Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Holy Family




Dear Parishioners,

Family means a great deal to me.  Spending time with my mom, my brothers and sister and their families, especially around the holidays, is a special gift to me.

I realize that no family is perfect.  We all have to deal with particular family issues and circumstances, varying problems and challenges, diverse personalities, etc. Yet, all of this is accompanied by multiple blessings.

Sometimes I think that certain people tend to idealize the Holy Family and forget the many difficulties and hardships that Jesus, Mary and Joseph had to endure.  We read in the Sacred Scriptures that Mary was found with child before living with Joseph.  He was initially going to divorce her quietly. (Mt. 1: 18-19)   Then, there was no place for Jesus to be born in the lodgings of Bethlehem after Joseph and Mary (now in the final stage of her pregnancy) had travelled considerable distance. (Lk. 2: 4-7)  As an infant, Jesus’ life was threatened by King Herod and His parents had to flee with Him to Egypt. (Mt. 2: 13-18)  Joseph and Mary seemingly lost—could not immediately find—the boy Jesus during their pilgrimage to Jerusalem. (Lk. 2: 41-51)  Mary later witnessed her only Son tortured and killed in front of her eyes. (Jn. 19: 25)

These were not quite the circumstances of a perfect, ideal life, were they?

Yet, through it all, Jesus, Mary and Joseph had each other and were bound together by mutual love and respect.  They all greatly loved and trusted God, our Heavenly Father, and were obedient to His will as it was revealed and unfolded for them.

Today, problems within the family unit continue to exist—at a somewhat grand scale and pace.  Various people question, with some even wanting to redefine, the traditional understanding of “family.”  Family life as we once knew it in society seems to be eroding.

I contend that we need to look at the Sacred Scriptures to see what they teach us (albeit ever so briefly) about the family life experienced by the Holy Family.  Their obvious trust in God in difficult circumstances, their obedience to His will, and their fidelity to God and to one another are great examples for us all to follow.

Pray to the Holy Family.

Pray that our families be blessed and protected from the many threats that try to destroy them.

Pray fervently for the grace to know and to do God’s will.

And certainly pray that our families will one day join the Heavenly Family that awaits us—united with Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor  

              

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

Pastor


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.

Why?

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
Pastor


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 BublĂ©, 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 BublĂ©’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
Pastor