A Harmful Transition

01-30-2021Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

One of the very first executive orders President Biden issued was on the topic of transgenderism. How is it that this issue has risen to the top of our society so quickly and with such force behind it? Maybe I am misreading the US public but it doesn't seem like an issue that majorities were clamoring to be addressed by the new President in his first hours in office.

The issue of transgenderism or more specifically gender dysphoria affects about .03% of the population. Those who struggle with it deserve our love and care and the best medical sciences can offer them as well as emotional, mental and spiritual support. For some reason the current push is all in one direction: finding ways, medically that enable a person to transition from one sex to the other. This includes the use of hormones and surgeries such as mastectomies and hysterectomies for biological women and removal of the penis for biological men. This is being done despite the clinical and medical evidence that these treatments are physically harmful, have long-term negative health outcomes and based on long term research as well as the experience of those who have undergone such treatments, do not offer long term and lasting solutions.

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Our readings today remind us of God’s authority.

01-30-2021Stewardship Reflection

As we reflect on our Gospel, we recognize that God possesses all authority and that we want to give Him all authority. Jesus was teaching in the synagogue on the sabbath. All were fixed on His words and astonished at what He had to say. Suddenly everyone’s attention shifted to a man with an unclean spirit who began to question Jesus and His authority. Jesus responded, “Quiet, come out of him!” and removed the evil spirit from the man. All were amazed at the healing of this man.

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Today’s Readings Call Us To Be Decisive In Our Faith.

01-24-2021Stewardship Reflection

Simon, Andrew, James and John demonstrate this decision for us in their response to Christ’s calling, "Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men." In both instances, the men immediately abandoned what was before them and followed Christ.

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I Have a Dream

01-23-2021Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

When the MLK Holiday comes around I always like to read Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. It always blows me away. It is one of the greatest speeches in American history, right up there with Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address. The part of the speech that struck me this year was this:

But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

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A Mob by Any Other Name Is Still a Mob

01-16-2021Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Maybe it’s that I have been desensitized to the mob, but watching the events in the Capital Building I was pretty much unfazed. Not that I condone any of it, I don’t and I would not join in or encourage anyone to do so. But I thought, “another group of angry people with grievances acting out in unacceptable ways.” Even as I watched Arizona guy, horned and bare-chested standing in the Speaker’s spot, it seemed to me that he was at least, in all his weirdness, being honest about who he is, unlike so many of the pols that often stand in the same spot.

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Everyday Stewardship

01-10-2021Stewardship Reflection

Our Christmas season concludes with the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. Jesus was not baptized because he needed to repent — rather, He was revealing who He is and what He came to do.

It is from His mission that we can receive the sacrament of baptism — when we become adopted sons and daughters of God. From that moment, we belong to Christ — we become His stewards. Our lives should be a re"ection of this relationship. The way we live should reveal Whose we are.

In our First Reading, the prophet Isaiah shares a message of hope, “Why spend your money for what is not bread, your wages for what fails to satisfy?” We should ask ourselves, "Who is the king of our hearts?" As Christian stewards, it should be God. We often $ll our lives with things that satisfy us only for a moment. If we truly do belong to Christ, then we will make Him our top priority. What we $ll our lives with should reveal that He is King. In our Gospel, Mark reveals the intimate relationship between God the Father, God the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus and God the Father proclaimed, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” We, too, have access to an intimate relationship with God. But like all good relationships, it "ourishes with effort. How we spend our time and share our gifts says a great deal about Whose we are.

Tear down this wall?

01-09-2021Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Recently, while driving, I saw a truck with the words “Tempe Traffic Enforcement”. I thought why do we need that? After all there are traffic signals and signs, yellow and white lines on the road all indicating how we should drive. Isn’t that enough? Why do we put the force of law behind those signals and signs? And why then do we need some form of law enforcement personnel to enforce the driving rules? Can’t we just be allowed to drive and trust that it will all work out just fine?

“It doesn't work that way”, you say. Some people will abuse the system and put us all in jeopardy. Even with the rules and the enforcement of the rules and penalties and fines we still have problems. Accidents which clog up traffic, injuries which use up medical resources and of course the ever-increasing car insurance rates. Speaking of which, Arizona has one of the highest-in-the-country car insurance rates, despite traffic enforcement, which shows you how many people still abuse the driving rules even with enforcement. So no, removing traffic enforcement most likely will not make driving any better or safer or quicker.

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Meet Sister Po-Yee

12-27-2020The Sisters Corner

Hello brothers and sisters! I am Sister Po-Yee Yeung. I was born in Hong Kong, SAR, grew up in Toronto, Canada, and studied in Arlington, USA. I entered the community the Servants of the Plan of God almost 6 years ago. I had been serving in an elementary and secondary school for children and youth with physical handicap, The Joy in the Lord, in Lima, Peru.

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These are the Good Old Days

12-26-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

“We can never know about the days to come…But we think about them anyway… And I wonder if I’m really with you now or just chasing after some finer day.”

So sang Carly Simon in her hit song Anticipation. After living through the Year of our Lord 2020 I happen to agree strongly. I’d be a fool to think I know what 2021 will bring. But the experience of 2020 has certainly highlighted the question, “will we trust in God’s providence or not?” And just as importantly, do we believe that God is still guiding us to where He wants us to be? And do we trust that despite the apparent setbacks, wrong turns, uninvited interference, God can still use those circumstances and events to make things work out for our best possible advantage?

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Vaccine Hierarchy

12-19-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

The COVID-19 Vaccine has arrived. And many of you have questions about it. First let me say the development of this vaccine occurred in near miraculous time. Most vaccines can take ten to thirty years to develop. One of the reasons for the speed of development of some of the COVID-19 vaccines is because of the use of a new way of getting the vaccine into cells in the body. This method called mRNA was first developed by two Catholic physicians in Germany, who invented the procedure to try to fight cancer. When the novel coronavirus showed up this husband and wife team sat down at their computer and figured a way to use mRNA to develop this vaccine. (This process was used in the development of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.) The next step was the Trump Administration’s Operation Warp Speed which paid the Pharmaceutical companies to manufacture the vaccine in advance of testing, win or lose. Fortunately, testing demonstrated it was a winner. Which is why the companies have been manufacturing the vaccine since March or April.

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Meet Sr. Cecibel

12-19-2020The Sisters CornerSr. Cecibel

I’m Sister Cecibel, I arrived from Peru in February, with many plans and ideas for our service here knowing I would only be here for one year. Because of COVID, everything changed, now I can say this time with you has been a strong spiritual experience of prayer and service doing simple things, sharing smiles and joy with those I met, and praying for those I didn't. Some days ago, I received an important phone call from my General Superior. After a long conversation, she asked me if I wanted to serve in Ecuador next year, and I said Yes!

I knew I’d be here just for a few months, I knew I’d receive a new assignment, and I also wanted to go back to my country to serve the poor. Once again God surprised me, He fulfills and goes beyond my deepest desires! He wanted this before I did it, this is His perfect plan of Salvation for many and for me. And here I am! Again! Happy to serve the plan of God and go wherever He calls me to go and also feeling heartbroken, leaving behind my home, my parents, my brothers and sisters, because you, my dear friends of OLMC, have become this for me, even if we’ve never met or we had to keep social distance, you’re so close to my heart and I’ll keep you all in my prayers.

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Everyday Stewardship

12-13-2020Stewardship Reflection

Today we celebrate the Third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday. “Gaudete” is a Latin word, meaning “rejoice.” The Christian steward should be characterized by a spirit of rejoicing.

Our First Reading, from Isaiah, expresses a fitting motto for us. “I rejoice heartily in the Lord, in my God is the joy of my soul.” It is God Who is the source of our joy and contentment — not things or achievements or comfort, but our relationship with God.

This is why stewards can share so freely of their time, talents and material possessions — because ultimately, we are not attached to these things. We recognize them as good gifts from our loving Father, but we are attached to the Giver of the gifts, not the gifts themselves. This allows for great freedom in life and the capacity for great joy in the Lord.

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Pandemic Time: The Best of times or the worst of times?

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

Dear Friends,

Pandemic 2020 continues to be the best of times and the worst of times. It certainly brings out either the best in us or the worst in us. That’s why I like hearing your COVID-19 Stories and how the Pandemic brought out the best in you in big and small ways. But still for some the Pandemic has been the worst of times and for others it has been the best of times.

Jeff Bezos, owner of Amazon and the Washington Post, has seen his wealth increase from $48 billion to an estimated $183 billion. The Pandemic has been a boon for Wall Street but a nightmare for Mainstreet. Big tech and big business have reaped record profits while small businesses are threatened with extinction. Maybe some of it is unavoidable considering the nature of a Pandemic and how we need to respond to it. But too many elected officials seem callous to the plight of blue-collar workers and private businesses. In so many ways the Pandemic has brought out the worst in some of our leaders.

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Everyday Stewardship

12-06-2020Stewardship Reflection

We serve a merciful and patient God. In His kindness, He warns us that we will be called to make an account one day for the way in which we made use of the gifts He has given us.

The most precious gift He has given us is His own Son, Whose birth we are preparing to celebrate.

St. Peter describes the loving kindness of the Father in our Second Reading today, saying God “is patient with you, not wishing that anyone should perish but that all should come to repentance.” Yet, in the same passage we receive this warning: “The Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a mighty roar... and the earth and everything on it will be found out.”

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A Hard Candy Christmas

12-06-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

As COVID Time wears on, life seems to have become one dimensional, rather flat. Part of the reason for that is the usual “look-forward-to’s” are in short supply. Whether its vacations or trips or other types of get togethers that we look forward to, their absence is felt more and more as the Pandemic marches on. Which is all the more reason for us to tap into what we can to bring life back from black and white to living color.

So, I hope you were able to tune into our Advent Parish Mission with Tom Booth. It certainly helped nudge me into the Advent Season and start to look forward to Christmas time. If you haven’t yet seen the Advent Mission just go to our App and click on the OLMC TV icon and you can watch the previous week’s episode or tune into the Live Stream at 2pm or 7pm on Sunday for the current episode.

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