E tu, Brute?

06-25-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

“There’s a new world comin’, and it’s just around the bend.
There’s a new world comin’, this one’s comin’ to an end.”
New World Coming sung by Mama Cass

“E tu Brute?” The immortal words uttered by Julius Caesar, in Shakespeare’s play of the same name, as Julius Caesar realized he was being assassinated by not only his political rivals but by a man whom he thought was his friend. That play is now being performed during New York City’s “Shakespeare in the Park Series” but with a twist. The character of Julius Caesar has been replaced with a President Trump look-a-like and according to script, is unceremoniously murdered by his political foes. I would call that at the least, poor taste and at the worst, scurrilous. But what is really shameful and disturbing are the crowds coming to see it and cheer it on. Something has definitely changed in America. When did it become acceptable to stage the assassination of a sitting President or hold his severed head up in mockery? While I had not even the slightest liking for the policies of President Obama or his maudlin moralizing, I would never have wished him harm and would condemn anyone who did. Maybe I’m old fashioned but somethings are beyond the pale.

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Everyday Stewardship

06-25-2017Stewardship Reflection

When I was a teenager, after a homecoming dance one year I took my date for a walk on the Potomac in downtown Alexandria. The moon was out and I was struck by how the light shimmered on the water. I remember focusing to try to see all the details of the dancing rays on the ripples. My date didn't see it and didn't really get it. She thought it was no big deal. It was a great date and a fun night, but for that one moment, we saw the world from two completely different vantage points.

Two of the greatest gifts from God to each of us are life and time. Without taking care, we can easily miss the grandeur and beauty of both. Being mindful as an everyday steward means pausing to see the detail in all that exists around us. God's creation is not something created with a broad brush, but instead with the intricacies of a master painter.

God created all things with purpose and a complexity only the divine could fully comprehend. Every single hair on our head has been counted! But when we take a moment to reflect on the beauty that is created by that complexity, we allow ourselves to revel in God's generosity. There is so much to give thanks for in this life. But you and I can't give thanks to God unless we really stop to take notice. When was the last time you stared in awe at the moon?

Tracy Earl Welliver, MTS...© Liturgical Publications Inc

Our Apostolate Through Music

06-25-2017The Sisters Corner

Since the very beginning of our foundation, we have recognized music as a very important way to evangelize to Catholics, non-Catholics and even those who do not believe in God.

It is for this reason that we started a Musical Ministry called Siervas. Our songs seek to communicate about human experiences, trying to illuminate those experiences from the perspective of faith.

Read more about us by visiting  www.siervasdelplandedios.org or
www.facebook.com/siervasdelplandedios/ 

Corpus Christi

06-18-2017Stewardship Reflection

This has been a month of celebrations for us as Catholics. Today we celebrate the Solemnity (Feast) of Corpus Christi during which we commemorate the great gift of the Eucharist which stands at the heart and life of the mission of the Church. This is not only a time to celebrate this gift to us from Christ, but to consider its meaning and richness both in the life of the Church and in our lives as Catholics.

The celebration of Corpus Christi commemorates the presence of the Body and Blood of Christ, one of the Sacraments of the Eucharist. On Holy Thursday Jesus met the Apostles for the Last Supper, when He said, “This is my Body (indicating the bread) and this is my Blood (designating the wine).” We as Catholics acknowledge the gift of the Eucharist, as this is the food of our souls.

Twelve times during the Last Supper Jesus reminds us that He is the Bread of Life. He is quite definite about this reality. It is He Who gives us eternal life. Every Catholic Mass, not just this one, is both a memorial to Christ’s life, death, and Resurrection, and also a participation in the sacrifice which Christ made on the Cross for us. When we approach to receive communion, we are in reality at the foot of the Cross, adoring, asking forgiveness, and offering ourselves to Christ Who loved us to His death.

Today, and every day when we approach the Eucharist, we need to keep this in mind. We need to receive this incredible gift and then as good stewards we need to share it by being disciples, by sharing the Good News in our lives and how we live them.

To Know Him, To Love Him , To Serve Him

06-18-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

If you remember the old Baltimore Catechism taught: “God made us to know him, love and serve him…” Hence, we first must know God in order to love Him. For how can we love that which we do not know? Hence, we read the scriptures and study the teachings of our Faith. But how do we love God? For Israel this was summed up in the commandment, “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is one God, and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your strength and with all your soul and with all your might.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-5) Jesus of course added to this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” So this love of God includes love of neighbor and love of self. Authentic love then necessarily has these three objects. So in a sense when we fail to love our self or our neighbor our love of God falls short.

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Our apostolate in Rome

06-18-2017The Sisters Corner

In 2006 we arrived at the heart of the Church: Rome. It has been a huge blessing to serve there through our charisma. Since the beginning of this foundation, one of our sisters has been a part of the teamwork of the Pontifical Council for Health Care. Which offers support with projects directed to the health care of people in the ethical and moral areas related to this subject. We also do pastoral care, catechesis, prayer groups in different parishes. We have programs of evangelization for families and the youth. Additionally, we help in Caritas, specifically in programs that help the immigrants.

“and the Son”

06-11-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

The Filioque Problem. I know many of you lay awake at night pondering this problem. And if you were around at the end of the first millennium of Christianity, this issue had tremendous theological and political implications. In fact, it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. It led to the East-West Schism, the split in Christianity between the East and West in what would become the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.

In a nutshell, the controversy stemmed from the words of the Nicene Creed: I believe in the Holy Spirit, The Lord and Giver of Life, who proceeds from the Father (and the Son). The words “and the Son” - “filioque” in Latin - did not appear in the original version of the Creed of Nicaea (325) but were added at the Council of Constantinople in 381. Hence the Creed that we profess each Sunday is properly called the Nicene-Constantinople Creed. The Eastern Church mainly rejected this, preferring “through the Son.” Their rejection was construed as a rejection of the authoritative nature of the Council of Constantinople, as well as Papal Primacy and the exact nature of the Trinity. (If you want to learn more about the controversy, the U.S. Bishops have a good article on it:

http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/ecumenical-and-interreligious/ecumenical/orthodox/filioque-church-dividing-issue-english.cfm .

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The Holy Trinity

06-11-2017Stewardship Reflection

In the Gospel of Matthew 28:19 we hear Jesus instruct his Apostles, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” This is, of course, one of many references in Holy Scripture to the Holy Trinity which we celebrate on this Solemnity today.

When we receive the Eucharist at Mass, we are receiving more than the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ; we are also receiving the Father and the Holy Spirit because they are all One. This concept of Three Persons in one God is surely a mystery beyond our comprehension. We take this belief on faith as part of our Catholic beliefs because our human brains can never fully understand it.

We received the Holy Spirit when we were confirmed, but we also received the Father and the Son. When we look at the Tabernacle which is in every Catholic Church throughout the world, we know that Christ is present, but the Father and the Holy Spirit are as well. They all dwell in heaven which means that our Tabernacle might be called a “gateway to heaven.”

Do we think of all this when we come into the church, when we attend Mass? We should. The Holy Trinity is present there every hour of every day and every day of every month and every year. That is one of the reasons we need to attend Mass —to understand and celebrate the Holy Trinity.

Our Apostolate in the Philippines

06-09-2017The Sisters Corner

Our apostolate in the Philippines In 2003, the Lord wanted us to open our first community out of America, in the Philippines.

Our mission there is to teach in the schools and in the university. We assist with pastoral needs through retreats, spiritual journeys, Bible groups, conferences, leadership workshops, etc.

We have been helping in the area of pastoral care by: going to the hospital and giving spiritual accompaniment. Additionally, we have a project of catechesis and feeding for children that are poor, called “Feeding program”.

We also visit women that are in jail; we do mission trips to different islands that are in need such as Boho, Leyte and Batayan, (an island that was very much affected by a typhoon many years ago). With a group of volunteers we offer them aid in both material and spiritual ways for all their needs.

For more information visit www.siervasdelplandedios.org or www.facebook.com/siervasdelplandedios/ 

Our apostolate in Angola (Africa)

06-04-2017The Sisters Corner

We are very happy and thankful to God, who allows us serve Him through our most needy brothers and sisters in the African continent since 2005. We would like to share with you a little bit of our mission there.

Our community is in Huambo, where we serve in the education and health areas through service in a hospital and through programs for evangelization. In these evangelization programs we have projects of spiritual accompaniment and solidarity missions. We have a kindergarten, where we teach our little brothers and sisters about faith. We conduct courses for Catholic leaders for the youth of 18 villages in the area and we also assist the local church through our participation in commissions of catechesis and areas related to health within the Dioceses.

For more information visit www.siervasdelplandedios.org or www.facebook.com/siervasdelplandedios/ 

Pentecost Sunday

06-04-2017Stewardship Reflection

Today, Pentecost Sunday, is called by many the birthday of the Church. Not only does the Lord imbue His followers and Apostles with the Holy Spirit, but He sends them out into the world to accomplish and further His mission.

There are strong connections to the concept of stewardship throughout the readings on this day, including the statement by St. Paul in his letter to the Corinthians, “To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.” That is a prompt to us that we are gifted in different ways, but we are to be willing to use those gifts to assist and support the Church and others.

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As Satisfying as Bed-Wetting

06-04-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

The Tempe City Council voted on whether or not to lift the cap, currently at two, on Medical Marijuana Dispensaries in the city. The state statute gives cities the authority to enact zoning regulations and other restrictions on the Dispensaries. The result was, well, sort of like wetting the bed, a bit of relief but then cold and stinky. The Council voted 4-2-1 to lift the cap but imposed additional zoning restrictions (Dispensaries can be located no less than one-mile apart, 1500 feet from a day care or school (including ASU and residential areas). So considering the geography of the city (10miles x 4miles) and the requirements for security and the actual square footage of a dispensary and available retail space that fits the requirements, there could be up to 5 or 6 dispensaries in Tempe. So while the City council did lift the cap, the additional zoning requirements limit the actual possible number of Medical Marijuana Dispensaries, which could have been upwards of 30 or more.

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