Friday, March 18, 2016

What If?

Dear Parishioners,

What if there were no Easter Sunday?  What if Jesus Christ did not rise from the dead?

Well, you certainly would not be reading this message from me.  I suspect that I would probably be married with a family, engaged in some other kind of occupation.  I certainly would not be a Catholic priest.  Perhaps, a Jewish rabbi?  Who knows?

There would be no Catholic churches.  No Christian, Orthodox or Protestant churches as well. 

No Mass.  No Eucharist.  No sacramental Confession.  No Christian Baptism.  Any of the other sacraments?  Nope.

Forget the Catholic schools, Catholic hospitals and Catholic orphanages.  No Catholic charities.  No Religious Orders like the Franciscans, Jesuits, Augustinians or Dominicans.

We would never hear those timeless Catholic hymns.  No Gregorian chantTantum Ergo, O Salutaris, Pange Lingua, Stabat Mater . . . unfortunately, they would not exist.  None of the great Christian-themed artwork that fills the rooms and walls of museums either. 

No Communion of Saints.  No need for Christian martyrs.  No Gospels.  No Evangelists.  No Christian apologists.

Cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, St. Louis, St. Paul and Santa Cruz, countries like El Salvador and San Marino, islands like St. Thomas, St. John and St. Martin would obviously have other non-Christian names.

No popes.  No bishops.  No organized hierarchy.  No dioceses.

If we were fortunate enough to be Jewish, we would still be awaiting a messiah.  Will God remember His promises to our ancestors?  Will He send someone to save us? 

If we were not Jewish, unfortunately, we might be worshipping some pagan god, not knowing any better.

Jesus of Nazareth would have been seen as some crazy, self-proclaimed messiah like a Jim Jones, David Koresh, Charles Manson, Sun Myung Moon or Marshall Applewhite, instead of Lord, God and Savior.

Would we have hope in eternal life without the Resurrection of Jesus?  Would we have forgiveness of sin?  Would the cross of Christ be just another Roman execution among many others? 

“. . . And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain; you are still in your sins.” (1 Cor. 15: 17)

Fortunately for us, Jesus is Risen!

Our world will never be the same again—ever!  

We have a hope and a promise of immortalityeternal life!  

We have the forgiveness of sin!  

We are given new life through Christ!  

Realize how blessed we truly are.  

Have a Happy Easter!

Fr. Ed Namiotka

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

40 Hours and the Solemnity of St. Joseph

Dear Parishioners,

As we once again prepare to celebrate the Solemnity of St. Joseph, Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary (March 19), our parish will observe 40 Hours of Eucharistic Adoration from March 17 to March 19.  Beginning with an evening Mass at 7 PM on March 17, the Blessed Sacrament will remain continually present on the altar for private prayer and adoration, except when a Mass is scheduled.  We will have an additional evening Mass at 7 PM on both March 17 and 18 (in addition to our regular morning Mass at 8:30 AM). 

On Saturday, March 19 there will be a Mass at 8:30 AM (regular morning Mass), and at 12:00 Noon we will have the closing of the 40 Hours with a procession of the Most Blessed Sacrament and Benediction.  Please note:  There will be no Stations of the Cross on Friday, March 18 while 40 Hours Eucharistic Adoration is taking place.

I have asked Fr. Larry Polansky, our former hospital chaplain, to return to preach during the 40 Hours evening Masses.

I truly believe that when we take the time to be with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, it is a time of tremendous graces and blessing not only for us as individuals but also for our families and for our entire parish family.  I do not ever want us to take for granted the great gift of the Real Presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist.  Time spent with Him is indeed a grace-filled time.  We can express our love and adoration for Jesus, thankfulness for our blessings, and contrition for sin (our own and the sins of others).  We can also intercede for one another and petition the Lord for our various needs.  It is an invaluable time to spend with Jesus, truly present in the Most Blessed Sacrament—especially during this Jubilee Year of Mercy.  Remember to ask for God’s mercy.
When we come into the Lord’s presence, Jesus can do something to us.  We may think that we go to pray, to petition and to worship, or even that we might be doing God a favor by spending some of our precious time with Him.  Our Lord Jesus, however, can transform us while we spend time with Him.  We do not need to worry about what prayers we should say, what spiritual readings we should be reading or what we should be doing in His Presence.  Just being with the Lord can be transforming.  Be quiet and listen.  He can soften our hearts, heal our wounds, inspire us and guide us.  He can give us an inner peace that nothing in this world can match.  Making the commitment to spend time with Him can truly transform us.

What I am once again requesting from you, my parishioners, is that you dedicate one hour in adoration of the Lord sometime during these days.  (Ideally, this should be in addition to any time attending Mass.)  This devotion will continue for two nights—around the clock—and I need your help and cooperation in order to do this.  Could you please think about dedicating an hour in prayer before the Most Blessed Sacrament?  Why not encourage members of your family to pray as a family for an hour?  Perhaps a group or organization within the parish can make a holy hour together.  I especially need a few insomniacs or night owls once again to cover those late hours!

 A sign-up sheet is available near the baptismal font of the church so that we can be sure that there is always someone keeping watch with our Lord.  Please assist me once again in making this a special time for our parish as we adore our Eucharistic Lord.

Fr. Ed Namiotka

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

A Day in the Life . . .

Dear Parishioners,

When I began writing a weekly column for my parishioners a number of years ago, I wanted to express what I was thinking and illustrate what was going on in my life.  Priests and priesthood can be somewhat mysterious to many people.  If people are regular in their Mass attendance, they might actually encounter their parish priest each week.  If they are more sporadic in going to Mass, then they might not see—let alone get to know—their pastor.  Then there are those Christmas and Easter Catholics . . . .

Questions like What does a priest do all week? demonstrate to me that sometimes people have no clue concerning what a priest’s life may entail.

Let me give you my schedule from yesterday while it is still fresh in my mind.  I was up around 5 AM spending time in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament in my rectory chapel.  I celebrated daily Mass (with a homily) at 8:30 AM.  Then I was off to Hammonton to celebrate a Mass of Christian Burial (with another completely different homily) for a former student.  She was only 36 years old.  I prayed the rosary in the car on the way there.  Following the Mass, I went to the cemetery for the interment.  On the way back to the rectory, I received a message that there were a few Flyers tickets available from the Knights of Columbus for a game that night, if I wanted to go with them.  After making a few calls, I was scheduled to pick up a few seminarians (who happened to be on spring break) and take them to the game that evening.  I picked up the seminarians, drove to Philly, watched the game, took them out to get something to eat afterward, and got back to the rectory at 2 AM.  I knew that I had the morning Mass the following day at 8:30 AM.

This past weekend saw me celebrating Mass four times (once in Spanish with two different homilies to prepare), speaking at all the weekend Masses (six in total) about our capital campaign, making two Communion Calls with the Anointing of the Sick, hearing the confession of someone by request, a wedding appointment, and an appointment with someone wanting to be a godparent.  Then there was the time that I needed to spend in preparation of the homilies, contemplating what to write for a bulletin article such as this, and trying to maintain the semblance of a prayer-life through it all.

I know that my life is not unlike many of my brother priests.  I also realize that priests are not the only people who are busy each day.  (I give credit to those mothers and fathers who have to provide for their families, sometimes working more than one job while going to school, etc.)  My point, however, is that most priests have far from a boring or monotonous life.  My favorite line that I use is: Every day is a new adventure.  Will I be called to the hospital?  Who will want to schedule an appointment?  And for what reason?  Will someone request the Anointing of the Sick or to go to confession?  Wedding?  Funeral?  Baptisms?  Teach in school?  The possibilities each day are endless.

With all of this being said, if I had to do it all over again, knowing what I now know, I would not even hesitate.  Priesthood is a gift, a blessing greater than I could ever have imagined.  Why is there a vocation shortage?  Why do more young people not say “yes” to the call?  I know that the answer is very complicated today.  

However, I am so glad—more than I can express here in words—that God invited me to be His priest.  I am forever grateful.

Fr. Ed Namiotka