Day by Day

12-31-2023Pastor's LetterFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

2023 is the year that was. But was it a year to remember, or your favorite year? Was it the Best Year Ever, maybe a Year in the Life of a Fool? Or was it more the Days of Wine and Roses or a time we’d rather forget? However, those 525,600 minutes of those 365 days or those 31,536,000 seconds of the 52 weeks of 2023 passed by I hope you can find many reasons for gratitude and thankfulness.

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Come Home

12-24-2023Pastor's LetterFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Love, joy, and peace are words often associated with the infant in the manger in Bethlehem. But truth be told - the best way to describe him: subversive. His birth undercuts all worldly power and assumptions. Even at the moment of birth, there was “no room in the Inn,” and as C.S. Lewis often quipped, “God had to sneak clandestinely behind enemy lines.” This world would not receive this newborn King and has found ways to reject him ever since. The swaddled child was an immediate threat to the political order and an object of panic to the religious community. Herod wanted him dead; the Temple officials wouldn’t tolerate this version of a Messiah. From this point onward, Jesus turned the worldly powers on their heads, he subverted the old religions, and those who dared to follow him were hunted down as revolutionaries, disloyal citizens who threatened the status quo.

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From Prayerhouse to Brawlhouse

12-17-2023Pastor's LetterFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Bonfire of the Vanities: Vatican City Edition, 2023.

Well, it seems that Papa Francesco summoned his inner Trump and told Bishop Strickland of Tyler, Texas: “You’re Fired”. No reasons were given. No following the Code of Canon Law’s Process for the removal of a Bishop, no due process. Maybe the bishops should join the AFL-CIO. So much for “dialogue and transparency”. I mean why let the Faithful of Tyler know why their bishop was summarily fired?

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O Little Town of Bethlehem

12-10-2023Pastor's LetterFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” (Romans 12:15)

When it comes to the Middle East, it is hard for us to wrap our heads around the fact that religion and politics are intertwined. In our sometimes naivete or sometimes hubris, we think we can bring about a political solution without dealing with the religious dimension of the dynamic that is present in the Holy Land. In that regard, the religious and political authorities (Bethlehem is part of the West Bank that is under control of the Palestinian Authority) have cancelled the public celebration of Christmas, including the decorations and the processions that accompany the Feast (though the religious celebration will still go on).

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The Myth of Progress

12-03-2023Pastor's LetterFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Like it or not, we are all infected with the “Myth of Progress”. Simply put, the future will always be better than the past and the present is far superior to anything that came before. Admittedly, there is no small amount of hubris in thinking that and a large dose of condescension that makes us condemn yesterday with today’s information. But still the myth persists.

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An Alternative Universe

11-26-2023Pastor's LetterFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

If you feel like you are living in an alternative universe, your perception is spot on. What we are being surrounded by is an inversion of the basic concepts of right and wrong and the complete leveling of the meritocracy. Discussion and debate have been replaced by denunciation. Reason and Truth are derided as tools of the oppressor. The idea of a color-blind society has been replaced by race obsession, persuasion with public shaming and the rule of law replaced by the fury of a mob. So, individuals no longer rise to positions of leadership or authority based on their abilities, gifts, talents, accomplishments, hard work, or contributions to a community but rather based on their oppressed status or disadvantages as defined by radical activists.

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Give Thanks

11-19-2023Pastor's LetterFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Sometimes I think we should rename Thanksgiving Day to “Lord grant me grace to accept my blessings” Day. Too often we fail to realize all that we do have or we assume we had something to do with it and cut grace out of the picture. Sometimes we look with suspicion on the opportunities presented to us and rather than seeing the wrong turn we made as a chance for something new, we just see it as a way to get lost.

Sometime ago I saw a headline that read: “Scientists say Universe should not exist”. True enough. It’s outside the realm of scientific inquiry to answer “why” the universe exists or to put it another way, they can’t really tell us why there is something rather than nothing. Our under-standing of the world and ourselves is too often constrained by an insistence that only science can give us knowledge. By doing so we cut off knowledge from other sources, such as theology or philosophy and the world becomes meaningless and life is at best the instinctual will to survive.

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People Raiser III

11-12-2023Pastor's LetterFr. John Bonavitacola

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed You’re gonna have to serve somebody, It may be the devil or it may be the Lord But you’re gonna have to serve somebody. “Gotta Serve Somebody” by Bob Dylan

The values we hold and the choices we make reveal to others who we are serving. The problem we face is that left to our own devices we tend to rationalize and justify choices that are really self-serving. So we need something outside of ourselves to hold us accountable for our choices. Being part of a community helps us to that but only if we are willing to use the community of the Church to measure our choices so that they are made not by a self-deluded standard but by the standards of Christian service.

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Gotta Serve Somebody

11-05-2023Pastor's LetterFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

One of the harder ideas to shake from our thinking is that the amount of wealth that can be had in the world is basically a zero-sum game. In other words, if someone gets rich it is because someone else got poor. But this way of thinking has for centuries kept people in poverty. Today many economists are challenging this way of seeing wealth and the free market by pointing out that there is in fact a nearly infinite amount of wealth that can be created and in which everyone can participate in its creation and benefit from it. Markets tend to reward those who excel by serving others well and meeting the needs and wants of customers. Economic activity then should be pursued as mutually beneficial exchanges and not the domination of the strong over the weak. In this view each of us then is a potential producer of wealth and resources for others.

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Our Broken Family

10-29-2023Pastor's LetterFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

In Oregon, the state Board of Education recently suspended the requirement for proficiency in reading and math for high school graduation. The stated reason was that such requirements were “a harmful hurdle for historically marginalized students”. Wow, talk about the bigotry of low expectations. This sort of reasoning stems from identity politics. Each individual is judged and valued based on their identity, not on the content of their character or their virtuousness or even their abilities. And the identity that most matters and defines everything is the oppressor/oppressed category.

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Back To Blood

10-22-2023Pastor's LetterFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

For us, living in the West, especially in the US, it’s hard to wrap our head around the ancient hatreds that run through the Middle East. After all, we are a country that in recent memory fought a bitter war with Germany and Japan and today we are allies and friends. Or even more recently, Vietnam. Our ability to turn a foe into a friend is part of the reason that US Presidents since, at least, Jimmy Carter have tried to broker a peace agreement in the Middle East.

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Dying Well

10-15-2023Pastor's LetterFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

In a few weeks we will be in November when we traditionally remember the dead. In fact, we begin the month remembering all the saints whose faith and living merited them the Kingdom and we then remember All Souls, praying that the known and unknown dead may reach Heaven’s Gate. But before we get there, we would do well to consider our own dying. Specifically, how we die but not in the sense of the cause or the circumstance. Rather what condition will our hearts be in when we enter the last phase of our lives?

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Welcome Fair-Weather Friends

10-08-2023Pastor's LetterFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Time to welcome back our “fair-weather” parishioners! I am finally getting used to the seasonal reality of living in Sun City West. But while you were gone, us, “all weather” parishioners were no slackers. We were busy breaking records and setting new records! Whether we wanted to or not we all participated in the Olympics of Heat. Apparently, the summer of 2020 which went from May to Thanksgiving was just a practice session!

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The Worst of Times of the Best of Times?

10-01-2023Pastor's LetterFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Over the years, I have witnessed more marriages than I can count. Most of them young couples, in love and idealistic. But I always wonder, “do they know what they are promising?” Granted, I did not really know what priesthood would ask of me when I was ordained but still the marriage vows contain some challenging realities: for better or for WORSE, in good times and in BAD, in SICKNESS and in health, until DEATH do us part. What has really touched my heart is watching many of you deal with the worse part, the bad times, particularly as it relates to sickness. And I am sure it was the good times, the healthy times, and the lively times, that motivate you to care for your spouse as they decline.

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