Thursday, May 26, 2011


Dear Parishioners,
Last evening I watched the students of Notre Dame Regional School perform the musical Guys and Dolls.  For elementary school students, they did a magnificent job!
If you are not familiar with the story, Sarah Brown, the leader of the local Save-A-Soul Mission, attempts to turn sinners away from drinking, lying and especially gambling.  She encounters Sky Masterson, a high-rolling gambler, and the plot thickens as a romance with him eventually begins to blossom.
The performance reminded me of an all too common issue in our society:  addiction.
The restlessness and flaws in the human person, when not dealt with properly, can lead to problems with gambling, alcohol, smoking and drugs, to eating disorders, sexual addictions and various obsessions or compulsions, to sin and ultimately to death.
While I am not a professional psychiatrist or psychologist, I have experienced far too much in my life as a priest not to see and know enough about addiction.
Let me remind you of something from St. Augustine (in his Confessions) on which I base my spiritual analysis of this problem:  “Thou hast made us for Thyself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.”
As human beings we are continually searching for something.  A child begins to ask why almost from the time when he or she can start to speak.  The mind seeks knowledge, while the heart—the human spirit and will—seeks happiness and ultimately love.  And exactly where do we find complete knowledge and unending love—only in an all-knowing, unconditionally loving God.
In the mean time, the glamour of evil and sin inevitably get in the way.  We choose what appears to be good for us at the time, something or someone that will bring happiness or fulfillment.  Too often we are deceived.  Anything that falls short of the happiness that God brings, will wind up not satisfying in the long run.
And so we fill up our time and waste our energy seeking out that which we think can stop the restlessness and pain.  We crave that which can give us a thrill or gets the adrenaline (dopamine) flowing—a quick fix that can make us something more than what we currently are.
Addiction is all too common.  Serious addiction inevitably needs professional help.  Everybody is certainly different and that which can take hold of us varies from person to person in type and intensity.  The bottom line is this:  whenever we choose whatever is less that the satisfaction that God gives us (in prayer, in the sacraments, in healthy, chaste relationships, in productive activities, etc.) we usually wind up seeking more, wanting a better thrill, often taking a step further into some self-destructive behavior.
I know that at some level this message will hit home with most people. 
You can keep running, keep searching, keep getting disappointed, and ultimately pay the price.
Or you can surrender daily to God.
It’s not necessarily easy to do so.  However, there is nothing more satisfying.
Fr. Ed Namiotka
PS. If you have a serious problem, please seek professional help immediately.  Priests are available for spiritual guidance.        

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Dear Parishioners,
Getting ready to leave soon for a new assignment leaves me with many things to do (packing, researching the new parish, completing any unfinished business, etc.) and some decisions to be made (especially what to keep and what to throw away or give away).
I have a confession to make:  I am a pack rat.
There, I said it.
If I didn’t get help this year I would probably wind up on Hoarders some day.
I had boxes of “stuff” in the attic, boxes in the basement, boxes in my room, boxes in my office at school—boxes inside of boxes!
This year I made a decision:  have someone (other than me) go through it all.  Decide what is worth keeping. Throw or give the rest away!  Don’t tell me—just get rid of it!
I had tried many times to do this on my own.  Most of the time I would initiate the ritual:  get a box, pick up an item in the box, begin looking at the item, start reminiscing about that particular item, agonize whether to keep it or not—get nowhere.
Call it maturity, call it a moment of sanity, call it frustration, call it whatever you will but this year the pattern had to stop.  I think spiritually it is called learning detachment.
I carefully read the instructions that Jesus gave to his disciples:    
He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick—no food, no sack, no money in their belts.  They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic.  (Mk. 6: 8-9)
How were they expected to live without all of the “stuff” that we modern day disciples accumulate over the years?

I recalled my spiritual director at Mt. St. Mary’s Seminary who, after he died, was reported to have nothing but a few items of clothing left in the closet in his rectory.

Then there was my former pastor whom I lived with for over 10 years.  He would give away gifts given to him faster than anyone I had ever seen.  Usually by the next day it was gone!

Then there’s me.  The collection of various t-shirts currently in my attic—many of which were given to me over the years and which I can no longer fit into because of excess baggage of another persuasion—would rival the shoe collection of Imelda Marcos.

In homilies I would often quote Fr. Benedict Groeschel, CFR when he cleverly cautioned us that “there are no U-Haul trucks in a funeral procession.”  Honestly, I could not say that my actions reflected the words that I preached.

Much of the “stuff” is now sorted and a great deal gone for good.  I still have a very long way to go to let go of everything.  At least I have begun the process of detachment.

This lesson in detachment makes its point all too well when we have to say “goodbye,” move on and start again somewhere else.

We are really not meant to be here on this earth forever.  And we take none of the material possessions of life with us.

It is a lesson of life we will all have to learn soon or later.

Some of us are slow learners.

Fr. Ed Namiotka

Imelda Marcos' Shoe Collection

Sunday, May 15, 2011

"We Used to Call It Living in Sin . . . "

Dear Parishioners,
I watched the royal wedding.
I admit it.  (Please don’t tell my friends.)
It was just on so many networks.
One of the commentators on the TV channel that I was watching made the following statement about the fact that Prince William and Kate Middleton lived together before marriage:
“We used to call it living in sin, but now we call it getting to know each other.”
Would anyone want to guess my reaction to this statement?
Pastorally, this is a situation that we priests have to deal with all too often in our culture.  When I was first ordained, couples who came in for marriage prep who were living together may have attempted to hide the fact that they were living together by giving his or her parents’ address for one party.  This is usually not  the case anymore.   Most of the time, they just tell me outright.  While I might admire their honesty, I can’t say that their decision to live together prior to marriage was the moral one.

I certainly risk offending people, being seen as old-fashioned or out-of-it and open myself up to criticism and rejection.  The reasons given to me for cohabitating range from economic reasons to ignorance (at some level) to outright disregard of Church teachings to mere convenience to whatever.   

However, let’s see what the Bible (the inspired Word of God for Christians of all denominations) says on this topic:
Be sure of this, that no fornicator or impure man, or one who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.  (Eph. 5: 5, RSV)
This is the will of God, your holiness: that you refrain from immorality, that each of you know how to acquire a wife for himself in holiness and honor, not in lustful passion as do the Gentiles who do not know God . . . For God did not call us to impurity but to holiness.  Therefore, whoever disregards this, disregards not a human being but God, who (also) gives his holy Spirit to you. (1 Thes. 4: 3-5, 7-8)

The U.S. Bishops’ Pastoral Letter on Marriage states the following:

Social science research, however, finds that cohabitation has no positive effects on a marriage.  In some cases, cohabitation can in fact harm a couple’s chances for a stable marriage.  More importantly, though, cohabitation involves the serious sin of fornication.  It does not conform to God‘s plan for marriage and is always wrong and objectively sinful.

The commitment of marriage for two baptized Christians is considered by the Catholic Church to be a sacrament.  It is an oath before God and the Church by which the husband and wife publicly pledge their love and lifelong fidelity to each other.  They affirm and seal this oath by their conjugal union.

Sex before marriage—almost always implicit in living together—is living a lie.  The bodies say to each other that I am completely and totally yours—the “two shall become one flesh” experience Jesus spoke about (Mk. 10: 8)—without the lifelong commitment being formally (sacramentally) made.

I suspect that we will be dealing with this issue on a regular basis for the foreseeable future.  The Church has received a diminished respect as a teaching authority in the eyes of too many people—even members of Her own flock.  The liberal communications media is far too often anti-Church, anti-morality, and elitist.  It is certainly an uphill battle for those seeking to be faithful to the teachings of Jesus Christ and His Church. 

At times like these I think of the words from the Letter to the Hebrews:

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:8)

His teaching and the teaching of His Church will endure and His words are those which give eternal life.

Oh, by the way, congratulations and good luck to Prince William and Her Royal Highness, Catherine!

(I just wish you had set a better moral example for your future subjects.)

Fr. Ed Namiotka

Friday, May 13, 2011

Time to Say Goodbye

Dear Parishioners,
One of the most difficult times for me as a priest is when I have to say goodbye to people that I love. Maybe they move away.  Perhaps I am being transferred to a new rectory or assignment.  Then there are those times when death strikes—undoubtedly the hardest goodbye of them all.   I admit that I am not good with these circumstances.  I would rather avoid the situation and just move on.  Maybe it will cause less pain.
Well I have come to one of those times again.
I have been at Queen of Angels (*now Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament) for almost six years now.  (Has it really been that long?) And I have walked the hallways of Sacred Heart High School even longer—14 years.  These have been great assignments because of the wonderful people!  I hope that I have been able to contribute a little to making both places a bit better.  I especially hope and pray that the presence of Jesus Christ was more apparent by something that I have tried to say or do.
Have I been able to accomplish everything that I wanted to do?  Unfortunately, the answer is no.  Many plans were left undone.  The merger of the parishes is still not completed.  All the unfinished business will have to be left to the next pastor.  Sorry for that.
Priests are all too humanWe struggleWe failWe hurt.  Unfortunately we sin as well.  I have realized both my fragile humanity and my mortality over the past few years.  I think that I attempted to bite off more than I could chew.  Regrettably I learned this the hard way.
So where am I going and what does my future look like?

Bishop Galante has appointed me as Pastor to St. Joseph Parish, Somers Point, NJ.  I will begin this new assignment sometime over the summer months.  I can also inform you that Fr. Allain Caparas, our former Parochial Vicar, will return to Queen of Angels as the new Pastor, effective June 13, 2011.  I know that you will show him your love, support and encouragement.   

I plan to continue writing.  I have posted some of my past parish bulletin articles online. The blog is entitled A Pastor's Thoughts (  If my thoughts and writings were interesting, helpful or amusing to you, I invite you to check out my blog.
Otherwise, this is a preliminary goodbye to all of you.  I thank God if I have helped you in any way.  I ask His and your forgiveness if I have hurt you or caused pain or sorrow in your life in any way. I can honestly say it was never done intentionally.
I ask you once again for your prayers.  Just a little remembrance, every once in a whilePlease.  I will continue to remember all of you in this parish—my first assignment as pastor—in my prayers and at the altar during Mass.
I was told many years ago that when a priest leaves a parish 20% of the people will swear by him, 20% will swear at him, and for 60% it won’t make much of a difference at all.
I hope that this isn’t really true.
In Jesus and His Mother Mary,
Fr. Ed Namiotka
(Soon to be former) Pastor

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

More New Year's Resolutions

Dear Parishioners,

In the past I made a list of some possible New Year’s resolutions from a spiritual perspective.  Truly, I don’t know whether or not they were helpful or just something that was read and then thrown away.  I present a slightly revised list for your consideration this year.

Once again I suggest that you pick one or two that you might be able to incorporate successfully into your routine and to faithfully carry out.

 Here’s my revised list:

For those who need to be reminded of the basics (Catholicism 101):

·         Be faithful in Mass attendance each week

·         Pray in the morning and in the evening each day

·         Read a passage from the Bible each day

·         Pray daily before meals

·         Go to confession monthly

·         Be a good example to your children [take them to Church, teach them to pray, talk to them about God, teach them to share, be sure that they are receiving proper religious instruction (CCD or Catholic school), etc.]

·         Volunteer in and support your parish

Advanced Catholicism:

·         Find time for a daily Mass over and above the Sunday obligation

·         Spend an hour in Eucharistic Adoration each week

·         Say a daily Rosary

·         Volunteer to work at a church activity

·         Visit an elderly relative, friend or neighbor on a regular basis (weekly or monthly?)

·         Send a card or make a call to someone who has recently lost a loved one

·         Invite someone to go to Church with you

·         Call the parish priest about something that you need to do to for your spiritual benefit or growth (for example, investigate an annulment, complete any Sacraments that were not received, get some spiritual direction, etc.)

·         Purchase and read a spiritual book from a Catholic bookstore each month

·         Take the time to tell people that you might take for granted that you “love” them on a regular basis

·         Limit time in front of the TV or computer

·         Make a daily effort to smile more and complain less

·         Pray for someone whom you do not like or who has hurt you

·         Give a gift anonymously to someone needy (without expecting repayment of any kind)

Happy New Year and good luck!

Fr. Ed Namiotka



Dear Parishioners,

What is so special about Christmas?

People tell me they like looking at the beautifully decorated Christmas trees and homes.  Others enjoy the Christmas carols and reading their Christmas cards.  Children say that they are happy because of the gifts from “Santa” or that they like watching some of the annual Christmas shows that appear on TV.  Still others seem to find a certain peace and serenity in the atmosphere.

Do you know what is so special about Christmas for me?  It’s 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 into 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.

Secularists, atheists, agnostics, and various irreverent comedians may deny, doubt or make fun of that which Christians believe as a central mystery of our faith:  God became a man.  Yet, this is truly what Christmas is all about.

If Christmas is experienced 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 one of the greatest acts of love ever given to us.

Christmas celebrates when Heaven touched Earth and 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 about Christ--Jesus the Christ.

Christmas is a mystery that needs to be pondered regularly so that we can begin to examine all of its beauty--like a magnificent gem.

When you peer into the manger this Christmas, realize that before you is a glimpse of the love that God has for you by giving us His only-begotten Son.

On behalf of all of the priests that 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.

After all, God became one of us.

Fr. Ed Namiotka

Monday, May 2, 2011

An Examination of Conscience



·         Do I give God time each day in prayer?

·         Do I seek to love God with my whole heart or is something more important than Him?

·         Have I been involved with superstitious practices or the occult (séances, Ouija boards, etc.)?

·         Do I seek to surrender myself to God’s Word in the Bible as taught by the Church?

·         Have I ever received Holy Communion in the state of mortal (serious and deliberate) sin?

·         Have I ever deliberately told a lie in Confession or have I withheld a mortal sin from a priest in Confession?


·         Have I used God’s name in vain:  lightly or carelessly?

·         Have I been angry with God?

·         Have I wished evil upon any other person?

·         Have I insulted a sacred person (priest, sister, etc.) or abused a sacred object?


·         Have I deliberately missed Mass on Sundays or Holy Days of Obligation?

·         Have I tried to observe Sundays as a family day and a day of rest?

·         Do I do needless work on Sundays?


·         Do I honor and obey my parents?

·         Do I respect teachers and those in authority?

·         Have I given my family good religious example?

·         Do I try to bring peace into my home life?

·         Do I visit or care for my aged and/or infirm relatives?

5.         YOU SHALL NOT KILL.

·         Have I had an abortion or encouraged or helped another to have an abortion?

·         Have I physically harmed anyone?

·         Have I abused alcohol or drugs of any kind?

·         Do I give scandal to anyone, thereby leading them into sin?

·         Have I been angry or resentful?

·         Have I insulted another or done damage to someone’s reputation?

·         Have I harbored hatred in my heart?


·         Have I engaged in any sexual activity outside of marriage (including any genital contact)?

·         Have I used any form of contraception or artificial birth control?

·         Have I been guilty of masturbation?

·         Have I sought to control my thoughts?

·         Have I respected all members of the opposite sex and treated him/her with dignity or have I thought of other people as objects?

·         Have I been guilty of any homosexual activity?

·         Do I seek to be chaste in my thoughts, words, and actions?

·         Have I told or enjoyed dirty jokes?

·         Am I careful to dress modestly and not seductively?


·         Have I stolen anything?

·         Have I returned or made restitution for what I have stolen?

·         Do I damage property?

·         Do I waste time at work, school, or home?

·         Do I gamble excessively?

·         Do I cheat on tests or homework?

·         Do I pay my debts promptly?

·         Do I seek to share what I have with the poor?


·         Have I lied?

·         Have I gossiped?

·         Have I spoken behind someone else’s back?

·         Am I sincere in my dealings with others?

·         Am I critical, negative, or uncharitable in my thoughts of others?

·         Do I keep secret what should be kept confidential?


·         Have I consented to impure thoughts?

·         Have I caused them by pornography (impure magazines, videos, the Internet, etc.), conversation or curiosity?

·         Do I seek to control my imagination?

·         Do I pray at once to banish impure thoughts and temptations?

·         Have I removed any pornographic material from my possession so that it does not cause further problems?  


·         Am I jealous of what other people have?

·         Do I envy other people’s families or possessions?

·         Am I greedy or selfish?

·         Are material possessions the purpose of my life?

·         Do I trust that God will care for all of my material and spiritual needs?


·         Do I try to examine my conscience regularly (daily)?

·         Do I take the Sacrament of Penance seriously and use it frequently?

·         Do I do the Penance that I am given? 

·         Do I realize that Catholics should first go to Confession before receiving Holy Communion if they are aware of serious (mortal) sins?

·         Do I ask Our Lady to help me daily and do I consciously seek to imitate Christ in all of my dealings with others?

·         Do I lead others to Christ rather than away from Him by my example and actions?