Confraternity of Penitents Monthly Newsletter Archives-- June 2014
No Stranger to Evil
When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.’ (John 10: 4-5)
Good Shepherd Sunday and Mothers' Day fell on the same day this year. There is a special meaning to these holidays coming together. Colleges are also ending for this year, and young people are coming home from their freshman year in college. I remember my first weekend home from college. Mother wanted all of us to go to Mass together and to sit together in the same pew. Now at college, I was used to going to Mass at 5 PM or maybe 6 PM or maybe 10 PM, but I dragged myself out of bed and went to Mass with Mom in the morning to make it happen for her. And the Mass for the day was Good Shepherd Sunday. I had heard these readings before, but it was as if I were hearing them for the first time. I was supposed to be a sheep and be a follower of Christ. The readings convicted me.
I went to the priest and asked him if he could hear my confession. Father looked at me like., "You're home from your first year in college and I'm going to hear your confession? Hmmm." Father hears confessions and he gets an earful about what happened in the first year of college. And after I got done with my very long confession, I said to Father, “But Father, I am confused. I believe in Jesus. I thought I was following Him. But if I am one of the sheep, why do I stray?” The Scripture reading says that the sheep do not follow the voice of strangers. I had been telling Father for 15, 20, 30 minutes how I had strayed. Was not I a sheep? Why was I straying?
Father said something that was filled with wisdom. He said, “The problem is not that you do not know the voice of Jesus. The problem is that you have been a friend to evil and sin. You do not know evil and sin as strangers, and, unless evil and sin are strangers to you, you cannot recognize the voice of Christ.”
Mother was trying to tell me this in her own way. Mother wanted me to come to Mass and be with her. This was the voice of Christ that I did not understand. I should have listened to Mother more often. I realized that when I was at school, I was not listening to Christ. I will had immersed myself in the world, not in Christ, and the world was no longer a stranger to me. I had to look at my friends. What was I like when I was with them? I was not conformed to Christ. I had to change who I was with and what I did. So I decided to get new friends and so I joined a fraternity! If joining a fraternity is a step up, that shows you how far I had fallen. What our friends to speak about and do will enhance or impede our faith.
My parents had a change of heart, a conversion, when I was in high school. They had to change their friends, too. When I went to the seminary I was immersed in Christ and in friends who knew Jesus. When I left the seminary for my summer vacation, my worldly friends were happy to see me again and asked me to go out with them, and I said, "Sure! Let's go!" But when I was with them, I was miserable. I realized that I did not want to go where they wanted to go. I had changed. I could not be happy and follow their voice any more. As a priest, I am happy that I follow the voice of the Lord.
Can you distinguish the voice of the Lord from the voice of evil? Have you become friends with evil and sin so they are no longer strangers to you? It is never too late to get new friends, to listen to the voice of the Lord, and to make evil and sin strangers again. My Mother’s prayers were what brought me back to the Lord. She prayed for me. She was an example by her very life. It was not that she spent a lot of time catechizing me, but she lived the life of the Good Shepherd through her prayers and example. It is she who brought me back into the fold of Christ. My Mother started to pray for our spouses when we were children. So that means that she has been praying for the Church and all of you, the Body of Christ, because you are my spouse! Let us come into the fold in response to our Mothers' prayers or anyone else’s and be part of the Good Shepherd’s flock.
Father Jacob Meyer, CFP Visitor
Following Francis, Following Christ
Village of Nottiano
House of Blessed John the Simple
Church of St. Michael in Nottiano
Finding Nottiano and the House of Blessed John the Simple
In researching the life of Saint Francis for a book I've been working on for ten years now (yes!), I've been trying to locate places in the life of Saint Francis so that I can better write about them. In searching for a now demolished castle called Rocca Paida, which I have not yet found on Googlemaps (but I know it's there), I found another rich treasure.
Blessed John the Simple was a young farmer in a poor family with many children when he met Saint Francis. He was struck by Francis' holiness and wanted to follow him. Francis agreed. John thought that, if he did everything Francis did, he would be holy, so he imitated Francis in every way. If Francis coughed, John coughed. If Francis knelt to pray, John knelt to pray. If Francis patched his tunic, John patched his own tunic. His simplicity caused the brothers to call him "John the Simple."
Through GoogleMaps and my search for Rocca Paida, I was so graced to see where John met Francis that the discovery brought tears to my eyes. John first encountered Francis in St. Michael the Archangel's Church in Nottiano, a small village in Assisi. Francis was in the habit of taking a broom with him wherever he went and, if he saw a dirty church, he would sweep the floor. In a time when knights rode their horses into churches, when people tromped in off muddy roads and from dusty fields, you can imagine that church floors were often dirty, especially if the priest was not particularly tidy. Francis was sweeping St. Michael's Church when John entered it.
GoogleMaps showed exactly where John's house was--only a few dwellings away from this small church. I could imagine John wanting to pop in for a short prayer before returning to work plowing the fields, and, when he entered the church this day, here was this small built stranger in a shabby tunic sweeping the floor. John ran home, grabbed a broom, and came back to sweep, too. Once the church was swept, John spoke to the slightly bearded man, learned he was the famous Francis, and asked to follow him. Francis agreed.
Since the brothers gave up all their goods, John had to do the same. He had nothing but decided to give away the ox he was plowing with as that would have fallen to him as his inheritance. When the family learned this, however, they came weeping to Francis as they were poor and the ox was their means of livelihood. Since the brothers were to give their possessions to the poor, Francis gave the ox back to the family, as the family was one of the poorest he had met. Then John came along with Francis. He did not live too many years after joining Francis. Upon his death, still as a young man, the friars acknowledged him for his humble simplicity and deep faith.
All of us live in a place. If you type in your address, you will find it on GoogleMaps. All of us have dealings with other buildings in our locale, but most especially with our parish church. You can find that on GoogleMaps, too. If one of us were to become well known and maybe even canonized, you can imagine someone years from now, looking at GoogleMaps, trying to see where we used to live and where our parish church was. Imagine the thrill of finding those locales, of tracing the roadways to get from one place to the other, and picturing the now famous you traversing those in years past, when you were still alive. The investigator and historian would feel that he or she had, in a small way, touched you and your life. This was your house. This was your parish. You actually lived. You had spent part of your life in these two places and in journeying between them. This was how I felt when I found St. Michael's Church and then followed the road along until I came to the pile of rubble that corresponded to Blessed John's house.
You see, saints actually did live. They walked among us. We recently were reminded of this at the canonizations of Pope Saint John XXIII and Pope Saint John Paul the Great. Most of us have not actually met these newly canonized saints. But we have met others who will get to heaven, and all in heaven are saints whether or not the Church has canonized them.
Are you living as the saint you were intended to be? Are you making your home and your parish holier by your being part of them?
Our lives are simple as was Blessed John's. No great fanfare. No glorious deeds. But maybe we can do something simple like sweep a church with great reverence. And maye someone will see us and feel inspired to seek God more closely. Blessed John the Simple, a humble man whose house is now a rubble heap, and Saint Francis of Assisi, a humble man whose home is visited by thousands of tourists every year--both are with the Lord. Both knew each other and were spiritual brothers into eternity. We don't have to consult GoogleMaps to find a pathway to heaven. We've been told. "I am the Way and the Truth and the Life." That way holds true in Nottiano, in Assisi, and in your city or town or countryside. May we follow the Way and we will find true life.
Let us pray for one another and for all doing penance worldwide.
--Madeline Pecora Nugent, CFP
Monthly Letter to All Penitents
Book Review, Fr. Mitch Pacwa, SJ: "Winning the Battle Against Sin: Hope-Filled Lessons From the Bible"
Chapter 1 "The First Sin"
To understand sin, we must understand the first sin: how the first human beings fell from grace and how we fall into the same traps. (Gen 2:25-3:24) Never underestimate how clever the evil one can be in tempting us.
In the moment of temptation, we often deny the negative consequences of our sin, because sin can be attractive in appearance even though it's wrong.
Sin is a social reality; our own sin always affects others, [because it affects the life of grace in the universe as a whole, not just in particular]. When we sin, we often try to blame others -- including God -- for our sin. There is hope of redemption after the fall. GOD NEVER GIVES UP ON US, though we often give up on ourselves.
Chapter 2 "Why Sin Is a Big Deal"
(Matthew 18:23-35; Romans 3:23-26;5:6-11; 1 Peter 1:17-21; Isaiah 53:5-6,10,11)
To understand the seriousness of sin: As finite human beings, we can never pay back the debt of sin because the offense is against the infinite and eternal God. [For further study on this topic, Archbishop Fulton Sheen has a 1/2-hour talk in his series called "Life is Worth Living"]
Sin is an infinite and eternal offense. The seriousness of sin depends on who is offended, rather than on the offense. When God is offended, we can't pay back the debt of sin.
Because he loves us, Christ died for us in our weakness, while we were still sinners. [As an aside, there is an old Christian yarn "Christ came to pay a debt he did not owe, because it was a price we could not pay"]. Owning up honestly to our sins and taking responsibility for them frees us and saves us. We can have confidence in the blood of Christ, the innocent Lamb, to forgive our sins.
Chapter 3 "Why We Need a Divine Savior"
To understand why Christ had to be both human and divine to save us from our sins.
(Matthew 16:13-21; John 8:24-28; Philippians 2:5-11; Colossians 1:19-23; Hebrew 1:4-14;2:14;9:25-26)
Christ's divinity and his saving death on the cross are explicitly recognized and linked. Only Jesus Christ, both God and man, could pay the tremendous debt owned to God's justice.
Chapter 4 "It's Your Choice: Life or Death"
(Isaiah 29:15-16; Jeremiah 18:1-10; Ezekiel 18:2-4;19-24;Deuteronomy 30:2-4;6-20; Hebrews 3:12-14;10:23-31,35-39; Matthew 21:28-32)
God created us with free will, with the ability to choose good or evil. We can allow God to form and shape us, or we can allow other forces to lead us away from God. God can shape us into his image if we cooperate with him. We are responsible for our own sins and must answer to God for them. It is our current relationship with God that matters (i.e. we are not "weighed in the scales" of good deeds vs. bad deeds, but rather Scripture tells us that is the relationship we have with the Almighty at our moment of death that matters). [i.e. "Strive to enter"]
The Lord desires that we return to him with our whole heart, but he leaves that decision up to us. We can choose life or death. We need to remain faithful to the end, in other words.
Chapter 5 "Freedom from the Slavery of Sin"
(John 8:31-36; Romans 6:12-13, 16-23; Galatians 5:13-15; Titus 3:3-7; 1 Peter 2:16-17)
We need to understand sin as a form of slavery from which Christ has freed us, and to use our freedom to love and serve others. Sin has the power to enslave us and separates us from the family of God. We are either slaves to sin or slaves to righteousness. When we are committed to righteousness, we have hope. Freedom from sin means freedom to love others for their own sake.
Chapter 6 "The Battle between the Flesh and the Spirit"
(Romans 7:14-25;81-25; Galatians 5:17-26)
We need to acknowledge that we all struggle with temptations of the flesh and we need to understand that we cannot win this battle on our own; only Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit, can help us.
We all struggle with resisting temptations and sins of the flesh, and we cannot resolve this dilemma on our own. Only in Christ can we experience victory over our struggles with the flesh. We encounter the pull of the flesh in many areas of our lives, and if we live by the flesh, we cannot please God. The Spirit dwells in us, giving us life. He is much stronger that the power of sin that brings death.
Because the Spirit dwells in us, we are adopted sons and daughters of God. Therefore, have hope in both the redemption of our bodies and of creation itself.
Chapter 7 "The Influences of the World and the Devil"
(John 1:29-30;3:16-20;8:12,23-27;12:46-48;14:27;17:13-19; 2 Corinthians 11:13-14; 2 Timothy 2:24-26)
We need to develop a proper perspective of the world, seeing it as God's creation and an object of his love, but also to be aware of the darkness in the world because of sin. Like Jesus, we are called to be a light to the world but we can expect opposition. We need to understand that we must also be on guard against the lies of Satan.
The world is the object of God's loving desire. He created it, and his purpose in sending his Son into the world was to save the world, not condemn it. The world is in darkness because of sin, but Jesus is the light of the world. The way out of this darkness is to believe in him.
The disciples of Jesus are not of the world but are sent into the world with the truth of God's word. While we should take a positive view of the world, we should also know that the world will oppose Jesus and those he sends into the world. As followers of Jesus, we are called to bring the light of Jesus Christ into the darkness. Knowing the truths of our faith will help us see through the lies of Satan. [And we as Penitents are called to Prayer, to Scripture and to know our Catechism by our lessons in formation!]
We are called to put to death the sins that are part of our "old self" and to put on the virtues that conform to Christ. It is God's action in us, through the Holy Spirit, that transforms us into the likeness of God's glory. We cannot accomplish this transformation ourselves.
Because Baptism is a participation in Christ's death and resurrection, the Christian receives the grace of dying to sin in order to live for God in Christ Jesus. Forgiveness of sins prepares for this new life of grace, virtue, and holiness. We must be generous in forgiving the people who have offended us. The way we forgive others is the norm by which our Father will forgive us.
Chapter 9 "Meditating on the Gospels"
(Mark 2:1-12; Matthew 9:9-13; Luke 7:36-50;15:11-32;19:1-10; John 4:4-42; 8:2-11)
We need to pray about sin and allow God to address us and heal our souls.
In Chapter 10 "Meditating on the Psalms" we do the same...
(Psalm 6; 32; 38; 51; 103; 130)
We pray the penitential psalms in order to experience the emotions and attitudes of the psalmist.
The Book is worth the purchase, as Fr. Mitch's reflections on each chapter and topic are always on-point and resonate deeply with us as Penitents.
Yours in Christ Jesus, Mary, and St. Joseph,
~Eric Welch, Novice 1 in the Confraternity of Penitents
Letter from One Who Serves the CFP
THE TRIUNE GOD
In chapter V of Introduction to Christianity, Professor Joseph Ratzinger deals with the triune nature of God as it appears in the Apostles’ Creed: “I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried.” This first sentence in the Creed speaks of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Many doctrines are contained in this first sentence of the Creed, but one extremely important doctrine is the doctrine of the Trinity or the Triune nature of God. While much has been written about the Trinity both in asserting it and denying it, Professor Ratzinger cautions that we must make sure that we do not say too much about it: "….we cannot overlook the fact that we are now touching a realm in which Christian theology must be more aware of its limits than it has often been in the past; a realm in which any false forthrightness in the attempt to gain too precise a knowledge is bound to end in disastrous foolishness; a realm in which only the humble admission of ignorance can be true knowledge and only wondering attendance before the incomprehensible mystery can be the right profession of faith in God."
Yet, this doctrine is contained in the Creed. We need to deal with what it really means. Professor Ratzinger explains: "The doctrine of the Trinity did not arise out of speculation about God, out of an attempt by philosophical thinking to figure out what the fount of all being was like; it developed out of the effort to digest historical experiences. The biblical faith was concerned at first---in the Old Covenant---with God, who was encountered as the Father of Israel, the Father of the peoples, the Creator of the world and its Lord. In the formative period of the New Testament comes a completely unexpected event in which God shows himself from a hitherto unknown side: in Jesus Christ one meets a man who at the same time knows and professes himself to be the Son of God. One finds God in the shape of the ambassador who is completely God, not some kind of intermediary being, yet with us says to God 'Father'. In the Gospels, Jesus Christ says many things which no man or angel could say. This caused the Jews who did not believe in Him to induce the Roman powers to crucify Him. Yet He also made it clear that He was not the Father since he often spoke of the Father, prayed to the Father, and even addressed the Father in public." Professor Ratzinger then goes on to say: "But this means that God meets me here, not as Father, but as son and as my brother, whereby---both incomprehensibly and quite comprehensibly---a duality appears in God: God as 'I' and 'You' in one. This new experience of God is followed finally by a third, the experience of the Spirit, the presence of God in us, in our innermost being. And again it turns out that this 'Spirit' is not simply identical either with the Father or the Son, nor is he yet a third thing erected between God and us; it is the manner in which God gives himself to us, in which he enters into us, so that he is in man yet, in the midst of this 'indwelling', is infinitely above him."
Next Professor Ratzinger points out for us the challenge that these data pose for Christians: "We can thus observe that the Christian faith first comes to deal with God in this triple shape in the course of its historical development, as a matter of sheer fact. It is clear that it had to begin straightaway to consider how these different pieces of data were to be reconciled with each other. It had to ask itself how these three forms of historical encounter with God were related to the particular reality of God himself. Is the triplicity of the form in which God is experienced perhaps only his historical mask, in which he approaches man in different roles yet always as the One? Does this triplicity only tell us something about man and the various modes of his relationship to God, or does it shed light on what God is like in himself? If today we might swiftly feel inclined to regard only the former as conceivable and with that to consider all the problems solved, before taking refuge in such a solution we ought to make ourselves aware of the scope of the question. The point at issue here is whether man in his relations with God is only dealing with the reflections of his own consciousness or whether it is given to him to reach out beyond himself and to encounter God himself. In either case the consequences are far-reaching. If the first hypothesis is true, then prayer, too, is only an occupation of man with himself; there are no more grounds for worship, strictly speaking, than there are for prayers of petition---and this inference is in fact drawn to an increasing degree. This renders all the more pressing the question of whether it does not rest in the end on comfortable thinking that takes the line of least resistance without asking too many questions. For if the other answer is the correct one, worship and prayer are not only possible; they are commanded, that is, they are a postulate of the being 'man' who is open to God."
"Anyone who sees the profundity of the question will at the same time understand the passionate nature of the struggle that was fought out around it in the ancient Church; he will understand that anything but hair-splitting and formula-worship was involved, as a superficial view might easily suggest. Indeed, he will realize that the strife of those days is flaring up afresh today in just the same form---the one constant struggle of man for God and for himself---and that we cannot endure as Christians if we think it permissible to make it easier for ourselves today than it was then. Let us anticipate the answer found in those days to the parting between the path of faith and a path bound to lead to the mere appearance of faith: God is as he shows himself; God does not show himself in a way in which he is not. On this assertion rests the Christian relation with God; in it is grounded the doctrine of the Trinity; indeed, it is this doctrine."
Even though Professor Ratzinger wrote these words in the 1960’s, he has uncovered here a fault line which was opening up in Christianity in general and the Catholic Church in particular since Vatican II closed in 1965. This fault line has widened greatly in the decades since then. Can we trust Divine Revelation? Professor Ratzinger says “Yes!” when he says “God is as he shows himself.” Many do not agree with the Professor. Are we encountering the depth of our own consciousness when we truly pray and worship, or is it possible to reach out and truly encounter God? For example, is the liturgy about us, or is it about God? Is prayer a probing of the depths of God within us, or is it a reaching out to encounter the God above us? Unfortunately, these things are not discussed much anymore. Those who bring them up are labeled as “fundamentalists”. One can wonder if much of the opposition which Joseph Ratzinger encountered in the Church while he was Perfect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and later when he became Pope can be traced to this fault line within the Church. As Professor Ratzinger put it, we need to make a choice “between the path of faith and a path bound to lead to the mere appearance of faith”. This is a choice we all have to make.
--Jim Nugent, CFP
No Greater Love
A story of learning humility from anger
About 5 years ago, one of the deacons in formation had the duty of closing up the church. My habit had been to stay and pray as long as possible. Well, I’d been at this parish maybe 4 years so I was comfortable praying there and on Christmas Sunday I went down front to pray at the new nativity. I hoped I would be permitted to stay and pray a rosary and then let myself out. Well, the deacon said no, you have to leave. I was instantly mortified. The pastor who was helping close up herded me into the side adoration chapel where I prostrated. I realized I had been getting one signal after another to leave that parish. Also, I wasn’t “in the mood” for the prayer of adoration at that point but an act of humility/reparation seemed needed before I departed.
I got to confession at a nearby parish the following week and repented of my anger. This confessor was also the pastor. He surprisingly said I could stay and pray there as long as I needed after the church closed up. He was true to his word and was a great mercy. At times I returned to daily Mass at the old parish when unavoidable and learned to better adapt prayer to the particular church/space availability. That deacon later led a Wednesday rosary which I had attended a number of times. Eventually I even smiled when I received communion from him.
The saints later helped me to appreciate unwelcoming people as aids to humility (to count it a loss if not insulted or despised) and to submit to God’s will which ironically led me to my new parish. Ironic because it was generally harder to pray there so this required further detachment, but also fitting that this parish would have the least comfortable pews and kneelers. Circumstances sometimes make a bit more sense in hindsight.
Those facing mortality often vent at ‘safe targets’ and that deacon recently passed away from cancer at 62 after only serving two years after ordination. A sacristan let me know and I did receive the graces to pray at his wake, funeral Mass, and burial. Eternal rest...
A saint noted for humility: “Have love in your hearts but repress the tendency to appear devout.”
–St. Mary Mazzarello
Aimee Fleming, CFP
Reflections on the Rule
17. All are to refrain from formal oaths unless where necessity compels, in the cases excepted by the Sovereign Pontiff in his indult, that is, for peace, for the Faith, under calumny, and in bearing witness.
17. In keeping with section 17 of this Rule:
17a. All are to refrain from formal oaths except where required by law.
Oaths can get a person in trouble, and they are morally and sometimes legally binding. Hence, Francis wanted none of his penitent followers to take oaths unless necessary by law. As penitents, our word should be sufficient. We need not back it up with an oath or rash promise.
Affiliates should refrain from unnecessary oaths and rash promises, just as penitents should. Even telling someone what you think they would like to hear, with little or no intention of following up on your word, is sinful because it is a lie. The best way to avoid sinning with an oath is to not take one.
New England Lighthouse
Silent bunker of the light
Coastal beacon showing bright
Defusing danger by the sight
Our savior seasoned through the night
We ride the gauntlet waves alone
Divine grace by its staves are shown
Will of nature thus behaves
Born of divinity thus it places
What things the ocean bears at night
The lighthouse steadfastly glares its light
A grace beyond it always cares
Its beaconed guidance simply shares
Onward is the night that goes
Onward thus the light that shows
On and on it glints and glows
In summer, fall and winter snows!
--Joseph Matose IV, CFP Affiliate
Virtues Portrayed in the San Damiano Crucifix
Is a beauty a virtue? Not really, but the ability to see and recognize beauty is a virtue. The San Damiano crucifix is a beautiful icon, not only in the rendition of the artwork but also in the message. Both the artwork and the message it portrays should inspire a sense of awe at the beauty portrayed. God is the source and the perfection of all virtues. Scripture speaks about the beauty and magnificence of God. When we look at the crucifix of San Damiano, we are struck by this beauty and magnificence. May the crucifix help us to see beauty around us and within us and others, all as reflections of the beauty that is God.
Saint of the Month
Blessed Elena Aiello (1895-1961)
Blessed Elena Aiello of Cozenza, Italy, was a stigmatist, victim soul, mystic, and foundress of the Minim Tertiaries of the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ. While she had many mystical experiences, and also bore the stigmata on Fridays, she was not beatified for these phenomena. She was beatified for the holiness of her life and her trust in God through the many trials which she experienced in following His Will.
Blessed Elena’s parents were devout Catholics, and she was devoted to prayer and penance at an early age. Even as a child, she did not let pain stop her from following what she believed was God’s Will. While she desired to be a nun, her father made her wait to implement her vocation due to the World War situation in 1915. During this time, she nursed invalids, refugees, prisoners, and the dying, thus beginning the works of charity which she would perform throughout her life. Finally her father gave her permission to enter religious life provided that she enter a particular Order. She did this despite the fact that she received a prophetic message that she would not persist in this Order because God had other plans for her. And so it was. She was stricken with intestinal pain and a severe pain in her left shoulder which became gangrenous, thus forcing her to leave the Order when surgery did not cure the problem. Her illness got worse, and the doctor diagnosed her with stomach cancer. However, Elena was confident that she would not die as she entrusted her prayers to St. Rita to intercede for her healing.
About this time, she began to receive the crown of thorns and the stigmata of Christ on Fridays. Jesus told her that her suffering would be for the salvation of souls, a mission which she accepted.
Feeling called to establish a religious Order of charity, Elena wondered where she could find a house to begin this work. She prayed to St. Therese of Liseaux and, one day on a bus, she met a Carmelite nun who pointed out a house to her, told her how much money to offer the owner, and assured her that this was the house where she was to begin her foundation. When the nun disappeared, Elena felt that she must have been the saint herself. All came about as the nun had said, and Elena began her Order with another woman who had also been in religious life but who also had to leave due to illness.
The two sisters began an apostolate of offering religious instruction to neglected children. They extended their work everywhere and were instrumental in bringing people back to the faith, and having invalid marriages rectified, having children baptized, and having communion brought to the elderly. Their apostolate developed rapidly, and they had to move to a larger house, all of this while some people spoke in derogatory terms about Sister Elena’s physical sufferings. Eventually the sisters began to care for orphaned girls and this became their main ministry. They named their Institute “Sister Minims of the Passion of Our Lord.” Meanwhile, Sister Elena brought additional graces to the ministry by her daily fasting by eating only vegetables and water.
While people continued to criticize the organization because of the health of its foundress, the Institute grew and eventually was recognized as a Congregation of Pontifical Rite. Several times the Congregation received miraculous financial help at the last minute. Despite accusations from those who did not understand, and subsequent investigations of Elena’s mental and physical health, the stealthy maneuvers to end the Congregation eventually subsided to a degree. However, trials, hardships, and setbacks occurred simultaneously with growth and expansion.
The Congregation suffered in the destruction that overwhelmed Italy during World War II yet survived through it. Sister Elena wrote to Mussolini, urging him to follow God’s Will and not his own, but her letters were, of course, unheeded. Even as her health further declined with age, Sister Elena was given prophecies about the future in which the Lord asked for prayer and penance because the world was in a worse state spiritually than during the deluge which caused Noah’s flood.
Sr. Elena died in a state of holiness in 1965 and was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI in 2011. Blessed Elena Aiello, pray for us to have the charity for others and disregard for ourselves that you did. Amen.
Quote from a Saint:
Withered is the source of my tears; even prayer is dying on my poor lips. Hope is all that is left to me. (Blessed Elena Aiello)
Blessed Elena Aiello reminds us that when we can neither pray nor weep for our sins, we need to still cling to hope. Hope now means a feeling of expectation and desire; it used to mean a sense of trust. When we say that the three theological virtues are faith, hope, and love, we mean a sense of trust when we refer to hope. We are trusting that God will make all work to the good in His eternal plan. We do not need to know what that plan is. We have hope (trust) in God and that is sufficient. Blessed Elena had this hope throughout the many trials of her life, and it sustained her through them all and was realized in how God's plans evolved. So it will be in our lives, if we cling to hope (trust) when all seems futile. God knows what He is doing.
Quote from Scripture:
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)
God was not speaking to Jeremiah alone. God is speaking to all of us. Atheists cannot believe that God would care about everyone so personally much less be able to orchestrate each individual life to the best for each person. But this is because atheists cannot see God in any sense other than in their own human terms. It is easy to fall into pride that says we can achieve all on our own, we can make plans and effect them without any input from any supposed God. We cannot be humble enough to realize that we to God are far more powerless than an inchworm is to us. An inchworm could never imagine how the CEO of a multimillion dollar coorporation can juggle so many different tasks and keep so many people operating so efficiently all at the same time. And just such a CEO is less than an inchworm in power and ability compared to the eternal God. If we can keep our perspective, we will definitely trust God because we recognize our limits and His limitlessness. Lord, may Your plans for my life be realized and may I not stand in Your Way as You act. Amen.
Happy Birthday to:
Gregory G 6/5
James N 6/6
JR R 6/6
Blair D 6/9
Mary Ann G 6/12
Bill E 6/13
Nicholas C 6/13
Patricia D 6/16
Mary Elizabeth 6/20
Rhea S 6/21
Fr. Terry S 6/21
Denise L 6/22
Carolyn D 6/24
Dolores V 6/25
Luis M 6/26
Nancy M 6/29
A little boy was waiting for his mother to come out of the grocery store. As he waited, he was approached by a man who asked, "Son, can you tell me where the Post Office is?" The little boy replied, "Sure! Just go straight down this street a coupla blocks and turn to your right." The man thanked the boy kindly and said, "I'm the new pastor in town. I'd like for you to come to church on Sunday. I'll show you how to get to Heaven." The little boy replied with a chuckle. "Awww, come on... you don't even know the way to the Post Office."
The the Catholic school teacher asked Johnny, “Where is the Vatican?” Johnny stalled a minute and then said, “Where do you think it is?” The teacher replied, “I don't think; I know.” Johnny grinned and said, “I don't think I know, either!”
Confraternity Photo Album
Life Pledge and Private Vow of William Clifford (br. John of the Cross) - May 8, 2014
William Clifford (br. John of the Cross) with his wife Kari, their three sons, and Fr. Michael Dooley, taken immediately after William's pledge and private vow to live the Rule of the Confraternity of Penitents for life.
William Clifford (br. John of the Cross) with his three sons, friend Sheryl was acted as a witness to his pledge and private vow, and Father Michael Dooley who received Will's pledge and vow in the name of the Church.
The Confraterity of Penitents welcomes with great joy our dear brother in Christ William Clifford, who, on May 8, 2014, made his pledge and private vow to live the Confraternity of Penitents' Rule and Constitutions for life. William took the privately vowed name of br. John of the Cross and made his profession at St. Mary, Star of the Sea Church, in Port Chalmers, New Zealand. William (br. John of the Cross) is a formator in the Confraternity of Penitents and newly appointed Regional Minister of the new Pope Saint John XXIII CFP Region consisting of Australia and New Zealand, assuming some of the work done by Asia's Regional Minister, our dear brother and life pledged member Gilbert Cervantes. The Confraternity rejoices with you, William (br. John of the Cross) and is grateful to your family for their support in this journey. We thank God for your vocation and the gift of you to us all!
Featured Items CFP Holy Angels Gift Shop
These and many more items are available through the Confraternity of Penitents Holy Angels Gift Shop, 1702 Lumbard Street, Fort Wayne IN 46803 USA. email: firstname.lastname@example.org phone: 260-739-6882.
Please visit the on line shop at cfpholyangels.com
All proceeds go to support the Confraternity of Penitents in its ministry of promoting penance (conversion) worldwide. May God bless you for your prayers and support!
San Damiano Crucifix Key Chain. 2.50
Be a Man! Book by Fr. Larry Richards. Spiritual wake up call that will amuse while convict you to be the man God created you to be. 17.95
Religious Postage Stamp Bookmarks. Several varieties. These are actual collector's edition postage stamps encased in a laminated bookmark with tassel, with text about the stamp on the reverse. 4.95 plus free shipping.