Confraternity of Penitents Monthly Newsletter-- March 2018

HAVE A BLESSED LENT!

All of March is a time of Lent this year. 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.

VISITOR’S VISION: KIMBERLY: SR. FRANCIS MARY OF THE HOLY POVERTY

St John Bosco Catholic Church

Churubusco, IN 46723

Feb. 19, 2018

 

Confraternity of Penitents

1702 Lumbard Street

 Fort Wayne IN USA 46803 

 

Dear Members,

Official Statement on the Status of Kimberly, sr. Francis Mary of the Holy Poverty

The facts:

Kimberly Lynn Caron-Lohman (Feb 25, 1962 - Nov 13, 2017) was a dedicated leader of the local "40 Days for Life" Campaign. She was a member of St. Joseph's Catholic Church, 1813 Oakdale Rd, Modesto, CA, led the Respect Life Committee and was a member of the Confraternity of Penitents (Franciscan Order). While undergoing the formation course and getting her paper works ready for her private vows to live the Confraternity’s rule of life for life, Kimberly was diagnosed with brain Cancer. This came fast, and it swiftly took her life within weeks, before the set date for her vows arrived. The question is then: what is her status?

The Law:

We recall that the Church Law governing vows states: “A vow is a deliberate and free promise made to God, concerning some good which is possible and better…” (Can.1191/1). Now, this is seen by Canonical commentators as meaning that “…the object of vow must be truly a promise, not a mere wish or intention, which implies that the person must have the intention of binding him or herself…” (Code of Canon law Annotated, p.923). In other words there must be a clear manifestation of one’s intention in an explicit way. This is the type of explicit intention expressed by a catechumen through his/her preparation, formation in catechetical instruction as well as life of faith, hope and charity (cf. Can.206), which the Church recognizes as baptism by desire, in the case when the catechumen dies before he/she is baptized (cf. 1183/1). With vows also, one has to show the explicit desire to bind oneself, whether it is a public or the private vow that penitents make, since in CFP, we talk of private vows because the vows are made to God but not accepted in the Name of the Church by a Church Authority or Superior (cf. Can.1192/1).

In facto:

Regarding the above subject matter that has been referred to my office as the Spiritual Advisor/Visitor of the CFP, it falls to me to make the following official statement regarding the Question. Now, as the case may be, Kimberly was under the formation with the intention of making her vows at the end. As the end of the process drew near, Kimberly was diagnosed with brain Cancer. This came suddenly and moved swiftly; with the result that Kimberly was given six week s to live. Undeterred, she hastened her formation with more zeal, intending to still make her vows before she passed. Hence, a date was set for her intended vows after she had finished filling her applications, with all the necessary documents including the letter of attestation from her Spiritual Director/pastor.

Unfortunately, before the date set for her vows arrived, her sickness took a turn for the worse and she was taken to the hospital where she lost the use of her reason and passed on within a few days. We recognize the sincerity of her intention, which manifested proactively in her conscious and free will undertaking of the CFP formation lessons, her filling and signing of her application for the said vows, which are with the leadership of the Confraternity, the affirmation and attestation of her Spiritual Director and her not recanting her intention before she passed on. In addition to these, it is on record that Kimberly has already chosen her vowed name for her private vow to live the Confraternity of Penitents rule of life for life. Her chosen name was sr. Francis Mary of the Holy Poverty. They all go to show her explicit desire to make the CFP vow.

Thus from all intent and purpose, Kimberly can be said to have made her vows by desire and will be recorded in the annals of the Confraternity by her vowed name of sr. Francis Mary of the Holy Poverty. It is understood that her signed material to the effect of her intention to make the vows, which have been received by the Confraternity, was the explicit manifestation of her vows by desire. So, it was not a mere vow by intention, since her life has already shown that she intended to make a vow binding herself to God in the manner of the Confraternity’s rule of life. This means that with this statement, Kimberly has been giving the permission to be a posthumously life professed and privately vowed member of the Confraternity of Penitents.

Rev. Francis C. Chukwuma, (CFP Visitor)

FOLLOWING FRANCIS, FOLLOWING CHRIST: HOLY POVERTY

 

From Kimberly Lohman’s Formator (The formator reviews the penitent’s answers to questions in the  48 lessons completed over a four-year period which prepare the penitent to pledge.)

 

I know that somewhere Kimberly is so happy because we discussed that for all time we would be known by our vowed name. Kim chose to honor Mother Mary because as a Protestant convert this was her biggest stumbling block to her Catholic faith, and, once overcome, she wanted to show her love to her heavenly mother. Francis was, of course, chosen because of her devotion and love for St. Francis, and holy poverty seems so right because she felt that she had been stripped of everything because of her Catholic conversion. She paid a price for her holy poverty. In particular, holy poverty was especially evident in her husband divorcing her just a few months before this latest illness and her suffering that loss while trying to fight the brain cancer. Then in death, she was deprived of the joy of making her vow to live the CFP Rule for life, which she was so delighted in and was eagerly awaiting along with the birth of her grandson which also came after the Lord called her home. Yes, sr. Francis Mary knew and lived "Holy Poverty".

 

Please pass on my gratitude to our Visitor Fr. Francis for taking the time to weigh the circumstances in this most unusual circumstance and to bless Kimberly posthumously with the crown she strived for so valiantly the last few weeks of her life.

 

love & prayers,

Rita (sr. Mary Rose of the Vine)

 

From Kimberly Lohman’s Mentor (The mentor goes over with the penitent three lessons prior to pledging. These lessons review the entire Rule and Constitutions and also enable the penitent to reflect on what their life would be like or could be like well living this Rule. These three lessons must be completed before pledging.)

 

As Kimberly’s a mentor, I was profoundly moved by her dedication in completing the three reflections required before making the life pledge. Her disease had severely affected her fine motor coordination, and words came out with letters scrambled and in clusters, although her thoughts were still cogent. If I had had my way, given her impeccable history in formation, I would have waived the last two lessons prior to pledging and allowed her to pledge after completing only one lesson. Clearly, her intent had been demonstrated beyond question throughout her formation. The administrative recognition is for the Confraternity similar to a posthumous promotion or medal of valor awarded to a soldier who has fallen in battle.  Kimberly’s perseverance is an inspiration. Let us commend all of our Novices to her intercession. 

 

Karen (sr. Naaman Mary of the Holy Sepulcher)

REFLECTION ON THE RULE: PLEDGE AND VOW

CONSTITUTIONS XIV. FORM OF COMMITMENT 

PLEDGE 

A Pledge is a voluntary commitment, before God, to live the CFP Rule and Constitutions either for a year or for life. Making a Pledge is an important and grace filled step in the life of a penitent because a Pledge is a binding promise to live according to the CFP Rule and Constitutions, although not under pain of sin. Prior to pledging, the Member must be at least eighteen years old, must be confirmed in the Roman Catholic Church, and must have successfully completed all four years of formation plus three additional lessons which discuss the seriousness of the pledge. The pledge is made to a Roman Catholic priest, deacon, religious, or to the penitent's spiritual director. 

VOW 

A vow is the deepest commitment one can make to live the CFP Rule because it is binding under pain of sin, as long as it can be kept. With the permission of the spiritual director, a CFP Life-Pledged Member may take private vows to observe the Rule and Constitutions for life as well as additional vows approved by the Church, such as Consecration to Our Lady.

 

REFLECTION

 

Once penitents complete their formation and the four lessons prior to pledging, they may take a pledge to live the Rule and Constitutions of the Confraternity of Penitents for one year or for life. If they pledge for life, they can also take a private vow to live the Rule and Constitutions for life. These pledges and vows are both the culmination of formation and a new beginning. When one pledges or vows to live a way of life, he or she is making a promise to God to do so. Voluntarily, the individual has bound himself or herself to a certain level of action which will give glory to God in a specific way. Pledges and vows are commendable and carry with them many graces, including the grace of eternal life if a person lives the pledge or vow as promised.

 

The Confraternity of Penitents is more than a club or spiritual association. It is a way of life for people who want to change their lives to grow closer to God. The pledge and the vow are a commitment to making those changes and keeping with them for as long a period as the pledge and vow have stated. There is no question that graces abound when a pledge and vow of this nature is freely taken for the salvation of one’s soul and the glory of God.

CONFRATERNITY OF PENITENTS PHOTO ALBUM:
KIMBERLY LOHMAN (SISTER FRANCIS MARY OF THE HOLY POVERTY)

We know that we featured Kimberly Lohman in the January 2018 newsletter. But now we can introduce her as a posthumously life pledged and privately vowed CFP member with the privately vowed name of sister Francis Mary of the Holy Poverty. We should not prematurely canonize her, but should pray for the repose of her soul should she have purgatory time to complete. Nevertheless, we trust in the promise of our Rule which states that those who pledge to live the Rule and do so are guaranteed eternal life. Kimberly (sister Francis Mary) had pledged in her heart. The quick progress of her illness shows us that none of us knows the day or the hour of our death. Thus, we must always be prepared, as Kimberly was preparing to meet her maker as a life pledged and privately vowed CFP sister. Thanks to our CFP Visitor, that desire has been granted.

I hope you don’t mind but since I was at the entrance (doing the guest book and passing out the funeral cards), I snapped a few pictures as Kimberly’s Funeral Mass began. It was very beautiful, and Fr Mark spoke eloquently since he was her Spiritual Director. There were probably 50+ people there which was a nice testimony to how special she was. Many blessings, Kimberly’s friend Stacy Phillips

REJECTION OF JESUS

When Jesus speaks to the people of as his own hometown, the crowds are skeptical at best, or as in Luke's Gospel, filled with fury - going so far as to attempting to drive him off a cliff. The people could not fathom where Jesus might have come up with his teachings. Jesus says, "A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house," and is unable to perform any great deeds or miracles in his hometown. He was "amazed' by their lack of faith.

Reflecting on this made me wonder why Jesus was amazed at their lack of faith. It seems very human - to wonder why the people in his own hometown (presumably many of whom he knew personally) were lacking in faith. What were his relationships in his hometown like? Most people want to be understood by those who have known them the longest. It seems that, if anyone would be able to listen, it would be those who have known you the longest. But this is often not the case. Prophets challenge people, and many do not want to be challenged - especially not by someone they know. And part of the rejection of Jesus could have simply been because he was becoming well-known, famous in a way - it is not unusual for people to be jealous or downplay the talents of someone they know. Since every Christian is called to be a prophet in some sense, there is something in this Gospel story for all of us to reflect on. – Kristi, CFP  postulant

 

 

While it is true that the Mass and the Divine Liturgy are prayer, theologian Hans Urs Von Balthasar, in Prayer, also explains why individual contemplative prayer is also liturgy. First, he tells us why our own participation in Mass should be in an attitude of attentive prayer. Christians who are dissatisfied with the way Mass is presented in practice, because they do not seem to reap the benefits it claims to bestow, are all the more obliged to supply what is missing through private prayer, that is, by uniting themselves to the spirit of the Church’s liturgy. In the community gathered at Mass the individual seldom achieves a completely fulfilling encounter with the word. All the members of the congregation, with their diverse capacities, have to be taken into account; the preacher’s words may be inappropriate; the language of scripture may no longer be ours; or perhaps the word goes by so quickly that it has no chance of being sown in the good earth of the soul. All the same it is essential to listen obediently and with full attention, not least as a means of purification and preparation for holy communion (“You are already made clean by the word I have spoken to you” [Jn 15:3]) ….... This attention is therefore necessary as a liturgical act, i.e., an act pertaining to the worship of the whole Church. Consequently, it is wrong to isolate this act, which can only be a personal act, and as such make ready for the sacramental act of holy communion, and to sacramentalize it, ascribing to it a kind of ex opera operato effect which is totally foreign.

NO GREATER LOVE: PRAYER AS LITURGY

Theologian Van Balthasar is telling us that while the valid sacramental act done by the priest at Mass (transubstantiation) occurs independent of the faith or merit of the priest or individual members of the congregation, the effect of the sacrament depends on the receptivity and cooperation of each individual. In the same way, the Lord tells us, in the parable of the sower, that the Word of God can be received with no fruit coming from it because we do not take it to heart. On the other hand, we can receive it and it bears much fruit. Therefore, we need to be receptive to the Word of God as it is given to us in the Liturgy of the Word. We cannot assume that the Word of God in the readings at Mass have some sort of automatic effect on us without our cooperation.

 

Next, Von Balthasar tells us that our individual prayer must be Liturgy (worship). Here we have an important practical teaching with regard to contemplative prayer: it cannot, it must not be self-contemplation. On the contrary it must be a devotional attention to what is essentially the non-I, namely, God’s word. “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived” God has revealed to us by his Spirit. If contemplation is liturgy, its whole movement is away from the “I”: God will be its first and only goal; it will not have to perform a second act in order to direct its attention to him. We do not have to enter primarily into ourselves and then go on to God through self-transcendence. It may be, indeed it is bound to follow, that as man reflects on what God says to him, the human being, the “I”, the self becomes visible, attains reality. Not, however, through reflecting on himself, but by listening to God’s word. For it is in the mirror of God’s word that man sees who he is. Our “real” reality is not the inner, higher or deeper “I” into which we withdraw from the world’s bedlam, as if we could reinforce the word of God in us with the strength of “our better self”. The reverse is the case. All the strength of our “better self” comes from God’s power, which he proffers to us in his word. The man who concentrates on himself in the attempt to know himself better and thus, perhaps, to undertake some moral improvement, will certainly never encounter God; he will have to start again, from a totally different angle, if he wants to find God’s will. But if he earnestly seeks God’s will in his work, he will-------incidentally as it were-----realize himself and find himself (as far as he needs to).

 

Here, Von Balthasar is referring to methods of prayer which seek to find God within ourselves by excluding everything which comes from outside ourselves. This means excluding the Word of God which is self-defeating. We need to look outside ourselves to God’s Word to find God and also to find ourselves. Our goal in prayer should be the worship of God who certainly lives within us but can only be known from God’s gift of His Word.

 

Finally, Von Balthasar warns us against losing sight of the liturgical (worship) aspect of prayer and making something else the primary goal. Contemplation is liturgical, if we understand liturgy in its fullest sense. In practice, the liturgy brought about in the community’s service of worship can bring to our attention only a tiny part of God’s word in holy scripture. Even the Liturgy of the Hours, the breviary, encompassing as it does the annual calendar of feasts, cannot contain the whole of scripture. Thus the liturgy points beyond itself to our personal contemplation of the word. Somewhere there must be in the Church someone who is listening in adoration to that word of God which is not to be found in the Church’s official missal and breviary. For, obviously, the purpose of the word is not fulfilled by those countless people who study the Bible in intellectual curiosity and for the love of learning. Theology and exegesis can border on prayer, but they are not of themselves necessarily prayer. Not explicitly, at least. All acts of the Christian life, whether of the intellect or not, should be accompanied by an openness for worship, like a basso continuo accompanying the soul, and this applies to the act of theology and exegesis too. Indeed, like Anselm and many other saintly theologians, the reader and scholar of scripture can surround and permeate his reading and thinking with worship, and thus extend the liturgical attitude into his intellectual work in a very practical way. But he does well to remember that the worship of the word needs no other justification, and that, ultimately, prayer cannot be reduced to the level of a means of improved understanding.

 

We need to understand that the Word of God was given us so that we can more fruitfully worship God. Certainly, our worship is aided by the results of scholarly research, but the understanding which research can give us is not to be our ultimate goal in prayer. As we contemplate the Word of God, we always have to bear in mind where it comes from. It comes from God. It is not something we study or analyze like a chemist studying a chemical compound, or a biologist a living organism, or a geologist a rock. The Word is a gift from God so that we can know Him and be united with Him. -- Jim Nugent, CFP

HUMOR: LITTLE LARRY

 

 A new teacher was trying to make use of her psychology courses. She started her class by saying, “Everyone who thinks they're stupid, stand up!” After a few seconds, Little Larry stood up. The teacher said, “Do you think you're stupid, Larry?” “No, ma'am, but I hate to see you standing there all by yourself!”

 

Larry watched, fascinated, as his mother smoothed cold cream on her face. “Why do you do that, mommy?” he asked. “To make myself beautiful,” said his mother, who then began removing the cream with a tissue. “What's the matter”, asked Larry “Giving up?”

 

The math teacher saw that Larry wasn't paying attention in class. She called on him and said, “Larry! What are 2 and 4 and 28 and 44?” Larry quickly replied, “NBC, FOX, ESPN and the Cartoon Network!”

 

Larry's kindergarten class was on a field trip to their local police station where they saw pictures tacked to a bulletin board of the 10 most wanted criminals. One of the youngsters pointed to a picture and asked if it really was the photo of a wanted person. “Yes” said the policeman. “The detectives want very badly to capture him.” Larry asked, "Why didn't you keep him when you took his picture?”

“You don’t know how to pray? Put yourself in the presence of God, and as soon as you have said, ‘Lord, I don’t know how to pray!’ you can be sure you’ve already begun.” -Saint Josemaría Escrivá

PRAYER

 

Prayer is, above all, about keeping the heart alive. Without the heart, the soul becomes lifeless. It slowly dissipates into a nothingness that turns in on itself until the body becomes a lifeless shell of its former self. A soul must be fed with and watered and given room to grow in the castle it lives in. Without any nourishment, it shrivels up and fails to produce any lasting fruits.

 

So, then, what or who is at the center of prayer? Prayer is not about asking God for something. It's not really about asking for something fortunate to happen because, when things don't go the way we want them to, that is testing our resolve to stay planted and rooted in good soil. Without prayer, the good works we perform will seem routine and mundane, like things that we have to do. People will see the acts of Charity as good but without benefit, without love for neighbor.

 

The center above all is that very place in the soul where God speaks, where God acts and where he listens. Prayer is about focusing on this center and, in so doing, this center of the soul where the Word of God lives is being watered. It starts off small. The more time one gives over to the act of prayer, the soul begins to come to life. It grows from the center. Prayer takes root in your soul. It defines your soul.

 

St. Augustine always said that his heart was restless until it rested with God. This is where peace is found. In stillness. In quiet. When the heart is still, the soul can learn to love from the center. With clean eyes and a pure heart, the eyes will learn to see how God sees.

 

The heart must continue to be fed and watered with prayer. Otherwise it will wither. It will lose its luster. It will fade into a nothingness that seems detached from the body. When one gives up prayer, the devil wins because, above all else, he seeks the ruin of your soul. He wants it to turn into a wasteland.

 

How does one defend against this lifelessness? This idleness which is his playground? By keeping on that light of prayer. By not shutting it off. Do not let anger get hold of your soul while in prayer. Keep that love of Christ at the center, and the storms will pass. The heart always has room to grow. It is always learning, always encountering that image of God in the word and in one’s neighbor. Continue to cultivate silence. Continue to cultivate and plant the word. Above all, do not lose faith. No matter how dim the light may get, and no matter how low the oil in the lamp runs down, faith will keep the soul alive.

--Jesse Darnell Pellow, Postulant

MONTHLY LETTER TO ALL PENITENTS: LENT

 

This year, the entire month of March is Lent. We have 31 days of this month in which we fast and abstain, perform works of mercy, give alms, and pray, all in the hope of getting closer to Jesus and walking with him in his Passion. We focus on the end of Jesus’ life during Lent, overlooking the fact that his whole life was a Lent. His whole life was a poured out divinity that embraced our humanity so that we could be made worthy of heaven.

 

We think we do much by giving up some food, some time, some money, when Jesus gave up all the glory he had with God the Father in heaven, and all the praise and adoration he received there, and all the power he possessed, and came to earth where he was born as a humble, helpless baby in a smelly stable. He, the all-powerful one, was subject to mere human creatures, beginning with his having to be nursed at his mother’s breast in order to continue to live.

 

Where was the admiration, the gratitude, the awe that God should have inspired in his creatures who are also his subjects? God’s disguise in taking human form was more complete than any superhero’ s disguise in any comic book or movie. If we had seen Jesus in the flesh, we would not have recognized God in him. That was by God’s design. The only time God removed that disguise was briefly at the Transfiguration, and that was because the three key disciples, Peter, James, and John, needed something otherworldly to carry them through the horrors of the impending Passion, crucifixion, and death of Jesus. Despite the fact that they were overwhelmed by the unbelievable happenings involving Christ, they had that moment of the Transfiguration to look back on and to remember that something more awesome than they could imagine had been going on with Jesus at that time. That memory must have given them some strength and some hope in the midst of their incredible pain and confusion.

 

During Lent, we pray the Stations of the Cross because they bring to mind the final hours of Christ’s life on earth and they let us enter into the mystery of the price that our Lord paid for our salvation. Nevertheless, during Lent, we also should look backwards to the events in Christ’s life that preceded the Passion. How many times was he misunderstood? Blasphemed? Ridiculed? Even his handpicked apostles did not understand him. Even they, for all their boasting and all their jockeying for high positions in his kingdom, abandoned Christ in his most difficult hour. All of them left Christ to suffer alone with the exception of John who understood Love when he met him and who was not willing to abandon Love even when it was dangerous to remain loyal.

 

Easter is a glorious holiday, the greatest celebration of all time because what can surpass the Resurrection of Jesus in magnitude, hope, and glory? We will all have our Easter when, at the end of time, our bodies will be resurrected and united with our souls in a glorified manner, and then we will receive the reward or the punishment for what we have done or not done in this life. But until we get to that Easter, we all will have several passions to go through and, for some of us, much of life will be one long Lent. Precisely during these times, we are most united with Jesus. If we think about what he relinquished voluntarily so that he could live among us as one of us, perhaps what we have to relinquish so involuntarily will seem a little more bearable. May this Lent be a time of growth and grace as we prepare for Easter joy.

-- Madeline Pecora Nugent, CFP

DETACHMENT

What am I attached to in my life? What would devastate me if it were lost or damaged? How do I feel about significant people in my life? How does detachment fit in with love? Do I feel detachment is important? What can I do to foster detachment in myself?

In the past few years, I've been given many opportunities to become less attached to things I own, and so have gotten better with detachment. (In the forms of multiple moves, theft, bed bug infestations, flooding, buying my first new car and immediately getting in my first car wreck, etc!). I'm most attached to my journals and sketchbooks that I've been filling up since age 9, for reasons I've never considered much. In general, I'm also attached to ideals (as in, the idea of the way I think things should be). It can be hard for me to let go of my expectations, which is hardest in my relationships with friends and family. It is clear to me that detachment from these ideas/expectations can help me be more loving. I do feel detachment is important, and think living the CFP rule will help with that.

One example of detachment in the Gospels is in the advice Jesus gives at the sending of his apostles. He asks them to carry nothing extra with them for the journey; he also suggests that though they may encounter hostility, they shake the dust off their feet and continue on their way. That seems to me like two forms of detachment.

 

– Kristi, CFP postulant

Detachment
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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!