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L'Italo-Americano THURSDAY, OCTOBER 10, 2013 Dear Readers, October, the month we party and celebrate our Italian Heritage. I'll begin Italian Connections with: Perle Mesta, immortalized as "the hostess with the mostess" in the musical "Call Me Madame", shortly after she was named, in 1949, American Ambassador to Luxembourg by Harry S. Truman (1945-1953) our thirtythird president. Perle was not born with an "Italian Silver Spoon". Perle Mesta acquired her "Italian Connection" by marriage, to George Mesta, who once was the president of the Big Mesta machine-tool manufacturing company. Mrs. Mesta grew up asserting that "The only parties I don't like are birthday parties. She was not communicative about her age. Her birth, in Sturgis, Michigan, was tagged for 1891, but old friends her Oklahoma City days said she was 25 when she arrived there in 1906. Her father sent her East to meet the right people, and in 1916 she met the tall, blond Italian whom she affectionately called, in prepolitically correct days, "The Wop", George Mesta. They were married in 1917, and in spite of rumored romances she remained a widow after Mesta's death in 1925, and became a dedicated Democrat after Willkie defeat in 1940. As Minister to Luxembourg, despite her lampooning by the show, "Call Me Madam", she is widely acknowledged to have done a good job. The "hostess with the most- ess" of the Truman era always gave them something different like Ike Eisenhower singing "Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes". In 1952, with a Republican in the White House, Perle Mesta went right on playing it by ear. Perle Mesta reached her apex as a hostess in the Eisenhower years, when Ike would come to her parties, play the piano and even sing. Out of favor during the three years of Camelot, she made the social scene with Lady Bird and L.B.J. "I was very close to Johnson", she recalled. "If I wanted to have people to dinner outside the administration, I was the one who did it". She broke her hip in July 1972. Though she never quite recovered and used a cane, she still gave parties, mostly cocktail parties every Sunday afternoon. Twenty-six or thirty came, served impeccably by the same staff she had for 20 years. When she was U.S. Minister to the Duchy of Luxembourg, a housewife in that country said, "Your President couldn't have sent us a nicer present. We love her." And the late Louis Bromfield said "she could give you a good time if she had only a five-cent beer". Perle Mesta had considerably more than a five-cent beer in the bank. Heiress of the fortune of her father, oil and real estate magnate William B. Skirvin, as well as that of her husband, George Mesta, President of the big Mesta machine-tool manufacturing company. The late Perle Mesta could afford to invite 800 guests to drop in for dinner. She said, however, that she was "just a widow with a small income eatin' money". *** St. Alphonsus Liguori founded the Redemptorist Fathers in 1732, in Naples, Italy. The priests and brothers minister to the spiritual and material needs of the faithful, especially the poor and the most spiritually abandoned. Their primary ministry is preaching. There approximately 300 are Redemptorists serving in the U.S. and 5,000 worldwide. For more than 60 years, the Redemptorists have also been aiding the poor in the Bronx in New York City at the Perpetual Help Center. It may also explain why many a "Big Al" started life as little Alphonso (Alphonsus) especially if his immigrant parents were from the Campania region of Italy. Alfonso, born at Marianelli (near Naples) in 1696, was something of a child prodigy, earning a Doctorate in Law from the University of Naples when he was sixteen. He practiced law for eight years and left a brilliant legal practice in 1723 in order to devote his life to Jesus Christ. He was ordained in 1726 and preached the Gospel in and around Naples to the country people of his region. In 1732, he moved to Scala and founded a religious community, the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, also known as the Redemptorists. The Redemptorists were dedicated to preaching God's word through missions, retreats, and other spiritual ministries. To this day, this order of missionary preachers are renowned for their eloquent homilies and sermons.
 With his legal background and think- www.italoamericano.com ing style, Alphonsus was able to teach moral theology in a manner that was neither too lax nor too rigorous. His manuals in ethics have been considered classics for centuries. Severely afflicted in later years with ill health and rheumatism, he died on August 1, 1787 at Nocera, Italy. Canonized in 1839, he is the Patron Saint of moral theologians and arthritis sufferers. *** Columbus Bashing was at its zenith in 1992 causing a group of concerned students of History to respond to an article titled "Indigenous People Day" found in the January 11,1992 edition of the Los Angeles Times:
 "We agree with the basic fact that the New World was here, flourishing with indigenous people for thousands of years, previous to European knowledge. Furthermore, no single person "discovered" what was already in existence. However, if the premise that 'Christopher Columbus was responsible for the genocide of the American Indians' is valid, then the following must apply: 1. Those involved with the discovery of the wheel are the sole proprietors of the blame associated with the deaths resulting from automobiles, trains, motorcycles, etc.
 2. The use of gunpowder has led to innumerable deaths. Therefore, the discoverers must be held responsible.
 3. All fatalities due to airplane-related accidents are crimes committed by the inventors of the airplane.
 4. The scientists who split the atom are systematic killers and are justifiably answerable for the horrifying destruction of human life.
 If we must hold all inventors and discoverers accountable, then we have an overwhelming task at hand of rewriting thousands of years of history. With the emphasis on rewriting, all texts must be "abolished" and rewritten in light of this newly adopted premise... Who more qualified to lead this crusade for the correct interpretation and the better understanding of history than the Resistance 500 task force and the school board (mentioned in the above referenced article." *** Padre Pio's name was in my Catholic newspaper recently. And, since I know that this Saint has a big following among my Readers I thought I'd share this with you: Fr. Kenneth Doyle of Albany, New York who writes the Question Corner column for Catholic San Francisco, was recently asked about "a reality show that 31 featured a "medium" who was communicating messages to a family from those who had already passed on. I have always been skeptical of this, but I was wondering what the church's stance is on this subject? Father Doyle replied that "Mediums are psychics who profess to channel spirits of the dead in order to secure information to pass on to the living. Some mediums use this "gift" on a daily basis and often charge a fee for doing so. 
 The moral stance of the church is clear: The Catechism of the Catholic Church says in section No. 2116: "All forms of divination are to be rejected: recourse to Satan or demons, conjuring up the dead or other practices falsely support to "unveil" the future"
 That same section goes on to say that recourse to mediums contradicts "the honor, respect and loving fear that we owe to God alone". The catechism references the Old Testament Book of Deuteronomy which warns (18:10-11): "Let there not be found among you anyone...who consults ghosts and spirits or seeks oracles from the dead".
 Having said that, I would not dispute that the souls of the departed may appear to the living and reveal the unknown. Padre Pio- the 20th century Italian saint, mystic and stigmatic- is commonly believed to have been visited with apparitions from souls of the departed. The difference, it seems to me, has to do more with from which side the channel is opened: Padre Pio never actively conjured up such visions, nor even desired them, while mediums claim to have the power to do just that at will." ***

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