Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Who Do You Trust?



Dear Parishioners,


In a recent Gallup poll (9/14/16) “Americans' trust and confidence in the mass media ‘to report the news fully, accurately and fairly’ has dropped to its lowest level in Gallup polling history.  .  .  .“  The percentage of those who have confidence in the media was merely 32% of those surveyed.

With the current 24-hour news cycles, it appears that the media sometimes has to create irrelevant news stories, or report on matters really insignificant.  Who won Dancing with the Stars?  Frankly, with the world in the situation it is in—who cares?  Sometimes there is an apparent bias in the reporters’ views.  Just switch channels from Fox to CNN to MSNBC and you should notice the obvious difference in reporting.  Objectivity too often seems lost.  My biggest frustration is when the facts are distorted or purposely omitted.  Don’t we deserve the truth?

From a personal example and perspective, I have witnessed coverage of the March for Life in Washington, DC seriously underreported in past years, probably because it did not fit a particular political agenda or narrative.  Additionally, a very small group of protesters present at the March is magnified to escalate controversy to a scale much larger than it really was.  Controversy apparently sells more than calm.

Sometimes stories in the press contain inaccuracies, quotes are taken out of context, facts are omitted and people are left with a barrage of sound-bites.  Is this good journalism?

Now if I continue this line of thought into politics, I find it difficult to trust too many of the candidates—especially with the US presidential election just around the corner.  Obvious adversaries somehow become ardent supporters of one another.  Are we supposed to believe in some miraculous reconciliation without some consideration of possible future political appointments or favors?  One candidate’s advertisements state how supportive of children she is, while at the same time unapologetically supporting abortion on demand.  Aren’t babies in the womb pre-born children?  Something just doesn’t jive here.  Another candidate boasts about his business experience and making millions, while I personally heard from a local contractor how he wasn’t fully paid by the candidate for services rendered.  Something stinks here too.  Who do I believe?  Then there are issues involving the private e-mail server, unreleased tax returns and IRS audits, Congressional hearings, FBI investigations, possible past/present racial discrimination, Benghazi.  .  .  .   

I am sick of it all!  Please find me a remote island somewhere.

Our currency (at least until now) says IN GOD WE TRUST.  We claim to be one nation under God.  I find that my only true trust is in God as manifest to us through Our Lord Jesus Christ.  When He says “I am the way and the truth and the life” (Jn. 14:6) I know that He alone can say this with absolute certitude and authority.  

My only future consolation is that no matter who may be elected president, Jesus Christ is still King of my life.

Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor 

Jesus I Trust in You

Monday, September 19, 2016

Progress Update


Dear Parishioners,

As you know, we began our Celebrating 70 Years:  Embracing the Mission, Continuing Our Tradition capital campaign last Lent.  We exceeded our goal of $900,000.00 in pledges and outright gifts and I thank you all for this.  God is so good!

So where do we stand as of today?
 

  •  Next, we began working on all of the required fire code upgrades to ensure maximum safety for our congregation.  A fire sprinkler system was installed in the church basement.  Fire rated doors are ordered and soon will be installed in the basement and stairwells.  Everything mandated by the state fire marshal will soon be completed.

  • A new digital piano was purchased to replace the aging baby grand piano in the church.

  • The deteriorating slate roof on the rectory garage, with its loose shingles, was replaced.

  •  A new sound system for the church is near completion.  This process involved replacing the pre-existing borrowed amplifiers, all new wiring (installed beneath the sanctuary floor), equalizers, control panels, wireless microphones, headset components for the hearing impaired, and speakers for the body of the church.  While everything is not yet finished, we are getting very close!

  • The existing green carpets of the sanctuary had to be cut open to allow for the installation of the wiring channels for the new sound system below the sanctuary floor.  A decision was then made to install a new hardwood floor instead of replacement carpeting.  The hope is the new style floor will be dignified and visually attractive befitting the sanctuary area, be easy to clean and maintain, and should be durable enough to last for many, many years to come.



Thankfully, the redemption of pledges continues on a regular basis.  Very soon we will begin some security enhancements and building renovations to the parish office.  This will include an outside ramp to be more handicapped-accessible.  A future large-scale project will certainly be the church HVAC system (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning) which will be one of the most costly expenses to date.  Please be aware that this will necessitate a very large portion of our raised funds.  Currently, the redemption phase of our capital campaign has not yet accumulated all the necessary funds to accomplish this particular project.

Regularly, I am meeting and working with our parish finance council and our capital campaign chairpersons to assure that we continue to make progress and properly maintain all our parish facilities.

It is only through your continued generosity that we will be able to bring all of our many plans to completion.


Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Going Beyond the Words



Dear Parishioners,

Too often we can get into a rut when reciting prayers from memory.  We might just say the words without thinking about some of the things that we actually pray.  Additionally, we might not even focus on the actual person (God) who is the recipient of our prayer.

I share with you today a brief reflection on the Our Father coming from my own prayer time.  What might your own thoughts be as you prayerfully reflect on the words and the Person to whom you are praying?  Prayer is very much about a relationship with God and not just about saying words.  Prayer involves a two-way communication:  speaking and listening.  What does God say to you and me as we listen for Him in our minds and in our hearts?

Our—All creation, all living beings and inanimate objects, exist because of God and His creative power.  Absolutely everything!
Father—We are God’s children by adoption, because of our baptism into Christ Jesus, with the privilege of calling God “Father.“   It was Jesus who taught us that God is AbbaFather.
Who art in heaven—What exactly is heaven like?  “. . . Eye has not seen, and ear has not heard and [it] has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love Him.”  (1 Cor. 2:9)
Hallowed be Thy name—God is holy.  His name needs to be reverenced and respected.  Hopefully I never use His name in vain or carelessly.
Thy kingdom come—Jesus announced the Kingdom of God is at hand (see Mk. 1:15).  He ushered in the reign of God.  What am I doing to build up the Kingdom of God here on earth?
Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven—In the end God’s will is going to be accomplished.  Do I truly turn my will over to the will of God each day?  Do I foolishly think I am in control and not God?
Give us this day our daily bread—I know that I am sustained by God each day and, more importantly, I have the privilege of receiving Jesus, the Bread of Life, at Mass each day.  The Holy Eucharist is our food for eternal life.  “. . . Unless you eat of the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood you do not have life in you.”  (Jn. 6:53)
Forgive us our trespasses—Lord, have mercy on me a sinner.  We are in a Jubilee Year of Mercy.  Have I taken advantage of all the opportunities afforded me during this holy year?  Do I realize the power of God’s mercy in the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation (confession) on a regular basis?  Do I humble myself and admit my sins, admit that I am wrong?
As we forgive those who trespass against us—God has forgiven me so many times.  Do I also extend His mercy and forgiveness to others?
Lead us not into temptation—Lord, there are just so many things in our world that are tempting us to choose them instead of You.  I remember the words of St. Augustine—our hearts are restless until they rest in You.  Let me never give into a temptation by choosing a passing, temporary satisfaction instead of Your unfathomable, unending love.
Deliver us form evil—Every day I am confronted with the evils of the world including war, terrorism, prejudice, poverty, injustice, and too many sins to think about.  Evil exists as does the evil oneSatan.  Lord, save me and keep me and all your beloved children, especially my parishioners, other loved ones and my own family, from all evil.

What might you add to this?  I am interested in your thoughts and insights.


Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor


Tuesday, September 6, 2016

"I Thirst"



Dear Parishioners,

This past week the Catholic Church and the entire world witnessed Pope Francis, before a crowd estimated at 120,000, canonize Mother Teresa of Calcutta (Kolkata) a saint.  The actual canonization is the end of a long process of investigation into the life and work of a particular person who was recognized for holiness of life in imitation of Jesus Christ.

Mother Teresa was born Gonxha Agnes Bojaxhiu to Albanian parents on August 26, 1910.  At age 18 she entered the Sisters of Loreto (Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary) in Ireland.  She was sent by her religious order to India where she became a geography and catechism teacher and eventually headmistress of school.  While recovering from tuberculosis, in 1946 she is said to have received a “call within a call” from God to found what would become the Missionaries of Charity.

This newly formed religious congregation (1950), beginning with just a dozen sisters, established its first home for the dying in 1952.  What followed later included clinics for leprosy (Hansen’s disease), orphanages, AIDS clinics, and various centers of charity (approximately 450 worldwide) caring for refugees, the blind, the elderly, the disabled, alcoholics and drug addicts, prostitutes, battered women, the homeless, victims of natural disasters and many others including the “poorest of the poor.”

Mother, who spoke 5 languages, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979.  Her order currently has over 5000 religious sisters, along with religious brothers and priests, serving in some 139 countries.  Since 1990, over 1 million volunteers have assisted in the work of the Missionaries of Charity worldwide.  Mother died of a heart attack on September 5, 1997.  Affectionately known as the “saint of the gutters” during her lifetime, she was officially declared a saint just 19 years after her death.

More recently it was revealed that Mother had a long period of spiritual dryness—something of a dark night of the soul—where any feelings of consolation from God were noticeably absent from her life.  Despite this struggle, she continued to serve the Lord faithfully even with ongoing physical problems including 2 heart attacks, a pacemaker, pneumonia, malaria, and a broken collar bone.

Pope Francis spoke the following during his homily at the Mass of canonization:
       
Mother Teresa, in all aspects of her life, was a generous dispenser of divine mercy, making herself available for everyone through her welcome and defense of human life, those unborn and those abandoned and discarded. She was committed to defending life, ceaselessly proclaiming that “the unborn are the weakest, the smallest, the most vulnerable.” She bowed down before those who were spent, left to die on the side of the road, seeing in them their God-given dignity; she made her voice heard before the powers of this world, so that they might recognize their guilt for the crime – the crimes! – of poverty they created. For Mother Teresa, mercy was the “salt” which gave flavor to her work, it was the “light” which shone in the darkness of the many who no longer had tears to shed for their poverty and suffering.
In every convent chapel of the Missionaries of Charity next to the crucifix are the words:  I Thirst.  These are Christ’s own words (Jn. 19: 28) from the cross.  Mother commented on the phrase to her religious sisters in a letter:

Why does Jesus say "I thirst"?  What does it mean?  Something so hard to explain in words - if you remember anything from Mother's letter, remember this - "I thirst" is something much deeper than just Jesus saying "I love you."  Until you know deep inside that Jesus thirsts for you - you can't begin to know who He wants to be for you.  Or who He wants you to be for Him .  .  .  .   
How to approach the thirst of Jesus?  Only one secret - the closer you come to Jesus, the better you will know His thirst.  "Repent and believe", Jesus tells us.  What are we to repent?  Our indifference, our hardness of heart.  What are we to believe?  Jesus thirsts even now, in your heart and in the poor - He knows your weakness, He wants only your love, wants only the chance to love you.  He is not bound by time.  Whenever we come close to Him - we become partners of Our Lady, St John, Magdalen.  Hear Him.  Hear your own name.  Make my joy and yours complete.

Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor 

    

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Breaking News: Jesus Encourages Hatred of Family Members



Dear Parishioners,

There are some very strong, radical words spoken by Jesus in this Sunday’s Gospel:

If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.  Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. (Lk. 14: 26-27)

For those who may like to sugarcoat the Gospel message, avoid the tough sayings of Jesus and sometimes paint Jesus as some type of pushover, think again.  Jesus was often bold in word and deed.  Did he not ridicule the Scribes and Pharisees as being hypocrites (Mt. 23: 13, 23, 25, 27, 29), blind guides (Mt. 23:16), a brood of vipers (Mt. 23: 33) or whitewashed tombs (Mt. 23:27)?  Did He not refer to Peter as Satan (Mt. 16:23)?  Did he not overturn the tables of the money-changers in the Jerusalem temple (Jn. 2: 13-16)?  While, at other times, he could be most gentle and merciful in the Scriptures, he definitely could call people to task and raise great challenges. 

How, then, are we to understand the above statement when placed up against other times in the Gospel where Jesus teaches us to love one another?  (See Jn. 13:34, 15:12)  Jesus could use types of hyperbole in his speech to jolt people.  By this technique, He made a most definitive point:  nothing can get in the way of our Christian discipleship.  I suggest we should think and act in terms of making an absolute, radical commitment to Jesus.   No, not even family members, or, most especially, our own particular wants and desires can get in the way.  Absolutely nothing!

Is this a tough challenge?  Most certainly it is!  But do we really think that if we put the love of Jesus Christ first and foremost in our lives, that we will neglect and show no love for our family and others?  On the contrary, loving Jesus completely, while imitating His self-sacrificing love, helps us to experience what true love is all about!  Christian love will flow most naturally to those in our family and, as it is perfected, will extend mysteriously even to our enemies.

Self-sacrifice (carrying the cross) has become a foreign concept to many in our society who regularly seek self-gratification and personal gain.  Jesus teaches us that it can never be all about me, myself and I.  The universe does not revolve around what I have planned, no matter what I may think. 

We are instructed to pray in the Our Father:  Thy kingdom come, (the Kingdom of God), Thy will be done (God’s Will).  Isn’t it abundantly clear?  It’s not about me.  It is about putting God first in our lives, above and beyond everyone and everything else.  Our first love must be God.  Love of family and neighbor should naturally flow from this.

I do not think Jesus would fare too well in this society where people are continually offended by what others say.  The news media will often take a statement, sometimes obviously out of context, and run with it for days.  Imagine the headlines:  Jesus Encourages Hatred of Family Members. 

Is that what He really meant?

Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor