Everyday Stewardship

08-30-2020Stewardship ReflectionCatholic Stewardship Consultants

Let’s be honest. If we are striving to live the stewardship way of life, it’s not going to be easy. Dying to self and living for Christ and others is tough. It’s the work of a lifetime. But in the end, it’s the only work that really matters and the only life that truly satisfies.

Our Gospel passage, from Matthew, reflects this challenging reality. Jesus tells His disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.” This sounds harsh. Why would anyone want to do this?

Our Lord has the answer, of course. “Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

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Once Again: NO

08-30-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

NO ON PROPOSITION 207 in November. We go down the road again of another attempt in Arizona to legalize recreational use marijuana. We have legal “medical” marijuana in AZ and in the last general election a ballot proposition to legalize recreational use marijuana failed. But the multi-million-dollar megacorporation cannabis industry will not give up. And neither should we give up defeating Proposition 207 in November. Make no mistake, for the cannabis industry it is all about profits. And those handsome profits are concentrated in a handful of marijuana growers and investors, all rich white folk, like former Speaker of the House John Boehner, who especially target poor and minority communities to sell their poison and maximize their profit.

I have previously written about this issue extensively but it may be time for a review of the facts versus the myths. This Proposition will be sold to you as “smart and safe”. It is neither. That of course is how legalized medical marijuana was sold to the voters of AZ. But what has happened since its legalization?

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ASU School of Magic Part II

08-23-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Call it amazing, after last week’s letter, but it’s really not amazing since we are now dealing with ASU School of Magic, but presto, an email came from ASU Human Resources stating that: ASU has partnered with the Arizona Department of Health Services to provide free drive-thru COVID-19 testing at sites around the Valley and the state to all Family and Friends of ASU. I guess with one wave of the wand (or maybe it was the fork), the Headmaster magically produced COVID-19 Saliva tests with a 48hr turn around and made them available to the community. I suspected all along that of all the University Presidents in the USA, this one had the elder wand. And he did. I guess all other Universities really should fear the fork.

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ASU School of Magic

08-16-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

By my count, as of this writing we are in day 36 of a record breaking streak of 110+ temps. The previous record was 33 days. And up we go for days to come. But what is coming down is our COVID-19 positivity rate in Arizona and even more in Maricopa County. Good news. Maybe. Except. But.

Right now, 100,000+ students are moving into Tempe, South Scottsdale, Downtown Phoenix from all over the country and the world to start a new semester at ASU. But I have been assured that they will not, will not raise the COVID-19 positivity rate in Maricopa County. You might find that hard to believe. I did. It took some convincing. But it is true. Sort of. In an underhanded way only a state-run bureaucracy could come up with.

You see Arizona State University has its own COVID-19 testing and lab. Lots and lots of it. Actually, I find that irritating. Why is it that this tax-payer funded University didn't share their testing and lab with the community when we needed it most? So much for being a good community partner. I guess ASU does not play well with others.

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Everyday Stewardship

08-13-2020Stewardship Reflection

Our Gospel today, from Matthew, reminds us to trust in Him even when it seems He is not answering our prayers.

God wants to lead us to the joy of heaven to spend eternity with Him. For that, we must be strong in faith and live our lives as an act of love and gratitude to Him. In other words, we must allow Him to transform us into saints. This is what the stewardship way of life is meant to do. Sometimes, that will feel painful to us. Often, it will be challenging.

Jesus certainly challenged the Canaanite woman in today’s Gospel passage from Matthew. She called out to Him on behalf of her daughter, who was being tormented by a demon. What did Jesus do in reply to this mother’s desperate plea? Nothing. He “did not say a word in answer to her.” Undeterred, the woman continues to call out to Him, yet He still does not give her what she asks for. Instead, He continues to challenge her faith.

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Aloha AOC

08-09-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

This hit where it hurt. I wrote my own take on this but my pen turned way too poisonous. It was dripping red with sarcasm, uncharity, acerbic adjectives. But as I have been saying for a while, this is the Age of Aquarius and everyone is being revealed for who they truly are. In this case the US Congresswoman from NY, who maligned, insulted, disparaged St. Damien, (my dearest patron) reveals herself as, well, see I can’t go there so I will let the Defender of all things Catholic, Bill Donohue from the Catholic League, say it much more diplomatically:

Dear Rep. Ocasio-Cortez:

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Everyday Stewardship

08-09-2020Stewardship Reflection

Stewardship spirituality invites us to surrender control of our lives to God in grateful recognition of the simple fact that all we have is a gift from Him.

Today’s readings illustrate what amazing things can happen when we fully invite God to take charge of our lives by embracing the stewardship way of life.

When we take our eyes off God, we fail to see that all we have is a gift from Him. We lose trust in the Lord and we do not make our lives a grateful response to Him.

Peter makes this mistake in our Gospel passage from Matthew. Jesus sends the disciples in a boat ahead of Him to the other side of the shore. Later that evening, Jesus casually strolls up to the boat, walking on the sea. He invites Peter to join Him. As Peter begins to walk on the water, he momentarily takes his eyes off Jesus to notice the strong wind surrounding them. With that, he sinks.

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Be Transformed by the Renewal of your Minds

08-02-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

At times when our thinking gets twisted our actions can become equally contorted. Two current hot potato issues that demonstrate this are facemasks and police.

So, to mask or not to mask, that is the question (my apologies to Shakespeare). The single biggest justification for wearing a face covering that I hear repeatedly, is that when you wear a face mask (properly) you are protecting other people and therefore it is a charitable act. When it is put in that way, rather than saying, when you wear a face mask you are protecting yourself regardless of what other people do, it creates a lot of hostility and judgment towards those who are not wearing a face mask. And that has led to self-appointed mask police.

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Everyday Stewardship

08-02-2020Stewardship Reflection

Today’s readings should inspire the Christian steward with deepened gratitude to our God, Who loves us with such fierce and tender love. We must make an intentional response every day to return love for Love. In our Second Reading, from Romans, St. Paul reminds us that nothing and nobody can keep God from loving us. No anguish, distress, persecution, famine… and we might add pandemic, economic loss, relationship strife — nothing — can keep our God from His faithful love for us. God has got us in the palm of His hand.

And yet, this reassurance is only the beginning of God’s gifts to us. Our Gospel passage from Matthew recounts the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and #sh. This of course, is a foreshadowing of the miraculous gift the Eucharist, which feeds us not with bread but with the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus.

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We Don't Have Tomorrow but We Had Yesterday

07-26-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Sure seems like ‘yesterday came suddenly”. Our Parish and School Community bid a fond and affectionate farewell to three of our longtime staff heading into the bliss of retirement. Specifically, Deacon Jim Brett, Director of Stewardship and Finance for the past 20yrs (and over 30yrs of service to our Diocese as a deacon); Mrs. Edith Bowers, Elementary School Teacher for 32yrs at Mt. Carmel School and Mrs. Gina Watson, School Office Administration for our School for 26 yrs! With much gratitude we say Hail and Farewell!

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Everyday Stewardship

07-26-2020Stewardship Reflection

The stewardship way of life could be described as a daily pursuit of the kingdom of heaven. In our Gospel passage from Matthew today, Jesus employs three parables to describe this kingdom.

In the first of today’s parables, our Lord reminds us that living for Him and for His kingdom will be costly. But the deep joy that comes in following Him makes the “price” entailed worth it. Jesus says, “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” Next, He says the kingdom of heaven is “like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all he has and buys it.”

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Supreme Reflections

07-19-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

It’s that time of year when the Supremes sing once again, and this year they hit several high notes. And proof that you “Can’t Hurry Love” many of the decisions were issued in July. Some of the rulings had an unusual bit of syncopation in them. Let’s start with Sister Act Part III, that is the Little Sisters of the Poor third appearance before the Court regarding the Affordable Care Act Contraception Mandate. Yes, seven years later and it’s still not done being litigated. In the ruling, the Court ruled in favor of the Little Sisters by stating that the requirement for health insurance to pay for contraception was an administrative rule and not part of the original legislation. Oddly enough, Justice Kagen concurred with the ruling but was quick to state that while this current Administration is free to rescind the rule, another Administration is free to reinstate it. All that means is that the Court will probably see the Little Sisters once again if a new Administration changes the rule. So, the “contraception mandate” lives to die another day, albeit right now it is in a judicially induced coma. According to Kagen, for the Court and the Little Sisters, it’s “Someday We’ll Be Together”.

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Everyday Stewardship

07-19-2020Stewardship Reflection

Today’s Gospel passage from Matthew is filled with lessons both cautionary and consoling for the Christian steward as Jesus uses several parables to describe the kingdom of heaven and our role in it.

First, He compares it to a field where both wheat and weeds have been sown. Both weeds and wheat are permitted to grow and only at the harvest time are they separated, or “judged” — the wheat gathered into the sower’s barn and the weeds finally destroyed. So it will be for each of us at the end of our time on earth. It is a sobering reminder of the justice of God.

Next, He says the kingdom of heaven is like the small portion of yeast that is mixed in with "our for the making of bread. The yeast makes up an insignificant fraction of the ingredients, yet it is vital to the outcome — without that tiny bit of yeast, the bread simply will not rise. Similarly, He compares the kingdom of heaven to a mustard seed, “the smallest of all the seeds.” But when it is full-grown it becomes the largest of all the plants, a sturdy and hardy bush where “birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.”

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Grumbling and Mumbling

07-12-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

We can unofficially add to the Church’s Liturgical seasons of Easter Time, Christmas Time, Ordinary Time: COVID Time. Probably not the innovation you were hoping for but as this Pandemic drags on the patience and waiting of an Advent is definitely required! We are used to hearing the Biblical stories of waiting and waiting some more for God’s Plan to come to fruition. The Hebrews had to wander 40 years in the desert before entering the Promised Land. All during that time, Moses was frequently confronted by their lack of patience. After Moses had led his people through the parted Red Sea, they no sooner started complaining that the conditions were awful and they were better off alive as slaves in Egypt than dead as free people in the desert. And when the people were running low on fresh water they complained to Moses to the point of near riot.

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07-12-2020The Sisters Corner

These past 4 months have been truly challenging because of the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the most common and certainly human experiences are fear, insecurity and anxiety. It’s precisely these kinds of situations that we experience that we can’t control things even if we feel a certain need to do so. This is a time when we need patience more than ever with ourselves and with others knowing that God is sweetly patient with us first. In these circumstances we have an opportunity to practice what we “already know”. Truths like: He has a purpose, He is a Good Father who is taking care of us, He is with us always no matter what. Perhaps it has been an opportunity where we realize that we truly need to grow in our trust in Him. If we think about it, it’s precisely one of the greatest occasions to actually grow. Let’s ask God to help us be patient and to transform this challenging and difficult time into a time where we learn how to trust in Him a little bit more. With deep and childlike confidence let’s ask Him: “I do believe, help my unbelief!” (Mk 9:24).

Trust More in God

07-05-2020The Sisters Corner

As Sisters who come from poor countries, we have been in contact with people in real need most of our lives. Yet we find that those who have less or suffer more are many times the happiest ones. Why? Because they have given their burden to the Lord and trust that He will give them what they need.

Who has not felt the burden that life can bring? (And that takes very different shapes.) Many times, we just spend too much time worrying and troubling ourselves about things we cannot change. Instead, we should give this weight to the Lord and ask Him to help us handle it.

In today’s Gospel there is a very powerful message for all of us that can be of comfort if we allow it to be. God allows us to receive pain, suffering and difficulties in different forms in our lives but He only allows us to carry the weight we can handle. We need to trust more in God and learn to walk more with Him in whatever is difficult in our lives.