Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Waiting for the Lord


Dear Parishioners,

The season of Advent is a time of anticipation.  We should be waiting for the Lord Jesus to return again.  Our Nicene Creed tells us: . . . He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead . . . .

When will the Lord return?  I don’t know . . . and I refuse to speculate.  It tends to get a person in big trouble.

The fact that our Lord will return should be sufficient for us.

Years ago, my spiritual director in the seminary suggested and encouraged the practice of centering prayer.  He was basically trying to teach me how to wait for the Lord in prayer.

What happens with this type of centering prayer?

Instead of talking, reading or meditating on something, I simply enter into the presence of the Lord and wait.  I personally like to do this before the Real Presence of the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.  I sit quietly trying to empty my mind of thoughts and distractions.  I wait and listen for the Lord to speak to me.  He is in charge.  I submit my will entirely to Him.

What do I hear?  Sometimes nothing.  Sometimes I get distracted and start thinking about or worrying about various matters.  At these times—when I find myself distracted—I simply repeat the name of Jesus slowly and quietly.  This practice helps me to return to a quiet, inner place of peace.

There have been times when unbelievable inspiration has come during this prayer.  Some powerful homilies and insightful writings have developed when simply waiting for the Lord.

More important than looking for any spectacular results, there needs to be a fidelity to the Lord—a finding quality time for Him—as part of my daily prayer routine.  I need to go to prayer even when nothing at all seems to happen.  I need to go to prayer especially at those times when I don’t feel like it or I tell myself that I am too busy to pray right now.  I need to go to prayer simply because prayer is what I need.  The Lord Jesus is who I need.

To many, this waiting for the Lord may seem foolish or even a waste of valuable time.  Many actually waste more valuable time in front of the TV, surfing the web on the computer, playing video games, or by any number of unproductive or unrewarding activities.  I never see spending my time waiting for the Lord as wasted time.  It is valuable time that I spend with the One whom I love and have chosen to serve as a priest.  It is His time.  He can do whatsoever He wills with my time.  I give it to Him.

This Advent, why not try waiting for the Lord in prayer?  You might be quite surprised at what happens.

Come, Lord Jesus!


Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor

   

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
Pastor

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Indifference


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
Pastor 


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

“Did You Ever Think about Becoming a Priest?”


Dear Parishioners,

I can remember that it was my junior year of high school.  I was standing with some of my friends in the cafeteria of Wildwood Catholic High School during a school dance.  I was checking out the girls there in the rather dark setting, trying to get up the courage (because I was so shy) to ask one of them to dance.

Then along comes this priest.  He was new to the school, not ordained for too long, and was assigned to teach my theology class.

“Did you ever think about becoming a priest?”

He asked me that question.  It still resonates in my mind.  What should I say?

Maybe I was unusual, but my prayer life at that time included a prayer for a good wife.  I prayed that God would give me the wife that was best suited for me and that we would be happy together.  It’s funny how I can remember quite clearly how I regularly prayed that particular request.

“Yes, Father, I’ve thought about it but I’m not sure that it’s right for me.”  It seemed to be a good enough response to get him to go away and let me resume what I was doing—at least for the time being.

After over a quarter century of ministry as a diocesan priest, I realize clearly that Christ answered my prayer and gave me the best bride that He possibly could—His own spouse, the Church.  I can honestly say that I am truly grateful that God called me to be His priest and for the gift of the ordained, ministerial Priesthood.

Last weekend Bishop Sullivan asked us to speak about and to encourage vocations to the diocesan priesthood.  Parishioners were given prayer cards and asked to pray specifically for vocations to the diocesan priesthood.  Please take the time to do so every day.

The privilege to offer Mass daily, to bring healing and forgiveness in the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation, to anoint the sick, to baptize, to teach and preach the Catholic faith, to act in the person of Christ in the sacraments and so many other blessings have humbled me and reminded me of God’s great love and mercy for His people.

“The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.” Luke 10:2

I don’t believe that God ever stopped calling young men to be His priests.  God remains faithful from age to age.  Pray that those who are called by God can hear and discern “the call” and have the courage to respond to it.


Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor