Confraternity of Penitents Newsletter
SPIRITUAL GUARDIAN’S THOUGHTS: THE FEAST OF SAINT FRANCIS
We celebrate the Feast of St Francis on October 4th. I would like to offer a few thoughts in relation to the feast of our Holy Founder.
In 1922 Gilbert Keith Chesterton became a Roman Catholic. There was nothing in it for him on a social, economic or political level. G. K. Chesterton became a Catholic for the only reason there is to be Catholic; because it is true. He gave his reasons to his colleagues who opposed his decision based on scripture, history and tradition as St. John Henry Cardinal Newman had done before him. However, when he was finally converting, his colleagues tried one last time to stop him from making what they believed was a terrible mistake. They said to him; “Gilbert, how could you possibly reduce yourself to the religion of the lower classes?”
They also plied him with stories of bad Catholics from history among the faithful and the clergy. Chesterton's associates reminded him of the imperfections of the members of the Catholic Church, a reality he was fully aware of. After Chesterton was questioned many times about his conversion, he finally quipped and said; “I'm doing it because I want to get my sins forgiven.”
Chesterton also said: “I would have done it sooner. Even as a Protestant I suspected that the Doctrine of the Most Holy Eucharist was actually true and it frightened me.”
He was famously asked; “What is wrong with the world today?” and he famously replied with two words: “I am.”
Chesterton realized the fundamental reason why the Catholic Church is the only institution that has survived structurally intact from antiquity. It is not a human institution; it was Divinely instituted; “Divine in its institution, human in its members.”
Chesterton, a student of history, recognized at least five major crises in the long history of the Catholic Church. He noticed times when things seem so dark that there seemed no way to go forward; the end seemed inevitable; the only hope; divine intervention. Chesterton noticed that God did intervene to renew the Church in each moment of great crisis, and God did so not firstly through Church Councils, the election of Popes, nor through the issuing of documents. God raised up Saints! In the moments of greatest crisis, the lives of Christians of heroic virtue lead the Church into a new era, a renewal.
Among the greatest figures that Chesterton noticed from history was Saint Francis of Assisi. St. Francis initiated a reform that began with his own personal conversion. Chesterton noticed the genius and the effectiveness of St. Francis. Chesterton published his biography of our founder in 1923. Ten years later he published his biography of the great Saint Thomas Aquinas; two sides of the same coin of renewal, one of the greatest historical Mystics of the Church and one of the greatest historical theologians.
Chesterton said that: “It is the paradox of history that every generation is converted by the Saint that most contradicts it.” May God give us the grace to follow more faithfully the spirit of our founder who once said: “Let us begin, for until now we have done little.” God bless you all and happy feast day of St. Francis of Assisi!--Fr. Joseph Tuscan, OFM Cap
NO GREATER LOVE: JESUS AND THE BEATITUDES
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us much about how He expects us to live. In Chapter Four of Jesus of Nazareth, Pope Benedict discusses this Sermon giving us much food for thought and meditation. First, he clears up a misconception about the Beatitudes which is often taught. The Beatitudes are not infrequently presented as the New Testament's counterpart to the Ten Commandments, as an example of the Christian ethics that is supposedly superior to the commands of the Old Testament. This approach totally misconstrues these words of Jesus. Jesus always presupposed the validity of the Ten Commandments as a matter of course (see, for example, Mk 10:19; Lk 16:17). In the Sermon on the Mount, he recapitulates and gives added depth to the commandments of the second tablet, but he does not abolish them (cf. Mt 5:21-48). To do so would in any case diametrically contradict the fundamental principle underpinning his discussion of the Ten Commandments: "Think not that I have come to abolish the Law and the Prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished" (Mt 5:17-18).
How did the Lord Jesus fulfill the Law and the Prophets? There are many ways, but a few of them can be listed. The Chosen People of Israel knew that the true God had given them commandments and directives through Moses. Yet they did not always perfectly obey these commands. Certainly, they had to repent, but they also needed to show God that they had repented by concrete actions. Moses gave them a system of animal sacrifices to do this. Those who were truly close to God knew that the animal sacrifices were not enough. For example, the psalmist of Psalm 51 states “For you take no delight in sacrifice; were I to give a burnt offering, you would not be pleased. The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” (Ps 51:16-17)
What concrete action is needed for us to show God that we have repented and for God to show us that He has accepted our repentance? Jesus gave us the answer. Confession. “Receive the Holy Spirit,” He told the apostles, the first priests and bishops. “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” (Jn 20:22-23). In sacramental confession, internal repentance is to lead to the external confession to the priest and the penance directed by the priest. The Lord assures us that if this is done properly, we can be sure of God’s forgiveness. We should note that Christ gave the Church the power to forgive sins after He had suffered on the Cross and rose from the dead. After He had triumphed over sin on the Cross, we can enjoy the fruits of His Triumph. Of course, the fruits of His Triumph are not just forgiveness of sins but also eternal life. The Lord taught us that the fruit of repentance is eternal life, while the fruit of a refusal to repent is eternal death.
What about the way we live our lives in the here and now? Pope Benedict tells us that Jesus fulfilled all the Beatitudes (Mt 5:1-12) in his life here on earth. We have seen that the Sermon on the Mount is a hidden Christology. Behind the Sermon on the Mount, stands the figure of Christ, the man who is God, but, who, precisely because he is God, descends, empties himself, all the way to death on the Cross. However, there are those who are respectful of Jesus and even grant the greatness of His life, but deny that this greatness has any relationship to Christians. In The Antichrist, the secular, nineteenth century philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, wrote “In truth, there was only one Christian and he died on the cross.” Nietzsche read the Bible selectively seeing what he wanted to see and ignoring the rest. Nietzsche assumed that to be a follower of Christ, one must be a carbon-copy of Jesus. This attitude is typical of enemies of the Church who try to separate Jesus from His followers and from the Church.
In reality, what it takes to be a follower of the Lord is determined by the Lord Himself. Peter is a prime example. In the gospels, St. Peter is not portrayed as the perfect human with no faults. Peter said silly things to the Lord. (Mt 16:22-23, Mt 17:4) He denied that he knew the Lord. (Mt 26:69-75) Even after the Resurrection, Peter was rebuked by St. Paul. (Gal 2:11-14) Yet, by the Sea of Tiberias, after three times asking Peter if he loved Him (Jn 21:15-17) and predicting Peter’s martyrdom, (Jn 21:18-19) Jesus still commanded Peter to “Follow me.” (Jn 21:19) According to tradition, Peter did follow Jesus right to the Cross by being crucified by the Romans upside down.
Jesus fulfilled the Beatitudes not only in Himself, but also in his followers whom we call Christians.
1. The first Beatitude says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt 5:3) Jesus Himself was poor, however, from the beginning, Christians have imitated His Poverty according to their circumstances. This was especially taken up by St. Francis and the Franciscans, who in a formal way have incorporated poverty into their way of life. Some have been very literally poor, but the phrase “in spirit” indicates that even one who is required by their state in life to own many possessions can still be poor.
2. When Jesus was informed that his dear friend Lazarus had died, he wept (Jn 11:35) even though He knew what He was going to do. The Beatitude, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Mt 3:4) means that even Christians who believe in the Resurrection can mourn for the loss of a loved one just as the Lord did.
3. The Beatitude “Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth” (Mt 5:5) was lived by Jesus who was meek when He was personally attacked at His Passion. Like Jesus, many Christians have boldly proclaimed the truth but have been meek when personally attacked to the point of martyrdom.
4. The Beatitudes “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Mt 5:6) and “Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 5:10) go together since those who seek after righteousness are bound to be persecuted by an unrighteous world. We can read about the persecution of Christians in the book of Acts and this persecution has continued right to the present time.
5. Jesus’ preaching must have converted the rich tax collector, Zacchaeus, (Lk 19:1-10) since he had climbed into a tree to see Jesus as he passed by. Jesus went to this man’s house, even though Zacchaeus, who, as a tax collector for the Romans, could be very unmerciful. Yet Zacchaeus gives half of what he owned to the poor and restores fourfold to anyone he had defrauded. Jesus approved these merciful actions (Lk 19:9-10) In the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector, (Lk 18:9-17) another tax collector (or was it the same tax collector?) prays in the temple to God for mercy. Jesus asserts that this tax collector did obtain mercy. This fulfills the Beatitude “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” (Mt 5:7)
6. Jesus was certainly pure of heart when he obeyed the Father right to the Cross. There have been many Christians, such as St. Joseph of Cupertino, who were known for their patience, humility, and obedience and thus fulfilled the Beatitude “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they will see God” (Mt 5:8)
7. Jesus was also not the violent revolutionary who could overthrow Roman domination of the Jews although many wanted Him to do just that and did not believe in Him because of this “failure”. Instead, he fulfilled the Beatitude, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God” (Mt 5:9) by remaining peaceful while violently and unjustly being led to crucifixion. Many Christians have followed Jesus by not resisting unjust treatment or, like St. Elizabeth of Portugal, being a peacemaker between warring parties.
8. How many of us have been shunned, excluded and hated by those who do not understand or who even reject Christianity? This fulfills the Beatitude “Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Mt 5:11) In this last Beatitude, Jesus is speaking of Christians. The Lord was hated and rejected because he spoke with Divine authority against the sins and deceptions of powerful people. Christians who speak against or even live against the spirit of the times will also be rejected and attacked unjustly. It is true that many Christians live in harmony with and accept the unrighteousness of the world. Those who do not go along with the politically correct regime can expect to be lied about and misinterpreted by the world.
As Pope Benedict says above, Jesus did fulfill the Beatitudes and the entire Sermon on the Mount in His Life. Many Christians down through the ages have also fulfilled the Beatitudes. No Christian was a “carbon-copy” of Jesus Christ as Nietzsche demanded. Despite imperfections and failures, Christians followed Jesus in their own circumstances as did St. Peter. We need to do the same. – Jim Nugent, CFP
CONFRATERNITY PHOTO ALBUM: STEVE PIRO, CFP AFFILIATE, REST IN PEACE
Although he had been vaccinated, CFP Affiliate Steven Michael Piro contracted Covid and passed away on September 24. We are so grateful for this kind, gentle Secular Franciscan who wanted to live in Guadalupe Men’s Vocation Discernment House when he retired. Steve did retire during the summer and was hoping to move into the men’s house in the spring. Now we trust that he is in a better heavenly mansion, or soon will be. Please keep the repose of Steve’s soul in your prayers. If this is the first you have heard of his death, remember to pray 50 psalms for the repose of his soul, as our Rule requires.
The clothes Steve is wearing are typical for him. Simple, earth colors, browns and blacks, and his Tau cross. Steve’s dry sense of humor is reflected in his comment about this image of Saint Francis by which he is standing. “I never liked that image of Saint Francis. He looks like Peter Lorre, if you ask me.” Peter Lorrie was a character, often playing the role of a villain with an innocent, baby faced demeanor.
Steve, may you meet the real Francis and learn what he really looked like! Rest in peace!
In Steve’s Memory, and to honor his desire of living in Guadalupe Men’s Vocation Discernment House, the CFP will dedicate a room to him in the house. Shown is the plaque that is awaiting placement at the door to the room, once the room is renovated.
Guadalupe Men’s Vocation Discernment House suffered extensive water damage from a burst pipe when the house was vacant. Room sponsorships and others are listed elsewhere in this newsletter. God bless all those who are supporting this restoration effort!
Room Sponsorship: $5000 donation
Tabernacle Sponsorship - $1000 donation
Pew Sponsorship - $600 donation
Icon Sponsorship - $200 donation
Tabernacle Stand Sponsorship - $700 donation
Altar Sponsorship -- $1000 donation
Guadalupe Tilma Sponsorship - $700 donation
Plaque with Priest’s Name Sponsorship - $180 donation
Sponsorship names will be featured in Mary, Mother of Priests Chapel in Guadalupe House, to be prayed for by the residents.
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 email@example.com
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!
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. As of October 1, 2021, 20 priests have been sponsored. Add yours soon!
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 the Confraternity Photo Album in this newsletter for other sponsorship options or visit www.1000priests.org To learn more about CFP Vocation Houses, for both men and women, visit www.franciscanvocationhouse.com To order copies of this icon and prayer cards for priests featuring the icon, visit www.cfpholyangels.com Or call 260-739-6882. Or download a postal mail order form.
Please pray for this initiative. Our goal: to have 1000 holy priests from across the world recognized in this chapel.
Remember the CFP Holy Angels Gift Shop.
Over 4000 gifts to build and sustain faith at www.cfpholyangels.com
All proceeds support the Confraternity of Penitents. God bless you for your support!
OUR RULE: MORE ON SECTION 29: LIVING DEBT FREE: BUILDING A RESERVE FUND
A reserve fund is essential. It may mean the difference between having to borrow and being able to live debt free, which is the goal of our Rule. We ought to live debt-free so that we can fix our minds on serving God both through tithing and service, rather than worrying about make the next debt payment.
Things happen. The water heater breaks. The roof leaks. Plumbing leaks. Our car’s air conditioning needs repair. We have an unexpected major medical bill. Or we lose our job. A reserve fund is essential in helping in this. However, it is also appropriate to build a reserve fund for a good thing such as taking a fun vacation or giving presents at Christmas.
Build a reserve fund by setting aside some money every month. How much depends upon the person and his or her circumstances. Maybe you can afford just $25 a month, maybe $50, maybe $100 or more. The important thing is to start now, because the objective is to never have to incur credit card debt.
I’m going to suggest $100 a month be set aside for your reserve fund. After one year, you’ll have a bit more than $1200, which means a new set of tires will not require you to reach for your credit card. The easiest way to fund a reserve account is to tell your payroll department to split your pay, sending a certain amount to your reserve fund and another amount to your regular checking account. For example, let’s say your net pay is $800. Your payroll department could send $50 to your reserve fund and $750 to your regular checking account. Some banks will also let you set up automatic transfers to another account, at either that bank or another.
Where should you keep your reserve fund? In a savings account, at least at the beginning. The real question is what savings account, at what bank?. Here there are two criteria:
Where will it earn the most interest?
Can you get to it when you need it?
Sadly, your local bank probably isn’t the best place to maintain your reserve fund. It is shocking how little banks pay on savings nowadays. Bank of America, for instance, pays just 0.01% -- just 1/100th of 1% a year. A local bank in my area, Sandy Spring Bank, is slightly better – 0.03% a year.
NerdWallet.com lists seven online savings accounts that pay 0.4% a year – not great, but still far, far better than 0.01% or 0.03%. Bankrate.com lists four that pay 0.5% -- and one that pays 0.6% if your balance is at least $2,500 (on balances below $2500, it pays just 0.05%).
Make sure you can access your money when you need it. Does the institution offer a debit card? How else can you access this money? Could your credit card payment be made automatically from this account?
Most of us need at least three reserve funds: One for all the bad stuff that happens, one for vacations and one for Christmas. Banks used to actively promote the idea of a Christmas Club and a Vacation Club. You would save up for Christmas all year long, and sometime in mid-November the club would close and you would get a check for the balance, including interest, in your club account that you could then spend on Christmas presents. The same idea applied to a Vacation Club, just with different timing.
Banks don’t promote those clubs anymore, but Jesus tells us to be “cunning as serpents” (Matthew 10:16) so we can create our own Christmas or Vacation Club by designating a savings account for the purpose. And – this is where the cunning part comes in – tying that account to a credit card that awards points for specific spending. This does not violate our pay-up-your-debts rule because you’re never borrowing more than you have in the bank. Use that credit card only to pay for your vacation or for Christmas. Because you will access your Christmas or Vacation Funds every year or so, you’ll want to keep these in a high-yield savings account at a bank. You simply can’t afford to lose any principal.
The Bad Stuff Reserve
You need to think of your Bad Stuff Reserve on two levels. Level one is the expected unexpected expense – such as needing a new set of tires for the car ($800 for my car), or a water heater ($1200). I think $3,000 is enough for this fund. You obviously want to maintain this fund at whatever level you set – in this example, $3,000. So if you withdraw from it, you need to rebuild to that level. But once your bad stuff reserve exceeds $3,000, you might want to consider investing the excess. We’ll talk about that next month. – Joel Whitaker, CFP
FOLLOWING FRANCIS, FOLLOWING CHRIST: A NIGHT ON THE FLOOR
Finishing the late-night movie on the TV in the living room of Pat and Danny’s long mobile home where I was for a short visit, I pulled the chair upright, went to stand up and, as the foot rest was lowering, I slid off onto the floor. I was not hurt, not even a bruise. I tried to stand up. Nope, that didn’t work. I slid around to face the front of the chair and pulled on the arms. Oops! That didn’t work. Arms were too low. Next to the TV was a large, heavy, movable long heater used for emergency heating. It had a sturdy black handle on each side. I scooted over and began to pull myself up. Nope, that didn’t work. The handles are not long enough to get a good grip to pull my tall, heavy, 81-year-old body up.
Deciding to lie down for a while, I had my cell phone and tried to call Holly, Pat and Danny’s daughter who lives with them. I didn’t want to because she gets up early for work and needs her rest. No answer. Then I called Pat. No answer. So I lay back down.
First, Kilo, a large mixed mastiff and pit bull dog, laid down by my left side and pushed his head under my hand. Kilo is always there to comfort anyone in need. On the right side of me, my cat Rufus and the house cats, Little Bit, Little Red, and Random, decided to check me out. That was a lot of fun having furry visitors stop by. Kilo later moved over to his chair and kept an eye on me from there. The cats came and went.
I was enjoying thinking about how many Guardian Angels were in the room. At least five Angels were there: Pat’s, Danny’s, Holly’s, Chase’s (Pat’s great grandson whom she and Danny adopted), and mine. Quite a party! Angels, a dog, a clutter of cats, the sleeping family and me.
I didn’t call for help I didn’t want to wake anyone up. Everyone needed their rest. And I was okay. As dawn began, Holly opened her door and discovered the floor party. Then Pat woke up and joined us. They weren’t upset when they realized that I was fine. First question: Why didn’t you call us! Telling them I had called with no success, they checked their phones. They were turned off! They also wanted a quiet night.
Well, the EMTs arrived. They got me up in less than 30 seconds. They did some tests. I was fine. They left. And I have a gift from the Lord of a very specific holy time with a big dog, many furry cats, and Guardian angels.
Saint Francis could not have had a better night! –Mary Grace Elizabeth, CFP (Mary Grace Elizabeth pictured with her cat Rufus, above. Other pets, top to bottom, Kilo,
Little Red and Little Bit, and Random)
HUMOR: CAT AND DOG JOKES
What do cats have for breakfast? Mice Crispies!
What did one flea say to the other flea when they came out of the movies? "Should we walk home or take a dog?!"
Why are cats bad storytellers? Because they only have one tale.
What did the dog say to the sandpaper? Ruff.
What do you call a dog in the winter? A chili dog.
Why don't cats play poker in the jungle? Too many cheetahs.
What is a cat's way of keeping law and order? Claw enforcement.
Why did the dog cross the road? To get to the barking lot.
How many cats can you put into an empty box? Only one. After that, the box isn't empty.