Confraternity of Penitents Monthly Newsletter -- November 2013
Reminder: The Fast of Saint Martin begins on November 12 for all penitents at the Novice 2 level and above. Please see our Rule and Constitutions for more information on this fast.
Letter from One Who Serves the CFP
THE GOD OF THE BIBLE
In his Introduction to Christianity, Professor Joseph Ratzinger discusses the one God as He appears in the Bible: “It is probably fair to take as the central text for the Old Testament understanding of God and profession of faith in him the story of the burning bush (Ex 3), in which, with the revelation of the name of God to Moses, the foundation is laid for the idea of God henceforth to prevail in Israel. The text describes the calling of Moses to be the leader of Israel by the God both concealed and revealed in the burning thornbush and the hesitation of Moses, who demands a clear knowledge of his employer and clear proof of his authority. This is the background of the dialogue that has puzzled people ever since:
Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the People of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ ” God also said this to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you’: this is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.” (Ex 3:13-15) It is clearly the aim of the text to establish the name ‘Yahweh’ as the definitive name of the God of Israel, by anchoring it historically in the origins of Israel’s nationhood and the sealing of the covenant and, on the other hand, by giving it a meaning.”
Professor Ratzinger then states that the root of the word “Yahweh” can be traced back to a word which means “ to be”. Thus, the name for God, I AM or Yahweh, can be illustrated by the word “Being”. One can see how this could be a problem for Israelites throughout their history. People at that time were used to relating to “gods” who were more powerful than them and could help them with their problems if they sacrificed to that “god” and did nothing to displease the “god”. Even back then a person could understand how there could be Someone who is in charge of all the “gods”, but how does one relate to this Someone? One can see why Israel continually lapsed into idolatry and worshipped the gods of the neighboring peoples. God did not say to Moses “I am the God of the mountains” or the plains or the sky or the harvest or of fertility. People could relate to these other gods. Moses was asking the Israelites to worship the Lord of all the Gods and of everything that is. For many people this is too much. Even now, when people no longer believe in the “gods”, it is so much easier to relate to money, sex, power, or anything else which is more concrete than to the King of the Universe and Creator of the Stars.
Professor Ratzinger then traces the relationship between this text from the book of Exodus and Greek philosophy. In the late Old Testament era, Jewish scholars translated the Bible into the Greek language. While these scholars were Jewish believers, they also were familiar with Greek thought and philosophy and especially the philosophy of Plato who thought of God in philosophical terms as “absolute being” and not as someone who could be named. Yet they translated the Hebrew text of “I AM WHO I AM” as “I am he that is”. Thus, the Hebrew text was related to the Greek philosophical concept of “being”. Professor Ratzinger believes that these scholars were simply translating the Hebrew text into the cultural environment of the time. He then notes that the early Church Fathers saw this translation as a bridge to the gulf between the God of Greek philosophy ( the abstract concept of absolute being) and the God of Divine revelation to the people of Israel (the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob). Yet Professor Ratzinger notes that the gulf still remains since Platonic “Being” could never be given a name.
The question now arises concerning why the Jewish scholars and later the Church fathers describe divine revelation concerning God in terms of Greek philosophy. Indeed, the same thing was done by the early Church when words such as “consubstantial” were included in the Nicene Creed. Why not leave philosophy out of it and just stick with what is in the Bible? There is a problem with that since often people will distort Divine Revelation and fall into heresies. This can easily happen when one takes individual passages out of context and fails to read the Bible as a whole. One might latch onto one particular interpretation of a given biblical passage and ignore other passages which contradict that interpretation. For example, in the early centuries of the Church, the Arian heresy arose which denied the Divinity of Jesus Christ. The Church used such terms as “consubstantial” to teach unambiguously what the Church actually taught about Jesus Christ. The Church needed to safeguard the essential beliefs of Christianity against heretical distortions. Even though the Bible does not contain the word “consubstantial”, that word can be used to convey what is actually taught in the Bible. This is why philosophical terms can be so useful. They can be clearly defined to exclude wrong interpretations.
The same could be said concerning God revealing His name as “Yahweh”. As Professor Ratzinger pointed out, at the time of Moses the world was swarming with “gods”. Thus, Moses could not just tell the Israelites that “God had sent me” since he could have been sent by one of any number of gods. Yahweh was not one out of many gods, but was God. Later generations also had to understand that Yahweh was not just another god. Instead He was God who was “Being Itself”. There are, of course, many excuses for ignoring or evading the Will of God as revealed to us. One excuse would be to say that God is so far “up there” that he could not possibly care about what I do with my life. Another excuse would bring God so close to us that He no longer exercises any authority over us. We assume that God just lets us do what we feel we need to do to bring “peace, prosperity, and love for all mankind” while ignoring Divine Revelation since we are adults now and do not need God’s Commandments. We do not need the “medieval” ideas about love, sex, and family which previous generations adhered to. Certainly, the revelation of God to Moses in the burning bush was not the complete revelation of God. That revelation was brought to completion by Jesus Christ. Yet we must always remember that Jesus Christ did not come to destroy the Law and the Prophets but to fulfill them (Mt 5:17-19). We cannot discard the concept of God which shaped the faith of Israel since the time of Moses.
-- Jim Nugent (Jim is a life pledged member of the Confraternity of Penitents)
No Greater Love
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Penance,
Have you ever received a letter or an email that asks you to say the printed prayer or read a beautiful truth of faith, and then to send it to a number of other people in order to receive a grace, blessing, or even a miracle from God? Or perhaps you've picked up a flier at a church or read an ad in a newspaper asking you to do the same things. Some of these letters, called chain letters or chain mail because they are meant to be given to a chain of people, even tell the recipients of the harm or evil they will have in their lives if they “break the chain” and don't pass them along to the specified number of people.
If you have been the recipient of such letters, or have picked up a flier of the same nature, you may have innocently passed them along, without giving them much thought.
However, the purpose of this writing, is to pose a number of questions and give insight, to help us take a closer look at chain mail and the like, so that we may better understand why passing them along in their entirety, is not a practice of faith and can even be sinful.
The prayers and thoughts conveyed in chain mail or fliers of a similar nature, may reflect the richness of our faith, and the prayers may even be recognizable ones that we may say with devotion to a particular saint or to Jesus and Mary. The thoughts may also remind us of the harm we can bring to our world and ourselves without God. These are the beautiful truths of such letters, fliers or mail. However, the requirements or promises that the recipients are asked to make after reading them, are not acts of faith and may even undermine our Catholic faith.
After reading the beautiful prayers and/or truths, the reader is then instructed as to what the requirements are, in order to receive something promised and in some cases, in order to avoid an “evil curse.” In other cases, the recipient may be encouraged by being told that following the requirements of the author “works.” What does the author mean by “works”? As a people of faith, we know that God answers all prayer according to His holy will. I suppose we could say in a sense that all prayers “work” because God does answer them. But what does the author mean by this? Is he/she suggesting that other prayers don't “work”?
As mentioned earlier, some chain mail or fliers ask the recipient to send the mail to a specified people or to make a certain number of copies and leave them in a church. Others ask the recipient to publish a specified number of ads, in order to receive a favor.
And still others tell the recipients that they must publish an ad after their prayer request was answered in order to demonstrate their faith. What would happen if the recipients were to send the letter/mail to less people than required, but their prayers were intense? What would happen if the recipients sent the mail to the specified number of people but their thoughts were far from their prayers? Or still further, would prayers go unanswered if the recipients left less than the required number of copies of the prayer in church, or published fewer ads but their prayers were intense?
The Catholic Church teaches that “According to Scripture, it is the heart that prays. If our heart is far from God or our prayer, the words of prayer are in vain.” (CCC, #2562). Only God knows what is in our hearts. How can the author therefore, tell you that you'll receive a blessing, favor, or miracle, when he/she doesn't know what will be in your heart when you pray? Furthermore, is the author making his/herself out to be God by deciding how many people the letter should be sent to, or by deciding how many copies should be made, or published? How did the author come up with the number specified? Do you know the author or origin of your letter, mail, or flier? Do you know what his/her prayer-life is like?
Some chain mail/ letters tell the recipient when (how many days later) the favor or miracle will occur after following his/her requirements. And others tell the recipient how much time to take to say the prayer for the favor. Is the author again, making him/herself out to be a God by deciding this? Could a reflective person say the prayer in more or less time for it to “work”? Our faith tells us that God answers prayer in His own time, not ours.
In the case of a promised “miracle,” what does the author mean by this? As a people of faith, we know that all of life is a miracle and that we receive God's graces and blessings each day. We will find them if we look for them. In that sense, we could say that we do receive “miracles” each day, but they are not the result of saying quick prayers and passing them along.
One common prayer having the chain mail format is a novena to St. Jude. As is the case with other Catholic novenas, the person making the novena may promise to make certain acts of faith or promote the devotion to that saint if his/her prayer is answered. However, people making the novena with a chain mail format, may be told that they must promise to publish a specified number of requests in order for their prayer to be answered, or they are told that they must give thanks to St. Jude if their prayers are answered, by publishing the “chain novena.”
Being told that you must promise to do something in order for a prayer to be answered is not an act of faith in God. Some tell those making the novena that “they are demonstrating their faith by publishing and that without faith all of our prayers are doomed to fail.” What do the authors mean by “doomed to fail”? God answers all prayer in ways that are best for us; therefore, no prayer is “doomed to fail.” By having copies made or published in these cases causes the person making them to put their faith in the author and not in God. Many websites and newspapers make this request and receive a fee for publishing, thereby making money on false notions or superstitions.The Catholic faith therefore, becomes weakened and cheapened by such acts.
Chain letters, mail, and prayers may be sent with the best intentions, but because of the untruths in them they could undermine our faith and create fear or cause the recipient to fall into superstition. A person could lose his/her faith when he/she doesn't receive the expected favors or “miracles.” The Catechism of the Catholic Church warns us that to “attribute the efficacy of prayers or of sacramental signs to their mere external performance, apart from the interior dispositions that they demand, is to fall into superstition.” In Scripture, we are warned against wounding the weak consciences of others. (1Cor. 8: 11-13) The beautiful prayers and truths in chain prayers/letters or mail may be passed on, but the chain letters/prayers or mail themselves can become an occasion of sin and should always be destroyed.
--Dianne Joslyn (Dianne is a life pledged member of the Confraternity of Penitents)
Reflections on the Rule
12. All are daily to say the seven canonical Hours, that is: Matins, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers, and Compline. The clerics are to say them after the manner of the clergy. Those who know the Psalter are to say the Deus in nomine tuo (Psalm 54) and the Beati Immaculati (Psalm 119) up to the Legem pone (Verse 33) for Prime, and the other psalms of the Hours, with the Glory Be to the Father; but when they do not attend church, they are to say for Matins the psalms the Church says or any eighteen psalms; or at least to say the Our Father as do the unlettered at any of the Hours. The others say twelve Our Fathers for Matins and for every one of the other Hours seven Our Fathers with the Glory Be to the Father after each one. And those who know the Creed and the Miserere mei Deus (Ps. 51) should say it at Prime and Compline. If they do not say that at the Hours indicated, they shall say three Our Fathers.
 Office of Readings
 Early Morning Prayer
 Midmorning Prayer
 Midday Prayer
 Midafternoon Prayer
 Evening Prayer
 Night Prayer
12f. All are to pray a daily formal prayer (office) of some kind. The preferred method is to use the Liturgy of the Hours (breviary).
12g. For those who have no breviary, other offices approved by the Church may be substituted. These include the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin or the Office of the Passion.
12h. For those without breviaries or copies of other offices, certain Psalms may be substituted for each of the hours. These are listed in Appendix C of these Constitutions.
12i. If a penitent cannot read or has no Bible, breviary, or Office book, the penitent may pray Our Father's, Hail Mary's, and Glory Be's in place of each office as directed below under Option Four.
12j. All penitents are to pray daily Morning, Evening, and Night Prayer, preferably using the Liturgy of the Hours. Morning Prayer (Lauds, called Prime in the Primitive Rule) is to be prayed between 6 a.m. and 11 a.m. Evening Prayer (Vespers) is to be prayed between 4 p.m. and 11 p.m. Night Prayer (Compline) is to be prayed right before retiring for bed.
Chapter 12 of the Rule for the Penitents, given to them in the year 1221, states that each penitent is to pray an Office daily. The primary means of doing this was to pray the Divine Office, but not all penitents could read and, of those who could, not all could afford the luxury of a breviary. Therefore, if a penitent could not pray the Liturgy of the Hours (Divine Office), then he or she had other substitutions which could be prayed. In any case, a regular prayer schedule was required for the penitents, and this is what a prayer office is--a regular schedule of certain prayers. The Confraternity of Penitents has kept this requirement; therefore all its members pray a daily prayer Office. The Constitutions delineate what these Offices can be.
While Affiliates of the Confraternity of Penitents do not have to pray the Divine Office, they should live the spirit of this part of the Rule by establishing a daily prayer schedule. This will become, for them, a type of a prayer Office. A prayer schedule keeps our minds and hearts attuned to God and helps us make sure that we daily spend time in communication and communion with our Creator, Father, and Lord.
Clothed in white and sashed in sapphire,
You walk by as if in Galilee again.
The warm moist air imparts your fragrance.
Nuances of myrrh and aloes, gardenia and nard,
Mingled notes of scent and color
Concocted by the divine Apothecary, they are blended to perfection ~
An olfactory oblation.
My sotted soul is too sure of itself
Tainted by sin and restless in its sheath of flesh.
My desire is to call out to you, grasp your hand or touch your cloak,
Yet I remain mute and still.
My thoughts, unspoken as they, are known to you in your gentle wisdom
...my eyes fill with unbidden tears.
Your wounded, upraised hand
Yields blessing and anointing
As the earth blossoms forth
And the stars shed their distant light.
~ Brother Raymond Joseph Colombaro, OdeM, CFP Affiliate
Reflection on the San Damiano Crucifix
Hand of the Centurion on the Crucifix of San Damiano
The Centurion on the Crucifix of San Damiano is holding his right hand in what appears, to modern viewers, to be an odd position. His thumb and first two fingers are extended and prominent while the little finger and ring finger are curved downward. Modern viewers tend to interpret the three extended fingers to indicate the Trinity, and that is one explanation. However, all of the other figures on the crucifix have their hands extended toward Christ in a gesture pointing to Him. Why is the Centurion different?
Iconographers used classic symbols in their icons. The position of the Centurion's fingers, in classic oratory, indicated wonder and amazement. The Gospels relate the story of a Centurion who came to Jesus to ask for a healing for his servant or son. Jesus tells the Centurion that the individual is healed, the Centurion believes and returns home, then discovers before he arrives that Jesus' words came true. The healing took place at the exact moment that Jesus told him that the servant or son would live. The Centurion on the icon is expressing wonder at Jesus’ miracle which healed his servant or son, pictured behind the Centurion’s head with his whole household. Because of the miracle of healing, the Centurion’s entire family and household came to believe in Christ as the Messiah.
Saint of the Month
Blessed Pius of Saint Aloysius Campidelli, CP
Born on April 29, 1868 and baptized Luigi, the future saint was the fourth of six children of peasant farmers in the area of Rimini, Italy. His father died when Luigi was six years old, leaving the farm to the family. An uncle came to help with the work and, through hard work, the family was able to survive and produce a reasonable yearly crop.
Luigi’s mother was devoted to the Passion of Christ and to the Blessed Mother. From her, Luigi learned the faith which had blossomed to such a degree that, by the time he was fourteen, he wanted to apply to the Diocesan seminary but had no funds to support his education. So he applied instead to the Passionists who immediately accepted him into their Province in Eastern Italy, dedicated to Our Lady of Sorrows. Two years later he professed his vows while pursuing philosophical and theological studies in anticipation of eventual ordination to the priesthood. Blessed Pius of Saint Aloysius, as Luigi became known in religious life, was remarkable for his intelligence and all around friendliness and courtesy. Popular with his fellow classmates, Pius obviously lived in the presence of God for his observances were always regular and he was extremely prayerful. His great goal was to expand the work of the Passionists in Italy since the Congregation had suffered from suppression during the rise of the Italian National Movement. To assist in this goal, Pius was transferred to the Monastery at San Eutizio near Viterbo, a city close to Rome. Here he was discovered to be suffering from tuberculosis. Offering his life for the Church, Pius died on November 2, 1889
Pius left behind him a spirituality based upon the wearing of the Passionist habit. The black Passionist habit is a symbol of a day wrapped in prayer, silence, and recollection, The tunic is garnished with a large Passionist sign of a white heart topped by a cross and below which are emblazoned the words “Passion of Jesus Christ” in Latin and in Greek. Pius saw the tunic as the Order’s founder did—as a sign of devotion and evangelization for the tunic was a symbol containing the consequences of God’s love. Because of his devotion to the Passionist way of life, Pius the patron saint of Passionist Associates.
O God who reveals yourself in a marvelous way to the little ones and to the pure of heart, manifest yourself to us, we beseech you, as you did to Blessed Pius. As our one and true Good, grant that we may follow you unceasingly in purity and sincerity of life, loving you above all things and loving others with your love. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit on God, forever and ever. Amen.
QUOTE FROM SCRIPTURE
The saying is sure:
If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he will also deny us;
if we are faithless, he remains faithful—
for he cannot deny himself. (2 Timothy 2:11-13)
Blessed Pius exemplifies this teaching in his life and in his patient endurance of suffering. Despite his illness at such a young age, Blessed Pius remained faithful to Christ as the One Who was always faithful to him. May we also be given the grace to remain faithful.
QUOTE FROM A SAINT
Therefore, be constant in practicing every virtue, and especially in imitating the patience of our dear Jesus, for this is the summit of pure love. Live in such a way that all may know that you bear outwardly as well as inwardly the image of Christ crucified, the model of all gentleness and mercy. For if a man is united inwardly with the Son of the living God, he also bears his likeness outwardly by his continual practice of heroic goodness, and especially through a patience reinforced by courage, which does not complain either secretly or in public. Conceal yourselves in Jesus crucified, and hope for nothing except that all men be thoroughly converted to his will. -- Saint Paul of the Cross
Blessed Pius must have been familiar with this quote of the founder of the Passionists, for he certainly lived out this advice. May we all do the same.
Happy Birthday to:
Scott G 11/1
Walter C 11/2
Phyllis O 11/4
Aimee F 11/6
Caroline J 11/6
Tony J 11/8
Chad R 11/8
Henry V 11/13
NEW CHURCH INSTRUCTION
PASTOR: "Praise the Lord!"
PASTOR: "Will everyone please turn on their tablet, PC, iPad, smart phone, and Kindle Bibles to 1 Cor. 13:13.
And please switch on your Bluetooth to download the sermon."
"Now, Let us pray committing this week into God's hands.
Open your Apps, BBM, Twitter and Facebook, and chat with God"
"As we take our Sunday tithes and offerings, please have your credit and debit cards ready."
"You can log on to the church Wi-Fi using the password 'Lord909887.'
The ushers will circulate mobile card swipe machines among the worshipers:
a.. Those who prefer to make electronic fund transfers are directed to computers and laptops at the rear of the church.
b.. Those who prefer to use iPads can open them.
c.. Those who prefer telephone banking, take out your cell phones to transfer your contributions to the church account.
The holy atmosphere of the Church becomes truly electrified as ALL the smart phones, iPads, PCs and laptops beep and flicker!
Final Blessing and Closing Announcements...
a.. This week’s ministry cell meetings will be held on the various Facebook group pages where the usual group chatting takes place. Please log in and don’t miss out.
b.. Thursday's Bible study will be held live on Skype at 1900hrs GMT. Please don't miss out.
c.. You can follow your Pastor on Twitter this weekend for counselling and prayers.
d.. God bless you and have nice day.
Confraternity Photo Album
Life Pledge and Private Vow of Ameil "Doc" Klein, October 13, 2013
Doc Reading His Pledge
Doc being clothed with the brown scapular as part of the life pledge ceremony.
Doc and his wife Helene after the ceremony. Doc took the name "brother Philip Julius" as his privately vowed name in the Confraternity of Penitents. Please hold Doc (br. Philip Julius) in prayer as he has received from his physicians a diagnosis of terminal cancer. May his generous pledge and private vow to live the CFP Rule for life be sources of great grace for him.
Featured Items CFP Holy Angels Gift Shop
All of these items and many others may be ordered through the CFP Holy Angels Gift Shop website at www.cfpholyangels.com All proceeds go to support the Confraternity of Penitents in its mission to promote penance (conversion) worldwide. Do your Christmas shopping with the CFP! May god bless you for your support!
San Damiano Magnet - 4.95
Plastic Breviary Covers for the Liturgy of the Hours--several types available. 4.95-5.95 each
Liturgy of the Hours/Christian Prayer Guides for 2014--many types available 3.95 to 5.95