The Franciscans of Fort Lauderdale from the Parish of Sts. Francis and Clare attends the Florida Marlins Bark in the Park.
The College of Bishops of the Catholic Apostolic Church in North America (CACINA) would like to make clear our position that any attempt to take children and separate them from their parents is grievously wrong. The present situation that exists on our southern border should be immediately stopped and the children returned to their parents. These are not criminals, nor are their parents who have followed the laws and sought asylum.
From both a secular and religious perspective what is presently happening is wrong and damaging to children. Psychology has shown the enormous impact of lack of bonding and attachment on the later life of children. Bruce Perry, PhD and MD (2018) from the Child Trauma Academy states “many researchers and clinicians feel that the maternal-child attachment provides the framework for all subsequent relationships that the child will develop.” Breaking the bond between parent and child is not only cruel when it is forced, but will create many problems later for the child and for society.
From a political point of view it is egregious to use children as pawns to frighten away immigrants or for negotiation purposes so the President can get something he wants from Congress. Children are precious commodities, not bargaining chips.
From a religious standpoint, there could be nothing more abominable than to hurt children by taking them away from their only support and love. Jesus was very clear on his teachings about the value of children and the consequences for hurting them. He said, “Whoever receives this child in My name, receives Me, and whoever receives Me, receives the One who sent Me; for the one who is least among all of you, this is the one who is great” (Lk 9:48). In Matthew, Jesus says, “See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven continually see the face of my father who is in heaven” (18:10) and a few verses later has this severe command, “So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones perish” (8:14). Any time there are attempts to justify the present government’s actions biblically are a misuse of scripture and an abomination of Jesus’ intent. Thus, we the Bishops of CACINA feel that the immigration policies of the United States government are severely unjust, and in particular, the separation of children taking place on our southern border and the negligent treatment of these children. We implore the government to change these policies immediately for the sake of these children who are being so hurt, and the damage not be irreparable.
We urge our own people of CACINA to write their representatives, legislators, Congress and even the president to put the needs of children first, which is what a just society would do. At the same time, the Bishops continue to pray and to join with the many Christian groups across this country who oppose what is happening. We add our voice to theirs.
Most Rev. Ronald Stephens
Catholic Apostolic Church in North America
As I walked on pilgrimage this month in the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi, I pondered what I could learn from him about leadership. Like all of us, Francis scored some wins and some losses when it came to leadership. And like all of us, Francis didn’t always know in advance what approach to leadership would prove effective. As I reflect on Francis’ life, six lessons in leadership effectiveness stand out to me.
St. Francis, not always knowing what he was doing, discovered how to be an effective leader as he followed his calling. Much of his success in leadership was a side effect of his faithfulness.
St. Francis displayed a great deal of love and courage during his lifetime, and he influenced many people through his example. His life, teachings, and spiritual insights have attracted many followers through the years. His teachings are timeless and continue to live on today.
Note: Francis also suffered a number of failures in leadership which can also prove instructive (to be explored in a subsequent reflection).
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.