A LENTEN BLESSING
A FRANCISCAN BENEDICTION
May God bless you with Discomfort. . .
at easy answers, and half-truths, and superficial relationships,
so that you may live deep within your heart.
May God bless you with Anger. . .
at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people
so that you may work for justice, freedom. and peace.
May God bless you with Tears. . .
to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war,
so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and turn their pain into joy.
And may God bless you with enough foolishness. . .
to believe that you can make a difference in their world, so that you
can do what others claim cannot be done. Amen
“Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them…” (Mt 19:14)
A CACINA Response to the School Shootings
There is little more to be said about the school shootings from a newsworthy point of view other than that the tide seems to be turning. In the past, we would mourn the tragedy and soon forget about doing anything about it. It has become clear that our representatives have been bought by the NRA through campaign donations and they are not about to look that gift horse in the mouth. But they are starting to. What has changed?
The teenagers at Parkland are older than the survivors at Sandy Hook. With age and education, they have realized that they have a voice and that they are going to use it. We support their movement fully.
Jesus said: Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.” (Mt. 18:1-5) The “children” at Parkland are able to see things through the eyes of some innocence and they have not yet been corrupted by many of the values of our generations. Many of us despair of being able to do anything, and so we sit and watch the news and maybe gripe to our friends, but we don’t do anything.
It is time for us to join with the voices from Parkland – those dead and those living – to call our representatives to account, to study the issue fully, to look at what other countries have done and realize that there are answers that we have been too blind to see.
We can prevent other tragedies like this from happening, and it isn’t by more guns. Arming teachers and armed guards are not the answer. They didn’t help at Parkland and won’t help elsewhere.
Please join me and my fellow Bishops and make your priorities known to your representatives and, if they don’t listen, work to remove them and find someone who will. Think about leadership yourselves. Take on the fresh dreams of the young and do not be complacent. We can not afford to let this momentum die but push for real change through prayer and action. We have prayed and prayed. The time for action is now.
The College of Bishops
Most Rev. Ronald Stephens
The Catholic Apostolic Church of North America
From Fr John at St Roberts in Johnston RI – Homily
One day Little Johnny was lying on a hill on a warm spring day gazing up at the white puffy clouds. Soon he began to think @ God — so he said out loud — God are you up there? To his surprise a voice came from the clouds — Yes Johnny what can I do for you? Seizing the opportunity, Johnny asked: “God what’s a million years like to you?” Realizing that Johnny could fully understand the concept of eternity, God said: “A million years to me is like 1 minute.” “Oh,” said Johnny, “well then what’s a million $ like to you?” “ A million $ to me is like 1 penny,” said God. “Getting an idea” Johnny said “WOW…God you are so generous could I have one of your pennies?” God replied, “Sure Johnny, no problem, just wait a minute.”
Little Johnny wasn’t quite expecting that answer was he? In that sense it’s a perfect ADVENT story, for this is the Church’s season of waiting and of being ready.
When we become so preoccupied with planning parties or become stressed out with shopping, or writing cards or baking tons of cookies, or decorating our house and yard — we can actually miss the birthday of the Prince of Peace because we are so emotionally & physically over-extended.
When our eyes are dazzled by too much tinsel and too many lights, by too many reindeer, and too many snowmen, we can actually have trouble seeing the simple Star of Bethlehem guiding us to the Savior’s humble stable.
Remember when Christ first came among us He kept it Simple, Silent, And Slow. We are the ones who have turned it UP SIDE DOWN.
When I was a kid my father and I would sometimes go for a walk on Sunday afternoons to see the trains. I remember the signs at the RR crossing with the words: STOP– LOOK– LISTEN.
In a sense the Simple message of Advent invites us to do the same in our lives today.
STOP some of the Madness & craziness of the so called Holiday season….Keep it simple LOOK around at the world with all its needs & beauty, all its people & its struggles and ask ourselves — How will my preparations for Christmas help them experience God’s love in a real way?
LISTEN to Christ’s call in the Gospel to be ready for Him whenever or however He reveals Himself to us today.
STOP — LOOK— LISTEN; Write those words down and put them where you can see them as an ADVENT reminder.
In other words — Pay attention to the deeper values & truths that Advent calls us to.
It’s OK to decorate your yard & home as long as we remember it’s not the Snowman’s B-day we are celebrating. It is Christ for whom we wait to return in glory & love to redeem His people.
Advent reminds us that God has already given us all we need in the Greatest Gift ever — Our savior & our brother Jesus Christ.
Thru Him we can all put aside our fears, our failures and our frustrations — and accept God’s friendship, God’s freedom and God’s forgiveness.
As we begin this Season of Paying Attention — Stop Look Listen & Keep it simple
Put aside some extra time for Christ each day
May we Keep our eyes fixed on Jesus as we begin this season of Advent preparation.
Be an associate of the Franciscans of Fort Lauderdale
Prayer: Join with the friars in prayer, especially for the needs and intentions of Sts. Francis and Clare Parish, and vocations to the community.
Community: Spend time each month with the Friars as spiritual guide through prayer, education and informal activities and discussion.
Growth: Experience your faith more deeply by exploring the joy and richness of a spiritual life led by Franciscan ideals.
This opportunity is offered to all men and women who express a desire to spend more time in prayer, learning and fellowship. Initially, applicants would spend a period of time exploring the purpose, work and goals of this informal religious community. After this ‘novitiate’ members would ‘profess’ annual promises to the community and receive a San Damiano cross as a physical sign of their membership. Persons living outside the parish area are encouraged to remain members. Men and women of ALL ages are welcome.
To inquire more contact Fr Vinnie at church, or send a message.
Beautiful Interfaith Thanksgiving service at the United Church of Christ Fort Lauderdale. Many different faith traditions joined together to give thanks.
Watch the speech of father Joe on our Facebook please.
This is how our new church looked yesterday. It will look different in about three weeks
by Bill Tammeus
From the distance of 500 years, the Protestant Reformation, which began Oct. 31, 1517, seems increasingly to have been both avoidable and regrettable.
Had Martin Luther and the Catholic Church then both been more willing to listen, acknowledge error, remove ego from the equation and, in humility, pay attention to the sometimes gentle, often subtle, never coercive Holy Spirit, perhaps the Western church might have held together.
But we cannot change history. The best we can do is change the present and try to shape the future. That seems to be what’s happening between Catholics and Protestants at the upper reaches of authority. Whether it will make any difference to people in the pews is so far unknowable, but we can hope.
The most recent evidence that Catholics and Protestants sometimes are singing from the same page came July 5 at a ceremony in Wittenberg, Germany, where Luther once nailed his “95 theses” to the cathedral door in hopes of a debate that would lead to fixing things he found wrong in the church. (He may have mailed in the theses, but let’s go with the legend.)
At that ceremony, the World Communion of Reformed Churches (in the U.S. think Presbyterians and the United Church of Christ, among others) said it was in harmony with a document (the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification) that the Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation signed in 1999.
In announcing its agreement with that document, the organization of Reformed churches issued its own statement highlighting why it decided the Lutherans and Catholics got it right.
In typical church document language — meaning stilted and extraordinarily careful — the Reformed Churches declared this: “We rejoice together that the historical doctrinal differences on the doctrine of justification no longer divide us, and we experience this as a moment of self-examination, conversion and new commitment to one another manifesting new unity and advancing our common witness for peace and justice.”
So it seems that the Catholic and Protestant branches of Christianity increasingly are singing “Kumbaya” together around the campfire. Are they? And, if so, what does it mean?
Well, as a longtime advocate for both interfaith and ecumenical dialogue and understanding, I hope this is another step toward healing the 500-year-old divide. But I doubt that it changes much inside the walls of Catholic or Protestant churches.
For one thing, I bet you could go to every Catholic and Protestant congregation in the U.S. this Sunday and you wouldn’t find more than .005 percent of the people there who’ve even heard about what the Reformed churches said in July. And I’d be surprised if you could find more than 2 percent of people there who had heard of the 1999 Catholic-Lutheran agreement.
Probably the best to be hoped for would be to find that some folks at those worship services will know that Luther was against the Catholic Church selling indulgences and was in favor of the idea that people are saved by grace through faith.
After that it will be on to such topics as the miserable coffee in the fellowship hall, the upcoming annual stewardship campaign, the need to recruit more Sunday school teachers and the terrific solo at today’s service.
However important the theological battles were 500 years ago — or even 1,000 years ago in the Great Schism — the sad truth today is that many people of faith are biblically and theologically illiterate. They’re more interested in how to live a moral life in an immoral age, and that’s not a bad thing.
In other words, they care much less about “works righteousness” than they do keeping their ethical balance at work and home.
So good for some Protestants and the Vatican for agreeing about some difficult matters of angels dancing on heads of pins. But let’s also focus on reforming the companies making those pins so they don’t exploit workers.
[Bill Tammeus, a Presbyterian elder and former award-winning Faith columnist for The Kansas City Star, writes the daily “Faith Matters” blog for The Star’s Web site and a column for The Presbyterian Outlook. His latest book is The Value of Doubt: Why Unanswered Questions, Not Unquestioned Answers, Build Faith . E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.]