November 20, 2017

St. Margaret of Scotland--This Remarkable, Pious Woman, is Patroness to Mothers, Large Families, Widows and Deceased Children

St. Margaret of Scotland


By Larry Peterson

In the year 1066, a displaced English princess, named Margaret, sought refuge in Scotland. Her father had been overthrown by the Danes and before she was born had gone into exile. While still very young  Margaret returned to England to live in the court of her great-uncle, Edward the Confessor.

A weak leader, Edward could not protect his kingdom. Margaret's mother, Agatha, took Margaret and her other two children, Edgar and Cristina, and fled north to escape the invading Norman armies.  It was not long after that the Normans conquered England and overthrew Edward. He was replaced by William of Normandy aka William the Conqueror.

Tradition has it that Agatha decided to leave northern England and travel back to the continent. However, a raging storm drove their ship north to Scotland where they landed at a spot which is today called St. Margaret's Hope. Before long they all arrived at the palace of King Malcolm.

 Margaret, about eighteen years of age at the time, soon found herself in the court of  Malcolm III of Scotland (also known as Malcolm the  Canmore, meaning "Great Chief").  Malcolm III was already a widower with two sons.  (And yes, this is the Malcolm in Shakespeare's, Macbeth).

Margaret was not only naturally sweet and charming, she was also a pious and devout Catholic. King Malcolm fell completely in love with her and they were married in Dunfermline, Scotland in 1070. One of the first things Margaret began to do was to read the Bible to her new husband. It is said the daily readings and stories she read to her husband helped "civilize" the king, setting in place the conditions for the growth of the Catholic faith in Scotland.

Margaret initiated religious reforms striving to make the church practices conform to those of Rome. She followed the advice of the future Archbishop of Canterbury, Lanfranc, and became known as an exemplar of the "just ruler" which was her husband and children. Their youngest son, David, grew up to be considered a "holy ruler'".

Margaret became deeply involved in charitable works and actually served orphans and the poor every day before she herself, ate. She even washed the feet of the poor in imitation of Jesus. At midnight she would get up and attend church services. She invited the Benedictine order to establish a monastery at Dunfermline in 1072 and was responsible for having ferries built to assist pilgrims traveling back and forth across the river to worship. Margaret also initiated the restoration of the monastery at Iona and was responsible for the release of fellow English exiles, captured during the invasion.

Margaret was as devout in her private life as she was in public. She was totally "genuine". Much of her time was spent in prayer, devotional readings, and doing ecclesiastical embroidery. All of her hard work and devotion to God had a profound effect on her once volatile husband. The king who could not read was so impressed with his wife he had her prayer books decorated with gold and silver. One of these, a pocket gospel with grand pictures of the evangelists, is kept at the Bodleian Library in Oxford.

Malcolm never understood the long-term effects of his wife's many endeavors. He loved her so much he just let her do as she wished. However, heartache came to Margaret unexpectedly. During the Battle of Alnwick on November 13, 1093 Malcolm and their eldest son, Edward,  were killed in battle against the English. Margaret's son, Edgar, had the unenviable task of informing his mom.

Her constant fasting and offering of herself to Jesus had taken its toll. Not yet fifty, she died three days after her husband and son were killed. In recognition of her personal holiness, fidelity to the Church, implementing religious reform and her ongoing works of charity, Pope Innocent IV, canonized Margaret a saint in June of 1250.

  In  Proverbs 31: 10-12,   Lemuel, King of Massa, was given this advice by his Mother:
"When one finds a worthy wife, her value is far beyond pearls. Her husband, entrusting his heart to her, has an unfailing prize. She brings him good, and not evil, all the days of her life."
King Malcolm III of Scotland had such a wife.

St. Margaret of Scotland, pray for us.

                                        Copyright©Larry Peterson 2017 All Rights Reserved

November 17, 2017

The "Doorkeeper" ---If I could be at Ford Field, I would definitely “take a knee”.


Blessed Solanus Casey---en.wikimedia. org
By Larry Peterson

On November 18, 2017, a great event will take place at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan, the home-field of the NFL's, Detroit Lions. Upward of 70, 000 people are expected to fill the stadium and they are not going to be there for a football game. Millions from around the world will be watching the event on television or whatever type of device they may have and they will not be tuned into the World Cup. This will be the largest Catholic event to take place in Detroit in 30 years. And, more than likely,  this event will receive barely a mention by the Mainstream Media. It is the way of things in 2017.

It does not matter. It does not matter because this day transcends any political motivation or bias. This is the beatification ceremony for Venerable Solanus Casey.  This is the day we celebrate a working man who, against all odds, became a priest and will enter the final chapter on his road to being canonized a saint, an American born saint.  This simple, unpretentious man, known as the "Doorkeeper",  was the kindly priest who shed his ego so he might serve others. This was not a birth defect. Rather, like all those elevated through the process of sainthood, he had that beautiful quality of foremost loving God before all else---no matter what.

  The sixth child of sixteen children,  Bernard Francis Casey,  was born to poor, Irish immigrants in Oak Grove, Wisconsin, 1870. His family and friends called him Barney. When Barney was a young boy he contracted diphtheria and this left him with a permanently raspy sounding voice. Barney was never going to be a singer but that never mattered to him. he had always felt the calling to the priesthood. Unfortunately, there was a 'bump' in the road for Barney. He had to go to work to help support the family.

Barney Casey did what he had to do to earn money. He worked as a lumberjack, a prison guard, a streetcar operator and even as a hospital orderly. He did whatever job he had to the best of his ability always keeping his serving God as his primary goal. Consequently, his education was put on hold and it took him five years to get back to high school. When he did it was at St. Francis High school seminary in Milwaukee. He spent five years studying before being able to join the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin. When he was accepted he took the name Solanus, after St. Francis Solanus.

Brother Solanus became Father Solanus Casey at the age of 33. He had to fight to get through his studies but he managed. However, upon ordination, he was given the title, "Sacerdos Simplex", which means, simple priest. He would not be allowed to preach or hear confessions. Father Casey never complained. 

For more than 20 years Father Casey lived at St. Bonaventure Monastery in Detroit. His primary job was that of "doorkeeper". He became the finest "Doorkeeper" who ever lived and, unexpectedly, also became known for his service to the sick and for the advice he would give to the visitors who came by. After a while, people began attributing cures and other blessings to Father Casey's interaction with them. 

Father Solanus Casey died in 1957. He was a man who opened and closed doors for people. A man who had no ego and was happy to serve God in the simplest of ways. A man who, because miracles have been attributed to his intercession, will be Beatified before tens of thousands of people in a football stadium on November 18, 2017, while millions more around the globe will watch the ceremony via televison. If I could be at Ford Field, I would definitely “take a knee”.

Blessed Solanus Casey, please pray for us. And THANK YOU for your wonderful example of how to live.

                                      copyright©LarryPeterson 2017

November 12, 2017

A Bit of History for the Younger Folks on Veteran’s Day; The Introduction of “God Bless America”


by Larry Peterson

Back in 1940, there were no televisions or laptops or iPads. The United States was on the brink of being brought into World War II.  The word “cyber” was not even invented. But there was the radio and that was how the nation received its evening entertainment. Newspapers were trusted and that was the primary news source.

Frank Sinatra was the heartthrob of the teenage girls of the day and many of the young folk listened to him. Well, when Frank heard Miss Kate Smith sing the song, “God Bless America” for the first time on the radio he declared that Kate Smith was, without a doubt, the best singer of her time. In fact, it is said that when the song was heard for the first time most of the men in America were wiping tears from their eyes.

America was still in the throes of The Great Depression, Hitler had conquered Poland and was seemingly about to conquer all of Europe. Most Americans were afraid our boys would soon be fighting in that war. The nation was worried and financially struggling. After supper, the family would gather around the radio set and tune in their favorite serial or variety show. At that time no one was a bigger star than Kate Smith.

Kate was a patriotic woman as were most Americans of that time. She had a desire to do something to bolster the mood of the country. She turned to her friend, one of the great American songwriters of all time, Irving Berlin, and asked him if he could write a song to help “cheer the country up”. Mr. Berlin (so the story goes) smiled at her, went to his files and pulled out a song he had written 22 years earlier, in 1917. He handed it to her and said, “I have waited all these years for the right moment to release this. This is that moment.”

Both Kate and Irving Berlin had no idea how the song would be received but decided that if any money was made it would be given to the Boy Scouts of America. Over the years millions of dollars in royalties have gone to the Boy Scouts.

Anyway, what follows is the actual presentation of Kate Smith introducing the great American song, “God Bless America”. This song still arouses patriotic feelings and pride about our country when we hear it. “Here is the link to the video of Kate Smith introducing for the very first time “God Bless America”  (click on the highlighted words)

                                        copyright©Larry Peterson 2017

November 11, 2017

The Knights of Columbus---On Veteran’s Day all Knights Proudly Count Among their Brothers these Medal of Honor Recipients


By Larry Peterson

The Knights of Columbus officially became a fraternal Catholic society on March 29, 1882. Founded by Father Michael McGivney and some of the parishioners at St. Mary’s Church in New Haven, Connecticut, the organization was started for the purpose of providing aid, both spiritual and corporal, to members and their families. Most of them at the time were poor immigrants.

Today the Knights of Columbus has grown from a few members, who had their first meeting in the basement of St. Mary’s, to an organization that is the largest Catholic fraternal order in the world with 15,342 councils and almost 2 million members spread around the planet.

The four tenets of the Knights of Columbus are Charity, Unity, Fraternity, and Patriotism. Since it is Veteran’s Day in America, this article will focus on Patriotism. Members of the Knights call each other “Brother”. We are all Brother Knights (myself included) and the following Brother Knights exemplified their Patriotism above and beyond the call of duty. They were all recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Congressional Medal(s) of Honor

Marine Sergeant; Daniel Joseph Daly:  1873-1937 Awarded the Medal of Honor TWICE;  In 1900 he received his first Medal of Honor during the Boxer rebellion. He single-handedly repelled repeated attacks on his position while inflicting close to two hundred casualties on the enemy. His second Medal of Honor came during the Battle of Fort Dipite in Haiti as he led 35 of his men against a force of 400 rebels managing to get his men and himself to a nearby fort. Sergeant Daly was a member of  Knights of Columbus Council #472 in Middle Village (Queens), N.Y.

 Sgt. Daniel Joseph Daly*
Major Charles Watters*
Father (Major) Charles J. Watters: 1927-1967  On November 19, 1967, during a battle near Dak To in Viet Nam, Chaplain Watters, unarmed and without regard to his own life, tended to the wounded and dying while in close combat with the enemy. He persevered in his mission until he lost his own life in the battle. Major Watters was a member of Knights of 
Columbus Council #1638 in Rutherford, N.J. 

Major General Patrick Brady*

Major General Patrick Brady: 1936—age 81   General Brady did two tours of duty in Viet Nam. The first was from 1964 thru 1965 when he piloted a Medical Helicopter Ambulance. During his second tour, from 1967 to 1968, Brady was second in command of the 54th Medical detachment. It was during this time that he was awarded the Medal of Honor. Into thick fog and heavy enemy gunfire, Major Brady flew four separate times into the area to rescue seriously wounded men.  He wound up using three different helicopters during the course of the day and rescued fifty-one wounded men many who would have died without medical attention.  He retired as a Major General in 1993...The General is a member of Knights of Columbus Council #11948 in Tacoma, Washington.

Captain Gary Michael Rose*

Captain Gary Michel Rose: 1947—age 70   Captain Rose (at the time Sergeant Rose) was a member of the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne). On September 11, 1970, Sergeant Rose and a company of soldiers were sent behind enemy lines in Laos. The men moved deeper into enemy territory and came under intense fire. Sergeant Rose, crawled from man to man treating the wounded and dying without regard for his own safety. Hit by shrapnel in his back legs and feet he continued on using a stick as a crutch while treating the wounded. Captain Gary Rose is a member of Knights of Columbus Council # 11672, Huntsville, Alabama.

Captain Emil Kapaun: 1916-1951 Emil Joseph Kapaun, was a Catholic priest who served as a chaplain in World War II and in Korea.  He was declared a Servant of God by Pope St. John Paul II in 1993.   He was awarded the Medal of Honor for action in Korea in 1950. 

During the Battle of Unsan in 1950, Chinese troops entered the war and overwhelmed the 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry. The prisoners (including Father Kapaun), were marched 87 miles to a makeshift prison camp. He was the unifier and morale keeper at the camp. He would dig latrines, give away his meager rations, and talk to and counsel the prisoners doing his best to keep their spirits intact. He was also the one who insisted on ‘stealing’ tea and other scraps of food so the others would not get caught and executed.  He even smuggled medicines to the doctor among them, Sidney Esensten.
Father Kapaun offering Mass in Korea, 1950

Captain Chaplain Emil Kapaun was a member of Knights of Columbus Council,#3423 in Pilsen, Kansas.  In addition, Knights of Columbus Council # 14218 in Fort Riley, Kansas is named in his honor. Emil Kapaun;  Knights of Columbus Assembly 2711 in Katy, Texas is also named after him as is Fourth Degree Assembly 3260 in Vail, Arizona.

 Father Michael McGivney--Founder of the Knights of Columbus
Father McGivney died at the age of 38 when the K of C was only eight-years-old. In 1996 he was declared a Servant of God and his cause for sainthood was sent to Rome. In March of 2008, Pope Benedict XVI, declared Father McGivney, “Venerable”, in recognition of his “heroic virtue”. The next step in the process will be Beatification

To Brother Knight, Venerable Michael McGivney, please pray for us all.

To Brother Knight, Servant of God, Emil Kapaun,  please pray for us also.

*All photos from Wikipedia

                                       Copyright©Larry Peterson 2017

November 9, 2017

Within the Crowd I Watched in Awe as the Priest Stepped into the Sandals of Christ


By Larry Peterson

Being Catholic has so many perks that non-Catholics will never understand. We have  Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, we have the Real Presence, we have Benediction, May processions, The Blessed Virgin Mary, canonized saints, Eucharistic miracles.   What binds and holds all of this together is the priesthood, this great, unfathomable gift given to us by Christ, Himself. Oh yes, did I forget to mention the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass? Oops--sorry. But that is, without a doubt, the most beautiful thing this side of heaven.

What follows is about a priest in a crowd, a famous poem, and a moment in time. The moment was like seeing a tiny flower growing out of a crack in a concrete sidewalk. That tiny flower is another example of God's creative beauty that surrounds us yet is barely noticed by anyone. The fate of that tiny flower is ominous. Even though no person anywhere at any time could ever create that fragile, work of living beauty, it more than likely will be ignored, stepped upon or sprayed with weed killer to get rid of it. Ah well, we "smarties" have no time for such trivialities and petty annoyances.

The poem I refer to is, "Trees" by Joyce Kilmer. Written in 1913, it has a timely message. There is a line in the poem that reads, "A tree that looks at God all day, And lifts her leafy arms to pray: the tiny flower in the concrete is a smaller version, is it not? So what about the priest in the crowd?

Recently I was at a parish event which featured as speakers our Bishop, an author, a radio station personality, and our pastor. The Knights of Columbus (which included me) were the ones who prepared and served the free dinner to over 300 guests. The parish center was packed and when the final speaker had finished we began to serve the dessert.  I sensed something special was going on nearby. I do not know if anyone else but me was paying attention but I was about to witness one of those special moments in time.

There were a number of local parish priests in attendance and one of them was the chaplain at the local VA hospital. I was working in the kitchen assisting getting the cake plates on trays and handing the trays to those serving the guests. Outside the kitchen and to my left against the wall was the drink table where coffee, tea, cold drinks etc were available. At any given time there were at least ten people standing in line. Five feet away from the drink table was the first row of dinner tables. Father was sitting at the end of the first table talking to a woman.

At this point, the chatter was quite loud and people were up and moving about visiting other tables saying "HI" to other folks they knew. I noticed Father looking at the young lady very intently and purposefully. I knew this priest had put his Jesus' sandals on.

I kept working and watching the two of them. They were at least twenty feet away from me and, with all the activity and noise and people milling about and all around them, they had managed to be alone. The priest listened and listened and listened some more.  I watched as best I could because this was so awe-inspiring. I was witnessing Christ do His thing through His priest. This happens every time we attend Mass but how many of us think about what actually IS happening? We hear of this happening in other places but how often do we get to watch it happen? Hardly ever.

After a while, Father leaned his head to the right a bit and rested his chin on his upraised fist. He was not looking directly at the woman he was now sort of looking downward. He inconspicuously blessed her and, I assume, she was being given absolution. I was not positive because  I had heard nothing and never even saw her face. But it did not matter. Whatever was happening between them was spiritual and beautiful.

Like the tiny flower popping its little lavender petal through a crack in concrete or Kilmer's magnificent tree looking at God all day lifting its "leafy arms to pray" this moment was those moments. Few people notice the stunning Oak tree standing majestically alongside a roadway or

a blade of grass pushing its way through a hairline crack in a slab of cement. Sadly, more and more people are losing sight of Christ in our midst and the hand of the Creator smiling down on His creations. I was blessed. I caught a glimpse the other night.

Joyce Kilmer's poem finishes up with the poignant words: "Poems are made by fools like me, But only God can make a tree."  We need to remember that.

Artwork from
                                                     copyright©Larry Peterson 2017