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Confraternity of Penitents Monthly Newsletter -- October 2020


Next year we will celebrate the 800th anniversary of the approval of the rule of the Third Order of St. Francis originally known as the Brothers and Sisters of Penance. Here are some interesting observations that can be found on Wikipedia: in 1956 Pope Pius XII wrote:


There is, then, a Franciscan doctrine in accordance with which God is holy, is great, and above all, is good, indeed the supreme Good. For in this doctrine, God is love. He lives by love, creates for love, becomes flesh and redeems, that is, he saves and makes holy, for love. There is also a Franciscan way of contemplating Jesus: the meeting of uncreated Love with created love. Similarly, there is a method of loving Him and of imitating Him: in reality it sees the Man-God, and prefers to consider Him in His holy Humanity, because this reveals Him more clearly and, as it were, allows Him to be touched. From this arises a burning devotion to the Incarnation and the Passion of Jesus, because these (mysteries) allow us to see Him, not so much in His glory, in His omnipotent grandeur, or in His eternal triumph, as rather in His human love – so tender in the manger, so sorrowful on the cross.


The earliest Rule was found in the Guarnacci Library in Volterra. This primitive document is known as the Earlier Exhortation, or the Earlier Version, of "The Letter to All the Faithful" and was likely composed before 1215. An expanded version, the Later Exhortation, was completed by about 1220. Both Exhortations were composed by Francis. Both documents call the lay faithful to a life of penance, i.e., of turning away from sin and toward God. In the Earlier Exhortation, Francis describes the elements of the conversion process:


  1. love God

  2. 2) love one's neighbor

  3. 3) turn away from our sinful tendencies

  4. 4) "receive the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ" and, as a result of the above,

  5.  5) producing worthy fruits of penance – a renewed life characterized by charity, forgiveness and compassion toward others.


Francis speaks in ecstatic terms of those who embrace this way of life: "Oh, how happy and blessed are these men and women when they do these things and persevere in doing them since the Spirit of the Lord will rest upon them and He will make His home and dwelling among them. They are children of the heavenly Father whose works they do, and they are spouses, brothers and mothers of Our Lord Jesus Christ."


The "primitive rule" was approved by Pope Honorius III in 1221 with the Memoriale Propositi, and revised in 1289 by the Franciscan Pope Nicholas IV with the Supra montem, and by Pope Leo XIII approving in 1883 Misericors Dei Filius. The current rule was given by Pope Paul VI in 1978 with the Apostolic letter Seraphicus Patriarcha.


Early Franciscan missionaries established fraternities in the Southern and Southwestern states, where there was extensive French and Spanish Catholic influence. A fraternity was established at Santa Fe before 1680. Another fraternity operated in Santa Fe, New Mexico almost from the time of the Reconquest (1692–1695), as reported by the Father Guardian (custos), José Bernal, dated 17 September 1794. Single individuals among the Indians were sometimes classified as tertiaries. It is likely that a confraternity was founded at St. Augustine, Florida, before the close of the 16th century, as this was the first Spanish settlement in what is now the United States. A confraternity was established at San Antonio, Texas, before the middle of the 18th century. The establishment of provinces of the order of Friars Minor brought about the establishment of many confraternities. In 1919 a number of friar provincials set up a national organization.


 As we celebrate once again the feast day of Saint Francis we remember with gratitude the rule of life he set up for Lay faithful wanting to follow after the spirit the gospel in the manner of life he established God bless you all and happy feast day! – Father Joseph Tuscan, OFM Cap. CFP Spiritual Advisor for Franciscan Affairs



Father Joseph Tuscan, OFM Cap, will be retreat master. October 13-17, 2021 at St. Felix Retreat Center, Huntington IN. Topic: 800th Anniversary of Our Rule: How Living Our Rule Can Fulfill the Message of Fatima



The CFP is currently remodeling a room at the future Annunciation Women’s Discernment and Volunteer House as a model of a $5000 room sponsorship. The room is being transformed from a poorly furnished cell into a welcoming bedroom named in honor of Sister Emanuela who was one of the convent’s residents. A plaque asking for prayers in Sisters’ memory will hang outside the door of Emanuela Room. Room sponsorship includes requesting a color scheme for the room and a name for the room plus any message. So far, for Annunciation House, an additional room sponsorship honoring St. Ursula has been offered and another sponsorship whose donor has not yet selected the dedication. For Guadalupe Men’s House, a room sponsorship for Saint Joseph and the Child Jesus has been given and another room whose donor has not yet selected the sponsorship dedication. Room sponsorship is $5000. Please prayerfully consider becoming a room sponsor, perhaps as a Christmas gift.


Much gratitude to all who are donating or have donated in any amount to the restoration of these two houses. They will be accommodate 20 individuals who are either discerning a vocation or who are older individuals who wish a Catholic Community environment. See or donate here to this ministry. . God bless you all!

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Common sense is like deodorant. The people who need it most never use it.


When I finish eating something, I have to show my hands to the dog as if I’m a blackjack dealer.


Why don’t I have any tattoos? For the same reason that you don’t put a bumper sticker on a Ferrari.


I might wake up and go running. I might wake up and win the lottery. The odds are about the same.


Accidentally went shopping on an empty stomach and now I am the proud owner of Aisle 4.


I just got pulled over by the cops. He said, “I can smell alcohol.” I said, “That’s because you aren’t respecting social distancing.”


Most people don’t think I’m as old as I am until they hear me stand up.


I really don’t mind getting older, but my body is taking it badly.

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Pope Benedict, in Jesus of Nazareth, remarks that St. Matthew’s genealogy is centered around the greatest king of Israel, King David. Both the genealogy and the history that it recounts are largely structured around the figure of David, the king to whom the promise of an eternal kingdom had been given: "Your throne shall be established forever" (2 Sam 7:16). The genealogy that Matthew puts before us is steeped in this promise. It is constructed in three sets of fourteen generations, at first rising from Abraham to David, then descending from Solomon to the Babylonian captivity, and then rising again to Jesus, in whom the promise comes to fulfillment. The king who is to last forever now appears---looking quite different, though, from what the Davidic model might have led one to expect .


This threefold division becomes even clearer if we bear in mind that the Hebrew letters of the name "David" add up to fourteen: even in terms of number symbolism, then, the path from Abraham to Jesus bears the clear imprint of David, his name and his promise. On this basis one could say that the genealogy, with its three sets of fourteen generations, is truly a Gospel of Christ the King: the whole of history looks toward him whose throne is to endure forever.  


Why is David so important in the genealogy of Jesus Christ? How did he prepare the way for Jesus Christ? Before David was recognized as any sort of king, he was anointed as king by the prophet Samuel (1 S 16:1-13). At the anointing, we learn that “the spirit of Yahweh seized on David and stayed with him from that day on.” (1 S 16:13). As Christians, we call this the Holy Spirit which all Christians receive at Baptism. However, David was not the first King of Israel to be anointed by Samuel. The first was Saul who also received the “spirit of God”. (1 S 10:9-12) Yet God rejected Saul and chose David over Saul. Scripture shows us that Saul had a problem with obedience and gives us two examples where Saul disobeyed the prophet Samuel. (1 S 13:8-15, 1 S 15:10-23). Sometimes Saul chose to obey the “spirit of the world” rather than the Spirit of God. In contrast, David did obey the Spirit of God and when the “spirit of the world” started pulling him away, he would listen when God was calling him back.


David was successful in everything he undertook, (1 S 18:5) starting with his killing of the Philistine giant Goliath. (1 S 17:40-54) Yet David always attributed his success to God’s power and not his own. (1 S 17:44-47). As David piled up military successes in service to King Saul, everyone realized that God was with him (1 S 18:28). Some responded with love and loyalty to David, including Saul’s son Jonathan who became David’s close friend, but others, such as King Saul, responded with jealousy and hatred (1 S 19:1-3). Saul attempted to kill David (1 S 19:8-10), but when David escaped, Saul pursued David with his army in order to kill him. (1 S 20:30-34) David, however, did not respond with the “spirit of the world” which would say that David was justified in killing Saul since Saul was trying to kill him. David knew that he had been anointed by the prophet Samuel to be King of Israel, but he was not going to bring this about in fact by his own actions. David realized that it was up to God to make this happen. Twice David had an opportunity to kill Saul while Saul was asleep. (1 S 24:1-8, 1 S 26:1-12). According to the “spirit of the world”, God had delivered Saul into David’s power. (1 S 24:5, 1 S 26:8) David, however, refused to kill Saul, God’s anointed king. (1 S 24:7, 1 S 26:9). David realized that to kill Saul would be murder since David could escape Saul without killing him, and Saul was not a criminal but the anointed king of Israel. David was willing to let God deal with Saul. (1 S 26:10) 


David did have to deal with the “spirit of the world” which was constantly pulling him to its own way. When David was fleeing Saul with about 600 of his men, he came to a place in Judah where there was a very rich man named Nabal who had three thousand sheep and a thousand goats. David’s men protected Nabal’s shepherds from marauders and did not molest Nabal’s shepherds or steal his sheep. (1 S 25:2-44) David sent a few of his men to Nabal to ask him to give some food to his men. Nabal, however, refused David’s request for any help for his men. David was very angry about this and decided to kill Nabal and his shepherds so that they could take the food they needed. (1 S 25:13) One of Nabal’s servants reported Nabal’s action to Nabal’s wife Abigail. Abigail immediately realized how stupid Nabal had been to refuse giving food to David. She quickly gathered a large amount of food and went to meet David who was already marching with his men toward Nabal. When she met David, she presented him with the food and pleaded with David not to harm Nabal and his servants. David saw that Abigail was sent to him by God to prevent him from committing the crime of bloodshed. He promised not to harm Nabal or his servants. (1 S 25:32-35). When Abigail told her husband Nabal how David was about to kill him and his servants, he had a heart attack or stroke and died ten days later. God had killed Nabal rather than David killing him. David then sent Abigail an offer of marriage which she accepted. (1 S 25:36-42) 


When David became king, he again listened to the “spirit of the world”. He desired Bathsheba, the wife of one of his soldiers, Uriah the Hittite. When she became pregnant, he attempted to cover up his adultery by bringing Uriah back to Jerusalem since he had been fighting under David’s general Joab against the Ammonites. However, Uriah did not sleep with Bathsheba since soldiers were to be celibate when on duty. (1 S 21:4-7) David then arranged with Joab for Uriah to be killed in battle. David thus committed both adultery and murder. (2 S 11:1-27). The “spirit of the world” told David that he was a king and could have any woman he wanted, and Uriah was just a foreign mercenary. God disagreed and sent the prophet Nathan to rebuke David for what he had done.


(2 S 12:1-4) David did sincerely repent, and Nathan told David that God had forgiven him, eo David did not die because of his sin. However, there still remained the punishment for sin. First, Bathsheba’s child by David did die. (2 S 12:15-23) In addition, after this sin, David had to deal with bloodshed and rebellion, even in his own family. (2 S 13-20). Bathsheba had another child by David, Solomon, (2 S 12:24-25) whom David chose to succeed him as king. (1 K 1:28-40)


David was extremely successful in all the wars he undertook. (2 S 8:1-14) Yet he always consulted God either by a prophet or in some other way when he went to war. David does appear to be very different from Christ the King in all his military exploits. However, David lived at a time (about 1000 BC) when Israel was threatened on many sides by surrounding peoples. These people would be very happy to drive the tribes of Israel out of the land promised to them by God. The most serious threat came from the Philistines who killed King Saul and his sons, Jonathan, Abinadad, and Malchishua. They also occupied much Israelite territory. David defeated the Philistines and the other hostile neighbors of Israel but did not establish an “empire” in the Middle East. Because of his military successes, the neighbors of Israel feared David, and there was peace on the borders of Israel. This peace continued through the reign of David’s son, Solomon. 


David lived in bloody times. Yet in many ways he pointed the way to the gospel. For example, when a soldier came to David and reported that he had administered “euthanasia” to the seriously wounded King Saul, expecting a reward from David, David had him killed for daring to kill God’s anointed king. (2 S 1:14) David sincerely mourned for King Saul and his son Jonathan. (2 S 1:17-27) After the death of King Saul, David became king of Judah but not the rest of Israel. Saul’s general, Abner, anointed Saul’s son, Ishbaal to be king of the rest of Israel. There was then a battle between Judah and Israel, which Judah won. (2 S 2:8-28). In the course of the battle, Abner killed in self-defense, (2 S 2:17-23) Asahel, the brother of David’s general, Joab. In revenge, Joab murdered Abner. (2 S 3:26-27) David was greatly upset by this. He wept aloud, fasted, and gave Abner a solemn burial. (2 S 3:28-39). David did not kill Joab since Joab was his general and was too powerful. David’s son Solomon did kill Joab for this and other murders he had committed. (1 K 2:28-35) The king of Israel, whom Abner has anointed, Ishbaal, was then murdered by some scoundrels. This cleared the way for David to be king of all Israel. (2 S 5:1-5) When the men who killed Ishbaal went to David expecting a reward, he had them killed for their crime. (2 S 4:5-12) 


While he was King of all Israel, David performed many other acts of mercy in contrast to the “spirit of the world”. He even mourned the death of his son, Absalom, who rebelled against David and waged war against him. (2 S 19:1-5) It is a good idea to study the life of David as it is presented in 1 and 2 Samuel to see that the Gospel did not spring up out of nowhere but came from seeds planted long before it. – Jim Nugent, CFP



RULE: 15. They are to make a confession of their sins three times a year and to receive Communion at Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost. They are to be reconciled with their neighbors and to restore what belongs to others. They are to make up for past tithes and pay future tithes.'

CONSTITUTIONS: 15. In keeping with section 15 of the Rule:

15a. Penitents should consider confessing their sins twice monthly unless an undue burden is involved with this frequency or unless advised by the spiritual director to confess at another time interval. At a minimum, penitents are to confess monthly and to receive the Eucharist weekly provided the penitent is in the state of grace.

15b. All are to be reconciled in every way possible and to tithe ten percent of their income to their parish, the Catholic Church, or to charitable organizations whose goals are in keeping with the Church hierarchy and Magisterium. The tithe must not be given to any organization that is working in opposition to the Church. If a ten percent tithe seems too high, the penitent should consult the spiritual director or a spiritual assistant of the Confraternity, about the appropriate amount of the tithe and then should follow the advice given. Since the penitent is to financially support their home Chapter or Circle of the Confraternity of Penitents and the work of the international Confraternity, a portion of one's tithe may go to this cause. 

REFLECTION: Confession, reconciliation with others, and tithing are tied together in this section of the Rule and Constitutions. Why? Because each of these involve justice.

  • Confession is justice toward ourselves, others, and God by admitting where we have failed each. Justice demands reparation of some sort and this would be the penance given us in confession.

  • Reconciliation with others is the just method to repair wrongs and to mend hard feelings. Penitents are to attempt reconciliation, even taking the first steps toward it, but, of course, the other party must also agree to reconcile. If they do, God be praised, and justice is done. If they do not, the penitent has acted justly and ought to continue prayer and intercession for the soul of the other party.

  • Tithing involves what is justly owed back to God and what is just to support one’s neighbor. A tithe was 10% of one’s income which can seem like a huge amount for those who have too little to begin with. Yet time and again, the Lord has shown that His mercy will be upon those who take the first 10% and give it back to God by supporting their parish or local charity. The following suggested guidelines for part of the tithe going to the CFP have been approved by the CFP Spiritual Guardian. They should be within reach of most in the CFP. These guidelines are that postulants tithe a minimum of 0.25% of their yearly income to the CFP, Novice 1’s tithe a minimum of 0.50%, Novice 2’s tithe a minimum of 0.75%, and Novice 3’s and above tithe a minimum of 1% of their yearly income to the Confraternity of Penitents.  


Within two weeks, the Confraternity of Penitents gained three new life pledged members!

Elizabeth L., (State of Washington, USA) pledged for life, September 24, 2020 at CFP retreat. (left)

Marita W., CFP (State of Massachusetts, USA) pledged for life, October 4, 2020, at a Spanish Mass at her home parish.  (center)

Cam P., CFP  (State of Washington, USA) pledged for life on September 24, 2020 at CFP Retreat. Cam also took a private vow to live the CFP Rule for life, choosing the name sr. Brigid of Kildare. (right)  

With great joy, the Confraternity of Penitents welcomes these three delightful sisters in Christ into the Confraternity. Among these three women, we have a great deal of prayer, ministry, spunk, and love.


Elizabeth’s words echo the sentiments of all three newly life pledged CFP members:

“Thank you also for this opportunity to live the Rule and be associated with the Confraternity. It is a dream come true for me and fulfilled God’s Will for me. . . . Thank you for all you have done for me and I hope at some time to serve the Confraternity with all the gifts that God has given to me.”

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A story is told in Todi, Italy, of Saint Francis noticing a woman on her way to drown her newborn infant. He stopped the woman, asked for the child, and promised to care for the little one. Then he took the child to one of the penitent women in the town and asked her to nurse the babe. This she did. This was the beginning of an orphanage for homeless children in that city, so the story goes.


It would seem perfectly reasonable that Francis would do such a thing. After all, he rescued lambs being brought to slaughter. He plucked earthworms from the roadways so that they would not be trampled. He bought back doves that a boy was taking to sell for food. All living things had value to Francis. Certainly, a helpless child would earn even more attention and care.


No matter what is being discussed regarding the upcoming presidential election in the United States, the defining issue, the Catholic bishops agree, is abortion. One candidate has been supporting prolife laws and initiatives; the other is totally in favor of unlimited abortion up to birth. An election should not be held on the candidates’ looks, personal lives, speaking talents, or anything other than the issues, and abortion is a defining issue. Saint Francis would never have dreamed that those who call themselves Christian would approve of killing unborn children whom God has created in His own image and likeness. A woman may do this out of fear, but this does not make it acceptable. Francis would have helped that woman just as helped the woman of Todi. She saved embarrassment when Francis took her baby to raise. Likewise, he would advocate to assist all women experiencing problem pregnancies, by whatever moral means is necessary to help them give birth and have good and joyful lives.


Please surround this election in prayer. The unborn are waiting for justice and security from harm.

--Madeline Pecora Nugent, CFP




“I need to go to bed.” Your eyes are closing, your body slumping. You could sleep on a board and be comfortable. Yet you keep on pushing to get a little more done. Ever do that? --- “I need to pray.” Your days are becoming unraveled. Your work seems endless. You never relax. Difficult people and situations pepper your life. Yet you keep going, pushing through. Ever do that?


When you are exhausted, you will eventually collapse and you WILL sleep even if you have been fighting it, just trying to get “a little bit more” done. However, you won’t eventually pray unless you make time to do it.


Father John Randall, who was one of the movers and shakers of the Charismatic movement in the 1970’s, used to tell a story about the Cure of Ars, St. John Vianney. One day a harried bishop came to the saint to go to confession, for John Vianney was well known for his skill in the confessional. The bishop confessed his sins including his difficulty with taking time to pray because he was just too busy to get to his knees. What should he do? the bishop asked. The priest thought carefully and then said, “You need to pray an hour a day.” The exasperated bishop said, “I don’t think you understand. I’m too busy to pray. I have all these obligations day and night, people coming to see me, decisions to make, documents to read. I can’t pray an hour a day. I’m too busy.” Saint John Vianney replied. “Oh, you are correct. I really did not understand. If you are that busy, you need to pray two hours a day.” Father Randall concluded this with “God multiplies the hours. The busier you are, the more prayer you need.”


How busy are you? How much sleep do you need to do your job well? How much prayer do you need?  May God grant us the ability to pray enough during our busy lives. --- Madeline Pecora Nugent, CFP


Pray for the United States as the presidential elections approach. Patriotic Rosary for the United States, featuring quotes from American saints. 4 page foldout. 89c each. 

Motherhood Joy prayer card, to encourage pregnant moms to realize the great role they have in bringing a new life into the world. 25c each from CFP Holy Angels Gift Shop. A lovely prayer card to share with  your prolife pregnancy help center. Buy 10 and get the 10th card free. 

Saint Francis of Assisi Prayer for Life. 25c each. Buy 10 and get the 10th free.

The CFP  Holy Angels Gift Shop also carries a number of other prolife prayer cards. Visit to see the selection.

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