Confraternity of Penitents Monthly Newsletter Archives -- November 2014

Visitor's Vision

God Has Expectations of Us

 

When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees,
they gathered together, and one of them,
a scholar of the law tested him by asking,
"Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?"
He said to him,
"You shall love the Lord, your God,
with all your heart,
with all your soul,
and with all your mind.
This is the greatest and the first commandment.
The second is like it:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments." (Matthew 22: 34-40)

 

The Lord spells out for us very clearly what it is he expects of us. He has expectations of us, and these are expectations that we have to meet in this life.

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All of us learn in various ways about the different expectations that people expect of us. We go to work and the boss tells us what we are to do. Expectations. We know we gotta get this done. At home we all have expectations of what needs to be done. We all want these to be met in various different ways. But ultimately there are things that we have to learn. I remember one time I learned a very valuable lesson about expectations.

My mother was a very busy woman. God bless her! She worked two jobs so that she should go to school at night to become a nurse while taking care of three kids, four if you count my dad! That’s what she would say. So she was a stressed woman. God bless her—she graduated in the top of her class and we are so proud of her. God bless her! She’s awesome! All you can do is tell her she’s NOT going to do it, and that makes her fight. My Mom was driven. I knew that my mother had a lot of stress in her life, so one day I thought, “I’m going to make mom so happy. I’m going to draw her a card.” I was a mama’s boy, after all. And I thought that I was going to make mom happy,  so I set out to make mom happy. And I got out my crayon box with this little built-in sharpener (that was a genius invention!) And I set about making my mom a card. And I worked on it all afternoon until mom came home. I ran to her. “Mom, look at me! Look at this card I made for you!” She was thrilled! “Ah, what a nice card! That was so nice of you! Did you do the dishes?” Ohhh, about the dishes. . . “Don’t you like the card, Mom? I made the card.” That’s right. The dishes. . .  

Was my mom happy because I made her a card? Of course, she was! She was happy! She was thrilled! Mothers are always happy when their children show their love. But the expectation was not only that I love my mother, but that I also obey her. She had a job for me to do. I knew what my job was. And I knew very well that I was ignoring that job when I made the card. And so she called me to task. I had to learn by experience that it is not enough to simply to show love, but I must also be obedient.

And that is the expectation that God has of us today. It is not enough for us to love Him. We must also obey Him and serve Him, and not only serve Him, but serve Him in others. He wants us to realize that every single person in this world is made in the image and likeness of God, and we are called to show them love as we are called to show God love.

What does this mean for us? This means that none of us can just check the Sunday box. None of us can merely just go to Sunday Mass every Sunday our whole lives and expect that to be enough. Is God happy that you go to Sunday Mass! He is thrilled, just like my mom was thrilled with that card, but it cannot end there. If it ends there, just like my mother, God will not be satisfied. We must love God, but we must also obey Him. So we must serve Him in love by serving others. We have to find some way outside of Sunday Mass that we are called to give of ourselves out of love to our neighbor. And we have to remember that we are going to be judged upon this. This is not something extra.  This is part of the bare minimum of what it means to be a Christian. The bare minimum.

How are you serving your parish, your community, your family, your work place? The Confraternity of Penitents ask that each member participate in one or more of the spiritual or corporal works of mercy. Check them out! These are ways to show your love of God by serving others. Which ones is He calling you to do?

 

--Father Jacob Meyer, Visitor

Following Francis, Following Christ

Keeping up with St. Francis

 

It has been difficult to follow St. Francis as I continue to research material for this book that I am working on. I recently heard a homily that explained why it has been such a puzzle to find out where Francis was and when.

 

When Francis went to see the pope about his original rule, in the year 1209, he had about a dozen men who wanted to live as he did. At the time of his death in 1226, historians estimate conservatively that there were 5000 friars. These friars were scattered over Europe into England and Germany. They also had friaries in the Middle East. The men were living in friaries that they built, for the most part, or that were given to them by benefactors. The men lived very simple, poor lives of prayer, service to the poor, and work. But if you assume that there were approximately 12 men per friary, that means that, at the time of St. Francis's death, there were over 400 friaries. And while Francis probably never visited every single one of them, as we have no record of him going to England, for example, or going to Germany, he did visit a great many of those friaries in Italy, Spain, and the Middle East.

 

Keeping up with Francis is like keeping up with a traveling hobo. His apparent plan was to spend several specific weeks per year in a hermitage in prayer, but that hermitage could be any one of many friaries, and sometimes no friary at all but rather an isolated place such as an island in the middle of a lake. Part of his plan was to return to the Portiuncola once or twice a year, depending on the year, for a prearranged gathering of his friars. At these gatherings, the friars would discuss problems they had, the Rule, and where the Friars would be assigned until the next gathering.

 

In between these scheduled times, Francis was led by the circumstances of his life. We find him in  various places at various times, with no apparent rhyme or reason, many times, for him being there. At times, he was in Rome to visit the Pope or other Cardinals of the Church. He apparently went to certain towns and cities with a friar from that area, possibly visiting the other friar's family and friends and preaching penance to the town. Sometimes he was asked to speak in one town by someone who was visiting another one where he had spoken. Thus he would go where he was invited. Often times nobles who heard him speak invited him to their castles, and he would preach to the nobility and to the servants who worked for them.

 

Francis let no grass grow under his feet in proclaiming the Gospel. But he also took a great deal of time out of his busy schedule for prayer, silence, and solitude with God. Francis shows us that, around our obligations that we are required to meet, we need to go with the flow of life as it unfolds. There is no indication in the histories that St. Francis ever grew stressed about not being in a certain place at a certain time. He went where the Spirit led him, and he went when the Spirit led. As we draw closer to Christmas and get caught up in all the "have to do's" of the season, it may be wise to pray for the spirit of freedom which St. Francis enjoyed. Certainly we have some obligations, and those we should meet. But we often have expectations for ourselves, or others have them for us. And those we would do well to evaluate. What does God expect of us? That is the real question and one which Francis pondered every day.

 

If someone were writing your biography 100 years from now, would they find it difficult to keep up with your whereabouts and schedule? Maybe if they found it easy, they might wonder who was leading you moment to moment. Are you the leader of your life? Or is the Holy Spirit? We might do well to ponder that question.

 

-- Madeline Pecora Nugent, CFP

Monthly Letter to All Penitents

Insignificant Creature

Matthew 25: 40

               

"The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'  (Matthew 25:40)

Yesterday morning I was walking out on the prison yard.  I was doing some praying and contemplation.  As I was doing this, I saw a worm on the dry ground.  I really did not think too much of it; I just passed by.  Then the verse from Matthew hit me.  I thought about how Saint Francis looked at God’s creation.  So as I went back around (because in prison all you can do is go around and around, or straight there and straight back). I picked the worm off the dry ground and took it to where a puddle of water was and dropped it in the water.  You should have seen it move when it hit that water.  I washed it off, put it on some moist soil and walked off.  When I got back around to the place where I found it, there was another worm.  I did the same for it.  Then I found four or five more and did the same.

The last one I found had been struggling on the ground for some time.  Around the entire worm there was a layer of dirt and dust.  The dirt closest to its skin was wet and the dirt farther away was dry.  You could see how the dirt was leeching the life giving water out of it.   I thought that this is just like sin in a person’s life.  If you have only one sin, it really does not affect you that bad, but as time goes along and sins pile up, it just takes more and more spirit out of you.  Before long, you are just completely consumed by it.

The sun was shining down on the worm, and its skin was shining because of the moisture that was coming out of its skin. I thought that the sun, the very thing that gives it life, is now destroying it. When I am living in unrepentant sin, that is how it is for me. But I do not think it is so much that God is doing the destroying, but it is the very law that He wrote in my heart. Iti is my own conscience that is destroying me. That poor worm! No matter how much it fought and struggled, it could not change the state it was in. Then God sent someone to help it. That is what God has done for me, through his Son Jesus Christ. Thank you, Jesus, for giving your life for me. Also, thank you for the teachers and the teachings you have put in my life. You reached down in these prison walls and lifted my spirit, when others told me all is lost. Amen

Later on I noticed a worm that had been dead for some time, and all of the moisture was gone out of it.  There was not any dirt left on it.  I thought, “That is just like sin.  After it has got all it can get out of you, it falls off and there you are with no visible trace of it left on you. But you left dead spiritually if not actually physically, which often happens, too.”

Thank you, Jesus, for allowing me to help your creatures.  Thank you for allowing me to do good, no matter how small.  Thank you for the many blessings you have put in my life.  Thank you for giving me Mary to be my Mother and example.  Amen.

                                                                Least brother Tim Strickland, Alessandro Ministry

Letter from One Who Serves the CFP

Christ's Cross and the Spirit in the Sky

 

My brother, who lives in the pine country in California, is not a practicing Christian but he knows that I am and so, when he sees something that could be construed as spiritual, he thinks about me. I reply back with the spiritual insight and meditation that it created in me.

 

Recently he sent me a video showed crossing vapor trails from airplanes. In the video a bird crossed over. I searched for the image of the bird and came up with a photo that sparked the following meditation. 

 

When I see these vapor trails, I see the cross of Christ, the Son of the Father, the Second person in the Holy Trinity, and the Holy Spirit, represented as a dove in Christianity at the top of the crucifix. I do not see plane vapor or a bird flying across the screen. My first impression is spiritual. Then I looked at your picture of the full moon off your deck, and saw God's creation - nothing can exist without Him. If He forgot creation for a moment, it would vanish. Yet it is full of life, structure, beauty, and the moon rotating in its place fixed by God's hand, and peace and quiet, with fresh air to breath, helping us live and see his world, and Him in it. Meditating, I think of what a beautiful place Heaven must be, and I want to go there.

 

We must bear our crosses in this world, and believe in Him, as he taught us. He gave us bread and wine, the Body and Blood of himself, in the Eucharist, at the Last Supper, and the priest to administer it, "Do this in memory of me." And once in a while, He reminds us with a simple prompt, vapor in the sky and a bird, of this great mystery in which we are asked to have faith and trust and in which we are to rely, in His Church. Amen.

 

Paul Phelan, CFP

Vapor Cross with Bird, made into Breviary Cover by Paul Phelan

Paul Phelan with Vapor Cross Breviary Covers Which He Made

No Greater Love

JESUS OR CHRIST?

 

In part II of his Introduction to Christianity, which is concerned with faith in Jesus Christ, Professor Joseph Ratzinger looks at some to the twists and turns which modern theology has taken concerning how we are to view Jesus Christ.   A  barrier has been erected between the actual Jesus of Nazareth, the “historical Jesus”, and the faith and doctrines of the Church concerning the Christ.  It is assumed that “Jesus” and “Christ” are very different from each other. We have to choose between the basic proclamation of Jesus by the apostles and the “Christ of faith” which is riddled with hard to understand doctrines like the Divinity of Christ, Redemption, Grace, and the Trinity.  Professor Ratzinger puts it like this: The dilemma of the two courses---on the one hand, that of transposing or reducing Christology to history and, on the other, that of escaping history completely and abandoning it as irrelevant to faith---could be quite accurately summarized in the two alternatives by which modern theology is vexed:  Jesus or Christ?

 

As a result of the separation of “Jesus” from “Christ”, some theologians have attempted to “purify” Christianity from later doctrines and return to the “original” Christianity preached by Jesus..  Professor Ratzinger describes the theology of Adolf von Harnack (1851-1930) beginning with a famous quote from that Lutheran theologian.  “Not the Son but only the Father belongs in the Gospel as Jesus preached it.”  How simple, how liberating this seems!  Where faith in the son had divided people---Christians from non-Christians, Christians of different denominations from one another---knowledge of the Father can unite.  While the Son belongs only to a few, the Father belongs to all, and all to him.  Where faith has parted people, love can bind them together.  Jesus versus Christ, and this means “away from dogma, onward to love.”  According to Harnack, what caused the decisive rupture was the fact that the preaching Jesus, who told all men of their common father and so made them brothers, had been turned into the preached Jesus, who then demanded faith and became dogma: Jesus had proclaimed the undoctrinal message of love, and therein lay the great revolution with which he had split the armor of pharisaical orthodoxy, replacing intolerant right-thinking with the simplicity of trust in the Father, of the brotherhood of man, and of the call to one love.   For this had been substituted the doctrine of the God-man, of the “Son”, and so patience and brotherly love, which is salvation, had been replaced by a doctrine of salvation, which can only signify the contrary and has unleashed conflict upon conflict, cleavage after cleavage.  So the watchword is obvious; back past the preached Christ, the object of divisive belief, to the preaching Jesus, back to the summons to the unifying power of love under the one Father with all our brothers.  One certainly cannot deny that these are impressive and stirring assertions, which cannot be lightly dismissed. 

 

One can easily agree that the above given assertions are very attractive and persuasive.  We can also see the influence in the Catholic Church of such ideas when we consider much of the preaching and Christian education programs which have arisen since Vatican II.  The emphasis is on love and not on doctrines about Christ and what He demands of us.  We can see how easy it is to ignore many passages from the New Testament to arrive at a very beautiful and edifying idea.   When one attempts to strip away the dogmas of traditional Christianity, one ends up equating one own opinion with the “real” Jesus.  What is “historical” and what is not is decided by one’s own opinions and tastes.

 

Professor Ratzinger then discusses another influential modern Lutheran theologian, Rudolf Bultmann (1884-1976).  The only thing that is important about Jesus, he says, is the fact of his having existed; for the rest, faith does not rest on such uncertain hypotheses, which can yield no historical certainty, but only on the verbal happening of the preaching of the Gospel, through which closed human existence is opened up to its true nature.  Instead of everything depending on the historical, nothing depends on the historical.  Who Jesus is does not depend on what He said or did, but on who He is for us.  Jesus can be many different persons to many different people.   The Christ, the Anointed One, is not anointed by God but by us.

 

Professor Ratzinger has given us two out of many other examples of what happens when you attempt to strip away the dogmas of Christianity and get at the “real” Jesus.   He then gives us one more example which was current at the time Introduction to Christianity was first published (1968), namely, the “death of God” theologians who proclaimed that God is dead but still clung to Jesus.  This is what is happening today in the “death of God” theology, which tells us that, although we no longer have God, Jesus remains to us as the symbol of trust that gives us courage to go on.  In the midst of a world emptied of God, his humanity is to be a sort of proxy for the God who can no longer be discovered.

But how uncritical here are those who before were so critical that they were only willing to accept a theology without God, just so as not to appear old-fashioned in the eyes of their progressive contemporaries!  Perhaps one should really put the question a bit earlier and consider whether a gravely uncritical attitude is not already reflected in the attempt to pursue theology---the science of God---without God.   Here Professor Ratzinger is chiding those who want to hold on to Jesus without the God whom Jesus totally obeyed even to the point of going to the cross.  Even today there are many who claim to be Christians but live as though God does not exist.

 

Finally, Professor Ratzinger outlines for us the way we must go to get out of the mess of modern theology.  Yet the shuttle movement of the modern mind between Jesus and Christ, the main stages of which in the present [twentieth] century I have just tried to sketch, was not entirely wasted.  I believe that it can even become a very useful pointer to something, namely, to the fact that the one (Jesus) cannot exist without the other (Christ), that, on the contrary, one is bound to be continually pushed from one to the other because in reality Jesus only subsists as the Christ and the Christ only subsists in the shape of Jesus.  We must advance a step farther and---before we do any reconstructing, which after all, can only produce reconstructions, that is, supplementary artificial creations---we must simply try to understand what is stated by the Christian faith, which is not a reconstruction or a theory but a present, a living reality.  After all, perhaps we should put more trust in the presence of the faith, which has endured for centuries and by its very nature had no other aim but that of understanding---understanding who and what this Jesus really was—than in the activity of reconstruction, which goes its own way, aloof from reality; at the very least one must try for once to appreciate clearly what this faith really says.

 

The dogmas of the Church concerning Jesus Christ, while formulated at Church councils in later centuries when the danger of persecution from a pagan Roman Empire no longer existed, can be traced back to the oral and written traditions which arose while the apostles who saw and heard Jesus still lived.  Should we just throw these out and go to “reconstructions” stripped of the annoying dogmas of the Church which many people do not like?  Unfortunately, many in the Church have done that.  We can easily understand why many have lost the faith since it was never truly presented to them.

 

--Jim Nugent, CFP

No Greater Love

JESUS OR CHRIST?

 

In part II of his Introduction to Christianity, which is concerned with faith in Jesus Christ, Professor Joseph Ratzinger looks at some to the twists and turns which modern theology has taken concerning how we are to view Jesus Christ.   A  barrier has been erected between the actual Jesus of Nazareth, the “historical Jesus”, and the faith and doctrines of the Church concerning the Christ.  It is assumed that “Jesus” and “Christ” are very different from each other. We have to choose between the basic proclamation of Jesus by the apostles and the “Christ of faith” which is riddled with hard to understand doctrines like the Divinity of Christ, Redemption, Grace, and the Trinity.  Professor Ratzinger puts it like this: The dilemma of the two courses---on the one hand, that of transposing or reducing Christology to history and, on the other, that of escaping history completely and abandoning it as irrelevant to faith---could be quite accurately summarized in the two alternatives by which modern theology is vexed:  Jesus or Christ?

 

As a result of the separation of “Jesus” from “Christ”, some theologians have attempted to “purify” Christianity from later doctrines and return to the “original” Christianity preached by Jesus..  Professor Ratzinger describes the theology of Adolf von Harnack (1851-1930) beginning with a famous quote from that Lutheran theologian.  “Not the Son but only the Father belongs in the Gospel as Jesus preached it.”  How simple, how liberating this seems!  Where faith in the son had divided people---Christians from non-Christians, Christians of different denominations from one another---knowledge of the Father can unite.  While the Son belongs only to a few, the Father belongs to all, and all to him.  Where faith has parted people, love can bind them together.  Jesus versus Christ, and this means “away from dogma, onward to love.”  According to Harnack, what caused the decisive rupture was the fact that the preaching Jesus, who told all men of their common father and so made them brothers, had been turned into the preached Jesus, who then demanded faith and became dogma: Jesus had proclaimed the undoctrinal message of love, and therein lay the great revolution with which he had split the armor of pharisaical orthodoxy, replacing intolerant right-thinking with the simplicity of trust in the Father, of the brotherhood of man, and of the call to one love.   For this had been substituted the doctrine of the God-man, of the “Son”, and so patience and brotherly love, which is salvation, had been replaced by a doctrine of salvation, which can only signify the contrary and has unleashed conflict upon conflict, cleavage after cleavage.  So the watchword is obvious; back past the preached Christ, the object of divisive belief, to the preaching Jesus, back to the summons to the unifying power of love under the one Father with all our brothers.  One certainly cannot deny that these are impressive and stirring assertions, which cannot be lightly dismissed. 

 

One can easily agree that the above given assertions are very attractive and persuasive.  We can also see the influence in the Catholic Church of such ideas when we consider much of the preaching and Christian education programs which have arisen since Vatican II.  The emphasis is on love and not on doctrines about Christ and what He demands of us.  We can see how easy it is to ignore many passages from the New Testament to arrive at a very beautiful and edifying idea.   When one attempts to strip away the dogmas of traditional Christianity, one ends up equating one own opinion with the “real” Jesus.  What is “historical” and what is not is decided by one’s own opinions and tastes.

 

Professor Ratzinger then discusses another influential modern Lutheran theologian, Rudolf Bultmann (1884-1976).  The only thing that is important about Jesus, he says, is the fact of his having existed; for the rest, faith does not rest on such uncertain hypotheses, which can yield no historical certainty, but only on the verbal happening of the preaching of the Gospel, through which closed human existence is opened up to its true nature.  Instead of everything depending on the historical, nothing depends on the historical.  Who Jesus is does not depend on what He said or did, but on who He is for us.  Jesus can be many different persons to many different people.   The Christ, the Anointed One, is not anointed by God but by us.

 

Professor Ratzinger has given us two out of many other examples of what happens when you attempt to strip away the dogmas of Christianity and get at the “real” Jesus.   He then gives us one more example which was current at the time Introduction to Christianity was first published (1968), namely, the “death of God” theologians who proclaimed that God is dead but still clung to Jesus.  This is what is happening today in the “death of God” theology, which tells us that, although we no longer have God, Jesus remains to us as the symbol of trust that gives us courage to go on.  In the midst of a world emptied of God, his humanity is to be a sort of proxy for the God who can no longer be discovered.

But how uncritical here are those who before were so critical that they were only willing to accept a theology without God, just so as not to appear old-fashioned in the eyes of their progressive contemporaries!  Perhaps one should really put the question a bit earlier and consider whether a gravely uncritical attitude is not already reflected in the attempt to pursue theology---the science of God---without God.   Here Professor Ratzinger is chiding those who want to hold on to Jesus without the God whom Jesus totally obeyed even to the point of going to the cross.  Even today there are many who claim to be Christians but live as though God does not exist.

 

Finally, Professor Ratzinger outlines for us the way we must go to get out of the mess of modern theology.  Yet the shuttle movement of the modern mind between Jesus and Christ, the main stages of which in the present [twentieth] century I have just tried to sketch, was not entirely wasted.  I believe that it can even become a very useful pointer to something, namely, to the fact that the one (Jesus) cannot exist without the other (Christ), that, on the contrary, one is bound to be continually pushed from one to the other because in reality Jesus only subsists as the Christ and the Christ only subsists in the shape of Jesus.  We must advance a step farther and---before we do any reconstructing, which after all, can only produce reconstructions, that is, supplementary artificial creations---we must simply try to understand what is stated by the Christian faith, which is not a reconstruction or a theory but a present, a living reality.  After all, perhaps we should put more trust in the presence of the faith, which has endured for centuries and by its very nature had no other aim but that of understanding---understanding who and what this Jesus really was—than in the activity of reconstruction, which goes its own way, aloof from reality; at the very least one must try for once to appreciate clearly what this faith really says.

 

The dogmas of the Church concerning Jesus Christ, while formulated at Church councils in later centuries when the danger of persecution from a pagan Roman Empire no longer existed, can be traced back to the oral and written traditions which arose while the apostles who saw and heard Jesus still lived.  Should we just throw these out and go to “reconstructions” stripped of the annoying dogmas of the Church which many people do not like?  Unfortunately, many in the Church have done that.  We can easily understand why many have lost the faith since it was never truly presented to them.

 

--Jim Nugent, CFP

Reflection on the Rule

RULE

22. Whenever any brother or sister happens to fall ill, the ministers, if the patient let them know of it, shall in person or through others visit the patient once a week, and remind him of penance; and if they find it expedient, they are to supply him from the common fund with what he may need for the body.

CONSTITUTIONS

22. In keeping with section 22 of the Rule:

22a. When a Chapter or Circle member falls ill, fellow penitents should visit the person or else send a card or make a phone call to the ailing party, exhorting the ill penitent to penance (personal, ongoing conversion). Weekly contact is encouraged. 

22b. If penitents are able to provide help to ill members, they should lovingly do so.

REFLECTION

Note how early penitents were to care for ill members: they were to visit them, exhort them to penance (conversion of heart), and give them material help if needed. Penitents today are called to do the same thing for ill members. While it may not be possible to visit weekly, it is often possible to phone or send a note or email. Communication should be encouraging and engaging while also reminding the penitent of the bigger picture--God is in charge of our lives and that includes our health and physical condition. As penitents, we are to keep close to God and to encourage all our brothers and sisters, especially those who are ill, to do the same.

Affiliate Action

Affiliates can also keep in touch with ill members and visit them if possible. Always affiliates should remember charity in dealing with those who are ailing. The personal response to a sick person can be like a visit from our Lord if we bring God's charity with us.

Poetry

Poet Laureates

O free verse
that irks my teacher

the superior poet
whom I no longer visit
Yet he is my wisdom,
my goal setting muse, the poet
and teacher ~

This man I respect so much
as days take
their paces through the hours ~

I look at clouds and
rocks and flowers ~

and thinking only of my lost instructor
I pray and thank God for
all that he taught me

and why the dawn colors rise
so went the hues that heat and help me
write and paint every day

--Joseph Matose IV, CFP Affiliate

Virtues Portrayed in the San Damiano Crucifix

Hope in the Resurrection
 

November is the month in which we remember the dead, and the dead are remembered in the San Damiano Crucifix in the black band behind Jesus. While this band represents death, the people and angels clustered about the crucifix represent life and hope. Note that, despite the horrible fact of Christ’s crucifixion, the people and angels are smiling. And this is because they know that the resurrection of Christ is near at hand. Death is a doorway which leads to eternal life. And we see that doorway opened up at the top of the crucifix where Christ is stepping into heaven beneath the blessing hand of his Father. Hope in the resurrection and in life after death is one of the many beautiful virtues portrayed in this crucifix.

Saint of the Month

Blessed Giovannina Franchi (1807-1872)

 

Giovannina Franchi was born in 1807 in the city of Como, Italy, the second child in a family of seven children. Her parents were prestigious members of the city, and the family lived in a solid, large building next to the town hall. In the same house lived two brothers of Giovannina's father and their families. In contrast, the poor of the city lived close by in overcrowded housing, in material and moral squalor due to the presence of taverns, brothels, and a slaughterhouse. The only ones who ministered to these people were the priest and some members of religious orders in the area.

Giovannina’s mother taught her children strong moral and family values as well as immersed them in culture and made sure that they were well educated. Giovannina was entrusted to the nuns of the Monastery of the Visitation to complete her education. During her 10 year stay there, she absorbed the charism and spirit of St. Francis de Sales, the founder of the Visitation Sisters. In 1811 the French government made the school secularize itself. The sisters had to dress in secular clothes, and the civil government took over the boarding school. In 1815 the nuns were able to resume their monastic habit and become true Visitation Sisters. Giovannina became one of the 24 boarders, all from noble backgrounds. The education was designed to make young women into perfect young ladies and mothers. Upon her graduation, Giovannina was awarded a book that indicated that she had done well academically in her studies. When the girls turned 18, they had to choose if they wished to enter the convent as postulants to the religious life or return to their families to prepare for marriage. Giovannina returned to her family.

Giovannina lived at home without much social life other than summer stays in country villas. Her father lost much of his wealth in 1833, although his revenues were sufficient through income from his landholdings, the breeding of silkworms, and a government salary. Giovannina began to teach catechism. By the spring of 1840, she was betrothed and preparing for her wedding. However, within a year her beloved had passed away from a wasting, slow disease. In 1842, Giovannina, like her brothers and sisters, received an inheritance of 3000 pounds from a relative. There followed the death of her mother and then her father, and Giovannina came into more inheritance. In little more than a year after the death of her father, Giovannina bought a house and took a decisive step on the path which the Lord had inspired. The year was 1853.

The house was in the heart of a nearby poor and wretched neighborhood where Giovannina wanted to work and tend to the poor and needy. In this work she had inspiration and direction from a holy priest was also working with the poor. This priest, Don Crotti, had visited the poor during a raging cholera epidemic, had taught catechism to prisoners and young people, and gave both spiritual and material assistance to catechumens. These ministries were adopted by Giovannina.

Giovannina worked closely with another priest, Don Guilo Silo, who established her and three other women who joined her as a Pious Union. The goal of the new community was to glorify God in daily sanctification through service to the sick. Giovannina accepted young and old, widowed and never married, wealthy, middle class and poor, into her Pious Union. The Union came to be called the Nursing Sisters of Our Lady of Sorrows. In 1858, the sisters adopted the habit of a black bonnet and a simple black dress.

From 1853 until 1856, 13 sisters, including Giovannina, had entered the Pious Union. From 1857 until 1872, when Giovannina died, only six entered. This could have been disconcerting to Giovannina, but she continued onward with her mission and ministry. Giovannina was concerned, not with numbers, but with caring for the ill and the poor as well as instructing them in virtue. The sisters were to prepare to heal not only the body but also the soul. Giovannina was also concerned about the spiritual life of the sisters, and in 1863 an oratory that had been built onto their house was consecrated and the Blessed Sacrament installed there for adoration by the sisters.

The apostolate of the sisters now became more intense. They visited the sick in their homes and made sure they had food and bedding. Their care extended to ill prostitutes whom they evangelized and two people who had no place else to live so they stayed on as boarders in the building next door. Giovannina told her sisters that they were consecrated to love, worship, and serve Jesus in the sick. She spoke of the Blessed Mother has their hope, love, and model. She herself died from smallpox contracted while tending the poor who were suffering with that disease. She was buried in a common tomb with at least 10 other sisters, and when her body was unearthed, there was no way to distinguish her remains from those of the other sisters.

Giovannina Franchi was beatified Pope Francis on September 20, 2014. Blessed Giovannina, pray for us.

QUOTE FROM SCRIPTURE

'Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?’ He said, ‘The one who showed him mercy.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise.’ (Luke 10: 36-37)

Jesus defines neighbor not by proximity but by mercy. We are a neighbor to others when we show them mercy. The reverse must then follow--we are not neighborly if we have no mercy or do not display it. Mercy is related to love. If love is not merciful, then it is self-love, and mercy without love is not mercy at all but care for hire. Who needs your mercy now? That person is your neighbor. For those who hate themselves, their neighbor is their own soul. Lord, make me merciful to my neighbor. Amen.

QUOTE FROM A SAINT

"Love of neighbor must be a universal love which embraces everyone and excludes no one in the Lord." -- Blessed Giovannina Franchi

When Jesus asked us to love our neigjhbor, He was not excluding anyone. Our neighbor is every human being, born and unborn. And these are more than neighbors, for Christ asked us to embrace all people as brothers and sisters. We are all one in the family of God. Blessed Giovannina practiced what she preached, even dying because of her care for her ill neighbor. Blessed Giovannina, pray for us so we may develop the love of neighbor which ran so deep that it was willing to die because of that love.

Happy Birthday to:

Scott G 11/1

Roseann L 11/1

Phyllis O 11/3

Lora G 11/3

Caroline S 11/6

Aimee F 11/6

Pamela C 11/16

William E 11/16

Gary S 11/16

R Michael C 11/17

Susan S  11/17

Caroline J 11/6

Tony K 11/8

Virginia K 11/10

Henry V 11/13

Patricia T 11/14

Christina H 11/15

Humor

Attitude Adjustments

You are confined only by the walls you build yourself.

Life is not the way it is supposed to be… It is the way it is.… The way we cope with that is what makes the difference.

Two things define you: the patience when you have nothing and your attitude when you have everything.

Worrying does not take away tomorrow’s troubles. It takes away today’s peace.

If at first you don't succeed, try doing it the way your mother told you to in the beginning.

I just ran 5 miles and what a workout! I didn't think the ice cream truck would ever stop.

I don't want to brag or make anyone jealous or anything, but I still fit into the earrings I wore when I was in high school.

You don't have to be great to start, but you have to start in order to be great. –Zig Ziglar

Blessed are we who can laugh at ourselves, because we shall never cease to be amused.

Only in math problems can you buy 60 cantaloupes and no one asks you what in the world is the matter with you.

Happiness is always an inside job.

Confraternity Photo Album

The Confraternity of Penitents, by the grace of God and your prayers and support, is entering upon a necessary renovations project to the CFP headquarters. This will include, among other things, the installation of a state mandated restroom in our CFP Holy Angels Gift Shop and CFP Office area and the erection of a small home for an on site voluteer worker, which again must meet certain building codes. Called Repair God's House, this campaign will run until sufficient funds are collected to meet all the needs. Please pray for this intention and support it financially, as you are able. If everyone who receives information about this project would contribute $300 (that is $25 per month for a year), the Confraternity would have sufficient funds to complete this necessary work.

You can check on the progress of the Renovations as well as make an online donation with PayPal or credit card on this link. Checks should be made out to the Confraternity of Penitents Renovation Fund and mailed to 1702 Lumbard Street, Fort Wayne IN 46803 USA. Thank you for your prayers and support and may God richly bless you.

Since the roof on the hermitage, used by guests, was leaking, it was replaced in September as part of the Repair God's House Project.

The CFP Hermitage sporting its new roof. Once bathroom and shower facilities are installed, priests, religious, and lay people will be welcome to visit the hermitage and even stay overnight for prayer and solitude.

Featured Items CFP Holy Angels Gift Shop

Time to prepare for Advent! The Confraternity of Penitents Holy Angels Gift Shop has Advent Wreaths and Candles. Order on line at cfpholyangels.com or send a check made out to CFP Holy Angels Gift Shop to CFP Holy Angels Gift Shop, 1702 Lumbard Street, Fort Wayne IN 46803. Be sure to enclose a donation for postage! May God bless you for your patronage.

Tabletop Advent Wreath with Faux Greens 12.00

Advent Candles for home or church use, 4.95

Advent Wreath Set. Includes wreath with faux greens, candles, and Holy Family Centerpiece. Other centerpieces available. $20

© 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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