Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Marriage: A Covenant of Love and Life



Dear Parishioners,

When I began writing this bulletin column many years ago, my intention was to take my pastoral responsibility to preach and to teach seriously.  Hopefully, I can continue to shed some insight on particular topics in a simple, straightforward manner.  I realize, of course, that that the final authority on all Church matters is the magisterium or teaching authority of the Church (essentially the pope united with his bishops).  I try to be completely faithful to Sacred Scripture and to our over 2000 years of Church teaching and Sacred Tradition.

I think that Catholics need to be kept up-to-date on various matters concerning our faith and morality.  One such hot button issue today is the definition of marriage.  I have used the following working definition of marriage in the past in my high school classroom:  Marriage is a covenant of love and of life, made by a man and a woman, that is permanent, exclusive and open to the possibility of children.  Allow me to take this definition apart:

1.   By saying that marriage is a covenant, it means that this pact or agreement goes beyond a legal contract mentality because God is involved in the process.  Besides the priest (or deacon) and congregation, the vows exchanged in a marriage ceremony by the couple have God as a witness.  The couple comes before God freely to promise their lives to each other.  There is an exchange of persons.  The couple should be aware of God’s presence in this process.  For Catholics, the ordinary place where this sacred covenant is made is in a church building (a sacred consecrated place) rather than some other secular place.

2.  The covenant is between one man and one woman.  The Church, following Christ’s instruction (see Mt. 19: 4-6), teaches that this covenant is between a monogamous, opposite sex couple.  Directly stated, multiple partners and same sex partners are not part of God’s plan for marriage.  Multiple partners go beyond the Scriptural “two shall become one flesh” experience.  Same sex partners, while they may have love for each other, cannot reproduce with each other through any genital expression of their love.  This is a disordered activity that may be pleasurable to them but it is definitely not life giving.  Any homosexual genital act is always sterile.

3.   Marriage is permanent—“until death do us part.”  Part of the marriage vow includes the couple’s promise to each other to remain with each other “all the days of my life.”  The Church holds couples to this promise.
 
4.   Marriage is exclusive meaning that there should be no infidelity or adultery.  Monogamy is expressed in a “two shall become one flesh” experience.

5.   Finally, marriage needs to be open to children.  The contraceptive mentality in our culture tries to separate the love making act from any life giving possibility.  It takes God’s design for human sexuality and tries to re-establish it as a pleasurable, sterile act.  God gives the married couple the possibility of creating new life—a new human being with an immortal soul—and eliminating this possibility directly through artificial contraception is seen as immoral.

As the traditional definition of marriage is continually under the threat of being redefined, we need to understand the many implications of such an attempted change.

It is essential to be educated on the issues and to be kept informed!

Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Baptism of the Lord


Dear Parishioners,

If the Lord Jesus was without sin, why would He ever need to be baptized by John the Baptist?

The most direct answer to this question is that Jesus did not need to be baptized.  So then, why did it happen?  Let’s first look at what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says on the topic:

Our Lord voluntarily submitted himself to the baptism of St. John, intended for sinners, in order to "fulfill all righteousness." Jesus' gesture is a manifestation of his self-emptying.  The Spirit who had hovered over the waters of the first creation descended then on the Christ as a prelude of the new creation, and the Father revealed Jesus as his "beloved Son."  #1224
One way to think of Jesus’ baptism was that it is an anticipation of what He would do for us later on the cross.  He would take upon Himself our sinfulness.  Just as He did not die on the cross for His own sin, He did not receive the baptism of John to repent for His own sinfulness.  We might rather say that Jesus made holy the waters of baptism by His own baptism.  In addition, His Baptism in the Jordan River, like His Epiphany as a child to the magi, was another divine manifestation of Jesus’ true identity:  “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Mt. 3:17)

Jesus’ Baptism should make us think about our own baptism.  St. Paul’s words to the Romans are instructive:

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.  (Rom. 6:3-4)
Baptism gives us new life—eternal life.  Baptism forgives our sinfulness—both original sin and any personal sin (once a person has reached the age of reason and is no longer an infant).  With baptism we are adopted by God through Christ as His children.  We become temples of God’s Holy Spirit dwelling within us.  God’s own life now dwells in us—the life of sanctifying grace.  We become a member of the mystical Body of Christ, the Church, and the doorway is now open for us to receive the other sacraments of the Church.  All of these wonderful things and many other blessings (see the Catechism of the Catholic Church #1262ff.) occur with the simple pouring of water (or an immersion into it) combined with the baptismal formula:  I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Every time you bless yourself with holy water, remember that this sacramental is a reminder of your baptism into Christ Jesus who suffered and died for your salvation.  I remind you to keep some in your homes.

Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor     



A New Beginning for All of Us



Dear Parishioners,

It seems that when the New Year arrives people tend to come up with various resolutions.  Perhaps some (like me) will look at the lingering spare tire around the waist and say that they are going to exercise moreFat chance that this noble resolution will usually last for too long!  Others may want to spend more time with family and friends.  This may last for a while and then, typically, the hectic pace of life takes over and out of sight, out of mind.  Still others seek to break a bad habit.  They attempt to quit smoking or drinking, spend less time on the internet or watching TV, etc.  This may be okay until those moments when we’re bored, lonely, frustrated, stressed-out or tired and we decide to light up, take a drink to relax, surf the internet or channel surf with the TV remote.  What was it that they say about the road to hell being paved with good intentions?

I think that we as humans frequently desire a fresh start.  We typically regret our transgressions and indiscretions—our sinful, selfish behaviors—and want to move on and start anew.  Some denominations of Christians speak about being born again, referring to Jesus and His conversation with Nicodemus (John 3: 1-21).  How is it that we are able to begin again?  Will a simple act of the will enable us to change?

Jesus gave us the means by which we can become a new creation (2 Cor. 5: 17)By our baptism into Christ this relationship began.  We were adopted by God as His children.  Original sin (and any actual sin if we had reached the age of reason) was forgiven.  We were filled with God’s Holy Spirit and Sanctifying Grace (God’s life) was now in us.  We were made members of the Body of Christ—the Church.

But since that time of our baptism we sinned.  Our relationship with God and others was damaged, perhaps seriously.  What do we do now?  Undoubtedly Jesus had a plan for this as well.  He told his apostles after His Resurrection, “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them . . . .”  (John 20: 23)  The Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation (confession) is the means by which our post-baptismal sins are forgiven and is what can once again restore us to the purity of our initial baptism.  We are made new by the continuing action of Christ working through His Church.  And it involves more than our simple resolution to do better.  God’s grace is present to forgive, to strengthen and to heal.  We are given supernatural, Divine Grace in our battle with sin!  We are made anew—a new creation in Christ Jesus!

If you make use of the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation regularly, then I suppose you already understand its healing effects.  However, if you are one of those people who fears the sacrament, has convinced yourself that you can go directly to God, has had a bad experience in the past and never went back, is carrying a burden around that just doesn’t seem to go away no matter what I do or is simply seeking a way to begin again, why not give confession a try?  What is needed is a contrite heart and sorrow for any sins committed, a determination to try to avoid sin in the future, and faith in Jesus Christ that He can forgive my sins through the instrument of the priest.

Regular confession will do more for the body, mind and soul than any other soon-to-be-broken resolution.  Its supernatural healing effects are far beyond what we can possibly do alone.  As one who has sought out and frequented this sacrament for most of my life, I can attest to its divine healing power.  I realize that I am far from perfect and that in my struggle with sin I have a divinely instituted means of experiencing God’s ongoing forgiveness, mercy and healing in my life.


Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor       

     

The Holy Family




Dear Parishioners,

Family means a great deal to me.  Spending time with my mom, my brothers and sister and their families, especially around the holidays, is a special gift to me.

I realize that no family is perfect.  We all have to deal with particular family issues and circumstances, varying problems and challenges, diverse personalities, etc. Yet, all of this is accompanied by multiple blessings.

Sometimes I think that certain people tend to idealize the Holy Family and forget the many difficulties and hardships that Jesus, Mary and Joseph had to endure.  We read in the Sacred Scriptures that Mary was found with child before living with Joseph.  He was initially going to divorce her quietly. (Mt. 1: 18-19)  Then, there was no place for Jesus to be born in the lodgings of Bethlehem after Joseph and Mary (now in the final stage of her pregnancy) had travelled considerable distance. (Lk. 2: 4-7)  As an infant, Jesus’ life was threatened by King Herod and His parents had to flee with Him to Egypt. (Mt. 2: 13-18)  Joseph and Mary seemingly lost—could not immediately find—the boy Jesus during their pilgrimage to Jerusalem. (Lk. 2: 41-51)  Mary later witnessed her only Son tortured and killed in front of her eyes. (Jn. 19: 25)

These were not quite the circumstances of a perfect, ideal life, were they?

Yet, through it all, Jesus, Mary and Joseph had each other and were bound together by mutual love and respect.  They all greatly loved and trusted God, our Heavenly Father, and were obedient to His will as it was revealed and unfolded for them.

Today, problems within the family unit continue to exist—at a somewhat grand scale and pace.  Various people question, with some even wanting to redefine, the traditional understanding of “family.”  Family life as we once knew it in society seems to be eroding.

I contend that we need to look at the Sacred Scriptures to see what they teach us (albeit ever so briefly) about the family life experienced by the Holy Family.  Their obvious trust in God in difficult circumstances, their obedience to His will, and their fidelity to God and to one another are great examples for us all to follow.

Pray to the Holy Family.  Consecrate your families to the care of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Pray that our families be blessed and protected from the many threats that try to destroy them.

Pray fervently for the grace to know and to do God’s will.

And pray that our families will one day join the Heavenly Family that awaits us—united with Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor  


              

Saturday, December 25, 2021

“And the Word was Made Flesh . . .”



Dear Parishioners:

Merry Christmas!

What is it that you like best about Christmas?  Is it the beautiful decorations and the lights on the trees?  Is it the special meals with families and friends?  Is it the Christmas carols or sending and receiving Christmas cards?  Is it the parties with friends, co-workers or business associates?  Is it the exchange of gifts and the kindness and generosity of so many people?  Is it the look on children’s faces on the morning of Christmas as they are unwrapping their presents?

While so many various things may become associated with our Christmas experience, we must consider what Christmas truly represents from a Christian perspective.  Christmas is about the mystery of the Incarnation.  God chose to become a man for us.  “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (Jn. 1:14)  Timelessness entered time.  The almighty and all-powerful God became a helpless, vulnerable infant.  The creator of all life became subject to suffering and death.  The infinite majesty of God became finite.  God walked this very earth.  He could be seen, felt and touched.

While the many activities that we place upon ourselves as part of our Christmas traditions—shopping, decorating, cooking, sending cards, visiting homes, exchanging gifts, etc.—may overshadow or obscure its true meaning, Christmas is meant to remind us of God’s merciful love for us.  Christmas celebrates when Heaven touched Earth.  The Love of God took human form.  Christmas is when a baby—the Son of God and Son of Mary—is born for us in Bethlehem.  Christmas is primarily and definitively about ChristJesus, the Christ.
     
If Christmas is lived out as a once a year go-to-church experience, if it is just a time for the family to get together and share an extravagant meal, if it is merely a nostalgic, sentimental, feel-good holiday in which multiple gifts are exchanged, then we might just have missed the greatest act of love ever offered to us.  When you peer into the manger this Christmas, realize that before your eyes is a glimpse of the love that God has for you and me by sending us His only-begotten Son.

God became one of us telling us how much the human person and human life is sacred and valued.  God became a man ultimately to suffer, die and redeem us.  Jesus is love-incarnate.  His words and actions reveal the hidden mystery of God to us.  He is why Christians celebrate Christmas.    

On behalf of the entire staff who serve our parish, we wish you and your families a happy, holy Christmas and a blessed New Year!  

May the love of God which took human form in the person of Jesus be honored and revered in every human person that we meet.

Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor

(P.S., Please be an ambassador for Christ and wish people a Merry Christmas!)

Christmas Homily 2021 - Fr. Edward Namiotka