Fr. John's Letter Archives

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


Fidel or Fidelity?

05-29-2016Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

In light of Memorial Day, the kind-of-sort-of victory of the Little Sisters at the Supreme Court and the challenges to Religious Liberty in our country this is an excellent reflection for all of us who hold dear the freedom of conscience. Armando Valladares, a Cuban dissident gave this speech upon receiving the Beckett Fund For Religious Liberty 2016 Canterbury Medal:

When I was 23 years old I refused to do something that at the time seemed very small. I refused to say a few words, "I'm with Fidel." First I refused the sign on my desk at the postal office that said that, and after years of torture and watching many fellow fighters die, either in body or in spirit, I still refused to say those words.

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I Won't Back Down

05-22-2016Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Well I know what's right, I got just one life
In a world that keeps on pushin' me around
But I'll stand my ground and I won't back down
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers..."I Won't Back Down"

The final battle is upon us and I really never envisioned it would be over the issue of gender identity and bathrooms. The US Justice Department has told North Carolina that its "Bathroom Law" constitutes the highest form of discrimination and is a violation of the civil rights of those with Gender Identity Disorder. The Attorney General stated that North Carolina's law violates the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on race, sex or religion. So hanging a Men or Women sign on a restroom door is now the same as hanging a sign that says "White Only" or "Black Only". The Governor of North Carolina showed some testicular fortitude and filed a lawsuit against the Justice Department. The crux of the argument is whether or not the Congress in 1964 intended to include the transgendered within the definition of sex. Obviously this will be an issue that heads to the Federal Courts. The answer the courts give will be the difference between living in a democracy or an "idiot-acracy".

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Help is on the Way!

05-15-2016Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. (Matt 7:21)

During the Play “Faustina, Messenger of Divine Mercy” which we hosted in January to begin the Jubilee of Mercy one particular scene hit me hard. In one of the dialogues between Jesus and St. Faustina, which she recorded in her diary, Faustina is hemming and hawing about doing some of the things Jesus requested of her because she was worried about the response she would get from others and Jesus turns to her and says, “Faustina, I will demand many souls from you”. My thought was “well if Jesus is expecting many souls from Faustina how many more is He expecting of me as a priest?” I certainly don’t want to appear empty handed before the Lord or make excuses about why I did not win more souls to Christ.

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Activism supplants Science

05-08-2016Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

When someone suffers, be it physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually the question we should ask is "what is the most loving thing I can do for this person?" The answer is not always apparent and sometimes even counter-intuitive. One of the chief characteristics of mental illness is delusional thinking. Namely that what is in the mind does not conform to the reality outside it. The most loving thing we can do for such a person is to help them accept and adjust to reality so as to live life on life's terms. The worst thing we can do for them is to confirm them in their delusion and pretend that their delusion, as strong as it might be, is actually reality.

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Hospitality aboard the Steward Ship

05-01-2016Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

The first characteristic of Stewardship is hospitality. Having a welcoming and generous spirit however should not be confined to how we treat the visitor at Church. Simple acts of friendliness can go along way. Case in point: last weekend, a wonderful weekend with lots of activity. Eddie James and his Gospel Singers were at the 9am and 11am and Fr. Neil from Scotland was visiting for the 11am Mass as well. An unlikely combo for sure! I noticed a group of religious Sisters attending the 11am Mass. Afterwards I asked them where they were visiting from and they replied that they were from Washington, DC and visiting to attend a Graduation at Grand Canyon University.

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The Plan of God

04-24-2016Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Sister Act II: Back in the Habit…

As you already know five Sisters from the Servants of the Plan of God will establish a permanent mission here at Mt. Carmel. The community is thriving and felt called to open up a mission in the US. The Cardinal-Archbishop of Peru (where the Sisters are headquartered) told them to look at Boston and Phoenix for some reason. They visited both places and many parishes including 5 parishes in our Diocese and chose Mt. Carmel. The Bishop asked me how I got them to agree to come to Mr. Carmel and all I could say was that Donald Trump is not the only one who knows how to make a deal! (Actually I know full well that it was God's doing).

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The Joy of Love

04-17-2016Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Lately we priests hear things like, "I know Pope Francis is changing things, therefore can I do such and such or is such and such still a sin?" Of course when we tell them that yes it is still a sin and no Pope Francis did not change that, we usually get told how unlike Pope Francis we are, namely lacking compassion. But compassion does not mean becoming a partner in crime with some one's bad choices or lifestyle. Mercy and truth are connected and it is profoundly unloving to tell someone what they are doing is right when it is clearly wrong.

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An Explosive Easter

04-10-2016Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

On Easter Sunday a Taliban suicide bomber blew himself up at a playground in Pakistan killing many of the children and their mothers. He did it because they were celebrating Easter and with full knowledge that the victims would be children and their mothers. Think of that: what kind of monster targets a playground? When we execute a war or a battle we have serious rules of engagement and we even debated in our country whether something like waterboarding was too extreme even for a captured terrorist.

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The Tallest Pole in the Tent

04-03-2016Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

The former Rita Rizzo has died. No she wasn't an old girlfriend of mine. You would know her better as Mother Angelica, the Foundress of the Eternal World Television Network (EWTN). All things considered Mother Angelica was nothing more than typical of her ilk, namely Foundresses and heads of communities of women religious. That company would include: Mother Cabrini, Mother Katherine Drexel, Mother Marianne Cope, Mother Teresa, Mother Elizabeth Ann Seton to mention a few. In other words Mother Angelica was one of the tallest poles in the tent.

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The Plan of God

04-24-2016Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Sister Act II: Back in the Habit…

As you already know five Sisters from the Servants of the Plan of God will establish a permanent mission here at Mt. Carmel. The community is thriving and felt called to open up a mission in the US. The Cardinal-Archbishop of Peru (where the Sisters are headquartered) told them to look at Boston and Phoenix for some reason. They visited both places and many parishes including 5 parishes in our Diocese and chose Mt. Carmel. The Bishop asked me how I got them to agree to come to Mr. Carmel and all I could say was that Donald Trump is not the only one who knows how to make a deal! (Actually I know full well that it was God's doing).

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The Joy of Love

04-17-2016Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Lately we priests hear things like, "I know Pope Francis is changing things, therefore can I do such and such or is such and such still a sin?" Of course when we tell them that yes it is still a sin and no Pope Francis did not change that, we usually get told how unlike Pope Francis we are, namely lacking compassion. But compassion does not mean becoming a partner in crime with some one's bad choices or lifestyle. Mercy and truth are connected and it is profoundly unloving to tell someone what they are doing is right when it is clearly wrong.

READ MORE

An Explosive Easter

04-10-2016Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

On Easter Sunday a Taliban suicide bomber blew himself up at a playground in Pakistan killing many of the children and their mothers. He did it because they were celebrating Easter and with full knowledge that the victims would be children and their mothers. Think of that: what kind of monster targets a playground? When we execute a war or a battle we have serious rules of engagement and we even debated in our country whether something like waterboarding was too extreme even for a captured terrorist.

READ MORE

The Tallest Pole in the Tent

04-03-2016Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

The former Rita Rizzo has died. No she wasn't an old girlfriend of mine. You would know her better as Mother Angelica, the Foundress of the Eternal World Television Network (EWTN). All things considered Mother Angelica was nothing more than typical of her ilk, namely Foundresses and heads of communities of women religious. That company would include: Mother Cabrini, Mother Katherine Drexel, Mother Marianne Cope, Mother Teresa, Mother Elizabeth Ann Seton to mention a few. In other words Mother Angelica was one of the tallest poles in the tent.

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What of Lent?

03-27-2016Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Now that the Lenten Fast has turned into the Easter Feast we might want to ask ourselves how productive was our Lent? Some of us may be looking back and wondering what difference it all made if any. Did it have any effect? What was the point of all that penance and "giving things up"? It may seem like little growth was had or we just didn't get the Easter infusion of spirituality and grace. Did we make spiritual progress or just go through the motions?

The point of our Lenten practices, particularly fasting was to discipline the body so as to assert the primacy of the spiritual. Now that we have done that, we need to tend to the interior effects of fasting and see if it has helped us overcome the corrosive vices that settle quietly in the soul.

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Religion & Government

03-20-2016Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

We are gearing up for our first ever-formal course on Religion and Politics sponsored by the ASU Center for Political Thought and Leadership and co-sponsored by the University of Mary. (You can register for the class through our website). This is a great chance to clear up any confusion you might have about the relationship between religion and government and also to learn some effective ways to discuss this perennially important and often divisive issue.

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Little Sisters of the Poor

03-13-2016Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

The US Supreme Court will soon hear oral arguments in the case Little Sisters of the Poor v. Burwell. The Sisters are requesting exemption from the contraceptive mandate (which is not a law passed by Congress but a regulation concocted by unelected bureaucrats) that requires some health insurance plans to provide no-cost birth control. I say some health insurance plans because the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has exempted one out of three health insurance plans from the contraceptive mandate. These include, Houses of Worship, Pepsi, Exxon, Chevron and many other large corporations as well as the US Military. Even though HHS is perfectly fine with making no provision for no-cost birth control for all the tens of thousands of women who have exempted plans somehow making sure a few hundred women on the Little Sisters Health Insurance get no-cost birth control is of the highest importance and magnitude to the national interest. An interest so compelling that HHS is hoping to sterilize the ministry of the Little Sisters of the Poor at the Supreme Court.

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Beyond Thunderdome

03-06-2016Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Time counts and keeps countin', and we knows now finding the trick of what's been and lost ain't no easy ride. But that's our trek, we gotta' travel it. And there ain't nobody knows where it's gonna' lead. Still in all, every night we does the tell, so that we 'member who we was and where we came from...
—Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome

In an unrecognizable land the people are preparing to elect a Dear Leader. Among the many choices are Vladimir Lenin, a charmless Eva Peron and Henry VIII.

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