December 15, 2018

Santa Claus and Christmas-- Let the Children Feel and Embrace the Spirit of what it all means.

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

by Larry Peterson

I wrote this blog several years ago and except for a few minor changes,  I am re-blogging it for Christmas, 2018.  The reason is simple. I believe in Santa Claus and I am sick of hearing these elitist-know-it-all-uppity-ups declaring that "lying" to your children about Santa Claus is wrong and traumatic and teaches the wrong lesson and blah-blah-blah. That is NONSENSE.

Christmas with  Jesus and Santa (yes, they are tied together) is not about a day in time. No, it is about a seasonal spirit in time: a season where the spirit of kindness, and goodness, and charity, and most of all love explode around us. It is a time of wonder and miracles. Damn right I believe!

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

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

It has been two years since we were dragged through the nastiest presidential campaign and election in our lifetimes. Editorials about the candidates were often lies, innuendo, and falsehoods. Many in the media have subjected we, the people, to a daily onslaught of mud-slinging hatred,  tossed not only at our President but also at Christianity and all that pertains to it.

Therefore, It Makes Sense To Me, to share an editorial from Mr. Francis Pharcellus Church, who was an editorial writer for the old New York Sun. The editorial was about Santa Claus. It is an example of what the media people of today should be telling our children, (fat chance of that happening). It was written during a time when there were no radios, phones, televisions, iPads, smartphones or even blue-tooth. People talked to each other and used paper, pen, and pencil to message each other. Can you imagine?

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



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



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

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

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

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

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

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

©Larry Peterson 2018

December 13, 2018

Catholic Saints who Managed to Live to the age of 100 and Beyond

Nheyob | CC BY SA 4.0 | Public Doma
IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

Recently I came across the names of eight saints who were centenarians. Incredibly they had made it up to and past the one-hundred-year mark without having the advantages of modern medicine and all the blessings we have available to us. No, they just lived their lives until God called them. Here is a brief account of three of them:

St. Simon Stock
Simon Stock was born in England in 1165 AD. Legend has it that at the age of twelve he began living as a hermit in the hollow trunk (“stock” means trunk) of a large, oak tree. In the early 13th  century Simon went to the Holy Land where he joined the newly formed Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel. Their origins were in Palestine and when they moved to Europe, Simon went with them. He became one of the early leaders of the order which became known as the Carmelites.

On July 26, 1251, the Blessed Virgin appeared to Simon holding the Brown Scapular in one hand. She said to Simon,  "Receive, my beloved son, this scapular of thy Order; it is the special sign of my favor, which I have obtained for thee and for thy children of Mount Carmel. He who dies clothed with this habit shall be preserved from eternal fire. It is the badge of salvation, a shield in time of danger, and a pledge of special peace and protection."

Simon Stock became the prior general of the Carmelites and under his leadership, the order spread across Europe and throughout England. Today the Brown Scapular is known and venerated the world over. (The word scapular comes from the Latin, scapula, meaning "shoulder blade" That is why the brown cloth covers the chest and the upper back).

Interestingly, St. Simon Stock was never formally canonized yet he is venerated in the Catholic Church, his feast day is May 16, and the Carmelites have honored him since 1564, which also has the approval of the Vatican.

Lastly, St. Simon Stock died in the year 1265. He was 100 years old.

St. Patrick
We all know that St. Patrick is the Patron Saint of Ireland, but the dates of his life are murky at best. He was probably born in the early 5th century and, at the age of sixteen,  was captured by pirates. He was taken from his home in Britain to Ireland where he was held in captivity for six years before escaping back to his family.

He became a cleric and returned to Ireland working tirelessly to convert the pagan Celts. He became the first bishop of Armagh and primate of Ireland. He is regarded as the founder of Christianity in Ireland. His became a saint during the pre-congregation era.
All available documents suggest that St. Patrick died when he was 106 years old.

St. Raymond of Penyafort (Pennyforth)
Raymond was a lawyer, a preacher, and a priest who left a profound influence on the history of Spain and the Church. He was instrumental in re-Christianizing Spain after the Moors were defeated and his consolidation of papal decrees was the primary source of canon law for over 700 years.

Raymond was approached by Peter Nolasco, the Founder of the Mercedarians, and asked if he could help him get approval in founding his order. Raymond helped greatly, assisting his friend in getting the consent of King James I of Aragon and so were born the Mercedarians.

Already an accomplished lawyer and scholar, Raymond joined the Dominicans in  Barcelona in 1222. He was 47 years-old. Raymond was a gifted preacher and was very successful at evangelizing Moors and Jews.

In 1230, Pope Gregory IX, made Raymond his confessor. During this time Raymond sorted and put in order all the decrees of popes and councils since 1150. Canonists relied on Raymond’s succinctly arranged writings until the new codification in 1917.

Raymond Penyaforth died in 1275 at the age of 100. He was canonized a saint by Pope Clement VIII in 1601. He is the patron saint of lawyers, including canon lawyers.
St. Raymond Penyaforth, pray for us.


 ©lsrry Peterson2018

December 9, 2018

Christoph Probst: He was a Husband and Father, and at the age of 23 the Nazis made him a Martyr

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson


 Christoph Probst & Sophie Scholl                                          Aleteia.org

Christoph Probst was born on November 6, 1919, in Bavaria, Germany. His dad, Herman Probst, was a scholar who specialized in Asian culture, Eastern religions, and the language, Sanscrit. Hermann maintained an intellectual environment at home and Christoph thrived within it.

However, inside the Probst home all was not peaceful and content. Christoph’s parents divorced when he was still a young boy, and  His father remarried Elise Jaffee, who was Jewish. Shortly after his second marriage, Hermann Probst committed suicide. How this affected Christoph is unknown, but his contempt for Nazi ideology grew stronger.

There was some money available, and Christoph was admitted to a boarding school at Landheim Schondorf, a school mostly devoted to the fine arts. The school was not an institution that supported Nazi ideas.  It was here that Christoph met a young man named Alexander Schmorell.

Alexander had been born in the Ural Mountains of Russia and had come to Germany with his father when his mother died. Christoph and Alexander had much in common; both young men had lost parents. Upon graduating high school, the two close friends were required to enter the National Labor Service.

Upon leaving the Labor Service, Christoph met and married Herta Dohm. Herta would have three children, Michael, Vincent, and Katherina. Christoph then entered the University of Munich to study medicine. It was during this time that he and his best friend, Alexander,  met up with Hans Scholl, the founder of the White Rose. They all thought alike. They despised Adolf Hitler and hated Nazism. 

The name, White Rose, signified non-violence and peaceful protest. It was a group that simply wanted to exert intellectual resistance to the Third Reich. In March of 1942, the White Rose began their clandestine assault against the Nazi regime. Their weapons of an attack were leaflets. They began mailing the leaflets to random names they picked from the phone book. They tried to find doctors, lawyers, musicians, and scholars.

Then they began leaving them around the different college campuses such as the University of Hamburg and their school, the University of Munich. The leaflets begged the German citizens to fight back against the tyrannical Nazis.

Christoph joined the group after they had started distributing the leaflets. The group tried their best to keep Christoph in a low-profile position. He did not even write leaflets. He was the only one of the group married with two children and they all wanted to do their best to protect his family. So did he.

Christoph had never been born into a specific religion but he always was drawn to religion and the existence of God. His friends were Catholic and their faith influenced him greatly. Soon, he would embrace it fully.

The White Rose group had produced and distributed five different leaflets. The distribution of the leaflets had spread from Munich and to other cities. Over 15, 000 leaflets were used to attack Nazi crimes, oppression, and the mass murder of the Jews. The White Rose quickly climbed to a top spot on the Nazi wanted list.
Christoph finally lent his hand to the leaflets production by designing the layout for the sixth one. This is the one that Hans Scholl had in his pocket when he was arrested. It would prove to be the only evidence of Christoph's involvement with the White Rose.  

On February 18, 1943, Hans and Sophie Scholl were distributing the leaflets on campus when a caretaker spotted them doing so. The man, being a “good Nazi,” quickly reported them to the authorities. The Gestapo took them into custody. Hans and Sophie were searched and they found the leaflet. Handwriting samples taken led them to Christoph.

Hans, his sister, Sophie, and Christoph were interrogated relentlessly by the Gestapo and then taken to the People’s Court. The date was February 21, 1943. They were accused of treason and sentenced to death. German law stated that they should have a ninety-day wait before execution. It made no difference in the “People’s Court.”  They would die that very day.

Christoph, born into no religion, asked if a Catholic priest could visit him. He requested to be baptized and was received into the faith. Sometime during the following hour, he and his two friends, Hans and Sophie, were guillotined.

On November 3, 1999, Christoph Probst was included in the Martyrology of the Catholic Church.
Blessed Christoph Probst, please pray for us.


  ©Larry Peterson 2018

December 6, 2018

Saint Barbara; raised a Pagan, her Reasoning led her to Discover her Creator.

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson


St. Barabara; Martyr: One of the Fourteen Holy Helpers.                                     Aleteia.org

St. Barbara was born sometime in the middle of the 3rd century in a place called Heliopolis, a city which today would be located somewhere in Lebanon. Barbara’s pagan father was a rich and influential man, and his name was Dioscorus.

As Barbara grew, she became more and more beautiful. When her mother passed away, her father became fixated on Barbara and began devoting himself to her in an ever-increasing and overbearing manner. He decided to hide her from anyone who did not know her.

Dioscorus built a tower for his daughter, and only her pagan teachers and servants were allowed to see her. Barbara did have a view of the surrounding woodlands and would stare at the flowers in the meadows and the running streams. She began to wonder where they came from. Her reasoning helped her to realize that there must be a First Cause for such order and beauty.

It followed that Barbara’s reasoning would take her to realize that the idols her father and the pagans worshipped were soulless and possessed no power. She knew these ‘things’ could not have created the world she could see. A desire swelled within her to know the real Creator of the world. She decided to spend her life in a state of virginity and to find this Creator.

Word of the beautiful young woman spread throughout the city, and many came to ask for her hand in marriage. Her father wanted her to marry someone he chose. She begged him to let her live her own life and told him that his persistence would drive them apart.

Dioscorus did not listen. But he did decide that his keeping her locked in a tower may have caused her to reject a different lifestyle. He proceeded to give her permission to leave the tower giving her freedom to choose her friends. Barbara headed into the city and met some young maidens. These ladies taught her about God and creation and the Blessed Trinity.

Soon after (and, many believe it was God’s grace) a priest from Alexandria, disguised as a merchant, arrived in Heliopolis. He spent time with Barbara instructing her in the Christian faith. Soon she was baptized, and after that, the priest returned to his own country.

Dioscorus wanted his daughter back home, so he decided to build her a beautiful house of her own with a huge bathhouse within.  He ordered the bathhouse to have two windows, but Barbara asked the workers to put in three. She wanted them to represent the Blessed Trinity. She also carved a cross into the marble wall near the windows.

Her father was angry at the window being added, and when Barbara explained why she had done it and how she had become a Christian believing in the Triune God, Dioscorus was enraged. He grabbed his sword and was about to strike her with it, but she managed to run away.

He chased after her but she managed to reach a hill that had a small cave in the side of it, and she hid inside. Her father, unrelenting, tracked her down, found her,  and dragged her from the cave. He handed her over to Matrianus, who was the head of the local authorities. Barbara was beaten again and again and during her torment prayed continually for courage and strength.

Finally, after being beaten and tortured and still refusing to give in to her father’s demands, Dioscorus took his daughter out to a field, and with his sword, beheaded his own child. On the way back to the compound he was struck by a bolt of lightning, and his body was devoured by flames.

St. Barbara died in the late third century. Much of what we know about her comes from the book called the Golden  Legend (Legenda Sanctorum) written and compiled by Jacobus de Varagine. His work was the primary source for acquiring information about many saints and was used up until the Protestant Reformation when the “new learning” took hold in theology.

St. Barbara is among those who are called the Fourteen Holy Helpers  (Aleteia; July 2017) and her protection is sought against lightning, fire, and explosions.  Her feast day, shared with others, (including St, Peter Chrysologus and St. John Damascene)  is December 4th.

St. Barbara, please pray for us.

©Larry Peterson 2018


December 1, 2018

In 2018, Advent and Hanukkah begin on the same day, December 2. Here are some facts about Hanukkah you may not know.

Advent & Hanukkah--Joined Together               Aleteai.org
IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

This year, Sunday,  December 2nd,  hosts two great religious events. One is the beginning of the 2018 Advent Season. The other is the beginning of the great Jewish holiday, Hanukkah,  which begins at sundown on the same day.  Since it is important for us Catholic/Christians to be aware of our Jewish heritage, (ie; the entire Holy Family was Jewish as were their relatives and friends) here are some facts about Hanukkah. 

In our Catholic Bible the Old Testament, 1 Maccabees 4:59,  reads; “Then Judas and his brothers and the entire congregation of Israel decreed that the days of dedication of the altar should be observed with joy and gladness on the anniversary every year for eight days from the 25th day of  the month of Chislev.”

The connection to the New Testament is in John 10: 22-35. This begins with the Feast of Dedication aka the Festival of Lights which is Hanukkah and Jesus is celebrating it by saying, “…and scripture cannot be set aside…”

Interestingly, Hanukkah, which took place in 165 BC, is the only Jewish holiday not included in the Tanakh (Jewish Bible). There are several theories as to why this is. Two of them are;  since it was put together in the first century it was too close to the actual occurrence to write about it; or, they did not want to cause any grief with their Roman rulers. Ironically, the story appears only in the Catholic Bible as Maccabees is not in the King James version.

Here are some other Hanukkah facts:

  • ·         Oily foods are a tradition: Potato pancakes and jelly donuts are important because they represent the oil that burned for eight days.


  • ·         Cheese is a lesser-known Hanukkah tradition. This is about the story from the Book of Judith, a beautiful Jewish widow, who seduces the Assyrian general, fills him with cheeses and wine, and waits until he passes out. Then she beheads him empowering the Jewish army to conquer the Assyrians, saving Israel.


  • ·         Hanukkah does fall on the same date every year; that is if you use the Hebrew calendar. It falls on the 25th day of the month of Kislev (Chislev). Unfortunately, the Hebrew calendar does not coincide with the Gregorian calendar so Hanukkah can fall anywhere from late November to late December. Last year it began on December 12. In 2013 it began on Thanksgiving day.


  • ·         Hanukkah can be spelled several different ways; Hanukah, Chanukah, Chanuka, and Chanucah.


  • ·         Hanukkah is a major Jewish holiday because of Christmas. Up until the last part of the nineteenth century, Hanukkah was a minor holiday. It was nothing on the scale of Passover or Rosh Hashanah. There were two reasons it grew in popularity, and those reasons came from the incredibly popular Christmas season. One reason was to deflect attention away from the Christmas spirit, and the other was so the Jewish children had something to celebrate so they would not become jealous of their Christian friends.


  • ·         Giving children coins during Hanukkah is an old tradition. It originally was the only gift children would receive. The custom came from Eastern Europe where teachers were given a bit of money as a “Thank you” for their hard work. In the 1920s it evolved in America into the chocolate :gelt.” Lofts Candy Corp began producing the chocolate gold coins and their popularity quickly grew. They were called “gelt” by the Jewish people and that custom is still very popular.


  • ·         Latkes are a popular Eastern European food which is a staple of the Jewish Holiday. The interesting thing about Latkes is that they are not popular in Israel. In Israel, you will find plenty of jelly-donuts. Latkes (similar to potato pancakes) are cooked in animal fat, which was never in abundance in Israel. But in Eastern Europe it is used all of the time


  • ·         Lastly, this year Hanukkah will end at sundown on December 10. Advent ends on Christmas Eve.



                           ©Larry Peterson 2018

November 21, 2018

Time to Pause, Take a Break and Give THANKS to GOD

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson


Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High:And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.  ~ Psalms 50:14-15



The simplicity of the Thanksgiving Holiday captured my spirit decades ago. This is the one day of the year where we, as Americans, just stop everything and take a breath from the year gone by to say THANK YOU to God for all that we have. We gather with family or friends or maybe even with strangers in a food center who become our new friends, and share the bounty He has so graciously bestowed upon us. All we have to do is "show up". You do not even  have to bring gifts. Just bring a thankful heart and a smile on your face. It doesn't get any better than that. It is a beautiful thing.

So I would like to wish anyone who might read this a God filled and beautiful Thanksgiving Day. I am posting two Thanksgiving prayers that fit the occasion.
______________________________________________________________________________

PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING

by Walter Rauschenbusch

O God, we thank you for this earth, our home;
For the wide sky and the blessed sun,
For the salt sea and the running water,
For the everlasting hills
And the never-resting winds,
For trees and the common grass underfoot.
We thank you for our senses
By which we hear the songs of birds,
And see the splendor of the summer fields,
And taste of the autumn fruits,
And rejoice in the feel of the snow,
And smell the breath of the spring.
Grant us a heart wide open to all this beauty;
And save our souls from being so blind
That we pass unseeing
When even the common thornbush
Is aflame with your glory,
O God our creator,
Who lives and reigns for ever and ever.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


From Living God’s Justice: Reflections and Prayers, compiled by The Roundtable Association of Diocesan Social Action Directors:


IN GRATITUDE
Thank you, Father, for having created us and given us to each other in the human family. Thank you for being with us in all our joys and sorrows, for your comfort in our sadness, your companionship in our loneliness. Thank you for yesterday, today, tomorrow and for the whole of our lives. Thank you for friends, for health and for grace. May we live this and every day conscious of all that has been given to us.

November 6, 2018

Smoking and Catholicism---Can it go from being Socially Acceptable to becoming a Mortal Sin?

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson


Magazine Smoking ad  circa late 1950s---en.wikipedia.org
The Baby Boomer generation (1946 thru 1964) will fully understand what follows. The Generation Z crowd (age 8 thru 23) will not. The generations in between, Gen X and Millenials, I leave for another time. This has to do with smoking.

I grew up way back in the 50s. It was an era when people not only ate and drank, they also smoked. In fact, close to 50% of Americans smoked cigarettes. Both of my parents smoked, and all five of us kids became smokers. It seemed as if everyone smoked and we never even thought about it. It was just the way it was. Doctors even did commercials promoting cigarettes.

Like many others have done, I stopped smoking a long time ago. I used to think about having a “smoke” quite often after quitting, but I have come to a point I no longer give it any thought…until the other day. That is when I heard that smoking was a mortal sin. That was, for me, a shocker.

I was at a weekday Mass in a neighboring parish, and the priest gave a short homily about addiction. He said as plain as can be that smoking cigarettes was a mortal sin because it was self-abuse and smokers were violating and harming the body that God had given them. Instantly my mind took me back in time back to a world where smoking was a “good thing.”  A time when even priests smoked---in public no less.

Baby Boomers will remember the times to which I now refer. A time when smoking was allowed virtually everywhere. People smoked in super-markets, in doctor’s offices, in hospitals, in movie theatres, and most everywhere. We never smoked in church and smoking was not allowed on the subway or buses although many people did “light up” on the bus.

When our first son was born—and so help me, this is true---my wife, Loretta, was lying in bed holding our new baby in the crook of her left arm. She was holding a lit cigarette in her other hand. She was smoking and so was the lady in the next bed who was also holding her baby. A few minutes later, Dr. Karpen, the Ob-Gyn, came in to see how Loretta was doing. He looks at me, shakes my hand, and say, “You have an extra smoke?”

I handed him a cigarette. and both of us lit up, me holding the lighter for him. That’s right; there were four adults smoking, around two newborns, as if it was the most normal thing to do. I imagine in today’s world they would slap handcuffs on us and take the babies away and turn them over to social services.

We had a pediatrician by the name of Jerry Ferber. Dr. Ferber was always quitting smoking. When you would take the little one for a visit he would more often than not say, “Listen, I have not had a cigarette all day. Give me one and there will be no charge for the visit.”

In 1964 the Surgeon General, Luther Terry, issued the first report on the dangers of smoking. It has taken decades to get to a point in time where most everywhere is “smoke-free.” They are even banning smoking in public housing. But to hear a priest say in his homily that smoking is a mortal sin just rattled my cage. 

I understand that to commit a mortal sin you must know it is a serious sin and you must willingly commit the act anyway. Millions of kind, decent people who have left this world for the next were smokers. I’m sure they were never judged on their smoking habits. There are people today who still smoke and I doubt they have never (if Catholic) imagined they were sinning when lighting a cigarette.

The bottom line is this; smoking is addictive. It is very hard to stop doing it. Some people try over and over and never succeed. Many do. But to classify smoking as a mortal sin seems kind of heavy handed. We pray for drug addicts and we have rehab centers for them and all sorts of government programs to help.  Not so much for smokers




            copyright©Larry Peterson 2018

November 1, 2018

All Saint's Day & All Soul's Day--A Time for Peace & Comfort

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

The annual arrival of All Saint's Day and All Soul's Day always sends me into a bit of melancholia about what was and what might have been. Then the wonder of my faith erupts and shakes off the fleeting dispiritedness morphing it into an inner peace and comfort. Faith is a beautiful thing and a most wonderful gift for sure. But, most importantly, what the great gift of Faith does is to inspire Hope within us, Hope for tomorrow…Hope for eternal salvation.

We have all experienced the death(s) of those close to us. All Saint's Day and All Soul's Day help us to understand and believe that those we loved are not "gone" but have just moved on to a better place. We comfort in the belief that one day we will once again join them in a joyous reunion.

Communion of Saints   usccb.org
My list of those I remember on these two days includes eight primary people. They are all immediate family and five of them, according to my Catholic faith, must be counted among the millions of unknown and unheralded saints that found their way to their eternal reward. Then there are two that have me fully embracing the Hope of their ultimate reward. (Did I mention "inner peace and comfort"?)

My first wife, Loretta, died fourteen years ago, taken by melanoma. Loretta had been ill for a long time. Before cancer struck she was in and out of hospitals with Chronic Pancreatitis, Cirrhosis, (she never drank) Lupus, Vasculitis, Angina, and Diabetes and had numerous surgeries. Through it all she always remained true to her faith, kept a smile on her face and, no matter how poorly she was feeling, always managed to make someone who had come to see her happy that they had. Loretta did receive the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick and Holy Viaticum before she died.

My mom died of leukemia when she had just turned 40. She also was a woman of great faith. She also received Last Rites (that is when it was called Extreme Unction) and Holy Viaticum in the hospital before she died. My memories of her are almost non-existent even though I was 15 years-old at the time. But, I do remember her receiving the sacraments.

Grandma, (maternal) lived with us. Tormented over her daughter's death she went into a strange place mentally, blaming our dad for killing her daughter. Her Faith had seemingly crumbled and she lost Hope.

It was a cold and rainy Saturday evening when Grandma had a massive stroke. Our parish priest, Father Philip Quirk, arrived and administered Extreme Unction to her. She was holding my hand so tightly I thought it might break. Grandma then lapsed into a coma and died shortly thereafter. Once again a faithful servant was awarded with God's loving mercy.

Dad died two years later. After mom died and Grandma began the "Big Hate" against him, he stayed away from home and spent time in the local pubs. He drank too much and had an acute attack of pancreatitis. The attack killed him in two days. The upside was that he, too, received the sacraments and the Lord's mercy before he died.

Loretta gave birth to our fourth child, Theresa Mary, when she was only six months pregnant. Bleeding profusely, she was rushed to the hospital. Theresa was born and died within moments.  I had called ahead to Holy Trinity Parish and Father Murray was there. He baptized Theresa and she is buried with my parents.

My brother Bobby passed away in 2007. He was 53 and, although seemingly in good health, had a heart attack and died. He did not receive Last Rites and was, if anything, a "lukewarm" Catholic.

My youngest brother, the 'baby of the family", died in 2015. His passing was self-inflicted. Johnny was 56. I have no explanation for his actions nor does anyone else. He was a caring, Christian man, who helped others and "loved his neighbor". He was not a practicing Catholic and had found solace in a Baptist church near his home.

Finally, my wife Martha ( I remarried four years after Loretta passed) developed cancer and then Alzheimer's disease. She passed on in  2017. A few days before she received her Anointing of the Sick and also an Apostolic Pardon

I began this essay stating that "the great gift of Faith inspires Hope within us, Hope for tomorrow, Hope for eternal salvation”. The Faith and Hope connection are inseparable yet subject to the free will of each of us. In the secular world “faith & reason” are opposites. If you cannot tangibly prove something it cannot be.

But God’s gift of Faith gives us the desire to Hope for what God has offered us. Therefore, I believe my Faith has allowed me to believe that six of my immediate family have attained their eternal reward. My Faith also allows me to consciously Hope that my other two family members will one day, if not already, also attain that reward.  Sooner or later I know I'll find out. 

I hope and pray that as we honor all the Saints and all the Soul's in Purgatory waiting to be saints, all Catholics can experience the peace and comfort about their departed loved ones the same way I do about mine. Believing without reservation that death is not the end of life but the beginning of a new one is truly a wonderful thing.    

                            ©Copyright Larry Peterson 2016 All Rights Reserved

October 29, 2018

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

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

Folks liked this so much it 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

October 17, 2018

On the Fifth Anniversary of her Death; Remembering the "Prison Angel"; Mother Antonia Brenner

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

Remembering a future saint: Mother Antonia Brenner aka The "Prison Angel"



Mother Antonia Brenner praying with convict at La Mesa Prison     articles-latimes .com

On October 17, 2013, the world lost a remarkable woman. She was truly, a Prison Angel

This is a love story. No, it is not about romantic love. Rather, it is about the love of
Christ exploding in the soul of a woman who ran with her God-given gift and did her best to shower it upon some of the meanest and worst criminals in Mexico.

This is about Mother Antonia Brenner, who was born in Beverly Hills, CA, was married and divorced twice, had seven children and ultimately became known as the "Prison Angel" of La Mesa Prison, the worst and most dangerous prison in all of Mexico.  Mother Antonia died five years ago on October 17. On the anniversary of her passing, I just thought I would remember her with a few words.

 Mary Clarke was born in Beverly Hills, Calif.on December 1, 1926. Her dad, Joe Clarke, was a successful businessman and Mary and her two siblings grew up surrounded with affluence and the glitz of the movie world. One thing was certain about Papa Joe. No matter how good life was for his family he made sure his kids were always taught to help the less fortunate. The desire to help others would blossom in Mary and was one day destined to explode. However, before the "explosion" Mary embarked on a circuitous life journey.

Mary married at 18 and had three children. The first died shortly after birth. That marriage ended in divorce and then Mary married again. The wedding took place in Las Vegas and it was to a man named Carl Brenner. She and Carl had five children together but ultimately, that marriage also ended in divorce. Mary had somehow distanced herself from her strict Catholic upbringing. No matter, it seems that the Holy Spirit had his eye on Mary Clarke her entire life. It was time for Him to shower His grace on His daughter.

Mary became more and more involved in charity work and has her seven children got older she began to visit La Mesa Penitentiary to deliver donations such as food, medicine, and clothing to the prisoners. The plight of the prisoners at La Mesa began to impact her greatly and as time went by her growing compassion and love of neighbor would become focused on these people. They would become her specialty, her ministry, her purpose in life.

In 1977, after her kids were grown and her second divorce was final, Mary gave away her expensive belongings, moved out of her home in Ventura and headed to La Mesa. She had received permission to move there. Her new home was to be a 10' by 10' cell. She would live as any other inmate, sleeping in her concrete cell and having only cold water and prison food. The amenities in her room included a Crucifix on the wall, a Bible and Spanish dictionary nearby and a hard, prison bed. In the morning she lined up with the other prisoners for roll call. This was to be her home for the next thirty years.

The story of how this twice divorced woman and mother of seven kids from two marriages was accepted by the Catholic Church as a Sister and founder of a new order can be found at the links provided. Suffice it to say that as time went by Sister Antonia became "La Mama" (Mother Antonia) aka The Prison Angel,  

Mother Antoni© Brenner praying with prisoners.. courtesy eudistssisters.org


She walked freely among the drug traffickers, thieves, murderers, rapists, and others touching cheeks and offering prayers. Many of these people were among the most violent and desperate of men. Yet she happily walked with them and comforted and consoled them and held their heads between her hands as they were dying. 

Mother Antonia Brenner truly saw the face of Christ in each and every prisoner she came in contact with. She loved them all. Why else would hardened criminals, some who had never loved or been loved,  call the diminutive woman who hailed from Beverly Hills, "La Mama"? They loved her in return.

I believe that one day Mother Antonia Brenner will be canonized a saint and inducted into the "Catholic Hall of Fame". She was an example for each and every one of us showing us how to selflessly "love our neighbor" no matter who they might be. 

N.B. Mother Antonia founded the order known as The Eudist Servants of the 11th Hour. The word, Eudist, is taken from St. John Eudes, a 17th-century priest, and founder of the Eudists Order and the Order of Our Lady of Charity. The 11th Hour indicates that the Eudists sisters accept women in life having a second calling. They must be at least 45 years-old to enter the order.

                                             ©Copyright Larry Peterson 2018