Confraternity of Penitents Monthly Newsletter -- May 2018
VISITOR’S VISION: “…HIS SERVANTS WILL WORSHIP HIM” (Rev 22:3)
The month of May is usually a month with many celebrations, whether outdoor, social, religious, and so on. Think about graduations, end of Religious Ed Classes, Mothers’ Day, First Holy Communion, Confirmations, etc. These celebrations are joyful and fun-filled occasions, just as our worship of God is meant to be. And, as our worship of God is a joyful celebration, I thought we can reflect this month on our personal worship of God.
Now, when I think of King David, there is an event told about him in the scriptures that always come to my mind. It is not the scene of his fight with Goliath (1 Sam 17:41-54) or his extramarital affair with Bathsheba (2 Sam 11:1-17) or even his being crowned the king of Israel and Judah (2 Sam 5:1-5). It is the story about his bringing the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem (2 Sam 6:1-23). I recall in particular the portions that narrated his dancing before the Lord: “David and all the Israelites were dancing and singing with all their might to honor the Lord. They were playing harps, lyres, drums, rattles, and cymbals” (2 Sam 6:5). A little further, we still read from the chapter: “After the men carrying the Covenant Box had gone six steps, David had them stop while he offered the Lord a sacrifice of a bull and a fattened calf. David, wearing only a linen cloth around his waist, danced with all his might to honor the Lord. And so he and all the Israelites took the Covenant Box up to Jerusalem with shouts of joy and the sound of trumpets” (2 Sam 6:13-15).
As we know, his dancing brought the ire of his wife Michal; for we read: “Afterward, when David went home to greet his family, Michal came out to meet him. ‘The king of Israel made a big name for himself today!’ she said. ‘He exposed himself like a fool in the sight of the servant women of his officials!’ David answered, ‘I was dancing to honor the Lord, who chose me instead of your father and his family to make me the leader of his people Israel. And I will go on dancing to honor the Lord, and I will disgrace myself even more. You may think I am nothing, but those women will think highly of me!’ Michal, Saul's daughter, never had any children” (2 Sam 6:20-23).
With regards to this event, David’s understanding and his action brought out the personality of David, as far as his relationship with God is concerned. One can see sincerity, humility, conviction and love, manifest and realized in a spirit of worship to God, as his response to God’s love. What happened then was that he received in abundance what he had given God. We see Paul making this point in his first preaching/teaching that is recorded in the Acts of the Apostles. As we recall, Acts gives us two examples of Paul’s teaching; one to the Jews in Antioch in Pisidia (Acts 13:15-42) and the other to the Gentile Greeks in Athens (Acts 17:19-34).
In that first preaching, Paul’s theme was that Jesus was the fulfillment of the hope of the Jew and the accomplishment of the promises made to their ancestors in the scriptures; as this was the logical completion of God’s plan within Judaism. So, while expounding this theme, Paul sketched a brief Old Testament history and showed how God’s promises centered on David, saying that, after removing Saul, “…God made David their king. This is what God said about him: ‘I have found that David son of Jesse is the kind of man I like, a man who will do all I want him to do.’ It was Jesus, a descendant of David, whom God made the Savior of the people of Israel, as he had promised” (Acts 13:22-23). In other words, God who does not judge by outward appearance but looks at the heart (1 Sam 16:7), saw David as the man after his heart and a worthy ancestor of the house of Israel and of Jesus (I Sam 13:14), because he was ever ready to give joyful and heartfelt worship and adoration to God.
Worship is identified also as adoration; and as the first act of the virtue of religion (cf. CCC nn.2096, 2135), adoration is described thus: “To adore God is to acknowledge, in respect and absolute submission, the ‘nothingness of the creature’ who would not exist but for God. To adore God is to praise and exalt him and to humble oneself, as Mary did in the Magnificat, confessing with gratitude that he has done great things and holy is his name. The worship of the one God sets man free from turning in on himself, from the slavery of sin and the idolatry of the world” (CCC, n.2097). Hence Jesus said: "You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve" (Lk 4:8); as already laid down in Deuteronomy (Deut 6:13). Thus, worship is what the Church does with her liturgy; which is the public worship of God. In other words, the content of worship involves what happens in the liturgical life of the Church, which includes the celebration of the Eucharist, the celebration of the Word and the life of active charity. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this thus: “In the New Testament the word ‘liturgy’ refers not only to the celebration of divine worship but also to the proclamation of the Gospel and to active charity” (CCC n.1070). As the Council fathers taught: “In it [the Mass] full public worship is performed by the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, that is, by the Head and his members. From this, it follows that every liturgical celebration, because it is an action of Christ the priest and of his Body which is the Church, is a sacred action surpassing all others. No other action of the Church can equal its efficacy by the same title and to the same degree” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, n.7); for it involves the glorification of the name of God, as Jesus did with his life (Jn 12:27-28). Our contention then is that all above aspects of liturgy are also reflected in the private worship of God, since worship involves giving praise, honor, thanks and glory to God even in our service to God and neighbors.
Worship involves proclaiming the name of God day and night, in line with the scene of heavenly worship in John’s vision. We read in the New Testament: “The four living creatures sing songs of glory and honor and thanks to the one who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever. When they do so, the twenty-four elders fall down before the one who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives forever and ever. They throw their crowns down in front of the throne and say, ‘Our Lord and God! You are worthy to receive glory, honor, and power. For you created all things and by your will they were given existence and life’” (Rev 4:9-11). And going further, we read also: “All the angels stood around the throne, the elders, and the four living creatures. Then they threw themselves face downward in front of the throne and worshiped God, saying, ‘Amen! Praise, glory, wisdom, thanksgiving, honor, power, and might belong to our God forever and ever! Amen!’” (Rev 7:11-12).
If the Church calls for an active participation in the liturgy (SC, n.14), then today, it is important to worship God not only in public form but also in private form, since worship is an involvement and participation in the action of Christ. It is a proclamation of the name of God as Jesus did, whether it is our public liturgical worship or our individual private worship of God. This is because our individual worship of God is also our recognition of the love of God that was manifested in the sacrifice of Jesus, and by such recognition we proclaim the name of God and offer our joyful thanks to him in union with that of the mystical body of Christ.
Now, when we join in the worship of Christ as part of his mystical body, it definitely draws down to us the abundant blessings of the Father; for we shall receive what we ask in his name (Jn 16:23-24). In other words, worshiping God releases a person from the attacks of the evil one (1 Cor 10:13-16), smooths the tension of the storms of life (Matt 8:23-27), heals the heart and brings relief to the soul (Matt 8:14). Worship nourishes the soul and opens doors, as worship and prayer are meant to do (Acts 16:25-26), it takes away worries (Phil 4:6-8) and leads one to a recognition and union with God (Matt 14:32-33).
Above all, I think God wants us to worship him because worship develops and sustains our personal relationship with God, which then assists our full actualization of our human and Christian identity. When we worship God, we ultimately end up getting back what we have given him. God releases his blessings from above, in the same way he rewarded David. Moreover, if the angels worship and prostrate themselves before him, why can we not joyfully do the same personally with our life? Remember, “the duty to offer God authentic worship concerns man both as an individual and as a social being” (CCC, n.2136). Authentic worship, which involves praising God with a sincere, joyful and humble heart, whether in the liturgy with others or alone in private prayers, is often forgotten, relegated to the background or sacrificed on the altar of religious activities.
- Fr. Francis C. Chukwuma, CFP Visitor
A multitude of precepts is offered to the contemplative on his path, yet they can all be put into a nutshell. It is the same advice that is given to lovers-which is a very significant clue to the nature of contemplation. Nothing is as free as love; apart from love, all so-called freedom is no freedom at all. The person who begins to love finds that his own, private world is exploding and slipping from under him; he must simply make sure, now that he is becoming free, that he does not fall into a new slavery. For example, without noticing it, he can be using love to seek his own ends, his own pleasure, making his partner into a mere means; he can be seeking his own advantage by enriching and heightening his own self with his partner's intellectual and material goods. Then, one day, it becomes clear that love is dead. Covertly, he has always been looking after himself. That is why the simple warning signs (so often ignored) are set up along the paths of love: love makes us free if it is selfless, and it is selfless if is ready to sacrifice pleasure, advantage and independence for the sake of the beloved. And since no earthly love is initially perfect, it must go through these purifications. Moments and times must come when love is tested through sacrifice, when it becomes clear whether the enthusiasm of the first encounter was love at all, when the naive first love-if it really was love-is refined and deepened in the fire of renunciation. Our prayer must be motivated by a pure love which is not contaminated with seeking advantages for ourselves. Our prayer must come from a love for God as He is and not from what we can get from Him.
Next, Von Balthasar tells us some of what we must do for our prayer to be based on love. Love desires to have the beloved before its eyes. Thus the contemplative will employ the powers of his soul to summon up the image of the Beloved, the powers of his "inner senses" and his imagination to call forth the image of the incarnate Word. He will contemplate Jesus as he dwelt bodily on the earth, the things he said, the sound of his voice, the way he treated people, his appearance when at prayer, at the Last Supper, in his Passion. This picture is not meant to be a realistic photograph, but love's picture, solely concerned with love, the divine love of the Father, which is here manifested in the Son and in the concreteness of his whole earthly life. This is the only reason why, in prayer, we seek out the Lord's earthly form. We do not use it as a crutch for our weakness because we are not yet ready to soar into the realm of pure spirit: we do so in order to seek for the love of God, to see, hear and touch it in the humble form in which it offers itself to man. In prayer, our love seeks love, divine love, through the earthly image (with which it cannot dispense). So, it is continually drawn on by the historical Jesus to the Christ who died, descended into hell, rose again and ascended into heaven, who has put his whole self eucharistically into the Church, and to whose return in glory we look forward. He alone is the whole, living Christ over whom death has no power; he is the "Christ of faith" who gives and reveals himself to the believer who loves and prays, enabling him to share in his transfigured, eternal life (Rom 6; 2 Cor 5:15 f). This is he whom love seeks to embrace in his earthly form.
The Lord whom we desire to know, love, and serve must be the same Lord whom the Gospel writers communicated to us. Von Balthasar warns us against separating the “historical Jesus” from the “Christ of faith”. Many theologians have done this, and the result is many different “Christs” according to the political and theological ideas of the author. The creeds, such as the Apostle’s Creed or the Nicene Creed, present us with the Christ of faith which flows directly from the Jesus which the early Church experienced. Thus, we cannot separate what we believe about Jesus from the Jesus we encounter in the Gospels.
Von Balthasar also gives us counsel on how to proceed with our prayer. Love desires to dwell at peace in the presence of the beloved. So, the contemplative is advised not to be restlessly searching, turning over new ideas and aspects, as if contemplation were a matter of achieving a specified quantity, or of reaching some kind of end result. It is rather a matter of lovingly dwelling upon the depth-dimension of each aspect as it presents itself. Every word of scripture goes directly, vertically, to the depths of God, i.e., to that deep center of fullness and unity where all the externally disparate words and aspects converge. And he, the Son of the Father, is this fullness. He alone is the Bread of Life for which our souls hunger; we need not go any further, looking for any other bread, for its spiritual satisfaction would be illusory. He suffices. Of course, all this must take place in the context of truth; the praying believer must not depend on his own feelings: he must depend really and truly on the Lord. He must not be satisfied with a few trivial ideas he has stumbled on by chance, which-unbeknownst to him-merely flatter his complacent self; but he must rest in the sublime, ever-greater truth of the Lord. This he will be able to do if he genuinely has love; he will improve with practice, for it is only by loving that we learn how to love better.
There is in love an eagerness which wants to get to know the beloved, to explore him, observe him from all sides. And that is one reason why the Word of God becomes flesh-to allow himself to be gazed upon and touched in this way, out of love for the Father. In this respect contemplation never wearies; it does not want to "sleep" at the Beloved's side but to be wide awake, drinking in "every word that proceeds from the mouth of God". At the same time, it is not inquisitive and insatiable, but knows the value of the food offered to it today, knows how to be content with it. Today's food is enough for today's contemplation; it gives gladness, and the strength for today's journey toward Mount Horeb. Contemplation learns, moreover, to draw nourishment from less and less material as time goes on, as its ability grows to see and grasp depth and totality in the individual fragment. Sooner or later, by grace, it will be brought to the "prayer of quiet", a prayer in which extension is replaced by the intensive dimension; the unstable, wide-ranging, discursive element of thought is replaced by a kind of intuition which takes in far more, at a single glance, than the beginner's roving eye. We need to learn how to pray by praying. There is so much the Lord has given us in his Word. We should go after all He has given us but always under the eye of the Church in order to avoid being led astray.
Our prayer must never be detached from our life. Do we actually put in practice what we get from prayer? We learn from Von Balthasar about keeping our prayer in harmony with our lives. It is love, too, ultimately, which governs discipleship. ……..But the grace of the Lord permits us to put our whole lives under the law of his life, which means that we can include our own lives in the loving contemplation of his, to be transformed in that light right down to the level of everyday decisions. For the most part we are not faced with complex matters but with the simplest of all: love. We generally find it easier to understand what is complex: what is simple is too demanding. Just as there is a "prayer of simplicity" for the understanding, so there is for the will and for practical decision-making; here, too, the beginner must take account of the details of his daily work and his inner attitude and correct them with reference to the Lord's example-hence the necessity of some means of checking, of the particular examination - whereas the more experienced believer can attend more to the Lord's whole approach and endeavor to reproduce it in his own life. In this way, simplicity and freedom (which are to be found in love and consist in love) grow side by side.
– Jim Nugent, CFP
NO GREATER LOVE: PRAYER AND LOVE
The ultimate motivation for prayer should be love. This should be a love freely given to God who has freely loved us. Theologian Hans Urs Von Balthasar, in his book Prayer, tells us about the relationship between prayer and love. We have been speaking of the contemplative's place in the vast context of the Word, of salvation history, of the Church's worship. Now we are going on to speak of the way in which the individual can develop his personal prayer, and this is best done under the heading of "freedom". The servant is under the law, but the child of God is free to speak to his Father as his heart dictates. He can accept advice; he can rely on the experience of others whose prayer is more free. But in all this, he himself is free. God's Spirit is in his heart and prays within him, giving testimony of the love of the Father in the Son, who is the love of God which is poured out in him. This Spirit is freedom……….
CONFRATERNITY OF PENITENTS PHOTO ALBUM: HAPPY HERMIT
Sister Elizabeth Bridget Clare was the first privately vowed CFP member. A few years later she felt a calling to a deeper religious expression, and she became a hermit for the diocese of Scranton, Pennsylvania. On April 24, 2018, Sister Elizabeth Bridget Clare made her final profession as a Diocesan hermit. She attended our CFP life pledged retreat as a Church representative for our Council meeting. We are delighted to have Sister Elizabeth Bridget Clare as a CFP hermit ally. In the photo, she shows her Holy Hermit cake which the life pledged retreat committee bought to celebrate her profession. We also had ice cream and delicious homemade brownies. What a celebration for such a joyous occasion!
"In the beginning there are a great many battles and a good deal of suffering for those who are advancing towards God, and afterwards, indescribable joy. It is like those who wish to light a fire; at first, they are choked by the smoke and cry, and by this means obtain what they seek. So, we also must kindle the divine fire in ourselves through tears and hard work." --St. Syncletica, hermit
HUMOR: TRAVEL COMPLAINTS
IT’S VACATION TIME! THESE ARE ACTUAL COMPLAINTS RECEIVED BY "THOMAS COOK VACATIONS" FROM DISSATISFIED CUSTOMERS. WE WILL SHARE MORE NEXT MONTH:
1. "They should not allow topless sunbathing on the beach. It was very distracting for my husband who just wanted to relax."
2. "On my holiday to Goa in India, I was disgusted to find that almost every restaurant served curry. I don't like spicy food."
3. "We went on holiday to Spain and had a problem with the taxi drivers as they were all Spanish."
4. "We booked an excursion to a water park, but no-one told us we had to bring our own swimsuits and towels. We assumed it would be included in the price."
5. "The beach was too sandy. We had to clean everything when we returned to our room."
REFLECTION ON THE RULE: GENERAL ASSEMBLY
XVI. THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
A yearly conference and retreat, open to all Members of the Confraternity, will be held annually if at all possible. The Visitor or another priest, deacon, male or female religious, will preside at this gathering which shall promote Catholic spirituality particularly through penance (conversion) and which shall unite the total Confraternity. Other groups within the Church may be invited to send delegates to this event.
This year’s retreat will be Columbus Day weekend, 5 PM Thursday, October 4 through 7 AM Monday morning, October 8. Coincidentally, this retreat begins on the feast of St. Francis of Assisi (October 4) and focuses on St. Padre Pio. Retreat master is Franciscan hermit Father Pio Mandato, FMHSJ, who is a distant relative of Padre Pio. Having received his first Communion from Padre Pio and having a mother who was one of Padre Pio’s spiritual daughters, Father Pio Mandato illustrates the spirituality of Padre Pio with personal stories as well as insights into Padre Pio’s writings. The retreat features 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 (we will be cooking our own meals) 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 discuss the best ports of arrival. We will pick you up from and bring you to your point of transport.
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 as long as there is room. If a friend or relative wants to come, please contact us about room availability. We hope to see you at CFP retreat 2018!
MONTHLY LETTER TO ALL PENITENTS: THE ENEMY IN THE WINDOW
Submitted by a CFP member. Names have been changed to protect privacy.
Many years ago when my children were young, I’d decided that I wanted to grow spiritually and started doing spiritual reading and accompanying prayers. This continued until one night while reading a book that I’d enjoyed, the author discussed the topic of the devil. Until that point in time, I hadn’t believed in a devil, thought the author was ‘insane,’ stopped my spiritual reading, and challenged God on the issue.
A short time later, some teachers invited me to a healing Mass in the area and I went. The church was so crowded that I had to stand in the back. During his homily, the priest talked about a literal encounter he’d had with the devil. Being so far away from the speaker, I didn’t hear the whole story. Hardly believing what I did hear, however, I decided to buy one of the books he’d written, available in the back of the church, where I was standing. I remember not wanting to spend the money, but I was curious about his story, especially since I’d never heard of anyone saying that they’d literally encountered the devil before. And for a priest to discuss it at Mass, showed his sincerity. Also, I did challenge God on the issue and there it was presenting itself again. Not only did I buy the book, I also gave a donation for a bottle of the blessed oil that the priest used for the anointing following the Mass.
In his book, the priest talked about many encounters with the devil who tried to despoil his healing ministry. I can still recall where I was sitting when I finally finished reading the book at home. We no longer have furniture in that room, but I can still see myself as I read the last pages and was semi-convinced that the priest did have some supernatural experiences of the other side. Later — I’m almost certain it was that same night, if not, very shortly following — I was awakened by my son Kyle, who ran to my bed and called me in great fear while shaking all over! He told me that something ‘came into’ him and he could feel it in his body, in his back in particular, and he was having scary dreams! He was much too afraid to go back to his bed and was most upset at what he could feel inside.
Unable to console him, I asked Kyle to come downstairs where I decided to pray over him. As we passed his bedroom, Kyle told me, frighteningly, about some scary faces that he’d seen in his window. I told him that he imagined them because he was afraid. As much as he insisted that he saw scary faces, I insisted that he imagined them. Downstairs, I lit a candle and placing my hands on him, prayed continuously. As he calmed down I asked if he could still feel what was inside. Replying positively, I continued to pray. Repeatedly, my prayers seemed to have little effect, and he was too fearful to go back to bed.
I was concerned that he wasn’t getting his proper sleep, when I remembered that I had a bottle of healing oil from the Mass I’d gone to. Also, remembering that the priest in the book would make the Sign of the Cross to chase away the devil, I used the oil, made the Sign of the Cross on Kyle’s forehead, and continued praying. Before I finished my prayer, Kyle jumped up and started running in the dark toward the stairway. I can still hear myself calling to him: ‘Wait a minute. Where are you going?’ As a boy of about five or six years old, Kyle naturally was afraid of the dark and ordinarily would not have run through a darkened room to go anywhere. Forgetting his fears, Kyle responded: ‘It’s gone!’ and continued to run to his bed. I called back: ‘Wait a minute. When did it leave?’ He replied: ‘When you put that stuff on me.’ With that he excitedly found his way to his bed!
The following morning, I asked Kyle if he knew what that was ‘inside’ him the previous night. Taking me by surprise, he immediately said that it was the devil. Knowing that I’d never taught my children about the devil, I figured he must have gotten that information at school. I then asked Kyle what kind of dreams he’d had the night before. He told me that he’d had many fleeting dreams and in one of them, he was eating corn and the corn caught on fire. I don’t remember what else he told me now, but I do remember that his dreams included symbolism of the devil, such as fire. He still insisted that he had seen scary faces in the window which I dismissed and attributed to his fears. From that point on, however, I never questioned whether there was a devil. God had met my challenge and he used my five or six-year-old little boy to do it, but this story doesn’t end here.
Years later, when Kyle was about thirteen years old he hung around with a neighbor about his age. They had similar interests and were always together. Being the outdoor type, they spent much of the summertime outside and unseen. Inside and alone one day, I felt drawn to Kyle and my other son’s bedroom. I didn’t know why, but I had a strong feeling that I should check under the bunk beds on the side where Kyle kept his things. Doing so, I pulled out some unfamiliar cards that I figured Kyle got from his friend. The cards had strange and demonic symbols on them that gave me a cold, uncomfortable feeling. Knowing that the Holy Spirit led me to the cards for a reason, I knew that I had to confront Kyle about them. But how does a mother tell her teenage boy that she was in his room, took out some things that he had gotten from his friend, things that were obviously important to him, and were under his bed? And worse, how does she tell him that she thinks they may be demonic in some way and he shouldn’t play with them with his best friend?
I put the cards on the kitchen counter and figured that if God led me to the cards, He would also show me what to do about them. I therefore, prayed and asked God what I should do and what I should say to Kyle. As I was walking toward the counter where the cards were, I heard a voice in my mind say: ‘Tell him about the incidents that happened when he was a little boy.’ I asked myself what happened when he was little. I just couldn’t remember and didn’t understand what I’d heard in my mind. “Then it started coming back to me! I had completely forgotten! We’d never spoken of those incidents since they’d happened, so it was interesting and strange recalling them. As I did slowly recall them, it seemed that they had happened, not only for God’s purposes back then, but specifically for this time as well.
When Kyle came in from his outdoor adventures he walked over to the counter where his cards were. I told him that I’d found them in his room and was concerned about the symbols on them. Without saying a word, he picked up the cards and looked closely at them. I listened as he proceeded to tell me how he and his friend played with them. I then said: ‘Do you remember the incidents you’d had of the devil when you were a little boy?’ Suddenly his mood changed, and with the deep voice of an angry young man, he shouted: ‘Yeah, Mom, and you didn’t believe me that there were faces in the window!’
‘Faces in the window?’ I repeated to myself. I didn’t remember that part! But then it came back to me. Oh yes, he did say there were faces in the window long ago! My jaw dropped! ‘You mean there were?’ And Kyle shouted back as if he’d been holding in anger all those years because I didn’t believe him: ‘Yeah, Mom, there were, and you didn’t believe me!’ and in his anger walked out of the room.
I was totally shocked and was hurt that my little boy, many years ago, saw something very frightening and real to him, and his mother didn’t believe him! And not only that, but he seemed to have held his hurt in for a number of years! We’d discussed those faces at a later time and he told me that they were very ugly, changing, and unmistakably real! That time I believed him! We both decided to do research on the symbols on the magic cards and found that they were indeed demonic; Kyle willingly gave up playing with them.
We both confronted his friend who also agreed not to play with them, with Kyle, as well. But this story doesn’t end here either. God wasn’t finished, and neither was the devil. As an older teenage boy, Kyle would purchase his own music, and, in the summers, he would stay up late at night in his room listening to it. As I was visiting him in his room one day, he started to tell me of his experiences of the previous night: As he lay on his bed listening to his music, the door of his room suddenly slammed shut. Kyle then saw the ugly face of a devil on the wall opposite him, until it moved to the wall right beside him, changing sizes as it did! He then put his hand in front of the image and it jumped onto his hand and remained there even when he moved his hand in various positions, until it disappeared. The image then reappeared on the crucifix hanging on a wall opposite Kyle’s bed, covering the image of Jesus.
I asked Kyle why he didn’t come and tell me when these things happened, and he said that he was so scared that he couldn’t move! I responded by telling him that there must be some reason why that had happened; and we searched his room, but to no avail. It then occurred to me to inquire about the type of music he was listening to at the time. Kyle showed me a CD where, on the cover, there were easily recognizable demonic symbols. Surprised that he would make such a purchase, especially after the previously described experiences in his life, I questioned why. Kyle replied that although he didn’t like the symbols either, he liked the group that did the recording. It was the titles on the CD however, that were most troubling. One song, for example, was entitled, “Falling Angels.” After pointing this out, we both agreed that the CD must be destroyed, so we broke it up and threw it out!
Not only did the Lord show me that the devil exists, He also showed me that children as young as five or six should be taught about the devil, as they can handle and understand this information. This understanding as children, can have a positive influence on their lifelong decisions, helping to keep them on the right path while deepening their Catholic faith. Furthermore, the Lord showed us how the devil uses youthful games and music to influence the young. “I believe that the Lord allowed these incidents to occur in our Christian home to bring about a much greater good. Kyle turned away from listening to music as a pastime altogether and continued practicing his faith into adulthood. Following these incidences, there was never any question that the Holy Spirit was working in our lives and that there are also truly evil forces that oppose Him, that He allows for now, for His own purposes.”
FOLLOWING FRANCIS, FOLLOWING CHRIST: OUR MARCHING ORDER
At our annual Life Pledged and Vowed Retreat this year, Fr. Louis Mary presented us with challenge and asked if we would be Soldiers in the Militia of the Immaculate. He said as Franciscan we have a responsibility to promote devotion to Our Lady and in particular to her Immaculate Conception and that this has always been a Franciscan responsibility ( I wasn’t completely aware of this). He explained in a rather “inspired” way that NOW is the TIME. He said many have taken the Consecration but don’t live it as they should. (I know I’m guilty) He presented us with a challenge; “Will you as Franciscans continue to promote the devotion?”
In this the Month of May we have the perfect opportunity to again say “Yes” to this challenge.
I know until now I had not studied the Militia Immaculata but did do a Marian Consecration. I have been amazed at what St Maximillian did in such a short amount of time to create devotion to Our Lady but also in the area of Evangelization. It ties so perfectly with what the Church has been asking of us as lay people for quite some time. I would suggest you go to Mission of the Immaculate and click on Marian Spirituality/Consecration and you’ll see what this Consecration looks like and decide at what level you may want to plug into it. What a perfect opportunity as we approach the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima!
The aim: To win the whole world for Christ through the Immaculate! Through the Consecration we respond with love to the call for Holiness and become transformed into generous Disciples of Christ. We put ourselves in her hands, and she acts in us-not ourselves.
St Maximillian reminds us that Divine Grace can come only through prayer. May we be guided by the Immaculate to deepen our Devotion to her and unleash the Graces that that the world so desperately needs. With love for the Immaculate may we continue the work of St. Maximillian in a powerful way.
Pax et Bonum. Sandy Seyfert, CFP
CFP HOLY ANGELS GIFT SHOP – MARY, OUR MOTHER
Mothers’ Day is celebrated on the second Sunday in May in the USA, Canada, and Australia and at other times in other countries. May is also traditionally the month of Mary, Our Mother. The CFP Holy Angels Gift Shop offers many products (samples below) that honor our Blessed Mother. To order, please see http://www.cfpholyangels.com or write to CFP Holy Angels Gift Shop, 1702 Lumbard Street, Fort Wayne IN 46803 USA. Your purchases support the Confraternity of Penitents in its mission to spread the message of penance (conversion) world wide. May God bless you for your prayers and patronage!
Custom Print Marian Images Prayer Cards. Your own text or Marian Prayer printed on the reverse at no extra charge. Must be ordered in sets of 8 cards as shown. $4 for eight cards.
Stella Maris (Mary, Star of the Sea) hand crafted leather breviary cover. $79.95