Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Why the "Life" Issue is the Essential Issue



Dear Parishioners,

Since 1973 when Roe v. Wade opened the door to legal abortion in our country, America has been on a continual downward spiral.  What started as a 7-2 decision by US Supreme Court Justices who legislated rather than interpreted the law, over 60 million innocent children have been surgically or chemically killed.  The dissenting opinion of Justice Byron White (with Chief Justice William Rehnquist concurring) stated the following:

I find nothing in the language or history of the Constitution to support the Court's judgment. The Court simply fashions and announces a new constitutional right for pregnant women and, with scarcely any reason or authority for its action, invests that right with sufficient substance to override most existing state abortion statutes.
A member of the Pro-Life movement since 1995, Norma McCorvey, who was the Jane Roe in the 1973 Supreme Court decision, had the following to say years later:

It was my pseudonym, Jane Roe, which had been used to create the "right" to abortion out of legal thin air.  But Sarah Weddington and Linda Coffee [her lawyers] never told me that what I was signing would allow women to come up to me 15, 20 years later and say, "Thank you for allowing me to have my five or six abortions.  Without you, it wouldn't have been possible."  Sarah never mentioned women using abortions as a form of birth control.  We talked about truly desperate and needy women, not women already wearing maternity clothes.
The simple reality is that unless human life matters, nothing else matters.  This world and all that is in it are important because all human beings are important.  Pope St. John Paul II's words at the Denver airport (August 12, 1993) remind us of this:

America has a strong tradition of respect for the individual, for human dignity and human rights. I gladly acknowledged this during my previous visit to the United States in 1987, and I would like to repeat today the hope I expressed on that occasion: "America, you are beautiful and blessed in so many ways . . . But your best beauty and your richest blessing is found in the human person: in each man, woman and child, in every immigrant, in every native born son and daughter . . . The ultimate test of your greatness is the way you treat every human being, but especially the weakest and most defenseless ones.  The best traditions of your land presume respect for those who cannot defend themselves. It you want equal justice for all, and true freedom and lasting peace, then, America, defend life!  All the great causes that are yours today will have meaning only to the extent that you guarantee the right to life and protect the human person".
When people argue that abortion is only one issue in this or any presidential election, the response of Priests for Life is worth noting:

The foundation of a house is only one of many parts of the house, but it is essential in order to build the other parts.  That is why the Catholic bishops have repeatedly asserted that among the many interrelated issues within a consistent ethic, abortion deserves "urgent attention and priority."

St. Teresa of Calcutta's words at the National Prayer Breakfast, (Washington, DC on February 3, 1994)—given in front of then President Bill and Hillary Clinton—included the following:

But I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child, a direct killing of the innocent child, murder by the mother herself.  And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?  How do we persuade a woman not to have an abortion?  As always, we must persuade her with love and we remind ourselves that love means to be willing to give until it hurts.  Jesus gave even His life to love us.  So, the mother who is thinking of abortion, should be helped to love, that is, to give until it hurts her plans, or her free time, to respect the life of her child.  The father of that child, whoever he is, must also give until it hurts.  By abortion, the mother does not learn to love, but kills even her own child to solve her problems.  And, by abortion, the father is told that he does not have to take any responsibility at all for the child he has brought into the world.  That father is likely to put other women into the same trouble.  So abortion just leads to more abortion.  Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want.  This is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.
I hope that you take the time to reflect on all of the above.  

Do not be deceived by arguments that omit or minimize the vital importance of voting Pro-Life!
                                                                                                                
Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor




Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Mary, Our Mother of Sorrows



An image of Our Lady of Sorrows

Dear Parishioners,

This past week we celebrated the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (September 14th) followed immediately by Our Lady of Sorrows (September 15th).  Are you familiar with the Seven Sorrows of Our Blessed Mother?  Mary experienced pain and sorrow during her life, in union with her Son and His Passion.  

When Jesus was Presented in the Temple (1), Simeon foretold that Mary’s heart would know pain: 

"Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed."  (Lk. 2: 34-35)

Subsequently, Mary knew additional grief and anxiety when she and Joseph, her spouse, necessarily fled to Egypt (2) to escape from King Herod and his command to kill all Hebrew boys two years old and younger.

. . . The angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.”  Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt.  He stayed there until the death of Herod . . . .  (Mt. 2:  13-15a)

Later, Jesus was eventually Found in the Temple (3) at age twelve after having been missing for three days.  “Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety." (Lk. 2: 48)

Although she raised and cared for Jesus, her Divine Son, she was at the same time His faithful follower until the bitter end.  She met Him on the way to his crucifixion on the road to Calvary (4) as we reflect on the 4th Station of the Cross.   She was present during His death, standing at the foot of the cross (5).  The image of the Pieta reminds us of her holding His lifeless body in her arms (6) after His death.  She also watched as He was subsequently placed in the tomb (7) as we again reflect on the 14th Station of the Cross.

Mary, from the moment of her Immaculate Conception, had God’s special graces and protection from sin.  She was chosen to be the mother of Our Lord and her “yes” to God at the Annunciation showed her obedience and willingness to cooperate with God’s plan for our salvation.  Although she had some uncertainty concerning how God’s plan would unfold in her life, she trusted in God completely.  How could a virgin have a child?  The power of the Holy Spirit could transcend what is humanly impossible.   Nothing is impossible for God!

After showing us an example of her unselfish love by helping her relative Elizabeth who was also with child (Visitation), she gave birth miraculously to Our Lord in the humble surroundings of Bethlehem (the Nativity).

Mary was present at the Wedding Feast of Cana (Jn. 2: 1-11) where she requested her Son's assistance, leading to His first public miracle: changing water into wine.  Her fidelity, love and continued intercessory role are evident as she was given to us as our Spiritual Mother at the cross (Jn. 19: 25-27).  When her earthly life was complete, she was taken body and soul into heaven (the Assumption) and she reigns as Queen of Heaven and Earth (the Coronation).

The Blessed Virgin Mary should have a special place in the life of every Catholic (Christian).  Traditionally, the month of May has been dedicated to her, and the month of October dedicated to her Holy Rosary.

These mysteries of our faith (as well as many others) are found in the Mysteries of the Holy Rosary--meditations which are meant to have us reflect on some of most important aspects of our faith.  Together with wearing the Brown Scapular (of Mt. Carmel) as an outward sign, we can show our love for and devotion to Our Lady.  True, healthy devotion to her will only lead us to her Son Jesus and never detract from Him.

May we learn to imitate the faith and trust in God, the obedience to God’s will and the love for Jesus that Our Lady gave witness to in her life.  Her example of purity and sin-less-ness is much needed in today’s world.  May she continue to intercede for us as our patroness.

Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor

Homily for the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Fr. Edward Namiotka


 

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Religious Education of Our Youth


Dear Parishioners,

The religious education of our children is a very important concern of mine.  With Catechetical Sunday upon us (September 20, 2020), I think it is good to reflect on the faith of our children and young adults.

What is frustrating to religious education teachers, to priests and to others involved with the religious education of youth is the “disconnect” often present when it comes to formal religious instruction and to living out the faith on a daily basis.  Too often, in so many of my former parishes, students were dropped off for class but were not present in church for Mass on a regular weekly basis.  Let’s face facts.  We inevitably do not see anywhere near the same number of children at Mass as we may see registered for and coming to religious education classes.  Their absence is even more apparent during times like summer vacation and especially now during this unprecedented coronavirus pandemic.

What do we do?  An hour or two of religious education each week for several months each year is not and has never been an adequate solution.  The Church has said continually that parents are the first educators of their children when it comes to religious faith and practice.  When we bring a new life into the world we realize that we have to feed, clothe, and educate our children.  We want the best for them if we love them.  Hopefully we realize that we are also responsible for an immortal soul and the eternal salvation of a person as well.  We cannot leave this responsibility to chance in an often amoral--if not immoral--world.

Do I teach my children to pray and pray with them at various times daily?  Do I read Bible stories to them or teach them what Jesus said and did?  Do I take them to confession and show them (by my own example) that the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation is important?  Outside of these extenuating circumstances, do I normally take them to Mass weekly?  Do my children understand that Jesus is truly present in the Most Holy Eucharist?      

What has been said for students in religious education programs is also true for our students who attend a Catholic school.  There must be a connection with the local parish, with weekly Mass attendance and with the everyday living out of the Catholic faith.

I have been a priest long enough (over three decades) to see the rapid decline of those who actively participate in the faith life of their parish.  (I also understand there may be multiple reasons for this.)  Unfortunately, however, each subsequent generation seems to know less and less about even some of the essential teachings of the Catholic faith.  This should be troubling for all believers. 

I always welcome your ideas and suggestions concerning how we can continue to close this gap and have our young people more active and involved in the life of the Church.

Fr. Ed Namiotka

Pastor


Tuesday, September 1, 2020

“God Will Still Be God Tomorrow”



Dear Parishioners,

The ancient Hebrews often saw God as the stable force in their lives.  They referred to Him as my rock, my fortress, my deliverer (Psalm 18:2) and my rock of refuge, my shield, my saving horn, my stronghold (Psalm 18:3).

I wonder how much we realize our true dependence on God for everything?

In our American society we might think of ourselves as rugged individuals.  We speak of the self-made man or woman.  We might save and plan financially for retirement so that we can be comfortable later in life, free of all worries.  With this mindset, perhaps there is an affinity to songs like My Way (Paul Anka or Frank Sinatra) or My Life (Billy Joel) because they speak of our independence and freedom to do what we want, when we want to do it. 

If it were not for God willing it, however, we would not be in existence at all.  Every breath we take, every thought we think, every action we attempt are all within God’s permissive will.  He allows them to happen.  All good things that we have, things that we might often take for granted, are pure gift from God—His Grace.

Yes, it is also true that God has given us intelligence and free-will.  We are made in His image and likeness and He gives us tools that we are expected to use responsibly.  We might sometimes think that we act independent of Him, especially when we choose to do something on our own, even against His will.  However, it is because He has given us free-will in the first place that we are capable of various diverse acts such as loving, forgiving, hating, or sinning at all.

Jesus reminds us not to worry about material things.  He speaks of the importance of relying on God for everything, and not on ourselves:

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat [or drink], or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they? Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span? Why are you anxious about clothes? Learn from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work or spin. But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them. (Mt. 6: 25-29)

Jesus continues:

But seek first the kingdom (of God) and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil. (Mt. 6: 33-34)

Personally, I use an expression with those I know, reminding them in the midst of worry, or during some trial and tribulation that God will still be God tomorrow.”  God is always here—with us—in some mysterious, unseen way.  He remains constant, a rock, a source of refuge for us.  He is here now and will continue to be here for us tomorrow and beyond.

We should reflect often on God’s ever-abiding Divine Providence.  Once we realize that He is with us always, even the greatest of obstacles no longer seems so insurmountable.


Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor



Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Being in the "State of Grace”



Dear Parishioners,

Whenever I ask someone “What is Grace?” I have to be prepared to hear some varying answers.  I also need to be ready to give a clear and understandable explanation myself.

Simply stated, Grace is God’s life within us. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church

Grace is a participation in the life of God. It introduces us into the intimacy of Trinitarian life: by Baptism the Christian participates in the grace of Christ, the Head of his Body. As an "adopted son" he can henceforth call God "Father," in union with the only Son. He receives the life of the Spirit who breathes charity into him and who forms the Church. (#1997)

Because of original sin, we are not naturally born into God’s Grace.  We need to be baptized for this to happen.  Therefore, Christian parents should be ready to baptize their children as soon as possible.  Church (canon) law states the following:

Parents are obliged to take care that infants are baptized in the first few weeks; as soon as possible after the birth or even before it, they are to go to the pastor to request the sacrament for their child and to be prepared properly for it. (Can. 867 §1)

To remain in the state of God’s Grace, a person should not be conscious of having committed any serious (mortal) sin.  All serious (mortal) sin is ordinarily forgiven in the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation (confession), not merely by recourse to an act of contrition or something similar.  This is not to say that God cannot work in other ways, at His discretion and according to His will.  However, a Catholic Christian who is conscious of having committed a serious sin should ordinarily avail himself or herself of the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation.  This sacrament restores us—reconciles us—to God’s Grace.

To me, it is essential to strive to remain constantly in God’s Grace.  There should never be a time when I want to be alienated or disconnected from the Source of all life, love, goodness, truth and beauty.  I should endeavor to eliminate all serious sin out of my life—realizing that I need the gift of God (His favor or grace) to do that.  In other words, we are totally dependent on God and His goodness to us for all we have, and we need to cooperate with Him constantly.

With all of the above in mind, I believe too many people in our culture sometimes think that only something as extreme as murder is a serious sin.  Believe me, there are many other grave sins out there!  Serious sin meets the traditional criteria of sufficient reflection (I thought about it and know it is wrong), grave matter (the subject matter is objectively serious) and full consent of the will (I freely choose to do the act even though I know it is seriously wrong).  Actions including theft, calumny, detraction, adultery, fornication, worship of a false god, perjury, euthanasia, abortion, blasphemy and various other sins can ordinarily be considered objectively grave.  If the person knowingly and willing carries them out, they can certainly fall into the category of mortal sin.  Moreover, the seven deadly sins (pride, covetousness, lust, anger, gluttony, envy and sloth) can be examined as a root cause of all grave sin.  Then, to add some more food for thought, there are the various sins of omission that Jesus mentions in the Gospel passage of the Final Judgment (See Mt. 25: 31-46)

Our striving to remain in God’s Grace and to avoid all sin—but most especially serious sin—can be difficult, but remains always possible thanks to God’s unconditional love for us!

Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor