Confraternity of Penitents Newsletter November 2022
Reminder: Fast of Saint Martin begins on November 12. See Rule and Constitutions for regulations. All those at Novice 3 level and above are to fast as the Rule and Constitutions prescribe. Those not yet at this level should joyfully undertake a daily sacrifice of their choice in order to observe the penitential spirit of this holy season leading up to the great feast of Christmas.
WHY I AM HUMBLED TO BE A CFP AFFILIATE
As an Affiliate to the CFP, I decided to take things a step further. I made the Total Consecration to Mary on September 13th, 2022, and gave my chastity to God, signing a Chastity Pledge Card and now wear a Chastity and Marian Consecration Ring, as a reminder of the promise I made on September 13th. I have also chosen to live the 1221 Rule as a Modern Day Hermit, with my apartment, being my hermitage. My goal is to be an example to other Affiliates, to strive to live as much of the 1221 Rule as they possibly can, especially if they, for some reason, can’t be Life Pledged Privately Vowed Members of the CFP. That Manual (Handbook) has a way of Life in it for everyone.
And I am totally, at peace! To be a Modern Day Franciscan Hermit, Living the Rule of 1221. Privately, I have taken the Name Francis Casey of Jesus Crucified. The TAU Cross is my habit. I also offer myself as a Victim Soul, for the salvation of souls. Francis bore the Stigmata Wounds and so did Saint Padre Pio. These Men understood Redemptive Suffering. I chose to follow their example.
On Friday November 4th 2022. I Consecrated My Single State To God and started the Life of a Modern Day Hermitt, who chose to live the 1221 Rule of THE CFP. Even, if you are NOT canonically recognized by The Archdiocese, I had a burning desire, to be Like Francis of Assisi and live the 1221 Rule, of the CFP, as My Rule and way of Life as a Modern Day Hermitt. I ask for prayers as I begin this new way of Life, to follow Christ. I wear A ring and a chain, to show that I have made Total Consecration, to the BVM. The chain symbolizes that I am a Slave of Mary. I hope She will lead Me closer to Her SON and make Me a SAINT. Bryan Gerard LaHaise CFP Affiliate. All For Jesus Thru Mary.
Photo: Bryan at a Lourdes grotto in Ohio.
SPIRITUAL GUARDIAN’S REFLECTION: WHERE THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS, THERE IS FREEDOM
“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” — 2 Corinthians 3:17
From October 26 to 30 we held our annual CFP retreat. This year we were blessed to have two other groups of tertiary Franciscans join us. What a blessed event it was! I want to encourage all of you to consider joining us next year at St. Felix Catholic Center in Huntington, Indiana where Blessed Solanus Casey lived from 1946 to 1957.
Saturday, November 18 will mark the fifth anniversary of the Church formally recognizing our Capuchin brother, Fr. Solanus Casey, as a “Blessed”, on his way to being canonized. I was privileged to be present for that historic and grace-filled occasion.
Blessed Solanus was well-known for his compassionate approach to all people and his ministry of healing. He was assigned as the porter of the friary, answering the door and assisting the people who came there looking for assistance of many kinds. He soon became well-known for his patient and compassionate way of dealing with people, and his holiness became apparent to all who met him. Thousands of healings were attributed to his intercession during his lifetime.
Blessed Solanus was tireless in his work to help people in whatever way he could, always providing a sense of hope and of God’s care for each person. Over 20,000 people went by his coffin before his burial in Detroit in 1957 and over 80,000 were present at Ford Field for his Beatification in 2017.
Here are a few of his more famous saying:
Thank you, God, in all your designs.
Confidence is the very soul of prayer.
Do not pray for easy lives; pray to be stronger people. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers; pray for powers equal to your tasks.
I'm offering my sufferings that all might be one. If only I could see the conversion of the whole world.
Thank God ahead of time.
In the spirit of Blessed Solanus, I would like to recommend a short book for this month entitled; INTERIOR FREEDOM by Fr. Jacques Philippe
From the forward to the book:
“A basic theme of Christian life - interior freedom. Every Christian needs to discover that even in the most unfavorable outward circumstances we possess within ourselves a space of freedom that nobody can take away, because God is its source and guarantee. Without this discovery we will always be restricted in some way, and will never taste true happiness, but if we have learned to let this inner space of freedom unfold, then, even though many things may well cause us to suffer, nothing will really be able to oppress or crush us.”
The theme is simple but very important: we gain possession of our interior freedom in exact proportion to our growth in faith, hope, and love. This book will look specifically at how the dynamism of what are classically called the “theological virtues” are at the heart of the spiritual life. It will also underline the key role of the virtue of hope in our inner growth. Hope cannot really be exercised apart from poverty of heart, so that the whole of the retreat may be considered a commentary on the first beatitude: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.”
Primary topics: inner peace, prayer life, and docility to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit wants to bring about a renewal in our hearts, and in this way, help us to experience the glorious freedom of the children of God. –Fr. Joseph Tuscan, OFM Cap, CFP Spiritual Guardian
NO GREATER LOVE: THE GOOD SHEPHERD
Many of us have attended Masses or other services presided over by a bishop. The bishop carries a large shepherd’s staff which is also called a crosier. Why does he carry a crosier? We can find the answer in the “Good Shepherd discourse”. (Jn 10: 1-21)
In this discourse, the Lord talks of the “sheepfold” where the sheep enter at night when they especially need protection. In the morning they can be let out to find pasture so that they can eat. The shepherd is responsible for the sheep to let them in and out of the sheepfold and protect them from danger when they are out in the fields.
First the Lord tells us who is the authentic shepherd. “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber; but he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens; the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” (Jn 10:1-5)
Jesus is not talking about sheep. He is speaking about Himself and us. The “gatekeeper”, God the Father, has appointed Jesus as the Chief Shepherd who can enter by the door. Other shepherds, not appointed by the Father, are “thieves and robbers”. The sheep who truly know the Lord will recognize His Voice and reject the “thieves and robbers”. Yet, we do need to know the Lord in order to do this.
St. John tells us, however, that Jesus’ hearers did not understand Him. (Jn 10:6)
The Lord says again: “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers; but the sheep did not heed them. I am the door; If anyone enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hireling and not a shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hireling and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me, as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.” (Jn 10:7-15)
In Jesus of Nazareth, Pope Benedict discusses thoroughly the shepherd image in John’s gospel. He also tells us how to distinguish between the “hireling” and the true shepherd.
Surprisingly, the shepherd discourse does not begin with the words: "I am the Good Shepherd" (Jn 10:11), but with another image: "Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep" Jn 10:7). Jesus has already said: "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheep-fold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber; but he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep" (Jn 10:1f.). This can only really mean that Jesus is establishing the criterion for those who will shepherd his flock after his ascension to the Father. The proof of a true shepherd is that he enters through Jesus as the door. For in this way it is ultimately Jesus who is the Shepherd---the flock "belongs" to him alone.
Jesus is both the ultimate Shepherd who leads the flock, which is us in the Church, and the door by which other authentic shepherds enter and lead the flock.
In the last chapter of John’s Gospel, we witness the appointment of a true shepherd, one who enters through the “door”, Jesus. After the Resurrection of the Lord, Peter and some of the other disciples went fishing at night in the Sea of Galilee. They caught nothing that night, but in the morning someone on the shore told them to put down their net on the right side of the boat. They caught a large number of fish (153), and they realized it was the Lord.
They came ashore and Jesus fed them a breakfast of bread and fish. (Jn 21:1-14). After breakfast, Jesus appoints Peter to enter through the “door” and be a shepherd. “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” A second time he said to him, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes Lord, you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him a third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you fastened your own belt and walked where you would; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will fasten your belt for you and carry you where do not wish to go.” (This he said to show by what death he was to glorify God.) And after this he said to him, “Follow me.” (Jn 21:15-19)
Jesus is commanding Peter to feed, by Word and Sacrament, and tend, by pastoral guidance, His Flock, the Church. The “shepherd” language which Jesus uses is the same as He uses in His Good Shepherd discourse. Peter is to shepherd His Church just as the Lord shepherds His Church. The other Apostles were also shepherds, but according to the Gospels and Acts, Peter is preeminent among them. Of course, to carry out this command, Peter must follow Jesus and be faithful to Him.
What happens when Peter and the other apostles die? When John’s Gospel was written, Peter was already dead (Jn 21:19) as were probably many of the other Apostles. Does that mean there are no more Shepherds? No.
In chapter 5 of 1 Peter, written when Peter was close to martyrdom, Peter gives to the “elders” the same commission which the Lord gave to him after breakfast by the sea of Galilee. “So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ as well as a partaker in the glory that is to be revealed. Tend the flock of God that is your charge, not by constraint, but willingly, not for shameful gain but eagerly, not as domineering over those in your charge but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd is manifested, you will obtain the unfading crown of glory. (1Pet 5:1-4)
The “elders” would probably now be called presbyters or in English, priests. Peter is not saying that he is on the same level as them since he was chosen by Christ to be an Apostle. Peter is saying that these elders, as shepherds like Peter, are responsible to the same Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ. Peter, and the other Apostles took their responsibility to Christ very seriously, since Peter and, according to tradition, all the other Apostles except John, died as martyrs.
Christ’s commission to Peter to “tend my sheep” (Jn 21:16) and Peter’s commission to the elders to “tend the flock of God that is your charge” (1 Pet 5:2) support the doctrine of “Apostolic Succession” that the authority that Christ gave to the Apostles to teach the Gospel is passed on through the successors to the Apostles, the bishops.
This brings us back to the question of how do we distinguish, at the present time, between the true shepherds and the “thieves and robbers”? The Lord gives us the answer. It is those who enter by the “door” which ultimately is Jesus Christ himself. The first to enter by the “door” was St. Peter, who was personally given the task of tending His sheep by the Lord. Others have followed Peter through Christ the “door” down to the present time.
Many leave the Catholic Church because some true shepherds have not always been “examples to the flock” (1 Pet 5:3). They have not always been faithful to Peter’s commission to the elders or Christ’s commission to Peter. However, they are still true shepherds if they have been duly ordained as bishops or priests. They are, of course, responsible to the Lord for what they have done.
Many leave the Church because of the failings of bishops, priests, and others in authority. Yet, their authority does come from the Lord himself. Some reject the authority of bishops and priests because they ultimately reject the authority of Jesus Christ himself. Others do not consciously reject the authority of Jesus Christ but are scandalized by the failings of His Shepherds.
In St. Paul’s letter to the Galatians, he tells how he rebuked Peter in public for drawing back from eating with Gentiles in order to please some Jews. (Gal 2:14) Paul needed to do this because of the authority that Peter possessed as the leader of the Apostles. Peter did not lose his commission from Christ to be a Shepherd to His flock because of his failing in this matter. We must not let the failings of Church leaders cause us to follow false shepherds who seem to us to be better. By doing so we risk being separated from Christ Himself, and that separation is the ultimate loss. -- Jim Nugent, CFP
BLESSED ARE YOU POOR: CH. 6 --EMPTINESS AND RADICAL READINESS
Here’s a question that we as penitents should grapple with: Why do we do what we do? Why have a limited wardrobe? Why deny ourselves filet mignon seven days a week? (There are a couple of obvious answers – one is that something special isn’t special when you have it every day; another is that eating meat all the time is likely to give you a heart attack, if not something worse.)
With this chapter, Dubay begins a discussion of the values of factual poverty, which he describes as a negation, a not having of certain material goods. But why embrace factual poverty?
The New Testament makes it clear that riches and the kingdom of God cannot be combined, at least not in a human sense:
It’s easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God
No man can serve two masters: He must choose – God or money
We must avoid avarice in all its forms, for there is no security in things, even when we have an abundance of them.
We are not to lay up treasure on earth, where moths destroy and rust rots.
Are we ready? Factual poverty embraced in faith changes our soul, makes us concretely affected by the Gospel. Are we on God’s wavelength?
Are we so uncluttered that we are like the lilies of the field? One must renounce all he possesses to belong to Jesus. How do we implement this as penitents? Especially if we are married?
One of the easiest ways to upset a man is to suggest he ought to part with the unnecessary things he enjoys.
Few women take readily to the idea that extensive wardrobes or jewelry should be given to the poor.
Are we humbled? Do we think the universe revolves around us? That our ways or our thoughts are always the best?
Poverty has a great deal to do with both of the above. The more we possess the more we are, is the conventional human belief. The man with a large estate, several cars, etc., assumes he is better than the person in a rented apartment and a 20-year-old car. To many, the impression they make dictates their value.
St. Phillip Neri says it is far easier to convert a lustful person than a covetous one.
People who by choice embrace poverty see themselves far more realistically than those who don’t.
They know of their intrinsic value before God.
They are also ready for the kingdom of God, whether married or single. (Dubay says married or virgin, but realistically we know many single people are not virgins. However, with help of God’s grace and a firm will, they can reclaim and re-embrace chastity, earning a new popular term ‘revirginated.’.
The Gospel takes a dim view of wealth. Why?
Readiness – One is ready for the Kingdom when one is so developed intellectually and morally developed by a love for truth and goodness that when he hears the Word, he can react positively to it.
Factual poverty embraced in faith does something to a person, maturing him, developing him, making him receptive to what Jesus is saying.
One who is poor in and for the Lord is concretely affected by the Gospel.
Values – When God says “My ways are not your ways, and my thoughts are not your thoughts,” consider what the world tells us:
Prestige is essential
Comfort is essential
Pleasure is indispensable
Impressing people with one’s accomplishments is vital –the bigger house, (or houses), etc.
Sexual excitement and pleasure are essential
Success is coming out on top compared to others
Money is a must, because without it one can have very little of anything of value
Consider what Jesus tells us:
Blessed are the meek.
Blessed are the poor in spirit.
Blessed are those who suffer.
Blessed are you when people speak all manner of evil against you because of Me.
Go and sin no more (to the woman caught in adultery, applied also to formication)
Blessed are the pure in heart
It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.
When we talk about detachment, we seek to become detached from the things the world considers essential. Obviously, when one enters consecrated religious life, these are the things one renounces. But some lay communities do the same, in the name of serving the Lord. Do you know any lay communities where the members live together, pool their income to cover expenses, receive a small personal allowance each week, and spend 15 or more hours a week working for the Lord? Your family is a community. This is precisely what the first penitents realized. Detachment from things and worldly attitudes can begin in your family. Then all can become more attached to God.
“Possessing imperceptibly slips into being possessed,” says Fr. Dubay. My friend Bob Whitcomb voiced the same thought: “Possessions are a burden. You have to care for them.” –Joel Whitaker, CFP
CONFRATERNITY PHOTO ALBUM--2022 RETREAT ATTENDEES
Mostly everyone (about half a dozen missing) who attended CFP Retreat 2022.
Three groups represented:
+ Confraternity of Penitents who hosted the retreat
+ Tau Maria Franciscans
+Third Order Franciscans.
Our intrepid Video Recorder Eric Lipscomb, CFP Novice 1, is seated in the front row, wearing suspenders.
ANOTHER PHOTO FROM CFP RETREAT 2022
Left to right: Father Peter Giroux, FPO, who was retreat master for our first retreat in 1999. Fr. Peter wrote the Rule for the Tau Maria Franciscans.
Larry Giroux, TM, (Father Peter’s brother) who is servant guardian of Tau Maria Franciscans
Father Joseph Tuscan OFM Cap, who is Spiritual Guardian for the Confraternity of Penitents
Madeline Pecora Nugent, CFP, Minister General of the Confraternity of Penitents
Father Vit Fiala, OFM, who is Spiritual Director to the Third Order Franciscans
Pepe Ventosa, TOF, Councilor of Third Order Franciscans.
Photo taken at the Marian Grotto on the grounds of Saint Felix Catholic Center, Huntington Indiana USA.
Blessed Solanus Casey often prayed at this grotto. A photo of him praying here is in the archives at St. Felix Catholic Center.
FRANCESCO, CHIARA, AND ANTONIO: FRANCISCAN TRILOGY
FRANCESCO: A STORY OF SAINT FRANCIS OF ASSISI
CHIARA: A STORY OF SAINT CLARE OF ASSISI
ANTONIO: A STORY OF SAINT ANTHONY OF PADUA
Author: Madeline Pecora Nugent, CFP
Published by Pauline Books and Media
Experience these Franciscan Saints through the eyes of their contemporaries. Highly researched yet delightfully readable. Incidents covered in one volume are not covered in the others. Dialogue is taken as much as possible from the writings of these three saints. Chapter Notes explain what is fact and what is imagined in the incidents. Order from CFP Holy Angels Gift Shop, 1702 Lumbard Street, Fort Wayne IN 46803 or online at www.cfpholyangels.com
Available in time for Christmas as single volumes. Retail 31.95 per volume.
CFP Holy Angels Gift Shop price 29.95 each or all three 85.95.
Free shipping to USA locations via Media Mail.
Check out CFP Holy Angels Gift Shop for many other Christmas gift ideas. See www.cfpholyangels.com Over 4000 products available.
Billion dollar idea: A smoke detector that shuts off when you yell, “I’m just cooking!”
If you wait long enough to make dinner, everyone will just eat cereal. It’s science.