Confraternity of Penitents Newsletter
CFP HOLY ANGELS GIFT SHOP: CUSTOM BANNERS AND FUNERAL PALLS
The CFP Holy Angels Gift Shop now has a supplier who is able to make both indoor and outdoor custom banners with whatever image you like and whatever size you wish. The sharper and clearer the image, the better quality the banner will be. This company can also make funeral palls, again with the image you wish. Free shipping by USA first class mail to USA locations. Expedited and out of the country will incur extra shipping fees.
The CFP now has two funeral palls available, one with a replica of the San Damiano Crucifix in full color and one with a gray scale crossed arms tau cross. View on line at www.cfpholyangels.com
Please phone us for more information on banners and casket palls. 260-739-6882.
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, teach me an entire forgetfulness of myself, since that is the only way one can find entrance into you. – Saint Claude la Colombiere.
SPIRITUAL GUARDIAN’S REFLECTION: “WITH YOU IS THE SOURCE OF LIGHT AND LIFE"
“Christ on the cross bows his head, waiting for you, that he may kiss you; he stretches out his arms, that he may embrace you; his hands are open, that he may enrich you; his body is spread out, that he may give himself totally; his feet are nailed, that he may stay there; his side is open for you, that he may let you enter there.” St. Bonaventure
Saint Bonaventure's wrote a beautiful reflection that is in our Liturgy of the Hours. It’s entitled: "With You is the Source of Life," in which Bonaventure reflects on the meaning of the blood and water which flowed from the side of the crucified Jesus Christ, the living water of sacramental grace coming from the loving heart of Jesus. This is in part a commentary on several lines of Psalm 36:5-12, used in the Office of the Feast of the Sacred Heart: Here are excerpts from Bonaventure’s reflection:
"Your love, Lord, reaches to Heaven, your truth to the skies . . . In you is the source of life, and in your light, we see the light." This excerpt appears in the Roman Office of Readings for the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, celebrated on the third Friday after the Feast of Pentecost.
"Take thought now, redeemed man, and consider how great and worthy is he who hangs on the cross for you. His death brings the dead to life, but at his passing, Heaven and earth are plunged into mourning, and hard rocks are split asunder.
“It was a divine decree that permitted one of the soldiers to open his sacred side with a lance. This was done so that the Church might be formed from the side of Christ as he slept the sleep of death on the cross, and so that the Scripture might be fulfilled: ‘They shall look on him whom they pierced.' The blood and water which poured out at that moment were the price of our salvation. Flowing from the secret abyss of our Lord's heart as from a fountain, this stream gave the sacraments of the Church the power to confer the life of grace, while for those already living in Christ, it became a spring of living water welling up to life everlasting.
“Arise, then, beloved of Christ! Imitate the dove that ‘nests in a hole in the cliff,' keeping watch at the entrance like ‘the sparrow that finds a home.' There like the turtledove, hide your little ones, the fruit of your chaste love. Press your lips to the fountain, draw water from the wells of your Savior; for this is the ‘spring flowing out of the middle of paradise, dividing into four rivers,' inundating devout hearts, watering the whole earth and making it fertile.
“Run with eager desire to this source of life and light, all you who are vowed to God's service. Come, whoever you may be, and cry out to him with all the strength of your heart. O indescribable beauty of the Most High God and purest radiance of eternal light! Life that gives all life, light that is the source of every other light, preserving in everlasting splendor the myriad flames that have shone before the throne of your divinity from the dawn of time! Eternal and inaccessible fountain, clear and sweet stream flowing from a hidden spring, unseen by mortal eye! None can fathom your depths nor survey your boundaries; none can measure your breadth, nothing can sully your purity. From you flows ‘the river which gladdens the city of God' and makes us cry out with joy and thanksgiving in hymns of praise to you, for we know by our own experience that ‘with you is the source of life, and in your light we see light.'" – Fr. Joseph Tuscan, OFM Cap, CFP Spiritual Guardian
NO GREATER LOVE: THE RICH MAN AND LAZARUS
The parable of the Rich man and Lazarus (Lk 16:19-31) tells of the post-death fate of two men, a rich man and a poor man. In this life the rich man wore fine clothing and feasted every day while the poor man lay at the rich man’s gate and was sick and very hungry but was given nothing by the rich man. The poor man died and was carried by angels to the bosom of Abraham, while the rich man also died and was in torment in “Hades” (Lk 16:22). In Jesus of Nazareth, Pope Benedict explains what is meant by “Hades”. In the description of the next life that now follows in the parable, Jesus uses ideas that were current in the Judaism of his time. Hence, we must not force our interpretation of this part of the text. Jesus adopts existing images, without formally incorporating them into his teaching about the next life. Nevertheless, he does unequivocally affirm the substance of the images. In this sense, it is important to note that Jesus invokes here the idea of the intermediate state between death and the resurrection, which by then had become part of the universal patrimony of Jewish faith. The rich man is in Hades, conceived here as a temporary place, and not in "Gehenna" (hell), which is the name of the final state. This teaches us that what we do in this life counts for the next life. For some this may be frightening, but it is really consoling for it means that this life has meaning beyond itself. Nothing we do or experience is meaningless. Pope Benedict later explains that this parable says nothing about what happens after the Resurrection of us all. Jesus does reveal this to us in Mt 25:31-46. The Lord also reveals more about the life of the just after the Resurrection in Mt 22:23-33, Mk 12:18-27, and Lk 20:27-38.
Matthew 25 describes the different ultimate fates of those who live righteously and those who do not, but this parable tells us that their fates are different even before the final resurrection. We are not told much about the life of Lazarus here on Earth except that at least during part of his life he was poor, sick, hungry and laid at the gate of a rich man. Possibly, Lazarus did sin at some point or points in his life, but his suffering served to purify him of the evil that was within him so that his death ended his suffering and brought him to rest in the bosom of Abraham. This is revealed to us in the book of Wisdom----“But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and no torment will ever touch them.” (Wis 3:1-9) This certainly does not mean that we should do nothing to help those suffering, but there is much suffering in the world which we can do nothing about. Yet God is just even if humans are unjust.
By worldly standards, the rich man was much more fortunate than Lazarus, but these standards are wrong. One has to be faithful in whatever life sends us, whether it is comfort and wealth or sickness and poverty. Why is the poor man Lazarus given a name, and yet the rich man remains nameless? Perhaps this parable of the Lord is meant for all of us as we make our decisions about what we do. There is also a third person in this parable, Abraham, the first patriarch of the people of Israel. The righteous deeds and the faith of Abraham are recounted in the book of Genesis (Gen 12-25:11). Lazarus is close to Abraham, but the rich man is “far off”. (Lk 16:23) While in torment in Hades, the rich man sees both Lazarus and Abraham. Perhaps this was the source of his torment. The rich man was certainly a believing Jew as was Lazarus. God had made a covenant with Abraham, but the specific obligations of the people of Israel to be faithful to this covenant were laid out centuries later in the Mosaic Law. Lazarus was faithful to the Mosaic Law and thus rested on the bosom of Abraham. The rich man was not faithful to this Law. The Mosaic Law required that those who harvest crops should leave some for the poor. (Lev 19:9-10) The great-grandfather of King David, Boaz, did that when he allowed the poor foreigner, Ruth, to gather what was left by his harvesters. (Ruth 2:8-13) Why did the rich man not share with the poor man, Lazarus, who was right before his eyes? Perhaps he reasoned that the poverty and sickness of Lazarus were due to his sins, and he was being punished by God. The rich man may have thought that his own wealth was due to his righteousness. Perhaps the rich man was so attached to his wealth, that he could not bear to part with it. However, in Hades, his wealth was of no value to him. In Hades, he saw clearly the truth of his own failure to help Lazarus as well as his other failures. This caused him to suffer greatly. In Hades he could see that he chased after non-essential things and neglected what was really important. This is why we all have to see the rich man not as someone from long ago and far away but as a warning to all of us now.
In his commentary on this parable, Pope Benedict does not mention purgatory. However, it seems that the condition of the rich man in a temporary state of torment fits the common idea of purgatory. We are not told the rich man’s final state. The rich man then asks Abraham to send Lazarus to cool his tongue with water. (Lk 16:24) Abraham denies the request. “Son, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish.” (Lk 16:25) The request of the rich man was foolish. If he is in purgatory, the flames and the torment are a mercy from God to purify him of the evil within him so that he can be fit for the resurrection of the just. We are not told if the rich man allowed this to happen. In this life the just and the unjust often live together and have much contact with each other. Abraham tells us that this is not the case after death. “And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.” (Lk 16:26)
The rich man then begs Abraham to send Lazarus to warn his five brothers so that they may not come to this place of suffering. (Lk 16:27-28) Abraham answered the rich man by saying “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.” (Lk 16:29) However, the rich man is not satisfied by Abraham’s answer. “No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.” (Lk 16:30) Abraham ends the dialog by saying: “If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.” (Lk 16:31) Those who will not listen to Divine Revelation will not be convinced even by the greatest of miracles. Through the Holy Spirit, the disciples of Jesus Christ were propelled by the Resurrection to preach the Gospel. Yet many others down to this very day continue to reject Jesus Christ.
In Luke’s Gospel we encounter another rich man, the tax collector Zacchaeus. (Lk 19:1-10) A short man, he climbed into a sycamore tree so that he could see Jesus. Jesus surprised him by asking if he could stay in his house. Like the rich man in the parable with Lazarus and Abraham, Zacchaeus also had done things that are wrong. However, he had previously heard Jesus or a least had heard about Him, and he repented. He told the Lord that he now gives half of his goods to the poor and restores fourfold anything he had gotten by fraud. (Lk 19:8) The Lord accepts his repentance. “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Lk 19:10)
We need to consider what this parable has to say to us here and now. Young people especially are being told that they should just “be a good person” and everything will be fine in the end. There is no need to be concerned about the “FINAL final exam” which all of us have to take when we undergo our own particular judgment. This parable from the Lord tells us that we do have to be concerned about our individual judgment. How do we prepare for this judgment? Abraham tells us that we have “Moses and the prophets”. However, we Catholics have them and much more. We have the Gospel as preached by the Church. Sometimes the Gospel is not preached very well, but often it is preached to our benefit. Yet, like Zacchaeus, we have to listen. Our listening to good preaching can also help us to be open to what the Holy Spirit is saying to us in our particular situations. Just as the rich man should have paid attention to Moses and the prophets to know what he should do about the poor, sick man, Lazarus, who was laying at his gate, we need to pay attention to what the Church teaches us about living a Christian life. The Lord tells us “Take heed then how you hear” (Lk 8:18) since “He who rejects me and does not receive my sayings has a judge; the word that I have spoken will be his judge on the last day.” (Jn 12:48) – Jim Nugent, CFP
Do not let the past disturb you. Just leave everything in the Sacred Heart and begin again with joy. –St. Teresa of Calcutta
OUR RULE: A TIME TO BUILD: THE TIME IS NOW AND WE ARE CALLED
Our original Rule has a section that reveals how we are to care for one another. “22. Whenever any brother or sister happens to fall ill, the ministers, if the patient let them know of it, shall in person or through others visit the patient once a week, and remind him of penance; and if they find it expedient, they are to supply him from the common fund with what he may need for the body.”
With Covid’s threat being significantly reduced, public health authorities are racing to lift mask mandates, to permit more activities, etc. For us in CFP, this is a perfect opportunity to get ready for the next chapter in our journey.
A few years after an initial small group of Franciscan laity began meeting in Rhode Island to live our Rule together, the decision was made, with the approval of the Visitor Fr. Julian Stead, OSB, to ask Bishop Robert Mulvee for permission to reach out to others via the internet. This was done in 1998, and now the CFP has members in nearly every continent. But our numbers are smaller than they should be. We have only about 250 members, including affiliates. We are, in essence, living a penitential life in isolation. In the beginning, in 1221, our predecessors were in and around the town of Assisi and in and around other towns in Italy and other European countries. These medieval penitents were not living the Rule in isolation. They were living near each other. They were meeting together. They were supporting one another as section 22 of the original Rule clearly shows. We, on the contrary, have a member here . . . and another member there . . . an hour and a half or more from each other.
Admittedly, times have greatly changed. In 1221, the spiritual life was part of nearly everyone’s life and people took God, the Church, and the afterlife seriously. Life was tenuous. Sickness and death were never distant. People recognized that something greater than themselves existed, and that working and playing with one’s own future in mind eventually led to emptiness. There had to be something bigger than themselves, something beyond here. People voluntarily undertook penance (conversion) so as to draw closer to the God whose existence was a foregone conclusion.
An internet site claims, “Younger Americans are reshaping the country with a philosophy of life that rejects faith in God and organized worship at the same time defining success and morality in terms of personal happiness and economic social justice, a survey from the Cultural Research Center (CRC) at Arizona Christian University found.
“The American Worldview Inventory (AWVI) 2021, an annual survey that examines the perspectives of adults aged 18 and over in the United States, found that while 57 percent of Millennials (born 1984-2002) consider themselves to be Christian, 43 percent “don’t know, care, or believe that God exists.”
This was unthinkable at the time our Rule was written. So what do we as penitents do to bring the message of God’s existence and love to a society that doesn’t even care! How do we support one another as we do?
Let’s ponder Hebrews 10:24-25: “Consider how we may spur one another toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up on meeting together but let us encourage one another.” The solution was to meet together. The next step, for CFP, I believe, is that we reach out to other Catholics to meet with us.
How did those early Christians meet together? They met together daily in their homes for teaching, fellowship, eating meals, sharing Eucharist and prayer, we’re told in Acts 2:42. Acts 2:46 tells us they also met in the temple courts. The CFP does have a few fortunate members who live near one another and who do get together monthly for prayer, fellowship, and support.
So for those who are isolated, how can we meet together? Obviously, scattered as we are, that’s going to be tough. I’m not going to hop on a plane to fly to Ohio for dinner at Mariah’s every night, nor am I flying to Indiana once a week to pray with Lucy – even if Lucy adds in an offer of an IU basketball game. So, for the foreseeable future, we have to meet together via Zoom, phone, email, and similar technology and, as much as possible, attend a CFP retreat once or twice a year. Nothing, by the way, beats attending a retreat. Most penitents immediately feel a bond with other penitents at these retreats. One member said that meeting these other penitents was like having always known them. The Rule is the family bond that holds us together and makes for commonality among us, despite our different personalities and backgrounds. A CFP Retreat really is an amazing family experience. We encourage you to attend!
The Gospel would not have us stop at getting together. We are supposed to spread the message of the Gospel! What can we do, aside from donating money or becoming lay missionaries, to spread the message? I think, and I suspect all of you think, that our culture is a mess, and that church is, if not a mess, in trouble. What can we do?
I suggest that our first objective is to attract more people to penance so that we are not living this life alone and so that they can live life to the fullest. Thinking of penance as a product, we have an attractive product to sell: Our lifestyle involves prayer or meditation. Our lifestyle involves healthy eating and intermittent fasting. Our lifestyle involves minimalism. Our lifestyle involves financial responsibility – paying off our debts so that we are no longer living in bondage to a bank. We can help people live better, and in doing so, we can help bring them closer to Christ.
How to do this? Let me suggest three possible ways:
Invite people to experience praying the Divine Office. Maybe Office of Readings and Morning Prayer before work. Maybe Evening Prayer after work. Maybe just Office of Readings, followed by a discussion to see what people got out of the readings.
Invite people to a Bible Study based on the Oratory of Divine Love. See OratoryDivineLove.com for weekly Bible Study reflections and tips on how to set this up.
Invite people to become better human beings and better Catholics by putting into practice the Franciscan Virtues.
Where might you meet for one or more of these gatherings> Where? In your home, office, park, church. Be creative and a location will materialize. We will attract people to each of these. We can make it clear they are sponsored by CFP, and, as we near the point where people need to sign up for inquiry, offer that opportunity to attendees.
This requires clear planning, because we require people to inquire for three months before we admit them to postulancy. So, for the August postulancy, we need to offer the opportunity in April so they can begin inquiry in May. And for the March postulancy, we need to offer the opportunity in November.
We who are living this Rule know how life changing for the better it is. We need to spread the good news about Jesus and about this freeing life style. What else can we do to attract people to what the CFP has to offer? We welcome your ideas! – Joel Whitaker, CFP
Will glass coffins be a success? Remains to be seen.
What’s the difference between a hippo and a zippo? One is really heavy and the other is a little lighter.
Did you hear about the new restaurant called Karma? There’s no menu - you get what you deserve.
I went to buy some camouflage trousers yesterday, but couldn't find any.
What do you call a bee that can’t make up its mind? A maybe.
I tried to sue the airline for losing my luggage. I lost my case.
Is it ignorance or apathy that's destroying the world today? I don't know and don't really care.
I wasn’t originally going to get a brain transplant, but then I changed my mind.
Which country’s capital has the fastest-growing population? Ireland. Every day it’s Dublin.
I saw an ad for burial plots, and I thought: “That’s the last thing I need!”
Need an ark? I Noah guy.
You’re not completely useless, you can always serve as a bad example.
broke my finger last week. On the other hand, I’m okay.
Don't spell part backwards. It's a trap.
Did you hear about the guy who got hit in the head with a can of soda? He was lucky it was a soft drink.
It was so dark all night. Then it dawned on me.
To the mathematician who thought of the idea of zero. Thanks for nothing!
Son: "Dad, can you tell me what a solar eclipse is?" Dad: "No sun.”
BLESS A BEAM: PLAY A ROLE IN BLESSINGS GUADALUPE HOUSE
Guadalupe Men's House is under reconstruction to repair extensive damage from the bursting of a frozen water pipe in the second floor bathroom. The damage occurred in the winter of 2019 when the house was vacant. Water flooded the second floor and seeped through floors and ceilings to the first floor, flooding that area as well. The flood of water stopped only when the water department received notice of immerse water usage for a vacant house. Upon investigation, the leak was discovered, and the water was turned off. The non profit organization that owned the house cleaned up the damage and then deeded the house to the Confraternity of Penitents for $10,000 which was the cost of the cleanup. It will take a great deal of more money than that to repair the damage. The house, when renovated, will be home to Catholic men discerning a religious vocation or in other life transitions as well as to those seeking a prayerful, peaceful Catholic community.
The CFP is undertaking this project in the spirit of Saint Francis, who rebuilt the church of San Damiano by begging stones in Assisi. "One stone for one blessing!" he called as he begged. "Two stones for two blessings!"
Please help us bless this house by tagging a 2 x 4! Two inch x four inch beams are currently going for $10.52 for a 10 footer and $16.92 for a 16 footer. The contractor who is doing the framing tells us that this initial stage of the project will cost between $10,000 and $12,000 (labor and materials).
We aren't asking for your dollars! However, if you wish to donate toward a 2 x 4, we will accept your donation with much gratitude.
But we aren't asking for money. We're asking for your blessings and your prayers.
Do you have a memorable Bible verse?
We will mark this verse in the house Bible and we will also pen this verse on a 2 x 4.
Do you have a special, brief prayer request?
We will record your intention in the house Bible and we will also write it on a 2 x 4.
Do you want to thank God?
We will record your thanksgiving in the house Bible and also write it on a 2 x 4.
The 2 x 4's will eventually be covered with sheet rock, but the house Bible will record your Bible verses, intentions, and prayers. And so will the on line gallery at www.GuadalupeVDH.com
Help fill the house with blessings! Email them to GuadalupeHouseFW@gmail.com Or postal mail them to Confraternity of Penitents, 1702 Lumbard Street, Fort Wayne IN 46803. Then watch the online galleries to see them appear!
May God bless YOU!