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Confraternity of Penitents Monthly Newsletter: August 2015

Visitor's Vision

Thoughts on Beauty (responses to questions asked of Fr. Jacob at CFP Summer Retreat, 2015)


What is beauty? People tend to think that beauty is whatever someone wants it to be. But Saint Thomas Aquinas gives specific guidelines. Something that is beautiful has integrity, porportionality, and clarity. Integrity is the totality of the object. Proportionality is as it should be as God created it. Clarity means that the function of the object is clearly evident. We know what this was created to be. These help us to understand objective beauty. And this helps us to say that one thing is more beautiful than another. Beauty is a spectrum. There are only a few things that could make something completely unbeautiful. Anything that is not good is not beautiful. Anything that is not true is not beautiful. Those things that are contrary to God keep something from being beautiful. Saint Pope John Paul II said, “Beauty is goodness made visible.” So anything that is not good or not true cannot be beautiful. Those are the absolutes. Beyond that, if it is true and it is good, there is a variance of beauty. So we can say that some things are more beautiful than others.


Let’s take Church music as an example. Gregorian chant and chant are beautiful. Praise music is also beautiful. But there is a hierarchy of beauty here. We can say, objectively speaking, that Gregorian chant is more beautiful because, ultimately, the instrument that God most wants to hear is the instrument that He created – the human voice. And generally the source of Gregorian chant is the Scriptures. So there is nothing more beautiful lyrically than offering back to God, with the voices He created, the very words of God Himself. In addition, in Gregorian chant, the very melodies that are used are set apart. They are made holy because things that are holy are set apart (that is what holiness means). Just because praise music is less beautiful does not mean that it does not have beauty.


Our pride enters in when we say that something we really, really, really like has less beauty than something we really don’t like. We say, “I don’t like that because it doesn’t agree with me!” We all struggle with this. But if we talk about objective beauty, we have to say that the way God thinks is primary to my thought. Or it should be! We should say that order is primary to my opinion. To say these things is a beautiful task of humility which is not always easy! For example, my favorite form of music is not Gregorian chant. However, I do feel that Gregorian chant is the highest form of liturgical music and it is the most beautiful in the worship of God that we have at the moment. My favorite is polyphony, the style of simultaneously combining a number of parts, each forming an individual melody and harmonizing with each other; two or more simultaneous lines of independent melody, as opposed to a musical texture with just one voice. Polyphony almost got thrown out of the Church completely by Pope Pius X. We can talk about things liturgically and artistically. We can talk about several categories of beauty. Beauty is not as clear cut as we would like, but that is good because it is of God.

Consider icons. Icons are often out of proportion yet they are objects of beauty. Icons are beautiful. But to the extent that they are more proportional, they are more beautiful. Why is that the case? Because ultimately proportionality speaks of how God created, and there is nothing more beautiful than that way in which God created it. God created us in proportion, and, when we are out of proportion, it’s not of God, it is of us. It is of the fallen world. Proportion mirrors that perfect creation which God made. This does not mean that icons that lack proportion are not beautiful, but there are things that are more beautiful.

You hear the word evil and what do you think of? Demonic. Witchcraft. Things like that. But that is not the Catholic definition. The Catholic definition is that evil is the lack of a good, it is lacking something that ought to be there. So, ultimately, the fact that I have poor eyesight is an evil. God wanted me to have perfect eyesight. The fact that I have poor eyesight is a result of evil, a result of the fallenness of the world, a lack of a due good. So human disabilities and deformities, in Catholic words (and we need to hear this with Catholic ears and not ears of the world) are evils because they result from the lack of a due good.


So do human disabilities and deformities make someone less beautiful? Yes, in the esthetic sense but not necessarily in a transcendental sense. The transcendenal sense of beauty—of truth, goodness, unity—can all be there while still lacking esthetic beauty. The ultimate form of beauty is within. Our soul radiates with the love of God for we are a temple of the Holy Spirit. So the soul transcends esthetic beauty. The most perfect humans would be those who combine esthetic beauty with transcendental beauty and this is what we are talking about when we talk about the resurrection of the body where we have a glorifed body. When we are resurrected, we are not going to have the problem of human deformity or disability. I better be a hundred pounds lighter! At least I’m hoping! Then we will see the beauty God intended for each person without any effects of evil or the fall.


So we can say that disability and deformity cause less beauty in the esthetic sense but not in the transcendental sense. Therefore disability and deformity do not effect or lessen a person’s dignity. But our culture has a difficult time accepting that because our culture is attuned to everyone being the same. The reality is that people all different. And that’s OK. The difference is not necessarily going to effect our dignity. It won’t effect the transcendental beauty. But I have to be able to say, “I’m fat and I own it!” Is being fat OK? No, it’s not actually OK. God does not want me to be this way. God does not want me to be so attracted to food that I overeat. Does being fat make me less beautiful? Yes! Why? Because being fat is an external manifestation of my attachment to sin. Humility is seeing ourselves in reality and being OK with it. And that, in itself, is a beautiful attitude.


--Father Jacob Meyer, CFP Visitor

Monthly Letter to All Penitents

Jay and Joy

This is the tale of Jay and Joy. Two different people. Two different stories. One common thread.

Jay was raised by pagan parents, but, through a string of God moments, he came to faith in the Lord. When several of his friends were headed to World Youth Day in Madrid, Jay could not afford the trip but, at the last moment, someone who was paid up to go cancelled and Jay received a call that, if he wanted to attend, he needed to pack his bags because the bus was leaving within twenty four hours. Jay packed his bags, got on that bus, and went to World Youth Day. There with Pope Benedict XVI in Madrid, in the midst of a pouring rain (which had not happened in Madrid in August for 500 years), throngs of young pilgrims adored the Lord. Jay was among them. There, on that sodden airfield with God in the midst, Jay received a call from the Lord to become His priest. And Jay is a seminarian today.

Joy is fifty nine years old, out of work for two months, and single. She's worked as a professional all her life but feels she has a vocation to religious life, particularly contemplative religious life, but nearly all Orders will not consider her at her age. She visited a friend and mentioned that she had spoken to an Order several states away that told her she was almost at the cutoff for their consideration but they asked her to visit and not make any plans to return home until Joy and the Order were able to evaluate each other. The friend was going on a reteat the following week and had other friends, who lived near the Order's headquarters, who were coming as well. Since Joy was not tied down with a job or any commitments, she could get a ride to the retreat with her friend and then on to the Order with the other women. She did not have to worry about paying for the retreat as the others going would cover the cost. Joy called many people for advice about what to do and received pros and cons, but, in the end, she was terrified to leave her area and never went.

When God puts something in your path that promises blessing and opportunity, do you take it or do you run from it? Do you embrace this chance despite the last minute adjustments you have to make or do you let fear hold you back? Do you say you are praying to God but then asking countless people what to do? Do you expect them all to give you the same answer? Can you recognize when God's Hand is at work, as it clearly was in both Jay's and Joy's cases? Do you ask God to deliver you from fear? Do you move forward even if you are tremulous?

In both Jay's and Joy's cases, God had blessings He wished to give through the opportunities He set before them. Jay received the blessing and others will receive it, too, as his vocation matures. Joy missed the blessing and nothing in her life has changed. She is still single, 59 years old, unemployed, and thinking she has a religious vocation. But she did not take the step offered to her to find out if her vocation is a fantasy or a reality.

What is God asking of you? Will you follow Him where He leads? Will you open yourself to the blessing in whatever form it comes?

--Madeline Pecora Nugent, CFP

Letter from One Who Serves the CFP



Another important principle of Christianity which Professor Joseph Ratzinger discusses in Part II of Introduction to Christianity he calls the “law of excess or superfluity”.  In the ethical statements of the New Testament, there is a  tension that looks as if it cannot be resolved: the tension between grace and ethos, between total forgiveness and just  as total a demand on man, between the complete endowment of man, who has everything showered upon him because he can achieve nothing, and the equally complete obligation to give himself, an obligation that culminates in the unheard-of demand, "You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Mt 5:48). How can we, who are so weak and sinful and require so much mercy and forgiveness from God, also be “perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect”?


Professor Ratzinger next tells us where the solution lies. When, confronted with this upsetting polarity, one looks for a connecting link, one comes across again and again, especially in Pauline theology, but also in the first three Gospels, the word "excess", in which the talk of grace and that of demands meet and merge. To look further into this, Professor Ratzinger refers to the Sermon on the Mount.  “For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven" (Mt 5:20). This statement means, first of all, that all human righteousness is dismissed as inadequate. Who could honestly boast of having really and unreservedly, in the depths of his soul, absorbed the full meaning of the individual demands and of having carried them out, completely fulfilled them in all their profundity, let alone fulfilled them to excess? True, there exists in the church a "state of perfection", in which one undertakes to go beyond what is commanded, to go to excess. But those who belong to it would be the last to deny that for this very reason they are always finding themselves at the beginning again and full of deficiencies. The "state of perfection" is in reality the most dramatic depiction of the abiding imperfection 'of man. Those who are the closest to the Lord realize more fully than the rest of us how far away they are from “perfection”.


Anyone not satisfied with this reference has only to read the next few verses of the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5:21-48) to find himself exposed to a terrifying 'examination of conscience. In these paragraphs it becomes clear what it means when one takes really seriously the principles, at first sight apparently so simple, of the second table of the Decalogue, three of which are expounded here: "You shall not kill. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not bear false witness." At first glance it seems quite easy to feel righteous about these things. After all, one has not killed anyone; one has not broken one's marriage vows; one has not committed perjury. But as Jesus illuminates the depths of these demands, it becomes evident that man shares in these sins through anger, hatred, failure to forgive, envy, and covetousness. It becomes clear how very much man in his apparent righteousness is besmirched with what goes to make the unrighteousness of the world.  Jesus in the gospels teaches us how far we really are from living up to the His demand to be perfect.


To the Bible, the limits of human righteousness, of human capabilities as a whole, become an indication of the way in which man is thrown back upon the unquestioning gift of love, a gift that unexpectedly opens itself to him and thereby opens up man himself, and without which man would remain shut up in all his "righteousness" and thus unrighteous. Only the man who accepts this gift can come to himself. Thus the proved speciousness of man's "righteousness" becomes at the same time a pointer to the righteousness of God, the excess of which is called Jesus Christ. He is the righteousness of God, which goes far beyond what' need be, which does not calculate, which really overflows; the "notwithstanding" of his greater love, in which he infinitely surpasses the failing efforts of man. Our excessive unrighteousness can only be overcome by God’s excess of gifts (grace) which come from Jesus Christ.


Professor Ratzinger, however, emphasizes that we need to respond to God’s Grace.  Nevertheless, it would be a complete misunderstanding of the whole to deduce from this a devaluation of man and to feel inclined to say: "Then it is all the same anyway, and any attempt to attain righteousness or esteem in God's eyes is pointless." To this we must reply, "Not at all." In spite of everything and, indeed, just because of what we have just considered: the requirement to have an excess holds good, even if one can never attain full righteousness. But what is this supposed to mean? Is it not a contradiction? Well, it means, in short, that he who is always calculating how much he must do to be just adequate and to be able to regard himself, after a few casuistical flicks, as a man with a nice, white shirtfront, is still no Christian. And similarly, he who tries to reckon where duty ends and where he can gain a little extra merit by an opus supererogatorium (work of supererogation) is a Pharisee, not a Christian. Being a Christian does not mean duly making a certain obligatory contribution and perhaps, as an especially perfect person, even going a little farther than is required for the fulfillment of the obligation. On the contrary, a Christian is someone who knows that in any case he lives first and foremost as the beneficiary of a bounty and that, consequently, all righteousness can only consist in being himself a donor, like the beggar who is grateful for what he receives and generously passes part of it on to others. The calculatingly righteous man, who thinks he can keep his own shirtfront white and build himself up inside it, is the unrighteous man. Human righteousness can only be attained by abandoning one's own claims and being generous to man and to God. It is the righteousness of "Forgive, as we have forgiven"---this request turns out to be the proper formula of human righteousness as understood in the Christian sense: it consists in continuing to forgive, since man himself lives essentially on the forgiveness he has received himself.  


We need to understand the excessive extent of God’s gifts to us. Professor Ratzinger explains it further.   But-when it is studied in the New Testament, the theme of excess leads up another path where its meaning first becomes completely clear. We find the word occurring again in connection with the miracle of the loaves, where an "excess" of seven baskets is mentioned (Mk 8:8 par.). It forms an essential factor in the story of the multiplication of the loaves and is to be connected with the idea of the superfluous, of the more than necessary. One immediately recalls a related miracle preserved in the Johannine tradition: the changing of water into wine at the marriage feast at Cana (Jn 2:1-11). It is true that the word "excess" does not occur here, but the fact certainly does: according to the evidence of the Gospel, the new-made wine amounted to between 130 and 190 gallons, a somewhat unusual quantity for a private banquet! In the evangelists' view, both stories have to do with the central form of Christian worship, the Eucharist. They show it as the divine excess or abundance, which infinitely surpasses all needs and legitimate demands. 


 In this way both stories are concerned, through their reference. to the Eucharist, with Christ himself and ultimately refer back to him: Christ is the infinite self-expenditure of God. ……. Excess is God's trademark in his creation; as the Fathers put it, "God does not reckon his gifts by the measure." At the same time excess is also the real foundation and form of salvation history, which in the last analysis is nothing other than the truly breathtaking fact that God, in an incredible outpouring of himself, expends not only a universe but his own self in order to lead man, a speck of dust, to salvation. So excess or superfluity-let us repeat-is the real definition or mark of the history of salvation. The purely calculating mind will always find it absurd that for man God himself should be expended. Only the lover can understand the folly of a love to which prodigality is a law and excess alone is sufficient. Yet if it is true that the creation lives from excess or superfluity, that man is a being for whom excess is necessity, how can we wonder that revelation is the superfluous and for that very reason the necessary, the divine, the love in which the meaning of the universe is fulfilled? This is how the tension between man’s great weakness and God’s just demands on us can be resolved.  God has given us “excessive” gifts, culminating in Jesus Christ himself in the Eucharist, simply because we need this excess. We need, however, to use His gifts.


 --James Nugent, CFP

No Greater Love

The Song and the Response


Say you were driving down the street one day and you heard a really beautiful piece of music on the radio. It touched your heart a little and made it bleed. It was so beautiful that you had to find out the name of the song.


When you go into the library to search for it on Google you find that all the computer stations are filled up of people looking for that same song. Wow, you think this song spoke to all these people here? What is it about this song?


A spot at the table finally opens up. You sit down and do a song lyric search. The artist comes up and you start to read his biography. You start to read and your heart sinks a little more. The man is gay? He's gone through drug rehab? He has HIV? He has a child he's never met from a one night stand with his high school sweet heart? He doesn't have a job? He goes from church to church each day for lunch and maybe a friendly smile? He hasn't spoken to his father in years? He sleeps down on a cot at the local Salvation Army? How could something so beautiful be written by a person like this?


We're nothing at all alike, you say to yourself. I'm married, I have three kids who are all in college, I love my husband, we have a car, and a three story house.


Then you ask yourself, how could this man be happier than I am? How could his heart sing so that I would stop and listen?


Then you look at the other folks sitting at the table. Some are of different color, some are of different sizes, some of are different sexual orientation, some have different educational backgrounds or none at all, some are alcoholics and drug addicts, some are married, some are divorced, some are immigrants that just came to this country, some are down on their luck looking for work, some are hungry, some may be suffering from a physical or mental illness but for some reason that song spoke to all of them and brought them here to this little library, trying to find out who wrote that song.


It's the song that touches everyone. It knows no borders, knows no locked doors. It doesn't judge as the eyes see. The melody finds it's way even in the darkness and brings it to light. The song plays for everybody, allowing the heart to sing and for all to listen.


The song is living. Breathing. Bleeding. Dying. The song has a name. Jesus.


O Lord, Help me to accept the things that I can't change. Give me the strength to bear the weakness that I bear on a daily basis serving you. I can not understand the depth of your mystery or the weakness of my own heart, but with you I can bear the presence of your light in the darkness. I can carry your cross among those who do not know your name or do not understand your teachings to the fullest. Allow me to serve you with my brother and sister and to accept their  failings with your love. For you love me also. Your strength gives me hope that I may show mercy, love and forgiveness to those in most need of your presence. I am your humble servant. I work for you even when others may not see you in me. When you ask of me, Lord, I will give you a gentle smile, a loving hand, a simple hug when you are in distress. For when you call my name, I see you in my brother, in my sister, not as someone who needs to be saved but someone who needs to be loved. Amen.


Jesse Pellow, CFP Inquirer

Following Francis, Following Christ

Changes in the Breviary

One of our members called to discuss proposed changes in the breviary (Liturgy of the Hours). It appears that some of the translations will change and portions of some psalms be omitted and others added. The CFP member had questions because of a desire to live the Rule of 1221 as close as possible to its original intent, which is the charism of the Confraternity of Penitents. The concern is valid and may be voiced by other penitents. What most of us don't realize is that Francis and his friars, as well as the early penitents, had to adapt to changes in the breviary, during Francis' own lifetime.

As a young boy, Francis memorized the Psalms in school at St. George's Church in Assisi. He frequently quoted the Psalms in his writings and talks. Saint Francis and his friars began their life together, having neither breviary or Bible. Their prayers consisted of rote prayers and meditation on the cross and the Passion. A year or two after the arrival of Francis' first followers, Sylvester, a priest, joined him. Sylvester prayed the Divine Office and had liturgical books. About four years later, around 1214, several learned men, including clerics and priests, joined. They, too, were required to pray the Divine Office so they, too, had breviaries. At some point prior to the Christmas celebration at Greccio in 1223, Francis was ordained a deacon and, as such, was required to pray from the breviary.

Francis' Earlier [unapproved] Rule for the friars (year 1221) had this stipulation in Chapter 3: "let all the brothers, whether clerics or laics, say the Divine Office, the praises and prayers which they ought to say. The clerics shall say the Office, and say it for the living and the dead, according to the custom of clerics; . . . .And they may have only the books necessary to perform their Office; and the lay-brothers who know how to read the Psalter may also have one; but the others who do not know how to read may not have a book." Francis had to re-submit a rewrite of the Rule in 1223 which was approved. The corresponding passage in the approved Rule reads "Let the clerics perform the Divine Office according to the order of the holy Roman Church, with the exception of the Psalter; wherefore they may have breviaries" (Chapter 3).

Francis wrote the Rule of 1223 just three years before his death. At the time of the writing, he was frail due to several illnesses and nearly blind from trachoma which he contracted, apparently, while with the Crusaders in Egypt in 1219. The change in the Rule of 1223 implies a new translation to the breviary, which Francis, as well as the other friars, had to learn.Octavian Schmucki explains the changes ("The Way of Life According to the Gospel" as It was Discovered by St. Francis of Assisi; Italia Francescana 59 [1984], Translated by Patrick Colbourne, pp. 26-27).

"The prescription in chapter 3 must have appeared revolutionary to most of the friars. . . . Probably on the advice of Cardinal Hugolino [Cardinal Protector of the Order] Francis here prefers the Gallican Psalter to the deficient and sometimes incomprehensible translation of the Roman Psalter" which Francis knew by heart. "The need to relearn a text, which had changed notably in parts and was partly identical elsewhere, held further difficulties for the Poverello [poor little man, a nickname for Francis]." Francis may not have been able to fully adapt to the changes because, in the Office of the Passion, which he composed about this time, "there often occur verses which are variants on the Roman Psalter."

The breviary of St. Francis is preserved in Assisi where it stands as valuable evidence of the liturgical reform initiated by Pope Innocent III, which the Pope promoted between 1213 and 1216 for members of the papal curia. "Between 1216 and 1223 the Breviary belonged to a chaplain from the curia, from whom, almost certainly during his negotiations for the confirmation of the Approved Rule in Rome in 1223, the Poverello obtained it to adapt himself to the new legislation within the order." St. Francis prayed from this book and, when he could no longer read, he had it read to him so that he could continue his prayers.

It follows from this that the early penitents, who could read and who lived the Rule of 1221 in the lifetime of St. Francis, also had to adapt themselves to the new translation. They, too, had to learn to use a new edition of the breviary. It appears that we penitents of the 21st century may have to do the same in the near future. If so, let us thank the Lord for the graces He gives to the Church by keeping it in good health through its liturgical growth.

--Madeline Pecora Nugent, CFP

Reflection on the Rule


31. No one is to depart from this brotherhood and from what is contained herein, except to enter a religious Order.


31. In keeping with section 31 of the Rule:

31a. A penitent who has pledged to live this Rule must have the consent of his or her spiritual director in order to be released from the pledge. The penitent must also petition, in writing, the spiritual assistant, minister, and Visitor for release and shall give the reasons for the request. The minister and spiritual assistant should thoroughly explain the seriousness of asking for release from this promise to God. They may also question the penitent to see if the Confraternity has failed the penitent in some way.

31b. Those who wish to depart from this Confraternity to enter a religious Order should receive not only permission but also the blessing of the entire Confraternity. It is the norm of the Church that individuals should always move towards a greater commitment to Christ and His Church when they leave any lifestyle for another.


Section 31 of the Rule and Constitutions shows the seriousness of pledging to this way of life. It is a life committment, if one so chooses to pledge for life, which is not to be withdrawn unless someone enters religious life (if a penitent becomes a priest or deacon, he may continue to live the Rule in that ordained state, as has been the case throughout history). Why does a penitent have to withdraw from the CFP to enter religious life? Because each Order has its own Rule subject to its own superior or Bishop and a person cannot be subject to two in authority at the same time. Note that this stipulation refers to those becoming consecrated religious. It does not apply to laity. Penitents may join other lay groups and Third Orders as long as those groups are in line with all the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church and as long as these groups agree to the penitent living the CFP Rule and Constitutions while in their group. Penitents need to be very clear about their pledging to live the Rule for life before they make that pledge. Three lessons prior to pledging help penitents discern the depth and breadth of their committment. The CFP wishes only to pledge those who are certain of their committment for to leave the CFP after making a life pledge is a serious decision, especially since the living the Rule, as one has pledged to do so, carries with it the promise of eternal life.

Affiliate Action

Affiliates should also realize that their desire to be affiliated with the CFP, to pray for the CFP and to have the CFP pray for them, is a life time promise. Unless an Affiliate asks to be removed from affiliation, each affiliate will be prayed for every day. Take your Affiliate status seriously. It is a grace filled pledge that you have made.

Virtues Portrayed in the

San Damiano Crucifix


Pope Saint John Paul II said that "Beauty is goodness made visible." Certainly the San Damiano Crucifix fulfills that definition. We see Christ as God and man, crucified yet risen, suffering yet glorified, surrounded by idealized images of humanity and angels. Each color and image has meaning for those who can read icons, and such language was known to the people of the Middle Ages, many of whom could not read words. Beauty is not only in the outward form and balance of the icon but in the meaning of it. This holy crucifix continues to speak to people about the glories of the Kingdom. We thank the Lord for this beautiful symbol of conversion (penance).

Saint of the Month

Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys (1620-1700)


How important it is to hold fast to God’s call! Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys did that very thing.

Marguerite was born on April 17, 1620, the sixth child of a middle class French family who taught the faith to their children. When her mother died when Marguerite was nineteen, the family numbered 12 so the task of caring for the younger children fell to Marguerite.  

When Marguerite was twenty, she took part in a procession on October 7, to honor Our Lady of the Rosary. When her gaze rested on the statue of the Blessed Mother, Marguerite recognized a call from God to devote herself to God’s service as a consecrated religious. She began by applying to the Carmelites and the Poor Clares but neither Order accepted her. A priest friend suggested that God might have other plans for her. And He did.

So Marguerite joined the Congregation of Troyes which was a convent of young women, but not religious, who were associated with a house of Augustinian nuns. The young women, who taught poor children, received spiritual support from the nuns. In 1642, Marguerite learned about the need for such work at Ville-Marie (modern Montreal) in Canada, but it was over ten years later when she met the governor whose sister was a member of the Augustinian convent. The governor invited Marguerite to come to Canada and start a school in Ville-Marie. Giving away her inheritance (her father had also died), Marguerite set sail and began work in the new colony of 200 people.  She realized almost immediately that most children did not survive, and she set about, with the help of the Jesuit hospital, to remedy that. When the Cross on Mount Royal was destroyed by hostile Native Americans, Marguerite at once restored it. She also constructed a chapel dedicated to Notre-Dame de Bon Secours.  


Soon after opening a school in a stable given her by the governor, Marguerite realized that she needed help so she returned to Troyes where she recruited a friend and two other women to help. During her lifetime, she made two additional trips to France for the same purpose. Marguerite established convents for the women, patterned after the one she had lived in while in Troyes, although many times these “convent” were clusters of huts. The women taught children of the colonists and of Native Americans, then added classes for orphans and girls sent to the colony by the King or by French priests.


Walking through the wilderness when asked to open a school, Marguerite established schools and social services across Canada. She recognized a need to train the instructors and so established a teachers’ school as well. Marguerite became mother to both the youngsters and to their teachers, so much so that people referred to her as "Mother of the Colony".

Marguerite’s new group of nuns, which consisted of French, Canadian, and Native American sister, called themselves the Congregation de Notre-Dame. They helped the colony to survive, opened a vocational school, opened missions, and taught young people how to run a home and a farm. They survived Iroquis attacks, fire, and plagues. The sisters wanted to remain uncloistered, an innovation at the time, so that they could continue their work.  The Congregation received approval from King Louis XIV in 1671 and the Bishop of Quebec in 1676. But in 1679, her bishop repeated the suggestion that Marguerite join the Congregation to the cloistered Ursulines. Marguerite reminded the bishop that only uncloistered sisters could do the work her Congregation was doing. The poor and uneducated could not travel to a cloister to be taught. The Sisters had to be where the poor were. The bishop relinquished.


In 1693, Marguerite felt comfortable enough with the bishop’s support to name her successor to govern the Congregation. On December 31, 1699, Marguerite offered her life in exchange for that of a young dying sister. On January 1, the young sister was well but Marguerite had a raging fever which claimed her life on January 12. Pope Saint John Paul II canonized Marguerite Bourgeoys on October 31, 1982. Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys, pray for us.

Quote from Scripture


To Jesus, and, therefore, to God, love of God and love of neighbor are inseparable. Marguerite Bourgeoys displayed the maximum love for both God and neighbor. Her love of God was manifested in her love for her neighbor. Who was her neighbor? Everyone in need. Marguerite showed no favoritism or partiality. She excluded no race or ethnic background from her Congregation or schools. Each person was made in the image of God so each one was love-able. When Marguerite accepted God's call to give herself to Him as a consecrated religious, she had no idea where that "I will" would take her. It took her to the very depth of God's love, in Himself and in His children.

Quote from a Saint

God is not satisfied if we preserve the love we owe our neighbour; we must preserve our neighbour in the love he ought to have for us.

-- Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys

This interesting quote makes us responsible for our neighbor's love for us. We are called not only to love but also to be love-able. Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys lived that principle to the full in her life.


"Coal Mine Beach"

Just off Willow Lane, Portsmouth,
                  a beach
by an abandoned coal mine --

There my family beached
     as my Mom and Dad
dug Quahogs and clams --

And Paul and Bob and
    Gene we swam,
skin-dived and explored --

It was those summer days
that flow from memory and
consciousness many years ago.

When the isle was still
pristine and beautiful

The beach and the clambeds
      were given over
sacrificed in oil and pollution--

--Joseph Matose IV, CFP Affiliate

"Happiness can only be felt

if you don't set any conditions."

              -Arthur Rubenstein


Actually Written on Patients' Hospital Charts

The patient is tearful and crying constantly. She also appears to be depressed.

The patient has been depressed since she began seeing me in 1993.

Discharge status: Alive but without my permission.

Healthy appearing decrepit 69 year-old male, mentally alert but forgetful.

The patient refused autopsy.

Patient has left white blood cells at another hospital.

Patient’s medical history has been remarkably insignificant with only a 40 pound weight gain in the past three days.

Patient had waffles for breakfast and anorexia for lunch.

On the second day the knee was better, and on the third day it disappeared

She is numb from her toes down.

The skin was moist and dry.

Occasional, constant, infrequent headaches.

Patient was alert and unresponsive.

Patient has chest pain if she lies on her left side for over a year.

Skin: somewhat pale but present.

Patient has two teenage children, but no other abnormalities.

Confraternity Photo Album

Life Pledge of Sandra Robinson Lewis, CFP

The Confraternity of Penitents is delighted to welcome Sandy Robinson Lewis as a life pledged member. Sandy made her life pledge at the Confraternity of Penitents Retreat in East Aurora, NY, on July 25, 2015. Father Jacob Meyer, CFP Visitor, received her pledge. Welcome, dear sister! We are so glad that God called you to be permanently one of us!

Sandra signing her pledge with Sr. Elizabeth Bridget Clare witnessing.

Newly life pledged member Sandra Robinson Lewis, CFP, with CFP Hermit Ally Sr. Elizabeth Bridget Clare, Father Jacob Meyer, and Rita Farnsworth, CFP

Sandra makes her life pledge to CFP Visitor Fr. Jacob Meyer with CFP Hermit Ally r. Elizabeth Bridget Clare and Rita Farnsworth, CFP, as witnesses.

Sandra cuts her cake of pledging, a yummy tradition for our life pledged members!

Happy Birthday to:

Michael B. 8/1

Barbara M. 8/2

Marsha W. 8/8

Gilbert C. 8/8

Thomas P. 8/24

Anthony L. 8/24

Dianne J. 8/27

Robert S. 8/31

Mary M. 8/11

Patricia B. 8/13

Tony L. 8/17

Featured Items CFP Holy Angels Gift Shop

The Confraternity of Penitents Holy Angels Gift Shop offers a wide variety of Catholic gift, book items, jewelry, sacramentals, rosaries, chaplets, etc. All proceeds go to support the Confraternity of Penitents. Some new items are shown below. See for more items and to place your order. Or send your order (please include a donation for postage) to CFP Holy Angels Gift Shop, 1702 Lumbard Street, Fort Wayne IN 46803. God bless you for your support of the CFP!

Colorful Saint Benedict Medal -- 1.00

Vintage Dangle Bracelet Featuring Cross and Charms -- Each One Unique -- 9.95

Proud to Be Catholic Cap -- White on black -- 7.95

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