Welcome family to our e-Newsletter.
Lent 2012 Online Issue #12
Bob and Penny Lord
Have you ever heard the expression Angels Unaware?
Family, as you know, we’ve spent the better part of our lives researching and writing about our brothers and sisters, the Saints. We’re referring to those special friends of Jesus who have been canonized, beatified or made venerable by Mother Church. But have you ever heard the expression about someone you know who has passed on “If so-and-so doesn’t go straight up to Heaven, none of us have a chance?” We’re talking about people who we’ve called “Living Saints” during their time on earth. Very often, we find ourselves praying to the recently departed soul for their intercession with Our Lord Jesus. We say things like, “Please, go to the feet of Our dear Lord Jesus and ask for His help” in any given situation. And very often, our prayers are answered.
An example would have been Blessed Pope John Paul II. While he was with us on earth, we referred to him as a living Saint. We often maintained that he had a direct line to Heaven. Well, in his case, this was borne out by his Beatification on May 1, 2011. But his being beatified in such a short period of time after his death (5 years) is an unusual case. With the exception of Mother Teresa, who was beatified 6 years after her death, most causes for beatification and canonization in the modern church drag on for years. At one point, nothing of any importance took place in less than 50 years after the death of the Saint-to-be.
In this issue of our Good Newsletter, we wrote little tributes to two brothers whom we believe were living Saints during their lifetimes, Ben Pinter and George Helow. These were two men whom we knew were close to God. You could just tell by everything they said and did. There was nothing you could put your finger on, but you just knew there was something special about them.
There is a Scripture Passage
“Be not forgetful to
entertain strangers; for thereby some have entertained Angels unaware.”
We’re not going to give Ben Pinter and George Helow the title of Angels, because we knew them as men. But who are we to define who is and who is not an Angel? And does God send Angels down to earth purely to do the work that we’re familiar with, to protect and guide us? Can God not send Angels to give us examples of how we should live our lives, how we are to worship God, how we are to love one another? We know that Angels can take on many forms, based on what the work is that they are sent to do. In Don Bosco’s life, it is believed that his Guardian Angel was a big ugly dog, whom he called “Il Grigio” the grey one. There are examples all through his life how il Grigio saved him from danger. Towards the end of his life, it was suggested to him that il Grigio could be his Guardian Angel. He smiled that mischievous smile of his and responded, “Why not?”
Ben Pinter had 17 children, 38 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren. George Helow had 6 children and 47 grandchildren. Who is to say that these two men were not Angels sent down to teach their children and grandchildren how to live a Christian life, so that they in turn could teach their children and grandchildren and on and on. Then, if you consider all the people who came in contact with these two men, ourselves for instance, how much could their influence spread? If that were so, we really could change the world, couldn’t we?
This article is not about Ben Pinter and George Helow, although it could be. This article is about all the people around us who may be Angels sent down from Heaven to guide us through our Pilgrimage of life, to help keep us on the straight and narrow path. When you go to Church this weekend, look at someone there whom you admire. In your job, take notice of someone whom you believe is an honorable person. In your choice of political candidates, look for people whom you believe represent the best Christian values. Don’t worry about whether they seem to be electable or not. Let God take care of that. Consider that these people may possibly be Angels sent by God to save our country and our world. And keep in mind,
“Be not forgetful to
entertain strangers; for thereby some have entertained Angels unaware.”
We are so proud of this next step in our dear son’s walk serving the Lord through His most precious Church.
Fr. Jay called us in December of last year to tell us that he had been honored by Rome. He was to be invested as Monsignor, and Chaplain to the Holy Father. We panicked when he told us this because we feared that he would be leaving New Mexico to go to Rome. He had been asked to teach at the Gregorian Institute in Rome some years ago but had to turn it down because of the pollution in Rome. He reassured us he was not leaving New Mexico, but that he had been assigned, as part of his new position of Monsignor, to pray constantly for the Holy Father’s intentions, his health and his pontificate. We breathed a sigh of relief. Then he told us that the investiture would be held at his parish, Annunciation Parish in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on Friday, January 13, 2012. We immediately made arrangements to be there for that auspicious occasion.
You have to understand that Fr. Voorhies has been a major part of our lives and our ministry since we met him in 1988. Yes, he was just a baby priest at the time. He was an associate at the Cathedral of Lafayette in Louisiana. We became very close. His mother and father actually asked us to be his “second parents” as we spent so much time with him. They asked us to guide him wherever possible in his vocation, and pray for him, which we have done every day since we met him. They also asked us to try to get him to eat a little more and gain some weight, which we were not able to do. However, his appetite improved dramatically. Praise God!
Fr. Jay has been with us on many pilgrimages over the years. He played a great part in the Holy Family Mission. In 2000, he concelebrated the dedication Mass and blessing of Holy Family Mission, and was instrumental in the consecration of Our Lady of Loreto here in Arkansas. He actually carried the statue of Our Lady out of the Holy House in Loreto, Italy, in 1996 and brought it with us to the United States. Some seven years later, in 2003, he brought it from a make-shift tent at the Holy Family Mission where we held our conferences at the time, to its final place of honor at the replica of the Holy House which we built here in Arkansas. He and Fr. Pablo Straub processed the statue into the Holy House and blessed it. We went to Albuquerque in 2006 to celebrate his 25th Anniversary as a priest. He came to Arkansas in 2008 to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of our marriage. He also gave the eulogy that day. He has been the keynote speaker at our annual conferences here at the Holy Family Mission since 2001. So you can understand that we have been together for a long time.
The investiture ceremony was magnificent. Archbishop Sheehan of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe celebrated the Mass and installed Fr. Jay to his new title of Monsignor Bennett J. Voorhies. There were anywhere from 50 to 60 priests in attendance, including Monsignor’s brother, Fr. Tom Voorhies. Monsignor’s sister Pat was in attendance. His mother was not able to be there. She is still mourning the death of her husband and our dear friend, Ben Voorhies, who passed on in March of 2011. The church was filled, with many people standing in the back and along the sides. We’re glad we got there early and that we were related to the new Monsignor, or we would have been sitting in the parking lot.
There was a beautiful reception in the Parish Hall following the ceremony. Poor Monsignor Voorhies stood for over two hours as well-wishers came up to congratulate him on this great honor. Although he was ready to collapse after it was over, he would gladly have stayed on his feet for another two hours if need be, just to be able to be with his parishioners and former parishioners.
We wish Monsignor Voorhies all God’s blessings in this next step in his vocation. We know that you will be as excited as we when he resumes his role as keynote speaker this September when we have our annual conference again here in Arkansas. The theme this year is Faith and Family. Our new Monsignor will be an inspiration to us all, we are sure. God bless you, Monsignor Bennett J. Voorhies. We love you!
Or is She speaking to us all!
On August 21, 1879, a rainy day to be sure, our Lady came to Knock, Ireland, with St. Joseph, St. John the Evangelist, a Paschal Lamb, and a Heavenly Army of Angels. She appeared at the back of the Knock church, and stayed there, with fourteen visionaries, for a period of about three hours, in the pouring rain. But in all that time, She never said a word to anyone, nor did She even acknowledge their being there, except when one of them got too close, fourteen year old Patrick Hill, at which point our Lady moved back away from the child. During the investigations which followed the apparition of Mary, a great obstacle was the fact that She said nothing. Till today, Knock has never been officially approved by the Church, even though two Popes have visited the Shrine, the most recent being the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Apparition, August 21, 1979, when Pope John Paul II came as a pilgrim to Knock Shrine, and left Our Lady of Knock a gold rose..
When we first wrote of Knock and our Lady’s Apparition, in our book, The Many Faces of Mary, a love story, we thought She said nothing because She was pleased with Her Irish children and their faithfulness under the worst conditions. We still believe that is true, but only part of the truth. Curiously enough, it was the Angels that made us realize what Mary was actually doing in Knock, Ireland.
One night, in New Orleans, while preparing our slides for a lecture tour of that holy state, (that was before we had made videos and DVDs, and programs for EWTN) we saw something in the Apparition at Knock that just snapped us to attention. It was the Angels! On the right side of the Apparition, there was an Altar with a Lamb and a Cross, surrounded by Angels. The Angels’ wings were fluttering in the Apparition. We had been taught, maybe a month before this time, about St. John Chrysostom, a Doctor of the Church, one of the Early Fathers. St. John said that when the priest extends his hands over the bread and wine at the beginning of the Eucharistic Prayer, he summons down the Holy Spirit! You listen the next time you’re at Mass. The Angels don’t have the power to summon down the Holy Spirit, but our priests, by their ordination and consecrated hands, have been given that power. St. John taught that when the Holy Spirit descends upon the altar, He is accompanied by tens of thousands of Angels, present on the Altar to protect and adore the Eucharist.
That was it! That’s what Mary was trying to tell us at Knock, Ireland in 1879. It was the Mass, the Eucharist. She was telling us to defend the Eucharist! Our belief in, and the importance of, the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, is under such attack today.
Then our eyes traveled to the center of the apparition, to St. John, dressed as a Bishop, holding open the Book of the Gospel. The Word; Mary was telling us to defend the Word. The Gospel is so fragile. It’s like a crocheted sweater. If you pull one thread, the whole sweater unravels into a heap. Cast doubt on one part of the Word, and the rest will topple with it. Some people tell us Jesus did not physically resurrect from the dead. It was a spiritual Resurrection. Well, if He didn’t resurrect, as it says in Scripture, was He really crucified? And if He wasn’t crucified, was He really born? And if He was not really born, is there a God? So, you can see how we must defend and protect the Word with our lives.
And then, we looked to the left, at Mary and St. Joseph. In the slide we show, a lady was kneeling at the side altar, and had left her infant at the feet of St. Joseph. The Family; we could see the Family. Mary was telling us to defend the Family.
Mary was speaking to us loud and clear at Knock. Save the Eucharist, because if you destroy the Eucharist, you destroy the Church! Save the Word, because if you destroy the Word, you destroy the Church! Save the Family, because if you destroy the Family, you destroy the Church, and you destroy the World!
Prophecy? Was Mary warning us of things to come? Was the message of Knock for the people of Ireland of 1879, or the people of the world of today? One year, when we were interviewing Fr. Joseph Pio at San Giovanni Rotondo, getting background for our documentary on Padre Pio, he called our Lady of Knock - Our Lady of the Apocalypse!
Saint Louis Marie de Montfort said, “in Scripture Mary was silent; but in the last days, She will be like John the Baptist, heralding the coming of Christ. She will no longer be silent.” In this apparition, Mary said nothing, but She said everything. But we did not understand. In Fatima, She warned us, but gave us a way out - “In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph.” Too many people took that to mean we didn’t have to move a muscle. Mary was going to take care of everything.
Now She is appearing all over the world and She is talking, warning, pleading. But this time, She’s not talking about how She’s going to do it, and how Her Immaculate Heart will triumph. She’s pointing to us. She’s telling us to get up off our duffs, and get the job done! Save the Eucharist; Save the Word; Save the Family; Save the World. And She’s not beyond sending Angels to teach us and direct us, as She did at Knock and Fatima. We really believe we’re at zero hour. These may truly be the end times, the final days. Do we dare not listen and respond?
For more about Marian Apparitions click here
St. Dominic Savio – If I don’t become a Saint, I have accomplished nothing!
Now, when we are living in a time when children are killing children, when children cannot pray in school, when children’s favorite toys and video games are of violence and horror, witchcraft and satanism, it is time for them to learn about a teen-ager who strove for and achieved Sainthood; it is time for Saint Dominic Savio. In the year 1950, one teen-ager-Maria Goretti, age twelve was canonized and another-Dominic Savio, age fifteen was beatified. Then in 1954 Dominic Savio was canonized. Did the Lord in His wisdom raise up these two young people to Sainthood to combat the hedonistic philosophy that would pervade the world and the Church, beginning in the 60’s?
I have a need to ask why we in the Church were not
told about these strong, holy role models. In a time when we parents were struck dumb and completely helpless, watching our young drop before our eyes, from drug overdoses, why did we not know about these Saints? Why were our children not being taught in Catholic schools and C.C.D. programs about Saints such as these? Why were these Saints withheld from us, Saints we could hold up to our young, as a contrast to the drug-infested culture of death that was being fostered through catchy music? Well, we are taking full responsibility for our young, our right and obligation, as we read in Vatican Council II’s Document on Christian Education. There are eight difference references to the rights of parents as primary teachers in this document.
The title of the book from which this excerpt was taken is entitled Holy Innocence, The Young and the Saintly; it could very well be entitled Heroes and Heroines because that is what we are about, bringing you Heroes and Heroines for today, to combat the sick role models being forced on us by the secular world. Man has always needed role models to emulate. Because our young have not grown up learning about the Saints, they have sought and found heroes in the mire of this world’s decadence. This young role model, Dominic Savio, is to let our young know that they are precious and born to become Saints. We, the Mystical Body of Christ, are reclaiming our young, the future of our Church, our country, our world.
We ask our young to look into the mirror which Jesus holds up to them, to see themselves as Jesus sees them. This story is not for them to be another Dominic Savio, but to become unique Saints of their own. We want them to know that they have an opportunity to touch lives, just as Dominic did. He, like them, had the trials and tribulations, the temptations and battles our young encounter today, as they journey through this life to eternal life.
We often speak of clusters, God putting people together to do His Will, not only for a particular time and place, but for all time and every place. Saints beget Saints. One of the biographies we referred to, to bring you this powerful holy young Saint, was written by none other than Saint John Bosco, a Saint who had a great impact and involvement in the life of young Dominic Savio, as well as other Saints, some unheralded.
I believe that this true story of Dominic Savio is to challenge the youth of today, with these words of St. John Bosco in the preface:
“If a companion of mine, at my own age, living right here, open to the same, if not bigger, dangers, still found time and means to keep himself a true follower of Jesus Christ, why can’t I do the same? But bear well in mind that real religion is not made up of only words; we must come to deeds. On reading something you admire, don’t be content to say, “How nice! I like that!” Say, “I want to strive for those achievements which I most admire in others!”
Out of the muck and mire, a rose blooms
Dominic was born of very poor but holy peasant stock, one of ten children. Right from his earliest years, Dominic showed clear signs of piety. His parents said he never gave them cause for the slightest worry, was always obedient and thoughtful of their feelings. At barely four years of age, he swiftly learned his prayers, and could be observed reciting them alone, morning, noon and night. Deeply attached to his mother, he only left her side to go to a small hideaway where he could continue praying unnoticed.
He never began eating without saying Grace. One day, his family unwittingly began eating without first having prayed. Little Dominic cried out, “Daddy, we haven’t asked God to bless our meal yet.” He then proceeded to make the Sign of the Cross and began the prayer the family always recited before eating. All joined in, and after they finished eating, they said the Angelus (as was their custom, morning, noon and night). On another occasion, a guest at their dinner table began eating without first saying Grace. Young Dominic rose and left the table, retiring to a corner of the room. When he was later questioned, as to his strange behavior, he said, “I didn’t dare sit at table with someone who eats like an animal.”
In his biography of this little Saint, Don Bosco speaks not only of the extraordinary Grace bestowed upon Dominic, but attributed much of his virtuous life to his parents and their tireless commitment to bring him the treasures of the Church. Their example, their daily, ongoing living out of the Faith, their praying the Rosary and the Angelus as a family, their devout attendance at Mass, their fidelity to the Sacraments, their faithful teaching of the Catechism, bringing Dominic the stark reality of sin with its ultimate destruction of the soul, and the luminous rays of piety with its eternal reward in Heaven, molded him into the Saint he would become.
Father John Zucca said of his pupil, Dominic, that the first time he saw him was when the lad was five years old. As was his custom, Dominic was kneeling on the ground in front of the Church door, waiting for it to open. This was not an isolated case. He could be seen, every morning, praying, his eyes and heart zeroed in on something, or was it Someone, beyond the heavy doors. It was of no consequence if the ground was muddy and wet from the pouring rain, Dominic knelt and prayed until the church opened.
So often we see little boys who live to serve as Altar Servers, lose their awe and wonder of serving the Mass when they grow older. It was not so with Dominic, who from five years of age reverently served. His life was to attend Daily Mass, so when he was not Altar server, he still devoutly participated in the Mass, adoring his Lord Who was coming to life on the Altar of Sacrifice.
Dominic partakes of the Bread of Angels
He loved all the Sacraments, having learned about them from an early age, and desired to participate in receiving all of them, his eyes and heart set on the priesthood. When he was barely seven, he knew his Catechism by heart and fully understood the teachings of the Church, with spiritual wisdom way beyond his age, especially the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist. But in those days, particularly in small country parishes, the age for receiving First Communion was eleven or twelve. Dominic had everything against him, but God. He was small for his age, and the priest hesitated to receive him. The priest consulted other priests. Then considering how well prepared Dominic was and the ardent yearning he had to partake of the Eucharist, he allowed him to receive for the first time the “Bread of Angels” and his first “sweet kiss from Jesus.”
Dominic ran home to tell his mother. He begged pardon from her for anything he may have done to upset her and promised to try to live a more holy life. His mother, deeply moved by this child of hers who had visited upon her nothing by loving concern and affection, tried to hold back the tears as she assured him all was forgiven and asked him to pray that he would always be close to his Lord Whom he would be receiving.
What makes a Saint? Dominic, like other Saints before and after him, had a passion for the Bread of Life, the Eucharist, His Lord truly present, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. The day of his First Holy Communion, he rose early. Barely able to wait for that glorious moment when he and the Lord would become one, he went to the church and knelt on the ground, outside waiting for the doors to open. The Mass, including his first Penance, lasted five hours. Dominic never forgot that day, and when he spoke of it, years later, his eyes misted as he said, “For me it was the best day - it was a great day.”
Dominic and St. John Bosco meet
Dominic received the Sacrament of Confirmation in 1853, at the age of eleven. God was formulating His plan of holiness for Dominic Savio. The Lord had placed him in the hands of holy parents who had nurtured his faith in God. Now, it was time for another Saint to enter Dominic’s life. We have said over and over again that there are Saints and Saint-makers. Dominic had been received as a full member of the Church through the Sacrament of Confirmation. He was ready for the next step.
If you remember, Dominic’s parents were originally from Castelnuovo. It just happened (holy coincidence?) that Don Bosco was originally from Castelnuovo, also known as Becchi. Don Bosco was already well-known for his Oratory and his work with the young. Dominic, as well as all the citizens of the area, looked upon Don Bosco as the local boy who made good. Dominic would tell all his friends his greatest aspiration was to meet Don Bosco and be admitted into his Oratory. When he was asked why, he simply replied he wanted to become a priest, “what better way to save his soul and do good for others.”
It was 1854, Dominic was twelve and it was time; so the Lord used Dominic’s parish priest to speak of him to Don Bosco, who just happened to be visiting guess where - Castelnuovo! The priest related Dominic’s great piety and eagerness to learn, whereupon Don Bosco agreed to meet him. Upon hearing this good news, Dominic left immediately for Castelnuovo with his father. Boy and teacher met, and when Don Bosco asked him why he wanted to go to Turin with him, Dominic answered, “With God’s Grace, I very much want to become a priest!”
Lead me not into an incident of sin
As I read about Dominic and those days, I can see the clear parallels with today. One day, Dominic saw a crowd of young people gathering about this man. As he drew nearer, he could hear the man telling some very crude jokes. Many left, but others stayed, enthralled by the charming, witty manner in which he spun his yarns so mixed with humor, the less sensitive could not see how deeply he was pulling them down into hell. Now, you have to picture this young teen-ager, Dominic, slight and gentle of spirit, bravely and boldly standing up to this eloquent speaker who now had the crowd mesmerized. Dominic turned to the crowd and demanded they leave this man, as he was about the business of destroying souls. When they protested, that the man made them laugh, Dominic replied, “Yes right to hell.”
[Do we keep watching comedy television programs because they are funny, relaxing, even when they become lewd and blasphemous? Are we laughing ourselves and our children straight to hell? Oh, I know this is a politically incorrect statement to make today; but unless we have young Dominic’s and older Don Bosco’s, many souls will perish; and they will perish in hell, no matter what some dissident theologians say, for hell is real and it is final.]
One of Dominic Savio’s battle cries was “I want to become a Saint.” Don Bosco offered him a gift one day. Little Dominic answered him, “The only gift I want is that you make me a Saint.” God heard his words. Late one afternoon, on a hot muggy day in June, June 12, 1954, to be exact, Pope Pius XII declared Dominic Savio a Saint of the Roman Catholic Church, extending to him all the honors of the altar. It was obvious to all that the weight of all the tragedy, of the World War he and the Church had lived through, had taken its toll on the ailing saintly Pope. But his voice belied his tired body, as he boomed out the declaration of the church welcoming this heroic, holy young man into the Glorified Ranks of the Church Triumphant - the Saints.
Dominic, intercede for our youth of today that they might have the courage to desire Sainthood, and in so doing live a chaste life, that they may also receive and accept God’s Grace to live like you with the motto:
“Death, but not sin!”
St. Dominic Savio, you have made us laugh and cry as we have written your short but full life. It is finished, but you will be with us, till we face each other in Heaven. St. Dominic Savio, save a place for us.
Family, the role of the Family has been under outrageous attack for as long as I can remember, going back at least to the end of World War II. There has been a systematic, planned attack to destroy the family as we know it. We were victims of it in the 1960’s when our young people were bombarded with drug orientation in schools, in neighborhoods, in the songs of the day, (Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, referring to LSD and Puff the Magic Dragon, referring to Marijuana. There are most likely many more; these are just the ones our family was subjected to) no matter where you looked, our young people were under attack. The plan seems to have worked, because the assault has only accelerated these last 60 years. The media, especially television, has made the family into dysfunctional morons, with the father being the most ignorant of the morons (Modern Family, Roseanne, Married with Children, Everybody loves Raymond).
It’s really important for us to have Role Models. We have spent the last twenty years writing about Saints, whom we believe are powerful role models for ourselves and our families. And in this Good Newsletter, This Holy Family issue, we want to focus on the Holy Families that produced the Saints we venerate today as Role Models. We want to begin with Sts. John Bosco, and Domic Savio.
Don Bosco - Out of the Darkness
It was the year 1815; Napoleon Bonaparte had just been defeated, but his iron grip on the Piedmontese area of northern Italy could still be felt. He had bled the country of all its natural resources. The people were left to their own devices to survive, or starve. Dead bodies were found strewn all over the countryside each morning, having starved to death the night before. It was hard times for the common people, who had nothing to do with the political upheavals of the day. But they were the victims. They looked for a place to begin again.
Masses of migrants descended on the big city of Turin, Italy. Families had deserted their farms, fresh air, and the fragrances of the land, in exchange for the sweat and stench of close quarters in these newlyfound slums, all in the hopes of a new life. But some were still holding on to the lives, their families had lived for centuries in the little hamlets, the rolling hills of northern Italy. One of these villages, Becchi, was to be the birthplace of one of the most powerful men in our Church. On the day after the Feast of the Assumption in 1815, our Lady gave us a gift, in the birth of John Melchior Bosco, in this unknown place, which is still not on the map of Italy today.
He was born of strong peasant stock, Francis and Margaret. Theirs was a large household to feed. Francis’ invalid mother, as well as a son by his first wife, plus John and his brother Joseph, created a major financial burden on the young couple. The fruits of their land were not enough to take care of the family, so Francis worked at other jobs to bring extra income into the house. It was while he worked for a landowner that he contracted pneumonia and died. John was barely two years old. John always remembered his mother’s words, although he could not remember his father: “You have no father, Johnny.”
With the father and main breadwinner gone, many families would have fallen apart, but not the family of Margaret Bosco. She had been given special graces by the Lord, to hold onto and provide for her family’s welfare and growth. She used them. She took care of her bedridden mother-in-law, a step-son, and her own two children. She had the greatest influence on Don Bosco. While he has been given the honor of being among the Communion of Saints, his mother has to be right there next to him, sharing the glory (The Cause for the Canonization of Margaret Bosco has been opened. She has been elevated to the title of Venerable Margaret Bosco).
Penny has always shared her amazement at how much scripture her mother knew, although she never went to High School. She was always quoting scripture. The same would apply to Margaret Bosco. She could not read or write, yet she taught her children their Faith. A natural question might be, “Yes, but how much could she have taught them?” The response would be to point to the fruits of her teaching, St. John Bosco. Case closed!
There has been an ongoing dispute about the value of absorbing huge amounts of information, compared with the simple, uncluttered teachings of our ancestors. Francis of Assisi distrusted books and learning. Don Bosco, on the other hand, was a great proponent of learning. We have to believe that a great deal has to do with faith. Where is the information coming from, and how does it glorify God? Margaret Bosco was very clear on that point. Whatever she taught her children was to point them towards God.
The children were not spoiled in any way. It would have been impossible. Hers was a monumental task. There was no place for frills in their lives. Margaret believed that she was training her children for the difficult world they lived in. They all worked hard. Simple proverbs like “Idleness is the devil’s workshop” guided her in every step of their upbringing. They ate little. They put up with all the hardships imaginable. But they became strong, physically and spiritually. John began working at four years old. The whole family pitched in with the housework. It was good training for the life John would live as a religious. We can’t help but think, Our Lady had a direct hand in raising John.
The pattern of John Bosco’s life was pre-determined, his vocation and his work within his vocation. He would be a priest, and he would work with children. While he was a normal child, he was very focused. Once his goal had been given him, he worked feverishly towards that end. He learned to read which was a great accomplishment, in that time and place. But the great value of learning to read was that he was in great demand during the cold winter months, to read to his friends and their parents. He had a captive audience; so they had to play by his rules. He began each of his performances with two solemn signs of the Cross and two Hail Mary’s, reverently prayed. Then he would read to them.
During the summertime, on Sunday afternoons, when the children were all out playing, John Bosco found another way to keep their attention, entertain them and lead them in prayer. He became a juggler, acrobat and clown. He was so smart. The Lord told him exactly what to do, to captivate the children, who were to be the goal of his life. But he was given an extra added gift. Children of all ages came to watch the show. He set up a corner of the field near his home, with a rope tied between two trees. He performed sleight of hand tricks; he juggled; he walked the tightrope; he did cartwheels. But he also led them in five decades of the Rosary and gave them a short talk, which he’d borrowed from the priest’s homily at Mass that morning. He shortened the homily, changed it a little and made it his own. He gave them insights; they had not received at Mass that day.
Don’t get the impression that John was perfect at his avocation right away. He watched every performer that came into the public squares of the town, then went home and imitated them. But in the learning process, he fell many times from the tightrope, landed on his face doing cartwheels and walking on his hands, and missed many a card trick or sleight of hand. But he got up every time and continued on, until he perfected his act.
While there’s no question that he was bringing the Lord to the people in a simpler way, sugar-coated with the antics he performed, he was also being trained in preaching to people and bringing them closer to Jesus. He learned how to capture their attention, by using everything he had ever learned and then turning it in the direction of the Lord. As far as he was concerned, he was giving everything over to the Lord; but at the same time, the Lord was preparing him for a mighty apostolate.
John’s love for God and his Church, was well-known throughout the entire area. Priests, as well as lay-people, could see the special qualities in the boy. He wanted very much to receive Our Lord Jesus in the Eucharist. But the rule was, no one could receive until he was at least twelve or thirteen years old. An exception was made, however, for John. He knew at age ten, what many people never know all their lives. Jesus was there in the consecrated Bread and Wine, alive and present, nurturing. John wanted that union with his God, desperately. When the priests realized the spiritual depth of the boy, they allowed him to receive his First Holy Communion at age ten.
St. John Bosco went on to do great things for the Church and for the children of northern Italy. He was in effect their salvation. At a given point when his group of young people became huge, his mother Margaret came to help out, a role she continued on with until the end of her life. Now, it’s true that John Bosco had been the perfect example of St. Paul’s passage in Romans 8:30-31 “Those He predestined He likewise called; those He called He also justified; and those He justified, He in turn glorified.” We know the Lord called him and he said yes. But don’t you think that a little of what he was given came from his mother Margaret? Did a holy family not play a major role in the life and accomplishments of St. John Bosco? Pray on it.
The above excerpt was taken from Bob and Penny Lord's book, "Saints and Other Powerful Men in the Church."
Farewell, Champion of Christ and this fair country God has blessed!!
This is a story of a very famous man who is not very well known beyond the boundaries of Arkansas, and we would like to correct that. Ben Pinter was a farmer! Ben is one of those Americans whose life will not be glorified; he’ll not make the national newspapers; but he and his wife have colored the Church and our country; and our Church and country will be richer because young, handsome Ben Pinter saw a young pretty girl named Catherine Siebenmorgan and they fell in love. Although Ben’s hair grew into a shimmering silver, his impish blue eyes exposed the young man who Ben was for over 80 years. Ben and Catherine were still in love. All you had to do was see the gleam in their eyes as they kidded with each other, and there they were two farm kids, still very much in love.
Ben and Catherine were always Church! And country! Bob and I looked upon them as pillars of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Morrilton, Arkansas. Bob and I, and our daughter Luz Elena, and son Brother Joseph looked upon them as the rock upon which our local Catholic church stands, and the foundation upon which our country was built. They were Catholic and American – and darn proud to be each of those great God-given gifts to the world. They both always had that teen-age innocence in their eyes, but make no mistake they knew what was happening. We always felt safe with them around. We spoke the same language. We loved Mother Church and our country, the United States of America.
They always said and acted as if Holy Family Mission was theirs and there was no question as to their loyalty and involvement! They would walk in with new, fresh plants and replace the plants looking sorry for wear. As the seasons of the Church changed, so did the floral arrangements they made and placed on the Altar in the Conference Center and the Altar in the Holy House under the regal statue of Our Lady of Loreto. Although Ben has beaten us to the throne of God our Father, he is present on every inch of Holy Family Mission; and when the door opens to the Mission, we just know Ben is about to walk in, carrying a large casserole and yummy pecan pie Catherine has just baked. Whenever we had a pot luck affair, Ben and Catherine were always the first to volunteer!
We were and are family!! I could always get their son Gerry to work on a project by threatening that we would tell his parents. Like so many of the families here, including Brother Joseph’s, they named him after St. Gerard Majella, the Saint of happy births. Ben and Catherine donated to our country and to our Church 16 children (one died); 38 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren, and we had the gift to spend several days with them as we all stood by Ben’s hospital bed, praying and hugging our Ben!
We want to share a little bit about Ben’s struggle for the last two years with cancer. He never complained. We visited him in the hospital after his first surgery, when they were poking and jabbing him. He but never let on that he was in real agony. We watched as his body deteriorated, while his spirit seemed to become stronger and stronger. Everything, according to Ben, was in God’s hands. Whatever God willed, that was okay with Ben. We had gotten a first class relic of Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos in New Orleans, and gave it to Ben. He kept it with him all the time. He prayed for the intercession of Blessed Seelos, but his final word was, “Whatever God wants.” He was able to celebrate his last Thanksgiving with his family this last year. He struggled through it, but it was important for him to give this final gift to them. He tried not to let them know how bad he was feeling, until Sunday night, when the holiday was officially over. He asked the family to bring him back to the hospital. He never returned to his home.
We watched as Ben prepared himself for his passing from this life to his entrance into Heaven. We say that because we truly believe Ben went straight up. You know the expression, “If Ben didn’t go straight up, there’s no chance for any of us.” His whole family was around him for those last few days. He had his rosary in his hand all the time. He mumbled prayers the entire time, when he was not talking to Catherine or one of the children. The four of us went to be with him on Monday. Penny and Luz Elena went to be with him for the next day, until just before he died. At one point, Catherine told Ben that Blessed Seelos would be waiting to welcome him into Heaven. He said, “I hope I’m worthy for Blessed Seelos to bring me into Heaven.” We went to the 5:00 pm Mass at our Parish. Ben died during that Mass, at 5:20 pm. A dear friend, Barbara Corrales from California, who knew Ben and Catherine very well, called and told us she was praying her Divine Mercy prayers when Ben died. It was 3:20 pm in California. We truly believe a Heavenly cortege was waiting for Ben, to bring him into the Kingdom.
Bob and I, Luz Elena and Brother Joseph have known beautiful, faithful soldiers of Christ, but one of the greatest faith-filled champions of Jesus and Mary has touched our hearts and we will never be the same! Ben’s body rests in the cemetery located on the road adjacent to Monastery Ridge Road which leads up to the entrance of our Holy Family Mission; and you can be assured, there is never a day, when we pass the cemetery, we do not wave and call out, “We love you, Ben!”
Beloved, we are in the company of Angels from on high; but sadly, we are also besieged by fallen angels. As they were all created by God, sometimes it is difficult to discern one from the other, except by signs! In one of our previous Good Newsletters, we included a song we always share at the end of one of our talks. The name of it is: You will know them by their fruits. We have dedicated our lives to bringing you the fruits of our Faith Belief! We began with Miracles of the Eucharist – how they came about at times we needed them! The Truth has always been under attack in the battle for our souls. Why, people often ask us, why now? Why did we not know of these miracles in years past? Why now!! Could it be that God wants us to know, now, we are not alone, that He is with us, as He promised, till the end of the earth? All we have to do is go to church and get down on your knees – pray and then be quiet – listen as if your life depends on it, as it probably does.
As you may have heard us say, God is in charge! He has given us a safety net to keep us from falling – a net of truths that has come down to us down through the centuries. And although the fallen angels would attempt to lead us astray, God sends down His Heavenly Army of Angels to do battle for our souls. Like the fallen angels, they make take different forms, and you may have to listen carefully, first with your ears and then with your very soul!
As we have written over and over again, we are in the worst of times; we are in the best of times! I would not want to be born in any other time, in any other country! We can make a difference! We have inherited, through the wisdom and sacrifices of our ancestors, a free land – one that has been saved by the blood of our soldiers, war after war. We have a say!! We must not think only of today, with the candy-coated promises that often turn out to be lies. We must look at our family around us. We are responsible for their future! We need to look at them with the eyes of our minds (human reasoning) and then with the eyes of our heart. What kind of world are we leaving them? We have given our lives to bring the truth to you, our brothers and sisters in Christ, and in so doing, God has allowed us, through EWTN, to touch you! We love you! You know that! We love our American brothers and sisters, as well as our loved ones all over the world. We must, with one voice, proclaim God is in charge! Proclaim He is the King of our lives! We have a responsibility! God created our nation with all the gifts we would need to grow and prosper! To give any mortal being credit is to demean His gift and His love! Our vision must be to listen to God and do what we truly believe He is saying! It’s no great revelation! Study the Bible! Trace and follow the path of those who have gone before us!
We love you! That you know! We love our Church and her Founder Jesus Christ! We love our country and all who have gone before us to make this the country of the free! Do not allow anyone to rob you of the dream! Turn to Mother Mary to guide you. We are the only country consecrated to the Immaculate Conception! When you make your decision who to follow, ask yourself, Who would Our Mother Mary lead us to follow! We love you; but more importantly, Jesus and Mary love you. God bless you and our country.
Long may our flag wave over this land of the free and home of the brave!
At the beginning of January, we were writing for our column, From My Pew, and I was thumbing through our life story, The Journey and the Dream, looking for inspiration, when I came upon the page which has pictures of George and Margaret Helow with us, at Mother Angelica’s 75th birthday celebration. It brought back the many beautiful memories of pilgrimages and occasions we shared. I just felt compelled to speak with them. I called! I cannot tell you why I had such an urgency to reach them on the phone! Their wonderful son, Joseph, gave me the phone number, where I could reach his mother.
For the past twenty some years we have been communicating with our two dear friends, George and Margaret, who were more like family. There were the two great attributes we found in this special couple, quiet dignity and strong Catholic Faith. We had been together on many pilgrimages where they marveled at the beauty of our Church and the Saints who came before us. We always had a common bond with George and Margaret over the years, even though we didn’t get to see each other that often. They kept in touch, forever excited about our work, always supportive of us. For the longest time, George and Margaret invited us to spend quality time at their home at the beach, writing. Although the invitation was enticing, we never had a chance to take advantage of their generosity, as we were often writing on the run. Then two years ago, we were invited to speak at a retreat center in the community where they lived, and at last were able to share their beautiful, special, loving family. They were a reflection of their parents and grandparents, quiet dignity and strong Catholic Faith.
When I spoke with Margaret this January, I finally understood my urgency to speak with our dear friends. Margaret sadly informed me our dearly beloved brother George was dying. Then the next day, their son Joseph called and advised us George had passed away on that day. We knew we had to be with Margaret to comfort her in her grief, and share the celebration of George’s life and his new voyage into the Kingdom to prepare a place for him and his spouse. We immediately made arrangements to be with the family. As we traveled, it was incredulous to accept our dear friend and brother in Christ was gone, all we could do was try to fight back the tears. Their grandson Paul drove us to his grandparent’s home. We were graciously welcomed by Margaret, who, despite her grief, was concerned we have enough to eat. Their home was filled with children and grandchildren, along with friends and neighbors arriving with trays and trays of food, enough for an army.
The family treated us like we were truly family! What beautiful children and grandchildren! We stayed awhile and one of their grandchildren guided us out of the subdivision where George and Margaret lived. But before we left they invited us to attend Mass with them, the next day, and join them praying their morning prayers. They later shared that, from the time they were children, their parents led them in prayers, after Mass each morning. Good work, George and Margaret!
The following day, Friday, after Mass and morning prayers, Katherine, their daughter, led us to George and Margaret’s home, where you guessed it, we were greeted with Margaret insisting we partake of the most delicious, appetizing goodies. We spent some time there with the family and then excused ourselves to get a little rest, as we had not slept for eighteen hours, the day before. Paul, their grandson, had wisely suggested we stay at the hotel, which was conveniently located on the same street as Holy Family Church, the church where the Rosary and the Funeral Mass was to take place. The Rosary and the visitation were filled to overflowing. It was beautiful! The husbands of George and Margaret’s five daughters came up and spoke not as in-laws but as sons who loved and were loved by George and Margaret. Again, the family was gracious and concerned about us and our welfare. We had our time with our George right after his family. I will not belittle the grief! Their 47 grandchildren were attentive and sorrowful. George and Margaret were central in the life of their family, their home a haven of spirituality and love - no favorites; all were loved and revered; and their family responded in the like.
The next day was the Funeral! We didn’t expect the attendance – the church again filled to overflowing. You would think that the entire church was filled with family – the grief spilling from the eyes of men and women alike. George and Margaret’s eldest child, their son Joseph’s Eulogy was one of the most touching we have ever heard, one of dire respect and overflowing love - a son’s love letter to his father.
When it was time for the graveside ceremony, there were no less than 100 cars in procession, friends and family paying their final respect to a man who well deserved it.
Although it was sad saying goodbye to a dear brother and sincere friend, it was glorious getting to know the full scope of this great unassuming man. He and Margaret were among the best, sweetest pilgrims we ever had the joy to lead on pilgrimage. This great man and woman were so gentle and undemanding, we never had a glimmer of all the involvement they had in our Church and in our country. We love you, George! We are proud to have known you. We will miss you! You made a stamp on our hearts and we and the world will never be the same.
La Conquistadora – Our Lady of Peace
This past week, Bob and I went, along with our daughter Luz Elena, to New Mexico, to attend the investiture of our dear spiritually adopted son, Father Bennett Joachim Voorhies to Monsignor, Chaplain to Pope Benedict.
We have attended many fine, inspiring moments in our Church, but the Mass and the investiture of Father Bennett to Monsignor, (or Father Jay, as we tenderly have called him since the day we met him twenty-five years ago), has to have topped them all. The entire ceremony, from beginning to end, was Mother Church at her most glorious. It was awe-inspiring! There were more like 50 to 60 priests and bishops concelebrating the Mass, with Archbishop Sheehan as the main celebrant, and Father Jay and his dear brother Father Tom assisting.
The Church is alive! The church, The Annunciation, was filled with parishioners from not only that church but from the other churches Father (now, Monsignor) served as Pastor. There was standing room only! Thank God our new Monsignor had considerately reserved seats for us, along with his sister Jan and cousin Lynn. We came almost forty minutes early and the church was already packed! After the reception, we retired, gearing up for our pilgrimage to our beloved Conquistadora, the next day.
This was to be Luz Elena’s first trip to Santa Fe and to our Lady Conquistadora’ s shrine. The Cathedral was breathtakingly beautiful, befitting our Queen! When we entered the chapel where her statue is poised regally, and our eyes travelled upward toward Our Lady in white, we could feel our hearts swelling as we unashamedly let tears spill from our eyes. She was so beautiful!!
This was not the first time we have been with Our Conquistadora. Our son, Monsignor Jay, would not let us rest till he got us to come to New Mexico and film Our Conquistadora and the yearly awesome, inspiring procession which filed down the main street accompanying her to her little ancient church where she would rest for one week before she was returned to the Cathedral.
We bought three candles to light at her feet. The three of us had very important petitions to present to Our Lady for her kind intercession! We prayed, even though we didn’t dare hope for a miracle! Oh, you of so little faith, Penny! We have a very dear beloved young man at EWTN, whom we have known and loved since he first came to EWTN. Peter married a beautiful girl and the two of them would bring to earth six precious children. We have known tremendous joy being part of their family and they a part of ours.
July of 2011 we received a phone call advising us that our dear Peter had contracted Lukemia and was in the hospital. He and his family are so beloved of not only us but of countless friends he and his family have made. Prayers started to pour in. Masses have been said! Then last week, we found out Peter had developed a fever of 103! It lasted for days. The doctors could not find the cause or the cure! On Saturday, January the 14th, we knelt before our Lady, La Conquistadora, with candles burning we trembled as we begged Our Mother to conquer Peter’s fever, but again not daring to hope!
Sunday morning, before returning home, we called Peter to learn THE FEVER HAD DROPPED TO NORMAL!
Our Lady who conquers, conquered the fever!! Pray with us, She conquers the Lukemia!! We love you!!
What is the teaching of this story? What is Our Lady trying to tell us?? We are not alone!! Our Lord is with us, and as He did at Cana, He is listening to His Mother!! BELIEVE!! WE ARE NOT ALONE AND HELPLESS!! PRAY!
We have unalienable Rights given to us by God our Creator
The second paragraph of
Declaration of Independence starts with the following words:
Today I want to discuss our unalienable Rights. The framers of our Constitution were Christians for the most part and believed in one God. They also were very aware of all the problems that can come about when a leader takes on too much power. Some of them had experienced persecution in their former homelands. For these reasons they wanted to put into words the fact that we have unalienable Rights endowed by our Creator.
It is most important to us today that the Constitution framers placed those words in the Declaration of Independence. They wanted everyone to know that these Rights came directly from God our Creator and no one not even a King could take them away from us. Any infraction against that one sentence will start an uproar about our Rights to this day.
Recently we have and are experiencing a lot of rhetoric about Rights according to our conscience. Remember our Rights come from God and no one can take them away and that is the basis of all the Rights disputes. The Bishops of the United States sent out a letter about the Right of conscience being taken away with regards to abortive services in the Health Care Bill. The root of the confrontation comes from the fact that no one or entity can take away that right - because God has given it to us.
If ever there was a time to pray for the continued Judeo Christian tradition of our country and the safety of our unalienable Rights – that time is now. Let us resolve to ask God our Heavenly Father to guide us this year and protect us.
This Lenten Season let us remember that our
Country was founded under God and we have to be diligent every day to
protect these unalienable Rights so that our children and grandchildren
Furthemore, this is election year and let us study the platforms of each candidate and especially note where they stand on the issue of unalienable Rights - that might give you a clue about the direction he or she would go with regards to any legislation coming up.
Thought for this week – Pray for our country and leaders and may God continue to protect our unalienable Rights.
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