The Light of Christ will soon Illumine the World

January 13, 2016

Brother Joseph here

I wanted to share some information sent to us from a Friend of the Ministry.

I received this from a Friend:

“I was awakened from a deep sleep with these words: The Light of Christ will soon Illumine the World!”

Bob Luz and myself took this as Good News especially since we are confronted with so much bad news.

Let us know your thoughts on the message.

Brother Joseph Freyaldenhoven


I Believe by Bob Lord

December 23, 2015

I Believe

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Family, it always bothers me at Mass when it’s time to pray the Creed that everybody seems to be asleep, or at least mesmerized.  We’ve just finished the Gospel and then the priest’s homily.  Now that could have been good or bad, but at any rate, our minds seem to wander during the homily, so that at the beginning of the Creed, we’re in la la land.

Penny and I used to give Days of Recollection at Rummel high school in Metairie, Louisiana, with Fr. Harold Cohen.  The people were on fire.  We were on fire.  But it seemed that when we came back from lunch, we gave our first talk to a dead audience.  It must have been the po’ boy or muffeletta sandwiches they ate for lunch.  So we decided to do a talk about the Nicene Creed, in which we would all pray the Nicene Creed, actually shout it from the rooftops.  Usually Penny began with

“Do you believe in the Nicene Creed?”

All answered a little luke warm “Yes”

Penny “DO YOU REALLY BELIEVE!”

All shouted “YES!!”

Penny: “Then let’s pray it like we mean it!!”

WE BELIEVE in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of  Heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen.

WE BELIEVE in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, light from light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father.  For us and our salvation, He came down from Heaven, by the power of the Holy Spirit He was born of the Virgin Mary and became Man.

“For our sake He was crucified under Pontius Pilate, he suffered, died and was buried.  On the third day He rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures; He ascended into Heaven and is seated at the right Hand of the Father.  He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and His Kingdom will have no end.

WE BELIEVE in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, with the Father and the Son He is worshipped and glorified.  Who has spoken through the prophets.

WE BELIEVE in ONE, HOLY, CATHOLIC and APOSTOLIC CHURCH.  We acknowledge one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins.  We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.  Amen

Penny: “WE BELIEVE!!

The Congregation “YAY GOD YAY!!

 

What do you think family?  Would that wake us up?  Would that get us on fire?

DO WE BELIEVE?  Then let’s tell the world about it.

Blessed Christmas!  We love you!


Is it Time to pray? by Brother Joseph

December 3, 2015

Is it time to pray?

One of my favorite Saints is Saint Louis de Montfort.  I remember Pope John Paul II urged us to get to know Saint Louis in Mother of the Redeemer, which was written to celebrate the 2000th anniversary of the Birth of our Blessed Mother Mary in 1987. He also urged us to Consecrate ourselves to Mother Mary.

St. Louis Marie de Montfort is known as a prophet of the last days.  This might be a good time to review what he wrote about the last days.

Brother Joseph

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Bob and Penny wrote about the life of Saint Louis de Montfort in their book, “Visionaries, Mystics and Stigmatists.”

Below is an excerpt from the Chapter on him.

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We told you at the beginning of this chapter that Louis Marie de Montfort was a prophet of the Last Days.

The reason we call St. Louis Marie de Montfort a prophet of the last days, even though he lived between the last half of the Seventeenth Century and the first part of the Eighteenth century is because of what we read in his prophecies which deal with these last days:
….towards the end of the world, ….Almighty God and His holy Mother are to raise up saints who will surpass in holiness most other saints as much as the cedars of Lebanon tower above little shrubs.”17
These great souls filled with grace and zeal will be chosen to oppose the enemies of God who are raging on all sides. They will be exceptionally devoted to the Blessed Virgin. Illumined by her light, strengthened by her spirit, supported by her arms, sheltered under her protection, they will fight with one hand and build with the other. With one hand they will give battle, overthrowing and crushing heretics and their heresies, schismatics and their schisms, idolaters and their idolatries, sinners and their wickedness. With the other hand they will build the temple of the true Solomon and the mystical city of God, namely, the Blessed Virgin… “18
“They will be like thunderclouds flying through the air at the slightest breath of the Holy Spirit. Attached to nothing, surprised at nothing, they will shower down the rain of God’s word and of eternal life. They will thunder against sin; they will storm against the world; they will strike down the devil and his followers and for life and for death, they will pierce through and through with the two-edged sword of God’s word all those against whom they are sent by Almighty God.”19
They will be true apostles of the latter times to whom the Lord of Hosts will give eloquence and strength to work wonders and carry off glorious spoils from His enemies. They will sleep without gold or silver and, more important still, without concern in the midst of other priests, ecclesiastics and clerics. Yet they will have the silver wings of the dove enabling them to go wherever the Holy Spirit calls them, filled as they are, with the resolve to seek the glory of God and the salvation of souls. Wherever they preach, they will leave behind them nothing but the gold of love, which is the fulfillment of the whole law.”20

“They will have the two-edged sword of the Word of God in their mouths and the bloodstained standard of the Cross on their shoulders. They will carry the Crucifix in their right hand and the rosary in their left, and the holy names of Jesus and Mary on their heart.21
“Mary scarcely appeared in the first coming of Christ… But in the second coming of Jesus Christ, Mary must be known and openly revealed by the Holy Spirit so that Jesus may be known, loved and served through her.”22
Thank you Jesus and Mary for St. Louis Marie de Montfort.
References: True Devotion to Mary

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Consecration to Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Wisdom, through the Blessed Virgin Mary
O Eternal and incarnate Wisdom! 0 sweetest and most adorable Jesus! True God and true man, only Son of the Eternal Father, and of Mary, always virgin! I adore Thee profoundly in the bosom and splendors of Thy Father during eternity; and I adore Thee also in the virginal bosom of Mary, Thy most worthy Mother, in the time of Thine incarnation.
I give Thee thanks for that Thou hast annihilated Thyself, taking the form of a slave in order to rescue me from the cruel slavery of the devil. I praise and glorify Thee for that Thou hast been pleased to submit Thyself to Mary, Thy holy Mother, in all things, in order to make me Thy faithful slave through her. But, alas! Ungrateful and faithless as I have been, I have not kept the promises which I made so solemnly to Thee in my Baptism; I have not fulfilled my obligations; I do not deserve to be called Thy child, nor yet Thy slave; and as there is nothing in me which does not merit Thine anger and Thy repulse, I dare not come by myself before Thy most holy and august Majesty. It is on this account that I have recourse to the intercession of Thy most holy Mother, whom Thou hast given me for a mediatrix with Thee. It is through her that I hope to obtain of Thee contrition, the pardon of my sins, and the acquisition and preservation of wisdom.
Hail, then, 0 immaculate Mary, living tabernacle of the Divinity, where the Eternal Wisdom willed to be hidden and to be adored by angels and by men!

Hail, 0 Queen of Heaven and earth, to whose empire everything is subject which is under God. Hail, 0 sure refuge of sinners, whose mercy fails no one. Hear the desires which I have of the Divine Wisdom; and for that end receive the vows and offerings which in my lowliness I present to thee.
I; (Name), a faithless sinner, renew and ratify today in thy hands the vows of my Baptism; I renounce forever Satan, his pomps and works; and I give myself entirely to Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Wisdom, to carry my cross after Him all the days of my life, and to be more faithful to Him than I have ever been before. In the presence of all the heavenly court I choose thee this day for my Mother and Mistress. I deliver and consecrate to thee, as thy slave, my body and soul, my goods, both interior and exterior, and even the value of all my good actions, past, present and future; leaving to thee the entire and full right of disposing of me, and all that belongs to me, without exception, according to thy good pleasure, for the greater glory of God in time and in eternity.
Receive, 0 benignant Virgin, this little offering of my slavery, in honor of, and in union with, that subjection which the Eternal Wisdom deigned to have to thy maternity; in homage to the power which both of you have over this poor sinner, and in thanksgiving for the privileges with which the Holy Trinity has favored thee. I declare that I wish henceforth, as thy true slave, to seek thy honor and to obey thee in all things.
O admirable Mother, present me to thy dear Son as His eternal slave, so that as He has redeemed me by thee, by thee He may receive me! 0 Mother of mercy, grant me the grace to obtain the true Wisdom of God; and for that end receive me among those whom thou lovest and teachest, whom thou leadest, nourishest and protectest as thy children and thy slaves.
0 faithful Virgin, make me in all things so perfect a disciple, imitator and slave of the Incarnate Wisdom, Jesus Christ thy Son, that I may attain, by thine intercession and by thine example, to the fullness of His age on earth and of His glory in Heaven. Amen.
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Sign your name here.
__________________–Date
Note: You may wish to begin to wear a scapular now as a sign of your consecration. It is Our Lady’s “livery”, her uniform so to speak.

 

More about Saint Louis Marie de Montfort click here


Saint Elizabeth of Hungary

November 17, 2015

In the year 1207, a baby girl was born to Andrew II, King of Hungary and his wife Gertrude, of the Counts of Andechs-Meran. They named her Elizabeth. She was a precious bundle of joy not only to her parents, but to her brother as well.

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At her birth, it was predicted to Hermann, the Landgrave of Thuringia (Germany) that a child was born to the King and Queen of Hungary. It was told to him that she would be a very holy girl, and should become the wife of Hermann’s son, of the same name. Elizabeth was born into a time where it was not uncommon for marriages to be arranged between royal families of different principalities.

This was usually done in an effort to solidify their lands, and by a coalition to add new lands to their domains. In addition, it was a form of protection against other powers who would like to take over by force, these little principalities. In this case, the tyrant they were trying to steel up their forces against was a German emperor, Otto IV, who was not on good terms with the Church, and belonged to another clan, the Guelphs, who were not friendly with the families of Elizabeth and Landgrave Hermann of Thuringia.
By the time St. Elizabeth was four years old, her marriage was sealed with the young Prince Hermann of Thuringia. She was even taken to the court of her future husband to be brought up with him and to learn the customs and niceties of his people. You must remember that although she was a very spiritual girl, she was only a little person. She was obedient, some would say to a fault, but not in those days.

While our women of today would think that a match made by the heads of two families for the sole purpose of power and politics would be unthinkable, and we’re not suggesting they’re wrong, it’s the way things were done at that time. And so whatever her parents or the parents of her betrothed felt was to be, had to be.
Elizabeth is sent to her future husband’s court.

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She never behaved other than who she was, this beautiful flower of the Lord. Her demeanor was perfect; we can’t say the same for the people with whom she had to associate in the court of Thuringia.

They treated her terribly, possibly because of jealousy that she was going to marry the Landgrave’s son, or perhaps just because she was so nice. Many people can’t handle nice people. Landgravine Sophia, who would become her mother-in-law, embraced the child at first.

However, some of Elizabeth’s piety rubbed Sofia and her daughter the wrong way. There were many reverent gestures which St. Elizabeth performed in the normal course of her religious life which upset Sofia and her daughter.
One example was when they would enter the chapel.

Elizabeth would remove her coronet; the others would leave them on. When questioned about this, Elizabeth said that she could not bear wearing a coronet adorned with jewels, in the presence of Jesus who was crowned with thorns. The noble family’s feathers were ruffled at what they considered the child claiming false piety. Their suggested remedy was to send the girl to a convent, rather than having her stay at court. This is how it began, and through little things that continued to irk the family, they wanted her out.
She had one friend at the castle at Thuringia, Ludwig, the second-oldest son of Landgrave Hermann. He was very kind to Elizabeth. When he would return from a trip, he always brought her little gifts, all of which she loved, especially the Rosaries he brought for her. It was very obvious to all that they cared for each other. Elizabeth went into deep sorrow upon learning just two years after having left her home, that her mother had died, murdered as part of the political situation at home.

It was thought that she was killed by Hungarian nobility, who hated her for her ties with the Germans. This had the effect of devastating the child, who felt all alone, save for her friend, Ludwig.
To make matters worse, three years later, her betrothed, Hermann, son of Landgrave Hermann, died. She was all of nine years old. All her enemies in court took this as a perfect excuse to get her thrown out of the country. They accused her of all kinds of things, but most importantly, she was not one of them, and now that the reason she had been brought to the court was gone, the prince having died, there was no justification for her to stay.

However, what they didn’t count on was the younger brother, Ludwig, who had fallen in love with this beautiful child. They also did not consider that nothing had changed in Landgrave Hermann’s need for an alliance with the father of Elizabeth, the King of Hungary. Elizabeth was betrothed to the second son, Ludwig, whom she really cared for. It was as if the Lord had planned that these two were destined to be one, even though there was a great difference in their ages, he being sixteen, and she only nine.
Another blow to the family and the marriage proposal took place the following year. Landgrave Hermann had great difficulties trying to put through his great political plans in an effort to build a kingdom, or at least protect what he had. He made enemies in the Church, and was finally excommunicated.

This was a shock to his whole family, who were very close to the Church, especially his daughter-in-law to be, Elizabeth, who was totally committed to the Church as was her husband-to-be. Landgrave Hermann lost his mind, and died in 1217, never having made amends with the Church.
A Fairy Tale Romance
The good thing that came about was that his son and Elizabeth’s betrothed, Ludwig, became the Landgrave of Thuringia. He was well-respected by other principalities, especially in areas where his father had not been, and so he was given more and more titles and positions of importance.
It was against this background that Ludwig IV and Elizabeth were married in 1221, he being twenty one, and she fourteen. This took place amidst a great deal of controversy. The people in the court still didn’t want her to be a Thuringian countess, no matter how much Ludwig loved her. He fought them vehemently. He is quoted as having said in her defense, “I would rather cast away a mountain of gold than give her up.”
It was truly a marriage made in Heaven. The lovely couple lived an exemplary life, not only as husband and wife, but as rulers of their country. She was a benevolent ruler, caring more for the welfare of her subjects than for her own well-being. He was truly a Saint of a man. To this day, the Germans call him St. Ludwig, not only for being married to a Saint, but as an acclaim to having been one of the best men of his time.

They are described as being the perfect couple, not only in spirituality and temperament, but also in their physical appearance. She is said to have been “perfect in body, handsome, of a dark complexion; serious in her ways, and modest, of kindly speech, fervent in prayer and most generous to the poor, always full of goodness and divine love.” They don’t go to such lengths in describing Ludwig, other than he “was handsome and modest as a young maid, wise, patient and truthful, trusted by his men and loved by his people.”
They led a glorious life. Theirs was truly a story-book marriage. They had eyes only for each other. True, they were both beautiful people. But remember, he was becoming more and more important as right hand man to the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. People, women in particular, looked on him as a great catch. But he saw no one other than his beloved, his Elizabeth. And she saw no one but him.
They had three children, Hermann, Sophia and Gertrude. Hermann died as a teenager; his sister, Sophia, lived a long life, married well, and was part of the German nobility. Gertrude, the youngest, was born three weeks after Prince Ludwig died in Italy from the plague, while preparing to go on a crusade to the Holy Land.

He never saw his little girl in this life. However, because of the great joy the Lord had given him and Elizabeth in their married life, he asked that when this child was born, she be dedicated to the Church in thanksgiving for the blessings the Lord had showered upon them. It was agreed upon by both parents, that, if a girl was born, she would be sent to the Abbey of Altenberg in Germany in the service of the nuns.

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Accordingly, before Gertrude reached the age of two, she was brought by her mother to the Premonstratensian Canonesses at the convent in Altenberg, where she spent her entire life. She became a nun, and consequently Abbess. She was Abbess for 49 years. She took after her mother in many ways, most especially her love for the poor, and rejection of all wealth of any kind. She lived the life of a poor nun all her life. Today, she is known as Blessed Gertrude of Altenberg.

Read the whole life story of Saint Ellizabeth of Hungary or watch video on demand

 

More on Saint Elizabeth here


God brings us a today to love….

November 16, 2015

God brings us a today to love….  _

God brings us a today to love,

                             a yesterday to remember,

                                      a tomorrow to count on

Penny

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When Bob and I met, who would have thought God would use us to spread the Good News that He is alive and He is in our Church, and in our lives.  I only knew I liked Bob; I trusted him.  He was not like the other young men in our school.  He respected women.  The other male students frightened me.  He was different; he was polite, considerate and protective; he was honorable.  When other young men in the school spoke ill about a girl, he would always defend her.  He never gossiped about anyone.  He always saw the good in everyone.  At times, to my frustration, when I judged some took advantage of his generosity and ongoing Yes, he would gently answer my objections with a smile.

I always saw greatness in Bob.  From the day I met him, I knew that God had something special for him to do.  I would say, quoting Shakespeare, “Thou hast great Glamis that which would make thee great, if thou wouldst be great.”  What it was, I did not know.  I just had a feeling!

Bob

For Penny and me, there is no doubt in our minds, hearts, or souls that the events of Monday, September 23, 1957 were definitely orchestrated by Our Lord Jesus, Our Lady and all the Angels and Saints.  A new class session had just begun in school.  We can envision a grand meeting in Heaven, in which it was determined that these two children (us) had work to do for the Lord, and it would not begin until they met and married.  And with that goal in mind, a Heavenly contingency descended slowly to the earth, with Angels carrying our Lady on a cloud, singing songs of praise to God.  O.K., that’s my vision!

On earth, we were positioning ourselves for the execution of the Heavenly plan, although we didn’t know it.  We were busy familiarizing ourselves to a new school year, and new people, whom we had not met the school year before.  I had never met Penny.  I only knew her by sight, or rather, from a distance, from where I looked at her the previous semester.  She was breathtakingly beautiful, lively and buoyant, truly a product of Heaven.  In my mind, she was definitely a creation of the Master Artist, God.  We had never been introduced, and I was kind of shy.  She was shy, too, but covered it up by appearing standoffish and antisocial.

We were just getting used to being back at school.  For me, it took a certain amount of discipline, after having been off all summer from school.  I worked nights at United Press International, down on 35th Street and 8th Avenue in Manhattan.  As I got home from work at 6:30 in the morning, and my school hours were not till the afternoon, I was sure, I would be able to get a few hours’ sleep in the morning.  It should have worked out all right.  The only problem was, I never wanted to, because there was too much activity going on.  But after being back to school for two weeks and being exhausted from burning the all-night oil, I vowed that this night, Monday night, September 23, 1957, I was going to sleep after dinner, and not get up until absolutely necessary.

Besides, that night, I had to be particularly alert, as I had to go to the Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, to cover a prize fight between Carmen Basilio and Sugar Ray Robinson.  That was my agenda, not our Heavenly Family’s agenda.  My roommates told me they were going to give a birthday party for one of the girls they knew, who was away from home.  Oh man, I thought, there goes my sleep time.  But I had vowed discipline, and I was going to sleep.  To be honest, if I didn’t get some sleep, I was going to die.  So I buried myself in the bedroom and tried to block out the noise of the party going on in the next room.

Penny arrived.  She was outside in the living room with all the guests making a big fuss over her.  She later confided that, as she missed her family, she was just looking for an excuse to make a quick getaway, back to the Barbizon Plaza, which was a women’s residence in Manhattan.

It was very difficult.  The Angels had to get me out of the bedroom into the living room in order to meet Penny.  I was exhausted.  To me, the people out there had no consideration for anyone.  They just wouldn’t let me sleep.  Finally, I gave into the plan from Heaven.  If I couldn’t sleep, I thought, I might as well join them, but I was not going to be happy, and I certainly wouldn’t be friendly.

It was as if Choirs of Angels raised their voices in praise of God, as I opened the door to the living room.  Among the crowd of people there, who should I see across the room but the girl I had been admiring for so long, from a distance, (actually ogling) my Penny.  She was so-o-o-o beautiful.  Then I realized, it was her birthday!  I had to meet her, but I had to be cool.  I would also have to be nice.  So I put on my best James Dean look, tousled hair, frown and squinty eyes.  For those of you who were not on the earth yet, ask your parents about James Dean.  It wasn’t really difficult to put on this posture, as my hair was messed up, from having just gotten up from bed, my eyes were slits because I had been in the dark, and now was blinded by the light.  So it didn’t take a whole of lot of creativity to do my James Dean thing.

Now, here’s where I believe the Heavenly Family came in.  Penny was on one side of the room, surrounded by all the young men in the room, actually encircled by them.  I’m sure some of it had to do with the fact that it was her birthday and it was her party, and also because she was a knockout.  But the moment I came out the door, the Angels cleared a path between her and me.  The closest I can think of was the parting of the red sea, only in this case, it was the parting of wall-to-wall people.  Our eyes met.  It reminded me of when St. Bernadette’s eyes met Our Lady’s for the first time in the grotto of Massabielle.

We sat down at the kitchen table, and began talking.  I have no idea what we talked about, but we talked for hours, lost in each other’s gaze.  It seemed like we were both in a state of hypnosis, but it was more like Heavenly bliss.  At the beginning, people may have tried to break in, like when they wanted Penny to blow out the candles on her cake, but the Angels blocked us from them with their wings, and after a while, they knew they couldn’t get between us and they just left us alone.  It was like we were not there.  We were shielded by the Angels.

I had been excited about the prospect of covering the prize fight at Yankee Stadium, but now, I hated the clock ticking away, getting ready to separate us.  This was a mystical, magical moment.  I didn’t want it to end.  She did not want it to end.  But the clock struck seven.  I had to get to the Yankee Stadium.  I felt like Cinderella at the stroke of midnight.  I was furious because I had to leave; I was so much in love.

At the Yankee Stadium, I met Ernest Hemingway, who was sitting ring-side and asked him to autograph one of his books, I just happened to be reading.  Now, not even the boldest bettor would give a-thousand-to-one odds that something like that would happen.  As I was an ardent fan of his, you would think this would be the highlight of the night.  But the experience dims obscurely in the brilliant light of having met the love of my life, my future wife and soul-mate, my Penny.

After having gone through my usual grueling routine, working all night, getting home at about 7 in the morning, I looked forward to getting some much needed sleep; but because my roommates were just getting up and, and as I said before, they had absolutely no consideration for me or my need to sleep, this was not about to happen.  However I managed to fit in a few hours of sleep; then got up, shaved, showered and left the apartment in search of the girl I loved.

I started that next day convinced that the meeting with Penny had to have been orchestrated by the Heavenly Family, and I still believe that to be true.  Everything that happened that evening was so perfect.  It could not have been of man.

But then proof of that came crashing down on me the next day.  I knew I would have a chance to run into her; we were in the same class.  We would rekindle the flame, lit the night before.  I hurriedly walked to the coffee shop near the school, in hopes of finding her there.  I knew she always spent time there with her friends.  But she was not there!  I walked quickly towards the school and found her, standing off by herself, looking at a notebook, as if to remember an appointment.  I rushed up to her, and I gave her a big hello.

She looked right through me as if I didn’t exist.  I reminded her that we had met the night before at her birthday party.  She didn’t seem to know what I was talking about.  Bottom line, she had forgotten completely our evening together.  The most important day in my life, and she forgot it the next day!

Needless to say, I was crushed!  I had also aroused my Irish temper.  In my mind and heart, I called her every terrible name in the book.  But I never said a word to her directly.  I vowed I would never speak to her again, even if she were in danger of death and it would take my being nice to her to save her life.  I was really hurt.  But now, over 50 years later, I realize it was just the enemy trying desperately to keep us apart.  God had put us together, and we would be together for the rest of our lives.  Satan had to try to pry us apart.

It didn’t take much time for me to back down on my firm commitment never to speak to her again.  She was so pretty.  It also didn’t take long before she remembered that she did know me, she had met me, and she did like me.  Little by little, our love bloomed.  We had the most romantic courtship the world has ever known.  We did little things together, which young couples should always be allowed to do.  We walked through Central Park together hand in hand.  It is a perfect place for young lovers, or at least it was in 1957-58.  We sat on the grass and studied there.  We talked about our lives and our dreams.  We went to the movies together, and shared dutch-treat Italian dinners (cost 35› each).  Every day, after school, we would walk down to a fruit and vegetable store on 8th Avenue and 51st Street, where I would buy Penny one golden apple.  She loved golden apples.  Somewhere down through the years, we stopped the practice of golden apples, until we began to write this book.  Then I remembered buying Penny the golden apples, and we started to buy them again.  They are the most delicious apples.

Penny

The best birthday gift I ever received – the day I met Bob

I was away at school.  My first marriage had ended long before our divorce.  I came from a family who believed (and rightly so) that marriage is forever.  But there came a day, when even my dear mother would tell me it was time to make a life for myself and the children.  There was nothing left of the 17 year old girl and the 20 year old boy who met and got married after knowing each other three short weeks.  The differences became, over the years, unsurmountable.  But that is another story.

Mama suggested I return to school and seek a career; she offered to take care of the children.  I reluctantly started to scan the newspapers and magazines, trying to choose where I would go, and as God would have it, I ended up in New York City, going to school in the daytime and returning home at night.  At the beginning, I could be home before the children returned from school.  But after the first year, as I had to travel fifty-seven miles on not the best of roads, and then to compound the situation, in the second semester I had classes in the morning and the afternoon, it became impossible to go home, except on week-ends.

A day to remember!

It was September 23, 1957, and my birthday.  Some of the students decided to give me a surprise party at one of their apartments.  Whatever this party was trying to accomplish, it missed its mark.  While everyone else was dancing and having a great time, I was sad and downcast.  It was my birthday; I was away from home, from my children and parents, and I was homesick!  Little did I know that I would meet the one who would become the most important person in my life, that night.

Then the bedroom door opened and although I did not know it at the time, so did my life.  Out walked a tall, slim young man dressed in a black shirt and black jeans, his hair tousled from sleep, and not very happy to have been awakened by music blaring, and voices trying to top the noise.  I remember his eyes were barely slits.  Never able to stay angry for long, his annoyance soon turned to friendship and warm congeniality.  He came over to me and the next thing I knew we were sitting in the little kitchenette off to the side and I do not know how, but we were talking!

Sadly, as I was still too wounded and not very trusting, the next day came, and I had blocked him out of my thoughts and, I thought, my life.  I was not like the other girls; I was older; I was not there to meet someone, but to learn a career and a way to support my children.  So the next day, when Bob saw me, and said hello, I looked at him as if I had never met him.  It wasn’t a game; I had psychologically blocked out any possibility of friendship with someone of the opposite sex.  I just wanted to be about the reason I came, in the first place.  I was also very wary, because there were all kinds of little games being played, to entice me to go out with some of the young men of the school.

Bob and I were thrown together in the same class.  When we had a small break between classes, Bob would ask another girl and myself out for a cup of coffee (or as I was a tea drinker, a cup of tea).  I thought it was she he liked, as she was Irish, like him, and was part of the same clique who socialized together on the weekends, when I went home.  I thought he was asking me to go along, because he was too shy to ask her alone; and he didn’t want her to know he was serious about her, in case she did not share his feelings.  You can see, even in those days, I was writing scripts.

Then, I got sick and was out for a few days.  The phone rang at least two or three times a day, and it was Bob asking how I was.  My parents began inquiring about the young man who kept calling.  When I said “He is my best friend,” little did I realize how true this was, and that this truth would become a reality.  What I didn’t add was, “I really cannot think about a tomorrow without him in my life.”  Understanding, more than I, how deeply I felt about Bob, my father turned to my mother, “Oh, oh Mama, it is the old best friend routine.”

Bob was different!  Now that I think of it, he has always been a little like my father.  Bob would give me little gifts, like stop at the fruit market a couple of blocks from our school, each night after class, and buy me the largest golden yellow apple, he could find.  Then carefully scanning it to make sure it was perfect, without blemish, my knight would hand it to me, like it was a precious jewel.  And to me, it was!

The time came when poor Bob had to meet the family!

So many memories, such sweet memories.  I remember when the time came for Bob to pass muster and meet the family!  Within a short time, Bob had won my parents’ hearts; but now it was time for my brothers’ approval.  It was Thanksgiving.  By this time, I was out of school, I had an apartment in New York with my children going to Catholic School in Manhattan.  It was a tiny apartment with an even tinier kitchenette.  But nevertheless I cooked a great big turkey with all the fixings.  As cabinet space was at a minimum, I had to get on a step-stool to reach platters on the top shelf.  Bob, seeing me, ran over and insisted on getting the dishes.  And to my sisters-in-law’s horror, that was not all; he was taking the bird out of the oven!  One of them spoke up, “In this family men do not do women’s work.”

Now first of all, I don’t know where she got that idea; my father and mother never played man and woman roles; but instead, always partners in all they did, shared in whatever tasks came their way.  To my delight and their amazement, this dear young man, who desperately wanted to be accepted, stood up to the women and said, “In our family this is the way it is going to be.  Penny is too delicate and I don’t want her to hurt herself.”  Needless to say, that won him a great deal of “brownie points”_ with my father and mother.

My father had only one deep concern.  He called Bob over to my closet and showed him my wardrobe.  The spoiled youngest child and a girl at that, my parents had given me every advantage and then some.  He pointed to my shoes.  “She pays more for one pair of shoes than you make in one week.”  And turning to me he said, “You know you can only wear a Fenton shoe.”_ I protested I could do without the shoes and all the luxuries, as long as I had Bob.  And Bob said, “I promise she will never want for anything.  I will take care of her the rest of my life.”  And he has!  When we could not afford the clothes I was used to, I did not desire new clothes; nothing appealed to me.  I had everything!  I had Bob and my two children and life was wonderful!

Bob

We had the most delightful, up and down, courtship of fifteen months, we believe the world has ever known.  We went from being good friends, to boy friend and girl friend.  We were kids together, experiencing life with all its glory.  Then the time came, when we wanted to get married.  But there was a problem: Penny was a divorced woman.  She had two children, who loved me; her mother and father loved me; and I loved them all.  But we were both Roman Catholics, and the Church would not allow divorced people to marry in the Church.  So the dilemma was what to do about our love for each other.

Penny was the best Catholic I had ever met.  Granted, she knew very little about our Faith, as opposed to me, who knew whatever you learn in Catholic Grammar School, High School, and two years of Catholic college.  But she loved Jesus and everything that had to do with being in the Catholic Church, while I, on the other hand, had embraced the world, and walked far away from the Church.

We sat before a chubby Priest in the Fall of 1958

This was my frame of mind when Penny and I sat before a chubby priest in northern New Jersey, in December of 1958.  We were going to be married and that was all there was to it.  At her request, we went to talk to the Catholic priest about being married in the Church.  I knew there was no way.  Her first marriage had been blessed in the Church, some 10 years after she had been married civilly, in an effort to save her marriage.  This priest had performed the marriage himself.  As far as he was concerned, he had dotted all his i’s and crossed all his t’s.  He was not about to tell us it could be annulled.  The Church didn’t do things like that, especially not in 1958.

I tried to appear calm, cordial, and respectful, while inside I was nervous and upset.  I had convinced myself, we weren’t doing anything wrong, and this whole interview was so much nonsense.  My cordiality went out the window, when the priest told us we would be living in sin.  I had all to do to keep from exploding.  There were many thoughts, which rang through my mind.  Instead, I told him what Penny’s and the children’s lives had been like, not being able to practice their religion openly, being Catacomb Catholics.  I went on that the marriage should never have been blessed in the Church, in the first place.  He knew Penny’s first husband better than I; it had been clear to me that he never had any intention of fulfilling a Catholic marriage contract.  It should have been obvious to him, as well.

I went on, how could this priest possibly say, in all good conscience, that by being married to me, where she and the children could practice their religion without any hindrance, we’d be living in sin; while being married to her first husband, where religion was a constant obstacle, an irritant and cause for major arguments, was not.  The priest told me it would be next to impossible to prove that her first husband had no intention of living up to the marriage contract he had made when they were married in the Church.  But I wasn’t listening.  I was on a soapbox.

I accused this priest, and the whole Catholic Church of condemning Penny and the children to a life of misery.  I ended my tirade with “If that’s the stand the Catholic Church wants to take, then we don’t want any part of it.  We don’t need the Catholic Church to worship God.  We don’t need any Church.”

How foolish are the young.  How prone we are to make brash statements that we can’t ever expect to live with.  That day, in front of that priest, I truly believe that Jesus, Mary, all my friends, the Angels and Saints, were there, rooting for me, praying I wouldn’t make a fool of myself.  How they must have wept when I turned my back on them.  I know for myself, no sooner had the words slipped out of my stubborn mouth, than I wished I had never said them.  Tears welled up in my eyes; my tongue became thick.  I couldn’t talk.  I told Penny I always got this way when I became angry.  But truly, I was sorry for my big mouth.  I wanted to cry.  In my mind’s eye, I could see my Heavenly Family, so sad, but mostly, my best friend Mary.  I had betrayed her so cruelly.  Could she ever forgive me?

Penny and I loved each other.  Our love was good; my anger with the priest was that he seemed to be making it into something ugly, and it was not ugly; it was beautiful.  We wouldn’t let anything or anyone stand in our way.  Love would conquer all.  The one thing we did not accept, or believe we had to accept, above all else was Obedience.

 


St. Thèrése’s Last Christmas as a Child

November 14, 2015

St. Thèrése’s Last Christmas as a Child

Saint Therese of Lisieux“…on December the twenty-fifth, 1886…
I was given the grace to leave my childhood’s days behind…”

“…God had to perform a miracle on a small scale to make me group up’ grow up all in a moment.  And the occasion He chose for it was Christmas, that night of illumination which somehow lights up for us the inner life of the Blessed Trinity.  Our Lord, newly born, turned this darkness of mine into a flood of light; born to share my human weakness.  He brought me the strength and courage I needed.  He armed me so well, that holy night that I never looked back.”

St. Thèrése, the Little Flower, God’s bundle of love and energy and joy, had to go through her dark night of the soul at a very early age, four to be exact.  Her mother, whom she loved dearly, and who was so close to her, died after a long illness.

Almost immediately, the loving, outgoing, beautiful child became introverted, frightened, closed from the whole world except her family.  She spent the next nine years in deep depression.  The slightest look, or cross word, could send her running off to her room, in tears.  She feared being separated from her family.  She was traumatized by going to school at the local Benedictine Convent in Lisieux.  She refused to grow up.

“Yes, it was on December the twenty-fifth, 1886, that I was given the grace to leave my childhood days behind; call it, if you will the grace to complete conversion.  We’d just got back from Midnight Mass, in which Our Lord had come to me with all His strength and vigor.  On such occasions, there was a treat in store for me at Les Buissonnets (Thèrése’s home).  I would go off to find my Christmas boot (Lace or button boots which were set out in a row in front of the empty grate and filled by the parents with sweets made in a variety of shapes – pipes, mice, pigs, etc.)  in the chimney corner; we’d loved this so much in our childhood that Celine went on treating me as if I were a baby, being the youngest.  Papa was always so fond of seeing my happiness, and listening to my cries of delight as the magic boot revealed, one after another, my surprise presents, and part of my enjoyment was the pleasure he took in it.  But this time, Our Lord meant to show me that I ought to be getting rid of my childish defects; so this innocent joy was denied me and he allowed Papa to be the means of my disappointment.  He, Papa, was tired after the Midnight Mass, and the sight of my boots in the chimney corner annoyed him.  Imagine my distress when I overheard him saying:  ‘Well, thank goodness it’s the last year this is going to happen!’

“Our Lord meant to show me that I ought to be getting rid of my childish defects.”

I was going upstairs at the moment, to take off my hat.  Celine, who know how touchy I was, saw my eyes shining with tears, and was ready to cry herself; in her loving sympathy, she knew exactly what I was feeling.  ‘Oh Thèrése, don’t go down just yet; it’ll only make you miserable looking inside your boots now!’ But she didn’t know the Thèrése she was dealing with; Our Lord had changed me into a different person.  I dried my tears and went down at once; my heart was beating fast, but I managed to get hold of my boots and put them down in front of Papa, and as I took out my presents you would have thought that I was as happy as a queen.  Papa smiled, his good humor restored, and Celine thought she must be dreaming.  But no, it was a sublime reality; little Thèrése had recovered the strength of mind which she’d lost at four and half, and recovered it for good.”

Thèrése was a suffering servant of Jesus all her life.  She was not aware of it while she was experiencing it, but He was preparing her for the Kingdom, and for the work He would have her do, from her very earliest age.

Her mother died when she was four years old.  Thèrése didn’t want to give her mother up.  The Lord asked her for self-abandonment from the very beginning.  Thèrése began to develop her “Little Way” from that early age.  But it wasn’t until that Christmas of 1886, in that one instant, that she realized Jesus was asking her to give up her mother and her childhood together.  None of her family, with possible exception of Celine, had any idea what a high place she had reached with that one act of self-abandonment.  No one was aware, not even she, that this would give her the courage she would need to go back down into the valley, and accept all the valleys in her life.

“If you would be perfect…”

There’s a strong message in this, which comes across loud and clear.  The Lord had a reason for asking this act of abandonment from Thèrése.  And Thèrése said “Yes” to the Lord.  The reason was most likely us, you and me.  The walk towards Jesus is full of boulders to climb, big obstacles which we have to overcome.  Strangely enough, these are the easiest to surmount.  It’s after we’ve given up the obvious things that Jesus wants, that we find ourselves walking on small rocks and pebbles, twisting our ankles as we go along.  It becomes the small things, which we never thought of as being obstacles to our relationship with Jesus.  It becomes attitudes, prejudices, and judgments that Jesus asks us to give Him.  These little things are sometimes the most difficult to turn over to Him.  “If you would be perfect…”

Thèrése fought her natural instincts all her life to walk the road to perfection.  She invites us to do the same.  We never really get there, until we meet Jesus in the Kingdom.  But the Journey is what He asks from us.  Thèrése gave these two important things, her mother and her childhood, to Jesus as a Christmas present.

Do you have a Christmas present to giveJesus this year for His Birthday?

 

More about Saint Therese  http://www.bobandpennylord.com/St_Therese_of_Lisieux.htm

 


St. Francis made a Crèche at Christmas

November 13, 2015

St. Francis made a Crèche at Christmas

Francis of Assisi

Family, the traditional Nativity Scene put up with great joy in anticipation of the coming of the Savior is something we do, but we don’t really think about where it came from.  We want to tell you the story of St. Francis of Assisi at Greccio one Christmas eve in 1223.  We are quoting from Celano’s First Life of St. Francis, as put forth in the Omnibus of Sources.

“Francis’ highest intention, his chief desire, his uppermost purpose was to observe the Holy Gospel in all things and, with perfect vigilance, with all zeal, with all the longing of his mind and his heart, ‘to follow the teaching and footsteps of Our Lord Jesus Christ.’ He would recall Christ’s words through persistent meditation and bring to mind his deeds through the most penetrating consideration.  The humility of the Incarnation and the charity of the Passion occupied his memory particularly, to the extent that he wanted to think of hardly anything else.

What he did on the birthday of Our Lord Jesus Christ near the little town called Greccio in the third year before his glorious death should especially be noted and recalled with reverent memory.  In that place there was a certain man by the name of John, of good reputation and an even better life, whom blessed Francis loved with a special love, for in the place where he lived he held a noble and honorable position in as much as he had trampled upon the nobility of his birth and pursued nobility of soul.

Blessed Francis sent for this man, as he often did, about fifteen days before the birth of the Lord, and he said to him: ‘If you want us to celebrate the present feast of Our Lord at Greccio, go with haste and diligently prepare what I tell you.  For I wish to do something that will recall to memory the little Child who was born in Bethlehem and set before our bodily eyes in some way the inconveniences of His infant needs, how He lay in a manger, how with an ox and an ass standing by, He lay upon the hay where He had been placed.’  When the good and faithful man heard these things, he ran with haste and prepared in that place all the things the saint had told him.

But the day of joy drew near, the time of great rejoicing came.  The brothers were called from their various places.  Men and women of that neighborhood prepared with glad hearts, according to their means, candles and torches to light up that night that was lighted up all the days and years with its gleaming star.  At length the Saint of God came, and finding all things prepared, he saw it and was glad.  The manger was prepared, the hay had been brought, and the ox and ass were led in.  There simplicity was honored, poverty was exalted, humility was commended, and Greccio was made, as it were, a new Bethlehem.  The night was lighted up like the day, and it delighted men and beasts.  The people came and were filled with new joy over the new mystery.  The woods rang with the voices of the crowd and the rocks made answer to their jubilation.  The brothers sang, paying their debt of praise to the Lord, and the whole night resounded with their rejoicing.  The Saint of God stood before the manger, uttering sighs, overcome with live, and filled with a wonderful happiness.  The solemnities of the Mass were celebrated over the manger and the priest experienced a new consolation.

The Saint of God was clothed with the vestments of the deacon, for he was a deacon, and he sang the holy Gospel in a sonorous voice.  And his voice was a strong voice, a sweet voice, a clear voice, inviting all to the highest rewards.  Then he preached to the people standing about, and he spoke charming words concerning the nativity of the poor King and the little town of Bethlehem.  Frequently too, when he wished to call Christ Jesus, he would call him simply the Child of Bethlehem, aglow with overflowing love for Him; and speaking the word Bethlehem, his voice was more like the bleating of a sheep.  His mouth was filled more with sweet affection that with words.  Besides, when he spoke the name Child of Bethlehem, or Jesus, his tongue licked his lips, as it were, relishing and savoring with pleased plate the sweetness of the words.

The gifts of the Almighty were multiplied there, and a wonderful vision was seen by a certain virtuous man.  For he saw a little child lying in the manger lifeless, and he saw the holy man of God go up to it and rouse the child as from a deep sleep.  This vision was not unfitting, for the Child Jesus had been forgotten in the hearts of many; but by the working of His grace, He was brought to life again through His servant St. Francis and stamped upon their fervent memory.  At length the solemn night celebration was brought to a close, and each one returned to his home with holy joy.

The hay that had been placed in the manger was kept, so that the Lord might save the beasts of burden and other animals through it as He multiplied His Holy Mercy.  And in truth it so happened that many animals throughout the surrounding region that had various illnesses were freed from their illnesses after eating of this hay.  Indeed, even women laboring for a long time in a difficult birth, were delivered safely when some of this hay was placed upon them; and a large number of persons of both sexes of that place, suffering from various illnesses, obtained the health they sought.  Later, the place on which the manger had stood was made sacred by a Temple of the Lord, and an altar was built in honor of the most blessed Father Francis over the manger and a church was built, so that where once the animals had eaten the hay, there in the future men would eat unto health of soul and body the flesh of the Lamb without blemish and without spot, Our Lord Jesus Christ, who in highest and ineffable love gave Himself to us, who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, God, eternally glorious, forever and ever.  Amen.   Alleluia, Alleluia.” Omnibus of Sources – First Life Celano

Family, I think we have lost a great deal of the reverence and love that was exhibited first by St. Francis in Greccio that Christmas Eve, and then magnified by the presence of Jesus in the form of the living baby, as testified by John of Greccio.  Miracles abounded after that night when anyone touched the hay of the Holy Manger.  Just a little hay from the Manger would bring about cures, help with difficult pregnancies, and heal hearts and souls.  But the real miracle was the love which poured out from the people in the neighborhood of Greccio, where there had been no love before, and“overcome with love, and filled with a wonderful happiness.”

How would you like to have that experience this Christmas Eve?  Do what St. Francis did.  Set up a Crèche in your home, a Nativity Scene if you will.  Put it in your front window, where people outside can see it.  Make it a Christmas Eve celebration.  Get your neighbors to take part in your Christmas Eve celebration.  Keep the image of the Baby Jesus out of it until after midnight on that Holy Night.  Sing hymns to the Newborn Child, the Savior of Israel, the Savior of the world.  We need a Savior, brothers and sisters.  The world is moving in a tailspin, not in a good direction.  We need a Hero who will stop the downward momentum and bring us up from the black hole we are descending into, and save us from a world without God.  You can do it.  Just call on Him.  Call on Our Lady, the Angels and the Saints, especially St. Francis.  Have a Blessed Christmas.  We love you!

More about Saint Franis click here


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