January 23, 2020

Does God send us “signs,” to let us know He has heard our prayers? You Decide.


--Looking into her eyes, he said, “There is Victory over Death.”

                                                    Pineterest.com

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson


I recently attended a funeral Mass and during the few minutes before the Mass started, something extraordinary happened. I believe God sent a messenger to share with all those in attendance an affirmation of what we proclaim to believe; that there is Life after Death.  It all happened within a few moments, and it was entirely unexpected. How many people actually paid attention, I do not know.

The messenger’s name was Ann Marie. (interesting that Our Lady’s name is Mary and her mother’s name was Anne).  The usual protocol at a Catholic funeral Mass is that after the Mass ends, family and friends can get up and say a few words about the departed. At this Mass, Ann Marie went up to the ambo immediately before the Mass began. The funeral was for her dad, and she wanted to say a few words about him before the Mass started.

For those of us who have lost loved ones, incidents happen after their passing that some take as a “sign,” For example; a photo of the loved one suddenly falls from a shelf landing in front of us; a sudden smell of her perfume or his after-shave fills the room; a knock on the door and you find no one there. These incidents can sometimes give a person a message which they believe tells them, “all is well and not to worry.” The flip side is it can cause others to feel their loss even more while others may not pay any attention to them. Most times, “signs” are just coincidences.

But the most prominent ‘signs” seem to come from dreams. The Bible has many stories of people having dreams. St. Joseph was visited three different times by the angel in his dreams. We know that it was a dream that saved the baby Messiah’s life. So, I believe, as do others, that we do receive “signs,” especially if we are experiencing significant personal loss. Often, these signs come to us in dreams. Maybe it is God’s way of helping us through our grief.

Ann Marie looked out over the now seated congregation and began to speak. Her demeanor was steady yet sad, and her voice was soft yet clear. She wanted to tell us about her dad.  She just spoke from her heart about a guy named Jerome Schreiber, who was called “Jerry” by everyone except  Ann Marie, who called him dad.

·         Jerry was born in 1926 in South Ozone Park, Queens in NYC.  He worked for the Brooklyn Union Gas company and was a mechanic for them until he retired. Jerry was a devout Catholic, a member of the Knights of Columbus, and was the type of man that helped make America the greatest country in the world. He was all about God, Family, and Country.

·         First, Ann Marie spoke of his kindness, gentleness, humility, compassion, and love for all people. Then she paused and told everyone about  “The Dream.”  

·         Two days after Jerry passed, Ann Marie had a dream. It was clear and vivid with perfect sound. She was in bed and her dad was standing at the front door of their house looking in from the outside. The light outside was brilliant and he was standing in it, smiling at Ann Marie. Looking into her eyes, through his smile, he said, “There is Victory over Death.”

On this day, in Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Pinellas Park, FL., Jerry Schreiber, a Catholic man who lived a life filled with the love of God, family, and neighbor, and had journeyed to his heavenly reward two days before, sent us all a message. It was a message we can love and embrace, a message that can reinforce and fortify our sometimes doubtful faith.

His daughter, Ann Marie, was gifted by a visit from her deceased dad who gave her the message. God’s grace told her to share it with us all. She did that and we, in turn, should share it with others. So let us never forget Jerry's message; “There is Victory over Death.”

For those who believe no explanation is necessary---For those who do not, none is possible.” St. Thomas Aquinas

 Copyright©Larry Peterson 2020


January 22, 2020

The Roe and Doe “Twins” The rarely discussed “Double Abortion Whammy”

public domain
IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

We have all heard of Roe vs. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that, to date, has LEGALLY allowed for the termination of more than 60,000,000 children in utero. But many of us are not aware that on the very same day that decision was handed down, the very same court by the very same vote also handed down a decision called Doe vs. Bolton.

The Doe vs. Bolton ruling created the proverbial “double whammy” to the abortion issue. If Roe vs. Wade ever failed or was overturned, Doe vs. Bolton could immediately take its place. In fact, it would not only take its place, it legalizes abortion up to and including a full-term pregnancy. This should be a cause of significant concern to all those who respect life but rarely is this decision ever mentioned. The fact of the matter is, on January 22, 1973, the US Supreme Court had given birth to the "Roe & Doe" twins.

The ruling in the Doe vs. Bolton case is summed up here:  : (The link supplies the details:
·         The Court's opinion in Doe vs. Bolton stated that a woman may obtain an abortion after viability, if necessary, to protect her health. The Court defined "health," as follows:
"Whether in the words of the Georgia statute, "an abortion is necessary" is a professional judgment that the Georgia physician will be called upon to make routinely. We agree with the District Court, 319 F. Supp., at 1058, that the medical judgment may be exercised in the light of all factors-physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman's age-relevant to the well being of the patient. All these factors may relate to health."

Incredible as it is, if Roe vs. Wade was ever overturned, Doe vs. Bolton would take its place. Doe vs. Bolton allows for abortion "after viability" for almost any conceivable reason. According to Doe vs. Bolton, an abortion could be permitted at full term because the baby's crying when born might cause too much stress for someone in the house who has a psychological problem. Far fetched? Not really. Just get a doctor to sign off on it.
Ironically, the pseudonym “Mary Doe” was used by her attorney to protect her identity. The attorney general of Georgia at  the time was  Arthur Bolton so the case became known as “Doe vs. Bolton.” The name of the plaintiff was actually Sandra Cano who, years later, claimed to be pro-life and sued because she claimed she never knew her attorney had used her as the anonymous plaintiff in the case. The case eventually returned to the Supreme Court where her claim was rejected. Sandra Cano passed away in  2014.
Five years after Roe vs.Wade and Doe vs. Bolton were approved by SCOTUS, my wife gave birth to a daughter. She was born prematurely at 24 weeks (six months). She was born alive and fully formed but just needed more time to develop. She was baptized and given the name Theresa Mary. There was never a positive reason given as to why she was premature. 
The closest explanation we received was, “Sometimes things happen that we do not understand.” The bottom line to that is she was a real person who lived and died.  She is buried with my parents, and her name is on a tombstone. It simply reads;  Theresa Mary Peterson. September 6, 1978---September 6,1978.
Having had the experience and burying our pre-mature child heightened the sadness and dismay, both of us felt toward abortion. The blindness, the disregard, and the callousness that is shown by so many to the most vulnerable of all the living are beyond understanding. How many future doctors, scientists, carpenters, artists, priests, firemen, police officers, letter-carriers, and so forth had never lived to see the light of day, eradicated before their very first breath was inhaled?
God help us today and tomorrow.

Copyright©Larry Peterson2020




January 13, 2020

Francis Delalieu; this Good Samaritan saved a future Servant of God and her family from death-- then he was gone.


There were no strings attached---He simply loved his neighbor


Good Samaritan                       public domain 

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME 

By Larry Peterson

One of the most famous Gospel readings is the one we all know as the Parable of the Good Samaritan. What follows is about someone who may be among the greatest Good Samaritans of all time, a man we know almost nothing about.

Servant of God and Stigmatic, Anna Louise Lateau, passed away at the age of thirty-three. What is extremely interesting is the fact that Louise would never have lived into her fourth month of life if it wasn't for a stranger whose name was Francis Delalieu.

The Lateau family was literally near death. The father, Gregory, had died from smallpox just three months after Louise had been born. Adele, with three little children, was still bedridden after having a very rough time giving birth to Louise. Louise, still an infant, had also contracted smallpox. The oldest child, three-year-old Rosina, was trying to be the in-house caregiver which included taking care of two-year-old Adelina.

The local doctor, overwhelmed with this smallpox epidemic, had stopped by about a week after Gregory's death to check on the family. He did his best to show Rosina what to do. He knew it was hopeless and was sure he would soon come by and find them all dead. He told his friend, Francis Delalieu, about the family.

Try to imagine how this newly widowed mother of three babies, with no money, was feeling. The despair and hopelessness must have been unbearable as she watched her three children quietly dying before her eyes. Weakened to a point where she was unable to get out of her bed, she was probably just praying that she would not be the first to die, leaving them alone. And suddenly the front door opened and there was Francis Delalieu. God was listening after all.

Francis immediately took charge. First, he cleaned up the children. Then he reassured them and left to acquire food and necessities. This man, this stranger, surely had the love of Jesus in his heart. He was risking his own life by being in a smallpox-infected household. He was spitting into the eye of the storm as he cleaned, fed and cared for the little children. This was, after all, 1850 and not 2017. They did not even have running water.

I have been (as have many others) a primary caregiver to someone seriously ill. Some caregivers are helping to nurse their loved one back to health after a serious surgery or accident. The upside to this type of caregiving is that an end is in sight because a reachable goal is possible ie;, recovering from open heart surgery.

Then there is the alternative of caring for someone who is terminally ill. The goal in these cases is to help your loved one live as peacefully and as comfortable as possible until God calls them home. And then you have a person like Francis Delalieu. The only possible motivation he might have had to step into this situation was that of a Good Samaritan. There was no family connection. There were “no strings attached”. He simply LOVED his neighbor.

Who was this man? Who was this stranger who came into a household that was a breeding ground for smallpox and had three babies with a bedridden mom living there and all were near death? Who does this kind of thing simply out of kindness and compassion? Who would stay for almost two and a half years until the mother and children were once again healthy? Francis Delalieu is that person. There are many like him but most are unheralded and unheard of. 

All we can seem to find out about Francis Delalieu is that he was a farmhand or a laborer and that he lived in or around the small town of Bois d' Haine, in Belgium. That is about it. It is known he took  Adele Lateau and her children under his care and nurtured them all until they were well. After that period of time Francis seems to have vanished. There seems to be no record of him after that point in time which would be around 1853.

Anna Louise Lateau was gifted with the Stigmata in the year 1868. For the rest of her life, her nourishment was only the Holy Eucharist and a few glasses of water per day. She became one of the most famous stigmatists of the 19th century. Francis Delalieu, was just an unknown man who stepped up and took care of his neighbor just like the Good Samaritan in Jesus’ parable. I am sure his reward has been great in heaven. When God is involved, all things are possible.

Copyright©Larry Peterson 2020  (original published in 2017)

January 9, 2020

Caroline Chisholm: Horrified at the plight of single, emigrant women, she decided to help them and changed the lives of thousands in Australia

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME 

By Larry Peterson
Caroline Chisholm
Caroline Chisholm                                                  public domain     

Women settlers in Australia faced a life of prostitution, but Venerable Caroline was able to save many of them.

She was called “the Savior of Living Cargoes”

Caroline Chisholm was born in Northampton, England, in 1808. She was the daughter of William Jones, a wealthy farmer, who had been married four times. Three of his wives had died in childbirth, and Caroline’s mom was his fourth. She had seven children and Caroline would be the last. Her dad died when she was only six and he left the family some money and several properties to divide among the twelve surviving children. A prime lesson Caroline and her siblings learned from their father was to be generous and caring to those in need.

By the time Caroline was seven, she was displaying a pronounced interest in immigration. She had listened to the stories shared among the older people that frequented her home. These folks  included farmers, writers, religious and political leaders.  She invented her own immigration game using a washbasin as the ocean and boats made from pea-shells. She saved her money and purchased small dolls and would place them in the “boats” and send them “across the sea” to their new homes. This early interest in immigration would never leave her. It would only translate into a lifelong endeavor of caring and helping poor immigrants.

When Caroline was 22 years-old Captain Archibald Chisholm proposed marriage to her. Captain Chisholm was thirteen years older than Caroline and a devout Roman Catholic. Raised Protestant during an era when Catholicism was viewed with enormous suspicion and distrust, Caroline faced a hard choice.  She did want to marry him, but she had a significant concern, and it was not his Catholicism. Caroline insisted that she must always have the freedom to persevere in any philanthropic cause she chose. Archibald Chisholm readily agreed.

Caroline and Archibald were married on December 27, 1830. Deeply in love, Caroline soon converted to Roman Catholicism. Some suggested this was done for convenience. On the contrary, she embraced Catholicism and came to love her faith deeply. As one of her biographers wrote, “she was a MOST devout Catholic.”

Britain had established a penal colony in Australia in the latter part of the 18th century. Here they would send convicted criminals. Later on, they would begin sending people from England known as “free settlers.”  Many of these were single women who would arrive with little or no  money. They also has no  friends, family, or jobs and, desperate to survive, would turn to prostitution. The “welcoming” they were receiving at their “new homeland” was deplorable.

In 1838, Captain Chisholm was granted a transfer to Australia because of health problems. At the time, it was thought that the climate was better there. When they arrived and Caroline saw the wretched circumstances and conditions that greeted the poor migrant women who were there and still coming, she was appalled. She knew she had to help them. Her life’s work could not have been more clear.

Caroline was 30 years old and immediately began planning a course of action, developing job schemes, and lobbying the authorities for better working conditions. She started a group that set out to establish a woman's shelter for migrants. In 1841, she had established the Female Emigrant’s Home in Sydney. Besides providing shelter, it also assisted unemployed young women in finding work not only in the city but even out in rural areas where work was more plentiful.

Deeply sympathetic to young women who were alone, Caroline wrote letter after letter seeking jobs for the girls and found many, especially as domestic servants. She would often accompany them to the far off places to make sure they were a safe haven for them. As time passed by, Caroline began housing men and then families. In her first seven years in Australia, she helped more than 11,000 immigrants.

Caroline Chisholm’s compassion, faith, and untiring devotion to the poor and lonely in a new country left an indelible mark on not only Australia and Great Britain but on the entire world. She is held in such high esteem that her picture is on Australia’s original $5 banknote. She was also awarded posthumously, the Order of Australia.

Caroline passed away on March 25, 1877. She was 68 years old. Her cause for sainthood has been put forward by the Archdiocese of Melbourne. The first Australian saint, Mary MacKillop, was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010. It is expected that Caroline Chisholm will be the second saint canonized from “down under.”


copyright ©Larry Peterson 2020


                           

December 21, 2019

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 have posted it every year since.   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. Okay, this is  for Christmas, 2019.

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.

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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

From 122 years ago---ENJOY


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 2019

December 18, 2019

The Last Christmas Tree (a short story)


The Last Christmas Tree
A Short Story by
Larry Peterson
Copyright©Larry Peterson 2019

Christmas Tree             commons.wikimedia.com

Inspired by a true story:

It was 6:00 A.M., and she was exhausted. She stood there, unblinking, looking into the mirror at the person staring back at her. Running her hands through her tousled, just-got-out-of-bed hair, she sighed deeply. She leaned forward, stared some more, and said to herself, “Oh my God, Sharon, you look just awful.”

She had to leave by 6:30, so she hurriedly washed her face, brushed her teeth, and tried to create some order with her hair. She had worked twenty-two days straight since Thanksgiving, and today would be the last day before the holiday. It was Christmas Eve, and there was still much to do, including getting a Christmas tree.

As Sharon, a meter reader and installer for the local utility company, pulled on her work shoes, a soft voice came from behind. It was her youngest, five-year-old Joey.  She turned, and he said, “Mommy, Santa won’t come here tonight.”

She was somewhat stunned by the unexpected comment. “Joey, why would you think that. Of course, he will come here.”

“But we have no Christmas tree. Can’t you stay home from work and get us a tree?”

They had kept asking, and she had kept promising, and it was always “later” or “tomorrow,” and now, just like that, time was up. She turned and held out her arms to her boy. “Come over here, “ she said.

He ran over, and she hugged him. She looked into his nervous eyes and said, “Don’t worry Joey, I only have to work a little while today, and then I will get the tree. I will have it when I get home from work. Then we will all decorate it, and Santa will have a tree to put the toys under. Don’t worry.”

He simply looked at her oozing innocence and believed it would be so. “Okay, mommy.”

She stood up and said, “C’mon, sweetie. Let’s get you back in bed. I will tell April you are awake.”
“No need, mom. I’m up. C’mon with me, Joey. We can watch some TV.”

It was her twelve-year-old son, Alvin. She turned and smiled at him. “Thanks, hon. I should be home early. They promised us. Say a prayer it actually happens.
“Mom, what about a tree?”

“Alvin, I know,  I know. I promised Joey, and I promise you, we will have a tree. Don’t worry. These last 20 days just seem to have run together, and---don’t worry, we will have a tree.”

It was about 6:50 when she pulled into the loading dock area to pick up her assignments and needed materials. The parking lot was already empty of the work trucks as all the crews had left for their assigned destinations. Sitting in her vehicle, she took out her Rosary and held it tightly. A “single” mom and devout Catholic, prayers had brought her through some, lonely, harsh and scary days after her husband had walked away from her and the children. She blessed herself and began to pray.

She was quietly asking the Blessed Virgin to allow Christmas Eve to go smoothly and for her to be able to get a tree when a tap on her window startled her. She turned to see her field supervisor, Herb Guerin, standing there. She rolled down the window, “Hi Herb, what do you have for me today?”

“Here you go, Sharon.” As he handed her the work orders he said,  “I’m sorry, but I have to dump two more on you. They just came in but they are right next to each other, so it should go quick.”

“Please, Herb, I still have to get a Christmas tree. Can’t you get someone else? My five-year-old is thinking that Santa won’t come to our house. I have to get a tree.”

“Look, I understand. But this is about five minutes away from where you are going. A transformer blew up, and 1400 homes are without power. That could be more than 4000 people. It is Christmas Eve, and they need their power. The line crew is on-site but there are two new meters we need installed. You should be able to squeeze that in, don’t you think? Those people are counting on us to get their power on.”

“Okay, Herb, okay. What are the addresses?” He handed her the add-ons, and they wished each other Merry Christmas. She drove away, fingering her rosary beads. That proved more soothing for her than a cup of morning coffee.

Sharon had finished her regular assignments by noon and it should have been the end of her workday. But, as is the way of things, the transformer was not delivered until 2:00 .P.M and she could not install the new meters until after the transformer was replaced. It was 4:00  P.M.when she finally started for home.

Heading home, she kept looking for Christmas trees for sale. Even the seasonal tree lots that sold trees every year were empty. She had been confident that she would find a tree quickly. Now her confidence was being shattered. She saw none anywhere. She thought; there has to be a tree somewhere.

Sharon did not plan to go home until she had found a tree. But she had not eaten, she felt sick to her stomach and needed to stop by the house which was now, only five minutes away. She thought she could just run inside, use the bathroom and simply “chill” for a few minutes. She looked at the clock; it read 5:35. A shiver ran down her spine.

She stepped from her van as Joey came running out of the house, “Hi Mommy, did you get our tree? Did you?  Where is the tree? Where is the tree? You got the tree, right?”  

Sharon took a deep breath and knew she should have found a tree before coming home. Looking upwards, she quickly and quietly prayed, “Dear God, I need Your help. Please.”

Just like that, April, who was 14, Alvin, 12, and Austin, eight,  were standing in front of her. Joey was in front of them. All she could see were four sets of insecure and nervous eyes looking  at her. A sudden blanket of fear seemed to come out of nowhere and grab hold of her. Oh my God, I do not know if I can do this. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, I need your help. Tears came to her eyes.

April quickly went to her mom and gave her a hug. She said, “Mom, it's okay. Don’t worry.”

Then Alvin was standing next to her, and Austin and then Joey was hugging her leg and she felt the love of her children and blurted out, “Okay, listen to me. I did not get the tree yet. I just needed to get a drink and use the bathroom. Then I will go get it. Alvin, can you come with me to help?

“Why should Alvin get to go?” Austin asked. “Why can’t we all go?”

“Yes, yes, yes,” said April, “All of us should go. It will be all of us finding our family Christmas Tree.”

Sharon looked at the four of them and was suddenly buoyed with a sense of “Christmas.” Everything was feeling right. She had been slowly buying and hiding things since July. Toys and other gifts were in the back of her work truck, and more were stashed in the shed in the back yard. (The kids never let on that they knew). “Okay,” she said.  “Let’s get in the car and go find a tree.”

They piled into their fourteen-year-old 1988 Chevy Corsica, and Sharon headed toward Washington Ave. Her children had no idea how tired and worn out their mom was. Well, why would they; their Mom was not like other people; she was MOM. Being up since 6:00 A.M., not eating all day except for some stale chocolate chip cookies and two containers of coffee, was not something that could stop their Mom. That possibility was never considered.  They did not grasp that it was she who was hungry, tired, and feeling a bit weak. She said, “I hope we can find a tree quickly. You kids must be starving.” Things were never about her.

They were all focused on a tree, not food.  Alvin said, “ We can eat later, mom. Let’s check Walmart first; they have tons of trees.”

Sharon sighed and made a quick left onto Highway 19 N. They pulled into Walmart’s parking lot five minutes later. The store was just closing. They drove over to the nursery and found out there were no trees left. Al tried to run into the store to look for an artificial tree, but the doors were already locked.
Sharon said, “There is a Christmas tree lot over on Belcher Rd. They might have something.”

That lot was empty, and the search continued, from supermarket to supermarket, to home-improvement centers and to discount outlets, to nurseries, and even looking outside convenient stores. Sharon was now driving and not thinking. They had searched for a tree for over two hours, finding more than a dozen places that sold trees but now had none. It was now going on eight o’clock.  

She was feeling a sense of despair. It was dark, and most stores had already closed. April suddenly blurted out, “Hey Mom, there is the Burger Barn. Can we get something to eat? I’m starving.”
They all chimed in, “yeah, mom---c’mon Mom---we’re starving, Mom!”  Sharon knew that sitting in the car with the four kids eating cheeseburgers, fries, and holding drinks would be a disaster. “Okay, stop yelling; I can hear you. But there is no way we eat in the car. Lets park and go inside. We need a break anyway.”

As they walked toward the entrance, Austin said, “Mom, we just better face it. We ain’t gonna find a tree. It’s too late. They’re all gone.”

“Stop it, Austin, have some faith. As soon as we sit down, we will all say a Hail Mary together, and ask our Mother Mary to help us find one. And you watch, she WILL help us find one.”

They walked inside, found an empty table, and sat down. Sharon’s faith had helped her through incredibly difficult times, and she was about to call on it again. She reached out her hands, and they all followed her lead holding each other’s hands. Bowing their heads, they prayed a Hail Mary together. When they finished, Sharon and Alvin headed to the counter to get their food.

The impromptu Burger Barn  “dinner” went reasonably well. The order came out quickly, nothing was dropped or spilled, and, to top it off, everyone was quiet as they devoured their food. After spending a calm and pleasant fifteen minutes, it was time to find their tree.  

As they stood up to leave, an old man, disheveled and dirty, approached them. Nervously, the man said, “Excuse me, ma’am. I think I can help you.”

Sharon had watched as he approached and haltingly said, ‘Huh...help me? What do you mean? We are fine. We do not need any help. Please, we have to go.”  She turned to her nervous children and said, “Okay kids, it’s time to leave. Let’s go.”

“Ma’am, please, don’t be afraid. I watched you and your children praying and it was a beautiful thing. And--- I heard your boy say you needed a tree. I can help you.”

“How can you help us? I suppose you know where a tree is?” Sharon asked.

“Yes, I do,” said the man. “But you have to trust me and follow me. I will take you to it.”

“Follow you? We don’t even know you. Why should we follow a complete stranger to an unknown place? I have my children with me. Look sir, I’m sure you are a very nice man, but I’m not following you anywhere.”

The man quietly said, “I’m sorry to have bothered you and your family. You all have a merry Christmas.”

They were all watching him as he walked toward the exit. As he disappeared from sight, one of the workers came by and smilingly said, “I hope that man didn’t frighten you. He is harmless. He’s just a kind old man who  stops in here every so often for some coffee.”

Sharon, hearing this, quickly huddled her kids around and said quietly, “Look, we just prayed to the Blessed Virgin for help, and this old man comes out of nowhere and offers us a tree. It seems a bit crazy, but it is Christmas Eve. They know him here, so he must be harmless. We have to trust that Jesus and His Mom are helping us. As foolish as it sounds, I say we follow him. What do you kids think?”

“Why not, mom.,” April said. “Jesus will protect us.”

They all agreed, and Sharon said, “Okay, let’s see if we can find him.”

They hurried outside, and the old man was just standing there. As Sharon approached him, he smiled and said, “I thought I would wait to see if you changed your mind. I’m glad you did.”

Across the road from Burger Barn was a golf course. The man told Sharon, “There is a gravel service road at the end of the golf course parking lot. Drive down that road for about a half-mile, and you will find your tree. All I ask is that you say a prayer for all of those folks who have no home to go to on this cold, Christmas Eve.”

The surrounding golf course was unlit and pitch black. The headlights from the car cast an eerie glow as they slowly drove forward. Sharon had them all praying together as they ventured into the unknown. Even though the mother of four was driving using faith for fuel, she was still afraid. So were her children. The only sound that could be heard was the gravel crunching beneath the tires.

And then, as they turned around the bend in the road, there it was. A Christmas tree, not just any Christmas tree but the most beautiful tree they had ever seen. It was fully decorated and all lit up. In fact, it was as if a light was shining down upon it. The entire area was lit up. As they got out of the car, an elderly woman stepped out from behind the bushes. Sharon and her kids just stared at her, not knowing where she came from, who she was, or how all this was happening. The woman asked, “Do you like the tree?”

Sharon said, “Who are you? What is going on? Are we all dreaming?”

“No, Sharon, you are not dreaming. Do you like the tree? What do you kids think? Do you like it?”

Austen said, “It is the most beautiful tree I ever, seen, ever.”  
“Does everyone agree with Austin?”


They all agreed, and the woman said,  “Well then, Sharon, you just take your family home. When you arrive, the tree will be waiting for you. And, Joey, don’t worry, Santa will be coming to your house tonight.”

Sharon asked, “What do you mean, just go home. What about the tree?”

"Don’t worry about the tree. It is yours. Trust me. All I ask is that you say a prayer for all of those folks who have no home to go to on this cold, Christmas Eve.”

“I don’t understand. How will the tree….?”

The lady smiled and said, “Have faith, sweetie. It got you here, didn’t it?”

Sharon and her kids got into the car and began their ride home. As they passed the Burger Barn, they looked for the old man, but he was nowhere to be seen. Alvin said, “How did she know all of our names?” No one said anything.

While driving, Sharon had them all praying for homeless people, and, for the most part, all of them were trying to understand what had actually happened.

When they pulled up to their house, all they could see was the Christmas tree that had been at the golf course only a short time before. It was standing in their living room in front of the window. They got out of the car and just stood there, in shock, not understanding, but seeing what they thought impossible. When they went inside, the house smelled like fresh carnations mixed with a hint of pine. Underneath the tree was a creche with figures carved from ivory. It was beautiful.

It was almost midnight when all the kids were finally in bed. Sharon got the gifts from her truck and the shed out back and placed them around the tree. Then she sat down, took out her rosary and began crying and praying simultaneously.

Christmas morning came, and Sharon  made sure everyone was up, dressed, and ready to go to 8 A.M., Mass.  After Mass she told the kids that they were going back to the golf course to find the man and woman who helped them. She wanted to thank them and invite them for Christmas dinner. The kids readily agreed.

The course was crowded with golfers, many out to show off their new clothes and golfing equipment. The gravel road was blocked off, so they got out of their car and began to walk. When they reached the bend in the road they stopped. Nothing was there except a golfer looking for his shanked golf shot.

Sharon said to the man , “Excuse me, sir, did you see an elderly man and woman anywhere around here?”

“Sorry lady, the only thing Im hoping to see is my missing golf ball.”

As they slowly walked back to the car a white dove flew down from a tree and landed facing them. The bird seemed to be looking up at them They all stopped and marveled at this snow-white bird.
The bird stayed looking at them for about ten seconds then slowly fluttered its wings, flew up and landed on Sharon’s shoulder. 

An animal lover, she remained still. Turning her head every so slowly, she looked at the bird. The bird looked back at her and their eyes connected. The bird  leaned in and rubbed its face against Sharon’s cheek. Then it flew away.

MERRY CHRISTMAS



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)