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December 5, 2012 / Ronald Chapman

Heresy – Father de Franco Speaks

After settling into comfortable wicker seats, Father de Franco began. “Kevin, let me tell you about the underpinnings of our practice here. We are known as penitentes, a holdover notion from ancient practices of the church throughout New Mexico, which I suppose is as apt a word as any for describing us. But we do not practice the acts of penitence for which that tradition seems to be most known, extreme acts of mortification of the flesh. We believe that Jesus made it very, very clear. We know not what we do, thus there is no guilt to be absolved even though forgiveness of ourselves and others is practiced as often during the day as we can remember. We think of forgiveness as atonement, or at-one-ment, and each of us has a daily practice that asks us to remember our spiritual perfection as often during the day as we can. Then of course, we have several community practices scheduled during the day when we are to remember our collective perfection.”

He paused to sip his tea. “By some standards, we are heretics within the Catholic Church. The church would insist on our inherent sin, a notion we reject.” He chuckled. “Frankly, it is a curiosity that we have not been sanctioned by the church for our beliefs. Our members generally believe our efforts to abstain from judgment create more access to Grace, which then makes the crooked way straight for us. As a result, trouble does not come to our doorstep.”



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