Fr. John's Letter Archives

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


A little March Madness

03-31-2013Fr. John LettersFr. John

Maybe you didn't expect to be here with us on this Easter Day so let me say how glad we are that you are here. But don't feel like a bagel on a plate of danish as this entire month has been filled with the unexpected. A March Madness of a different sort. We end this month with a celebration of the unexpected: a man rises up from the dead! We started this month with the unexpected as well: the abdication of Benedict XVI. Mid-month gave us lots of unexpected firsts as well: the first non-European pope in a millennium, the first pope from the New World, the first pope from the Jesuit Order and the first pope to be known as Francis.

With Pope Francis what we have is a change in style, tone and probably emphasis but not substance. Many who are about to fall off the left edge of the Church roof are gnashing their teeth that he is not the first ever black, Jewish, LGBT pope. Still many who are about to fall off the right side of the Church roof are having a major hissy fit that the new pope has a rather low-church style and so far has shunned all the liturgical bells and whistles as well as the red shoes, mozzetta and ermine. Some days you just can't win.

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Erin go Brach!

03-17-2013Fr. John LettersFr. John

Dear Friends,

Well the luck o' the Irish… Between 1922 and 1996 Irish sisters operated a series of laundries in Ireland that also served as quasi detention centers for young women. Many of the women were sent there by the Irish government or their families. The women were often referred to as "Magdalenes" after St. Mary Magdalene. In recent years the Magdalene Laundries have come under closer scrutiny and have been described as cruel and pitiless places where women worked without pay and in poor and abusive conditions. At least that is the media representation.

In 2002 the film "The Magdalene Sisters" appeared in theaters. It was about four teenage girls committed to an Irish laundry where they supposedly experienced or witnessed routine physical and sexual abuse by nuns and a priest. It depicts the laundries as profitable, moneymaking rackets, and shows the women subjected to various indignities including head shaving. The film purported that it was based on actual historical facts and witness testimony.

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Not a Yankees Fan

03-10-2013Fr. John LettersFr. John

Dear Friends,

I am not a Yankee's fan. I have nothing against the Yankee's and even consider them the greatest Major League Baseball franchise ever. It's just that I cheer for other teams. Which means it doesn't matter much to me who owns the Yankees, who manages the team or who they have playing shortstop. Now if I was a baseball insider, or worked for Major League Baseball or had season tickets to the Yankees I probably would care a whole lot and have many opinions about those things. But as it is I don't.

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Interregnum

03-03-2013Fr. John LettersFr. John

Dear Friends,

The period between popes is known as "interregnum". Now that the See of Peter is vacant (sede vacante) the Cardinals will come together in conclave to elect a successor to Benedict XVI. Having the Cardinals go into seclusion to elect a pope started somewhere in the 12 th or 13 th century. Prior to that the clergy of the Diocese of Rome would elect a pope (since he is the Bishop of Rome) and later the Roman Pontiff was elected by the few Cardinals there were as they were attached to the Church in Rome or the dioceses surrounding Rome. Eventually Cardinals outside of Rome were also appointed. Then with the rise of the nation-state and as the influence of the Popes spread, civil rulers and the people at large insisted on a speedy papal election. Since there were only handfuls of Cardinals who were often evenly split at least by country and the rule requires a two-thirds majority, conclaves could often go on for months and sometimes years. At times and at the insistence of civil rulers the Cardinals would often be locked in under Imperial guards and fed bread and water in order to speed up the process. In the case of one Conclave that was taking too long the people took the roof off the place where the Cardinals were staying as a hint to move things along. Ah, the good old days!

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Papa Ratzinger

02-24-2013Fr. John LettersFr. John

Dear Friends,

So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded to do, say, “we are unworthy servants, we have done only what we ought to have done.”
—Luke 17:10

On February 28 at Noon (MST) we will lose our German Shepherd. Maybe history will remember him as the little pope from Bavaria with a big mind. But right now he is seen as the first pontiff in 600yrs to abdicate. Not withstanding the reasons why, this act is one of profound humility. Pope Benedict is saying to us “this is not about me but about the Church”. This is a lesson our culture can certainly use. Just as John Paul II taught us to affirm the dignity of every person even the most debilitated and the dying through his own suffering and death, Pope Benedict is teaching us a different lesson in his abdication. We are so used to the cult of the personality, the celebrity culture where we promote ourselves to the point that we think the earth will fly off its axis without us so it is refreshing to see a world leader that actually puts principles before his ego.

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The Prophecy of the Popes

02-17-2013Fr. John LettersFr. John

Dear Friends,

St. Malachy (1094-1148) was an Irish priest who became Bishop of Armagh and was noted for his leadership, education and mystical experiences. Almost 900yrs ago while in Rome on a visit to Pope Innocent II, Malachy received a disturbing vision in which he saw the next 112 popes beginning with Pope Celestine II (1130 A.D.) the successor of Innocent II and ends with the Pope of the last days. This has become known as "The Prophecy of the Popes". Afterwards St. Malachy wrote down short Latin phrases that give some clue to the identity of each pope. Mostly these clues involve something of the pope's personality, character, birth, place of origin, coat of arms or motto. As is often the case with mystical visions translating them into humanly understandable language is difficult and hence cryptic and symbolic in description. After almost 900yrs we are now coming to the end of the list of popes as foretold by St. Malachy.

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Why do we send children to school?

02-10-2013Fr. John LettersFr. John

Dear Friends,

This past week Law Enforcement officers were able to rescue the 5-year-old Alabama boy who was snatched off a school bus after the perpetrator killed the bus driver and then held the boy hostage for one week. Add this to the heartbreaking slaughter of young children in Newton and ask yourself what do parents today tell their children when they send them to school? Do they say, "well I am sending you to school where you'll learn all sorts of fun things like how to read and write and the history of the world and make new friends and oh, well you might be shot and killed." We even apply prison terms to our schools: they go on "lockdown" and students have "early release." Many of our schools are patrolled by Police officers and even more use metal detectors. Is this just the cost of doing business? Have we just accepted this is the way it is going to be?

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Equal not Exactly the Same

02-03-2013Fr. John LettersFr. John

Dear Friends,

Anything you can do
I can do better.
I can do anything
Better than you

— From "Annie Get Your Gun"

The New England Journal of Medicine recently reported that since women now smoke like men they have lung cancer rates the same as men. This is what gender equality is all about, right? I know that I am hopelessly out of touch with the present day view of gender roles but I guess this is the logical next stop on the march toward gender equality. The underlying rationale of gender equality is that women must take on the roles of men in order to be equal. That in itself suggests that women are intrinsically unequal. 'Only by imitating a man can a woman really be a woman' is the message our young girls are being taught.

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Equal but not the Same

01-27-2013Fr. John LettersFr. John

Dear Friends,

Looks like the school children of France had a very Joyeux Noel as French President Francois Hollande announced before Christmas that he wants to do away with homework. It seems homework is too bourgeoisie. Only the children of the rich have parents who have time to actually assist with homework and children of the lower classes have parents who have no time to help with homework thus creating an inequality. First let me ask, WHERE WAS THIS MAN WHEN I WAS IN SCHOOL!

Here's the trouble with this Progressive notion of equality in all things, including outcomes: rather than trying to raise the bottom to the middle or the middle to the top they insist on pulling the top to the middle and the middle to the bottom. So in effect equality = mediocrity.

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Subverting the Legacy of MLK?

01-20-2013Fr. John LettersFr. John

Dear Friends,

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
—Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

A few years back on a trip to London I had the amusement of attending a production of Monty Python's "Spamalot". The play, a rip-off of "Camelot" lampoons all things about Broadway musicals and in typical Monty Python fashion pokes fun at just about everything including religion. So as expected here were jokes about Jews and Christians, which elicited plenty of laughs. But when a joke about Hindu's involving a cow showed up there was an audible gasp of discomfort from the audience almost as if to say, " can you believe they just said that?" Even with humor we tend to apply different standards for different groups which is sad as humor can be a great equalizer. Certain groups, according to the current norms of satire and humor are just off limits. Jews, Christians, and Mormons however are fair game but not so much with Hindus, Muslims, Buddhist monks or those who believe in global warming.

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40 yrs post Roe V Wade

01-13-2013Fr. John LettersFr. John

Dear Friends,

During the "Fiscal Cliff" debates Senate Majority leader Harry Reid stated on the Senate floor that House Speaker John Boehner was running a "dictatorship" and cared more about retaining his Speaker position than the American people. This apparently inspired Speaker Boehner to tell Senator Reid to "go #$@% himself". Just the latest in the bloodletting sport of politics.

Senator Reid you may recall also on the Senate floor stated gleefully that "word on the street is that Mitt Romney did not pay taxes for the last ten years." That's usually called gossip but I guess in this case it was a campaign speech. Later during the presidential campaign, Sen. Reid also felt it necessary to tell us that Mitt Romney "is not the face of Mormonism" and that Romney has "sullied" the Latter Day Saints faith. Well I don't know if Mitt Romney is the poster child for Mormonism but I was surprised to see Reid, also a Mormon taking a swipe at a fellow Mormon. By and large Mormons are rather quiet about internal disagreements or criticizing one another and tend not to air their dirty laundry unlike, say Catholics. The remark passed without much media scrutiny. But I wonder what if vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, a Catholic had said that Vice President Joe Biden "was not the face of Catholicism" or that he had "sullied" the Catholic faith, what would the reaction be? I am sure all hell would break loose: "how dare Ryan judge Biden's faith" etc. And if Ryan had said that, and he did not, he would have been on solid ground. This was evidenced during the Vice Presidential debate when the two were asked about their position on abortion. Biden basically answered the question by saying that as a Catholic it is wrong for me but I would not impose that on anyone else.

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2013: Were We Go Again

01-06-2013Fr. John LettersFr. John

Dear Friends,

Well, since the Mayan calendar didn't foretell the end of the world it looks like we are going to have to do the whole thing again. All 525,600 minutes, each 8,760 hours, all 52 weeks of all 12 months of 2013. So better to know what we are getting ourselves into:

Know dear brothers and sisters that as we have rejoiced at the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, so by leave of God's mercy we announce to you also the joy of his Resurrection, who is our Savior.

On the thirteenth day of February will fall Ash Wednesday, and the beginning of the fast of the most sacred Lenten season.

On the thirty-first day of March you will celebrate with joy Easter Day, the Paschal feast of our Lord Jesus Christ.

On the ninth (twelfth in AZ) day of May will be the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ.

On the nineteenth day of May the feast of Pentecost.

On the second day of June, the feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.

On the first day of December the First Sunday of Advent of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom is honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

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