. Enter The Little Flower.

Thursday, January 8, 1981,  was Loretta’s birthday. I had taken the boys to school and on the way home picked up Egg McMufins at McDonald’s. Loretta loved those, and it was her birthday. Mary was only three, and I know I got her something; what, it was, I can’t remember.

When I walked back into our apartment my dear wife was standing there next to the dining room table. She had her arms outstretched and was smiling ear to ear. I was quickly trying to process whatever was happening. “Well,” she says, “What do you think?”

I said nothing but on the table were all these birthday cards, all opened and standing next to each other forming a semi-circle. She pointed to the cards and said, (I remember the words as if it was yesterday:“Today is my birthday, and I got the only present I wanted.

“Please,  tell me what is going on? What am I missing here?”

She raises her voice and says, “Look at the cards, look at the cards. Every single one is covered with roses. I prayed a novena to St. Therese that you would get better and just look. I don’t even know half the people who sent these. But every card has roses on it. You are going to be fine. St. Therese just told us. You will be fine.”

There was no instant cure but that very day I tossed my Canadian Quads and began using a regular cane. I started going to Easter Seals for rehab and after three months I was doing a lot better than expected. In due time I tossed the cane too. If you saw me today you would never know I had MS. My urologist who treated my prostate cancer and is a great doctor tells me, “I think they made a mistake. I don’t believe you had MS. Most of my friends have no clue either, just some old ones from way back when.

Our fourth child was stillborn during Loretta’s sixth month. She was a girl and we named here Therese. I am so glad we did.  Happy Feast day Little Flower, I love you. Thanks again.


 copyright©Larry Peterson 2019