Fr. John's Letter Archives

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


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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