Greater Will Be The Future!

Fr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Greater will be the future glory of this house than the former, says the Lord of Hosts, and in this place I will grant prosperity. Haggai 2:9

We took that as our theme for our Parish Diamond Jubilee in 2007 and now the future has arrived and we are living in the middle of the answer to our Jubilee prayer. The prophet Haggai was an old man by the time he prophesied in Jerusalem. Haggai had witnessed the destruction of his city and the Temple and now after his people returned from exile he was calling them to rise up from the ashes of exile and reclaim their rightful place as God’s light to the nations. What makes Haggai exceptional among the Hebrew prophets is that the people actually took his message to heart and did in fact rebuild their city and the Temple. His message was passionate, simple and straightforward. And what the people discovered while rebuilding the Temple was that a shift in their own spiritual attitude from a focus on self to a focus on God had occurred. The message is simple and applies to believers of every age: put God at the center of your lives and your nation and the blessings God promised will be yours in abundance.

As the Jews began rebuilding the Temple they faced great resistance and opposition both internal and external. Haggai chose to focus on the internal opposition that was a result of the people’s preoccupation with their own security and safety at the expense of rebuilding the Temple of God. As usual it comes to us all too easily to place our self-interests first and God’s interests second. And when we do that we do not experience success but only more turmoil and fear. Haggai taught the people to first trust God and then to do the next right thing and all would be well.

With that in mind this week we welcome the Servants of the Plan of God to our Parish. We shouldn’t miss the fact that their community’s name involves the plan of God. Through the prophets God had shown Israel His plan for the salvation of the human family and more specifically their role in the unfolding of that plan. For me at least it has become clear that God has a specific plan for us and our nation and that the upcoming election is irrelevant to that plan. The question then for us is what role will God have us play in the unfolding of His plan for our future? The Sisters I believe will help us discern what that is and how to follow through on it.

Remember before Israel could rebuild destruction had first to take place. These next few months maybe rather turbulent in our land. The best I can say is that it will not be business as usual. The challenge for us is the same challenge that the people of Haggai’s day faced: not to become preoccupied with our own security and safety but rather to entrust ourselves to the work God has given us.

Now is the time for rejoicing and being grateful that this group of young sisters chose our community to begin their work in the US. Believe me they did not throw a dart at the map and hit Tempe. Their prayer and discernment led them to understand that God was asking them to come here to this place at this time. The future is greater than the past!

Please join us on Friday evening at Sky Harbor Airport to welcome the sisters (Sr. Veronica, Sr. Maria Christina, Sr. Maria Alejandra, Sr. Maria Jose). The sisters arrive on October 28th on United Airlines #5512 via Los Angeles at 5:36pm, Terminal 2.

Hope to see you there!

Love, Fr. John B.

PS Also no coincidence that the Sisters arrive to begin their ministry in our Diocese on the feast day of Ss. Simon and Jude the patron saints of our Cathedral. The sisters have an unusual knack for having perfect timing. Maybe it has something to do with the plan of God?!


Just Like Lincoln?

Fr. John Bonavitacola


Dear Friends,

President Abraham Lincoln’s national campaign to enlist all Americans in resisting a Supreme Court

decision was brought up in the second Presidential Debate by one of the candidates. President Lincoln con- sidered the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Dred Scott case illegitimate and refused to do anything to enact the court’s decision that a slave was a non-citizen, a non-person and property of the slave owner. Lincoln’s goal was to replace Dred Scott with the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution. In the end President Lincoln was so abhorred by the decision that his refusal to compromise on it would lead four years later to bringing the nation into civil war.

The candidate who brought that up in the debate also stated that she would impose a litmus test on any appointments to the US Supreme Court, namely that any potential justices must be committed to protecting and defending the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade. For me that is a deal breaker. Like Lincoln with Dred Scott, I consider the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe illegitimate and I am committed to resisting its implementation. Along with many others I am committed to engage in a national campaign to convince my fellow citizens to reject Roe v Wade and find ways to replace that decision with laws or a constitutional amendment that protect human life from conception to natural death.

The Pro Life Movement in the US has tried to change hearts and minds through its outreach to men and women in crisis by operating Pregnancy Centers throughout the country. We have also lobbied to elect government leaders who would support a Pro Life legislative agenda and have worked to use the courts to defend restrictions placed on abortions on a state level. Unfortunately many of those we elected have given only lip service to the Pro Life agenda and no longer deserve our support. The latest Supreme Court decision that struck down abortion restrictions in Texas will most likely cause all abortion restrictions in all 50 states to be struck down as well. Still despite the setbacks many of us will continue to hold the line and make the case for protecting the lives of preborn human beings.

Recently we witnessed the undercover videos of Planned Parenthood engaging in the illegal practice of selling body parts of aborted children. The filmmaker was quickly arrested and charged with crimes him- self. Since then all charges were dropped. But the message was clear: if you dare to try to disrupt the abortion industry you will pay a price. We also witnessed the Little Sisters of the Poor being threatened with fines and jail time by the government for refusing to include in their employee health plan no-cost contraception and abortifacients. The Sisters appealed all the way to the Supreme Court and so far have prevailed.

The words of the late Fr. Richard John Neuhaus to the 2008 National Right to Life Convention sum up where we are at in this 2016 Respect Life Month:

The contention between the culture of life and the culture of death is not a battle of our own choosing. We are not the ones who imposed upon the nation the lethal logic that human be- ings have no rights we are bound to respect if they are too small, too weak, too dependent, too burdensome. That lethal logic, backed by the force of law, was imposed by an arrogant elite that for almost forty years has been telling us to get over it, to get used to it.

But “We the People,” who are the political sovereign in this constitutional democracy, have not gotten over it, we have not gotten used to it, and we will never, we will never ever, agree that the culture of death is the unchangeable law of the land.

The journey has been long, and there are miles and miles to go. But from this convention the word is carried to every neighborhood, every house of worship, every congressional office, every state house, every precinct of this our beloved country from this convention the word is carried that, until every human being created in the image and likeness of God no matter how small or how weak, no matter how old or how burdensome until every human being created in the image and likeness of God is protected in law and cared for in life, we shall not weary, we shall not rest. And, in this the great human rights struggle of our time and all times, we shall overcome.

Love, Fr. John B.


Hysterectomy For Men

Fr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Physicians in the US are now required to give upon request a man a hysterectomy. Yes, you read that correctly, it is not a mistake, tongue in check or sarcasm. The Department of Human Services Office of Civil Rights has issued a new rule (no idea where they get the right to do so) that physicians must treat patients according to their stated gender/sex and failure to do so could result in a charge of health care discrimination and fines and loss of reimbursements and possible loss of license. Women who self identify as men and request a hysterectomy regardless of the medical need for such procedure must be accommodated.

DHS is now substituting its judgment for that of the judgment of the treating physician. Even if the doctor’s best medical opinion is that this procedure will do more harm than help, he or she must comply. The DHS mandate which makes sex-reassignment surgery a right, flies in the face of the clinical evidence that clearly shows that over the long run such surgery does not resolve the problems, that those who struggle with gender identity face. In fact long-term medical studies show that it actually is more harmful than helpful.

For our Catholic and other religious hospitals and providers this new rule poses another problem. Catholic ethical and religious directives that govern our healthcare facilities clearly state that it is always morally wrong to intentionally mutilate a healthy body or body part. The exception being when a body part threatens the integrity of the whole body. So for instance a gangrenous limb may need to be amputated to preserve the rest of the body. Obviously performing a hysterectomy when it is not medically necessary is a form of intentional mutilation of the body. For now the rule is being challenged in Federal Court.

Being forced to comply with unethical and immoral medical decisions is not limited to physicians and hospitals. Most of us are being forced to subsidize these treatments along with abortion, assisted suicide, birth control through our health insurance. So what can you do to make sure you are not complicit in immoral medical practices? Especially in light of the fact that health insurance is required by law under the penalty of fines and most insurance plans are required by law to include what many Christians see as unethical and immoral mandates.

One way to avoid being complicit in evil acts is to participate in a Health Sharing Plan. These plans are exempt from the ACA mandates and fulfill the requirement for each individual to be covered by a health plan. They also follow biblical and long-standing Christian moral principles and thus help keep you from being morally culpable. Health Sharing Plans work differently than health insurance in that they require individuals to take greater responsibility for their health care choices. Since it is not insurance but a self-pay system you have greater flexibility in choosing your physician or hospital. Doctors like Health Sharing Programs because there is no bureaucracy to navigate. They also provide you the opportunity to be in a community of people who share your moral values and support each other.

A new Catholic Health Sharing Plan has finally arrived! Up till now most were Christian plans that came close to following Catholic ethical teaching but often fell short in some areas. Solidarity Health Share is now available for Catholics and those who subscribe to Catholic medical moral principles and is fully compliant with the Ethical and Religious Directives for Medical Care issued by the Catholic Bishops. Solidarity Health Share is an ethical and affordable way to pay for medical costs. The member guidelines, which determine what medical expenses are shared among the members of Solidarity, follow Christian teaching and medical expenses that are morally objectionable or violate one’s properly formed conscience are not shared.

Health care sharing is a great example of the Catholic social teaching on solidarity and subsidiarity. First, the principle of solidarity teaches us to commit ourselves to the common good of all, not just ourselves. Second, the principle of subsidiarity teaches us to solve our societal issues at the lowest level possible, closest to those affected. Health care sharing satisfies both principles because members share and bear the burdens of the medical costs of other members and Solidarity simply facilitates the sharing. Members decide what is ethical and moral, not a federal bureaucracy or and insurance company.

For more information go to: and request a Free Decision Guide or call 844-313-4999.

Love, Fr. John B.

P.S. Along related lines:
NO ON PROP 205. Marijuana like tobacco has carcinogens and is harmful to your physical health.


Fr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

As I’ve said throughout this Jubilee Year of Mercy, God is using it to strengthen the Church for whatever is to come. Even though we are coming to the last two months of the Jubilee there are still things to do and ways to prepare.

1st Friday MERCY NIGHT: the Franciscan Friars of the Holy Spirit (a new community of Franciscans in our Diocese) will host a Mercy Night for the South Deanery, of which we are a part, at Corpus Christi Par- ish (3550 E. Knox Rd. Phoenix) on Friday, October 7 at 7pm. Mass, Teachings and Confessions will be available until 10pm. The Franciscan Friars are worth hearing and also great confessors.

At our Leadership Retreat two years ago we identified that one of the biggest challenges many practicing Catholics face is that they are often the only family member still practicing the faith. So the challenge we often face is how to make the case for Christ and the Church to the people closest to us? This ties into the Spiritual Works of Mercy: Counsel the Doubtful/Instruct the Ignorant. In light of that we have invited Tom Peterson founder of Catholics Come Home and Virtue Media to teach us effective strategies to reach out to our families and friends who no longer practice the faith. Tom through his program Catholics Come Home has helped bring more people back to the Church than almost anyone in the US. So mark your calendars for Wednesday October 26 at 7pm for a chance to learn how to become a Catholic Hero of Divine Mercy.

Don’t forget that the Doors of Mercy are still opened and the Jubilee Year Indulgence is available to you or you can apply it to the soul of a deceased person. The Holy Year doors in our Diocese are at the Cathe- dral of Ss. Simon and Jude in Phoenix and at the Shrine of the Holy Cross in Sedona (worth the trip). To gain the Indulgence (which removes the temporal punishment due to our sins) the conditions are: to walk through the Holy Doors prayerfully with the intention of gaining the Indulgence, recite the Creed, and with- in a few weeks before or after walking through the Holy Doors receive Holy Communion and go to Confes- sion (an Indulgence does not forgive sin, repentance is needed for that). Of course if you are fortunate enough to go to Rome the Holy Doors are located at the four major basilicas: St. Peter’s, St. Mary Major, St. John Lateran and St. Paul’s Outside the Walls.

As for the sick and the elderly, the Holy Father says, “For them it will be of great help to live their sickness and suffering as an experience of closeness to the Lord who in the mystery of his Passion, death and Resur- rection indicates the royal road which gives meaning to pain and loneliness. Living with faith and joyful hope this moment of trial, receiving communion or attending Holy Mass and community prayer, even through the various means of communication, will be for them the means of obtaining the Jubilee Indul- gence.”

And of course you can also obtain the Jubilee Year Indulgence by performing one of the Spiritual or Cor- poral Works of Mercy.

Finally we will close the Jubilee Year as we began with 24Hours for the Lord with Eucharistic Adoration on the final weekend of the Holy Year.

Love, Fr. John B.

PS: Next weekend bring your cellphones to Mass! We will be introducing Flocknote that will allow you to receive one text or email from the Parish each week and one from a Ministry or Parish group that you are apart of or interested in. No spam, no advertising just a simple way of keeping in touch with one another.

Where are the Walls?

Fr. John Bonavitacola


Dear Friends,

As soon as a child learns to crawl a parent puts up boundaries: gates, fences that lead to the stairs, the plugs in electrical outlets and the stops on kitchen cabinets where the cleaning supplies are kept. And on it goes up the ladder as the child grows. Boundaries, or as I like to call them walls, are erected to help a child learn the consequences of his or her behavior. The goal of course is for a child to eventually internalize why an action is good or bad, helpful or harmful. We pay pretty frantic attention to putting up walls for things that could harm a child physically but we are doing a poor job putting up walls that prevent harm to a child morally and spiritually.

One thing that is becoming more and more ubiquitous is a young child with a smart phone. In addition to giving a young person access to call his parents you are also giving them access to the child molester, the pornographer and the drug dealer to name a few. Do we really expect children as young as 7 or 8yrs old to spot the danger zones when using such technology?

Maybe worse still children have access to the media which presently tells them just about everything is acceptable. The wall that said promiscuity is wrong has been leveled so no wonder our children walk through it. Our children march over the rubble that used to be the wall protecting the authority of teachers, parents and the law. Then our children come to the wall that used to say that drug abuse was forbidden. In fact now the bricks in that wall have been rearranged into a path that promises happiness and true freedom.

The latest wall that is coming down is the wall that kept marijuana illegal. The truth is that wall has been in disrepair for sometime. The lack of enforcement of the laws on the books has made the idea that pot is a bad joke with young people. The legalization of marijuana for medical purposes has had the effect of making marijuana almost a health food. But before we in Arizona jump on the marijuana train we should consider how it is affecting young people in Colorado where it is legal for recreational use. Here are some of the effects so far:

*Teen marijuana use is 74% higher than the national average. Colorado is #1 in teen marijuana and illicit drug use. The legal age to use marijuana in CO is 21, the same age required in Arizona under Prop 205.

*Newborns testing positive for marijuana are on the rise. In one hospital alone, half of newborn babies test positive for marijuana.

*When legislators saw an increase in children ER visits due to accidental marijuana ingestion; they responded by banning marijuana-laced gummy bears. Note: Arizona’s legislature would not be able to make the same changes to the law because ballot measures are voter protected in Arizona.

*There are more pot shops than both McDonald’s and Starbucks in Colorado.

*And the promise to bring more revenue to our schools: Colorado’s top marijuana official said tax revenue from legal marijuana is a “red herring … you’re not going to pave your roads and pay your teachers with marijuana tax revenue.”

*Marijuana use harms the developing brain of teenagers. It is often responsible for early onset ofteenage schizophrenia and other mental health issues.
The legalization of recreational use marijuana in Colorado and Washington as well as the 25 states with legalized medical marijuana has hurt the profit margins of the Mexican Drug Cartels. Being good business people the Car- tels have simply flooded the market with heroin hence the current heroin epidemic in the US.

The walls we put up for our children are ways to help them limit their self-destructive behaviors. This is espe- cially true when it comes to drug use: the sooner a teen hits the wall the lesser will be the negative consequences of drug abuse. As the adults in the room who vote we can keep up one wall to protect our young people:

Let me state this in the clearest terms possible: the problem of drug use is not solved with drugs! Drug addiction is an evil, and with evil there can be no yielding or compromise. To think that harm can be reduced by permitting drug addicts to use narcotics in no way resolves the problem. Attempts, however limited, to legalize so-called “recreational drugs”, are not only highly questionable from a legislative standpoint, but they fail to produce the desired effects. Substitute drugs are not an adequate therapy but rather a veiled means of surrendering to the phenomenon… Pope Francis


Love, Fr. John B.

The Ego or Lady Macbeth

Fr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Sitting on a sofa on a Sunday afternoon Going to the candidates’ debate Laugh about it, Shout about it When you’ve got to choose Every way you look at it you lose

“Mrs. Robinson” by Simon and Garfunkel
When it comes to this year’s Presidential election also known as Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, whichever candidate wins, be it The Ego or Lady Macbeth everyway I look at it we lose. Both are dangerous but not for the same reasons nor for reasons you might think.

The Ego is dangerous because if he wins he will owe almost no one any favors for his climb to the top. He’s not part of the political aristocracy and he’s pretty much viewed as an impolite wedding crasher. The powers that be are very afraid of him for that reason. It’s why so many in his own party have jumped ship or are working to get him against his candidacy. Simply put if he gains power they lose power. Moreover he is not afraid to turn the tables on those who opposed him. If you’re still wondering what really went on with the Fast and Furious Gun Selling, the IRS targeting conservative groups, Benghazi, etc., I’m sure he will gladly reveal all. And what will be revealed is that many Republicans were in collusion with Democrats on these issues and many others. The Ego will have plenty of people to point the finger at and declare: “you’re fired”. Won’t be pretty. Many Republicans in power have a lot to worry about. But Democrats have even more to fear. They know they are a few yards shy of full power and full implementation of the progressive agenda. They won’t take this setback sitting down. If you thought the rioting in various cities like Ferguson and Baltimore was bad those social divisions will rise to fever pitch. The Ego spells doom for the status quo and those in power. Don’t expect them to be gracious in defeat should it come or relinquish power willingly. So don’t expect a peaceful transition of power.

Lady Macbeth is dangerous for different reasons. She is now the most powerful woman in the US and if elected will be the most powerful person in the world. Her power lies in the fact that she has the Justice Department and the FBI under her thumb. Neither agency will touch her and as we have sadly seen both are no longer unbiased instruments of justice but enablers of the rich and powerful. For Lady Macbeth that means no accountability. The only other institution that could hold her accountable is the Press but highly unlikely. She will have the kind of unaccountable power that Richard Nixon could only dream of. Therefore she could use whichever federal agency she needs to silence her critics and punish her foes. Disagree with her on climate change the EPA will find ways to tighten the noose, disagree with her on tax payer funded abortions/ contraception mandate the IRS tightens the noose, dissent from her on the Second Amendment expect Federal agents at your door and on it will go. If you have read carefully her party’s 2016 platform religious liberty is now code for discrimination and those who support the traditional definition of marriage or the biological definition of gender or anyone who still holds the scientific understanding that human life begins at conception and deserves full legal protection until natural death, will be the new enemies of the state. In one of Lady Macbeth’s monologues she stated: “Laws have to be backed up with resources and political will and deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed”. That’s not a suggestion but a battle cry. I take her at her word. Then there are the “deplorables” who are an embarrassment to the ruling elites and deserve no consideration from those who would rule over us. It has been a traumatic shock to the ruling elites that any-one would consider voting for The Ego. You can be sure that if Lady Macbeth is the chosen one both sides of the political aristocracy will never allow this scenario to happen again. Those who dissent will be made to care or dealt with accordingly. Ming the Merciless will look like a pushover compared to Lady Macbeth. If you like leftist dictatorships you’ll love Lady Macbeth, comrade.

When it comes to this election some are saying it is a choice between the lesser of two evils or between the devil you know and the devil you don’t know. If you look at it that way than it is four years of hell. But there is another way of looking at it: God is known to often write straight with crooked lines. In God’s economy a worldly loss can be a spiritual win. Our worst day may turn out to be our best day. Maybe our nation will finally learn not to put all its trust in political solutions but in God.

Anyone who is paying even a little attention can see that the old system is breaking up or as Yeats once wrote, “Things fall apart; the center cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world”. But the end of one order is also the begin- ning of a new order. As people of faith who trust that God has a plan for the human family and does not abandon His people we can be confident that whatever comes about we will have the chance to put God at the center once again. Be ready to do just that.

Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio? Our Nation turns its lonely eyes to you…

Fr. John B.

As If None Of This Is Really Happening

Fr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

After 9/11 one of my thoughts was that we would become like Israel: a country on high alert at all time, small scale terrorist attacks here and there and security measures that permanently disrupt routine living. But my real fear was that we would become used to it. And so we have 15yrs post 9/11.

Whenever I hear of another terrorist attack whether at home or abroad my thoughts go out to the families of the potential victims. When 9/11 touched us here and when we learned that Gary Bird might have been in one of the towers a frantic search ensued to find out if he was one of the survivors or not. Calls to hospitals, law enforcement, looking at published lists of those either identified as killed or hospitalized turned up nothing. After a few days the obvious had to be considered and then painfully accepted. So when the Night Club in Orlando or the Office in San Bernardino or anywhere else was hit I immediately knew that sinking feeling of dread that the friends and family would have as they frantically tried to find out if their loved one was there and whether they were a survivor or a murdered victim.

Harder to stomach is that the leadership in the US just seems to take it all in stride. No outrage, no anger just a shrug of the shoulders and the usual lecture about why this was not the fault of Muslims. And what is truly galling is to hear the President of the US say that more people die in bathtub accidents each year in the US than terror related attacks: ergo as we accept the deaths each year that happen in bathtub accidents we should accept the deaths that happen at the hands of terrorists? To me it seems like he is saying just get over it, that is the way the world is now and is going to be for the foreseeable future. President Obama’s “bathtub accidents are worse than terrorism” is every bit as idiotic as President Bush’s advice immediately after 9/11 that we should all go shopping. Is it really any wonder why 15yrs post 9/11 we are at the same place?

We have also yet to see any trials for the 9/11 masterminds and associates held at Guantanamo Prison. Why?

What we are being asked to do is to pretend “as if” none of this is really happening. But the truth is it is and it has disrupted our daily lives. It does cause people to be suspicious of people dressed in Islamic garb or with Arab accents. The failure to deal with terrorism effectively has hurt peaceful Muslims living in our country as much as the rest of us. In a sense those Muslims who have come to America to live peacefully away from the violence of their homelands have been betrayed by America with a toxic notion of tolerance that causes them to labeled with the very same extremism they sought to flee.

In order to stop the body count from getting any higher we in the West have to have a serious intellectual en- gagement with Islam. Specifically we have to figure out whether the violent political ideology that is associ- ated with Islam is constitutive of Islam or has hijacked the religion. The answer to that determines the re- sponse.

The second part of ending the chaos terrorism causes is to have a united political response. Leaders in every Western nation should say to all Muslims: you are welcomed to live in our lands and peacefully and sincere- ly seek God according to the dictates of your religion but only if you do so within the context of the values intrinsic to liberal democracies. These values include the freedom of religion, the freedom to change religion, the equal dignity of men and women, the freedom of speech including the right to criticize religion and to seek religious converts without coercion.

The final part to ending the chaos terrorism causes is evangelization. Christians need to live in such a way that our lives, families, and communities become beacons attracting people to the Christian life. If each of us truly lived St. Francis Prayer and become a channel or an instrument of peace then there will be peace on earth.

In October of 2017 we will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun at Fatima. During the apparitions she foretold of a hundred years or so of turmoil, war and suffering. Let’s pray that as we approach this centennial we will see the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and a new era of peace on earth.

Love, Fr. John B.