Confraternity of Penitents Monthly Newsletter -- April 2014
Seeing with the Eyes of Faith
We have Gospel accounts of Jesus restoring the sight of the blind. But the story is more than what it appears. Sight is perfected by faith. We see the world differently because of faith. Television, the Internet, newspapers, and other media have a worldview that is very different than that of a Christian. When we hear commentaries on certain moral issues we say, “Why can’t people see that that’s wrong? Why can’t they see?”
They can’t see because they don’t have faith. We need to pray that God will give people a greater outpouring of faith. Our works of mercy, our actions, our prayers and our penances should bring faith to fruition in us. Faith is the seed in you that will make Christ’s life flower in you. We add the water of our prayers and good works to help faith grow. Penances can give us a greater outpouring of faith. Penance helps us to rely on God more.
Let’s think about our faith in Christ in the the Blessed Sacrament. We see bread. We see wine. But our faith tells us that Christ is there. Here in the Eucharist we have the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus. The Eucharist shows us the two ways of looking at the world. We can look at the Eucharist with human eyes and see bread and wine. We can look at It with the eyes of faith and see Jesus. Jesus said that he came into the world so that those who were blind could see, and those who thought they could see would become blind. When we become blind, God will help us to see with God’s eyes. We see with the eyes of faith. We begin to see everything with the eyes of faith.
I have a good friend who is old and wise and wonderful. She has lost her sight, but she told me that when she went blind God gave her a gift. She said she can see the Lord better now in the Eucharist than before she was blind, because before she liked to sit in the front of the church so she could see better. But now it doesn’t matter where she sits because she sees the Lord with the eyes of faith. We can know differently when we have faith. Continue to pray with the eyes of faith. The measure of our blindness is the measure of the spiritual darkness within us. The measure of our faith is the measure of spiritual light. Therefore ask God to open your eyes in faith.
--Father Jacob Meyer, Visitor, Confraternity of Penitents
Following Francis, Following Christ
To the servant of God nothing should be displeasing save sin. (Saint Francis of Assisi, Admonition 11)
In the light of this Easter season, this one sentence from St. Francis is filled with meaning.
Servant: a servant is someone who serves another. He is hired for this reason. He is not a slave, because a slave is owned. A servant is hired. He will receive a wage. Francis sees us as servants of God, not slaves of God. Francis understands that we will receive a wage. The wage will be eternal life if we serve God faithfully. The wage will be eternal death if we refuse to serve God. Notice that we are servants of God, and not of man. We should be serving our eternal master and not serving any human idol. Who or what is our master? How do we serve our master? Do we need to hire ourselves out to God?
Nothing: nothing means nothing. No thing. This includes all things. No thing should be displeasing to the servant of God except sin. This means that trial, sickness, disappointment, rejection, financial loss, death-- no thing should be displeasing to us if we are servants of God, except sin.
Displeasing: things that displease us are those that we want to avoid. Being hurt displeases us. Being insulted or overlooked displeases us. Being in want or being confused displeases us. Francis says that if we are servants of God, these things should not displease us. We should see these situations as ones in which our master God wants us to grow in holiness. So they cannot be displeasing to us. They are opportunities to practice virtue.
Sin: sin is whatever takes us away from God and whatever harms ourselves or our neighbor in any way. Notice that Francis makes no distinction between grave sins or mortal sins, as they were called in the past, and lesser sins, also called venial sins. All sin should be displeasing to us if we are servants of God. Therefore, there is no such thing as just a little lie, or I drank a little too much last night, or you know how I get when I get frustrated--I say things I shouldn't. All of these are sins, and they should be displeasing to us.
During this Lent and Easter season, we do well to remember that Christ, who is God, voluntarily chose, out of love for us, to die for our sins so that we would not have to pay an eternal price for having committed them. Sin should displease us because it cost Christ his life. What sins of mine did Christ atone for on the cross? Those, and not whether we have enough, should be what displeases us.
-- Madeline Pecora Nugent, CFP
Monthly Letter to All Penitents
Christ Gets into Our Boat
There is a beautiful scene in the movie The Son of God in which Jesus speaks to Peter on the seashore and asks him if he needs any help fishing. Peter says, "No. I'm fine. I can do it myself." So he pulls away from the shore to go fishing. Jesus watches him go but then he moves forward, as if gently impelled by the Holy Spirit, and he gets into Peter's boat. Peter says to him, "What are you doing?" And Jesus answers, "I'm going fishing." Of course the fish that Jesus was after was Peter.
I love this scene because it is so true of the Lord. We try to keep them out of our life, we think that we don't need him, and he goes and climbs into our boat. We find out that we do need him and that he has a plan for our lives, and if we want to be happy, then we need to follow that plan.
Jesus went through his passion and death, the very things we commemorate at this time of year. But we remember who he was and why he endured this for us. And we look forward to the resurrection when Christ shows us that those who, like himself, will lay down their lives for others at the request of God, will rise again. And not only will they rise, but they will rise glorious.
Has God got into your boat? Have you invited him? Or does he just seem to be there? What is the asking of you? How does he want you to lay down your life for him? What plans of yours is he changing right now? Can you trust him to make those changes in your life? Can you trust yourself to die to your plans and to rise glorious with God's? Is it possible that Jesus is fishing for you? Will you allow yourself to be caught?
May you have a blessed Easter Triduum and the joyful Easter season. Let us pray for one another and for all doing penance worldwide.
Madeline Pecora Nugent, CFP
Letter from One Who Serves the CFP
Dear brothers and sisters in penance,
Perhaps some of you would like to join in this apostolate. I have been making handmade greeting cards for some time now. I have put together a list of people I know who are elderly, live alone, just in need of a friend, etc.
Once a month I send cards out in hopes of bringing a little joy to these folks. I also do this for those who are ill or whom we have been asked to mail to in the Confraternity. This is my apostolate.
I’m going to make some little crocheted projects or gifts around the holidays or birthdays if I know when they are. I see this as a way to maybe bring someone to conversion. I will at times include prayer cards, rosaries, and so on. I am wondering if anyone would like to join me in this new project. Could you write to the Confraternity and let me know if you want to be part of this handmade greeting card ministry? Thank you very much and God bless you for considering this.
Rhea (sr. Benedict Mary Francis), CFP
No Greater Love
THE CHRISTIAN TRANSFORMATION OF THE PHILOSOPHICAL GOD
In chapter III of Introduction to Christianity, Professor Joseph Ratzinger explains how the early Christian Church aligned itself with the God of the Greek philosophers against the many pagan gods of the ancient world. But the Church did not simply accept this God as it was presented by pagan Greek philosophers. Professor Ratzinger explains: By deciding exclusively in favor of the God of the philosophers and logically declaring this God to be the God who speaks to man and to whom one can pray, the Christian faith gave a completely new significance to this God of the philosophers, removing him from the purely academic realm and thus profoundly transforming him. The God who had previously existed as something neutral, as the highest¸ culminating concept; this God who had been understood as pure Being or pure thought, circling around forever closed in upon itself without reaching over to man and his little world; this God of the philosophers, whose pure eternity and unchangeability had excluded any relation with the changeable and transitory, now appeared to the eye of faith as the God of men, who is not only thought of all thoughts, the eternal mathematics of the universe, but also agape, the power of creative love. In this sense there does exist in the Christian faith what Pascal experienced on the night when he wrote on a slip of paper that he henceforth kept sewn in the lining of his jacket the words: “Fire. ‘God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob’ not ‘of the philosophers and scholars’.” …….So in this sense there is the experience that the God of the philosophers is quite different from what the philosophers had thought him to be, though he does not thereby cease to be what they had discovered; that one only comes to know him properly when one realizes that he, the real truth and ground of all Being, is at one and the same time the God of faith, the God of men.
This transformation of God can easily be seen by looking at passages from the Bible which speak of God. Professor Ratzinger puts it this way: Let us take quite at random Luke 15:1-10, the parables of the lost sheep and the lost drachma. The point of departure is the irritation felt by the scribes and Pharisees at the fact that Jesus sat down to eat with sinners. In reply comes the story of the man who owns a hundred sheep, loses one of them, goes after it, looks for it and finds it, and rejoices more than over the ninety-nine for which he never needed to search. The story of the lost drachma that, when found again, causes more joy than the one that was never lost tends in the same direction: “Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance” (15:7). This parable, in which Jesus depicts and justifies his activity and his task as the emissary of God, involves not only the relations between God and man but also the question of who God himself is.
If we try to answer the question on the basis of this passage, we shall have to say that the God whom we encounter here appears to be, as in so many passages of the Old Testament, highly anthropomorphic, highly unphilosophical; he has emotions as a man does, he rejoices, he seeks, he waits, he goes to meet. He is not the unfeeling geometry of the universe, neutral justice standing above things undisturbed by a heart and its emotions; he has a heart; he stands there like a person who loves, with all the capriciousness of someone who loves. Thus in the passage the transformation of purely philosophical thinking becomes clear, and it becomes apparent how far we still are fundamentally from this identification of the God of faith and the God of the philosophers, how incapable we are of catching up with it, and how badly our basic image of God and our understanding of the Christian reality come to grief on this very point.
We can thereby see clearly the problem which many modern people have with the Christian concept of God. Certainly, that God could make sense in a time when the earth was thought to be much smaller and the center of the universe. Most people can see that “Someone” has to be in charge of all this, but how can this “Someone” care about us humans who live on an insignificant speck of dust revolving around an insignificant star among billions of others in an insignificant galaxy in the vast universe? How can this “Someone” care about what I do in my bedroom, what I do with my money, how I handle my human relationships? However, Professor Ratzinger points out how petty and all too human this way of thinking really is. Are we not making God like us with all our limitations?
Professor Ratzinger then gives us a summary of what has just been said: To sum up, we can say that, in the deliberate connection with the God of the philosophers made by the Christian faith, purely philosophical thinking was transcended on two fundamental points.
a. The philosophical God is essentially self-centered, thought simply contemplating itself.
The God of faith is basically defined by the category of relationship. He is creative fullness encompassing the whole. Thereby a completely new picture of the world, a completely new world order is established: the highest possibility of Being no longer seems to be the detachment of him who exists in himself and needs only himself. On the contrary, the highest mode of Being includes the element of relationship. It is hardly necessary to say what a revolution it must mean for the direction of man’s existence when the supreme Being no longer appears as absolute enclosed autarchy but turns out to be at the same time involvement, creative power, which creates and bears and loves other things…..
b. The philosophical God is pure thought: he is based on the notion that thought and thought alone is divine. The God of faith, as thought, is also love. His image is based on the conviction that to love is divine.
The logos of the whole world, the creative original thought, is at the same time love; in fact this thought is creative because as thought, it is love, and, as love, it is thought. It becomes apparent that truth and love are originally identical; that where they are completely realized they are not two parallel or even opposing realities but one, the one and only absolute.
Chapter III of Introduction to Christianity is brought to a conclusion by Professor Ratzinger by relating what just has been said about Christianity transcending philosophy to the first articles of the Apostle’s Creed. The Creed starts with “I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth: And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord” These articles of the Creed unite the philosophical concepts of “Almighty” and “Maker of heaven and earth” with the personal characteristics of “Father” and the incarnation of His Son as man. Professor Ratzinger summarizes this contrast: what “almightiness” and “lordship of all” mean only becomes clear from a Christian point of view in the crib and the Cross. It is only here, where the God who is recognized as Lord of all has voluntarily chosen the final degree of powerlessness by delivering himself up to his weakest creature, that the Christian concept of the almightiness of God can be truly formulated. At this point simultaneously a new concept of power and a new concept of lordship and dominion are born. The highest power is demonstrated as the calm willingness completely to renounce all power; and we are shown that it is powerful, not through force, but only through the freedom of love, which, even when it is rejected, is stronger than the exultant powers of earthly violence. When we recite the Creed at Mass and at other times, do we really understand what we as Christians are saying?
--James F. Nugent, CFP
Reflections on the Rule
15. They are to make a confession of their sins three times a year and to receive Communion at Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost (This was frequent confession and reception in 1221 when the Rule was written). They are to be reconciled with their neighbors and to restore what belongs to others. They are to make up for past tithes and pay future tithes.
15. In keeping with section 15 of the Rule:
15a. Penitents should consider confessing their sins twice monthly unless an undue burden is involved with this frequency or unless advised by the spiritual director to confess at another time interval. At a minimum, penitents are to confess monthly and to receive the Eucharist weekly provided the penitent is in the state of grace.
15b. All are to be reconciled in every way possible and to tithe ten percent of their income to their parish, the Catholic Church, or to charitable organizations whose goals are in keeping with the Church hierarchy and Magisterium. The tithe must not be given to any organization that is working in opposition to the Church. If a ten percent tithe seems too high, the penitent should consult the spiritual director, or a spiritual assistant of the Confraternity, about the appropriate amount of the tithe and then should follow the advice given. Since the penitent is to financially support their home Chapter or Circle of the Confraternity of Penitents and the work of the international Confraternity, a portion of one's tithe may go to this cause.
Affiliates should be reconciled to all as much as possible, they should strive to tithe their income as best as they can, and to frequent confession and the sacraments. This will not be a burden as long as the affiliates realize that they are doing this for love of God and love of neighbor. This is what Jesus asked us to do what he told us that the first commandment was love of God and the second like it, love of neighbor. In those two commandments, Jesus said, the law and the prophets were fulfilled.
No More Hatred
If people could only feel
each other's woes and pain
they'd end all hatred
quite solemnly and fast
and there would be
world peace at last--
The world thus whole
we'd feel our pain
and just forget
our jealousy and rage--
And turn God's page--
peace on peace
Peace at last!
No more hatred--
No more pain--
Love and kind our repast
all sorrow relegated
to the last--
to the last!
--Joseph Matose IV, CFP Affiliate
Virtues Portrayed in the San Damiano Crucifix
Serenity is a Franciscan virtue. It is the virtue which causes us to be at peace no matter what is happening to us. Jesus on the San Damiano crucifix is at peace. We do not see the agony of suffering on this crucifix. We see a serene Christ who is fully in tune with and accepting of the will of God. Certainly Jesus did suffer unbearable and unspeakable pain in his crucifixion. But he also embraced his death with the serenity and a peace which came from knowing that he was doing God's will.
Serenity is a virtue for which we should pray. We often cannot control the circumstances of our lives, but we can ask God for the grace to be serene through them. St. Francis's novel blessing was "Peace and all good." This seemed very odd to people for whom war was a way of life. Francis was asking not only for the absence of war but for the serenity of surrender to God in all circumstances of life. May God give us the grace of serenity.
San Damiano Crucifix
Saint of the Month
St. Agnes of Assisi was one of St. Clare's younger sisters. Born about the year 1197 or 1198, she was about four or five years younger than St. Clare and was baptized Catarina at birth. When her sister Clare went to St. Francis on Palm Sunday night in the year 1212, to begin a life of penance with an order of nuns in a nearby town, Catarina was distraught. She had been very close to her sister and they both had a deep spirituality and a desire to follow Christ closely. When Francis moved Clare to another monastery, Catarina ran away from home to join her. Her family, who had tried unsuccessfully to make Clare return to her home, were not about to lose Catarina as well. The the knights of her noble family rode out in force to bring her back, but when they came upon her, she cried out to St. Clare to help and Clare immediately began to pray. Although Catarina's small body was dragged across the ground and most of her hair pulled out by the force of these men as she resisted them with all her strength, when they tried to lift her onto their horses they were unable to do so. It was as if she had turned into lead. In addition her forceful uncle's arm, raised to strike her dead, froze in place and he was unable to move it. The knights saw these phenomenon as acts of God and so left Catarina lying half dead on the ground. After their departure, Clare ran to Catarina and she revived. Shortly thereafter, Francis came to the monastery and cut Catarina's hair, thereby consecrating her to God and giving her the name of Agnes which means Lamb, for Francis felt that she had been brutally mistreated as had been Christ, the Lamb of God.
Agnes joyfully lived with Clare at San Damiano until Francis transferred her to a monastery in Florence where she was to become abbess of a group of nuns. The separation from Clare was a great cross to Agnes. Nevertheless, she bore this suffering with resignation and acceptance from the hand of God. She was a gentle and loving abbess to her sisters in religious life. But she was only able to return to San Damiano when Clare was on her deathbed. After being with Clare at her passing, Agnes died shortly afterwards.
Agnes' holiness comes from her full desire to follow God and her willingness to give up her own will, even to losing her sister who was like the other half of her soul. St. Agnes, when we are called to relinquish even good things for the love of God, pray for us to have the grace to do so.
Quote from a Saint:
The lot of all has been so established that one can never remain in the same state or condition. When someone thinks that she is doing well, it is then that she is plunged into adversity. (Saint Agnes of Assisi)
St. Agnes of Assisi wrote a touching, heart wrenching letter to her sisters St. Clare when St. Francis sent Agnes to found a new convent in Florence. Agnes grew up with Clare and thought that she never would be parted from her. Now she felt that she would die without ever seeing her again. Agnes did see Clare again, on her deathbed in 1253, which was about 23 years after Agnes had left for Florence. Only a few weeks after her sister died, Agnes also died.
Agnes understood that life in this world is more like a series of trials interrupted by times of peace and joy. Too often we tend to think that the order should be the other way around. But if we begin to have the outlook that this is a testing ground for holiness, and that no testing is easy or pleasant, then we will deal better with the trials that come to us in life. Although Agnes wrote such a touching letter to her sister, openly confessing her grief at being separated from her, she nevertheless accepted the separation as the will of God and rejoiced in her Sisters in the new convent who were so charitable to one another and to her. Thus, even in the midst of her sorrow, she was able to find joy in others. May Agnes teach us to look for God's hand in our times of suffering, because we will find the Lord if we look for him.
Quote from Scripture:
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace. (Ecclesiastes 1: 1-8)
The writer of Ecclesiastes did not have the same outlook on life as did St. Agnes of Assisi. She was able to come to the realization that her life was meaningful even though sorrow was part of it. The writer of Ecclesiastes does acknowledge that there is a time for everything in life, and that the good times don't last, but neither do the bad ones. It is important that we trust in the Lord in both good and bad times and that we ask God for his grace and strength to receive what he wishes to give us every moment of every day.
Happy Birthday to:
Grethen E 4/27
Micha J 4/30
Frederick D 4/30
Sue B 4/9
Alan F 4/15
Ann F 4/17
Paulette V 4/25
Anne Marie V 4/3
Patricia M 4/6
Sarah M 4/5/72
Sharon L 4/7
Angels as explained by Children . . .
I only know the names of two angels, Hark and Harold. Gregory, age 5
Everybody's got it all wrong. Angels don't wear halos anymore. I forget why, but scientists are working on it. -Olive, age 9
It's not easy to become an angel! First, you die.
Then you go to Heaven, and then there's still the flight training to go through. And then you got to agree to wear those angel clothes. Matthew, age 9
Angels work for God and watch over kids when God Has to go do something else. Mitchell, age 7
My guardian angel helps me with math, but he's not much good for science. Henry, age 8
Angels don't eat, but they drink milk from Holy Cows! Jack, age 6
Angels talk all the way while they're flying you up To heaven. The main subject is where you went wrong before you got dead. Daniel, age 9
When an angel gets mad, he takes a deep breath and counts to ten. And when he lets out his breath again, somewhere there's a tornado. Reagan, age 10
Angels have a lot to do and they keep very busy. If you lose a tooth, an angel comes in through your window and leaves money under your pillow. Then when it gets cold, angels go south for the winter. Sara, age 6
Angels live in cloud houses made by God and his Son, who's a very good carpenter. Jared, age 8
All angels are girls because they gotta wear Dresses and boys didn't go for it. Antonio, age 9
My angel is my grandma who died last year. She got a big head start on helping me while she was still down here on earth. Ashley,age 9
Some of the angels are in charge of helping heal sick animals and pets. And if they don't make the animals get better, they help the child get over it. Vicki , age 8
What I don't get about angels is why, when someone is in love, they shoot arrows at them. Sarah , age
Confraternity Photo Album
Life Pledged Confraternity members visit Br. Fidelis Maria, FFM (former CFP member Patrick Hamor), on the grounds of St. Michael's Friary, Rome City, IN, where Br. Fidelis is guardian. Left to right: Jim Nugent, Madeline Pecora Nugent, Rita Farnsworth, Elizabeth Hill. Photo taken Fall 2013.
In Memory of Doc (br. Philip Julius), CFP
In Memory of Doc (br. Philip Julius), CFP
Our dear CFP brother Ameil (Doc) Klein, brother Philip Julius in the CFP, passed away on February 22 after battling cancer for several years. What a joy he was! He is shown here in the way he asked to be remembered—doing country line dancing which he taught and performed with Helene, his wife of 59 years. Doc (br. Philip Julius) brought the joy of the Lord to Germany where he lived and danced and cracked jokes and witnessed for Christ.
Doc (br. Philip Julius) gave us the Dog in My Pocket, Dog at the Manger remembrance offered by the CFP Holy Angels Gift Shop. Doc said that he was like a little dog at the feet of Christ, listening to Him, adoring Him, and obeying Him. So the CFP Holy Angels Gift Shop offers, in Doc’s memory, small plastic dogs to keep in one’s pocket to remind us of who we are and to place by the Christmas Manger as a symbol of ourselves, adoring Christ like a humble dog.
We offer our condolences to Doc’s widow Helene and to his family. Doc, you keep dancing for joy before the Lord! Pray for us here and we will pray for the repose of your soul. We look forward to dancing with you in eternity.
Featured Items CFP Holy Angels Gift Shop
The Confraternity of Penitents Holy Angels Gift Shop is an on line shop which supports the Confraternity of Penitents through its sale of religious books and gifts. It does not have a catalog, unfortunately. However, readers can access the website atwww.cfpholyangels.com for the full range of items offered. They may also like to view the blog atwww.cfpholyangels.blogspot.com for special featured items. Thank you for your support of the Holy Angels Gift Shop, because through it you support the Confraternity of Penitents.
First Communion Bear 9.99 (while supplies last)
First Communion Boy Kneeling Small Statue 4.50 (while supplies last)
First Communion Flower Veil 9.99 (while supplies last)
The CFP Holy Angels Gift Shop has a large selection of First Communion cards, apparel, and gifts. Please check the website for a full selection. Thank you for your patronage and may God bless you.