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Confraternity of Penitents Newsletter -- April 2022

LENTEN GUIDELINES FROM OUR RULE

14b. All are to go to daily Mass in Advent and Lent unless serious inconvenience for persons, business, employment, or duties should threaten. Again, a decade of the Rosary is to be said if Mass is not attended. 

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, and throughout the greater fast from Carnival Sunday[1] until Easter.

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.

Abstinence: The law of abstinence forbids the eating of meat, but not eggs, milk products, nor condiments of any kind, even though made from animal fat. Forbidden are the flesh meat of warm blooded animals and all parts of such animals. This does not include meat juices, broths, soups, lards, gravies, sauces, animal fats, and liquid foods made from meat. Also allowed are fish and all such coldblooded animals such as frogs, shellfish, clams, turtles, oysters, crabs, and lobsters. All those who have completed their fourteenth year are bound to the law of abstinence from meat on Ash Wednesday and on all the Friday's of Lent.

Medical needs, health, and pregnancy allow for modifications to these stipulations. Penitents over the age of 64 need to remember that, while the Church absolves them from the fasting provisions due to age, the Rule does not have an age cut off. Penitents have chosen this way of life and, although elderly, are still bound to fast as prescribed unless to do so would be dangerous to their health. Please consult your physician if you have any concerns in this area. Remember, too, that the fast prescribes one full meal daily plus one smaller meal or, if needed 2 smaller meals that, when combined, do not equal the amount of food consumed at the large meal. Neither the Church nor our Rule specifies what that large meal consists of because its size will depend on your body size. Adjust food intake accordingly to the size of your large meal.

Remember that fasting should be accompanied by prayer, almsgiving, and works of mercy. Let us pray for one another during this holy Lenten season.

NOTE: Easter and Octave: The Octave of Easter is like celebrating Easter every day. Every day is a Solemnity. There is no fasting or abstinence during the Easter Octave, although penitents must continue to do the more important thing of continuing and even amplifying their prayer life. Have a blessed Easter!

 

[1] The Sunday before Ash Wednesday.

The life of a Christian is nothing but a perpetual struggle against self; there is no flowering of the soul to the beauty of its perfection except at the price of pain. -- St. Padre Pio

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SPIRITUAL GUARDIAN’S REFLECTION: THE LAST FOUR THINGS

The theological reflection upon death, judgment, heaven and hell, is known in the church as the study of eschatology or the last things.. Franciscans we have a certain perspective on this teaching

 

St. Francis of Assisi: 

 

“Be praised, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death,

from whose embrace no living person can escape.

Woe to those who die in mortal sin!

Happy those she finds doing your most holy will.

The second death can do no harm to them.”

 

Sacred tradition, the magisterium and sacred scripture teach us three things about death: 1) end of Earthly life 2) a consequence of sin and that 3) it is transformed by Christ. 

 

St. Augustine, Sermon 169: “God created us without us; but he did not will to save us without us.”

 

Mt 25:31-46: We will be judged based upon the Spiritual and corporal works of mercy. Based on Jesus' doctrine of the sheep and the goats, the corporal and spiritual works of mercy are a means of grace as good deeds. They are also works of justice pleasing to God.

 

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 2447 reads: "The works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities." The works of mercy are seen as an act both of penance and charity and a means of grace which lead to holiness and aid in sanctification. The works of mercy have been traditionally divided into two categories, each with seven elements:

 

1. "Corporal works of mercy" which concern the material and physical needs of others.

2. "Spiritual works of mercy" which concern the spiritual needs of others.

 

St. Pope John Paul II issued a papal encyclical "Dives in misericordia" on 30 November 1980 declaring that "Jesus Christ taught that man not only receives and experiences the mercy of God, but that he is also called 'to practice mercy' towards others." 

 

The corporal works of mercy are those that tend to the bodily needs of other creatures. The standard list is given by Jesus in the Gospel text of St. Matthew 25, in this famous sermon on the Last Judgment. They are also mentioned in the Book of Isaiah. The seventh work of mercy comes from the Book of Tobit and from the mitzvah of burial, although it was not added to the list until the Middle Ages. 

The works include:

To feed the hungry. 

To give water to the thirsty.

To clothe the naked.

To shelter the homeless.

To visit the sick.

To visit the imprisoned, or ransom the captive. 

To bury the dead.

Just as the corporal works of mercy are directed towards relieving corporeal suffering, the aim of the spiritual works of mercy is to relieve spiritual suffering. 

1. To instruct the ignorant.

2. To counsel the doubtful.

3. To admonish sinners.

4. To bear patiently those who wrong us.

5. To forgive offenses.

6. To comfort the afflicted.

7. To pray for the living and the dead. 

 

Philippians 2: 12-15:

“Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish.”

 

“For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we wake or sleep we might live with him. 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10.

 

We know that there is a certain kind of fear of the Lord, a fear that the Lord desires from all of us. After all, fear of the Lord is a gift of the Holy Ghost. This is a fear rooted in love. Saint Francis de Sales eloquently and concisely stated it: “We must fear God out of love. Love him out of fear.”

 

The doctrine of the four last things then is not meant to frighten us. Rather it is meant to help us to lead more faithfully committed Christian lies here on Earth.

 

Father Anthony J Barone, SJ sums up this truth: “Few things in this Earthly life are absolutely certain. The most undebatable of these is that every man, even the atheists, will admit this much – Death is certain. Death, however, is not the very last event in this life of ours. Right after death, we shall be judged. Our private judgment will be repeated on the day of judgment when all men will know us for what we are. Our judgment will depend on how we live this Earthly life of ours. If we have honestly done our best and have followed the Commandments of Christ, we shall be rewarded with a perfect life of Heaven. If, however, we have disregarded his loving directions, to refuse to make use of his generous help, we shall be condemned to hell. Death, judgment, Heaven and Hell – these are the four last things for which we are moving each hour of the day and night. They will never frighten us if our conscience is clear. If we love God in our daily life, that is, if we are sincerely trying to know and follow his holy will, we have no reason to fear.”

 

Pope Saint John Paul II in his 1984 Apostolic Exhortation: Reconciliatio et Paenitentia (Reconciliation and Penance) states this very clearly: “Nor can the Church omit, without serious mutilation of her essential message, a constant catechesis on what the traditional Christian language calls the four last things of man: death, judgment (universal and particular), hell and heaven. In a culture which tends to imprison man in the Earthly life, at which he is more or less successful, the pastors of the church are asked to provide a catechesis which will reveal and illustrate with the certainties of faith what comes after the present life: beyond the mysterious gates of death, an eternity of joy in communion with God or the punishment of separation from him. Only in this eschatological vision can one realize the exact nature of sin and feel decisively moved to penance and reconciliation."

– Fr. Joseph Tuscan, OFM Cap, CFP Spiritual Guardian

HUMOR

 

  • I don't suffer from insanity; I enjoy every minute of it.

  • I used to have a handle on life, but it broke.

  • I'm not a complete idiot -- some parts are missing.

  • Out of my mind. Back in five minutes.

  • Wrinkled was not one of the things I wanted to be when I grew up.

  • Procrastinate Now!

  • A hangover is the wrath of grapes.

  • He who dies with the most toys is nonetheless DEAD.

  • Ham and eggs...A day's work for a chicken, a lifetime commitment for a pig.

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NO GREATER LOVE: THE GOOD SAMARITAN

 

Chapter seven of Pope Benedict’s Jesus of Nazareth deals with the parables of Jesus. After giving us a marvelous introduction to the nature and purpose of parables, Pope Benedict first discusses the parable of the Good Samaritan (Lk 10:25-37). In the parable, Jesus tells us of a Jewish man who was beaten and stripped on the road between Jerusalem and Jericho. Two important people, a priest and a Levite, saw the man who was half-dead and passed by. The priest offered sacrifices to God in the Jerusalem temple and the Levite served in the temple. Then a Samaritan sees the man, has compassion for him, and does what he can to take care of him. Pope Benedict describes the compassion of the Samaritan. The Samaritan, the foreigner, makes himself the neighbor and shows me that I have to learn to be a neighbor deep within and that I already have the answer in myself. I have to become like someone in love, someone whose heart is open to being shaken up by another's need. Then I find my neighbor, or---better---then I am found by him.

 

The parable is prompted by a lawyer asking Jesus “Who is my neighbor?” (Lk 10:29) Pope Benedict explains how the whole parable turns on this question. The Lord holds up the Samaritan as someone whom we should imitate. “Go and do likewise.” (Lk 10:37) We do need to understand who exactly were the Samaritans. At the time of Jesus, there was, in Palestine, Judea, where the Jews mostly lived. North of Judea was Galilee where Jesus and His Apostles, other Jews, and pagans lived. In between those two places was Samaria where the Samaritan lived. Who were the Samaritans? 

 

After the descendants of Israel (Jacob) were led out of Egypt by Moses, they mainly occupied Palestine as separate tribes. This is recorded in the book of Judges. Saul became the first King of a united Israel, but he was rejected by God and was replaced by King David. King David’s son Solomon also ruled over a united Israel, and during his reign he supervised the building of the Jerusalem temple. Before the temple was built, sacrifice could by offered by priests who had to be descended from Aaron, who was the brother of Moses, who were both from the tribe of Levi. These sacrifices were to be offered in the “tent of meeting” which contained the “ark of the covenant”. When the temple was completed during the reign of King Solomon, the ark of the covenant was brought to the Jerusalem temple. (1 Kings 8:1-11) The temple was the one place where sacrifice could be offered to God. During the reign of Solomon, all of Israel came to Jerusalem to worship God and offer sacrifice to God according to the Mosaic Law. 

 

When Solomon got old, he turned away from God because of his many wives. (1 Kings 11:1-13) 

As a result, the prophet Ahijah, anointed Jeroboam, a member of the tribe of Ephraim, which had occupied the area north of Judea, to be king over ten of the twelve tribes of Israel. (1 Kings 11:26-40) Solomon remained king of all Israel during his lifetime. During the reign of Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, David and Solomon’s kingdom of Israel split apart. Solomon had been using laborers from the northern tribes of Israel for various building projects. The ten northern tribes, represented by Jeroboam, wanted the burden of work they were bearing to be eased. Solomon’s advisors told Rehoboam to appease them so that the northern tribes would remain loyal to Rehoboam and the kingdom would remain united. However, Rehoboam listened to younger advisors who told him to increase the burden of work on these tribes. The ten northern tribes chose Jeroboam as their king and revolted against King Rehoboam. Only the tribe of Judah and the small tribe of Simeon, south of Judea, remained loyal to King Rehoboam. 

(1 Kings 12:1-15) 

 

After this political split, King Jeroboam realized that his subjects could not be going to Jerusalem, which was ruled by his enemy, King Rehoboam, the king of Judea, to worship and offer sacrifice to God. Jeroboam set up two golden calves, in the central region in Bethel and in the far northern region at Dan, for the Israelites under his rule to offer worship and sacrifice. (1 Kings 12:25-33) This worship was still to be the worship of the God of Israel, but it was not in keeping with the Mosaic Law. The calves were graven images forbidden by the Mosaic Law. (Ex 20:4-6) Jeroboam also appointed priests who were not Levites (1 Kings 12:31) to offer sacrifice. Jeroboam set up feasts in Bethel and Dan to compete with the feasts in the temple in Jerusalem. (1 Kings 12:32-33) The political split, where the capital of Judea was Jerusalem and the capital of the ten northern tribes was Samaria, continued until the ten northern tribes were conquered and deported by Assyria in 721 BC. (2 Kings 17:1-6) The southern kingdom of Judea was conquered and deported by the Babylonians in 587 BC. (2 Kings 25:1-7) Neither kingdom had political independence until the time of Jesus. Scripture cites unfaithfulness to God as the reason for both defeats and deportations. (2 Kings 17:7-23, Jer 25:8-14) 

 

The religious split between the two peoples continued until the time of Christ with those whose origin was Judea being called Jews and those whose origin was the northern tribes being called Samaritans. In chapter 4 of John’s Gospel Jesus encounters a Samaritan woman. There we learn that the issue of the place of worship was the same as it was 900 years earlier in the time of Jeroboam and Rehoboam. “Our fathers worshipped on this mountain and you say that Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” (Jn 4:20) Jesus asserts that the Jews were right. “You worship what you do not know, for salvation is from the Jews.” (Jn 4:22) On the other hand, Jesus tells the Samaritan woman the issue of the place of worship will become irrelevant. “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.” (Jn 4:21) The true worship will be the Holy Eucharist which the Lord will establish at the Last Supper. 

 

Although the Samaritans were wrong in their worship, the Lord tells us that the Samaritans have something to teach us. In the parable of the Good Samaritan, He tells us we ought to imitate the actions of the Samaritan by helping those in need when we encounter them (Lk 10;37) as opposed to the Priest and Levite, who worshipped correctly, but did not practice love of neighbor by passing by the injured man. (Lk 10:31-32) Later, Jesus cures ten lepers, but only one of the ten, a Samaritan returned to Jesus to thank Him. (Lk 17:11-19) When a Samaritan village refused to receive Jesus and His disciples because they were going to Jerusalem, James and John wanted to call down fire from heaven on them, but Jesus rebuked James and John. (Lk 9:51-56) 

 

What does all this have to do with Catholics in the United States who seldom if ever encounter Samaritans? The religion of ancient Israel was centered around the sacrifices for sin in the Jerusalem temple. This worship of Israel was not united since starting with David’s grandson, Rehoboam, worship and sacrifice was carried out in other places and other ways by those who came to be called Samaritans. In Christianity, a similar thing has occurred, where the Orthodox do not recognize the Papacy, and Protestants do not recognize the Papacy and often reject many other aspects of Catholicism.

 

Most of us have encountered Protestants who have far surpassed the average Catholic and even ourselves in their compassion, love, and living the Gospel. This is not to say that doctrines and truth are not important and that all we need to do is to be a “good person”. In our fallen, sinful, condition we need to know how to live the Gospel and even why we should live the Gospel. This is where the doctrines and teaching of the Church can help us. We cannot live the Christian life alone. Jesus Christ founded the Church because we need it to truly follow Him. The rejection of the Church has caused many to fall into serious doctrinal errors and moral failure. Of course, being taught the truth does not mean that one will follow it. We still need to use the graces we have been given to live the Gospel. Often non-Catholics will use the graces they have been given more effectively than Catholics. They use the scriptures which they have read and even learned and the sermons they have heard to bear fruit in the Christian life. Catholics have these graces and also others such as the Sacraments, the Rosary, and devotion to the saints to help them. Sadly, many do not use these helps but even despise them. We also need to realize that many leave the true Church because of the foolishness and sinfulness of Catholics. Just as the Jewish King Rehoboam lost most of his kingdom because he failed to listen to the wise council of Solomon’s advisors, many Catholics fail to follow the Gospel and thereby cause others to leave the Church.

 

God had chosen all of the tribes of Israel to be the chosen people. He did not reject the rebellious tribes of Israel, but sent prophets such as Elijah, Elisha, and others to bring them back. The Lord did not reject a man who cast out demons in the name of Jesus Christ but was not in the company of the disciples. “For he that is not against us is for us.” (Mk 9:40) As the Lord has advised us, we need to learn from those who are not a part of us, but we also must do what we can to introduce them to the riches which we have been given by the Lord. – Jim Nugent, CFP

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REFLECTIONS ON OUR RULE: TITHING

Make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth,* so that when it fails, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings. – Luke 16:9

We have spent the last year contemplating how, by complying with CFP Rule 29, we can achieve St. Paul’s plain directive to “owe nothing to anyone.” The other part of Rule 29 is to tithe.

What does Jesus mean when he says, “Make friends with dishonest wealth?” A few sentences later, he tells us we “cannot serve both God and Mammon.” Mammon refers specifically to the pursuit of wealth.

As lay religious, we have to go out to earn our daily bread to support our families. In 1 Timothy 5:18, St. Paul tells us “the worker deserves his pay.” He also makes clear that “whoever does not provide for relatives and especially family members has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim. 5:8). Elsewhere, Jesus denounces Pharisees who tell people to donate to the temple rather than their elderly parents.

A lot of people assert that Jesus did away with the Old Testament Law, and therefore we have no obligation to tithe. Ignoring the fact that CFP Rule 29 requires us to tithe, let’s consider what Jesus himself says on the subject.

To begin with, Jesus tells us to “give alms and behold everything will be clean for you” (Luke 11:42). He then goes on to condemn Pharisees who “pay tithes (but) pay no attention to judgment and to love for God. These you should have done, without overlooking the others.” In short, tithing is fine, provided it is done for love of God.

Elsewhere (1 Cor. 16:2), St. Paul tells us, “On the first day of the week each of you should set aside and save whatever one can afford.” That translation is from the Revised New American Bible. Other translations say, “On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income.”

So, where does that leave us as penitents? In denouncing the Pharisees for their practice of tithing, Jesus did not say we should not tithe. Rather, he says when tithing we should (1) use good judgment, and (2) do it for love of God.

St. Paul explains what judgment is – it is what one can afford in keeping with one’s income. And it should be done regularly, and we should not give so much to charitable causes, including the church, that our families go hungry or live in substandard housing.

Applying all this to our obligations as penitents who have chosen to live our lives according to the Rule and Constitution of the Confraternity of Penitents, we have to use good judgment.

In constructing our family budget (which I prefer to call a spending plan), start with the idea that we should set aside 10% of our income for charity – donations to CFP, to our parish, to our diocesan annual appeal, and to whatever cause seems important to us, such as Ukrainian relief, the Red Cross, to food relief, to education (including tuition to Catholic schools), to medical research, etc.

If that means that rather than living in a 2,500-square-foot house, or a 4,000-square-foot house, we need to live in a 1,500-square-foot house, and we can do it reasonably, we should do so. If that means that we can afford only five streaming services, then we should be content with five.

For most penitents, 10% of our income is a reasonable amount to set aside for charity while also taking care of our families. But for some, it might mean we’re not able to adequately support our family. In that situation, if after prayer and consulting our spiritual director, we find we can only give 5% of our income rather than 10%, we should have a clear conscience in giving just 5%. If we get promoted and make more money, before we buy the bigger house, we should then increase our charitable giving to 10%, or as close thereto as we can get. – Joel Whitaker, CFP

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TWENTY DOLLARS A MONTH FROM EASTER UNTIL CHRISTMAS

 

Can you afford a Lay-Away of $20 per month from Easter to Christmas, to sponsor a priest in Mary, Mother of Priests Chapel? By Christmas, you would reach the $180 sponsorship in honor of a living, deceased, or canonized priest.

 

1.       Living priest: The CFP will send your priest, in your name, a Mary, Mother of Priests Christmas card, listing your sponsorship of him. You will receive a Mary, Mother of Priests, prayer card.

2.       Deceased priest: The CFP will send you a Mary, Mother of Priests prayer card to pray for vocations.

3.       Canonized priest: The CFP will send you a Mary, Mother of Priests prayer card.

 

Donations will help restore Guadalupe Men’s Vocation House. See www.1000priests.org and www.GuadalupeVDH.com Donations of any amount needed and gratefully accepted!

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HE IS RISEN! REFLECTON BY SAINT ANTHONY OF PADUA

“The angel said to them: Be not afraid: you seek Jesus of Nazareth who as crucified: he is risen, he is not here. Behold the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he goes before you into Galilee; there you shall see him, as he told you.” (Mark 16:6-7)

“The bitter root of the Cross has passed away, the flower of life has blossomed with its fruits. That is to say, he who lay down in death has arisen in glory. He was buried at evening, he arose at dawn, so that the words might be fulfilled: “In the evening, weeping enters in, but with the dawn, rejoicing” (Psalm 29:6).

“ . . We were held in the death of both our animal and our spiritual life; he brought his single death, of the flesh, to us and released both of ours. . . . To him be honour and glory, empire and power, in heaven and on earth, in eternity and through everlasting ages. Let every faithful soul, in this Easter joy, say: Amen. Alleluia!” (Saint Anthony of Padua. Sermons for Sundays and Festivals, Trans. Paul Spilsbury. Edizioni Messagero: Padova, Italia, 2007. Vol 1, “Easter”, pp.  241, 249-250)

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CONFRATERNIT Y PHOTO ALBUM

On March 29, 2022, representatives from the Confraternity of Penitents with Spiritual Guardian Fr. Joseph Tuscan, OFM Cap, met with representatives from Third Order Franciscans and their Spiritual Advisor Fr. Vit Fiala, OFM, to discuss plans for a joint retreat in October. The meeting was arranged by Fr. Tuscan at Sancta Clara Monastery, Canton, OH. Also present was Fr. Dan Dozier, TOF, Byzantine Catholic priest, who zoomed in from Spokane, WA.

 

Retreat 2022 will be at St. Felix Catholic Center, Huntington IN, October 26 to October 30 with all three priests providing talks, confessions, and guidance. Retreat theme: Crisis and Renewal of the Third Order of Saint Francis. $200 plus $25 worth of food and/or paper goods or $25 additional payment. Day to day and commuter rates accepted. Follow the information at www.penitents.org . Mark your calendars! Please pray for this retreat to which all lay Franciscans who are trying to live a renewed Franciscan charism are invited. We anticipate that Tau Maria, who attended retreat 2021, will again be joining.