Confraternity of Penitents Newsletter
SPIRITUAL GUARDIAN’S REFLECTION: SERIES ON SAINT FRANCIS’ WRITINGS ON THE EUCHARIST
In response to the Eucharistic Revival called for by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, our Spiritual Guardian Fr. Joseph Tuscan recommended that we share, in several issues of the newsletter, Saint Francis’ words on the Eucharist. This reflection is the last in this series.
All excerpts are from Francis of Assisi: Early Documents—The Saint (Volume 1) (FA-ED, vol. 1). Edited by Regis Armstrong, OFM Cap, JA Wayne Hellmann, OFM Conv, William J. Short, OFM. New York: New City Press, 1999.
Excerpt from: The Testament FA:ED, vol. 1, page 125:
Afterwards the Lord gave me, and gives me still, such faith in priests who live according to the rite of the holy Roman Church because of their orders that, were they to persecute me, I would still want to have recourse to them. And if I had as much wisdom as Solomon [1 Kgs 4:30-31] and found impoverished priests of this world, I would not preach in their parishes against their will. And I desire to respect, love and honor them and all others as my lords. And I do not want to consider any sin in them because I discern the Son of God in them and they are my lords. And I act in this way because, in this world, I see nothing corporally of the most high Son of God except His most holy Body and Blood which they receive and they alone administer to others. I want to have these most holy mysteries honored and venerated above all things and I want to reserve them in precious places. Wherever I find our Lord’s most holy names and written words in unbecoming places, I want to gather them up and I beg that they be gathered up and placed in a becoming place. And we must honor all theologians and those who minister the most holy divine words and respect them as those who minister to us spirit and life [Jn 6:63].
Excerpt from: A Prayer Inspired by the Our Father FA:ED, vol. 1, page 159
Give us this day [Mt 6:11]: in remembrance, understanding, and reverence of that love which [our Lord Jesus Christ] had for us and of those things that He said and did and suffered for us. our daily Bread [Mt 6:11]: Your own beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Reread Francis’ words from the Testament. These are the final words he left to his brothers and to the entire world. Let’s have a quiz.
Francis has such faith in ___________. This faith extends even to their persecuting him, in which case he would _________________________________________.
Would Francis disobey a priest who did not want him to preach?_______
Francis desired to respect, love, and honor priests, and refused to consider sin in them for what reason:____________________________________________________________________________
List at least 3 ways Francis reverences the Eucharist:
Why does Francis reverence theologians?___________________________________________
In the Our Father, what does “our daily Bread” mean to Francis?_________________________
NO GREATER LOVE: THE TIMES OF THE GENTILES
As we all know, there are many people who do not believe that Jesus Christ was the Son of God and the Savior of the world. Why? We can find one reason in the book of Isaiah. “A shoot springs from the stock of Jesse, a scion thrusts from his roots: on him the spirit of Yahweh rests, a spirit of wisdom and insight, a spirit of council and power, a spirit of knowledge and of the fear of Yahweh. (The fear of Yahweh is his breath.) He does not judge by appearances, he gives no verdict on hearsay, but judges the wretched with integrity, and with equity gives a verdict for the poor of the land. His word is a rod that strikes the ruthless, his sentences bring death to the wicked. Integrity is the loincloth round his waist, faithfulness the belt about his hips. The wolf lives with the lamb, the panther lies down with the kid, calf and lion cub feed together with a little boy to lead them. The cow and the bear make friends, their young lie down together. The lion eats straw like the ox. The infant plays over the cobra’s hole; into the viper’s lair the young child puts his hand. They do no hurt, no harm, on all my holy mountain, for the country is filled with the knowledge of Yahweh as the waters swell the sea.” (Is 11:1-9)
Christians apply this prophecy to Jesus Christ, yet the world of peace, joy, and freedom from evil described by Isaiah is not what we experience now. We can find the answer to this issue in the words of Jesus. First, evil must be separated from good. “For the hour is coming when the dead will leave their graves at the sound of his voice: those who did good will rise again to life; and those who did evil, to condemnation.” (Jn 5:28-29) “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, escorted by all the angels, then he will take his seat on his throne of glory. All the nations will be assembled before him, and he will separate men one from another as the shepherd separates sheep from goats.” (Mt 25:31-32) “Again, the kingdom of heaven, is like a dragnet cast into the sea that brings in a haul of all kinds. When it is full, the fishermen haul it ashore; then sitting down, they collect the good ones in a basket and throw away those that are no use. This is how it will be at the end of time: the angels will appear and separate the wicked from the just to throw them into the blazing furnace where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.” (Mt 13:47-50) When will this great separation take place? Jesus refuses to tell us. “But as for that day and hour, nobody knows it, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, no one but the Father only.” (Mt 24:36)
In Volume II of Jesus of Nazareth, Pope Benedict discusses what must take place before the great separation of good from evil, the times of the Gentiles. Here, Pope Benedict is discussing the connection between the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD and the coming of the Son of Man in power and glory to separate the just from the damned. On first glance, it seems that Luke was the only one to downplay this connection. In his account we read: "They will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led captive among all nations; and Jerusalem will be trodden down by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled" (21:24). Between the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the world, "the times of the Gentiles" are here inserted. Luke has been accused of thereby shifting the temporal axis of the Gospels and of Jesus' original message, recasting the end of time as the intermediate time and, thus, inventing the time of the Church ·as a new phase of salvation history. But if we look closely, we find that these "times of the Gentiles" are also foretold, in different terms and at a different point, in the versions of Jesus' discourse recounted by Matthew and Mark.
Matthew quotes the following saying of Jesus: "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, as a testimony to all nations; and then the end will come''. (24:14). And in Mark we read: "The gospel must first be preached to all nations" (13:10). Much must take place before the beautiful time of universal peace and justice envisioned by Isaiah. After the Lord had risen from the dead and was about to ascend back to the Father, He did not tell his Apostles to sit around and wait for Him to return to destroy the wicked and bring about a world of peace, prosperity, and love. Instead, He commanded them: “All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me. 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 28:18-20)
We are now in the “age” when the Lord’s command to His Apostles is being fulfilled but not yet totally fulfilled. They are to make disciples of all “nations”. Everyone has to have the opportunity to accept or reject the Lord. The Lord knew that the task He was giving to the Apostles was impossible for them to execute on their own. That is why He promised them that He would be with them “to the close of the age”, until the end of the “times of the Gentiles”.
In the epilogue of Jesus of Nazareth, Pope Benedict quotes Saint Bernard of Clairvaux who tells of three comings of Jesus Christ. The first is in the weakness of human flesh where he could be spat upon, scourged, and rejected. The second coming is when He comes as the Son of Man in power and glory where even those who reject Him will have to worship Him. Between these two comings is the “times of the Gentiles” where He comes in the spirit and in power through Word and Sacrament as mediated by the Church. We can accept Him, but we still have the freedom to reject Him.
In 2017, Pope Benedict, as pope emeritus, wrote an article called “Grace and Vocation without Remorse: Comments on the treatise De Judaeis”. Here, Pope Benedict sums up the “times of the Gentiles” for us. In summary, we can say that the whole story of Jesus, as the New Testament records it---the account of the temptations to the story of Emmaus---shows that the time of Jesus, the "time of the Gentiles", is not the time of a cosmic transformation in which the final decisions between God and man are already made, but rather a time of freedom. In this time, God encounters man through the crucified love of Jesus Christ in order to gather them in a free Yes to the kingdom of God. It is the time of freedom, which also means a time in which evil still has power. God's power throughout this time is also a power of patience and of love, against which the power of evil is still active. It is a time of God's patience, which to us seems exaggeratedly excessive---a time of the victory of love and truth but also a time of their defeats. The ancient Church summed up the essence of this time in the saying "Regnavit a ligno Deus" (God reigned from a tree).
In journeying with Jesus like the Emmaus disciples, the Church learns to read the Old Testament with him and thus to understand it in a new way. She learns to recognize that this is precisely what was predicted about the "Messiah", and in the dialogue with the Jews she must continually seek to show that all this happens "according to the Scriptures". For this reason, spiritual theology has always emphasized that the time of the Church does not mean, for example, having arrived in paradise but that the whole world corresponds to the forty years of Israel's exodus. It is the path of those who are liberated. In the wilderness, Israel was repeatedly reminded that its wandering was the result of its liberation from the bondage of Egypt; wayfaring Israel constantly wished to return to Egypt, failing to recognize the good of freedom as a good. The same is true of Christianity on its Exodus journey: again and again, it becomes difficult for men to recognize the mystery of liberation and freedom as a gift of redemption, and they desire to return to the condition before their liberation. Through the mercies of God, nevertheless, they can also learn constantly that freedom is the great gift that leads to true life.
Israel was not “in paradise” while wandering in desert. She was free to worship God which was a freedom she did not have while in bondage in Egypt. In the desert, Israel was free to choose to worship God or reject Him. She could choose between Good and Evil. The Mosaic Law, given in the desert, made it clear that she could not decide what is good and what is evil. That was the proposition given to Adam and Eve by the serpent, which enslaved all mankind to sin since they accepted the proposition. We are still in the desert. Jesus freed us from sin through His death on the cross by the graces He gives us through Word and Sacrament, as mediated by the Church. However, the proposition of the serpent, that we can decide for ourselves what is good and what is evil, still beckons us. May we be found fit to reside on God’s “holy mountain” as envisioned by the prophet Isaiah so many centuries ago. –Jim Nugent, CfP
CFP PHOTO ALBUM: KAREN SZCZEROWSKI, SFO, CfP ASSOCIATE: REST IN PEACE
As early as 1999, Karen Szczerowski was one of the first to enter formation in living the original rule for the laity, the Rule of 1221. She was a member of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Chapter in Howell, Michigan USA, and completed formation in our lifestyle. When the Secular Franciscan Order deemed that their members could not also profess to another Third Order Rule (a stipulation in canon law), Karen chose to remain a Secular Franciscan and become an Associate. And so she remained an Associate of the CfP until her death on September 20. She was 81 years old. Dear sister, rest in peace. Pray for us!
WORK CONTINUES AT GUADALUPE MEN'S VITA DEI HOUSE
God bless these men and three others not pictured here who have been working tirelessly to ready Guadalupe Men's Vita Dei House for residency. It is impossible to adequately thank them for all they are doing.
· Beware of a new Amazon scam. My husband ordered me some expensive jewelry, but motorcycle parts came instead. Thankfully, they fit his bike. . .
· Last year I joined a support group for antisocial people. We haven’t met yet.
· I may not have lost all my marbles yet, but there’s a small hole in the bag somewhere.
· I’ve found marriage to be very educational. For example, I never knew there was a right way to put milk in the fridge.
· Women spend more time wondering what men are thinking than men actually spend thinking.
· Do women ever sit back and think, “My man sure knows a lot. Maybe I should sit back and listen to him.”
· There is a major difference between intelligence and stupidity. Intelligence has its limits –Albert Einstein
· Don’t blame a clown for acting like a clown. Blame yourself for going to the circus.
· Complaining about a problem without posing a solution is called whining. –Teddy Roosevelt
EARLY HISTORY OF CATHOLICISM IN THE UNITED STATES
In 1634, two ships, the Ark and the Dove, brought to the shores of Maryland several hundred Catholics fleeing the persecution of England. They had been preceded by Calvinists who settled in New England (later called the Puritans), the Dutch who settled in New York and the Swedes who settled in Delaware. In some places in what would become the United States, religious persecution among sects was, sadly, commonplace. Some colonies established an official church, which was financially supported by taxes.
Maryland was founded aa a colony by George Calvert, the first Lord Baltimore, who was a talented English business leader and a friend to Kings James I and Charles I. In 1624, Calvert converted to Catholicism, a decision which cost him his seat in Parliament and his state office, but his winning personality allowed him to retain favor the royal court. Because of the widespread antipathy against Catholicism in England. Lord Baltimore directed that on the voyage to Maryland, “all acts of Roman Catholic religion be done as privately as may be, and that … all Roman Catholics to be silent upon all occasions of discourse concerning matters of religion.” He also directed governors and commissioners of Maryland to treat all Protestants with as much mildness as justice will permit.
In effect, before Roger Williams had even fled the intolerant atmosphere of Massachusetts and set up Rhode Island as a haven from the Puritans, Calvert had established Maryland as a place where people of all faiths were welcome.
By 1704, Catholic clergy were prohibited from proselytizing or baptizing any person other than those with “Popish Parents.” Another statute prohibited Catholics from practicing law and teaching children. Catholics were stripped of their right to vote because all voters were required to take various test oaths that included anti-Catholic declarations.
Unable to vote, practice law or hold public office, Catholics did what they were permitted to do: make money. Some made lots of money. Charles Carroll of Carrolton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, owned a 10,000-acre plantation near Frederick, Maryland. He was one of four Marylanders to sign the Declaration of Independence, and by outliving John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, both of whom died in 1804, was the last survivor of the 56 signers, dying in 1832 at 96 years.
His cousin, John Carroll, was the first Roman Catholic bishop in the U.S. Carroll built the first U.S. Cathedral, established Georgetown University, Mount St. Mary’s University, and several other educational institutions. He confirmed Elizabeth Ann Seton upon her conversion in New York, a move which resulted in her being shut out of New York society. She moved initially to Baltimore, where Bishop Carroll was essentially her spiritual director, a relationship that continued as Mother Seton moved to Emmittsburg, Md., where she established the Sisters of Charity. He received her vows but required her not to make a full vow of poverty so that she could care for her five children.
Unlike in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, you won’t find the word “religion” anywhere in the Declaration of Independence. But Thomas Jefferson, its author, was a Natural Law thinker. In its ringing declaration of the right of individuals to enjoy “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” Jefferson made a religious statement. Jefferson, like other political thinkers of his time, was heavily influenced by the religious wars that had ravaged Europe in the 16th and 17th Centuries. At some point, it became apparent that government could not and should not control people’s beliefs. In 1777, Jefferson wrote “Statutes for Religious Freedom” of the Commonwealth of Virginia.
John Adams suggested that it wasn’t just taxation without representation that was a leading cause of the American Revolution, but also the possibility of English bishops coming to the English Colonies, which he feared would open the floodgates of religious repression.
Since 1776, religious freedom has had its high points in the U.S. and its low points, such as when states passed laws prohibiting state support for Catholic schools. In the last three decades, it seems that atheism has been ascendant. (I believe that atheism, like Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, etc., is a form of religion. The fact it denies the existence of God doesn’t dilute its religious nature.)
In the last couple of years, and especially this year, the U.S. Supreme Court has issued several decisions, the practical effect of which is to insure that the “separation of church and state” is in fact separation, not repression of either a religious body or of its practitioners. –Joel Whitaker, CfP
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