Fr. John's Letter Archives

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


The Path of Totality

08-27-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

I found it a bit amusing how Americans can figure out ways to make a profit off a Solar Eclipse! Hotels, restaurants, and businesses along the path of totality all saw their business ledgers turn as black as the eclipsed light of the sun. Still, it was good for us to look up for a change and not down at our phone screens and to consider a subject that we give so little thought to in our times: cosmology. With each new change in understanding of the world at large, from the Copernican revolution to Newtonian physics to Einstein’s theory of Relativity, comes a change in the way we understand ourselves as well. When it comes to faith and science, way too many people remember the Galileo affair, but few know that Einstein’s theory of Relativity was given its biggest boost by a Catholic priest: Fr. Georges Lemaitre, a Belgian priest and mathematician. (what follows is from a wonderful blog that I encourage you to read: These Stone Walls: http://thesestonewalls.com/gordonmacrae/science-faith-big-bang-theory-creation/ . READ MORE

One God and Father of Us All

08-20-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Having grown up at the height of the Civil Rights era, I look around today and am horrified with what I see. It seems our society is regressing from Dr. King’s vision of a society where the standard of judgment is the content of one’s character to one that sees only the color of one’s skin or gender or lack thereof gender. When identity politics is pushed hard enough, the logical outcome is more identity politics. When a person or group is ascribed political power, economic empowerment, legal protection solely on the basis of their race, ethnicity or gender/transgender, then sooner or later the individuals or groups that feel disempowered or unnoticed will start to assert themselves. This leads to “us-them” mentality where one group is pitted against the other until finally, they reach extremes; the result is the putrid excrement that descended on Charlottesville, Virginia.

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9x3 and 9x3 = 54

08-13-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

As we continue our prayerful walk through the Jubilee Year of the Centenary of the Apparitions at Fatima, we have a few more opportunities to ask Our Lady’s assistance. First, our Bishop has asked all of us to join him in a 54 Day Rosary Novena. But “Father,” you say, “a novena is nine days.” Correct. But this is actually 6 Novenas: three in petition and three in thanksgiving. Anyone who has ever done this will tell you it is very powerful prayer tool. The 54 Day Rosary Novena begins on August 21 (the Vigil of the Feast of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary) and concludes on October 13, the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima. The three intentions the Bishop requests are: The Sanctity of all Human Life, especially an end to violence against all innocent and vulnerable human lives; the strengthening of the vocation of Marriage; and Vocations to the Priesthood and Consecrated Life. Those three novenas are then followed by three novenas of thanksgiving, believing what we ask prayerfully that we shall receive as God sees fit.

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What's Going On

08-06-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

This is a Save the Date Letter. Lots of upcoming events here at the Parish. First please plan to join us on August 15 the Feast Day of The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is also the anniversary of the founding of the Servants of the Plan of God, so it is a big day for our five Sisters. Bishop Olmsted will be here to celebrate Mass at 7pm on Tuesday the 15th. We should all take this time to express our gratitude to the Sisters and the Servants for sending them to us!

In September, we will host the 5th Encuentro for Hispanic/Latino Ministry. This is part of a national effort by the US Bishops to help bring 18-26yr olds back to the Church, particularly those of Hispanic background but not limited to them. So, we are partnering with the ASU Newman Center and St. Tim's to invite single and married young people between the ages of 18 and 26 yrs old so that we can listen to their concerns and experiences about the Church. This is a listening time only, not a hard sell to young people. This will help us form a pastoral plan at the Parish and Diocesan level to engage the youth of today. So, if you know any young people, children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews etc. please invite them. More info will be coming shortly with a Flyer to give out.

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ABC&ADF

07-30-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

A recent ABC News headline claimed: “Jeff Sessions addresses ‘anti-LGBT hate group,’ but DOJ won’t release his remarks.” Wow, who was this ‘hate group’? The KKK, the Neo-Nazi Party? No, it was Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) from right here in Scottsdale, Arizona. ADF is a civil liberties organization that consistently defends issues of Religious Liberty, the Rights of Conscience, the Sanctity of Human Life and Marriage and the Family. There are over 1900 trained attorneys that work with Alliance Defending Freedom defending pro bono the civil and religious rights of all Americans. One of its greatest accomplishments is that ADF has counter balanced the ACLU’s erosion of religious rights. They have won 5 cases at the Supreme Court in the last seven years. Not exactly a fringe group.

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Whose Baby is it?

07-23-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Often when someone dies prematurely, their loved ones will say things such as “we did all we could.” In other words, they left no stone unturned in trying to find a treatment that would keep their loved one from dying. I realize it is a small comfort but a comfort nonetheless. The parents of baby Charlie Gard in the UK are being denied the comfort of saying, “we did all we could.”

Baby Charlie, born with a severe genetic disease, received treatment at a London hospital. When the parents requested that they wanted to take their child to the U.S. for experimental treatments (using money they had privately raised), the hospital said no. The parents appealed to the British courts and their request was denied; likewise, the request was denied when they appealed to the European Court for Human Rights. The hospital said that Charlie must “die with dignity” - whatever that means. One thing it does mean is that the hospital, and not Charlie’s parents, gets to decide when and where this child will die. All the while, the hospital and physicians talk out of both sides of their mouth: on one hand, they say Charlie has no brain activity, can’t move, eat, hear, or see; hence, treatment is futile. Then at the same time, they state that to move Charlie to the U.S. and give him experimental treatment would be torturous for the child. The hospital is making nothing more than a value judgment that low probability chances are not worth taking and that some lives are of a quality not worth trying to save. Ethicists call this Futile Care Policy, and it is the hospital or its anonymous Ethics Board, and not the patient or parent, that gets to decide when treatment is futile. This is already making its way into U.S. hospitals. Baby Charlie’s condition is not futile since there is a life-sustaining treatment available that could possibly help him survive. The hospital and the courts are refusing to acknowledge that. (This is similar to a case here at St. Joe’s Hospital, where hospital personnel performed a direct abortion and refused to admit that there were other medical options available that could have helped.)

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Beautiful Flower of Mt. Carmel

07-16-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Since today, July 16, is the feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, a little history may be helpful. (Most of this comes from the Carmelite Order itself.) Mount Carmel is a mountain in the Holy Land celebrated for its sheer beauty. Stretching out into the deep blue of the Mediterranean Sea, Mount Carmel in the springtime of the year is aglow with the vivacious coloring of flowering shrubs and plants - a symbol for the beauty of Mary. On that mountain, the first Carmelites, a unique group, came together. Most of them were laymen living as hermits in community. They took as their model one who appealed to many monks in the West, the Prophet Elijah. And with the passage of time, they took Mary as the companion on their journey to the Lord. Carmel stands for prayer and union with God on the holy mount. Every Carmelite house, even the smallest in the back street of some huge city, still manages to recapture something of that unique and beautiful spirit of Mount Carmel.

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A Spiritual Vision of Existence

07-09-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Now and then, help comes from unexpected sources. In this case, it came in the form of a “Message of the Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development on the occasion of the International Day against Abuse and Illicit Trafficking of Drugs, 26.06.2017.” (Cardinal Turkson is the Prefect and the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, a new department formed during the reform of the Roman Curia by Pope Francis that combined the work of four Pontifical Councils: Justice and Peace, Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers, and Cor Unum. You can read the full text at: http://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/en/bollettino/pubblico/2017/06/26/170626d.html#

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Liberty and Justice for All

07-02-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Since 2012, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has asked us to observe a “Fortnight for Freedom” each year from June 21 to July 4 in order to highlight the importance of Religious Freedom. This all began after the unprecedented assault on religious liberty by the Obama Administration via the “contraception mandate.” Each year the Fortnight for Freedom aims to remind Catholics of the preciousness of their inheritance of freedom as Americans and Catholics and the necessity of standing up to threats to it.

So how have we been doing? First, let’s take a look at the local level. Through the efforts of the Arizona Catholic Conference, several key pieces of legislation were signed into law this year.

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E tu, Brute?

06-25-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

“There’s a new world comin’, and it’s just around the bend.
There’s a new world comin’, this one’s comin’ to an end.”
New World Coming sung by Mama Cass

“E tu Brute?” The immortal words uttered by Julius Caesar, in Shakespeare’s play of the same name, as Julius Caesar realized he was being assassinated by not only his political rivals but by a man whom he thought was his friend. That play is now being performed during New York City’s “Shakespeare in the Park Series” but with a twist. The character of Julius Caesar has been replaced with a President Trump look-a-like and according to script, is unceremoniously murdered by his political foes. I would call that at the least, poor taste and at the worst, scurrilous. But what is really shameful and disturbing are the crowds coming to see it and cheer it on. Something has definitely changed in America. When did it become acceptable to stage the assassination of a sitting President or hold his severed head up in mockery? While I had not even the slightest liking for the policies of President Obama or his maudlin moralizing, I would never have wished him harm and would condemn anyone who did. Maybe I’m old fashioned but somethings are beyond the pale.

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To Know Him, To Love Him , To Serve Him

06-18-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

If you remember the old Baltimore Catechism taught: “God made us to know him, love and serve him…” Hence, we first must know God in order to love Him. For how can we love that which we do not know? Hence, we read the scriptures and study the teachings of our Faith. But how do we love God? For Israel this was summed up in the commandment, “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is one God, and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your strength and with all your soul and with all your might.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-5) Jesus of course added to this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” So this love of God includes love of neighbor and love of self. Authentic love then necessarily has these three objects. So in a sense when we fail to love our self or our neighbor our love of God falls short.

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“and the Son”

06-11-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

The Filioque Problem. I know many of you lay awake at night pondering this problem. And if you were around at the end of the first millennium of Christianity, this issue had tremendous theological and political implications. In fact, it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. It led to the East-West Schism, the split in Christianity between the East and West in what would become the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.

In a nutshell, the controversy stemmed from the words of the Nicene Creed: I believe in the Holy Spirit, The Lord and Giver of Life, who proceeds from the Father (and the Son). The words “and the Son” - “filioque” in Latin - did not appear in the original version of the Creed of Nicaea (325) but were added at the Council of Constantinople in 381. Hence the Creed that we profess each Sunday is properly called the Nicene-Constantinople Creed. The Eastern Church mainly rejected this, preferring “through the Son.” Their rejection was construed as a rejection of the authoritative nature of the Council of Constantinople, as well as Papal Primacy and the exact nature of the Trinity. (If you want to learn more about the controversy, the U.S. Bishops have a good article on it:

http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/ecumenical-and-interreligious/ecumenical/orthodox/filioque-church-dividing-issue-english.cfm .

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As Satisfying as Bed-Wetting

06-04-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

The Tempe City Council voted on whether or not to lift the cap, currently at two, on Medical Marijuana Dispensaries in the city. The state statute gives cities the authority to enact zoning regulations and other restrictions on the Dispensaries. The result was, well, sort of like wetting the bed, a bit of relief but then cold and stinky. The Council voted 4-2-1 to lift the cap but imposed additional zoning restrictions (Dispensaries can be located no less than one-mile apart, 1500 feet from a day care or school (including ASU and residential areas). So considering the geography of the city (10miles x 4miles) and the requirements for security and the actual square footage of a dispensary and available retail space that fits the requirements, there could be up to 5 or 6 dispensaries in Tempe. So while the City council did lift the cap, the additional zoning requirements limit the actual possible number of Medical Marijuana Dispensaries, which could have been upwards of 30 or more.

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