Enjoy re-reading Fr. John's weekly bulletin letters for the past year.
Soon it will be the year that was. But was it a year to remember, or your favorite year? Was it the best year ever, maybe a year in the life of a fool? Or was it more the days of wine and roses or a time we’d rather forget? However those 525,600 minutes of those 365 days of 2013 passed by, I hope you can find many reasons for gratitude and thankfulness.
As 2014 dawns we have a new day and a new opportunity for sanctity. What kind of day will it be: a Holy Day, Ground Hog Day, Independence Day or maybe Ferris Bueller’s Day Off? Might it be a Dog Day Afternoon, or the Day of the Jackal or a Day of Reckoning? Or will it just be the Longest Day or the End of Days, the Day of Wrath or just a Long Day’s Journey into Night? It possibly could be a Hard Days Night or just One Fine Day. For some it might be Training Day, D-Day, Judgment Day or the Last Day. Unlikely you’ll get a Snow Day but maybe a Fathers Day or Valentines Day and hopefully a Pay Day. One thing for sure it will be the First Day of the Rest of Your Life.READ MORE
(I reprint this every year as a reminder that even situations that are less than ideal can find workable solutions.)
While this may not be pertinent to many of you, 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 maturely discuss, without emotional baggage, 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?READ MORE
You may remember the famous NY Sun editorial, "Yes Virginia there is a Santa Claus". What you may not remember though is that You ARE HE! So in light of that here is my Christmas list:
Dear OLMC Santa(s),
Santa did you know that you could double your gift giving this year? And it won't cost you anything. Just purchase all gifts with gift cards sold through our Food For Thought Program. That's 2x's the giving!
And ho, ho, ho did you know that the end of the year is coming and you can donate to the parish's Our Lady of Mt. Carmel School (#122) through Catholic Education Arizona (catholiceducationarizona.org) and get a full tax credit when you file your state income taxes. (And by the way you also get a tax deduction on your federal income taxes.)READ MORE
Pope Francis' new apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (The Gospel of Joy) apparently has brought not joy but irritation to some. The exhortation covers a lot of ground as it is some 200 pages most of it reiterating long-standing Church teaching on issues such as the sanctity of human, life, marriage and the family. That in itself irritated those who were hoping for the Pope to change some of these teachings. Not happening. But the bigger irritation was caused by the Pope's critic of capitalism and free-markets.
Apparently this caused radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh to throw a spittle-flecked hissy fit. While I'm not a listener (because I can't take the anger that the show gives off) I usually admire Rush's logical way of making his case. But this time I think he got it wrong or at least Pope Francis' vision wrong. One of the problems with the text of the Apostolic Exhortation is the questionable quality of the English translation. There is no official Latin version of the text so it looks like it was written in Spanish and translated from Spanish into English. As we learned from our study of the new translation of the Roman Missal translations can subtly change the meaning of a text or at least not express the original intention of the author clearly.READ MORE
"Father if the prophet had commanded you to do something difficult, would you not have done it.?"
—2 Kings 5:13
Such were the words of the young servant of Naaman the Syrian who went to Israel to find healing for his leprosy. When the prophet Elisha tells him to bath seven times in the river Jordan, Naaman scoffs. To him, that just didn't have enough hocus pocus to it. We often have the same mindset when it comes to healing: we just refuse to accept the simplicity of how God can heal us. Instead we search for that magic potion, that fountain of youth that's usually sold on a TV info-mercial.
At the same time we have to really want to be healed. I'm afraid too often what we look for is pain relief not complete healing. We set our expectations way too low. The problem that Naaman faced was that his god was too small to cure his leprosy. Instead he had to travel to Israel to find a really big God who could handle his illness. We have that same God, a God who is really big and willing to take on our problems and sicknesses. So why not step out and trust Him?READ MORE
Last week we considered the necessary inevitabilities and eventualities that need planning for when we die. The larger society however has been considering, almost obsessing on how we access the medical care we need before we die, particularly in light of the implementation of the new Affordable Care Act. As much as I am a proponent of reforming the health insurance system in our Country especially since the Catholic Church has such a large healthcare ministry and is a major employer as well, I am not a fan of the current attempt encapsulated in the Affordable Care Act. Here's why:
The major reason being is that Congress and the President exempted themselves, their families and staff from the Act in a condescending "not for me but for thee" move. And they've made certain that even if they get voted out of office they get to keep their Federal Private Healthcare for the rest of their lives. Coupled with this, last week the President stated, in light of the troubles with the Affordable Care Act rollout, "What we are finding is that purchasing insurance is complicated." Obviously he does not breath the same air as us mere mortals as almost every adult in the country knows that purchasing insurance of any kind is complicated. Hence, the Congress and President have no skin in the game, no dog in the fight. Which means they have little incentive to produce a health insurance system that is any better than what we now have since it will never affect them or their loved ones. And this points to a bigger issue: rather than being governed by elected representatives we seem to more and more be ruled by elitist prigs. But that's a topic for another discussion.READ MORE
During November we call to mind both the Saints and the Holy Souls. It is also a time to focus ourselves on how well we are prepared for our own deaths. And while end of life issues and health care decisions need to be carefully considered before our demise. I want to focus on what happens after death, in other words the funeral and burial practices that are appropriate for Christians. (A great resource for end of life issues is the "Advanced Medical Directives & AZ Health Care Power of Attorney" found on the Diocese of Phoenix web site: www.diocesephoenix.org and click on Departments: Medical Ethics.)READ MORE
This past week the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) held their annual meeting in Phoenix. This is a group of counselors, mental health providers, social workers, pastoral counselors, psychologists and psychiatrists that offer a form of counseling for those with unwanted same-sex attractions or gender identity issues who want to sort through the issue and live a chaste life. This type of counseling has been banned for minors in both California and New Jersey. Needless to say NARTH has many detractors and some who will go to any length to shut them down. In fact as is becoming increasingly clear anyone who disagrees with those who promote same-sex attraction will incur their wrath.READ MORE
Immigration is not just a hot button issue in the US but also in Europe. On Oct. 13 a boat filled with over 500 North Africans trying to immigrant to Europe sunk, killing over 300 people near the Italian island of Lampedusa (a sort of Italian version of Ellis Island). This horrific tragedy sparked lots of debate about the immigration challenges that the EU faces. The arguments for and against were almost identical to the arguments we hear in the US. The deaths near Lampedusa (caused by harsh weather) could easily have been the deaths of those crossing the border in Arizona.
Recently Sheriff Joe announced that he was placing white crosses at the places in Maricopa County where immigrants perished. I'm not sure what his motivation is but I think it a good way to visually remind us all of the humanitarian disaster that has become our immigration policy. Pope Francis likewise pointed out the plight of migrants when he visited the island of Lampedusa to pray for migrants living and dead and strongly denounced their human traffickers.READ MORE
The Diocese of Phoenix has the largest St. Vincent de Paul Society in the world. Our parish has one of the largest St. Vincent Conferences in the Diocese which means we are one of the world's largest SVDP's. I'm not sure if that should be a source of pride or dismay that other places aren't taking up the work of the Society more aggressively. Either way for 60yrs our Vincentians have been caring for the needs of those who find themselves unable to fulfill their own needs. All this means is that since we are large we have lots of work to do and therefore always need more people to help with the work of the Conference.
This is just one of the many ministries that we are highlighting on this People Raiser Sunday. Our theme this year is: The World's Most Interesting Parishioner. Since you already met the World's Most Interesting Priest a few years back I thought it be good for you to meet a parishioner who understands that the nature of a Christian is to serve.READ MORE
I know for sure that I have been greatly blest by God and many times despite myself. Aside from the gratitude that comes with that I always ask myself, "what does God want of me"? Why does He bestow gifts if He is not expecting them to be used beyond my own well-being? How can I then return to the Lord with increase?
One way that I have tried to use my experience, strength and hope is to help families struggling with a young person with problems such as drug use, cutting, and eating disorders through our FullCircle Program. Experience has taught me that many families are broken and don't know where to turn for assistance. So many parents are praying that God will help them with their teen and I hope that I can be part of the answer to their prayers. And that is the essence of good stewardship.READ MORE
By Erma Bombeck, May 1973
There are many theories being circulated these days about taking your children to Mass. Some parents say if the Good Lord had meant for children to go to church, he would have put restrooms at the end of each pew. Others say, "What does it profit a mother to ask God's blessings when she doesn't have the strength to endure the ones He has already given her?"
I have always envied the mother who enters church with her brood and walks down the aisle like a tour guide at Lourdes. Her children are always immaculate and bob along with military precision, genuflecting as a group and filing in until the row has been filled.READ MORE
40 years since Roe v Wade and we celebrate another Respect Life Sunday in October. Obviously we’re in it for the duration. But I wonder about the pro-abortion side? As of the most recent count 44 Abortion Clinics have closed this year alone. Good. This is happening mainly due to more restrictive laws that require abortion clinics to operate according to the same standards that other medical clinics are required to uphold. As we saw in the horrific case of the abortionist Kermit Gosnell even simple sanitary standards are often ignored by abortion clinics.
Many states, including Arizona passed legislation requiring a licensed MD be present during abortions. Sounds reasonable yet the blowback has been fierce and the lawsuits came tumbling in. One of the reasons the abortion clinics objected so loudly to this simple and reasonable request was that as it turns out there are very few physicians who are willing to perform abortions. Hence a requirement to have a licensed medical doctor in attendance slows up the abortion factory disassembly line.READ MORE