Confraternity of Penitents Monthly Newsletter: March 2015

Reminder:  Until Easter, penitents at the Novice 3 level and above should continue the Lenten fasting provisions as stated in the Rule and Constitutions.

Visitor's Vision

Listening to God

 

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. Then Peter said to Jesus, ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’ While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!’ When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, ‘Get up and do not be afraid.’ And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone.

 

 As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, ‘Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.’ (Matthew 17: 1-9)

 

One of the most beautiful things about the readings for this Lenten season is that we get to see the connection between them. We see, as in many other seasons, the prophecies of God fulfilled. We see the Old Testament leading seamlessly into the new. We see that Abraham was asked to make the greatest of sacrifices, to give up his most beloved son, the son that was promised him, the greatest gift ever given to him. He was asked to give that up out of love for God. And he was going to do it. He was faithful. And the Lord saw that and stopped his hand and said, “Nno. I will not ask that of you.” But even though God spared Abraham from offering up his son, God did not spare Himself from the same things. We see in the Gospel of the Transfiguration that the Lord said, “This is my beloved Son.”

 

St. Paul explains to us that, yes, indeed, this is the beloved Son who was given up for us. This sacrifice,  which God made for us, shows forth God’s faithfulness, that God will never abandon us, that God is always with us, that God loves us all more than anything else. He loves us. How do we know this? He died for us. At the Transfiguration, the Lord only gave us the one commandment. The cloud came, and Peter, James, and John saw Jesus with Moses and Elijah. They were so happy. And God said, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.”

 

Listen to him. These are some of the easiest words in the world to say but probably some of the hardest in the world to do. Listening is probably one of the most difficult things in the world to get people to do. You can get people to hear you just fine. Just think about having teenagers in the house. You can get them to hear you. Just scream louder. And they will hear what you say, but that does not necessarily mean that they are listening to what you say. And that is what God is trying to tell us at the Transfiguration. Do not just experience this. Do not just sit here in awe and hear what the Lord has to say, but listen to what He has to say. This means you hear it. You contemplate it. What does this mean in the greater sense? What does this mean particularly to me? And then you put those words into action.

 

Just think about a parent and child. My mom calls up to me. She says, “Jacob, clean your room!” I heard her. Did I listen to her? No. However, in order to listen, I had to hear what she had to say and know why she was asking me to clean my room. But then I had to do it, knowing this was my job, even though I wanted to go out and play. Similarly with God. The Lord gives us all of these words, all of these beautiful scriptures, and we can just go on saying, “All that is so lovely, the word of God! Isn’t it wonderful!” We have to hear the words and think about them. Think about them in the broadest way. What do they mean regarding the relationship of God to all of humanity? But then also think about them in the particular sense of what does this mean for me? What is God asking of me through these words?

 

Through Lent we should try to be experiencing more silence in our lives so that we might remove from ourselves the distractions of the world, so that we will stop thinking about breakfast or chores or the snow we have to shovel-- stop thinking about all those things and rather listen. “Lord, I heard you. I hear you now. Speak to me. Your servant is listening. What you want me to do or what you want me not to do?” Carve out some time for silence this Lent. Maybe not long periods. Short periods. Maybe coming to Mass a little bit early or staying a little bit later. Spend a few extra moments in prayer. Ask God, “What is it You want me to do?” Because if we don’t take some time in the silence, if we don’t listen to God, then we are going to do the same thing that Peter, James, and John did. They heard Jesus. “Do not tell anybody,” He said. Did they understand? No. And they did not ask. We have to ask and then we have to listen for an answer.

 

Peter, James, and John saw God. They saw Jesus transfigured before them. They saw him in all his glory. And then, what do they do at the crucifixion? They turned tail and ran. They saw him in all his glory. We did not see him in his glory, and we say, “Jesus, why don’t you just come out and appear in the clouds and announce, ‘I am here! World, worship me! I am God! ” But that is not going to work. It did not work for Peter, James, and John and it is not going to work for us. Because in order to acknowledge God and change our lives, it takes a radical interior effort to listen and to change. May you be blessed with silence this Lent, and in that silence may the Lord speak to you and show you how you are to live.

 

--Father Jacob Meyer, Visitor

Monthly Letter to All Penitents

It's Not Fair!

Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is unfair.’ Hear now, O house of Israel: Is my way unfair? Is it not your ways that are unfair? When the righteous turn away from their righteousness and commit iniquity, they shall die for it; for the iniquity that they have committed they shall die. Again, when the wicked turn away from the wickedness they have committed and do what is lawful and right, they shall save their life. Because they considered and turned away from all the transgressions that they had committed, they shall surely live; they shall not die. Yet the house of Israel says, ‘The way of the Lord is unfair.’ O house of Israel, are my ways unfair? Is it not your ways that are unfair?

 Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, all of you according to your ways, says the Lord God. Repent and turn from all your transgressions; otherwise iniquity will be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed against me, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, says the Lord God. Turn, then, and live. (Ezekiel 18: 25-32)

Lent is a great time to talk about fairness. Father Jacob Meyer, our CFP Visitor, says, “We are all perennial second graders. We whine, ‘It’s not fair!’ And it’s probably true. It’s not fair. But who cares about fairness if what is done is just and good.” Father Jacob points out the fatherly aspect of God in the above reading from Ezekiel. Sure God was not fair. God was merciful and just. Father Jacob notes, “The cross is placed before you daily.  Yes, life is not fair. Get over it. It is in laying down our lives that we are lifted up. We want to protest the cross, but we must live it. Jesus says, ‘Do not be discouraged or let your hearts be troubled. Love does not worry about fairness if it is love. If you truly are concerned about the other person, you do not think about yourself.” (Father Jacob Meyer, Mass Homily, February 2015)


Recently our daughter and I watched a movie called The Little Red Wagon. The movie was based on the true story of Zach Bonner who, at the age of eight years old, used his trusty wagon to collect relief items for the victims of Hurricane Charley. He then went on to pack backpacks for homeless children and to raise awareness for the homeless by walking from one city to the another and eventually across country. Now in his 20s, Zach has a nonprofit foundation to help the needy and the homeless. The movie showed how he began his ministry with the willing help of his mother, a widow, and the unwilling help of his older sister. Because the idea of helping others was Zach’s idea, and because he was young, he received media attention and publicity while his older sister was overlooked even though she played a great part in all that was happening. The sister constantly chafes under the reality that Zach is getting more attention than she is and that “it’s not fair.” Eventually she accepts her own cross of being overlooked and goes on to continue to help her brother and mother with the ministry.

Currently I am in close contact with two people whom life has dealt a difficult hand. One is a young woman whose father apparently wanted a boy and got her instead. The other is an upper middle-aged man whose parents were alcoholic. He was removed from their home and raised in orphanages and foster care where the abuse he suffered at home often continued. Both these people are trying to overcome the pain of their past. How difficult it is to accept the cross that you have been given and to realize that you are going to carry it all of your life!

Both this woman and this man will have to embrace the cross and their past and integrate it into their future which can be a good and hopeful as long as they do not look for it to be something that it cannot be. Their wounds and brokenness will be used by the Holy Spirit to minister to others if only they will reach outward instead of inward. Life has not been fair to them. It has not been good to them. And the question they ask, “Why isn't God doing something?” indicates an expectation that God ought to “do something” in the way they think it should be done. God is, in fact, doing something by putting people into their lives who are willing to support them and help them move forward in hope and joy. But change needs to come from within them. The old saying, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink,” applies to human beings as well as to animals. And another saying, “The devil you know is less frightening than the devil you don’t know” applies here, too.


The only way for these two individuals to escape their quagmire of confusion, unhappiness, and indecisiveness is to step forward into the help that is being offered to them through new locations, new support groups, and new lifestyles. But they have to take the chance and be willing to go through the adjustments needed to emerge as happier, better adjusted people. And that means there will be tough times ahead, tough in a different way than in the emotional upheaval they are currently in, but difficult nevertheless. We can get comfortable in our misery and prefer the misery we know to to the discomfort of a new life.


Lent is a time to climb out of our comfort zone. It is a time to acknowledge that life is not fair, and that whatever is unfair in our life, is our cross to bear. But what is unfair can also be our means of sanctification and improvement, of a deepening of our faith, of a greater empathy with others to whom life has not been fair either. The question is not what is fair but what is just and what is good. May God turn what is unfair in your life to what will be a source of grace for you. How will that happen? It starts with prayer and the willingness to change.


--Madeline Pecora Nugent, CFP

Letter from One Who Serves the CFP

THE INCARNATION AND THE CROSS

 

Part II of Professor Joseph Ratzinger’s Introduction to Christianity deals with Jesus Christ.  At this point Professor Ratzinger examines the two major ways in which Christianity has viewed Jesus Christ.  In the history of the Christian faith two divergent lines of approach to the contemplation of Jesus have appeared again and again: the theology of the Incarnation, which sprang from Greek thought and became dominant in the Catholic tradition of East and West, and the theology of the Cross, which based itself on St. Paul and the earliest forms of Christian belief and made a decisive breakthrough in the thinking of the Reformers. The former talks of “being” and centers around the fact that here a man is God and that, accordingly, at the same time God is man; this astounding fact is seen as the all decisive one.  All the individual events that followed pale before this one event of the one-ness of man and God, of God’s becoming man.  In  face of  this they can only be secondary; the interlocking of God and man appears as the truly decisive, redemptive factor, as the real future of man, on which all lines must finally converge.

 

The theology of the Cross, on the other hand, will have nothing to do with ontology of this kind;  it speaks instead of the event; it follows the testimony of the early days, when people enquired, not yet about being, but about the activity of God in the Cross and Resurrection, an activity that conquered death and pointed to Jesus as the Lord and as the hope of humanity.  The differing tendencies of these two theologies result from their respective approaches.  The theology of the Incarnation tends toward a static, optimistic view.  The sin of man may well appear as a transitional stage of fairly minor importance.  The decisive factor, then, is not that man is in a state of sin and must be saved; the aim goes far beyond any such atonement for the past and lies in making progress toward the convergence of man and God.  The theology of the Cross, on the other hand, leads rather to a dynamic, topical, anti-world interpretation of Christianity, which understands Christianity only as a discontinuously but constantly appearing breach in the self-confidence and self-assurance of man and of his institutions, including the Church.

 

Thus, we have Catholics who can emphasize that the Church was founded by Jesus Christ who was true God and true Man.  Protestants, on the other hand, can emphasize the fallen nature of humanity and the sinfulness even of the Church.  Thus, they do not see it of great importance to be within the Church founded by Jesus Christ.   Professor Ratzinger does believe that there is an ultimate unity between the two approaches.  For we have found that the being of Christ (“Incarnation” theology!) is actualitas, stepping beyond oneself, the exodus of going out from self; it is, not a being that rests in itself, but the act of being sent, of being son, of serving.  Conversely, this “doing” is not just “doing” but “being”; it reaches down into the depths of being and coincides with it.  This being is exodus, transformation,  so at this point a properly understood Christology of being and of the Incarnation must pass over into the theology of the Cross, and become one with it;  Conversely, a theology of the Cross that gives its full measure must pass over into the Christology of the Son and of being.  We can see that the Incarnation and the Cross go together.  The Incarnation of Jesus Christ as true God and true Man would not mean much for us without the Cross.  But it is also of critical importance who it was who died on the Cross for us.

 

Professor Ratzinger next describes another antithesis which has arisen in Christianity.  In the course of the historical development of faith in Christ, two aspects of it, which people became accustomed to call “Christology” and “soteriology”, visibly parted company.  The former term came to denote the doctrine of the being of Jesus, which was treated more and more as a self-contained ontological exception and thus transformed into an object of speculation concerning something special, incomprehensible, and confined to Jesus alone.  Soteriology then came to denote the doctrine of redemption: after dealing with the ontological crossword puzzle---the question of how man and God could in Jesus be one---people went on to inquire quite separately about what Jesus had done and how the effect of his deed impinges on us.

 

Professor Ratzinger then describes the major Christian explanation of the redemption of humanity by Jesus Christ.   This is called the “satisfaction theory”. In other words, why did Jesus Christ need to go to the Cross and die for our sins?  This “satisfaction theory” is the explanation of the redemption developed by St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109).  The main lines of his argument may be summarized as follows: By man’s sin, which was aimed against God, the order of justice was violated beyond measure and God infinitely offended.  Behind this is the idea that the measure of the offense is determined by the status of the offended party; if I offend a beggar, the consequences are not the same as they would be if I offended a head of state.  The importance of the offense varies according to the addressee.  Since God is infinite, the offense to him implicit in humanity’s sin is also infinitely important.  The right that has been violated to such an extent must be restored, because God is a God of order and justice; indeed, he is justice itself.  But the measure of the offense demands an infinite reparation, which man is not capable of making.  He can offend infinitely---his capacity extends that far---but he cannot produce an infinite reparation; what he, as a finite being, gives will always be only finite.  His powers of destruction extend farther than his capacity to reconstruct.  Thus between all the reparations that man may attempt and the greatness of his guilt there remains an infinite gulf he can never bridge.  Any gesture of expiation can only demonstrate his powerlessness to close the infinite gulf that he himself opened up.

 

Is order to be destroyed forever, then, and man to remain eternally imprisoned in the abyss of his guilt?  At this point Anselm moves on to the figure of Christ.  His answer runs thus: God himself removes the injustice; not (as he could have done) by a simple amnesty, which cannot after all overcome from inside what has happened, but through another expedient: the infinite Being himself becomes man and then as a man---who belongs to the race of the offenders yet possesses the power, denied to man, of infinite reparation---makes the required expiation.  Thus the redemption takes place entirely through grace and at the same time entirely as restoration of right………His view has put a decisive stamp on the second millennium of Western Christendom, which takes it for granted that Christ had to die on the Cross in order to make good  the infinite offense that had been committed and in this way restore the order that had been violated.

 

While this “satisfaction theory” is quite powerful and takes into account important biblical insights, it also has problems associated with it.  It is not hard to see that, in spite of all the philosophical and juridical terminology employed, the guiding thread remains that truth which the Bible expresses in the little word “for”, in which it makes clear that we as men live not only directly from God but from one another and, in the last analysis, from the One who lived for all.  And who could fail to see that thus in the schematization of the “satisfaction” theory the breath of the biblical idea of election remains clear, the idea that makes election, not a privilege of the elected, but the call to live for others?  It is the call to that “for” in which man confidently  lets himself fall, ceases to cling to himself, and ventures on the leap away from himself into the infinite, the leap through which alone he can come to himself.  But even if all this is admitted, it cannot be denied, on the other hand, that the perfectly logical divine-cum-human legal system erected by Anselm distorts the perspectives and with its rigid logic can make the image of God appear in a sinister light.   While this theory points out the love that God has for us and the love we should have for each other, it does place God in a very legalistic light.  This is a common feature of theological theories.   They may be helpful in many respects, but could also have problems in other respects.   Of course, St. Anselm’s “satisfaction theory” does bring to light the terrible evil associated with sin.  This is an evil which our modern Western society wishes to ignore.

 

--Jim Nugent, CFP

No Greater Love

Two Edged Sword

The Roman short sword was dangerous and deadly.  Unlike some swords, it was two-edged and razor-sharp along both sides.  It could cut deeply and slice with a forehand or a backhand swing.  The sword was a powerful weapon for a Roman soldier, but not so good for his enemies.

God's Word is compared to this powerful weapon.  The Word is sharp and piercing, able to slice right to the heart of the matter.  Revealed by the sharp brightness of His Word, our very thoughts and intentions are laid bare before God.

How, then, you might ask, is it possible for us to approach God with confidence?  His razor-sharp Word exposes our sins and and motives.  We have confidence to come to God in prayer because we have a High Priest to speak for us before the throne.  Our High Priest understands our sin and weakness because He was tempted as we are, yet without sinning.  Jesus, our High Priest, presented Himself as a sacrifice for the sins revealed so clearly by that sharp Word.  Because Jesus speaks for us, and the Holy Spirit prays for us, we are confident in prayer before the Father's throne, where we find mercy and grace we need.

                                ''When I read Scriptures, everything seems clear.
                                 A single word shows my soul an infinite vision.
                                 Perfection seems easy to me.  I see that it is
                                 enough to recognize our nothingness and to
                                 abandon ourselves, like little children, into the
                                 arms of the good God.''
                                                  St. Therese, the Little Flower

--Robert Hall, BSP (CFP Affiliate in CFP Alessandro Ministry)

Following Francis, Following Christ

Finding God in the Wounded

And when Francis emerged from his cave of darkness, light surrounded him and he began to sing. He sang not because the darkness that he had lived with for many years had left--no it would still be with him--but he sang because he knew that God was with him. He sang because he knew that God was working in him to dispel the darkness so that his heart could sing the praises of God to all creatures. He continued to serve, to learn and to grow in the humility and humble servitude of Christ on the cross. Far from perfection his hardened heart began to soften, began to seek God not only in the quiet of the forest where the soul finds rest, but in giving comfort and consolation to those below in the valley, beyond the reaches of their loved ones and families. He became one with them and dwelt with them and in so doing he realized how separated he himself was from the almighty God who had created him in his own image and love.

The words that came from Francis came not from his wounded flesh but from his fractured heart, from his troubled soul. These words of peace, that only the Holy Spirit could give to him, emerged from the poor, lonely stable of his heart where Christ in all of his poverty lived in him. Consider this poor man from Assisi. Is this not the image of Christ?

Sometimes, we tend to seek Christ in all the glory, honor and praise that the world gives. We tend to look for him in power, in kingship, and in the lofty towers of society. As Francis learned from his own dreams and fears, this is not where his King lived. The only way that he could find him who had humbled himself to the point of death was to wash the wounds of sickness and death of his brothers confined to a status of begging and servitude. But how does this relate to Christ the King Whose Kingdom even Pilate himself sought to find? What Francis became aware of was that beneath all the wounds, the sores, the bleeding flesh of humanity, there was an image that revealed goodness and beauty, and this was the jewel, this was all the treasure that he longed for with all of his being. He became aware of a loving presence inside the soul of those whom he had served. Not only did he become aware of this presence in them, but he became aware of Christ's presence within himself, and he sought to unite everyone to this presence of the goodness of God within the Church.              

--Jesse Pellow, CFP Inquirer

Reflection on the Rule

RULE:

26. As regards making peace among the brothers and sisters or non-members at odds, let what the ministers find proper be done; even, if it be expedient, upon consultation with the Lord Bishop.

CONSTITUTIONS
 

26. In keeping with section 26 of the Rule:

26a. All are to make peace with members of the Confraternity and all others, seeking, if necessary, the consultation of the Church. 

26b. The penitent must daily pray for all those who refuse to make peace with the penitent and must forgive such people all wrongs done to the penitent. 

26c. The brothers and sisters are always to take the first steps toward reconciliation. Under no circumstances are penitents to hold grudges or wish ill to anyone.

REFLECTION:

 

This section is the core of the Rule of 1221. People can do all the fasting and abstinence required by the Rule, they can pray all the prayers of the Rule, they can simplify their lifestyle and their dress according to the Rule and Constitutions, and they can attend monthly meetings and support one another. This is wonderful, but even satan can do these things. But satan cannot live section 26 of the Rule and Constitutions. The very nature of evil is discord. The natural fruit of discord is anger. The natural outcome of anger is unforgiveness. Anyone who says they are living the CFP Rule and Constitutions but who does not live section 26 is living nothing.

 

All penitents, those who are truly repentant, will attempt to make peace with all who have wronged them and all whom they may have wronged. If they cannot make peace, they do not hold grudges or unforgiveness toward those who harbor such attitudes toward the penitents. Penitents forgive. They cultivate interior peace toward the other person. They pray for those who have wronged them and who may still be wronging them. And why do honest-to-goodness penitents do this? Because they know that they themselves are sinners, and that God has forgiven them. God has reconciled them to himself.

 

The offense of others toward the penitent is far less than the penitent’s offense toward God. Penitents embrace the inclusive line of the Our Father that says, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Lent is a wonderful time to put this section of the Rule into practice. Saying that we must be conformed to Christ does not only mean only in physical penances or in caring for the poor and needy. It also means forgiving our enemies and doing good to those who hate us.

Affiliate Action

Affiliates of the Confraternity of Penitents are required to put this section of the Rule and Constitutions into practice fully as it is written. The spiritual benefits of living this section of the Rule are fabulous and freeing! Only those who live it can know.

Virtues Portrayed in the San Damiano Crucifix

The Unfairness of God vs. the Mercy of God

We see clearly in the San Damiano Crucifix the unfairness of God in having Christ, the innocent Lamb of God, die for the saints and sinners all clustered below the Cross and all receiving the benefit of His out poured blood. We see that it was unfair for God to have to come to earth to redeem us, and yet we see that in no other way could we have been redeemed except through this loving act of our Father and Creator. On the Crucifix we see that what is fair by human standards does not matter to God. God is concerned about love and mercy. By contemplating the San Damiano Crucifix, we are called to show love and mercy to others.

Saint of the Month

Saint Gregory of Narek (951-1003)
 

Saint Gregory of Narek (in Armenian Գրիգոր Նարեկացի Grigor Narekatsi; 951 – 1003) was born to an Armenian family of scholarly churchmen, his father being an archbishop. (The Second Vatican Council in 1139 stated that priests were not to marry. Before this married clergy were commonplace). Gregory’s mother died when he was very young so he was educated by his cousin who had founded the village’s monastery and school. At a young age, Gregory entered the Narek Monastery on the south east shore of LakeVan in Greater Armenia (now Turkey) and there he lived the reminder of his life.

Narek Monastery was a cultural center for learning during this time of peace. Armenia was experiencing a renaissance in literature, painting, architecture and theology and Gregory, who taught at the school, was a prominent in this renewal. There Gregory was noted as a composer, astronomer, theologian, and poet. 

Saint Gregory's first memorable work was a commentary on the Song of Songs which was commissioned by an Armenian prince when Gregory was quite young. The theological depth of this work was followed by letters, odes, songs, poems, and Armenian chants. Gregory's masterpiece and final work was his "Book of Lamentations," also called "The Prayer Book." He probably was terminally ill as he composed this lengthy work which he completed about a year before his death.

Gregory's prayers are beautiful and poetic. A true mystic, Gregory intended his final work to be an "encyclopedia of prayer for all nations" and peoples, no matter their social class or country. His greatest quest was to answer the question, “What can we offer God Who already has everything and knows all?” His answer was that we can give God the sighs of our heart, a thought he developed at length in his Book of Lamentations. We cannot reach God through logic but only through love. This cry from the heart is Gregory’s final testament, beautiful in imagery, true to Scripture, and touching in its prayer.

On February 23, 2015, Pope Francis named Saint Gregory of Narek as the 36th Doctor of the Church.

Saint Gregory of Narek. pray for us.

Quote from Scripture

He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all--how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:32)

What a perfect question to ask for Lent? To ask when we are discouraged or impatient or when things are not working out the way we think they should. What a question to ask when we think God has abandoned us, that God no longer cares for us or our world. Can God ever stop loving us? Can He ever stop bringing us everything we need to live eternally with Him? Our end is not in this world but in the next, and all that happens to us here can be preparation for what is coming, if only we accept all with virtue and grace. God gave His Son for us. Why would He not give us that for which His Son died--our salvation and sanctification and our eternal life? We exist here for no more than 120 years and few, few, few make it that long. What is that compared to the endless eons of eternity? God is gracious in His gifts. He cannot be outdone in generosity. May He be forever praised!

Quote from a Saint

Which of my sins shall I confess now?
Which shall we examine?
On which kind shall I discourse?
How much of the hidden shall I uncover?
Which shall I confess –
the present, which I am still doing?
Or the past, which I have done?
Or the future, which I fear?
The slippery places, where I stumbled?
Those faults I thought small, but which
God reckoned large,
or the insubstantial, which are not worth mentioning?
The minor, which are many,
or the few, which are grave?
The psychological passions which are destructive
or the physical ailments which are deadly?
Those that began as easy pleasures,
or those that ended in destruction?
The invisible or visible?
Those committed directly by the hand,1
or those committed indirectly by one’s breath?
The scattershot of easy marks
or the arrow shots at length?
Those whose depth is beyond measure
or those that totally cover the surface?
Multifarious prostitution
or incurable illness?
The body swollen with evil
or the soul starved of the good?
The penchant for things unpleasing to God,
or the equally frenzied tugging at the leash of restraint?
The mortal sins or my vain thoughts? (St. Gregory of Narek)

The examination of conscience by Saint Gregory of Narek is both general and specific. Who cannot find a sin in this list to bring before the throne of God's mercy? As Lent continues, we look inward and ask St. Gregory to guide us through the dark places in our souls so that the sins committed and good omitted can be brought into the light of our consciousness where we can lift them to God's merciful heart. He Who gave up His Son for us all--how can He not forgive what is sincerely confessed and regretted?
 

Poetry

Fruit of the Vine

A Judas Once
A Judas Forever
He thinks he's wise
And wrongful Never --

He fools himself
quite foolishly
He never fools
the Trinity --

I could go on
and on and on
He weeps at lies
and sins forlorn --

But this I'll do
for destiny's sake
I'll pray for him
the selfish rake --

Saint for ever?
A Judas ever?
He fools himself
for wine is clever --

--Joseph Matose IV, CFP Affiliate

Humor

Outside of a restaurant--chalkboad sign:

No Wifi! Talk to each other. Call your Mom. Pretend it's 1993. LIVE!

Guru:

If today is the worst day of your life, then you know tomorrow will be better.

A bad day lasts only 24 hours.

Blowing out someone's candle doesn't make yours shine any brighter.

Teachers open the door, but you must enter by yourself.

Modern conundrum:

Internet went down and I had to spend time with the family. They seem like good people.
 

Confraternity Photo Album

Almania Arice was a Novice with the Confraternity of Penitents when she entered the Franciscan Sisters Minor in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Now she is a Novice with the Sisters and has a new name, Sister Serafina. God bless you, Sister. We are so grateful to have been part of your vocation discernment!

Sister Almania as a postulant with the Franciscan Sisters Minor, with her son, his wife, and their daughter, Sister Almania's granddaughter (September 2014).

Sister Seraphina in her brand new Novice Veil (February 2, 2015)

Happy Birthday to:

Elizabeth H 3/15

Francis D 3/15

Brian B 3/17

Keith M 3/18

Robert B 3/18

Paul B 3/10

Jason H 3/13

Michael Q 3/13

Paul P 3/14

Jackie S 3/15

Carol M 3/24

Lou S 3/24

Pauline L 3/28

Dustin N 3/30

William C 3/30

Featured Items CFP Holy Angels Gift Shop

The Confraternity of Penitents Holy Angels Gift Shop carries many books and religious items to make your Lenten and Easter season more grace filled. Consider the following examples and view the website at www.cfpholyangels.com Orders may be placed online 24 hours a day or can be postal mailed to CFP Holy Angels Gift Shop, 1702 Lumbard Street, Fort Wayne IN 46803 USA. All proceeds go to assist the Confraternity of Penitents with its various ministries and administrative expenses.

Last Supper Ceramic Decorative Plate. $6. Very limited quantity. Item LSP01

Easter Coloring Book. 1.95 plus shipping. Item B962

17" crucifix. Realistic. $25 plus shipping. Item C4

© 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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