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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The How and the Why

04-26-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Two of the questions that most of us are asking viz-a-viz the Pandemic are How and Why? The How is no doubt the easier of the two. How did this start? Was it accidentally done on purpose? How is it our Public Health Systems both domestically and internationally were slow at picking up on the veracity of the virus? How was it that the domestic system didn't have the inventory needed? There may be good answers to these questions and it is important they be answered so we can improve from here on out. And let’s face it nobody really living in 2020 thought a Pandemic of medieval magnitude was possible. And yet it was.

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Everyday Stewardship

04-26-2020Stewardship ReflectionTracy Earl Welliver, MTS

Mean What You Say

Missouri is known as the “Show Me” state. There seem to be differing points of view as to how this motto came into existence, but today it is said to speak of a people who operate with common sense and are not easily fooled by slick-talking or show. We would be prudent to adopt such a disposition ourselves. To be this way is not really like St. Thomas in the Gospel when he doubts what he clearly sees right in front of him. It is more about holding ourselves to a standard explained in another motto: “Say what you mean and mean what you say.”

If we claim to be Christians, disciples of the risen Jesus, then those around us should be able to tell by our actions. Can someone truly be a disciple of Jesus and not be a good steward of all he has given? Jesus makes himself known to us continually in the Holy Eucharist. When we come together to break bread at Mass, Jesus shows us his love by becoming truly present to us. He is willing to show us. What are we in turn willing to show him?

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The Year without an Easter Bunny

04-12-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

It’s the year without an Easter Bunny! Recall the book and the film “The Year without a Santa Claus”, when Santa wakes up with a cold sometime before Christmas. His doctor, who thinks nobody cares about him anymore, advises him to make some changes to his routine, so Santa decides to take a holiday instead of delivering gifts. A big part of the story is to find out whether or not people are too skeptical to care about Santa anymore. Eventually one young boy is found who tells a disguised Santa, “I believe in Santa like I believe in love”.  Finally, things turn around and the world’s children send gifts to Santa.

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Moral Decisions and Pandemic

04-05-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

You may not have given it too much thought but you should, namely moral decision making in the time of Pandemic. One of the moral principles that we see in action right now is the principle of Subsidiarity. That is, that the higher level should not do what the lower level is competent to do. In this case the Federal government should not do what the states can do and the states should not do what the municipalities can do. The most effective responses come from the local level since a community knows its needs and how to respond to them. That’s why the state Governors are taking the lead and only asking the Feds for assistance when needed. The state should assist or provide where the municipality cannot and so on. The fact is that Arizona has different circumstances and needs from New York and Phoenix has different circumstances than Yuma so operating on the Principal of Subsidiarity would offer the most effective way for localities to help themselves and to be helped where needed without creating a bloated and inefficient bureaucracy or a one-size fits all approach.

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