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.]
For those unsure about how to pray this staple of Catholic prayer
Pope Pius XI is famous for saying, “If you desire peace in your hearts, in your homes, and in your country, assemble each evening to recite the Rosary. Let not even one day pass without saying it, no matter how burdened you may be with many cares and labors.”
The Rosary is a powerful prayer, but a surprising number of Catholics are not familiar with it. Older generations are often seen praying it in church or at home, but young people are not always taught how to use the holy beads.
The good news is that it is a simple prayer, one that is easy to pick up on after praying a few decades.
Below is a short beginner’s guide for those interested in the Rosary, but who were never taught how to pray it by their parents, grandparents or religious educators.
Each rosary (the string of beads) has a crucifix at the end of a short extension below the loop. Begin by holding the crucifix and making the sign of the cross.
The very first prayer of the Rosary is the Apostles’ Creed. It is a short profession of faith, affirming your beliefs in the Catholic Church. Recite this prayer while holding the crucifix.
I believe in God,
the Father almighty,
Creator of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died and was buried;
he descended into hell;
on the third day he rose again from the dead;
he ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty;
from there he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting.
A large bead follows after the crucifix. On this bead recite the Our Father.
Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, Amen.
Pray three Hail Marys on the following three beads. There is at least one tradition that suggests a person should pray for the theological gifts of Faith, Hope and Charity on these beads.
Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
Before the next bead, holding onto the chain of the Rosary, pray the Glory Be.
Glory be to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
At the next large bead, meditate on the first mystery of the Rosary and pray the Our Father.
The Rosary is divided up into five sections known as “decades,” called so because each decade contains ten small beads. During these decades it is customary to mediate on a “mystery” from the life of Christ. Tradition assigns different mysteries of the Rosary to each day of the week, but individual piety is not bound to it.
Mondays and Saturdays
The Joyful Mysteries surrounding Christ’s birth: The Annunciation (Luke 1:26–38); The Visitation (Luke 1:39–56); The Birth of Jesus (Luke 2:1–21); The Presentation of Jesus (Luke 2:22–38); The Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple (Luke 2:41–52)
Tuesdays and Fridays
The Sorrowful Mysteries center on Jesus’ passion and death: The Agony of Jesus in the Garden (Matthew 26:36–56); The Scourging at the Pillar (Matthew 27:26); The Crowning with Thorns (Matthew 27:27–31); The Carrying of the Cross (Matthew 27:32); The Crucifixion (Matthew 27:33–56).
Wednesdays and Sundays
The Glorious Mysteries reflect on the Resurrection and other heavenly episodes: The Resurrection (John 20:1–29); The Ascension (Luke 24:36–53); The Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles (Acts 2:1–41); The Assumption of Mary into Heaven; The Coronation of Mary as Queen of Heaven and Earth.
St. John Paul II made the most recent addition to the Rosary with the Mysteries of Light, also called the Luminous Mysteries. They fill a gap in the life of Jesus that wasn’t covered by the traditional mysteries of the Rosary: The Baptism in the River Jordan (Matthew 3:13–16); The Wedding Feast at Cana (John 2:1–11); The Preaching of the coming of the Kingdom of God (Mark 1:14–15); The Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1–8); The Institution of the Holy Eucharist (Matthew 26).
After meditating on the first mystery, pray a Hail Mary on the ten beads that follow. At the end of each decade pray the Glory Be. Some Catholics add the Fatima Prayer at the end of each decade, reciting the words taught by Our Lady of Fatima.
O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, and lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of Thy mercy
Repeat the above instructions for each mystery until reaching the end of the five decades.
At the end of the Rosary the next prayer is the Hail, Holy Queen. You may pray this prayer while holding the medal that joins the crucifix extension to the loop of the rosary.
Hail, holy Queen, mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness, and our hope. To you we cry, poor banished children of Eve; to you we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn, then, most gracious advocate, your eyes of mercy toward us; and after this, our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of your womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
To conclude the Rosary some pray the St. Michael Prayer, and then end with the following invocation.
O God, whose only-begotten Son, by His life, death, and resurrection, has purchased for us the rewards of eternal salvation; grant we beseech Thee, that meditating upon these mysteries of the most holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.
End by making the Sign of the Cross.