Original Franciscan "Third Order" -- Confraternity of Penitents
Make Every Day a Path to Holiness
The Eucharistic Miracles of the World from the Vatican Collection. Full color. Created from the webpages assembled by Blessed Carlo Acutis. $24.95 plus shipping from CFP Holy Angels Gift Shop
Prayer Card with the Golden Arrow Prayer on the back:
May the most holy, most sacred, most adorable, most incomprehensible and unutterable Name of God be always praised, blessed, loved, adored and glorified in Heaven, on earth, and under the earth, by all the creatures of God, and by the Sacred Heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ, in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. Amen.
25c each from the CFP Holy Angels Gift Shop
Confraternity of Penitents Newsletter July 2021
FRANCISCAN SPIRITUAL ADVISOR’S THOUGHTS: THE HOLY EUCHARIST
Jesus left us His Heart. It is there, in the tabernacle. He gives us His Heart every time we receive Him in the Eucharist. This is what He wants, to be united so closely to us.
It is hard to understand so much love. Our hearts are so small, so hardened by the bitter disappointments of life, our own sins and the sins of others. Our hearts become smaller and harder. The remedy for this is the Heart of Christ. As we receive Him in Holy Communion, He slowly transforms our own hearts of stone into His own Heart, capable of loving Him as He deserves to be loved and capable of loving others as He commands us.
It is easy to love Jesus… our neighbor is a whole other story! We do not need to be afraid of this seemingly impossible demand to love our neighbor as Christ loves us. The way to do this is easy! We love our neighbor, and even our enemy, with the very Heart of Christ that is within us. His love in us can do it. Our own heart alone cannot. We cannot forget the evil done to us. We cannot forgive the hurt inflicted upon us. And so we remain stunted, wounded and stuck in the mud. The Heart of Christ in the Eucharist is the answer. All the problems of the world can be solved in the Heart of Christ. In this “little white host” is the answer to every dilemma.
This is good news! We don’t have to try to love with our own poor resources! Our poor, broken hearts cannot love as God commands. Within us, we have the power to love as Christ loves. This love began at our Baptism, was sealed in Confirmation, and healed in the sacrament of Penance. To keep the flame of Love burning strong and bright, to give our weak souls strength and warmth He gave us the Holy Eucharist, our food for the journey. The Holy Eucharist is the Heart of Christ.
Christ is present in the Eucharist, Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity. The whole Christ is there. However, the Eucharist is called the Sacrament of Love for a reason. It is the Love of His Heart which He particularly offers us in the Eucharist. In the Eucharist, He holds out His Heart to us! Jesus left us His Heart so that we would never feel abandoned like poor orphans on the weary road of life. We have Him with us, always, if we go to Him and receive Him.
The Eucharist comes to us through the Sacrifice of the Mass. Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary, on the Cross, is what God makes present to us on the altar at every Mass. The Eucharist is food. Christ feeds us with Himself. He gave us this greatest of gifts at the Last Supper and made the apostles His priests so that they could do as He commanded: “Do this in remembrance of me.”
The Eucharist is Christ’s Presence, His Real, True and Substantial Presence among us, within us. Jesus means ‘savior’. Emmanuel means “God-with-us”. Jesus’ Name is Who he is! He is our savior, always present here and in every tabernacle of every Catholic church in the world. Jesus is not inactive in the tabernacle. He is loving us and healing us as we approach Him in the tabernacle. He can do marvels for us, if we come to Him with faith and trust.
Let us do as St. Thomas Aquinas did. He rested his head on the tabernacle to receive the light and understanding he sought in his theological search for the truth about things. We can rest our hearts on the tabernacle even as we are in the pews, simply by an act of the will, and do as St. John did at the Last Supper as he rested his head against the Heart of Christ as they reclined at supper.
In resting on His Heart, Christ cannot stop giving to us His life and love. From Him we learn the mystery of the inner life of the Trinity – that everlasting community of Love that is the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It is Christ Who draws us into this Life and gives us a share of it even now. We do not have to wait for Heaven to begin our eternal life with Him. His love for us in the Eucharist is so great; He wants to begin to share Eternity with us now. That’s why He instituted the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist on that Holy Thursday night and ratified that gift with His death on the Cross. “It is finished.” The gift of Himself to the Father for us that He began even in the womb of His Mother, Mary, was completed with His last breath. As He hung dead upon the cross, He continued to give to us. The soldier pierced Christ with a lance, in one last cruel act. From His pierced Heart the Church draws her sacramental life, and the life of grace is poured out for all who believe. Through His Heart, we receive “grace upon grace.”
In the Eucharist Jesus says to us, “Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke and learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart. And you will find rest for your souls for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Jesus wants to give us rest, refresh us and feed us with the love of His Heart. We were made for Him. Let us surrender our hearts to Him and begin anew with each Holy Communion the relationship of love He wants to share with us. –Fr. Joseph Tuscan, OFM Cap, CFP Advisor for Franciscan Matters
Official Prayer: Carlo Acutis
Imprimatur in Curia Archiepiscopali Mediolanensi
6.X.2014 +Angelo Mascheroni
30c each. Bulk prices available. From from the CFP Holy Angels Gift Shop on this link.
NO GREATER LOVE: THE LORD’S BAPTISM
Chapter one of volume one of Pope Benedict’s Jesus of Nazareth deals with the Lord’s Baptism.
This crucial event in the life of the Lord, and ultimately in our own lives, is described in Mt 3:13-17, Mk 1:9-11, Lk 3:21-22, and Jn 1:32-34. Pope Benedict explains why this Baptism is so important for us. Speaking of the actual rite of Baptism (immersion in water), he tells us: On one hand, immersion into the waters is a symbol of death, which recalls the death symbolism of the annihilating, destructive power of the ocean flood. The ancient mind perceived the ocean as a permanent threat to the cosmos, to the earth; it was the primeval flood that might submerge all life. The river (Jordan) could also assume this symbolic value for those who were immersed in it. But the flowing waters of the river are above all a symbol of life. The great rivers-the Nile, the Euphrates, the Tigris-are the great givers of life. The Jordan, too, is---even today---a source of life for the surrounding region. Immersion in the water is about purification, about liberation from the filth of the past that burdens and distorts life---it is about beginning again, and that means it is about death and resurrection, about starting life over again anew. So we could say that it is about rebirth. All of this will have to wait for Christian baptismal theology to be worked out explicitly, but the act of descending into the Jordan and corning up again out of the waters already implicitly contains this later development. ……. Only from this starting point can we understand Christian Baptism. Jesus' Baptism anticipated his death on the Cross, and the heavenly voice proclaimed an anticipation of the Resurrection. These anticipations have now become reality. John's baptism with water has received its full meaning through the Baptism of Jesus' own life and death. To accept the invitation to be baptized now means to go to the place of Jesus' Baptism. It is to go where he identifies himself with us and to receive there our identification with him. The point where he anticipates death has now become the point where we anticipate rising again with him.
What Pope Benedict tells us in this chapter (16 pages) gives us the very basis of Christian life. However, it is also important for us to see what death meant in the Old Testament and at the time of Christ. The first five books of the Old Testament give us the Mosaic Law and God’s plan for the people of Israel. Virtually nothing is said about Heaven and Hell. The blessings and curses of the Law deal with this life. Modern atheistic materialism thinks of death as the total extinction of the person. Everything is over since, when our body dies and decays, we are totally gone. Unlike modern materialism, the ancient world did not think of the human person as only decayable matter. God gave us an immortal spirit. On this earth, we are both immortal spirit and mortal material matter. In the philosophy of Plato, the human person is a pure spirit “imprisoned” in corruptible flesh. This is not the idea of the human person of ancient Israel. The human body made us human. We could interact with other human beings and also with God through the body. When our body dies, we still exist but not as a complete, whole, human person. In Psalm 6 we read “For in death there is no remembrance of you; in Sheol who can give you praise?” (Ps 6:5) The psalmist cannot imagine how we could give praise to God if we do not have a body in Sheol, which is the abode of the dead. In Sheol, we still exist, but not as human persons like living human persons on earth.
In first book of Samuel, we read how the first King of Israel, King Saul, was about to engage in a battle with the enemy Philistines. (1 S 28:3-25) He was very afraid of the outcome and consulted God is many ways but did not receive an answer. Saul them sought an answer apart from God by consulting a medium to bring up the spirit of the dead prophet Samuel from Sheol. This action was forbidden by the Mosaic Law. (Lv 19:31; 20:6,27; Dt 18:11) Saul previously had driven those who did these forbidden practices out of Israel. (1 S 28:9) God did permit Samuel to speak with Saul, and he told him that he and his sons would perish at the hands of the Philistines. This did happen. Sheol was thought to be down deep in the earth and was the abode of both the good and the evil. The prophet Samuel came up from “the earth” (1 S 28:13), and the rebels against Moses were swallowed by the earth and went down to Sheol. (Nb 16:31-34) Of course, the devout in Israel did hope that the good would find happiness with God in the next life. (Ps 16:10-11, 49:15). In the later books of the Old Testament this hope became more explicit. (Ws 3:1-9). Jesus Christ’s Cross and Resurrection demonstrated that this hope of true life after death is a reality.
How do we know that this human life after death is a reality, not only for Jesus, but also for us? First, we need to see how the Lord’s Baptism and our own Baptism relate to true life after death. As Pope Benedict pointed out, water is a symbol of death, but it is also a symbol of life. The first “baptism” of the human race was Noah’s flood where God used water as an instrument of death to cleanse the world of wickedness, leaving only righteous Noah and his family to begin the human race anew. When Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, the Israelites were caught between Egyptian chariots pursuing them and the Red Sea in front of them. Here water was a symbol of both life and death. Death lay before the Israelites but, Moses, through the power of God, parted the water so that the Israelites could walk below the water line and not be overtaken by death. The Israelites could then go on to their new life in the promised land. Yet water was again an instrument of death as the Egyptians foolishly tried to follow the Israelites into the parted water which then returned to engulf them.
Through His Cross and Resurrection, Jesus also passed through Death just like the Israelites but with one very large difference. Jesus was not miraculously preserved from Death, but instead confronted Death head on and conquered it. When the Israelites, passed through the Red Sea, they continued their mortal life. Our Lord, when He passed through death, did not continue in the life of mortal flesh. He also did not remain imprisoned in the abode of the dead (Sheol). He broke out into New Life in His Resurrected body. He did not return to Life as a pure spirit or ghost as Samuel did. (1 S 28:13) The Lord rose in a glorified and incorruptible human body. (Lk 24:36-43)
The Lord’s Death and Resurrection were prefigured by His Baptism. Jesus himself refers to His Death as a Baptism. (Mk 10:38, Lk 12:50) The Lord received the Baptism of John, which was a Baptism of repentance. When the multitudes came to John to be baptized, he warned them that they must turn away from sin to a life of righteousness and virtue. (Lk 3:10-14) However, repentance is a prerequisite to follow the Lord in His Triumph over Death. It is not the whole story. The water of John’s Baptism was meant to be for cleansing and repentance. This, however, is not enough. John himself states that the one who follows him and is much greater than he would baptize “with the Holy Spirit and with fire”. (Lk 3:16) We need the “fire” of the Holy Spirit living within us in order to follow the Lord in His Triumph over Death and Sheol. St. Paul teaches us “If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.” (Rom 8:11)
Baptism, which is given to infants before they can repent, is the beginning of the Christian Life, which is a Life of following the Lord in His Death and Resurrection to new life. The other sacraments and graces we receive as Christians complete this process of following Christ and help us to not permanently lose the Holy Spirit we received at Baptism. This is why we must avoid the error of thinking that how we corrupt our bodies by “sins of the flesh” or other sins makes no difference since we spend eternity as a “pure spirit”. This is false. We need to be ready to receive the pure, incorruptible bodies we will receive at our Resurrection. We need to make sure that the HOLY Spirit is within us and not the spirit of the world.
Baptism has been presented to young people as just an initiation into the Christian community. It is much more than just that. It is a permanent change in our relationship with God. This relationship must be maintained and expanded through other sacraments, the graces we receive through the other sacraments, and our own free will choices. All this determines where we spend eternity. Behind all this is our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the One who makes our own triumph over death possible. Our relationship with Him should be the priority of our lives for this relationship has permanent consequences for us all. – Jim Nugent, CFP
MORE ON OUR RULE AND MONEY: TITHING
Does being poor and lowly make you holy? That certainly seems to be the attitude of the some people who recall that Jesus said to one rich, young man that he should sell everything and give to the poor, “then, come, follow me.”
Religious orders implement this through the evangelical virtues of poverty, celibacy and obedience. For lay religious, such as penitents, lay Carmelites, lay Dominicans or Benedictine Oblates, the consecrated religious definition of poverty – the individual owns nothing personally – doesn’t work. In fact, the Church doesn’t even allow laity to take a vow of poverty. That’s because while the consecrated religious’ housing, clothing, transportation etc., are provided by his or her Order, the lay religious must provide those for himself. Still, there are similarities. For example:
The consecrated religious takes a vow of celibacy, meaning no sex, period. Penitents are expected to practice chastity within their state in life. This used to be a given for all moral Catholics. Now this idea, while it’s not ever changed, is oven overlooked. Chastity means that married penitents consummate the marriage through the sexual act so they can have sex with their spouse, but no one else. Moreover, every sexual act is to be open to procreation. Unmarried penitents are to refrain from sexual acts. This is the teaching of the Church..
The consecrated religious vows to be obedient to his superior. The penitent pledges obedience to the CFP Rule and Constitutions. But this is a private vow. And the penitent alone determines if he or she is keeping it.
But what about the religious vow of poverty? How did the penitents of 1221 live it? How do penitents of today live it?
Since the Church does not permit laity to take a vow of poverty, laity must approximate this vow through tithing. Many Catholics reject tithing. The Catholic Church doesn’t require tithing, so they say they don’t have to do it. Others assert that Jesus didn’t require it, so they don’t have to do it. Still others say that tithing is just too difficult or impractical in today’s world, although it’s not too difficult for Mormons, Seventh-Day Adventist, Congregationalist Christians, Methodists, etc
All of that is simply irrelevant for penitents. It’s in our Rule and our Constitution, and we have voluntarily agreed to take on all the burdens of our Constitution – the 90 minutes of prayer a day, the fasting and abstinence, the clothing restrictions. All of it, including tithing.
The Rule of 1221 required penitents back then to tithe. Our Constitutions require us to (1) reduce and extinguish our debts and (2) to tithe. Our formation materials say this tithe should be 10% of our gross income before deductions for taxes, insurance, etc.
Living this way – spending only the cash we have in the bank, giving away 10% of our gross income, etc. – is the lay equivalent of the consecrated religious vow of poverty. We may have property, but compared to our neighbor with a similar income, we are living in relative poverty. We have enough to afford the basic necessities of life (food, shelter, clothing), but compared to our neighbor we have less. Consider this example:
Joe Catholic makes $100,000. After taxes, insurance, etc., he takes home $60,000 a year that he can spend any way he wants.
Peter Penitent also makes $100,000. But in addition to the $40,000 withheld from his paycheck for taxes, insurance, etc., he also gives $10,000 (10% of $100,000) to charity. Our second person’s disposable income after taxes, etc., and charity is only $50,000 – 16% less than the neighbor who also makes $100,000 but has $60,000 available for spending.
This is relative poverty. Because we have less money for spending and because we can’t incur new debt, our lifestyle has to be somewhat less than our neighbor’s. Our Constitutions help us accommodate this: We have a very plain, limited wardrobe, which we may have purchased at thrift stores. Our women don’t use much make up, if they use any, so they save the several hundred dollars that many women spend on makeup. What we do buy we pay for with cash; if we “charge it” we have enough in the bank to pay the bill today. Our rule requires us to remain debt-free once we become debt-free, so we can’t finance or lease a car.
While our Constitutions help, what we save does not cover the entire $10,000. So tithing, like prayer, is an ideal penance. It is burdensome and inconvenient. So why tithe? One reason is obedience to our Rule. Our Rule says no debt, our Rule says tithe 10% of our gross income. So in one respect, that’s the end of the discussion. We, too, live a life of obedience. The consecrated religious must obey his/her superior. We must obey the provisions of our rule, unless dispensed from a particular provision.
But there’s another, better reason: It’s what Jesus wants. Jesus repeatedly tells us to take care of the poor, and not to pile up riches. Jesus also made it clear that his disciples would evangelize. That 10% tithe enables us to build up the Kingdom, to evangelize.
It’s what penitents have done over the centuries. St. Elizabeth of Hungary, for example, was a rich woman. After her husband died, she devoted her fortune to founding a hospital for the poor. James 1:25 admonishes us to be doers of the word, not just hearers. St. Elizbeth of Hungary not only dedicated her fortune to founding a hospital, but she also personally tended to the foulest and sickest patients.
There are, of course, a couple of exceptions. One is that if one is devoting 10% or more of one’s income to paying off debts. The other is if someone really can’t afford to donate 10% after making all reasonable attempts to cut one’s spending enough to make that 10% level.
To whom do we donate our tithe and for what purpose? If we are penitents, we should be working with our brothers and sisters in penance to do the Lord’s work. We’ve started with the formation houses project in Fort Wayne, near CFP headquarters. But once the rehabilitation of those is complete, what next? Let’s trust that the Holy Spirit will let us know!
Let me start by suggesting we give 5% of our gross income to CFP and at least 5% to all other charities that are not in conflict with the teaching of the Catholic Church. Why 5%? Because that’s what members of the People of Praise give to their local branch. In the 40 years since People of Praise was founded, its 1,700 members have developed a significant headquarters complex in South Bend, Ind., founded four schools, have missionary teams in extremely poor and dangerous neighbors in three cities, and have created an affiliate that does outreach to businesspeople.
Full-time members of Opus Dei, who live in Opus Dei centers, donate all their income to The Work. Part-time members are expected to make a significant donation. If there is a specific donation amount, I’m not aware of it. But they have founded several schools from the first grade through high school and established several retreat centers and residences for college students around the country.
While many older orders are closing their retreat centers, the lay members of Regnum Christi have established retreat centers as well as a full-fledged university that provides master’s and doctoral level programs in psychology and counseling as well as a certificate program for spiritual directors.
Both Opus Dei and People of Praise operate residential programs to house college students. In Opus Dei’s case those residences are devoted solely to that and providing a location for spiritual formation programs for people who don’t live in the residences. People of Praise provides this by having some members open their home to college students. Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett lived in the home of a People of Praise member while she attended Notre Dame Law School.
If you have paid off all your debts except a mortgage, are you tithing? How much are you giving to CFP and to all other charities? If you’re not tithing because you haven’t yet paid up your debts, are you devoting at least 10% of your gross income to paying off your debts? -- Joel Whitaker, CFP
HUMOR: AN OLD FARMER’S ADVICE
Your fences need to be horse-high, pig-tight and bull-strong.
Keep skunks and bankers and lawyers at a distance.
Life is simpler when you plough around the stump.
A bumble bee is considerably faster than a John Deere tractor.
Words that soak into your ears are whispered- - not yelled. Meanness don't jes' happen overnight.
Forgive your enemies. It messes with their minds.
Do not corner something that you Know is meaner than you.
It don't take a very big person to carry a grudge. You cannot say a cruel word....ever.
Every path has a few puddles in it.
When you wallow with pigs, expect to get dirty.
The best sermons are lived, not preached.
Most of the stuff people worry about ain't never gonna happen anyway.
Don't judge people by their relatives.
Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
Live a good and honourable life. Then when you get older and think back, you will enjoy it a second time.
Don't interfere with something' that ain't botherin' you none.
Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance.
If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop diggin'.
Sometimes you get, and sometimes you get got!!
CFP PHOTO ALBUM: CFP LIFE PLEDGED MEMBERS MEET FOR THE FIRST TIME
Marsha Woodward, CFP (left) then from Idaho, Dianne Joslyn, CFP (center) from New York, and Elizabeth Lemire, CFP (right) then from Washington State meet for the first time when Dianne flew west in March of 2019.
Time changes all things.
Now Marsha is undergoing treatment for a life threatening illness (please pray for her).
Dianne is caring for elderly relative
Elizabeth (who was not pledged when the photo was taken but who is now pledged) has moved to Indiana to assist as house mother with the Women’s Vocation Discernment House.
SAINT JOSEPH AND BLESSED MOTHER
Pope Francis has declared this "Year of Saint Joseph." I pictured Mary, at the end of her earthly life, being drawn up to heaven after having spent the last two decades or so of her life without Joseph and without the bodily presence of her son, Jesus. My own faith life is so far from Mary's humility and holiness, yet I can see her humanity and love of a mother and a wife from a husband's and a son's perspective. She is Joseph's wife, and although they had no conjugal relations like many can and do, I could see with my heart that the love they shared was even more special. Many couples share this "Josephite" marriage out of a higher love in later life.
Mutually supportive and caring, I wondered what it was like (at her entry through translation from a mere human form to an assumed new creation), when Joseph was there to welcome her home. I saw how she must have felt to see Joseph after so many years and all on her own. As good as the apostles and others may have been for her, to feel the close embrace of the man ordained by God love and protect her on earth, how that must have been to welcome his bride home to heaven. Of course, Jesus was there. But I have not seen an icon or a work of art that shows what I saw in my soul's appreciation of this kind of love. As I get older and older and feel it more and more, I see how it must have been for Mary to get to be old as well. Maybe about 70 when the Assumption occurred? Corruption could not have her, as God ordained, and so He brought her home to heaven to return the favor of her special gift of self -- her very body -- to conceive and bear a son. God will not be outdone in generosity.
For Mary to choose to share her family life with Joseph and raise a son in the ways of the faith is inspiring to our own love and faith life. Yet we forget Joseph, but he was the strong, silent type anyway. And when her soreness, back-aches and tired pains of life were over, who would see her through the first gate, but that face she fell in love with? It is healing and helpful and hopeful to know that Joseph must have embraced her and said, "I love you, my love. I'm so glad to hold you again." --Eric Welch, Novice 3, ready to pledge, CFP Alessandro Prison Ministry
Correction: Eric Welch was erroneously called an accountant in the last newsletter. He is a paralegal. Sorry, Eric!
CFP Retreat 2020
Mark your calendars for CFP RETREAT 2021
OCTOBER 13-17. THE MESSAGE OF FATIMA AND THE RULE OF 1221. St. Felix Retreat Center, Huntington IN. Fr. Joseph Tuscan, OFM Cap, Retreat Master.
$195 plus $15 worth of food or paper goods for overnight retreatants. $60 plus $15 worth of food or paper goods for commuters. Plan to attend!
Call 260-739-6882 or email firstname.lastname@example.org