Confraternity of Penitents: St. Francis' Rule of Penance for the Laity
"Most High, glorious God, enlighten the darkness of my heart and give me true faith, certain hope, and perfect charity, sense and knowledge, Lord, that I may carry out Your holy and true command." ---------- Saint Francis' of Assisi's prayer before the San Damiano Crucifix
Confraternity of Penitents Monthly Newsletter -- October 2014
Catholicism Is a Team Sport
As Catholics and penitents, we have to be concerned about our brothers and sisters. We cannot be individualistic people. We belong to a religion which is a team sport! Think of a football team. If one person does not know the routine and goofs everything up on the field, wouldn’t the other team members tell him about it? Of course! Yes, the coach will tell him about it, but I am sure his teammates will also say something. The team has to act as a team in order to fulfill the plan of winning the game! Football is a team sport.
Catholicism is a team sport. We cannot ignore a brother or sister in error. If we see a problem, we need to try to help our friend because it is important. We want to help everyone get to heaven. We have to try. Tell the person that the Lord wants him or her in heaven. God wants more out of them than they are giving. It is a great error not to point out errors. We are supposed to call out sin in love when we see it. Don’t say, “I can’t” or “I won’t.”
We don’t try to prove the person wrong or wait until he goes away so we don’t have to say anything. We don’t point out errors because we feel superior. We point them out from a genuine desire to see God in the other person and to have the other person see God and reflect God. No, we don’t like to enter into these discussions, but we should do so out of love for the other person. Jesus was nailed to the cross for us. Maybe we need to be nailed there, too.
How can we withhold God’s love when we believe in it in our faith? The Lord is calling us to something greater. His calling our friend, who is an error, to something greater. Tell your friend, “Please change for the sake of heaven. Please change for the love you desire because God, our Divine Lover, desires to be with you forever. Come back to right practice, please.”
We see politicians, sports figures, entertainment figures who call themselves Catholic but they have given up walking the Catholic path. Don’t tell me you’re on the Catholic path when you’re denying the faith and denigrating the Church. Turn to the good for your own soul and for the good of others. Speak politely, with love and courage. We call ourselves Catholics but not live up to the name, for catholic means universal. We have to tell people, “Don’t walk on the path that leads to damnation and distress. Turn to the good for your own soul and for the souls of others.“
Jesus tells us to call a sin “a sin.” I am not called to be bossy or to talk about people behind their back. I’m not called to be angry. Christian love is not angry. Love is to say, “I love you enough to try to help you.” Go one-on-one with the person and take the person to prayer. Jesus said if talking to the person one-on-one does not work then, get a few people together and speak to the person. If that does not work, go to the Church. We can go to the Church with with issues that are not little issues but great moral, grave issues. These should be brought before the Church. Ultimately we bring this person to Christ and we are humble enough to leave our own opinion aside and let the Church shepherd its children.
The gospel is so pivotal. How do we enter into relationship with each other? It takes courage and love. It takes faith to help someone else come to the faith even if you find out that your faith isn’t as strong as you want. Love means caring for each other so much that we reach out to help and we are not afraid.
--Father Jacob Meyer, Visitor, Confraternity of Penitents
Following Francis, Following Christ
Following Francis and I mean literally, has not been easy this month. The title of this column is Following Francis, Following Christ. When we read the Gospels, we see that Christ moved around a great deal between one town and another, preaching, healing, teaching, praying. If we try to log his travels we would have all sorts of zigzags and curves throughout Israel.
I have been trying to log where St. Francis went in the year 1220. This has not been easy. It only rivals where he went in the year 1215, which apparently was more places than in the year 1220. In the year 1220, we have Francis disembarking from the Holy Land where he had just confronted the Sultan in a futile hope to end the crusade. The Sultan was willing to listen to Francis and even made some offers of concession, but the Catholic Cardinal in charge of the crusaders wanted to continue the siege of Damietta until the bitter end.. This might tell us something about who was really following God’s law for peace. But that is another article.
Disheartened, Francis left the Holy Land in early spring when it was safe to sail, and disembarked in Venice. He was not coming back to a nice pleasant homecoming. He was coming back because the friar who had had found him had told him about discord and changes in the Order when he was gone. So the first thing Francis did was find the Cardinal whom he often consulted for help. This took him about 262 miles from Venice to Orvieto or Viterbo where the Cardinal was staying. After he had spoken to him and received advice, Francis headed back to Assisi (about 55 miles) where he called the Pentecost Chapter Gathering of the all of the Friars. At this Chapter, he tried to pull things together and then went off to several other visitations which are probably in his schedule of requests. This would have logged in about 200 more miles or so. He was back in Assisi however, for September in order to call another Chapter meeting, and at this one he handed his responsibility over to another friar named Peter Catani. From here he went to several other places, eventually finding himself ill at the bishop’s Palace in Marsi. Once strong enough, he returned to the Portiuncola, outside of Assisi, for the winter months. All of this was in the year 1220, putting in another 300 miles or so. And all of it, except for the sea voyage, was on foot.
Where did he stay in these travels? Mostly in hermitages. And these weren’t the solid looking buildings we see now. No, these were shacks, hovels, tree shelters, caves, and crevices. Or, if Francis were not in a hermitage, then he stayed at a leper hospital or in an abandoned church.
Do we really want to follow Francis? Francis was following Christ. Where did Jesus camp down for the night? Sometimes in homes as at Bethany with Martha and Mary, but most of the time outdoors under the stars, in the shelter of trees and rocks when He and His disciples could find them. We think about following Jesus in the areas of humilty, poverty, simplicity, faith, charity. Francis thought of those things, too, but also took Jesus literally at His word. We might ask ourselves how much comfort we are willing to relinquish to follow Christ? Not that it is bad or wrong to sleep all cozy and comfy in a bed, but what if we didn’t have a cozy, comfy bed? What if we were refugees? What if we were stranded in a storm? How much complaining would we do? I imagine I would do a great deal of complaining. Francis slept like a refugee most of the time. So did Jesus. Their comfort came from God, not from feather pillows and electric blankets.
Is it time to take stock of our creature comforts and how dependent we are on them? Are we willing to offer some of them to the Lord just for the sake of sacrificial prayer for those desitute of the world who can’t even imagine what we take for granted? Lord, give us a bit more empathy with the poor whom you so dearly love. Open my eyes to ways that my luxury may help them. Amen.
--Madeline Pecora Nugent, CFP
Monthly Letter to All Penitents
Confraternity of Penitents
Prison Ministry - Correspondence and Formation
Corporal Works of Mercy
Hebrews 13:1-3 "Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them; and those who are ill treated, since you also are in the body."
Matthew 25:34-36,40 "Then the King will say to those on his right hand, Come , O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; (34) ...........for I was a stranger and you welcomed me,(35) ......I was in prison and you came to me.(36) "Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of these my brethren, you did it to me."(40)
The Confraternity has an active prison ministry recently named the Alessandro Ministry. The Patron Saint of the CFP Ministry is Saint Moses the Black of Skete. A modern interpretation honors Saint Moses the Black as an apostle of non-violence. He was a converted leader of a band of robbers in Western Egypt. The 2013 Retreat DVD has a talk about him.
We started off with about 31 inmates, increasing to 37, from prisons and institutions, around the United States. Currently there are about 20 active inmates still corresponding, or in CFP study. New converts may increase the number. There were 6 last year and 6 this year.
Many inmates are in the state of being moved to different locations, have been paroled, or sent home, and a few have decided to withdraw from mailings. The prisons are trying to reduce the population by modifying General Sentencing Guidelines, releasing model inmates with first time, or minor offences, or offering early paroles.
Some of the men are in various stages of inquiry in the CFP, or have started taking the monthly lessons as members of the Alesandro Ministry. And there are some who are corresponding monthly, by a few brothers and sisters in the CFP.
I have been corresponding with most all the inmates when first asked if I would like to perform a Corporal Work of Mercy. I am also a formator to several men as they complete the CFP lessons. I have seen great faith, in men very active in the Catholic faith, in their institutions. They demonstrate that they practice the Sacraments, participate in liturgical services, help teach others in RICA, Bible study, and prayer groups.
Some have moved up from low level work details to having very nice jobs. On inmate does many ministries, as well as teaching courses to inmates, helping them with legal paper work, and he is now on a prison committee working on programs.
Another, inmate, who worked on part time work details, due to over crowded conditions, had to trade his dinner tray for a stamp to write to me. He is now teaching computer skills to other inmates, and doing clerk work; having more time to pray and study. God has been a blessing to them for their faith. And in turn, they have been a blessing, and example, to me. Prayer is a key tool, and we pray for each other's spiritual and physical needs. "Where two or three gather in My Name, there I am in the midst of them? (Matt 18:20)
Several have said, "You are the only one who writes to me. All I get is junk mail." Those who were doubtful, or afraid to write, closed their letters this way at first. "Anyhow that is what is going on in my life, I hope yours is better." Later, "I hope you are doing well, and I appreciate your letters and input. Please keep in touch." "I am praying for you and your family." I assure them they are always in my prayers.
The CFP prison ministry mail passes through the CFP mail, and provides a security zone. We are in need of more people who would like to have a Corporal Work of Mercy that will bring joy and spirituality to men who are incarcerated, and are paying "Caesars price" but are in need of the presence of the Catholic Church brothers and sisters, a shining in the light one brings even in letters. I share religious photos, some of my vacation photos of Rome, Norway, and other interesting places, and things, prayer cards, which all are well received. One man is even making a photo album. I received a Get Well card when a man learned of my having a fall and recovering.
One does not need to be an expert or social worker, but it is good to have a catechism, and Bible handy when offering information. For a couple of men being released in a strange city, I look up any Catholic Relief Agencies or Food Pantries, and make a list for them to have reference to. It is better than nothing, and eases the fears to come, being released into a fast and bitter cold society, and encourages them to keep practicing the Faith, and Sacraments.
Brothers and sisters, let us keep the prison inmates we care for in our prayers. Please contact the CFP you are interested in being a Formator, or correspondent with our incarerated brothers in penance. Thank you.
Paul Phelan, CFP
Letter from One Who Serves the CFP
"Baptism in the Holy Spirit," by the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services Doctrinal Commission.
St. Francis of Assisi, St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Athanasius, the Desert Fathers, and countless saints throughout the ages have received remarkable gifts of the Spirit. But the Spirit's potentiality is in each of us, too (all under God's providence, of course)!!
I begin by listing my own personal take-aways from this book (a, b, c & d):
a. That Baptism in the Spirit's normative realization typically follows the sacraments of initiation, but it is not limited to that, since God's Mercy and Grace are His to give. Personal Baptism's occur due to a person's specific state in life, God's hand in it all, in the Mystery which we are not in a position to know on this side of life :)
b. Remarkably, for our present-day "it is possible to see God's providence mysteriously at work in the events of history, preparing for this new outpouring of the Spirit in the twentieth century...In 1897, at the prompting of Sister (now Blessed) Elena Guerra, foundress of the Oblate Sisters of the Holy Spirit, Pope Leo XIII wrote the encyclical 'Divinum Illud Munus,' in which he called the Church to a renewed devotion to the Holy Spirit. The pope also asked Catholics to pray an annual novena to the Holy Spirit between the feasts of the Ascension and Pentecost, especially for the intention of Christian unity.
Then, on January 1, 1901, again at the prompting of Sister Elena, the pope invoked the Holy Spirit on the twentieth century by singing the hymn 'Veni Creator Spiritus' in the name of the whole Church. ON THAT VERY DAY, halfway around the world at the Bethel Bible School in Topeka, Kansas, USA, an outpouring of the Holy Spirit occurred that is generally accepted as the beginning of Pentecostalism.
From there, revival meetings held at Azusa Street in Los Angeles in 1906, led by William J. Seymour, propelled the Pentecostal movement across all continents within two years. Today it is estimated that over 500 million Christians worldwide have been baptized in the Holy Spirit." (Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, "Pentecostalism," http://pewforum.org/docs/?DocID=140).
Further on in Pastoral Concerns, you see why Baptism in the Holy Spirit in view of a Pentecostal experience must always be guided by the Magisterium established by Christ, if it is to be protected from the dis-unity tactic of Satan for thwarting God's work, as the numerous fractures within Protestant Pentecostalism attest.
c. I noticed that while most Catholics receive the Holy Spirit at Baptism and are reinforced to a higher calling to the Spirit's gifts in Confirmation, Baptism in the Holy Spirit is more of a "fanning the flames" of the embers buried deep in a heart which had not made a good confession, has irregular psychological blocks, and so on, and the healing touch of the Master of all creation moves the penitent heart to a new life in the Spirit, giving His gifts in proportion to the degree we make ourselves "docile, humble, obedient, and prayerful," like the example our Mother Mary is.
d. Holiness is not measured by charism gifts. We must always be on guard first in ourselves and second in others to ALWAYS practice discernment. "Elitism" and "Spiritual Pride" is a common temptation of renewal movements. We must always avoid closing ourselves in with a sense of self-satisfaction. It is one thing to rejoice in and bear witness to a marvelous work of God in our lives; it is an entirely different thing to look down on others as less holy than ourselves. Likewise, we must guard against indifference to the needs of those around us, especially the pastoral needs of the local church.
As Scripture makes very clear, every charism is subject to discernment (1 Cor 14:21; 1 Thes 5:21; 1 John 4:1). No one owns the charism he or she has been given. "No charism dispenses a person from reference and submission to the Pastors of the Church." (See 'Christifideles Laici' at 24)
This brief document (101 pages) is a wonderful and thorough overview of the Charismatic Renewal. In a nutshell: how the Holy Spirit and the gifts of Pentecost apply to today's modern world. Here is a peek inside...
Part I The Characteristics and Fruits of Baptism in the Spirit A Surprise in the Spirit, the Characteristic Features of Baptism in the Spirit.
Part II Biblical and Patristic Foundations The Old Testament Promises, the New Testament Witness, and Baptism in the Spirit in the Patristic Era.
Part III Theological Reflection The Development of Understanding in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, the Heart of Baptism in the Spirit. Part III focuses also on theology and experience, the institutional and charismatic dimensions of the Church, together with considering Baptism in the Spirit and the Sacraments of Initiation. Is Baptism in the Spirit for Every Christian?
Should non-Baptized persons receive prayer for Baptism in the Spirit?
Can one be baptized in the spirit more than once?
Part IV Pastoral Issues Preparation for Baptism in the Spirit, praying for Baptism in the Spirit, Follow-up to Baptism in the Spirit, Integration into the life of the Church, and Pastoral Discernment are all discussed.
Yours in Christ Jesus, Mary, and St. Joseph, Eric Welch, Alesandro Ministry
No Greater Love
THE MODERN PROBLEM OF FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST
Professor Joseph Ratzinger opens part II of his Introduction to Christianity with a discussion of some of the problems modern people have with faith in Jesus Christ. It seems both presumptuous and foolish to assert that one single figure who is bound to disappear farther and farther into the mists of the past is the authoritative center of all history. Although faith in the logos, the meaningfulness of being, corresponds perfectly with a tendency in the human reason, this second article of the Creed proclaims the absolutely staggering alliance of logos and sarx [flesh], of meaning and a single historical figure. The meaning that sustains all being has become flesh; that is, it has entered history and become one individual in it; it is no longer simply what encompasses and sustains history but a point in it. Accordingly the meaning of all being is first of all no longer to be found in the sweep of the mind that rises above the individual, the limited, into the universal; it is no longer simply given in the world of ideas, which transcends the individual and is reflected in it only in a fragmentary fashion; it is to be found in the midst of time, in the countenance of one man.
In order to encounter God, we do not need to be a deep mystic or a brilliant thinker like Plato or Socrates. We need to look at Jesus Christ and follow Him. He is available to us through the Church which is a visible and concrete entity which exists now. While the Good News (Gospel) is welcomed by many who are exposed to it, it is not welcomed by all. Some are quite uncomfortable with a God who is so close to us but also commands us not to just keep a few commandments, but also to “Follow Me”. As a result, in the last couple of centuries barriers have been erected between Christ and humanity.
Professor Ratzinger next starts to describe one of these barriers. Can we cling at all to the straw of one single historical event? Can we dare to base our whole existence, indeed the whole of history, on the straw of one happening in the great sea of history? Such a notion, which even in itself is an adventurous one and seemed equally improbable to both ancient and Asiatic thought, is rendered still more difficult in the intellectual climate of modern times, or at any rate rendered difficult in a different way, by the fashion in which history is now dealt with by scholars: that is to say, by the historico-critical method. This means that the encounter with history is affected by the same sort of problem that has arisen in the search for being and for the ground of being as result of the methods employed by physics and of the scientific approach to the investigation of nature. We have seen in our reflections on this subject that physics has renounced the discovery of being itself and confines itself to the “positive”, to what can be proved. The impressive gain in precision thus made has to be paid for by a renunciation of the truth that in the end can go so far that behind the prison bars of positivism, being, truth itself, disappears, ontology becomes visibly more impossible, and even philosophy has to yield in large measure to phenomenology, to the investigation of mere appearances.
Here, Professor Ratzinger is referring to what is called “methodological naturalism.” An example of methodological naturalism is the following: Since we cannot prove or observe the creation of the universe out of nothing by God, we must assume that the universe came into being by natural means without the intervention of a higher power above humanity. Scientists have developed all kinds of hypotheses about multiple universes and random fluctuations which exclude the need for God. Of course, the multiple universes also cannot be observed. Also, since the intelligent design of life from the nonliving cannot be directly observed, it is assumed that life must have “evolved” from the nonliving by some sort of process which does not need a higher power. We can see the limitation inherent in “positivism”, the confining of truth to what can be proved by observation. Since “higher powers” cannot be scientifically studied or submit to experiment, it is assumed that humans are the highest being in existence. There are no higher powers. This is an assumption which also cannot be proved.
Professor Ratzinger then points out that the historico-critical method of interpreting the Old and New Testaments suffers even more from this limitation. A very similar position threatens to arise in the encounter with history. The methods of physics are followed as far as they possibly can be, though a limit is set to the process by the fact that history cannot carry verification, which forms the core of the modern scientific approach, to the point of repetition, on which the unique certainty of scientific statements rests. The historian is denied this satisfaction; past history cannot be reenacted, and verification must be content with the demonstrable soundness of the evidence on which the historian bases his view. The consequence of this methodical approach is that---as in natural science---only the “phenomenal” or outer surface of what has happened comes into view. But this “phenomenal” aspect, that is, the surface that can be checked by documentary evidence, is more questionable than the positivism of physics from two points of view. It is more questionable, first, because it has to rely on the availability of documents, that is, on chance statements, while physics at any rate always has the necessary material realities before it. It is also more questionable because the expression of the human element in the written evidence is less accurate than the self-expression of nature; its reflection of human depths is inadequate and often positively conceals them; and its interpretation involves man and his personal mode of thinking far more extensively than the interpretation of physical phenomena does. Accordingly, although one must agree that the imitation of scientific methods in the realm of history undoubtedly heightens the accuracy of its assertions, on the other hand, it cannot be overlooked that here, too, this approach involves a grievous loss of truth that is even more extensive than it is in physics. Just as in physics being retires behind appearance, so here to a large extent the only past events that are still accepted as valid are those that are presented as “historical”, that is, tested and passed by historical methods. It is quite often forgotten that the full truth of history eludes documentary verification just as much as the truth of being escapes the experimental approach. So it must be said that historical science in the narrowest sense of the term not only reveals but also conceals history. The automatic result is that it can see the man Jesus all right but can only with difficulty discover the Christ in him, which as a truth of history cannot simply be checked as right or wrong by reference to the documentary evidence.
There is nothing wrong in itself with scholarly historical investigations into Biblical times. However, when these investigations are combined with a methodological naturalism which excludes the possibility of miracles since they cannot be reproduced or scientifically investigated, then the truth can easily be lost. Since the miracles of Jesus as well as His other actions and words cannot be scientifically reproduced, these are included or excluded at the will of whoever is giving the historico-critical interpretation. It is very easy to make Jesus whatever you want Him to be. He can even be used to support a political agenda. The miracles and claims of Divinity of Jesus are dismissed as later theological embellishments. The stupendous claim of Christianity that “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn 1:14) is turned to mush. This is perhaps one reason why the faith is so often watered down or not even taught. Teachers are afraid to appear “unscientific” and therefore suppress who Jesus Christ is and give us a more “acceptable” Jesus more to our liking.
Jim Nugent, CFP
Reflection on the Rule
21. And, if it be convenient at the time, they are to have some religious who is informed in the words of God to exhort them and strengthen them to persevere in their penance and in performing the works of mercy. And except for the officers, they are to remain quiet during the Mass and sermon, intent on the Office, on prayer, and on the sermon.
21. In keeping with section 21 of this Rule:
21a. At Mass the penitents should pay particular respectful attention to the Gospel, the homily or sermon, the Consecration of the Eucharist, and its worthy reception.
21b. In their Chapter or Circle meetings they are to listen attentively and to speak charitably.
21c. All members should have the opportunity to faith share about their spiritual experiences and concerns at each meeting.
21d. It is suggested that all penitents make an annual retreat or hermitage experience, unless so exempted by a spiritual director or Chapter minister.
In reading the Rule, we can see that the first penitents met together, went to Mass together, prayed the Divine Office together, and were attentive to one another's needs. This monthly meeting continues as part of the Confraternity of Penitents. If members cannot meet in a local group, they are invited to an internet monthly chat where they can pray with other penitents and share together on spiritual matters. If penitents cannot attend the chat, they can be part of a phone circle of the CFP and engage one another via phone.
In addition, this section proposes reverent Mass behavior for all penitents who should always show respect for the Eucharist, and for others. Penitents are also to take some time at least yearly for an extended prayer experience, just as the friars and sisters did and still do. This can be a hermitage day or retreat. Both could be taken at home if the penitent disconnects the phone and computer and is able to be alone for several hours in prayer, spiritual reading, and reflection. If home is simply too busy, the penitent can go to a church or quiet spot away from the house for this spiritual time.
It is obvious that CFP Affiliates should be respectful at Mass, attentive to the Real Presence and charitable to others. They, too, should fellowship with penitents and other solidly Catholic men and women, to bolster their faith and that of the others. Affiliates, too, need time for prayer and solitude and should attempt to make a yearly retreat or hermitage day. All too often, we get bogged down in various duties and God gets shoved into the background. Affiliates should make room for Him in a special way so that their lives may be enriched.
Here’s to a Better Tomorrow
The beauty of each
new born day
is there for you to see it
our set in life
you will be it –
Life is better
as the turning of a page—
The crowning of such
forgiving stage –
waiting to be made –
Face it with courage
Never be afraid . . . –
Joseph Matose, IV, CFP Affiliate
Virtues Portrayed in the San Damiano Crucifix
While we don't often think of the San Damiano Crucifix as reflecting martyrdom, the predominent colors of black for death and red for blood certainly call to mind that ultimate witness of giving one's life for Christ. Christ gave His life for us, in triumph amid suffering as is shown on the crucifix. We must be willing to give our lives for Him, as so many have done and are doing world wide. Those of us who are devoted to Christ as portrayed on the San Damiano Crucifix might use the crucifix as a focal point for meditation on martyrdom. What other meanings can we associate with the red and the black we see? Do we ask God for the courage and faith to accept martyrdom should it come our way? Some have experienced white martyrdom, that is persecution or ridicule for their Christian faith. How can we be faithful followers of Jesus when faced with opposition? Lord, give us the love for You and for others to lay down our lives, if You call us to that. Amen.
Saint of the Month
SAINT JEANNE JUGAN
(Saint Mary of the Cross)
Born on October 25, 1792 in Brittany, France, Jeanne was the sixth of eight children. Her poor fisherman father was lost at sea when Jeanne was three years old, but her mother held the family together in their poverty while keeping their Catholic faith strong despite the persecution going on at the time in France.
At the age of 16, Jeanne became a kitchen maid to a wealthy woman who took her to visit the sick and the poor around her estate. Jeanne learned by the woman’s example how to be charitable and mannerly. Realizing that she wanted to devote her life to God, Jeanne refused an offer of marriage.
At the age of 25, Jeanne sorted through her clothes and gave her sisters everything that “was smart or pretty” and set out to serve the poor. In order to support herself, she took a job in a crowded hospital where she worked for six years until she was so worn out that she had to leave. She then went to work for a good Christian woman but, because Jeanne was so exhausted from the hospital work, the Christian woman actually ended up taking care of Jeanne. When the elderly woman died, Jeanne was left with the woman’s legacy of having learned how to instruct children in the catechism and to care for the poor and unfortunate.
In 1837, at the age of 45, Jeanne, a 72-year-old woman and a 17-year-old orphan began to live together to assist the poor from their own earnings. At the age of 47, Jeanne determined to dedicate the rest of her life to the service of the poor. The three women began to focus their assistance on abandoned old ladies. They brought them into their home and cared for them, and thus began the Little Sisters of the Poor.
Jeanne wrote a religious rule for herself and the women working with her. They began to rent more homes and larger homes to take in more and more poor. Jeanne would go about begging money and goods to support the elders. She was able to see Christ in all she served. Always she trusted God for help and for sustenance as well as for guidance. She was not disappointed.
In 1842 Jeanne and her companions formed a religious association, took vows, and elected Jeanne as superior. Jeanne‘s religious name was Sister Mary of the Cross. Later on, a parish priest took it upon his own authority to replace Jeanne as superior with one of his spiritual directees. Jeanne took this calmly and, at the time of her death, many of the new sisters had not realized that she was the founder of the Order. She quietly went about doing her work, establishing new homes, and instructing the sisters to care for the aged as if they were caring for Jesus. She felt that she was always in the presence of God, and when she could not sleep at night, she united herself to the Masses being offered in foreign lands. Joyful and motherly to the end, Jeanne was much loved by her sisters and by the women for whom they cared. By the time of her death, the Little Sisters of the Poor had 2,400 sisters and had spread across Europe and across the ocean to America.
Saint Jeanne Jugan, pray for us!
QUOTE FROM SCRIPTURE
“O God, you have taught me from my youth, and till the present I proclaim your wondrous deeds;
And now that I am old and gray, O God, forsake me not
Till I proclaim your strength to every generation that is to come.” (Psalm 71: 17-18)
The cry of the Psalmist can resonate with any elderly person. As we encounter the elderly, while growing older ourselves, let us bring them and ourselves to the Lord, remembering to be as Christ would have us be, whether we are ministering to the old or whether we ARE the old. At every stage of life, we find amply opportunities to practice charity. Some charity is in giving. Some is in accepting. And some is in tolerating.
May we be as Jeanne Jugan was and see Christ in every soul. She advised her sisters, "Little ones, you must always be cheerful. Our little old folk do not like long faces." She also advised the sisters not to weary the elderly with too many prayers of devotion. "You will weary your old folk; they will get bored and go off for a smoke . . . even during the Rosary!" And "You mustn't begrudge them when they are ill. Be like a mother to the grateful ones, and also to those who don't know how to be grateful for all the things you do for them. Say in your heart, 'I do it for You, my Jesus!"
The elderly might also say, when things are being done to and for them that they feel they could do better or would rather have done differently, "This person is being Jesus to me. I will accept the good effort being shown me."
Age can be a wonderful school of charity, the grace of God if we but look for it.
The only photo the world has of Blessed Jeanne Jugan. This was taken when she was about eighty years old.
QUOTE FROM A SAINT
“Little Sisters, take good care of the aged, for in them you are caring for Christ Himself.” – Blessed Jeanne Jugan
Jesus said in the Beatitudes, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.” In modern culture, one can find many oldeer people who are poor in spirit, not even from their own desires but because modern society in the developed world hides them away in care facilities and then is “too busy” to visit them. In primitive cultures, the aged were revered and cared for, even when their mental and physical capabilities diminished. Primitive people appreciated the elderly as having survived the moral, emotional, and physical realities of life. Modern culture values people for their “usefulness” to society or, in the case of children, “potential usefulness.” Primitive societies did not expect the elderly to be useful. They were content to have them present and to minister to those who had spent their youth ministering to others.
We who are striving to surrender to God in all things need to surrender, too, this attitude of being too busy to care for those who once cared for us. Which spiritual or corporal works of mercy are you applying or not applying to the elderly? Is it time for a change?
Happy Birthday to:
Julia K 10/3
Judie S 10/9
Jorge V 10/9
Rita F 10/9
Jacob W 10/12
Sandy L 10/12
Raimor C 10/12
Norma Z 10/18
John S 10/19
William F 10/20
JoJo A 10/22
Madeline N 10/24
Joanne H 10/28
First recorded senior moment: Two dinosaurs are chatting on the mainland while Noah's ark is sailing off in the distance, with elephants, giraffes, and lions peering out from the deck. Says one dinosaur to the other, "Oh, I thought he was leaving tomorrow."
Actual sign on a tree: WARNING. Baiting deer is illegal. This corn pile is intended for squirrels, chipmunks, and other such animals. Any deer found eating this corn will be shot.
New Healthy Diet Tip: Once you lick the frosting off a cupcake, it becomes a muffin, and muffins are healthy. :) Thank you.
Dealing with Aging: I think I'm going to call in Ghostbusters because I'm convinced that I live in a haunted house. Every time I stand in front of a mirror, this old person comes and stands in front of me and blocks out my reflection.
Confraternity Photo Album
How blessed the Confraternity has been to welcome two new life pledged members, Aimee Fleming and Lucy Fernandez! Lucy pledged at the CFP Retreat and Aimee on August 24. Welcome, dear sisters! We are all blessed to have you as life pledged members of the CFP!
Aimee responding to naming, preparing for life pledge. August 24, 2014
Following Aimee's life pledge, Aimee poses with Fr. Jacob Meyer, CFP Visitor who accepted her pledge, and with Andy Passino, CFP Affiliate and Crucifix Bearer and Lucy Fernandez, one of Aimee's CFP witnesses.
Lucy answering her call to life pledge with CFP life pledged members as witnesses, Sue Brady (left) and Ann Fennessey (right). Pledge made July 26, 2014 to Father George Nixon at CFP Retreat.
Lucy signing her life pledge on the altar at Christ the King Seminary, East Aurora NY, where CFP Summer Retreat 2014 was held. Minister General Madeline Pecora Nugent witnesses the signature.
Featured Items CFP Holy Angels Gift Shop
All of these items and many more are available in the CFP Holy Angels Gift Shop. God bless you for your support of the Confraternity of Penitents through your patronage of the on line gift shop. Order 24 hours a day!
Confraternity of Penitents Handbook, Eighth Edition. Imprimatur Bishop Kevin Rhoades. 24.95 standard print. 29.95 large print. All formation lessons, Rule and Constitutions, pledging ceremonies, history, CFP prayers, much information. Click on Handbook to access the link.
St. Francis Christmas Card and envelope. Package of 10. 4.95. Click on card to access the link.
Package of 10 assorted religious Christmas cards. High quality. With envelopes. 4.95. Images shown are samples only. Yours will differ from what is shown but be equally lovely or more so! Each package one of a kind closeout. Click on image to access the link.
"You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart, with your whole soul, and with all your mind, (and) you shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Jesus' words as recorded in Matthew 22:37-38)
Living Love of God and Love of Neighbor by following modern constitutions to the the original Rule which Saint Francis gave to the penitents in 1221.
The Confraternity of Penitents is fulfilling the Church's call to penance and repentance in the modern world. The Confraternity has canonical statusas an international private lay association of the faithful with commendation under the Bishop of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend IN USA (formerly under the Bishop of the Diocese of Providence Rhode Island). Its members live in their own homes. The Confraternity of Penitents welcomes inquiry from all Catholic laity and religious in union with the Pope who are interested in living a life of personal conversion and deepening surrender to God. Non-Catholics may apply as Associates.
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Confraternity of Penitents, 1702 Lumbard Street, Fort Wayne IN 46803 USA 260-739-6882 www.penitents.org firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com