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Confraternity of Penitents Newsletter October 2022

SPIRITUAL GUARDIAN’S REFLECTION: INSIDER’S LOOK AT THE CONVERSION OF SHIA LABOEUF

In 1923 G.K. Chesterton published a beautiful biography of Saint Francis of Assisi. If you've never read it, I recommend it. It's a beautiful biography and might be a good thing to do in the month that we celebrate the feast of our founder.

The reason that Chesterton became a Catholic in 1922 was that he became convinced of the truth of the Catholic Church even given his awareness of the sinister personalities and periods of great crisis in Her long history. As a student of both biblical and ecclesiastical history, Chesterton noticed that at the greatest moments of crisis in the history of the Church, God brought healing and renewal in every age by raising up saints. Chesterton said: “It is the paradox of history that every generation is converted by the saint that most contradicts it.”

Other people have noticed this pattern as well, some of whom you wouldn't expect. Joseph Stalin, the murderous dictator of the Soviet Union, once said: “If I had ten men like Saint Francis of Assisi I could have conquered the world.”

 

Certainly, one of the most “St. Francis like” saints of our tradition was the great Padre Pio. Saint Francis was a penitent and founded an Order dedicated to penance. Padre Pio spent 12 hours a day in the confessional and was a genius at helping people come to true contrition for their sins. Even today, the story of St. Pio’s life and his intercession from heaven have effect on our cynical world.

San Lorenzo friary is the Capuchin novitiate house for North America and is located in Santa Inez, California, not far from Hollywood. Occasionally, Hollywood actors make the trek up the hill to attend Mass with our novices. Not long ago a young Hollywood actor, who was more than down on his luck, made an appearance at San Lorenzo friary for the purpose of learning about our Order. He had been hired to stare in a film about the life of St. Padre Pio. The actor’s name was Shia LaBeouf.

 

Shia was a very lost young man. When he got to the friary the brothers asked him if he had ever read the Gospels and he said no. They told him he would not be able to understand our Order or Padre Pio without first reading the Gospel.

 

They also gave him a copy of the biography of our Br. Jim Townsend, OFM Cap., who had been in prison for murder before his conversion.

 

Reading those two texts Shia said he felt God inviting him to more than a role in a Hollywood movie. Recently Bishop Robert Barron recorded a nearly 90 minute interview with Shia, because of his conversion to the Catholic Faith.

Heading into the project, LaBeouf said that he was at the darkest point in his life after a series of public scandals. He was drawn to spirituality and joined a variety of faith groups to find meaning, fighting thoughts of helplessness and suicide.

 

He said; “I had a gun on the table. I was outta here…. I didn't want to be alive anymore when all this happened. Shame like I had never experienced before — the kind of shame that you forget how to breathe. You don't know where to go… but I was also in this deep desire to hold on," he added.

The actor described finding faith during his research by surprise, saying that his mindset going into the film was focused on his career, not God: ”The reach-out had happened. I was already there, I had nowhere to go. This was the last stop on the train. There was nowhere else to go — in every sense."

He continued: "I know now that God was using my ego to draw me to Him. Drawing me away from worldly desires. It was all happening simultaneously. But there would have been no impetus for me to get in my car, drive up [to the friary] if I didn't think, 'Oh, I'm gonna save my career.”

While researching and performing the role, however, LaBeouf said he felt "tricked" by God.

 

LaBeouf described talking through his feelings and learning about the Christian understanding of sin and forgiveness as key to pulling him out of a dark time in his life. The actor said that he did not feel worthy of pursuing piety of any kind until he met others who had struggled morally in ways he'd never seen before and felt safe.

“It was seeing other people who have sinned beyond anything I could ever conceptualize also being found in Christ that made me feel like, 'Oh, that gives me hope,'" LaBeouf told Bishop Barron. "I started hearing experiences of other depraved people who had found their way in this, and it made me feel like I had permission."

St. Francis of Assisi and St. Padre Pio, pray for us. Happy Feast Day! –Fr. Joseph Tuscan, OFM Cap, CFP Spiritual Guardian

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NO GREATER LOVE: THE BREAD OF LIFE

Bread is central in the “Bread of Life” discourse in St. John’s Gospel. (Jn 6:22-59) Pope Benedict, in Jesus of Nazareth, gives us very important theological insights into this discourse of the Lord. He especially brings out the significance for us of what the Lord tells us.

 

On the one hand, then, the Eucharist emphatically moves right to the center of Christian existence; here God does indeed give us the manna that humanity is waiting for, the true "bread of heaven"­--the nourishment we can most deeply live upon as human beings. At the same time, however, the Eucharist is revealed as man's unceasing great encounter with God, in which the Lord gives himself as "flesh,” so that in him, and by participating in his way, we may become "spirit.” Just as he was transformed through the Cross into a new manner of bodiliness and of being-human pervaded by God's own being, so too for us this food must become an opening out of our existence, a passing through the Cross, and an anticipation of the new life in God and with God. The Eucharist is necessary spiritual nourishment for our life here on earth and also for our eternal life with the Lord in heaven.

 

Where did all this come from? It is based on what Jesus did at the Last Supper. He gave bread to His Apostles and told them “This is my body”. (Mt 26:26, Mk 14:22, Lk 22:19).

 

Yet, what does “is” mean? For many Protestants and even Catholics “is” means that the bread is a symbol of the body of Christ. It is not to be taken literally to mean exactly what it says.

 

The Lord’s institution of the Eucharist is related in the three Synoptic Gospels. (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) However, it does not appear in John’s Gospel. Why not? There are good reasons to believe that John’s Gospel was written decades after the Synoptic Gospels. John probably felt it was not necessary to retell what already had been told three times.

 

On the other hand, the Eucharist was already being celebrated when he wrote his Gospel. In the book of Acts, Luke relates how St. Paul visited Christians in Troas in Asia Minor on his way from Greece to Jerusalem. There was a Eucharistic Celebration (the breaking of bread) on Sunday. “On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day;” (Acts 20:7) This happened in 58 AD long before John wrote his Gospel. There probably were discussions about whether “is” was to be taken literally or symbolically during this time. 

 

John knew that he needed to address this question with the Lord’s answer. During his ministry in Galilee, Jesus lived in Capernaum, on the north side of the Sea of Galilee. In chapter 6, John relates how Jesus fed five thousand people by multiplying loaves and fishes on the other side of the Sea of Galilee. (Jn 6:1-15).

 

At night the Lord walked on water to meet his disciples in a boat as they were crossing the sea going back to Capernaum. (Jn 16-21) Some of those who were fed by the miraculous bread followed Jesus back to Capernaum. It is there that He gave the “Bread of Life” discourse where He explains the meaning of the Eucharist. (Jn 6:22-59) John heard this along with other disciples and probably Mary who lived with Jesus at Capernaum and with John after the Crucifixion (Jn 19:26-27) until her Assumption years later.

 

When these people questioned Jesus, He told them “Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of man will give to you; for on him God the Father set his seal.” (Jn 6:27) They then ask Jesus what labor they must do to get this food for eternal life. “What must we do to be doing the works of God?” (Jn 6:28)

 

Jesus answers “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” (Jn 6:29) To get the “food which endures to eternal life” we must first believe in He who gives it, Jesus Christ. Right after Jesus has miraculously fed five thousand people and then walked on water, these people ask Jesus “Then what sign do you do, that we may see, and believe you? What work do you perform?” (Jn 6:30) They did not believe that He could do this. They needed the proof of signs (miracles) although Jesus had just worked two miracles in addition to many others. 

 

They then refer Jesus to the miracle of the manna which came down from heaven and fed the Israelites in the desert. (Ex 16:4) They challenge Jesus to top that one. (Jn 6:31)

 

Jesus does top it telling them “For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” (Jn 6:33) The bread which Jesus refers to is much better than the bread given to the Israelites in the desert for that bread only nourished physical life. His bread gives eternal life for the whole world. Those who questioned Him then say “Lord, give us this bread always.” (Jn 6:34) 

 

The Lord tells them openly and plainly that the bread that they want is Himself. “I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst.” (Jn 6:35)

 

The Lord then tells them “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life; and I will raise him up on the last day.” (Jn 6:40)

 

Those who questioned Him did not believe Him. “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?”

 

The Lord does not back down and say that the bread He is talking about is a symbol. Instead, he tells them openly, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh.” (Jn 6:51) 

 

His questioners still did not understand, saying among themselves “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”

 

To remove any doubt about what he means, Jesus then tells them, “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 you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the father, so he who eats me will live because of me. This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.” (Jn 6:53-58)

 

With these words the Lord leaves us with no doubt concerning what we receive when we receive the Eucharist. We are not receiving a symbol of Jesus or of our faith or that we “belong” to the Church. When we receive the Eucharist, it means that we abide in Him so that He can abide in us. 

 

John’s Gospel was originally written in Greek. In the notes to the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, Scott Hahn tells us that St. John changes the Greek word he uses for “eats” in the verses cited above (Jn 6:53-58).

 

In verse 53 and the verses before 53, John uses the common Greek verb for eating, esthiō.

 

Starting with verse 54 and three more times after verse 54, John uses the Greek verb, trōgō, which means “chew” or “gnaw”.

 

St. John is emphasizing the real physical nature of the Holy Eucharist. We are not consuming a symbol. John closes the “Bread of Life” discourse by telling us, “This he said in the synagogue, as he taught at Capernaum.” (Jn 6:59) 

 

John tells us that after this many of His disciples could not accept this teaching and no longer went about with Him.

 

Jesus then questions the Twelve Apostles “Will you also go away?” (Jn 6:67)

 

St. Peter answers, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life: and we have believed, and come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” (Jn 6:68-69) If we desire eternal life, we, like Peter, must ask “Lord, to whom shall we go?”

 

In relating to us the Lord’s Bread of Life Discourse, St. John is confirming what the Church already believed.

 

St. Paul wrote 1 Corinthians in around 56 AD, probably long before John wrote His Gospel. He writes to the Corinthians “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself.” (1 Cor 11:27-29)

 

St. Paul is teaching us that we cannot abide in the Lord and the Lord abide in us if we are in the state of mortal sin. 

 

The Holy Eucharist is meant to be eaten, but it is also meant to be adored. Many of us engage in Eucharistic Adoration, because we know by faith that He is really there, not just spiritually but also bodily. When we are with the Lord adoring Him, we are with Him just as much as Peter, John, Mary, and the other disciples were with Him two thousand years ago. – Jim Nugent, CFP

FRANCISCAN RETREAT COMING UP OCTOBER 26-30—ARE YOU ATTENDING?

 

So far, 5 priests and 28 laity are registered for this retreat for all Franciscans who are living a more primitive expression of the Franciscan Third Order Rule. The Confraternity of Penitents is hosting this retreat which will also be attended by members of Tau Maria and the Third Order Franciscans. All are welcome. The retreat will be held at St. Felix Catholic Center, 1280 Hitzfield Street, Huntington IN. Cost: $200 plus an additional $25 toward food expenses or donate $25 worth of food.

 

Mass, conferences by the priests, meals, and morning, evening, and night prayer will be held in common for all attendees. One Mass will be for all members, friends, and benefactors of the groups attending. Prayer requests for this Mass may be sent via email or postal mail for this Mass, to be received no later than October 23. One general session will discuss the charism of each attending group. The remainder of the sessions will be held by the individual groups for specific prayers and talks about their specific rules. Saturday will incorporate a 6 hour hermitage experience.

 

$50 retreat deposit may be mailed to the Confraternity of Penitents at the address in this newsletter. At this time, there is room for 30 more attendees. If you will need pickup from airport, bus, or train, please let us know so that we can make arrangements. Hope to see you then!

HUMOR
 

I never called you stupid, but when I asked you to spell orange and you asked if I meant the fruit or the color, it kinda caught me off guard.

 

An elderly man, thinking his wife was losing her hearing, went about 20 feet behind her and asked, “Can you hear me, sweetheart?” No reply. Moved to ten feet and inquired again. No reply. Five feet. Not a word. A few inches behind her ear, he asked, “Can you hear me now, honey?” His wife replied, “For the fourth time, ‘Yes.’.”

 

It’s a shame nothing is made in the USA anyone. I just bought a new TV and is says “Built in Antenna.” I don’t even know where that is.

CONFRATERNITY PHOTO ALBUM: DIOCESAN HERMIT
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Sandra Deatch was a resident of the CFP's Annunciation Women’s Vocation Discernment House a few years ago. During her stay, she firmed up a decision to pursue a Diocesan Hermit Vocation with the Archdiocese of Boston. While at Annunciation House, she also actively searched for a job and for housing in the Boston area.

 

When all was in place, Sandy left Annunciation House to further her studies and pursue her vocation in the Boston area.

 

On August 30, she made her first profession as Diocesan Hermit at St. Lucy’s Church, Methuen, MA.

 

Pictured above, left to right: Fr. Briggs Hurley (friend from Jacksonville whom Sandy met when he did his pastoral year at her church when he was a seminarian), Fr. Patrick Armano (Sandy’s formator/confessor/original spiritual director), Sandy, Fr. Andrew Beauregard, FPO (Sandy’s spiritual director), Bishop Mark O'Connell, Fr. Joseph D'Onofrio, Sr. Germana Santos (Delegate for Religious), Fr. Joseph Medio, FPO.

REFLECTIONS ON OUR RULE: THE SPIRIT OF POVERTY—HAPPY ARE YOU POOR: WHAT GOSPEL POVERTY IS NOT (CHAPTER 5)

With Chapter 5, Fr. Dubay turns to a discussion of values by describing what Gospel poverty is not.

 

It’s not about carelessness, disorder, laziness or dirt. Because we so often see in the media the coexistence of filth and poverty, he says we may easily infer they are connected. They aren’t. And there is no basis in the New Testament for making that connection.

 

Nor is Gospel poverty about destitution – about lacking the necessities for a decent human life. “Rather than promote the idea of destitution,” Fr. Dubay says, “the Gospel requires that we share with the needy, that we rub it out wherever it occurs. Hence, we ordinarily do not embrace destitution for ourselves."

 

It’s not about miserliness. “Avarice is a vice, not a virtue. The miser loves money so much that he is reluctant to part with it either for his own or others’ benefits. The frugal person has no love for money. He sees it purely as the means it is.”

 

It is about economy, which is “a careful use of money and material goods. It is a quality, not a defect.”

 

Detachment, inner freedom, unclutteredness are conditions for complete love of God and neighbor, Fr. Dubay says. But the New Testament isn’t content with detachment. More is needed.

 

Giving of time, treasure and talent aren’t enough, either. When revelation is speaks of poverty, it is speaking of material goods, not availability.

 

Nowhere does Scripture advise us to be careless regarding our health. The Lord himself requires his disciples to rest after laborious work (Mk 6: 10-22). Likewise, we are expected to follow St. Francis of Assisi and to appreciate the beauty of things.

 

Using the world’s resources soberly and respectfully isn’t enough, either. After all, what is a “respectful, sober use?” “The most selfish people can easily convince themselves that their use is ‘sober and respectful’,” Fr. Dubay says.

 

“Wealthy societies do not lack people who can speak eloquently about the third and fourth worlds, who call emphatically for ‘consciousness raising’ . . . and yet seem to see no incompatibility between their speech and their own way of life. They live comfortably, sometimes even extravagantly. They possess extensive wardrobes, enjoy costly vacations and recreations and dining and drinking and traveling. The Gospel envisions hard facts, not empty rhetoric. Talking about the needy and yet not sharing with them betrays a dead faith (Jas. 1:14-17) and an absence of love (1 Jn. 3:17-18).”

 

So where are we left? This chapter can serve as the basis for an examination of conscience:

 

  • Are we careful with our use of money?

  • Do we share our possessions and resources with others?

  • Do we get adequate sleep and food to be able to serve the Lord?

  • Do we, like St. Francis, appreciate the beauty of the world, both of the things of nature and the things which mankind has created?

  • Have we reduced our wardrobes to the minimum necessary? (One good test is whether after eight or nine days we have any clean clothes left)?

  • Do we run up extensive credit card bills, even if we can pay them off every month? Not everyone can tithe, but if we can, do we?

  • Do we eat simple, healthy, adequate meals or “over the top” luxurious meals? Inflation has played havoc with food budgets, to be sure, but a penitent whose food spending is at the top of the scale probably should take the issue to prayer and discuss it with his or her spiritual director. Internet articles can give guidelines on how much we should spend on groceries per year.

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Consecrated religious vow to live lives of poverty, meaning to own nothing. This chapter provides a road map for penitents and other lay religious to live a life embracing Gospel poverty. –Joel Whitaker, CFP

FOLLOWING FRANCIS, FOLLOWING CHRIST: SPREADING THE FAITH AS PENITENTS

 

Saint Francis spread the faith not only by the witness of his life and his ministry to the poor but also by the written word. History has preserved not only his Rule but also letters, poems, praises, prayers, and songs which he wrote.

 

Two of our CFP authors who have published books are Eric Welch, CFP, and Alexis Schlegel (Associate Novice 1). Both books are available on Amazon.com While the books are very different, they both give witness to Christ’s patience and power in the lives of the authors. May the Lord inspire each of us likewise to witness to Jesus at work in our lives.

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Eric Welch, CFP. Author: Post-Abortive Fatherhood: A Penitent's View on Predation in American Culture: WELCH, ERIC: ISBN 9798354881772: Amazon.com: Books. $12.73. As a post abortive father of three unborn children, Eric writes poignantly and pointedly from  his own tragic experiences.

From the Amazon review: Post-abortive fatherhood explains a great deal about the behavior of modern men. Science and data points convey part of the story, but for many of us personal testimony connects the dots. Following contemporary science, Welch reveals the main drivers (despair, self-pity, selfishness) of self-destructive behavior to an inability to handle the remorse from the loss of unborn children.

 

("Contemporary reliance on abortion as a “contraceptive back-up” may in fact be promoting male detachment, desertion and irresponsibility. According to Morabito (1991), abortion can actually encourage sexual exploitation of women. In this scenario, the male may view his partner’s pregnancy as a “biological quirk corrected by abortion.”)"

(https://www.usccb.org/committees/pro-life-activities/hollow-men-male-grief-trauma-following-abortion, accessed 7/4/2022).

Alexis Schlegel, Author. Storm Boy: Faith, adventure and survival around Tasmania's Bruny Island. SCHLEGEL, ALEXIS.  ISBN  : ‎ 978-1520282350.Amazon.com Books $10.28


From the Amazon review: When a young man lived alone on a small boat he formed a strong friendship with Jesus. Then when attempting to circumnavigate Bruny Island, he found himself shipwrecked, cast-away, and finally in a big storm. But God protected him in all these adventures, guided him, and loved through others' hearts. It is a witness to the existence of God, and to the wonderful friendship we can have with him.

 

[Editor’s Note: Alexis’s description of his faith and his utter reliance on God are refreshing and genuine. In the unexpected and terrifying, Alexis could see the workings of God and matter-of-factly details how the Lord was working when He seemed, to human perception, to be distant.)

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WHAT’S HAPPENING WITH THE CFP?

 

CFP Life Pledged Member Mariah Dragolich is working with our Spiritual Guardian, Fr. Joseph Tuscan, to arrange periodic Zoom meetings for CFP membership. The first one will take place on Saturday, October 29, at 9:30 a.m. EDST and will be broadcast from the CFP Retreat. Links will be sent out via email before the event.

 

A small group of Mexican Secular Franciscans have been meeting at CFP Headquarters for the past two months while a room is readied for them at St. Francis University in Fort Wayne IN. They have been gathering weekly in the gazebo in Mary’s Glen or in or in the small San Damiano meeting room to pray and share about Saint Francis. In the Mary’s Glen Chapel, the group celebrated the Transitus of Saint Francis on October 3 and then, on October 4, a Mass in honor of St. Francis, both with bilingual Father Jose Arroyo who suggested this location to the group. We are delighted that we could host these faithful followers of Saint Francis.

 

The Knights of Columbus from Saint Charles Borromeo Church brought a crew of 15 men on Saturday, September 17, and moved huge piles of mulch from the parking area into Mary’s Glen. Now the mulch beds are refreshed, and more mulch has been spread in additional areas. The Knights also donated, to Annunciation Women’s Vocation Discernment House, a picnic table with a glass top, shade umbrella, and six chairs, just in time for a going away picnic for one of the house residents. Thank you, thank you, thank you, our angel Knights!

 

Besides bringing the Eucharistic Miracles exhibit to two churches in September, the CFP also brought the CFP Holy Angels Gift Shop to two events on October 1. One was a women’s conference where items from the gift shop were sold and business cards distributed. The other was a breakfast in commemoration of Our Lady of Fatima. This event included Holy Mass and a speaker. The CFP table at this event was a religious goods “name your own price” tag sale with all donations for goods being earmarked for restoration of Guadalupe Men’s Vocation Discernment House.

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CHRISTMAS SHOPPING?

 

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