Confraternity of Penitents Newsletter -- November 2021

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GUEST PRIEST’S REFLECTION: SINS: MINE, YOURS

Jesus says to his disciples, “Behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last”.

 

In any community, there will always be some whom people criticize now for one reason or another, and they will often turn out to be first, whereas some who are now doing the criticizing will turn out to be last. It all depends on where you direct your criticism.

 

The desert Fathers tell the story of the time they held a meeting about a brother who had sinned. The Fathers spoke, but Abba Pior kept silence. Eventually, he got up and went out; he took a sack, filled it with sand, and carried it on his shoulder. He put a little sand also into a small bag which he carried in front of him. When the Fathers asked him what this meant, he said:

 

“In this sack which contains much sand, are my sins which are many; I have put them behind me so as not to be troubled about them and so as not to weep; and see, here are the little sins of my brother which are in front of me and I spend my time judging them. This is not right: I should instead be carrying my sins in front of me and concern myself with them, begging God to forgive me for them”. The Fathers stood up and said, “Truly, this is the way of salvation”.

 

Try your best to enter by this narrow way. Whether few or many are saved is none of your business. Put your mind on your life with God. The way to life - to God! - is vigorous and requires your total attention. Fr. Justin Sheehan, OCSO Abbey of the Genesee

MARY, MOTHER OF PRIESTS CHAPEL AT GUADALUPE MEN’S VOCATION HOUSE   

 

Is there a priest who has helped and encouraged you? Say thank you with a plaque sponsorship! To date, 31 priests have been sponsored. Can you help bring the number up to 50! We offer an installment plan for those who cannot provide the full sponsorship all at once! Help meet the goal of 1000 sponsored priests!. !

 

Names of sponsored priests will be featured on the wall of Mary, Mother of Priests Chapel. Priests will receive prayers daily from residents and guests of Guadalupe Men’s Discernment House, where the chapel will be built. 

 

Each $180 plaque sponsorship will go towards renovating Guadalupe House. Donations of other amounts are also gratefully accepted. Every dollar brings Mary, Mother of Priests Chapel closer to completion! See www.1000priests.org

See also www.VocationDiscernmentHouse.com

I’m taking care of my procrastination issues. Just you wait and see. 😊

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OUR RULE: FASTING: FEED A FAMILY, NOT A LANDFILL

With the Fast of St. Martin, which begins November 12, Novice 2’s are about to experience what many dedicated penitents dread – six weeks of sustained unremitting fasting day-after-day, with a pause only on Sundays and solemnities. If penance is supposed to be burdensome and inconvenient, six weeks of unremitting fasting probably fills the bill.

But before we engage in a pity party, let’s consider that while we fast to achieve a closer connection with God, many non-religious diet for a simpler reason: to lose weight. Nothing wrong with losing weight, of course, unless it leads to anorexia, but let’s take our fasting to a new, and hopefully more sustainable level this fall, by adopting some practices in our kitchens that will reduce the amount of food that is wasted or ends up in a landfill.

There’s a need to do such a thing, not just for our souls but also for that most Franciscan consideration, the environment: A third of all food produced in the U.S. ends up in the trash. (You read that right: One-third of all food produced in the U.S. is thrown out.) With inflation raging (as I warned you in June would happen), many will find a need to stretch their food dollar, and a good place to start is reducing the amount of food that we waste.

As that food decomposes, it produces methane, a greenhouse gas that is said to be 86 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a driver of global warming. Food waste accounts for about 8% of greenhouse gas emissions – and nearly half of that occurs in the home. There’s an economic cost too: It’s estimated that American households waste about $1,600 of produce each year, enough to pay for more than an entire month’s worth of groceries for a family of four.

When even political leaders and bankers recognize the need to take positive steps to cut global warming, it is perhaps time for followers of Christ and St. Francis to embrace fasting from food waste, and what better time to start than when we are fasting anyway?

Obviously, some basic rules apply:

  • Don’t buy food you’re not going to eat.

    • Meal planning is key.

    • Shop your refrigerator and pantry before shopping at the store.

  • Don’t cook in such a way that large portions of your raw materials end up unused. One way to do this is to realize that almost all of food is food. So, carrot peels, mushroom stems and the like can be turned into vegetable stock, writes Elizabeth Dunn in The Wall Street Journal. Soured milk can add extra tang to mac ‘n’ cheese.

  • Store smarter.

    • Greens sealed in a container with a damp cloth last at least a week longer.

    • A cut avocado stays fresh for days sealed in a container.

    • Garlic won’t sprout if it’s kept in a dark cabinet.

    • Find a good storage guide online and tape it to your refrigerator.

    • Label all food that’s stored with the date it was put away. In our house, we prefer glass containers that we can see through, but we label anyway with painter’s tape.

    • Freeze vegetable scraps for stock.

 

We can step up our game by growing our own food. To the extent one’s garden can produce vegetables for one’s own table, so much the better. Consider buying a hydrophonic system, such as those produced by Aerogarden.com, to grow your own herbs and microgreens five times faster than in soil.

Replace paper towels with dishcloths. Dunn uses patterned FEBU Swedish dishcloths for hands and faces and a solid-color one for everything else. Between uses, she tosses them in the dishwasher or washing machine. They last about a month in her house, she says, and then she tosses them in the compost. They cost $20 for a 10-pack at Amazon. Considering that our family of four goes through a 12-pack of Bounty paper towels just about every week, the FEBU dishcloths could represent a real savings.

And use reusable silicone bags to replace one-use zip lock bags. Or wash the zip lock bags and reuse.

Rather than buying compost at the garden store or Home Depot, consider composting the scraps from your table using a compost tumbler, such as the IM4000 Dual Chamber Compost Tumbler ($76 at Amazon on the day I wrote this article) or the Jora JK 125 compost tumbler ($399), which is insulated which allows it to be used year round and to compost harder materials like fish and small chicken bones, avocado and peach pits, etc., to generate compost for your own garden – and to keep those nasty greenhouse gases from escaping into the atmosphere. If you do composting, consider a food waste caddy.

Finally, remember that penance is a three-legged stool: prayer, fasting and charity. Consider donating the some of money you save from reducing your family’s food waste to the fund drive for the CFP-sponsored Mary, Mother of Priests Chapel (https://www.1000priests.org/). – Joel Whitaker, CFP

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FOLLOWING FRANCIS, FOLLOWING CHRIST: DEATH TO SELF

The Rule of 1221, written for the first penitents, was organized to help the penitents die to their own desires and to live for God’s plans and purposes, long before physical death snatched them from this earth. Those who elect to live the CFP Rule and Constitutions have embraced this death to self and are gloriously joyful in their mastery over self, effected through the Rule and the grace of the Holy Spirit. Saint Francis preached this death to self to the first penitents and so did his friars. Saint Anthony of Padua wrote sermon notes for the friars, which frequently showed how to apply Scriptural truths and natural science to spiritual living including death to self will so that one could embrace God’s full life.

 

November is the perfect month to reflect on this death to self will. First, as Joel mentions in his article, the Fast of Saint Martin begins November 12 and continues to Christmas, giving penitents six weeks of surrender at least in the area of food. Then November is a month to remember our beloved dead and to remind ourselves, as Francis reminded his listeners, that some day our names will be on that list of souls prayed for at the November Masses. Finally, November leads up to Christmas when Life Himself was born to remind us why we want to live for Him and for eternity where He dwells. Where can we improve in our goal of our death to self and life for God? Ask the Holy Spirit and you may be surprised! Then “do whatever He tells you.” –Madeline Pecora Nugent, CFP

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HUMOR

 

Nurse came in and said, “Doc, there’s a man in the waiting room who thinks he’s invisible. What should I tell him?” Doc replied, “Tell him I can’t see him today.”

 

I relabeled all the jars in my wife’s spice rack. I’m not in trouble yet but the thyme is cumin.

 

If you boil a funny bone it becomes a laughing stock. That’s humerus.

 

Adultery is a sin. You can’t have your Kate and Edith, too.

 

Glass coffins. Will they be popular? Remains to be seen.

 

Astronomers got tired of watching the moon go round the earth for 24 hours, so they called it a day.

CONFRATERNITY OF PENITENTS PHOTO ALBUM: TWO PLEDGES!

 

Penitents live their way of life in their families, and greatly appreciate family support as these pledges show. In fact, penitents cannot pledge if their spouses are opposed. God bless these supportive families.

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On October 5, 2021, Life Pledged Member Mary Giroux, from Manitoba, Canada, took a private vow to live the CFP Rule for Life.  Pictured above, her son Jean Baptist is clothing her in her crucifix while her other son Rene and husband Cyrille rejoice. Priest accepting the private vow is Fr Paulin Akpapupu.

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On October 17, 2021, at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church and Shrine in Detroit, Michigan, USA, Eric Welch pledged to live the CFP Rule for a year. The priest accepting the pledge was Reverend Canon Adrian Sequeira. Sharing his joy and the deep emotions of that day are his sons Liam and Ian as well as Eric's ex-wife (the couple, married by a justice of the peace in 2006, were divorced in 2013 before Eric was reconciled with the Church).

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REFLECTIONS FROM CFP’ERS: SEEING THE NEED, RESPONDING TO THE NEEDY

 

According to the publication Prison Legal News, Kelsey Love was 28, eight months pregnant, and a pretrial detainee at the Franklin County Regional Jail in Kentucky in 2017. Because of her pregnancy, she was isolated from other prisoners and deputy jailers were instructed to observe her every ten minutes ... Keep that "every ten minutes" in your mind.

 

 According to jail records, they looked in on her semi-regularly, but somehow missed that she was in labor (but a female guard observed Love on the floor of her cell, holding her stomach), and summoned a nurse. The nurse told the guard she "would observe Love and eventually check on her later".

 

Three hours later, when the nurse arrived at Love's cell, they saw a large amount of blood on the floor and found Love and her baby alive in the cell's ripped-open mattress. Love had given birth, chewed the baby's umbilical cord off, then ripped open her mattress and crawled inside with the baby to keep them warm. It was May 15, 2017. Against the assertion made by the jailers ("we had no idea she was in labor"), Love said she "screamed for medical help for two days after being placed in the isolation cell." The settlement allowed the jailers "to admit no wrongdoing" on their part.

 

After her $200,000 settlement, Love said she still had nightmares about being abandoned, in labor, and in jail. Formerly addicted to opioids and methamphetamine, Love had been arrested after driving her mother's car, which had been reported stolen, on suspicion of impaired driving. She was two years sober and working to regain custody of her other children by the settlement time.

 

I may be wrong, I often am, but I believe that God used this evil experience and pulled a greater good out of it for both her child and herself since both are alive and better off.

 

A priest spoke about the multiplication of the loaves and fishes this way: Christ could have easily made food for the hungry crowd "ex nihilo" (out of nothing, or out of thin air), but he chose to involve the apostles and whatever the "young lad" had. Woefully insufficient, our Lord took what they did have to offer and multiplied it to excess. After everyone was fed there were extra wicker baskets left over (from a feast for 5,000 men, plus women and children). It is clear that God wants us to be involved in the lives of each other and with Him. He sees this as the best way to live, not just survive, but to live.

 

 Kelsey Love was probably guilty of whatever they wanted to charge her with. But somewhere in her mother's heart she had what I call "vicious defense of love" for the life of her child. With stories like this I often wonder and hope at how much God can do when we bring him what little we have (a jail cell, a mattress, and a baby). Kelsey was not an innocent Mary, but to see her and her baby with the eyes of faith that Jesus asked us to ("you did it to me"), they experienced being alone, in labor, and in non-ideal conditions. Somewhere there are others in non-ideal conditions who are crying for help. Do we see them? Do we hear? Do we respond? – Eric Welch, CFP

POINT TO PONDER FROM A CFP POSTULANT

 

Give the sufferings you are going through, to Jesus, as an act of Prayer and Penance.  The Evil one, will make you think, “You can't do it.  Rebuke that idea for the Salvation of souls and world peace. God always provides and knows our needs before we ask for them. -- Bryan LaHaise, CFP Postulant

 

“When once you have departed this life, there is no longer any place for repentance, no way of making satisfaction. Here life is either lost or kept. Here, by the worship of God and by the fruit of faith, provision is made for eternal salvation. Let no one be kept back either by his sins or by his years from coming to obtain salvation. To him who still remains in this world there is no repentance that is too late.” –Saint Cyprian of Carthage

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NO GREATER LOVE: THE TORAH OF JESUS CHRIST 

 

The people of Israel are the Chosen People of God. Chosen for what? The prophet Isaiah summarizes God’s purpose for Israel as the Chosen People. “I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness, I have taken you by the hand and have kept you; I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.” (Is 42:6-7) The people of Israel were to show what it is like when a nation obeys God so that all the nations will also obey God. How was this to be accomplished? The “covenant” is the first five books of the Hebrew Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) which details the founding of the Chosen People by God, and the way God expects the Chosen People to live. The Ten Commandments and the other parts of the Mosaic Law (Torah) are part of Israel’s covenant with God. 

 

Parts of the Torah of Moses are meant for Israel at that time (around 1240 BC) and the time after that when Israel occupied the promised land. For example, there were laws concerning how long you could own land before you gave it back. (Lev 25:13-17) As time passed and the circumstances changed, these ordinances also had to change. On the other hand, the Ten Commandments and other laws which had to do with personal morality and justice applied to everyone and for all time. If Israel truly observed them, they would really be a “light to the nations.” However, the were not always observed and Israel often fell into injustice and idolatry. The books of Joshua and Judges deals with the couple of hundred years after the Mosaic Law was given when Israel was attempting to conquer and occupy the Promised Land. The book of Judges ends with a very revealing sentence. “In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes.” (Judg 21:25) The Torah was not widely observed. The establishment of the monarchy did not fix that problem. The Torah told Israel what God expected of them, but many rebelled against doing it and preferred idols which did not make such demands on them. 

 

One of the many things Jesus needed to do was to bring to Israel and to the world a new Torah. Pope Benedict, in Jesus of Nazareth, in his chapter on the Sermon on the Mount, after discussing the Beatitudes, then discusses the “The Torah of the Messiah”. The Messiah was expected to bring a renewed Torah­--his Torah. Paul may be alluding to this in the Letter to the Galatians when he speaks of the "law of Christ" (Gal 6:2). His great, passionate defense of freedom from the Law culminates in the following statement in chapter 5: "For freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery" (Gal 5:1). But when he goes on to repeat at 5:13 the claim that "you were called to freedom," he adds, "Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another" (Gal 5:13). And now he explains what freedom is---namely, freedom in the service of good, freedom that allows itself to be led by the Spirit of God. It is precisely by letting oneself be led by God's Spirit, moreover, that one becomes free from the Law. Immediately after this Paul details what the freedom of the Spirit actually consists in and what is incompatible with it. The "law of Christ" is freedom---that is the paradox of Paul’s message in the Letter to the Galatians. This freedom has content, then, it has direction, and it therefore contradicts what only apparently liberates man, but in truth makes him a slave. The "Torah of the Messiah" is totally new and different---but it is precisely by being such that it fulfills the Torah of Moses. 

 

The original Torah of Moses was followed by some holy people and prophets but certainly not by everyone. “The Torah of the Messiah” has been followed by many in the past two thousand years but not by everyone. Where is this Torah of Jesus followed by everyone? The Torah of Jesus is given in Mt 5:17-7:27. In the middle of this section, in the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus gives us the answer to this question---“Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Mt 6:10) Heaven is where God is, (Mt 6:9) and that is where His will is done by everyone. The Torah of Jesus tells us how we are expected to live in order to be fit for Heaven. 

 

The Fifth Commandment tells us “You shall not kill.” (Ex 20:13) Jesus gives us the fulfillment of this commandment in Mt 5:21-26) where he tells us that we must not be angry with others or call them nasty names such as “fool”. We must reconcile as best we can with another if they have something against us. In other words, we must be at peace with all. Moses started us on the path to peace with all with “you shall not kill”. Jesus fulfills and completes the depth of that commandment. Is it possible for us to be a citizen of Heaven if we are not at peace with all? 

 

The Sixth Commandment says “Thou shall not commit adultery.” (Ex 20:13) This Commandment starts us on the road to interior purity of heart. Jesus fulfills this Commandment in Mt 5:27-28 where he tells us that a man even looking at a woman lustfully is already committing adultery in his heart. In those days adultery could be punished by stoning to death. (Jn 8:3-11)

 

Jesus then warns us to avoid, by even extreme means, any occasion of sin. (5:29-30) The goal is purity of heart which he extolled in Mt 5:8. Why do our hearts need to be pure? Certainly, in Heaven we will encounter numerous beautiful women and handsome men. Yet there will be no lust or impurity there. Lust is a perversion of the legitimate sexual attraction between a man and a woman. This attraction has its proper place in marriage for the sake of children who need a mother and a father. However, in heaven, there will be no marriage. (Mt 22:23-33, Mk 12:18-27, Lk 20:27-40) Ultimately, impurity of heart leads to conflict within a person and with others. 

 

Related to the question of marriage, the Mosaic Law permitted a man to divorce his wife. (Deut 24:1-4) Jesus revoked the Mosaic permission, and he gives his reason for this change. (Mt 5:31-32, Mt 19:3-9, Mk 10:2-12, Lk 16:18) There can be no peace in a society if there is not peace in the fundamental unit of society, the family. Divorce manifests a lack peace in that fundamental unit. Jesus made marriage into a Sacrament. But even before this marriage was a public commitment. We see an example of this in the Marriage Feast in Cana. (Jn 2:1-12). In Matthew’s Gospel, we read of an “exception” for unchastity. (Mt 5:32, 19:9) “Unchastity” may refer to sexual unions where there is no public commitment, but only a private arrangement. We find an example of this in the woman at the well who had five “husbands” who were not really husbands. (Jn 4:16-18) This type of “arrangement” occurs quite commonly today. Jesus tells us that both divorce and “living together” are not God’s intent for a man and a woman. (Mt 19:4-8, Mk 10:5-8) For there to be peace in a marriage, there must be a commitment, and this commitment is manifested by the Sacrament of Marriage. 

 

In the Mosaic Law, we read that we must not swear a false oath. (Lev 19:12, Num 30:2, Deut 23:21) Jesus forbids private oaths. (Mt 5:33-37) Then and now, people who are not trustworthy will swear an oath because this time they “really” mean it. In God there is no falsehood and there cannot be falsehood with us when we are with God and others in Heaven. This must begin now where we are totally trustworthy, and when we say something, people know we mean it. 

 

In Mt 5:38-42, Jesus discusses the Mosaic Law on retaliation, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” (Ex 21:24, Lev 24:20, Deut 19:21) He tells us that peace with others is more important than our upholding of what we think is “right”. Even if one’s opponent is obviously wrong, this should not hinder our love for this person because of our love for God who is absolute truth and justice. What naturally follows from this is what Jesus says in His Torah about love of enemies in Mt 5:43-58. People who have wronged us are still children of God just like us. The wrong they have done is between them and God, but this should not poison our ability to be at peace with them and with all. 

 

In Matthew 6-7, Jesus gives us more valuable advice about living according to His Torah. However, His Torah deals only with relations among individuals. Unlike the Torah of Moses, His Torah says nothing about laws of a society or relations between nations. The Torah of Moses was for Israel, whereas the Torah of Jesus was for all nations. What unites different peoples and nations is not a world government, military power, or an economic or political system. What unites us is Jesus Christ visibly manifested by the Church. 

 

If the Torah of Moses was not widely observed, how can the Torah of Jesus possibly be observed? Jesus gave us the power to live His Torah through His Grace which we can get from His Sacraments. Many in the last two thousand years have lived the Torah of Jesus. We can live it also and achieve its purpose of making us fit for Eternal Life. -- Jim Nugent, CFP

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THE FAST OF SAINT MARTIN (applicable to Novice 3 and pledged members)

November 11 is the Feast of St. Martin. In Medieval times, this was a highly celebrated feast for a popular saint and was, in fact, one of the days mentioned in the 1221 Rule as a day of no fasting or abstinence. To keep the spirit of the original Rule and to prepare spiritually for the Solemnity of Christmas, modern day penitents observe this pre-Christmas fast as did their medieval predecessors.

Fast: The law of fast prescribes that only one full meal a day be taken; but it does not forbid taking some nourishment at two other times during the day. The two smaller meals should be sufficient to maintain strength according to each one's needs, but together they should not equal another full meal. Eating between meals is not permitted, but liquids, including ordinary, homogenized milk and fruit juices, are allowed. Malted milks, milk shakes, and the like are not included in the term "milk." All those from eighteen years of age to the beginning of their sixtieth year are bound by the law of fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

OUR RULE: 9. They are to fast daily, except on account of infirmity or any other need, throughout the fast of St. Martin from after said day until Christmas. . .

OUR CONSTITUTIONS: 9a. Penitents are to observe a pre-Christmas fast from November 12, the day after the Feast of St. Martin, until Christmas and a pre-Easter fast from Ash Wednesday until Easter. 

6i. Travelers while in transit to their destinations and those who are ill, weak, pregnant, or breastfeeding are exempt from following the fasting and abstinence provisions of this Rule.

Christmas Presents
CHRISTMAS GIFTS

Our greatest Christmas gift came in the Person of an Infant born 2000 years ago, but if you are in the custom of giving material Christmas gifts, consider the CFP Holy Angels Gift Shop. With over 4000 items, you are sure to find gifts your friends and family will like. Try to order early so as to avoid delays and disappointment. Some gift items are produced when ordered so there can be up to a four week delay in your receiving certain products.

 

Your purchase from our on line gift shop will help support the Confraternity  of Penitents in its world wide ministries. 

 

As we prepare for the birth of Christ, let us keep Him front and center. May God give you a grace filled and peaceful Fast of Saint Martin.