Confraternity of Penitents
Thoughts from the Bishop: Solemnity of the Assumption
Mass of Perpetual Profession of Vows
Sister Marie Veronica (August 15, 2016)
Today, in union with the whole Church, we celebrate the Assumption of Our Lady, body and soul, into the glory of heaven. Mary’s Assumption shows us our destiny as adopted children of God and members of the Body of Christ. Like Mary our Mother, we are called to share fully in the Lord’s victory over sin and death, and to reign with Him in His eternal Kingdom. This is our vocation.
Mary’s journey to heaven began with the great “yes” spoken in Nazareth to the angel Gabriel’s announcement of God’s will to her. Throughout her life, Mary always said yes to the Lord. Her obedient faith is an outstanding example for us. Every yes to God is a step toward heaven. Every time we say yes to God, every time we are open to His grace, we take a step toward heaven. Every time we say no to the temptation to sin and yes to God’s grace, we take a step toward heaven. Every time we say no to God’s grace, every time we sin, we are going backwards and can even find ourselves off the road that leads to heaven. Thankfully, as Mary teaches us in the Magnificat, God is rich in mercy: “He has mercy on those who fear Him in every generation.” He remembers “His promise of mercy, the promise He made to our fathers, to Abraham and His children forever.”
Mary never said no to the Lord. As Elizabeth proclaimed, Mary is blessed among women. She is the outstanding model for us of doing God’s will. Every yes to God is a step toward eternal life. This is what the Lord wants: that all of us, all His children, have life in abundance. God wants to bring all of us to life in His Son, as Saint Paul teaches. He wants us all to be with Him, in His house where Jesus His Son has prepared a place for us. Today we celebrate that His mother, who followed her Son faithfully throughout her life, who followed Him with all her heart, has entered with Him into the house of His Father. I’ve mentioned that Mary always said yes to God. Well today, we celebrate God’s yes to Mary – He assumed her body and soul into heaven.
Every yes to God, as I also mentioned, is a step toward heaven, toward eternal life. At our Baptism, we or our parents and godparents said a great yes to God. We were consecrated to the Lord and began the journey to heaven. Today, Sister Marie Veronica pronounces another great yes to God. She says yes to live the consecrated life as a response to God’s call. She makes perpetual vows, promising to follow the Lord in the manner of Saint Clare of Assisi, as a cloistered, contemplative nun. There’s an echo of Mary’s yes, her fiat, today as Sister Marie Veronica makes her perpetual profession in response to God’s call. In making these vows, Sister Marie Veronica, like Mary, proclaims not herself, but the greatness of the Lord. Her spirit rejoices in God our Savior. And the Lord looks with favor upon Sister Marie Veronica who recognizes as Mary did, that she is His lowly servant. Truly God looks with favor on all His children who say yes to His holy will.
Sister Marie Veronica says yes today to the contemplative life, a life of prayer in the cloister as a Poor Sister of Saint Clare. She says yes to follow Christ’s life of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Touched by God’s love, like Mary, like Saint Clare and Saint Francis, and like Saint Veronica Emiliani, Sister Marie Veronica is saying yes to that love, the love that gives meaning and joy to our lives. Her yes today, a yes to be repeated every day, is a step toward heaven.
The Poor Sisters of Saint Clare, like our Franciscan Friars Minor, take a fourth vow of consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Sister Marie Veronica, how beautiful to make this vow today on the feast of Mary’s Assumption! In taking this fourth vow, you are saying yes to Mary’s command at the wedding feast of Cana: “Do whatever He tells you.” And you are saying yes to the beautiful gift Jesus gave us from the cross when He said to Saint John “Behold your mother.” You are responding with faith to Our Lord’s gift of love, the gift of His Mother, and to our Mother’s love. I pray we all say yes to this gift today: the gift of our spiritual Mother.
We should not think that the great yes of Christian discipleship or the yes to the vocation of the consecrated life is always easy. Today’s reading from the book of Revelation reminds us of the struggle of the Christian life. We heard Saint John’s description of his vision of the struggle between the woman and the dragon. The figure of the woman, representing both the Church and Mary, is, on the one hand, glorious and triumphant and yet, on the other, still in travail.
The Church is like that. In heaven, Mary and the Church are already in the glory of the Lord. But on earth, in history, she is still in travail. We live amidst the trials and challenges which the conflict between God and the evil one brings. As disciples, we must face this struggle and confront it. Mary, the woman clothed with the sun, is with us in this struggle. Though she lives in heavenly glory, she is not distant or detached from us, as Pope Francis often reminds us. He says: “Mary accompanies us, struggles with us, and sustains Christians in their fight against the forces of evil.”
Our Holy Father emphasizes that prayer with Mary, especially the rosary, helps to sustain us in the battle against the evil one and his accomplices. The dragon failed to destroy the child of the woman clothed with the sun. So he is angry at the woman, at the Church, and continues to wage war against the rest of her offspring, against us, against the disciples and witnesses of Jesus. Yet, we must not forget that Christ has conquered the evil one. As the loud voice in heaven said: “Now have salvation and power come, and the Kingdom of our God and the authority of his Anointed One.” Satan’s dominion continues to be overthrown in the lives of those who say no to him and yes to God. The powers of darkness are confounded by those who live in the light of Christ. I imagine the devil is furious today and whenever a person embraces the consecrated life.
As I mentioned, the woman clothed with the sun represents the Church, as well as Mary. The Poor Sisters of Saint Clare are vital members of Christ’s Body, the Church. They help to sustain the Church through their prayers and sacrifices. At their Mass of enclosure four years ago, I spoke about the fruits of their contemplative life, the fruits of love that build up the Church. I wish to repeat today what I said then: “Dear sisters, your role as cloistered sisters is so necessary for the life and spiritual vitality of the Church. In your lives of prayer, you will constantly sing the praises of God and intercede for the Church. In doing so, you will be living, not apart from the Church, but in the very heart of the Church, like Saint Clare.”
May the Lord strengthen Sister Marie Veronica and all our Poor Sisters of Saint Clare with His grace! As they strive to live according to the perfection of the holy Gospel, may the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Clare intercede for them! May they continue, with Mary, to magnify the Lord and always find joy in God our Savior! May the Sisters’ prayers and example help all of us to say yes to God and to take a step toward heaven today! --Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades
No Greater Love: THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
The Apostles’ Creed says that I believe in the “Holy, Catholic Church”. Professor Joseph Ratzinger explains what is exactly meant by the designation “Catholic” in Part III of Introduction to Christianity.
This brings us to the other word applied to the Church by the Creed: it calls her "catholic". The shades of meaning acquired by this word during the course of time are numerous, but one main idea can be shown to be decisive from the start. This word refers in a double way to the unity of the Church. It refers, first, to local unity---only the community united with the bishop is the "Catholic Church", not the sectional groups that have broken away from her, for whatever reasons. Second, the term describes the unity formed by the combination of the many local Churches, which are not entitled to encapsulate themselves in isolation; they can only remain the Church by being open to one another, by forming one Church in their common testimony to the Word and in the communion of the eucharistic table, which is open to everyone everywhere. In the old commentaries on the Creed, the "Catholic" Church is contrasted with those "Churches", that only exist "from time to time in their provinces" and thereby contradict the true nature of the Church.
Thus, on a local level, a group must be in union with and under the local bishop in order to call itself “Catholic”. On a wider level, Churches on differing nations, regions, and continents must be in union with each other in order to be called “Catholic”. When a person calls himself or herself “Catholic”, it should mean more than a vague cultural identification. It means that the person is in union with other Catholics under the Magisterium of the Church.
Thus the word "catholic" expresses the episcopal structure of the Church and the necessity for the unity of all the bishops with one another; there is no allusion in the Creed to the crystallization of this unity in the bishopric of Rome. It would indubitably be a mistake to conclude from this that such a focal point was only a secondary development. In Rome, where our Creed arose, this idea was taken for granted from the start. But it is true enough that it is not to be counted as one of the primary elements in the concept of "Church" and certainly cannot be regarded as the point around which the concept was constructed. Rather, the basic elements of the Church appear as forgiveness, conversion, penance, eucharistic communion, and hence plurality and unity: plurality of the local Churches that yet remain "the Church" only through incorporation in the unity of the one Church. This unity is first and foremost the unity of Word and sacrament: the Church is one through the one Word and the one bread. The episcopal organization appears in the background as a means to this unity. It is not there for its own sake but belongs to the category of means; its position is summed up by the phrase "in order to": it serves to turn the unity of the local Churches in themselves and among themselves into a reality. The function of the Bishop of Rome would thus be to form the next stage in the category of means.
The Protestant Reformation tells us what happens when the means of unity it taken away, and there is no more union with the Bishop of Rome. The essential unity of Word and Sacrament is also taken away. In Protestantism there is a huge variety in so many different doctrines and in different forms of worship. You can choose whichever one suites your temperament. Some are reasonably close to the Catholic Church and some are very far removed. Catholics, unfortunately, take this unity for granted. However, many of us have been served by priests from Europe, Africa, Asia, or other places. Yet we know that the priest is in the same Church as us and can minister to us.
One thing is clear: the Church is not to be deduced from her organization; the organization is to be understood from the Church. But at the same time it is clear that for the visible Church visible unity is more than "organization". The concrete unity of the common faith testifying to itself in the Word and of the common table of Jesus Christ is an essential part of the sign that the Church is to erect in the world. Only if she is "catholic", that is, visibly one in spite of all her variety, does she correspond to the demand of the Creed. In a world torn apart, she is to be the sign and means of unity; she is to bridge nations, races, and classes and unite them. How often she has failed in this, we know: even in antiquity it was infinitely difficult for her to be simultaneously the Church of the barbarians and that of the Romans; in modern times she was unable to prevent strife between the Christian nations; and today she is still not succeeding in so uniting rich and poor that the excess of the former becomes the satisfaction of the latter---the ideal of sitting at a common table remains largely unfulfilled. Yet even so one must not forget all the imperatives that have issued from the claim of catholicity; above all, instead of reckoning up the past, we should face the challenge of the present and try in it not only to profess catholicity in the Creed but to make it a reality in the life of our torn world.
We can see that when Christ founded the Church, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” (Mt 16:18), He was not designating a specific organization. Yet in personally choosing the twelve Apostles with Peter as the head (the rock), He was setting up what was to become the Hierarchy of the Church. Thus, the organization of the Church flows from the Mind of Christ. This is the means of unity. However, the Church is not just a “big tent” where anyone who professes loyalty to the organization is automatically in the Church. There has to be a real unity and not a unity which exists only on paper. As Professor Ratzinger points out, this real unity has sometimes been lacking. We need to recognize that we cannot always have “our own way” in the Church. Christ did promise that the “gates of Hades” would not prevail against it. --Jim Nugent, CFP
Meditation on the Franciscan Virtues: The Virtue of Courtesy
To be polite is so important in our world today. Courtesy can be shown in small ways too, like patience with our fellow drivers in traffic, and patience with those who do not believe as we do and act as we do.
St. Francis taught us that courtesy goes hand in hand with respect for others and showing humility. Scripture says: Titus 3:2 They are not to insult anyone or be argumentative. Instead, they are to be gentle and perfectly courteous to everyone. We should respect other people’s opinion and not argue with them. We are all brothers and sisters in Christ, and our actions should tell others that we practice of the virtue of courtesy. -- Donna Kaye Rock, CFP Postulant
A police recruit was asked during the exam, "What would you do if you had to arrest your own mother?" He answered, "Call for backup."
A cop pulls a guy over for weaving across two lanes of traffic. He walks up to the driver's window and asks, "You drinkin'?" The driver said, "Well that depends - You buyin'?"
I have so many problems that if a new one comes along today, it will be at least two weeks before I can worry about it.
A new business was opening and one of the owner’s friends wanted to send him flowers for the occasion. They arrived at the new business site and the owner read the card, “Rest in Peace.” The owner was angry and called the florist to complain. After he had told the florist of the obvious mistake and how angry he was, the florist replied, “Sir, I’m really sorry for the mistake, but rather than getting angry you should imagine this. Somewhere there is a funeral taking place today, and they have flowers with a note saying, ‘Congratulations on your new location!’”
Monthly Letter to All Penitents: When Presence Interrupts Prayer
As a member of the Confraternity of Penitents, a group that strives to live the Franciscan Rule of 1221 as closely as possible in our modern era, I have a number of prescribed prayers I pray each day. I also, as of three months ago, have the responsibility of caring for my little 2 1/2 year old granddaughter, Hadleigh. It has been a challenge sometimes, because I deal with health issues that leave me with limited energy for a busy toddler, but God has a plan for everyone, and she has been such a source of joy and inspiration in my life.
I woke up and was especially tired this morning. I gave Hadleigh some toys to play with, and then snuck off into my room to pray. As I began praying my morning prayer in my breviary, I came to these words in the hymn: "sweet the rains new fall, sunlit from heaven, like the first dew fall, on the first grass…." In my mind's eye, I saw a beautiful, lush, green garden, created by our Heavenly Father for our enjoyment - simply because He loves us. I basked in the joy of this picture for a long moment and let it revive me.
All of a sudden, Hadleigh opened my bedroom door and ran up to me, interrupting my beautiful vision. I felt a short twinge of annoyance, but then, as caretakers of little ones who frequently need our attention are taught to do in the Confraternity of Penitents, I lifted up my heart to God and then turned my attention to her, ready to minister to her needs.
Instead of me ministering to her, however, it was to be the other way around. She had a gift for me. "Grandma, I made you a picture!", she said excitedly. She had in her hand a drawing that she had made and colored in herself. She doesn't really know how to draw anything recognizable yet, which made this gift even more special, for she had taken her green marker and drawn and colored in a large heart. It was God's love, like the green garden, being shown to me in a tangible way - something I could frame, even, and remember the moment forever! Needless to say, my heart melted and Hadleigh got a big hug (and blueberry waffles later).
I asked her if she wanted to pray with me. She did. I gave her an old issue of The Magnificat - she loves the thin pages, probably because they are similar to the pages in my breviary. We prayed Morning Prayer together, and afterward she prayed a decade of the rosary with me as well, on her own "rosey".
What a beautiful beginning to my day! Thank you, Lord, for showing me that there is much to learn from your little ones and that you speak in many different ways if we would simply slow down and open our eyes. -- Kimberly Lohman
Following Francis, Following Christ: How Conversion Begins
Saint Francis began his Testament, his final will for his brothers, in these words:
The Lord gave to me, Brother Francis, thus to begin to do penance; for when I was in sin it seemed to me very bitter to see lepers, and the Lord Himself led me amongst them and I showed mercy to them. And when I left them, that which had seemed to me bitter was changed for me into sweetness of body and soul. And afterwards I remained a little and I left the world.
Conversion begins somewhere, some time. Even if it comes like a “bolt from the blue,” a person has not entered conversion until he or she has made some significant changes in their life. Making the difficult and often unwelcome changes ignites conversion while continual doing of the difficult fuels it. Conversion does not happen without action. Action is the difficult part.
The Confraternity of Penitents’ way of life demands action. Penitents don’t simply talk about conversion; they actually have to do things that bring it about. Things, like fasting and abstinence, simplicity of life style, restricted wardrobe, works of mercy, and more prayer, force a person to change one’s life for the better. In making changes, conversion is almost automatic.
Saint Francis dated his conversion from his first personal encounter with lepers. Prior to this, he had been sending alms to lepers or, if he happened upon one, he would toss the ill person a few coins. However, he was careful to keep his distance from these human beings who generally exhibited evidence of their illness and who were thought to be carriers of a disease that was a punishment for a sinful life. When Francis was able to see the human being beneath the outer disfigurement, his conversion was ignited. But the flame would have died had Francis not followed it with action. Acknowledging the grace of the Holy Spirit’s promptings, Francis said that “the Lord Himself led me amongst them.” Did God take Francis by the hand? Hardly. Francis had seen lepers before. But this time, he felt a powerful interior tug to walk among them and encounter them. Through this action, his compassionate heart led him to “show mercy to them.”
As with all conversions, the goodness the penitent wants to do for others, or for a cause, brings unexpected results to the penitent. In his showing mercy to the lepers, Francis received outpourings of God’s mercy. The grace of these encounters became a powerful lamp into Francis’ soul so that he saw his own repulsive, spiritual disfigurement of pride. He knew that the cure for this was humility. And to take the medicine of humility, he “left the world,” meaning that he embraced a religious life of penance.
We all need the medicine of humility. It comes in many different forms and circumstances. But we need to take it if we sincerely seek conversion. If we ask the Holy Spirit what we need to do in order to get closer to God, God will show us. Once He does, only our acting on the Spirit’s impulse will bring us the sanctity we are seeking. – Madeline Pecora Nugent, CFP
Thoughts to Ponder
Comparison is the death of true self-contentment. John Powell
Our perception is based more on expectation and belief than on independent interpretation. Errol Morris
The only thing worse than being blind is having sight and no vision. Helen Keller
There are no more questions when people already have the answers. Patricia Cornwell
Confraternity Photo Album -- August 2016 Confraternity of Penitents Life Pledges and Private Vows
In Ohio (USA), on August 14, the feast of Saint Maximilian Kolbe, Kathleen D (wearing the brown scapular given her at the time of her life pledge) made a life pledge and private vow to live the CFP Rule for Life. Kathy took the privately vowed name of sr. Anthony of Padua Michael and pledged and vowed to Fr. David Endres. Pictured with her are Jim and Madeline N, both life pledged CFP members, and Iffat N (Novice 1) in the rear. Kathy is a vivacious 70 year old who sky dives, enjoys hot air balloon rides, and who is legally blind. She is s true bearer of Franciscan joy!
Welcome, Kathy (sr. Anthony Michael) to the Confraternity of Penitents!
Life Pledge of Teri K (center), on August 27, 2016, to Father Gary Kastl in Oklahoma. Teri had made a year pledge in 2015 to live the CFP Rule and Constitutions. Pictured with Teri are her witnesses, both life pledged and privately vowed CFP members, Karen H on the left and Rita Fon the right. Teri is a farm wife of sorts with a homey, spacious house out in the Oklahoma countryside. A fabulous cook with a fascinating sense of decorating for detail and down home décor, Teri is wife, mom, and grandmom.
Welcome sr Teri, to the Confraternity of Penitents.
Taking a private vow to live the CFP Rule for life, at the same Mass with sr. Teri, was Mary Elizabeth, previously life pledged, who took the privately vowed name of sr. Grace of Jesus of the Most Holy Trinity. We honor our dear sister’s request to refrain from publishing her photo. Welcome, dear sr. Grace!
Thirty-Three Things the Holy Spirit Does
These are 33 of the countless things the Holy Spirit does for us, so be encouraged, we could do with them ALL :-
He helps us (Rom 8:26)
He Guides us (John 16:13)
He teaches us (John 16:13)
He speaks (Rev 2:7)
He reveals (1 Cor.2:10)
He instructs (Acts 8:29)
He testifies of Jesus (John 15:26)
He comforts us (Acts 9:31)
He calls us (Acts 13:2)
He fills us (Acts 4:31)
He strengthens us (Eph 3:16)
He prays for us (Rom 8:26)
He prophesies through us (2 Pet 1:21)
He bears witness to the truth (Rom 9:1)
He brings joy (1 Thes 1:6)
He brings freedom (2 Cor 3:17)
He helps to obey (1 Pet 1:22)
He calls for Jesus return (Rev 22:17)
He transforms us (2 Cor 3:18)
He lives in us(1 Cor 3:16)
He frees us (Rom 8:2)
He renews us (Titus 3:5)
He produces fruit in us (Gal 5:22-23)
He gives gifts (1 Cor 12:8-10)
He leads us (Rom 8:14)
He convicts (John 16:8)
He sanctifies us (2 Thes 2:13)
He empowers us (Acts 1:8)
He unites us (Eph 4:3-4)
He seals us (Eph 1:13)
He gives us access to the Father (Eph 2:18)
He enables us to wait (Gal 5:5)
He casts out demons (Matt 12:28)
David Curry, CFP Affiliate
New Religious Pendants
Confraternity of Penitents Holy Angels Gift Shop cfpholyangels.com
Each pendant includes a chain and black gift box. $9.95 each. Many other styles and selections.
Order Numbers for pendants pictured are:
Four Way Medal Pendant- Q303
Crucifix Pendant - Q292
Holy Spirit Medal Pendant - Q300
Many other styles and selections on this link.
Footprints in the Sand – A New Twist
Please let me tell you a true story. I was in ICU, out of touch with everything. I remember a dream.
I was walking with Jesus on a beach. He told me to look back.
I told him, "I know I saw the picture. Only one sets of prints" because Jesus was holding me in the difficult times.
Again Jesus told me to look, so I did.
The beach was covered with foot prints. So I asked Jesus, “What's this?”
He said, "These are the foot prints of the people praying for you."
I went back to sleep. And I lived to come out of ICU and relate this story to you.
Love ya'll for those prayers.
--Ed Moss, CFP