Tuesday, January 12, 2021

One (Divided) Nation, Under God

Dear Parishioners,

Writing my column this week is particularly challenging.  The elections are over and we await the inauguration of our new president.  I pray for him and for our nation.  We all should do the same.  However, I am not na├»ve to the fact that our nation is not united in thought, principles, and vision or even in the level of trust and respect that we have for government, the press, social media or even each other.

Yet, every day when I wake up, of this I can be assured:  God will still be God and Jesus Christ is still King of the Universe

I have good reason to believe our divided nation will not suddenly come together and unite in a euphoric Kumbaya moment.  We will still have an astronomical national debt.  Laws will exist that longstanding Catholic Church teaching (and I) will continue to oppose (abortion and same-sex marriage being two of the most prominent).  The inner cities as well as suburbia will continue to encounter their many economic and social problems well into the foreseeable future.  As long as there is a market for them, various illegal (and some legal) drugs will indiscriminately infest our nation.  Prejudice will not magically disappear.  Some form of government gridlock will exist. The future funding of programs such as Social Security and Medicare will once again be debated, but probably not permanently fixed.  What about the future of healthcare?  In many instances the can will be kicked down the road for as long as possible.  Perhaps, we may see some radical and unexpected changes.  Only God knows the entire future and for His help we must continually, emphatically pray.

Will life here in the USA radically change after this election? Will the many campaign promises and slogans [Build Back Better or Make (Keep) America Great Again] really effect the change they desire by the mere rhetoric?  Much damage has been done that, in effect, seriously divided rather than united us as a nation.   I am not holding my breath waiting for any immediate solution or quick fix.

From a Church perspective, will the election of a new “Catholic” President become some amazing motivating factor causing more people to attend Mass each week?  Will the sacredness of every human life be protected and the sanctity of traditional marriage suddenly reappear?  Will I see more people turning to God and a radical conversion of lives?  I have no delusions that the victor of this year’s election is some national messiah.  Sorry.  Both major candidates are unfortunately flawed, sinful men.  I am just glad that the campaigning is finally over.

Four years ago (2016), Carl Anderson, the Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus proposed six concrete ideas for us as Catholics to lead the way towards unity in our nation after the last election.  I once again present them here for your consideration: 

First, he said, is “the renewal of parish life as a true Eucharistic community,” with a greater appreciation for the Eucharist as the source and summit of unity, charity and Christian life. 

Next, a “renewed evangelization of family life” is needed, “centered upon the calling of every Catholic family to be a domestic church which, in solidarity with other families, would be a source of unity, charity and reconciliation.”

In addition, Anderson said, Catholics should grow in their devotion to Mary as the Patroness of the U.S., seeing in her a model of “understanding our responsibilities toward our neighbors and for the common good as citizens.” 

Also necessary is a “deeper understanding of those moral principles and issues that are non-negotiable for us as a faith community,” which leads to a deeper understanding and application of the Church’s Social Doctrine.  

A greater commitment to authentic Catholic education that forms the entire person at every academic level is also important for Catholic identity, he said.

Finally, he concluded, the Church in the U.S. needs “a greater appreciation of the office of bishop as the source of unity for the local church” and deeper communication among clergy, religious and laity.

Please continue to pray fervently for our nation!  We still have turbulent times ahead.  I am willing to say it is sadly inevitable.

Fr. Ed Namiotka

Pastor

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Some Thoughts About Baptism


Dear Parishioners,
We celebrate the feast of the Baptism of the Lord this Sunday (January 10, 2021).  Thankfully, there is an opportunity to preach and to reflect during the Sunday homily not only on Jesus’ Baptism but on our own individual baptism and its importance.

Over the past 30+ years of baptizing infants, children and adults, I have had many occasions to inform parents, godparents, and sometimes even the persons being baptized (if they are old enough) just what Baptism means.  Obviously, the outward sign of pouring of water signifies a cleansing.  By Baptism, we are freed from original sin and (if having reached the age of reason) any personal or actual sin. 
Baptism is our entry into the Catholic Church—we become a Christian.  Baptism is also the doorway to the other sacraments.  Through Baptism we become part of the Mystical Body of Christ as well as an adopted child of God with the privilege of calling God our Father.  We are filled with God’s sanctifying grace and with the Holy Spirit.  We also share in the priesthood of Christ—the priesthood of all believers.

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church:  “Baptism seals the Christian with the indelible spiritual mark (character) of his belonging to Christ. No sin can erase this mark, even if sin prevents Baptism from bearing the fruits of salvation.  Given once for all, Baptism cannot be repeated.” (1272)
So much happens spiritually through the immersion in or the pouring (on the forehead) of water with an invocation of the Most Holy Trinity:  I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit!

While infant Baptism is part of an ancient tradition dating back to the 2nd century, we still have some parents who, on occasion, tell us that they are going to “let their children decide for themselves (about Baptism) when they get old enough.”  I question the logic in this practice.  Don’t parents usually want the best for their children in so many ways?  They want them to go to the best schools, to eat good healthy foods, to wear nice looking clothes, to associate with polite, well-behaved friends, to be successful in life.  Yet, when it comes to a matter like eternal life through Christ, they somehow do not seem to think that faith in Christ is something worth sharing and giving to their children!  I’m certainly confused here!
Although there are currently restrictions (?) on the use of holy water fonts in many churches, there is nothing prohibiting you from coming to church with a container of water to have the priest bless some water for use in your home.  Holy Water is a sacramental reminding you of your Baptism.   Its use helps us to recall how essential Baptism is for the believing, practicing Christian and allows us to renew our own baptismal commitment to Jesus Christ and rejection of Satan in our lives. 

St. Paul tells us: 

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.  (Romans 6: 3-4)

Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor

Friday, January 1, 2021

Mother of God


Theotokos

Dear Parishioners,

On January 1st the Catholic Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God.  While Catholics may use the term Mother of God regularly when praying the Hail Mary, some people may have questions about the meaning of this particular title.  The Council of Ephesus (431) declared that the Blessed Virgin Mary is Theotokos or God-Bearer (in Greek).  In the Latin Church, we use the term Mater Dei.  Simply stated, our Catholic belief teaches that:

Although Mary is the Mother of God, she is not his mother in the sense that she is older than God or the source of her Son’s divinity, for she is neither.  Rather, we say that she is the Mother of God in the sense that she carried in her womb a divine person—Jesus Christ, God "in the flesh" (2 John 7, cf. John 1:14)—and in the sense that she contributed the genetic matter to the human form God took in Jesus Christ.  Catholic Answers
We should remember that the Blessed Virgin Mary is solely responsible for the genetic material for Jesus’ human body (in cooperation, of course, with the Holy Spirit) as St. Joseph was Jesus’ foster-father.

As we begin the New Year, I customarily entrust and consecrate my parish family (wherever I am pastor) to the care of the Blessed Virgin Mary on New Year’s Day.  I give this parish and all of its parishioners over to the loving care of the Mother of God.  I invite you to join me.  I can think of no better way to begin the New Year.

Why not take the time to consecrate your individual families to the Blessed Virgin Mary’s maternal care as well?  Parents, you can (and should) pray for your children and families at home daily.  Here’s a prayer of consecration to help:


Oh Mother Most Pure,
We come to You as a family and consecrate ourselves to your most Immaculate Heart.
We come to You as a family and place our trust in Your powerful intercession.

Oh Dearest Mother Mary, 
teach us as a mother teaches her children, for our souls are soiled and our prayers are weak because of our sinful hearts.
Here we are Dearest Mother, ready to respond to You and follow Your way, for Your way leads us to the heart of Your Son, Jesus.
We are ready to be cleansed and purified.

Come then Virgin Most Pure,
and embrace us with Your motherly mantle.
Make our hearts whiter than snow and as pure as a spring of fresh water.
Teach us to pray, so that our prayers may become more beautiful than the singing of the birds at the break of dawn.

Dear Mother Mary,
We consecrate to Your Immaculate Heart of hearts, 
our family and our entire future.
Lead us all to our homeland which is Heaven.
Amen. 

Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us.

My Masses and prayers are continually offered for your spiritual well-being.  Please remember me as well so that I have the graces necessary to live up to my responsibility as your pastor.

God’s blessings in the New Year!


Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor

Thursday, December 24, 2020

A Christmas Message 2020


Dear Parishioners,

 "Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord.”  (Luke 2:  10-11)

I wish you and your families a happy and holy Christmas season.  Although the commercial celebration of Christmas started even before Thanksgiving, the Christmas season for the Church extends until January 10th with the Baptism of the Lord.  Don’t be in a hurry to take down the Christmas decorations too soon!

Even though it has been a most unusual year, there have also been so many blessings for which I thank God.  Most especially I thank God for the prayers, support, genuine love and concern of so many faithful parishioners.  May God bless you for your goodness!

I try to live by a philosophy (and truly believe) that God is ultimately in charge of every situation.  I pray constantly that His will be done.  I do not claim that I know each and every detail of His plan and what lies ahead.  But, in imitation of the example of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I attempt imperfectly to echo her profound trust and consent to the will of God:  “May it be done to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38)

I thank all who work so hard in the parish and continue to strengthen our Christian community.  Christianity is never a “spectator sport” in which we simply sit back, watch and cheer.  Rather, it involves active participation and a life-commitment:  daily prayer, attendance at Mass weekly, a sacramental life including regular confession of sins, Christian service, love (even of enemies), forgiveness, Christian charity, conversion, repentance, etc.

 As we adore the Christ Child in the manger at Christmas, may we be moved by the great love and humility that God showed to us in the birth of His Son!  God emptied Himself and became one of us.  Our faith also professes that He will come again.

 O come let us adore Him! 

 Be assured of my daily prayers and a remembrance in my Masses for all of you.  May I ask a small remembrance in your prayers and Masses as well? 

 On behalf of all our parish staff, have a blessed and peace-filled Christmas and a holy New Year!  I do not know what will be in store for us in 2021, but I trust that God knows what is truly best for us all.

Fr. Ed Namiotka

Pastor