Fr. John's Letter Archives

Enjoy re-reading Fr. John's weekly bulletin letters for the past year.


Disdain and Delight

03-29-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends, 

The overriding emotions of this week for me, have been disdain and delight. I had written a long diatribe on my disdain for some of our elected officials who have held up the Congressional legislation that would give us all some direction on how to proceed in these uncertain times, at least in terms of employees, payroll and healthcare. But I decided to erase that and in the spirit of Lent to practice extra charity. As is so often the case, whenever there is a free-for-all, someone will try to pick your pocket and take advantage of the situation for their selfish purposes. I understand now why St. Thomas Aquinas said that the highest levels of heaven were reserved for politicians since the temptation to self-aggrandizement and corruption is so great for them that if they can resist, it amounts to heroic virtue on their part. Doesn't look like many of them can resist the temptations. Sad.

That being said, delight far surpassed disdain. Delight at how creative so many of you are in finding ways to cope and make the best of this situation. And delight at how many businesses are stepping up and retooling to manufacture needed supplies. The My Pillow Guy has converted his pillow making plant to making face masks, many booze producers have converted to making hand sanitizer, Auto manufacturers are trying to make ventilators and lots of other creative ideas are helping us get through this.

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This is REALLY retro!

03-22-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

A friend of mine recently said to me, “you realize we are living at a point in history when there are two popes and a plague. Medieval, huh?”  That sounds right. You would have to go back to the 1300’s for the last time that convergence of events occurred. Of course, back then there were popes and anti-popes and the Black Plague. So, if you ever wondered what it was like to be a medieval man, well you’ve gotten your taste. The good news about living in 2020 despite a pandemic that seems medieval is that we will get through it quicker and with less lethality than past pandemics. But we have to get through it. And that is the challenge we all face.

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Self-service humanity?

03-15-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Maybe not my finest moment… I was in the Supermarket and at check-out time there were no Cashiers, just the Self-Service Kiosks. I do not use the Self-Service Kiosks simply because they put people out of a job. There are four kiosks and one staff person supervising the checkout process. So that means there are today, three less cashiers, three less jobs. And if we continue to use the kiosks then the store will get the message and hire even less staff.

Another problem with the kiosks is that after about three or four items there is nowhere to put additional items, except on the floor. If you try to put them back in the cart the camera sees it and tells you to “put it back in the bagging area”. So, I asked to speak with the Manager. I told him, rather strongly, that I resented having to do this self-service check-out because it puts people out of jobs. Just my principle. And since I had more items than normal my stuff was all over the floor. Not only me, but the lady behind me was holding a baby and scanning items at the same time and her stuff was all over the floor as well. Though she had a smile on her face, don't suppose I did.

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This Virus not in the Budget

03-08-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

As we approach another general election, polls say that one of the top concerns of voters is healthcare. And now with the outbreak of the recent version of the coronavirus, you can bet that healthcare will be even more prominent in this election cycle. It seems like we talk and argue endlessly about our healthcare system and you wonder what exactly happened that makes our healthcare system such a frustrating issue?

If you have ever been scheduled for surgery, you know that your medical provider will submit to your Insurance provider a request for “preauthorization”. Then you get a letter that states, “Your preauthorization is approved but this is not a guarantee of payment.” Then what’s the point, you think. It’s called bureaucratic-eeze. Now if you called your medical insurance provider and ask “under what conditions will you not pay for the surgery” you will not get an answer or at best some gobbledygook response. But you may be stuck with the bill or a large chunk of it if some insurance administrator decides afterwards that the doctor didn't color within the lines.

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Prepare Ye

03-01-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

This was a recent headline from CNN: “Germany is currently not considering closing its border with Italy, due to the coronavirus outbreak…” Brilliant, I suppose, if there were actually a shared border between Italy and Germany. You wonder if anything this media outlet tells you is accurate or true. If they can’t proof-read maybe they should just look at a map.

Speaking of Italy and the coronavirus, things have turned rather somber. Both the Archdioceses of Venice and Milan have suspended all Masses, including funerals until further notice. Additionally, the city of Venice cancelled its annual Carnivale celebration which will have a tremendous impact on the local businesses and economy. Much of that area in Northern Italy has been placed under quarantine and photos show the supermarkets were stripped bare by panicked and angry residents. Likewise, in many areas in China, all religious gatherings have been cancelled, no funerals or even sick calls are being allowed. Let’s hope that’s not what awaits us.

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An Unethically Sourced Virus?

02-23-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

We often associate Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein with Halloween or scary films. But it is also a cautionary tale about the limits of science and the intersection of research and ethics. As Frankenstein demonstrated, in the name of medical research you can unleash something for which you can not predict the consequences. Recently evidence is coming to light that the particular strain of the coronavirus was bioengineered in China as part of research for immunotherapy or vaccines but it was inadvertently released from a Lab in Wuhan. Much like the Africanized honey bees, aka “killer bees” that were released by a lab in Brazil and have made their way up to North American and are such a pest in Arizona, this version of the coronavirus may have been released through sloppy lab protocols.

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Rats, Choice and Credits

02-16-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

This seems to fit right in with the Year of the Rat theme. The AZ Department of Education released the names and personal information of 7,000 AZ families who use Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESA). The Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) program is an account administered by The Arizona Department of Education that is funded by state tax dollars to provide educational options for qualified Arizona students. This also allows parents to choose from a variety of alternative educational services including private schools and home-schooling to fit the special educational needs of their child.

The information that was released included the account balances, the names and email addresses and the grade in which the student is enrolled and special needs students had their disabilities listed. To make matters worse the information was released to an organization called Save Our Schools, that opposes the scholarships and school choice in general. That’s not all. The AZ Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman has publicly stated her opposition to ESA’s, making the release of the information to an anti-school choice group all the more disturbing. The Education Department, claimed, “oops, sorry” an honest mistake. But I can’t help smelling a rat.

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The Pornification of the Super Bowl

02-09-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

I remember watching Super Bowl IV with my father when the Kansas City Chiefs won their first Championship. I would bet that my father would have been very uncomfortable watching Super Bowl LXIV Half-time Porn Show with one of his young grandsons or granddaughters. While it was a super game, the half-time show was super-slutty. This year we are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment codifying Women’s Suffrage, with a stress on empowering girls and yet what are girls being told to emulate? Pole dancing, crotch grabbing dancers in skimpy clothing with half-naked men pawing at them. Our girls continue to get mixed messages and our boys are taught to objectify women. Have we really “come a long way baby?”

I realize the NFL has become an arm of the progressive left’s social engineering plan but they could have at least given a Parental Warning or let the viewers know that sexual and graphic content was to follow. Apparently, the NFL owners are happy to make money on whatever sells no matter how raunchy. And Porn does sell. The website, Pornhub, which traffics in HUGE amounts of Pornography reported that as soon as Super Bowl Half-time commenced searches on their site for “Shakira” and “Jennifer Lopez” skyrocketed, increasing 1,401 percent and 381 percent, respectively.

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A Misunderstood Rat

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

Dear Friends,

As Jesus began his Public Ministry, the first sign of the in-breaking of God’s Kingdom was healing of the sick. Since that time, the Church has always had a primary concern for the sick. That motivation spurred the development of hospitals and clinics to care for the sick and until very recently most hospitals were run by religious organizations. Part of my seminary training included internships at a variety of institutions, including hospitals. The hospital internship required spending time in each department: Administration, Finance, Pre-Op, Post-Op, the Operating Room, Labor and Delivery etc. What I found was that the most important department in a hospital was Infection Control. No matter how successful an operation was, or how it was paid for, or how beautiful the facility was, if you got an infection your health could be seriously threatened and you could end up sicker than when you first were admitted.

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Two Popes, too many?

01-26-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

First there was the two Popes and then there was the movie version of the Two Popes and then a book pitting the Two Popes against each other. It’s enough to give you Two Popes, too many fatigue. The latest intrigue from our being present at this unique historical moment of having a Pope and a Pope emeritus is a film and a book.

The film, The Two Popes has been playing on Netflix as of late. What you need to know about the film is that it is FICTION. It never happened except in a writer’s creative mind. Nor is it based on pieces of actual evidence or what probably could have occurred. Just a yarn made from whole cloth. What’s good about the film is the acting. Both Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce give excellent performances and do not disappoint. What’s bad, is that it is stereotypic on many levels. The film uses a stereotypical Hollywood world view in which everything is divided into right-left, liberal-conservative categories. So, Pope emeritus Benedict is the rigid, rightwing villain and Cardinal Bergoglio (Pope Francis) is the oozing-compassion progressive. Then in stereotypical Hollywood characterization, a German personality by definition is hard, cold and unfeeling whereas the South American personality is infused with Tango tapping joy and joie de vivre.

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Moving Forward on the Pro-life Highway

01-19-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

After the US Supreme Court issued the Dred Scott Decision, President Lincoln and the US Congress passed a law-making slavery illegal in any US territory or any new state that might be carved out of those territories. Lincoln refused to accept that a slim majority of the Court could impose a policy that was binding on the nation as a whole or on the voter who considered it wrong so as to remove the issue from legislatures and voters. It was a way to both undermine the institution of slavery and push back against the Supreme Court’s ruling. In a somewhat similar manner since January 1973, many Presidents and Congresses have issued executive orders or passed laws pushing back against the Court’s Roe v. Wade decision and demonstrating that abortion is not a settled policy binding upon the states. So, this week we mark another March for Life and another push to undermine the legality of abortion on demand.

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War & Peace

01-12-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

In his January 1, World Day of Peace Message, Pope Francis said, “The journey of reconciliation calls for patience and trust. Peace will not be obtained unless it is hoped for. In the first place, this means believing in the possibility of peace, believing that others need peace just as much as we do. Here we can find inspiration in the love that God has for each of us: a love that is liberating, limitless, gratuitous and tireless.”

It seems that when it comes to the Middle East, we have long since given up any hope for peace. After these 20 years of war it seems like war is just the routine condition that we are expected to live with, sort of like background noise that you can do little about. I had thought that President Trump had more resolve than to get sucked into another conflict in the Middle East. His challenge to our NATO allies to step up and do more was a hopeful sign. Likewise, Trump has taken time to listen not just to the Generals but to the soldiers on the ground. In a book by Peter Bergen: Trump And His Generals: The Cost Of Chaos: “It’s unwinnable. NATO’s a joke. Nobody knows what they’re doing,” the SEALs told Trump, according to Bergen’s book. “We don’t fight to win. The morale is terrible. It’s totally corrupt.” And like his predecessor, President Obama, Trump’s instincts seemed to be to bring the wars and conflicts to a conclusion. But also like his predecessor, he got talked into more war, not less.

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The Song remains the Same

01-05-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Welcome to the Roaring Twenties, or so we hope. Of course, the 1920's didn't end well so let's hope the 2020's don't end with a big crash on a Black Tuesday. Right now we are possibly set to imitate the economic prosperity of the 1920's: between 1920 and 29 the nation's total wealth more than doubled and we are presently witnessing a booming economy and the Dow setting records again and again.

Back then, the extra money in people's pockets helped usher in a consumer driven economy. One of the big factors that made the 1920's roar was the introduction of the automobile. In 1924, a Ford Model T would set you back a whopping $240! Of course, along with the car came the Service Station, where a polite attendant would come out and pump your gas, clean your windshield and ask if you wanted your oil checked. As 2020 approaches on most new cars the first oil change is at 10,000 miles and filling up your tank is a rather solitary experience! The car also helped birth the Motel which allowed people to slowly discover the country outside their previous reach so you could "get your kicks on Route 66"!

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