2013 May Newsletter
Confraternity of Penitents Monthly Newsletter
Letter from One Who Serves the CFP
Colours of the Rainbow
Years ago I used to do Lapidary, and polished semi precious gemstones which made simple costume jewelry. So I was intrigued to hear a Christian minister speak about the 12 precious stones in Apocalypse. (Revelations 21 19:20) Presumably they have meaning but analysis of these wasn't what I had in mind. What took my interest, was that the speaker spoke of a scientist who studied gemstones, and he found a rather mystical fact about the ones listed. Under lab conditions, when he shone a laser light into these individual stones, they transmitted rays of light which contained every colour of the rainbow, all the colours in the light spectrum. BUT, in trying the same experiment on any other gems, none of the rest had the same property. Considering it took modern science 2000 years to make this discovery, it is rather mystical that "Revelations" was written all that time ago through revelation from The Lord, the Light of the world, who would, of course, be all knowing about these things.
If anyone is interested in lapidary, the stones are Jasper, Sapphire, Chalcedony, Emerald, Sardonyx, Sardius, Chrysolite, Beryl, Topaz, Chrysoprasus, Jacinth, Amethyst. In Genesis 9, God said, "After the storm I will send you a rainbow." A rainbow has colours showing every colour from the light spectrum. This was to serve as a reminder throughout the rest of time that a rainbow represented God's Covenant to all creatures of creation. Later Jesus affirmed, "I am the light of the world." It is most comforting to know that from Genesis, through the Incarnation, and onwards into times of Revelations, the continued presence of He who said, "Let there be Light" is with us, as the light, and His Covenant stands for all time.
Everyone knows a special gem that doesn't fall into this rainbow category. Prior to walking into the light of Heaven, we have to pass the Pearly Gates. The pearl is very different from all other gems because it is created by an oyster. To the oyster, the pearl is the result of a wound. Irritated by a foreign object that lodged between the oyster’s fleshy body and its shell, the oyster will begin to coat the object with the same substance used to coat the inside of its shell. Eventually the irritant is covered with its own smooth shell, and the oyster no longer feels any pricking from it.
The way to Heaven is through those pearly gates, which means that we enter through He who, because of His Wounds, was able to “create the gates” as a “pearl of great price.” When people say, "The world is my Oyster." (quoted in a Shakespeare play), this could refer to our earthly home where the tribulations, made bearable by God’s grace, prepare us for the heavenly world, our eternal home, where we will pass through the Pearly Gates (the gates of tribulations made precious through our embracing of them) via Jesus Who paid a great price, was buried, and rose again after three days.
God said, when he sees these colours of the rainbow, the colors of the precious stones in Apocalypse, that He will remember His everlasting covenant between God and all life on earth. The colours of the rainbow are in the Heavens where we all hope to live, one day. Throughout the ages, both here and hereafter, the Light and Colours of the Everlasting Covenant are with us, whether we know it or not.
David Curry, CFP Affiliate
No Greater Love
Spiritual dryness is what I experience when I feel that God is, somehow or other, not there. Or worse yet, that God is not with me here at this very moment. Sensing emptiness, I start to assume that he doesn’t care about me. The assumption is especially disconcerting at times when I’m trying to reach out to him in prayer. In attempting to pray during a time that feels like a spiritual draught, it’s easy to suspect that I’m wasting my time. Trying to talk to a God who’s abandoning me, a God who doesn’t want to listen, is especially discouraging.
I’m learning to deal with the problem (that occurs regularly) by disregarding feelings associated with it. Instead of becoming concerned and frustrated with the situation, that is, allowing my feelings to dominate my thinking and acting, I now focus on my faith. I stop and ask myself, “What do you really believe, Doc?”
My faith has brought me through what some people would call very difficult times. I can find countless instances in my life when things, both spiritual and physical, looked bleak, very bleak indeed. But every time I simply moved the situation into the hands of God, I found (and continue to find!)a Jesus who loves me and a Holy Spirit who guides me every step of the way.
And what does all that have to do with spiritual dryness? Simple. I just do what I know God wants me to do. Pray constantly? I’m working on it. Prayer, I’ve learned, can’t always be the blissful, grace-filled hours I spent before the Blessed Sacrament while in the hospital for so many weeks last year.
Realizing that spiritual dryness may be a cross that God is asking me to bear (to keep from becoming proud of my new-found devotion,“holiness?”), I find myself devoting more time than ever to prayer. Wherever I find myself (at Mass, reciting the Hours in community, sitting quietly during my centering time, etc.), I’m able to say simply, “OK, Lord, I’m here, with you as you want me to be. What do WE do now?”
I think he wants to make a pest of myself like that.
--Doc Klein, Novice 2
Reflection on the Rule
CHAPTER III: FASTING
8. From the Pasch of the Resurrection to the feast of All Saints they are to fast on Fridays. From the feast of All Saints until Easter they are to fast on Wednesdays and Fridays, but still observing the other fasts enjoined in general by the Church.
CHAPTER III: FASTING
8. In keeping with section 8 of the Rule:
8a. All Fridays are days of fast for penitents. From the Feast of All Saints until Easter, penitents are to fast on Wednesdays as well. Wednesdays and Fridays are also days of abstinence, following section 6 of the Rule.
8b. Fasting guidelines shall follow current Church law and are listed in Appendix A of these Constitutions.
8c. The amount of food eaten on fast days will be particular to the individual penitent who should feel hungry but not debilitated, drowsy, or ill. The penitent should consult a spiritual director, confessor, or, if needed, a physician regarding the amount of food to be eaten.
This article of the Rule delineates the two major fasting parameters of the CFP. From Easter until all Saints' Day--a MINIMUM of one fast day per week (Friday). From All Saints' Day to Easter, a MINIMUM of two fast days per week (Wednesday and Friday). Other fasts of the Church must, of course, also be observed. Section nine lists the additional Advent and Lenten season fasts. Fasting follows the Church's guidelines which were discussed in a previous newsletter. The penitent who is fasting also needs to be aware of how he or she feels, and they should eat enough to avoid becoming dizzy, drowsy, or weak. This wise way to fast, with prudence and moderation, is another example of the balanced nature of the CFP Rule and Constitutions. St. Francis admitted, at the end of his life, that, in his youth, he had treated his body badly in his excessive fasts. Note that he approved the Rule of 1221 when he was more mature. This Rule contains a moderate fasting requirement which Francis apparently found appropriate and do-able for the laity.
Affiliates are encouraged to join the CFP members in the days of fast and in the type of fasting. Fasting is a prayer of the body, an exercise in self-discipline in an age where such a concept is unthinkable to many people. Fasting helps the individual to realize that this life is not all there is, that there is much to be said for self control, and that one may wish to forego some legitimate pleasures in order to pursue greater goods. Affiliates can reap the spiritual benefits of fasting when they voluntarily undertake certain fasts in a prayerful spirit by offering their sacrifice to God, out of love for Him above love for themselves and their desires.
Reflection on the San Damiano Crucifix
The Compassionate Demeanor of Christ
Christ on the San Damiano Crucifix is an image of compassion. Note how He gazes out at the viewer with total peace and love. Not all those gazing at the crucifix would be believers in Him. Yet He compassionately gazes upon all, understanding their sinfulness, even their hatred of Him, of Him Who loves them with such a consummate love that He died for them. One can combat hatred and indifference in many ways, but the best way is through love and prayer, love of the sinner prayer for the sinner to God Who is Love. The San Damiano Crucifix shows us that, no matter what the world becomes, no matter how much evil and hatred surround us, Christ is gazing at us persistently with compassion. Always He waits for the return of the prodigal, and not only waits but also sends His graces to the wayward soul to draw it back to God. Those best resist Christ who treat Him with indifference or hatred because they refuse to let His love penetrate their hearts. If they would but gaze on Christ and allow His compassion to seep into their souls, they would be drawn to His love. As Christ had compassion on sinners, so let us, who are sinners as well, follow His lead.
Saint of the Month
Saint of the Month
Blessed Anacleto Gonzalez Flores (July 13, 1888 - April 27. 1927)
The second of twelve children of a poor family, Anacleto early learned the values of discipline, work, and patriotism. Because he had a brilliant mind and, from his youth, was a leader who inspired respect, Anacleto willingly accepted a priest's funding to attend a seminary. He, who had completed the spiritual exercises when he was seventeen and who had been teaching catechism, did very well academically in the seminary but eventually realized that God was not calling him to the priesthood. In 1912 he left the seminary for Mexico City where he joined the Catholic National Party.
Later, in Guadalajara, Anacleto became an enthusiastic leader of the Catholic Association of Mexican Youth, attended conferences, wrote articles, taught catechism, visited the poor and prisoners as a member of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, and founded a periodical which refuted the anti-religious articles of the 1917 Mexican Constitution. These articles, intended to squash the Catholic Church, barred elementary schools from being established by clergy or religious orders, prohibited monastic vows and abolished monastic orders, forbade public worship outside of church buildings, confiscated all religious property for the government, and permitted the government to "exercise in matters of religious worship and external discipleship such intervention as by law authorized," a vague decree that made the government into a dictator regarding the Catholic Church in Mexico. Using a philosophy of resistance based on the non-violent principals of Mahatma Gandhi, he continued to defend the rights of the people, even being briefly jailed. He was a coordinator of the first Congress of the National Catholic Workers even as he studied law and received his designation as an attorney in 1922, the same year in which he married his wife who later bore him two sons.
Anacleto had a deep spiritual life which he shared with his spiritual director, the archbishop of Guadalajara. Every day he started his day with Mass and Holy Communion. Every morning he spent time in prayer and meditation and, as a Third Order Franciscan, faithfully kept the rule of life and generously prayed as required.
Anacleto organized and served as president of the Union Popular, an organization dedicated to protesting the government's anti-Catholic actions. He began to think about and almost expect to be martyred. Although not in favor of armed resistance, the forced entry by the government into the sanctuary of Our Lady of Guadalajara on August 3, 1926, and the desecration of the church made him reconsider. In January 1927, the guerillas, who called themselves Cristeros and who fought for freedom of religion, began to wage war on the government. Anacleto urged Catholics to help the guerillas with money, shelter, food, and clothing. Anacleto studied the major strategies, wrote bulletins and gave speeches. He said that, if he were martyred for his faith, this would fulfill his greatest desire.
Deciding that the rebellion must be stopped, the government captured its leaders including Anacleto who was hung by his thumbs until they dislocated, then subjected to having his feet slashed and having his back rammed with the butt of a rifle which fractured one of his shoulders. Under this torture he refused to provide any information so the government determined to kill him and three other leaders. Needing a reason, the general in charge of the torture trumped up a false charge that Anacleto had caused the assassination of an American, Edgar Wilkens, whom everyone knew had been murdered by a criminal who had intended to rob him. Anacleto asked to be the last to die so that he might encourage the others, all of whom were shot crying out the cry of the rebellion “Vivo Christo Rey!” (Long Live Christ the King!).
The bodies were taken to their own homes where hundreds came to pray before Anacleto and to touch his body reverently. His wife told their sons, “Look. This is your father. He has died defending the faith. Promise me on his body that you will do the same when you are older if God asks it of you.” Anacleto was later proven innocent of all charges levied against him.
Blessed Anacleto, pray for us.
Quote from Scripture
"Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven." (Matthew 10:32)
A martyr is a witness to others regarding the existence of God. Martyrdom takes many forms, the most extreme being death for one's faith. But other forms exist, and penitents should be aware of them. Being vilified for one's faith, being told not to discuss Christ, losing one's job because it involves immoral or unethical practices, being ridiculed if one writes a pro-faith letter to the editor, being mocked on a blog or laughed at for expressing one's beliefs, are all forms of martyrdom because the faithful follower of Christ was willing to witness to God no matter what the cost.
To attempt to slaughter a person's reputation is almost as evil as slaughtering the person outright. As society becomes more intolerant of our Catholic faith, we need to be prepared for all types of martyrdom. In today's world, we do not know when we will be called upon to witness to Christ and what the cost of that witness will be. May God give us the grace when the moment arises.
Blessed Anacleto Gonzalez Flores (July 13, 1888 - April 27, 1927)
Quote from a Saint
"I die, but God does not die." -- Anacleto Gonzalez Flores
These were the last words spoken by Blessed Anacleto prior to his death. They were a message to his executioners and to all those who heard him speak. Anacleto was a man of faith who was not afraid to die for a God Who is eternal. In hope of entering that eternal union with his God and Lord, Anacleto was not afraid to resist evil and to speak boldly and with love for justice.
Being certain of God's love and stability, we, too, should be willing to resist evil even if it means being swept up by it, tortured, and murdered. We know that God does not die. His love is eternal, and His sense of justice firm. God cares for us if we do not deny Him and if we are willing to put our lives on the line because of Him. May God give us the grace that He gave Anacleto so that we, too, may be faithful witnesses to Him.
LISTEN Hark, listen to the bell, it's time,always, to do God's will. The world may feel like hell but look, listen, what's on the hill is calling, telling you your name, your place is set, come and eat and drink my wine without shame, take shelter and shade from the heat. All is forgiven, you can't be wrong, so join in the song.
--Dom Julian Stead, OSB, CFP Spiritual Advisor
Which pilot ate too much cheese? Charles Limburger
What cheese is served in the Neutral Zone? Swiss
Which emperor took too much TNT? Napoleon Dynamite
What is a lazy general? A Dolittle
Who is always in a hurry? Russians
What day are the most MIA reports filed? May Day
What bird does heavy lifting? A crane
Why did the doctor go to the beach? The public was in Sickbay.
(These riddles were created by Patrick Wheeler, a Second Year Novice with the CFP)
Confraternity Photo Album
In late April, the Confraternity of Penitents Life Pledged Members held their Life Pledged Retreat for 2013 at Gilmary Retreat Center outside of Pittsburgh, PA. Nine of the twenty-two living life pledged members were able to attend (two life pledged members have passed away). Those attending discussed and prayed about the direction of the CFP, formation and other issues, and the spirituality of the Confraternity of Penitents. The group also toured St. Anthony's Shrine of Relics in Pittsburgh and held its annual Council meeting (all members present are on the 2013 Council). We thank God for a fruitful time of fellowship, laughter, decisions, and prayer.
Life Pledged Chapter of the Confraternity of Penitents, April 2013
CFP Life Pledged and 2013 Council Members Left to Right: Diane Joslyn, Patricia Boynton, Bob Boczek, Sue Brady, Karen Sadock, Madeline Pecora Nugent, Karen Hopersburger, Jim Nugent, and Anne Fennessey.
Happy Birthday to:
Helmut H 5/20
Lucy F 5/23
Kathleen D 5/25
Adrian S 5/30
Mariah D 5/3
Bob B 5/6
Andrea D 5/8
George D 5/10
Doc K 5/11
Alan W 5/19
Featured Items CFP Holy Angels Gift Shop
The Confraternity of Penitents Holy Angels Gift Shop can be found on the web at cfpholyangels.com All profits from the gift shop's large selection of items go to support the Confraternity of Penitents. May God reward your for you patronage of our on-line shop.
Jesus with Children Hologram. Very nice. 1.95
San Damiano Rosary with Medals of Francis and Clare as beads. Very nice. 19.95
Pope Francis and Francis of Assisi with God Bless Our Home/Traditional Look. Same images and look also with Prayer of St. Francis as text. 8.95