Fr. John's Letter Archives

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

The Land

12-04-2016Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

I’m feeling like a glass of tap water among bottles of Evian and Perrier or maybe better a bagel on a plate of Danish. We have welcomed our Sisters from the Servants of the Plan of God, two from Peru, one from Ecuador and one from Chile. Now we welcome Fr. Jerome Cayetano, SVD from the Philippines! In addition we have Fr. Ernesto in residence here and he is from Mexico (but soon to be a US citizen). I’m simply no longer exotic, unless of course you consider Philadelphia a foreign place!

Father Jerome is a member of the Society of the Divine Word. Their community has missions in many places throughout the world and Father himself has spent time at one of their missions in Kenya. Father most recently has been professor of Theology and Religion at the University of San Carlos in the Philippines. I am happy to have him here with us for the next year or so.

In the meantime we’ve also changed Liturgical seasons. We also during Advent and Lent change some of the Mass parts to the Latin chants. This is about our seventh or eighth year to do so. The responses are pretty much across the board, from “we should do it all the time” to “we should never do that again”. But perhaps the biggest response is that people don't understand the Latin. Here I think you sell yourself short. The Mass parts are the same in any language: Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus corresponds to the Holy, Holy, Holy. The same with the Pater Noster (Our Father) so when you sing the Latin remember in your head the English equivalent. But also remember that Latin is the language of the Roman Catholic Church so we should at least have some familiarity with it. As an added bonus knowing some Latin really comes in handy if you go to Rome and attend a Papal mass. Additionally with so many language groups represented at a typical Sunday Mass using some Latin helps unify the congregation in a simple way. So for those who love it you will have to wait until Lent for more of it and for those who don’t only two more weeks left in Advent!

During Advent we hear a whole lot from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah and one of the great themes of the prophet is that the nation of Israel will be restored after the captivity in Babylon. Not only that but Jerusalem will be the place from which all nations learn about the true God. Christians see in Jesus the fulfillment of these hopes and prophecies as Jesus leads us to the true Promised Land and becomes the true Temple where we worship the Father in spirit and truth. But if you read the Hebrew Scriptures you find that the Land is central to the story of God’s election of Israel. In fact the entire history of Israel revolves around the Land: occupying the Land, fighting over the Land and being exiled from the Land are all part of the story of Israel. Even to this day the Land remains contentious and at the same time a source of hope and a reminder of God’s election of the Jews.

The Land still occupies our attention and headlines. Recently 88 US Senators sent a letter to President Obama requesting that he uphold his promises to Israel that he has made over the last 8yrs. specifically that he not give the OK for a UN Resolution that would recognize a separate Palestinian state. The nation of Israel itself is extremely worried that at this late stage in his presidency, President Obama is waffling on his support. Obviously there is nothing holding him back, no next election or campaign, if he believes this is a way to seal his legacy. So should the President direct the UN Ambassador to support the resolution or at least not to veto it that would be headline news that would plunge the world into even more turmoil. The President has previously stated that the problem of the Palestinian state and Israel is too big for one country or a UN Resolution to solve. Let’s hope he holds fast to his word.

Advent is our season of hope. The scripture readings this time of year remind us of the way in which God fulfilled his promises to Israel and the world by granting through Abraham’s descendants a Messiah who would bless the entire world. Jesus is that blessing and He alone remains the hope to straighten out a world that often walks crooked paths.

Fr. John B.

PS. Dec. 8 is the Holy Day of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Hope to see you all at Mass on Wednesday Eve or Thursday.