Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Some Thoughts on Being a “Father”



Dear Parishioners,

When Jesus’ disciples asked Him to teach them to pray, the Sacred Scriptures tell us that He taught them the Our Father(Mt. 6: 9-13; Lk 11:2-4)  The Gospels record Jesus referring to God as Father over 175 times.  Jesus also revealed a certain relationship, privilege and intimacy with God the Father by His reference to God as Abba (Mk. 14:36).  There was a definite association that Jesus made between God, the Almighty Creator and the concept or image of Father.

With Father's Day having occurred last Sunday, I take a few moments to reflect on what it means to be a loving father.

Most likely we will process the concept of fatherhood through our own earthly fathers.  Hopefully, they are (were) wonderful, caring men who are (were) sincerely devoted to their wives and children.  Probably they had their flaws and imperfections.  Maybe they were not around as much as one would desire or may have been, in some instances, absent from one’s life altogether.  Sadly, some may have a difficulty relating to a father-figure at all, because their own fathers were abusive to some degree.  There are far too many possible scenarios to mention all of them here.

Yet, when it comes to an understanding of God as Father, I suggest thinking of God as the best, perfect or ideal father.  He’s the one without the flaws and imperfections, the one ever-present, who loves His children without limits or conditions.  He’s the Father that Jesus tried to help us know, understand and love.

The fathers among us need to strive to become a father more and more resembling the Heavenly Father that Jesus taught us about.  Fathers need to make every effort to love, cherish and honor their wives and children with an unconditional love and respect.  It’s far too common in today’s society for men to father a child biologically, and then not accept the many responsibilities that come from bringing that child into the world.  A good father is accountable for his actions.

A loving father needs to provide, to protect, to teach and to lead on both an earthly and spiritual level.  A child needs food, clothing, shelter, and an education, all of which a father can help provide.  However, a child also needs the love, compassion, forgiveness, and understanding that should come from a caring father.  A child should have a spiritual leader to look up to—a type of priest for the domestic church (family)—who can witness to the importance and relevance of God in one’s life by prayer, sacrifice and charitable example.

I think that St. Joseph is someone who fathers can look up to and pray to in the quest to become a better, more-perfect father.  Faced with the many challenges that came with caring for Jesus, Joseph is seen in the Scriptures as righteous—a devout observer of the Mosaic Law. (Mt. 1:19)  He was entrusted by God the Father to care for His Son Jesus as a foster-father.  Prayers for his intercession seem quite essential when taking on the responsibility of father.

My prayers are with all those who are addressed as father!  Thanks for the many sacrifices that you make for your wife and children.  

As one who is also addressed as “Father,” and who is called to be the spiritual leader of my Church family, I realize many of the duties and obligations that come with being a biological father!  It’s not always an easy task, but it is certainly one that I have come to love and cherish more each day.
 

Fr. Ed Namiotka

Pastor


Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Thoughts from "Corpus Christi"



Dear Parishioners,

One benefit of writing this weekly bulletin message is that my thoughts / message can potentially reach more people each Sunday.  I usually preach at every Mass in our parish each weekend, but all of you, my parishioners, can also read my thoughts here weekly in the church bulletin.  Moreover, since I post this same message online (www.fr-ed-namiotka.com), others who are not in the parish (or may be away) can have this same opportunity via the internet.

Corpus Christi (The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ) is a time for us to reflect on the precious gift that we have in the Most Holy Eucharist.  While this solemnity is celebrated universally on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday, the Church in the United States celebrates Corpus Christi on the Sunday following Trinity Sunday.

I have had the opportunity during my life to see both Pope St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI when they were in the USA—Philadelphia, Miami, Denver, East Rutherford (New Jersey) and Washington, DC—in addition to meeting Pope St. John Paul II in Rome.  There was always a great deal of preparation before meeting a pope.  I remember various details like being thoroughly scrutinized by the US Secret Service, patiently waiting in a secure area for hours before the Pope’s arrival, making sure I was wearing a nice vestment and looking my very best, etc.  There was plenty of preparation to meet the Vicar of Christ.  Yet, don’t we have someone much more important than the pope present on our altars at every Mass—Jesus Christ himself.  How do we prepare for Him?

I suggest that we think about a few things as we prepare to meet Christ at each Mass:
  • Do I take seriously the hour fast from food and drink prior to receiving Holy Communion?  (This fast would also include items like gum and breath mints.)

  • Am I sure that I am in not in the state of serious sin before receiving Holy Communion?  If I am, I should refrain from receiving Holy Communion until I first make a sacramental Confession.

  • When I receive—whether it is on the tongue or in the handdo I do so with the proper reverence and respect that I should show to the Son of God?  Am I dressed in a manner befitting a meeting with the Son of God?  (Would you actually dress this way if you were to meet the Pope, a Bishop or some other dignitary?)

  • Do I make a proper thanksgiving after receiving Holy Communion?  The religious sisters taught me at the time of my First Holy Communion to tell Jesus that I love Him, to thank Him for everything that He does for me, to petition Him for what I need in my life and to tell Him that I am truly sorry for all of my sins.  I think that these components of a proper thanksgiving are still relevant today.  There is nothing more frustrating to me as a priest than those who continually leave Church directly after receiving Jesus in Holy Communion without making a proper thanksgiving.

  • If I am unable to receive Jesus in Holy Communion because of some circumstance of my life, do I make a Spiritual Communion instead?  Request that Jesus come to you spiritually in your heart since you cannot now receive Him in Holy Communion.
While the suggestions listed here are far from complete, if we believe and realize that we truly have Jesus, the Son of God present on our altars and in our tabernacles, then I think that the way we pray, worship and receive Holy Communion should reflect this core belief.

Fr. Ed Namiotka

Pastor


              

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

O Sacred Heart of Jesus, I Place my Trust in Thee


Dear Parishioners,
June is traditionally the month of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  For fourteen years of my life I had worked at a high school named for Our Lord’s Sacred Heart.  The motto of the school was: Fac Cor Nostrum Secundum Cor Tuum.  (The translation of the Latin:  Make our hearts like unto Thine or Make our hearts like Your Heart.)
The image of the Sacred Heart centers on a devotion to Jesus’ physical heart as representing His Divine Love for all humanity.  The Sacred Heart is often depicted in Christian art as a flaming heart shining with divine light.  It is bleeding, pierced by the lance-wound, surrounded by a crown of thorns, and surmounted by a cross.  The wounds and crown of thorns allude to the manner of Jesus' death, while the fire represents the transformative power of Christ’s love.
St. Margaret Mary Alacoque is associated with the devotion to the Sacred Heart.  She entered the Visitation Convent in 1671 and six years later Christ appeared to her in a vision in which she said:  "I could plainly see His heart, pierced and bleeding, yet there were flames, too, coming from it and a crown of thorns around it.  He told me to behold His heart which so loved humanity.  Then He seemed to take my very heart from me and place it there in His heart.  In return He gave me back part of His flaming heart."
In all, there were four revelations, during which the now-familiar Twelve Promises of the Sacred Heart were made:

1. I will give them all the graces necessary in their state of life.

2. I will establish peace in their homes.

3. I will comfort them in all their afflictions.

4. I will be their secure refuge during life, and above all, in death.

5. I will bestow abundant blessings upon all their undertakings.

6. Sinners will find in my Heart the source and an infinite ocean of mercy.

7. Lukewarm souls shall become fervent.

8. Fervent souls shall quickly mount to high perfection.

9. I will bless every place in which an image of my Heart is exposed and honored.

10. I will give to priests the gift of touching the most hardened hearts.

11. Those who shall promote this devotion shall have their names written in my Heart.

12. I promise you in the excessive mercy of my Heart that my all-powerful love will grant to all those who receive Holy Communion on the First Fridays in nine consecutive months the grace of final perseverance; they shall not die in my disgrace, nor without receiving their sacraments. My divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment.

The last of these promises is responsible for the nine First Fridays' devotion.  Also requested by the Sacred Heart was the establishment of a feast in His honor.  We now celebrate this Feast of Sacred Heart on the first Friday after the octave of the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, in addition to honoring the Sacred Heart every first Friday of the month.
Now that you have a brief history, the “heart” of the matter (sorry, I couldn’t resist) is whether or not we are becoming more Christ-like and whether our hearts reflect Christ’s love for us.
The simple prayer said — Make my heart like Your Heart  should remind us of the task in front of each of us.
Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Pentecost



Dear Parishioners,

Today in the Catholic Church we celebrate Pentecost Sunday.

Pentecost comes from a Greek word meaning “fiftieth day.”  In the Jewish tradition, Shavuot or the Feast of Weeks celebrated the time between Passover and the giving of the Law (Torah) to Moses on Mt. Sinai, a period of 50 days.  It was the Hellenistic (Greek) Jews who referred to this feast as Pentecost.

In the Christian tradition, however, the meaning is different.  Fifty days after Easter, Christians celebrate Pentecost as the day when the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles (See Acts 2: 1-41).  Pentecost has been referred to as the birthday of the Church.

Knowing the history of the Apostles and their actions / reactions to the Passion and Death of Jesus is significant here.  Judas betrayed Christ and then hanged himself (Mt. 27: 3-10).   Out of fear, Peter denied Christ (Mt. 26: 69-75).  Also out of fear, all of the other Apostles (Mt. 26:56), except for John, fled from the cross.  Yet, after receiving the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, Peter, acting as the spokesperson for the other Apostles, addressed the crowds fearlessly:

You who are Israelites, hear these words. Jesus the Nazorean was a man commended to you by God with mighty deeds, wonders, and signs, which God worked through him in your midst, as you yourselves know. This man, delivered up by the set plan and foreknowledge of God, you killed, using lawless men to crucify him. But God raised him up, releasing him from the throes of death, because it was impossible for him to be held by it . . . . God raised this Jesus; of this we are all witnesses . . . . Therefore let the whole house of Israel know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.  (Acts 2: 22-24, 32, 36)
Obviously, something significant changed Peter and the other Apostles.  First, they experienced the Risen Lord Jesus.  They saw that He was alive despite everything that was done to torture and kill Him.  He is alive.  Next, they were filled with the gift of the Holy Spirit.  They received supernatural gifts to strengthen them with their mission of preaching, teaching and witnessing to Christ’s Resurrection.

I believe in the power of the Holy Spirit.  If the Holy Spirit can be responsible for the growth of the Church against all odds from its seemingly impossible beginnings to become a Church of over a billion today worldwide, can we underestimate what that same Spirit can do to renew the face of the earth?  Pray to the Holy Spirit for guidance and strength.  Pray for the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit to be more fully present in your lives.

Don’t ever underestimate what the Holy Spirit can do if we invite Him into our lives (give Him permission) daily.

Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor

Thursday, May 19, 2022

40 Hours of Eucharistic Adoration at St. Thomas More Parish



Dear Parishioners,

Next month the feast day of our patron saint, St. Thomas More, occurs on Wednesday, June 22. The date is shared with another English martyr, St. John Fisher. At that time, our parish will observe 40 Hours of Eucharistic Adoration from Monday, June 20 to Wednesday, June 22. Following an evening Mass at 7 PM on June 20, the Blessed Sacrament will remain continually present on the altar for private prayer and adoration. We will add an extra evening Mass at 7 PM each evening (in addition to our regular morning Mass at 9 AM).  The closing Mass on June 22 will also include a Eucharistic procession.  Fr. James King will be the guest homilist during the three evening Masses.

I truly believe that when we take the time to be with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, it is a time of tremendous blessing not only for us as individuals but also for our families and for our entire parish family.  I do not ever want us to take for granted the great gift of the Real Presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist.  Time spent with Him is a grace-filled time.  We can express our love and adoration for Jesus, thankfulness for our blessings, and contrition for sin (our own and the sins of others).  We can also intercede for one another and petition the Lord for our various needs.  It is an invaluable time to spend with Jesus, truly present in the Most Blessed Sacrament.

When we come into the Lord’s presence, Jesus can do something to us.  We may think that we go to pray, to petition and to worship, or even that we are doing God a favor by spending some of our precious time with Him.  Our Lord Jesus, however, can transform us while we spend time with Him.  We do not need to worry about what prayers we should say, what spiritual readings we should be reading or what we should be doing in His Presence.  Just being with the Lord can be transforming.  He can soften our hearts, heal our wounds, inspire us and guide us.  He can give us an inner peace that nothing in this world can match.  Making the commitment to spend time with Him can truly transform us.

What I am requesting from you, my parishioners, is that you dedicate at least one hour sometime during these three days with the Lord in adoration.  (This should be in addition to any time attending Mass, when possible.)  This devotion will continue for two nights—around the clock—and I need your help and cooperation in order to do this.  Could you please think about dedicating an hour in prayer before the Most Blessed Sacrament?  Why not encourage members of your family to pray as a family for an hour?  Perhaps a group or organization within the parish can make a holy hour together (choir, Knights of Columbus, St. Vincent de Paul, lectors, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, Small Christian Communities, etc.).  I especially need a few insomniacs or night owls to cover the late hours!  We are arranging to have added security at night.

Sign-up sheets will be available at the doors of the church so that we can be sure that there is always present with our Lord.  Please assist me in making this a special time for our parish as we adore our Eucharistic Lord.

Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor