Thursday, December 27, 2012

Resolutions Re-visited!

Dear Parishioners,

Congratulations!  Despite the fact that various people were predicting the end of the world in 2012, we are here beginning another New Year.  Welcome to 2013!

Each year I propose a list of some possible New Year’s resolutions from a spiritual perspectiveHopefully they will be helpful (or at least make you think!)  I recommend that you pick one or two that you might be able to incorporate successfully into your routine for 2013.  You are, of course, free to come up with your own.

Although the following are things that we should be doing already, some of us might need a reminder or two:

  • Be faithful in Mass attendance each week
  • Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit 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 religious instruction at home, in religious education classes and/or in a Catholic school, etc.)
  • Support your parish with your time, treasure and talent

For those who seek to take some additional steps, I suggest the following:

  • Find time for a weekday Mass (over and above the Sunday obligation)
  • Spend time in Eucharistic Adoration each week
  • Pray a daily Rosary
  • Pray for someone whom you do not like or who has hurt you
  • Limit (substantially) the time spent in front of the TV or on the computer
  • Visit an elderly relative, friend or neighbor on a regular basis
  • Send a card or make a call to someone who has recently lost a loved one or who lives alone
  • Invite someone to go to Church with you
  • Call the parish priest about something that you may have been putting off and that you need to do for your spiritual benefit or growth
  • Purchase and read a spiritual book from a Catholic bookstore (or online)
  • Purchase and listen to some spiritual CD’s form the rack in church
  • Take the time to tell the people in your life that you “love” them on a regular basis
  • Make a daily effort to smile more and complain less
  • Give a gift anonymously to someone (without expecting repayment or acknowledgment of any kind)
  • Pray for your priests and religious—(we need all the prayers we can get!)

Happy New Year and good luck!

Fr. Ed Namiotka


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Please Come (and Stay) Home for Christmas!

Dear Parishioners,

Each year I pray about and seriously ponder the content of this special Christmas message.  It comes as the fruit of prayer and of pastoral concern for all the souls entrusted to my care.  Whether you read this message in the church bulletin or online, I hope and pray that it somehow touches the depths of your hearts and leads you to Jesus O come let us adore Him!

Being a priest and a pastor is not too easy these days.  Church attendance has dwindled.  The teaching authority of the Catholic Church has been challenged and, at various times, disregarded.  We, as a Church—the Body of Christ—battle secularism, materialism, indifferentism, and a whole lot of others isms.  People have been disillusioned, let down and even scandalized by their spiritual leaders.  Preaching the message of the Gospel, with its call for conversion, can often seem an insurmountable, uphill battle.

Why even bother to keep on trying?

Yet, against all odds, I continue to have great hope.


It is because of the great mystery that we once again celebrate:  Jesus, the Son of God, who became one of us.  “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us . . . .”  (John 1:14)

Take the time to contemplate any Nativity scene.  The greatest story ever told, needs to be retold!

God loves us with such unfathomable love.  Jesus becomes one of usHe lives here with us.  He heals us.  He teaches us.  He forgives our sins.  He gives us Himself in the Holy Eucharist.  He freely suffers and dies for us.  He redeems us.  He desires that we have eternal life and that we spend this eternity with Him.

And this mystery—the mystery of God’s love for us—unfolds through the miraculous conception and birth of a helpless, innocent baby.  It is a new life, who gives us new life!

This Christmas, I ask that you pray for a stronger faith in Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Son of God.  As we get to know Him and fall more deeply in love with Him, we can begin to realize how He is truly here for us when everyone and everything else fails.  He gives meaning and purpose to our lives.  He gives us hope. He embodies loveHe is love.

In the end, our faith involves an intimate, personal relationship which God desires us to have with Him.  It’s all about Jesus and His tremendous, self-giving love for us.  Christmas is all about loveLove that becomes Incarnate!

Have a blessed Christmas and a happy, healthy New Year!  Thanks so much for being here with us.

Please consider St. Joseph’s your spiritual home—at Christmas and always!

Fr. Ed Namiotka

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Buying a “Christmas” CD

Dear Parishioners,

While I was out grocery shopping one day, I eyed a display in the store for some Christmas music.  I ventured down the aisle and picked up two CD’s—the first by a contemporary artist, Michael Bublé, and the second by an artist from the past, Perry Como.  I purchased the two albums since I thought I would enjoy listening to both artists.

On the way home, I popped a disc into the CD player in my car and began to listen to the “Christmas” music.

The first song of Michael Bublé’s album entitled Christmas was: It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas.  Next came, Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, followed by, Jingle Bells, White Christmas, All I Want For Christmas Is You, Holly Jolly Christmas, Santa Baby, Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, and Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)Finally when I reached song number 10 (of 15 on the album), I actually heard something religiousSilent Night!

I couldn’t believe that it took 10 songs before I arrived at a song that had anything remotely to do with the actual reason for this holy day—the birth of Jesus Christ.  Only one other song on the entire album had a religious message, the Ave Maria.  Incidentally, the pronunciation of the Latin during this song was, I’m sad to say, laughable.  What a disappointment!

Thankfully, the album Christmas with Perry Como (originally produced in 1968) contained 7 songs (of the 10 on the album) of a religious nature.  And at least Perry Como sang with the proper Latin pronunciation during the Ave Maria, also found on this album.

Over the years, I have witnessed a continual movement in our society away from things spiritual and religious.  Secular materialism is far too rampant and political correctness has become the norm.  Happy Holidays! Season’s Greetings! Merry Xmas! How about Merry Christmas!

A few years ago I even received a letter from someone telling me how I needed to be more inclusive in my Christmas homily.  I guess I should have put Hanukkah and Kwanza on par with the celebration of Christ’s birth—in a Catholic Church, no less!

I guess there will always be a struggle to “Christianize” the world.  That’s the mission of evangelization—to preach and teach the Good News of salvation found in Jesus Christ.

As we journey through Advent, I hope and pray that Christ will have a central place in our hearts and in our homes.  Make sure that the Nativity scene becomes more prominent than Santa, Rudolph and Frosty in our Christian homes.  Send religious Christmas cards, not secular ones!  Wish people a Merry Christmas!  Reduce the number of material gifts!

The greatest gift that we can ever receive or give is the gift of faith—faith in the Son of God who became one of us!

Now there’s something to sing about!

Fr. Ed Namiotka

Monday, November 26, 2012

And So It Begins . . .

Dear Parishioners,

I enjoyed the annual Thanksgiving holiday dinner with various family members.  I realized, once again, how truly blessed I am.  I have three brothers and a sister and their families, as well as my mother, in close proximity.  I am so fortunate to have had a large number of people (17 including me) together to share this family day and traditional meal.  I cooked the turkey and a few of the side dishes while the rest of the family brought some particular specialties from their own homes to the table.

My youngest nephews—now two and four—were in constant motion, seeming to have an endless energy supply.  I couldn’t find the plugs to disconnect or the batteries to remove in order to slow them down.  Oh to be so young again!

That night, after everyone had left, I watched the news on TV.  I was disheartened to hear about the various stores that were now starting the Black Friday shopping madness on Thanksgiving Day itself—calling it Grey Thursday, in some instances.

More upsetting to me were those people who decided to forgo time spent with family and friends to begin to camp out or stand in line in order to be early enough to get some advertised bargain.  I worry whenever we start to put material things ahead of family, friendships and relationshipsPeople should certainly be more important than things, as far as I am concerned.

I write this column on what they now call Cyber Monday.  Do you see some sort of unending pattern here?  I’m waiting for a Thrifty Tuesday, What-About-Wednesday or Super-Shoppers Saturday sale to begin shortly!  (How’s that for alliteration?)

Advent starts this weekend.  I ponder once again whether or not this season of preparation for the Birth of Christ will make a difference to most people.  Why do we have to come up with slogans like Keep Christ in Christmas in order to remind us of something that should be so obvious?

I attempt to do my part to keep things in proper perspective.  My annual Christmas shopping remains almost non-existent, except for a few toy Hess trucks for my youngest nephews.

Unfortunately, I don’t think the economy will be helped by my purchases.  But perhaps my spiritual life and my soul might be.

Fr. Ed Namiotka


Sunday, November 18, 2012

No Better Way to Give Thanks

Dear Parishioners,

With Thanksgiving approaching, I think it is always a good practice to take the time to say “thanks” for the many gifts and blessings that we have in life.

First of all, I thank God that He has done so much in my life.  I thank Him for the gift of life itself, for health, for family, and for the gift of the ministerial priesthood.  I also give special thanks for you, my parishioners, whom I have the privilege of serving in this parish.  My list goes on and on.

I think that there is no better way to give “thanks” to God than by joining together for the Eucharist—the most perfect offering, the most perfect prayer of thanksgiving to God.  What a privilege to receive the precious Body and Blood of Jesus our Savior!  We remember Him at every Mass when He took ordinary bread and wine and changed these elements into the inestimable gift of Himself for us!  Please make it a priority to join our parish family each week around the altar to give thanks.


With regard to some parish business, the “cry room” in the back of church is now completed.  I hope that it is helpful for those parents with small children who may see them, at times, become unruly.  I ask that this room not be used as a playroom.  I love to see the children with the rest of the congregation, provided they are not a distraction for others.  This room is also not intended as a place for adults who seek alternate seating outside the body of the church.

This room will also become the new location for the Sacrament of Penance (Reconciliation / Confession) once the kneeler and screen are finished.  The room will provide two options for the sacrament:  anonymous (behind a screen) or face-to-face.

Also, the room can be used whenever we have weddings, so that the bridal party has a place to gather before the ceremony.

I think that this room will prove to be quite useful for many reasons.

For the safety of all, I request that all people be both attentive and careful in the church and school parking lots.  Nothing is more important than the safety of our parishioners!  In addition, if everyone parks in the designated areas and according to the designated patterns, we have many more spots available for our entire congregation.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving with your families!

Fr. Ed Namiotka


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Remembering the Holy Souls

Dear Parishioners,

November is the month in which we traditionally remember our beloved deceased—the Holy Souls.  We should be aware that the Catholic Church continually encourages prayer for the dead, especially by remembering our deceased at the Eucharistic Sacrifice (Mass).

(#379)  The Church offers the Eucharistic Sacrifice of Christ’s Passover for the dead so that, since all the members of Christ’s body are in communion with each other, the petition for spiritual help on behalf of some may bring comforting hope to others.

(#6)  During the Eucharist, through the general intercessions and the Memento for the dead, the assembled community presents to the Father of all mercies those who have died, so that through the trial of purgatory they will be purified, if necessary, and attain eternal joy.  In entrusting them to the Lord, we recognize our solidarity with them and share in their salvation in this wondrous mystery of the communion of saints.  The Church believes that the souls detained in purgatory “are helped by the prayers of the faithful and most of all by the acceptable sacrifice of the altar” (Council of Trent, Decree on Purgatory), as well as by “alms and other works of piety” (Eugene IV, Bull Laetantur coeli).
(#7)  I, therefore, encourage Catholics to pray fervently for the dead, for their family members and for all our brothers and sisters who have died, that they may obtain the remission of the punishments due to their sins and may hear the Lord’s call: “Come, O my dear soul, to eternal repose in the arms of my goodness, which has prepared eternal delights for you” (Francis de Sales, Introduction to the Devout Life, 17, 4).
Our parish community remembered individually by name those parishioners who died this past year, and prayed for all of our deceased members at the evening Mass on All Souls Day.  It was a special time for so many family members and friends who were comforted and encouraged during a difficult time of loss in their lives.
I encourage you to pray, to request that a Mass be offered and to take the time to visit a cemetery as a way to pray for your beloved deceased.

Fr. Ed Namiotka

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Election Issues

Dear Parishioners,

As the Presidential election approaches this week, I thought that it would be helpful to compare two very important issues (Human Life and Marriage). Often far too many voters do not concentrate on the most important things about an election--like these issues--and settle for more superficial matters (a candidate’s likability?).

I take the words from the two major party platforms themselves without commentary.

Democratic Party Platform—(as reported from the 2012 Democratic National Platform)

Protecting a Woman's Right to Choose

The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman's right to make decisions regarding her pregnancy, including a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay. We oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right.

Abortion is an intensely personal decision between a woman, her family, her doctor, and her clergy; there is no place for politicians or government to get in the way.  We also recognize that health care and education help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and thereby also reduce the need for abortions.  We strongly and unequivocally support a woman's decision to have a child by providing affordable health care and ensuring the availability of and access to programs that help women during pregnancy and after the birth of a child, including caring adoption programs.

Freedom to Marry

We support the right of all families to have equal respect, responsibilities, and protections under the law. We support marriage equality and support the movement to secure equal treatment under law for same-sex couples. We also support the freedom of churches and religious entities to decide how to administer marriage as a religious sacrament without government interference.

We oppose discriminatory federal and state constitutional amendments and other attempts to deny equal protection of the laws to committed same-sex couples who seek the same respect and responsibilities as other married couples. We support the full repeal of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act and the passage of the Respect for Marriage Act.

Republican Party Platform—(as reported from the 2012 Republican National Platform)

The Sanctity and Dignity of Human Life

Faithful to the “self-evident” truths enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, we assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children. We oppose using public revenues to promote or perform abortion or fund organizations which perform or advocate it and will not fund or subsidize health care which includes abortion coverage. We support the appointment of judges who respect traditional family values and the sanctity of innocent human life. We oppose the non-consensual withholding or withdrawal of care or treatment, including food and water, from people with disabilities, including newborns, as well as the elderly and infirm, just as we oppose active and passive euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Republican leadership has led the effort to prohibit the barbaric practice of partial-birth abortion and permitted States to extend health care coverage to children before birth. We urge Congress to strengthen the Born Alive Infant Protection Act by enacting appropriate civil and criminal penalties on healthcare providers who fail to provide treatment and care to an infant who survives an abortion, including early induction delivery where the death of the infant is intended. We call for legislation to ban sex-selective abortions – gender discrimination in its most lethal form – and to protect from abortion unborn children who are capable of feeling pain; and we applaud U.S. House Republicans for leading the effort to protect the lives of pain-capable unborn children in the District of Columbia. We call for a ban on the use of body parts from aborted fetuses for research. We support and applaud adult stem cell research to develop lifesaving therapies, and we oppose the killing of embryos for their stem cells. We oppose federal funding of embryonic stem cell research.

We also salute the many States that have passed laws for informed consent, mandatory waiting periods prior to an abortion, and health-protective clinic regulation. We seek to protect young girls from exploitation through a parental consent requirement; and we affirm our moral obligation to assist, rather than penalize, women challenged by an unplanned pregnancy. We salute those who provide them with counseling and adoption alternatives and empower them to choose life, and we take comfort in the tremendous increase in adoptions that has followed Republican legislative initiatives.

Preserving and Protecting Traditional Marriage

            The institution of marriage is the foundation of civil society. Its success as an institution will determine our success as a nation. It has been proven by both experience and endless social science studies that traditional marriage is best for children. Children raised in intact married families are more likely to attend college, are physically and emotionally healthier, are less likely to use drugs or alcohol, engage in crime, or get pregnant outside of marriage. The success of marriage directly impacts the economic well-being of individuals. Furthermore, the future of marriage affects freedom. The lack of family formation not only leads to more government costs, but also to more government control over the lives of its citizens in all aspects. We recognize and honor the courageous efforts of those who bear the many burdens of parenting alone, even as we believe that marriage, the union of one man and one woman must be upheld as the national standard, a goal to stand for, encourage, and promote through laws governing marriage. We embrace the principle that all Americans should be treated with respect and dignity.

Fr. Ed Namiotka

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A Journey of Faith . . . beginning a Year of Faith (part 3)

Notre-Dame Basilica, Montreal

Just a bit further down the road in Fonda, NY is the National Kateri Tekakwitha Shrine.  It honors the place where St. Kateri was baptized and embraced the Catholic faith.  The Conventual Franciscan Friars maintain this shrine.  We had the opportunity to offer the Mass there while visiting.

All in all, I thought that we had visited places where ten saints and martyrs (the eight North American martyrs, St. André Bessette and St. Kateri Tekakwitha) lived and died trying to bring and spread the Catholic faith to this part of North America.

However, when I arrived home I recalled that we had also visited Notre-Dame Basilica (the city’s cathedral) and Notre Dame de Bon Secours Chapel while in Montreal.  We could not take pictures in either church while we were there, and so I went to the internet to see if I could find some pictures of these beautiful churches.

Lo and behold, when I started reading about the Notre Dame de Bon Secours Chapel, I discovered that we were in the presence of another saint’s remains without any of us realizing it!

The remains of St. Marguerite Bourgeoys, canonized by Pope John Paul II on October 31, 1982, were present in the sanctuary of this chapel!  We had mistakenly visited this beautiful chapel in our search for the city’s basilica which was a few blocks away.  I relate to you what I read about the work of this other saint of Montreal:
The educative and apostolic efforts of Marguerite Bourgeoys continue through the commitment of the members of the community that she founded.  More than 2,600 Sisters of the Congregation de Notre-Dame work in fields of action according to the needs of time and place - from school to college or university, in the promotion of family, parish and diocesan endeavours.  They are on mission in Canada, in the United States, in Japan, in Latin America, in Cameroon, and most recently they have established a house in France.
On November 12, 1950 Pope Pius XII beatified Marguerite Bourgeoys.  Canonizing her . . . Pope John Paul II gives the Canadian Church its first woman saint.

My retreat and subsequent pilgrimage proved to be grace-filled in so many ways.  Realizing how our continent was blessed with remarkable saints who were zealous and selfless in their love for the Catholic faith, helps me to strive to be more compassionate, loving and zealous for the souls in my care.   None of us are perfect, but we are called to imitate Jesus Christ in our thoughts, words and actions—despite our human weaknesses. 

Our faith is such a precious gift that was given to us to live, to cherish, and to hand on to others.

As we begin this Year of Faith, I pray that we may all realize what a gift—the gift of our one, holy, catholic and apostolic faith—we have been given!

Fr. Ed Namiotka

St. Marguerite Bourgeoys

Notre Dame de Bon Secours Chapel

Monday, October 8, 2012

A Journey of Faith . . . beginning a Year of Faith (part 2)

The tomb of St. Kateri Tekakwitha in Kuhnawake, Quebec

From the Oratory of St. Joseph we journeyed south to Kuhnawake, Quebec, a reserve of the Mohawk nation, to visit St. Francis Xavier Mission.  In the church building the remains of St. Kateri Tekakwitha are entombed and venerated.

St. Kateri Tekakwitha, referred to as the Lily of the Mohawks, was born in 1656.  She was left orphaned at four years old when a smallpox epidemic killed her parents, her brother and most of her village.  Her face and skin were badly scarred and she suffered poor eyesight because of the same disease.  The name Tekakwitha literally means “she who bumps into things” because of her poor eyesight.

After moving from Ossernenon (current day Auriesville, NY) to Kuhnawake, Kateri encountered the BlackrobesJesuit missionaries from France intent on bringing Christianity to the New World.  She eventually embraced the Catholic faith, despite much ridicule and hostility from her uncle (who acted as her guardian) as well as being shunned by other members of her tribe.  Having professed a life of consecrated virginity, she died of tuberculosis at the age of 24.  Upon her death, the smallpox scars miraculously disappeared.

What made our visit to her tomb so special is that we were there only a few weeks prior to her scheduled canonization on October 21, 2012.  She is the first Native American to receive this honor.  Her feast day is July 14 in the USA.

Crossing back to the USA, we continued our pilgrimage to Auriesville, NY (about 40 miles west of Albany).  It was here that the American counterpart to the Canadian Martyrs’ Shrine stands—the Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs.

The current site was once a 17th century Mohawk village (called Ossernenon) where three Jesuit missionaries were martyred during the 1640s.  Father Isaac Jogues, René Goupil, a Jesuit brother, and John Lalande, a lay missioner, are canonized American martyrs.  Together with five Jesuit priests killed in the native missions of Canada, they are known as the North American Martyrs.  Their feast is celebrated on October 19 in the USA.  As mentioned before, St. Kateri Tekakwitha was also born here.

Part of this shrine includes the Ravine, the holy place where a grieved Father Isaac Jogues interred the bones of René Goupil in an unmarked grave.  I briefly relate his story:

St. René Goupil was a lay Jesuit, or donné, who served as a physician at the Jesuit missions in Quebec.  Enroute to Huronia [around Midland, Ontario] with Father Isaac Jogues in 1642, he was ambushed and taken to the Mohawk village of Ossernenon.  He survived weeks of torture and was then enslaved in the village.  He was a compassionate man who tended the wounds of his tormentors.  He was killed on September 29, 1642, while praying the rosary, because he had blessed a little boy with the sign of the cross.  Buried by the loving hands of Father Jogues, René's holy relics rest in an unmarked grave in the Ravine on the Auriesville Shrine property.
I was very moved by his story because making the Sign of the Cross, which we probably do routinely and without much thought, led to his death.

Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs--Auriesville, NY

Sunday, October 7, 2012

A Journey of Faith . . . beginning a Year of Faith

Martyrs' Shrine (Midland, Ontario)

Dear Parishioners,

Last week I made my annual retreat. As in many years past, I went to the Abbey of the Genesee (Piffard, NY--in the northwest part of the state) with the Trappist Monks for a week of prayer and solitude. I am truly grateful for this time to be spiritually renewed. It helps to put so many things into proper perspective. Be assured that I prayed for you during this sacred time!

I also began to prepare spiritually during the retreat for the upcoming Year of Faith (October 11, 2012 to November 24, 2013) declared by Pope Benedict XVI.

After the retreat, my two priest-friends and I decided to take a few days travelling together somewhere mutually agreeable. This year we continued our spiritual journey by visiting some of the holy shrines located in New York state and Canada since we were already up in the area.

Our first stop was the Martyrs’ Shrine in Midland, Ontario. The Shrine honors the eight Jesuit saints who lived, worked and (some of whom) died there almost 400 years ago. Jesuit missionaries, Jean de Brébeuf, Gabriel Lalemant, and their companions were responsible for bringing Christianity to Canada over 380 years ago! A magnificent twin-spired church sits on 75 acres of hallowed ground.

Nearby was a reconstructed village—Sainte-Marie among the Hurons—which claims to be Ontario’s first European Community. This village was the headquarters for the French Jesuit Mission to the Huron (Wendat) people. In 1639, the Jesuits, with French lay workers, began construction of a fenced community that included barracks, a church, workshops, residences, and a sheltered area for native visitors. 

Also in this area were monuments commemorating St. Louis and St. Ignace, two settlements where the French Jesuit missionaries Jean de Brébeuf and Gabriel Lalemant were captured and subsequently martyred in 1649.

It was a considerable drive through the night to Montreal, Quebec to visit the Oratory of St. Joseph. This oratory, standing atop Mount Royal, was completed in 1967 and is the largest (basilica) shrine in the world dedicated to St. Joseph. It is here that the remains of Saint (Brother) André Bessette are entombed and reverenced.

Brother André (known as the Miracle Man of Montreal) was a humble, illiterate lay brother of the Congregation of the Holy Cross. Among other tasks, he served as porter (doorkeeper) for Notre-Dame College in Montreal for approximately 40 years during which time construction of this magnificent shrine began. He was known for his hospitality and compassion for the sick and thousands of miracles and healings are attributed to his intercession. On October 17, 2010 he was canonized a saint by Pope Benedict XVI.  His feast day is January 6.

St. André Bessette

St. Joseph Oratory, Montreal

Monday, September 10, 2012

Abortion: Is It Ever Justified?

Dear Parishioners,

Abortion is a topic that seems to be verboten in so many instances in our society.  However, with the upcoming presidential election, it needs to be discussed with various other important issues.  While there are those who will argue that no election is ever about a single issue, the topic of abortion has to be an issue.  Human life—and respect for it at all stages—cannot be simply ignored or be a non-issue.

Abortion is seen as a moral evil—the taking of an innocent human life.  According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (#2271):

Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion.
This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable.
Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law:
You shall not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the newborn to perish.
God, the Lord of life, has entrusted to men the noble mission of safeguarding life, and men must carry it out in a manner worthy of themselves.
Life must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of conception: abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes.

Some time ago, this issue was cleverly changed in the political realm to a concern about “choice.”  This word (or the phrase a woman’s right to choose) has become the mantra of those who are pro-abortion or trying to hide behind some level of justification of this act.  The fact is:  we can never deliberately choose anything which is morally evil.  We all should know that we have God-given, free will (choice).  However, what we choose is our concern here.  We can never choose a moral evil—the taking of an innocent human life.  It is gravely sinful.

That being said, what do we do about the so-called exceptions—rape, incest and a threat to the mother’s life?  Rape and incest are again grave moral evils.  Anyone who has suffered from these has experienced a grave injustice and merits our prayers as well as our utmost compassion and sympathy.  If a pregnancy occurs, however, will abortion take away the sexual assault or its memories?  Unfortunately, no.  Does the abortion of the developing baby not, rather, become a continuation of the hostility?  The innocent life in the womb—remember that the baby didn’t have anything to do with the circumstances of its own conception—now becomes another victim.  Strong emotion, rather than reason, often drives the argument that abortion is the solution in the situation of rape and incest.

What about when a mother’s life is threatened because of the pregnancy?  Circumstances like an ectopic (tubal) pregnancy often result in the indirect (neither directly desired nor intended) death of the developing baby when part of the infected fallopian tube is removed.  Morally, this action is considered permissible by an acceptable moral principle known as the principle of double effect.

When other serious illnesses possibly threaten a mother’s life, it could undoubtedly be one of the most difficult choices that a mother will ever have to make.  No one could ever fault a mother for trying to bring the baby along as far as possible to try to reach some level of viability.  Unfortunately, even then, some babies will die.  Then there are those exceptional people who go above and beyond the ordinary with great acts of heroism.  I recall someone like St. Gianna Beretta Molla (canonized in 2004) who unselfishly decided:   "If you must choose between me and the baby, no hesitation; choose – and I demand it – the baby.  Save her!"

I realize that emotions run very high when a topic like abortion is even considered.  Yet, the respect for all human life—from the moment of conception until natural death—has to be part of the discussion leading up to any presidential election.  Topics like a candidate’s “likability” and the economy (alone) are simply insufficient for Christians taking their faith seriously.

Fr. Ed Namiotka

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

"¡Viva Cristo Rey!"

The execution of Blessed Miguel Pro, 11/23/27

Dear Parishioners,

·         What sacrifices am I willing to make in order to offer the Mass or to practice my Catholic faith freely?

·         What suffering would I be willing to endure for my Catholic faith?

·         Would I be able to hold fast to my Catholic faith in the face of torture or a threat of death?

·         How much do I value religious freedom?

·         Would I have the courage to proclaim:  “¡Viva Cristo Rey!” like the Cristeros?

The above questions keep haunting me.  I just returned from seeing the film For Greater Glory.
When I saw the sacrifices that the Cristeros made and the tortures that they endured for their Catholic faith, I was speechless with a pain deep in my heart.  During a three year period (1926-1929) in Mexico’s history, approximately 90,000 people died in what was called the Cristero War.  In an interview with Ruben Quezada, the author of For Greater Glory: The True Story of Cristiada, he explains the background to the war:
When Plutarco Calles took over as president of Mexico, he did not want the church to be part of any moral teachings to its citizens.  He did not want God to be a part of anyone’s life.  After the Mexican Revolution the two presidents that followed (Venustiano Carranza and Alvaro Obregon) abused their power to wage their personal attacks against the Catholic Church as well.  There were similar persecution incidents and abuses towards the clergy and Catholics alike, and we have a few Mexican Martyrs from those persecutions who were not part of the Cristero War.  When President Calles came into power, he wanted to bring Mexico’s population to belong to a Socialist state.  He would insist that the Church was poisoning the minds of the people and that its teachings were a threat to the Revolutionary mentality which it stood for. Calles wanted to ensure that all citizens were going to be educated under the government’s dictatorship and secular mindset.  He wanted to ensure that only the government would have the freedom to form the minds of its citizens and insisted that the church was poisoning the minds of the people.  In order to enforce this new law it was necessary to expel all clergy, except for a few priests who would oversee the spiritual needs of the people and with the supervision of the state authorities.  This led to various states of Mexico going without a single Mass being celebrated for a long time.

A total of 35 martyrs have been canonized and fifteen were beatified as a result of this persecution.  The motto of the Cristeros was “¡Viva Cristo Rey!” (“Long Live Christ the King!”) which so many refused to denounce even when facing torture and death.

Special recognition needs to be given to the Knights of Columbus who helped the Mexican people during this war.  Again, according to Quezada:   

In August 1926, just days after the Calles Law took effect, the U.S. Knights passed a resolution to support the Church in Mexico. They established a fund that raised over a million dollars to offer relief services for those exiled from Mexico, to provide for exiled seminarians to continue their priestly formation, and to educate the American public about the true situation.  The Order printed and distributed five million pamphlets about the Cristiada and two million copies of the Pastoral Letter of the Catholic Episcopate of the United States on the Religious Situation in Mexico.  The U.S. Knights also sponsored over 700 free lectures and reached millions by radio.

The film, which only had only a very limited run in our and in most areas, is a story of fidelity to the Catholic faith in the face of torture and persecution.  It is a story of what people are willing to sacrifice to preserve religious freedom

I could never do justice to the situation in a brief column such as this.  When the DVD comes out, maybe you could buy it or rent it.  (Beware of the intense violence at times—the reason it received an “R” rating.) 

It is well worth watching!

Fr. Ed Namiotka