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Confraternity of Penitents Newsletter -- February 2018



Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, February 14. All those at the Novice 3 level and above should follow the CFP Rule and Constitutions regarding the Lenten Fast. Consult CFP Rule and Constitutions II and III and Appendix A. Those not yet at the Novice 3 level should make some other sacrifices during Lent to prepare themselves spiritually for Easter. These can be fasting and abstinence beyond what the Church requires but can also be other penances such as offering additional prayers, doing works of charity, and giving alms. May God bless your Lent so that you emerge from it closer to God than you were when Lent began.


It seems unbelievable that we are already into the second month of the year. And as we most times experience, it would seem that as we now progress into the second month, challenges will start rearing up their heads with regards to our Christian faith and life as well as our resolutions, after the euphoria of the new year. For me, this calls for vigilance and perseverance. Now, we recall that recently Pope Francis has called for a change in Our Lord’s Prayer, the ‘Our Father’. This change revolves around the sixth petition of Our Father, which says: 'do not lead us into temptation'. As we know, I used the term 'sixth petition' here because of the fact that there are seven petitions in the prayer. This follows the fact that the 'Our Father' can be found in Matthew and Luke's gospels, but we 

more or less follow the more developed and detailed version of the prayer given in St Matthew's gospel with seven petitions (Mt 6:9-13), and which the liturgical tradition of the Church has retained, as opposed to St Luke's version (Lk 11:2-4) that has five petitions (cf. CCC, n.2759). Now, we recall that the Pontiff has called for a better translation of the sixth petition, because in some languages and dialects, it would seem to suggest that God leads us into temptation, whereas this is not the meaning from the original Aramaic and Greek languages that Jesus and the early Christians spoke and used to document the prayer.

In any case, the next petition, which is the seventh and the last one, that says; 'but deliver us from evil', is actually our main interest in this reflection, since in that last petition of the 'Our Father', Jesus recognizes the presence of the evil one, and asked us to pray that God the Father delivers us from him and from his temptations. In other words, Jesus knew the needs of his brothers and sisters who are faced with challenges and tests of life, and Jesus articulated them in the prayer which he taught his followers. Thus, it would seem appropriate to reflect on the need of prayer at this time, since the season of Lent, which comes early this year, begins within this month. As we know, Lent is a time for intense prayer, so I wish to reflect on the strategy against the evil one, who tempts us away from our spiritual exercises (prayer, fasting and alms-giving) of the season of Lent, our resolves and vows as Penitents as well as the salvation God has planned for us. St Peter warned us that the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (cf. 1 Pet 5:8).

As we come to the end of the first month of the New Year, the gospel reading of the last Sunday of January presents to us the interesting incident of Jesus’ healing of the man possessed by the devil (Mk 1:23-28). A couple of weeks ago, we celebrated the birth of the Messiah, who came to bring us salvation and good things from God. We are already seeing the new things and good things God has planned for us, even as we have started from the beginning of the year to make progress in our individual lives, both materially and spiritually. Equally, we recall that the Sunday readings we have heard since entering the Ordinary Time of the year this January, had different Biblical extracts that related to us the call and vocation of the prophets and apostles, thereby reminding us of both the different ways and the special tasks God has called us to, even as we began the year. For instance, we recall the call of Samuel (1 Sam 3:3-10,19), the call of Jonah (Jonah 3:1-5), the call of the first disciples (Jn 1:35-42), the call of the four disciples (Mk 1:14-20). These ultimately remind us of the universal call for holiness in our different vocations according to God's will for each of us (cf. CCC, n.2013).

Thus, it is instructive and providential that at the end of the first month of the year, the gospel reminds us of the presence of the devil through that historic healing in the Synagogue. This is noteworthy and remarkable because this is within the same first chapter of St Mark's gospel which St. Mark began by saying that it is the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God (Mk 1:1). As it is, without even allowing that first chapter of the good news to end, in fact, just at the middle of the chapter, since that first chapter has forty-five verses, St Mark introduced the incident of the man possessed by the devil (Mk 1:21-28), who menaces God's children. For me, this indicates the active presence of the evil one in the world and to reiterate what the Catechism teaches about the seventh petition of the 'Our Father', when it says: "In this petition, evil is not an abstraction, but refers to a person, Satan, the Evil One, the angel who opposes God...the one who 'throws himself across' God's plan and his work of salvation accomplished in Christ" (CCC, n.2859).

This is very instructive, as it means to give us a warning even at the very beginning of the year, that the evil one is never asleep, especially when good things and the blessings of God are coming to us. He might tempt us to become selfish and self-centered with the blessings or to use them against the will of God, thereby destroying the good and blessing. He can tempt us away from our promises and vows as Penitents, since we are talking also about our different talents and our vocation either in a celibate, a married or a single life, as St Paul discussed in his letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor 7:32-35), after having exhorted the Corinthians to live as God had called them (1Cor 7:17-24). Each state of life is a blessing and a gift; nevertheless, there is a recognition that in actual fact, neither of these states of life is better than the other, but the final appreciation we have for either one comes from how each individual lives out whichever one he/she has chosen. Unfortunately, the evil one can throw himself across this plan and call, and the full realization and effective fulfillment of our purpose in our lives becomes stunted and checkered.

However, even as we realize the presence of the evil one, we must at the same time, and even more importantly, recognize that the blessings and gifts of our state of life can be protected and sustained from the attacks of the evil one, by our hanging on the word of God, just as Moses in his farewell address to the Israelites encouraged and exhorted them to look for and listen to the word of God spoken by the prophet (Deut 18:15-20). We understand this as the power and authority of the word of Jesus as recorded in the scriptures. This is the powerful word of God spoken by Jesus, which cast out the devil and healed the man possessed by the devil, and which the people at the scene of that healing acknowledged when they witnessed Jesus' teaching miracle (Mk 1:25-27). In other words, the power of Jesus' word heals the soul, the spirit and the body, for the reason the son of man appeared was to destroy the works of the devil (1 Jn 3:8). Thus, when we pray intensively against the machinations of the evil one using the word of God, just as Jesus himself also exemplified with the continuous quotation of the Scriptures (Mt 4: 1-10), when the devil tempted him, we are equally able to overcome the devil and the temptations to derail from our Christian calling, our life of charity and our worthwhile resolutions and vows made to God.

Meanwhile, we must reaffirm that we should not be intimidated by the presence of the devil because we have the power of Jesus in us. As the Catechism acknowledges: "The power of Satan is, nonetheless, not infinite. He is only a creature, powerful from the fact that he is pure spirit, but still a creature. He cannot prevent the building up of God's reign" (CCC n.395). Thus, we do not advocate a fixation on the devil, but we do not equally advocate keeping quiet about him. Keeping quiet about him might actually be enabling him to negatively influence people subtly, just as focusing on him always might be actually empowering him and according him a place that is not his in our lives.

The devil is a reality we must always put to flight with the power that comes from Jesus, otherwise we may be dancing to the devil's music without even knowing it. He always gets us when we think he does not exist or when those who know of his existence think that he is not active or that there is always enough time before the evening of our lives, to get back on track in living by the commandments and directions of God. The Scripture encourages us to be firmly situated even at the morning of our lives and throughout the year, by reminding us of the devil's presence, but at the same time offering us the power to defeat him. So, the message remains that, no matter what the machinations of the devil are, the strategy to defeat him is the name and power of Jesus. The purpose of Jesus' coming into the world was to liberate humanity from whatever hinders him from God whether it be our sins or our undue attachments to material things or the consequences of sins that the devil capitalizes on to continue to enslave us and intimidate us. When Jesus reign in our lives, the power of his word lays at our disposal in our battle against principalities and powers. As St Peter said: "Be calm but vigilant. Your enemy, the devil is prowling round like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand up to him, be strong in faith and resist him, knowing that other believers all over the world are going through the same kind of sufferings" (1 Pet 5:8-9). Now, this vigilance and strong faith come from a daily or weekly intimate and prayerful encounter with the word of God in the scriptures. --Father Francis Chukwuma, Visitor


When we pray as individuals, we, of course, are not alone in our prayer, even if we are far away from others. We pray in the Church even when we are not in a church. However, when we are in church, and especially at Mass, we see firsthand the prayer of the Church, which also is our prayer. The Mass is the Church’s obedience to Jesus Christ and her contemplation of Jesus Christ. Theologian Hans Urs Von Balthasar discusses this in his book called Prayer. It contemplates God’s truth and opens itself to his word. In fact, this receptivity for the word of God constitutes the central act of the Church’s liturgy, in which we can discern two phases: the reception of the Word as word, and the reception of the Word as flesh. Receiving the Word as word, which takes place in the first part of the Mass, is the precondition for accepting the Word as flesh, the action which unfolds from the offertory, via the consecration, to communion. The Church’s receiving of the Word as word is now called the Liturgy of the Word, and the Church’s receiving of the Word as flesh is now called the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

This dual reception of the Word as word and the Word as flesh first occurred at the Annunciation. Theologian Von Balthasar tells us: The dialogue which took place between the angel and Mary in Nazareth is continually being reenacted between God and the Church: God, the Three-in-One, present in the word through the mouth of the angel, promises to come in the terms of flesh, announces his advent, received the consent of the Virgin who is to be Mother, and perfects his revelation by the descent of the Holy Spirit, who bears the Son of the Father in the womb of faith. We can see why Mary is so closely bound to the Church. She is the first to receive the Word of God both as word and as flesh. Of course, she needed to give her consent to the Word becoming flesh in her womb. Her “Yes” to the Incarnation made it possible for the Word to come to the Church as flesh as it happens in the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Her “Yes” makes the Church’s “Yes” possible.

The Word of God is directed to the Church in the Liturgy of the Word just as it was directed by the Angel Gabriel to Mary at the Annunciation. Hans Urs Von Balthasar teaches us about what happens in the early part of the Mass. Here he is referring to the pre-Vatican II Mass, but what he says still holds true. The reading of the Epistle and the Gospel is very far from being a mere calling to mind of a once-powerful word, just as the liturgy of the eucharist which follows is far from being a mere remembrance of a real, but past, sacrifice. The word speaks to the Church just as it spoke to the seven churches of the Apocalypse. Thus, the Mass contains a substantial amount of contemplation, and the sermon, which must have no other aim than to elucidate the content and nature of the word of God which has been heard and to make it present to the listeners, transforms the gathered community into a Church, listening to the word of God, i.e., a contemplative Church. When the Word of God came to Mary, delivered by the Angel Gabriel, she “considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be” (Lk 1:29). The Church does the same thing as Mary. The priest’s sermon should be the fruit of his own contemplation of the reading of the Mass of that day. The sermon should aid the congregation in their own contemplation of the readings.

Theologian Von Balthasar tells us of the importance of all of this. This becomes even clearer if we remember the most important purpose of Holy Mass, namely, to be a memorial, an anamnesis of the Lord, and not only of his suffering and death but within that context, of his whole life and being. “Do this in remembrance of me,” he says, without restricting the scope of the words. He does not say “Do this in remembrance of “this meal” or “this night” or “this sacrifice”. He told us to remember “Me”. In the Liturgy of the Word we remember Him. This remembrance is the preparation for His coming to us as flesh in the Liturgy of the Eucharist. One wonders if Christianity would even exist if Christ had not instituted the Mass.

The Holy Spirit was intimately with Mary through her entire life even before the Annunciation through God’s gift to her and her seeking the Word in the Old Testament. She was thus prepared to receive the Word of God from the Angel Gabriel that she was to be the mother of the Messiah. After she gave her permission, the Holy Spirit then “overshadowed” her so that the Word of God came to her as flesh. Ultimately, her permission given to the Angel Gabriel made possible the coming of the Word as flesh by means of the Holy Spirit in the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Christ’s institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper means that He comes to us as every Mass both as word and as flesh through the Holy Spirit.

Hans Ur Von Balthasar tells us about the essential role of the Holy Spirit in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. For the Spirit controls that part of the Mass between the consecration and the communion: he makes the Logos newly present, spiritually and sacramentally; he is the pax bestowed upon and shared among the community which has once again become a communion.; he, in fact, at the deepest level effects the communion itself, which is the essence of the Church. Finally, it is the Spirit who enables the Church to offer itself in its eucharistic memorial by offering the Son to the Father. Only the Spirit can create the unity of hearts (of “spirit”) which obliterates the distinction between the Son’s self-offering and that of the Church. Now we can see, at a deep level, the really spiritual nature of Holy Mass, at work in the innermost Spirit-womb of the Church. It is a rational act of remembrance, springing from a human decision whose freedom is guaranteed by grace: in other words, it is an act of contemplation. Thus, prayer and sacrament form an indissoluble unity which is of the very nature of the Church.

Mary was undoubtedly in prayer when the Angel Gabriel came to her and delivered to her the Word that she was to be the mother of the Lord. She was also in prayer when the Word was made Flesh in her womb by the Holy Spirit. The Church is also in prayer when the Word of God comes to her in the Liturgy of the Word and when the Word of God comes to her as flesh in the Eucharist by the Holy Spirit. Since we are in the Church, we also need to be in prayer when the Word of God comes to us as word and as flesh. – Jim Nugent, CFP




Formation assures that those entering the Confraternity of Penitents will be adequately formed in the way of life required by the Rule and Constitutions, will develop and advance in the spiritual life, and will grow in knowledge of the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. Each person in formation is assigned a Formator to review their lessons and to assist them with formation.

Formation is open to Members and Associates of the Confraternity of Penitents. It consists of 51 lessons, which include 12 Postulant lessons, 12 lessons for each of the three years of Novice formation, and 3 lessons prior to pledging. One lesson is completed monthly, with the exception of those in the August Postulancy who complete two lessons per month. Each year of formation must be completed successfully before applications can be accepted for the next year of formation or for pledging.

Applications are made to the CFP Chapter or Circle Minister (if applicable), the Regional Minister, and the CFP Office, for Inquiry, for each year of formation, for pledging, and for vowing.

The stages of formation are:


A pre-inquirer is an individual who contacts the Confraternity, or any Member of it, for information, advice, and/or prayer about discerning a possible vocation to the Confraternity, but who has not completed an Inquirer application.


Inquiry is the first level of formal contact with the Confraternity. Inquirers are exploring the CFP way of life and discerning a possible vocation to it.


The Postulancy is an introduction into the formation process. Postulants reflect on certain teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, on penance, and on the spiritual journey. They study the CFP Rule and Constitutions and begin to follow them in certain ways. The Postulancy is a time of further discernment of a vocation to the CFP.


The principal years of formation are the three years of the Novitiate, each consisting of at least twelve full months during which the Novice regularly participates in at least one Spiritual or Corporal Work of Mercy. The Novice also undertakes a study of Scripture and of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Each year of formation integrates different prescriptions of the Rule and the Constitutions into the Novice's life. Those prescriptions are: for Novice 1, prayer; for Novice 2, fasting and abstinence; for Novice 3, simplicity of life. At the end of three years of Novice formation, the penitent shall be praying certain prayers for a certain amount of time daily, shall fast and abstain weekly, and shall have greatly simplified his or her wardrobe and possessions.


Formation is the process by which inquirers learn about and live the Rule of the Confraternity of Penitents. They return answers to specific questions to their assigned formators who are to return responses with comments to the penitents. Whether or not someone has completed their assigned year of formation, February is the month in which formation applications should be returned to the Confraternity of Penitents. Everyone needs to turn in an application, even if they are continuing their time of inquiry, postulancy, or novitiate. Those who have completed formation have an address update form to submit.


If you do not have access to these forms via the Internet or the Handbook of the Confraternity of Penitents, please contact us by phone or email and ask us to send you the proper form. Please get these in as soon as possible because they are our way of knowing that you are still interested in the Confraternity of Penitents. They also keep our database up-to-date because every application is checked against the information in the database, and incorrect information is replaced by current, correct information.



ANGELS:- Build a chair as if an angel was going to sit on it, (T Merton)


STORY:- “Near a petrol station, I was in despair when my car broke down. A man suddenly appeared and told me it was probably the battery. He fixed my car and when I offered him a cash reward for doing it, he refused and went away. I felt bad for not thanking him enough, so I returned the next day to ask where he was, but there was no sign of the man, and not even a sign of the petrol garage.”


NINE CHOIRS:- 1st Hierarchy:- Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones. 2nd Hierarchy:- Dominions, Virtues, Powers. 3rd Hierarchy:- Principalities, Archangels, Angels.




SERAPHIM:- The highest order of angels. They guard God’s throne and contemplate His goodness directly. They are referred to as the ‘Burning Ones’, because they are aflame with love for God, which they express by constantly singing, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory.” Isaiah envisioned them as having six wings.


CHERUBIM:- (Means fullness of knowledge) are God’s record keepers and observers of the primal creative power of God’s glory. God put Cherubim at the gates of Eden to guard the way to the tree of life. In ancient depictions, each one had four wings and four different faces.


THRONES:- These are known as the chariots of God’s justice according to universal laws (thrones are associated with the power of judgment ). They are sometimes called chariots. Ezekiel describes them as resembling burning wheels with rims “full of eyes round about”.




DOMINIONS (OR DOMINATIONS). They regulate the activities of all the other angels, (Except those in the First Hierarchy). To assure the carrying out of God’s will. They are shown holding an orb or scepter as a symbol of authority.


VIRTUES:- They are entrusted with the movement of the heavenly bodies and the operation of nature. They can draw on God’s force to work miracles on Earth. They bestow encouragement and blessings on the worthy.


POWERS:- They preserve order in the world and keep it from being overthrown by demons. Powers avenge evil acts and protect human souls




PRINCIPALITIES:- They are protectors of religion, providing strength in times of hardship. They also keep watch over nations and their leaders.


ARCHANGELS:- Archangels are “chief angels”. They look after the larger affairs of humankind as they relate to God’s will. They are holy messengers of God, carrying important decrees to humans. They also command God’s armies and act as guardian angels to leaders of world movements.


ANGELS:- These include Guardian angels, who are assigned by God to every human being at the time of his or her birth. Angels of this order are concerned with matters that affect individuals.


ANGEL STORY -- This lady had just lost her mum in a car accident. She cried and cried and eventually fell asleep. She was also deeply troubled by a very tough divorce and also she had resorted to drugs for relief. In deep distress in this very dark time in her life, she woke at 3a.m. and knew a spiritual experience began to unfold. In the dark of night, she became aware of a light in the room that seemed to grow in intensity. She then saw the outline of a glowing angel. As she focused on the golden glow, it came to the foot of her bed. It never spoke, and she never spoke to it, either, but she became conscious of a most amazing calm and healing love being transmitted to her. The angel had a most beautiful face, and behind it were two large white wings. Those wings came and folded around her, and she said it gave her the most empowering sense of peace, and love, tranquility and serenity, she had ever thought possible, The next thing she knew was she seemed to wake from this state, a changed person. She will never forget this experience, ever. --David Curry, CFP Affiliate





The world knows of St. Francis’ love for birds. Saint Francis was known to talk to and preach to birds. Stories abound in which birds chirped back at St. Francis as well. Francis likened himself and his friars to larks who go about in drab feathers but sing joyfully of God’s goodness. When Francis died, skylarks flew in a great flock over his deathbed, singing madly as the saint’s soul returned to God.

For the past three years back at the Gulf Institution, each spring would bring flocks of all kinds of birds to our area. They would begin to build nests all over our camp. In air ducts, bents, in any cranny they could find. There were even some brave birds that would build nest right near the entrance to our dining hall, so close you could reach up and touch them. It was really joyful to see God’s work in nature. And invariably each spring, in an effort to stamp out anything that in any way could be considered pleasing to the inmates, the guards would gleefully go around and tear the nests down. They usually waited until there were eggs or even baby birds in them. Stomping on them. I know this sounds horrible, but this is just a small example of the hardness of some mean hearts.

When I arrived at this new camp a few weeks ago, something I saw struck my heart. Birdhouses. There were birdhouses all over this camp. It seems that this place has a vocational carpentry class. They make desks and bookshelves for state offices, and they also make birdhouses. The inmates take great pride in making them. Different shapes and designs, each handcrafted and painted. The administration allows them to be put up all over the camp. Little Avion Condos.

Back at the Gulf, if you happened to take a piece of bread from your tray out of the chow hall and feed the birds, you would get yelled at and punished. Here they do nothing of the sort. Birds flock to the dining hall exits at meal time for their daily buffet.

Jesus said in Matthew 6 to “look at the birds of the air. They neither reap or sow yet your heavenly Father takes care of them.” Sometimes God uses us not only to take care of his beloved creatures but also to take care of each other. When we visit someone who is sick, reach out to the poor, or to those in prison, comfort a friend, or offer a spoonful of instant coffee to someone who doesn’t have any, we are, in a way, building birdhouses. If everyone would take the time to love one another, to love your neighbor, to offer kindness, the world would be filled with beautiful birdhouses. What a wonderful world that would be! – Paul Parmer, CFP Alessandro Ministry



Stealing someone’s coffee is called mugging. ---   The other day I held the door open for a clown. It was a nice jester. ---   Pasteurize: Too far to see.  ---  No matter how much you push the envelope, it will still be stationery. ---  Whoever invented “Knock Knock” jokes should get a No-Bell prize.  ---- Energizer bunny arrested: Charged with battery.  ---  I put my Grandmother on speed dial. I called that Instagram. ---  I always knew I would get old. How fast it happened was a bit of a surprise, though.  ---   I think senility is going to be a fairly smooth transition for me. --- My superpower is holding onto junk for years and then throwing it away a week before I need it. ---  I got called “pretty” today! Well, the actual statement was, “You’re pretty annoying,” but I only focus on positive things.



Just for today I will try to live through this day only, and not tackle my whole life problems at once. I can do something for twelve hours that would appall me if I felt that I had to keep it up for a lifetime.  

Just for today I will exercise my soul in three ways:

1.      I will do somebody a good turn, and not get found out; if anybody knows it, it will not count.

2.      I will do at least two things I don’t want to do – just for exercise.

3.      I will not show anyone that my feelings are hurt; they will be hurt, but today I will not show it.

Just for today I will be happy; most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.

Just for today I will adjust myself to what is and not try to adjust everything to my own desires. I will take my ‘luck’ as it comes and fit myself to it. Just for today.


Mystical Rose Circle of the Confraternity of Penitents, in Tulsa OK, had this booth at a church ministry fair. Note the CFP prayer cards, hand outs, Handbook, and even some free goodies!


If your church has a ministry fair, you might request a spot for the CFP at it. Mystical Rose Circle did gain some interest at this fair plus a new inquirer.

Allen Murphy is inducted into the CFP Postulancy by his priest Father Romanoski, FSSP. There is an induction ceremony in the CFP Handbook for all CFP members to use if they wish to be inducted into the next year of formation. The induction ceremony can be conducted by a priest, deacon or male or female religious, preferably in a church as Allen’s induction ceremony was. One can enter or continue formation without an induction ceremony, but it is a nice touch.

Confraternity of Penitents

1702 Lumbard Street

Fort Wayne IN 46803

CFP HOLY ANGELS GIFT SHOP offers many excellent resources for Lent. These include rosaries, chaplets, and many different books on spirituality. Contact the gift shop at CFP Holy Angels Gift Shop, 1702 Lumbard Street, Fort Wayne IN 46803 USA. Phone: 260-739-6882. Website:  Email:          Some examples of books for Lent are:

His Sorrowful Passion: Scriptural Chaplet of Divine Mercy with woodcut illustrations by Albrecht Durer. Each bead of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy is introduced with a brief meditation from Scripture or the writings of St. Faustina. Beautiful way to truly meditate on the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. $6.95

Joyful, Luminous, Sorrowful and Glorious Mysteries with Scriptural Meditations. Used by Father John Randall in his radio program The Spirit and the Word. Scripture verse for every bead. Very meditative. Small, hardcover. Carry in pocket or bag. $9.95

Minute Bible meditations for every day of the year, including a short Scripture text and brief reflections. Illustrated and printed in two colors. Includes ribbon marker.

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