Tuesday, March 18, 2014

What Goes Through the Pastor’s Mind?


Dear Parishioners,

Here we are, almost at the beginning of spring, and snow is still covering the ground.  Global warming I guess!

Our 40 Hours of Eucharistic Adoration is currently underway and will be completed by the time this message reaches the Sunday church bulletin.

I have had a lot of time to think and to pray.  I was edified by the people who took the time to attend an extra Mass or two or to spend some quality time in adoration of Jesus in the Blessed SacramentCould you not keep watch for one hour? (Mk. 14:37) Thank God for you!  You are the backbone of our Church.

However, I continue to worry.  The overall numbers are dwindling.  The age of the active parishioners tends to rise significantly.  We have lost a few generations of Catholics somewhere in the middle (young adult to middle age) and I don’t know how or if we are going to get them back.  Jesus, we certainly need your help!

The simple reality, as I see it, is that there is a spiritual battle going on.  Spiritual warfare, if you will.  It’s a battle for souls.  It is a matter of life or death.  Eternal life is promised by following Jesus—I am the way and the truth and the life. (Jn. 14: 6)  Yet, we are surrounded by a culture of death.  Senseless violence is all around us—war, murder, abortion, euthanasia, infanticide.  We are a society plagued by multiple addictions—drugs, alcohol, sex, pornography, gambling, materialism.  Yet, we must be a People of Life, promoting a Culture of Life“The Gospel of life is at the heart of Jesus' message. Lovingly received day after day by the Church, it is to be preached with dauntless fidelity as ‘good news’ to the people of every age and culture.”  Pope John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae.

It can seem overwhelming if we let it get to us.  Christians—followers of Jesus the Christ—have to be a people of hope.  I suppose that there wasn’t a more hopeless scene than to witness your spiritual leader mocked, rejected, beaten, spat upon, and crucified in front of your eyes.  Would I have the courage to stand at the foot of the cross like Mary, John or Mary Magdalene?  Would I deny Jesus like Peter?  Would I flee and hide like the vast majority of His apostles?  Would I be so influenced to follow the crowd—everybody’s doing it—to yell “Crucify him!  Crucify Him!” as well?

I know that I can only do my part each day.  I need to be as faithful to Jesus as I possibly can.  I need to keep plugging away and not lose hope.  Jesus loves me and sustains me.  I am so thankful for His Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist: I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world. (Jn. 6: 51)

Jesus has gotten me this far in life and I believe He will continue to take care of me.  I can’t live without Him.  I really can’t understand how anyone could.


Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Making a Lenten Inventory


Dear Parishioners,

I write you this letter during the Lenten season—a time of introspection, calling us all to conversion—to encourage you to use this time for increased spiritual growth and involvement in your parish.  Here at St. Joseph Church we are working hard on many levels to build up the Kingdom of God.

Let’s take an inventory of some of the many things that have happened at the parish since I arrived as pastor in June, 2011.

Spiritually, in addition to our regularly scheduled Masses and services, we have had some important events like our Saints Event, Living Nativity, Living Stations of the Cross, Ecumenical Lenten Prayer Services and Luncheons, a biblical presentation by actor Frank Runyeon, Days of Recollection with Fr. John Collins, CSP, 40 Hours Eucharistic Adoration with guest homilists Fr. James King and Fr. Jon Thomas, and an added Pro-Life Mass on Wednesday evenings.  To benefit our Spanish community, we have held various devotions and celebrations including the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  We hold retreat days for our First Holy Communion and our Confirmation students.  We re-initiated our Children's Liturgy of the Word on two Sundays each month and our Children's Choir.  In addition, our Filipino community has enhanced our music ministry through the Couples for Christ Choir.  Penance Services and the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation are made available throughout the year, but especially during Advent and Lent.  Please check our weekly church bulletin, our web page or our facebook page to see the many opportunities that are offered!

Since I have mentioned technology, to improve our use of it in the parish we have revamped our web site (www.stjosephsomerspoint.com) complete with a mobile version for your smartphones, improved our phone system to make it more accessible, added a facebook page for our parish, and I personally publish a spiritual blog entry each week (www.fr-ed-namiotka.com) in conjunction with the weekly church bulletin.
   
Some of the most obvious enhancements have been to our physical plant.  Our parking lots were resurfaced and relined.  Our annex building’s exterior was sealed and painted and the Pre-K 3 rooms renovated and relocated into that building.  We added a “cry room” to the church for parents with toddlers and infants.  Our stained glass windows are being repaired and restored.  Repairs have also been made to the bell tower, to the rectory building and walkways, and to the convent.  Currently, the cracks in the interior walls of the church are being fixed and the entire interior should be repainted just in time for Easter.

As you can see, we are doing our part to help our parish—yours and mine—to grow and increase.  All I simply ask is that you assist us in what we are trying to accomplish.  Weekly participation at Mass is essential!  Your presence in our pews together with regular, ongoing giving to support our many spiritual endeavors and the physical upkeep of our campus, will help ensure the future of this parish.

It has been said that the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.  We can’t just sit back and do nothing and expect everything to continue without interruption or possible decline.  We need your continual help, and I am asking for it now once again.


Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Lent


Dear Parishioners,

Consider me strange, but I am actually looking forward to the beginning of Lent.  I see it as a special time to be introspective, to think about where I am right now in my relationship with Jesus, and to attempt to make some positive changes that I hope will result in a growth in holiness.

Traditionally, the practices recommended during this season are prayer, fasting and almsgiving (charity).

How can I pray better?  I can begin by finding and keeping a set time each day to pray.  (My own preference is praying with the Blessed Sacrament.)  I also should be reading and reflecting daily on the Sacred Scriptures, perhaps praying the Rosary, making the Stations of the Cross or reading an inspiring Catholic book regularly.  When I am driving in the car, I also like to put on a Catholic CD to listen to an inspirational talk—which, by the way, we have available in the vestibule of the church.  (Maybe you can begin by listening to that CD by Matthew Kelly that we gave to every family at Christmas, if you haven’t done so already!)  It certainly beats the garbage that we often find on the radio.

Fasting includes food but should go beyond simply not eating.  The only two fast days (one simple meal) required by the Church during Lent are Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.  Ash Wednesday and all the Fridays of Lent are also days of abstinence (no meat).  However, we can also fast from things like the TV, the computer/internet, video games, the radio, from smoking or drinking, from superfluous shopping, etc.  In essence, we can do without--self-denial--and try to incorporate into our lives something more spiritually beneficial.

How charitable am I?  Do I regularly contribute to and support my church?  Did I make a contribution to the House of Charity appeal?   Do I have some other favorite charity to which I give?  Do I volunteer my time or my skills to help others without seeking compensation or recognition?  Do I visit and help the sick or the elderly?  Do I volunteer at the hospital?  Do I think of others more than myself?

The practices that I observe for Lent can really become an opportunity to change my way of living.  I can incorporate more permanently various ways of behaving that open my heart and my life more completely to God.  I can turn my life over to Jesus and take up my cross daily and follow Him.  (See Luke 9:23)

I realize that I am a sinner continually in need of the mercy of God.  Like all humans (except Jesus and Mary, of course!), my life has not been without sin.  I am not proud of this.  Therefore, I should seriously consider some acts of penance during Lent in reparation for my sins.  Making a thorough, heartfelt sacramental confession is a good way to start.

We should be spiritually mature enough to realize that the more we keep trying and letting God control our lives, the more we open ourselves to His grace of conversionConversion is a lifelong process of turning away from sin and turning towards the Gospel message.

On Ash Wednesday, when the ashes were placed on our foreheads, did we actually intend to change, or was this just an act of empty show?  Only God knows what’s in our hearts and how much we really do love Him.

Please make this Lent a time of deep, spiritual conversion.


Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor