2012 December Newsletter

Confraternity of Penitents Monthly Newsletter Archives: December 2012

Letter from One Who Serves the CFP

Following the Spirit's Prompts:  DEUTERONOMY 1:11 - JEREMIAH 3.33

             

A preacher told of a time he attended a great Christian speaking event and he felt prompted to donate a tithe, which he called, 'Sowing a Seed'. Whereas he had thought of donating $500, an inner voice, which he had always trusted as being from The Lord, suggested he send $111. He was puzzled by this amount as he normally donated in round figures, but the prompt seemed persistent, and further prompted him to note Deuteronomy Ch 1 : 11. When he turned it up, he was very thoughtful about what it said. "May Yahweh, the God of your fathers, increase you a thousand times more and bless you just as he promised." He wrote out his cheque for that amount, and was then prompted to write on the back, "For God's Blessings". 

But then the inner voice asked about blessings for his family and also for his own ministry. He then wrote two more cheques for $111, and on the reverse side of one wrote, "For Family Blessings", and on the other, "For Ministry Blessings." Following this, he gave testimony that blessings did follow. One blessing to his ministry was that within a few weeks, his father, who had been a total non-believer, gave his life to Jesus and since then has been very active in attending and being of service to the church. Another blessing was that a lady called and said the Lord had told her to contribute to the family by buying them items of furniture which they were very sadly lacking.

All together, he contributed $333. He didn't comment on this, but my mind went back to the minister who woke up at 3.33 a.m. and was instantly prompted to look up Jeremiah 3:33 which said, "Call to Me, and I will answer thee, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know."

 

BE STILL :-     

 

 

Be still and know that I Am God

                     

Be still and know that I Am

                             

Be still and know that I

                             

Be still and know that

                        

Be still and know

                

Be still and

                           

Be still

                   

Be

 

--David Curry, CFP Affiliate

No Greater Love

Christmas Equals Christ

As Christmas is just around the corner, it is to be lamented that a growing spirit of worldliness, commercialism and self-centeredness has over-shadowed the true spirit of Christmas. Christ, the raison-de-etre of Christmas, has been pushed into the background while we have allowed everything else except Him to take His place in our hearts. Note the malls and shopping complexes decorated from top to bottom with streamers, lights and ballons. Watch the unending shopping sprees undertaken from dawn to dusk in a bid to procure new outfits, footwear or gifts for near and dear ones. Be aware of the interest and pains we take in assembling and preparing varied ingredients for our Christmas cake, and the agitation and tension that fills us as we wait on tenterhooks with bated breath for it to bake. Where is Christ in all this hustle and bustle, fun and frolic?

 

In order to recapture the true spirit of Christmas, which has somehow eluded us, and in a sincere effort to refocus our minds, turn our eyes inward and touch our hearts, I attempt to bring Christ back to Christmas. I have sought to concentrate on what each letter of the word, `Christmas' means to me, though I do agree that it would mean different things to each of us.

 

C - Christ. The first letter of the word, `Christmas' means Christ. Surely, we would readily agree that without Christ there can be no Christmas. It also means that we not only keep Christ in our hearts but also give Him to others throughout our lives but especially at Christmas. Not all of us may be able to give lavish gifts to friends and family, but surely, like Peter and John, we can say, "I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk" (Acts 3: 6). Surely, we can give Jesus to everyone in our interaction with them. Besides, as followers of Christ, it is our moral duty to do so. John's words need to echo and re-echo in our hearts: "We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands concerning the Word of Life - this Life was revealed, and we have seen it and testify to it, and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us - we declare to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and His Son Jesus Christ" (1 Jn 1: 1-3).

 

H -Holy. To keep Christ in our hearts and give Him to others, we have to be holy. Remember, "God did not call us to impurity but holiness" (1 Thess 4: 7). In fact, holiness is to be sought, no matter who we are or what we do. It is recommended that we "pursue peace with everyone, and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord" (Heb 12: 14).

 

R - Rejoice. As Christians, we essentially need to rejoice - in all that we have and in all that we are. The one message that is reverberated in all Paul's writings is, "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice" (Phil 4: 4). It is natural for people to be attracted and drawn to those who are always happy and smiling.

 

I - Innocent. In spite of living in a world that is gradually losing its sense of God and sin, we need to stand aloof and not allow the evil of the world to touch us. Jesus advises us, "See I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves" (Matt 10: 16).

 

S - Sharing. An important characteristic which we need to cultivate and cherish is the quality of sharing. When we witness to Christ by sharing the Good News with all, we do need to remember about sharing other things as well. "Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise" (Lk 3: 11). In fact, Christmas is sharing and giving to those who have not.

 

T - Thankful. An old proverb says, "How sharper than a serpent's tooth is a thankless child". We are thus aware of the need to always nourish a thankful and grateful heart for all that we are and have. There are many who do not have what we do. We are asked to "Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ for us" (1 Thess 5: 18).

 

M - Mercy. One of the attributes of God Himself is mercy. Jesus was always merciful as we see in the story of the woman taken in adultery (Jn 8: 1-11). As His followers, we are similarly expected to "Be merciful, just as our Father is merciful" (Lk 3: 36). We always need to remind ourselves in this regard that "Judgment will be without mercy to anyone who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment" (Jas 2: 13).

 

A - Affection. Another name for love is affection. Affection is the distinguishing mark of a Christian, and Jesus Himself tells us, "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" (Jn 13: 35). In like vein, Paul asks us to "Love one another with brotherly/sisterly affection; outdo one another in showing honor" (Rom 12: 10).

 

S - Serve. Finally, we are called upon to serve one another just as "The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many" (Mk 10: 45).

 

I hope my feeble effort in striving to recapture the true spirit of Christmas has driven home its humble message to every heart through this simple article. Wish you, dear brothers and sisters, a most blessed and holy Christmas. May the true spirit of Christmas fill your hearts, guide your steps and direct you all the days of your life. 

 

--Patrick John Ashing, Oblate, OSB Cam, CFP Affiliate

Reflection on the Rule

Constitutions 5:

5. In keeping with section 5 of the Rule:

5a. Attendance at immodest functions or events at which immodest or immoral behavior is exhibited or fostered, except to condemn such behavior, is forbidden. This would include movies, parties, plays, and so on.

 5b. The penitent should avoid the near occasions of sin in all circumstances and should strive always to give good example to others.

Reflection:

The Rule of 1221, Section 5,  reads:

5. They are not to go to unseemly parties or to shows or dances. They shall not donate to actors, and shall forbid their household to donate. 

A note to this section states that, in 1221, all plays were bawdy and mocked religion. Therefore penitents, who were trying to grow closer to God through the living of this Rule, would certainly have been hypocrites to view or support public entertainment that mocked the faith. Modern penitents should follow the same guidelines, and the Constitutions spell this out. This may provoke awkward situations where friends or family want us to attend plays or movies which clearly do not follow the teachings of Christ, and this disregard for God's laws need not be only in the areas of sexual morality. Movies are becoming increasingly violent, and even movie previews, which are supposed to be for general audiences, are showcasing more and more violence and this to youngsters.

As penitents, we need to stand for what is moral, prudent, and charitable. Movies and plays that glamorize immorality, that show heros violating the Ten Commandments, should be shunned. We are called to be witnesses to Jesus' way of love and forgiveness. What we view is part of that witness.

Affiliate Action

Affiliates can and should be judicious in what they view. They, by being good Christians, must give witness to their following of the Lord Who is Love. How is the love of God portrayed in these visual events? If it is non-existent or mocked or contadicted, affliates should, like members, stay distant and pray for those who do attend and, even more, for those who produce these shows.
 

Reflection on the San Damiano Crucifix

The Destiny of Christ

To look at the San Damiano Crucifix is to see, in one glance, the destiny of Christ. He dominates the crucifix yet is surrounded by angels and people, all of whom are, in various ways, attentive to Him. Christ is the center and the focal point of the universe portrayed in microcosm on the San Damiano Crucifix. His destiny was to enter the world of humanity and save those who were lost. He fulfilled this destiny on the cross at Calvary, the end of a life conceived in the womb of a virgin and brought into view of the world at Christmas. On the Crucifix of San Damiano, Christ is clearly seen in His ultimate role, as Savior, Teacher, Lover of humanity.

Gazing at the crucifix should cause us to think of our own destiny. Why did God create YOU? You, too, have a mission in life. If one image were to be painted of you that depicted you in your mission, what would it show? If you cannot think of how you would be portrayed, ask the Holy Spirit to open the eyes of your soul to the graces which the Lord has given the world through you. You have a purpose in life. If you know what it, thank God for this great gift. If you do not know, ask God to reveal it to you. May He, Whose arms are stretched in giving on the Crucifix, give us every grace to become all He created us to be.

Saint of the Month

St. André Bessette

(1845-1937)

The eighth of twelve children born to a French Canadian couple, Andre had a special devotion to Saint Joseph, the foster father of Jesus. When he had lost both parents by the age of twelve, Andre was adopted to become a farmhand. Certainly this made him think more of Jesus who had also been reared by his foster father Joseph. Andre tried his hand at various trades, succeeding at none. At the age of twenty-five, he applied to the Congregation of the Holy Cross but was dismissed after a year due to his weak health. However, with the urging of his bishop, he was received again and given the humble jobs of door keeper, sacristan, laundry worker, and messenger at Notre Dame College in Montreal, Canada. For forty years, he faithfully fulfilled these duties.

 

In his little room near the door, Andre spent much time in prayer before a small statue of St. Joseph which stood on a windowsill facing Mount Royal. When asked about this, he would say, “Some day Saint Joseph is going to be honored in a special way on Mount Royal.’

 

Andre used to visit the ill, cheer them, pray with them, and anoint them with oil from a lamp burning in the college chapel. Many of these people were healed. When an epidemic broke out, Andre volunteered as a nurse and not one person under his care died. Sick people began to come to him in mass. This made his superiors and diocesan officials suspicious and uneasy. Doctors called him a fake. “I do not cure,” Andre insisted. “St. Joseph cures.” Eventually he needed a secretary to handle the 80,000 letters he was receiving yearly.

 

After many years of trying to buy property on Mount Royal, while Andre and others climbed the hill and planted medals of St. Joseph it, the owners yielded. Andre collected enough money to build a small chapel there and began to receive visitors whom he would listen to, speak with, and anoint with St. Joseph ’s oil. Some were cured. The chapel grew. By 1931, during the depression, money ran out. Andre advised, “Put a statue of St. Joseph in the middle. If he wants a roof over his head, he’ll get it.” And he did. The huge Oratory of Saint Joseph was built over a period of fifty years. Andre died at the age of 92.

 

Blessed Andre, pray for us so that we may have trust in St. Joseph as you did.

Quote from Scripture

 

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. (Luke 2: 1-7) 

 

The Christmas story shows one of the many times in his life that St. Joseph was the human protector of the Holy Family. God chose this remarkable and humble man to be the earthly dad of God. Joseph parented the world's Savior. and showed him by his example what a good father must be. Joseph must have been as close an image to our Heavenly  Father as is humanly possible. No wonder St. Andre Bessette told people to "Go to Joseph" when they needed a spiritual favor. He who raised the Son of God as his own child surely would approach Him with every request because Joseph's heart, expansive enough to care so tenderly for Mary and Jesus, would certainly attend to the needs of their spiritual sons and daughters. St. Joseph, pray for us.

Quote from a Saint

"Go to Saint Joseph." -- St. Andre Bessette

Saint Andre Bessette was renowned as a miracle worker, but he attributed none of the miracles to himself. "Saint Joseph did it," he would say. Andre Bessette knew that Joseph, like himself, was a quiet man of work and prayer. No words in Scripture are attributed to Saint Joseph.

 

He was a man of reflection. Brother Andre was of a similar temprament. He believed in the sanctity of the present moment. To do one's work with reflection, offering it up to God, was sanctifying and prayerful. The grace of the present moment was ever present to Brother Andre as it must have been to Saint Joseph. When we are in need, it may be helpful to recall the man who cared for Jesus in His earthly life, who protected and taught Him not only carpentry but also Scripture. "Go to Saint Joseph." If God selected this man to parent His Son, will he not be likewise fatherlike toward us, the children whom Christ begot?

Poetry

A Saint Francis of Assisi Moment

 

A thud is heard, and another bird has hit a window!

A female Finch is stunned, and does not want to go.

What a cute little bird! I wonder what she needs?

She does not want water, or any bird seeds!

 I put her on a feeder, hanging from a branch aloft.

On this kind of cylinder feeder, she may fall off!

She looks content in a hex shape feeder, there she will stay!

Until sometime that evening, when she flew away.

 

You beast, wild and tame, bless the Lord.

 

--Paul Phelan, CFP Novice 2

Humor

Ever wonder what would happen if we treated our Bible like we treat our cell phone? 

What if we carried it around in our purses or pockets? 

What if we flipped through it several times a day? 

What if we turned back to get it if we forgot it? 

What if we used it to read vital messages from the text? 

What if we treated it like we couldn't live without it? 

What if we gave it to kids as gifts? 

What if we used it when we traveled? 

What if we opened it in an emergency? 

This is something to make you go....hmm...where is my Bible? 

Oh, and one more thing... 

Unlike our cell phone, we don't have to worry about our Bible being disconnected --

because Jesus already paid the bill.

Makes you stop and think 'where are my priorities?’

And no dropped calls, ever!

Confraternity Photo Album

Life Pledge of Gilbert Cervantes, Pasig, Philippines

On September 23, 2012, the Confraternity of Penitents joyfully embraced Gilbert Cervantes as a life pledged member. Gilbert has served as Regional Minister of Asia for several years, is a formator for CFP members, and is part of a Skype Circle of the Confraternity of Penitents with a member in New Zealand. Gilbert has two sons, one of whom is pictured below (the other was taking the photos). He is a joyful, faithful man whose work takes him throughout Asia and Europe where he attempts to meet up with CFP members in those locales, if possible to do this within the parameters set by his employment. We welcome Gilbert into theConfraternity of Penitents with joy!

Brother David Doncillo, CFP Witness, clothes Gilbert with the life pledge cord.

Gilbert reading his life pledge to the Confraternity of Penitents.

Gilbert (right) signing his life pledge. Fr. Michael Sandalo and Bro. David Doncillo are witnesses.

Pledged for life in the Confraternity of Penitents! Left to right: : Bro. Stephen Cervantes, Fr. Michael Sandalo, Gilbert Cervantes, Aidan Cervantes, Naty Cervantes (Gilbert's son), Gody Cervantes (Gilbert's parents)

Happy Birthday to:

Janice C 12/3

Rose Marie A 12/10

Linda S 12/13

Susan B 12/16

Judith P 12/17

Grace J 12/23

Katherine S 12/26

Kim H 12/30

Robert S 12/31

Linda  C 12/18

Sieglinde S 12/20

Maria D 12/22

Larry D 12/22

Featured Items CFP Holy Angels Gift Shop

Please view our entire website at www.cfpholangels.com  The items featured below may be ordered directly from that site. May God bless you for your patronage of our on line gift shop!

Dog at the Manger. A beautiful story accompanies these puppies, to complete your Nativity scene. 1.95

Nativity Custom Print Prayer Cards. We can print these with a prayer or greeting of your choice. 8 cards for 4.00

Christmas Card Featuring Saint Francis. 10 for 3.95

© 2016 by The Confraternity of Penitents, 1702 Lumbard Street, Fort Wayne IN USA 46803   www.penitents.org

 

Visit our on line Religious Book and Gift Shop, CFP Holy Angels Gift Shop  www.cfpholyangels.com

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