November's Bumpy Start

10-30-2016Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

As of November I begin my 17th year here at Mt. Carmel and its not starting out so well for our parish, our nation or this Bulletin. I didn’t expect to loose Fr. Sam in October and his replacement won’t be coming due to circumstances beyond my control. The Bishop has promised to send another priest at some point in the future, just not right now. In the meantime I am scheduled to be out of town November 1-14, I will be giving a retreat at the Salesian Retreat Center in Hong Kong. Which means as of this writing (10/25) we are scrambling to find priests to cover Masses. The weekend Masses should be covered but the weekday might have spotty coverage. Our deacons will be coordinating things and if need will lead a prayer service on days when a priest is not available. I apologize for this interruption in service… All will be back to normal when I return on the fifteenth. This does bring up the point that as our Diocese grows the number of priests has not grown with it. So pray for more vocations to the Diocesan priesthood.

As a footnote you can always attend weekday Mass at the Newman Center on University and College (Mon-Thurs. @ 6pm), at Holy Spirit in Tempe, McClintock and Guadalupe (Mon, Tues, Wed, Fri, Sat @ 8:30am) or Resurrection Parish, Southern and Evergreen (Mon-Sat. @ 8am). Please note there will be Monday Adoration and Benediction as usual.

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Now is the time for Rejoicing!

10-23-2016Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Greater will be the future glory of this house than the former, says the Lord of Hosts, and in this place I will grant prosperity. Haggai 2:9

We took that as our theme for our Parish Diamond Jubilee in 2007 and now the future has arrived and we are living in the middle of the answer to our Jubilee prayer. The prophet Haggai was an old man by the time he prophesied in Jerusalem. Haggai had witnessed the destruction of his city and the Temple and now after his people returned from exile he was calling them to rise up from the ashes of exile and reclaim their rightful place as God’s light to the nations. What makes Haggai exceptional among the Hebrew prophets is that the people actually took his message to heart and did in fact rebuild their city and the Temple. His message was passionate, simple and straightforward. And what the people discovered while rebuilding the Temple was that a shift in their own spiritual attitude from a focus on self to a focus on God had occurred. The message is simple and applies to believers of every age: put God at the center of your lives and your nation and the blessings God promised will be yours in abundance.

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The Struggle Continues

10-16-2016Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

President Abraham Lincoln’s national campaign to enlist all Americans in resisting a Supreme Court decision was brought up in the second Presidential Debate by one of the candidates. President Lincoln considered the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Dred Scott case illegitimate and refused to do anything to enact the court’s decision that a slave was a non-citizen, a non-person and property of the slave owner. Lincoln’s goal was to replace Dred Scott with the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution. In the end President Lincoln was so abhorred by the decision that his refusal to compromise on it would lead four years later to bringing the nation into civil war.

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Hysterectomy for Men

10-16-2016Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Physicians in the US are now required to give upon request a man a hysterectomy. Yes, you read that correctly, it is not a mistake, tongue in check or sarcasm. The Department of Human Services Office of Civil Rights has issued a new rule (no idea where they get the right to do so) that physicians must treat patients according to their stated gender/sex and failure to do so could result in a charge of health care discrimination and fines and loss of reimbursements and possible loss of license. Women who self identify as men and request a hysterectomy regardless of the medical need for such procedure must be accommodated.

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Mercy, Mercy, Me

10-02-2016Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

As I’ve said throughout this Jubilee Year of Mercy, God is using it to strengthen the Church for whatever is to come. Even though we are coming to the last two months of the Jubilee there are still things to do and ways to prepare.

1st Friday MERCY NIGHT: the Franciscan Friars of the Holy Spirit (a new community of Franciscans in our Diocese) will host a Mercy Night for the South Deanery, of which we are a part, at Corpus Christi Parish (3550 E. Knox Rd. Phoenix) on Friday, October 7 at 7pm. Mass, Teachings and Confessions will be available until 10pm. The Franciscan Friars are worth hearing and also great confessors.

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205=420

09-25-2016Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

As soon as a child learns to crawl a parent puts up boundaries: gates, fences that lead to the stairs, the plugs in electrical outlets and the stops on kitchen cabinets where the cleaning supplies are kept. And on it goes up the ladder as the child grows. Boundaries, or as I like to call them walls, are erected to help a child learn the consequences of his or her behavior. The goal of course is for a child to eventually internalize why an action is good or bad, helpful or harmful. We pay pretty frantic attention to putting up walls for things that could harm a child physically but we are doing a poor job putting up walls that prevent harm to a child morally and spiritually.

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Living Is Easy With Eyes Closed

09-18-2016Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Sitting on a sofa on a Sunday afternoon
Going to the candidates' debate
Laugh about it, Shout about it
When you've got to choose Every way you look at it you lose

“Mrs. Robinson” by Simon and Garfunkel

When it comes to this year’s Presidential election also known as Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, whichever candidate wins, be it The Ego or Lady Macbeth every way I look at it we lose. Both are dangerous but not for the same reasons nor for reasons you might think.

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Sept 11: A Response to Terror: Bathtubs & Shopping

09-11-2016Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

After 9/11 one of my thoughts was that we would become like Israel: a country on high alert at all time, small scale terrorist attacks here and there and security measures that permanently disrupt routine living. But my real fear was that we would become used to it. And so we have 15yrs post 9/11.

Whenever I hear of another terrorist attack whether at home or abroad my thoughts go out to the families of the potential victims. When 9/11 touched us here and when we learned that Gary Bird might have been in one of the towers a frantic search ensued to find out if he was one of the survivors or not. Calls to hospitals, law enforcement, looking at published lists of those either identified as killed or hospitalized turned up nothing. After a few days the obvious had to be considered and then painfully accepted. So when the Night Club in Orlando or the Office in San Bernardino or anywhere else was hit I immediately knew that sinking feeling of dread that the friends and family would have as they frantically tried to find out if their loved one was there and whether they were a survivor or a murdered victim.

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Words of Wisdom

09-04-2016Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

On this day when Blessed Teresa of Calcutta is canonized we should remember some of the spiritual wisdom she taught us. So for this Sunday let us just pause and savor the joy of the moment and remember how much one person in the name of Christ can challenge the world and spread love on every continent. (Next week I’ll write about the political landscape but you’ll need to be buoyed by hope to hear my take on things. So memorize a few of these wonderful words from Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta!)

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Albanian Dwarf or Giant Saint?

08-28-2016Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Was she a “lying, thieving, Albanian dwarf --less interested in helping the poor than in using them as an indefatigable source of wretchedness on which to fuel the expansion of her fundamentalist Roman Catholic beliefs" as Christopher Hitchens, not known as a great humanitarian, wrote in his book Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice? Or was it true that she had, as a group of Canadian Academics once opined: "her rather dubious way of caring for the sick, her questionable political contacts . . . and her overly dogmatic views regarding abortion, contraception, and divorce." Then there was always the criticism that the houses she set up in Calcutta for the sick and dying were subpar and the medical care was medieval. In that view I guess it was better for people to die on the streets of Calcutta than die in a house that didn't measure up to Western medical standards. And of course there was the accusation that she was in love with poverty and not the poor.

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Is the Past just the Past?

08-21-2016Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

You might not be living in the past but the past might be living in you.

A current example of this is Germany. As much as Germany tries to not repeat the mistakes of its 20th century past by being hyper vigilant with anything that smacks of Aryan racism, anti-Semitism or xenophobia it also makes it difficult to deal with current refugee challenges. Case in point: Bavaria’s intelligence gathering agency, announced “ISIS ‘hit squads’ had entered Europe with the flood of migrants that came across the borders over the last year and a half and irrefutable evidence that there is an IS command structure in place that will likely launch a coordinated attack on Germany.” Even with such evidence the German Chancellor still insists, “We can make this work”. At all costs Chancellor Merkel does not want to be seen in anyway as racist or xenophobic. If it wasn't for her country’s past she might be more sensitive to the dangers that the tidal wave of refugees pose to her country.

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Why Lock the Door?

08-14-2016Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

I imagine that at night before going to sleep most people lock their doors, some might even put an alarm on, or live in a gated community. But what is the motivation for locking your doors at nighttime? Is it because you hate the people outside? No I doubt that is the rationale. Rather you lock your doors at night not because you hate the people outside but because you love the people inside.

Most of us don't worry too much that our neighbors will come over at 3am to borrow a screwdriver or return the lawnmower. In fact the few people walking around the neighborhood at night are either walking the dog, coming home from the late shift or stayed too long at the casino. But still now and then there might be a person lurking around with bad intentions. So you take a simple measure like locking the door because you love your family.

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The Blood of the Martyr

08-07-2016Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Over the last few weeks we have witnessed mass murder and murder at Mass. Both shock the conscience. But the latter I take very personally: Je suis Jacques Hamel. Fr. Jacques Hamel, priest in Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray in Normandy, France, in his 80’s and had been a priest over 50yrs, martyred while saying Mass. Fr. Hamel was not the first priest to be killed at the altar and probably not the last. We have been down this road before.

Consider a bit of history: 732 Charles Martel at Tours in France, 1571 Don Juan and Andrea Doria at the Battle of Lepanto, 1683 the Battle at the gates of Vienna and the long line of Spanish martyrs that preceded them as the West fought back a very aggressive form of Islam. It was because of the victory at Lepanto that St. Pius V gave us the feast of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary (formerly called the Feast of Our Lady of Victory). St. Pius had asked everyone to pray the rosary as the battle commenced and he attributed the unlikely victory to the Rosary.

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