Confraternity of Penitents Monthly Newsletter -- December 2017

FAST OF SAINT MARTIN

 

Note that the Fast of St. Martin begins on November 12 and continues until Christmas. Those at the Novice 3 level and above are obligated to observe this fast. Details are in Sections 8, 9, 10, and 11 of the CFP Rule and Constitutions. Appendix A explains how fasting is to be done following Church law. The bottom line is one larger meal and one smaller meal with no solid food between. If a bite to eat must be taken to maintain strength at some other point during the day, the amount of food in the bite to eat combined with the amount of food in the smaller meal should be less food than the penitent consumes at the large meal.

CHRIST’S MASS

Christmas means Christ’s Mass, and whose Mass is it other than Christ’s? The babe taken to Bethlehem in the womb of the Blessed Virgin, the newborn laid in straw on that first Christmas day, the one hailed and defamed as the Messiah, the King of the Jews whose throne was the cross, and the Lord of lords who rose from the dead, comes to us in each Eucharistic celebration. While we celebrate Christ’s entry into human existence on the Solemnity of Christmas, we ought to remember that every Mass is Christ’s Mass. When we receive Him, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, in the Eucharist, we carry Him physically in our bodies as the Blessed Mother carried Him for nine months in her womb. Have a Blessed Christmas!

VISITOR’S VISION: JOHN THE BAPTIST, THAT FAMILIAR FIGURE OF ADVENT AND THE PENITENT

Due to our heightened consumerism, our society has increasingly been drowning out the Advent season with the pomp and festivities associated with Christmas and its Holidays, thereby trivializing the marks and character of Advent. Previously, Advent season preceded and ushered in the festivities of Christmas, in very clear manner, thereby encouraging a better appreciation of Christmas and its holidays. However, our increased commercialization has continued to deal some heavy and grievous blows to that expectation and experience. Therefore, let us reflect a bit on the season of Advent, to remind us of the beauty of the season, especially since Advent this year begins within the early days of the month. Our main reference will mostly come from the readings of the second Sunday of Advent, since they bring out for us the character of John the Baptist, that familiar figure of Advent. Looking at those readings, one is struck by the insights about the character of the precursor, which are the relevant marks of the life we must not overlook during the season of Advent, in spite of the pull to the contrary in today’s society.

The Gospel presents John the Baptist as the one who Isaiah prophesied will be the voice (Isa 40:3-5), and the precursor of the Son of God (Mk 1:2-3). The word precursor is defined in one dictionary as “one that precedes and indicates the approach of another” (Merriam-Webster English Dictionary), and in another dictionary, as “A person or thing that comes before another of the same kind” (Oxford English Dictionary). In these, we can see the portrayal of some correct aspect of the mission of John the Baptist, but they seem to speak of a predecessor. But we know that John is not the predecessor of Jesus, in the sense of one who replaces another in the same job, or one who comes from the same family, species or nature. This was even pointed out by John when he said: “…After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit” (Mk 1:7-8).

Therefore, to create a better picture of the person and mission of John the Baptist, we certainly have to incorporate other synonyms of precursor like angel, foregoer, harbinger, herald, outrider and forerunner, to the definitions above. As it is, the Scripture says that John is the announcer of the word; he is the voice that speaks the word, as he pointed to the arrival of Jesus, whose arrival should be prepared for in a dedicated and conscientious manner. As such, John announces to us: “Turn away from your sins and . . . God will forgive your sins” (Mk 1:4). This means that God has great plans for us his people; a plan of comfort, encouragement, forgiveness, respite from suffering (Isa 40:1-2); a plan of prosperity, peace and the future we hope for (Jer 29:11), for he always takes care of his people as a shepherd gathers and tends his lambs and sheep (Isa 40:11).

With these plans about to manifest, God sent out a messenger in the person of John the Baptist, to announce a preparation for the coming of the great and wonderful plans God has for his people, which will manifest in Christ, the Anointed One (Lk 4:16-21). This preparation, as St. Peter said, means conducting ourselves in holiness and devotion (2 Pet 3:8-14). In this sense, then, we say that the above verses, from the readings of the second Sunday of Advent, talk to us about our spiritual preparation to welcome the Lord who is revealed at Christmas, in our lives, and at the end of time. Going further, we can also say that like John, we are to announce Jesus; but if we are to announce him, are we not to first welcome him inside? If we are to welcome him in ‘our house’, are we not to first prepare the house?

Regarding this preparation, I think that the first step is to humbly and openly recognize our faults, failures, weaknesses and limitedness like John the Baptist did (Mk 1:7-8), in order that God will enter, assist us, lift us up and form us to be the best we can possibly be. There is no need to be afraid here because our Church is a Church of sinners and saints. And, just as Jesus welcomes the tax collectors, the sinners, and prostitutes, the Church, and every group within the Church, especially a group like the penitents (CFP), is not ashamed to associate with sinners or anyone who acknowledges his/her unworthiness. It is for these that Jesus came, as he demonstrated with the call of Levi (Mk 2:17), with his forgiveness of the woman caught in adultery (Jn 8:11), with his acceptance of the kindness and reparation of the sinful woman at Simon’s house (Lk 7:36-50), just to mention but a few. So, no one should be shunned or evicted from the Church for past sins and mistakes, for saints are actually repentant sinners, as clearly exemplified in the lives of some of the canonically recognized saints.

Therefore, the Advent season helps us to recognize our sinfulness and unworthiness to receive the Lord of Glory when he comes. It also points to the humility and contrition that should mark our constant preparation to meet the Lord, since, during the Advent season, we are constantly being reminded of our spiritual preparation for the various comings of Christ. Thus, we are invited to strongly consider availing ourselves of the opportunity of the Sacrament of Reconciliation at this time, like the people in the Gospel who trooped out from the provinces of Judea and Jerusalem to confess their sins and to be baptized by John the Baptist at the Jordan River (Mk 1:5). Attending the Sacrament of Penance/Reconciliation is one of the essential ways we can prepare well for the Christmas and the other comings of the Lord into 'our house'. It is a spiritual exercise through which we reconcile with God, the Church, and others, for the sacrament presents and enfolds us in God's compassion and mercy, offers us healing of the soul and body, and brings peace between one another, more than we can hope to accomplish through any other means, even psychotherapy. As the Catechism says: “Indeed the Sacrament of Reconciliation with God brings about a true spiritual resurrection, restoration of the dignity and blessings of the children of God, of which the most precious is friendship with God” (CCC, n.1468). Thus, the penitent becomes better by attending the Advent Reconciliation, which is the preparation called for by the Baptist and which is also the preparation that makes us ready to announce the Lord by the life we live.

 

John may look rough, but he was filled with peace. Thus, the character of John the Baptist, depicted in his unsavory appearance and diet (Mk 1:6), reminds us of the sacrifices, prayers and peace that characterize this season. We must recognize the power of prayer which aids us as we contribute to the effectiveness of our faith through beautiful words but even more through our loving actions, activities, and service to others. Through prayer we ask for the grace of God in living the demands of the season, since no selfless deed is done without the grace of God. We can meet tremendous success only when “Our help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth” (Ps 121:2), for “If the Lord does not build the house, in vain does the laborer labor...” (Ps 127:1-2). Thus, our prayers assure us of the promised presence and peace of God in our activities, trials and tests, just as he was present to John.

We cannot pretend that it is always easy to be peaceful or to see goodness in spite of hardships, trials, sufferings, failures, violence and death. However, if we see our life as a pilgrimage, we shall realize that, like those on a journey, we pass through fertile landscape and dry landscape, wet landscape and snowy landscape. Sometimes we encounter mountains, sometimes deserts, other times valleys or great level ground, gentle streams, and refreshing breezes. These are part of what the Scripture refers to as the mystery, which can only be understood by the 'little ones' (Matt 11:25). These little ones are those who grow close to God and are then able to grasp better the mysteries of life and the meaning of what God is doing in each situation. With this knowledge, then it becomes easy for them to live St. Paul’s exhortation to “be joyful always, pray always, and be thankful in all circumstances. This is what God wants from you in your life in union with Christ Jesus” (1Thess 5:16-18). This passage speaks of what Advent reminds us of – namely Christian perseverance and fulfillment.

 

Our birth by water and spirit (Baptism) joyfully makes us Christians, that is, Christ's followers. Since the joy of this incorporation does not remove the difficulties of life, we are given the great insight of knowing that the real concretization of our identity as Christians is in following Christ in his cross, his mission and his deeds, which brought joy to the world. So, we persevere in living the challenges of the Advent season with a measure of joy, knowing that Christ joyfully bore his own challenges. Our patient acceptance will bring joy and peace to others and to us when Christ comes. As penitents, our attendance to the sacraments, especially Reconciliation and Eucharist, as well as our sacrifices and prayers, will calm our spirit and help us to become agents of joy and peace in our home, workplace, and elsewhere. We can see this joy and peace and John the Baptist, the precursor of Jesus.

 

– Father Francis Chukwuma, CFP Visitor

NO GREATER LOVE: THE BRIDE OF CHRIST

In the Old Testament, starting with the book of the prophet Hosea, God and Israel are allegorically treated as lovers. The most striking example of this idea is found in the Song of Songs. The New Testament continues this theme but now Christ is the Bridegroom and the Church is the Bride. Also, while the “birthday” of the Church is commonly placed at Pentecost, perhaps we could say that the “conception” of the Church was the Annunciation, when Mary consented to receive Christ into her womb. She was receiving the Word of God, not only as an individual, but also as the Church. At the Annunciation, she was agreeing to be the Church.

 

What does this mean for us as individuals within the Church? In the book Prayer, theologian Hans Urs Von Balthasar tells us. Much follows, for the individual involved, from the ecclesial dimension of the personal, solitary act of contemplation. Receptive as he is to the word, he can no longer see himself as being significantly determined by his personal qualities, wishes and yearnings; he has to make room within himself for a sense of the Church which is universal, which enables him, in certain circumstances, to accept and welcome things that he personally finds less congenial, of less immediate interest, things intended for the Church as a whole or to be communicated later to some particular individual. This will be especially the case in the contemplation of the priest and the layman called to this apostolate.

 

This means that our prayer is not “only about me”. It is about others and the Church. As Von Balthasar tells us: Similarly, on the basis of this ecclesial dimension of prayer, it may happen (and often does) that the person learns things and experiences things---states of soul, difficulties, sufferings---which are not intended for him personally but for multitudes unknown to him (whether they pray or not), or for one particular individual who is to be helped by this kind of transference: perhaps the contemplative is being asked to bear something originally designed for someone else as a penance, so that the latter can accept it with joy. Or it may be that the contemplative is to receive or undergo a spiritual insight or experience in the other’s name, the fruit of which will be communicated to him through the Church’s process of spiritual osmosis.

The responsibility to respond to the Word of God is given both to the praying Church and the praying individual and this is a very specific responsibility according to theologian Von Balthasar. Outside the Church people have the idea that contemplation is something vague and obscure; it may be so where it is a case of guesswork, of reading the symbols and ciphers of worldly phenomena. But such vagueness is out of place in the encounter between the divine Bridegroom and the bridal Church. The Church must respond in detail, and can do so in the strength of the word which is addressed to her. The individual believer, too, must respond within the Church. He must receive communion (and be inwardly ready for communion) when communion is being distributed; he must have completed his examination of conscience, he must be sorry for sin by the time it is his turn for confession.

 

Hans Urs Von Balthasar next gives us an example of the attitude we all need in our prayer. The attention which Mary gave to Jesus, sitting at his feet, was by no means a personal indulgence or a pleasant daydreaming. Nor was it a selective groping for those ideas which suited her, which she “felt able” to translate into reality, let alone pass on to others as her ideas. It was an entirely open-ended readiness for the Word, a readiness to participate in it, without preferences, without picking and choosing, without a priori restrictions. It was an alert sober attitude, attentive to the slightest indications, yet ready to embrace the widest panoramas. Of course, theologian Von Balthasar advises us that this also means that our prayer needs to be shared with the Church. The individual is bound to reveal his contemplation so that the maternal Church may inspect it; he desires to contemplate under the eyes and with the eyes of the Church, in order to be a better pupil. All contemplatives, not only religious and priests, ought to have this attitude.

 

Prayer ultimately is a dialogue between Christ and the Church, between the Bridegroom and the Bride. Von Balthasar tells us that this is an exclusive dialogue. The Church which encounters the Word of God is the one and only Bride. Therefore of her very essence is alone. The Church, as Church, knows only one “Thou”: God. It is not as if there were a third party, unbelieving humanity, in this conversation. The latter may be spoken of in the Church’s dialogue with God, but it does not feature as a participant. While the book Prayer was published in 1955, since that time this advice from Von Balthasar has not been heeded by large segments of the Church. Some do include “unbelieving humanity” in the conversation and even make the dialogue a conversation between the Church and the world. God is on the sidelines, perhaps to be included at some later date. As a result, much of the Western world does not know God.

 

How does this dialogue between the Christ and the Church relate to the individual believer? Concerning this, theologian Von Balthasar tells us: The Church’s unity of life comes about through the self-emptying and externalizing of God’s unique spirit – life beyond, in, and through the individuals integrated in it. Their creaturely uniqueness is not limited nor endangered; on the contrary, by grace it is put in touch with the uniqueness of God and thus opened to perfection. Everyone who encounters God in faith and love is illuminated by the radiance of the divine uniqueness which comes from the Word; in this radiance the individual is made a member of the only Bride, the Church. . . . .Here there is no question of individual persons being extinguished or absorbed into some Universal Truth, or Life, or Being---as if redemption consisted in that. Here the whole person is totally awake, ministering lovingly to the transcendent mystery of the encounter between Christ and the Church. Here and now, in my inescapable solitude before God, this encounter is to take place. At this moment in time, God’s revelation is addressed, not to people in general, but to me. The light of God’s loving choice falls on me. Christ is born for me. He dies on the cross for me. He will come again in glory to take me with him. I need to have a most vivid sense of this here-and-now uniqueness, I must rid my consciousness of every trace of the idea that I am merely part of a crowd going in the same direction, which might do just as well, if not better, without me.

 

Hans Urs Von Balthasar is telling us that, when we are with the Lord in contemplative prayer, we are not just one isolated individual. Anyone who has received God’s summons may dare to “play the role” of the Church, personam Ecclesiae genere, as the Church Fathers called it. Of course, he can never be this person; he must be aware of exercising a representative ministry. He is only the servant, the handmaid; the Church alone is the Bride and Mistress. And if the Church actually calls herself the handmaid of the Lord, it follows that the individual’s lowliness is more lowly still. Yet, in spite of this huge difference, the service must be rendered. I must represent the “person” of the Church in my own person; servant and handmaid though I be, I must take on the role of the Bride. And in his grace---one is tempted to say “in his blindness”---the Lord overlooks the difference, allows the illusion to stand, lifts the individual up from the ground where he had fallen, as if he had a right to the throne of the “only dove”, the “bride without spot or wrinkle”. And it is part and parcel of the unworthy servant’s perfect service to allow the King’s will to prevail here too . . . the utterly unique destiny of being Mother of the eternal God, and, being thus exposed to both heaven and earth, the awareness of having a sole and freely accepted responsibility for both, and for the inhabitants of both---all of this must be endured in contemplation, perhaps for only a split second, which, miraculously, is not fatal. Once it was Mary who was the unique one, with no one to help her. For she was the prototypical Church. Every contemplative must go through this to some degree, once at least, if he is drawn to profess allegiance and unreserved submission to the Word of God. But he may experience this more than once, for the Bridegroom continues to bend in love over the Bride as at first.

 

St. Joseph has been designated as the Patron of the Universal Church. While he was never the “Church” in the same way that Mary was the Church, did he not “play the role” of the Bride when he took Mary into his home in spite of the fact the she was “with child”? Did he not play this role when he fled with Mary and Jesus from King Herod to Egypt? Did he not again play this role when he returned to Galilee to what was to be known as the hometown of Jesus? This was possible for St. Joseph because he was a man of prayer. God has something, and perhaps many things, which He wants each us to do. They may seem great, or they may seem small. Like St. Joseph, we need to pray so that we know what the Lord wants of us. Like St. Joseph, the Lord will also give us the grace to do it.

 

– Jim Nugent, CFP

REFLECTION ON THE RULE

Constitutions: XI. RIGHTS, DUTIES, AND OBLIGATIONS

Several individuals exercise leadership in the Confraternity of Penitents. The principal ones of these are:

VISITOR

The Confraternity of Penitents' Visitor is a spiritual guide and immediate representative of the Roman Catholic Church. He shall be a priest appointed by the Bishop of the Diocese of Fort Wayne - South Bend, Indiana. If he is also a Religious, the Visitor must have the permission of his superior to serve. The CFP shall have only one Visitor unless the Bishop, in consultation with the Minister General, deems that more are needed.

MINISTER GENERAL

The office of Minister General is the highest non-clerical office in the Confraternity of Penitents. The Minister General is responsible for the efficient operation of the CFP and oversees it in every regard. The Minister General is the primary contact with all Bishops regarding the Confraternity, protects and promotes the Purpose (Charism), and endeavors, with prayer to the Holy Spirit for guidance, to develop and expand the CFP and the message of penance (conversion) worldwide. With prayer and the advice of the CFP Officers and Lay and Spiritual Advisers, the Minister General shall make the final decisions, subject to approval by the Visitor, on all matters involving the Confraternity of Penitents. The only exceptions to this are decisions in the following five areas in which the elected Minister General must have the unanimous consent of those legally named as Council members, plus the consent of the Visitor, to implement a decision:

 

  • The dissolution of major assets or the spending of 20% or more of CFP funds

  • Change to the CFP Name, Legal Status as a 501c3 Organization, and Purpose (Charism) as detailed in the Vision, Action, Prayer, Motto, Mission, Song, and Symbol

  • Change to the CFP Rule[1] or Constitutions[2]

  • Change to the CFP Governance and Structure

  • Change to the CFP Formation Program

 

CFP OFFICERS[3]

Confraternity Officers ensure that the CFP is running smoothly on an international level. Confraternity Officers are the CFP Ministerial Assistant, CFP Messenger, and CFP Treasurer. They assist and advise the Minister General in the operation of the Confraternity.

ADDITIONAL COUNCIL MEMBERS

Additional Council Members serve as advisers to the Minister General.

REGIONAL MINISTERS

Regional Ministers insure that formation is being properly conducted in their Regions, both with isolated Members and Associates and with those in Chapters and Circles.

REFLECTION:

The Confraternity of Penitents has a governance hierarchy which is explained in the Constitutions. This is based on the original hierarchy in the Rule of 1221. The Visitor was the representative to the Church to whom the original penitents appealed with questions or problems. The Visitor also gave the penitents instruction in the faith. The Minister General, Treasurer, and Messenger as well as other officers, are mentioned in the original Rule and their duties are designated. In order to have anything more structured than a group of people of like mind who happen to meet together, some sort of organization is needed. The Structure of the Confraternity of Penitents lays out a chain of command, so to speak, and clarifies the duties of all in that chain. Those who have these responsibilities of leadership are ministering to the others in the Confraternity of Penitents. Please pray for them so that the Holy Spirit will give them the grace and insight to serve well in these roles.

 

[1] The Rule for the Confraternity of Penitents is the Rule of 1221.  As such, it is a historical document and cannot be changed. However, the Rule and Constitutions complement each other.  Since the Constitutions detail how the Rule is to be lived today, they are subject to modification.

[2] The Historical Overview section of these Constitutions may be updated as necessary without the permission required by this part of the Constitutions.

[3] The Minister General is also a CFP Officer.

FOLLOWING FRANCIS, FOLLOWING CHRIST: REFLECTIONS ON SUFFERING

 

While we often think of St. Francis as the joyful saint who spoke to birds and loved all creatures, we forget that he was a saint who suffered profoundly from both physical, spiritual, and emotional trials. These excerpts from a letter from a CFP member give some insight into what Francis’ faith must’ve been in the midst of his suffering:

 

“Even in our sleep, pain, which cannot forget, falls drop by drop upon the heart until one day, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.” –Aeschylus

 

From my heart, thank you for writing me that quote of Aeschylus which means so much to me. I couldn't have known then [when I first shared it with you] how true his words were -- for all of us in our own way.

r, an atmosphere of conditions we cannot control and which are essentially meaningless, like rain or sunshine.

In the text, he actually begins by saying that: "He who learns must suffer, and even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget...(etc.)"

 

The full quote, therefore, is:

 

“He who learns must suffer, and, even in our sleep, pain, which cannot forget, falls drop by drop upon the heart until one day, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.”

 

He who learns must suffer. You and I know that. And I would have gladly suffered 10,000 times more if I had known what I would learn during this time. I can't describe my happiness, but I hope and I know you will understand.

 

Things are very difficult externally, but it truly doesn't matter. In my heart I am absolutely free. Please pray that I may remain that way. That is my only wish. That my heart will have the wisdom to remain in this freedom. What St Paul called the 'freedom of the sons of God'.

 

I hope and know you will understand. My body has been very bad, and I don't tell people, and try to lie about it, because they get all bothered and worked-up. Many friends here simply recoiled and went away. I know that it is difficult for . . . people to see illness, especially in someone their own age. It disturbs them. They will see one day that the body is just a vehicle. A companion that tries its best to carry me around. And pain is only like a kind of personal weather, an atmosphere of conditions we cannot control and which are essentially meaningless, like rain or sunshine.

 

I [am] living my vocation now. I know you will understand. --CFP Member Who Wishes to Remain Anonymous

MONTHLY LETTER TO ALL PENITENTS: SOME REFLECTIONS ON MY PRE-PLEDGE RETREAT
Eureka! I Lost Myself but Found God Again for the Very First Time

 

For most of my life, from about the third grade and onward, I enjoyed a running conversation with God covering many different questions about my relationship with Him as my intimate father. I knew He was there. I knew He heard me. Also, I deeply believed that In answered me, in His own way and in His own time. Sometimes the answers came to me the very same day. Most times, however, answers came to me as I lived my life many years later and became mature enough to understand them.

Some questions nagged at me, and I nagged Him about them. For example, have you ever wondered why Faith is so important in our relationship with Him? I did. I would ask Him: “Father why can’t we just meet, sit together, and talk about it?” Or, “Father why can’t I enjoy a game of chess with my Guardian Angel? It would be so nice to have such a Holy acquaintance to spend time with. Why is faith so important and why do you demand so much of it from me? Why can’t we just get past this requirement of maintaining our belief-centered relationship and enjoy spending time together?” I ask the questions, and God spends years preparing me to hear the answers, and then He answers. He answers me in miraculous kinds of ways, clear and unambiguous kinds of ways, and often out of the blue in ways that always teach me an unforeseen lesson.

An interesting observation about my relationship with God during this time can be summarized by two simple words: Self-Centered. I wanted answers. I asked questions. I leaned on God to enlighten me. The word of note here is “I” “I” “I”. Ouch! What are we reminded: Die to ourselves to find ourselves? Jesus died, and I asked questions. Perhaps I was not fair and balanced back then. This is childhood stuff for sure. After all of these decades, I am still more of a child than an adult. The CFP shows us how to “put on the mantle of adulthood,” right. I am making progress, but no trophy yet. Least I forget, it is not a competition.

So recently I have completed my pre-pledging retreat. And guess what? I was busy seeking more answers. So true of me. This time, however, I also praised God for being such a benevolent Father. I told Him something He already knows: I love Him so very much. And then I popped the big question: How can my life as a CFP penitent enable me to grow in holiness so that I can pray always and continually place God first in all things? Can the CFP help me do this better than I can do it myself?

Here is what I heard coming out of the retreat: Holiness is impossible for me. God forms holiness in me when I participate in His life. This is what I hear Jesus reminding me about in Scripture. Fundamentally, I must accept the penitential life as a serious obligation for the spiritual good of myself and my brothers and sisters on earth and in Purgatory. This spiritual life really isn’t all about oneself. For me to grow in holiness, I must continually seek to become God-centered by changing my appetites, living my values, and putting nothing before God.

Life has taught me that holiness is counterintuitive. When I make holiness the goal, I fall into the trap of becoming self-centered. When I make God the center of my life, God infuses holiness in my life. I can become holy only if I lose myself in Him who continually creates, redeems, and loves me. I must move from my inadequate desire to be holy and learn to abide in His Holiness. I must turn to Him so that I become a living reflection of His Holiness.

Scripture is right: I have to die to my old-self. I must abandon my feeble and misguided desire to make myself holy. Rather I must turn my heart to God and liberate it to reflect God’s holiness. So as God is all Holiness, He is all loving. I must abandon my self-designed strategy for becoming holy and put on the mantle of God’s Holiness. The CFP will enable me to do this by encouraging me to better focus on God rather than myself. This is what the Rule and Constitutions offer: Die to yourself and discover God in you to truly be alive now and forever. In this way, the old Ray ceases to exist as the new Ray emerges illuminated by the Holiness of God. This is an eternal illumination freely given as a gift of God’s love for His children. We only need to love Him back.

This is a holiness for the ages, and it grows in us as our love of Him grows in us. So, I no longer make myself the center of my religious efforts to become holy, a genuinely sad kind of idolatry. Rather, I simply seek to be always nearer to God to enjoy His Holiness. This is the kind of life God created me to enjoy. What a refreshing difference! From a focus on me to a focus on Him, I will take this any day. For me, holiness is no longer a lonely problem to be solved; it is a thrilling mystery to be lived. Thank God for God, and Thank God for the Confraternity of Penitents. The retreat was a good one.

 

--Raymond Newkirk, Novice 3

CONFRATERNITY OF PENITENTS PHOTO ALBUM: YEAR PLEDGE SUSAN SCHWARTZ

The Confraternity of Penitents joyfully welcomes Susan Schwartz from Minnesota as a year pledged CFP member. Susan is a formator for several members of the Confraternity of Penitents and is very involved with religious education, adoration and liturgy at her parish. A delightful woman of deep faith and compassion, Susan made her pledge to Fr. Gabriel Waweru on July 26, 2017. Welcome, Susan!

DEATH DEACON JIM RUDNIK, CFP SPIRITUAL ASSISTANT FROM MIDDLETOWN RI, USA

 

Deacon Jim Rudnik passed away of Parkinson’s Disease on October 24, 2017. Deacon Rudnik was a Retired Captain of the US Navy, serving both in active duty for 4 years on the USS Boxer and in the reserves for 26 years. He also served as an instructor of Naval Tactics at the Officer Candidate School in Newport, RI. Ordained a deacon in 2002, Deacon Rudnik was also a member of his parish’s Holy Name Society, the St. Vincent de Paul Society, and area Knights of Columbus. He was liaison to the Brazilian community and served as the Chaplain at the RI Veteran’s Home in Bristol, RI. 

For approximately ten years, until his illness kept him from continuing, Deacon Rudnik served as Spiritual Assistant to the Blessed Luchessio Chapter of the Confraternity of Penitents in Middletown RI. A true gentle man, the Deacon’s quiet manner and deep faith touched all who knew him. May God grant him the reward of his faith and labors.

CONFRATERNITY OF PENITENTS HOLY ANGELS GIFT SHOP

 

The Confraternity of Penitents Holy Angels Gift Shop offers almost 4000 products on line including scapulars, medals, religious jewelry, books, rosaries, bookmarks, greeting cards, statuary, wall plaques, chaplets, Franciscan and San Damiano items, and more. The most recent addition to our website are mugs with inspirational sayings and images.

 

Your support of the CFP Holy Angels Gift Shop enables us to continue our ministry of spreading the message of penance worldwide. Consider Christmas shopping at the CFP Holy Angels Gift Shop at cfpholyangels.com We ship worldwide. Call 260-739-6882 to place an order if you are not on line. May God bless you!

CHRISTMAS INSIGHTS FROM SOME SAINTS

"Christ is the Morning Star, who, when the night of this world is past, gives to his saints the promise of the light of life, and opens everlasting day." - Venerable Bede

"It is Christmas every time you let God love others through you." – Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta

"Today the darkness begins to grow shorter and the light to lengthen, as the hours of night become fewer.... Realize that the true light is now here and, through the rays of the gospel, is illumining the whole earth." – Saint Gregory of Nyssa

Mankind is a great, an immense family... This is proved by what we feel in our hearts at Christmas.- Pope Saint John XXIII

 

HUMOR: THINK THIS THROUGH

How does Moses make tea? Hebrews it.---Venison for dinner again? Oh, deer! -- A cartoonist was found dead in his home. Details are sketchy. -- I used to be a banker, but then I lost interest. -- Haunted French pancakes give me the crêpes.-- England has no kidney bank, but it does have a Liverpool. -- I tried to catch some fog, but I mist. -- They told me I had type-A blood, but it was a Typo. -- I changed my iPod's name to Titanic. It's syncing now. -- Jokes about German sausage are the wurst.-- I know a guy who's addicted to brake fluid, but he says he can stop any time. -- I stayed up all night to see where the sun went, and then it dawned on me. -- This girl said she recognized me from the vegetarian club, but I'd never met herbivore. -- When chemists die, they barium. -- I'm reading a book about anti-gravity. I just can't put it down. -- I did a theatrical performance about puns. It was a play on words. -- Why were the Indians here first? They had reservations.-- I didn't like my beard at first. Then it grew on me.-- Broken pencils are pointless.-- What do you call a dinosaur with an extensive vocabulary? A theasaurus.-- I dropped out of communism class because of lousy Marx.—You can tune a piano but you can’t tuna fish. -- I got a job at a bakery because I kneaded dough. -- Velcro -- what a rip off!

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Confraternity of Penitents

1702 Lumbard Street

 Fort Wayne IN USA 46803 

260-739-6882

copenitents@yahoo.com 

 

May God bless you and give you joy!