Confraternity of Penitents Newsletter September 2023
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 continues 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: A Letter to the Entire Order FA:ED, vol. 1, pages 117-119
Kissing your feet, therefore, and with all that love of which I am capable I implore all of you brothers to show all possible reverence and honor to the most holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ in Whom that which is in heaven and on earth has been brought to peace and reconciled to almighty God.
I also beg in the Lord all my brothers who are priests, or who will be, or who wish to be priests of the Most High that whenever they wish to celebrate Mass, being pure, they offer the true Sacrifice of the most holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ with purity and reverence, with a holy and unblemished intention, not for any worldly reason or out of fear or love of anyone, as if they were pleasing people. But let all their will, as much as grace helps, be directed to God, desiring, thereby, to please only the Most High Lord Himself because He alone acts there as He pleases, for He Himself says: Do this in memory of me [Lk 22:19; 1 Cor 11:24].If anyone acts differently, he becomes Judas the traitor and guilty of the Body and Blood of the Lord [1 Cor 11:27].
My priest brothers, remember what is written in the law of Moses: whoever committed a transgression against even externals died without mercy by a decree of the Lord. How much greater [Heb 10:28] and more severe will the punishment be of the one who tramples on the Son of God, and who treats the Blood of the Covenant in which he was sanctified as unclean and who insults the Spirit of grace [Heb 10:29]? For a person looks down upon, defiles and tramples upon the Lamb of God when, as the Apostle says, not distinguishing and discerning the holy bread of Christ from other foods or actions, he either unworthily or, even if he is worthy, eats It in vain and unworthily since the Lord says through the prophet: The person is cursed who does the work of the Lord deceitfully [Jer 48:10]. He will, in truth, condemn priests who do not wish to take this to heart, saying: I will curse your blessings [Mal 2:2].
Listen, my brothers: If the Blessed Virgin is so honored, as is becoming, because she carried Him in her most holy womb; if the Baptist trembled and did not dare to touch the holy head of God; if the tomb in which He lay for some time is held in veneration, how holy, just and fitting must be he who touches with his hands, receives in his heart and mouth, and offers to others to be received the One Who is not about to die but Who is to conquer and be glorified, upon Whom the angels longed to gaze [1 Pt 1:12].
See your dignity, [my] priest brothers [1 Cor 1:26], and be holy because He is holy. As the Lord God has honored you above all others because of this ministry, for your part love, revere and honor Him above all others. It is a great misery and a miserable weakness that when you have Him present in this way, you are concerned with anything else in the whole world!
Let everyone be struck with fear, let
the whole world tremble,
and let the heavens exult
when Christ, the Son of the living God,
is present on the altar in the hands of a priest!
O wonderful loftiness and stupendous dignity!
O sublime humility!
O humble sublimity!
The Lord of the universe,
God and the Son of God, so
that for our salvation
He hides Himself under an
ordinary piece of bread!
Brothers, look at the humility of God, and pour
out your hearts before Him [Ps 62:9]!
Humble yourselves that you
may be exalted by Him!
Hold back nothing of yourselves for yourselves,
that He Who gives Himself totally to you may
receive you totally!
I admonish and exhort you in the Lord, therefore, to celebrate only one Mass a day according to the rite of the Holy Church in those places where the brothers dwell. But if there is more than one priest there, let the other be content, for the love of charity, at hearing the celebration of the other priest; because our Lord Jesus Christ fills those present and absent who are worthy of Him. Although He may seem to be present in many places, nevertheless, He remains, undivided and knows no loss; but One everywhere, He acts as He pleases, with the Lord God the Father and the Holy Spirit the Paraclete for ever and ever. Amen.
Because whoever belongs to God hears the words of God [Jn 8:47], we who are more especially charged with divine responsibilities must not only listen to and do what the Lord says but also care for the vessels and other liturgical objects that contain His holy words in order to impress on ourselves the sublimity of our Creator and our subjection to Him. I, therefore, admonish all my brothers and encourage them in Christ to venerate, as best as they can, the divine written words wherever they find them. If they are not well kept or are carelessly thrown around in some place, let them gather them up and preserve them, inasmuch as it concerns them, honoring in the words the Lord Who spoke them [3 Kgs 2:4]. For many things are made holy by the words of God and the sacrament of the altar is celebrated in the power of the words of Christ [1 Tm 4:5]
Francis is writing here to all his brothers in the Order, many of whom were priests and deacons by the time of this letter. He asks them to celebrate only one Mass daily in each friary. If there is more than one priest, he can con-celebrate. This stipulation serves a few purposes. First, all the brothers have to come together to celebrate the Mass. They are not able to pick and choose times and celebrants. Secondly, having only one daily Mass in the friary helps preserve reverence for the Blessed Sacrament.
Francis, in a exultant hymn, sings the praises of the humility and grandeur of God who “hides Himself under an ordinary piece of bread.” Francis continually exhorted his friars to humility, and this exhortation increased as more and more brothers were also ordained priests. Francis is giving these men instructions, not only on care of the altar and the sacred vessels, but also on care of their own relationship with Jesus. In saying Mass, priests are to concentrate on the Mass and be unconcerned with how they appear to the worshippers. They need to understand what they are doing. Francis uses the Blessed Mother and Saint John the Baptist as examples of those to emulate in their respect for Jesus. He was known to them and fellowshipped with them, yet they never took Him for granted. Always Jesus was reverenced. So the priests should reverence Christ as they offer the Mass. They must give themselves “totally” to Christ so that Christ “may receive you totally.”
NO GREATER LOVE: THE TEMPLE, STEPHEN, AND PAUL
Right before the trial and crucifixion of Jesus Christ, the Lord gives us His eschatological discourse where He speaks of future events and His Second Coming. (Mt 24-25, Mk 13, Lk 21:5-38) The first event is the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple. “Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. But he answered them, ‘You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another, that will not be thrown down.’” (Mt 24:1-2, also Mk 13:1-2, Lk 21:5-7). In Volume II of Jesus of Nazareth, Pope Benedict summarizes the events of the Jewish War which lasted from 66 AD until the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem in 70 AD by Roman forces. Pope Benedict relates how this was a time of great distress and suffering for Jerusalem. The Romans destroyed Jerusalem, but it was also a civil war between Jewish factions with murders, massacres, arson, and other evils. Pope Benedict notes that within an eleven-mile radius everything was deforested and laid waste. Estimates of the death toll ranged from 80,000 to 1.1 million. This great distress was predicted by Jesus. “For in those days there will be such tribulation as has not been from the beginning of creation which God created until now, and never will be.” (Mk 13:19, also Mt 24:21, Lk 21:23) Pope Benedict notes that attempts were made in 132-135 AD and 361 AD to restore the temple but these ended in failure.
The physical demise of the temple was preceded by the theological demise of the temple around 40 years earlier with the Last Supper, Crucifixion, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Pope Benedict tells us more about how this theological demise was predicted by Jesus Christ. That he foretold the demise of the Temple---its theological demise, that is, from the standpoint of salvation history---is beyond doubt. As evidence for this, besides the eschatological discourse, there is above all the passage about the deserted house with which we began (Mt 23:37-38; Lk 13:34-35) and the words of the false witnesses at Jesus' trial (Mt 26:61; 27:40; Mk 14:58; 15:29; Acts 6:14) ---words that reappear as a taunt at the foot of the Cross and which the Fourth Gospel places earlier, in their correct form, on the lips of Jesus himself (Jn 2:19).
Inasmuch as it belonged to the Father, Jesus loved the Temple (cf. Lk 2:49) and taught there gladly. He defended it as a house of prayer for all peoples and tried to prepare it for that function. Yet he knew that the age of this Temple was over and that something new was to come, linked to his death and Resurrection. When the time to flee Jerusalem came, the Christians had no problem in crossing the Jordan River and going to Pella since they knew that the time of animal sacrifices in the Temple had already passed. In fact, Jesus had told them to flee. “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it; for these are the days of vengeance, to fulfil all that is written.” (Lk 21:20-22, also Mt 24:15-18, Mk 13:14-16)
For those who heard Jesus speak these words, and those to whom the apostles and disciples recounted them, and those who heard of them by reading the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, Jesus’s words must have been very confusing. Their religious world revolved around the Temple and the Temple animal sacrifices. Even those who believed in the Lord and even died for Him did not know how the religious world which we now call the Church would come into being. We can see the beginnings of this new religious world in the first known Christian martyr, St. Stephen.
Stephen was one of seven men who were chosen to serve the assembly as deacons. (Acts 6:1-6) Stephen also preached Christ to Jews in one of the synagogues in a way which they could not withstand. (Acts 6:10) Thus, he was seized and brought before the Jerusalem council where false witnesses claimed, “This man never ceases to speak words against this holy place and the law; for we heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and will change the customs which Moses delivered to us.” (Acts 6:13-14) John’s Gospel records that Jesus said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” (Jn 2:19) However, John tells us, “But he spoke of the temple of his body.” (Jn 2:21) The Lord was speaking of His death and Resurrection.
St. Luke then records a rather long speech which Stephen delivered before the council in which he summarized the history of the people starting with Abraham through Joseph, Moses, David, and the prophets. He especially noted how the patriarchs rejected their brother Joseph and sold him into slavery and how the Israelites rejected Moses when he was sent by God to liberate them from Egypt. Stephen then ends his speech by saying “you stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so did you. Which of the prophets didn’t your fathers persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.” (Acts 7:51-53) Stephen accuses them of rejecting Jesus Christ just as their fathers previously had rejected those sent to them by God. They then dragged Stephen out of the city and stoned him to death. We need to ask how the gentile Christian, Luke, learned about the episode in which Stephen was stoned to death. St. Luke gives us the answer. “And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul.” (Acts 7:58) This Saul became the Apostle Paul.
St. Luke then tells us, “And Saul consented to his death.” (Acts 8:1) Why? Saul was from the city in modern Turkey call Tarsus, but he was educated in Jerusalem under the famous rabbi Gamaliel. (Acts 22:3) Besides being learned in Judaism, he was zealous for God and for the law and the practices of Judaism since these came from God. In the Roman world, only the Jews worshipped the true creator God as opposed to the pagan idols which even many gentiles realized were human creations. Saul certainly heard Stephen’s last speech before he was stoned, and possibly other teachings about Jesus from Stephen and our Lord’s other disciples. Saul understood that Jesus was not just a harmless rabbi who gave a different interpretation of the Torah. To Saul, Jesus was a dangerous charlatan who could potentially destroy Judaism with its Temple Worship and God given laws. “But Saul laid waste the Church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.” (Acts 8:3) In doing this, Saul was manifesting his great love and zeal for God.
The conversion of the zealous Jew, Saul, to the zealous Apostle, Paul, is narrated three times in the book of Acts. First, by Luke (Acts 9:1-19), and then by Paul before the crowd in Jerusalem (Acts 22:6-16) and again before King Agrippa in Caesarea. (Acts 26:12-18) As Saul was on the way to Damascus to persecute Christians, he was knocked to the ground with flashing light and heard a voice saying, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” (Acts 9:4) Saul had no idea what this meant since he was on his way to Damascus to preserve the God-given laws and customs of Judaism against a dangerous charlatan. Saul asks, “Who are you, Lord?” (Acts 9:5) Saul knew that he was being addressed by God, but he had no idea what this meant. The answer came quickly. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting; but rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” (Acts 9:5-6). Since the light had blinded him, he was led into Damascus by his companions where he neither ate nor drank for three days. For Saul, knowing what he was to do was more important than eating or drinking. (Acts 9:9) During this time, he must have remembered the words of St. Stephen. “Which of the prophets didn’t your fathers persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.” (Acts 7:52-53)
After Saul’s sight was restored by the disciple, Ananias, Saul became the great Apostle Paul.
Saul’s zeal for God didn’t change when he has blinded by the light from heaven. He was always zealous for the truth, but now he knew that Jesus was the way, the truth, and the light. The Pharisee Saul’s great zeal for Judaism and the Temple became the Apostle Paul’s great zeal for Jesus Christ and His Church. The Church immediately recognized the importance of Paul since he was not an “ignorant Galilean” but an educated Jew who recognized Jesus as the fulfillment of Judaism and not its destroyer. By the time the Jerusalem Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD, Paul had already been martyred. However, in his many letters, which the Church accepted as scripture (inspired by God), he laid out how Christ had fulfilled the purpose of the Temple with the Last Supper, Crucifixion, and Resurrection. We should never forget that when we attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, we are witnessing the fulfillment of what was begun even before the Temple in the Tent of Meeting in the Sinai desert over 3000 years ago. –Jim Nugent, CFP
· I couldn’t afford an ancestry DNA kit, so I announced that I’d won the lottery and soon found out who all my relatives are.
· I lost my job at the bank on my very first day. A lady asked me to check her balance so I pushed her over.
· When my wife is mad at me, I tighten all the jar lids so she has to talk to me.
· There so many scams on the internet nowadays. For only $9.99, I can tell you how to avoid them.
· You can’t plant flowers if you haven’t botany.
· I finally figured out what I want to be when I get older. Younger.
· Do all fairy tales start out, ‘Once upon a time”? No. Some begin with, “If elected, I promise . . .”
· Hired a handy man and gave him a list. When I got home, I discovered that only 1, 3, and 5 were done. Turns out he does only odd jobs.
· Be grateful that, no matter how much chocolate you eat, your earrings will still fit.
· Infant’s t-shirt during the Covid pandemic. “They DID NOT stay 6 feet apart.”
CFP RETREAT: OCTOBER 11 – 15, 2023, ST. FELIX CATHOLIC CENTER, HUNTINGTON IN. FR. JOSEPH TUSCAN, OFM CAP, RETREAT MASTER. OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.
Mark your calendars and plan to attend! Bring your own towels, wash cloth, body wash, and water bottle. Other linens and all meals provided. This will be a joint retreat with the Third Order Franciscans who are living the Leonine Franciscan Rule of 1883. $200 plus $25 worth of food and/or paper goods or $25 additional payment. Commuter rates available. Each attending group will have joint sessions of common prayers and retreat talks. Each group will meet individually in break out sessions for their own groups. Meals will be as follows: Lunch--eat with other members of your group. Dinner--mingle with whoever you wish. Retreat includes a six hour silent hermitage experience. $50 deposit required to hold your place. 60 rooms available. Make deposit on line or send to Confraternity of Penitents, 1702 Lumbard Street, Fort Wayne IN 46803. Spouses, friends, family members welcome.
Retreat Theme: Eucharistic Saints of Assisi: Francis, Clare and Carlo Acutis and What They Teach Us.
Saint Francis’ devotion to the Eucharist has been a subject in several recent newsletters. As long as he was physically able, he swept churches and tidied up altars so that Christ would be properly revered there.
Saint Clare was so certain of Christ’s Eucharistic Presence that she begged the Eucharistic Christ to save her convent from invasion by enemy troops and the whole city of Assisi as well. She and her sisters made altar linens and corporals and sent them around to the churches of Assisi.
Carlo, even a young child, asked his guardians to go into the churches he passed by to pray before the Blessed Sacrament. He created an exhibit on Eucharistic Miracles which will be at this retreat.
CFP PHOTO ALBUM: PAINTING AT GUADALUPE VITA DEI HOUSE
John Francis McCullough, OSB Oblate (shown here), has been working non-stop along with Property Manager Mike Freygang (who took this photo) to prime and paint Guadalupe Vita Dei House and prepare it for occupancy.
The Knights of Columbus of Saint Charles Borromeo Parish, Fort Wayne, Indian, are also spending hours painting and moving furniture out of the way.
So are Guadalupe House Residents David Young and Dave Vaugh.
God bless all these men!
DEALING WITH FINANCES IN THE CFP RULE: FINANCIAL FASTING
I have good news and bad news.
The good news is, if a year and a half ago you were paying interest on credit card debt and you paid that credit card off – or at least significantly reduced the balance – you haven’t been hurt by rising interest rates. If you have a mortgage and you refinanced it 1-1/2 years ago, locking in historically low rates for a long time, congratulations. And if you have a savings account, you should be earning at least 3.5% a year or more on your money.
The bad news is that if you haven’t paid off your credit card debt, it’s going to cost you more – a lot more – in the next couple of years that it has in the last decade. Same is true if you have a variable interest-rate mortgage. The interest you’re paying now is a lot more than what you were paying a couple of years ago.
More bad news: Credit card interest rates aren’t going down anytime soon. Nor are mortgage rates, auto loan rates – just about any charge for the use of other people’s money is going to cost more in the next few years than in the recent past.
But if you have followed our CfP Rule and paid down your debts, starting with your highest rate card or loan, there’s almost nothing but good news. If you have paid off that credit card, auto loan or mortgage, you’re saving a bundle in interest charges.
That’s money you can put toward one of the pillars of penance, charity. Our Rule sets a goal that we all should tithe, but that’s aspirational because some of us can’t afford to. St. Paul made it clear that how much we give is up to us individually. St. Paul says:
"Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." [2 Cor. 9:7]
And in the Book of Sirach we find:
“Give to the Most High as he has given to you, and as generously as you can afford. For the Lord is the one who repays, and he will repay you sevenfold." [Sir. 35:6-13]
Paying down one’s debts is a form of penance. It entails two essential actions: (1) Do not buy anything on credit, do not take out a new loan, and (2) Taking some of the money you would use for other purposes to pay down one’s debts. In short, paying down one’s debts is a form of financial fasting.
If you are still burdened by debt – especially by credit card and other high-rate debt – now is the time to begin to pay that off. Why? Because those high rates aren’t going to go away. Our government and major corporations have borrowed like drunken sailors, often making the classic mistake to use short-term debt for long-term purposes. When that short-term debt comes due, it will be renewed at a higher interest rate. The result will be higher taxes and higher prices. – Joel Whitaker, CfP
NEW ITEMS CFP HOLY ANGELS GIFT SHOP: SEE WWW.CFPHOLYANGELS.COM ALL PROCEEDS SUPPORT THE CONFRATERNITY OF PENITENTS AND ITS MINISTRIES. GOD BLESS YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!
QUOTES FROM BLESSED CARLO ACUTIS (died at the age of 15, buried in Assisi). Sixty of Carlo’s quotes, 48 posters of his exhibit on the Eucharistic Miracles, and a DVD documentary on his life and his Eucharistic Miracles Exhibit, will be a featured part of CFP Retreat 2023. Plan to attend!
The Heart of Jesus and the Heart of Mary are indissolubly joined, and when we receive Communion, we come into direct contact with Our Lady and the saints in heaven.
God is extremely pleased by the souls that approach the great gifts of the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Confession.
Virtue is acquired primarily through an intense sacramental life, and the Eucharist is undoubtedly the culmination of charity. Through this sacrament the Lord makes us be complete persons, created in his image.
The Eucharist is my highway to heaven.
Jesus is really present to the world, just as when his apostles and disciples saw him walk the streets of Jerusalem.
Jesus is Love, and he has made himself food and drink for us in the Eucharist. The more we nourish ourselves on the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ, the more we will be able to love. . . . The Eucharist configures us in a special way to God, who is Love.
You can go straight to heaven if you avail yourself of the Eucharist every day!
[T]here are so many tabernacles where I can visit Jesus at any time, so I don’t feel the need to go to Jerusalem. We have Jerusalem right out our front door.
The more often we receive the Eucharist, the more we become like Jesus and the more we get a foretaste of heaven.
[Through the Eucharist], you go directly to heaven, and we are given the opportunity to do it every day.
Jesus is very creative because he hides in a little piece of bread, and only God could do something so incredible!
God is always with us and will never abandon us. How can people grasp this truth? Throngs of people stand in interminable lines to buy tickets to rock concerts or soccer matches, but I don’t see crowds of people lined up outside church waiting to see Jesus in the Eucharist. This should make us pause and reflect.