Do We Recognize Jesus When He is Standing Right in Front of Us?

04-30-2017Stewardship Reflection

"Jesus himself drew near and walked with them, but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him." The disciples on the road to Emmaus had already heard reports about Jesus' resurrection. It was at the forefront of their minds, but in spite of this, they did not recognize Jesus when he stood right before them.

Why not? Perhaps because they weren't looking for him. Maybe they didn't really believe that he was alive. Or it could be that his appearance was not the same as it had been before. Whatever the case, it's very interesting to learn that it was actually while celebrating the Eucharist that these men finally realized who was right there with them! "He was made known to them in the breaking of bread."

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Our Missions in Other Countries

04-30-2017The Sisters Corner

What do we do in our Missions in South America?

As you know we are a community that was born in Lima (Peru) and we have been serving the Mission of the Lord in two cities, besides Lima: Ayacucho and Ayaviri (both in the highlands of Peru) and additionally in other countries of South America: Ecuador, Colombia and Chile.

Today we would like to share with you two of our projects in Lima (Peru).

We have a school for children with physical disabilities: “La Alegria en el Senor” (“The Joy in the Lord”), where we teach and pair them with teachers and volunteers, giving them all the help that we can with a professional staff that assists the children within the school. We also offer foster care for children from ages 3 to 5 years old, where we are in charge of the administration
and we accompany them and teach them the faith in the Lord.

To learn more, go to:
www.siervasdelplandedios.org or www.facebook.com/siervasdelplandedios/  

Too Much Weed

04-30-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Lest we “go to pot,” I need your help. Tempe City Council is being asked to expand the number of Medical Marijuana Dispensaries in Tempe. Currently there are two Dispensaries in Tempe. Tempe has already expanded the hours of operation for these two and reduced the age to purchase medical marijuana from 21 to 18. While there are a little over 4,000 people in Tempe with medical marijuana cards, the two Dispensaries report that their sales are well below inventory. Which means there is no need for access to additional Dispensaries in Tempe. Also, it should be noted that a person with a medical marijuana card can purchase marijuana at any licensed Dispensary in the State. And many of them advertise “home delivery”, so you don't even need to go to the local dispensary to obtain marijuana.

Thankfully, the voters of Arizona voted down Proposition 205 in November, which called for the legalization of recreation use marijuana. Expanding the number of dispensaries is a back door way to achieve the goal of Proposition 205. Here’s why: the teens we have coming to our Full Circle Youth at Risk Program all report that they obtain marijuana from people who have a medical marijuana card. In fact, they tell us that buying marijuana is a lot easier and less expensive than purchasing tobacco! Young people today smoke more marijuana than cigarettes. Most of our teens get introduced to mind altering substances via marijuana. Many young people will tell you that they see no harm in using marijuana and, in fact, it is a sort of health food used for medicinal purposes. Expanding access to marijuana only reinforces that myth to our young people. Of course, the more people use marijuana for non-medical reasons, the more likely they will be to support legalization for recreational purposes.

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The Newest Catholics

04-23-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

I’m not shouting “fire” in a theater but I do smell smoke. The culture seems to be burning itself down quicker than we can put out the flames. True enough, political wranglings give me much fodder to inveigh against. And I do seem to have this compulsion to point out foolishness that needs to be pointed out. But my overarching concern is not to opine the state of affairs but to give Christians some tools to provide the culture with Life support. But at this point in our journey it may be helpful to define what we believe our Catholic culture should look like. This is especially for the benefit of the newly baptized and confirmed. After all they are starting out their Catholic life and may need a few pointers from us so they can grasp what it means to be part of the Catholic world.

As Catholics we believe there is truth: Truth that is objective, absolute, and outside of ourselves. We also believe that human reason can discover truth; in fact it is the goal of reason to pursue truth. Truth is the fulfillment of reason and the cause of our happiness. When we detach ourselves from truth we embark on a path to illusionary freedom. Obedience to the truth is not always easy. It is therefore our obligation to fit ourselves into the truth and not the other way around. Truth is not what we say it is or what we want it to be. That’s called relativism and skepticism. The clash of an understanding of truth as absolute and truth as relative is why we as Catholics find ourselves so scorned by the wider culture.

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Holy Shroud continued, A Great Sign of Mercy and Hope that God wants to give us

04-23-2017The Sisters Corner

One of the most beautiful gifts that the Lord has left us is His Face and His Body imprinted on the Holy Shroud. This Sacred Icon of His Love to the end for humanity shows the marks that Jesus had on His entire His Body due to the suffering and His crucifixion.

Today is Divine Mercy Sunday and as we are living together the Passion and the Resurrection of the Lord, we consider the Holy Shroud as a very strong sign for not forgetting how much He loves us.

Continuing with the last meditation of this beautiful sign, we want to share with you some other thoughts that we, as Servants of the Plan of God, have about it.

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A Stairway to Heaven

04-16-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

If there is a highway to hell and a stairway to heaven, you should probably consider the traffic possibilities. While the highway may get you there faster, the stairs will take some effort. Taking it step by step is the nature of the spiritual life. Short cuts and half-measures generally avail results that are nil. If there were an easier, softer way, someone would have discovered it by now.

That’s why we are here: a community of disciples of Jesus who try their best to practice the spiritual life by developing and maintaining an on-going relationship with God through Jesus. A big part of being part of that community is just showing up. A certain amount of pew-mosis occurs over time as you seat yourself in a pew on a Sunday morning. That’s a big part, though not the only part of what we do. We gather Sunday after Sunday, sing songs in praise of God, listen to the biblical stories of how our ancestors in Faith came to believe, and then celebrate the mysterious presence of the risen Jesus in the breaking of the bread. At the end, after about an hour or so, the deacon dismisses us and instructs us to go forth and glorify the Lord with our lives or go and proclaim the Gospel - in others words, try to put it all into everyday practice.

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The Marks Of An Extreme Love-The Holy Shroud

04-16-2017The Sisters Corner

One of the most beautiful gifts that the Lord has left us is His Face and His Body imprinted on the Holy Shroud. This Sacred Icon of His Love to the end for humanity shows the marks that Jesus had on His entire His Body due to the suffering and His crucifixion.

For us as Servants of the Plan of God, this is a special devotion that shows us the marks of the Love that Jesus has for each one of us. And when we see them it shakes our hearts and makes us want to love in the same way as Jesus.

As these marks were impressed in the moment of the Resurrection of Jesus, they are also a sign of hope! Jesus is alive and is always in our lives in many different ways. We can see Him in our neighbor, especially those who suffer, inviting us to give hope to others by His Love.

Have a beautiful and blessed Easter!!

For more information go to www.siervasdelplandedios.org or www.facebook.com/siervasdelplandedios/ 

Unintended Consequences

04-09-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

I noticed a new CVS Pharmacy being constructed on Apache and Rural. So let’s count’em: Rural & Apache, Broadway & McClintock, Rural & Southern; then there is a Walgreens at Broadway & Mill, a Wal-Mart Pharmacy at Rural & Southern plus large pharmacies at the Broadway & Rural Safeway and the Rural & Southern Fry’s. That is seven pharmacies in less than 2 square miles. Obviously there is only so much toothpaste and band-aids that one needs so the raison de’etre is most likely to provide prescription drugs. We obviously take A LOT of them.

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Our Devotions- Master of Mercy

04-09-2017The Sisters Corner

“I live by faith in the Son of God,who loved me and gave himself for me”(Gal 2:20)

One of our special devotions is the Master of Mercy. He is Jesus in the image of a small child and that has different signs: His Face expresses happiness and tenderness, in His right hand He is holding His own Sacred Heart that was taken from His chest.

Amid these signs we see that even though He suffered,He was happy to offer His own life to us! And He would be happy to do it again if necessary. Because He truly loves us. In the image of a child we see that His love is free. A child gives their love to others in a simple, innocent and honest way.

For us, as Servants of the Plan of God, we discover that we hunger to receive His Love, to believe more and more in this love. In that way, we are able to love Him and to love the people that Jesus puts in our path with His own Love.

Thank You Lord for Giving Us Such a Beautiful Gift!

04-02-2017The Sisters Corner

The main role of Mary in our consecrated life:For Christ to Mary and through Mary more fully to the Lord Jesus!

The Person who best knows Jesus and follows His steps perfectly, with a lot of love is His Mother: Our Lady/Our Mother.

For us, as Servants of the Plan of God, we discover in Mary a Mother that Jesus given to us as a model of Servant, how to love and follow Him and to learn how to love others with the same Love of Jesus.

Mary’s joy is to bring joy to the Heart of God by giving Him more daughters and sons. She works silently but effectively in our hearts guiding us to be closer to Jesus. She intercedes for our intentions and needs. We learn from her how to serve others and we find ourselves so grateful for having her as THE model as a Servant of The Plan of God.

Thank You Lord for giving us such a beautiful Gift!

A New Strategy

04-02-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

We were so close, and then defeat was snatched from the jaws of victory. I am referring to defunding Planned Parenthood, (aka Murder Inc.) which was part of the promised fixing of the ACA Healthcare. Planned Parenthood was quite nervous - witness the flood of TV commercials purporting how absolutely necessary PP is for women’s healthcare in AZ. Also witness the number of counter-protesters at our 40 Days For Life Vigils at the clinic on Apache Blvd. In fact, these counter-protesters are quite the opposite of the prayerful, friendly Prolife protesters. The opposition has been out in force, and they have been nasty with their loud music, hate spewing out of their bullhorn, lots of bright pink, raunchy signs, and more. WE DESPERATELY NEED SOME REENFORCEMENTS to continue to be a viable sign of hope to those considering an abortion at the Apache PP Clinic.

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Meet Sr. Stephanie

03-26-2017The Sisters CornerSr. Stephanie

I am Sr. Stephanie, I'm from Perú and I am very happy to now be here in Tempe, to serve His Plan and His Mission here and to get to know you.

I'm very grateful that God has chosen me to be His Servant. It has been 9 years since I answered the lovely Call of God.

I had never thought of being a nun, but in my heart I yearned to give my life to people in need. I discovered when I attended a social project for helping poor children that my heart was made to love God through not just one or two people. He was calling me to love Him through all His sons and daughters. The Voice of the Lord hasn’t disappeared from my heart even as the years pass. His Voice continues to call me everyday in many ways: in the people that I encounter, in my sisters of community, and in many situations of a common day. That makes me very happy and it makes me want to love Him more and to follow His steps wherever He takes me. He has given me more than I could have ever imagined!

Tired of Winning?

03-26-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

This week we welcome our fifth and final Servant of the Plan of God: Sr. Stephanie Collins Salazar. Now we have five of a kind. We just keep winning and winning! Getting sick of winning yet? Sister Stephanie is a native of Lima and was a bit delayed in coming, as she was finishing up her University studies. Sister left South America on the first day of Fall and arrived up here just in time for Spring. Lucky her, she missed a winter! She also escaped the torrential rains and heavy mudslides that are causing chaos in Peru. In fact, some of the Sisters had to be evacuated from their convent and move in temporarily with another convent in Lima. Additionally, the town where Sr. Maria Christina is from, Trujillo, has been especially hard hit by mudslides and is affecting her family there. So keep the people of Peru in your prayers.

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Political Pawns

03-19-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

The President of the United States announced a change in U.S. Policy towards Refugees, specifically those fleeing a totalitarian regime. If such people arrive on our shores, they will be deported, sent back to their homeland, no matter that they risked their lives to get here and would face severe punishment upon return to their country of origin. That policy change took effect on January 12, to be specific, and was directed at Cuban nationals who attempt to enter the US illegally. It was issued by then President Obama. There was so little freak-out, no ACLU rushing to Federal Court to halt the order. Fast-forward a few weeks to a new president and a new refugee policy, and all hell breaks loose.

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The 70's Are Back!

03-12-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

2017 is the new 1970 or maybe a 1970's Redux? I am starting to feel like I should put on a Leisure Suit and head out to the disco. The elementary school I attended was a brand new building and included a Fall-out shelter, to which we dutifully were marched to prepare for the inevitable nuclear bomb that Russia was going to drop. By the late 70's when Ronald Regan was running for president I remember hearing that it would be extremely dangerous to give such an unstable person the codes to the nuclear arsenal. I voted for Carter just to be safe.

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Meet Sr. Maria Alejandra

03-12-2017The Sisters CornerSr. Maria Alejandra

Being a Servant of the Plan of God… I’m so thankful for God because when He looked at me, He chose me to be a Servant of the Plan of God. I had always wanted to give my life for the needy, especially for those I saw on the street and for the ones who were sick. Growing up I discovered that there were also people who suffer in a spiritual way. I realized that Jesus was inviting me to carry not only my cross, but also the cross of others. Then I met the sisters. It was beautiful for me to see that they have my same desires. Now I can say that I’m extremely happy being with Jesus and a part of His mission in the Servants of the Plan of God.

Sins vs. Virtues

03-05-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

A good place to start our Lenten Journey is with a reflection on the Seven Deadly Sins and praying for a desire to replace those habitual temptations with new habits inspired by the virtues that counteract these sins.

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Every Day Stewardship

03-05-2017Stewardship Reflection

Can you believe Lent is here already? It seems like not that long ago I was decorating a Christmas tree! Time waits for no one and that is why it is important to make a mindful commitment now to not let this Lenten season pass you by. It is a great time to focus on growing as an everyday steward. The temptations are always there to procrastinate or to give in to spiritual laziness, but the Church's observation of Lent offers us so many tools to help us get on track. Increased devotions such as Stations of the Cross, various parish missions, or Lenten-focused literature are all gifts that your parish may be offering to assist you in this season.

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Meet Sr. Maria Jose

03-05-2017The Sisters CornerSr. Maria Jose

It is an immense display of God´s mercy for me, that God has called me to be a Servant of the Plan of God. Since I was little I always had a great desire to be very close to Jesus. To be a missionary, able to transmit to all people His love. In a world that seeks to eliminate the external signs; He gave me this vocation and the opportunity to wear a habit. Showing with my presence that God exists, that He is alive and that He is the answer to our deepest desires of happiness. He also has given me sisters with the same desires of our hearts. As we support each other to reach our common goal of attaining eternal life in heaven with Him and thus helping many people to be saved.

Sr. Maria Jose