Confraternity of Penitents Newsletter - November 2018
NOTE: The Fast of St. Martin begins November 12 and lasts until Christmas. How to observe this fast is found in the CFP Constitutions which interpret the Rule of 1221 for living today. Those at the Novice 3 level and above are bound to observe the Fast of St. Martin as written in the Rule. Those not yet at the Novice 3 level should make some extra sacrifices during the Fast to observe it in the spirit of the Rule.
Information on the Fast of Saint Martin is found in the CFP on line Franciscan Penance Library on this link.
SPIRITUAL ADVISOR’S ADVICE: JETTISONING POSSESSIONS
The Gospel about the rich young man is so awesome. I love this Gospel, in fact, all the Gospels from Mark, because they consciously talk about how we can always be reaching higher. Jesus didn't come to make things easier. Jesus makes things more difficult and yet, at the same time, easier because of the grace. You can’t get away from the law which asks us to do what God expects of us.
I love preaching against hippie Jesus. It's my favorite thing in the world to do because everyone has this whole idea like, “Oh, my gosh, the Lord is caring. And what would Jesus do?”
Jesus doesn't care if you guys ask these questions. He wants you to be with him forever in heaven so he cares a lot more than we can possibly imagine. So this whole idea of “when He comes, he’s setting the bar higher” is so questionable. The bar is already high!
The rich young man comes to Jesus, asking him all these different questions. “What do I need to do, Jesus?” Jesus tells him, “You know what you need to do. Keep the commandments.” And the rich young man says, “I have done this from my youth. What else do I need to do?” Jesus tells him, “You know, there are a few other things you can do. Sell everything you have and give it to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven.”
Think about this. The rich young man knelt before Jesus and asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to gain eternal life?” Jesus said, “Why do you call me good?” I love that line. It's delightfully sarcastic and cheeky. Why did he call Jesus “good”? Was he just trying to be nice? Why did Jesus say, “Only God is good”? Was he trying to convince him that he is not God? Was Jesus simply trying to get the young man to realize what he said and to ask himself if Jesus really was God?
I think something interesting is going on here. We all know that Jesus is God. So often we go to the Lord and we call out to the Lord. We even use the titles of the Lord that we know are true. However, it's never good when you say a title in an empty way. We should use the titles of God in the fullest sense, with the fullest heart. Do we do that when we say, “Dear Jesus” or “My good Lord?” or are we just thoughtlessly praying?
This dialogue makes me think about when I go to my mom for something that I want from her. How do I tell her that I want something? When I have something that I want from Mom, I tell her that I love her and give her kisses. “You’re so awesome, Mom!” Time for me to go to confession! But you know that this is how we do things -- when you want something from someone, you pay them compliments. Your words may not necessarily be untrue or unfelt. Nevertheless, there is another motive behind them. The motive is to get what you want. For example, I do love my mother. However, if I tell her I love her because I want something from her, that’s deceptive. The rich young man wanted something from Jesus-- he wanted to know how to gain eternal life. Was this why he called Jesus “good”? Did he call Jesus “good” without thinking about what he was saying?
Maybe Jesus was using the rich young man’s question to call him back to himself. “Why did you call me good? God alone is good.” Perhaps Jesus is waiting for the man to take that step, to say, “Oh, yes, I called you that because I believe that you are God. You are the only one who offers us eternal life.” How awesome that would have been!
However, if the rich young man called Jesus “good” because he wanted to get something out of him, it must have broken Jesus’ heart to know this. Later on, the rich young man addresses Jesus as “Teacher,” but he does not call him GOOD Teacher. He just says “Teacher.” “Teacher, I have observed all these things from my youth.” In a sense, Jesus challenged the young man to acknowledge who Jesus was, and he backed down.
Now I don’t know what the Lord’s intention was with his questioning. I don’t want to put words in Christ’s mouth. And I don’t want to speculate about the motives of the young man. However, the truth is that the young man called Jesus “good” in the first question he asked, and only called him “Teacher” in the second question. Maybe he didn’t have the confidence in what Jesus was teaching to call him “good” the second time. Maybe he thought, “He said only God is good, and this man can’t be God.” Maybe the young man was just trying to be obedient to Jesus who seemed like he didn’t want to be called “good” when he said that only God is good.
I recently had a talk with a fifth-grader who kicked someone on the playground. Whenever the kids get out of hand at our parish school, I get called to talk to the troublemakers. So, I talked to him. What I found out was that he didn't kick the person. Another boy did the kicking. “So why did you lie?” I asked this boy. “Why did you say it was you? Why did you go along with it?”
You know what he said to me? “Because that’s what you wanted to hear.”
“You would lie because you think that’s what I wanted to hear?”
What is it that God wants to hear from us? God wants us to call him “good.” God wants us to recognize that he is God. But he doesn’t want us to just say it because God wants to hear it. I think that was one of the saddest parts of the whole kicking incident for me. And it’s one of the saddest things about the rich young man, too. He changed that line from “Good Teacher” to “Teacher” because he thought that was what Jesus wanted to hear. And he went away sad because he had many possessions.
The Lord was much less concerned about his possessions than he was about the young man’s not acknowledging Jesus for who he is. God wants us to give him our obsessions. That’s what possessions can be – obsessions. The Franciscan charism eschews needless possessions, some of which you may love more than others, but we eschew those needless possessions because they get in the way of us being able to see the goodness of God. They get in the way of us being able to recognize Jesus for who he is. Lots of times, possessions keep us focused either on ourselves or our own ability to manage them or get rid of them. They can fool us into this weird sense of “we can do all this on our own.”
We want to call God good, but, all of a sudden, when we get challenged, we shrink back from acknowledging God as God and as good. We figure it’s all up to us. We acknowledge God one moment and then, in the next moment, we're right back to a camera's focus on what I want to get, what I want to do. We should be acknowledging God’s primacy over our own all the time. Be willing to get rid of what God wants you to get rid of (not just what you think you need to jettison), and that might not be physical stuff only—it can be emotional baggage, pride, or whatever is spiritually impeding us. Get rid of it – let God show you how (it might not be the way you think) – and then come and follow Jesus. Let God be primary over your own plans and ideas. That’s the way to perfection.
– Father Jacob Meyer, Spiritual Advisor
Confraternity of Penitents Photo Album
Nancy Myer, OFS, Karen Hopersburger, CFP, Phyllis O’Brien, CFP—Three members of Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Chapter that used to meet in Michigan. Due to individuals moving apart, the chapter has disbanded but members still keep in touch. Please pray for Nancy, a CFP Associate who has completed formation, who broke her back in September, two months after this photo was taken.
At CFP Retreat 2018 at St. Felix Retreat Center, Huntington, Indiana, Joel Whitaker, having completed four years of formation in our life style, pledged to live the CFP Rule for Life. He is flanked by Mariah Dragolich, his CFP mentor, and Lucy Fernandez, his CFP Formator, both also life pledged members who witnessed his pledge. Our brother Joel is husband, father, editor, writer, professor, and politician. The CFP welcomes his enthusiasm, commitment, and organizational abilities. Joel has been responsible for using internet technology to streamline the CFP elections. Thank you, dear brother!
HUMOR: MORE ACTUAL SIGNS AT THE INDIAN HILLS COMMUNITY CENTER IN COLORADO
Cow stumbles into pot field! The steaks have never been higher.
Crushing pop cans is soda pressing.
Big Shout Out to my fingers -- I can always count on them.
In search of fresh vegetable puns. Lettuce know.
He who laughs last -- didn't get it.
Irony -- The opposite of wrinkly.
Tried to grab the fog. I mist.
When you're down by the sea, and an eel bites your knee, that's a moray.
NO GREATER LOVE: THE HUMANITY OF CHRIST
When we contemplate Jesus Christ, we are contemplating God. Yet that is not the whole story. Jesus Christ is “true God and true man” according to number 464 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. We cannot leave the “true man” out of it. Theologian Hans Urs Von Balthasar, in his book Prayer, gives us advice on how to contemplate the humanity of Jesus Christ. In this way the person who prays within the Church is already sharing, at the level of being, in the mysteries of the object of contemplation and in the mysteries of the act of divine revelation. Not only may he behold these things from outside: he is privileged to experience them from within. He is privileged to understand that the Father's self-revelation in the Son, through the Son's descent into flesh, takes the form of a sacrifice of love in which the Son makes himself poor (2 Cor 8:9); through his total abandonment of himself the Son becomes an unmistakable sign of the origin and nature of divine love, which thus glorifies itself. Consequently the contemplative's gaze continually returns with great attention to the humanity of Jesus. It is the inexhaustible treasure entrusted to us by the heavenly Father. In a true sense he has "despoiled himself" (Jn 3:16) of him to whom he is always pointing: ipsum audite! (Listen to him!) (Mt 17:5). The Son is no floating interstellar body; he is the fruit of this earth and its history; he comes from Mary (who is the exponent of the Old Covenant and of all humanity) just as he comes from the Father. He is grace ascending just as much as grace descending; he is just as much creation's highest response to the Father as he is the Father's Word to creation. He is no God in disguise, acting "as if", simply to give us an example, like the teacher who has no difficulty in writing the solution on the blackboard because he no longer shares the difficulties of his toiling pupils. No. He is the apex of the world in its strivings towards God, and he cuts a path for all of us, gathering up all men's efforts into himself the pioneer, the spearhead. He can do this only by being "in every respect tempted as we are, yet without sinning" (Heb 4: I5), by bearing our burdens as the scapegoat (Heb 13:11 f), the Lamb brought to the slaughter, slain from the foundation of the world (Rev 13:8 AV). Thus he stands at the summit of heaven and earth. The fact that everyone "recognizes" him as the son of Joseph and Mary (which he himself acknowledges: Jn 7:28) is just as important as the fact that they all fail to recognize him and realize that he comes from above. The Messiah the Jews were looking for was an interstellar body, coming "out of the blue": "When the Christ appears, no one will know where he comes from" (Jn 7:27). For them, the fact of Christ's human origin spoke against the authenticity of his mission. By contrast, the Christian will make this whole context the subject of his contemplation. Here is man, sinless, because he has lovingly allowed the Father's will full scope in his life. Here is a man with an utterly free interior life under the most restricted and oppressive conditions, simply through prayer, as we see from the sovereign self-consciousness he displays in dialogue with his disciples and, even more, with his enemies. Here is a man whose love is perfect, although he often makes of others the same inflexible demands he makes of himself. Here is the complete man; not a man who fits in with all and sundry, but a strong and distinctive personality, utterly unforgettable, whose words and deeds are unique and inimitable, whose influence on history is supreme. The perfect friend, the perfect leader, whose energy, however concentrated, never distorted his character, who always remained fresh and even childlike, with no false sophistication, loving children (a sure sign!) and commending their outlook on life to those who liked to think themselves "adult". He never reacts in a banal, predictable way; all that he does is original and creative. Indeed, the gospels and the whole New Testament pulsate with "spirit", in the literary sense as well as the philosophical and religious sense. How empty and relatively poor in imagination, by contrast, are such writings as the Koran or the Speeches of Buddha - once one has the "feel" of them, one can make them up oneself!
Just as we need to marvel and wonder at the Divinity of Christ, we also need to marvel at wonder at His Humanity. This does not mean forgetting and ignoring His Divinity and simply admiring Him as a wonderful model for human behavior. Modern theology often does that in the interests of human autonomy. We need to keep the Divine Greatness of Christ together with his humility in becoming man. Von Balthasar explains this in more detail. We only have a right to describe the Church as the total sacrament of salvation provided we take the humanity seriously. For the sign-quality- the rite, the matter, the sanctifying word-is essential to the sacrament. And this is only the case because the whole Christ, with all he has done and bequeathed to us, has genuine, undiminished humanity. Christ's perfect humanity is the efficacious sign revealing the Father, the language employed by the divine Word in hypostatic union in order to set forth the world of God to man. His humanity, in its totality, is made the vehicle of an even greater truth, an eternal and absolute truth. What an ineffable dignity this imparts to our nature! What a source of joy, penetrating even to the dreary corners of everyday life! Christianity is not only truth from heaven mediated through human communication: it is the truth of man. It is not an unreal make-believe composed of ritual and mere commandments which has its validity "somewhere or other"-only not in prosaic everyday reality. Christianity is this everyday life as it is conceived by God and given to us.
The fact that Christ achieved redemption not through earthly battles but through dying in frailty and abandonment, and that following Christ must therefore mean a path of renunciation, of the cross, does not contradict what has just been said; rather, it demonstrates its highest application. Christ's passion does not mean that the man Christ is more and more reduced and hollowed out so that God can increasingly take over. It means, first of all, that human possibilities which men fear, despise, and try to hide, are now seen in their true light: it means that Christ can keep going even when his positive and active energies are spent. Even humanly speaking, the concept of heroism has to do with suffering, with a holding fast in danger, in pain, and finally in weakness and death. Christ stretches and oversteps the boundaries appointed for heroes; he does not put a question mark against heroism as such. This must be recognized first; only then can we go on to understand Christ's "achievement" (of remaining obedient and faithful in weakness, anguish and abandonment) as the transcendent manifestation of divine love within human love; only then can we venture to see the Son's obedience unto death as the act in which the "old man" is judged, sentenced and buried, in order to make room for the "new". But he who achieves this is the new Adam, and what he achieves is what John calls "glorification"; God is glorified by human love going to such extreme lengths.
The mystery of Christ’s Divinity and Humanity gives us abundant material for contemplation. Hans Urs Von Balthasar tells us how this should affect our life of discipleship. It is at this point that contemplation seriously and unavoidably begins to affect life. It affects my life, not my speculations, fantasies, my religious and theological daydreams, but my real life. I live my life by faith, i.e., my vision is veiled. In contemplating the gospel and the history of salvation in general, I am astonished, again and again, at the degree of this "veiling". It is as if God is not particularly interested in our attaining any kind of systematic grasp of his revelation. How much there is that we do not know about Jesus! How dependent we are on a knowledge of the laws of literary composition when we wish to approach his word, his Person! We find the same or similar words put in different contexts by different evangelists, we find the same events recounted differently. It is as if the Holy Spirit, the author of scripture, has actually placed a veil in scripture itself over the mystery of the Lord's earthly life, a veil we cannot lift. He is there, attested beyond doubt in portrayals which no mere man could ever have invented. His image springs from the page, pulsating with life. But he himself escapes from all the conceptual snares we lay for him: "transiens per medium illorum ibat" (But passing through the midst of them He went away.) (Lk 4:30). The contemplative will come to love this mystery. It is part of ]esus' secret, part of his will, that he is flesh and not a ghost; that he is neither sage, ascetic, mystic, nor theologian, but Son of Man; that he is content to be regarded as Joseph's son. There is much in Christianity which can be subjected to exact analysis. But the ultimate things are shrouded in the silent mysteries of God. What is ultimate in Jesus is turned, not toward men, but toward the Father; it is itself contemplation, and action within contemplation.
– Jim Nugent, CFP
CFP HOLY ANGELS GIFT SHOP
Consider doing your Christmas shopping at the CFP Holy Angels Gift Shop. For example, in addtion to many gifts, the shop also offers an
Advent Wreath : $20 complete. Includes wreath, 3 piece Nativity scene, and candles.
Advent candles only: 4.95 -- Wreath only: 12.00 -- Three Piece Nativity Centerpiece only: 3.95
All proceeds support the Confraternity of Penitents. Thank you and God bless you!
REFLECTION ON THE RULE: CONSTITUTIONS XIX AND XX:
XIX. ADDITIONAL PROCEDURES -- Additional procedures are delineated in the CFP Rule and Directory.
XX. APPLICATIONS OF THE RULE OF 1221
In keeping with the Preamble of the Rule, here begin the Constitutions of the Continent (those who give up things) Confraternity of Penitents. In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The Rule, which is how we live our daily life, will be discussed in future newsletters. The CFP directory is in the CFP Handbook and gives specific directions on internal CFP governance such as elections, chapters and circles, and dealings with bishops.
The preamble indicates that the Rule of the Confraternity of Penitents is for the Continent, an old word for those who are abstaining from legitimate human pleasures and needs. This abstinence is a type of penance that enables one to develop self-control as a sacrifice of the body and the will to God. This sacrifice is made through the grace of the Trinity -- the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
FOLLOWING FRANCIS, FOLLOWING CHRIST:
THE FAST OF SAINT MARTIN
The Fast of St. Martin begins on November 12, the day after the Feast of St. Martin which was a great day of rejoicing and feasting in medieval times. St. Francis observed the Fast of St. Martin just as all religious and laity did at his time. The lay penitents, for whom the Rule of 1221 was written, for individuals who voluntarily chose to live a life of penance which was similar to a life designated for public penitents who were required to do penance as satisfaction for sins forgiven.
The fast of St. Martin for the Brothers and Sisters of Penance, which was the name given to the penitents in the original Rule of 1221, is the fast which the Confraternity of Penitents is following today. However, we follow this fast the way the Church now requires a fast to be done. That is, we have one full meal and two smaller meals which, put together do not equal the full meal in size. There is no solid food to be eaten between meals. This is the way fasting is done on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday during Lent. The CFP follows this fast throughout all of the Fast of St. Martin.
The Fast of St. Martin enables the penitent to grow stronger in self-discipline through the practice of self-denial of legitimate food for the body. As the penitent practices this “giving up” of food, he or she generally becomes more clearheaded in spiritual matters and will begin to notice other excesses in their lives that should be pruned away. This is the purpose of the fast: not to make things difficult, but to open the way for more spiritual and prudent decisions and to give the strength necessary to follow through with action. Therefore, the Fast of St. Martin should be a time of joy and preparation for Christmas.
The Fast of St. Martin reminds us to keep penitential the time before Christmas. The Advent Wreath enables us to observe Advent all the way to Christmas. Penitents might consider refraining from putting up Christmas decorations until Christmas Eve and instead focusing on Advent prayers and celebrations. Then Christmas can be celebrated until the Baptism of the Lord. This is in keeping with the Church’s mind regarding the Christmas season. Happy Fast of Saint Martin!
—Madeline Pecora Nugent.
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THE RACE: A PARABLE
You are the sponsor of an important marathon. You have worked very hard and many long hours to train most of the runners on your team to be competing in the coming race. You put in so much effort to assist them that, in fact, you have grown to love and know each one personally. On the day of the marathon, you are proud of your elite runners and those doing their personal best who are competing well and are leading many other runners on to victory. Much to your disappointment, however; you learn that about 60% of your runners slacked on the personal training that was assigned to them, which has resulted in their poor performance during the race. To compensate for this, most of them decided to cheat when they thought no one would notice, and purposely took a much shorter route. After learning this, you decided to allow the cheaters to run the race, but you exposed them as cheaters by disqualifying them when they reached the finish line. Your timing was perfect because the race wasn’t interrupted, and the elite runners, who ran the race fairly, crossed the finish line with the announcement of their proper positions in the race.
Many of the spectators at your race have long been your faithful followers, and you love them as much as your team members. The spectators love and support you by purchasing and wearing your apparel from your store, and by coming to all your races and encouraging all the runners on your team. They even volunteer to set up races for you and clean up afterwards. When they learned that some, and perhaps even most, of the runners on your team had cheated in this important race, they continued to be faithful to you. No matter what happened, they knew you to be an honest, hard-working, supportive, and demanding, but loving, coach; and they decided to work with you to help the cheaters learn from their mistakes and help them get back and stay on the right track.
Some of your spectators, however; weren’t as faithful. They only sometimes made purchases from you and seldom wore your apparel. When they learned of the cheating at your race, many of them blamed you and no longer attended your races. Others, while not blaming you for the cheaters’ mistakes, decided to leave you, citing that your races were no longer wort while and they didn’t want their families exposed to cheating. They came to your races to see their favorite runners win, and they cared more about how the runners performed than about being loyal to you.
In this little parable, some of the representations are obvious. You, the sponsor of the race, represent the Lord. Your team represents the priesthood of the Catholic Church and the other competing teams in the race represent religious leaders of other faiths who are being led to victory by your faithful runners. The sexually abusive priests of the Church are represented by the cheaters on your team. The faithful spectators in the story represent the parishioners or faithful people of God who pray much and are devoted to the Lord and His Church; while the other, less faithful spectators represent the lukewarm parishioners who are sometimes faithful but seem to have little time for prayer. The finish line represents the gate or entry into heaven. As a running coach, you discipline yourself and train your athletes to do the same in order to obtain the ultimate goal, which is that of doing one’s personal best in a race, even if not winning. As you know, athletes who do not discipline themselves through daily practice will not do their personal best; they simply won’t achieve that goal in a race. The more your athletes do train themselves with the knowledge, suggestions, and perhaps running apparel and equipment you have given them, the more they come to know and develop an intimate relationship with you, and you with them.
God is our Creator and has given us many gifts for the spiritual life. Among these gifts are disciplines which help us to attain our ultimate goal, which is no other than that of being one with Him in heaven! These disciplines include prayers, devotions, sacrifices, fasting, reverent church attendance, participation in the sacraments, spiritual reading, and the wearing and use of sacramentals. The Lord gave us these disciplines so that we may use them to train ourselves spiritually. The more we make use of them, the holier we become. Without these gifts, it wouldn’t be possible to reach our goal of being united with Him in heaven.
As you well know, those runners who faithfully train for races and do their personal best have good reason to make you proud of them and, you and they feel good about yourselves after a good race. Likewise, when we use the gifts that God has given us for our spiritual training, we come to know Him in a deep personal way, we feel His presence and learn to see and hear Him with our spiritual eyes and ears. Those who do not faithfully participate in spiritual training, distance themselves from the Lord. You may not train all of your runners in the same way. Your elite and experienced runners may have a different program than the others. Each athlete may have a different protocol depending on running style, physical ability, and motivation. More will be expected of those who have more experience and ability. If you have the same protocol for all your runners, you may either be shortchanging your elite, or be too demanding on your less experienced.
The same is true in the spiritual life. In God’s family, each individual has different abilities, and more is expected of those to whom more has been given. Those of the Catholic Church not only have the true faith, but they have also been given the gifts of the sacraments, especially Baptism, Reconciliation and the Eucharist. They, therefore, have much more to return to the Lord. They must, more diligently, participate in the life of the Church through the spiritual disciplines (listed above) that have been given to them.
The clergy of the Catholic Church, who have been blessed with the graces of the sacraments and have been given many sacred gifts of the Lord which have not been given to others, have very much to return to Him. They are also much more severely tempted by the enemy as a result. Satan knows that destroying the clergy of the Catholic Church will lead many souls away from the true faith. The Church throughout history, therefore, has been severely attacked by its enemies, and as members of that Church, we are called to continuously pray and sacrifice for it as our forefathers did before us.
In the parable, you as a coach, allowed the cheaters to complete the race with all other runners so that it wouldn’t be interrupted. In your wisdom as a coach, you knew that those who trained hard and ran the race fairly, had a better chance of running their personal best, and of completing the race without hindrance, if all ran together for the duration. You knew, also, that, when the honest runners saw the cheaters ahead of them in the race, they would only be challenged to run all the harder, whether they were aware of the cheating or not. Therefore, for this particular race, running together was to their advantage. Furthermore, you knew that, by allowing the cheaters to complete the race, at least some of them would later learn from their mistakes, especially when they realized that you were a merciful, as well as a strict, coach.
In our Church we must trust the wisdom and mercy of our Lord as He has allowed, and still allows, abusive priests the time they need to repent and convert while continuing in their office; all the while exposing many others at this time in the Church’s history, for that same opportunity of conversion. The sinful acts of these priests are certainly not in God’s will, however; He knows how to bring good out this dire situation. If the people of God made good use of their baptismal gifts and disciplines, and were fervent in their devotions, wouldn’t they be able to rely on the Lord and, for the most part, protect themselves and their children from abusive priests while being loyal to the Church? These situations exist mainly because many priests and many people of God are not living holy lives to the degree that they are called.
We must also pray and sacrifice for the poor innocent children who have been affected by priestly abuse. If they grow to adulthood they will, at some point in their lives as the memories return from their childhood, have to face the horror that has happened to them. They will have to choose to forgive with God’s graces or hold the sinful horror bound. They may also have to choose whether to remain in the Church. As this type of healing often comes slowly throughout a lifetime, they will need our continuous prayers and support to find the necessary counseling, guidance, and spiritual direction to help them respond appropriately, make good decisions, and grow in holiness. God will utilize the sacrifices of these innocents, just as He utilized the sacrifices of the innocent babies that were slaughtered by Herod at the time of His own birth, and richly bless the victims and their families if they remain faithful.
Those priests dedicated to the priesthood and their church family, and the faithful parishioners who have been victims, are greatly strengthened in the virtues as they walk in the footsteps of their Lord by willingly carrying their crosses and offering their persecutions, sufferings, and sacrifices to Him for the benefit of their fallen brethren. Their reward will be greater in the heavenly Kingdom as a result. Should not all men of the Church, who by their baptism, are called to be priests for their families be included in the company of the dedicated clergy who willingly offer sacrifices for all? The Catholic parishioners who fight the good fight as well, without turning away, will also reap bounteous benefits. Our merciful Lord will rain down His abundant blessings on them in this life as well as the next.
The spectators at the race in the analogy purchased and wore your apparel. Christians don’t purchase anything from God; on the other hand, the Lord has purchased salvation for them, and all people, by His blood. However, by wearing the “apparel” of the Lord, namely our blessed medals, scapulars, religious habits, etc., we show that we belong to Him and we are strengthened by His graces as a result. And when any of the people of God sin, we increase our prayers and sacrifices for each other all the more. Also, in the analogy, some spectators blamed you when they learned of cheating and no longer attended your races. It is easy to interpret the meaning here as many members have left the Catholic Church as a result of the abuse scandal, blaming God or the Church as a whole. Other parishioners have lost faith in the Church and are no longer dedicated just as the spectators, in the analogy, who no longer saw your races as worthwhile.
It is our duty in the Lord, however; to support and pray for our Holy Father, the Pope, all the clergy, and all our brothers and sisters in the faith. We must not leave our dear Lord or the Church He established, because many of His priests choose to do evil. He will take care of that in His own time, just as in the analogy when you allowed the cheaters to run with the honest runners only to expose them at the finish. We must be faithful to God, trusting in His wisdom and providence for the Church at large.
--Diane Joslyn, CFP