Merry Christmas

Fr. 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.

If you think that the birth of Christ no longer holds any subversive quality, just look around and see the many who are hostile to His Gospel. The proclamation of Jesus Christ can be just too much for so many. Just look around at all the Christmas cranks who cringe at the site of a manager or shriek when hearing the words: Merry Christmas.

This sweet child in the manger would, after all, grow and declare, “You are either for me or against me” and “he who does not gather with me, scatters.” His presence alone caused division. It has been that way ever since. He left His Church as His visible remaining presence among us, which puts humanity in the position to be either moving towards the Church or away from it. So if you are a Catholic who no longer is part of the Church, then you inevitably find yourself fighting to find ways to move away from the Church.

It’s worth taking a look at what and why we fight to stay away from the Church. For some the reasons are rather superficial: “I don’t like those people,” “they’re hypocrites,” “the Pastor is a scold,” “all they do is ask for money,” “I don’t get anything out of it,” or “I don’t need to go to Church to pray.” For others the resistance goes a little deeper: “too many rules to follow,” “after all, who is the Church to tell me how to live my life.” “to be a good person it doesn’t matter what you believe,” “being a good person is all that matters,” “it’s what’s in my heart that matters,” “I don’t hurt anyone.” Some of us will fight against the Church because she refuses to go along with a certain lifestyle or will not co-sign on immoral behavior, and yet others of us are intellectually constipated and refuse to see the harmony between faith and reason. Then there is the ultimate sleight of hand: “I’m spiritual, not religious.” Yet even these excuses reveal a heart and mind that is full of theological preconditions. The theological is as inescapable as the biological part of our nature. Whatever the rationalization for resistance to Christ and his Church, everyone who comes in contact with it needs to ask the fundamental question: Who is this Jesus?

Truth is that we all experience this resistance at different points in life. The challenge then is for us to step out of the black hole of our egoism and consider for a moment that we might not have all the answers. What is it that the child of Bethlehem proposes to us? He comes to us to both reveal and teach us the way of love. This love is a radical self-gift that seeks only the good of the other. It is best expressed in a life lived for the sake of the other. It is not a subjective love that only loves so that the other will love back. It is a participation in the self-giving Love of God. And by coming to know and love Christ, we find the way to authentically “love one another” and not just some gushy sweet sentiment we label as goodness.

This New Year offers us a new opportunity to get honest with ourselves and take a long loving look at our resistance, rebelliousness, or indifference to the Gospel message. It is simply too big and too significant to ignore.

If you have been avoiding Church or just wandered away or have real issues with the Church, her teaching, or her practice, I invite you to “Come Home” to where you belong. And maybe spend some time with us, take off the gloves and cease fighting and find the real reason for your resistance. The process is simple but not easy, but it is the way to peace.

Since that first Christmas morn, history has not softened the impact of the Child in the manger. He remains a flashpoint for all time. In our own historical moment the demarcation of those who are for and those who are against Christ is becoming crystal clear. Which side are you on? Are you all in?

So 2018, all 365 days, 52 weeks, 12 months and 525,600 minutes will be another opportunity to allow the Christ Child to show you where you really stand.

 

Love, Fr. John B.

 

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We All Have One

Fr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Nun-sense, nun-vasion, nun-the-less, is coming next weekend as we host the Annual Diocesan Vocations Event. Yes, expect an invasion of nuns, sisters, consecrated women as they are variously called. It all begins at the 9A.M. Mass where Bishop will be the Celebrant. This is also a “your parents are coming to visit so straighten up the house” kind of letter! In addition to welcoming our Bishop, we will welcome religious communities of women (a few men’s communities, too) of every flavor that serve here in our Diocese. Our goal is to expose as many young people as possible to the work of the religious in our Diocese and have them consider if it is a way of life they are being called to. For the rest of us who already have our vocations set, it is a time to pray for vocations to the religious life and to thank those who serve us here in the Diocese.

It’s also time for us to celebrate as a Parish the one year anniversary of Mt. Carmel being “back in the Habit” with the arrival of the first four Servants of the Plan of God: Sisters Veronica, Maria Jose, Maria Cristina and Maria Alejandra (Sr. Stephanie arrived a few months later; they saved the best for last). How time flies when you are having nun fun! Personally, I am deeply grateful for their presence and the joy that they bring to us each and every day. This is also a time for us to express our thanks to God for allowing our Parish to be part of the Plan of God in a new way. Still, wherever I go, people continue to ask me, “How did you get these Sisters?” The answer is simple –  art of the deal; I made them an offer they couldn’t refuse! Not really. I truly believe it was Our Lady who showered this blessing upon our Parish.

 

Now if you haven’t had enough nun-sense, the invasion will continue. In the beginning of November, we will welcome two novice Sisters of the Servants who will be spending a few months learning and experiencing mission and Convent life with the other five. So prepare to welcome Sr. Maria Garcia and Sr. Alejandra (yes, another Alejandra! –  she will be Little (menor) Alejandra, and Sr. Maria Alejandra will be Big (mayor) Alejandra, less confusion!). Both of the novices are natives of Lima.

I’m not done yet. We will be honored once again to welcome Sr. Carmen, the Superior General of the Servants of the Plan of God worldwide from Nov. 2 until Nov. 10. So, too, the Sisters will also have to straighten up the house, as Mother Superior is coming! Please when you see her, make sure to thank her for sending the 5 Servants to our Parish and trusting us to help them begin their first U.S. foundation. Sr. Carmen gets many requests from Bishops throughout the world for her Sisters, which makes it all the more important to thank her for letting us establish Servants of God-North America, as I like to call them.

I say the first Convent in North America because I believe it is the Plan of God that the Servants open up many more convents in the U.S. Hence, the need for a Vocations Fair. Make sure to bring your children, even the little ones, as that is where the seeds of a vocation get planted. Please invite all the young single women you know, and challenge them to consider a life of service as a disciple in mission, a consecrated person. Just as when the apostle Andrew asked Jesus, “Rabbi, where do you stay?” and Jesus responded, “Come and see,” this event is so that young people can come and see what the life of a religious is actually like. And what they will see is women religious who serve the Church in varied ways with their unique charisms: parishes, schools, health care, hospitals, nursing homes, social services, evangelization, colleges and universities, retreat houses, and sisters who live cloistered monastic vocations.

I recall, years ago, bemoaning the lack of religious sisters in our schools, parishes, hospitals and other Catholic institutions. After all, the history of the Church in the U.S. amply demonstrates that while the priests and Bishops usually mucked things up, it was the women religious who really got things moving –  think of Mother Cabrini, Mother Katherine Drexel, or Mother Angelica, to name a few. Someone once said to me, “Why don’t you pray for more Sisters?”  So I did. And as you can see, God has been very generous in His response!

So please join us next weekend for the invasion of the nuns! Come experience our “Nun Raiser” (it’s a People Raiser in a habit). Pray for vocations and thank the religious who will join us next weekend.

“O God, we earnestly beseech Thee to bless this Diocese with many priests, brothers and sisters who will love Thee with their whole strength and gladly spend their entire lives to serve Thy Church and to make Thee known and loved. Choose from our homes those who are intended for Thy work.”

“Mary, Queen of the clergy, pray for us. Pray for our priests and religious. Obtain for us many more.”

Love,

Fr. John B.

Moral Rearmament

Fr. John Bonavitacola

 

Dear Friends,

Having grown up at the height of the Civil Rights era, I look around today and am horrified with what I see. It seems our society is regressing from Dr. King’s vision of a society where the standard of judgment is the content of one’s character to one that sees only the color of one’s skin or gender or lack thereof gender. When identity politics is pushed hard enough, the logical outcome is more identity politics. When a person or group is ascribed political power, economic empowerment, legal protection solely on the basis of their race, ethnicity or gender/transgender, then sooner or later the individuals or groups that feel disempowered or unnoticed will start to assert themselves. This leads to “us-them” mentality where one group is pitted against the other until finally they reach extremes; the result is the putrid excrement that descended on Charlottesville, Virginia.

The State of the Union today is divisive, crisp, and hardened in its divisions. So we hear things such as: if you don’t support the Affordable Care Act, then you want people to die. If you voted for Trump, you are a racist. If you hold to the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman, you are homophobic. If you think Islam has something to do with terrorism, you are an Islamophobe. If you support a rational, humane immigration system, you are xenophobic. And on it goes. What is common to this bifurcated way of seeing things is that it is only “either/or,” and there is no room for “both/and” ways of thinking or talking. The end re- sult is a stalemate, and only the will to power will prevail. The squeaky wheel gets the oil.

What Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. offered was a vision of a just society based on the Judeo-Christian ethic of the sanctity of all human life. He understood and articulated better than most anyone the dangers of the “either/or” ways of seeing the world. Rather than pointing blame on individuals or even groups, Dr. King sought to change human hearts and to use the principles of non-violence to reveal the moral bankruptcy of a system where identity politics cause oppression, division, and injustice. Dr. King didn’t run around labeling everyone as one kind of “phobe” or the other; rather he appealed to our consciences and revealed the ugliness of the sin of racism.

In 1979, the U.S. Bishops wrote in their pastoral letter “Brothers and Sisters to Us”: “Racism is a sin: a sin that divides the human family, blots out the image of God among specific members of that family, and violates the fundamental human dignity of those called to be children of the same Father. Racism is the sin that says some human beings are inherently superior and others essentially inferior because of races. It is the sin that makes racial characteristics the determin- ing factor for the exercise of human rights. It mocks the words of Jesus: “Treat others the way you would have them treat you.”(4) Indeed, racism is more than a disregard for the words of Jesus; it is a denial of the truth of the dignity of each human being revealed by the mystery of the Incarnation. In order to find the strength to overcome the evil of racism, we must look to Christ. In Christ Jesus “there does not exist among you Jew or Greek, slave or freedom, male or female. All are one in Christ Jesus.”(5) As Pope John Paul II has said so clearly, “Our spirit is set in one direction, the only direction for our intellect, will and heart is — toward Christ our Redeemer, toward Christ the Redeemer of [humanity.]”(6) It is in Christ, then, that the Church finds the central cause for its commitment to justice, and to the struggle for the human rights and dignity of all persons.”

So what we need today, to use a concept from the early 20th Century, is “moral rearmament.” We, as Christians, need to once again be the leaven in the dough, the salt of the earth, to help heal a culture that is quickly being scarred by hatred, fear, and misunderstanding. We need to re-arm ourselves and our society with the Judeo-Christian ethic that was once the foundation of our society.

“We must learn to live together as brothers or sisters or perish together as fools.” Dr. King.

Love, Fr. John B.
PS. Just in time, as usual, our Lady of Fatima calls us to step up our prayer. Join us in the 54 Day Rosary Novena beginning, Monday, August 21.

54

Fr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

 

As we continue our prayerful walk through the Jubilee Year of the Centenary of the Apparitions at Fatima, we have a few more opportunities to ask Our Lady’s assistance. First our Bishop has asked all of us to join him in a 54 Day Rosary Novena.  But “Father,” you say, “a novena is nine days.” Correct. But this is actually 6 Novenas: three in petition and three in thanksgiving. Anyone who has ever done this will tell you it is very powerful prayer tool. The 54 Day Rosary Novena begins on August 21 (the Vigil of the Feast of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary) and concludes on October 13, the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima. The three intentions the Bishop requests are: The Sanctity of all Human Life, especially an end to violence against all innocent and vulnerable human lives; the strengthening of the vocation of Marriage; and Vocations to the Priesthood and Consecrated Life. Those three novenas are then followed by three novenas of thanksgiving, believing what we ask prayerfully that we shall receive as God sees fit.

 

So join with our entire Diocese and pray a Rosary for the 54 Days! Who knows what can happen when God’s people take seriously the call to prayer? And don’t be discouraged if you find it challenging or you encounter interference. This is a prayer tool that evil despises, and all the more so, if an entire Diocese is praying it all together. Recall that the August Apparition of Our Lady to the children did not occur as planned on August 13, as the Mayor of the town had the children detained. He tried to bully them into admitting they lied, threatened to boil them in oil if they withheld the Lady’s “Secret,” and jailed them to keep them from their appointment with the Lady on the day of the fourth apparition (August 13). The children held firm and so our Lady appeared to them on August 19.

 

The next opportunity for us to honor Our Lady will be the arrival of The Centennial Pilgrim Fatima Statue for North America sent by Pope Francis, at our Parish on October 26-27. This is a great opportunity for each family to consecrate themselves to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. More details to follow. And finally, on October 13, at 6PM at the Cathedral, the Bishop will solemnly consecrate our Diocese to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

 

All these opportunities are chances for us to implement the teachings of Fatima – namely, that we should do penance for the conversion of sinners, pray for peace in the world, and to strengthen the family against all attacks that threaten it from within and from without.

 

“Mother of all individuals and peoples, you know all their sufferings and hopes. In your motherly heart you feel all the struggles between good and evil, between light and darkness, that convulse the world: accept the plea which we make in the Holy Spirit directly to your heart, and embrace with the love of the Mother and Handmaid of the Lord those who most await this embrace, and also those whose act of entrustment you too await in a particular way. Take under your motherly protection the whole human family, which with affectionate love we entrust to you, O Mother. May there dawn for everyone the time of peace and freedom, the time of truth, of justice and of hope.”

Pope John Paul II: Act of Entrustment

 

Love, Fr. John B.

 

P.S.  Please also plan to join us Tuesday, August 15, the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (a Holy Day of Obligation this year). It is also the 19th anniversary of the founding of the Servants of God, so this is a very special day for our five Sisters. Bishop Olmsted will celebrate Mass here at 7PM. Let us all thank God for sending us these five consecrated women who model their lives on the Sorrowful Immaculate Heart of Mary “by faith, with charity.”

Whats Going On

Fr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

This is a Save the Date Letter. Lots of upcoming events here at the Parish. First please plan to join us on August 15 the Feast Day of The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is also the anniversary of the founding of the Servants of the Plan of God, so it is a big day for our five Sisters. Bishop Olmsted will be here to celebrate Mass at 7pm on Tuesday the 15th. We should all take this time to express our gratitude to the Sisters and the Servants for sending them to us!

In September, we will host the 5th Encuentro for Hispanic/Latino Ministry. This is part of a national effort by the US Bishops to help bring 18-26yr olds back to the Church, particularly those of Hispanic background but not limited to them. So, we are partnering with the ASU Newman Center and St. Tim’s to invite single and married young people between the ages of 18 and 26yrs old so that we can listen to their concerns and experiences about the Church. This is a listening time only, not a hard sell to young people. This will help us form a pastoral plan at the Parish and Diocesan level to engage the youth of today. So, if you know any young people, children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews etc. please invite them. More info will be coming shortly with a Flyer to give out.

As we continue with the centennial celebration of the Apparitions at Fatima Bishop Olmsted designated our parish to host one of the six statues that Pope Francis blessed and sent throughout the world from October 25   to October  27. This will be an opportunity for us as a Parish to consecrate ourselves to the Virgin of Fatima and ask her assistance in being faithful disciples of her Son.

Also on November 11 we will host our Annual FullCircle Banquet, this year it will be held here at the Parish. This is a way for us to celebrate with the many families that have been helped and  also a chance for the young people in the FullCircle Program to celebrate their new-found way of life. Please plan to join us for a wonderful evening on November 11.

On August 8th, our School opens for its 73rd consecutive year! We welcome Sr. Stephanie who will be teaching Spanish to the upper grades and Sr. Veronica who will be the Religion instructor for the 8th Grade. At the same time our Preschool begins as well for our 3-5yr olds. This year Sr. Maria Alejandra will be assisting in the Preschool! If you want to know more about our Elementary School or Preschool visit our website: http://www.olmcschool.info or contact our Principal, Mr. Bruce Hermie at 480.967.5567,  or our Preschool Director, Mrs. Monica Ferrance, at 480.966.1753.

It is also time for our RCIA Process to begin as the journey into the Church starts for many non-Catholics. It is important to remember, that it is the community that is always the first and primary minister for the RCIA. In other words, your witness and welcome greatly helps those who are discerning God’s will for them. So please pray for them and make sure to reach out and welcome them. Normally they will attend the 9am Mass on Sundays as a group. The catechetical sessions are on Tuesdays and anyone is welcomed to attend on any of the various topics you might want to learn more about yourself. Just visit our Parish website for a full schedule. Sr. Maria Jose will be leading the group this year and if you would like to be a sponsor or godparent please contact her.

Finally, our Religious Education Program kicks off on August 13. Sr. Maria Cristina will lead the program once again. If your child is not enrolled in our school and you would like to have him or her begin the process of religious formation or continue with it please visit our website to register for the program.

As always lots happening here at Mt. Carmel. Thank you for your faithful stewardship that allows us to continue to do the work of ministry and build up the Kingdom here in Tempe.

Love, Fr. John B.

Whose Baby is it?

Fr. John Bonavitacola

 

Dear Friends,

Often when someone dies prematurely, their loved ones will say things such as “we did all we could.” In other words, they left no stone unturned in trying to find a treatment that would keep their loved one from dying. I realize it is a small comfort but a comfort nonetheless. The parents of baby Charlie Gard in the UK are being denied the comfort of saying, “we did all we could.”

Baby Charlie, born with a severe genetic disease, received treatment at a London hospital. When the parents requested that they wanted to take their child to the U.S. for experimental treatments (using money they had privately raised), the hospital said no. The parents appealed to the British courts and their request was denied; likewise, the request was denied when they appealed to the European Court for Human Rights. The hospital said that Charlie must “die with dignity” –  whatever that means. One thing it does mean is that the hospital, and not Charlie’s parents, gets to decide when and where this child will die. All the while, the hospital and physicians talk out of both sides of their mouth: on one hand, they say Charlie has no brain activity, can’t move, eat, hear, or see; hence, treatment is futile. Then at the same time, they state that to move Charlie to the U.S. and give him experimental treatment would be torturous for the child. The hospital is making nothing more than a value judgment that low probability chances are not worth taking and that some lives are of a quality not worth trying to save. Ethicists call this Futile Care Policy, and it is the hospital or its anonymous Ethics Board, and not the patient or parent, that gets to decide when treatment is futile. This is already making its way into U.S. hospitals. Baby Charlie’s condition is not futile since there is a life-sustaining treatment available that could possibly help him survive. The hospital and the courts are refusing to acknowledge that. (This is similar to a case here at St. Joe’s Hospital, where hospital personnel preformed a direct abortion and refused to admit that there were other medical options available that could have helped.)

In the meantime, Pope Francis and President Trump have weighed in with support for Charlie’s parents and offers of assistance.  The international attention is putting pressure on the Hospital to reconsider and as of this writing a US Physician will be examining Baby Charlie.  The problem is, the British decided a long time ago that Caesar would pick up the tab for health care, and so the all knowing and all wise state, through its medical mouthpieces, gets to play parent and the courts get to play God. I’ve never understood the logic that a person is better off dead? Maybe it is better for the hospital who won’t have to deal with baby Charlie, but is it really in the best interests of Charlie that he is better off not existing at all or at least given a chance even if the odds are low?

The hospital finally relented a bit and said they would not remove Charlie from life support immediately so as to allow, (get that, they “allow”) the parents to spend time with their son. And in a shockingly aggressive move, the hospital even denied the parents’ request to take Charlie home so he could die there rather than a pediatric ICU. For the parents of baby Charlie Gard, there are no crueler tyrannies this side of hell.

Also happening across the pond: an Orthodox Jewish grammar school has found itself in the crosshairs of the British version of the ‘Thought/Education Police’ commonly known as the Office of Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills. The Vishnitz Girls School educates girls 3–8 years old but has failed to fully implement in its curriculum the Equality Act 2010, which makes it mandatory for British schools to educate on a range of “protected characteristics,” including age, disability, race, sex, and sexual orientation. While the Office of Standards admits the school does a good job on issues of age, race, and disability; however, they do not teach pupils about all the protected characteristics, particularly those relating to gender reassignment and sexual orientation. The school is now facing possible closure by the British authorities. So far, the school is holding its ground. My own experience of dealing with the politics of education and sexuality shows me that while many claim that all equalities are equal, the truth is that some equalities are more equal than others. Failure to recognize that there is a definite hierarchy when it comes to these “protected characteristics” tends to get you kicked out of polite company and possibly lose your license to run a school in the UK.

This is another issue of the state usurping the rights of parents to care for and educate their children according to their sincerely held religious values. The Orthodox Jewish tradition has a similar view of the human person that we as Catholics hold. Because we both teach that the human person is made in the image of God, as male or female, in a complementary relationship does not mean that we teach our child to disrespect those who do not hold that view or that they shouldn’t be treated with the same dignity that befits all human persons. We do not teach hate or contempt for people who believe differently than we do and to suggest that a school like Vishnitz School, because it does not explicitly teach 3-8yr old girls the convoluted politics of sex and gender and a distorted view of the human person, is outrageous.

While this tyranny is not at the level that Charlie Gard’s parents have experienced, it is a tyranny nonetheless. We need to stay vigilant, as we do not need this type of British invasion.

 

Love, Fr. John B.

 

Freedom

Fr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Since 2012, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has asked us to observe a “Fortnight for Freedom”each year from June 21 to July 4 in order to highlight the importance of Religious Freedom. This all began after the unprecedented assault on religious liberty by the Obama Administration via the “contraception mandate.” Each year the Fortnight for Freedom aims to remind Catholics of the preciousness of their inheritance of freedom as Americans and Catholics and the necessity of standing up to threats to it.

So how have we been doing? First, let’s take a look at the local level. Through the efforts of the Arizona Catholic Conference, several key pieces of legislation were signed into law this year.

SB 1439 protects health care providers not wanting to participate in services causing the death of their pa- tients. These protections already exist under federal law with respect to health care providers not participating in assisted suicide or similar actions. SB 1439, however, will add state level protections and clarify that these health care providers are not discriminated against in their employment.

Another bill, SB 1367, makes sure that babies born alive after failed abortions are not discarded, but receive the basic medical care needed. Numerous other bills aimed at legalizing assisted suicide and repealing virtually every pro-life and rights of conscience law on the books were introduced, but thankfully, they were all defeated.

Another bill (SB 1468) that would have severely punished agencies assisting refugees was successfully de- feated. Catholic Charities is an agency that has long helped countless refugees find a place to live, learn English, obtain employment, and become self-sufficient. Under this bill, they would have been fined $1,000 per day for each refugee they helped. Similarly, there were other bills introduced (SB 1349 and HB 2038) that would have eventual- ly repealed the charitable and foster care tax credit programs that benefit Catholic Charities, St. Vincent de Paul, pregnancy resource centers, soup kitchens, and others. Fortunately, through the advocacy efforts of the ACC, all of these measures that would have harmed faith based and other charities were ultimately defeated.

All in all, it was a good year on the State level. On the Federal level, the fate of the “contraception mandate” is still in limbo. Though the Supreme Court remanded it back to DHS to work out a solution, no solution has been finalized. Part of this may be the revision of the ACA that is currently being worked on. Still, the lack of progress from the new Administration on this issue is rather disheartening. The Little Sisters of the Poor are still awaiting a decision.

The recent Supreme Court Decision in the Trinity Lutheran case was a 7-2 victory for Religious liberty. Trinity Lutheran Church in Columbia, Mo., wanted to participate in a state program that reimburses the cost of rub- berizing the surface of playgrounds. But the state said that was not allowed. The exclusion raised big questions about how to uphold the Constitution’s prohibition on government support for religion without discriminating against those who are religious. The Court ruled in favor of the Church, stating: “The express discrimination against religious exercise here is not the denial of a grant, but rather the refusal to allow the church — solely because it is a church — to compete with secular organizations for a grant. The exclusion of Trinity Lutheran from a public bene- fit for which it is otherwise qualified, solely because it is a church, is odious to our Constitution … and cannot stand,” wrote Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.

For the Fall term, the Court has agreed to hear the case of the Denver cake baker who refused to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding and was sued by the state of Colorado for discrimination. This a big case that will have “yuge” implications.

“We are Catholics. We are Americans. We are proud to be both, grateful for the gift of faith which is ours as Christian disciples, and grateful for the gift of liberty which is ours as American citizens. To be Catholic and American should mean not having to choose one over the other. Our allegiances are distinct, but they need not be contradictory, and should instead be complementary. That is the teaching of our Catholic faith, which obliges us to work together with fellow citizens for the common good of all who live in this land. That is the vision of our founding and our Constitution, which guarantees citizens of all religious faiths the right to con- tribute to our common life together.” (from the USCCB statement on Religious Liberty)

Happy Fourth of July!

Love, Fr. John B.