A Pastor's Thoughts (Fr. Ed Namiotka)
The thoughts and writings of Fr. Ed Namiotka as taken from his weekly parish bulletin columns.
Sunday, March 26, 2023
Monday, March 20, 2023
Alleluia! Alleluia! Christ is Risen!
Easter is here once again!
Many secular ideas, traditions, and customs have found their way into our culture at Easter (as well as other sacred times like Christmas). They are not necessarily bad in and of themselves. However, they tend to miss the profound Christian spiritual message.
As Christians, nothing is really more important than Christ conquering sin and death and rising from the dead. Easter is about Resurrection. It is about eternal life. It is about hope.
Establishing a church the way Christ did seems like a recipe for disaster. Pick a rag-tag bunch of mostly uneducated disciples—one who denies you when the going gets tough (Peter) and one who betrays you (Judas). Preach to the general public for only a few years, very mysteriously at times. Pick an area of the world oppressed by foreign rule. Pick a time in history without the internet, Twitter, radio, television, newspapers or mass media as we know it today. Allow yourself to be tortured and then put to death without offering resistance.
Should the Catholic Church still be around over 2000 years later? Not if it were solely a human endeavor!
When everything seemed like failure, the Risen Jesus appeared to the disciples:
While they were still speaking . . . (Jesus) stood in their midst and said to them, "Peace be with you." But they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost. Then he said to them, "Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have." And as he said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. (Luke 24:36-40)
Resurrection made all the difference, then and now.
The Catholic Church still remains despite all obstacles, built on the foundation of Christ—the Risen Christ. The message of Jesus continues to be proclaimed and offers salvation and hope to those who willingly accept it and let their lives be guided and changed by it.
May the joy of Easter bring meaning and hope to your lives, today and every day!
Happy Easter to all!
Fr. Ed Namiotka
What Have You Done for Me Lately?
Back in 1986, Janet Jackson asked this question in a popular song. It seemed to fall in line with a number of other songs from the decade (e.g., Material Girl by Madonna, Need You Tonight by INXS, 1999 by Prince) that dealt in some way with selfishness or egocentricity. It was a time in which people were popularly referred to as the “Me” Generation. One dictionary defined this “Me” Generation the following way: Noun. (Sociology) the generation, originally in the 1970s, characterized by self-absorption; in the 1980s, characterized by material greed.
Jesus Christ is the absolute antithesis of all of this.
As I reflect on the upcoming events of Holy Week, I can’t help but think about what Jesus has done for us. The Second Person of the Blessed Trinity who is almighty, omniscient, transcendent, eternal, etc., became limited, finite, tangible and visible for us in the man, Jesus of Nazareth. He was now capable of suffering and dying.
Moreover, He did everything for us. He was born to live among us and to reveal God’s love to us. He gave us the Holy Eucharist as his real abiding presence among us and to feed us spiritually. He suffered and died for us to free us from our sins and to give us eternal life. He rose from the dead to invite us to share in His heavenly glory.
I don’t see an ounce of selfishness or greed here. What did He personally gain? No big ego was at work. He would not be a good contestant for Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.
St. Paul in his Letter to the Philippians says it so beautifully:
Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
something to be grasped.
Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance,
he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross. (Phil. 2: 6-8)
Obedient, humble, self-giving, and sacrificial are just a few words that come to mind immediately whenever I think about Jesus, His life and actions.
Whenever people look at me and tell me that they can’t find (or is it make?) time for Mass, that God is not really that important for them right now, or that they just don’t care, I sigh from the depths of my being. I think: You don’t get it, do you? How much the Son of God endured and sacrificed on our behalf? What He did for me, for you, for us? It’s sad. Very sad.
Jesus’ words from the cross ring ever true:
Father, forgive them, they know not what they do. (Lk. 23:34)
Fr. Ed Namiotka
The first priest said, "Well, it's kind of embarrassing, but my big temptation is bad pictures. Once I even bought a copy of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition."
"My temptation is worse," said the second priest. "It's gambling. One Saturday instead of preparing my homily I went to the race track to bet on the ponies."
"Mine is worse still," said the third priest. "I sometimes can't control the urge to drink. One time I actually broke into the sacramental wine."
The fourth priest was quiet. "Brothers, I hate to say this," he said, "but my temptation is worst of all. I love to gossip - and if you guys will excuse me, I'd like to make a few phone calls!"
Around March 25th each year, I anxiously await what most people receive at Christmas—an annual card from a friend. Fr. Tom has chosen to send out Annunciation Day cards instead of the normal Christmas cards. The bottom of his card this year (2023) reads:
As long as our country treats the fruit of the womb as a disposable item in a subhuman culture, I will send my Christmas cards nine months early to proclaim to the world that the child in the womb is sacred.
In the past, his cards have given recipients other reminders:
And finally after nine months they give birth to humans who are our sons and daughters. They do not grow pre-human life forms that become human once they leave a woman. What an insult to women. That to live inside of our mother is to forfeit human dignity.
Jesus entered our world as a child in the womb of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary. He revealed to us His Father in Heaven. May we recognize Him in the least among us, even our unborn sons and daughters as we seek the Face of God together.
I wrote the following poem many years ago when reflecting on the sacredness and value of each human life:
I cried—no one heard me
Yet I cried—
For I was inside
Of my mother’s womb.
I longed to be held in her arms,
To be fondled and caressed,
To take milk from my mother’s breast
And to laugh.
Such beauty and warmth of life
I could enjoy,
Play with my first toy
And begin to love.
I could leave my print on the world:
Wisdom to span the ages,
As the knowledge of sages
Of years past.
Still, more than this all, I long for life
—That gift God-given—
And the chance to live in
His created world.
I cried—and no one heard me
For I was inside of my mother’s womb.
Little did I know it would be my tomb.
© 1982 Edward F. Namiotka
Tuesday, March 14, 2023
- “Why go to confession? Can’t I just talk to God myself?”
- “It’s been so long. I don’t know what to do.”
- “I can’t tell the priest that stuff! It’s too embarrassing.”
- “I really don’t do anything that bad. I don’t have anything serious to confess.”
Perhaps one of the above statements expresses the way that you think.
I regularly encourage my parishioners to make a good, sacramental confession. Why? Simply stated, the Sacrament of Reconciliation and Penance (confession) is a grace-filled opportunity—an occasion to allow God’s very life to dwell in us more fully. Jesus gives us this sacrament so that we can be reconciled with God and with our fellow Christians in the Church. As Catholics, we believe that Jesus gave the power to forgive sin to the Church, initially through the Apostles. “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained." (John 20:23)
When the priest gives absolution, it is actually Christ who is forgiving sin through the instrument of the priest. The priest is a channel of God’s mercy, forgiveness, grace and love. This is a supernatural action which restores us back to our Baptismal innocence. In addition, the grace of the sacrament helps us in our struggle to resist sin in the future.
“But can’t I just go to God directly myself?” Maybe an example will help to shed some light on the situation.
Some years ago, I came down with what I thought was a really bad cold. No matter what I tried on my own I just couldn’t seem to get rid of it. Finally, I decided to see the doctor. After some tests, the doctor told me that I had pneumonia in my lung and prescribed the appropriate treatment. Maybe if I would have decided to handle it on my own, I risked getting worse and developing additional complications. I needed the expertise and guidance of someone who was trained to diagnose and treat this particular illness.
With sin, sometimes we need someone objective to look at the situation and recommend the appropriate action. In order to overcome sin, we need something more than what we alone can do. We need God’s grace. As priests, we are instruments of God’s grace in the sacraments.
Believe me, with time priests have heard it all—the good and the bad. So many times our joy comes from being able to bring someone closer to God and bringing peace to people’s lives. Those who frequent the sacrament surely understand what I mean. For those who may have been away from the sacrament for any significant amount of time, why not check it out?
- Examine your conscience thoroughly. Quietly think about what you did wrong.
- Begin by making the Sign of the Cross. While the revised rite may have changed some things, the traditional formula many people are accustomed to is: “Bless me (or forgive me), Father, for I have sinned. It has been (how long?) since my last confession. These are my sins . . . .”
- Confess all of the sins that you can remember. It is not necessary to worry about the number of times for venial (less serious) sins, BUT the number of times a mortal (deliberate and serious) sin is committed should be mentioned. This gives the priest an idea of the seriousness and frequency of the problem.
- If you are not sure if something is sinful, ask the priest to clarify it for you.
- Do not withhold any sin deliberately. The purpose of confession is to admit your sinfulness and to clear your conscience. To hold back sin defeats the purpose of confession. Remember that you speak to God through the priest. You really cannot hide anything from God. No matter how embarrassing something may be, trust that the priest will understand and is anxious to help you reconcile with God and the Church.
- Do not worry about unintentionally forgotten sins. It is usually a good practice to end confession in this manner: “For these and all of the sins of my past life which I cannot now remember, I am sorry.”
- Remember that going to confession means that you want to change for the better. There should be a purpose of amendment which means that you promise to try not to do the same things over again. Perhaps you may fall into sin again, but it important that you resolve to try to do better.
- The priest will give you some penance. The completion of the penance is part of the sacrament. If you do not do the penance, this should be confessed in your next confession.
- Pray an Act of Contrition*. (Sometimes during a Communal Penance Service this may be done together.) One or more versions is usually provided in the confessional. You may also use one that you know by heart or recite a prayer of sorrow in your own words.
- The priest will give absolution and then dismiss you. You can be confident that any sin told to a priest in confession is in strict confidence. The priest can never reveal the content of an individual’s confession so that any sin is equated to a particular person (canon 983). [The Seal of Confession is so sacred that if the priest violates it he can only be forgiven by the Pope himself (canon 1388) and the priest is not permitted to hear confessions again. The priest must even give up his life before breaking that seal. In addition, the priest may never use knowledge from confession against a person (canon 984).]
*Examples of the ACT OF CONTRITION:
Fr. Ed Namiotka