Confraternity of Penitents Monthly Newsletter: May 2015
God's Mercy Is Beyond Comprehension
When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’
But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.’
A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.’ Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.’
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name. (John 20: 19-30)
He is risen! He is truly risen!
On Divine Mercy Sunday, the Church has been celebrating Easter for the past eight days. The Easter Octave. Every single day is like Easter. Those who come to daily Mass heard me singing my little heart out that week. Everything has been sung. Daily Mass lasted more than a half an hour. It was great! Why? Because we need to celebrate.
Divine Mercy Sunday is the last day of the Easter Octave. On the this day we celebrate the great love Christ has for us, the outpouring of mercy shed for us by the Lord’s blood. We give thanks. We continue to celebrate.
The Scriptures on Divine Mercy Sunday are very important. As we enter into Easter time, the readings invite us to join the disciples in their encounter with the risen Jesus. They invite us to experience a new our faith in the risen Savior, with all of its glories and with all its struggles. We see the apostles struggling. Just because the Lord has risen does it mean that all the problems are gone for them.
The Gospel reading for Divine Mercy Sunday shows the apostles locked in a room, a whole bunch of guys together. That is normally an unpleasant experience. And they were locked there because of fear. This brings us to the first lesson we can take from the Gospel of Divine Mercy Sunday. We need to conquer our fear. The apostles had a particular fear. They were afraid of the Jews. And we are afraid of the world as well. For some reason we feel that our faith is not credible in the eyes of the world. And that may be the case, but that should not stop us from sharing it, right? The faith of the apostles was not credible in the eyes of the leaders of their time either, and yet they shared their faith. But they needed Christ to do so. They needed His grace.
There is another reason I think the disciples might have been afraid. However, it is not mentioned in the Scriptures. And that is the fear of their own sinfulness. The fear of their own unworthiness. Let's all be honest. If Christ appeared right before us, yes, we would be happy, but we would probably also be a little bit afraid. The apostles have the same reason for fear that we do because where were the apostles when Jesus was dying on the cross? They ran off. They said, “I’m outta here.” They fled. They stabbed Jesus in the back. If Jesus showed up, and I was Peter, I would want to be wearing Depends. Because what did I say about that man who suddenly showed up? I said, "I don't know him. Who's that? I don't know who that guy is. Who is that?" That's what Peter said to the bystanders who questioned him while Jesus was on trial. If that man whom I denied knowing showed up after his death, my first thought would be, "Oh, my Lord! It is the Lord! He is God!" My second thought would be, "I denied God. And here He is in front of me. And if He is God, he knows it. I am in deep trouble."
But what was it that Jesus said? Jesus did not show up and say, "Where were you?" Jesus did not show up and say, "Hey, thanks for not having my back." Jesus did not show up and read them a list of their sins. No. He said, "Peace be with you." Peace. And then to these men who had sinned so greviously, he said, “Now you go and forgive sins.” He gave them the power to forgive sins. What mercy was in that lesson!
And that lesson needs to bleed through to our lives. Literally bleed through from the blood of Christ on the cross. We need to realize that whatever our sin is, the one sin that we are most ashamed of in this world, and the one thing that hangs over us like a cloud--we need to recognize that Christ can forgive and he will forgive and he wants to forgive and he will. All we need to do is to reach out for that forgiveness. We need to come to those whom he has given to us to forgive us our sins. Get into the confessional and say,"I'm sorry" and know that peace that Jesus gave to them. That is the glory of confession. From when we walk in there we know, just like those apostles knew, that we are not worthy of the peace that Christ just gave. They deserved a royal whopping, but Jesus did not give it to them. We need to conquer our fear. That is the first thing we need to learn from the Gospel for Divine Mercy Sunday.
Number two. We need to conquer our doubts. Thomas gets a real bad rap, doesn’t he? Poor Thomas! Doubting Thomas. He was the original "that guy." "That guy," the one who did not believe. The one who wants to be the doubter. The one who just cannot believe. But the reality is that we are so often Thomas in our lives. "Lord, I will not have faith in you and I will not trust you unless X, Y, and Z." Thomas said, "I will not believe until I put my fingers in his nail marks and my hand into his side." How often do we say, "Lord, I will not trust you, I will not I will not love you, I will not pray to you unless everything is going well in my life where I have this much money my bank account or if I can only do things my way or I will only believe if your Church changes everything."
How many of us put conditions on our faith in Jesus just like Thomas did? We doubt in the same way. May our prayer be that of Thomas in our lives. "My Lord and my God." We need to trust because I guarantee you that Thomas did not expect Jesus to come and dispel his doubts like he did. He did not expect Jesus to show up and say, "Here you go. Put it right there. Here are my wounds." Once again Thomas needed proof.
And we are going to have those moments as well when we doubt our faith, Christ will come to us, but the problem is that he is not going to come to us in the same way that he came to Thomas. He is going to come to us often through a friend, through the Scriptures, through teaching, through Church, and if we do not have our eyes open to see him, we are going to miss him. If you doubt, God will come to you. But you need to be ready. You need to be ready to receive him. You need to put your hands into his wounds because if you doubt, the only place you can come to receive the grace you need to overcome that doubt is the Sacraments for from those wounds poured forth blood and water, Baptism and the Eucharist. If you doubt, come to the place for you will receive his grace.
And so after we overcome our fear and doubt, the last thing we need to do is to recognize that Jesus is risen. That the risen Savior is not gone from his holy Church. He has given us the Church so that we might have a God who is with us. How often have we wished that we were like the apostles. "Jesus, just show up in this room and tell me what to do and I will do it." And the reality is that he has told you what to do through the Church. Through the Church, God tells us what to do. He has not left us abandoned.
The last lines of the Gospel say, "Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name." How many times have we have heard someone say, "How do you know that is true? That isn't in the Bible." The Bible says it's not all in the Bible! Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. The Bible is here so that we might have faith. The Church is here to show us how to live that faith in a world that gets messy. We need to trust in the Church more, trust that after 2000 years of being God’s holy people, we know what leads to happiness and what leads to sorrow. Trust in the Church. Experience the risen Savior’s love now in the messiness of life.
Let us follow after a risen Lord. Let us dispel our fears and doubts and let us follow the Lord. Those are the lessons from this Gospel passage. In the weeks that follow Easter, we read the book of Acts and see that the apostles encounter more problems just like we face in our lives. Let us follow after the Lord and learn to live our Christian faith. He is risen, he is truly risen!
--Father Jacob Meyer, CFP Visitor
Monthly Letter to All Penitents
Love Reality Check
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Corinthians 13: 4-8a)
We are all familiar with this passage from Corinthians. We often read it and think, “Oh, that is so true,” because, many times we have someone in mind who has fallen a little short on one or more of these principles. This passage can be a love reality check for ourselves, however. It is interesting to reread these words by putting our name in place of the word “love”.
Andy is patient; Andy is kind; Andy is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. Andy does not insist on his own way; Andy is not irritable or resentful; Andy does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. Andy bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Sally is patient; Sally is kind; Sally is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. Sally does not insist on her own way; Sally is not irritable or resentful; Sally does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. Sally bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Now put your own name in the blank.
____is patient; ___ is kind; ___ is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. ___ does not insist on ___ own way; ___ is not irritable or resentful; ___ does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. ___ bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
How did you fare? If you think you did not fare very well, there is hope. Ask God to give you practice in developing the virtues you lack. Be assured that He will answer your prayer, and when He does, do not get discouraged or angry. You cannot develop virtues without being tested in them. So the situations and trials and unexpected frustrations that come are quizzes from the Master Teacher to help you learn the lessons He is teaching you on the virtues. After enough testing, and possibly failing grades, you will begin to do better so that eventually you can get at least a passing grade on this passage.
____is patient; ___ is kind; ___ is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. ___ does not insist on ___ own way; ___ is not irritable or resentful; ___ does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. ___ bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Are you ready to enter the classroom of life and let the Master Teacher begin?
--Madeline Pecora Nugent, CFP
Letter from One Who Serves the CFP
THE INDIVIDUAL, THE WHOLE, AND JESUS CHRIST
All of us often encounter people who are spiritual and even follow Jesus Christ in some way, but don’t want to have anything to do with the Church and especially the Catholic Church. Professor Joseph Ratzinger deals with this question in part II of Introduction to Christianity. For us men of today the basic stumbling block of Christianity lies first of all simply in the superficiality to which the religious element seems to have settled down. It irritates us that God should have to be mediated through outward forms: through Church, sacraments, dogma, or even just through the Gospel (kerygma), to which people like to withdraw to reduce the irritation and which is nevertheless itself something external. All this provokes the question, Does God dwell in institutions, events, or words? As the eternal Being, does he not make contact with each of us from within? To this we must first of all simply say Yes and then go on to say that if there were only God and a collection of individuals, Christianity would be unnecessary. The salvation of the individual as individual can and could always be looked after directly and immediately by God, and this does happen again and again. He needs no intermediary channels by which to enter the soul of the individual, to which he is more present interiorly than he is to himself; nothing can reach more intimately and deeply into man than he, who touches this creature man in the very innermost depth of his being. For the salvation of the mere individual there would be no need of either a Church or a history of salvation, an Incarnation or a Passion of God in this world. But precisely at this point we must also add the further statement: Christian faith is not based on the atomized individual but comes from the knowledge that there is no such thing as the mere individual, that , on the contrary, man is himself only when he is fitted into the whole: into mankind, into history, into the cosmos, as is right and proper for a being who is “spirit in body”. Thus, God does certainly speak to us as individuals. Yet, as Christians, we really do need the structures of the Church since we are a part of the whole not just a self-sufficient entity in ourselves. We also know that many people in modern culture reject God, Christ, and the Church because of all the problems and deficiencies which they see in the Church. Even if they maintain belief in Christ, they retreat into a very individualistic relationship with Christ.
Professor Ratzinger next discusses the root of this modern mentality which is so irritated by Church structures and Christian dogma in general. He places the root of the modern mentality in the ideas of the famous seventeenth century philosopher Rene҃ Descartes, (1596 – 1650) who is famous for his phrase, I think, therefore I am (cogito, ergo sum). Descartes is often regarded as the father of modern philosophy. Descartes attempted to find the ultimate ground of human knowledge. He did this by doubting everything including all knowledge from the senses. He reasoned that sense knowledge could come from an evil, deceiving demon rather than from the good and loving God. Since Descartes could not ground knowledge from anything outside himself, he grounded it in the self. He could not doubt the existence of himself since he was thinking which proved that he existed. This was a huge shift in philosophical thinking. The search for truth no longer starts with God, but rather starts with the self. Even if a modern thinking person comes to believe in the truth of God, this truth comes from the self and not God.
Even though Professor Ratzinger discussed this in the 1960’s, in Introduction to Christianity, the effects of this way of thinking in the wider culture is even more evident now than it was then. For example, now a biological human male (or female) who thinks that he (or she) is of the opposite sex is considered by society to actually be of that sex. In some places a transsexual young male can shower with the girls. Those women who think that their preborn child is “just blood” can have an abortion with a clear conscience. Since truth starts with the self and not with God, marriage is no longer a divinely ordained institution, but simply a human custom which can be changed by those with the power to do so. One can site many other examples of how this thinking permeates society.
Professor Ratzinger rejects this way of thinking. Just as self-love is not the primordial form of love but at the most a derivative of it, just as one has only arrived at the specific nature of love when one has grasped it as a relation, that is, as something coming from another, so, too, human knowledge is only reality when it is being known, being bought to knowledge, and thus again “from another”. The real man does not come into it at all if I only plumb the loneliness of the “I”, of self –knowledge, for then I exclude in advance the point of departure of his ability to come to himself and thus his most specific characteristic. That is why Baader, consciously and quite rightly, changed the Cartesian “Cogito, ergo sum” into “Cogitor, ergo sum”: not “I think , therefore I am,” but “I am thought, therefore I am”. Only from man’s being known can his knowledge and he himself be understood. Thus all of us exist because we are all known by others or at least by God.
This is explained further by Professor Ratzinger. One needs only to note that our mental life depends entirely on the medium of language and to add, then, that language was not invented today. It comes from a long way off; the whole of history has contributed to it and through it enters into us as the unavoidable premise of our present, indeed as a constant part of it. And, vice versa, man is a being who lives for the future, who continually takes care to plan ahead beyond the passing moment and could no longer exist if he suddenly found himself without a future. Just as our past depends on others and ultimately on God, our future also depends on others and ultimately on God. Professor Ratzinger goes on to explain: We must say, therefore, that such a thing as the mere individual, the man-monad of the Renaissance, the pure “Cogito ergo sum” being does not exist. Humanity belongs to man only in the web of history that impinges on the individual through speech and social communication; and the individual for his part lives his life on the collective pattern in which he is already previously included and that forms the scene of his self-realization. It is simply not the case that every man plans himself anew from square one of his own freedom, as it seemed to the German idealist philosophers. He is not a being who keeps starting again from scratch; he can only work out his own new approach within the framework of the already existing whole of human life that stamps and molds him.
Many Christian doctrines make sense only when we see the individual as part of the whole. Talk of original sin means just this, that no man can start from scratch any more, in a status integritatis (completely unimpaired by history). No one starts off in an unimpaired condition in which he would only need to develop himself freely and make plans for his own happiness; everyone lives in a web that is a part of his very existence. Other Christian doctrines such as the Last Judgment, Resurrection, and the Redemption also strongly depend on the collective nature of humanity.
Professor Ratzinger now gives us the climax of these reflections. At this point there occurs an absolutely decisive further step, which at first seems to represent a complete about –turn but in fact is the necessary corollary of our reflections up to now. If one is a Christian in order to share in a loving service for the whole, then this means at the same time that, precisely because of this relation to the whole, Christianity lives from the individual and for the individual, because only by the action of the individual can the transformation of history, the destruction of the dictatorship of the milieu come to pass. It seems to me that this is the reason for what to the other world religions and to the man of today is always completely incomprehensible, namely, that in Christianity everything hangs in the last resort on one individual, on the man Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified by the milieu---public opinion---and who on his Cross broke this very power of the conventional “everyone”, the power of anonymity, which holds man captive. This power is now confronted by the name of this individual, Jesus Christ, who calls on man to follow him, that is, to take up the cross as he did, and , by being crucified, to overcome the world and contribute to the renewal of history. Precisely because Christianity wants history as a whole, its challenge is directed fundamentally at the individual; precisely for this reason it depends on the single individual in whom the bursting of the bondage to the forces and powers took place. In other words, because Christianity relates to the whole and can only be understood from the idea of community and with reference to it, because it does not mean the salvation of the isolated individual but being enlisted in service to the whole, which he neither can nor may escape, for this very reason it is committed to the principle of “the individual” in its most radical form. Here lies the intrinsic necessity of the unheard-of scandal that a single individual, Jesus Christ, is acknowledged as the salvation of the world. The individual is the salvation of the whole, and the whole receives its salvation only from the individual who truly is salvation and who precisely for this reason ceases to exist for himself alone.
Other world religions do not have this radical relationship between the individual and the whole. As Christians we are part of a whole, but we are made into a whole and indeed saved by one individual, Jesus Christ. We have an individual relationship with the Savior, Jesus Christ, but only as a part of the whole. When we try to break ourselves away from the whole and seek Jesus Christ as an individual in our own individual way and according to our own thinking, we lose Christ. This is one reason why so many lose the faith.
--Jim Nugent, CFP
No Greater Love
Seeing God in My Neighbor
Being back in the world again, after having discerned religious life, I really am beginning to see the difference between 'working for a company' and 'living in a Christian community'. Most of the people in the company may be good, but, like Jesus says, you can't serve both God and money.
After a while working for a for-profit systemn a stench begins to build. There is a difference between just existing and living. Working day to day for a paycheck every two weeks is just existing. I’m not saying it's bad or evil, and good people have done it. But for me--I'm looking for something more, and when I say more, I mean less (which sounds kind of odd in today's culture and society where wanting more seems to be the norm).
During prayer, while my heart is seeking the monastic life and solitude, I wonder if I am not seeking it for my own sake, to be separate from the world. I wonder if this is what Francis felt when he was discerning God's will for him. Silence and love is healing, but so is compassion with the brokenness of another. Francis may have asked himself a question I confront in my own life: Should he stay in solitude or go out and face the poverty of the world with love?
I think I've grown to a point in my spiritual journey where I've built a spiritual monastery, one that I can take into the world. Yes, I have faults. Sometimes I can be too critical. Sometimes I can be impatient and hot-headed and voice my opinion when I should keep silent. I've also learned when to pick my battles. In other words, I have some idea of the practical side of living. I'm feeling drawn to the lives of Mother Teresa and Father Damian and to the continuous works of mercy that the Pope is preaching to the Church.
In a world where Church buildings are closing and merging, I feel sometimes that the Church is like the early apostles, locked in a closed room, afraid of going out into the street, afraid to bring Christ out of their own temple in order to bring a sense of hope to a world that is in so much need of it. As Guardini writes, the building is only the outer shell of the Church. The inside of the Church is made up of people, and people should not be afraid to be a 'loving presence' because this is what the world so sorely needs. I see this need every day in people who are locked away from the rest of society. Our society has become a throw away culture that has no respect for life or for another person’s feelings and beliefs.
To open oneself up to another is to open the locked door of your own heart and to let Christ in. To respond to another is to recognize God's mercy with new eyes. If you aren't afraid to open a door into someone else's dark world, you might just be surprised by what you find there. You might see that God is present no matter what the eyes view.
Jesus said, “There are many rooms in my Father’s house and did I not go to prepare one for you?” For me, stillness is not just something external but must be a stillness of the heart. My mother always used to remind me of those qualities needed for stillness of heart--patience, openness, kindness, understanding, not being judgmental. St. Paul writes of these qualities that we are to seek from above. These, I believe, are the qualities which should be held by anyone living the life of St. Francis in the world. While it may be difficult at times to live a life of virtue, I am consoled by remembering that God is also patient. His mercy and love are forever at the forefront of my meditation and contemplation.
--Jesse Pellow, CFP Inquirer
Following Francis, Following Christ
Saint Francis' encounter with kissing the leper has become legendary worldwide. We forget, when we hear this story, about all the previous lepers whom Francis avoided. The histories tell us that he would send alms to them through an intermediary but that he would hold his nose and move downwind from the lepers whenever he encountered them or their hospitals. We may fool ourselves into thinking that it was easy for Francis to finally get past his aversion and embrace the leper as a dignified brother in Christ. But it was not easy. The histories tell us that Francis mustered all his courage, bolstered by God's grace, of course, to make that first gesture of pity toward one particular leper. The next encounter was far easier for Francis.
One of the CFP Associates had a similar experience. Let's have Paul share his story:
I am finishing up a book (a slow reader) called "On the Passion of Christ- According to the Four Evangelists" by Thomas A Kempis. It is something! A Lenten book in the style of the Imitation of Christ, only specifically on the Passion of Christ. It is good for "people facing suffering or death, or trying to overcome difficulties in their lives." I got a few hints. One I followed up led me to the following encounter.
One Sunday at Mass, there was a gentleman in a suit and tie who slept, then browsed through the hymnals and Spanish Book, then participated in Mass. During the Our Father he wanted to hold hands. His hand was strong and firm. When it came time for communion he got up to go but stopped at the end of the pew and let us out. I came back and he eventually came back to his seat. After meditation, I asked him what his name was. He told me. I asked him if he was Catholic. He gave me some vague answer about being a member of a parish in Washington DC, that he worked in Congress in a caucus that made laws, and he was in town for three weeks. Then he threw me a curve ball. He said he was trying to get a job at the university but it did not work out. I told him that he could go to the Parish office and have his confession heard so he could go to Holy Communion. He said he went to the 8 o'clock mass and had Communion. I took his hand and opened his palm and made the sign of the cross on it. And I said, "There is a blessing for today, and Jesus does love you." He said "I know he does." and smiled.
Then we talked about all kinds of strange things which I began to think was contrived talk. One conversation was about belonging to a Marian group that met for three weeks, then went out on mission work. He told me that the Vatican received report cards on members like Confirmation certificates etc. I knew this was going nowhere. We finished talking and parted and I wished him well. For a minute there I hoped that the Lord would sort of enlighten him, since when he was talking to me he held his eyelids open. He could have been on something causing the drowsiness. Oh, well, I reached out. He did not ask for any money or anything, and he pulled out a small suitcase with a handle to pull it.
We will let the Lord sort this one out. But I remember that St. Francis reached out to the man with a disease, and kissed him., I did not go that far. How would his day have been if no one had talked to him? How did he feel having a man who he had never met like that, make him feel with the Cross on his palm? I only know that I was praying and something good would come of it. The seed was planted and only God will know how it will grow. I went back to post communion meditation, and tears came to my eyes, and I asked the Lord to help this man. Amen.
My encounter for the day, and my wife was patiently waiting for me outside the Church, knowing "There he goes again."
--Paul Phelan, CFP Associate
Reflection on the Rule
28. Let each member accept and faithfully exercise the ministry of other offices imposed on him, although anyone may retire from office after a year.
28. In keeping with section 28 of the Rule:
28a. Let each member accept and faithfully exercise the ministry of other offices imposed on him or her, although anyone may retire from office after a year.
28b. The penitent should follow the consensus of the electing group in determining whether or not to accept an office. If nominated for a position it is prudent to consider if the nomination be the will of God. This holds true for the election as well.
28c. All nominations and elections must be conducted in absolute charity and honesty. Secret ballot elections are the proper way to elect someone from among those nominated. The person getting the most votes is the one elected. Terms of office are one year.
28d. If a penitent who is nominated for, or elected to, office feels stress over this service, the penitent should prayerfully examine the causes of this stress and discuss these with a spiritual director, the Chapter or Circle minister, and the Chapter or Circle's spiritual assistant.
28e. In elections, only pledged members shall be eligible to nominate and vote and also eligible for office. If an insufficient number of members are pledged, officers shall be appointed by the Confraternity.
While the Confraternity is a family of brothers and sisters in Christ, it also needs to be an organization with order to it. Therefore officers are elected to be servants to the members. Certain regulations are followed to insure a valid election and to specify an end to a term of office so that one person is not burdened with duty and so that another does not assume too much power and authority. The governance of the Confraternity allows for the election and regular turn over of officers. This brings new ideas to the organization and helps to retain the freshness and vigor of the entire group. Please pray for those holding office, so that they will be guided by the Holy Spirit. And please pray for those electing the officers so that they, too, will be guided in their selections.
While Affiliates cannot vote or hold office in the Confraternity of Penitents, they can certainly pray for those who do. And they can lend their support to the officers. May the Lord bless the CFP Affiliates for their prayers and support. The CFP relies on them and you!
Virtues Portrayed in the San Damiano Crucifix
Note the harmonious balance portrayed in the San Damiano crucifix. While a great deal of activity is happening on the crucifix, and it is crowded with images, nevertheless there is a peaceful harmony through out this icon. The focal point are the eyes of Christ. And everything else revolves around those penetrating eyes. The crucifix reminds us that our lives are to be in harmony with the will of God. If they are, no matter how busy or crowded they may be, our souls will be at peace. Peace, or harmony, is a gift of the Holy Spirit. Anything that disrupts our inner peace is not from God. If we feel guilt, shame, anger, impatience, stress, anxiety, lust, greed, or any other disruptive emotion, we can be sure that we are out of harmony with God’s will. Gazing at the San Damiano crucifix can help restore our harmony. Praying in front of the San Damiano crucifix can enlighten us regarding the actions we must take to make things right in our lives and to restore the peace that we have broken by our actions or our emotions. The next time you are troubled in any way, go to the San Damiano crucifix and gaze at it. Ask the Lord what you need to do to bring peace again into your life. This sort of prayer is similar to the one Saint Francis prayed in front of this crucifix. God answered his prayer and gave him direction and peace. He will do the same with you.
Saint of the Month
Saint Kateri Tekakwitha (1656-1680)
In 1656 in Ossernenon near present day Auriesville NY, a baby girl was born to a Mohawk chief and a Roman Catholic Algonquin woman who had been adopted into the tribe after her capture. When the child was around four years old, both her parents and younger brother died in a severe smallpox epidemic. The little girl recovered from the illness which scarred her face and greatly weakened her eyes. Perhaps at this time her tribe named her Tekakwitha which means “she who bumps into things.”
Tekakwitha was adopted by her father’s sister and her husband who was chief of the Turtle Clan. Tekakwitha was a modest girl who prefered to be alone, perhaps because her scars and poor eyesight could subject her to ridicule. She covered much of her head with a blanket so that people could not see her scars. Nevertheless, she became skilled at women’s arts such as making clothing and belts from animal skins, weaving mats and boxes from grasses, and preparing food from game, crops, and wild produce. She worked with the women in weeding and tending the gardens.
Continuously Tekakwitha refused marriage, probably being able to stave it off due to wars among the Native Americans and with the French. These wars sometimes left her homeless until peace was established again. One of the conditions of peace involved allowing Jesuit missionaries to come into the Native American villages to instruct and convert the people to Christianity. Tekakwitha was 11 years old when she met her first missionaries.
Tekakwitha began studying the Catholic faith when she was 18 years old. She was baptized Kateri (for Saint Catherine of Siena) on Easter Sunday, April 18, 1676. After six months of enduring opposition and being accused of sorcery, she moved to a Jesuit mission where other Native American converts had gathered. Here Kateri practiced various physical penances, learned more about Christianity, and prayed devoutly. She and some other women created an informal association to learn and pray together.
In 1679, Kateri vowed her virginity to Christ saying, “I have deliberated enough. For a long time my decision on what I will do has been made. I have consecrated myself entirely to Jesus, son of Mary, I have chosen Him for husband and He alone will take me for wife.” Two Jesuit priests including Father Claude Chauchetiere worked closely with her during the last years of her life. At the age of 23 or 24, on Wednesday of Holy Week, April 17, 1680, Kateri died, having uttered her final words, “Jesus, Mary, I love you." The cause of her failing health and death is uncertain. At her death, her smallpox scars seemed to disappear.
Kateri Tekakwitha’s grave stone reads
Ownkeonweke Katsitsiio Teonsitsianekaron
The fairest flower that ever bloomed among red men.
Kateri Tekakwitha, pray for us.
Quote from Scripture
"What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ." (Philipppines 3:8)
St. Paul confided to the Philippians that he was willing to give up everything for the sake of Christ. Paul had been a wealthy Pharisee, well-known and esteemed. When he became a Christian, he became a hunted man and eventually died for his faith in Christ. St. Paul took the message of Jesus literally in his life. He gave up everything to follow Jesus.
Quote from a Saint
“The poverty I am threatened with does not scare me, because so little is needed to give to the necessities of this miserable life and my labor could provide for it and I could always find some rags to cover me.” (St. Kateri Tekakwitha)
St. Kateri Tekawitha was the daughter of a chief of the Mohawk tribe. By our living standards today, she would have been poor. But by the standards of her time, she was one of the well-to-do Native Americans in her tribe. Upon her conversion to Christianity, Kateri was threatened with the loss of her possessions and prestige. She did not grasp at these but rather clung to Jesus Christ, understanding that her riches now would be of the spiritual kind. The deep faith and brave devotion of this young maiden causes us to look at our own grasping at material goods and social prestige. Are we willing to give up all for the sake of the kingdom of God? Kateri did.
The Friend in Indecision
Who is this person
Whom I believe that I am?
What of me or you?
And what of thee?
A good question
Like butter and jam?
Do I taste comfort?
Do I care at all?
Do I fit into the world
Or do I fit like a plaster cast?
Am I better than the social caste?
Am I honest?
Am I true?
Like a firm old seat
On a solid pew?
A friend to some, a friend to all
My helpful hopes will always call.
--Joseph Matose IV (CFP Affiliate)
The Maker of all human beings is recalling all units manufactured, regardless of make or year, due to a serious defect in the primary and central component of the heart. This is due to a malfunction in the original prototype units, code named Adam and Eve, resulting in the reproduction of the same defect in all subsequent units.
This defect has been technically termed, "Sub-sequential Internal Non-morality," or more commonly known as "SIN".
Loss of direction
Lack of peace and joy
Depression or confusion in the mental component
Foul vocal emissions
Selfish, violent behavior
Amnesia of origin
To correct this SIN defect, the Manufacturer, who is neither liable nor at fault for this defect, is providing factory authorized repair and service free of charge. The Repair Technician, Jesus, has most generously offered to bear the entire burden of the staggering cost of these repairs.
There is no additional fee required.
The number to call for repair in all areas is: P-R-A-Y-E-R.
Once connected, please upload your burden of SIN through the REPENTANCE procedure. Next, download ATONEMENT from the Repair Technician, Jesus, into the heart component.
No matter how big or small the SIN defect is, Jesus will replace it with:
Please see the operating manual, HOLY BIBLE, for further details on the use of these fixes. As an added upgrade, the Manufacturer has made available to all repaired units direct monitoring and assistance from the resident Maintenance Technician, the HOLY SPIRIT. Repaired units need only make Him welcome and He will take up residence on the premises.
WARNING: Continuing to operate the human being unit without making these corrections voids the Manufacturer's warranty, exposing the unit to many dangers and problems --- and will result in the human unit being permanently impounded.
For free emergency service, call on JESUS.
Confraternity Photo Album
Confraternity of Penitents Life Pledged Chapter
Life Pledged Members meet regularly to discuss CFP business, to fellowship, and to pray together. This year's Life Pledged Chapter was held in Sybertsville, PA, at Holy Dormition Monastary. The OFM Franciscan Friars at the Monastery celebrate the Ruthenian Rite within the Catholic Church. This is a Byzantine Liturgy dating back to St. John Chrysostom. Father Carmen has painted icons himself and participates in Icon Painting Reteats at the Monastery. Father Jerome is pastor of a local Byzantine parish. He also offers Mass in the Roman Rite. He will be CFP Retreat Master (offering Mass in the Roman Rite) for CFP Retreat 2016.
Father Jerome, OFM, met with the Confraternity of Penitents Council for the annual Council Meeting, at the CFP Life Pledged Chapter Gathering in Sybertsville, PA, April, 2015. Pictured with Father Jerome are Karen, Rita, and Sue, all CFP Life Pledged Members on the CFP Council.
Father Carmen, OFM, discusses an icon of St. Elijah at the Confrarernity of Penitents Life Pledged Chapter, Syberstsville PA, April, 2015
Happy Birthday to:
Mariah D 5/3
Rene R 5/4
Dawn T 5/4
Bob B 5/6
Andrea B 5/8
Mariah D 5/3
Rene R 5/4
Dawn T 5/4
Bob B 5/6
Andrea B 5/8
Lucy F 5/23
Rex C 5/25
Kathleen D 5/25
Leonard V 5/25
Joel W 5/27
Sam G 5/29
Featured Items CFP Holy Angels Gift Shop
The Confraternity of Penitents Holy Angels Gift Shop has a new look! Now easy to order from any computer or mobile device! Check it out at cfpholyangels.com Or order by mail by sending a check, made out to CFP Holy Angels Gift Shop, to CFP Holy Angels Gift Shop, 1702 Lumbard Street, Fort Wayne IN 46803 USA
May is the month of Mothers and of the Blessed Mother Mary. Here are a few featured items for May. Many others available in the Gift Shop.
Madonna and Child Ceramic Plaque. 11 inches. Only 1 available. 9.95. Item number A91
Beautiful Madonna and Child on Wood. Vintage. $5. Item number A76. Only 1 available.
Three-D Madonna and Child Plaque. Approximately 4 x 6 inches. 9.95 Item number PQ16