Saturday, June 25, 2011

Life's a Banquet!

Dear Parishioners,

“Life's a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death!”

This is a line taken from the movie Auntie Mame (1958) starring Rosalind Russell.
While many people will use this quote to emphasize that we need to live life to the fullest—go for the gusto, so to speak—I want to apply this phrase to what is unfortunately too many people’s attitude toward the Holy Eucharist.

Each and every Sunday (and, in fact, every day) we are invited to the Banquet of the Lord’s Table:  Do this in memory of me.”  We have the precious opportunity to receive the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ.  As Catholics, we (should) believe that the Holy Eucharist is Jesus’ Real Presence given to us as our spiritual nourishment for life’s journey.

How do we respond to this invitation?  After all, it is always our choice in the end.

By the current Mass attendance statistics in parishes, the response is mediocre at best.  Apathetic is probably a better adjective to use.  Sadly, less than 25% of Catholics in our diocese attend weekly Mass.

I have heard the many, many excuses why some people choose not to go to Mass:

“It’s boring.”

 “I’m too busy”

”All the priest does is talk about money.”

 “Father was mean to me.”

“The bishop closed/merged my church.”

“The priest is too conservative/liberal/political/boring/egotistical/irreverent/long-winded.”

“I don’t agree with the Church’s teaching on .  . . .”

“I have other things to do.”

“I’m divorced and not married in the Church.”
I can’t force anyone to come to Mass, to receive the Holy Eucharist, to participate in what is the true life of any parish.  Neither could Jesus:

Jesus again in reply spoke to them in parables, saying "The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son.  He dispatched his servants to summon the invited guests to the feast, but they refused to come.  A second time he sent other servants, saying, 'Tell those invited: "Behold, I have prepared my banquet, my calves and fattened cattle are killed, and everything is ready; come to the feast."' Some ignored the invitation and went away, one to his farm, another to his business.  The rest laid hold of his servants, mistreated them, and killed them.  The king was enraged and sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city.  Then he said to his servants, 'The feast is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy to come.  Go out, therefore, into the main roads and invite to the feast whomever you find.' The servants went out into the streets and gathered all they found, bad and good alike, and the hall was filled with guests.  (Mt. 22: 1-10)

We are all invited:  saint and sinner, rich and poor, black and white, sophisticated and simple.
Unfortunately I realize some may not at this time be able to receive the Lord in the Holy Eucharist for various reasons.  Come anyway and pray and worship with us!  Pray that the Lord will show you a way to get your situation in proper order.  Learn about making a spiritual communion.
Come to the banquet!

O sacrum convivium!
in quo Christus sumitur:
recolitur memoria passionis eius:
mens impletur gratia:
et futurae gloriae nobis pignus datur.
(St. Thomas Aquinas)

O sacred banquet!
in which Christ is received,
the memory of his Passion is renewed,
the mind is filled with grace,
and a pledge of future glory to us is given.

Be spiritually nourished!
Stop starving yourselves!

Fr. Ed Namiotka

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Father's Day!

Dear Parishioners,
As I write this Father’s Day, I want to address the men of our parish and community who are honored this day.  While I do not have any biological children myself, I can still understand some of the obligations and duties of fatherhood since I am a spiritual father for the parish as priest and pastor.

After all, I am called “Father” on a daily basis by young and old alike.
When I was teaching the Family Life class in high school, I would remind the students that it was relatively easy for most men biologically to have a child.  No one has to teach the various animal species of the world the process of mating.  Animal instinct will generally take care of that.  However, to serve as a father to a child involves a lot more than the biological act of mating.
Fathers have the responsibility to love and care for, to feed and clothe, to educate and teach their children.  More than that, however, fathers are to be the spiritual leaders of their homes—their domestic church.  Every father is a type of priest for his home.  He is the moral leader and exemplar for his family.  Remember that when we call God “Our Father” as Jesus taught us, it is practically impossible not to have our own earthly fathers somewhat in the back our minds when we think of the concept of fatherhoodEarthly fathers should seek to be an example of the love that our Heavenly Father has for us.
Too often in our society and sometimes in various cultures, men do not accept the responsibility to be the spiritual fathers for their families.   We will have various women in a parish who become “church widows” since their husbands do not come regularly to church.  This also leaves any children that they have as spiritual orphans since their dads are teaching their children that there are other things more important in life for them than God and Church.  Remember that true fathers teach by both word and example!
Do I ever see dad pray?  Does dad ever volunteer his time at church?  Does dad go to confession regularly?  Does dad go to Mass and receive Holy Communion each week?  These are questions that might be going through your children’s minds.  How will they answer them?
I realize that some of the dads who need to hear this may not be in church to read this bulletin.  Calling all church widows and spiritual orphans:  please bring this bulletin to your husbands and/or fathers for me special delivery.  I would be anxious to see the expressions on their faces.
For those many who are faithfully trying to do a good job for their families: “thank you, dad!”
Fr. Ed Namiotka

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Getting to Know You

Dear Parishioners of St. Joseph’s Parish,
I’m your new pastor (as of June 30).
Let me tell you a little about myself so that we can start to get to know each other better!
I was born in the City of Brotherly Love, but grew up at the shore in Wildwood, NJ.  I am the oldest of five children—four boys and one girl.
I am truly the product of Catholic Schools:

I have been a priest for 24 years now, ordained in 1987 by the late Bishop George H. Guilfoyle.  Most of my priesthood I have spent involved with Catholic education, primarily at St. Joseph High School, Hammonton (6 years) and Sacred Heart High School, Vineland (14 years) and as a regional pastor of Notre Dame Regional School, Landisville/Newfield.
Now I come to you with enthusiasm, zeal and the desire to build on the strong foundation that Fr. Josef Wagenhoffer has established for the past 15 years.

Every priest brings with him his own unique gifts, talents and abilities.  I hope to be able to share mine with you.  I enjoy writing and, with the encouragement of my parishioners from Queen of Angels Parish (Buena Borough), began writing a weekly column (now a blog for my parishioners to read.  I invite you to check it out!

I have been involved with Worldwide Marriage Encounter, giving weekends for well over 20 years now.  If there has been an influence that has truly impacted my priesthood and ministry, Marriage Encounter is at the top of the list.

From my seminary days—especially from my time at Mt. St. Mary’s—I took with me a strong devotion to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and a great love for Our Blessed Lady.  Nothing defines my life and my priesthood more than this.
I await the days when I will see each of you at the celebration of the Mass.  Please pray for me as I do for you!
Fr. Ed Namiotka
(soon-to-be) Pastor