Fr. John's Letter Archives

Enjoy re-reading Fr. John's weekly bulletin letters for the past year.


Young Killers

02-25-2018Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

After yet another mass murder, we find ourselves grappling to find answers to why this happens and how to prevent it. So far, we have employed a strategy that insulates us from the effects of a would be terrorist, assassin or mass murderer. After 9/11 we came up with the TSA to screen out the less than one percent of travelers bent on using a plane as a weapon. In our schools we have trained staff and students in disaster drills and now how to respond to an active shooter situation. We have also mandated seat belts and airbags in vehicles to protect against among other dangers, drunk drivers. But none of these strategies, while they may reduce harm, get to the heart of the problem.

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Colluding with Dictators?

02-18-2018Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Our beleaguered leader is really taking it on the chin these days. His election was a surprise to many, and many long for the days of his predecessor. The bureaucracy actively works against him and seems to dog him at every step. He is accused of colluding with the worst kind of dictator and even compromising with a foreign power. In fact, he has been accused of being a dictator himself. Grant it, some of the things he says leave people scratching their heads and his administration running to explain what he said. Every major news outlet from the New York Times to the Wall Street Journal has recently editorialized against him and questioned his decisions. Does he deserve to be judged so harshly? I think not, which puts me in the minority position.

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Unshocked

02-11-2018Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

The great question to us is whether we are still capable of being truly shocked or whether it is to remain so that we see thousands of things and know that they should not be, and must not be, and that we get hardened to them. How many things have we become used to in the course of the years, of the weeks and months, so that we stand unshocked, unstirred, inwardly unmoved.

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Texting Too Much?

02-04-2018Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

You are probably familiar with the infamous text messages of the two FBI employees that were found, lost, and found again. Reportedly, there were 50,000 messages between November and June. Wow, that’s a lot of texting even for two people having an intramural extra-marital affair. That works out to about 25,000 texts sent and 25,000 responses. That would be, without counting sleep hours, one text and response about every eight or nine minutes, every day for five months.

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Revelations

01-28-2018Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Well, lo and behold, you do learn something new under the sun. The President, apparently, now and then talks like a real estate developer on a construction site in Queens or Brooklyn. Who would have ever guessed? According to some, though he denies saying it, the President referred to some countries as feces pits. Unfortunate choice of words. Lots of outrage ensued. But if you flip it around and it is not the case that some countries are in bad shape, then it should be no problem to have people return to those countries who are here on a temporary visa status. Right? After all, we would be sending them back to economically vibrant, flourishing democracies, or would we?

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Catechism at 25

01-21-2018Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

This past October was the 25th Anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, commissioned by Pope St. John Paul II and the Bishops at the 1985 Synod. At the time, few people thought they would live to see its completion, but on October 11, 1992, it was officially promulgated by Pope John Paul II.

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We Shall Not Rest

01-14-2018Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

One of the arguments that’s made in favor of abolishing the use of capital punishment in the US is that we as a country are not in sync with international norms. The larger international consensus has rejected the use of execution which means the US is in company with those countries that still use it: China, Iran, Singapore, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and a few other despotic regimes.

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School Choice?

01-07-2018Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

It looks like we really are living just this side of the gates of hell: “Army and Homeland Security prepping teachers for the gunman at the door”, so reads a recent headline. Apparently, the US Army and the Department of Homeland Security have created a computer based simulator that trains teachers on how to best react in an active-shooter situation. Many will respond: good we need to do all we can to keep our children and our schools safe. Pretty much the same as when airport security and the TSA were implemented. It’s just a way of life now. But does it have to be this way?

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Here We Go Again!

12-31-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Well, despite the media hype over the Trump-acalypse and since we are not all speaking Russian, the world in 2017 didn't end. So it looks like we are going to have to do it all over again! All 525,600 minutes, each of the 8,760 hours, all 52 weeks of all 12 months of 2018. So better to know what we are getting ourselves into:

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Merry Christmas

12-24-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Love, joy, and peace are words often associated with the infant in the manger in Bethlehem. But truth be told - the best way to describe him: subversive.  His birth undercuts all worldly power and assumptions. Even at the moment of birth, there was “no room in the Inn,” and as C.S. Lewis often quipped, “God had to sneak clandestinely behind enemy lines.” This world would not receive this newborn King and has found ways to reject him ever since. The swaddled child was an immediate threat to the political order and an object of panic to the religious community. Herod wanted him dead; the Temple officials wouldn’t tolerate this version of a Messiah. From this point onward, Jesus turned the worldly powers on their heads, he subverted the old religions, and those who dared to follow him were hunted down as revolutionaries, disloyal citizens who threatened the status quo.

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Rockin' Around Christmas Divorce

12-17-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Each year at this time I reprint this letter. While this may not be pertinent to all, I’m sure you know many divorced couples and if you know them well enough you can pass this along.

Each year thousands of American children are informed that their parents are divorcing and that there will be new living arrangements with the children alternating time between parents. Adults who experienced divorce as children frequently report that the holidays were especially stressful for them during their own childhood. This means that divorced or separated parents have to take time to figure out and discuss what the holidays should look like for their children and not what suits the parents or the custody arrangements. After all, we say, “Christmas is all about the children” but do we really set it up to be so?

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Watching from Afar

12-10-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Sometime during that long, painful Lent of 2002, as the Church’s abuse scandal unfolded, I said that one day, by God’s grace, the Church would be in a position of leadership on this issue. That day has now come. Now is the time to use our experience to help others. Watching someone else’s scandal unfold is painful and haunting. Someone asked if I was glad to see the media, Hollywood and public officials get their comeuppance, especially after how viciously so many of them went after the Church. Not at all. It is a joyless moment. That’s because another scandal means that people have been harmed and as the moral panic spreads a wide net is cast which means that innocent people will get caught up in the fallout as due process is shunted aside, and mob justice replaces it. Slowing down the moral panic that these revelations cause is often like trying to stop a speeding freight train. Sadly, a lot of bystanders get run over.

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Consequences

12-03-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Sometimes what appears as an act of kindness is really a form of enabling bad behavior. I think that is the case when President Trump interceded with Chinese authorities to have the three UCLA basketball players released from their shoplifting charges. Experiencing the consequences of our behaviors is necessary to becoming mature, honest, and upright people. So for these three young men, who already have swollen egos because they are up and coming basketball stars, the next thought, after being saved by Trump, was “what else can we get away with?”.  Rather than saving their future star status, they are now set up to make some really poor decisions that will most likely negatively impact their lives. After all, if they could get away with causing an international incident, what boundaries can they possibly place on their behavior?

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