Friday Fone Fast

Fr. John Bonavitacola
Dear Friends,

You are probably familiar with the infamous text messages of the two FBI employees that were found, lost, and found again. Reportedly, there were 50,000 messages between November and June. Wow, that’s a lot of texting even for two people having an intramural extra-marital affair. That works out to about 25,000 texts sent and 25,000 responses. That would be, without counting sleep hours, one text and response about every eight or nine minutes, every day for five months.

Maybe this is an extreme case, but it does give us all reason to evaluate our use of technology, especially our use of smart phones. More and more data is coming to light about the harmful effects of the overuse of these devices. Neurologically, repeated use over time rewires brain synapses, much like any addictive behavior would do. Socially, repeated use over time diminishes our capacity for interpersonal communication and intimate relationships. The case above really sounds like they were having an affair with their phones. The problems caused by overuse are especially acute for young people, teens in particular. Young brains are very malleable and can easily be reshaped by compulsive behavior. Young people need a lot of social interaction so they can learn to navigate the world of interpersonal relationships with all its ups and downs and disappointments and joys. Spending hours upon hours on a phone or computer game retards their ability to grow to emotional and psychological maturity.

Therefore, there are two suggestions I want to make. The first is for all the old timers, myself included, who grew up with only one phone at home, a rotary phone at that. It really wasn’t all that long ago. Share your memories with the younger generation. Tell them what it was like growing up in a world with one phone that you could not carry around with you. Let them know that there was such thing as a party line, not to set up parties, but to share a phone line with the person living next door. A party line meant that sometimes you had to wait to place a call. Also remind them that to make a long distance call, you had to dial 0 and ask the operator to place the call and then wait until the operator called you back when the call had been placed. But here is the part that will blow their minds: when you were not at home and the phone rang, nothing happened. It just rang. There were no messages to retrieve when you got home; in fact, you didn’t even know you received a call. And, most importantly, you were able to live your life in peace and happiness even though you missed a call from someone. The point is to let the younger generation understand that you can actually live quite well without 24hour access to a phone, the internet, or text messages.

The second suggestion is that as we come into the season of Lent, consider fasting from your smart phone. We’ll call it Friday Fone Fast. There are all sorts of possible ways to do this. You could completely abstain from using your phone for one day a week. Or you could just use your phone on Fridays to make/receive phone calls – no texts, no internet usage. You could also just restrict phone usage to work-related matters. It might be a good idea to let your friends and family know so that when you don’t immediately respond to a text message, they don’t send out the National Guard looking for you. You could do the same with other technology, emails, computer games, etc. I know it sounds really difficult, but it is possible to disconnect for just one day. It was done on a regular basis in the not too distant past.

If you do participate in the Friday Fone Fast, you will have extra time on your hands. So use it well. Spend time in quiet prayer; engage in some spiritual reading using a physically printed book in your hands. Or you can even spend time speaking face-to-face with another human being.

If you can’t forsake your phone or find yourself struggling to do it, it is probably a sign that you have already rewired your brain so expect withdrawal symptoms. But they pass quickly, and you will experience more inner peace and less turmoil in your life.

Lent starts February 14. This is a good time to demonstrate some love for yourself by fasting from the cold, harsh world of technology and engage in a more human lifestyle. Have a real love relationship with yourself, your spouse, your family and friends – and not your phone.



Fr. John B.


Lent 2016

Fr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,
This Wednesday we crash into Lent having just put away the Christmas decorations. Easter comes early this

year (March 27) for that same reason it comes late some years. The date of Easter is not fixed like Christmas but cal- culated much the same way that Passover was calculated in the first century. Easter for the Catholic world is the Sun- day following the first full moon after the vernal equinox. So for instance this year the first day of spring in the North- ern hemisphere is March 19/20. The first full moon occurs on March 23 and the following Sunday is March 27 there- fore Easter. If there had been a full moon on March 18 we would have had to wait another lunar cycle for the next full moon and that would push Easter into the middle of April.

But before we get to Easter we have to travel through Lent. This year Lent begins on Wednesday February 10 and ends on the evening of Thursday March 24 with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper. Though it is important to note that during the period of the Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday) the Lenten Fast still continues. So over the next few days consider what Lenten Practices you will undertake. Since we are celebrating the Jubilee Year consider incorporating some of the Corporal or Spiritual works of Mercy in your Lenten practice.

Please also take note of the following opportunities during Lent:

Tuesday March 1 @ 7pm Communal Penance Service (please note the other dates for Communal Penance Services at the Parishes in our Deanery listed in the Bulletin or on the website if you are unable to attend at Mt. Car- mel).

Saturday February 20 @ 7pm Celebration of the Lord’s Day Dinner (there will be two others on April 12 and 21st). This is to introduce you to a wonderful way to prepare for Sunday, the Lord’s Day at dinner on Saturday evenings. Come and learn this ancient practice, which helps to bring much more fruitfulness to your Sunday worship and rest. (See bulletin and website for more details).

Friday/Saturday March 4/5 “24 Hours For the Lord”. Pope Francis in his letter announcing the Jubilee of Mercy asks Churches world wide to remain in prayer for the 24 hours on the first Friday of March. Our Bishop has asked this to occur in one parish in each of the Deaneries in the Diocese. This will include Mass, Adoration and other prayers. Please stay tuned for exact location in our Deanery.

Also each Deanery will hold a Mercy Night at one parish. Our Deanery will host one at Corpus Christi Parish on Oct. 4. For other dates for other Deaneries please see Diocesan website (

April 22-24 Men’s Retreat (this is after Easter obviously) Men mark on your calendar a weekend retreat based on Bishop Olmsted’s “Into the Breach” Letter. This will take place in Flagstaff, please stay tuned for more de- tails and registration information.

Monday Evening Soup and Bread Meals continue this Lent in McCready Hall beginning at 5:30pm fol- lowed by Benediction in the Church. This year the alms collected will go to assisting some of our youth who will be attending World Youth Day in Poland.

Friday Stations of the Cross at 7pm in the Church. And of course beforehand don’t forget the Knights of Columbus Fish Fry including their world famous Fish Taco’s.

40 Days For Life will once again spend time in prayerful and peaceful protest at the PP Clinic on Apache Blvd. You can sign up for a time slot or just show up anytime between 7am and 7pm each day during Lent (

Remember also the usual Lenten Practices apply: fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday and abstinence from meat on the Friday’s of Lent. Of course this is the minimal practice and you are encouraged to fast more often or abstain from meat or other foods more often as well.

The culmination of Lent is the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday Night. Please plan to attend as this is the night we welcome our newest members into the Church through baptism and confirmation and First Eucharist. During Lent please keep in your prayers all of our candidates and catechumens, as this is often the most intense part of their jour- ney to make a commitment to Christ and his Church.

Fr. John B.


Too Busy Not to Pray

Chapter 6 A Pattern for Prayer

You’ve decided it is high time to get into good physical shape, so you go to a health club.  When you get there you are greeted and get a tour of all they have for you.  When the tour is done your guide may ask you “Would you like us to set up a routine for you?”  Now you want to back out if you have to follow an established regimen as opposed to playing on the equipment at your leisure.

Looking around you see how imbalanced some people become if they do not have a balanced routine to follow. There is a muscle bound man who cannot make it around the track once without being out of breath and also on the track is a slender gentleman who appears he can run around the track all day long but may need his wife to open the pickle jar for him once he gets home.  This happens because we all tend to do what we enjoy and ignore the difficult.  We need a pattern for our prayer so we do not fall into the trap of always saying “Please God”.

One possible pattern is called ACTS, which stands for adoration, confession thanksgiving and supplication. 

Adoration set the tone for the whole prayer.  When we commit to adoration first, we have to slow down and focus our attention on God.  This reminds us of who God is.

  1. Confession: Naming Our Faults: Once we have admitted that we are sinners and have named out sins, we will be flooded with relief that God has a forgiving nature and we will better understand the meaning of peace.
  1. Thanksgivings:  Expressing Gratitude.  Parents know how it feels when one of your children spontaneously thanks you for something.  God is our Father, and he too is moved when we express our thanksgiving.  We should be thanking him every day for answered prayers, spiritual blessings, relational blessings and material blessings.
  1. Supplication: Asking for Help.  Philippians 4:6 says, “In everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God.”  Nothing is too big for him and nothing is too small for him to be interested in.

The last step is to write it down and read it aloud until you are comfortable covering all four without pencil and paper.

Reflections:  What are the characteristics of an imbalanced prayer life?
Do you see the need to establish a prayer routine?

-Deacon Jim

Lenten Family Activity of the Week

Random Acts of Kindness

We are called to serve one another with joyful hearts! 

As a family, write out on slips of paper several random acts of kindness that can be carried out over the week. Include things like smiling at someone, picking up trash, making a phone call to a grandparent and helping someone carry a package. Throughout the week, have each family member draw a slip and complete the action. 

When everyone has completed their random acts of kindness, sit as a family and share about what happened, the recipients reaction and how it made them feel to be nice for no reason except to help some one out.

Too Busy Not to Pray

Chapter 5: Praying like Jesus

When the disciples asked Jesus for instructions on prayer, Jesus began by saying, “When you pray…”  He simply assumed the disciples would have a regular time for prayer.  That’s a big assumption to make about Jesus’ disciples today.  Most of us say we just do not have time for daily prayer.  If we want to develop any other areas of our life like playing sports or playing the piano, we practice regularly.

Get away from distractions:  If establishing a regular prayer time is important, so is making a regular prayer place.  A private place ensures a minimum of distractions, and most people find distractions deadly when it comes to making connection with God.  Once you identify such a place and begin to use it regularly, it becomes a holy place, the place where God meets with you.

  1. Mean what you say
  2. Pray from the heart
  3. Pray specifically

Reflect on your time with God:  Write you prayer down and reflect on them later.  You might start with “God, here are some frustrations in my life.  They aren’t going away, so I might as well take a look at them.”  Or, “Here is a relationship I’m concerned about.  It is not good, and I do not know how to improve it.”  Or, “Here are some blessings you’ve poured into my life.”

Remember just pray:  Remember that God’s prevailing power is released through prayer.  He is interested in you and your needs.  He is able to meet any need, and he has invited you to pray.

  1. What priority did Jesus place on prayer?
  2. What priority do you place on prayer?
  3. How can you benefit from writing out your prayers?

– Deacon Jim

Lenten Family Activity of the Week

Crown of Thorns

To encourage children to perform good deeds and make small sacrifices, make a “crown of thorns”. Twist a rope of tan modeling clay into a circle and then stud it with toothpicks. If you are feeling particularly crafty, you can create your crown out of twigs and twine. There are several options available to you, but be sure that you use removable toothpicks as your “thorns”.

Each time a family member makes a small sacrifice or does a good deed, pull out one of the toothpicks “thorns” out of the “crown”. 

Try to remove all the thorns by Good Friday.