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Confraternity of Penitents Newsletter August 2018

SPIRITUAL ADVISOR’S ADVICE: THE PRIMACY OF CHARITY

(Father Jacob has been sharing with us lessons which he learned from Br. Albert [not his real name] who lived at Fr. Jacob’s rectory for about two months.)

Another thing I’ve learned from Brother Albert is the primacy of charity. Charity in his life is so amazingly wonderful. I know a priest who says he wants to title his autobiography “Running Like Crazy from the People of God.” What he wants more than anything else is to be a monk. He just wants to sit with Jesus, read, and be alone. However, this priest realizes that his calling us to be with people, so he spends his life running away from them and then running back to be with them.

However, Brother Albert does things differently. He sits on the front steps of the church. He sits there in the sun, in his habit, with his Bible, and he prays. He doesn’t run from people. He just waits for people to talk to him. And people do. They come right up to him and talk to him. That would drive me insane. There is no way I could do that. I would be driven stark raving mad. My thought runs like this: “You want to talk to me? Don’t you see me reading my Bible? Obviously, I am reading my Bible because I want to talk to you! Do people want to be talked to when they are reading their Bible?” Who opens up a book and says, “Oh, I just can’t wait for somebody to come up and talk to me!” Nobody does that! Except crazy Brother Albert.

Brother Albert told me that he sits out there because he likes the view, he likes the breeze from the river, and he likes the sun. I can see him from where I am, and I’ve watched the people as they all walk up to him, and he just smiles and talks. And when they go on their way, he goes right back to his Bible. This is a poverty of self. It’s focusing on the primacy of charity, on the idea that the whole day is focused on the other.

Yes, he’s doing his Holy Hours in church. It’s funny, because the first thing the seminarians ask me is, “Why aren’t you doing your Holy Hour in church?” Brother Albert could answer that very well. You know what happens the second a priest starts to do a Holy Hour in church? There’s no way a priest can do a Holy Hour in church. When people ask me about my Holy Hour, I tell them that I have a kneeler at the foot of my bed and a crucifix above it and that’s where I do my Holy Hour. If they think that’s odd, I suggest that they go and try a do Holy Hour wearing a Roman collar. So, I either do my Holy Hour then, in my room, or I do it when I lock the church at night, which is the most wonderful time in the world. It’s like being a parent when they put the kids to bed. But that’s beside the point. Brother Albert will always do his Holy Hour in the church because that’s where he’s supposed to do it.

And he just allows himself to be interrupted throughout the day and, not just interrupted, but completely derailed. So, he will put his prayer book down and be completely derailed when someone needs help. I’ll notice him in the office, and all the sudden he will find the help that the people need. Maybe they are poor, and they need some food, so he sees that they get it. But my favorite moment is when he realizes what he is supposed to be doing at the moment, and he goes, “Oh, yes! My Holy Hour! Thank you, Father! Goodbye!” Right back into the church.

God desires us to be distracted by some of these things so that others can be helped. That’s a good thing. However, I desire to have Brother Albert’s alarm in his body. “Oh, I am supposed to be praying right now.” He goes right back to it. I think that, for some of us, it’s almost impossible. For me, once I’m distracted, getting me back on task is very difficult. It’s almost impossible. It gets to be 11 o’clock at night and I go looking for my breviary and can’t find it. And then I think, “Oh, I was supposed to do my Holy Hour. That’s where my breviary is. In church.” So, I go over there.

But Brother Albert is so quick to return to the Lord. I think this is something we all need to work on. When I am distracted, am I quick to return to the Lord? We need to be more readily available to be distracted. We need to pray about this for our lives. I tell that to my school teachers every day. “Allow God to interrupt your day.” I tell it to my teachers all the time, and I’m the worst at practicing it. Actually, I’m pretty good about allowing God to interrupt my day; getting back on track is the hard part. Brother Albert has taught me that I need to do a better job of that. Maybe we all need to work on that. Allow God to interrupt us, but then get back on track to do what we promised to accomplish.

Another lesson from Brother Albert next month! --Father Jacob Meyer, CFP Spiritual Advisor

NO GREATER LOVE: PRAYER AND ESCHATOLOGY

 

For the last two thousand years, the Church has been in the “end of time” or the last things. The branch of theology dealing with the this is called eschatology. It can refer to the last things of the individual or the last things of the Church and humanity in general. In the book Prayer, theologian Hans Urs Von Balthasar discusses the general eschatology of the Church and humanity in relationship to prayer.

 

Contemplation becomes a reality in a here-and-now which is part of contemporary world history. It is partly shaped by it, and influences it in turn. Furthermore, contemplation takes place within the era of the Church, the "end of time", as scripture calls it. Thus it is situated between the two parousias of the Lord, a time peculiarly suitable and set apart for contemplation. There is no suggestion in scripture that the Lord's imminent return implies that the Christian should employ the time that remains to the Church in the widest possible practical action. "Work while it is day" refers to the life-span; it does not refer to historical time at all, stretching into an indefinite future which is at our disposal, but to the time of grace, which is "today" (2 Cor 6:2; Heb 4:7). It is a time of waiting for the parousia, of "abiding" after the departure of the Bridegroom, as John prefers to describe the Christian life. It is a time of waiting in the wilderness, facing the untiring assaults of the dragon whose very ferocity is "because he knows that his time is short" (Rev 12:12 f). So this "waiting" means that our life in the Church is emphatically contemplative. The Christian's activity springs from the fact that he and the world in which he dwells have not yet attained the status made possible in principle by the redemption accomplished by Christ. But activity can only help him to approach this new status (always going from the Old Covenant to the New) provided it is an activity in the strength of the grace, already bestowed, of the New Covenant, i.e., in the strength of contemplation.

 

These words of Von Balthasar were written in the 1950’s, before the post-Vatican II turmoil when part of the Church shifted from a “religious spirituality” of seeking to know the Lord and obeying Him to a “secular spirituality” of attempting to bring about the Kingdom of God and “peace and justice” by action and especially political action.

 

Von Balthasar next discusses how the Church’s position between the two comings of Christ is so offensive to the secular world.

 

The Church lives in the "last time"; therefore, from the point of view of salvation history, nothing "new" can happen. Everything has been "accomplished", brought to completion, and the Victor waits "until his enemies should be made a stool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified" (Heb 10:13-14). The Holy Spirit who leads us into the fullness of Christ, interpreting it in all its wealth and profundity until the end of the world, draws upon a source which, historically speaking, lies in the past. In prayer we too have no choice but to look back to this event. This means that the Christian approach runs counter to the onward march of history; the Christian's contemplative tendency is bound to offend merely historical man.

 

Those who do not see the last two thousand years as the “last days” before the second coming of Christ but as one more step in the onward march of history, will be offended by those who see Christ as the Victor over sin and death. We need to know Him as well as make Him known to others. Even if we are not alive when He comes again, we do not know the impact our faith has on subsequent generations.

 

Theologian Von Balthasar sees the Church’s position as resembling that of Judaism just before the coming of Christ when it looked back to the Mosaic Law and the time in the desert and forward to the coming Messiah.

 

The Church in the "wilderness" of the time of waiting bears a certain resemblance to the final phase of the Old Covenant. During the Exile (and even after the Exile, in terms of salvation history, there is basically no new initiative) the nation had the opportunity of entering more deeply into past salvation history, obliged as it was to contemplate this history from a distance. It is at this time that "theology" comes about, it is the time of the Wisdom literature, which, within scripture itself, initiated a contemplation of the history of the Covenant. Here, at last, the Pentateuch can be put into its final form since the understanding of the meaning of salvation history has come to fruition; now the stupendous event of the Covenant can be clothed in appropriate words and images. Now the oral traditions and separate sources coalesce into a whole under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Here, at last, in the Wisdom literature, revelation contemplates itself, locating the interrelationships, identifying the inner rationale, deducing the doctrines and their application, and bringing it all together in a form which praises God and profits the believer.

 

When the Messiah did come, some were ready for Him, but some were not. We have to be ready for the Lord when He comes and this readiness takes the form of prayer. Theologian Von Balthasar tells us:

 

"Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest remains, let us fear lest any of you be judged to have failed to reach it. For good news came to us just as to them" (Heb 4:1-2). Jesus takes up the commandment at this point and impresses it upon his disciples: they are to "be awake" in that nocturnal darkness and he does not mean simply a bodily wakefulness but an inner preparedness for some imminent event, an event, however, which cannot be deduced or foreseen, not even by mystical knowledge. "Take heed, watch and pray, for you do not know when it is kairos" (Mk 13:33). Videte, vigilate, orate. The "seeing", "watching", called for in this time of waiting is definitely a kind of "keeping one's eyes open" to the future. It is based on a fundamental nescience, which makes New Testament contemplation the antitype of that of the Old. This is watching, waking under the form of "prayer", a readiness of the heart for God, who can come and surprise us at any time. And everything depends on our preparedness at his sudden coming; he will himself minister and wait upon those who have served him by watching and waiting, but those who have slept, who did not take the trouble to know him, will find the door barred against them, for he does not know them either.

 

We need to see that the Lord can come at any time and without warning. Yet the Lord asks “Nevertheless, when the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Lk 18:8) Our waiting for the Lord is interconnected with our everyday life of prayer. Von Balthasar explains this connection.

 

From this vantage point we can see the contemplative's free service of love, to which we have already referred, in a new light. Now we can appreciate the full theological basis for that personal service offered to the word of God which takes the form of a straightforward, sober faithfulness in everyday matters. This service, in its fullness, as the Church understands it in its liturgy (which means the "offering of service"), always involves all three temporal dimensions: it ministers to the mystery of the Son who has appeared in the flesh (vigilate mecum: Mt 26:38), to the mystery of the Word who is continually present and coming, in hidden form, in the Church, and to the thickly veiled mystery of the Word who is to return at the end of time. The disciples on the road to Emmaus found that he who spoke to them made their hearts burn within them; the conversation which fanned the flames of this fire was concerned with events of salvation history in the past, interpreted by the Lord present with them, and it inflamed their yearning for a future, unrestricted vision of him who suddenly had disappeared from among them. Thus the eschatological factor in Christian prayer is calculated to promote contemplation in the Church. The campaign against contemplation, which is waged from time to time in the name of eschatology, is ill-conceived. All that is necessary, when the timeless-present element of mystical contemplation is overstressed and put forward as absorption into the presence of eternity, is a corrective element. An unbalanced contemplation of this kind would very soon lose its sense of the word of God; it would cease to "hear" it, i.e., it would lose the sense of faith and replace it with (cloaked or naked) "sight". The fact that the Word of God is to come at the end of time keeps us mindful that he came in history, in the midst of time; it keeps us alive to the fact that he comes anew every day to the Church as a whole and to the praying believer, in a way which no seeing or understanding can surpass. Only in this experience of the Word who has come, who comes and who is to come, can the Church, placed in the midst of time, be adequate to the active side of its task. It must not be done in a hurry, as if the Word himself had not already achieved everything; yet it must not be neglected, as if it were already time to rest in contemplation in the three "booths" of Mount Tabor. Since the Lord has accomplished everything in fullness, the Church can proceed with its work in confidence, looking unto him. Secure in the promise of eternity and already enjoying a foretaste of it, it yearns together with the Spirit and cries "Come!"

 

– Jim Nugent, CFP

CFP YEARLY RETREAT

This year’s retreat will be Columbus Day weekend, 5 PM Thursday, October 4 through 7 AM Monday morning, October 8. Theme: The Spirituality of Padre Pio. Retreat master Father Pio Mandato, FMHSJ, who is a distant relative of Padre Pio. Daily Mass, conferences, the full Divine Office, fellowship, and time for personal prayer and reflection. The retreat will be held at St. Felix Catholic Retreat Center, 1280 Hitzfield Street, Huntington Indiana USA. Cost is $195 plus $15 worth of food or paper goods to share or $15 toward food costs. Commuter cost (includes all lunches, suppers but no overnight stays) is $60 plus $15 of food or paper goods or $15 toward costs of food and paper goods​. Please inform us if you need first floor accommodations. If you have special food restrictions, please bring and/or prepare your own foods in place of the $15 food costs. If coming by mass transportation, please contact us so that we can arrange to pick you up and bring you to the retreat.

A $50 deposit, made out to the CFP Retreat Fund and mailed to the Confraternity of Penitents, 1702 Lumbard St., Fort Wayne, IN 46803 USA, will reserve your place at the retreat. Non-CFP members may attend if there is room.

CFP 24 HOUR MINI RETREAT

 

​5 p.m. Friday, September 14 to 5 p.m. Saturday, September 15, 2018​

Mass on Saturday. Divine Office and additional prayer both days.

Speaker Friday night Fr. Matt Gerlach​

Speaker Saturday: Deacon Eric Bell, a member of the lay Franciscan group Tau Maria and Director of Emergency Services for Catholic Charities of Tulsa. Topic: Prayer, Fasting, and Mercy in the Christian Life

Includes dinner Friday and breakfast Saturday. Lunch will be pay on your own at a restaurant selected by the retreatants.

$90 includes overnight

$60 Saturday only

$50 commuter cost

Location: St. Joseph Monastery, 2200 S Lewis Ave, Tulsa, OK 74114. To reserve a spot, contact Patricia Murray at 918/852-7071

CFP RETREAT NIGERIA
 

October at Holy Cross Monastery, illah, Delta State. Nigeria. Details forthcoming.

CONFRATERNITY PHOTO ALBUM: YEAR PLEDGE OF ANTHONY LACALAMITA

The Confraternity of Penitents welcomes with joy the year pledge of Anthony LaCalamita, who has successfully completed his four years of formation and his three lessons prior to pledging. Anthony is a prisoner serving a life sentence without chance of parole, a sentence which he considers just and which he is not appealing. He prays continually for the woman he accidentally killed when she got in the way of his firing at his intended victim.


In prison, Anthony has worked with the PAWS program which trains service dogs. Twenty three of the thirty dogs the men worked with are either now service dogs or in advance training. Anthony’s first dog, Wallace, is a department in service dog that goes to schools, meetings, and fundraising events to educate the public about the PAWS project. The second dog was career changed to a pet dog due to orthopedic issues. His third dog had his career changed to becoming a detection dog to sniff out explosives, accelerants, drugs, and cadavers.

Anthony is a tutor to other prisoners and also an accounting instructor. He is active in Catholic ministry in prison, leading Communion services and other worship and prayer services as well as Scripture sharing and a book club. He helps with a debate class, now renamed “Interactive Communication” as a more politically correct term. A Michigan State University professor wants to bring his students for a formal debate class in the fall. Welcome, brother Anthony!

ALESSANDRO PRISON MINISTRY

Prisoners with whom the Confraternity of Penitents corresponds, including Anthony LaCalamita, are part of the CFP’s Alessandro Prison Ministry. Several prisoners are in formation with the Confraternity of Penitents, and three in addition to Anthony have completed formation. However, Anthony is the first to pledge. Two of the others who are still incarcerated have chosen to remain Associates who have completed formation. The third will be released shortly.

The CFP Directory of Governance states that “Prisoners currently serving time in prison can participate in formation as part of the CFP’s Alessandro Ministry.

 

Upon release, they will become Associates. They can apply for Membership after two years of completing formation and living the Rule outside of prison. Prisoners serving life sentences without parole will be evaluated on their status on an individual basis.

“Should a prisoner, who is serving a life term without parole and who has completed formation successfully, request evaluation of status within the Confraternity, the Minister General and Visitor shall conduct the evaluation and make a recommendation to the Council which will decide if the person can be admitted as a CFP member, can pledge, and/or can vow to live the CFP Rule and Constitutions for life while incarcerated.”

MONTHLY LETTER TO ALL PENITENTS: THE INFINITE MERCY OF GOD

 

In accordance with the documents needed for pledging, I am submitting this writing is a summary of the thoughts about my day of recollection in relationship to my pledging. Since I am incarcerated, I was unable to make a formal, church sponsored event. Rather, I spent much of the day on Wednesday, March 28, 2018 in my cell here at Saginaw correctional facility using “Lectio Divina” and reflecting on my relationship to God using the Gospels and specifically the stories of Jesus healing others. In addition, I made this day of recollection during Holy Week, before the Triduum, mindful of the way in which Jesus handed himself over to the Jews and to Pilate to fulfill the will of the Father.

 

I was drawn to those Scriptures of Jesus healing because of my difficulty receiving and acknowledging God’s healing mercy and forgiveness in my life. Too often, I am troubled by feelings of guilt, shame, failure, and inadequacy. Yet, I was taken in by Jesus forgiving and healing a paralytic in Matthew 9:1 – 8. First I noticed that people brought the man to Jesus and when he saw their faith he said to the man:, “Son, your sins are forgiven; be of good cheer.” I was struck by the encouragement and desire for Jesus for us to be happy-- my sins have already been forgiven! Also, I know that there are other members of the Body of Christ praying for me and encouraging me to come to Jesus and no his mercy, like the people who brought the paralytic to him.

 

Another passage that’s stood out at me was the healing of the blind Bartimaeus in Mark 10:46 – 52, where Bartimaeus calls out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.” I could identify with the yearning that he had for Jesus. He called out even more when he was told to be quiet. I was moved by his persistence, despite the obstacles in his way, to receive Jesus. I was moved to have that same desire, to keep asking for his mercy. The moving part in this passage was Jesus asking Bartimaeus what he wanted. I was humbled at how I neglect to come to Jesus with my specific request for healing-- in this instance, it is taking away my feelings of guilt, shame, and inadequacy. I need to thank God for giving me the strength to do his will and to know I am loved and am doing well.

 

I also took some time to review the text Franciscan Virtues through the Year and identify the following virtues to pray over and consider: attentiveness, courage, love of self, Marian devotion, purity, and surrender. The one virtue that stood out was “love of self” as I was drawn to the incident between Riccerio and Francis. At times, I am like Riccerio, fearful of my hidden faults, keeping others away and not loving me. I was moved by Francis’s words, clearly reflecting the love of Jesus, “Let no fear or temptation disturb you anymore, for you are dear to me. . . I love you with a special love.” If I accept the love of others, I am accepting the love of Christ. That means I am to love myself, for a healthy love of self means that I love God and others. I can learn to love myself by being less critical and accepting of my mistakes and failures, not worrying about being “correct” or “right” or not making mistakes or being “perfect.”

 

This time of reflection help me to think about why I am pledging to live the rule-- not to be perfect and following it, but to be perfected by the desire and love of God and trying to follow it. The desire for healing and mercy is part of the life of penance I am choosing to live. I am to rejoice in the Good News of God’s mercy and forgiveness as Jesus made his way to the cross and rose from the dead on Easter. I too am making my way is the penitent, loving God and neighbor, forgiven and loved by God-- healed of my sins when I turned to him. Thank you, Jesus! Have mercy on me! --Anthony LaCalamita, CFP

HUMOR: COMPUTERS

A Spanish language teacher was explaining to her class that in Spanish, unlike English, nouns are designated as either masculine or feminine. "House" for instance, is feminine: "la casa." "Pencil," however, is masculine: "el lapiz."

 

A student asked, "What gender is 'Computer'?"

 

Instead of giving the answer, the teacher divided the class into two groups, Male and Female, and asked them to decide for themselves whether "Computer" should be a masculine or a feminine noun. Each group was asked to give four reasons for its recommendation.

 

The men's group decided that "Computer" should definitely be of the feminine gender ("la computadora"), because:

 

1. No one but their creator understands their internal logic;

2. The native language they use to communicate with other computers is incomprehensible to everyone else;

3. Even the smallest mistakes are stored in long term memory for possible later retrieval; and

4. As soon as you make a commitment to one, you find yourself spending half your paycheck to buy accessories for it.

 

The women's group, however, concluded that computers should be masculine ("el computador"), because:

 

1. In order to do anything with them, you have to turn them on;

2. They have a lot of data but still can't think for themselves;

3. They are supposed to help you solve problems, but half the time they are the problem; and

4. As soon as you commit to one, you realize that if you had waited a little longer, you could have gotten a better model.

 

(Note: Computer is “la computadora” in Spanish)

ED MOSS (br. Joachim), CFP, REST IN PEACE

After 18 years of battling cancer, our dear brother and life pledged and privately vowed CFP member Ed Moss (br. Joachim) died peacefully on June 26, 2018. May God grant him the promise of eternal life with God, which is given to those who pledge to live our Rule of Life. You have been a blessing to us, dear brother, and a tremendous inspiration. Please pray for us in the Confraternity of Penitents. We are counting on your prayers.

Ed’s widow Sandra asks us to pray for the repose of his soul and provided the following details: He died after we finished the Rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet. It was about 2:40. He had told me weeks ago that he was prepared to die. As always, he offered his sufferings for the Poor Souls in Purgatory. Thanks for all the prayers and concern. Being a member of the Confraternity of Penitents made his life meaningful. Towards the end of his sufferings, he was not verbal and understood very little. I would place his Franciscan cross in his hands for comfort. I wanted to share a poem he wrote in 2001, two years after his diagnosis:

Why treat me like Job, oh God.

I am not deserving of such an honor.

My illness, which You allowed to occur,

has taken away everything--

my active life,

my hobby making rosaries,

and my ability to get around.

I travel down the dark road

and You seem so far off

yet I know that all this is in Your plan

and I trust in You.

So many days I laid in the hospital bed,

many days, existing not.

I walked with Mary to Purgatory

and with joy followed Jesus and Mary.

My faith, like Job, has never been shaken.

I never asked why.

I offer up all my pain and suffering to You, my God,

for conversions of sinners and for my brothers and sisters.

 

(The CFP has a supply of Ed’s funeral cards featuring the Prayer of St. Francis. If you would like one, please send a self-addressed stamped envelop to CFP, 1702 Lumbard Street, Fort Wayne IN 46803 USA)

FOLLOWING FRANCIS, FOLLOWING CHRIST: PILGRIMAGE

St. Francis went on several pilgrimages in his life. He went to Rome and to the Holy Land. He attempted to go to Santiago to the Shrine of St. James but was turned back, he said, by the Holy Spirit. As a merchant, he very likely traveled on pilgrimage to the shrine of St. Martin in Tours, France. One of our CFP life pledge and privately vowed members, Karen Sadock (sr. Naaman) and her husband took a pilgrimage to various shrines. Here are her insights:

After an uneventful flight from Newark, we arrived at our hotel yesterday, Sunday morning, to discover that Masses are generally at 11:00 a.m. Since the Church of St. Anthony of Padua’s birthplace is less than a mile from here, we walked there. After Mass, over lunch in a nearby Pastelera, I started searching the Internet for weekday Mass times. There were very few, all at 6:30 p.m. or later, and Monday seemed to have disappeared from the calendar. The desk clerk in the hotel told us we had to book Masses in advance. (I’m not sure he understood what we were looking for.) Failing to find a Monday Mass close by, I went online to check the Cathedral schedule. Sure enough: Masses Tuesday through Friday at 6:30 p.m. Nothing on Monday. My husband Geoff commented laconically, “We could do better in Riyadh!”

The streets of Lisbon are crowded with African and Roma beggars. Today’s Gospel will be, “feed the hungry.”

The Cathedral of St. Mary Our Lady at Burgos was a long-awaited high point of our pilgrimage. Its gothic lace spires beckon for miles over the green, rolling hills of fields, pastures and olive groves. It was a particular draw for me because it marks the nearly halfway point on the Frances (French) Camino De Santiago de Campostella. Buen Camino, Peregrinos!

A cry of protest went up from our pilgrims on the bus when the guide announced that the cathedral would be closed all day for a concert commemorating the 800th anniversary of the beginning of its construction on July 20, 1221. When we arrived in town, we went up to the cathedral door, and using my horrible Spanish, I asked the guard if there would be a Mass. He assured us that the daily pilgrim Mass would, indeed, take place in the evening in the pilgrim chapel, concert or no concert. Flushed with confidence by my linguistic success in getting a comprehensible answer to my inquiry, and prompted by a fellow pilgrim, I asked if our priest would be permitted to concelebrate and was told that he would have only to ask. To assuage our disappointment at not being able to enter the building, a few of us settled for lunch on the plaza with a spectacular view of the cathedral.

Today we visit Loyola and later arrive in Lourdes. Praying for you all, all the way!

We just arrived in Fátima: our first glimpse of devotion on an industrial scale. We expect to participate in the procession tonight. All the intentions of the CFP will be offered. We have had surprisingly cool weather at Fatima. Today topped out at 70. Last night for devotions and the procession on the plaza, it was about 58. The main participants were about 8500 married couples from 6 continents. As they gathered, coming through the rather narrow entrance and down the staircase, I was reminded of the last stanza of the hymn, “For All the Saints:” “From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast, through gates of pearl streams in the countless host, singing to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Alleluia.” With only a few thousand more of us joining them, the crowd looked small.

Devotions were done in many languages, I suppose as a recognition of the multinational group but I could not help observing how much more coherent and comprehensible everything would have been if they had used Latin if only for the Hail Mary and Our Father.

Today’s visit to the homes of the visionaries shed new light on their state of life. The houses are cozy, with several rooms. Everyone slept in a bed. The houses had American-made shelf clocks. The horse trough in the front yard bespeaks a horse, and the small sheep pen meant cheese, dinner, and wool. I have never seen a more robust fig tree than the one in Lucia’s yard. Since figs are famously long lived, it likely looked pretty much the same when she lived there. It would seem that if the parents remained in good health, nobody would have gone without food or necessities. Many of our own forbears, especially in Eastern Europe, grew up in much less prosperous circumstances. My own near ancestors were far less comfortable. However, they were richer because they came from Holland and England where everyone could read.

 

After Mass in the Chapel of the Apparitions, we left our general and specific petitions for the Confraternity as well as many others at the massive stand, where the heat melts the wax before the candle has a chance to burn down so much as an inch. I understand that below ground is an industrial wax reprocessing facility.

Having eaten bacalao for three days, we decided to have dinner in a Chinese restaurant.

Fortunately, one of the pilgrims in our group is a priest. We had an impromptu Mass in the church of the Eucharistic miracle at Santarém.

Sunday night after dinner in the hotel dining room, I needed something from our room before going to the basilica for the procession. When the lobby elevator door opened, out stepped a tall, handsome, white-haired Cardinal in his sweeping red cassock and zucchetto. Astonished, I gasped, “Oh, my goodness!” He was rushing, but looked back over his shoulder and said, somewhat abashedly, “I don’t look like this every day!” He was charming. We found out that he had come with a huge number of people from his diocese and that he is the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Cardinal Nichols.

Since we had participated in the candlelight procession the night before, we wanted to see it from the parapet above the lower church. My language skills improved overnight because I could grab the rosary prayers in the languages I don’t know on my phone, something that doesn’t work when you are carrying a candle. The night before, I would try to say “Holy Mary, mother of God. . .” in Italian or Spanish and after three words, German or French would pop out. I felt like an idiot. The Latin and English came out All right. My English is actually pretty good.

Note to prospective pilgrims to Lourdes: Learn the rosary prayers in Latin. It’s easy and it gives you a real advantage in participating. The Our Father, at least two Hail Marys, and the Gloria Patri (sung) are prayed in Latin at every decade of the rosary. The rest of the Hail Marys are said randomly in French, Italian, Spanish, English, German, Dutch, Polish and occasional languages, such as Tagalog, Chinese, and Arabic. Hearing (and joining) 10,000 people from every inhabited continent on earth singing the Salve Regina with their candles held high above their heads is unforgettable.

 

– Karen Sadock (sr. Naaman), CFP

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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!