Sunday, April 11, 2021

Jesus, I Trust in Thee!



Dear Parishioners, 

Happy Easter! 

We continue in the octave of Easter. A single day is not enough to celebrate this great solemnity. The Church gives us eight days and then an entire Easter season to rejoice in the Risen Lord. Alleluia! This final day of the octave has been designated Divine Mercy Sunday.

Sister (now Saint) Maria Faustina Kowalska, a young uneducated nun, lived in Poland from 1905 until her death in 1938. Baptized Helena, she was the third of ten children. She entered the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy just prior to her 20th birthday. She had only three years of formal education at the time. During her thirteen years in the convent, she worked as a cook, gardener and porter.

At the same time, Sr. Faustina heard an inner voice speaking to her. She wrote down the messages which she said were given to her by Jesus into her notebooks. The compilation of notebooks was eventually published as The Diary of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska (Diary: Divine Mercy in My Soul). The content of these notebooks centered on God’s Divine Mercy. Sr. Faustina described how Jesus gave her the task of “Secretary” of His Divine Mercy.

According to the Divine Mercy website (thedivinemercy.org): 

The years Sr. Faustina spent at the convent were filled with extraordinary gifts, such as revelations, visions, hidden stigmata, participation in the Passion of the Lord, the gift of bilocation, the reading of human souls, the gift of prophecy, and the rare gift of mystical engagement and marriage.

At the time of her canonization in the year 2000 by Pope (now Saint) John Paul II, he also declared the Sunday after Easter Divine Mercy Sunday for the Universal Church.  Sr. Faustina described Jesus speaking to her about this day in her dairy:

On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy. The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. On that day all the divine floodgates through which grace flow are opened. Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet. My mercy is so great that no mind, be it of man or of angel, will be able to fathom it throughout all eternity. (Diary of Saint Faustina, 699) 

I realize we are living under some very unusual conditions at this time in history with the coronavirus pandemic. I suggest that we all intend now to make a sacramental confession as soon as possible when we are able to see a priest personally. Sacraments are administered person to person and not remotely by phone, by TV or by the internet. These are only stop-gap solutions. In the meantime, continue to pray the act of contrition as perfectly as possible each day.

There is a very important spiritual lesson for us here: time and opportunity will run out for all of us. We will not live forever. If we want to experience God’s Divine Mercy, we have first to admit our guilt and acknowledge our sins to Him through the instrument of the priest—as Jesus instructed His apostles (see Jn. 20:23).

Place your trust where we can have absolute certainty of God’s Divine Mercy: Jesus, I trust in Thee!

Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor

Sr. Maria Faustina Kowalska

Homily for Divine Mercy Sunday 2020 - Fr. Edward Namiotka

 


Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Palm Sunday


Dear Parishioners,

Palm Sunday, marking Jesus’ triumphant entry into the city of Jerusalem, is one of the days of the liturgical calendar where we would usually see a great Mass attendance.

Palm branches are blessed and distributed to the congregation.  We recall the people of Jerusalem shouting:  Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; hosanna in the highest.(Mt. 21:9)

I often think of how the chant changed by Good Friday: (The crowds) all said, ‘Let him be crucified!’ But (Pilate) said, ‘Why? What evil has he done?’ They only shouted the louder, ‘Let him be crucified!(Mt. 27:22-23)

Drastic change in just a few days, wasn’t it?

Lest we think that we couldn’t turn our backs on Jesus as quickly, look at what was the usual Mass attendance on Palm or Easter Sunday compared with the numbers on a typical weekend Mass—even the next week after Easter.  Usually there was a noticeable decline.  Maybe it’s not as direct of a rejection as the crowds in Jerusalem, but it can be an ever-so-subtle denunciation that takes the shape of indifference or apathy.

Sometimes we might even see as dramatic a change from the pews to the parking lot.

As Lent draws to a close, I invite you to participate in the Holy Week Masses and Liturgies that help us to focus on the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus.

Holy Week and Easter should not be business as usual for Christians.  If we believe that Jesus came to die for us and for our salvation, we need to put time aside to pray to and worship Him.  From an eternal life perspective, what else can be more important?  We can most fully appreciate and experience the joy of the Resurrection by participating in and meditating on the Passion and Death of the Lord.

I am edified that so many people usually take advantage of the Sacrament of Penance during the Lenten season.  If you are one of those who waited to the last minute, I hope that you find the time before Easter to spiritually prepare.  Nothing does the soul more good than an honest, genuine sacramental confession.

My hopes and prayers are that the typical large congregations that we used to see on Palm Sunday or Easter will become the ordinary attendance at Mass each and every Sunday of the year.

Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor


Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Various Levels of Introspection

 



Dear Parishioners,

Lent is meant to be a time of introspection.  I have been practicing this myself and trying to improve my life as the Lord shows me my various faults and failings.  I admit, honestly and sadly, I am a sinner in need of God’s mercy.  I am preparing for that day when I will appear before Almighty God in judgment for what I have done and what I have failed to do.  St. Paul tells us, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive recompense, according to what he did in the body, whether good or evil.” (2 Cor. 5:10)

Also, as I look at my role as pastor of St. Thomas More Parish, am I doing what I should do for the good of my parishioners? My primary concern is the salvation of every immortal soul. It is inevitable when I authentically preach the Gospel, it will strike a nerve in some people—especially if I point out something that is sinful and unacceptable to God. “If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you.” (Jn. 15: 18-19)

The cancel culture would want me silenced as may those who deem the Gospel irrelevant, outdated or offensive. I remind all that truth will remain truth no matter how unpopular it may be in a particular culture or at a specific time in history. The Gospel does not become irrelevant but remains the means of salvation for those who believe in it and follow it.

While there are things that I observe that may not be considered deliberately sinful, nevertheless there are some areas I can I tell you I observe from my perspective as pastor on which we definitely can begin to improve.

  • Increased participation at Mass and the sacraments. I am fully aware of any previous and current restrictions that may be in effect. However, when it becomes an excuse to avoid Mass attendance for the young, healthy, etc., I fear many will simply not return to regular attendance even after restrictions are completely lifted. We still owe God worship and it is simply not the same watching Mass on TV or on a tablet, phone or computer. We cannot receive Holy Communion through the internet. Moreover, we should take advantage of the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation frequently. This sacrament needs to take place in person and not remotely.
  • Reverence when receiving the Blessed Sacrament. I am upset with the manner in which Holy Communion may be received. During this time of wearing face masks, I have witnessed too frequently people fumble with their face masks while holding the Sacred Host and then sometimes dropping the Consecrated Host on the floor. This manner of handling the Sacred Host will inevitably lead to particles of the Most Holy Body of Jesus on the floor as well. I personally witness the many crumbs that are always on the paten in front of me on the altar when I purify the sacred vessels. How many particles wind up on the floor from the casual or irreverent manner the Sacred Host is handled? The face mask should be lowered before receiving Holy Communion. That is why the priest or Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion is wearing a face mask when distributing Holy Communion.
  • Avoiding distractions when in Church or at Mass. Please silence those cell phones. I realize that some may use them in place of missalettes, so I do not say shut them off at this time. However, they should not be ringing during Holy Mass. Also, unnecessary talking should not take place while people are trying to pray. Please take social conversations outside, when possible. Remember we are in the presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.

While there are other things that may have to be mentioned at a later time, can we begin to look at these areas and discern whether or not they may be applicable to my own actions?  Thank you for your consideration.

My prayers for your continued Lenten journey,

Fr. Ed Namiotka

Pastor