Confraternity of Penitents Newsletter
NEW SPIRITUAL GUARDIAN
Welcome, Fr. Joseph Tuscan, OFM Cap, as our CFP Spiritual Guardian, and thanks to Fr. Jacob Meyer for serving as Spiritual Guardian for these past years. Fr. Tuscan has been our Spiritual Advisor for Franciscan Matters, but now he will combine both roles as our Spiritual Guardian. Please hold him in prayer in this new role. The Spiritual Guardian was called the Visitor in the original Rule of 1221.
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 Information on this link.
SPIRITUAL GUARDIAN’S THOUGHTS: PERSEVERANCE
Every Sunday is a “little Easter”. Christ our Savior rose from the dead on the first day of the week, Sunday, thus forever transforming the Lord’s Day! This is why we “have to go to Mass on Sunday.” This attitude of “have to” states correctly an obligation, but it is an obligation of Love. Just as a husband and wife are bound together in matrimony and they truly love one another, their obligation to fidelity is an obligation of love, not of duty alone.
Because we love God, we go to Mass. Because we love God, we obey His commandments. Because we love God, we pray daily. What is done with love becomes light, as Our Lord tells us: “My yoke is easy and my burden light.” Loves makes that which is a chore a work of love.
How do we persevere in this ongoing struggle to be a follower of Christ here below? Perhaps St. Paul’s analogy of an athletic event, a race, helps us to understand. An athlete denies himself, trains hard, maybe even two-a-day work outs, abstains from things that will harm his body, eats and drinks what is good for his body – all with the single purpose of winning the race. The crown of victory is Heaven. The race is life. Our training is listening to the Word of God and pondering it in our hearts, as Mary did. Our fasting, sacrifices and acts of self-denial are our “weight training”. Our cardio is the discipline of doing our duties faithfully for our state in life. Mary is the most excellent coach of all and will help us make our “workouts” efficacious and our “training” produce fruits for eternal life. She is the all time champion! She can show us how to do it, too.
Here is a little plan for persevering in following Christ (note how these, which work for everyone, reflect aspects of our CFP Rule):
Pray daily. Spend at least 15 minutes in the presence of the LORD either before Him in the Blessed Sacrament or reading over and meditating on His Word through sacred scripture.
Practice self-denial not only in food and drink but mortifying our will to God’s will. This means when things happen in daily life that you don’t like, don’t complain, don’t moan and groan. Embrace the pain! It is coming from God’s hand as He is allowing it so that you may be made holy and be the saint He created you to be.
Jesus, I trust in You. Surrender yourself daily to the Mercy of God and trust Him to act in your life in the way He sees fit. Ask Him for the grace to persevere and to have the grace of a holy death. St. Joseph died in the arms of Jesus and Mary, tradition tells us. So, he is the one we go to pray for a “happy” death – that we die in God’s grace. Death is but the door into eternity. May we all persevere until the end when God calls us forth from this life on earth into the eternity of bliss He wants to give us in Heaven!
Keep before our mind that “all things pass; God never changes” as St. Teresa of Avila taught us. All things pass. This whole world is passing away. It helps us to keep in perspective the things of this earth and helps us bear our pains much more patiently. Holy detachment is so good for us and so helpful. Detachment helps us to be more humble and more patient. St. Paul tells us “Love is patient.” Moving forward, one day at a time, with Mary and St. Joseph – and we will make it to the finish line!
The Gift of Adoration/Meditation: From: In Sinu Jesu, The Journal of a Priest
“The practice of adoration is not difficult. It is a gentle abiding in my presence, a resting in the radiance of my Eucharistic face, a closeness to my Eucharistic heart. Words, though sometimes helpful, are not necessary, nor are thoughts. What I seek from one who would Adore Me in spirit and in truth is a heart of flame with love, a hart content to abide in my presence, silent and still, engaged only in the act of loving me and of receiving my love.
Though this is not difficult, it is, all the same, my own gift to the soul who asks for it. Ask, then, for the gift of adoration. Adoration is an austere prayer because it rests upon faith alone. Out of Faith there Rises the pure flame of Hope, I enkindle in the soul a great conflagration (Firestorm) of Charity; that is, a communication to the soul of the fire that blazes in my Eucharistic heart.”
“A thousand years of enjoying human glory is not worth even an hour spent sweetly communing with Jesus in The Blessed Sacrament.” - Saint Padre Pio
“Do you want our Lord to give you many Graces? Visit him often. Do you want him to give you a few graces? Visit him seldom. Visits to the Blessed Sacrament are powerful and indispensable means of overcoming the attacks of the devil. Make frequent visits to Jesus in The Blessed Sacrament and the devil will be powerless against you.” - St John Bosco
--Fr. Joseph Tuscan, OFM Cap
NO GREATER LOVE: THE KINGDOM OF GOD
“The Gospel of the Kingdom of God” is the subject of Chapter Three of Pope Benedict’s Jesus of Nazareth. Pope Benedict gives us many insights into the preaching of this Kingdom by Jesus and the distortions of this preaching which have appeared especially in recent time. Pope Benedict notes a shift in emphasis which occurred between the “synoptic” Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) on one hand and the Gospel of John and the other writings of the New Testament (Acts, the letters, and the Book of Revelation) on the other hand. In the synoptic Gospels the subject of preaching is mainly the “Kingdom of God”. In the later writings the subject of the preaching is “Christology” or the study of who Jesus Christ is and what is his meaning. Why the shift? This shift would certainly be a mistake if Jesus was simply God’s messenger or prophet as some have claimed. This is not what the New Testament teaches us. Jesus did often proclaim Himself and this is why the Jewish authorities in Jerusalem wanted the Romans to crucify Him. By proclaiming Himself, Jesus was proclaiming God since He is God the Son.
When Jesus proclaimed the “Kingdom of God” what was he actually proclaiming? Pope Benedict gives us the answer. We can put it even more simply: When Jesus speaks of the Kingdom of God, he is quite simply proclaiming God, and proclaiming him to be the living God, who is able to act concretely in the world and in history, and is even now so acting. He is telling us: "God exists'' and "God is really God” which means that he holds in his hands the threads of the world. In this sense, Jesus' message is very simple and thoroughly God-centered. The new and totally specific thing about his message is that he is telling us: God is acting now--this is the hour when God is showing himself in history as its Lord, as. the living God, in a way that goes beyond anything seen before. "Kingdom of God” is therefore an inadequate translation. It would be better to speak of God's being-Lord, of his lordship.
Where is the Kingdom of God? The Lord’s Prayer teaches us that Our Father (God) is in Heaven, and we are to pray that His Will is done on Earth is it is already done in Heaven. We are to pray for human obedience to God. Heaven is where God has unrivaled Kingship. This does not mean that the Kingdom of God is absent from Earth. It does mean that there are other rival kingdoms on Earth besides the Kingdom of God. When the devil tempts Jesus in the desert, the devil shows Jesus the kingdoms of world and tells Him “To you I will give all this authority and their glory; for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will.” (Lk 4:6) The Lord rejects the devil’s offer to reject God’s Lordship and betray the Kingdom of God. Unfortunately, many humans have not rejected this temptation.
How did the Kingdom of God appear on Earth? In the book of Genesis, God promises Abraham that He would make him a great nation, but Abraham had to “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.” (Gen 12:1) If Abraham had stayed, he would not have been the ancestor of King David and ultimately Jesus Christ. The Kingdom of God on Earth relies on human obedience. In calling Abraham to obedience, God was working to establish His Kingdom.
In the first book of Samuel, we read how God chose Saul as the first King of Israel. (1 Sam 9-10) Israel is not simply the Kingdom of God, but God certainly used Israel as a stage in His plan of salvation for the human race. The establishment of a kingship was probably the next stage of God’s plan. This temporary stage did achieve the Purpose of God. Even after the kingship and political independence of Israel were destroyed in around 587 BC, Israel, and especially the Jews, (a part of Israel) still existed. They were a coherent people, all over the known world, who worshipped the true God. As a result, when Jesus came there were people such as Mary, the apostles and the other disciples, and even Gentiles who could understand who Jesus was and how He fit into God’s plan of salvation for all humanity.
God desires our obedience. He chooses those for His Plan who have the abilities to accomplish His Purpose, but they still have to obey Him. We have a free will. God chose Saul out of many other possible candidates to be King of Israel, but Saul disobeyed God and God removed the Kingship from Saul. (1 Sam 15:1-9) It seems as if Saul’s heart was not completely with obeying God but was set on his worldly power as King of Israel. As a result, God chose David to replace Saul. (1 Sam 16:1-13) Samuel anointed David and David received the Holy Spirit. (1 Sam 16:13) David then entered the service of Saul (1 Sam 14-23) At that time the biggest foreign threat to Israel were the Philistines. David killed the Philistine giant Goliath (1 Sam 17) and achieved other victories over the Philistines. (1 Sam 18:30) David served King Saul faithfully with much success and was esteemed by the people and Saul’s servants, (1 Sam 18:5) but Saul grew jealous. Saul should have loved and esteemed David for the success against the Philistines which David achieved in his service. Saul hated and feared David and wanted to kill him. David was advancing the Kingdom of Israel by defeating the enemy Philistines, but Saul was more concerned with own worldly power. Saul could have easily killed David except that God raised up protectors for David. Saul gave his daughter, Michal, to David to be his wife thinking she might be a snare for David. (1 Sam 18:20-29) After David achieved a great victory over the Philistines, Saul grew very jealous and plotted to kill David while he was at home with Michal. Michal sent David away that night so that he escaped the hands of Saul. (1Sam 19:11-17)
David needed another protector who was Saul’s son Jonathan. Unlike his father, Jonathan put the Kingdom of Israel and ultimately the Kingdom of God over his own worldly power. Jonathan could possibly have become King after Saul died, but Jonathan could see that God was with David and that David was God’s choice to rule Israel. Jonathan made a covenant of friendship with David, (1 Sam 18:1-4) and Jonathan interceded for David with his father. (1 Sam 19: 1-7) However, that was not enough to stop Saul’s jealousy. Jonathan devised an elaborate plan to warn David of Saul’s intentions. (1 Sam 20:18-42) David escaped safely from Saul, but he knew that he could no longer trust Saul. Jonathan’s unusual friendship with David was in obedience to God. God did not want Jonathan to be King, but He did have something else for him to do, and Jonathan faithfully obeyed.
Like Jonathan, there were others who longed for the Kingdom of God even when they were serving other kings. After the time of David there was a great prophet in Israel called Elisha. Elisha healed Naaman, who was the commander of the army of the king of Syria, of leprosy. Naaman was so grateful that he offered a great gift to Elisha. Elisha refused the gift, so Naaman requested from Elisha two mule loads of dirt from Israel to take back to Syria. Naaman realized that there was no God except in Israel. Naaman wanted to sacrifice to God on Israelite soil, and he would sacrifice to no other God. However, Naaman did request permission from Elisha to be with his employer, the king of Syria, in the house of the god Rimmon while the king worshipped. Elisha granted the request. (2 Kings 5:1-19) Even though Naaman was a foreigner and not part of Israel, God still called Naaman to worship Him, and he obeyed.
In the Book of Ruth, we read of two men from Israel who went to Moab with their parents to escape a famine in Israel. They took wives from Moab, but the two sons died as well as the father. Only the mother and the two wives were left. When Naomi, the mother, decided to go back to Israel, she urged her Moabite daughters-in-law to stay in Moab and find husbands there. One of them did that, but, the other daughter-in-law, Ruth, said, “Your people shall by my people, and your God my God.” (Ruth 1:16) Ruth went to Israel with Naomi and married Boaz and became the great-grandmother of King David. Ruth left her own family and her own God for the God of Israel. She perceived a call from God and she obeyed.
In the parable of the talents in St. Luke’s Gospel, a nobleman goes to a distant country to receive kingly power before returning. (Lk 19:11-27) This probably refers to the Lord’s Ascension into heaven and second coming. However, some citizens declared “We do not want this man to reign over us” (Lk 19:14). Do we want this Man to reign over us? As Christians, the Kingdom of God means Christ as our King. On the last Sunday of Ordinary time, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of Christ the King. This solemnity unites the Kingdom of God with Christology. To be a loyal subject of any kingdom, we must be loyal to the king. To be a loyal subject of the Kingdom of God, we must be loyal to Christ the King. Our loyalty to Christ is not just a spiritual thing for Sunday, but a total loyalty in all things. When this King asks something of us, do we obey? –Jim Nugent, CFP
REFLECTION ON OUR RULE: CONTINUED REFLECTION ON DEBT
How We Got Into This Mess is a Sin -- … And my sin is always before me. – Psalm 51
Anyone who is – or has – struggled with oppressive credit card balances or student loans undoubtedly has wondered “How did I ever get into this mess?” There are a few people, largely those who had medical expenses that outran their insurance, that really aren’t responsible for those astronomical credit card or other balances. As for the rest of us, well . . .
According to the American Bankruptcy Institute, the three main causes of consumer bankruptcy are (1) job loss, (2) medical problems, and (3) divorce. As noted above, when someone is faced with a choice of dying or running up astronomical debts to save themselves or a loved one, there usually isn’t any debate: People will do what they need to do. Often those bills exceed what their insurance carrier will pay.
The other two causes go right back to why debt should be avoided, to why St. Paul cautioned to owe nothing to anyone except the love we owe to each other, and why the first Rule ever written for penitents back in 1221 required them – and us – to pay up our debts.
So how did we get into this mess? Sure, we overspent on credit cards or committed to a college with super-high expenses or bought a car or a house with payments that are too high for our income. But why? What made us do that? There many possible explanations, but I think they all boil down to two elemental sins, pride and gluttony. Our mother might have warned us against trying to “keep up with the Joneses.” But still that temptation is exceedingly strong. After all, who wants to tell their kids that they can’t have swim camp or other camp experiences because we cannot afford them? Who wants to go to work in last year’s fashions (which is why the average family of four spends $1,800 a year on clothes.) Or who wants to drive a 10-year old or 15-year-old car and have their kids call it a jalopy.
Isn’t that the definition of pride? We don’t want to be embarrassed in front of our kids or to be embarrassed ourselves by wearing last year’s fashions. When our neighbor has a landscaper upgrade his front yard, we don’t want to be embarrassed by having a plain front yard.
Penitents are called to have a minimal wardrobe – no more clothes than is necessary for work and other purposes. We implement this in Novice 3 formation. For many of us, that means a 10 item (or 15 item) wardrobe. (Of course, those 10 items doesn’t include necessary accessories such as sweaters.) When I went through Novice 3, I got rid of 25 or more polo shirts that were 20 years or more old, and that I had been wearing maybe once or twice a month. I also knew I would have to get rid of my precious red Indiana University tee-shirts and sweatshirts, something that was, in fact, painful. So, beginning as a postulant I wore them every day. I was sure, absolutely certain, that by the time I reached Novice 3 they would wear out. They didn’t, and so I had a choice: I could put my college first or God first. I chose God.
Karen Sadock, a life-pledged and privately vowed member, advocates buying good quality clothing and wearing it until it has become rags. She’s reflecting a British saying about someone being “too poor to buy cheap.” But, let’s face it: Shopping can in itself convey status. Shopping at Neiman-Marcus symbolizes a person has more-than-ample resources. Shopping at a second-hand store, where one can often find upscale store clothing, doesn’t. Isn’t shopping at an upscale store a manifestation of pride? Someone who brings home clothing in a Macy’s bag is perceived by many people as being a better person than the person who brings home clothing in a Walmart or JC Penney bag and they are, in turn, often viewed as being better than someone who “must” shop at thrift stores.
So, isn’t the desire for status based upon where we shop and what we wear a manifestation of pride? Our Rule and Constitution provisions on clothing are designed specifically to prevent us from having that source of pride. If we embrace those provisions we should never, ever have to buy something on a credit card because we can’t afford it otherwise.
Back to those statistics from the American Bankruptcy Institute. When someone loses a job, even in a two-income family, it results in a tremendous loss of income. If one has piled up massive amounts of debt to maintain a certain image that cannot be sustained when one loses one’s job, isn’t that a manifestation of pride? ABI also found that it is not unusual that a couple can pile up massive amounts of debt to maintain a certain lifestyle. When a couple divorces, often one of the partners is saddled with the responsibility to pay off most of the pre-divorce debts. When they can’t, they file for personal bankruptcy.
Pride is one of the Seven Deadly Sins. That’s true when it comes to how we spent the money God entrusts to us as well as when it comes to our spiritual life.
For a penitent who is mired in debt, a month-after-month relentless paring down of debt until it has been reduced and extinguished is a perfect, if painful, penance. And as long as we have to write those checks to the credit card company to pay off an outstanding balance from long-past spending, our sin is truly “before us always.” -- Joel Whitaker, CFP
CONFRATERNITY PHOTO ALBUM
On August 24, 2021, Very Reverend Mark Gurtner, Vicar General of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, blessed the altar in the Mary Cross and Lawrence Tippmann Chapel at Annunciation Women’s Vocation Discernment House, thus consecrating the chapel as a sacred space. Mass, Eucharistic Adoration, and prayer such as the Liturgy of the Hours may now be offered in the chapel which must be used for sacred purposes. Father is shown blessing the congregation at the Mass of blessing.
Paul and Susan Boudreau, CFP Associates from Rhode Island, visited CFP Headquarters and met for the first time Fr. Augustine Mugawura who was bringing items to store here as he can take only 2 suitcases back to Uganda. Father Augustine commented that he was not properly dressed for a photo—he always wears his clerics. We’ll forgive him for being casual at 10 p.m which was 12 hours before his departure. The CFP cat is Lupe who had to get in the photo, too.
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, which will open in Fort Wayne in 2023. (God willing!) 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, which suffered water damage from a burst pipe. Donations of other amounts are also gratefully accepted. Every dollar brings Mary, Mother of Priests Chapel closer to completion!
To find out more about sponsorship and donations, visit www.1000priests.org
To learn more about the Franciscan Vocation Houses, for both men and women, visit www.franciscanvocationhouse.com
To order copies of the above icon and prayer cards for priests featuring the icon, visit www.cfpholyangels.com Or call 260-739-6882.
Please pray for this initiative. Our goal: to have 1000 holy priests from across the world recognized in this chapel.
ARBITRATOR: A cook that leaves Arby's to work at McDonalds
AVOIDABLE: What a bullfighter tried to do
BERNADETTE: The act of torching a mortgage
BURGLARIZE: What a crook sees with
CONTROL: A short, ugly inmate
COUNTERFEITERS: Workers who put together kitchen cabinets
ECLIPSE: What an British barber does for a living
EYEDROPPER: A clumsy ophthalmologist
HEROES: What a guy in a boat does
LEFTBANK: What the robber did when his bag was full of money
MISTY: How golfers create divots
PARADOX: Two physicians
PARASITES: What you see from the top of the Eiffel Tower
PHARMACIST: A helper on the farm
POLARIZE: What penguins see with
RELIEF: What trees do in the Spring
SELFISH: What the owner of a seafood store does
FOLLOWING FRANCIS, FOLLOWING CHRIST: PRAYER FOR PRIESTS
Saint Francis had a great love for priests as he said that they alone could make the Lord physically present through the consecration of the Blessed Sacrament.
The Lord led CFP Affiliate Mona Seward to a similar love but in a totally unique way. Mona experienced a severe reaction to a second Covid vaccine shot, which led to a three day hospitalization. She wrote, “I honestly thought I would die. . . It was truly the darkest emptiness I ever experienced in my life. NO consolation. No sense or memory of God. It was a black void of desolation, aloneness. No consolation, not even a microcosm. I thought “Mona, you have spent your WHOLE life pursuing God, believing in Christ, believing in heaven, the Saints and guess what! The atheists were right. There really is no God, no afterlife. You are going in a deep dark hole, and you will be gone!’
When Mona arrived home, her husband tried to help by showing her religious movies, first Fatima and then Garabandal. In the Garabandal movie, “the visionaries are given a little makeup compact for Our Lady to kiss. Everyone raised an eyebrow... “Who has given this... a makeup compact... Our Lady doesn’t not want that’ but surprisingly, it was the first thing she kissed.’ When the visionary gave it to her, they said it was her favorite.
“Finally, a man came forward and said it was his. He said, during the Revolution, the Blessed Sacrament was put in it to bring secretly to priests who were being martyred. It’s hard to find words for these things but at that very moment, a thought illuminated in my mind, . .. an unspoken understanding. ‘This cross you experienced was for my beloved Priests.’ In that moment, I understood the dark void I experienced, He was sharing the desolation He experienced on the cross,. . . a real sharing in the suffering with the Savior. I now know, in our darkest moments, He is closest to us. . . . I felt the love of Christ for His Priests.
“That changed me inside. It was like He put a new heart in me. I cannot look at things I hear on the news and feel judgmental. I see from a new perspective. Like a little mother for her most beloved son. There’s always forgiveness, always mercy, always devoted love to see the best in them. I see why Jesus put so much emphasis on Love. He is a Heart filled with Love! Love is everything! . .Now I offer everything up for my son, who is still an Atheist, and for Priests.” – Mona Seward, CFP Affiliate