Handout One

CONFRATERNITY OF PENITENTS

FULFILLING THE CATHOLIC CHURCH'S CALL TO PENANCE AND REPENTANCE IN THE MODERN WORLD

"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)

Penance means conversion to doing things God's way. It also means making the daily sacrifices necessary to reach this type of conversion.

Fasting, going without sleep, and performing other mortifications do not make a person holy. As a devil told one of the desert fathers, "I never sleep so what makes you better than me? I never eat so what makes you better than me?" The devil could mouth the words of prayers or do any sort of mortification and it would not make him holy.

Fasting makes one holy to the degree that one willingly shares in Christ's fasting. It is not to starve us but to remind us that Christ fasted for love of us.

Praying makes one holy to the degree that one willingly prays in union with Christ. It is not simply taking up one's time for God but to remind us that Christ intercedes always for us.

Simplifying one's life makes one holy to the degree that one willingly wishes to participate in Christ's way of living. It is not just having a neater house but rather deemphasizing earthly clutter so as to embrace spiritual freedom.

The purpose of penance is to open oneself to selfless love, to God' grace, to turn our mind to God, to unite oneself with God, to open our spirits and to invite God to replace self in them. Penance then goes beyond being open to God to being open to one another. The penitent does not live for himself or herself alone but wishes to give service and render love to others, because they, like the penitent, are children of a loving, eternal Father.

God wishes us to be happy with Him in eternity. Those who are truly penitential are the happiest of all for they know where God's Will lies. The call to penance is a call to joyful union with Christ and to service to others. It is a call to live for and serve the Lord within our homes, our families, our workplace .

THE CHURCH'S CALL TO PENANCE

"The parish is to be a community that calls others to a deeper conversion of life from sin to the light of Jesus. That, in my judgment, should lead us to a further exploration of a restoration of the "Ordo Poenitentium" -- the Order of Penitents -- that was present in the patristic Church. . . .(Cardinal J. Francis, Stafford, president of the Pontifical Council on the Laity, Interview, August 8, 2003 with the Pilot, diocesan paper for the Archdiocese of Boston)

"To speak of RECONCILIATION and PENANCE is, for the men and women of our time, an invitation to rediscover, translated into their own way of speaking, the very words with which our Savior and Teacher Jesus Christ began his preaching: "Repent, and believe in the gospel" that is to say, accept the good news of love, of adoption as children of God and hence of brotherhood. (Pope John Paul II, On Reconciliation and Penance, 2 December 1984)

WHO ARE THE CONFRATERNITY OF PENITENTS (CFP)?

The CONFRATERNITY OF PENITENTS is worldwide, private Catholic association of the faithful whose Rule of Life has reviewed by its bishop and recognized in these words: "this Rule does not contain anything contrary to our faith; therefore it may be safely practiced privately by you or by anyone inclined to do so. . . . His Excellency is appreciative of your efforts to live and promote Franciscan spirituality and especially promote the neglected practice of penance and he wishes you success" (January 30, 1998). The CFP Rule is based on a primitive rule for penitents, written in 1221. The entire Rule can be found on the Web page of the Confraternity at www.penitents.org. All Catholics who agree with all of the teachings of the Catholic Church may enter upon this way of life.    

      

LIVING A LIFE OF PENANCE

IN THE CONFRATERNITY OF PENITENTS

"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)

WHAT IS THE PARADOX OF A LIFE OF PENANCE?

What begins as outer discipline becomes a means of interior conversion.

What appears difficult grows easy.

What seems confining results in freedom What sounds somber produces great joy.

God gives abundant graces to those called to embrace a penitential life or ever deepening conversion to His ways. If you feel at all called to this lifestyle, say, "I’ll try!" You might be blessed beyond all imagining.

SYMBOL OF PENITENTS: THE SAN DAMIANO CRUCIFIX

The San Damiano Crucifix is a large, almost life sized painted icon of the Crucified. The Crucifix is a visual essay on the spiritual life and a tool of conversion. It was one of the primary instruments which God used to cement in St. Francis of Assisi a firmer change of heart. The rich symbolism of the crucifix speaks to anyone who gazes upon it in faith, but most especially to penitents.

PRAYER OF PENITENTS

"Most High, Glorious God, enlighten the darkness of my mind, give me right faith, a firm hope and perfect charity, so that I may always and in all things act according to Your Holy Will. Amen." (Saint Francis's prayer before the San Damiano Crucifix)

MISSION OF PENITENTS

"Go and repair My House which, as you can see, is falling into ruin." (The message given to St. Francis in a voice from the San Damiano Crucifix.)

ACTION OF PENITENTS

To pray for God's specific direction in one's life so that, through humbly living our Rule of Life, each penitent may help to rebuild the house of God by bringing love of God and neighbor to his or her own corner of the world.

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE RULE OF LIFE OF THE CONFRATERNITY OF PENITENTS

Daily Prayer and Meditation + Modest Clothing in Subdued Colors + Fast and Abstinence as Heath Allows + Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy + Local Gatherings + Internet Community and Formation + By-Mail and Phone Contact + Loyalty to All Teachings of the Holy Catholic Church + Peace and Reconciliation + Consecration to Our Lady + Wearing of Visible Cross or Crucifix + Monthly Confession + Liturgy of the Hours + Almsgiving + Daily Mass if Possible + Teaching Household to Love and Serve God + Acceptance of God's Divine Will +

 

Confraternity of Penitents, 1702 Lumbard Street, Fort Wayne IN 46803 USA

Phone: 260-739-6882 E-mail: copenitents@yahoo.com

Visit us on the world wide web at http://www.penitents.org

© 2016 by The Confraternity of Penitents, 1702 Lumbard Street, Fort Wayne IN USA 46803   www.penitents.org

 

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