Confraternity of Penitents Monthly Newsletter Archives: February 2013
Lenten Fasting and Abstinence Provisions for Penitents
Lent begins on February 13. Penitents at Novice 2 level of formation are to follow the Fasting and Abstinence requirements of the Rule and Constitutions as delineated for Lent. That is, one full meal per day and one partial meal with no solid food in between, starting with Ash Wednesday. Those who need a bite to eat at a third time of the day may have it, but the bite to eat and smaller meal, if taken together, should be less food than taken at the major meal. The abstinence days continue to be Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday each week unless a Solemnity falls on one of those days. Sundays are not days of fast or abstinence. Additional prayers may be prayed, alms given, and works of charity done. Lent is a time of spiritual renewal, a gift of God to us in the Church. May the Lord guide you into making a good Lent that will foster the growth of spiritual fruit in your life.
Letter from One Who Serves the CFP
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BELIEVE?
Joseph Ratzinger’s book, Introduction to Christianity, is structured around the Apostles’ Creed, which one could say is itself an “introduction to Christianity”. The creed opens with the words “I believe”. What do these words really mean? First Professor Ratzinger makes it clear that belief in God or even the supernatural is not the center of all religions: “The Old Testament as a whole classified itself, not as ‘belief’, but as ‘law’. It is primarily a way of life, in which, to be sure, the act of belief acquires by degrees more and more importance. Again, by religio Roman religious feeling understood in practice mainly the observance of certain ritual forms and customs. It was not crucial that there should be an act of faith in the supernatural; even the complete absence of such faith did not imply any disloyalty to this religion. As it was essentially a system of rites, the crucial factor was the careful observance of these.” Many years ago I asked a Conservative Rabbi if a person could be Jewish and also an atheist. His answer was yes. Since that is the way it is in other religions, it is not self-evident that the creed should begin with “I believe.”
Professor Ratzinger then goes on to explain that believing was never something that easy: “And when today as believers in our age we hear it said, a little enviously perhaps, that in the Middle Ages everyone without exception in our lands was a believer, it is a good thing to cast a glance behind the scenes, as we can today, thanks to historical research. This will tell us that even in those days there was a great mass of nominal believers and a relatively small number of people who had really entered into the inner movement of belief. It will show us that for many belief was only a ready-made mode of life, by which for them the exciting adventure really signified by the word credo was at least as much concealed as disclosed.” We can see an example of what Professor Ratzinger is speaking about in the life of St. Francis. He certainly “entered into the inner movement of belief” as Professor Ratzinger put it. The same could be said for his followers to a greater or lesser extent. But many in Assisi, including some members of his family, did not do this. For them, belief was “only a ready-made mode of life.”
While we are very different from the people of the 13th century, in some ways we are the same. Professor Ratzinger then goes on to say: “Man is a seeing creature, whose living area seems to be marked off by the range of what he can see and grasp. But in this area of things that can be seen and grasped, that area that determines the living space of man, God does not occur and will never occur, however much the area may be extended. I believe it is important that in principle the Old Testament contains this assertion: God is not just he who at present lies in fact outside the field of vision but could be seen if it were possible to go farther: no, he is the being who stands essentially outside it, however far our field of vision may be extended.” While creation does point to God, it does not show us God or make God visible to us. St. Francis and many others could see where creation was pointing, but many in his time and ours do not. They prefer to remain with what they could actually “see”. The “this worldly” secularism of many people stems from this attitude.
When one says “I believe”, it means one has a very different attitude. As Professor Ratzinger puts it: “It signifies the deliberate view that what cannot be seen, what can in no wise move into the field of vision, is not unreal; that, on the contrary, what cannot be seen in fact represents true reality, the element that supports and makes possible all the rest of reality. And it signifies the view that this element that makes reality as a whole possible is also what grants man a truly human existence, what makes him possible as a human being existing in a human way. In other words, belief signifies the decision that at the very core of human existence there is a point that cannot be nourished and supported on the visible and tangible, that encounters and comes into contact with what cannot be seen and finds that it is a necessity for its own existence.
Such an attitude is certainly to be attained only by what the language of the Bible calls ‘turning back’, ‘con-version’. Man’s natural inclination draws him to the visible, to what he can take in his hand and hold as his own. He has to turn around inwardly in order to see how badly he is neglecting his own interests by letting himself be drawn along in this way by his natural inclination. He must turn around to recognize how blind he is if he trusts only what he sees with his eyes. Without this change of direction, without this resistance to the natural inclination, there can be no belief. Indeed belief is the conversion in which man discovers that he is following an illusion if he devotes himself only to the tangible. This is at the same time the fundamental reason why belief is not demonstrable: it is an about-turn; only he who turns about is receptive to it; and because our inclination does not cease to point us in another direction, it remains a turn that is new every day; only in a lifelong conversion can we become aware of what it means to say ‘I believe’.” Here Professor Ratzinger is showing us we all need to live a life of prayer and penance. If we neglect this we will be drawn into total immersion in the visible world.
Professor Ratzinger finishes this section with the following: “Belief was never simply the attitude automatically corresponding to the whole slant of human life; it has always been a decision calling on the depths of existence, a decision that in every age demanded a turnabout by man that can only be achieved by an effort of will.” We can see that real belief in God, belief that results in action, is difficult since an “effort of the will” is needed. But it is well worth the effort.
--Jim Nugent (Jim is a life pledged member of the CFP, Regional Minister, formator)
No Greater Love
TRUST THE VOICE OF GOD
During the time when a man had a deep conversion experience, he was very well employed in the scientific world. He had very good prospects, big salary, security, and all benefits from a good solid career. But later, he wanted to work with people, not things, and so he became a teacher of maths and scientific subjects. He said that as a teacher, he was able to draw all his pupils to Christ, they all became Christian. One year, during the summer recess, he signed on for a crash course in Bible study. Not very long after attending a few classes, he heard God say that he didn't want him to go further with this, because when the course was over, he would be a copy of all the others on this production line, and God told him he would be taught by the Holy Spirit as and when things occurred. But the Lord spoke more than this, and said that he should also leave his job. The minister strongly questioned the wisdom of this, because he had a lot of family responsibilities. He said to the Lord, "If this is truly your wish, Lord, please give me a sign." At home that evening, he opened the bible, looked down at the words and read, "Get out of that place." So he instantly quit his job, his career, and his secure remuneration . Talk about TRUST !?!
He shared at a prayer meeting that for over 30 years, he had never ever been short of paying the next bill nor providing for his family. He told of the time he had booked to attend a Christian convention in Germany. All fees had been paid, but once there, the organisers said there was another fee of £30 he hadn't known about, and he didn't have the cash. But he TRUSTED. When he spoke to his wife about this over a coffee in a cafe, he opened the Bible he always carried, and there he found £30. He said that even years later, nobody could explain how the money had got there. The bill was paid.
Another time, he counselled a couple in his home, and he heard God say that they hadn't eaten all day, and to invite them out for a meal. They were delighted at the invite, because they were hungry and broke. The minister felt that God was telling him to go to a place which was rather expensive and to tell them to have whatever they wanted. After they had ordered, he suddenly realised to his great discomfort, thay he simply couldn't pay the bill. But he TRUSTED. As they ate, he noticed a man at a nearby table who seemed to be looking at him with some sort of recognition. Eventually, the other man and his family got up to leave, but he came to the minister and told him he had once attended his healing service. As they shook hands, the minister could feel something being pressed into his hand, and the man said, "That should cover the cost of the meal for you and your guests". He had been given a large donation, and it totally covered all costs and left him with petrol money to fill his tank.
He said that since he obeyed God and left his job security and all that it meant, he has never once been unable to meet his commitments over the THIRTY years of being in God's employ.
TRUST AND OBEY, FOR THERE'S NO OTHER WAY, BUT TO TRUST IN JESUS,
TRUST AND OBEY
--David Curry, CFP Affiliate
Reflection on the Rule
6c. Except for Sundays and Solemnities, penitents are to eat but two meals daily throughout the year unless advised otherwise by a physician. However, a third, small "bite to eat" of beverage and solid food may be taken if needed at one other time during the day. Beverages such as fruit juice, milk, coffee, and so on may be taken at any time between meals.
6d. Except for Sundays and Solemnities, between meal snacks of solid food should be avoided.
6e. At all times, penitents should be temperate in eating and drinking.
These Constitutions explain the nitty gritty of the fast penitents follow. The specific nature of these articles should become familiar to every penitent. While it is initially difficult to limit meals to two a day with no solid food in between (unless one has a small bite to eat at a third time during the day), the difficulty is moderated if one drinks beverages between meals. Of course, the beverages must be actual beverages, not solid food liquified in a blender!
These articles force the undisciplined penitent to develop moderation and discipline regarding food intake. Sure, it is difficult, even when a penitent has lived the Rule for many years, to not snack between meals, but denying oneself this simply pleasure has great reward because it causes the penitent to say no to self will in order to say yes to a higher good which is living a sacrificial way of life for the love of God and in reparation for one's own sinfulness and that of the world. Temperance is certainly a virtue needed in all areas of life, and practicing it in the food area can help one develop it as well in other areas. How freeing it is to be able, with the grace of God, wait to eat until the proper time! Not only does this help weight control but it also saves time to do other more important things like praying, helping others, working, or doing spiritual reading. Those of us who follow this Rule are amazed at how much time we had spent in eating! Better to cut back on it and give more of that time to God.
Affiliates, while they are not bound to live the Rule, would do well to incorporate as much of these Constitutions into their lives as they wish. Certainly they should strive to limit or eliminate snacks, especially during the penitential seaons of Lent and Advent. Note that penitents are not to snack at ANY season, although Sundays and Solemnities are never fast days and so they may snack on those days only. Affiliates can also do penance by changing their snacks to less desirable ones, if they feel they must have something. Penitents change their snacks to beverages that fit the stipulations of the Rule. One who wishes to discipline one's eating out of a sense of sacrifice for the advancement of God's Will is always able to find some way to do this. The Lord will give the grace to those who wish to receive it.
Reflection on the San Damiano Crucifix
Top of the Crucifix
The wide part at the top of the San Damiano Crucifix is not found in traditional crucifix interpretations, although at first glance we may think it is. Traditional crucifixes have the "INRI", meaning "Jesus Christ, King of the Jews," affixed onto a plaque that sometimes extends outward from the vertical beam of the cross. But this INRI plaque is on the San Damiano crucifix, above the head of Christ, and it does not extend outward from the cross.
Why this wider band at the top of the crucifix? The iconographer widened out the top of the crucifix so that it could be a window into heaven. Here we see saints and angels welcoming Jesus as He ascends to the Father, represented by the descending Hand of God. Different times Scripture mentions that "the heavens opened." This window into heaven is a literal pictorial image of that Biblical verse. We see only a little glimpse of the vastness of heaven, but, by looking at the expressions on the saints and angels pictured, we learn that heaven is place of joy, welcome, and peace. Who would not long to go there?
Saint of the Month
Saint Pedro Calungsod
Saint Pedro Calungsod was born July 21, 1654 in Cebu in the Philippines. His parents brought him up to know Jesus in the Roman Catholic Church. It seems that he was educated by Spanish Jesuits at their boarding school where he mastered the Catechism and learned to speak Spanish. He also developed skills in drawing, painting, singing, acting, assisting at Mass, and carpentry as all of these were needed in the missions in Guam to which he was sent, at the age of fourteen, as a catechist to accompany the Spanish Jesuit missionaries. Pedro was assigned to assist Jesuit priest Diego Luis de San Vitores, who had requested of the Queen of Spain that the mission be opened in Guam and where he later founded the first Catholic church on the island.
Missionary work was difficult in the jungle, and provisions came infrequently, often their arrival impeded by typhoons. Nevertheless, the mission persisted. Pedro preached Christianity to the native people, using the catechism. He also baptized infants, children, and adult, even though this was dangerous due to anti-Christian sentiment in the area. Nevertheless, through Pedro’s and Don Diego’s efforts, many native people became Roman Catholics.
A Chinese man named Choco, who was a criminal from Manila exiled to Guam, began to spread rumors that the baptismal water was poisonous. As some sickly infants who were baptized eventually died, many believed the story and held Pedro and Don Diego responsible. Choco was supported by the native medicine men and younger males of the tribe.
While searching for a runaway companion, Pedro and Don Diego came to a native village on April 2, 172. When they learned that the wife of village chief had just given birth to a daughter, they immediately went to baptize the infant. However, influenced by Choco, the chief strongly opposed this idea so Pedro and Don Diego gathered the children and some adults on the beach and began to teach them about the Catholic faith. They invited the chief to join them, but he yelled back that he was angry with God and disgusted with Christianity. The chief determined to kill the missionaries and, when he was gone to elicit help, the two men baptized the infant with the consent of the child’s Christian mother. When the chief learned of this baptism, he became furious and hurled spears first at Pedro who could have escaped but who stayed to help Don Diego who had forbidden both men to carry weapons. Pedro was mortally wounded by spear and machete. Don Diego rushed to him, absolving him of his sins before he, too, was martryed. The chief took Don Diego’s crucifix and pounded it with a stone while cursing God. The assassins then stripped the corpses, tied large stones to their feet, and brought them out to sea where they dumped the bodies overboard into the waves. Don Diego was beatified in 1985 and Pedro on March 5 2000. Having had a miracle approved for his canonization, Pedro was canonized a saint on October 21, 2012.
Prayer to Saint Pedro Calungsod:
Saint Pedro Calungsod, student, catechist, young migrant, missionary, faithful friend, martyr, you inspire us by your fidelity in times of adversity, by your courage in teaching the faith in the midst of hostility, and by your love in shedding your blood for the sake of the Gospel. Make our troubles your own (Mention your request here) and intercede for us before the throne of Mercy and Grace so that, as we experience the help of heaven, we may be encouraged to live and proclaim the Gospel here on earth. Amen.
Quote from a Saint:
He cannot claim to be a martyr who has not lived in brotherly love. -- St. Cyprian of Carthage St. Pedro Calungsod fulfilled the requirement listed by St. Cyprian. Not only did he die for Christ but he lived in love of all people and died trying to save one from death. While we may not all be called upon to die for our faith, we can all live for it and show Christ's love to our fellow human beings. The latter is often more difficult than the former for it involves a daily dying to self will. How can we give our lives in death if we have not freely given them in life to the love of our neighbor in whom Christ's image dwells?
Quote from Scripture
Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 10:39)
Jesus is telling His followers that our lives must be given in service to Him. If we try to hold onto our will, onto our life, onto our way of doing things, we will lose our eternal salvation. Only when we give everything up to follow Christ and to do His Will instead of our own, will we find out what life is really meant to be. Some of those who give everything to Christ are called to give the ultimate gift--to die as a witness to their faith in Jesus Christ. However, all of us are called to give our lives in witness of our faith by surrendering our lives to God. We need to allow God to do what He wants with us. Only in that way will we come to the peace that the saints had amid the most terrible trials. We have to give God control and, ultimately, He will have it from everyone because all of us will die some day and then, even those who want to control how they die and when, cannot destroy the fact that they must die sometime. The final ace belongs to God, so let us stop fighting His perfect Will and give Him our all now, living our lives for Him and in His Will. He will repay us with life eternal lived in His eternal love. St. Pedro Calungsod knew this and lived his life in accord with this wisdom.
PRESENT WITH THE LORD
Lord, help me to abandon myself,
and my desires, so I may look,
For You, in a quite forest place,
near a babbling brook.
All my prayers for others,
I keep in my special prayer book.
Flowing from my heart,
from which, them, you took.
I will not ask anything
of you this day.
I love being in Your presence,
in a special way.
Speak to me,
“Your Will be done.”
Be silent my soul!
Listen, to the Father’s Son.
Amen. -- Paul Phelan, Novice 2
More of Forbes' Epigrams
He who has good health, good humor, and no debts is not poor.
A shady business never yields a sunny life.
Diamonds are chunks of coal that stuck to their job.
Don't expect applause. Deserve it.
Life isn't complex if we walk straight.
The young person who aspires to do things must early learn to do without things.
The longer you gaze on an obstacle the bigger it becomes.
Madame Curie didn't stumble upon radium by accident. She searched and experimented and sweated and suffered years
before she found it. Success rarely is an accident.
Confraternity Photo Album
The Confraternity of Penitents is delighted that our inquirer Mattea Brandon has entered the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate and is now an Aspirant with that Order. Once that stage of her formation is complete, she will enter postulancy with the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate. Mattea is shown with Sr. Mary Lidwin, FSI, on the day that she accompanied Mattea to clean out Mattea's room at the CFP Community House of Discernment, taking what she needed to the convent and leaving the rest behind for a yard sale. Mattea, who is from Montana, served two years in the Navy after high school graduation. However, she always felt that she had a religious vocation, even before she became a Catholic two years ago. She has served as a missionary to the Philippines with her Baptist church and would like to return there. Mattea is a joyful and faith filled young woman, and we in the CFP count on her prayers as she follows her religious vocation. Please pray for her as well. She is a beautiful soul.
Mattea and Sr. Mary Lidwin, FSI
Happy Birthday to:
Rodney F 2/8
Karen S 2/12
Thom K 2/12
Sandy S 2/16
Anne B 2/5
Douglas A 2/6
Tomara K 2/7
Catherine F 2/17
Patrick W 2/20
Wondimagegn R 2/24
Featured Items CFP Holy Angels Gift Shop
These and many other items are available from the Confraternity of Penitents Holy Angels Gift Shop. See cfpholyangels.com
Prayer Bear. Different colors. Comes with Prayer Card. 3.95
One of several types of custom printed First Communion cards. The CFP Holy Angels Gift Shop will print these with any prayer and information you wish to make a child's First Communion extra special. Invitation styles also available. Sheet of 8 cards for $4. Includes free printing.
Delightful and beautifully illustrated children's book about animals who come to a soup kitchen for a blessing. Teaches a lesson on giving God glory however we are made. 18.95