Confraternity of Penitents Monthly Newsletter -- September 2014

Visitor's Vision

WEEDS OR WHEAT?

Are we weeds or wheat?

Whew! That does not sound too good. Five words and we grind our teeth. Jesus had a parable about the weeds and the wheat in the field. How am I going to know if I am a weed or wheat? What is involved? Those who cause others to sin are the weeds. Those who cause others to grow spiritually and who grow themselves are wheat.

My friend Bill, who is a seminarian, and I decided to relax after a busy day so we looked at a law enforcement program on television. The story was about a woman who had a baby in her car seat and who picked up a convict. The police arrested the woman because she was driving 60 to 70 mph with the baby in the car. She said to the police, “He made me do it.” The police officer told the woman that it was not a good idea to drive at that speed with a baby in the car. She was not being a good mother to her child. This woman had the weed in her car. This weed gave the woman poor advice and she listened to him.

What advice do we give to others? Do we know what we are talking about? Are we the authority to give this advice? Are we the weeds or the wheat? Our children listen to our words. Suppose the child has a game on a Sunday. What does the parent say to the child? “It’s okay if you do not go to Mass.” No, it is not okay if you do not go to Mass. Mass takes precedent over a game. Parents who want to be wheat to their children will find some way to get their children to Mass when there is a game.

I am a chaplain at a Catholic high school. I see it so many times: mom puts her daughter on birth control so that she does not “make a mistake and have to pay for it.” Weeds. Why isn’t mom teaching her daughter chastity?

As a priest I have to evaluate every piece of advice that I give. I begin my day, I begin my Mass, by asking God to guide my words so that I can be wheat instead of weeds. The advice I give is only as good as my knowledge. People ask me if they should go to confession. They seem to think that they only have to go for the big, mortal, sins. No! When we do not go to confession for the little sins, we can soon get in over our heads. Jesus knows your heart, yes, but he wants you to know it. You get to know it when you go to confession. We get to recognize the weeds when we go to confession.

Talk is cheap. We have to change our lives. We have to live the Gospel, not just talk about it. We cannot lead others to Christ if we do not know the difference between the weeds and the wheat. We have to change and repent and become God’s people. It is not sufficient to believe: I must change my behavior. I must bear great fruit, I must become wheat, to be a son or daughter of God.

--Father Jacob Meyer, Visitor

Following Francis, Following Christ

THE DANGERS OF DABBLING

When St. Francis began to question his flamboyant lifestyle, he confided in a close friend who often accompanied him to a certain cave where Francis would pray while the friend remained outside. Francis told a friend that he was searching for a treasure, but the friend probably suspected otherwise as Francis would come from the cave looking drawn and worn. The friend may have suspected that Francis was undergoing spiritual conflict within his own soul, regarding the path that God seem to be leading him into. The sources do not tell us who this friend is, but historians believe him to be the future Friar Elias who became Minister General of the Order during Francis’s lifetime and who built the Basilica of St. Francis following Francis’s death.

Elias is a strange character. His whole life consisted, in a way, of not going into the cave of conversion. While he did join the Order, he seems to have never fully embraced Francis’s concepts of poverty, faith, and simplicity. While Francis was alive, Friar Elias toed the mark, so to speak, but after Francis’s death, he seems to have grown proud and haughty, worldly and even cruel to the Friars who did not agree with him.

Francis had great faith in Elias and made him Provincial Minister of Syria which included the entire Middle East in the medieval mind. Elias saw and seems to have explored, in some way, the pyramids of Egypt. He was a brilliant man who wanted to know the meaning of the symbols that he saw in the Egyptian tombs. He explored alchemy and esoteric symbolism, and it was probably Elias who had such symbols etched onto the original wooden coffin of St. Francis. In addition, Elias orchestrated the burial of St. Francis in the Basilica. Francis was buried in such a hurried way that no one was able to remove his body or even get to it. In fact, no one revealed where the body was until the Church gave permission in 1818 to try to locate it. The body of St. Francis was finally exhumed, after much searching, on December 8, 1818. Placed at the feet of the body were certain coins of the time which verified that this body was buried at the time the coins were minted. However, there was also a ring bearing the image of the goddess Minerva, a circlet of beads which appear to be of Islamic origin, and a piece of straw. Each of these have certain mystical meanings which Elias would have learned in the Middle East.

Elias was often consulted by Emperor Frederick II who was a devotee of alchemy and astrology. In time, Elias fell out of favor with the Church, was excommunicated, and joined forces politically with Frederick. He was only reconciled to the Church upon his deathbed, his conversion possibly coming about through the fervent prayers of St. Clare and her sisters who could not believe that this Friar, in whom they put such trust, had turned against the Church which they, Francis and his other Friars so dearly loved.

Friar Elias probably did not intend to become an alchemist or astrologer. His intelligence and curiosity probably enticed him to dabble in the subjects and to learn a bit more about them simply for the sake of knowledge. However, as he dabbled, he went deeper, learned more, and finally embraced these disciplines which relied on magical properties to assist us in this life and bring us into the next. This sort of mysticism is directly opposed to faith in God which depends, not on us and our knowledge, but on God’s goodness, grace, and mercy.

Friar Elias is an object lesson in staying away from near occasions of sin. It is not possible to dabble in forbidden waters without getting wet. As penitents, we must avoid anything that would pull us away from faith in God and make us put our faith in anything else or anyone else. Elias, with his brilliant mind, probably thought that he could remain unscathed. But this is an illusion. If we are not sure about a course of action, let us not just do what we think is right, but rather let us consult someone in the Church to learn Church teaching on the matter. If we neglect to do this, we may find ourselves straying from Christ and then moving so far away from Him that we forget how to come back.

In his love, with my prayers, and asking yours, Madeline Pecora Nugent, CFP

Monthly Letter to All Penitents

DEATH OF A SON/STRENGTH OF A MOTHER

I never was able to foster a tender devotion to the Blessed Mother. It is not that I did not like her or think she was important or understand her role in mediation with her son Jesus. It is just that, when I went to pray, I would speak directly to Jesus or the Holy Spirit or to the Father. It was not my nature to ask the Blessed Mother to intercede for me, although, when I thought of it, I certainly would ask her, and I am asking her more now than before. The reason is that I think I understand her a little bit better now. It took a tragedy to bring this understanding to me.

On July 28, the 26-year-old son of one of our CFP life pledged and privately vowed members was driving home in the dark during a terrible storm when he lost control of the car and crashed into a tree, dying instantly. Karen, Joey’s mother, called me very early in the morning on the 29th, telling me about Joey’s death and asking for prayers. Her voice was shaky but there was a strength to it. When we attended the wake and funeral, I was humbled by the sheer numbers of family and friends that attended. Young man, Joey’s brothers and cousins and friends and other relatives, were trying to be strong, but several were openly sobbing. Karen went from one to the next, holding them, comforting them, being a pillar of strength among those who were so torn by anguish. The wake in the funeral were beautifully done with a deep faith, love, and celebration of Joey’s life. The dinner following the burial, was one of joy.

I saw here in Karen a reflection of what the Blessed Mother must have been after the crucifixion of her Son. She was the one to hold his weeping and shocked friends, to comfort them and bolster their faith. At the foot of the cross, Mary accepted the responsibility of being Mother of the Church. And this is who she is to us. Karen said that Jesus was holding her up during the funeral; her husband Joe said the same thing. Together, they held up others, many of whom did not have the depth of faith that Karen and Joe have. We ask God’s mercy upon Joey’s soul and also upon the soul of Justin Seyfert the 23-year-old nephew of Confraternity member Sandy Seyfert, who died in a tragic motorcycle accident just two weeks earlier. Sandy and her faith were able to bring Justin’s parents through the tragic loss of their son.

Why did God give us a Blessed Mother? Not because He needed her to intercede for our needs. He gave her to us because we needed her to be the comfort when we do not understand the Will of her Spouse. She says, “I love you. I am with you. You can cry and my arms as the Will of your Father and mine, as the Will of my son and your brother, as the Will of my Heavenly Spouse unfolds through this trial. Trust in the Divine Trinity as I had to do. God understands what He is about. It is for us to cling to our faith and to trust as His Will unfolds.”

May Joey and Justin rest in peace. May all those suffering and dying unjustly rest in God’s love. May we be motivated to defend the defenseless and share the love of God in faith. May God answer our prayers. Amen.

--Madeline Pecora Nugent, CFP

This article is reproduced from the CFP Blog.

Letter from One Who Serves the CFP

THE CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY

 

Professor Joseph Ratzinger concludes Chapter 5 of Introduction to Christianity with the positive statement which the Christian creeds make about the Trinity. The key assertion of Christianity is that God is “One Being in three Persons”.   To ancient thought, only unity (that is, oneness) is divine; plurality seems in contrast to be secondary, the disintegration of unity.  It proceeds from disintegration and tends toward it.  The Christian confession of faith in God as the Three-in-one, as he who is simultaneously the monas and the trias, absolute unity and fullness, signifies the conviction that divinity lies beyond our categories of unity and plurality.  Although to us, the nondivine, it is one and single, the one and only divine as opposed to all that is not divine; nevertheless in itself it is truly fullness and plurality, so that creaturely unity and plurality are both in the same degree a likeness and a share of the divine.  Not only unity is divine; plurality too, is something primordial and has its inner ground in God himself.  Plurality is not just disintegration that sets in outside the divinity: it does not arise simply through the intervention of the dyas, disintegration; it is not the result of the dualism of two opposing powers; it corresponds to the creative fullness of God, who himself stands above plurality and unity, encompassing both. 

 

Next, Professor Ratzinger clarifies for us what is exactly a “person” But the profession of faith in God as a person necessarily includes the acknowledgement of God as relatedness, as communicability, as fruitfulness.  The unrelated, unrelatable, absolutely One could not be a person.  There is no such thing as person in the categorical singular.  This is already apparent in the words in which the concept of person developed; the Greek word prosopon means literally “look toward”; with the prefix pros (toward), it includes the notion of relatedness as an integral part of itself.  It is the same with the Latin persona = “sounding through”; again, the per = “through… to” expresses relatedness, this time in the form of communication through speech.  In other words, if the absolute is person, it is not an absolute singular.  To this extent the overstepping of the singular is implicit in the concept of person.  Of course, we shall have to say at the same time that the acknowledgement that God is a person in the guise of the triple personality explodes the naïve, anthropomorphic concept of person.  It declares in a sort of cipher that the personality of God infinitely exceeds the human kind of personality; so that the concept of person illuminating as it is, once again reveals itself as an inadequate metaphor.

 

Professor Ratzinger goes on to warn that the words of the creed could have been expressed in other words and the words cannot be taken too far.  The only thing certain at first was that the element of oneness, that of threeness, and the complete simultaneity of both in the all-embracing dominance of oneness had all to be expressed.   Professor Ratzinger asserts that taking the words of the creed too far would mean a failure to recognize the negative character of the language of theology, the purely tentative fashion in which it speaks.

 

Where does the necessity of expressing the “oneness” and “threeness” of God in the creed come from?  Professor Ratzinger answers that this necessity comes from scripture.

This result was also recommended above all by the evidence of the Bible.  Here one met the fact that God seems to converse with himself.  There is a “We” in God-----the Fathers found it on the very first page of the Bible in the words “let us make man” (Gen 1:26); there are an “I” and a “You” in him---the Fathers found this in the Psalms (“The Lord said to my lord”: Ps 110:1) as well as in Jesus’ conversations with the Father.  The discovery of the dialogue within God led to the assumption of the presence in God of an “I” and a “You”, an element of relationship, of coexistent diversity and affinity, for which the concept of persona absolutely dictated itself. 

 

Christian theology realized that God is not a solitary Being existing in isolation.   Relationship is part of the essence of God.  The “threeness” of God is expressed using the concept of “person” since relationship is part of the definition of the word “person” even in the inadequate original theatrical definition as “role” or “mask”.   Professor Ratzinger uses St. Augustine to illuminate this.  St. Augustine once enshrined this idea in the following formula: “He is not called Father with reference to himself but only in relation to the Son; seen by himself he is simply God.”  Here the decisive point comes beautifully to light.  “Father” is purely a concept of relationship.  Only in being for the other is he Father; in his own being in himself he is simply God.   Person is the pure relation of being related, nothing else.  Relationship is not something extra added to the person, as it is with us; it only exists at all as relatedness.

 

All of this may seem very philosophical and abstract, but Professor Ratzinger shows that it brings us back to scripture.  In St. John’s Gospel Christ says of himself: The Son can do nothing of his own accord” (5:19 and 30).  This seems to rob the Son of all power; he has nothing of his own; precisely because he is the Son he can only operate by virtue of him to whom he owes his whole existence.  What first becomes evident here is that the concept of “Son” is a concept of relation.  By calling the Lord “Son”, John gives him a name that always points away from him and beyond him: he thus employs a term that denotes essentially a relatedness.  He thereby puts his whole Christology into the context of the idea of relation.  Formulas like the one just mentioned only emphasize this; they only, as it were, draw out what is implicit in the word “son”, the relativity it contains.  On the face of it, a contradiction arises when the same Christ says of himself in St. John: “I and the Father are one” (10:30).  But anyone who looks more closely will see at once that in reality the two statements are complementary.  In that Jesus is called “Son” and is thereby made “relative” to the Father, and in that Christology is ratified as a statement of relation, the automatic result is the total reference of Christ back to the Father.  Precisely because he does not stand in himself, he stands in him, constantly one with him.

 

This idea of relationship and oneness also extends to the relationship of Christ with Christians and illuminates what it really means to be a Christian.  Parallel to the formula “The Son can do nothing of his own accord”, which illumines Christology from the son concept as a doctrine of relativity, is the statement about those who belong to Christ, the disciples: “Apart from me you can do nothing” (Jn 15:5).  Thus Christian existence is put with Christ into the category of relationship.  And parallel to the logic that makes Christ say, “I and the Father are one”, we find here the petition “that they may be one, even as we are one” (17:11 and 22).  The significant difference from Christology comes to light in the fact that the unity of Christians is expressed, not in the indicative, but in the form of a prayer. 

 

Professor Ratzinger then discusses some of the implications of this for Christians.  If there is nothing in which he is just he, no kind of fenced-off private ground, then he coincides with the father, is “one” with him.   It is precisely this totality of interplay that the word “Son” aims at expressing.  To John, “Son” means being from another; thus, with this word he defines the being of this man as being from another and for others, as a being that is complexly open on both sides, knows no reserved area of the mere “I”…….To John, being a Christian means being like the Son, becoming a son; that is, not standing on one’s own and in oneself, but living completely open in the “from” and “toward”.  Insofar as the Christian is a “Christian”, this is true of him.  And certainly such utterances will make him realize to how small an extent he is a Christian.

 

This Trinitarian doctrine has strong implications.   Just as Jesus Christ lived totally in relation to the Father which resulted in unity with the Father, we also are to live totally in relation to Christ which results in unity with Christ.  This union with Christ is largely lacking.   All not –at-one-ness, all division, rests on a concealed lack of real Christliness, on a clinging to individuality that hinders the coalescence into unity.

 

This leads us to the question of what is real unity.   And one can understand from now on more clearly than before that it is not the “atom”, the indivisible smallest piece of matter, that possesses the highest unity; that, on the contrary, pure oneness can only occur in the spirit and embraces the relatedness of love.  Thus in Christianity the profession of faith in the oneness of God is just as radical as in any other monotheistic religion.

 

We can see from all this that one can say a lot about the doctrine of the Trinity, but we cannot totally grasp or possess it since it is a revelation from “above”.  Yet it is not something which is only the concern of “ivory tower” theologians and philosophers.  For this doctrine distinguishes Christians from everyone else.   Let us pray that Christians do not choose to be like “everyone else” and thereby lose their character as the “salt of the earth”.

 

 --Jim Nugent, CFP

No Greater Love

BOOK REVIEW: SEVEN SECRETS OF THE EUCHARIST BY VINNY FLYNN

For those of you unfamiliar with Vinny Flynn, you are in for a treat. His perspicacity rediscovers history and moves us forward toward a fitting understanding of our precious sacrament of Confession.

I must confess, before I begin, to tell you all that I have a bias against modern books. For whatever reason, if it isn't written by a Saint, quoted by another Saint, then my interest level chills out. I am not sure why that is, but I am working on it. I suppose I should consider it a shortcoming.

Modern books are not all bad. In my anecdotal opinion, Ignatius Press does quite a fine job of only publishing Catholic books that are actually Catholic, in line with the Magisterium. These are not activist works.

In any event, Vinny Flynn does a wonderful job at re-vitalizing interest in Confession. Together with the insights of such greats as St. Faustina and St. John Paul II, we move "beyond the grocery list" and into a deeper spiritual experience. "We must delve deep before we can soar," as Mother Mary Francis would say.

Like in a different book I've mentioned before by Fr. Mitch Pacwa's, on Winning the Battle Against Sin, Vinny Flynn begins by letting us know in Secret 1 that "Sin doesn't change God." That it is more than a list of bad behavior, but rather is an objective and subjective reality of turning away from God. Sin harms us and changes our fate in a negative way; just as Repentence allows God to heal us, and changes our fate, too, but upward in a good way.

In Secret 2, we learn that it is not just about forgiveness...we come to Confession to be healed (St. Faustina, Diary, 377). In CCC 1505 and Mathew 9:12-13, we are reminded over and over that Confession is a healing Sacrament. In my own life (the author of this review) I have found that supernatural healing is especially right and fitting, where the damage done in the past is so deep that it actually resists being healed. This is supernatural harm. I can think of bad habits acquired and other things which normalize or rationalize "Self v. God," and how doing the right thing will in many cases actually be resisted by the very deepest hurts of the past which I had no control over. It is then we all truly need our "Divine Physician."

In Secret 3, we are reminded of God's providence over the human heart: Your Sin is Different from My Sin. What is venial for you may be mortal for me, and vice versa. I really am glad I read that. Luke 12:48 is appropriate here. Only God knows the heart, mind, and will of any one person at any one time.
 
Secret 4 cries out: Confession is Never Really Private. We all confess. Whether we go to the bar with a friend and sob over our woes, or we talk to our spouses at the end of the day, we all confess to varying degrees. But in a more particular way, Vinny Flynn reminds us that Christ is always there waiting for us when we go to Sacramental Confession. In St. Faustina's Diary: "When you approach the confessional, know this, that I Myself am waiting there for you. I am only hidden by the priest, but I Myself act in your soul." (1602).

Secret 5 speaks to the reality that God's infinite Mercy and Grace are available for us to receive from his redemptive work on the cross, and are waiting to be poured out upon the penitent.

Secret 6 really focuses on the "about face!" aspect of Contrition -- which is really an act of the will -- to turn away from sinful behavior, situations in which "the stage is set" even before the actors (near occasions of sin) show up. For my part, as we return to Confession, we learn to recognize areas of our lives where we can benefit from "mental hygiene" (quote from Mother Mary Francis, P.C.C.).

Finally, in Secret 7 we spiritually assault 'Lack of Faith', 'Idolatry', 'The (Earthly) Father(-Figure) Wound', and 'Unforgiveness', with our very deep "all-in" approach to participation in this blessed Sacrament.

As a conclusion, Mr. Flynn exhorts us all to follow a rule of returning to confession even for venial sins on a regular basis as a spiritual maintenance program. The benefits are endless, for they come from endless Love and Truth Himself.

All in all, I very much enjoyed reading and relating the lessons in this book. At the outset, I am typically skeptical of 'modern' books, as I said earlier. But this book is a solid read, and makes centuries of wisdom accessible to us who must live in this modern world, but not be "of" it. Vinny Flynn's "7 Secrets of Confession" absolutely helps us live as sojourners and pilgrims by pointing the Way out when we are so assaulting and hypnotized by modernity.

Yours in Christ Jesus, Mary, and St. Joseph,
Eric Welch, Novice 1

Reflection on the Rule

RULE

20. And every member is to give the treasurer one ordinary denar (the smallest value coin minted at the time the Rule was written). The treasurer is to collect this money and distribute it on the advice of the ministers among the poor brothers and sisters, especially the sick and those who may have nothing for their funeral services, and thereupon among the poor; and they are to offer something of the money to the aforesaid church.

CONSTITUTIONS

 

20. In keeping with section 20 of this Rule:

20a. Every member shall contribute generously to the treasury of their Chapter or Circle or of the Confraternity. 

20b. There are fixed expenses affiliated with running the Confraternity that are part of every member's responsibility and apostolate. These include mail and newsletter costs, formation materials, miscellaneous printing, phone expenses, and the cost of maintaining the Web page. Monies will be used to cover these expenses and occasionally to provide alms for needy members, as approved by the minister and the council, who may be consulted to determine a fitting donation as well. 

20c. A report of how this money is being utilized may be requested at any time by any member. 

20d. If a Chapter or Circle in the Confraternity requests a visit from the Visitor or someone else, they should reimburse the expenses of the visit. 

20e. In the United States of America, all monies donated to the Confraternity of Penitents are tax deductible. The CFP is a bona fide non-profit, tax exempt organization.

REFLECTION

 

What an appropriate section of the Rule and Constitutions to consider this month when we begin our capital campaign to raise funds to complete necessary renovations to our Confraternity of Penitents’ headquarters! We are also seeking additional housing for a person or couple to live nearby, with housing expenses paid in exchange for 20 hours a week work for the Confraternity of Penitents.

 

Some of these projects are required by the city of Fort Wayne in order to bring our office and gift shop up to city code requirements. Others will make it possible for visitors and guests to stay overnight in the property’s two-story Hermitage by providing them with a closeby kitchen, bathroom, shower, prayer Chapel, and library lounge facilities. The final need of additional help with the CFP office, gift shop, Hermitage, and grounds will enable the Confraternity of Penitents to keep up to date with our blog, write articles on penance, and maintain our websites on Catholic Bible study, outreach to unbelievers, and youth ministry. As members of the Confraternity of Penitents, we are to support our parishes first, but the Confraternity second, if possible. Those in the Confraternity will shortly receive a letter detailing our needs and requesting financial support and prayers. Approximately $125, 000 is needed to complete these projects. Some, such as a new roof on the Hermitage and the state required renovations, need to be done as soon as possible. These alone will require about $65,000 of the money needed.

 

Through our gift shop, unsolicited donations, and the work of many unpaid volunteers, the Confraternity of Penitents has been able to meet all its expenses (postage, printing, websites, phone and internet expenses, Gift Shop Manager, etc.) without collecting dues from members, having fundraisers, or making appeals for money. We want to continue this policy in the future. We do not intend to begin work until we have the funds in hand to complete it (we are not going to get a mortgage or loan). Once the projects are completed, we anticipate that the Confraternity will be able to continue to be self-sustaining without continually raising funds as our ministry is conversion not financial expansion. However, necessity makes us ask now because the needs are immediate and we do not have a reserve of money to do what needs to be done.  

 

Those who wish to donate may do so by submitting a check to the Confraternity of Penitents Renovation Fund, 1702 Lumbard Street, Fort Wayne, Indiana 46803 USA or by using an online donation button for credit card payment on this link.: http://penitents.org/donaterenovationfund.html All your donations are tax deductible.

 

May God bless you for your support and please pray for us!

Affiliate Action

The Confraternity does not ask its affiliates to support it financially. We ask only for support through the affiliates’ prayers. However, now we are asking the affiliates to consider a financial donation to the Confraternity of Penitents because they, too, are part of our outreach to the world. Are you willing to join us in this necessary appeal?

Poetry

If I the Uncreated
 
If I the Uncreated fell              
upon Created crust,
It is for thee Oh man,
to return unto the dust.  
 
There was a time you followed me      
hidden in pillar of cloud
there was a time you carried
me, within the ark of gold.
 
I am a God of mysteries,              
All Mystery from of Old,
For your sake I became man,
and for 30 pieces sold.
 
I left my 12 Apostles,                
who failed to comprehend,
for if I did not leave them,
No Spirit could descend.
 
Jesus born in Behthlehem,            
no place his head to lay,
now he lays in many hearts,
there I pray to stay.
 
I AM WHO AM                          
Ancient One of Old
I am a Hidden God
carried in ark of Gold.
 
--Michael Fundenberger, Inquirer
 

Virtues Portrayed in the

San Damiano Crucifix

PATIENCE

We do not often think of a crucifix and patience in the same thought. However, the San Damiano crucifix is an icon of patience. Jesus is patient as portrayed on the crucifix, and He waits for the ultimate resolution of His sacrifice in the resurrection. Those standing beneath the crucifix are patient as they discuss what is happening without showing any the traditional signs of grief seen in many paintings of the crucifixion. The Angels are patient as they await the unfolding of God’s Divine Plan. We who gaze at the crucifix develop patience by viewing this one moment in time where the past, the present, and the future are all portrayed in one icon. The crucifix contains symbols of Jesus’ past in the cock that crowed after Peter’s denial, in the cockle shell border representing baptism, and the almost hidden fox which recalls the animal to whom Jesus likened Herod. The crucifix portrays the moment of Christ’s crucifixion, but above Christ’s body is a smaller image of Him ascending to the Father with God’s Hand blessing all of humanity. As we go through life, we await God’s blessing and often feel it’s too long in coming. Our patience wears thin. Yet we forget how patient God is with us and how long the Jewish nation awaited His coming, and still await it as they did not accept His return. When we are impatient, it would be good to contemplate the San Damiano Crucifix and ask God to help us see our lives more clearly through His patient perspective.

Saint of the Month

SAINT CRISPIN OF VITERBO (1668-1750)

Named Pietro upon his birth to simple tradespeople in 1668, Crispin received his religious name in 1693 after he pleaded for entrance into the Capuchin Franciscan Friary. His inspiration for a religious vocation came upon seeing Capuchin novices prayerfully participating in a procession. Having been consecrated by his own mother to the Blessed Mother when he was five years old, Crispin deepened his devotion to Our Lady as a religious. Called “the little saint” by his childhood neighbors, Crispin soon proved the accuracy of the term in the friary.

Although trained as a shoemaker, and named for the holy shoemakers Crispin and Crispinian, Saint Crispin eventually was made cook at the friary in Tolfa. His first endeavor was to erect a small altar to the Blessed Mother in the kitchen and to place on it fruit which he asked her to bless. To Our Lady, Crispin offered all his work and to the sick he gave some of the blessed fruit which restored the ill to health. When he was cook at a friary near Rome, one of the pope’s chamberlains came for healing so Crispin led him to Our Lady’s altar and the man was healed, causing the pope’s doctor to remark, "Brother, your remedies are more effective than ours,” to which Crispin replied: "The Blessed Virgin can do more than all the physicians in the world."

On another occasion, a well known sinner lay ill and requested Crispin’s healing presence. Crispin came with a gentle admonishment. “"Sir, you want the Blessed Virgin to cure you. But does not he who offends the Son also grieve the Mother? True veneration of the Blessed Virgin consists in not offending her Divine Son." The penitent man burst into tears whereupon Crispin blessed him with a medal of the Immaculate Conception, thus effecting his cure.

Many lay people, priests, bishops, cardinals, and even a pope sought Crispin’s guidance. He treated all with equal courtesy, respecting neither rank nor power but only a person’s sincerity.

Crispin was a model of faith, humility, simplicity, cheerfulness, and obedience. Instead of complaining about overwork, he would say, “That is good. Paradise is not for lazybones.” Once Crispin remarked to his superior, “When I entered religion, I left my will at home. Here I recognize only your will." When he vounteered to attend the severely ill, he remarked that he would return healthy because, “I have a marvelous preventive invented by St. Francis - it is the obedience in which I set out." And so he returned healthy after all the sick had recovered. With great cheerfulness and faith, he died in 1750 at the age of 82. His body remains incorrupt.

Saint Crispin, pray for us.

QUOTE FROM SCRIPTURE:

We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. (1 John 4:16)

Do we believe that God loves us? Saint Crispin certainly did believe this. If we believe that God loves us, we will do all things to please Him, and this can only mean that we will do all things to help our neighbor to whom we must also show love. What is love but a self giving to the other? And God wants our total love, which means a total self giving to Him Who gave Himself totally for us, as St. Clare so wisely noted.

QUOTE FROM A SAINT:

Let us love God for He deserves it! (Saint Crispin of Viterbo)

It would be difficult to put the reason for loving God more simply and concisely. If we made a list of all the reasons we should love God, we would never be able to complete it. If all the world could not hold all the books that would have to be written to explain all that Jesus did, neither could all the world hold all the reasons why God deserves our love. We love individuals for far fewer reasons than we have for loving God. So let us love Him with all the love we can even though it is not anywhere near the love He deserves.

Happy Birthday to:

Terrance F 9/2

Castilo M 9/6

John A 9/7

Natasha S 9/10

Amanda M 9/11

Angela C 9/11

Brian R 9/27

Gina B 9/28

Francesca B 9/30

Janet S 9/30

Tsion A 9/12

Edward Z 9/12

Donna C 9/13

Betsy K 9/14

Karen H 9/20

Reji K 9/22

Humor

If there are no ups and downs in your life, it means you are dead.

Life. Available for a limited time only. Limit one (1) per person. Subject to change without notice. Provided "as is" and without any warranties. Nontransferable and is the sole responsibility of the recipient. May incur damages arising from use or misuse. Additional parts sold separately. Your mileage may vary. Subject to all applicable fees and taxes. Terms and conditions apply. Other restrictions apply.

Being male is a matter of birth, being a man is a matter of age, being a gentleman is a matter of choice. (The Gentleman's Guide #77)

Three simple rules in life:

  1. If you do not go after what you want, you will never have it. 2. If you do not ask, the answer will always be no. 3. If you do not step forward, you will always be in the same place.

  2. our value does not decrease based on someone's inability to see your worth.

One of the best feelings in the world is knowing that your presence and absence both mean something to someone.

"Dream as if you have forever. Live as if you only have today."

Today is the oldest you've ever been, yet the youngest you'll ever be, so enjoy this day while it lasts. 

Someday everything will make perfect sense. So, for now, laugh at the confusion, smile through the tears, and keep reminding yourself that everything happens for a reason.

Confraternity Photo Album

YEAR PLEDGE OF SANDY LEWIS

With great joy, the Confraternity of Penitents witnessed Sandy Lewis as she made her pledge to live the Confraternity of Penitents Rule of Life for one year. Sandy jokes that she is the longest ever in formation with the CFP, but she finally made it to pledging! And we are so glad to be able to welcome her as a pledged sister in Christ. Sandy pledged to Father George Nixon on July 25, 2014, at the Confraternity of Penitents Summer Retreat. Welcome, Sandy!

Sandy signs her year pledge on the altar of the dormitory chapel where her pledge took place.

Sandy (center) reads her year pledge while her witnesses, CFP life pledged members Elizabeth Hill and Dianne Joslyn, look on with joy.

Elizabeth clothes Sandy in a blessed crucifix as a witness to her life of penance.

Elizabeth, Sandy, and Father George Nixon pose with the San Damiano Crucfix, after Sandy's pledging.

Featured Items CFP Holy Angels Gift Shop

The Confraternity of Penitents Holy Angels Gift Shop is an online Catholic Book and Gift Shop open 24 hours a day. All proceeds go to support the Confraternity of Penitents. We thank you for your patronage.

September 29 is the Feast of the Holy Archangels Gabriel, Raphael, and Michael. Here are some appropriate featured items for this feast.

Saint Michael the Archangel Chaplet (one color pictured) plus Instructions on How to Pray It. 4.95. Handmade. Come in various colors and types of beads. Our choice of bead, please, as these are made by a CFP volunteer.

One of several different styles of Saint Michael the Archangel Pewter Pendants on a stainless steel chain. This style retails for 11.95.

Saint Gabriel Statue--14.95 includes shipping.

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

 

Visit our on line Religious Book and Gift Shop, CFP Holy Angels Gift Shop  www.cfpholyangels.com

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