2013 June Newsletter

Confraternity of Penitents Monthly Newsletter Archives June 2013

Letter from One Who Serves the CFP

I BELIEVE IN YOU 

Joseph Ratzinger culminates his chapter on “Belief in the Modern World” in Introduction to Christianity with his exposition of what it is that Christians believe in. “In all that has been said so far the most fundamental feature of Christian faith or belief has still not been specified; namely, its personal character. Christian faith is more than the option in favor of a spiritual ground to the world; its central formula is not ‘I believe in something’, but ‘I believe in you.’ It is the encounter with the man Jesus, and in this encounter it experiences the meaning of the world as a person. In Jesus’ life from the Father, in the immediacy and intensity of his converse with him in prayer and indeed, face to face, he is God’s witness, through whom the intangible has become tangible, the distant has drawn near. And further: he is not simply the witness whose evidence we trust when he tells us what he has seen in an existence that had really made the complete about-turn from a false contentment with the foreground of life to the depths of the whole truth; he is the presence of the eternal itself in this world. In his life, in the unconditional devotion of himself to men, the meaning of the world is present before us; it vouchsafes itself to us as love that loves even me and makes life worth living by this incomprehensible gift of love free from any threat of fading away or any tinge of egotism. The meaning of the world is the ‘you’, though only the one that is not itself an open question but rather the ground of all, which needs no other ground." 

We can see that what Professor Ratzinger says can make one very uncomfortable. It is easy to speak about meaning and trust in a “higher power”, but it is something else to realize that we are putting our faith in a person who gives everything to us but also demands everything from us, our sexual life, our financial life, our social life, our religious life, our family life, our business life, and everything else. Of course, what He can give us is infinitely more that what we can give him. Yet is this not the reason why so many refuse to believe in Him? They would prefer the lesser demands of an altruistic secularism or else some other religious faith which may make demands on us, but not the total demand which Jesus Christ makes on us. While there still are many who try to fulfill the demands which Jesus Christ makes on us as laypersons or as clergy and religious, it seems as if this number is getting smaller and smaller. Our modern world cannot countenance this demand of the Lord. Our modern world is still hungry for God, but the God of Jesus Christ is too much for it. 

At the end of this chapter on “Belief in the Modern World”, Professor Ratzinger returns to the dilemma which everyone faces. What Jesus Christ is for us makes ever more urgent the question of belief: “Of course, this does not do away with the need for reflection, as we have already seen earlier. ‘Are you really he?’ This question was asked anxiously in a dark hour even by John the Baptist, the prophet who had directed his own disciples to the rabbi from Nazareth and recognized him as the greater, for whom he could only prepare the way. Are you really he? The believer will repeatedly experience the darkness in which the contradiction of unbelief surrounds him like a gloomy prison from which there is no escape, and the indifference of the world, which goes its way unchanged as if nothing had happened, seems only to mock his hope. We have to pose the question, ‘Are you really he?’, not only out of intellectual honesty and because of reason’s responsibility, but also in accordance with the interior law of love, which wants to know more and more him to whom it has given its Yes, so as to be able to love him more. Are you really he? Ultimately, all the reflections contained in this book are subordinate to this question and thus revolve around the basic form of the confession: ‘I believe in you, Jesus of Nazareth, as the meaning (logos) of the world and of my life.’” 

This makes clear the connection between belief and love. We cannot love the Lord if we do not believe in Him. If we really believe in Him and what He claims for Himself, how can we not love Him? Do we not lose what Christianity is all about when we try to soften the audacious claims Jesus makes about who He is and what He demands of us? “. . . go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” (Mark 10:21) The Lord’s answer to the rich young man still challenges our modern world which values riches and prosperity so much. Every day the modern world forces upon us the choice concerning the claims of Jesus Christ. Every time we attend Mass and recite the Creed we are giving our personal and individual answer to the question of Jesus Christ. 

Jim Nugent (Life Pledged Member of the Confraternity of Penitents)

No Greater Love

Who Is God? 

8 Philip said to him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.’9Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, “Show us the Father”? 10Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?” (John 14: 8-10) 

On EWTN (Catholic) TV, some time ago, a well known priest stated that there were 35,000 Christian denominations in the world. Each one claims to be a holder of truth and each, presumably,  worships Jesus as Lord and Saviour. I used to think that every Catholic had precisely the same views on God, faith, and all matters of the church. Then I read a book where each chapter was written by a different Catholic person, some quite well known names, and I was amazed at the varied understandings which they all expressed. Everyone seemed to have their own analysis of their God of Mercy, Love, Forgiveness, Justice, and everything else. One man said he was forever calling upon the God of Justice to deal with just about everybody he prayed about, until he realized a serious fault in his own inventory, and then he pleaded for the God of Mercy to forgive him. So, if the Catholic God can be so varied, maybe the 35,000 other Christian faiths have similar multiple ideas. 

I heard another minister commenting on the many varied ideas of Jesus within the Christian faiths. The god of modernism, liberalism, traditionalism. Although God is a Theocracy, some folks feel that, as they live in a democracy, then maybe God can be outvoted. Certain factions have been seen to obviously consider God to be a pushover, a God who will give the nod and a wink to clamoring voices which have their own ideas of morals, ethics, and codes of conduct. When government or church leaders make decisions and sometimes tell us it's OK, do we think that God will understand? Do we wonder if God approves of all that we claim as "Human Rights"? Does He approve of all that we accept as the 'normal' culture we live in? 

Another minister also commented that other religions knew of Christ, even if not as the Messiah, but in their own ways.  Jesus is understood by Buddhists, Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Atheists, Pagans, Unitarians, and every other belief system.  I heard that Hindus have a million gods, and Jesus is one of them. I heard that Muslims believe that Jesus will come again, but that He will apologize for making false claims and count us as infidels to be killed. O Lord, You made us in Your image and likeness; we made you in ours. Is Jesus “one of the boys”?

 

Like Jesus said in Mathew. Ch 7 "I never knew you." And maybe many who claim to know Jesus will one day say, "We never knew you, either." Allen Jones (well known U.K. Christian healer and minister) went to church as boy and as man for many years. One day a colleague invited him to another church, and after Allen attended and went home, he said to his wife that he had met Christians. She was puzzled and reminded Allen that they themselves were already Christians. Allen replied, "Oh no! We know OF Christ, but those people actually KNOW Jesus, they walk and talk with Him, they have constant fellowship with Him, they hear His voice, He guides them in all their ways." 

Is it time to ask ourselves, “Who are You, Jesus?” and then to evaluate “How am I following You?” 

--David Curry, CFP Affiliate

Reflection on the Rule

Chapter III: (Fasting)

 

9. They are to fast daily, except on account of infirmity or any other need, throughout the fast of St. Martin from after said day until Christmas, and throughout the greater fast from Carnival Sunday[1] until Easter.

 

[1] The Sunday before Ash Wednesday.

Constitutions:

9. In keeping with section 9 of the Rule:

9a. Penitents are to observe a pre-Christmas fast from November 12, the day after the Feast of St. Martin, until Christmas and a pre-Easter fast from Ash Wednesday until Easter. 

9b. Penitents who are guests in the homes of others, or who have been invited out to eat, are permitted to eat what is set before them so as not to embarrass the host unless that day is a day of fast and/or abstinence enjoined by the Church. Penitents might consider not accepting invitations to eat out on Church enjoined days of fast and abstinence. 

9c. Sundays are never days of fast or abstinence. 

9d. Penitents should not fast or abstain on any of the Church Solemnities. These include the Octave of Christmas, the Feasts of New Year's, Epiphany, Annunciation, the Octave of Easter, the Feasts of the Ascension, Assumption, All Saints, Immaculate Conception, and all other Solemnities of the Church. 

9e. Penitents are permitted to celebrate with between meal snacks birthday parties, anniversaries, baptisms, confirmations, marriages, and other special occasions unless these would fall on a fast day enjoined by the Church. 

9f. Additional exceptions to the fasting provisions of this Rule are listed under sections 6, 10, and 11 of the Rule and Constitutions and in Appendix A to these Constitutions.

Reflection on the Rule:

 

You will note that while the original Rule of 1221 designates certain regular days of fasting and additional seasons of fasting, the Constitutions to the Rule give specific situations in which the fasting is foregone. In these situations, charity is the norm and the guiding principle, as it should be in all of our actions. We do not fast when we are celebrating a Solemnity of the Church nor do we fast when to do so would be to act against charity toward others. The Constitutions also bring the longer periods of fasting into line with the current seasons of the Church. The Church observes a period of Advent prior to Christmas, which is somewhat shorter than the Fast of St. Martin which was celebrated in medieval times. St. Martin was a popular saint during the time of St. Francis, and people, including the penitents, wanted to make sure that they celebrated his Solemnity. So the fasting began after that date. Today St. Martin of Tours is not so well known or venerated, but the Church does observe a time of penance for four weeks prior to Christmas in order to prepare us for that holy holiday.

When we follow the fasting provisions of our Rule and Constitutions, we can be encouraged by the fact that penitents followed these same provisions for 800 years. Fasting is a penance, but isn't that what we are about? If you are called to live the Rule of 1221, God will give you the grace to fast as the Rule asks.

Affiliate Action

Affiliates can certainly follow the fasting provision of the Rule as much as possible. If they cannot follow it exactly or as strictly as the penitents do, they can embrace this part of the Rule in spirit by fasting from things they like to do during these periods of penance. Fasting isn't fun for anyone, but it is a great part of the spiritual life, and that it helps us to master our own wills and give our desires to God for a greater good. We should never become ill or weak or dizzy through our fasting, but we should become less self-centered and more ready to say no to ourselves and yes to God and others because we have been prepared for this through our fasting.

Reflection on the San Damiano Crucifix

Harmony

One way to view artwork is to analyze the sense of harmony or disharmony that it portrays. Some art is very troubling, very discordant in its interplay of shape and color. Other artwork is very harmonious and peaceful. The Crucifix of San Damiano is extremely harmonious in its balance, color, and personages. The iconographer wanted to portray the harmony in God's plan of salvation. While the actual events surrounding the Passion and Death of Our Lord would have seemed chaotic to the people living at the time, they were actually extremely harmonious in God's design of salvation.

 

A great orchestra conductor causes a storm to unleash in sound, because every instrument, every note, every pause, is intentional and, taken together, the fury of the storm comes out in sound. So God had the players in place and the goal in mind when Christ was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane. Those events and the ones following led to our salvation, the perfect harmony of God's eternal plan. That harmony is portrayed on the Crucifix of San Damiano. Just by gazing at the crucifix, the viewer feels a peace and knows that all is in control of the loving God.

Saint of the Month

Saint Basil the Great (329-379 A.D.)

 

Born in Caesarea in 329, Basil was one of a family of ten, many of whom became saints, including his parents, brother, sister, and grandmother. Basil's family had suffered persecution, and he was raised with a strong sense of adhering to God's commandments despite opposition. A brilliant man and teacher of rhetoric, Basil was led to abandon the world through the influence of his eldest sister who had retired with their widowed mother to live in a community of religious women.

 

Basil was then baptized and determined to serve God in evangelical poverty. He thus visited several well known monasteries to learn about religious life after which he withdrew to a beautiful, isolated spot to devote himself to prayer and study. Disciples, including one of his brothers, soon came to him and he organized a Rule of Life for them which persisted until the present.

 

Basil was called from his retreat to assist the Church in its defense against the Arian heresy which was threatening to eradicate the faith. Not only did Basil’s resounding preaching reach the ears of the faithful, but the populace was inspired by his charity for, when famine struck, Basil distributed his wealth to the poor and also organized a soup kitchen in which he himself worked. When the bishop died, Basil was elected in his place and thus took over a difficult post. Within twelve months, the emperor, who was Arian, instituted a bitter persecution of Catholics, but Basil refused to cease his sermons against the heresy and continued to excommunicate those who followed it. When the emperor three times had a pen break in his hand when he tried to write a degree of banishment for Basil, the emperor admitted a spiritual defeat and left Basil alone.

 

Shortly after, Basil’s archdiocese was subdivided and his close friend ordained bishop of part of it and sent a good distance away to govern it. Taking this loss in stride, Basil continued to preach day and night, to encourage frequent Communion, and to lead his flock in singing psalms in church before sunrise. For the sick poor he organized a hospital while making frequent visitations to the clergy and churches in his diocese. He continued in his fight against heresy throughout the Church but without much success until the Arian emperor was mortally wounded in battle and died, thus effecting the end of the Arian heresy in the East. At the time, Basil was also on his death bed. The faithful mourned him as father and protector.

 

Saint Basil, pray for us so that our faith may be courageous and our charity vigorous. Amen.

Quote from Scripture

 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’"

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me," you who are cursed, into the eternal fire" prepared for the devil and his angels."  For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."” (Matthew 35: 37-46)

The Scriptures continuously tell us to be mindful of the needy, and Jesus goes so far as to say that whatever we do for others, for good or ill, we do to Him. So much does Jesus identify with our humanity that He tells us that we serve others when we serve Him. If we do not think that we are serving anyone, perhaps we should look around and see who we are missing. We do not have to look very far to find someone in need. 

Quote from a Saint

 

"You refuse to give on the pretext that you haven't got enough for your own needs. But while your tongue makes excuses, your hand convicts you – that ring shining on your finger silently declares you to be a liar! How many shivering people could be clothed from only one of your wardrobes? And yet you turn the poor away empty-handed."

"You are poor? But there are others poorer than you. You have enough to keep you alive for 10 days – but this man has enough for only one… Don't be afraid to give away the little that you have. Don't put your own interests before the common good. Give your last loaf to the beggar at your door, and trust in God's goodness." -- St. Basil the Great

St. Basil did not leave anyone off the hook regarding charity. Everyone was able to share with his or her neighbor, the wealthy sharing much and the poor sharing what little they had. St. Basil calls us to examine our own giving to see if we are being generous or stingy in it. May the Lord help us to be generous with what we have, because all  that we have is granted through the generosity of God, and we are bound to share that generosity with others.

Poetry

I Believe in Angels

 

 

Did you ever wonder if Angels are really real?

Sometimes I believe the stories I was told, and feel,

Like they are near by, when you need a friend,

Or for someone offering a helping hand, to lend.

 

As I grew up, I never really felt alone at all,

And if I did, I only had to call,

And felt like I had the answer that I needed,

Because it was to my Guardian Angel, to whom I pleaded.

 

And as a grown parent now, I still need them every day

Seeking guidance, protection, for my children I pray.

And once, when I was driving, and a tire blew away,

There was my Angel, to keep me safe, all the way.

 

And when we lose loved ones, I too, shed a tear,

But comfort comes from within, when I hear,

"Be Not Afraid, for I have guided them toward

Heaven's gate, and to their new home with the Lord."

 

Yes, I believe in Angels, and all those things!

And feel the power of their Heavenly wings.

Be quiet when you are in need, and listen,

You may hear a tiny voice that will make your heart glisten.

 

 by Paul Michael Phelan (Novice 3)

Humor

Signs Seen in an Italian Gourmet Food Shop

 

I'm on a 30 day diet. So far I've lost 15 days.

 

Put on a little lipstick. You'll be fine.

 

For Fast, Free Service, Please See Someone Else.

 

Hard work never killed anyone, but why take a chance?

 

I'm so far behind that I thought I was first.

 

Stressed spelled backwards is desserts.

 

Forget love. I'd rather fall in chocolate.

 

Instant human. Just add coffee.

Confraternity Photo Album

Our Lady, Cause of Our Joy Chapter Plus Guests, Fort Wayne, Indiana

Happy Birthday to:

Our Lady, Cause of Our Joy CFP Chapter in Fort Wayne, Indiana, participated in a mini Day of Recollection in April. Other CFP guests were also present. The movie The Flowers of Saint Francis was shown to theCFP members, the Fransciscan Brothers Minor, and the Franciscan Sisters Minor, and became the basis for discussion on the Franciscan Virtues which this 1950's film portrays. After the showing, the CFP members hosted a pot luck dinner for all. Pictured above are the CFP'ers at this event.

 

Front Row: Sandy (Novice 1), Bob (Novice 1), Scott (Postulant), Patrick (Novice 2)

 

Back Row: Chuck (Inquirer), Alice (Inquirer), Andy (Affiliate), Jackie (Novice 1), Judy (Novice 1), Elizabeth (Pledged, Privately Vowed), Lucy (Formation Complete, Preparing to Pledge), Madeline (Pledged, Privately Vowed)

 

Please contact the Confraternity if you would like to host a Day of Recollection on the Franciscan Virtues. We will be happy to provide the film and speaker. 

Annie M 6/3

Gregory G 6/5

James N 6/6

Blair D 6/9

Mary Ann G  6/12

Bill E 6/13

Nicholas C 6/13

Patricia D 6/16

Mary Elizabeth G 6/20

Rhea S 6/21

Fr. Terry S 6/21

Dolores V 6/25

Nancy M 6/29

Featured Items CFP Holy Angels Gift Shop

Please visit our on line gift shop at cfpholyangels.com for over 800 religious items for sale. All proceeds go to the Confraternity of Penitents. Thank you for your support.

Prayer of St. Ephraim for chastity, humility, patience, and love - 50c

Laminated San Damiano Prayer Card--1.00

Scriptural Verse Soaps--Various Scents. All natural. Made by a home schooling family. 4.95

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

 

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