Monday, May 27, 2013

Now You See Them . . . Now You Don’t!

Dear Parishioners,

During the past two months our parish family saw 101 young children receiving their First Holy Communion, and 85 older students receiving their Confirmation.  I, as pastor, was happy to be an integral part of the preparation for and reception of these important sacraments.

I have consistently held a sincere belief in the innate goodness of our young people.  I have great hope that they will meet the many challenges of our time with their youth, creativity and energy.

This being said, I also experience a significant disappointment after the sacramental ceremonies are completed.  Where are those same children who just received the Most Precious Body and Blood of Jesus for the first time?  What about those who were recently sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit?   Where are they each subsequent weekend as I look for them at Mass?  It’s the same type of let down that occurs for me the week after the large Christmas and Easter crowds are no longer filling the pews.
Yes, I see a few of the children weekly.  However, there are far too few.  I do not see anywhere near the numbers that I should be seeing.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to make a significant difference whether the children go to our Catholic school or participate in our religious education program.  It is all too obvious that too many of these students are conspicuously absent . . .  along with their parents.  Period.

I reminded the parents on numerous occasions that they are the first teachers—and need to be the best teachers—of their children in the ways of faith.  They teach by word and exampleSecond graders and probably most eighth graders need to be driven to church.  They’re not really to blame if they lack the means of transportation and no one brings them.

When a second grader tells me that “they’re just too busy” to go to church, I can pretty much guess where that statement has its real origin.  “Too busy” at age seven?  Really?

I try to be upbeat and encouraging.  I attempt to convince and persuade people of the need for God.  I tell them how much Jesus truly loves them.  He died for us.  Just look at the crucifix.

I ask myself continually “what am I doing wrong?”  I never thought that being a pastor would entail this type of frustration.  Is it apathy?  Indifference?

I guess that I shouldn’t take it so personally.  When priests meet and talk—when we compare notes—we frequently vent the same frustrations about our respective parishes.
The scenario is far too commonNow you see them . . .  now you don’t.

Best magic act around—sad to say.

Fr. Ed Namiotka

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

“The Time is Yours”

Dear Parishioners,

Back when Andy Reid was still coaching the Philadelphia Eagles football team, he would often conclude his post-game press conference with the following phrase:  “The time is yours.”  In other words, he gave the press a chance to ask some questions and he made himself available to them after his chosen remarks were completed.

This got me thinking about prayer.  (Oh yes! The Philadelphia Eagles and most Philadelphia sports teams usually need lots and lots of prayer, but that is a discussion for another day!)

Consider this.  Sometimes we may approach prayer with our own set agendas.  We may seek out God because we want something or because we feel moved to pray for someone.  Perhaps, we pray because we sense some sort of obligation to recite various prayers that we may have committed to memory long ago.  Perhaps, we may enter prayer frustrated, doubtful, confused, lonely or even afraid.  Quite often I think we would like to tell God just how He should be running His world.

How often, however, to we go to prayer to just be there and listen“The time is yours!”  I am giving you my time Lord, so that you can speak to me.

I believe that there is a certain efficacy, and that it is a unique privilege that we, as Catholics, have to pray before the Blessed Sacrament.  I pray with the Lord, in His presence, because I believe that He is truly found in the Holy Eucharist.

I share with you some thoughts on this matter  by our last two popes:
In a world where there is so much noise, so much bewilderment, there is a need for silent adoration of Jesus concealed in the Host.  Be assiduous in the prayer of adoration and teach it to the faithful.  It is a source of comfort and light, particularly to those who are suffering.  
Pope Benedict XVI, May 25, 2006, Address to the Clergy of Poland

I heartily recommend to the Church’s pastors and to the People of God the practice of Eucharistic Adoration, both individually and in community.  (67)  
Pope Benedict XVI, February 22, 2007, Sacramentum Caritatis, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation

The Church and the world have a great need of Eucharistic worship.  Jesus waits for us in this Sacrament of Love.  Let us be generous with our time in going to meet Him in adoration and in contemplation that is full of faith and ready to make reparation for the great faults and crimes of the world.  May our adoration never cease.  
Pope John Paul II, February 24, 1980, Dominicae Cenae

Pope Benedict XVI also clarifies an objection that was widespread at the time (of Vatican II) where it was argued that the Eucharistic bread was given to us “not to be looked at,” but to be eaten:

In the light of the Church's experience of prayer, however, this was seen to be a false dichotomy. . . . Eucharistic adoration is simply the natural consequence of the Eucharistic celebration, which is itself the Church's supreme act of adoration. . . . The act of adoration outside Mass prolongs and intensifies all that takes place during the liturgical celebration itself. Indeed, "only in adoration can a profound and genuine reception mature.  And it is precisely this personal encounter with the Lord that then strengthens the social mission contained in the Eucharist, which seeks to break down not only the walls that separate the Lord and ourselves, but also and especially the walls that separate us from one another." (66) 
Pope Benedict XVI, February 22, 2007, Sacramentum Caritatis, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation

By a continual growth in the love of and devotion to Jesus Christ truly present in the Blessed Sacrament,  we as individuals and as a parish family have a unique opportunity to give our time to the One who gave His life for us!

Fr. Ed Namiotka

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Some Reactions to the "Mom" Song and Video

 Dear Father Namiotka,
                I read the story about you and your song in the newspaper today and I was immediately brought back to a time in my life when you helped me put my life situation in perspective.  It was 1988 and I found myself pregnant at 42 years old, already the mother of four.  I was torn between wishing that I did not have to have another child and knowing that I would never do anything to harm the unborn child that I carried.  I had just returned to teaching the previous fall, a career I had interrupted to have my family, only to find myself in the same situation again.  You were newly assigned to St. Matthew’s Church and talked to me like a friend, of your own family and how your place in that family had affected your life in such a positive way.  It was a brief exchange, but it made such a difference to me.  It helped me find the peace I needed and helped me see the beauty in what lay ahead for me and my family.  Months later, you baptized our L., a long awaited sister for my oldest daughter.
                Now 24 year later I am still brought to my knees by your kindness and the enormity of God’s love for me.  This last baby was the occasion for my older children to see first-hand how much time and attention it took to care for a child.  It gave them the opportunity to be part of that process and helped them to understand a mother’s love at a time when they could really appreciate it.
                How appropriate for me to read about your song and remember you on Mother’s Day.  Listening to the children sing your beautiful song and the video that goes with it brought tears to my eyes and made my day that much more special.  I hope my children always think of me as their “best friend like no other.”  Thank you for your kind words years ago and for the heartfelt words of your song.  May God bless you, always.
A. G. 

  • My compliments to the gentleman who wrote this song and to the children for singing it. I think more people should recognize their mothers as this video shows us. I think this song should be played on the Radio, every station, on every Mothers Day to show how much we truly love our Mothers and how special they are to us. Thanks so very much for sharing this I too will make sure this is shared on Facebook as well as many others. Again thanks so very much it touches the heart.~~L. P.

  • You kidz put a lump in this mother's throat. Thanks for the beautiful tribute!   S. C.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Story of Our Faith in Colored Glass

St. Joseph the Worker

Dear Parishioners,

In a society where we are often in an extreme hurry to go here and do this or that, we may unfortunately miss or take for granted the things that surround us every day.  I think of the white sandy beaches nearby with their accompanying sunrises continually greeting us as they ascend high above the mighty ocean’s waves.  Then there’s the colorful flowers and trees in bloom (albeit with loads of irritating pollen!) appearing daily beside houses and along the various streets and roads for our viewing pleasure.  Even in our church building, there are the picturesque stained-glass windows telling just a small portion of the glorious history of our faith through colors and images pierced the by sun’s rays.

It is these magnificent works of art found along the perimeter of our church that I wish to bring to your attention as we begin a project to restore them and to protect them for generations to come.  Perhaps you’ve noticed the various saints portrayed or some of the incidents in the life of St. Joseph, our patron.  Traditionally, these stained-glass images told Bible stories and the various lives of saints to a population that generations ago could not read or write but could see the colorful tales narrated in glass and lead as they prayed and worshipped.

Two of these windows are soon to be removed and completely restored.  You may have noted that some of the panels of the windows are cracked, some windows do not close properly, some lead supporting the glass has bowed or bellied, and that time and weather has begun to deteriorate each of these works of art to a greater or lesser degree.  We have had them evaluated and set up a plan to have them restored over time according to the most urgent need.

For the most part, the actual interior windows have been patched or repaired over the years (as needed), but a proper restoration will now begin.  This involves removing the windows completely, having them taken to a professional studio to be restored, replacing them into their original locations while repairing their fittings/frames (and surroundings) and protecting them exteriorly.

The project will be costly—the two windows nearing $15,000 to restore—but the alternative is to allow the windows to sit in disrepair and continue to patch them, while they deteriorate and become even more of an urgent issue as time goes by.

If anyone would like to memorialize a window as it is being restored, we will gladly accept donations for this project.  This can be done completely or partially (i.e., a group of families/parishioners combining efforts to restore a particular window).  A plaque under each window will indicate in whose memory the window was restored.

Every undertaking—even the loftiest—begins with an initial step.  Our stained-glass window restoration will commence with two windows.  Please take the time to appreciate the beauty of these windows which regularly surround us as we worship.  I want their beauty to endure for future generations to experience and to love.  You can certainly help us do this!

Fr. Ed Namiotka

St. Therese of Lisieux: "The Little Flower"
(A window in need of repair)

Friday, May 3, 2013

Pure Jerzy Kidz - Mom (Official Music Video)

Click here for the link to the music video of my "Mom" song on YouTube.

Please take the time to "like" it on YouTube and Facebook!

Comments are also helpful and welcome!

Please consider sharing it with others by using the "share" feature under the video.