Saturday, October 22, 2011

Like Seeing a Deer in the Headlights

Dear Parishioners,

Do you know that surprised look—the one that they describe like seeing a deer in the headlights?

I’ve seen it quite a few times these past weeks.

Can you imagine trying to leave Mass early and think that you are going to sneak out the side or back door and then encountering a 6’ 6” almost 300 lb. man in black standing there ready to say “hello?”


It brings me back to my former days as a principal.  Oh those good old days when I was catching students smoking in the bathroom or trying to cut school!


The look is priceless.  I wish I had a camera.  It would be a perfect post for YouTube.

Try not to make eye contact.  Look down quickly.  Walk fast.  (I wonder what you are thinking.  Well, maybe not.)

Honestly, I really don’t get it.  If you have just received the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, is it really appropriate to leave church while still chewing the communion host? 

What’s the hurry?

I was taught a long time ago—in elementary school, in fact—to make a proper thanksgiving after receiving Holy Communion.

Tell the Lord Jesus that you love Him.  Thank the Lord for all that He has done for you.  Petition the Lord for the various needs that you have.  Tell Jesus that you are truly sorry for all of your sins and beseech His mercy.

If done sincerely, properly and reverently, it takes at least a few quality minutes of your time.

Yes there are some legitimate excuses for having to leave early and this may happen occasionally!  But in all honesty, far too many people have developed a very bad habit of leaving Church before the Mass is ended, before the final blessing, and before the priest has left the altar.

Even if you are not able to receive Holy Communion for some reason, the practice of making a spiritual communion is still a legitimate option.

If this message applies to you, I ask you to think seriously about what I have just said.  While I may be annoyed by this practice, it’s really Jesus who you are disrespecting—to use the language of today’s youth.

Jesus deserves more from us than eating and running.

Save that practice for those fast food joints!

Fr. Ed Namiotka

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

“Et Cum Spiritu Tuo”

Dear Parishioners,
Once a priest, at the beginning of Mass, experienced some difficulties with the church’s sound system.  He started tapping the microphone and then muttered in frustration, "There's something wrong with this microphone."
Someone in the congregation who could not hear him dutifully responded, "And also with you!"
For many years, we as Roman Catholics living in the U.S.A. have grown accustomed to various responses and a certain text used for the celebration of Mass.  In November, with the beginning of a new liturgical year—the 1st Sunday of Advent—things will change.
A new translation of the Mass texts will become the norm for the celebration of Mass.
When the Mass was translated into the vernacular from Latin, the accepted translation was less precise because the translators were given some latitude so as not to have the words seem too high or lofty to the people.  The translation we currently use might be termed more pedestrian.
The translation we will be using next month will be more exact and deeply rooted in the biblical translation/meaning of the text.
For example, we are accustomed to saying “And also with you” when the priest greets us with “The Lord be with you.  Soon the response will change to “And with your spirit.”
I borrow the following explanation from Fr. Phil Bloom (Pastor, St. Mary of the Valley Catholic Church, Monroe, WA):        
Why the change?  There are a number of reasons.  First and most important: "And with your spirit" more exactly translates the Latin, "Et cum spiritu tuo."  The Latin itself goes back to the Hebrew.  "Spirit" (ruah in Hebrew) represents the entire person in his unseen dimension—his power to relate to God and to others.  So the congregation is wishing that the Lord be with the celebrant's spirit—his deepest being. To lead the people in worshipping God, the celebrant needs the Lord deeply present inside him.  For that reason you will say to (him), "And with your spirit."
When you stop to think about this change and the many others that are being made like it, we are getting into a deeper, more profound understanding of our faith and its biblical origin.  We are moving from a more pedestrian language to a more theological, biblical language.  Granted, it may seem more lofty (even transcendent) to some, but as a former educator I am tired of people trying to dumb us down.  I believe that we are quite capable of an elevated understanding of matters once things are properly explained to us.
 I hope that you agree.
Fr. Ed Namiotka

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Lord, To Whom Shall We Go?

Dear Parishioners,
Last week I was notified by one of my cousins that her father (my uncle) was near death.  He was dying of cancer and we already knew that it was only a matter of time.  Now the time had come.
I went with her to the hospital and I was able to give him absolution, to anoint him with the Anointing of the Sick, and to give him Holy Communion (Viaticum).  We also prayed together.  It was a difficult time for his children and me as we gathered at his bedside, but I was honored that I was there to help him spiritually to prepare to meet the Lord.
While in the waiting room area where we had gathered while my uncle slept, something all too common happened to me.  I met a former-Catholic (by her own admission) and she awkwardly tried to tell me why she was no longer practicing the Catholic faith.
When she had finished, she awaited my response.
Please Lord, let me be tactful and prudent.  Let me speak the right words.
I simply related to her all that I was able to do for my uncle by giving him the three last sacraments of his life—technically, the Last Rites of the Church.  I was honored to be the priest who could be with him at this crucial time.
I also told her this quite directly:  “I could never leave the Holy Eucharist.”  I know that there would be a tremendous void in my life without it.
I recalled the incident in the Gospels where Jesus had proclaimed that he was the Bread of Life which led some people to walk away from Him.
Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?”  Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.  We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”  (John 6: 67-69)
There are various reasons why people leave the Catholic Church.  There but for the Grace of God, go I. 
One thing that I cannot deny is my belief in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist.  As a  priest, my heart longs to celebrate Mass each day and to receive Holy Communion.  When possible, I attempt to spend extended time in prayer with the Blessed Sacrament.  I truly admire those who are daily communicants and/or find time to pray before the Blessed Sacrament in the midst of a busy day.
For many, if they leave the Catholic Church, they also wind up leaving the Holy Eucharist—Jesus, the Bread of Life.
I pray for the grace of final perseverance in my life and that I may always be courageous enough to witness to my love for the Holy Eucharist.
Undoubtedly, my uncle and those others whom I have prepared over the years for their journey back to the Lord will prove me right.
Fr. Ed Namiotka