Confraternity of Penitents Newsletter -- November 2023
MY RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD
My relationship with God has too often been Him pursuing and either me hiding or running the other way. At a certain point, I’ve grown tired of running. Doesn’t man I’m not like a wounded animal though. He puts me up on the table to heal me, and my instinct is still too often to flinch away, to snarl and kick. Mentally I know I can trust Him. My heart says I can.
I have come to see Christ’s love as irresistible. There is no length I can go to where He will not pursue. I pray daily that He becomes the love my life. I cannot make it without Him and I will not be able to make it without loving Him a whole lot more than I do. – Robert Messer, CfP Postulant
INSIGHTS ON PAIN AND SUFFERING
Being ill can bring one away from God to look at oneself. Pain and suffering, unless exhorted by fellow brothers and sisters, is lonely, and one may feel abandoned, looking at themselves in self-pity or, worse yet, blaming the Lord. This introspection causes us to forget that suffering is God's plan for us all to grow in holiness. Brothers and sisters are to help keep this truth at the forefront of our fellow brothers and sisters, exhorting them to remember their commitment and promises to God to continue in the way of penitence, reminding them that suffering is one of the privileged ways to do penance if one is doing it for the glory of God. John Kolmos, CfP Postulant
SPIRITUAL GUARDIAN’S REFLECTION: HOLINESS DEMANDS A CONSTANT EFFORT
Fr. Joseph Tuscan, OFM Cap, asked us to reprint this homily by Pope Benedict XVI in this newsletter:
"Holiness Demands a Constant Effort"
VATICAN CITY, NOV. 6, 2006 (Zenit) - Here is a translation of the homily Pope Benedict XVI gave during the Mass he presided over in St. Peter's Basilica Wednesday, the solemnity of All Saints.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Our Eucharistic celebration opened today with the exhortation "Let us rejoice in the Lord." The liturgy invites us to share the heavenly jubilation of the saints, to taste the joy. The saints are not a restricted caste of elect but a crowd without number toward which, today, the liturgy exhorts us to lift our eyes.
Among this multitude are not only the officially recognized saints but the baptized of every age and nation who have sought to accomplish the divine will with love and fidelity. Many there are whose faces and names we do not know but with the eyes of faith we see them shine like stars full of glory in the divine firmament.
Today the Church celebrates her dignity as "mother of the saints, image of the eternal city" (Alessandro Manzoni), and manifests her beauty as immaculate bride of Christ, the source and exemplar of all holiness. She does not lack for riotous and indeed rebellious children, but it is in the saints that she recognizes her characteristic traits and precisely in them she savors her deepest joy.
In the first reading the author of the Apocalypse describes "a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people and tongue" (Revelation 7:9). This people comprises the saints of the Old Testament, beginning with Abel the just and the patriarch Abraham, and then those of the New Testament, the many martyrs at the beginning of Christianity, the blessed and the saints of the ages that followed, and finally the witnesses of Christ in our own time. What was common to them was the will to incarnate the Gospel in their existence through the impulse of the Holy Spirit, who is the eternal giver of life of the people of God.
But "of what use is our praise of the saints, our tribute of glory, our solemnity that we celebrate?" A famous homily of St. Bernard for the feast of All Saints begins with this question. It is a question that we could ask ourselves even today. The reply that St. Bernard gives is also pertinent to us: "Our saints," he says, "have no need of our honors and they gain nothing from our commemoration. For myself, I must confess, that when I think of the saints, I feel enflamed by great desires" (Homily 2, "Opera Omnia," ed. Cisterc, 5, 364 ff.).
Behold the meaning of today's solemnity: Gazing upon the luminous example of the saints the great desire to be like the saints is awakened in us; happy to live near to God, in his light, in the great family of the friends of God. Being a saint means living close to God, living in his family. And this is the vocation of all of us, vigorously reaffirmed by the Second Vatican Council, and on this day brought to our attention in a solemn way.
But how can we become saints, friends of God? An initial response to this question is this: To be saints it is not necessary to perform extraordinary deeds and works, nor is it necessary to possess exceptional charisms. But this only tells us what sainthood is not. The positive answer is that to become a saint it is above all necessary to listen to Jesus and then to follow him and not lose heart in the face of difficulties.
"If anyone wants to serve me," he says, "he must follow me, and where I am there also is my servant. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him" (John 12:26). Whoever entrusts himself to him and loves him with sincerity, will die to himself as the grain of wheat buried in the earth.
He knows in fact that whoever tries to keep his life for himself will lose it and whoever gives his life, in this way, finds life (cf. John 12:24-25). The experience of the Church demonstrates that, although they take different paths, all forms of holiness must always pass through the way of the cross, the way of self-denial.
The biographies of the saints depict men and women who, always docile to divine designs, sometimes endured indescribable sufferings, persecutions and martyrdom. They persevered in their task. "These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress," we read in the Book of Revelation, "they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb" (7:14).
Their names are written in the book of life (cf. Revelation 20:12); paradise is their eternal abode. The example of the saints encourages us to follow in their footsteps, to experience the joy of those who entrust themselves to God, because the only cause of sadness is to live far from him.
Holiness demands a constant effort but it is possible for all since it is not just the work of man but is above all a gift of God, who is thrice holy (cf. Isaiah 6:3). In the second reading the Apostle John observes: "See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are" (1 John 3:1).
It is God therefore who loved us first and in Jesus he has made us adoptive sons. In our life all is a gift of his love. How is it possible to remain indifferent before so great a mystery? How is it possible to not respond to the love of the heavenly Father by leading a life of grateful children?
In Christ he has given himself entirely to us and has called us to a personal and profound relationship with him. Thus, the more we imitate Christ and remain united to him, the more we enter into the mystery of divine holiness. We discover that we are infinitely loved by him and this moves us to love our brothers. Loving always means an act of self-denial, "losing oneself," and it is in this way that we become happy.
We therefore arrive at the Gospel of this feast, the proclamation of the beatitudes that a short while ago we heard echo through this basilica.
Jesus says: Blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are the afflicted, the meek, blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice, the merciful, blessed are the pure of heart, the peacemakers, the persecuted for the sake of justice (cf. Matthew 5:3-10).
In truth, the blessed par excellence is only him, Jesus. Indeed, he is the truly poor in spirit, the afflicted, the meek one, the one hungering and thirsting for justice, the merciful, the pure of heart, the peacemaker; he is the one persecuted for the sake of justice.
The beatitudes show us the spiritual physiognomy of Jesus and thus express his mystery, the mystery of death and resurrection, of the passion and the joy of the resurrection. This mystery, which is the mystery of true blessedness, invites us to follow Jesus and thus the way to happiness.
In the measure that we accept his proposal and follow him -- everyone according to his own circumstances -- we too can participate in his beatitude. With him the impossible becomes possible and in the end the camel passes through the eye of needle (cf. Mark 10:25); with his help, only with his help, we are able to become perfect as the heavenly Father is perfect (cf. Matthew 5:48).
Dear brothers and sisters, we now enter into the heart of the Eucharistic celebration, the stimulus and nourishment of holiness. In a short while Christ will become present in a higher way, he who is the true vine to which are united, as branches, the faithful on earth and the saints in heaven.
The communion of the pilgrim Church in the world with the Church triumphant in glory will be strengthened. In the Preface we will proclaim that the saints are for us friends and models of life. We will ask them that they help us to imitate them and to undertake to respond with generosity to the divine call as they did. We will especially call upon Mary, the mother of the Lord and mirror of sanctity. May she, the all-holy one, make us faithful disciples of her son Jesus Christ! Amen.
REFLECTION ON THE MUSTARD SEED
This year I canned Bread and Butter Pickles. I used an Amish recipe, cut back on the sugar and added some heat to the brine. They came out crunchy and delicious.
One of the ingredients was mustard seeds. Tiny yellow seeds that pack a whole lot of flavor. That is how much faith Our Lord told us we must have to move mountains or transplant a Mulberry bush. Faith as big as a speck. A seed.
I can’t walk very well and have a lot of pain in my legs from inflammation. I’ve been to doctors, take medicine and pray for healing. To be healed we have to have faith. It is only a test. My body is going to respond to an anti-inflammatory diet and medication. Soon I’ll be able to stand, kneel and walk without pain. I hold in my hand that tiny mustard seed and have faith. That’s all we can do is just have faith as a mustard seed. –Sandi Wilde, CfP Postulant
HUMOR: DOOR SIGNS
Push to open. If that does not work, pull. If both do not work, try the actual entrance to your left.
No need to knock We know you’re here. –The Dogs
NO GREATER LOVE: THE COMING OF THE SON OF MAN
In the three Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), Jesus describes His Coming, not as a Jewish carpenter’s son, but as the triumphal “Son of Man”. (Mt 24, Mk 13, Lk 21:5-38) This “coming”, however, is preceded by two destructions. The first destruction is the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple which was destroyed by Roman armies in 70 AD less than forty years after the Lord’s crucifixion and resurrection. More than just a building was destroyed. According to the notes by Scot Hahn and Curtis Mitch in the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible the temple was not just a place of worship; it was a miniature copy or microcosm of the whole world, the world where God dwells. In the same way, the entire universe is God’s macro temple where He dwells with us. While the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple was not the end of the world, it does prefigure the second destruction, the end of the world. The Temple was the place where Jews encountered God. For example, Psalm 42:2, which is the prayer of a Levite exiled from the Temple, states “My soul thirsts for God, the God of life; when shall I go to see the face of God?” When the Lord spoke of the temple’s demise (Mt 24:1-2, Mk 13:1-2, Lk 21:5-6), this was surely a shock to those who heard him. The Apostles and the other disciples who followed the Lord would certainly wonder how it is possible to encounter God if there were no Temple.
When the Lord spoke of the demise of the Temple, He not only told them what was going to happen; He also told them how to deal with it. He told them to flee the Temple and Jerusalem. (Mt 24:15-18, Mk 13:14-16, Lk 21:20-22) According to historians, even before the Romans besieged Jerusalem in 66 AD, the Christians there left and went to Pella, on the other side of the Jordan River. By that time, some form of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke was already available. They knew that they did not need the Jerusalem Temple and the Temple sacrifices to encounter God. God was with them in a real and physical sense in the Eucharist. Especially for Christians who had been Jews, the “old world” of Jewish laws and ceremonies was replaced by the new life in Christ. Of course, the religious world of Jews changed in 70 AD also for them, since Judaism became centered around the synagogues since the Temple no longer existed. While Jesus did not bring about the destruction of the Temple, He did predict it. In His discourses about what was coming, He was certainly speaking to people living at that time and in the decades up to the destruction of the Temple, but He is also speaking to us.
What was He saying to us? Our lives can be divided into three times. The first time is our life is here and now in our physical bodies. St. Paul tells us that each of us consists of three parts, spirit, soul, and body. (1 Th 5:23) The second time is when our bodies die, and we are in Hades (the abode of the dead) where we undergo our particular judgement. The third time is our resurrection at the end of the world when our bodies are reunited with our spirits. This is the time of our eternal dwelling with God or our eternal separation from God according to our particular judgement. The coming of the Son of Man is the time of the separation of the “sheep” from the “goats”. (Mt 25:31-32) Whether we are numbered among the “sheep” or the “goats” depends on what we do now. It does not matter whether we lived in the early centuries of the Church, the Middle Ages, the Reformation, or modern times. The Lord is telling us here and now that we must “watch”. “But of that day or that hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Watch therefore---for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow or in the morning---lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. What I say to you I say to all: Watch.” (Mk 13:32-37) The times of the day probably refers to the times in our lives, youth, maturity, or old age. We must continually maintain our relationship with God and do what He commands us. We must not be “asleep” in lukewarmness or serious sin. All three Synoptic Gospels have the Lord exhorting us to watchfulness. (Mt 24:36-44, Mk 13:32-37, Lk 21:34-36)
If we have been faithful to the Lord in whatever time or place where we have been placed, then our time in Hades (the abode of the dead) will be peaceful for we can look forward to our resurrection as one of the “sheep”. In the book of Wisdom we read, “But the souls of the virtuous are in the hands of God, no torment shall ever touch them. In the eyes of the unwise, they did appear to die, their going looked like a disaster, their leaving us, like annihilation; but they are in peace.” (Ws 3:1-3) In earlier times passages like this one were very consoling. Now, however, many people, while recognizing the reality of death, do not think that it is something we need to prepare for. That is being morbid, they think. Either everyone dies into a blissful “spiritual peace” or else we are annihilated. We should lead a “good life”, these people say, but we are determine what being “good” means. However, that is the Lord’s teaching. Even before His teaching on watchfulness, the Lord gives many teachings and parables on how to prepare for our resurrection at His coming. For example, we have the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5:1-7:39, the Sermon on the Plain (Lk 6:17-49), the rich man and Lazarus Lk 16:19-31), the rich fool (Lk 12:16-21), the unforgiving servant (Mt 18:23-35), and many others.
For what are we preparing? We are preparing for the coming of the Son of Man. “And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and upon the earth distress of nations in perplexity of the roaring of the seas and the waves, men fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, look up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” (Luke Lk 21:25-28, also described in Mk 13:24-27, Mt 24:29-31) These three descriptions of the end of the world differ in the cosmic upheavals which herald it, but they are all focused on Jesus Christ. In Jesus of Nazareth, Pope Benedict notes that the Lord’s descriptions of the end are drawn from several Old Testament prophets. The Lord is focusing the Old Testament prophesies about the end of the world on Himself. The end of the world is not about cosmic upheavals; it is about Him. Pope Benedict tells us: we can understand the significance of Jesus choosing not to offer a description of the end of the world, but rather to proclaim it using words already found in the Old Testament. Speaking about things to come, using words from the past, strips these discourses of any temporal frame of reference. What we have here is not a newly formulated account of the future, such as one might expect from a clairvoyant, but a realignment of our perspective on the future within the previously given word of God, manifesting both the perennial validity and the open potentialities of that word. It becomes clear that the word of God from the past illumines the essential meaning of the future. Yet it does not offer us a description of that future: rather it shows us, just for today, the right path for now and for tomorrow.
Jesus' apocalyptic words have nothing to do with clairvoyance. Indeed, they are intended to deter us from mere superficial curiosity about observable phenomena (cf. Lk 17:20) and to lead us toward the essential: toward life built upon the word of God that Jesus gives us; toward an encounter with him, the living Word; toward responsibility before the Judge of the living and the dead. What matters for us is not what exactly is to happen or when it is to happen, but rather are we prepared for it.
In the Book of Revelation, we read: “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband; and I heard a great voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them, he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.’” (Rev 21:1-4) Later we read: “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and fornicators and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.” (Rev 22:14-15) We are preparing for this final scenario. –Jim Nugent , CfP
CFP PHOTO ALBUM: LIFE PLEDGE BEN AND KRISTEN RINALDO
At CfP Retreat 2023, having successfully completed four years of formation and three additional lessons prior to pledging, Ben and Kristen Rinaldo (holding folders) of Fort Wayne, Indiana, USA, pledged to live the CfP Rule and Constitutions for life. Ben and Kristen are parents to two young girls and are active in not only the Confraternity but also in their parish and parish school. Welcome, Ben and Kristen!
PEWS AND ALTAR DELIVERED TO CHAPEL OF 1000 PRIESTS
This smiling crew delivered pews and altar to the Chapel of 1000 Priests at Guadalupe Men’s Vita Dei House. The move in was made by Knights of Columbus Council 451, residents of Guadalupe Vita Dei House, and Bob Current and grandson who hand crafted these pews from ones no longer being used at St. Charles Borromeo Church in Fort Wayne IN and Victory Noll sisters in Huntington IN. There’s more to be done in this chapel, but this is a great start. Note, too, that flooring has been installed, as the gift of a wonderful benefactor. May God bless everyone working so hard to make this chapel a reverent place for prayer and worship.
Sponsor a priest for this chapel at 1000priests.org
REFLECTION ON JESUS FEEDING THE 5,000
I always marvel how lovingly Jesus cares for us. There were times when we, as God’s children, do not have the money to buy food but most can truthfully say they never went hungry. Somehow God can take what little food we have and make it last.
Then there is what Our Lord multiplied, with 5 loves and 2 fish. What would people say today? “I don’t eat bread.” “Bread is the Devil.” “I’m on a gluten free diet.” “Was that bread Keto friendly?”
Jesus is the bread of life. He broke bread and said, “This is my body.” We pray “Give us this day our daily bread.” If we think about it, bread nourishes our body; the bread that becomes the Eucharist nourishes our soul.
Bread and water can sustain life. St John of the Cross was fed bread and water when he was held captive by his brothers at the monastery. Bread fills us up, rounds out and stretches a meal. Bread and fish (that nutritionists say is full of mercury) is what our Lord had to work with to feed 5,000.
The point is to trust Our Lord that He will feed our body as well as our soul. He can feed a multitude. He can feed us and our families. God does provide. He provides for us spiritually and physically.
Jesus is the bread who came down from heaven. He is the Bread of Life. Sandi Wilde, CfP Postulant
THE FAST OF SAINT MARTIN IN THE CFP RULE
Our CFP Rule and Constitutions state:
RULE: Section 9
9. They are to fast daily, except on account of infirmity or any other need, throughout the fast of St. Martin from after said day until Christmas, and throughout the greater fast from Carnival Sunday until Easter.
CONSTITUTIONS: SECTION 9
a. Penitents are to observe a pre-Christmas fast from November 12, the day after the Feast of St. Martin, until Christmas and a pre-Easter fast from Ash Wednesday until Easter.
WHO IS TO OBSERVE THIS PART OF THE RULE?
Those who have completed their tenth lesson of their second Novice year are to observe this part of the CFP Rule unless dispensed from doing so by their spiritual directors. The fast is to be followed according to the guidelines in the CFP Rule, enumerated in Chapters II and III of the CFP Rule and Constitutions and in Appendix A of the Constitutions.
All other penitents, who have not yet completed Lesson 10 of their second Novice year, could also embrace some sort of penance during the Fast of Saint Martin, to keep the spirit of the Pre-Christmas Fast. Some suggestions might be to give up sweets during the Fast of Saint Martin or to pray a decade of the Rosary daily for the intentions of the Holy Father. Those wishing to observe the Fast, yet not yet obligated to do so, could discuss possible penances with their spiritual directors and/or their Regional Ministers.
WHO WAS SAINT MARTIN OF TOURS?
Saint Martin was a holy, medieval bishop buried on November 11 in Tours, France. November 11 is honored as his feast day. The Fast of St. Martin begins on November 12 and lasts until Christmas. It is a time of prayer and self denial to help the penitent grow closer to God through love and sacrifice.