Confraternity of Penitents Monthly Newsletter September 2022
FOLLOWING FRANCIS, FOLLOWING CHRIST: WHY DID YOU JOIN?
Our Rule was written so that laity could have a religious rule of life to live at home to guide them on the path to sanctity. The Rule of 1221 for the laity put a juridical stamp on the way of life followed by those who had been inducted into the Order of Penance to expiate serious sin. However, most of the penitents following this Rule did so not out of compulsion but voluntarily.
CFP Council member Joel Whitaker is conducting a survey on why members were attracted to our Rule. He would like to use these results in spreading the word about our way of life. Please help by completing the survey. Mail responses to Confraternity of Penitents, 1702 Lumbard Street, Fort Wayne IN 46803
People become penitents because they want to become closer to God. Which of the following describes you (please check all that apply):
___ I want to develop a more disciplined prayer life
___ I feel called to a rigorous form of fasting
___ I feel overwhelmed with "stuff" and feel attracted to a life of simplicity and minimalism
___ I once felt called to religious life but was unable to answer or fulfill that call. Now I feel that call again, and this seems a way to do that.
___The Rule promises eternal life to those who live it as they promised to do.
___ Other: ________________________________________________________________
SPIRITUAL GUARDIAN’S REFLECTION: CONVERSION OF MOVIE ACTOR
Father Joe Tuscan, CFP Spiritual Guardian, asked that this article be reprinted:
Why Shia Labeouf’s New Film Converted Him to Catholicism
Whether it’s fighting Decepticons in an intergalactic battle in Transformers, or voicing an ambitious penguin in Surf’s Up, actor Shia LaBeouf is always keeping audiences on their toes.
His latest cinematic endeavour tackled the portrayal of Franciscan Capuchin friar Padre Pio, a role which inspired his conversion to Catholicism.
The 36-year-old actor discussed his newfound faith during a recorded interview with Bishop Robert Barron of the World on Fire Catholic Ministries.
Mr LaBeouf said he entered the filming process of Padre Pio during a dark period in his life.
In 2020 musician FKA twigs accused LaBeouf of sexual assault and battery. The case will go to trial in April 2023.
The actor said he struggled with suicidal thoughts and felt unworthy of “embracing God or being welcomed into any religion”. “I didn’t want to be an actor anymore, and my life was a complete mess,” he said. “I had hurt a lot of people, and I felt deep shame and deep guilt.”
However, the actor said he “had a deep desire to hold on”.
Mr LaBeouf said he believed God resurrected his career to put him on a path to healing and personal peace.
He decided to live in a monastery with Franciscan Capuchin friars to prepare for his role as Padre Pio.
“It was seeing other people who have sinned beyond anything I could ever conceptualise also being found in Christ that made me feel like, ‘Oh, that gives me hope’,” he said.
“I know now that God was using my ego to draw me to Him, drawing me away from worldly desires.”
Mr LaBeouf said traditional Latin mass affected him deeply.
“When I attend [Latin Mass] it feels like I’m being let into something very special.
“It activates something within me.”
The Padre Pio biopic will premiere at the Venice Film Festival in September.
To watch Shia LaBeouf’s full interview please click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hjxKG4mR3U4&t=1327s
NO GREATER LOVE: TWO WEDDINGS
The vine and the wine which comes from the grape vine, play an important role in John’s Gospel. The marriage at Cana (Jn 2:1-12) is one of the places where wine plays an important role. This marriage was probably just an ordinary event which occurred early in the Jesus’s three years of ministry. Our Lady was present as well as Jesus and his early disciples. (Jn 2:1-2) However, the wine ran out before the wedding celebration was over. This was an embarrassing problem for the hosts of the wedding, but not for the guests since the guests would not be usually responsible for providing wine for the wedding. Yet, Our Lady did not worry about customs and protocol, but simply says to her Divine Son “They have no wine.” (Jn 2:3) Jesus then changed ordinary water into an abundance of wine which removed the embarrassment of the hosts. This miracle gave the wedding of the unnamed couple theological significance which is certainly why John included this event in his gospel. Pope Benedict, in Jesus of Nazareth, discusses the importance of wine in the miracle. The miracle of Cana seems at first sight to be out of step with the other signs that Jesus performs. What are we supposed to make of the fact that Jesus produces a huge surplus of wine---about 520 liters---for a private party? He then goes on to discuss the great importance of this event for the life of the Lord and for us.
We also need to look at how Jesus transformed this particular wedding. This wedding occurred not in Jerusalem or other important cities in that area, but in a small, out of the way place in Galilee. This was also probably a wedding of the poor, since they did run out of wine and the wine was not good wine. We know this since when the steward of the feast tasted the miraculous wine he said, “Every man serves the good wine first; and when men have drunk freely, then the poor wine; but you have kept the good wine until now.” (Jn 2:10) Jesus, thus transformed a simple wedding into a luxurious affair with excellent wine.
In St. Matthew’s Gospel, another wedding is described as a parable, the parable of the Marriage Feast. (Mt 22:1-14) In this parable, the Lord describes an aspect of the kingdom of heaven. Scholars and theologians have written much about what is the “kingdom of heaven” or the “kingdom of God”. The parable begins with a brief introduction. “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a marriage feast for his son.” (Mt 22:2) Like all the parables, the events described stand for something else. We need to discern what this parable is saying to us. We can see that the “king” is God the Father and Jesus is his “son”. This marriage feast is not a wedding of the poor, but a wedding of the rich. The prophets of the Old Testament repeatedly predicted the coming of the Messiah. The Messiah has come. This is the wedding feast.
In order to attend a wedding, one needs to be invited. When the men of Israel were circumcised, that was their invitation to the wedding. They were given the Mosaic Law to prepare them for the coming Marriage Feast of the Lamb. The Old Testament prophets repeatedly urged the people to prepare for the wedding by living Godly lives. The parable speaks of the king’s “servants” who were sent out to bring people to the wedding feast, but they would not come. (Mt 22:3-6) The “servants” are probably the prophets who were often rejected, mistreated, and even killed. This parable of the Lord speaks of the history of Israel. Then the Lord tells us “The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.” (Mt 22:7) This probably refers to the destruction of the temple and of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 AD. There are good reasons to believe that St. Matthew’s Gospel was written before 70 AD and was the first gospel to be written. This statement was a prophesy of the Lord.
There is room at the Wedding Feast for many more so the king sends his servants to invite others to the wedding. “Go therefore to the streets and invite to the marriage feast as many as you find.” (Mt 22:9) As a result, the wedding hall was filled with guests. This refers to Church history and the Lord’s great commission to the Apostles. “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and behold, I am with you always, to the close of the age.” (Mt 28:19-20). The “servants” here are the apostles, evangelists, teachers, shepherds, and missionaries who have been spreading the Gospel for almost 2000 years. The Apostles and their successors were commanded to “baptize” all nations. They were to invite “all nations” to the Wedding Feast of the Lamb. The initial invitation to the people of Israel, those who were circumcised, was given only to one nation. Now everyone can receive an invitation to the wedding (be baptized). Thus, everyone who has a baptismal certificate has a real “hold in your hands” invitation to the wedding.
The parable ends with a warning to those who received a wedding invitation (were baptized). “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment; and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding a garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.” (Mt 22:11-14) These verses tell of a man who received an invitation to the wedding, and accepted the invitation, for he was in the wedding hall, and yet he was cast out into the “outer darkness”. Why? What is the “wedding garment”? The wedding in this parable was the wedding of the son of a king. Unlike the marriage feast in Cana, this was a wedding of the rich. The wedding garment was given to the people who were invited to the wedding. If our invitation to the wedding was our baptism, what do we receive when we are baptized? The church teaches, based on scripture, that we receive the Holy Spirit at our baptism. This is the “wedding garment”. How can we lose our wedding garment (the Holy Spirit)? We can lose the Holy Spirit when we commit willful serious sin (mortal sin). We have purposely driven Him out. Of course, if we repent through the Sacrament of Reconciliation (confession), then we are in what is called the state of grace and the Holy Spirit returns to us.
The man who was without a wedding garment was asked by the king “Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?” (Mt 22:12) Since the king called the man “friend”, this must mean that this man was baptized (invited to the wedding) and received a wedding garment (the Holy Spirit). Since this man was in the wedding hall, he was not one of those who ignored or rejected the wedding invitation for he came to the wedding. However, he had committed unrepented serious sin and therefore did not have the Holy Spirit living within him (the wedding garment). Next, we are told “And he was speechless.” (Mt 22:12) This man could give no explanation for his serious sin or sins at his particular judgement. Thus, he was cast out into the “outer darkness” which is the absence of God. There will be “weeping and gnashing of teeth” because those who are there will know fully the goodness, justice, mercy, and love of God and will know that they have freely rejected all this in favor of fleeting and defective earthly joys.
Some theologians have taught that a person cannot lose their salvation by committing individual serious sins. One has to make a “fundamental option” against God. One needs to totally reject God. A person cannot know for sure whether or not they have made a fundamental option against God. Yet the man in this parable was present in the wedding hall. He had not totally rejected God. He was a believer who attended Church and was called a Christian. Being a Christian is more than just believing. The Lord said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (Jn 14:15) We need to allow the Holy Spirit to continue to dwell in us by keeping the commandments and obeying the Holy Spirit.
This parable is one of many parables of the Lord which are in the gospels. St. Matthew’s gospel has 16 parables, St. Mark has 6, and St. Luke has 19. These parables teach us about God, the Kingdom of Heaven, or the Christian Life. The parable of the Wedding Feast particularly tells us about the Kingdom of Heaven and what we need to do to enter it. The first question is do we really want to attend this Feast? Do we have more important things to attend to? The Lord tells us that we need to make our life with God in prayer, penance, and conversion the priority in our life. There are many important things in our lives, but there is nothing more important than this. Also, are we ready to do what it takes to retain our wedding garment? Are we ready to obey the Commandments according to the teachings of the Church which the Lord founded? Are we willing to obey the promptings of the Holy Spirit dwelling within us? The answer to these questions determines whether we are inside or outside the Kingdom of Heaven for all eternity. –Jim Nugent, CFP
REFLECTIONS ON OUR RULE: THE SPIRIT OF POVERTY—HAPPY ARE YOU POOR: CHAPTER 4
PROBLEMS AND PRESUPPOSITIONS
Gospel poverty requires a real conversion, a 180-degree turn from worldliness, and we badly misunderstand the gospel and gospel poverty if we view it as nothing more than a simple humanistic concern for other people. In other words, Fr. Dubay says, feeling sorry doesn't cut it.
He ticks off nine presuppositions. I think it is worth taking each of these to prayer and to meditate upon them. In the first, he notes that our destiny is out of this world and says the New Testament promises that nothing compares with the advanced possession of God in deep prayer.
The second premise is that in this new era happiness is still not found in eating and drinking this or that but in personal goodness and in the peace and joy given by the Holy Spirit. (Romans 14:17) The New Testament assumes happiness is found not in things but in persons and especially in the Divine person,
The third proposition is that we are to be head over heels in love for God. People in love are not much concerned with things; they are person-oriented; a consumerist is not in love.
The fourth proposition is asceticism. A genteel, soft, comfortable existence is foreign to the New Testament because, for wounded men and women, it is foreign to being in love. That reminds me of one of my favorite YouTube videos, "gangsta gardener." At the end of his talk, in which he talks about raising vegetables to relieve food deserts in the 'hood, Ron Finlay says "If you want to talk with me don't invite me to some boardroom to sit around in soft, cushy, plush chairs "talking about [poverty]. Instead, grab your shovel and come down to the neighborhood and plant some [seeds]." I think that accurately sums up what Fr. Dubay is trying to suggest to us here. He then goes on to note St. Paul has the same message when he said only if we crucify all our self-indulgent desires can we belong to Jesus Christ.
The next premise goes hand-in-hand with the last one. We can't love both God and Mammon. We have to decide between money and God. For some of us, this is such a really tough decision. But any gospel teaching on the use of material things supposes that we are theists, that we've chosen God and are not compromisers.
The sixth presupposition is totality of pursuit. Nowhere in scripture are we asked for much or most or quite a bit. It's always All or Nothing. This premise of the totality of pursuit lies behind the radicality of the of the New Testament teaching on poverty that leads to Premise number 7 which is a consuming concern for the kingdom. He cites John 4:34: Things are not the main business of life, he says, which leads us to Premise No. 8 -- we're all strangers on Earth. We are nomads. We entered the world was nothing, we will leave with nothing. We are therefore to be content with mere necessities and then he says in this light -- and it takes us right straight to the CFP rule -- cosmetics and jewelry are seen to be poor substitutes for the real thing.
So, you see how this all starts to come together: the CFP rule says the sisters are not to use Cosmetics, and the brothers: we're not supposed to use aftershave. And none of us are to wear jewelry except for a simple cross and wedding ring. Cosmetics, aftershave, and jewelry don't substitute for the real thing.
The fact we are pilgrims supplies yet another presupposition: We're brothers and sisters to our fellow pilgrims and we are spontaneously, unquestionably supposed to share good things with them. St James, you will recall, says anyone who does not share his possessions is dead. You'll recall that famous line in James 2:14-17:
“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it?”
James then answers his own question: “So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, (faith) is dead.” – Joel Whitaker ,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!
NEW LIFE PLEDGED CFP MEMBER: MARY ANN SHANAHAN, CFP
The Confraternity of Penitents newest life pledged and privately vowed CFP Member, Mary Ann Shanahan, shown here holding her great granddaughter Katarina. Mary Ann took the privately vowed name of sr. Benedicta of the Agony. Please pray for Mary Ann as she has received a terminal diagnosis of cancer from two doctors who have given her a year to live. May God reward you for your prayers for her.
ANNUNCIATION WOMEN’S HOUSE
These two lovely young women recently spent time at Annunciation Women’s House and now have moved on to their vocations. Please hold them in prayer Alison( right) has entered religious life and Natalie (left) is now employed full time while she continues her discernment. What joy to have had them with us even if their time was brief!
I’m taking care of my procrastination issues. Just you wait and see.
Survival tip: If you get lost in the woods, start talking about politics and someone will show up to argue with you.
First day of med school on the blackboard: A patient cured is a customer lost.
You can’t get rich in politics unless you’re a crook. –President Harry S. Truman
I named my dog “6 Miles” so I can tell people I walk 5 Miles every day.
A clean house is the sign of a broken computer.
Part of the problem with the world is that no one snaps green beans with Grandma any more.
Never be a prisoner of your past. It was just a lesson, not a life sentence.
No one is going to stand up at your funeral and say, “She had a really expensive couch and nice shoes.” Don’t make your life about stuff.
HAPPENINGS AT CFP HEADQUARTERS IN FORT WAYNE, INDIANA
Here’s an update on what’s been happening at CFP Headquarters:
Eucharistic Miracles Exhibit: After participating in the Eucharistic Revival procession and festival on Corpus Christi in June, we had a summer hiatus regarding bringing the Eucharistic Miracles exhibit around the Diocese. With the start of school, that has changed. Five exhibitions are on the calendar from now until the end of 2022 with two more scheduled or proposed for 2023. The book Eucharistic Miracles of the World from the Vatican is available for $25 from the CFP Holy Angels Gift Shop and contains reproductions of all 180 posters in the exhibit (CFP Holy Angels Gift Shop, 1702 Lumbard Street, Fort Wayne IN 46803 USA. See also cfpholyangels.com) This price is cheaper than on Amazon.
Men’s and Women’s Discernment Houses: Annunciation Women’s House has sent two women off to their vocations over the summer (see photos elsewhere in the newsletter). The guest quarters have been busy with various guests including priests, nuns, and parents of nearby nuns.
Work is progressing slowly at Guadalupe Men’s House. Initial framing is being completed. A retired contractor has volunteered to make beautiful the Chapel of 1000 priests. At this point, about 80 priests are sponsored. See 1000priests.org to see how you or a group can sponsor a priest (living, deceased, or canonized) whose name will join the other priests honored in Mary, Mother of Priests Chapel.
CFP Headquarters: Over a two-week period, the Power Company removed, free of charge, 14 large pine trees that were impacting high voltage power lines and gave the CFP the mulch. They also ground down the stumps and paid the CFP a sum for the timber. On Saturday, September 17, the Knights of Columbus from Saint Charles Borromeo Church, Fort Wayne, is planning to spread the mulch over the mulch beds which need replenishing in Mary’s Glen. Some mulch will also be used at the men’s and women’s houses. The trees were extremely tall and posed a danger not only to the power lines but also, should they fall, to the house of the CFP Volunteer Coordinators. You can see the house through the trees to the left of the photo. The huge pines which you see running along the left of the road are the ones that the Power Company removed free of charge.
ALESSANDRO MINISTRY: HURRY UP...AND WAIT...
"Wait for the LORD, take courage, be stouthearted, wait for the LORD!" Psalm 27:14 (NAB)
For those of us who are incarcerated, life seems to be all about waiting. We find ourselves waiting for chow lines to be called from the unit, then waiting in line at the chow hall. We wait for medication lines to be called, then stand in line waiting for our turn to get our medication We wait for store lines to be called, then wait in line to pick up our items.
While these are challenging situations for those of us in prison, the most difficult wait of all is freedom from this prison life - being set free from captivity. Waiting for chow or store is one thing, but what about our release? Until then, how do we deal with these emotions that can steal our peace? King David understood that God would provide victory for him over his adversaries, those who threatened his peace: "Though war be waged against me, even then do I trust." (v. 3) Like David, we can turn to the Lord when we are feeling anxious or impatient.
The prophet Habakkuk struggled with the tyranny of injustice in Judean society and the violence of the Chaldeans around him, at one point saying, "How long O Lord, must I cry for help and you do not listen?" (Habakkuk 1:2). When we get impatient with our prison life, we can take a cue from the prophet and "keep watch to see what [the Lord] will say" (2:2). God assures Habakkuk that Israel will be delivered, saying that his "testimony...will not disappoint. If it delays, wait for it, it will surely come" (2:3). The prophet Micah also understood what it meant to deal with rejection and injustice. Seemingly alone during the Babylonian exile, he remains faithful to his calling, and confident in God's plans for his future, saying "But as for me, I will look to the LORD, I will wait for God my savior, my God will hear me!" (Micah 7:7).
We have a Savior in Jesus who understands this so well. How long he knew the death he would undergo and the suffering that came with it! Yet, as he awaited his execution the night before, praying in Gethsemane, he expressed human anxiety, then accepted his situation, saying "Abba, Father, all things are possible to you. Take this cup away from me, but not what I will but you will" (Mark 14:36).
Can we yoke ourselves to the one who patiently endured suffering and death, yet emerged victorious? When we find ourselves in waiting and impatient, let us turn to our Lord Jesus for the grace to endure. Whether it's waiting for the doors of the cell to be open or for freedom from the bondage of prison life, Jesus offers us the Holy Spirit to fill us with his longsuffering. May we "live in a manner worthy of the Lord...strengthened with every power, in accord with his glorious might, for all endurance and patience, with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has made [us] worthy to share the inheritance of the holy ones in light" (Colossians 1:10-12). –Anthony LaCalamita, CFP, Alessandro Prison Ministry