Confraternity of Penitents Monthly Newsletter -- May 2014
Alleluia! The Lord is risen! He has truly risen! The whole world is basking in His love for us.
We have completed 40 days of Lent and, as Catholics, good Catholic guilt comes into our lives and we do penance very well. Now Lent is over and we can celebrate and Father Jacob can have his donut again! Praise the Lord!
We started with the Triduum, on Holy Thursday, celebrating the Lord’s Last Supper where He gives us the Eucharist, He gives us a little bit of Himself. He gives us not only Himself but He also gives us hope. :This is My body; this is My Blood. Do this in remembrance of Me," He said. His disciples and apostles hear this at the Last Supper and are saying something like, "In remembrance of you? Where are you going?" But many times the Lord told them that He was going to have to die. But His death came as a surpise to them. Death will come as a surprise to us all.
However, the beauty of the life of a Christian is that the great surprise is that life comes after death. That is what we learned on Good Friday when all the Christian world was waiting, waiting in that beautiful silence of the Liturgy where we adore that beautiful cross on which our Lord hung -- he hung on that cross and died for us. He loved us so much that He loved us to the end.
In that moment, when He finally said, "It is finished," not only were His apostles so afraid that they fled, but you can imagine that the devil thought he had won. The devil thought, "Yes! I have finally done it. I have conquered my foe. I have all humanity to myself." We can see in the resurrection that this is not the case.
Why do we have candles here at Mass? To remind us that there is light in darkness and the light comes into the entire world when Christ breathed his last, that light that would lead us out of any darkness in our lives. It is not just a light in time 2000 years ago but a light for today. Jesus wished to bring us out of any darkness into the light.
There is truly this battle that goes on. We often hear about a battle between the forces of darkness and the forces of light. You know that kids think about this battle all the time. They call this The Force -- Star Wars, Darth Vader and Yoda right? So often our stories, our fables and tales, talk about the struggle between darkness and light, and these are combating always. And those are really stories, but there is a reality to them.
The devil wishes to take us away, and he began the destruction with with Adam and Eve. He thought he was going to win ijn the Garden of Eden, but on Easter, we celebrate that the battle was won by Christ when He had finally overcome and done what He had come for. And all darkness failed before the light.
So we need to take stock. We need to enter into this battle and realize that this battle is not a battle about power or money or lands or any earthly sense. This battle is for our souls, for our hearts. God does not want power or lands or money; He wants our hearts. The light of Christ is here to lead us to Him, to lead us to that place where we will always abide with Him.
Remember that song "Onward Christian Soldiers?" Some of you might remember that. We do not sing this much in recent times, but it is good imagery. I remember that most especially when I was at St. Michael’s Parish when I was a Deacon in Ohio, and there was a sister there, Sister Jacinta who was in the Order Mary of Mother of the Eucharist in Ann Arbor. She taught the first Eucharist class that had 11 boys and no girls in it. Man, that woman is a saint! And she would come in to that class with those rowdy boys and, from the first minute, she had those boys following her. They loved her from the first minute. I think they were fascinated by her. They would follow her around. They got their nickname at the church: the 11 ducklings. Because sister would walk past with her hands folded behind her back, and they would follow her and clasp their hands behind their backs just the same way. Sister Jacinta did amazing things with those boys because they knew how much she loved them. So whenever I would come into the classroom, she would have them all sit up and say, "Hello, Deacon Jacob," all at the same time. Then she would say, "Soldiers of Christ, lend me your ears." She would then quote that beautiful passage from Scripture about putting on the armor of God--the breastplate, the helmet, all the articles of faith and salvation that help protect us from the devil. She would tell them that we are entering into this battle and then she would say, "Soldiers of Christ, what is your weapon?" and they would all reach into their pockets and bring out their little rosaries.
That is what were talking about we are talking about when we sing "Onward, Christian Soldiers." We are talking about this salvation history that began in Eden and continued all the way through with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and David and then with Jesus and now all the Saints up until us, this beautiful story of Easter, this beautiful story of Christ conquering sin and death. We are a part of that story--you and I, no matter where we are, whether we are at home or in the workplace or in a hospital -- wherever we are, we are part of this world battle, the battle for our hearts.
The Lord into asks us to enter into that battle, not only for our own self but for others. Make this day a choice so that light can conquer the darkness in our hearts. Jesus has gone before us. We go to meet Him when we approach the altar to receive there His Body and Blood. But after Mass, He remains with us. He is always with us. The angel at the tomb told the women, "He goes before you into Galilee. There you will see Him." What is your Galilee? Your home? Your workplace? Your hospital bed? Your school? Your neighborhood? In the poor? In the suffering? In Scripture? At Mass? In those who could care less about Jesus? Yes! Christ goes before you into Galilee. There you will see Him. Look for Him there. Anticipate Him there. Go to meet him there and bring the light of Christ with you. Alleluia!
--Father Jacob Meyer, Visitor, Confraternity of Penitents
Following Francis, Following Christ
To Serve the Master, You Must Go with Him
Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me. (John 12:26)
Almighty, eternal, just, and merciful God, give to us wretches to do for Thee what we know Thee to will and to will always that which is pleasing to Thee; so that inwardly purified, inwardly illumined and kindled by the flame of the Holy Ghost, we may be able to follow in the footsteps of Thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and by Thy grace alone come to Thee the Most High, who in perfect Trinity and simple Unity livest and reignest and gloriest God Almighty forever and ever. Amen. (Saint Francis of Assisi, Letter to the Entire Order)
This reflection is called “Following Francis, Following Christ.” How many times have we read the passage from John 12:26: Whoever serves me must follow me. I could not tell how many times I have read or heard this passage. But the truth of it struck me in a unique way recently. Whoever serves me must follow me. Well, of course! Consider someone who has a servant. The master makes the decisions about where he or she is going. They tell the servant what to do. The servant may not have marching orders for 24 hours a day. But the servant will get his or her marching orders as the day progresses, and these orders will come from the master, precisely because the servant is with the master. Remember, when Jesus spoke these words, there were no telephones, emails, or text messages. If you wanted to know what the master wanted you to do at any moment, you had to be with the master. There was simply no way to serve the master if you are not right there alongside him or her.
Today it often seems like we are in the business of going through our lives without considering whether or not we are actually in the immediate presence of the Master. It is almost like we think that God will send us a message when he wants our attention. Maybe this message will come through prayer or through something we read in Scripture or through another person. And we may be attentive to those things, anticipating that perhaps, at some point, God will speak to us or give us some direction so we know what would be the Christian thing to do at any particular moment. But this is not what Jesus is saying. Jesus is saying, “The serves me must follow me, and where I am my servant also will be.” This implies that the servant is always in the presence of the master. The servant is always attentive to the master. The servant is not waiting for the master to break into the servant’s daily routine with an order. The servant’s daily routine is to serve the master and to be attentive to what the master wants. It’s the master who sets the routine. The servant goes along with it because he or she is a servant.
To me this means a whole new way of thinking about serving the Lord. It requires being aware of God’s presence at every single moment and keeping ourselves in that presence. It means not getting distracted from an awareness of God because we are now focusing on things of the world instead of on him. How can we keep this mindset? Perhaps if we look at ourselves as servants and not necessarily as spiritual entrepreneurs. The servant mindset is a humble one, because we acknowledge that we are not in charge. We are attentive always to the Lord’s actions at every single moment. He is the one calling the shots. He is the one ordering our day, despite the fact that we may have tried to order it and control it ourselves.
St. Francis had the servant mindset. He saw himself as a servant of Christ. He wanted to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. He knew if he followed in his footsteps, he was going to be following Christ, and that was all that he wanted to do. He had no plans of his own, no agendas, no predetermined path. Yes, of course, he took his time of prayer. He took his Hermitage time when he spent weeks on end simply praying and contemplating the Lord. He served the lepers. He was attentive to those who came to him. But he was always more attentive to the Master.
When we wake in the morning, it might be a good idea to say, “Okay, Lord, what are we going to do today?” This might work better for the servant mentality than waking up thinking of all the tasks we have devised for our day. When God breaks into our day with a new direction, then we follow the Master. We are HIS servants. And Jesus has promised that God the father will honor those who serve him. That service means following HIS plans and HIS orders and not our own devices, no matter how good we think they may be.
Let us continue in our conversion, and let us pray for one another and for all those doing penance worldwide.
-- Madeline Pecora Nugent, CFP
Monthly Letter to All Penitents
FAITH IN GOD TODAY
Professor Joseph Ratzinger begins chapter IV of Introduction to Christianity with a statement on the decision which everyone makes when they recite the Creed and believe what they are saying:
After all we have said, what does it mean today when a man says, in the words of the Church’s Creed, “I believe in God”? Anyone who utters these words makes first and foremost a decision about values and emphasis in this world that is certainly comprehensible as truth ( and , indeed, in a qualified sense must be regarded as a decision for the truth) but in the last analysis can only be attained in the decision as decision. What thus takes place is also a decision in the sense that a separation is made between various possibilities. What Israel had to do in the early days of its history, and the Church had to do again at the beginning of her career, must be done afresh in every human life. Just as in those days the verdict had to be delivered against the possibilities symbolized by Moloch and Baal, against custom and in favor of truth, so the Christian statement “I believe in God” is always a process of separation, of acceptance, of purification, and of transformation. Only in this way can the Christian confession of faith in the one God be maintained in the passing ages. But in what directions does this process point today?
First, Professor Ratzinger makes it clear the direction that Christians must go: The world is objective mind; it meets us in an intellectual structure, that is, it offers itself to our mind as something that can be reflected upon and understood. This, of course, is the God of the philosopher and mathematician. While this is true, Professor Ratzinger emphasizes that the God of the Creed which Christians profess is so much more than that. He summarizes the two major categories which the many philosophies of men can fall: The question to which everything finally leads could be formulated like this: In all the variety of individual things, what is, so to speak, the common stuff of being---what is the one being behind the many “things”, which nevertheless all “exist”? The many answers produced by history can finally be reduced to two basic possibilities. The first and most obvious would run something like this: Everything we encounter is in the last analysis stuff, matter; this is the only thing that always remains as demonstrable reality and, consequently, represents the real being of all that exists---the materialistic solution. The other possibility points in the opposite direction. It says: Whoever looks thoroughly at matter will discover that it is being-thought, objectivized thought. So it cannot be the ultimate. On the contrary, before it comes thinking, the idea; all being is ultimately being-thought and can be traced back to mind as the original reality; this is the “idealistic” solution.
To reach a verdict we must ask still more precisely: What is matter, really? And what is mind? Abbreviating drastically, we could say that we call “matter” a being that does not itself comprehend being, that “is” but does not understand itself. The reduction of all being to matter as the primary form of reality consequently implies that the beginning and ground of all being is constituted by a form of being that does not itself understand being; this also means that the understanding of being only arises as a secondary, chance product during the course of development. This at the same time also gives us the definition of “mind”: it can be described as being that understands itself, as being that is present to itself. The idealistic solution to the problem of being accordingly signifies the idea that all being is the being-thought by one single consciousness. The unity of being consists in the identity of the one consciousness, whose impulses constitute the many things that are.
We can see here that the first view, that mind and consciousness arose as a secondary and chance product of development, is the orthodox evolutionary view of the origin of life. We all know that human technology did not arise as a random product of human evolutionary development but arose by human intelligent design or to put it philosophically, “mind” or “consciousness”. Yet many believe that life, which we still cannot duplicate, simply arose by irrational processes. In other words, it arose as a secondary product of development and not from “mind” or “consciousness”. However, Professor Ratzinger makes it clear that Christianity does not totally accept the second or idealistic explanation of reality either but, instead, goes beyond it. While the latter, as we have just established, explains everything real as the content of a single consciousness, in the Christian view what supports it all is a creative freedom that sets what has been thought in the freedom of its own being, so that, on the one hand, it is the being-thought of a consciousness and yet, on the other hand, is true being itself.
This also clarifies the heart of the creation concept: the model from which creation must be understood is not the craftsman but the creative mind, creative thinking. At the same time it becomes evident that the idea of freedom is the characteristic mark of the Christian belief in God as opposed to a kind of monism. At the beginning of all being it puts not just some kind of consciousness but a creative freedom that creates further freedoms. To this extent one could very well describe Christianity as a philosophy of freedom. For Christianity, the explanation of reality as a whole is not an all-embracing consciousness or one single materiality; on the contrary, at the summit stands a freedom that thinks and, by thinking, creates freedoms, thus making freedom the structural form of all being.
Finally, Professor Ratzinger goes on to further distinguish Christianity from simple idealism (that the primary is mind or consciousness and not matter) and monism (everything can be reduced to one principle, substance or thing). Professor Ratzinger asserts the primacy of the personal over some universal scheme. The highest is not the most universal but, precisely the particular, and the Christian faith is thus above all also the option for man as the irreducible, infinity-oriented being. And here once again it is the option for the primacy of freedom as against the primacy of some cosmic necessity or natural law. Thus the specific features of the Christian faith as opposed to other intellectual choices of the human mind now stand out in clear relief. We can now see that the three major options of Christianity, the primacy of mind or consciousness over the primacy of matter, the primacy the personal or particular over the universal, and the primacy of freedom over any cosmic necessity lead to God who not only thinks but can also love. This not only applies to God but also to us. We also can love.
Professor Ratzinger gives us two more implications of the Christian choice. First, there is the concept of incomprehensibility. For this leads to the conclusion that freedom is evidently the necessary structure of the world, as it were, and this again means that one can only comprehend the world as incomprehensible, that it must be incomprehensibility. For if the supreme point in the world’s design is a freedom that upholds, wills, knows, and loves the whole world as freedom, then this means that together with freedom the incalculability implicit in it is an essential part of the world. Incalculability is an implication of freedom; the world can never---if this is the position--- be completely reduced to mathematical logic. With the boldness and greatness of a world defined by the structure of freedom there comes also the somber mystery of the demonic, which emerges from it to meet us. A world created and willed on the risk of freedom and love is no longer just mathematics. As the arena of love it is also the playground of freedom and also incurs the risk of evil. It accepts the mystery of darkness for the sake of the greater light constituted by freedom and love.
There is also the implication that the Christian option has concerning the nature of the human person. …..the person, the unique and unrepeatable, is at the same time the ultimate and highest thing. In such a view of the world, the person is not just an individual, a reproduction arising by the diffusion of the idea into matter, but, precisely, a “person”. Greek thought always regarded the many individual creatures, including the many individual human beings, only as individuals, arising out of the splitting up of the idea in matter. The reproductions are thus always secondary; the real thing is the one and universal. The Christian sees in man, not an individual, but a person; and it seems to me that this passage from individual to person contains the whole span of the transition from antiquity to Christianity, from Platonism to faith.
In this chapter Professor Ratzinger has given us some of the many things which distinguish Christianity from both ancient and modern philosophies. Like Professor Ratzinger, we should also see the greatness of Christianity as compared to the many alternatives that have been proposed to Christianity.
--James Nugent, CFP
Letter from One Who Serves the CFP
I would like to share a summary of Fr. Mitch Pacwa's book "How to Listen When God is Speaking." I loved it.
We must acknowledge the following Truths:
1. God Exists
2. God is knowable to human beings.
3. God wants humans to know him.
Because God wants us to know him, we should learn better how to listen when God is speaking in our lives.
God has both acted and spoken to humans throughout the history of a specific people, Israel, which has been recorded in the Bible.
Not only has God created everything that exists, but he creates each creature as good. No creature has been created as something evil, not even Satan.
Of all the creatures God made, human beings are the only creatures made in the image and likeness of God.
Community is a way for humans to live in the image and likeness of God.
Human beings share in God's ability to know choices and to have the free will to make them.
The most basic choice needs to be an acceptance of God on his terms. Deuteronomy 6:5.
Evil is not something inherent in any creature. Rather, the good for which the creature was made has in some way been thwarted. This is especially true when another creature with a reasonable mind and free will chooses to use creatures for purposes other than those which God created them.
We need to:
1. Make a commitment to God ahead of all other commitments.
2. Commit ourselves to getting to Heaven and avoiding Hell.
3. Be willing and committed to accepting God's revelation on His terms, rather than our own.
God the Holy Spirit makes discernment possible! What we discern is that which is from God, and what which is not from God (i.e. the "world, the flesh, and the devil", where the "world" are those things of the world which can lead us astray, and not the world itself, which, again, was created "good").
We begin by asking ourselves:
First, begin with my (our) own life, myself and my own real conditions. What has been the pattern of my moral life? Do I pray? What do I do in prayer? What are the subjects of my prayer?
Second, pay attention to the spiritual movements occurring in our own actual life situation. Are there times of great joy and consolation? Do feelings of holiness, emptiness, and desolation come? What do they mean? How do we know whether God is speaking through them? If He is, how to discern what he is saying...(see section on Discernment below)
Attaining peace in prayer requires that we be reconciled with God.
Desolation is not unusual when we ignore, defend, or even embrace sin because that separates us from God.
Prayer is not a technique that is under our personal control; it is not a method by which we can guarantee or attain a certain state of consciousness. Rather, prayer is a gift a personal relationship with God, who personally reaches into the depths of our hearts and minds and lovingly addresses our needs, questions, and desires. God our lord is not under our control; he initiates the relationship and graciously guides it in such a way as to make us far better and more loving that we would ever know how to be on our own. Our role in the relationship is to seek him and ask for his help with a respect for his divine dignity, such as I might show to fellow human beings.
The prayer method is not what causes the relationship with god any more than our own speech patterns cause our friendships; it is simply a tool of communicating. The Holy Spirit guides and fills our prayer time.
How to be Equal Minded (when facing options); an old-fashioned term was "indifferent" (c.f. St. Therese of Lisieux)
Attachments and Detachments fear/pride
We make the mistake of telling God how to communicate with us, rather than listening to his call gently, quietly, and in more subtle ways. (see, e.g. the Story of Gideon in Judges 6::36-40) "fleecing the Lord."
The mature approach is to examine the various feelings associated with the two options facing us.
***For the greater Glory of God as the driving Principle.***
Trust in God's Unique Mission For Us
In being equal-minded about whatever vocation, mission, or task God has for us, remember 2 things.
1. Be united to Christ and his Church in all that we do;
2. God will fit the vocation or mission to each particular individual.
Acceptance of the vocation the Lord gives each of us will necessarily entail the exclusion of many good components of other vocations. This places a profound level of trust in God that what he has chosen fits me best.
1 Tim 2:4: We are "all desired by God to be saved and to know the truth." We do not kill those who do not comply. We do not falsify the gospel of Christ by adding untruths or by neglecting some truths, since the objective norm of God's revelation requires Christians to never bear false witness.
Avoid a "Lone Ranger" mentality.
The yoke Christ places on our shoulders includes his companionship as a yoke-mate (since yokes are placed on Ox in teams, drawing on that analogy).
We are "teamed" to the Church.
Christians who isolate themselves and who are not united with Jesus Christ and one another ironically risk losing their identity and becoming just like everyone else. (ironic because in avoiding the yoke, they claim a fear of being "just like everyone else").
--Eric Welch, CFP Postulant
No Greater Love
Rules for Discernment of Spirits (from St. Ignatius of Loyola, Spiritual Exercises, Sections 313 to 336):
-- How to accept good movements (of the Spirit), reject bad ones; this requires awareness that anything spiritual at all is happening inside us...this is the FIRST STEP of discernment. The spiritual life is an eternal life-or-death reality (i.e. not a self-help program way to improve our health benefits!). We all need to be aware of the spiritual war in which our souls are engaged. We CAN learn how to win battles against various kinds of temptations.
***How to recognize the presence of a good or a bad spirit***
Rule 1: For a person who repeatedly commits mortal sin, the enemy of our souls proposes ideas of illusory gratifications or "apparent pleasures" associated with various deeds, "filling the imagination with sensual delights and gratifications." (e.g. skipping Mass for something else, or using pornography are examples).
We NEED to identify such a temptation to illusory pleasure as an enemy spirit. That spirit creates excuses, that stem from our laziness.
We make idols of our own pleasures and possessions.
These temptations MUST be treated as opponents to be thoroughly defeated.
The good spirit uses a contrary tactic making use of reason and thought, rousing "the sting of conscience" to "fill them with remorse."
The pangs of conscience and remorse over evil behavior is a movement of the Holy Spirit.
Guilt alerts the conscience to the presence of a moral problem.
It is precisely because guilt is an unpleasant experience that we are motivated to take action to remove the guilt. (true reconciliation with God, forgiveness, request a change toward moral and good action).
Rule 2: for the person who has already decided to improve their spiritual life, moving from good to better service of the Lord). The evil sprit will now "harass with anxiety, afflict with sadness, raise obstacles backed by fallacious reasoning that disturb the soul." This prevents a "Rule 2" soul from advancing. The shift is from attraction to pleasure, to avoiding pain (sacrifice). (This is a commonly used attack against the former addicts).
The good spirit answers and tries to "give courage and strength, consolations, tears, inspiration, peace," making it easy by "removing all obstacles, so that the soul goes forward by going good."
Rules 3 & 4: Consolation and Desolation
- a prompting TO BE INFLAMED with love of Creator and Lord." BEING AFLAME IN LOVE is different than a "punishing God" concept. -- it creates a change of attitude toward other creatures.
- a strong emotional response to the realities of the spiritual life (tears are shed over poignancy of sins) (the reality of offending God, causes tears of grief). Contrast this by those who are so far off they do not even believe sins need confessing!
- Tears of sorrow over Christ's Passion...
- Increases of faith, hope, charity...
But, the PRESENCE of consolation does not eliminate the experience of pain, it is "peace surpassing understanding" (Phil 4:7)
Rule 4: Desolation
Turmoil and darkness, an inclination to what is low and earthly. Restlessness leading to decline in faith, hope, charity. Feelings of being sluggish, slothful, sad, and separated from God. Spiritual life (e.g. prayer) is tepid or lukewarm, does not bring joy or peace.
Rule 5: How to Behave During Desolation
-- avoid making decisions (for why, see below)
-- if a decision is made prior to desolation, never change that decision.
Treat Desolation as a Temptation, and hold steady to previously decided things; Because the bad sprit WANTS to guide us and direct us through desolation, but this counsel will NEVER lead to the right decision.
Rule 6: Continuation of dealing with desolation.
Instead of arguing with desolation, take every opportunity to "intensify our activity against" it.
- take time for more prayer, meditation, self-examination/penance.
Rule 7: Desolation continued...a person should consider that the Lord has left him (you, me) to our natural powers, so as to test the strength of resisting temptations. Simultaneously we need to have faith God's assistance is always present, even if not clearly perceived God will always provide the grace necessary for overcoming the temptation of desolation.
Rule 8: Encouragement During Desolation
1. Hold on to our faith patiently; patience counteracts harassments from the bad spirit;
2. Pray more, meditate more, do more penance, examine our lives more;
3. Throughout the entire time of desolation, we must keep in mind that IT WILL COME TO AN END, and be replaced by CONSOLATION.
Rule 9: Causes of Desolation
1. Tepid, lazy or negligent in doing spiritual exercise. Missing time with God is missing life's joy;
2. God desires to test us. How far will we go in service and praise without receiving consolation in return for our efforts? God gives us strength even during anxiety and spiritual emptiness. As Jesus demonstrates (Matt 4:1, Heb 5:7-8), desolation is something undergone by the sinless Son of God, and is NOT a punishment for sin;
3. Desolation makes it clear to us that WE CANNOT MAINTAIN OR CREATE SPIRITUAL CONSOLATION...including increases of faith, hope, or love...or experiences of tears and joy -- simply by human means. At times God wants us to know that these consolations are truly gifts of his grace, and not merely humanly devised techniques for good spiritual health. We cannot manufacture spiritually by our own wits and power. This helps us to remain humble, for we are totally dependant on God.
Rule 10: Urges those experiencing consolation to PREPARE for desolation. Be prepared for spiritual ups and downs, they are inevitable for everyone. This provides:
-Humility; therefore, we must maintain...
-Honest awareness of feelings (good, bad, or whatever); and
-Develop good habits of piety, prayer ,and moral behavior.
Rule 11: Preparations for changes in spiritual movements:
- Be aware of behavior during desolation (cranky, impatient, etc)
- God gives sufficient grace to overcome temptation.
Rule 12, 13, 14 Tactics of the Evil One.
Rule 12: Our soul experiences temptation to sin which is like a certain strong-willed woman who wants to argue with and control a man (think "Taming of the Shrew"). A bold confrontation and she backs off. Any weakness shown, however, she "comes at him with anger, vindictiveness, and rage."
Rule 13: Our soul experiences temptation to sin which is like a certain man in a clandestine affair outside of his marriage, insisting on secrecy from his partner to keep the affair from a responsible party. The secret keeps it going. The enemy wants us to keep our temptations and sins a secret. So long as we keep it in, we are susceptible to it. Simply telling it reduces its power.
Rule 14: Our soul experiences temptation to sin which is like a certain general (i.e. the devil) in battle, surveying the stronghold of our soul, looking for weak sports. Wherever we are vulnerable, he attacks with temptation (attacking the theological, cardinal, and moral virtues). Therefore, we should KNOW OUR WEAKNESSES, work to compensate for them by developing habits of behavior in the corresponding virtues. [as an aside, this corresponds with the moral theology of St. Francis de Sales].
Reminder: This is Spiritual Warfare, my Brothers and Sisters!! And the Church has the arsenal of weapons!!
This was adapted from Fr. Mitch Pawca's book "How to Listen When God Is Speaking."
--Eric Welch, Postulant, Confraternity of Penitents
Reflections on the Rule
16. They are not to take up lethal weapons, or bear them about, against anybody.
16. In keeping with section 16 of this Rule:
16a. They are not to take up or bear lethal weapons that would be used against other human beings with the exception of participation in a just war with the permission of the penitent's spiritual director, or as part of one's legitimate employment (police officers, for example). If a penitent is living in a dangerous environment in which a weapon may be necessary for self-defense, a spiritual director must approve the penitent's possession of any weapon.
16b. Hunting and fishing to provide meat for one's family is permitted. One is also permitted to kill animal, bird, or insect pests that may be destroying one's food supply or threatening one's life or goods.
This is a fairly straight forward section of our Rule and Constitutions. Penitents in medieval times were not to carry weapons, thus making themselves useless as a means of defending the territory and honor of the lords and rulers who were continually vying for power and engaging in vendettas. Saint Francis relinquished this jockeying for power when he embraced his life of poverty and penance. His proclamation to all was "Peace and Blessings." Pax et bonum. Penitents need to go beyond not fighting with man made weapons as they always carry with them God made body parts that can be used to stir up and prolong strife. We need to resist the quick, tempestous word and the physical striking back when offended. Francis often pointed out the Jesus was like a meek lamb led to slaughter. He wanted his followers to imitate Christ in His meekness. Not having a physical weapon forces one to trust God and to seek peace. Note that weapons can be owned if needed for a living, if living in a dangerous environment, or if used for food gathering.
Affiliates should consider being at peace with others as one of their main goals as an affiliate of the Confraternity of Penitents. They should consider every action in the light of peace. Are they promoting peace or discord by what they do or say? What weapons do they have that they do not need? Even though affiliates are not bound to live the Rule prescriptively, they are to follow its intent. The intent of this section is to make peace. As an affiliate, how good are you doing?
Don't Give Up!
Failure is only failure if we give up!
Life is a chance we all have to take--
If we fail then another effort make!
Every failure is another chance--
Get right up and do our dance--
Everyone is invited to the ball
No matter how many times we fall--
Success is always in the trying
Never, never in the dying--
If we snap our rope--
Retie in hope!
Stop your sobs and pity,
Head on for the city--
Success in life is never in the stopping
It's never in the dropping.
It's always in the topping.
Go on and stop stopping.
Failure is only failure if we give up.
So don't give up--Don't give up--
--Joseph Matose IV, CFP Affiliate
Virtues Portrayed in the San Damiano Crucifix
The San Damiano crucifix portrays loyalty in St. John the evangelist, the Blessed Mother Mary, and St. Mary Magdalene and the other woman, probably Mary of Clopas, who are gathered around the crucifix. These did not abandon Jesus when he was arrested and tried. They stayed with him, suffering the taunts of the crowd and the hoots of the soldiers. Might they have wondered if they, too, would have been arrested for being the friends of this seditionist, as the Pharisees tried to make Jesus out to be? Despite the fears they may have had, their loyalty was even stronger. They would stay with Jesus until his death, out of respect for him, out of compassion and out of their deep love. When we gaze at the San Damiano crucifix, we can question our own loyalty to Christ. How far will we follow him? How close will we stay to him during the tough times? May God give us the grace to do as St. John and these women did and stay close to Christ no matter where that takes us.
Saint of the Month
Blessed Savina Petrilli
Siena, August 29, 1851 – April 18, 1923
Savina Petrelli, who founded the Congregation of the Poor Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena, was born in Siena in 1851. Always a bit headstrong, impatient, and impulsive, she was a natural leader who taught the catechism to street children. At age 15, she was enrolled in the Congregation of the Daughters of Mary and was shortly elected president of the organization. At the age of 17, she made her first vow of virginity for a year. Pope Pius IX received her in 1869 as suggested that she follow St. Catherine of Siena.
Savina, along with some friends, began to live a life of chastity, poverty and obedience together. With the consent of their Archbishop, the first six women began their work for the benefit of the poor on August 15, 1873. Begun in Siena, the women made their first foundation outside that city by establishing a convent in Onano (now Viterbo) in 1881. In 1903, they began their first mission in Brazil. The Pope approved their constitutions at the Congregation of Pontifical Right, on June 17, 1906.The women's charism is essential Eucharistic. The Eucharist is the center of their devotion. Savina taught her sisters to live the priesthood of Christ in adoration, totally at the disposal of God the Father. They were to keep the mission of Christ ever before their eyes, announcing to all, especially to the poor the truths of the faith. The women were to seek out particularly the poor, the suffering, the abandoned, and the oppressed. "Whoever looks at us must see Jesus in us," she taught.
Savina wanted to deepen her own spirituality to the extent that she vowed not to deny anything voluntarily to the Lord. She also vowed perfect obedience to her spiritual director. She vowed not to complain deliberately about any exterior or interior difficulties. She finally vowed to abandon herself completely to the will of God.
Savina died of cancer on On April 18, 1923. Blessed Savina, pray for us!
Quote from Scripture:
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things. (Philippians 4:8)
St. Paul advises us to do what Blessed Savina also advises: to forget what was negative and to remember the positive. We have to believe that Jesus sees humanity in this way. He looks for what is good in each person. Certainly he did not come to die for the evilness in the world. He died to save the good. It was the good that was being endangered by the evil that motivated Christ to give up his life. He who is all truth, all love, all justice, all mercy, all purity, sought out those traits in us and was able to find them, no matter how tarnished our lives may appear to the world. He came to redeem us because of those qualities in ourselves that reflect our Creator. How can we dishonor Christ by thinking about the negative in our brothers and sisters when our Lord thinks about the positive in us? May we exercise charity in our dealings with all.
Quote from a Saint:
Forget everything except the blessings. -- Blessed Savina Petrilli
What a powerful bit of advice in five simple words! How much happier our lives would be if we followed that advice! We might do well to examine ourselves on what we are remembering that was not a blessing. Blessed Sabina would tell us that it is time to let that memory go. And then how has God blessed you in your life? Those are the memories to hold onto. Those are the memories that will make you strong.
Mariah D 5/3
Dawn T 5/4
Robert B 5/6
Andrea B 5/8
Victoria H 5/9
George D 5/10
Ricardo R 5/19
Alan W 5/19
Helmut H 5/20
Nancy P 5/23
Lucy F 5/23
Kathy D 5/25
Rex C 5/25
Joel W 5/27
Samuel G 5/29
Confraternity Photo Album
Grandma was in the bathroom, putting on her makeup, under the watchful eyes of her young granddaughter, as she'd done many times before. After she applied her lipstick and started to leave, the little one said, "But Grandma, you forgot to kiss the toilet paper good-bye!"
My young grandson called the other day to wish me Happy Birthday. He asked me how old I was, and I told him, 80. My grandson was quiet for a moment, and then he asked, "Did you start at 1?"
After putting her grandchildren to bed, a grandmother changed into old slacks and a droopy blouse and proceeded to wash her hair. As she heard the children getting more and more rambunctious, her patience grew thin. Finally, she threw a towel around her head and stormed into their room, putting them back to bed with stern warnings. As she left the room, she heard the three-year-old say with a trembling voice, "Who was THAT?"
Yikes! Jam packed and messy garage area--site of future library lounge, kitchen nook, restroom and shower, and prayer chapel. Will this ever be transformed? With your prayers and support and God's grace, we hope and trust that it will be!
Architect's plans to convert garage into prayer chapel, library lounge, kitchenette, bathroom, and shower.
The Confraternity of Penitents is hoping to transfer a garage into a prayer chapel, library lounge, kitchenette, bathroom and shower, for use by guests who may visit the Confraternity of Penitents headquarters by day or overnight where they can stay as guests in a detached two story hermitage. How will we ever go from the messy left hand image to the very well planned out image on the right? With your prayers and support and God's grace! All as the Lord leads because, if He wants this, He will see that it is done. And if He does not want it, then neither do we as we want to be totally in God's Will.
Please pray for this CFP Garage Renovation Project so that we are guided by the Holy Spirit in this as in all things. We estimate that we will need approximately $25,000 - $30,000 to complete the project as we have to bring both water and sewer lines into this facility and that will be costly. We trust God to provide if He wishes this to be done as the CFP does NOT have that sort of money! May God reward you for your support and prayers!
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 at www.cfpholyangels.com for the full range of items offered. They may also like to view the blog at www.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.
Chaplet of Eucharistic Adoration. Used to adore Christ in the Blessed Sacrament at any time and in any locale. 6.95 plus shipping.
Rosary Meditations for Mothers. Bulk prices available. 10c each
Holy Spirit Notepad for Those Who Still Write Letters and Notes. 2.95
Mothers' Day is coming up! The CFP Holy Angels Gift Shop has a wide variety of gifts that Moms might like including religious jewelry, statuary, books, rosaries, and medals. Shown above are only a few of the many items that special Mom in YOUR life might appreciate. Thank you for your support of our Gift Shop.