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.

But despite all of that if you do not have a solid foundation in faith, hopelessness can overcome you quickly. While our material needs seemed to overwhelm us suddenly, food, supplies, medical care, pay checks all of that even if supplied will not be enough to get us through. I hope that you are seeing dividends from living a life of faith and being connected to something bigger than the virus and more certain than the economy.

I have been thinking a lot about my grandmother lately. She was orphaned at 14, lived through the Great Depression, WWII and for most of her life didn't have two cents to rub together. Yet she always found a way to make it, to move forward. She had a tough marriage to a man who drank too much, gambled too much and womanized a lot and yet she raised her children and relied heavily on her faith to see her through. As a boy I would go to Mass with her and she always made sure to put her offering in the collection. When I think about it, she didn't have much but somehow, she knew it was her obligation, not so much for temporal reasons but because it was an act of Trust in Divine Providence and a willingness not to let fear, be it financial fear, emotional fear control her life. And it never did. She always exuded great confidence which made it feel very safe being with her.

I write that not as a subliminal message for you to give but as a reminder of a spiritual axiom best expressed in the St. Francis Prayer: “in giving we receive”. As soon as we cling to anything, we lose it. Whenever we think we are in complete control we lose control. If there is one Gospel lesson, we should ponder in these times it is the lesson of trust. Every person who encountered Jesus and asked him to do something for them all faced a moment of trust or not to trust.  We saw it in the story of the Man born Blind. Jesus rubs mud on his eyes and tells him to go wash. Can he trust just enough that if he does that he will be healed? It all seemed a bit preposterous, yet because he did, he saw.

I believe that if we trust God at this crucial moment, we will see things that we did not see before. Our eyes, especially the eyes of heart will be open to see what really matters, what is of most value and what is most real.

And when this is all over, there will be one heck of a celebration and we can all sing with new meaning the words of the hymn Amazing Grace: I was blind but now I see. Amen.

Miss you all very much.


Fr. John B.