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Confraternity of Penitents Newsletter -- August 2022

HUMOR: TRUISMS

 

·         If there are no ups and downs in your life, it means you’re dead.

·         Being male is a matter of conception, being a man is a matter of age, being a gentleman is a matter of choice.

·         Your value doesn’t’ decreased based on someone’s inability to see your worth.

·         Three simple rules in life: 1. If you do not go after what you want, you’ll never have it. 2. If you do not ask, the answer will always be no. 3. If you do not step forward, you will always be in the same place.

·         It’s your road and yours alone. Others may walk it with you, but no one can walk it for you.

·         Slow down and enjoy the journey right now. Take time for the people in your life. They won’t always be there.

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FOLLOWING FRANCIS, FOLLOWING CHRIST THE PORTIUNCULA INDULGENCE

Father Joe Tuscan, CFP Spiritual Guardian, asked that we reprint this article by Bret Thoman, OFS. Used with permission of Bret Thoman.

St. Francis had a vision that the Virgin Mary asked him what grace he desired. His answer: that all who visit his church would receive a plenary indulgence – a full pardon for their sins. On August 2 of each year, the “Pardon of Assisi” is celebrated in Assisi in the Church of St. Mary of the Angels. This church is also known as the Portiuncula, which means, “little portion of land.”

Saint Mary of the Angels is conceivably the most important Franciscan sanctuary in Assisi for the memories of Francis that it contains. He was so fond of the little church that he once said to the brothers, “If anyone should evict you from one door, return through another one.” St. Francis lived here with the brothers in community and he considered it his home base. After St. Clare left her family on Palm Sunday, 1212, she met Francis here in the Portiuncula where he gave her the tonsure. Finally, here Francis died on October 3, 1228.-

Francis’ Vision

According to the traditional account, in July, 1216, St. Francis was praying in the Portiuncula, when he had a vision of Jesus and the Virgin Mary surrounded by a host of angels. Mary asked him what grace he desired, to which Francis replied that he desired the complete forgiveness of all sins for everyone who came to his beloved little church. Mary replied that he should go to the pope, inasmuch as he was the Vicar of Christ, to request such an indulgence. Francis then went to Perugia, where Pope Honorius III had just been elected pontiff after his predecessor, Pope Innocent III, died. Francis made his request that anyone who journeyed to St. Mary of the Angels would receive a plenary indulgence – a full pardon for their sins. Such a request was unprecedented. There were only a few ways to receive a plenary indulgence at that time – by making a pilgrimage to one of the great basilicas in Christendom such as St. Peter’s in Rome, St. James in Compostela, St. Mary Magdalene in France, or by making the “queen of all pilgrimages” to the Holy Land. It was inconceivable to attach a plenary indulgence to a wayside country church. Perhaps miraculously, Pope Honorius granted Francis his request. In a nod to the doubters, however, he limited the indulgence to just one day a year – August 2.-The indulgence was initially limited to the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels in Assisi for August 2. However, over time, the indulgence was extended to all Franciscan churches around the world on that day. Today, the indulgence is available in Assisi any day of the year.

How to receive an indulgence

Though there is less emphasis on indulgences in the Catholic Church these days, the teaching has not been abrogated. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that an indulgence is “a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven” (1471).-To obtain the Assisi plenary indulgence, the faithful should:

  1. confess, to obtain the forgiveness of sins;

  2. receive Eucharist, to be spiritually united with Christ (confession and communion can be made one week before or after the date)

  3. pray for the intentions of the pope, to strengthen the bond with the Church, reciting at least our Father, Hail Mary and Glory to the Father

  4. recite the Creed and the Our Father

  5. visit a Franciscan church or oratory or, alternatively any parish church.

The plenary indulgence can be requested for oneself or for the deceased.

A pilgrimage to St. Mary of the Angels church

Today, those visiting the church of St. Mary of the Angels will discover a large, grandiose basilica. The original church, the Portiuncula, is housed underneath the dome of the basilica.-The first basilica was built between 1569 and 1679, but was severely damaged by an earthquake in the 19th century. The current basilica was rebuilt in 1909 and declared motherhouse of the Order of Friars Minor (OFM). All the ornamentation on and inside the Portiuncula was added after Francis' death.

Behind the Portiuncula is a little chapel that marks the place where St. Francis died on the night between October 3-4. To the right is a corridor through a rose garden where, according to tradition, Francis rolled around to overcome temptation. The roses today grow without thorns on the stems. Beyond the garden is a chapel built over the area where St. Francis slept in his hut

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NO GREATER LOVE: THE WOMAN AT THE WELL 
 

In the course of a discussion of water in John’s Gospel, Pope Benedict, in Jesus of Nazareth, briefly refers to the episode of the woman at the well. (Jn 4:1-42) Jesus was travelling from Judea to Galilee, and at around noon time He stopped alone to rest at a well near the Samaritan city of Sychar. A Samaritan woman comes to the well, and Jesus asks her for a drink. (Jn 4:7) Pope Benedict discusses this encounter. Immediately after the conversation with Nicodemus, we meet Jesus at Jacob's well in chapter 4. The Lord promises the Samaritan woman water that becomes in the one who drinks it a source springing up into eternal life (cf. Jn 4:14), so that whoever drinks it will never be thirsty again.

 

After Jesus asks her for a drink, the Samaritan woman says to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” (Jn 4:9) She is surprised that a Jewish man would even talk to her given the long history of animosity between Judea and Samaria going back almost 1000 years. Yet, Jesus continues to speak with her saying, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” (Jn 4:10) Biblical commentators tell us that she probably thought that “living water” meant flowing

water which was certainly better than stagnant well water. The woman is puzzled on how He could do this. “Sir, you have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep; where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, and his sons, and his cattle?” (Jn 4:11-12) The Lord then tries to explain to her what he meant by “living water”. “Every one who drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst; the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (Jn 4:13-14) The woman probably did not understand what he was telling her, but she wanted what he was promising to give her. “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.” (Jn 4:15) 

 

What was Jesus promising to this woman? Pope Benedict tells us that the Lord is promising the other dimension of life, for which man can only yearn. John distinguishes between bios and zoé---between biological life (bios) and the fullness of life (zoé) that is itself a source and so is not subject to the dying and becoming that mark the whole of creation. In the conversation with the Samaritan woman, then, water once again---though now in a different way­--functions as the symbol of the Pneuma, the real life-force, which quenches man's deeper thirst and gives him plenitude of life, for which he is waiting without knowing it. In his conversation with the Samaritan woman, Jesus is using water as a symbol for the Holy Spirit (the Pneuma). We know that water is necessary for biological life, but why is this so? Physical biological life (bios) is based on chemical reactions. For these reactions to occur, the reactive parts of each molecule must be brought into contact. In the solid state this is difficult since the entities cannot move to be brought into proper contact. Water acts as the solvent of life which allow the molecules and other entities to come into proper contact. Water and other solvents can be called “movers”. Water is also a “cleanser”. The body’s chemical reactions also product waste products which have to be removed or else they will poison life. Water acts to carry these waste products away. 

 

We can see how water can act as a symbol for the Holy Spirit. We read in scripture “First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by the impulse of man, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” (2 Pet 1:20-21) The Holy Spirit moves us even in this life. However, the Holy Spirit is necessary for the fullness of life, Eternal Life (zoé). St. Paul tells us: “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit who dwells in you.” (Rom 8:11) Like water, the Holy Spirit washes us and removes the poison of sin. The letter to the Hebrews speaks of Christ and how He washes us by the “pure water” of the Holy Spirit. “….and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” (Heb 10:21-22) The Samaritan woman could see that the “living water” which Jesus was offering to her was something monumental. 

 

In his conversation with the Samaritan woman, the Lord did not just promise the “living water” of the Holy Spirit, He gave it to her. He next says to the woman “Go call your husband, and come here.” (Jn 4:16) Jesus knew that she was a sinner living an immoral life. She had been living with a series of men without a lifelong commitment to any them. We can contrast her with the unnamed couple at the marriage feast at Cana (Jn 2:1-12) where Jesus miraculously changes water into wine. This couple was making a public lifelong commitment to each other which was marked by the feast to which many were invited. There was certainly no such commitment on the part of the Samaritan woman. In St. Matthew’s Gospel we read “And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another, commits adultery; (Mt 19:9) Perhaps, “unchastity” refers to a living arrangement like that of the Samaritan women where there is no public commitment. The sinful Samaritan woman was offered by Jesus the “living water” of the Holy Spirit, and she accepted His Gift. She told Jesus the truth. “I have no husband.” (Jn 4:17) She could have lied to him and presented the man she was living with as her husband, but she did not do that. Jesus praises her truthfulness. “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband.’; for you have had five husbands, and he whom you now have is not your husband; this you said truly.” Then the woman says to Jesus, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet.” She recognized that Jesus was somebody to whom she should listen. He was giving her the “living water” which He had promised to her, and she was willing to drink it.

 

St John relates a little of the Lord’s conversation with the Samaritan woman, but He probably spoke to her at length since when the disciples returned and her conversation with Jesus ended, she went back to the city and said, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” (Jn 4:28) Since the Lord told her that He was the Christ (Jn 4:25-26), she immediately started to spread the “Good News” which she had received. Although Jesus was just passing through that city, they asked Him to stay, and he stayed for two days. (Jn 4:40)

 

Many more of the Samaritans believed in Him because of what he said to them. (Jn 4:41-42) Why did so many of the Samaritans believe in Jesus while he was largely rejected in Jerusalem? In the course of her conversation with Jesus, the Samaritan woman said “I know that the Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ); when he comes, he will show us all things.” (Jn 4:25) Throughout the scriptures there was the promise of the Messiah. This woman at the well and other Samaritans were familiar with these scriptures and eagerly awaited the coming of the Messiah (Christ) When the Lord visited their city, they were ready to ask the question, “Can this be the Christ?” (Jn 4:29) The Church still awaits the Lord’s second coming at the end of the Church year and the beginning of Advent. As Christians, we need to always be ready to welcome Him and not to be busy with “other things” so that we miss our chance. 

 

The Lord offered the “living water” of the Holy Spirit to the woman at the well and other Samaritans, and many of them accepted His offer. As Catholics we can receive this “living water” at every Mass through Word and Sacrament. Of course, there are many other images which are used to symbolize the Holy Spirit such as fire or wind. But they all point to what we should be seeking, which is the Holy Spirit. Just as we need material water to live our biological life (bios), we also need the Holy Spirit to live the fullness of life (zoé) This is one reason why we go to Mass, pray the Divine Office, read scripture and do many other “pious” practices. These practices are not just “nice” things that we do in our spare time. They are what we need to do to keep the Holy Spirit dwelling in us. The world has no time or use for the Holy Spirit. It will do whatever it can to push the Holy Spirit out of our lives and replace Him with the spirit of the world. We need to be continually ready to receive the Holy Spirit when He is given to us. Perhaps when we drink water, feel the wind, or feel the warmth of a fire, they can be a reminder for us of what we need to do to receive the fullness of life. – Jim Nugent, CFP 

REFLECTIONS ON OUR RULE: THE SPIRIT OF POVERTY—HAPPY ARE YOU POOR – CHAPTER 3

Recall that after the feeding of the 5,000, Jesus said to the disciples: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:53-54). John goes on to tell us, “Many of His disciples, when they heard this said, “This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?” (John 6:6) And they wandered away.

The entire point of this chapter is that we either accept what Jesus says as the end of the discussion or we don’t. We can’t be like a politician saying we support something but doing nothing about it. As Ron Finley says in “A Guerilla Gardener in South Central LA,” one of the most-watched YouTube TED Talks, “If you want to talk with me, don’t sit around in cushy chairs and talk some sh--. Grab a shovel, come down and plant some sh--.”

That’s pretty much the attitude some of the early Protestant reformers rejected, preferring to preach the money gospel[1]. Working hard is clearly part of Catholic social doctrine – recall that St. Paul says those who won’t work shouldn’t eat (2 Thess. 3:10) – but the Church also preaches what Jesus said about those with riches: It’s hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven because often the rich person prefers mammon (money) to God.

Chapter 3 in Happy Are You Poor emphasizes that we must accept what Jesus says, that we do not have the right to pick and choose what is easy or what makes us feel good. Rather, we must accept the entire Gospel. But that’s hard because it touches our lifestyle, and most people have a heavy emotional attachment to their lifestyle.

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CFP Formation touches on this in Novice 3. Many people go through their closets and get rid of out-of-date fashion, clothing that doesn’t fit, etc. But they also hold back that shirt given them by their daughter, their favorite dress, etc. The whole point of Novice 3 is to begin to practice detachment from worldly things and affections.

  • Take a moment or two to ask yourself, to what are you attached? What will it be hard for you to give away? Why?

  • What church teaching do you struggle to accept? That abortion is always wrong? That there is no exception for rape, incest, etc., once the sperm has been implanted? (Before the sperm has implanted – within roughly the first 72 hours, use of the “Morning After Pill” is acceptable in cases of rape or incest.) That we must love our neighbor, even when our neighbor is unlovable? That we must willingly, even enthusiastically, give up some of our “time, treasure and talent” to help others?

  • Do you believe you have an obligation to help spread the Gospel by, for instance, engaging in sidewalk evangelism? By teaching RCIA? By regularly working in a soup kitchen or homeless shelter? If we don’t do these things, how can we say we are following Jesus’s clear directive to “go out to all the world, teaching them to observe all things whatever I have commanded you"?

 

Why do people disagree about what the Gospel says?

  • People use the same words, but with different meanings. It’s 38 outside as I write this, and I say to someone in Florida, “It’s cool outside.” To me, 38 might be cool, but to the Floridian, it might be almost frigid. Just as we can’t agree on what “cool” is, we can’t agree on a whole lot of other stuff, either.

  • The “facts” they present or hear are not facts but, at best, opinions.

  • People’s fundamental assumptions and principles are incorrect. Which do you believe is the more important value? Prestige or humility? A large house (and a large mortgage) or a smaller, comfortable and adequate house with no mortgage? Are potato chips essential food? PepsiCo apparently believes so, because The Wall Street Journal reported March 23, 2022, that PepsiCo said it would continue to sell potato chips and essentials such as milk, cheese and baby formula in Russia – even while Russia is forcing Ukrainian babies and their moms to hide underground and in schools and theaters, which the Russians then bomb.

 

Gospel poverty is a “hard teaching.” Before we talk about it – especially before we reject it – we should thoroughly study and research the question. Or, find an unerring teacher.

How do we find the truth about Gospel poverty?

  • Study the Gospel. Learn from the lips of the Lord.

  • Those who listen to the Church, listen to the Lord. When it came time for Jesus to leave the earth, he gave his disciples the Great Commission to preach the Gospel to all the world, “teaching them all that I have commanded you.” (Matt. 28:19-20).

  • Make sure what you hear is consistent with the rest of divine revelation. It’s a closely interconnected whole. You can’t reject one doctrine without also rejecting others.

  • Observe those who live the Gospel, what consequences flow from the actions of their lives? Does a rich person donate selflessly to supporting the poor, or does he assume, like most politicians, that he doesn’t need to donate because the government takes care of poor people? Remembering “render unto Ceasar what is Ceasar’s and unto God what is God’s” (Matt: 22:15-22), do you believe it is adequate to say you don’t have to donate to charity because you pay taxes and let the government take care of helping the poor?

  • Study the saints. See how they lived. Fr. Dubay says you will not be able to find one saint – not one – who contradicted another in living evangelistic values. They all lived a sparing-sharing lifestyle.

 

Other criteria:

  • We live the Gospel in this century and in this world. We must be aware of and respond to the hard realities of modern economic life or the dire consequences facing others elsewhere. And we must not only be aware but also act.

  • Ask yourself: What have I done to alleviate homelessness? Hunger in the city or county where I live? Suffering caused by war?

  • Lived experience is a guide, but it is also tricky because “lived experience” encompasses everyone from a miser to someone like St. Francis of Assisi.

  • Use precise language. Understand that when the Lord says his disciples will fast once he is gone, he was speaking at the beginning of the “Common Era.” He is no longer with us on earth. Therefore, we should fast.

  • Understand also that Jesus links tithing and “the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy and faith: These (the “weightier matters of the law”) you ought to have done, and without leaving the other (tithing) undone.”(Matt. 23:23-24). Tithing is not optional. But how much we tithe might be a matter of mercy.

  • Should someone have to choose between buying food that is necessary to sustain life and how much one gives in charity? Or between buying food and essential medicine?

  • CFP Rule/Constitution 29 requires us to pay off our debts and to tithe. Have we paid off our debts? If not, are we actively working to pay them off and are we also tithing? With exceptions beyond our control, I believe a penitent should dedicate at least 10% of his income to paying off debts and to charitable donations combined.

  • Note St. Paul counseled the Corinthians to donate “according to what one has, not according to what one does not have; not that others should have relief while you are burdened, but that as a matter of equality your surplus at the present time should supply their needs, so that their surplus may also supply your needs, that there may be equality (2 Cor.12-14).

  • If we believe our own circumstances exempt us from paying off our debts and tithing, do we rely on our own authority, discuss it with our neighbor, or lay out details about our financial circumstances to our spiritual director and follow his instructions? –Joel Whitaker, CFP

 

[1] Definition of money gospel: financial blessing and physical well-being are always the will of God and that faith, positive speech, and donations to religious causes will increase one's material wealth..

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ALESSANDRO PRISON MINISTRY -- LEARNING HOW TO WALK AGAIN IN CHRIST


"Though the just fall seven times, they rise again..." Proverbs 24:16 (NAB)

Have you ever noticed a toddler that is just learning how to walk? He or she will take a step or two, end up losing his or her balance, stumbles, and lands on his or her bottom. Undeterred by the inability to put more than a couple of steps together, the little child will manage to get back up on two feet and try to put one foot in front of the other and attempt to move forward again. The inner drive to walk is part of the natural development and growth of each one of us.

Yet some how we seem to forget or lose this inner drive that we had as toddlers when we become adults - not necessarily on a physical level but a spiritual one. This can be especially daunting for those of us who have been arrested, convicted, and sentenced for a crime. We have clearly stumbled in our walk, falling down and hitting our bottom much like the toddler. We have been publicly rebuked for our sinful behavior. The questions we face are: How do we get back up? What steps do we take next?

The inner drive we had as toddlers was given to us by our Creator as part of our nature. As adults, the same Creator is willing to give us the spiritual drive or desire to get back up and help us to learn to walk again, this time with him. By calling on the name of Jesus, we can receive the Spirit to lift us up and give us the desire to walk again. The Apostle Paul tells us, "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead you will be saved" (Romans 10:9). Whether you've never had faith, lost your faith, or are weak in faith, Jesus is there to give us the grace to walk in righteousness after we fall.

We can be encouraged by the wisdom of Proverbs 24:16. A Christian author stated, "Though we may be tripped up by sin or fall down many times, those who belong to God will have the strength and help to get up again and move forward. God is forgiving and patient with us in our failings, and he is quick to help us back on our feet." When we come into relationship with Jesus Christ, we belong to God the Father as his adopted children (Ephesians 1:5). As his children, he gives us himself in the Holy Spirit as the spiritual power to rise again after we fall and to follow his Son, Jesus.

When I arrived at the county jail in 2007, I had taken a serious fall, losing not only my steps, but also the drive to get up and walk. Yet, our Lord Jesus was there, calling out to me, speaking to my heart, and the Spirit awakened me to contrition, repentance, and confession of my sins, restoring me to right relationship with him (1 John 1:9) so I could get up and rise again as one of the just. Thankfully he has helped me in my failings a number of times since then.

How wonderful we have a heavenly Father who continues to love us and desires to see us walk with him, despite our stumbles and falls! Let us have a child-like faith and desire to continue to get up and walk in his grace again when we fall, allowing the Spirit of God to move our hearts and minds to take those next steps toward him and with him. Moving one step at a time, I pray that we "may walk before the Lord in the land of the living" (Psalm 116:9), the heavenly Jerusalem, with all the saints!—Anthony LaCalamita, CFP, Alessandro Prison Ministry

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GUADALUPE MEN’S HOUSE UPDATE

 

Charles Coey, one of the men’s house residents, and a few others crafted a beautiful brochure on Guadalupe Men’s House, its value, first resident in 2010, and need for funding. A copy is on this link.  (Shown above is Brother Pachomius Hamor, OSB, first house resident).

 

Please pray how to use this flyer.

 

Can you:

ü  Make a donation yourself?

ü  Use it to ask a parish group, family or friends group to sponsor a priest?

ü  Leave it in a Catholic building where where someone may find it?

ü  Mail it to someone who might be supportive?

ü  Request copies to distribute (we will gladly send them)?

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CONFRATERNITY PHOTO ALBUM

 

Charles Coey (above left) stayed at the temporary Men’s Discernment House (while Guadalupe House is being renovated) for about three weeks while discerning his next move.

 

Mike Freygang (above right) is a long term resident of the Men’s House as Mike is CFP Property Manager. This photo was taken just moments before Mike drove Charles to the bus station (Mike’s van in the rear) when Charles was leaving to go to Toledo where he feels God is calling him now.

 

Please keep Charles in your prayers for his continued discernment. He is a fine man and welcome at the discernment house at any time. He promised to return for a visit from time to time and has been a tremendous help in the CFP Holy Angels Gift Shop and in doing property work with Mike. We will miss him. God bless you, Charles, and lead you into our Lord’s perfect will for your life! And may God send another fine man to replace you!