Monday, October 28, 2013

Christ Came to Cast Fire Upon the Earth or Why We Burn Candles at Mass

"I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!” Luke 12:49

What did Jesus mean by this statement? Was He talking about a destructive fire or was He talking about the fire of the Holy Spirit?

In a recent homily, Father David Engo, FBM, gave insights into this Scripture verse from Saint Luke. He spoke about the various qualities of fire.

Fire warms.

Fire hardens.

Fire consumes.

Fire dances.

Fire gives light.

Fire spreads.

Fire makes pliable.

Let’s parallel these quality of fire with the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit warms us with the love of God. It gives us the warmth of God’s presence.

The Holy Spirit, when applied to our lives, can make us firm in adhering to the Lord. We  become stronger through the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit intends to consume all of our sins and all of our will so that nothing is left of ourselves but all is for and of God.

The Holy Spirit will make us joyful before God so that our soul dances before Him in praise.

The Holy Spirit shows us the way through life by being a light in the darkness of sin and the flame of love and direction in a world that does not know the Lord.

God wishes the Holy Spirit to spread God’s love throughout the world so that all catch spiritual fire.

For souls hardened in sin and hardened against God, the infusion of the Holy Spirit makes those souls pliable, flexible, open to the love of God and to His plans.

"I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!” Luke 12:49

We burn candles at Mass to remind ourselves of these functions of the Holy Spirit in our lives:

To warm us with God's Love, to firm us up, to consume our sins and will totally, to light the way in the darkness, to spread God's love, to make us pliable to God's plans. 

The fire Christ wants to kindle on the earth is a Holy Spirit in each of our souls. Will we let Him set us aflame? 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Pilgrimage in the Footsteps of Saint Paul

Tom, a second year novice with the Confraternity of Penitents, is on a pilgrimage in the steps of Saint Paul. His latest update is:

A really long and awesome day in Ephesus.  We went to Mary's House up on the hill and had a Mass in the open air. Then to ancient ruins including of temple of  Artemis where St. Paul caused a riot (recorded on Acts, the crowd shouting "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians" for two hours).  Lunch at a rug making factory where we got a very learned lecture on rug making and how to tell quality of varying degrees. Boy, are they expensive !! Out of my range entirely. But extremely beautiful, especially the silk rugs.  $6,000 is the
starting range.  We finished at ruins of the ancient Cathedral of St. John where the apostle is buried. We prayed at his tomb. I never knew there even was a tomb of St. John.   It was a day none of us in this pilgrimage group will ever forget.  We were all just blown away.  

Tom also mentions that videos of the pilgrimage are being posted daily at 

Check them out. Most interesting!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Doc Klein's Life Pledge and Private Vow

The Confraternity of Penitents was blessed on Sunday, October 13, 2013, when, at about the same time that Pope Francis was consecrating the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Ameil (Doc) Klein made a life pledge and then a private vow to live the Confraternity of Penitents Rule for life. Doc's profession was made to Father Johannes K├╝pper at the Franziskanerkloster in Geismar, Germany. The Mass was in German but Doc took his profession in English. Here are some photos of that event. Please hold Doc (now br. Philip Julius) in prayer as he has been diagnosed with terminal liver cancer.
Doc prepares to read his pledge. Father Johannes officiating.

Doc reading his pledge.

Doc signing his pledge and private vow. His privately vowed name in the CFP is brother Philip Julius after Saint Philip Neri and Pope Julius.
The friars signing Doc's pledge and vow as witnesses.
Doc being clothed with the brown scapular.

Doc returning to his seat after the pledging ceremony. 
Doc (now br. Philip Julius in the CFP) and his wife Helene after Mass. Doc said that the photos cannot capture the warmth and congratulations of those who witnessed this beautiful ceremony.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Loss of One Life

Several things are pressing on my heart as I write this, all involving human lives.

First, I read an article about a little boy born with very marked physical deformities, due to a rare genetic defect, who was born in India and whose parents called him a "curse" and did not want to take him home from the hospital. If they did, they said they would kill him. A Christian family working at the hospital adopted the child who has had several surgeries and who is now two years old. The mom has written a blog about their family experiences. I looked up this disorder on line and found a few cases of it, all of which showed babies who had died or whose lives were terminated in utero because of this disability. What makes us human? Our bodies or our souls? I realize that fear places a huge part in dealing with disability. How can we deal with someone who looks so different? If we can't deal with it, we think others can't as well. Hence, termination (a more pleasant term than abortion which is what termination of pregnancy is).

Then there was another article about a pregnancy crisis worker in Louisiana who found a bottle in the Gulf with a message in it. When she opened it up, she found an ultrasound of a womb containing with it a 6-8 week unborn baby, taken by Planned Parenthood in May of this year, and then another ultrasound of an empty womb, taken a week later. Both ultrasounds were marked with the same initials, indicating the same patient. A note inside the bottle had two sets of initials with a heart around them and a message that read, "We will always love you." The obvious conclusion is that this woman asked for the ultrasounds taken by Planned Parenthood before her abortion and then one week later (in some Southern states, an ultrasound is required by law a week after the abortion), then wrote a note to her baby and signed it with her initials and those of the baby's father. The starkness of the empty womb following the womb with the baby told of what an abortion truly is. The loss of a person. Who was that person who was taken away so young? What would he or she have done?

Whose lives would have changed and matured had those children with disabilities been born? We can never know.

Then, today, I saw on line a troubling story about a four year old child found in Gypsy camp during a drug raid. She is not the biological child of the man and woman whom she was found with and who had five different conflicting stories of how they came by this child. This frightened face of this little girl called Maria is the face of trafficking in children. And I think of how EASY it would be to traffic in children. Have a baby at home without ever going to a doctor, move to an area where you aren't known, and sell the child for drugs or money. No one but God knows the child exists. What awful things could be done to and with this helpless child make one shudder. Evil is the only word for this.

Finally I read a post about a man who finally, after 33 years, came to admit to himself that he was the father of four children, not three. He and a girlfriend had aborted the first one 33 years ago. One of this man's born daughters wrote a moving story to her sibling Jesse who never saw the light of day. What would Jesse have achieved in life? His father regrets not knowing.

What do we do in the face of things like this? We as penitents need to stand for all life, no matter how compromised, no matter how conceived. Prayers, yes. Helping hands. Yes. Whatever it takes to support families in need. We can't plan when we will be there to help. One of our penitents was plunged into the middle of this when her daughter confided in her mom that she was pregnant and had to abort. Our penitent talked to the daughter and offered her all sorts of support except support for the abortion which the daughter and her boyfriend scheduled anyway. However, with all of us penitents praying (Mom asked for prayers), the daughter, in the clinic's waiting room, looked so distraught that her boyfriend said, "You don't have to go through with this if you don't want to. Do you want to go home?" "Yes," she said. That baby girl was born about two months ago. God be praised.

What will the sparing of that one life mean? We shall never know. Only God knows.

One of our penitent brothers tells us how one of his ancestors was born so early that he almost died. If he had, this penitent's father would not have been born and our penitent brother would not be here. God spared his grandfather's life--and our penitent's life, too.

We must always advocate for and pray for life. God creates. God must take home in His time, not ours. Let us pray for all children in danger of death from any means but especially from human violence in any form. And may all abused children and abducted children be brought to safety. Amen.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Gift of Gratitude

Last Saturday at confession, the priest mentioned the gift of gratitude. He stated that St. Ignatius Loyala (if I recall the saint correctly) stated that too often we are ungrateful to God for His gifts. And we are surrounded by those gifts. Not that we grump about the fantastic sunset or grumble because violets line our path. No. We often simply overlook them or pay them no attention because we are so caught up in our own concerns. The priest suggested thanking God for everything, and making a practice to do so frequently.

One of the formation lessons for the Confraternity of Penitents asks the penitent to take five minutes and list all the things he or she is grateful for. For many, this is an eye opener. They start off and find out that their list, after five minutes, contains things they never were thankful for before, like buttons and eyebrows and tissues for runny noses. Truly, we are surrounded by God's gifts. May God grant us the grace of grateful hearts!

One gift I'm thankful for today is our grandchild Greta who is nine today. Her birth was certainly God's gift to our family, as were the births of our other three grandchildren. Happy birthday, Greta! And thank You, God!

Welcome to the World of Penance

Welcome to the world of penance! It's a great day to embrace a little sacrifice here in Indiana as it's a cool, rainy night out there. Winter is definitely coming. 

Actually, the weather has been warm for this time of year, so who is to complain when what is expected finally comes?

Father David Engo, FBM, gave a fantastic homily on humility today. He talked about how only the childlike can walk the narrow path or get through the needle's eye because those with big heads, noses in the air, and strong, powerful shoulders are too big to pass. Something to think about.

Pray for one of the Poor Sisters of St. Clare. Had a medical emergency yesterday. A doctor came to the convent. May God bless him or her for this charity.

We are working on the Capuchin Sisters website. Check it out!

Two of our life pledged and privately vowed members, Rita and Elizabeth, are planning to visit Bill, another privately vowed member, next week at the care facility where he resides. Please pray for them and for safe travel as it's a long drive to see him. 

May God bless you this day with a special grace!