Friday, November 29, 2013

In Thanksgiving for the Schoenle Family

You are holy, Lord, the only God,
and Your deeds are wonderful.
You are strong.
You are great.
You are the Most High.
You are Almighty.
You, Holy Father are King of heaven and earth.
You are Three and One, Lord God, all Good.
You are Good, all Good, supreme Good, Lord God, living and true. (St. Francis of Assisi, Prayer in Praise of God)

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.(Romans 8:28)

One year ago the eight children of Paul and Donna Schoenle were in shock and mourning. On November 11, 2007, their father Paul had died suddenly at home while watching the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on EWTN. At the age of 88, he had done a great deal of work on the house and property. He was a strong father figure, welcoming his children’s friends into the family and treating them as his own sons and daughters. They had fond memories of him. So his loss meant a great deal not only to his family but also to the community.

Now, this year, on November 27, their mother Donna had collapsed at the age of 90 while shopping and died. She, too, have been a loving and supportive presence to her family. Her feminine touch was evident throughout the family house. The children had many fond memories of their mother.

Paul and Donna Schoenle, May 2000

One year ago, the eight Schoenle children, many of them grandparents now, were coming together, the wake and funeral were planned, and they would gather to celebrate the lives of these two wonderful people who had graced their family with parenthood.

When the burial was completed and the children had time to think, they decided to have one last Christmas in the family home. So plans are made, and that Christmas, Christmas 2012, the eight children and spouses and grandchildren and some great-grandchildren of Paul and Donna Schoenle gathered in the family house and on the family property at 1702 Lumbard Street, Fort Wayne, Indiana, and celebrated the birth of Christ and the joy of the family. There were over 70 people present for that Christmas celebration.

Schoenle Children at Donna's Funeral

As the new year of 2013 wore on, the family had to decide what to do with the family house and the property. Paul and Donna and the Schoenle family have been strong and faithful supporters of St. Andrews’ Church just two blocks up the street which they had faithfully attended and supported until its closure. They were so happy when the Franciscan Brothers Minor were given the use of the church and rectory by Bishop Kevin Rhoades, as now the church was reopened and Masses held there again. The family agreed to donate the house and property to the Diocese for Fort Wayne/South Bend with the intention that the Friars use it as a friary or as they wished.

However, Father David Engo, Minister General of the Friars, but that the house and property might be a good place for the Confraternity of Penitents international headquarters. So he invited the Confraternity to look at the property and house. It is more than we could hope for, and we are so grateful to be here.

Gazebo at 1702 Lumbard Street, built by Paul Schoenle

At this season of Thanksgiving in the United States, we thank the Schoenle family for the gift of his property and we thank Bishop Rhoades for allowing the Confraternity to use it for our ministry. Please join us at this season in praying for the repose of the soul of Paul and Donna, and for their children and grandchildren and all other family members.

The prayer of St. Francis in praise of God seems so applicable to us at this time. And we know that in the case of the Schoenle family’s grief at this time last year, God has made all things work together for the good. May he be blessed for ever!

Monday, November 25, 2013

First Profession of Mother Colette Marie of the Franciscan Sisters Minor: Living the Confraternity of Penitents' Rule and Constitutions as Vowed Religious

What a blessing to be at the First Profession of Mother Colette Marie, foundress and superior of the refounded Franciscan Sisters Minor, a Capuchin Franciscan Third Order Regular Community, in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The vision for the Franciscan Sisters Minor is to live, in a poor Franciscan community of women, a religious adaptation of the Rule and Constitutions of the Confraternity of Penitents.

Mother Colette who, before her conversion, worked at MTV for eighteen years, has a strong knowledge of various forms of media which have been and will continue to be a great asset to the community in its apostolate of evangelization through the audio and visual media. The convent of the Franciscan Sisters Minor has a recording studio and computer room for use in this apostolate--the latest equipment even though the community itself wishes to live simply (the convent does not have or want a crock pot as the it doesn't really NEED one--it has a stove).

The Franciscan Sisters Minor prays the full Divine Office daily. Daily Mass attendance is a given. In addition to the work apostolate in evangelization, the community observes two daily Holy Hours daily in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. It also distributes donated bread to local residents and makes a point of befriending them and gently inviting them to Church. The community supports the Franciscan Brothers Minor whose founder Father David Engo is working closely with Mother Colette in the foundation of the Community and who was authorized by Bishop Kevin Rhoades, the Church superior, to receive Mother's vows.

The Franciscan Sisters Minor welcome all inquiries including older vocations. Mother Colette is herself a biological mother of three children and a teen aged grandson. She understands well the ins and outs of motherhood and grandmotherhood and the special considerations regarding clothing, sleeping arrangements, diet, and home visitations needed for aging women. Mother Colette has a joy, a balance, and a prudence so necessary for the foundress of an Order.

Inquiries may be sent to Mother Colette  More information is on the Franciscan Sisters Minor link on the Franciscan Brothers Minor website.

Here are some photos of Mother Colette's profession of the vows of poverty, chastity, obedience, and consecration to the Blessed Mother.

Mother Colette enters St. Andrew's Church in a procession prior to her profession.

Mother Colette making temporary profession to live the Rule of Life for the Franciscan Sisters Minor. Vow received by Father David Engo as authorized by Bishop Kevin Rhoades. 

Mother Colette, now clothed in the black veil of profession, receives the Rule and Constitutions of her Order.

After her profession, Mother is congratulated with a Franciscan hug by all twenty-some friars in attendance. 

Mother was then embraced by each of the dozen or so Confraternity of Penitents members present.  

Mother Colette with Fr. David Engo following the profession.

Mother Colette at the pot luck supper reception following  her profession, shown with Confraternity of Penitents members Madeline Pecora Nugent, Sandy Seyfert, and Jackie Stevens.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

2014 Calendar Tailor Designed for Confraternity of Penitents Members

One of our dear CFP brothers Paul Phelan has worked long and hard on a calendar especially tailored to the Confraternity of Penitents. He has carefully marked all the Fast and Abstinence days as well as promoted the CFP retreat and gift shop on the calendar. The calendar is a liturgical calendar with the solemnities, feasts, and memorials marked with the correct vestment color and name of the saint or celebration. This is truly a resource for all living the Rule of 1221. 

Paul will be happy to email you the calendar which you can then print out. His email is

He expects no reimbursement for this gift of devotion, but if you would say a prayer for Paul, he would be most grateful.

God bless you now, in the New Year, and always.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

New Insight on the Parable of the Ten Gold Coins

While people were listening to Jesus speak,
he proceeded to tell a parable because he was near Jerusalem
and they thought that the Kingdom of God
would appear there immediately.
So he said,
“A nobleman went off to a distant country
to obtain the kingship for himself and then to return.
He called ten of his servants and gave them ten gold coins
and told them, ‘Engage in trade with these until I return.’
His fellow citizens, however, despised him
and sent a delegation after him to announce,
‘We do not want this man to be our king.’
But when he returned after obtaining the kingship,
he had the servants called, to whom he had given the money,
to learn what they had gained by trading.
The first came forward and said,
‘Sir, your gold coin has earned ten additional ones.’
He replied, ‘Well done, good servant!
You have been faithful in this very small matter;
take charge of ten cities.’
Then the second came and reported,
‘Your gold coin, sir, has earned five more.’
And to this servant too he said,
‘You, take charge of five cities.’
Then the other servant came and said,
‘Sir, here is your gold coin;
I kept it stored away in a handkerchief,
for I was afraid of you, because you are a demanding man;
you take up what you did not lay down
and you harvest what you did not plant.’
He said to him,
‘With your own words I shall condemn you,
you wicked servant.
You knew I was a demanding man,
taking up what I did not lay down
and harvesting what I did not plant;
why did you not put my money in a bank?
Then on my return I would have collected it with interest.’
And to those standing by he said,
‘Take the gold coin from him
and give it to the servant who has ten.’
But they said to him,
‘Sir, he has ten gold coins.’
He replied, ‘I tell you,
to everyone who has, more will be given,
but from the one who has not,
even what he has will be taken away.
Now as for those enemies of mine who did not want me as their king,
bring them here and slay them before me.’”

After he had said this,
he proceeded on his journey up to Jerusalem. (Luke 19: 11-28)

Father David Engo recently preached a homily on Jesus' parable of the 10 gold coins. Here are some highlights.

This parable falls between Jesus' visit to Zacchaeus the tax collector and His triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. In this parable, Jesus is preparing his apostles for what is going to happen to him in Jerusalem.

The parable talks about a nobleman who went to a distant country to be proclaimed king. The people did not want him to be king and even sent a delegation with this news. This prepared the apostles for the rejection of Christ in front of Pilate when the people called out, "We have no king but Caesar."

Jesus warned that, on his return, the had his enemies brought in and slain before him. This was a warning to those who rejected Him.

Before leaving his homeland, the noblemen called 10 servants and gave each of them a gold coin. He asked them to invest it until he returned. 

Father David suggested thinking of the 10 gold coins as 10 vocations in life. Each person is given one of those coins. These vocations are:
monk or nun
married laity
single laity

Jesus expects a full return on the vocation that we have received. Since we do not know when He is coming, we need to be prepared for whenever He arrives for He is coming for each of us when we do not expect. He is looking to see if we have done well with what He has given us. Jesus is looking for a sacrifice of total surrender to His love, and he is a most ardent lover who wants all of our affection. He is calling for total surrender to Himself, a complete investment of the gold coin entrusted to us. Are we ready to give back to him, not just what He gave us but our gift wisely used to evangelize the world?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Pray Always and Never Lose Heart, Even in Your Brokenness

Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. He said, ‘In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, “Grant me justice against my opponent.” For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, “Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.”  And the Lord said, ‘Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?’ (Luke 18: 1-8)

Father David Engo gave a homily about the necessity of praying always and never losing heart. He noted that this parable had three things to say about prayer.

One. Prayer is necessary.
Two. Prayer must be continuous.
Three. We must never give up praying.

Prayer is as necessary to the spiritual life as breathing is to the physical life. Just as we must breathe continually to live, so must we pray continually in order to live spiritually. Prayer can be deep contemplative prayer, verbal prayer, the Mass, the Liturgy of the Hours, quiet time with God, or even quick pleas of help or praise. No matter how bad things become, and whether or not our prayers are being answered, we are never to give up praying. Why? Because God will answer.

Father David gave an example of how, when he was a boy, he was able to fix toys, so the children of the neighborhood would bring him their broken dolls and trucks to repair. Sometimes the repair was easy. Sometimes it was a little more difficult but could be done. But other times the toy was beyond repair, and so the children had to play with it broken. Father David noted that cars without wheels became boats or jet planes in the children’s minds.

In the same way, we go to God the Healer with all of our brokenness. Sometimes repairs are easy. Sometimes they take a little time. And other times God leaves us with the brokenness, and we must learn to play while broken. We can do this only if we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and if we remember to pray always and not lose heart.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Life in the Fast Lane or How One CFP Penitent Fits in ALL the Prayers and More

You've asked me to share, with a dear CFP brother, time management regarding prayer and how I, as a life pledged and privately vowed member, live the Confraternity of Penitents Rule and Constitutions.

Time management --.when I learn how to do that it will be a miracle.  To this dear brother in Christ I will say this.  First of all I only do ONE hour of silent prayer a day as my prayer option which on many days leaves me thinking I'm digging a hole of emptiness, and one day God will cover me over with my many distractions.
I go to Mass daily when I am working nights or am off, but I'm not able to go when working day shift as I have to be at work before any Masses are said.  When I leave work after a night shift, I go directly to Mass, and the truth is that I'm so exhausted that much of the time is spent trying to stay awake, and I don't get much out of it but my spiritual director has insisted that I must attend so I do.  Perhaps there are graces being given to souls for my sacrifice. I'd like to think so.
Much of the time, my CFP prayers are started in the shower or are said in the car going and coming from work.  One of my CFP sisters said that I was saying not praying, and that might be true, but God knows I do my best and I do feel a lifting of my heart to God in the car which might be another grace from His mercy.
I don't pray the full Liturgy of the Hours -- only Morning, Evening and Night Prayer as required by the Rule as I do have that hour of mental prayer daily to complete the CFP prayer schedule. Praying the full Liturgy of the Hours is difficult for me because I don't get any breaks at work and meals have to be eaten at my desk as I work my twelve hour rotating shift.  But I also have some flexibility, and, when working day shift, I take out my Office book and pray Morning Prayer at work first thing after I get there if I haven't had time to do it at home.  Most of the time I try to pray Evening Prayer just before my shift ends.  It's after normal work hours, and all management and eight  hour workers have gone by then.  Night prayer I pray just before bed.  

When I'm working night shift, I've found it best to keep the normal prayer schedule.  I say Evening Prayer before I get to work or soon after arriving.  I say Night Prayer before 11 p.m. Then before I leave in the morning after 5:00 am I say Morning Prayer or as soon as I get home if that wasn't possible.  In an effort to be more in tune with the rhythm of the Church, I've gotten out my copy of The Divine Office for Dodo's and am trying to learn how to do the "little hours" in the hope that I can try to incorporate them on the weekends.  I try to say other devotional prayers like the Rosary and Chaplet of Divine Mercy daily when I can.  Also I find it helpful to listen to devotional CDs in the car sometimes, although then I miss the quiet.
On days that I'm not working, I'm most happy because I attend morning Mass and have permission to be locked in to the church after everyone else leaves. Then I do my hour of silent prayer followed by Morning Prayer.  When I'm working nights, I try to go to the Dominican Monastery near work for my hour of prayer before going into work or to a church that has Adoration.  When I work days, I have to do my silent hour in the evening at home after I eat, but I admit to falling asleep many times followed by Night Prayer then bed.  
It sounds hectic and at times it is, but I also live alone and don't have to spend daily time with a spouse.  I've found TV has to have a minimal place in my life, and I don't have much time to read the newspaper; facebook, etc are out of the question.  I do have family (children and grandchildren, brother and sister, and a mother) that I have to interact with, but somehow God makes it possible because I ask Him for so much help.  The CFP way of life has been part of my life for so long now that it "IS" my way of life.  I need quiet time, I need prayer time as much as I need to eat and breathe. 
All this said, I don't feel I have the quality of prayer others may have, but I give God all that I can.  I struggle greatly with our 15 minutes of quiet meditation and Scripture reading and offering of the Psalms for the CFP members which are said sometimes in large clumps because I can't do them daily.  Ongoing formation reading is the hardest thing for me, and the first to be left out of any given day.

I have prayed the Liturgy of the Hours in the car, in the laundromat, in the doctor's office...whatever it takes. 
In the end, I would tell our CFP brother to ask God for help to make spaces where needed and trust that it will happen.  Be patient with yourself because this kind of a schedule is not the ideal, but don't let satan discourage you from making a commitment to God through prayer and living the Rule.  In the end, what you have to give up to grow closer to God will be a blessing.  

And be prepared for warfare!  Everything can and will try to come against your prayer time - do it anyway!  If the evil one tries to convict you that you are only giving lip service to prayer and make you feel bad, tell the Lord that it's true.  You don't pray as well as you should,  but admit that you give God all that you can, even your failures-- the fact that your prayer is sometimes rushed, even missed at times, that you're falling asleep at times. You know it could be better, and God knows that even better than you, but remember God can take anything and make something beautiful of it.  Accept the limitations you have now, and realize you won't have them forever.
Is this what you were looking for?
God bless,
R (lay sister M R in the CFP)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini: Saint for the Frustrated

November 13 if the feast of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini. Here is the prayer in the liturgy of the hours for her:

God our Father, you called Frances Xavier Cabrini from Italy to serve the immigrants of America. By her example teach us concern for the stranger, the sick, and the frustrated. By her prayers help us to see Christ in all the men and women we meet. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit one God, for ever and ever.

Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini

I do not recall ever reading a prayer for any other saint that invoked their intercession for the frustrated. Mother Cabrini is a good saint for the frustrated. Consider these frustrating times of her life.

1. Frances was the youngest of 13 children. No doubt she lived on hand-me-downs.

2. She wanted to become a missionary but to communities turned her down because of her poor health.

3. When she was 24, her Bishop and parish priest asked her to work with young girls at the House of Providence in another town. She, still wanting to become a religious, thought she would be there a short time, but she actually stayed for six years until the Bishop closed the institution.

4. While she was at this house, those in charge considered her an intruder and treated her with insults and disrespect. Here Frances learned the art of humility.

5. The Bishop told her, "You always wanted to be a missionary. I know of no such order for women. Why not begin one yourself?" This suggestion came to a quiet and backward young woman at a time when the anti-clericals were shutting down many religious works and suppressing entire religious orders. However, she agreed to look for a house.

6. Mother Cabrini's Institute of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart began in an abandoned Franciscan monastery where she and seven other young women spent the first night with no light and said their prayers in the dark. Four beds, they dragged in clean piles of hay from the fields. On November 14, 1880 the first mass was offered in a room hastily converted into a chapel.

7. Money was often scarce as the Order grew with new recruits.

8. Mother Cabrini wanted to open a house in Rome, but she had no money.

9. She wanted an audience with the Pope, but was not able to get one. She was able to meet with the vicar who, when she said she had no money, told her to come back in a few years. She went to a nearby church and poured out her grief to the Lord in prayer. A few days later the Cardinal received her again and asked her if she wished to be obedient. When she agreed, he told her to open not one house but two in Rome.

10. Early in 1889, Pope Leo XIII called Mother Cabrini and told her that she would become a missionary. However, this was not to the East as she had wished but rather to America where she would help the poor Italian immigrants. She agreed to go with six other sisters.

11. Mother Cabrini was terrified of water, but she set sail.

12. Her first night in America was spent in the dingy boarding house where, exhausted from seasickness, the sisters set up all night in hard chairs for the beds were filthy and crawling with bugs.

13. When the sisters met with the Archbishop to be told where their house which had been promised to them was located, the Archbishop was embarrassed because the plans for the orphanage had fallen through and he had mailed a letter to Italy to tell the sisters not to come, but they had already left. He advised them to go back to Italy on the ship that had brought them over. Mother Cabrini told him no. The Holy Father had sent her here and she was going to stay.

14. She managed to open an orphanage and a school before she did return to Italy three months later.

15. Mother Cabrini, the woman terrified of water, crossed the ocean 25 times to make foundations in North, Central, and South America. These institutions helped the sick and the poor.

Mother Cabrini was able to endure these and other frustrations because of her peaceful interior prayer life. She never forgot that she was made for God alone, to do his will, and she wanted to be totally submissive to God. She wrote in her notes, "Tell me what You wish that I do and do with me as You will."

That attitude would help a great deal when we feel frustrated.

Mother Cabrini, pray for us and our frustrations.

Send Jesus to Men in the Military

From time to time, we will make certain ministries known via this blog. Joel Whitaker shares this one.

I believe the CFP Pre-Christmas fast begins Nov. 12, the day after Veterans Day.  With that timing in mind, may I make two requests:
1.  That penitents consider setting aside a bit of the money they are (presumptively) saving by fasting until Christmas to make a $24 donation to Frontline FAith Project.  That $24 will be used to provide a MP3 player loaded with solid Catholic content -- Mass, Rosary, homilies, prayers, music and much more to servicemembers in harms way. 

This is incredibly important when you realize there are just 281 -- that's right -- 281 Catholic chaplains in the military to serve our service members worldwide.  Those chaplains are often responsible for servicing more than 20 different locations.  Many hope to bring Mass to a location at least once every 30 days.  So the MP3 player provides a way for the Catholic solider to be "connected" to the faith in a real way when no chaplain is available. 
Why an MP3 player?  ISn't there wifi at bases overseas?  What about EWTN radio?  (1) Yes, there's wifi at overseas bases.  But it is hardly reliable.  The MP3 player will work even when wifi won't.  (2) EWTN radio has the same problem . . . because power supplies are sometimes unreliable, and because shortwave propagation permits a transmitter to be heard only a few hours a day in any one area, the MP3 player is better because it's always there.  (3) Servicemembers are often living in very close quarters, with 2-6 people in a single room.  With the MP3 player, you can be laying in your bunk praying, and no one has to know.
The MP3 players not only help currently active Catholics who are deployed, those in Veterans Administration hospitals (who often die holding and listening to one) and their families, but also those who have strayed from the faith.  That makes them an evangelization tool.

More info is available at, as well as opportunities to donate. 
2.  Catholics represent about 20% of the members of the military, but those 281 chaplains represent just 8% of all military chaplains.  Please pray for more priests overall, and especially for an increase in those serving with the Archdiocese of the Military Services
Thanks for your consideration.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Saint Padre Pio "Comes" to the Confraternity of Penitents Headquarters

Saint Padre Pio

How blessed we were on Saturday, November 9, 3013, to have one of Padre Pio's gloves brought to our headquarters at 1702 Lumbard Street, Fort Wayne IN. The glove was brought by two members of a Padre Pio/Saint Monica Prayer Group in New Hampshire and had made the rounds of some Catholic churches and friaries in the Fort Wayne/South Bend Diocese. A small window of time opened up on Saturday night and the Confraternity was asked if we would like to have the glove come here. What is the only answer for that question? YES!

On Friday night, November 8, the glove was at a Mass and Blessing Service at St. Andrew's Church in Fort Wayne. The CFP Holy Angels Gift Shop had a few tables of items, some featuring St. Pio. Over 800 people were crammed into St. Andrews, filling the choir loft, confessional, sitting on chairs in the back and down the aisles and even sitting and standing on steps into the church. The Mass was 7 p.m. The blessing of each person individually concluded at quarter to midnight. So to be able to venerate the glove in a much smaller group was a true grace.

We began with a pot luck dinner at 6 pm, then Evening Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours and veneration of the glove. The glove, made of grayish brown wool, is one of many worn by the saint. It has been laundered and is encased in plexiglass for viewing on both sides and also for preservation. If one holds the glove up to the light, faint drops of darker material, presumably stains from the blood from Padre Pio's Stigmata, may be seen. Padre Pio was the first priest to receive the stigmata (St. Francis, the first to receive the stigmata, was a deacon, not a priest). Padre Pio bore the stigmata for 50 years and when, asked if it hurt, he said, "Do you think the Lord gave me this for decoration?" Saint Pio was known to have seen his guardian angel always, to have bilocated to various locations, to have been able to read hearts as he heard confessions, and to have powerful intercession for the Holy Souls in Purgatory. His intercession is powerful and his humility sincere.

Here are some photos from the visit of Padre Pio's Glove to the CFP headquarters.

Glove of Padre Pio in plexiglass 

Glove of Padre Pio on prayer altar. The wooden box once held the Blessed Sacrament at our first retreat in 1999. 

Pot luck meal nearly finished. Preparing to pray Evening Prayer. The couple who brought the glove from New Hampshire are pictured to the left. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Fast of Saint Martin

November 11 is the Feast of St. Martin, an appropriate day for Veteran's Day in the United States as St. Martin of Tours was a soldier who experienced conversion and became a holy monk. His feast was celebrated as a Solemnity in the Middle Ages, and the day after his feast, November 12, began the pre-Christmas Fast or the Fast of Saint Martin.
Saint Martin Renouncing His Sword by Simone Martini (c. 1321) Located in the Lower Church of the Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi in Assisi, Italy

Confraternity of Penitents members observe this fast. Those at the Novice 2 level and above would follow it according to our Rule and Constitutions (one full meal and one smaller meal per day with no solid food in between unless a bite to eat needs to be taken for strength. In that case, the bite to eat and the smaller meal, if put together, would still be less food than that taken at the larger meal.) The days of abstinence remain the same as they are all year (no meat on Mon, Wed, Fri, and Sat). Please see the Rule and Constitutions for details.

Affiliates and those not yet at Novice 2 level of formation as well as all others can observe the Fast of St. Martin in some way by abstaining from certain foods (sweets, snacks, for example) or by praying extra prayers, giving alms, and/or performing works of mercy, all good activities for those at Novice 2 level and above as well. 

More information on the Fast of Saint Martin is on this link:

The article is part of the Confraternity of Penitents Penance Library which is linked to from the CFP home page at 

The importance of the Fast of St. Martin is to prepare the soul spiritually for the coming of Christ at Christmas. In this same vein, it is good spiritually to focus on Advent as a time of prayerful preparation and to attempt to slow down the busyness of preparing Christmas with all its secular emphasis. 

Another way to assist in a prayerful preparation for Christmas is by praying the Stations of the Crib on this link, also in the CFP Penance Library:

This is available in print form from the CFP Holy Angels Gift Shop on this link:

May the Holy Spirit show us how each of us how to observe the Fast of Saint Martin so that we will become receptive to the graces which the Lord wants to bestow on us during this holy time.

Let us pray for one another and for all doing penance worldwide.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Owe Nothing to Anyone, Except to Love One Another: A Reflection on Debt and on Living the CFP Rule

Joel Whitaker, one of our CFP inquirers, shared a reflection on the Mass Readings for November 6, 2013. Here are the readings:

First Reading:

Brothers and sisters:
Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another;
for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.
The commandments, You shall not commit adultery;
you shall not kill;
you shall not steal;
you shall not covet,

and whatever other commandment there may be,
are summed up in this saying, namely,
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
Love does no evil to the neighbor;
hence, love is the fulfillment of the law. (Romans 13: 8-10)

Responsorial Psalm 

R. ( 5a) Blessed the man who is gracious and lends to those in need.
R. Alleluia.
Blessed the man who fears the LORD,
who greatly delights in his commands.
His posterity shall be mighty upon the earth;
the upright generation shall be blessed.
R. Blessed the man who is gracious and lends to those in need.
R. Alleluia.
He dawns through the darkness, a light for the upright;
he is gracious and merciful and just.
Well for the man who is gracious and lends,
who conducts his affairs with justice.
R. Blessed the man who is gracious and lends to those in need.
R. Alleluia.
Lavishly he gives to the poor;
his generosity shall endure forever;
his horn shall be exalted in glory.
R. Blessed the man who is gracious and lends to those in need.
R. Alleluia. (Psalm 112: 1B-2, 4-5, 9)


Great crowds were traveling with Jesus,
and he turned and addressed them,
“If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, 
wife and children, brothers and sisters,
and even his own life,
he cannot be my disciple.
Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me
cannot be my disciple.
Which of you wishing to construct a tower
does not first sit down and calculate the cost
to see if there is enough for its completion? 
Otherwise, after laying the foundation
and finding himself unable to finish the work
the onlookers should laugh at him and say,
‘This one began to build but did not have the resources to finish.’ 
Or what king marching into battle would not first sit down
and decide whether with ten thousand troops
he can successfully oppose another king
advancing upon him with twenty thousand troops? 
But if not, while he is still far away,
he will send a delegation to ask for peace terms. 
In the same way,
everyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions
cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14: 25-43)

Reflection by one of our CFP inquirers. Some additional comments added in brackets.

By the way, today's readings struck me with thunder . . . so very appropriate for someone inquiring or in formation [with the Confraternity of Penitents].  St. Paul's direct statement: "Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another," got my attention immediately since I ran up a bunch of credit card debt for business.  In compliance with the Constitution, I plan to get rid of that, but it's going to take a while and won't be pretty.

Then there was the Responsorial Psalm, "Lavishly he gives to the poor; his generosity shall endure forever. . ."  Lavishly?  Fits right in with the tithing rule.  People do it, but in a country where the average charitable contribution is about 2%, tithing is "lavish." [CFP members are asked to tithe which means to give 10% of one's earnings as alms]

And finally, in the Gospel, "everyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple.”  I'm presuming this "renounce" doesn't mean give it all away -- my wife and daughters would be really upset if I gave away their house and furnishings -- but to try to have no more than is needed.  [This is exactly what is meant here for lay people. Penitents are to live as simply as possible according to their state in life. They can give away their OWN things but not those of family members.]

The directive in today's Gospel to "calculate the cost" is thought-provoking:  I remember the woman on the chat in the summer {the CFP has a monthly on line chat in a chat room for instruction and sharing, for CFP members only] who said she dreaded giving up all her pink clothes.  [CFP penitents wear certain neutral colors and blue, as stated in our Constitutions. Pink isn't a color we wear. This follows the pattern of the color of clothing originally worn by the penitents in 1221] That "calculate the cost" line made me realize that joining CFP entails real costs . . . if one is eating just two meals a day (and especially if one avoids "a little bite"), what must one cut out to eat less than two full meals on a fasting day?  [The CFP  members eat 2 meals a day and maybe a bite at a third time, if needed, unless exempted by a physician for health reasons] What all does one give up to pray 90 minutes a day?  How many clothes are enough?  Which is more important -- getting rid of debt or tithing?  If I focus on getting rid of credit card debt, that can be done in five years.  But if I also tithe, that will probably be stretched out to 10 years.  (My instinct is to focus on getting rid of the debt, then "catching up" on the tithing.), etc., etc. [The CFP asks that debt be eliminated first and then tithe, as it is justice to pay up debt as soon as possible]

Really interesting questions.  I see now why a spiritual director is important.  Now the trick will be to find one. [All in the CFP are to have a spiritual director by the middle of their first year Novice formation. A spiritual director meets with the penitent at least monthly and offers spiritual guidance]  And I'm also coming to see that joining CFP is an obligation to, in very specific (and not always pleasant) ways take up a cross daily. 

Joel Whitaker