Confraternity of Penitents Monthly Newsletter -- September 2018
SPIRITUAL ADVISOR’S ADVICE: LESSONS FROM BROTHER ALBERT: TRUE FRANCISCANISM IS ABOUT RELATIONSHIP
Note: Father Jacob Meyer housed Brother Albert (not his real name) at the parish rectory. Father is sharing lessons that Brother Albert taught him. The first two lessons were in the July and August newsletters.
Brother Albert has taken the seminarians, who also stay at the rectory, completely under his wing. Not in a “I’ve got to tell you something” sort of way. But in a genuine way. He sits down with them and he so much desires to get to know them. He wants to know who they are. He wants to talk to them about spiritual things. I’m in the kitchen, preparing dinner or doing something, and they are in the living room. But I can hear them. I think, “Oh, this must be what it’s like to be a parent. You hear the kids talking, and they don’t realize that you’re hearing them.”
I hear these most beautiful conversations of Brother Albert just sharing his experiences of God.. “Did you read the Office of Readings? Let’s talk about what was in the Office of Readings today!” And, “I got this out of it. What did you get out of it?” I like how he’s so good, even down to the pronunciation of words. There are a lot of words that are newest seminarian feels like he’s an idiot about because he doesn’t know how to pronounce them. But like all the rest of us, because we are in community, when we pronounce a word wrong the first time, someone corrects us. Then we feel like a schlep so we never forget it again. That’s how it works! However, Brother Albert knows how to pronounce them. He teaches them and draws out the spiritual life for them so that both seminarians came up to me and said, “Boy, I love talking to Brother because he takes things to such a deep spiritual level”. That friendship in Christ teaches them how to talk about deep and beautiful spiritual things-- theology and prayer and so on. It’s the Franciscan call of a deep, personal nature. Here is contemplation and sharing the fruits of contemplation. Brother Albert brought that into our home, and I think that’s something that’s very important for us as priests and those who are aspiring to be priests.
So, we ask ourselves, if we are trying to live close to Francis, are we bringing our life of prayer to others? Are we sharing it? Are we sharing those fruits of contemplation? In a more active life, we do that by talking to people. In the cloister, all those fruits of contemplation inspire nuns to pray for this or that aspect of the Church. I think of my own prayer. So often when I’m praying, I feel inspired to pray for someone, and I imagine that must happen frequently in the lives of cloistered nuns. We need to foster that in this very personal nature of Franciscan-ism.
One of my favorite books is Pierced by a Sword. There are few people I’m trying to get into the Church, and they are spouses of people in my parish, so we are going to have a book club with that book. One theme of that book is, “Oh, God wants me to pray for someone I do not even know.” That theme is pervasive throughout the book. While we are called to be personal in our prayers, we are encouraged to take those graces that we receive in prayer and make them personal for people we don’t even know, to imagine those people, to put faces to them, to use our imagination for the good, to say I want to offer this up for this poor soul, whoever it is, who I know is suffering. We all know there’s a poor soul suffering with us somewhere, and we know that the Blessed Mother is calling us to unite our prayers to hers for that person! Brother Albert does that so beautifully. We pray together and share our prayer intentions for this or that person. Brother Albert will say, “I just know there’s someone suffering with this somewhere, so I’m going to pray for that.” Someone will ask, “You sure you don’t have a friend somewhere with this problem? Somebody you know?” And he’ll say, “No. No. I’m just going to pray for a person somewhere with this problem.” Or he will offer a Holy Hour for that person. I don’t think I’ve ever done that, not just for someone in general! I’ve given a lot of my offerings up to the Blessed Mother saying, “Blessed Mother, you know what my sufferings and offerings are. You do this. You take them and apply them to someone. Blessed Mother, you decide.” It’s easy for me to do that because it seems like a logical step after being consecrated to the Blessed Mother. But to pray for someone, just because you know that someone is suffering and needs prayers-- well, it just amazed me.
I’m beginning to realize that Franciscan poverty is about relationship. Things get in the way of relationship. I never realized the depth of that until Brother Albert showed me how that works. It’s a tale as old as time-- what is poverty and what is not. But it was a beautiful thing to see someone who just didn’t care about the stuff so much so that his poverty was truly a poverty of spirit so that he really tries to be the least. Brother Albert does the most least tasks which makes me feel terrible and I love him all the more. He reminded of my pastor who just turned 70. He’s a bundle of energy. He is pastor over one of the largest parishes in the diocese and the man never sits still. He lives for his people. He is up at 4 AM. He’s having meetings with people. He’s not done with the parish until 10 PM. The man just spends himself. But when you’re a seminarian in his parish, you learn that the one thing you have to do to keep him happy is to empty the dishwasher. As long as the dishwasher is empty, he’s happy. So, when I was a seminarian there, I emptied the dishwasher. All the time. There was never a dish in the sink, and the dishwasher was always empty. Why? Because he’s my spiritual father and I just wanted to make him happy. We tell every seminarian who goes there. “Empty the dishwasher.”
Everybody has one weird thing. Franciscan life is finding what that one thing is for everyone and then doing it, because it’s worth it for every single person on earth. I did that for my priest, because I loved him like my father. He’s my spiritual father!. Do I do that for everyone? No! Should I? Yes! I thought about that once during my holy hour. I thought, “Why don’t I do that? Brother Albert does it. Why don’t I do that?” I give the same advice to couples about to be married. I give it to them all the time. I tell them they have to have a business meeting once a month. At this meeting, each spouse has to answer this question for the other spouse, “If my spouse would change this one thing about their life, my life would be so much easier.” Every spouse wants to know that one thing, correct? They want to make their spouse happy. So, what’s the one thing? And whatever it is, that’s exactly what I should be doing!
Brother Albert teaches me because that’s what he does. He goes around, and he’s only been there a month, but he knows what makes every single one of our people in our office happy. And he does it. I didn’t realize it until, all of a sudden, I’m talking to everyone, and these are separate conversations, and each one is saying that he does this for me or he does that for me, and it’s the particular one weird thing that person wants that will make them happy. For example, our choir director hates dust on the rail of the choir loft. So where do I see him on Saturday, before she gets there? He’s up there with a rag, dusting. I asked him, “What are you doing?” “Dusting.” “Well, okay. Carry on.” Then I went over to the office and I find out that the choir director happened to mention the dusty choir rail in a conversation with Brother Albert, but she didn’t notice that he had been dusting for two weeks. Then she noticed, and she came to me and said, “Do you know what Brother Albert has been doing?”
In the short amount of time that he’s been here, Brother Albert has done what other Franciscans have not been able to do over the years, and that is to give this woman a Franciscan who, to her, walks on water. For the first three weeks I heard complaints about how poor Brother Albert was living, but now I hear no complaints. Why is that? Because Brother Albert found the one thing for that person and he does it. It’s Franciscan genius!
Thus, Brother Albert has single-handedly transformed a few people in the parish who come in contact with him personally. He’s made them very much fall in love with the Franciscan charism. And here’s the most ironic thing. He always tells me, “I didn’t know anything about Francis before I became a Franciscan.” He had no particular attachment to Francis before he came to the community, but of course, who doesn’t love St. Francis? I think it’s very interesting that this man, who wasn’t overly Franciscan before he became a Franciscan, taught me more than anyone else what living like Francis is about. So, I am thanking God for him in many different ways, but I also hope that, in the many different ways you are living out the Franciscan charism, that you never think it’s not noticed or appreciated. It will be noticed and appreciated and will make a great and profound difference in people’s lives, even when they don’t know it. Especially when they don’t know it. People like me. So, thank you, Brother Albert.
--Father Jacob Meyer, Spiritual Advisor
NO GREATER LOVE: THE OBJECT OF CONTEMPLATION
In order to know God’s will for us, we need to know first of all what God had told all of humanity through the Word of God, which we can call Divine Revelation. As theologian Hans Urs Von Balthasar tells us in Prayer, we cannot know God apart from what He has told us. The Object of contemplation is God. We listen to God's word only because it is God's. We contemplate the life of Jesus only because it is the life of the Son of God. Whatever we pay attention to in salvation history-the form and language of creation, the prophets of the Old Covenant, the apostles, the Church with its saints and prayers, its pronouncements and sacraments-we do so only because it is through these things that God's salvation is brought to us. We cannot contemplate God apart from these pathways which lead to him, and reveal him to us, for it is thus that he manifests himself, it is thus that he confronts us. Even in the "unveiled sight" of eternity we shall never see God in any other way but in his sovereign, incomprehensible self-revelation, in which he gives himself, stepping forth out of his unapproachable Being and bridging the infinite chasm which separates us from him. Everything is possible to the creature except one thing: it cannot be God. The creature is in root and marrow fundamentally different from him and will remain so for ever. And the nearer man approaches him in terms of will and knowledge, the more he experiences the abyss which separates him from the One who is "all" (Sir 43:27) and knows no distinction (non-aliud).
While even pagans can contemplate some sort of a “Supreme Being”, they can only know what is not God. They cannot know who God is because God is on an infinitely higher level of being than humans and has been called Being Itself or Absolute Being. We cannot analyze God the way scientists study nature since scientists study things on a lower level of being than themselves. We can only know who God is from what He has told us. The letter to the Hebrews states: “In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the ages.” (Heb 1:1-2)
While God’s ultimate revelation to us is His Son, theologian Von Balthasar warns us against taking this for granted. Unless a person is acquainted with trembling awe, reaching down to the very ground of his being, at the thought of God's nature (not merely the awe he feels in the face of the "mysteries of existence" and the deep things of the world), he will not be ready for the contemplation of Jesus Christ. At the least, he will need to prepare himself in the school of the Old Covenant. Otherwise he will be in danger of coming to Christ like someone blind and dumb, finding nothing more in him than an example of perfect humanity; such a person would not be contemplating God, but man, i.e., himself. Anyone contemplating the life of Jesus needs to be newly and more deeply aware every day that something impossible, something scandalous has occurred: that God, in his absolute Being, has resolved to manifest himself in a human life (and is in a position to make this resolve effective!).
The first believers in Jesus Christ were Jews who were very familiar with the Old Covenant. They were repeatedly amazed and shocked to see the prophecies of the Old Covenant fulfilled in a way which they never could have dreamed. We also need to recover the initial shock and awe of the first Christians. If we just open the Bible and read about Jesus without understanding from where He comes, we will just find someone there whom we can mold to our own way of thinking. We need to know the God of the Old Covenant to know the God of the New Covenant.
What God had done for us in Jesus Christ demands a response. Von Balthasar tells us of the extreme divisions that Jesus Christ brought about. The multitude's astonishment was often more in the nature of an external amazement at the miraculous signs; where the praying contemplative is concerned, therefore, his astonishment at the truth he has beheld will be all the more profound. In the gospel, anyone who encounters Christ is impelled either to worship him or to pick up stones with which to stone him. Evidently, the gospel does not foresee any other kind of response. It is interesting that Jesus did not stop being provocative at his trials before the Jewish Sanhedrin and Pontius Pilate. Even His silence was provocative.
While Jesus did certainly display the love, mercy, and compassion of God, He also spoke of Divine judgment. Von Balthasar tells us about this aspect of Jesus. All the time, however, he is stirring the fire: he clothes the love which he came to bring in words of judgment; he warns people that they stand in danger of perishing; more than his disciples, he speaks of the flames of Gehenna, eternal wrath. "And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart" (Mk 3:5). Is He not still grieved by the hardness of our hearts even today?
How do we not grieve the Lord? Theologian Von Balthasar explains for us the attitude we need to take to our contemplation. There is no question of our being "ready" to take the shock of the Absolute. We cannot get in training for it and be more prepared to meet it. We cannot manipulate our contemplation in order to acquire some relevant "experience". When God suddenly appears in Christ, the ground is taken from under us; this is something to which we can only respond with ever greater humility and renunciation, more and more simply and vulnerably, increasingly revealing our nakedness and poverty. And it is this poverty of heart which is called "blessed" in the first of the Beatitudes. Anything and everything which frees man from himself becomes an organ through which he can be shown what God wishes to show him. This liberation from himself is indispensable if he is to see in Jesus (a being among other beings) the very essence of Being, giving itself to us as absolute love. This love, John warns us, is not our love, from below: it is an entirely different love; and it is by gazing in faith at the Son who pours himself out for us that we can feel its quality.
This is where contemplation sets to work. On the one hand, what the Son is and does is human, and is thus comprehensible. We can understand, from a psychological point of view, how a person can be so taken up with a religious mission that he thinks of nothing else, stakes everything on it and, ultimately, is prepared to be crucified for the sake of his idea. If we could not "comprehend" the human side, the incomprehensible side would not strike us with such force; our contemplation of the divine would lack a starting point. But the incomprehensible begins as soon as we start to "understand". As soon as we have identified some feature, we realize that it absolutely refuses to fit into our categories. Even the quality of Christ's humanity is so different from all other humanity and from everything that is possible in the world.
All the same, the humanity of the Son of Man is human: it is not interfered with, there is no grotesque distortion; it bears the mark of its divine quality just as white-hot iron shows its heat; indeed, the divine reveals its incomparable power in the very fact that what is human is not destroyed. If the two magnitudes were of the same order, the greater would of necessity be a threat to the lesser. A tree planted in a flower pot will burst it. Only God can appear in a creature without destroying it. Faith is rendered able to contemplate the divine in creaturely form. "Philip, he who sees me sees the Father." Faith can do what is totally beyond our conceptions: it can observe absolute Being choosing a particular being as a vessel and putting itself into this vessel in order to express itself. As faith contemplates, it develops in such a way that it is less and less likely to confuse the absolute with anything of the world. It lives more and more in an atmosphere of worship, increasingly drawing thence its nourishment. It simply lives to worship. Our contemplation of Jesus Christ should indeed induce in us a strong and irresistible desire to worship Him.
– Jim Nugent, CFP
Confraternity Photo Album
Josefino Aguirre, Novice 1 (center) with two friars at the Monasterio De Santa Clara in Katipunan Marikina PHILIPPINES 9 August 2018.
Josefino is one of several CFP members in the Philippines.
REFLECTION ON THE RULE: MEETINGS
CONSTITUTIONS: XVII. MEETINGS
Chapters and Circles shall meet monthly in their local communities. Electronic gatherings shall be held monthly, if possible, for those unable to participate in local meetings.
How good it is when penitents meet together! Those who have never met another penitent in person can only imagine the bond that already exists between one penitent and all the others. This is because the penitents are living the same Rule of Life and, even though the personalities may be vastly different, the Rule is the common element among them. Meeting in person or meeting electronically are excellent ways to support one another in our vocation to do penance, that is foster our conversion, through the living of the Rule of 1221. If you are interested in forming a local gathering or being part of one, please contact the CFP administrative headquarters and we will see if there is any group or member near you. Perhaps you can be the instrument, used by the Holy Spirit, to bring the Rule of 1221 to the attention of your parish and your friends. A group may be waiting to happen because you found some other like-minded people who wanted to surrender themselves to God through the living of a challenging way of life.
HUMOR: PSYCHIATRIST VS. BARTENDER
Ever since I was a child, I'd always had a fear of someone under my bed at night. So I went to a shrink and told him: “I've got problems. Every time I go to bed I think there's somebody under it. I'm scared. I think I'm going crazy”
"Just put yourself in my hands for one year," said the shrink. "Come talk to me three times a week and we should be able to get rid of those fears.”
“How much do you charge?”
“One hundred fifty dollars per visit,” replied the doctor.
“I'll sleep on it,” I said.
Six months later the doctor met me on the street. “Why didn't you come to see me about those fears you were having?” he asked.
“Well, $150 a visit, three times a week for a year, is $23,400.00. A bartender cured me for $10.00. I was so happy to have saved all that money that I made a big down payment on a new Mercedes."
“Is that so?” With a bit of an attitude he said, “And how, may I ask, did a bartender cure you?”
“He told me to cut the legs off the bed. Isn't anyone under there now.” It's always better to get a second opinion!
FOLLOWING FRANCIS, FOLLOWING CHRIST: MODERN FOOL FOR GOD
When I was asked to share some of my Faith Inventory for the CFP Newsletter I was hesitant at first. This is very personal and from the heart. Very few know these intimate details. Please remember that this is my journey and experience and if any content strays from the teaching of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic faith it is due to my ignorance and pride. May God have mercy. I am doing a cut-and-paste from the entire Inventory because I was asked to keep it around four paragraphs. May God’s blessing be upon us all as we strive to follow our Lord Jesus Christ after the example of St. Francis of Assisi.
Excerpts from my Faith Inventory:
I believe Jesus of Nazareth is the eternal Son of God and Savior of humanity and I have consecrated my life and being to Him completely. My primary purpose in life is to follow and serve Him faithfully. I strive to do this by being the best Christian husband, father, teacher and colleague, and to bring the love of His love to every situation God leads me. My life is centered on our crucified and resurrected Lord and through Him giving praise and thanks to our Heavenly Father. I strive to live dedicated to prayer and conversion “immersed in the resurrection of Christ.” The center of my being is Jesus in the most Blessed Sacrament and it brings me consolation when I read what Francis wrote about “the most High Son of God in this world.” Jesus is transforming me interiorly by the power of the Holy Spirit through daily prayer, reading and striving to live the Word of God, and participating in the Eucharistic celebration. He has placed a powerful force within me that drives me to learn about Him, learn from Him, and learn to imitate Him who is divine Truth incarnate. This is my joy. This is freedom. It might sound strange or extreme to many, but I am fine with being a “fool” for our Lord.
I reflect and marvel at what Francis accomplished through his response to the grace he was given. This same grace is available to me every day. I just have to say “yes”. To me it is one “fiat” at a time, constantly asking for the intercession of our Lady in my daily Rosary. I have the same sacramental life and I have the same gifts of the Holy Spirit who inspired and led all the saints to holiness. I need to be more submissive to my indwelling Lord. I came to a deeper understanding of this some years ago when I had a profound encounter of the love and mercy of Jesus, and the Holy Spirit filled my heart with His presence. My life changed completely. Words cannot explain it. Mediocracy was not enough for me in my desire to love and serve our Savior. I realized I was called to strive for holiness by the grace of my Baptism and it became personal. I realized I had a purpose that God has prepared for me alone.
I immediately set out on my journey of becoming a more faithful disciple of Christ our Lord. This time it is driven by gospel love and not an emotional encounter with our Divine Master in prayer. In the past, emotional highs and lows dictated my spiritual life…I can do nothing on my own and I now have a better understanding of living Evangelical Poverty. It frees me from worldly desires and attractions and opens me up to relationship with God and neighbor. I might not be able to do great things for the Lord that change the hearts and lives of many, but I can, by God’s grace, bring the peace and love of Jesus to one soul at a time.
Even though Jesus has been a part of my life in various degrees since childhood, I feel as though I have just started. I wake up with a sense of gratitude for the opportunity to serve our Lord in some way each day. It is in gratitude that I start my morning with Lectio and Morning Office before anyone is awake. I have some breakfast with my family and I am out the door and on to the mission field. I do not have to go to a developing country to be a missionary. My mission is my home, my classroom and building, and my community. It is in gratitude that I take time in the day to pray and focus on why I do what I do and who I do it for. It is in gratitude that I participate in the Liturgy and receive our Eucharistic King daily. I love to meditate on Christ enthroned in glory and truly present in the Blessed Sacrament. This is “the source and summit of our Christian faith” as the Catechism states and I embrace this truth with all my heart. Our God is so humble. My car, especially as I commute, has become my little “cell” of prayer. For me, my encounter with the Lord in prayer and the sacramental life is my strength. I must always remember that it is not an encounter of emotion, but of faith. Jesus has “truly set me free.”
My prayer life, by God’s grace, has substantially matured over the years. My prayer has gone from being completely self-centered to more Christ-centered and making intercession. This is the work of God because He knows the degree of egotistical thinking I come from and how much more work He has to accomplish in me. And I give Him permission and free reign while continually begging Him to “make haste and help me.” Sometimes with this openness to my indwelling Lord I do not like where He leads me. My prayer is to be humble and patient like my Master and He always gives me opportunities to practice those particular virtues. I do not want to force my will on God, but I strive to be obedient to God’s will for me. I think of the illness I just recently had and I was home and in bed for over a week. My will and desire are faithfully accomplishing my daily tasks that bring a sense of fulfillment. I offered it up but as a curmudgeon. My perception of control is really quite laughable at times.
Peace to all, Jeffrey Miguel Mahan, CFP Postulant
MONTHLY LETTER TO ALL PENITENTS: EVEN OUR MINDS CAN BECOME AN IDOL IN NEED OF TOPPLING
To begin, I want emphasize God's mercy in the patience he shows toward us, and the struggles we go through in dying to self in order to live (much more deeply and richly and amazingly) for Christ!
Catechism #404: By the unity of the human race, all men are implicated in Adam's sin, as all are implicated in Christ's justice ... Adam had received original holiness and justice not for himself alone, but for all human nature. By yielding to the tempter, Adam and Eve committed a personal sin, but this sin affected the human nature that they would then transmit in a fallen state. It is a sin which will be transmitted by propagation to all mankind, that is, by the transmission of a human nature deprived of original holiness and justice. And that is why original sin is called "sin" only in an analogical sense: it is a sin "contracted" and not "committed"-- a state and not an act.
Original sin is not just an emptiness (a privation alone), but also a wound with very serious effects. (Some have likened our Baptism as filling an empty glass with the water of the indwelling grace of God, but this metaphor is not agreeable with reality). Original sin leaves human nature wounded in the natural powers proper to it; subject to ignorance, suffering, and the dominion of death; and inclined to sin -- an inclination to evil that is called "concupiscence." Baptism, by imparting the life of Christ's grace, erases original sin and turns a man back toward God, but the consequences for nature, weakened and inclined to evil, persist in man and summon him to spiritual battle. CCC 405
Now, using my noggin together with my heart, I pictured what I do when I sin ("committed", not "contracted", as original sin is). I drop an ink blot into a glass of water. [St. Teresa used the analogy of black tar darkening the outer walls of the seven-walled interior castle. It prevents the light of Christ (who is at the center) to shine out.] Instead of emptying the glass, however, when I am contrite and authentically ask forgiveness and go to Mass, the cloudy liquid is placed under an ever-flowing tap, which then completely makes the water in the glass clear again.
I then was inspired by a bunch of things from prayer, reading, listening to EWTN and my faith community and even just every day conversations, and then sharply focused on an old idol of mine: my brain/mind/intellect. It has been such a large part of my self-governing, self-actualizing, and selfish-self-centered rationalizing, that my Soul came to mind.
I then recalled the Catholic teaching on the four aspects of the resurrected body that we can all look forward to in Christ: Agility, Subtility, Impassibility, and Brightness. Subtility being the property of complete subjection of the body by the soul (said positively, the soul's ability to completely govern the body properly without the rebellion we experience presently.)
My soul and my body form a union without confusion and are redeemed in Christ, headed for resurrection. This is unlike the Greeks, who lacked this knowledge, and felt/thought the soul was "trapped" by the prison of the "body" (also a Manichean heresy). Anyway, when my body serves another (God through my neighbor) correctly, it is obeying my soul which is obeying God. Now, the lower processes are something I am guilty of focusing on way too much. Not that they are unimportant, for they are, but more to the point I needed to contemplate this.
So, I went to my brain. Rather than think of my brain as something quite independent of my bodily functions (the lower ones I mentioned earlier which appear to dominate our thoughts: sex, food, and so on), which DO need to be regulated -- to be properly ordered -- I toppled the belief, refused to drink the drug, of thinking my brain is anything other than part of my body; which is supposed to serve my soul's upward longing (and not rebel against it).
Of course Paul knew this. But unless or until I use my will to stay fast to the struggle of faith and life and love and truth, I do not believe I would have made it to the point of realizing "hey, just as my bodily functions of the lower nature need to be ordered, even more so my brain needs to be serving my soul." Not that I am running out of things to pray and act on! By no means! It was an inspired consideration to bring this to prayer.
That was a bit of a relief and an "uh, duh" moment for me (it did not feel like an "ah, ha!" moment). It seems I keep coming around to the same lessons and learning more deeply from them each time God helps my life of faith grow "though the farmer knows not how."
-- Yours in Christ Jesus, with Mary and St. Joseph, Eric Welch, Alessandro Ministry
AFFILIATE SHARING: THE STATE OF THE CHURCH
Recently I have stepped upon my devotional with a friend who has become a GIlbertine Oblate and who has said the office alone for years and years with some bad direction by former religious in our Parish who preferred to ignore the rubrics and taught her to be somewhat laissez faire in the recitation of it. We get together when she has time, she’s eighty and more involved in things that a twenty year old!
Since I started doing that I started praying the Penitents’ Rule of morning and evening Psalmody as well and I find that I am strengthened by it. I use Ps 7 as I can’t find the Psalm 54 in the breviary as they are similar. St. Benedict left 54 out as well in his line up of psalms. But they say pretty much the same thing. I prefer the Gelineau Psalter as that was the version we chose when our community changed to English after the great upheaval! I have theM pretty much memorized as I recited them for over twenty years in full! But, I seem to be setting up a rule of life for myself and trying to stick to it. some days I get lazy, but at least I am trying!
The situation in the church has cause me to suffer terribly. not in a negative or fatalistic way, but that my faith and Hope and Love have been strengthened and I encounter the lukewarmness of some, which I can bear and the violent stupidity of those who just ornate for oration’s sake. Our dear Lord has given me words of faith and Truth to pass to these folks and the Devil laughs them back in my face with the invective of their replies. I am prepared for that, but it saddens me to no end to hear really good Catholics be so un Christian!
I left religious life because I was a coward and was too proud to admit my sinfulness. I cannot judge these folks because I am now trying to repair the breach I made. I am a sinner, I have sinned and sought the “devices and desires” of my own heart, I stand convicted and a grateful that I was not ordained to any ministry in the church at that time! I would have been a disgrace to the Orders! But one thing that I did have was the love of the Priesthood! One thing I do have today is the love of the Priesthood! I have the greatest respect for Holy Orders and I have faith that, when I go to Mass or confession or assist at a Baptism or receive the Sacrament of Healing, it is JESUS who administers these sacraments and it is to Him that I go.
I went to them NO MATTER WHAT! I didn’t care what the state of the Priest’s soul was. I came across some doozies, too, but they were all I had at that time and because of the Sacramental Economy of our Lord’s Mercy, I was able to get to where I am today. Which is where…?
I wish I could let others know how this all works! I think of Alessandro Serenelli (the one who attempted to rape twelve year old Saint Maria Goretti and then killed her when she resisted) locked up and carrying the message of hope to so many (he had a conversion in prison). I hope that those tender shoots won’t be damaged by the crushing violence of the crisis of today!
My shame is the shame of the sinner! My anger is the anger of the remorseful, my bitterness is the bitterness of the failed! But I am still so full of Joy! Joy of the Mercy of God! Joy that Jesus in His tenderness has never let me drift off into darkness and gnashing of teeth! We are locked in the Heart of God and we can communicate there.
Retirement has given me a new vision of life. I am a prisoner of the finances of retirement and the debts I have had to incur to stay alive, but I rejoice that God has been Goodness Itself, for that is His Nature! In spite of the failings of so many and the uncertainty of the times, we have a Rock and a Fortress! Jesus is at the Helm of the Barque of Peter! We have been like sheep! And have turned every one to his own way! The readings at Mass have been about the very situation we find ourselves in. The Desolation of Jerusalem, the preaching of the Prophets Jeremiah and Isaiah, Amos and Hosea. My vowed life goes on in solitude and some silence and gets up to praise the Lord of Mercy daily! Pax et bonum,
Brother Maurus, CFP Affiliate
October 4 – 8, St. Felix Retreat Center, Huntington IN. Theme: The Spirituality of Padre Pio. Retreat Master: Fr. Pio Mandata, FMHSJ. $195 overnighters; $60 commuters. Each bring $15 worth of food or paper goods or contribute an additional $15 to purchase them. Reservations of $50 advance payment mailed to CFP Retreat Fund, 1702 Lumbard Street, Fort Wayne IN 46803 USA
CFP HOLY ANGELS GIFT SHOP
Prayer Cards of all types. Traditional prayers, Saints, Prolife. Over 200 laminated styles. Can also custom print prayer cards. Do you have a prayer you would like to share and distribute? Please contact us as we can get it printed for you in full color at the cost of 25c per card (you will need to order 1000 cards). Contact the CFP Holy Angels Gift Shop by visiting our website at cfpholyangels.com or phoning the shop at 260-739-6882. Your support helps the Confraternity of Penitents to spread penance worldwide.