A Return to Mayberry?

06-28-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

One of the problems with the current state of policing is, well, policing. And the problem isn’t really so much with the police as it is with the politicians who direct the police on how to police. At some point, I think it was around the time when the “war on drugs” began, but the manner of policing went from having police function as Community Peace Officers to being strictly Law Enforcement Officers. So, for those who don't have criminal contact with police the contact is about tickets, fees and fines. And the more police are pushed by politicians to sell quotas of tickets, fines and fees the more the municipalities are able to supplement their tax revenues.

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Lose in Order to Win

06-26-2020The Sisters Corner

t’s a natural experience to desire winning as most of us do not don’t like the experience of losing. Trying to live our faith can be truly challenging. We need to go through a constant conversion so it may change our way of seeing things.

In today’s Gospel we are invited, not to win but to lose, in order to win: “Whoever finds his life will lose it, whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” Jesus invites us to win by losing! Prior to hearing Jesus’ words we may ask ourselves: What and why should I lose? What will I find or win when I lose? Following Jesus certainly will imply losing many things in order to win greater ones: losing selfishness to win self-giving or charity, letting go of resentments to live forgiveness, give up trying to control things and grow in our trust in God to take control.

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06-21-2020The Sisters Corner

In today's Gospel the Lord mentions "not to fear" several times. Being afraid is a common feeling. Everybody has experienced fear at least once in their lives. We fear when we feel threatened by something or someone. There is also a good type of fear and is actually one of the 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit: FEAR of the Lord; this is a type of fear that instead of drawing us away it drew us closer to God because we fear being away from Him.

What type of fear is the Lord talking here?

Obviously He is taking about the first one. "Do not be afraid" - He says, but, afraid of who? - Of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. God has created us and has given us a body and a soul. Sometimes it is easier to forget about the "soul part" and look more at the body part because is what we can see. However, the Lord is asking us to look a little bit deeper on what is really is important. He is asking us to see the world with different eyes, the type of eyes that not only see what we can touch or feel but the type of eyes that see beyond.

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Tack in the Foot

06-21-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Phrases such as “systemic racism” and “institutional racism” are being used a lot lately. But what exactly do they mean? The more blatant types of racial discrimination such as employment or housing discrimination are not so hard to spot and we do have a legal system to fight against it. But there are other more insidious and harder to spot forms of racism that often infect our institutions and social systems. Consider this example:

In one school system on the East Coast, upwards of 80% of the students are placed on methylphenidate, brand names Ritalin and Adderall, prescribed to treat ADD/ADHD. Now in those same communities there is also a massive drug addiction problem, drug overdoses, and drug related crime. The drugs of choice in those same communities is methamphetamine, (crystal meth), crack cocaine and cocaine. It just so happens that methylphenidate is in the same drug family as methamphetamine and cocaine, namely stimulants. Can it be that these children are being set up to be drug addicts as young adults?

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The Beauty of Sharing Our Faith

06-14-2020The Sisters Corner

We have the beautiful tradition of receiving Catechumens and Candidates into the faith of the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil, which is a very significant liturgical feast to us. Those preparing to be received into full communion to the Church look forward to it the whole year. But this year, with the Covid Pandemic, those going through RCIA had to face the uncertainty of not knowing when their sacraments would take place. When we finally got the dates scheduled, we discovered that God really thought this one out.

Last Sunday six baptisms were celebrated during 5pm Mass. It was a beautiful ceremony where our Catechumens were Baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit on none other than at the Feast of the Holy Trinity.

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U's -Turn Needed

06-14-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

No doubt most of us are still scratching our heads asking, “how did this happen?” How was it that a medieval-like Pandemic hit in 2020 with all our Public Health and Medical sophistication? And how was it that racism and police brutality are still part of our justice system and our society at large after years of pushing civil rights forward and going over policing practices and policies like the Use of Force policy with a fine-tooth comb again and again?

The long answer is the human condition, specifically that which Christians label as original sin. It’s right there at the beginning of the Bible. After Adam and Eve are expelled from the Garden, sin begins to divide the human family, Cain kills his brother Abel and every murder since is just a variation on an old theme. The solution is the Gospel: Repent and Believe. Repent of hatred for your brother and believe that God is Father of us all and we are all brothers and sisters. Admittedly it's a long-term strategy and not so much a quick fix.

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RCIA & Rescheduled Sacraments

06-07-2020The Sisters Corner

It is always a great gift to be able to help those who are seeking to join the Church and receive their Sacraments. Never has the date for the Sacraments been as anticipated as this year. With all the uncertainty of the Covid pandemic, those going through RCIA were unable to receive their Sacraments at the Easter Vigil as is the tradition. We were just patiently waiting for the reopening of the Church. So when we finally got a date for the Sacraments, it was an occasion for great joy, as you can imagine.

Please pray for our Catechumens and Candidates who will be receiving their Sacraments and joining the Church during this month. June 7 at 5pm Sunday Mass we will have our Catechumens receive the Sacraments of Baptism, First Communion and Confirmation.

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The Red-head Down the Street

06-07-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Envision yourself as a twelve- or fourteen-year-old kid again. You come home and your mother says, “I don't want you playing with that red-head down the street.” You say, “why not?” And all she says is, “because she is a red-head that’s why.” What do you do? You have only two choices as young kid: either disobey your mother and get punished for it or buy into her craziness.

That’s basically the choices we have at this point as so many of our overlords play the role of the crazy mother. The Salon owner in Dallas chose not to buy into to the craziness and opened her business. She did it after her employees told her they were going to serve customers in their private homes so they could earn a living and take care of their families. The owner told them not to as it was unsafe during the Pandemic. So, instead she opened her shop so her staff could work in a safe environment, social distancing in place, face masks, proper sanitizing after each customer etc. She chose to play with the red-head down the street. She was arrested and sent to jail.

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Fear Factor

05-31-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

FDR famously said, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself”. Well, since mid-March we have been immersed in an ocean of fear in the form of conflicting, confusing, and politicized medical and scientific information. The virus is real and it sickens a lot of people and is lethal to certain groups. But today we know a lot more about the virus than we did in March and that should help reduce our levels of fear. Still we have to sort through so much conflicting, confusing, and ever-changing information to lessen our fears.

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Pentecost

05-31-2020The Sisters Corner

Today we celebrate Pentecost. We celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit fty days after the resurrection of the Lord. Just as God never left the disciples alone, He sent us the Holy Spirit to sanctify us and continue the life and mission of Christ in us in the Church. God knows very well that we can’t do it with our mere strength! Perhaps we don’t always realize it but the Holy Spirit’s action and presence in us can be much more than we imagine. The Holy Spirit is the one who moves our hearts to love God. The gift of piety makes that love grow deeper. He is with us to teach us how to pray to desire intimacy with Christ. He is the One who enlightens our minds to know Him more and live the demands of the Gospel, the commandment of love. Finally, He strengthens our will to seek and serve His Plan in our lives. And it's good to recognize His action in our lives when we experience His fruits such as joy, peace, charity, patience, kindness, gentleness, and faithfulness.

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3 Ways to Sunday

05-24-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

A question that has been rolling around in my head is why did the Public Health authorities so quickly go to DEFCON Level 1 with this novel coronavirus but not with the previous SARS, MERS, H1N1? What did they know or what did they suspect about COVID19 that made Health officials insist on such drastic actions? My guess is that they either knew or suspected this virus may have been bioengineered and somehow escaped a laboratory, making it a potential super-virus.

Maybe someday we will know the origins of the virus but now after several months of the virus spreading worldwide, we do know some things. This virus is definitely very contagious but a lot less lethal than originally feared. Based on all the data collected worldwide at this point, about 99% of those infected do recover. One thing fatalities have in common is that they all reported underlying health issues. Even though the highest rates of death were among those in Nursing facilities, it was not necessarily because of age but rather preexisting conditions. I guess you wouldn't be in a Nursing Home if you didn't have some health condition that put you there.

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Find the Balance

05-24-2020The Sisters Corner

During these times, there has been an urgent need to find the balance in meeting the spiritual needs and the physical well being of the faithful. One of the greatest concerns of the Church is offering the Sacraments to the faithful. Another great concern is to take care of the people’s health.

A few weeks ago, on the Sunday of the Good Shepherd, our parish, with deep joy, finally began offering Holy Communion to OLMC’s parishioners with the necessary precautions to keep parishioners safe.

For many, having been unable to receive the Lord sacramentally for more than a month became an occasion to grow in the realization of just how the Eucharist is one of the greatest gifts of our faith! It’s amazing how this unusual context of the pandemic could offer us a great opportunity to grow in the many ways we couldn't even imagine. It was deeply moving to see the reverence and the deep joy shown by many as they approached to receive Holy Communion. Parishioners showed so much gratitude for finally receiving Jesus again through this sacrament after several weeks. This must have touched the heart of our Good Shepherd who wants nothing but to give Himself to us!

Mixed Metaphors

05-17-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Now for something entirely different. Well not really. But I think we are all tired about hearing about coronavirus/ Pandemic. But it looks like the Apocalypse didn't happen. Now to something we are also tired of hearing about and another Apocalypse that also didn't happen, namely Take-down-Trump. It seems like he really lives by the saying: “I’m rubber you’re glue; it bounces off me and sticks on you.” Everything including the kitchen sink has been thrown and him and he’s still standing. At every turn we were told, “this is the 800lb gorilla in the room” but it seems to all have been a venomous melody.

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The Mission Continues

05-17-2020The Sisters Corner

In this time of the pandemic, one of the things that has been awakened in us, is reaching out to others. Living our faith demands in our hearts: charity! There’s a tremendous need to continue announcing the Lord, especially at these times.

We’ve been busy connecting online. Sr. Cristina with the RE team has created videos for their students. Sr. Maria Jose, with ASU Newman Center, continues to meet with the students virtually. Sr. Monica has been meeting with her RCIA Catechumens and Candidates online as they wait to receive their Sacraments. Sr. May organized a virtual retreat for the 8th graders and with Sr. Cristina, led the weekly rosary for OLMC School. We’ve been livestreaming Adoration from the Convent to pray for and with the parishioners. We’ve also been reaching out through phone calls to our parishioners especially the homebound.

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Open Wide and Say Ahaaa

05-10-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

The science of Virology demonstrates that generally the most contagious viruses are the least lethal. Think of the common cold. None of us are immune to it but none of us die from it alone. The most lethal viruses tend to be less contagious. Think of AIDS. You cannot contract AIDS sitting next to someone or by breathing the same air. There are very specific ways that the AIDS virus is contracted. And if you do contract it you might not know it for a while and it is very lethal. When it comes to COVID-19 it was initially thought that this virus was both highly contagious and highly lethal, uncharacteristic for a typical virus. At this point the data suggest that COVID-19 is very contagious but not as lethal as feared. It tends to kill the same categories of people as the Flu, namely those with underlying health conditions. When AIDS first broke out in the 1980’s, those infected were put in extreme isolation and a lot of fear and panic about how contagious it was abounded until we understood more about the virus. I remember visiting a patient in the hospital who was dying of AIDS and I had to wear a full Haz-mat suit. The same goes with COVID-19, initially lots of fear and panic but as we come to understand more about the virus and how it is spread and who it affects calmer waters will prevail.

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Thank You Mother Mary

05-10-2020The Sisters Corner

This Sunday we celebrate Mother's day. Today is a beautiful day for us to reflect on what it means to be a mother. Mothers are the women chosen by God to give us life, to carry us in their wombs for 9 months, to teach us how to walk, talk and many more things. Today is also a day to look at Mary. Mary was also a woman chosen by God to be a mother, the Mother of Jesus. She, with her yes, gave us Jesus, our life, and her fiat made us able to be born to the life of the spirit. She too taught us how to walk and talk spiritually. When we first started this journey of faith we didn't know many things; she was there, helping us to communicate with God, interceding for us, whether we were aware or not, there is no doubt of her presence. She helped us to speak to her Son, she carried us in her arms when we couldn't walk more. Today let's elevate a prayer of Thanksgiving to Mary, our Mother. She knows our heart, and with tender love she holds our hand to take us to her Son.

Always Go to Galilee

05-03-2020The Sisters Corner

“Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.” These were the words Jesus said to the women who came to see the tomb. Go to Galilee.

Speaking of this emphasis on Galilee, Pope Francis said:

Faith always needs to go back to Galilee, to reawaken its first love for Jesus and his call: to remember him, to turn back to Him with all our mind and all our heart. To return to Galilee means to re-read everything on the basis of the cross and its victory.

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Abnormally Abnormal

05-03-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

If you’ve even lightly perused the prescriptions for Pandemic prevention, you probably have whiplash. Way back in February we were told that wearing face masks really won’t help much. Anyone listening to that had to scratch their head? How is that not effective, then why do medical staff wear them? The reality was that there were not enough masks to go around. That was obvious enough after every store in Tempe sold out of them after the first coronavirus case appeared at ASU. But rather than tell us, “hey save the masks for the medical people”, we got a bogus excuse. Now we are told wear the darn thing. But if we wear them why do we have to still be six feet apart? Droplets from a cough or sneeze can travel maximum 10 feet before dropping to the ground. So why the 6 feet and not 10 for social distancing?

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