Confraternity of Penitents Monthly Newsletter: February 2015
Reminder that Lent begins on February 18 and all those in the CFP at the Novice 3 level and above are expected to follow the Rule and Constitutions regarding the Lenten fast unless modifications need to be made for health reasons. Others not yet to the Novice 3 level should observe each day of Lent in some way, perhaps by prayer, spiritual reading, or almsgiving. May this Lent be a time of spiritual growth for each of us.
DEATH OF A PENITENT BROTHER
The following is the homily which Fr. Jacob Meyer, CFP Visitor, gave at the funeral Mass for CFP life pledged and privately vowed member William Thomas (Bill) Eddy (br. Anthony is his privately vowed name in the CFP) on Saturday, January 3, 2015. Mass was held in Fort Wayne, Indiana, USA.
Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to Him, 2and He began to teach them, saying:
3Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
6Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy.
8Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
9Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God.
10Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
12Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:1-12)
In this church that does not see many funerals in recent years, it seems appropriate that we are gathered here to bid farewell to our beloved brother, brother Anthony. And I know that most of the times you see priests wearing white vestments at funerals, but it is appropriate that the Church allows us priests to wear penitential colors for the funerals and that is why I am wearing these purple vestments today. If there is any group that would understand the meaning of penance, it is you people who are here today to bid farewell to your brother.
So here we are at this beautiful Mass. for a dear brother who lived a life in opposition to worldly values. He died all alone, but he did not die alone because he died with this family, with these brothers and sisters, who love life as he did and who lived the life that he did, a life that leads to glory because the life of penance leads to heaven. I keep thinking about the great soul of this man whom I have never met, brother Anthony, and, while a different reading was selected for this Mass, I kept thinking about this reading of the Beatitudes. And it is, I think, so appropriate for this dear brother of ours because the Beatitudes praise God and show us that we are to embrace the suffering that God embraced and that, through that suffering, we are perfected and gain eternal life. The Beatitudes show the practices that we are to make, the penances to do, if we want to walk like Jesus. They show how those who hunger for God are to live. They show us that, through suffering, our brothers and sisters receive the promises that God made to them, and we believe that brother Anthony will receive the promises that God made to him because he lived these Beatitudes. Jesus said, “Blessed are the people who do all of these good things.”
We get caught up in the things of the world, thinking that they will make us happy, but they do not make us happy. What makes us happy is to be with God, and that is what suffering means. Suffering takes us to God. Our prayer for our brother is that he, who lived these Beatitudes and who was happy living them, will be eternally happy. We pray that his sufferings will lead him to a place of joy as the suffering of Christ led him there as well.
I marvel at the faith of this man whom I never knew. For four years he was in formation with the Confraternity of Penitents, and he lived this rule for six years before he died, still living it. He spent a whole decade living your penitential rule of penance and I could not even live it for a day! In the eyes of the world he seems to be very small and insignificant, but not in the eyes of God. br Anthony hoped for a reward that would gain him heaven, and we will pray him through Purgatory because we know that, no matter how good he was, no one is perfect. And we will help him to get to heaven by our prayers because we know that living a life of penance will make us better but it does not mean that any of us will be perfect. And so we will need time to be perfected after our deaths. But may our prayers speed him through purgatory. And we trust that, when br. Anthony does get to heaven, he will get to meet the countless souls whom he saved by his suffering. We trust that these souls, whom we do not know, whom he does not know, will be there to greet him when he finally enters the pearly gates.
And how will he get there? He will get there through the cross. That is the purpose of this way of life of the Confraternity of Penitents. We can be like Christ through carrying our crosses. The world may have thought that suffering is worthless, that this man who died alone lived an insignificant and, in the eyes of the world, a meaningless life. But Jesus shows that such a life is filled with meaning. We see suffering not through the eyes of the world but through the sinless eyes of God. Everything changed regarding suffering because of the selfless love of God. The selfless love present in this gentle, life pledged and privately vowed penitent, brother Anthony, changes the world. I cannot even imagine the good that flows from his life, the graces that God granted the world through his suffering and his penances. I am so thankful for this man that I never knew. I am sure in his suffering the world is becoming better. We are one step closer to heaven because of brother Anthony. May he see the renewal of penance in the world because of his dedication to it. His love and penances speak to the heart of everything holy. May God be with you, brother Anthony.
--Father Jacob Meyer, CFP Visitor
Bishop Rhoade's Mass Homily to Confraternity of Penitents
HOMILY TO THE CONFRATERNITY OF PENITENTS
There follows here Bishop Rhoades' homily at the Mass in the Confraternity of Penitents House Chapel on January 8, 2015. Bishop Rhoades' homily focused on the Confraternity of Penitents Motto "You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart, with your whole soul, and with all your mind, (and) you shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Jesus's words as recorded in Matthew 22:37-38)
+ We are still in the Christmas season which ends this Sunday, the feast of the Baptism of the Lord.
+ Wonderful readings last week and this week from the first letter of Saint John. Saint John, the beloved disciple, wrote 5 New Testament books: the Gospel of John, the three letters, and the book of Revelation. A major theme: love (God’s love and our vocation to love). Recall the famous words in the Gospel of John (the famous 3:16): “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life.” This is what we have been celebrating during this Christmas season – the gift of the Incarnation – the Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us.
+ When Saint John wrote his three letters, he was addressing a difficult problem in his communities at the end of the first century. Many were being led astray by false teachers who were denying the truth of the Incarnation, the truth that the Son of God became flesh. He called them “antichrists.” They believed in Jesus but they denied that He came in the flesh. They claimed they were being led by the Spirit. Saint John makes it clear that it was not the Spirit of God, the Spirit of truth, that was guiding them, but the spirit of deceit, the father of lies. This heretical group also claimed that they loved God, but they were not loving their neighbor nor keeping the commandments. They hated the other members of the Christian community. That’s why Saint John wrote in today’s reading: “If anyone says, ‘I love God’, but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.”
This teaching of Saint John is very challenging. He says we are liars if we say we love God and hate our neighbor. Being a liar means being on the devil’s side since the devil is the father of lies. Loving God means we keep his commandments. John writes: “For the love of God is this, that we keep his commandments.” The principal commandment is charity, therefore, it is not possible to love God without loving one’s neighbor. Love of God and love of neighbor are inseparable! The true disciple of Christ loves God and neighbor.
Earlier in this first letter of John, Saint John wrote that “God is love.” This is a profound truth of Christianity. With love, He sent us his Son. This was entirely gratuitous. In today’s reading, he reminds us that “we love God because he first loved us.” But there is a requirement attached to God’s gift of love, that of sharing it with others. The love for others brings us as close as we can come on earth to union with God. Saint Thomas Aquinas taught that in this life we come closer to God through love than through knowledge.
Saint John tells us God’s commandments are not burdensome, for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world. And the victory that conquers the world is our faith.” So faith and love are connected. Our faith in Jesus, lived through love, enables us to conquer the world. This is what our world so desperately needs. It is the only way to true and lasting peace. There is no justice nor peace without forgiveness and love.
The Eucharist we now celebrate is the sacrament of love as Jesus comes to us, His Body broken and His blood poured out for us, giving us the grace and strengthen to love one another as He has loved us.
May God help all of us to live our vocation to love! This is what makes life meaningful and beautiful.
--Bishop Kevin Rhoades
Monthly Letter to All Penitents
GOD IN THE NURSING HOME
What is man's nature?
Man's nature is to love.
If we are to see a monastery as a proving ground for man's love for God can we not also see a nursing home as the same type of pasture and the residents as the same type of sheep? If we are to say that the word of God became man and we are to study the word of God for our own benefit, then if the word of God became incarnate in a person, shouldn't we then proceed that in caring for our brother and sister we are then loving God not just in reflecting on his word but on his very nature?
In the monastery silence is the setting to love. In the nursing home it is the act of silent love which is the key to unlocking the mystery of God's love for man. That is continual mercy. How then does the word of God live and breath in the heart of man? It is in listening to the heart.
Where in the monastery listening entails the full functioning of man, in the nursing home listening entails the full compassion of a man's soul towards the other and not towards the self. In the monastery contemplation of God includes a renunciation of the self; in the nursing home contemplation on the suffering of God is necessary for the elevation of man's heart towards his brother.
We cannot say that the monastery is separate from the nursing home. In understanding God we understand our neighbor and in understanding our neighbor we can more fully love God. This is why God became man. In the monastery we are dealing with a truth that was made known through God's love. In a nursing home we are dealing with small acts of love that are made known with a revelation of God's truth through man. The two are one in the same.
Transfiguration occurs when one accepts the word of God as the foundation of his very being, his very breath, his very mode of living. When the heart belongs not to his own self but belongs to the silence of the inner sanctuary of Gods dwelling, man is more able to respond to the cry, the suffering, the hurt, and the pain of his brothers who he has been called to serve in the presence of the Kingdom of the Lord God, creator of heaven and earth one in being with the Son and the Holy Spirit who form the foundation of all that is good. You say you see a room number and two names. When I enter I see Christ present and I acknowledge His presence in the same way that I enter a Chapel. For what is the point of the incarnation?
In St. Francis' call of conversion he did not want to embrace the leper. He said, “You actor! You are moved to tears when you read the gospel but when you meet someone whose suffering is the truest continuation on this earth of our Lord's Passion , you are so selfish that you run away!” He turned his horse around and rode back to the leper who was still there. He saw the image of Christ there in all his sufferings. He saw the image of Christ there because this was a person who was an outcast, thrown aside, cast off, left for no good benefit to the rest of society.
What did Francis feel when he entered the leper colony the first time? If I can come out of myself the same way Francis detached himself from his own fear, his own limitations, his own hurt, will I be able to see how he saw Christ? For this is how I see, this is how I pray, this is how I live. What great love resides there! What great mercy!
So how is the nursing home like the monastery? They are the same because the heart speaks the same. The heart of God speaks the same as the heart of man. To reflect on the sufferings of Christ, the God-man is to bind the wounds of the body through Christ's love of man. So then how does one learn the virtues? How does one learn to listen to the word of God?
“If only I knew what God wants me to do?' Francis asked. The people laughed at him. You want to rebuild this Church? This Church is already built. It has already been assembled. There is nothing left for you to do but to open the doors. Francis stood, silent and listening. Open the doors? The doors are locked. They keep trying to punch in the numbers to get the door open. They keep pushing and banging on the door to get out or to get in I don't know. I have to keep the doors closed so that they can't get out. But you are there with them. You enter into their dwelling place. You enter into their dwelling place through my love. If you are love, O Lord, and if you are infinite, then in my freedom I choose, as small as I am in the mist of my own sufferings, for you to dwell in this little heart of mine. There's not a whole lot of room there, it's not very comfortable, it's not very spacious. It's got a few cobwebs and broken windows. But if you want to come and be my guest at the table I'll try and make a little room. In the monastery the light of Christ can be heard in the silence as God speaks to the heart. In the nursing home the tender compassion of our God will shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death and will guide the feet into the way of peace.
--Jesse Pellow, CFP Inquirer
Letter from One Who Serves the CFP
JESUS AS THE SON OF GOD
In the New Testament, Jesus is often referred to as the “Son of God”. In part II of Introduction to Christianity, Professor Joseph Ratzinger describes how this title came to be ascribed to Jesus. Professor Ratzinger had previously outlined the “stock idea” that Jesus was originally a Jewish preacher proclaiming the coming of the Kingdom of God and the end of the world. Since this concept was not intelligible to Gentiles, he was then transformed in some unknown way to a miracle working “God-man”. This led eventually to the Christian creedal formulation of Jesus Christ as “True God and True Man”. Professor Ratzinger strongly rejects the connection between the pagan “God-man” and the Christian “Son of God”. The concept of the divine man or God-man occurs nowhere in the New Testament. Conversely, nowhere in antiquity is the “divine man” described as the “Son of God”. These are two important facts. Historically the two concepts are in no way connected; they have nothing to do with each other either in language or content. The Bible is not familiar with the divine man, nor is antiquity familiar, in the realm of the divine men, with the idea of “Son of God”.
Where does the term “Son of God”, as used in the New Testament for Jesus Christ, come from? The expression “Son of God” stems from the “king” theology of the Old Testament, which itself rests on the demythologization of oriental “king” theology and expresses its transformation into the “Chosen People” theology of Israel. The classical example of this procedure (that is, of the borrowing of ancient oriental “king” theology and its biblical demythologization into the idea of election) is provided by Psalm 2:7, and thus by the text that at the same time became one of the points of departure of Christological thinking. In this verse the following oracle is delivered to the king of Israel: “I will tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to me, ‘You are my son, today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.’” This dictum, which belongs in the context of the enthronement of the kings of Israel, stems, as we have said, from ancient oriental coronation rites, in which the king was declared the son begotten of God, though the full scope of the notion of begetting seems to have been retained only in Egypt. There the king was regarded as a being mythically begotten by God, while in Babylon the same ritual was largely demythologized and the idea that the king was the son of God was already conceived as the conferment of a legal sanction.
When the formula was taken over by the Davidic court, the mythological sense was certainly set aside completely. The idea of a physical begetting of the king by the Godhead is replaced by the notion that the king becomes son here and now; the act of procreation consists in the act of the election by God. The king is son, not because he has been begotten by God, but because he has been chosen by God. The reference is not to a physical event but to the power of the divine will that creates new being. In the idea of sonship so conceived, the whole theology of the Chosen People is now also concentrated. In older passages of the Bible (Ex 4:22, for example) Israel as a whole had been called Yahweh’s firstborn, beloved son. When in the age of the kings this description is transferred to the ruler, this means that in him, the successor of David, Israel’s vocation is summed up; that he stands for Israel and unites in himself the mystery of the promise, the call, the love that rests upon Israel. Thus, we can see that the kings of Israel were considered to be the son of God in the sense that they stood for all of Israel.
There was problem with all this, however. The promise “I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession” was never fulfilled in the kings which came after King David. …….the mantle of the psalm, borrowed from oriental coronation ritual, was far too big for the shoulders of the real king on Mount Zion. So it was historically inevitable that this psalm, which seen from the angle of the present must have appeared almost unbearable, should grow more and more into a profession of hope in him of whom it would one day really be true. This means that the “royal” theology, which had first been transformed from a theology of begetting into one of election, now went through a further change and turned from a theology of election into a theology of hope in the king to come. The coronation oracle became more and more a reiteration of the promise that one day that king would come of whom it could rightly be said: “You are my son, today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage.”
Professor Ratzinger then tells us how the oracle in Psalm 2 was applied to Jesus. The words of the psalm were probably first applied to Jesus in the framework of the belief in the Resurrection. The event of Jesus’ awakening from the dead, in which this community believed, was conceived by the first Christians as the moment at which the happenings of Psalm 2 had become a factual reality. The paradox is certainly no less striking here, for to believe that he who died on Golgotha is at the same time he to whom these words are addressed seem an extraordinary contradiction. What does this application of the psalm mean? It means that people know that Israel’s royal hope is fulfilled in him who died on the Cross and, to the eye of faith, rose again from the dead. For Christians, Jesus Christ rules as king from the Cross. Kingship does not consist of privilege and power but rather obedience and service.
The apparent “failure” of Jesus on the Cross actually confirms him as the “Son of God”. The Son of God idea that in this way and in this form---the explanation of Cross and Resurrection by Psalm 2----entered into the profession of Faith in Jesus of Nazareth has truly nothing to do with the Hellenistic idea of the divine man and is not to be explained in any way from it. On the contrary, it is the second stage in the demythologization of the oriental concept of kingship, an idea already partly demythologized in the Old Testament. It defines Jesus as the true heir to the universe, as heir to the promise in which Davidic theology culminates. At the same time it becomes evident that the idea of the king, which to this extent is transferred to Jesus in the title of “son”, becomes intertwined with the idea of the servant. As king he is a servant, and as the servant of God he is king. This interplay, so fundamental to belief in Christ, is adumbrated in the Old Testament and anticipated linguistically in the Greek translation of it. The word pais, which the latter uses to denote the servant of God , can also mean “child”; in the light of the Christ event this ambiguity must have become a pointer to the way in which the two roles coincide in Jesus.
There was in fact one connection in the ancient world to the Christian designation of Jesus as the Son of God. For we must, after all, observe that there was in fact one linguistic and objective parallel to it in the Graeco-Roman world. The only thing is that this parallel did not consist in the idea of the “divine man”, which simply has nothing to do with it. The only real ancient parallel to the description of Jesus as the Son of God (which expresses a new understanding of power, kingship, election, indeed, of humanity) occurs in the description of Emperor Augustus as “son of God”. Here we do indeed encounter the exact phrase with which the New Testament describes the significance of Jesus of Nazareth. In the cult of the Roman emperor, and not before, we see the return in late antiquity, in conjunction with the oriental concept of monarchy, of the title “son of God”, which otherwise did not exist and could not exist simply because of the many possible meanings of the word “god”. It reappears only with the return of the oriental concept of monarchy from which the designation stems. In other words, the title “son of god” belongs to the political theology of Rome and thus refers to the same basic context that also gave rise, as we have see, to the New Testament “Son of God”. Both usages proceed in fact, from the same native soil and point back to one and the same source. So both in the ancient East and again in imperial Rome, the title “son of God” is---let us be quite clear about this----a piece of political theology. In the New Testament the phrase has been transferred to another dimension of thought as a result of the reinterpretation in Israel by a theology of election and hope. So from the same root completely different things grew up; and the conflict---soon to become unavoidable---between the acknowledgment of Jesus as the Son of God and the acknowledgment of the emperor as the son of God represented for all practical purposes a clash between demythologized myth and myth that has remained myth. The Roman god-emperor, with his all-embracing claims, could certainly not allow, alongside his own pretensions, the continued existence of the transformed “king” and “emperor” theology that lives on in faith in Jesus as the Son of God. To that extent martyria (testimony) was bound to turn into martyrium, the challenge to the self-deification of political power.
It is difficult to see how the Jewish moral teacher of the end of the world could have been embellished into the Son of God by the early Church as liberal theology claims. For this “embellishment” earned many early Christians intense persecution and martyrdom from the Roman Empire. This clash between Christian theology and the Roman cult of the emperor did not end until the Edict of Milan stopped the persecution of Christians in 313 AD. Of course, the Edict of Milan did not stop the persecution of Christians for all time. Throughout history and right up to the present time Christians are being persecuted for believing in Jesus Christ as the Son of God. For this belief means that no political program is absolute but stands under the judgment of God.
-- Jim Nugent, CFP
No Greater Love
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE TIME
May the Lord give you His peace.
brother tim Strickland to Penitents in the Alessandro Ministry.
Please take advantage of this time you are “paying now”. The thing that prison cannot take from us is our mind if we keep it rooted in Christ, with Mary’s example. A friar gave me some very good advice that I would like to give to you. Now I do not know you well enough to say that I know what your vocation is, specifically to which state you are called to, but I do know that you are called, for sure, to be a great saint so that God can boast about you. But because God is calling you to a deep intimate love with Him, you are called to be an intimate lover of God, not just a mere friend. Your relationship with God cannot be about what you do for God, but rather being with God. He desires an intimate union with you and you are dearly beloved in His eyes. He dwells within your soul and is constantly trying to communicate His love to you. So while you serve in prison, first and foremost, you must be intensely in love with God and constantly seek Him. And, if you are in love with God, and His love is transforming life within you, only then could you really help anyone else. There’s an old Latin phrase: “Nemo dat quad non abet”. This means “No one gives away what they don’t have”. So while you are trying to deepen your conversion, you need to enter deeply into silent prayer and read the word of God intensely.
I know that times are hard. I have been locked up for 13 years and have 11 ½ years to go. But because I constantly “struggle” to keep my eyes on Christ, He has made prison a blessing. I do not possess many material things and the prison takes more from time to time. But Christ is seeing me through, even in my times of doubt. I have a roof over my head, food in my stomach, and clothes on my back. I have it a lot better than most people in the world. Thank you, Lord, for all of Your blessings. Amen.
I know that we can see, hear, and do things every day that people who are not in prison cannot even begin to fathom, but I know that you are not alone. I personally am starting today to say a prayer for those with life sentences because just as people who have never been in prison cannot understand how it is to be in prison, I cannot understand fully how it is not to have an out date. I look up to you for pressing on and hope to have the faith that you have. You who are in this position know what I am trying to say. Because of space, I will close for now, but please allow me to give you God’s blessing if you are in the state of grace and willing to receive it.
DOUAY-RHEIMS Psalm 132. Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity; like the precious ointment on the head that ran down upon the beard, the beard of Aaron, which ran down to the skirt of his garment; as the dew of Hermon, which descended upon Mount Sion, for there the Lord hath commanded blessing and life for evermore. Amen.
Your brother, tim (Alessandro Ministry)
Following Francis, Following Christ
PENITENTS IN GIOTTO'S PAINTING OF THE DEATH OF SAINT FRANCIS
When the Basilica of Saint Francis was built in Assisi, famous painters were commissioned to adorn it. Giotto was a famous painter of his day, and it was commonly held until recently that he had painted the life of Saint Francis on the Basilica walls. While that is now disputed, it is interesting for penitents to view these early paintings which were completed within seventy to eighty years after the death of Saint Francis.
The Death of Saint Francis by Giotto
A quick look at the paintings reveals lay men and brothers around the body of the dying saint. The paintings show Jerome, who was a magistrate and counsel of Assisi, probing the wounds of Saint Francis as recorded in sworn testimony of the time. Other figures are clearly Francis' friars, easily evident by the earthen colored robes and tonsured heads. The tonsure had been granted to the friars by the Pope so as to brand them as sons of the Church and so protect them from harm by Christians who might think they were heretics. Some of these friars are wearing white surplices as they are evidently part of a liturgical celebration around the byre.We see others in this painting, however. Off to the left are two men wearing caps. These men are middle class men of Assisi, but their garb is earthen colored. Quite likely they are penitents in the 'undyed cloth of humble quality' called for by the Rule of 1221. A careful look will reveal another man in a gray, undyed tunic that resembles the ones worn by the friars. This man, who is kissing the foot of Saint Francis, is not tonsured. He, too, is a layman and a penitent, probably from a lower class than the ones in hats to the left. What set the friars, who were religious penitents, apart from lay penitents was the tonsure.Look at other paintings of the death of Saint Francis and you will be able to pick out the laity who were not penitents as they wear colorful garments from the laity who are penitents. These men are our predecessors in penance. May they pray for us living today the Rule that they were living in 1226 when Francis died in Assisi.--Madeline Pecora Nugent, CFP
Reflection on the Rule
25. All who have the right are to make their last will and make disposition of their goods within three months after their profession, lest anyone of them die intestate.
25. In keeping with section 25 of the Rule:
25a. All are to make their last will and testament within three months of their pledging to live the Rule, lest anyone of them die before creating a valid will.
This section of the Rule and Constitutions is intended to keep peace in the family following the penitent’s death. Penitents need to also check with the government to see what legal powers survivors need in order to make decisions when a living penitent is incapable and after the penitent is deceased. In the United States, penitents need to select someone who will have power of attorney and another person who will have durable power of attorney. The first person can make decisions when the penitent is alive but incapable of making a decision. Their power ends when the penitent dies. The second person, the one with durable power of attorney, can make decisions regarding disposal of the body. The Confraternity of Penitents offers a Funeral Kit for its life pledged members which contains items relating to the Confraternity for the funeral and also paperwork for the relatives so that death and burial arrangements are made according to the penitent’s wishes. All those in the Confraternity should speak to their relatives about their burial wishes. This includes not only what is written in the will but also the desire for a Mass to be said for the penitent and that a Catholic burial be given.
Affiliates also should think about what will happen regarding their possessions and their bodies upon their death. They, too, should have a will written and filed so that relatives can access it. They should also make their wishes known in the event that they are incapable of making decisions. And it is a good idea for them to have specific instructions filed with their will regarding burial arrangements and a Catholic Mass. This is done not only for peace of mind but also out of charity for those left behind.
Virtues Portrayed in the
San Damiano Crucifix
We do not often think of a happy death as being a Franciscan virtue, but if we think back to St. Francis we will realize that embracing death when it comes is indeed a great virtue. Francis said, “Welcome, Sister Death” when the doctor tending him in his final illness told him that death was not far off. His famous Canticle of the Creatures ends with these words, dictated in song on his deathbed:
Praised be my Lord for our sister, the bodily death,
From the which no living man can flee.
Woe to them who die in mortal sin;
Blessed those who shall find themselves in Thy most holy will,
For the second death shall do them no ill.
Praise ye and bless ye my Lord, and give Him thanks,
And be subject unto Him with great humility.We can see that death is portrayed joyously on the San Damiano Crucifix. Instead of a tortured man on the crucifix, we see a serene, peaceful King.
Francis encourages us to embrace death this way and we can as long as we are in the state of grace. May we ask God for a peaceful attitude and a grace filled soul at the time of our death.
Saint of the Month
SAINT MARIANNE COPE (1838-1918)
Saint Marianne Cope was born Maria Anna Barbara Koob (later changed to Cope) on January 23, 1838, in Germany. The following year her family moved to the United States, settling in Utica, New York. Maria attended the parish school until her father became an invalid while she was in eighth grade. Thereupon she began work in a textile factory to help support her family. By the time her father died, the family had all become citizens and the youngest children were able to support themselves so Maria was able to enter the Sisters of Third Order Regular of Saint Francis in Syracuse, New York, where, upon reception of the habit, she was given the name Sister Marianne.
Sister Marianne became a teacher and then principal in a school for German speaking immigrants and, by 1870, a member of the governinng council of her congregation. She helped found the first two Catholic hospitals in central New York and then was appointed to govern St. Joseph’s Hospital in Syracuse from 1870 to 1877. Each hospital provided medical care to everyone, regardless of race, creed, social status, age, or income. She also contracted with Syracuse University to have its medical students treat the hospital patients as part of their training, with the stipulation that a patient could refuse student treatment.
Marianne was Superior General of her congregation when, in 1883, the King of Hawaii wrote to her, pleading for help in caring for leprosy patients. More than fifty congregations had declined his request, but Mother Marianne eagerly accepted. With six other Sisters, Marianne arrived in Honolulu on November 18, 1883. The Sisters’ initial job was to manage a branch hospital on O’ahu where patients with Hansen’s disease were received before being assigned elsewhere. The following year, Marianne established a hospital on the island of Maui, but she was soon called back to deal with a government appointed administrator’s abuse of leprosy patients. Her demand that the government dismiss this administrator, or else she and the Sisters would return to Syracuse, resulted in her being given full charge of the hospital. In 1885, Marianne convinced the government to open a home on grounds of the leprosy hospital for homeless daughters of leprosy patients who had no one to care for them but the Sisters.
In 1887, a new government closed the O’ahu hospital and then asked Marianne to establish a new home for women and girls on a peninsula of Molokai where the most severely diseased patients were housed. This meant that she would likely never be able to return to New York. Cheerfully Marianne and her Sisters accepted the task.
In November 1888 Marianne moved to Molokai to not only care for the lepers in general but also to provide specific care for dying Fr. Damien Veuster who had done such heroic work with the lepers but who was now shunned because he had contracted the disease. Upon Fr. Damien’s death on April 15, 1889, the government gave Marianne charge of the boys as well as the girls and women on Molokai. A businessman donated money for a new home and, once it was built, Marianne requested religious brothers to come to help. When the call was answered in 1895 by the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, she withdrew the Sisters to the women’s house.
Marianne and her Sisters brought not only professional hospital care and infection control to the colony but also strove to treat the patients with dignity, respect, and support. Marianne died on August 9, 1918, due to natural causes and was buried at the women’s home. Her remains were returned to Syracuse in 2005. She predicted that none of her Sisters who cared for the lepers would contract the disease and, so far, none have.
QUOTE FROM SCRIPTURE:
"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)
We hear this quote frequently but do we think about it as frequently? St. Marianne said, “Let us make the best of the fleeting moments. They will not return.” How many fleeting moments do we have when we can offer a smile, or a kind word, or a quick helping hand to someone in need? We may not think that we are ministering to Jesus in these moments, but he has told us that we are. Note that Christ said, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters.” Whatever means exactly what it says. Whatever can be good or bad, large or small, but it can never be indifferent. However we touch someone’s life will affect it in some way, and let us pray that is for the good. Jesus also said that these actions and words are to be directed not only to the notable and noticed but also to the “least.” The “least” are the people whom no one notices, the ones who fade into the background, and the ones who embarrass us. How do we treat these people? May God give us the grace to treat them as St. Marianne would.
QUOTE FROM A SAINT:
“What little good we can do in this world to help and comfort the suffering, we wish to do it quietly and so far as possible unnoticed and unknown.” – Saint Marianne Cope
St. Marianne Cope set out to do good without acclaim. She wished no glory for herself or her sisters in faith but only for God. When our eyes are focused on the poor and the needy, on the suffering and the anguished, we are not looking at ourselves and how we appear to others. We are seeing God in the people whom we serve, and our service is colored with selfless love rather than self gratification. Those who are served have a sense of whose service is selfless and whose is self centered. When we help others, let us pray to be genuine in our concern for them.
CAT'S COMIC MOMENT
Into the shower enters the curious cat.
Sits and washes himself on the shower mat.
Then a shadow he spies
Searching with his blackened hunter's eyes.
His instincts take over, and the hunt begins!
Who knows how this venture ends?
Then heard a thumping sound.
The cat begins to spin around and around.
Stops, and sees something wiggle.
Makes you begin to laugh and giggle.
Then in opposite direction he spins and bumps.
Pitter-patter his feet on hollow floor thumps.
Then a "Meowwwwww!" is heard, and to no avail.
He caught his prey, biting his tail.
Scampers, out of shower, un-wet.
An adventure he will surely never forget.
--Paul Michael Phelan, CFP
WORDS TO PONDER
Correction does much, but encouragement does more. -- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
We didn't lose the game. We just ran out of time. -- Vince Lombardi
If we knew what it was we were doing, it wouldn't be called research, would it? -- Albert Einstein
Duration is not a test of true or false. -- Ann Morrow Lindberg
There are two ways of exerting one's strength: pushing down and pulling up. -- Booker T. Washington
If you are out to describe the truth, leave elegance to the tailor. -- Albert Einstein
Try to be like the turtle, at ease in your own shell. -- Bill Copeland
It is always too early to quit. -- Norman Vincent Peale
Don't think there are no crocodiles because the water is calm. -- Anonymous
We should not only use the brains we have, but those we borrow. -- Woodrow Wilson
Confraternity Photo Album
January 2015 was a month of firsts for the Confraternity of Penitents.
It was not the first time that a Confraternity of Penitents member passed away but it was the first time that the funeral was specifically centered on the penitent's Confraternity vocation. The first photo shows those who attended the funeral for Bill Eddy (br. Anthony), CFP. who died December 6, 2014. The funeral was held on January 3, 2015.
On January 8, 2015, Bishop Kevin Rhoades became the first Bishop to offer a Mass specifically for the Confraternity of Penitents and in the Confraternity of Penitents house chapel at its international headquarters in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The second photo was taken of the Bishop with Confraternity members able to attend and two priest guests. Father Jacob Meyer, also pictured to the far right of Bishop Rhoades, concelebrated the Mass. The Bishop and all others enjoyed a pot luck luncheon, provided by the Confraternity. following the Mass. Then the Bishop was brought up to date on Renovation Plans for the property.
We in the CFP are blessed to have experienced these two grace filled events this month. God be praised.
Confraternity of Penitents Mass with Bishop Kevin Rhoades, January 8, 2015
Those attending the funeral for Bill Eddy (br. Anthony), CFP, life pledged and privately vowed Confraternity member. Father Jacob Meyer, CFP Visitor, Mass celebrant. Pictured are some members of the Franciscan Brothers Minor, Father Jacob, and Confraternity of Penitents members. The funeral was held in Fort Wayne, Indiana on January 3, 2015.
Happy Birthday to:
Dennis V 2/1
Jorge R 2/7
Carole T 2/9
Karen S 2/12
Thom K 2/12
Jessica T 2/13
Sandy S 2/16
Mary K 2/16
Diane S 2/18
Dennis V 2/1
Jorge R 2/7
Carole T 2/9
Karen S 2/12
Thom K 2/12
Patrick W 2/20
Kimberly L 2/25
Alice P 2/28
Edem A 2/29
Featured Items CFP Holy Angels Gift Shop
The following items for Lent, and many others, are available through the Confraternity of Penitents Holy Angels Gift Shop. The proceeds from your purchases support the Confraternity of Penitents. May God bless you for your support.
Jesus Crowned with Thorns Print. 5 x 7 inches. Artist Brittany Kathleen Nugent. 1.95 Item A333
Easter Coloring Book. 1.95 plus shipping. Item B962
The Way of Humility by Pope Francis. 12.95 plus shipping. Item Number B326