Monday, December 29, 2014

A New Beginning for All of Us

Dear Parishioners,

It seems that when the New Year arrives people tend to come up with various resolutions.  Perhaps some (like me) will look at the spare tire around the waist and say that they are going to exercise moreFat chance that this noble resolution usually lasts for too long!  Others may want to spend more time with family and friends.  This may last for a while and then, typically, the hectic pace of life takes over and out of sight, out of mind.  Still others seek to break a bad habit.  They attempt to quit smoking or drinking, spend less time on the internet or watching TV, etc.  This may be okay until those moments when we’re bored, lonely, frustrated, stressed-out or tired and we decide to light up, take a drink to relax, surf the internet or channel surf with the TV remote.  What was it that they say about the road to hell being paved with good Intentions?

I think that we as humans frequently desire a fresh start.  We typically regret our transgressions and indiscretions—our sinful, selfish behaviors—and want to move on and start anew.  Some denominations of Christians speak about being born again, referring to Jesus and His conversation with Nicodemus (John 3: 1-21).  How is it that we are able to begin again?  Will a simple act of the will enable us to change?

Jesus gave us the means by which we can become a new creation (2 Cor. 5: 17)By our baptism into Christ this relationship began.  We were adopted by God as His children.  Original sin (and any actual sin if we had reached the age of reason) was forgiven.  We were filled with God’s Holy Spirit and Sanctifying Grace (God’s life) was now in us.  We were made members of the Body of Christ—the Church.

But since that time of our baptism we sinned.  Our relationship with God and others was damaged, perhaps seriously.  What do we do now?  Undoubtedly Jesus had a plan for this as well.  He told his apostles after His Resurrection, “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them . . . .”  (John 20: 23)  The Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation (confession) is the means by which our post-baptismal sins are forgiven and is what can once again restore us to the purity of our initial baptism.  We are made new by the continuing action of Christ working through His Church.  And it involves more than our simple resolution to do better.  God’s grace is present to forgive, to strengthen and to heal.  We are given supernatural, Divine Grace in our battle with sin!  We are made anew—a new creation in Christ Jesus!

If you make use of the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation regularly, then I suppose you already understand its healing effects.  However, if you are one of those people who fears the sacrament, has convinced yourself that you can go directly to God, has had a bad experience in the past and never went back, is carrying a burden around that just doesn’t seem to go away no matter what I do or is simply seeking a way to begin again, why not give confession a try?  What is needed is a contrite heart and sorrow for any sins committed, a determination to try to avoid sin in the future, and faith in Jesus Christ that He can forgive my sins through the instrument of the priest.

Regular confession will do more for the body, mind and soul than any other soon-to-be-broken resolution.  Its supernatural healing effects are far beyond what we can possibly do alone.  As one who has sought out and frequented this sacrament for most of my life, I can attest to its divine healing power.  I realize that I am far from perfect and that in my struggle with sin I have a divinely instituted means of experiencing God’s ongoing forgiveness, mercy and healing in my life.

Fr. Ed Namiotka


Monday, December 22, 2014

Have a Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year!

Dear Parishioners,

I take this time to wish you and your families a happy and holy Christmas season and a blessed New Year!  Is it my imagination or does every year seems to go by faster and faster? 

In the Church, the Celebration of Christmas lasts for eight days.  The joy of this wonderful solemnity is too great to contain within a single day!  We refer to this time as the Octave of Christmas.  Most people would probably be surprised to find out that the Christmas season actually extends to January 11, 2015the Baptism of the Lord.  Sadly, by then many will not be in the Christmas spirit any longer because of how early the commercial Christmas preparations begin.  By the time Christmas arrives, people are ready to take down their decorations.  They often seem exhausted from all of the things that they feel pressured into buying or doing

With Christmas upon us, please try to keep “Christ” at the center of the celebration.  Society may tell us that we need to shop and exchange gifts, to cook, to clean the house, to party and to do other things.  All of this seems to add to increased tension and lack of peace in peoples’ lives.  Our faith tells us to pray and to ready our hearts for Christ.  This spiritual preparation can bring us peace, happiness and joy that the world cannot give.  What type of Christmas do we want to have?  The choice is always ours to make.
I thank all who work so hard in the parish and continue to strengthen our Christian community.  Christianity is not like a “spectator sport” where we simply watch and cheer from a distance.  Rather, it truly involves active participation and a life commitment:  prayer, attendance at weekly Mass, a sacramental life, Christian service, love of neighbor, etc.  Why not make it a New Year’s resolution to join a committee, become a lector or other liturgical minister, take a bible-study class, assist at PREP (religious education), or volunteer at a parish activity in 2015?  Our parish family will be only as strong and vibrant as the people who faithfully participate in it.

Be assured that all members of this parish are remembered in my daily prayers and Masses.  May I ask a small remembrance in your prayers and Masses as well? 

On behalf of Fr. Larry, Fr. Alvaro, Deacon Bob, our Sisters, parish staff and me, have a blessed and peace-filled Christmas!

Fr. Ed Namiotka

Friday, December 5, 2014

Making Sense of Holy Days

Dear Parishioners,

With the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception coming up next Monday (December 8th), I thought that this article might be helpful.

“Why do we have to attend Mass some years on a particular holy day, and on other years there is no obligation to attend Mass?”

Holy Days of Obligation often generate confusion and need clarification. In the universal Catholic Church there are ten of these days. However, each individual country is allowed--through its conference of bishops (the USCCB in America)--to decide which days are to be observed and how they are to be observed.

In the USA, the conference of bishops chose to move the observation of a number of these Holy Days to Sunday (such as Corpus Christi and the Epiphany). Still, six are retained on their actual calendar dates:

  • January 1--The Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
  • August 15--The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • 40 days after Easter--The Ascension of Our Lord (Ascension Thursday)
  • November 1--All Saints Day
  • December 8--The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • December 25--Christmas

What is perhaps one of the most confusing aspects for almost everyone is the question: “why are we obliged to attend Mass some years and not others?” Basically, when the Holy Days fall on a Saturday or a Monday—being so close to Sunday—the bishops of the USA removed the obligation to attend Mass on those days.

This is true except for the Immaculate Conception (the Patroness of the USA) and Christmas. We observe these days no matter when they occur.

[Please note, this year (2014) there is no vigil Mass on Sunday evening for the Immaculate Conception. The evening Mass on Sunday is for the 2nd Sunday of Advent.]

Now that you are thoroughly confused, I want to make a few important points for you to consider.

First, if the universal Catholic Church has considered these days holy, then they deserve our attention, consideration and observance no matter when they occur (or whether or not we are required to attend Mass).

Second, I hate to see people become so legalistic that we are constantly looking to observe the bare minimum that we could possibly do for God. We should develop an attitude of generosity toward God and not an attitude resembling something like a minimum daily requirement. What if God had that type of attitude toward us?

Finally, these holy days should be a reminder for us to try to bring the sacred into our daily routine.

There are so many things that can distract us from God in the world today. Recalling and observing these sacred days and the events that they represent are a good way for us to Christianize our lives, family and world.

I hope to see you in Church at Mass on these days because you want to be there, not because you sometimes are obliged to do so.

Fr. Ed Namiotka