Confraternity of Penitents Newsletter -- July 2018
SPIRITUAL ADVISOR’S ADVICE: THE LEAST
I am so happy that I am back to being a Spiritual Advisor for the Confraternity of Penitents. I definitely missed you all and want to come to the CFP Retreat. I lit a candle for you all in front of the tapestry of the San Damiano crucifix and said a prayer for all of you. Thank you for your prayers.
I have a full house this summer. I have two seminarians, an aspiring seminarian, and two Franciscans living with me. I’m calling my rectory a Franciscan halfway house. It’s been fun!
The Bishop asked if I could take Br. Albert (name has been changed to protect Br. Albert’s humility) with me for the summer. I chuckled because I said, “Why? I’m so far away from his friary. Why do you want to send him up to me?” The Bishop said, “Because I need a rectory of joy,” which was, of course, a compliment, but my favorite part was when he said, “You can imagine the limits of my choices.”.
Brother is about to go headstrong into the real world. I have 42 parties scheduled in my backyard this summer, so it’s a little bit of a madhouse. So, I felt so bad for brother. We set him up with a little hermitage in the basement so he could escape us.
Br. Albert does not know I’m giving this talk nor did I ask his permission because I figured he’d say no. So, I decided that I’m going to beg forgiveness and ask permission later because I’ve seen in Br. Albert a model of Franciscan life that I’ve never encountered before in the world. It’s a lot like what I imagine happens in the cloister, but imagination is one thing, but seeing it lived is another thing. It has been so beautiful that I really want to talk about it and share how it’s changed my life. I’m probably just preaching to myself, but my hope is that this may further the love of life you are called to and the effect of that life in the world and to be bolstered by that. How beautiful that effect can be for others!
Br. Albert came to me and I’m in the midst of putting all these men into this house, trying to figure out the logistics of everything. I have to say that Brother Albert is one of the most humble men and most joyful that I have ever seen in my life. Number one, his laugh is infectious. Actually, it’s more like a giggle.
The first thing I noticed about him is this: Franciscan poverty is so much more than things. In fact, it has almost nothing to do with things. I’ve heard that from so many of you, but living with someone who embraces it was a completely eye-opening experience. I was always focusing on the stuff. The best way to phrase Franciscan poverty is, I think, always choosing the least. I’ve noticed that Br. Albert is constantly choosing the least, not because it’s the least but because it’s his natural tendency. He lives this so well. It’s the lesser place. I keep picturing our Lord saying to take the least place at the table so that you might be brought into the higher place. How does he do this? He does it in so many different ways for me.
Number one. For one thing, since he’s been here, there’s never a dirty dish in my house. Never. I’ve never seen a dirty dish in my sink the entire two months that Brother Albert has been here. You know, this seems like something so trivial, but I think this is what my mom must’ve felt like whenever I did the dishes. I walk by all the time and I see him washing the dishes, and it makes me so profoundly grateful for him because it’s something I don’t have to do. At the same time, I’m constantly telling him, “You don’t have to do the dishes all the time.” But he just looks at me and says, “Okay. Thank you.” And then he goes right back to doing them. In my conversations with him, I realize that it’s this beautiful life of service. He says, “Father, I’m a friar. That’s what I do. I clean the church. What can I do for you?” He just wanders around, asking everyone what he can do for them very quietly, and it’s a very beautiful thing. He selects the least things, the smallest things that mean the most to me.
I think that there is something that is very true and real about Saint Francis’s life. It seems that in today’s day and age, in today’s modern world, we look at the problems of the world and the problems of the Church, and we always want to develop a program to solve the problem. We identify a problem and, the next thing you know, there’s a three DVD series with pamphlets put out to solve the problem, and you can sign everyone up. And you have to get food involved. You get the Rosary Society to make the food. And then you have a parish mission. And this is going to solve all the problems of the world. That was never the model of Saint Francis.
For Francis, the problems of the world will always be solved personally, one soul to another. I feel that his was a very personal life. That’s what I noticed with Brother Albert. And I’m noticing ir with other Franciscans, too. What I’m really getting to know and love about this Franciscan charism is that it is very personal. It’s, “Father, I want to help you.” Or Brother Albert goes to the secretary., “What can I do? I want to know what you need done. What can I do to make your life easier?” “Well, what I guess I really need done is stuffing the bulletins.” “Great!. Then I’ll stuff the bulletins. Where are they? When would you like them done?” Everything is, “What can I do to make your life easier?” It’s focused completely on the other.
This is poverty of self where it’s not my schedule, it’s not my time, it’s not my way-- it’s what can I do to make your life easier? There is that poverty of self that goes far beyond the wearing or not wearing of shoes, or what you have, or emailing. It’s a poverty of self that is not focused on the stuff. It’s focused on taking that lesser role of being truly servant. As a result, Brother Albert is the most loved man in my rectory. Everyone in the parish loves him! He’s like a little monk doll. Everyone just wants to take him home. They do! I feel like I found a puppy, and I want to say, “Can I keep him?” I just want him to stay forever, but I’m sure that’s not what he wants.
What about his life? That’s not what it’s about for him. His life is very much about other people. That’s the first thing I’ve noticed about Br. Albert. It’s not about the things for him. It’s about being the least. Saying those words “that he’s the least” makes me angry, because of how much he means to me and because he’s not the least for us. But is that not the beauty and the craziness of the Franciscan life? In becoming the least, you become the most loved. You think you’re doing all these things, and giving up all these things, and doing the most menial tasks, and, in doing so, you are becoming the most loved by God, of course, but also by everyone around you. By becoming a servant of all, you become the friend of all.
Br. Albert really taught me something about the Franciscan charism. I never understood it because I always thought it was about the stuff, about giving up more stuff; it’s just that I can’t have stuff. So, all this stuff I have to get out of my life, and then I’ll be holy. I had a fixation on the stuff, to which point it drove me insane. I wasn’t getting it. But I feel like now I’m starting to understand through his example.
Another lesson from Br. Albert next month. Stay tuned!
--Father Jacob Meyer, Spiritual Advisor
NO GREATER LOVE: ARIDITY IN PRAYER
When we pray, we may initially feel a closeness to the Lord and even obtain insights from Him which thrill us. However, this does not go on forever. There will soon be times of aridity when we feel no enthusiasm or excitement about our being present to the Lord. Theologian, Hans Urs Von Balthasar, in his book, Prayer, discusses this issue which we encounter in our prayer. "Aridity", therefore, should not be thought of in terms of penance or of some tragic visitation. It is the normal, "everyday" face of all love. Love usually begins with its exceptional forms and arrives at its normal state by this detour. There is thus nothing frightening, alarming about aridity in contemplation; on the contrary, it confirms it. But just as love is not overcome by the everyday routine, but uses its imagination in a thousand ways to transfigure it, fashioning each day anew in small details, so it is with contemplation. Every day I am privileged to appear before the God who is eternally young, who never ages; God's meadows bloom as brightly and in as many colors as ever, and man's inner receptivity is renewed every day, provided that he makes use of it. His tiredness, ennui, discouragement and bitterness are his alone, and he cannot complain about anything, since God has everything ready to refresh him, bowed down as he is under his burdens. He only has to pull himself together and shake off whatever is oppressing him and dragging him down. All he has to do is give it over and begin again. We always need to recall that God is infinite, but we are finite creatures who constantly run up against our own limitations. Yet, the Lord will give us what we need if we seek it.
Next, theologian Von Balthasar discusses the role of penance in prayer. Of course, prayer is not itself penance, but it certainly is related to penance. Von Balthasar tells us about this relationship. It is this self-discipline on the part of a faith which retains its integrity and logic, which is prayer's proper, divinely appointed element of penance. For love, with its inherent laws, is never something to be accepted reluctantly, "in penance"-although, on the other hand, everything in us that hinders us from exercising love must be overcome and discarded in and through penance. And love itself will evince such a power of attraction that even this kind of penance will acquire the quality of grace, even of hidden joy. Penance is of two kinds: there is this preparatory, aspiring penance, and there is the penance which love gives and entrusts to us out of love, and which, willy-nilly, with seeing or unseeing eyes, is performed in love to fulfill love's aims and needs. These two are intertwined from the very outset. In his economy of salvation God needs faith which feels nothing, self-surrender which sees nothing, blind hope which seems to stretch out its hand into the void. Where will he find such acts of faith, if not among the contemplatives, whose very state of life, so to speak, calls for this kind of response to the word of God? In order to pray, we need to do penance to pull us away from attractions of the world. However, God still has to mold us into what He wants us to be. This will also involve penance, which is the penance of love and is given to us by God for us.
Sometimes the aridity of prayer can be so extreme that it appears to be the “dark night of the soul”. However, Von Balthasar warns us that we should not assume that we are in this state. It needs to be confirmed by the Church. God himself can make contemplative love difficult, he can stamp it with the imprint of the "dark night", render it almost impossible; but this is something we should rarely presuppose. Rather, we should always start by attributing it to our own lukewarmness and leave it to our spiritual director to show us if it be God's doing. Only if this is confirmed is it safe for us to know that we have been chosen for the spiritual "night". The "night" has its own mode of protection; there, if a person "stumbles", he does not fall, for he is upheld by the God who has led him thither. Normally, however, this mantle of the "dark night" enveloping the contemplative should be clearly seen to have an ecclesial dimension: it is precisely because the Holy Spirit is exercising his guidance in a special way that the contemplative needs the guidance of the Church. Covenant love is more evident than ever in the mystery of the "dark night"; consequently, the Lord of the Covenant watches over it all the more jealously, and almost always sets his accredited watchman at the door.
As theologian Von Balthasar tells us, only specially chosen souls experience the spectacular “dark night” of Divine abandonment. He describes the ordinary way of aridity where we are not completely abandoned by God. But no one can seek out these paths on his own initiative; they are, and will remain, for those chosen for special missions. The paths of love's "purification" are open and necessary for all, although they do not need to assume the aspect of the night of the cross. God can purge a believer's hope of its self-seeking without depriving him of all hope whatsoever, without leading him to the amour pur of the crucified soul which no longer expects anything for itself. There is also the quiet, slow path of everyday things, the "little way" of Therese of Lisieux. Who can tell whether its demands are smaller, or just as great? Its characteristic is the "smile", that is-with regard to contemplative prayer-the presupposition of love on the part of the man of prayer. It means that he is ready to hasten to meet the word of God, be he refreshed in spirit or weary. To show the same interest and attentiveness to the word of God, the same joy in it, whether he "feels like it" or not. It means not attaching any objective significance, in prayer, to one's fortuitous, subjective moods. It means that, if today, subjectively speaking, I have not enough joy at my disposal, I supplement what I have from the storehouse of faith, from the Church's joy and God's joy. Where it comes from is not important, nor does it need to be mentioned in my conversation with God. (The guest does not want to know in which shop the maid or the housewife bought the food he is enjoying.) This is what Therese's "smile" means: it is very close to what used to be called "good manners" and "good breeding" in days gone by-something, perhaps, that only has to be mentioned explicitly in the Church because it is fast disappearing from human society. The nobility and the middle classes used to cultivate this kind of behavior, which was regarded as a matter of propriety and "good form", rather than of virtue. Accordingly, guests were treated with equal civility, received with equal courtesy; one's own moods were not imposed on others; people were adept at making conversation even if they did not feel like it, or if the other person was not forthcoming; one showed (and not merely "feigned") interest, even if, for the moment, one's inclinations tended in another direction. Naturally, like everything that is valuable and precious on the purely human plane, these things are liable to formalism and fossilization. Not, however, on the spiritual plane, because proper conduct in the relationship with God is learned and practiced under the guidance of the Holy Spirit of love. In human affairs such rules of conduct may (but need not) lead to a lack of freedom, as for instance in some stilted court ceremony, whereas in spiritual matters, on the contrary, the rule of freedom prevails. This rule shows us how, in the apparent monotony of everyday faith, the seemingly restrictive framework of faithfulness in contemplation - and nowhere else-the sovereign, free fullness of the divine word can take shape in our life, leading us beyond the straitened conditions of earth, out into the panorama of God's wonders. Just as in married life where faithfulness is demanded even when there is no longer the thrill of young love, also in prayer faithfulness is demanded from us, and this faithfulness will be rewarded. -- Jim Nugent, CFP
HUMOR: MORE TRAVEL COMPLAINTS
THESE ARE ACTUAL COMPLAINTS RECEIVED BY "THOMAS COOK VACATIONS" FROM DISSATISFIED CUSTOMERS. SOME WERE SHARED IN THE MAY NEWSLETTER. MORE WILL BE IN SUBESQUENT NEWSLETTERS.
"When we were in Spain, there were too many Spanish people there. The receptionist spoke Spanish, the food was Spanish. No one told us that there would be so many foreigners."
"We had to line up outside to catch the boat and there was no air-conditioning."
"It is your duty as a tour operator to advise us of noisy or unruly guests before we travel."
"I was bitten by a mosquito. The brochure did not mention mosquitoes."
"My fiancée and I requested twin-beds when we booked, but instead we were placed in a room with a king bed. We now hold you responsible and want to be re-reimbursed for the fact that I became pregnant. This would not have happened if you had put us in the room that we booked."
CFP FRIEND SHARING: STILL, SMALL VOICE
Please join me in thanksgiving to almighty God for saving my house (and everything that I have) from a fire incident.
Last Sunday, my family and I all went to the first mass. While the homilies were going on, I told Ijeoma that I am feeling very worried about our house and I would like to go back home. My wife protested that why should we leave when the mass have not even gone half way. I tried to take in her protects but the urge to go home increased. I begged her that I must leave..
When I got home and opened the central door, behold the whole house was full of smoke. I was confused. But I mustered some courage and hurriedly went for the fire extinguisher. With the extinguisher, I started looking for where the smoke was coming from. Behold, the compressor of the deep freezer in our kitchen has gone into flames. Without any form of panic, I unplugged the freezer from the wall socket and used the fire extinguisher to put out the fire.
I thank God for speaking to me in a silent voice. Otherwise, if I had not come home, the story today will be different. Everything that I have in my house would have been consumed by fire. – Charles Opara
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.
THOUGHTS TO PONDER
Charity is no substitute for justice withheld – St. Augustine
The source of justice is not vengeance but charity. -Saint Bridget of Sweden
CONFRATERNITY PHOTO ALBUM: CFP SPIRITUAL ADVISOR
Father Jacob Meyer is the current CFP Spiritual Advisor, succeeding Fr. Francis Chukwuma. Fr. Jacob had served in this same role preceding Fr. Chukwuma, but he asked to resign when he was relocated to serve as pastor of St. Monica’s Church, Mishawaka IN, his first assignment as pastor. Now comfortable in his role as pastor, Fr. Jacob was glad to resume the role when Fr. Francis could not continue.
Father Jacob claims to have a Dominican spirituality while being intrigued and a bit mystified by the Franciscan charism. He has a busy and active parish with many members of Hispanic descent. His emphasis is on faith, confession, and Eucharist.
Please keep Fr. Jacob in prayer even as he prays for all in the CFP.
Words from Fr. Jacob about the patron of his parish:
St. Monica, prayed diligently to God for both her husband and her son, and God heard her prayers and brought them both to faith, which was her greatest hope. In surprising ways He answered the prayers of St. Monica, in surprising ways He will answer our prayers as well. Let us continue to pray, learn, and come together in joyful community for the praise of God, the building up of His Church, and the service of our neighbor. St. Monica pray for us!
CONFRATERNITY PHOTO ALBUM—YEAR PLEDGE GRETCHEN EVERIN
On the Solemnity of Pentecost, 2018, Gretchen Everin (center) took a pledge to live the Confraternity of Penitents Rule of Life for one year. She is pictured here with Anne Fennessey (left) and Susan Brady (right) following her pledge. All three women are members of the Council of the Confraternity of Penitents. A retired elementary school teacher, Gretchen is wife and mother to three children, the oldest of whom is somewhat of a school wrestling champ (following in the footsteps of his father who coaches wrestling). Gretchen is also author of several children’s picture books including Mama’s New Do, Countdown to Orlando, Countdown to Newport, Countdown to New Orleans, and Countdown to Boston (Countdown books coming out in 2019)
I have been performing Catholic Prison Ministry at Alexander Correctional facility for the past year and a half. Many of the inmates are currently considering different Third Orders of the Church. We have covered the importance of the Divine Office or Liturgy of the Hours. Several of the inmates have indicated that they would like to pray the Liturgy of the Hours each day.
I did advise the prisoners on the Confraternity of Penitents. I printed off a lot of information on the Confraternity and gave it to them at our meeting in early March. I am also providing them with information on the 3rd Order Dominicans and Carmelites. When I spoke with them on the Confraternity of Penitents I did advise them that other inmates are currently in formation with the Confraternity of Penitents and that they will be able to do this through mail.
The Catholic inmates went without Catholic Lay Ministers at the facility for over a year. It was because of their persistence in asking for Catholic Lay Ministers that another lay minister and I are able to perform ministry on the first and third Monday of each month. With a regular schedule of Catholic Ministry the Catholic Inmates are wanting to learn more about their Catholic Faith. Many of them are now praying the Rosary for the first time. The used breviaries donated to us by the CFP will be an incredible addition to their spiritual growth. Thank you! – Will Murphy, Novice 2
MONTHLY LETTER TO ALL PENITENTS: THAT YOUR JOY MAY BE FULL
Truly, truly, I tell you, you will weep and wail while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman has pain in childbirth because her time has come; but when she brings forth her child, she forgets her anguish because of her joy that a child has been born into the world. So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. (John 16:20-22)
After having carried out the comparison of the woman in labor to the sadness of the Apostles, the Lord applies it to their future joy. Jesus is preparing the Apostles for his Passion and future resurrection. Jesus guarantees them that they will see him again whilst he says: “however, I'm able to see you once more.” Where can we see him? In the Sacrifice of the Holy Mass and during the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. So he says: “however, I will see you again” on the Resurrection and, in future glory: “Your eyes will see the king in his beauty” (Is 33:17). Yes, by faith, in faith and through faith, we meet Him in the tent of the Meeting, the Holy Mass and at the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. He comes inside of each one of us, who welcome Him inside His Dwelling Place, which we are, the Temple of the Holy Ghost.
The Criteria is Love. Total unconditional abandonment. John 14:23 says this and instructs us how to invite the Lord. "If any one love me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and will make our abode with him"
Jesus then guarantees them gladness of heart and rejoicing, saying: “and your hearts will be full of joy,” namely the joy of seeing Him in the Resurrection. We ought to see Him in the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and at the Sacrifice of the Mass. Ps 34:6-8 (NABRE) reminds us "Look to him and be radiant". Hence it is imperative that we see him quite often in the Word of God " the Holy BIBLE" and "Eucharist".
The Catechism of the Catholic Church instructs us in Para 81: "Sacred Scripture is the speech of God as it is put down in writing under the breath of the Holy Spirit." "And [Holy] Tradition transmits in its entirety the Word of God which has been entrusted to the apostles by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit. It transmits it to the successors of the apostles so that, enlightened by the Spirit of truth, they may faithfully preserve, expound and spread it abroad by their preaching." Para 82 As a result the Church, to whom the transmission and interpretation of Revelation is entrusted, "does not derive her certainty about all revealed truths from the holy Scriptures alone. Both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honored with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence.” Hence it is imperative that we give due reverence to the Sacred Scripture, the Holy Bible, as is with the Holy Eucharist.
Consequently, the Church sings, “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice in it and be glad” (Ps 117:24). “And your hearts will be full of joy.” Additionally, because of the vision of glory, “You will fill me with joy in your presence” (Ps 15:11). Indeed, it is natural for every living being to find their joy in contemplation of the beloved truth. Now, no one can see the divine essence without loving it. Therefore, joy necessarily accompanies this vision: you will “see it” when you know it with the mind, “and your hearts will rejoice” (Is 60:5) and this joy will itself rise up again even as far as the body when it is glorified. Therefore, Isaiah adds: “and your bones will flourish” (Is 66:14). “Enter into the joy of your Lord” (Mt 25:21).
The Lord promises a pleasure with a purpose that will remain for all time when he says: “and your joy”--that which you may have at the Resurrection because of me – “nobody can take from you” due to the fact that “Christ dies no more; death has no more power over him” (Romans 6:9). Or again: “your joy” the joy of glory, “nobody will take away from you” because it can't be lost, it is eternal. And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.” (Is 35:10).
In this instance, each one’s will has been confirmed in virtue; and no one will take this joy away from another due to the fact in that place there will be no violence, and none will bear a grudge against any other. Holy Mass should confirm this in us because the effect of the Holy Mass is as follows:
1) It unites us intimately with Christ.
2) It increases sanctifying grace in us.
3) It weakens our evil inclinations.
4) It strengthens us to grow in all virtues.
5) It cleanses us from venial sins.
6) It preserves us from mortal sins.
7) It is a PLEDGE of ETERNAL LIFE.
John 15:4-7 records these words of Jesus. “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you."
Abide in him and bear fruits -- fruits of Charity, Joy, Peace, Patience, Benignity, Goodness, Longanimity, Mildness, Faith, Modesty, Continency, Chastity The Lord does all things, for nothing is impossible for him, and he does all things for our own welfare. Sometimes we don't understand the things that are happening with us, in us, around us, but God asks us to remain silent and in peace. Yes, peace in the mind. Yes, peace in the body. Yes, peace in the soul. It is difficult to put this in practice, but, with a little daily effort, you can do it. Remember, God calmed the seas! Even if our troubles look like an ocean before us, remember that God is before you. Is not this God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? Did he not pave a way for the Israelites to cross the seas by splitting them? Hence, the Lord tells us to trust in Him as revealed to St. Faustyna.
2 Corinthians 12:9 "My Grace is Sufficient for thee", says the Lord."Speak to them of the Great Mercy of God. Sometimes people are helped by your telling of your lamentable past." - St Francis Xavier
Reji Kurian, CFP
FOLLOWING FRANCIS, FOLLOWING CHRIST: MINISTRY OF THE LEAST
Father Jacob gave some excellent insights, through the example of Brother Albert, of the Franciscan concept of taking the least place. St. Francis discovered and embraced this concept while he was a young man aspiring to fame, glory, power, and financial gain. Although Francis was the son of a successful merchant, he thought that he could best reach these goals if he became a knight. His father was eager to have the prestige of a son who was a knight, even though he had not been nobly born into that social class. So Francis’ father outfitted his son as a knight, and Francis rode off on his knightly steed to join papal forces who were fighting against the Emperor. One day into his journey, Francis heard a voice which asked him, “Who is it better to serve, the master or the servant?” Francis answered, “The master.” The voice then said, “Then why are you following the servant?” “Lord,” Francis said, “what do you want me to do?” “Go back to Assisi,” the voice told him. “There you will be told what to do.”
So, Francis obediently turned around and went back home, much to the humiliation of his family because he now looked like a deserter, and to the mockery of his friends. He persisted in asking the Lord what to do, and finally, after many months of entreaty, a voice spoke to Francis from the San Damiano crucifix, telling him, “Francis, go and repair my house, which as you can see is falling into ruin.” Francis originally thought he could do this by purchasing the necessary materials and so he sold cloth from his father’s shop and his horse and brought the money back for the priest to repair the chapel. Knowing that Francis’s father would be angry over this unapproved sale of his goods, the priest refused the money. Fearing his father’s anger, Francis went into hiding for about a month until he regained his courage and went out to face his father. Demanding that the Bishop judge the case, Francis disrobed before a gathered crowd and gave his father the money and all his clothing ,saying, “From now on, I will say, ‘My Father in heaven.’” Thus, Francis gave up his total inheritance and his family to serve the Lord.
Francis went from seeking upward mobility to embracing downward mobility. He envisioned his mission as being the least of the least. Because he had been so proud, he forced himself to embrace humble and demeaning tasks that would invite the mockery of his fellow citizens of Assisi. To their jeers and mudslinging, he would reply with a blessing as he went about his business of rebuilding the church of San Damiano and then two others in the vicinity of Assisi.
After two years of Francis persisting in taking the least and most dishonored place, certain friends and acquaintances of his began to be attracted to Francis’s freedom and joy. They asked to embrace the same lifestyle, the life of the least, and so, unplanned by Francis, his religious Order began. As penitents following the Rule of Life which Francis gave to the laity, we, too, are called to cultivate this attitude of being the least. Anything that impedes that should be rejected. -- Madeline Pecora Nugent, CFP
CONFRATERNITY OF PENITENTS HOLY ANGELS GIFT SHOP : CHAPEL VEILS
Spanish Lace Chapel Veils (Mantillas). 38.95 per veil plus 2.95 shipping. Black, white, blue, grey, beige, brown. See this link.
Many other religious items and Catholic books available from the CFP Holy Angels Gift Shop. Your support helps the Confraternity of Penitents to spread the message of penance worldwide. May God bless you!
Order on line or send check to CFP Holy Angels Gift Shop, 1702 Lumbard Street, Fort Wayne IN 46803 USA