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

    October 14, 2018

    Motherhood---One of God’s greatest gifts is the Instinctive Love of a Mother for her Child…no Matter what their Age.

    IT MAKES SENSE TO ME


    Mom and Baby at Beach     public domain

    By Larry Peterson


    “All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.”
    Abraham Lincoln

    What follows took place over a period of a few minutes.
     
    The man presented an imposing figure. He was dressed in his Air Force uniform which had a crowd of ribbons on the left breast which covered his heart. He stood, paused and then stepped from his pew. Walking purposefully, he moved and strode up the four steps into the sanctuary. He walked over to the ambo, turned and looked out at the people now before him. He grabbed each side of the ambo, and each of his hands squeezed it tightly.

    He turned his head left and peered downward. In the center aisle at the foot of the altar were the remains of his dad. The middle-aged man, a disciplined officer in the United States Air Force, shook his head, pursed his lips, and looked out at those before him and tried to speak. He did not succeed. Instead, what came from within him were soft, quiet sobs.

    There was a woman sitting in the first pew. Stepping from the pew she calmly walked up the sanctuary steps and over to the sobbing man. She sidled up to him and leaned into his side. Then ever so softly, she leaned her head against his shoulder. He turned and looked down at her. She turned and looked up at him. She extended her arm in back of him and rubbed his back. After several moments, she smiled at him and headed back to her pew.

    It had been a spontaneous moment in time as the natural love of a mom for her child compelled her to rescue him. There was no thought about it. No, it was instinctive, a God-given trait that is instilled in mothers. It is a powerful love that only exists between a mother and her child. How powerful that love is that it can quickly calm a professional military officer who had lost his composure because of the death of his dad.

    He had once again become a little boy. Mommy, ignoring the pain of her own personal heartache, instinctively knew it and went to him, embraced him and comforted him and made it “all better.” And therein lies the magnificence of one of God’s greatest gifts, the love of a mom for her child, no matter what their age. It is a beautiful thing.

    The loveliest masterpiece of the heart of God is the love of a Mother.
    -St. Therese of Lisieux


    Copyright Larry Peterson 2018

    October 7, 2018

    Alzheimer’s Disease—The Ultimate Enemy of the Lifelong Love Story


    Alzheimer’s Disease—The Ultimate Enemy of the Lifelong Love Story

    By Larry Peterson

    If you and your spouse have lived within a marriage that has been filled with an unconditional, unselfish, love for each other, then you have been truly blessed. Giving of oneself to another “no matter what,” creates a connection that can never be broken, and it leaves behind a journey that has been sheathed with laughter, joy, comfort, and compassion powered by that love.

    This was God’s plan, and many have embraced it and lived it and reaped the rewards of truly being ONE. Loving someone more than yourself can be a hard thing to do and many have tried but failed. But far more have tried and succeeded by emptying themselves for each other.

    I have two dear friends, better yet I shall call them the BEST friends anyone could ever have. Their names are Mike and Roberta, and we met 35 years ago when our sons were playing youth baseball. Their friendship was unconditional, unquestioned, and given freely, without reservation. They were unhesitatingly there for my family and later, after my wife, Loretta had passed, for me.

    As is the way of things time never waits for anyone and keeps moving forward.  Now Roberta  looks at the dying person in the bed before her and realizes that part of herself is lying there too. Suddenly their lives together scroll before her. The courtship, the wedding, the birth of their child, the laughter, the good times and the bad, the crying, and so forth. This is when having God in your life is crucial. Hope springs eternal and therein lies the truth of the power of faith.

    My friend, Mike, was raised in an orphanage in Philadelphia. Long ago, his mother dropped him off in front of the place on a snowy, Christmas Eve. She left him standing there with a note pinned to his jacket. He was four years old. When he turned eighteen, he was dismissed from the orphanage, given a few bucks, and offered “best wishes and God’s blessings.”  

    He walked away from that place and immediately joined the United States Marine Corp. From that day forward, Mike, who was a trucker, has walked, talked and looked like a Marine. Most of all he has loved his family and his country as completely as he could.

    Roberta, who was a florist, was one of three sisters and was also from Philadelphia. Her life looks like different chapters in a novel whose genre could be considered “urban legend melodrama.” She was one of three sisters and was abused as a child. She lost her first husband to diabetes when she was thirty-one years old. Her father, an alcoholic, was burned over 75% of his body and she cared for him until he recovered and could somewhat function on his own.

    Then she turned to alcohol which ultimately led her to Alcoholics Anonymous. Mike was also attending AA, and that is where they met. He became her sponsor, and he was relentless in his quest to get her to stop drinking. She eventually did, and they got married. (Neither of them has had a drink in over 50 years).

    A half-century of climbing and struggling down into the valleys and over the mountains of the journey called “life” has passed. They never wavered, stood tall, and together stared down and conquered all obstacles in their path. They raised a son who grew up to be the chief pilot for a well-known airline. Mike and Roberta are a living definition of the word, marriage.

    One more challenge stands before them. The only problem is, this time only one of them can confront the challenge. And, upon completing that challenge, that person will be alone.

    Mike has been attacked by the cruel demon known as Alzheimer's disease.  It began erasing his memory some years ago, and it has relentlessly worked its evil 24/7. Today Mike is in a “memory care unit” inside a nursing home. He remembers nothing yet his face lights up and he smiles ear to ear when his dear Roberta walks into the room. He thinks she is his “mommy.” Except she is not.  He also has lost the ability to swallow and can no longer eat or drink.

    His lover and best friend is now faced with the task of watching him leave her forever. She has asked Hospice to keep him pain free and as comfortable as possible. The journey of the long goodbye has reached the last turn before arriving at the station. All that Roberta can do is embrace what was and know that his spirit will always be with her. Then she can take comfort in knowing that one day, holding hands, they will stand together again.

    May God bless and have mercy on all Alzheimer’s victims and their families.


    copyright©Larry Peterson 2018

    September 27, 2018

    St. Vincent de Paul; feast day is September 27:---Some facts about his life you may not know


     IT MAKES SENSE TO ME 
    St. Vincent de Paul ----Wikipedia commons


    By Larry Peterson


    I have been a member of the St. Vincent de Paul Society for twenty-five years. At present I am not active but being part of this organization has allowed me to interact and work with the least and most marginalized of God’s people. My affiliation with the society has allowed me to experience some of the most uplifting moments of my life.

    Those who reached out to us were always in dire straits. They had no food, had been evicted, could not pay for life-saving medication, had no water, had no gas or electricity among other necessities of life. There were even those who had no shoes. 

    Somehow, we always managed to help anyone who came to us. If we did not have the capabilities, we were able to forward them to a place that could.

    I mention those things because it all goes back to the example and inspiration displayed by one man; St. Vincent de Paul. On his feast day of September 27, here are a few things you may not have known about this great saint.

    • ·        The first one is; St. Vincent did NOT found the St. Vincent de Paul Society. It was named in his honor by Frederick Ozanam, the 20-year-old student who modeled the society after St. Vincent’s works and teachings. The highlighted link will give you Frederick’s story.


    • ·         St. Vincent de Paul was captured by pirates and sold into slavery. Desperate for money Vincent was notified of an inheritance he had received from an elderly woman who knew him. He had made the journey to Bourdeaux to claim the estate. Disappointed that the inheritance was mostly needed to satisfy a debt, Vincent headed back to Toulouse. The ship he had taken was attacked by pirates and most of the crew was killed or wounded, including the captain. Vincent and the other passengers were taken into chains and sold into slavery and taken to Tunis. Vincent remained a slave for two years before escaping with another and making it back to France.


    • ·         Vincent could have been a “community organizer.” Upon returning to France he was working in a church in the country. The area was so poor many people actually died from starvation. Vincent was horrified and began contacting old friends,  many of whom were wealthy, asking for help. He formed groups and they went from house to house seeking clothing, food, and furniture. They were so successful that word spread and other parishes asked to be taught how to organize such efforts. Vincent’s organizational skills began being emulated all over France.


    • ·         Vincent de Paul was the founder of a religious order called The Vincentians. Under Vincent’s rule, those who entered ministry pledged to devote their lives to the spiritual and material needs of the poor. Later on Vincent, along with Louise de Marillac, founded the Sisters of Charity. The work started by Vincent de Paul expanded to opening hospitals, orphanages, and homes for the mentally ill. His work also included serving prisoners and slaves.


    Vincent de Paul died on September 27, 1660. He was canonized a saint on August 13, 1729 by Pope Benedict XIII.

    It is not sufficient for me to love God if I do not love my neighbor. I belong to God and to the poor.” –St. Vincent de Paul


    St. Vincent de Paul, please pray for us.

    copyright©Larry Peterson 2018