Confraternity of Penitents Monthly Newsletter -- May 2017
VISITOR’S VISION: BREATHING NEW LIFE INTO THE WORLD
Fellow pilgrims, we continue to celebrate the regular season of Eastertide until Pentecost. From now on, the readings express the fact of the resurrection, stressing that Jesus rose from the dead and breathed new life on us to make us a new creation. They reassure us that we are people destined to follow his lead into the eternal life of heaven. We also see that, though Thomas initially doubted that Jesus had resurrected, he later manifested the Easter spirit by acknowledging Jesus as his Lord and God, just as is manifested by the early Christians who believed and continued the redeeming work of Jesus by being a faithful, communal, praying and happy church. As Easter people through our baptism, we are born to new life, new hope, and new inheritance, and we have to witness despite the trials and sufferings that come with it. We must be people of faith who did not see but who believed. This is the life that merits us blessedness.
However, the question for each of us today is: as Jesus breathed new life into creation through his death and resurrection, and the apostles breathed new life into the first Christian community through their selfless service, preaching and sacrificial sharing, how can I breathe new life into the world, into my community, into my family, into my parish, into the place where I work, into my relationship, etc.? The answer will be personal to each of us, but I will suggest that living out any or some of the spiritual and corporal works of mercy will be an awesome way of breathing new life into another human being. To help us, we remember that the spiritual works of mercy include: to instruct the ignorant, to counsel the doubtful, to admonish sinners, to bear wrongs patiently, to forgive offenses willingly, to comfort the afflicted, to pray for the living and the dead. And the corporal works of mercy are: to feed the hungry, to give water to the thirsty, to clothe the naked, to shelter the homeless, to visit the sick, to visit the imprisoned or ransom the captive, to bury the dead.
The Sunday after Easter is Divine Mercy Sunday when we commemorate the mystery of God’s Divine Mercy that was manifested in Christ shedding his blood for our salvation, as it was communicated to St. Faustina, the visionary of divine mercy. Jesus gave his life for all humanity, thus manifesting God’s love for each human being. Christ reminded us that the love of God is inseparable from the love of one’s fellows. However, we know that “It is not easy to love with a deep love, which lies in the authentic gift of self. This love can only be learned by penetrating the mystery of God’s love. Looking at him, being one with his fatherly heart, we are able to look with new eyes of our brothers and sisters, with an attitude of unselfishness and solidarity, of generosity and forgiveness. All this is mercy!” So said Pope Saint John Paul II in his homily of on April 30, 2000.
We must then pray to the divine mercy to be able to penetrate the mystery of this merciful gaze of God and thus be able to fulfill our mission of mercy toward others. Let us say the divine mercy chaplet within the week, to recall the great and divine mercy of God manifest toward us always, through the salvation he gave us through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. And let us ask for the grace to also be merciful to ourselves.
--Father Francis Chukwuma, CFP Visitor
HOW TO PRAY THE DIVINE MERCY CHAPLET
The Divine Mercy Chaplet is prayed on the beads of a regular Rosary.
Pray one Our Father, Hail Mary, Apostle's Creed.
On the "Our Father" bead on each of the five decades, pray:
Eternal Father, I offer you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, Our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.
On the "Hail Mary” beads on each of the five decades, pray:
For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.
Concluding prayer (Repeat 3 times)
Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world.
“When I see that the burden is beyond my strength, I do not consider or analyze it or probe into it, but I run like a child to the Heart of Jesus and say only one word to Him: “You can do all things.” And then I keep silent, because I know that Jesus Himself will intervene in the matter, and as for me, instead of tormenting myself, I use that time to love Him.” -- Saint Faustina, Apostle of Divine Mercy
FOLLOWING FRANCIS, FOLLOWING CHRIST: THE PENTECOST CHAPTER
St. Francis used to have his friars gather yearly at what he called a Pentecost Chapter. The chapter was not a portion of a book but a gathering. The Pentecost Chapter served several purposes. First, friars got to know one another. As the Order grew, friars were accepted into it from different parts of the world. The only way they got to know each other was by gathering together. Another critical dimension was being able to pray together. So often the friars were misunderstood, but, when they came together, they were in a group of people who knew exactly what each one wished to achieve as well as how they hoped to get there. This led them to the third reason why they got together which was to discuss the way of life, to lay out what was and was not working, to pray about their charism, and to make changes and additions as needed.
At the Pentecost Chapter, the Minister General would address the group, as would other able friars, and give them words of encouragement, faith, and insight. The joy of these gatherings was incredible, and the townspeople of Assisi supported them with food for all the friars to eat. When the friars left to go back to the respective friaries and ministries, they were invigorated and renewed to continue living their way of life and to evangelize the world.
The Confraternity of Penitents has a yearly retreat which attempts to meet the same goals as the Pentecost Chapter. Members can get together from around the world, come to know one another, be invigorated and regenerated by good teachings and spiritual reflections, and can discuss the charism and what is working and not working in their own lives. Penitents should attempt to attend the yearly retreat, if at all possible. If it is not possible to attend yearly, they should make arrangements to attend every few years. The retreat itself is reasonably priced, but we realize that travel expenses can be extreme. We wish that the Confraternity could sponsor everyone to come to the retreat, but financially that is impossible. We are looking at the possibility of regional retreats so that penitents in a certain region can get together. If you’re interested in organizing a regional retreat, please contact us and we will help you with the planning. The bottom line is this. If at all possible, penitents should strive to meet with other penitents at least once yearly at a retreat. It’s an experience that will bring you many graces!
-- Madeline Pecora Nugent, CFP
CFP RETREAT 2017—MARK YOUR CALENDARS AND PLAN TO ATTEND!
October 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 2017 -- St. Felix Catholic Retreat Center, 1280 Hitzfield Street, Huntington Indiana USA
Full Divine Office prayed daily -- Daily Mass -- Conferences -- One Night of All Night Adoration-- 6 Hour Silent Hermitage Experience
$195 plus $15 worth of food to share (we will be cooking our own meals) or $15 toward food costs
Commuters (Thursday Night, Friday, Saturday, Sunday--includes lunch, supper, no overnights)--$60 plus $15 of food or paper goods or $15 toward costs of food and paper goods
Arrival time: 4 - 5 p.m. Thursday, October 7. Mass 7:30 p.m. -- Departure 7 a.m. Monday, October 9, following 6 a.m. Mass
We will pick up airport, train, or bus attendees free of charge and transport them to the retreat and, after the retreat, back to the appropriate location to return home. If you are coming by mass transportation, please contact us regarding the best ports of arrival.
Additional Details forthcoming.
NO GREATER LOVE: THE REQUIREMENT TO PRAY
Section 12n of the Constitutions of the Confraternity of Penitents, which deals with the prayer requirements of the Rule, states the following: “In addition, penitents should, if possible, spend a minimum of fifteen minutes daily in meditative or contemplative prayer.” Also, for those who do not say the entire liturgy of the hours including the Office of Readings, one of the alternative options says that one can spend an hour in mental prayer daily. The idea of meditative and contemplative prayer is probably one of the most difficult aspects of the Rule of 1221.
Most Christians probably know that they should pray more than just pre-written prayers even though these prayers can be very valuable. But what can we, who are so finite and weak, say to the infinite, all-powerful, and all-knowing God? The answer probably is absolutely nothing unless the all-powerful and all-knowing God has spoken to us first. Of course, He has spoken to us quite extensively by his Word. The writer of the letter to the Hebrews says this quite clearly. “In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the ages.” (Heb 1:1-2)
St. John says it even more briefly in the prologue to his gospel. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth;” (Jn 1:14).
God speaks to us through the majesty of the universe and nature. He also speaks to us through the Old Testament prophets and the New Testament letters and writings. However, all this leads to Christ. We certainly can pray and meditate on the universe, nature, and the Old Testament, but it is off the track if it does not lead to Christ.
Unfortunately, it is very easy to think of Jesus Christ as someone from the past. Human beings are born, live, and die. They are then “past tense” as far as the world is concerned. Jesus Christ never “was” a Human Person but is a Human Person in the first century A.D. and is a Human Person now. This cannot be true unless Jesus Christ is True God and True Man. Our prayer is not a response to some great person from the past. It is a response to One who is here right now and is continually speaking to us.
St. Benedict, around the year 500 A.D., responded to Jesus Christ and eventually founded the Benedictine Order which exists right down to the present time. In the 1200’s, St. Francis of Assisi also responded to Jesus Christ, which led to the Franciscan Order. St. Ignatius of Loyola, in the 1500’s responded to Jesus Christ and founded the Jesuits. In the late 1800’s, a young girl in France who had no advanced education and who died at the age of 24 in 1897, responded to Jesus Christ by joining the Carmelite Order, and did some writing under obedience to her superiors. In 1997, Pope John Paul II declared her, St. Therese of Lisieux, to be a Doctor of the Church. Many other canonized and uncanonized saints right up to the present have responded to Jesus Christ in vastly different ways even though the Word of God was the same for all of them. Jesus Christ, the Word of God, has something to say to each of us individually.
In order to respond to the Word, we have to hear the Word. Of course, by “hearing” or “listening” we mean receiving what is given to us which includes reading as well as listening or looking. Unfortunately, we can read scripture and tradition without really “hearing” what the Word is saying to us, or we can literally hear the Word spoken to us without really listening. We can see a concrete example of a real “hearer” of the Word in Mary, the Mother of God. She certainly received or heard the Word of God through the Old Testament writings and prophecies. She knew that the Messiah was coming. She was certainly a “hearer” of the Word. Of course, she did not know everything. She did know the prophecy of Isaiah. “The Lord himself, therefore, will give you a sign. It is this: the maiden is with child and will soon give birth to a son whom she will call Immanuel.” (Is 7:14)
This prophecy, originally written in Hebrew, says that the mother of the Messiah would be a young girl or recently married woman who is translated “maiden” in the Jerusalem Bible translation from Hebrew given above. The prophecy does not make clear whether the Messiah would be borne by means of normal sexual intercourse or not. Even the Greek translation of the Hebrew, which uses the word “virgin”, does not make clear how a virgin has a child. Now, when we read the prophecy of Isaiah, we immediately think of the Virgin Mary. We need to wonder what Jews at the time of Christ, including Mary, thought of the prophecy of Isaiah. It must have been very puzzling. As Pope Benedict has pointed out, prophecies in the Old Testament are made clear in light of the New Testament.
When the angel Gabriel told Mary that she was to be the mother of the Messiah (Lk 1:26-38), she knew the question she needed to ask: “How will this be, since I do not know man?” (Lk 1:34) She certainly wanted to be the mother of the Messiah, but she needed to know exactly what she was to do. The angel Gabriel gave her the answer she needed. “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.” (Lk 7:35) When God, through Gabriel, spoke to Mary, she responded. “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” (Lk 7:38)
The Word which was given to Mary had repercussions for all mankind down through the ages to the present. However, first she had to be a “hearer” of the word given to the Jewish people before she could respond to the word given to her personally. Naturally, we cannot expect to see visions of angels. However, we have to listen to the Word given to the Church before we can respond to the word which is for us personally. In his book called Prayer, originally published in German in 1955, the Swiss theologian, Hans Urs Von Balthasar speaks of looking at the many, varied ways that God has spoken to us and the need of centering our prayer on Christ. “Now that the Son has appeared, the believer must apprehend the multiplicity from the standpoint of the unity. He must continually return to the center, to be sent thence to the periphery of history and nature with all its babel of languages. It is at the center that he learns what is decisive, namely, the truth about his life, what God wants and expects of him, what he should strive for and what he should avoid in the service of the divine Word. Thus, he must become a hearer of the word. “
Prayer is a conversation with God, but God has spoken to us first by His Word. This means that, first of all, we need to listen to His Word. This is much more than reading Scripture. God speaks to us through nature and the universe, but Scripture can be hard to understand. Sermons, commentaries, meditations, and even icons can be very helpful in bringing the Word of God into our hearts so that we can be a true hearer of the Word. Each of us should consider how important this is to us. We should use every means possible to be, like Mary and so many others, a real hearer of the Word.
– Jim Nugent, CFP
THOUGHTS FROM CFP’ERS – EVANGELIZATION
Jesus said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” We are reminded of our Lord’s command to his disciples when He ascended into Heaven. St. Francis loved to preach the Word of God wherever he went. He preached to the birds, and to the people in the city of Ascoli. Everyone was so eager to see and hear St. Francis that thirty men from Ascoli, cleric and lay, received the habit of holy religion from him.
Let us not be afraid to share the Gospel with all those we meet. We sometimes just have to smile, or do a kind deed, or show that we care about our neighbor. Most of all, tell everyone that Jesus loves us—that Jesus loves THEM--and He died on the Cross for us—that He died on the cross for THEM. Jesus has done so much for us; let us now do for Him. We are the hands and feet of Our Lord on this Earth, so He looks down on us with a smile when we are not afraid to evangelize.
--Donna Kaye Rock, CFP Postulant
REFLECTION ON THE RULE – FRUITS OF THE COMMITMENT
CONSTITUTIONS V. FRUITS OF THE COMMITMENT
Some graces given to those who live a penitential life under their freely chosen promise to God are:
a. To enable penitents to understand the transitory nature of this life and the superficiality of a worldly existence (poverty/moderation).
b. To direct penitents in the surrender of their own will to the Rule and to the spiritual director so that they may accept more joyfully the discipline and direction that God gives (obedience).
c. To draw penitents into a deep union with God Who wishes all people to surrender everything to Him (contemplative prayer).
d. To enable penitents to experience in a small way the self-emptying willingly embraced by Our Lord Jesus Christ (abandonment to the will of God).
e. To foster an increase of love for God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and for human beings, since they are made in God's image. True love is to seek the others' good before one's own (loving, selfless service of God and of others).
The key word here seems to be fruits, but it’s actually commitment. These fruits develop when a person is committed to living the Rule. And like all fruits, they take time to grow. Some people want the fruits of the commitment without making the commitment. A Rule of Life is never totally effective if one lives it halfheartedly or does not wish to commit to living it. In other words, if a person lives the Rule only to the extent that they wish to live it or only when they wish to live it, the Rule has a blunted effect in their lives. The Rule of the Confraternity of Penitents requires a transformation of one’s life, way of living, and way of thinking. It requires a penitent to actually do something that personally touches his or her own life in significant ways.
When a person enters religious life, he or she does not expect to continue to live the way they lived in the world. They expect to make changes, and their Rule requires it. Moreover, their superiors check to make sure that these changes are being embraced. In the Confraternity of Penitents, because penitents do not live in a community but in their own homes, they can live the Rule in a slack manner and no one will really know. However, unless penitents are committed to living the Rule fully as it was intended, their lives will not show the full fruits listed above.
How committed are you in living the Rule of the Confraternity of Penitents? Do you know all its statutes and constitutions well enough to be able to live them with joy? When you pledge to live the Rule, you are pledging to live it, not just read it. If you also privately vow to live the Rule for life, then your promise is binding under pain of mortal sin if you choose frivolously to go slack on your observance. What are you looking for in a religious Rule of Life? If you want these fruits, then you need to be committed to the Rule that will give them to you.
MONTHLY LETTER TO ALL PENITENTS: THROW AWAY YOUR CLOAK!
A preacher gave insights which I hadn’t heard before. Bartimaeus, the blind man from birth healed by Jesus, was the only person actually named in the Gospels of Mathew, Mark, and Luke. When he shouted for Jesus, and Jesus stopped to minister to him, the passage in Mark 10:46-52 states that Bartimaeus threw off his cloak. An insight I had never heard before was that the cloak was given to beggars by the town elders as proof that they had no other means of support. It was almost a uniform of incapacity, warranting begging as the only means of an income. When Bartimaeus cast it aside, Jesus saw this action and told him that his faith had made him whole, and sight was given to him instantly.
It must have taken a lot of courage to throw away what had been his only security for all his past life. The point the preacher was making was this: how many of us have a cloak of blindness which leaves us as beggars for years? Can we throw it aside as our badge of office and appreciate that there is so much more to our faith we have been unaware of? What about all the limitations in our Pentecostal Spirit? Blindness convinces us that the gifts of Pentecost were only for the time of the Apostles, or today are intended for someone else other than us.
Pope Francis spoke of the dangers of clericalism. Are those with clerical collars our only “mystics”? Or have we been sitting on hidden gold mines of remarkable charisms hidden under our cloaks, convinced that some distant person, other than yourself, must be the gifted one? WE are the gifted ones, but we sit under our cloaks, searching the yonder for someone else, but the gifts are in us, ready to be uncloaked. “Jesus, son of David, have Mercy on us, forgive us our sin and grant us the gift of true sight, and we will throw away our cloaks.” John 14:12 says it all.
--David Curry, CFP Affiliate
HUMOR: PITHY INSIGHTS
How does Moses make tea? Hebrews it. --- Venison for dinner Again? Oh, dear! --- A cartoonist was found dead in his home. Details are sketchy. --- I used to be a banker, but then I lost interest. --- 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 didn't like my beard at first. Then it grew on me. --- What do you call a dinosaur with an extensive vocabulary? A thesaurus. --- I dropped out of communism class because of lousy Marx. --- I got a job at a bakery because I kneaded dough. --- Velcro - what a rip off! --- Don’t worry about old age; it doesn’t last.
CONFRATERNITY OF PENITENTS PHOTO ALBUM: LIFE PLEDGE AND PRIVATE VOW OF MARSHA WOODWARD
Receiving Marsha's pledge in the name of the Church is Sister Gabrielle Marie, SSMC. Witnesses are Wayne Woodward and CFP witness Roseann Loftus. The priest who was present and who blessed Marsha and the scapular, cord, certificate, and crucifix that she received is Fr. Jose Jaime Maldonado.
The Confraternity of Penitents joyfully welcomes Marsha Woodward as our newest life pledged and privately vowed member. On April 11, 2017, Marsha pledged and privately vowed to live the CFP Rule for Life, taking as her vowed name sr. Gianna. Marsha (sr. Gianna), the CFP welcomes your commitment, faith, humor, joy, and enthusiasm! God bless you, dear sister!
100th ANNIVERSARY OF THE FATIMA APPARITIONS
May 13 marks the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima. The apparitions took place in Fatima, Portugal, where three shepherd children saw a beautiful lady who told them to pray the Rosary and to do penance and make sacrifices for sinners. If the world converted, a great war would be avoided. If people persisted in their sins, another, more terrible war would occur. The Lady showed the children a vision of hell into which the souls of sinners fell like snowflakes. This alarming vision inspired the children to perform even more penances and to pray more rosaries for the conversion of the world.
The Lady taught the children the following prayer: “Oh my Jesus, I offer this for love of Thee, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.” She also taught them to pray at the end of each decade of the Rosary, “Oh My Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of Hell, lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of Thy mercy.”
On May 13, 2017, Pope Francis will canonize Jacinta and Francisco Marto, the two youngest Fatima seers who died while still children. The cause of the oldest seer, Lucia, has been introduced. Lucia entered a Carmelite convent in Coimbra, Portugal, where she died in 2005 at the age of 97.
FATIMA ITEMS IN THE CFP HOLY ANGELS GIFT SHOP
The CFP Holy Angels Gift Shop offers many Fatima items including medals, prayer cards, books, and statuary. We invite you to visit the online shop and type in Fatima in the search bar. Many items will display. Your support of the CFP Holy Angels Gift Shop supports the Confraternity of Penitents. May God bless you for your prayers and support, both of which are much needed and appreciated.