Tuesday, November 19, 2013

When Do We Say “Enough is Enough?”

Dear Parishioners,

I started and finished my Christmas shopping yesterday.  I pulled into a Hess station, and purchased this year’s featured toy truck for my two young nephews (who really seem to be into trucks and cars), and it was over.  Christmas shopping completed for another year!  Woo-hoo!!!!

Truth be told, I can’t see all the wasted time, energy and frenzy surrounding events like Black Friday.  Each year for Christmas I choose a religious Christmas card for my other nieces and nephews and place either money or a gift card in them.  My brothers, sister (and their spouses) and I generally have limited or entirely eliminated buying things for each other.  I remember my mom each year by taking her out to dinner and/or planning a trip with her sometime later—something she really enjoys.

What I have to say here has nothing to do with stimulating the economy or supporting our local merchants and has everything to do with resisting the materialism and the consumer mentality that has seemingly swallowed up the true meaning of Christmas.

When I saw certain retail stores advertize pre-Black Friday sales, and encourage shopping on Thanksgiving Day itself, I have to say “Enough is enough!”  Thanksgiving for my siblings and me is a family holiday where we get to spend some quality time with each other.  If people resist buying on such a day, then the stores would see that there is simply no profit in opening at this time and would cease this practice.  No profit would translate into don’t open today.

It is like many other things in our society that indicate we have certain priorities out of whack.  As long as we are willing to pay astronomical ticket prices for athletes and entertainers, as long as we feel the need for status symbols like over-priced luxury cars, extravagant jewelry and the latest electronics, as long as so many unborn children are seen as disposable, as long as the worship of God appears to be on or near the bottom of our priority list, then our Western society will continue to suffer from a disastrous, spiritual poverty.

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta had some thoughts on this spiritual poverty:

The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for.  We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love.  There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love.  The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty -- it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality.  There's a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God.   
Filling our narcissistic tendencies with things and more things will only bring more emptiness.  Finding time for God, for our families and to love one another will fill the void in each of us.

We need to say:  “Enough is enough!”

Fr. Ed Namiotka

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


Dear Parishioners,

I find that one of the most difficult attitudes that I have to face as a priest (and as a pastor) is either apathy or indifference.  Our Catholic faith is so important to me.  I believe it and try to live it to the best of my ability.  This does not exempt me from sinning or falling short of the goal.  However, I know that consent of my will (a decision) is necessary—to love the Lord with all my heart, mind, soul and strength and to love my neighbor as myself (see Mk. 12: 30-31)—followed by the daily attempt to put this into practice.

If nothing else, I keep trying.  Every day is a new day.  I can begin again and again.

This leads me to a quote that I read quite a while ago by the late Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen:

Since the basic cause of man’s anxiety is the possibility of being either a saint or a sinner, it follows that there are only two alternatives for him.  Man can either mount upward to the peak of eternity or else slip backwards to the chasms of despair and frustration.  Yet there are many who think there is yet another alternative, namely, that of indifference.  They think that, just as bears hibernate for a season in a state of suspended animation, so they, too, can sleep through life without choosing to live for God or against Him.  But hibernation is no escape; winter ends, and one is then forced to make a decision—indeed, the very choice of indifference is itself a decision.  White fences do not remain white fences by having nothing done to them; they soon become black fences.  Since there is a tendency in us that pulls us back to the animal, the mere fact that we do not resist it operates to our own destruction.  Just as life is the sum of forces that resist death, so, too, man’s will must be the sum of the forces that resist frustration.  A man who has taken poison into his system can ignore the antidote, or he can throw it out the window; it makes no difference which he does, for death is already on the march.  St. Paul warns us, “How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation” (Heb 2:3).  By the mere fact that we do not go forward, we go backward.  There are no plains in the spiritual life, we are either going uphill or coming down. Furthermore the pose of indifference is only intellectual.  The will must choose.  And even though an “indifferent” soul does not positively reject the infinite, the infinite rejects it.  The talents that are unused are taken away, and the Scriptures tell us that, “But because though art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will begin to vomit thee out of my mouth” (Rev. 3:16).” --Peace of Soul:  Timeless Wisdom on Finding Serenity and Joy by the Century’s Acclaimed Catholic Bishop

By choosing to be Catholic, it is essential to live out that faith.  What are some practical suggestions for doing this?

·        Every day attempt to pray.  Don’t just recite prayers.  Pray from the heart. Talk and listen to God.

·       Be faithful in weekly Mass attendance.  Hear the Word of God proclaimed and preached.  Receive the Holy Eucharist.  Respond to Jesus telling us:  “Do this in memory of me.” (Lk. 22:19)

·        Get into the habit of monthly confession.  After a month (if not sooner), I need a sacramental confession to help me stay on the right path.  Confession is my moral compass.

·        Be Christ-like and show charity to those in my family, where I work, or where I go to school.

·       Avoid bad habits (vices) and cultivate good ones (virtues).  Do I spend too much time watching TV or on the computer?  Do I drink or gamble excessively, or use drugs as an escape?  Bad habits will ultimately become destructive and will deteriorate, if not destroy, the spiritual life.

·     Pray for the grace of conversionConversion is a life-long process of turning away from sin and turning toward God.

·       Trust in the LordJesus loves you more than you probably can ever imagine.  He died for you and me.

Look at the crucifix.  How can I be apathetic or indifferent to that?

Fr. Ed Namiotka