Tuesday, October 25, 2016

“Crash-Proof” Retirement

Dear Parishioners,

Maybe you have seen an advertisement on television touting a “crash-proof” retirement plan.  Quite frankly, I do not have enough knowledge in the area of investments and finance to tell anyone whether this is or is not valuable financial advice to help plan for the future.  You would have to check it out for yourselves.  Sorry. 

What I do know, however, is that no matter what we may plan for in the future, unless Jesus is at the center of it, our plans may, in fact, be ill conceived.  Do you remember the parable that Jesus told regarding accumulated wealth?  Listen to the words from St. Luke’s Gospel:

Then [Jesus] told them a parable. “There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest. He asked himself, ‘What shall I do, for I do not have space to store my harvest?’ And he said, ‘This is what I shall do: I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones. There I shall store all my grain and other goods and I shall say to myself, “Now as for you, you have so many good things stored up for many years, rest, eat, drink, be merry!”’ But God said to him, ‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong? Thus will it be for the one who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich in what matters to God.” (Lk. 12: 16-21)

The first thing that I noticed here was that the rich man questioned himself for advice.  What shall I do?  From my perspective, it seems it would have been much wiser to ask God first for advice.  What do You, Lord, think I should do?  We need to pray constantly for the wisdom to make good decisions in life. 

Next, Look at God’s response to the rich man’s plan:  You fool.  That often characterizes the result of any situation when we think that we—and not God—are ultimately in charge of everything.  Many people today may not overtly proclaim that they do not believe in God.  However, so many of us live in a manner as if God did not exist.  We foolishly depend more on ourselves—to a greater or lesser degree—rather than seek out God and let God (speaking through the Sacred Scriptures and the Church) influence our thoughts and actions.  Pope Benedict XVI referred to this mode of living as a practical atheism.  The tragic result of it is that Jesus’ teaching frequently goes unheeded and ignored.  Nobody, not even God Himself, is going to tell us what to do.  And we become all too comfortable and complacent with this attitude.

Third, death becomes the great equalizer.  Tempus fugit, momento mori.  Time is fleeting, remember death.   We may not want to face the inevitable reality that we all are going to die, face final judgment before God, and live either with God (heaven) or alienated from God (hell) for all eternity.  The choices we make here do have eternal consequences.  Are we prepared for this?

Finally, what are the spiritual treasures that we are storing up now?  As we near the end of this Jubilee Year of Mercy, I suggest that we refer to the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy for some sound advice.

Don’t be like the foolish rich man in the parable.  Act now to prepare for eternity.  

Forever is a really, really long time.

Fr. Ed Namiotka

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Legislating Morality

Dear Parishioners,

My late father, in his own humorous way, could make a point stick in your mind.  He used to say "The smarter they get, the dumber they get!" with reference to the supposedly educated elite.  My father never had the privilege of going to college--just about making it through high school.  However, he did see to it that his five children received a college education.  In fact, he saw us all attend Catholic colleges, Catholic high school and Catholic elementary school.

Sometimes the rationalization, the doublespeak, and the deception, that is created by an allegedly educated elite baffles the mind.  Take the example of those who say that government should not legislate morality.  Has anyone really stopped to think how truly ridiculous this statement is?  Government legislates (makes laws) all the time.  They tell us that we must not speed when driving nor drink alcohol to excess when operating the vehicle, that we cannot rob a bank or convenience store, that rape and child molestation are illegal, and even, at times, try to tell us how big of a soft drink that we should be allowed to purchase!  Government gives us an age at which we can legally consume alcohol, purchase cigarettes, gamble in a casino, drive a car, own a gun, vote, etc.

Usually the argument about legislating morality gets fuzzy in some people's minds when it comes to topics like abortion, contraception, homosexual acts (e.g., sodomy), same-sex unions, and other various bedroom issues.  It's at this point when people don't want government telling us (legislating) what to do.

The fact is every civilized society determines right and wrong in their culture.  What is permitted or not permitted has to be based on a standard of norms which the society mutually agrees upon.  The basis of these norms has generally been natural lawNatural law can be defined as a body of unchanging moral principles regarded as a basis for all human conduct.  Notice that up to this point there has been no direct mention of God or religion in this process.  (Christians can, however, experience a deeper understanding behind many moral issues through recourse to what is given by Divine revelation--i.e., Sacred Scripture and Tradition).
Some words by Trevor Thomas are worth considering at this point:

It is absurd and ignorant to lament conservative Christian efforts when it comes to abortion, marriage, and so on as some attempt to "legislate morality." The other side is attempting the very same thing! In fact, the lamenter (whatever his political persuasion) has also taken a moral stand. Thus, he is like the bank robber who calls the police because his getaway car gets stolen. 

What's more, those who attack Natural Law (because an attack on a position that stems from Natural Law is an attack on Natural Law) do so with arguments derived from Natural Law. It is a self-defeating effort. They are attempting to saw off the limb upon which they sit.

So where am I going with all of this? When people start telling the Catholic Church to stay out of an issue (e.g., keep out of the bedroom), that we as a society cannot legislate morality, or anything similar, please realize a few important observations. First of all, the bedroom issues have regrettably become part of the public forum. I would say in response: keep your bedroom out of our public life! Keep the pornography off TV, out of the cinema, not so readily and easily accessible on the internet, etc.  And don't try to force me or our society to pay for your abortions.  That is what a repeal of the Hyde amendment would do.  Don't legislate same-sex unions.   

Next, please finish your thoughts with regard to the slogan:  the right to choose.  The right to choose whatMurder of innocent children (a.k.a., abortion)?  Yes, we all have free will but we can certainly determine what we can or cannot choose.  Often we put this into law.   We, in fact, do it all the time.  We can choose as a civilized society to protect all human life in the womb.  We can unequivocally state that the choice to kill an innocent baby in the womb (terminate a pregnancy) is wrong.  We can use natural law and the light of reason to help us (perhaps made ever more clear by certain Judeo-Christian principles).  If we can scientifically determine when a new human life begins (at conception), then we as a civilized society can and should choose to protect that new human life.  We have in our history made laws protecting a bald eagle's eggs and our environment, haven't we?  Why did we ever allow the Supreme Court to legislate legalized abortion for us as a society in 1973 by Roe v. Wade?

I  am tired of lies and deception and the confusion that this creates.  We need more clear, critical thinkers and not those who become brainwashed by some educational or political elitists.

Their intelligence is much too dumb for me. 

Fr. Ed Namiotka

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Bereavement and Praying for the Dead

Dear Parishioners,

Ministry to the sick and dying is an essential concern for us as Christians.  To visit the sick and to bury the dead are two of the corporal works of mercy included in the focus of this Jubilee Year of Mercy.   Our parish’s bereavement ministry tries to be of assistance at the time of death while also seeking to provide ongoing support as time passes.

Let me begin by reiterating the importance of having a priest visit when a person is seriously ill, is on hospice or is in the hospital.  Please call the parish office and request that a priest visit the sick person for the Anointing of the Sick, the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation (confession) and Holy Communion.   Regular visits by an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion can also be arranged.

When death occurs, our bereavement ministry (currently headed by Sr. Jane Hill, SSJ) is available to meet with the family to help prepare the funeral liturgy.  Sr. Jane is always looking for additional people to be trained to assist her in this task.  I encourage families to have a Mass of Christian Burial offered for the soul of the deceased.  Joining our prayers to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the greatest gift that we can give to one of our deceased loved ones.

I am also looking for volunteers to be present for the funeral Mass.  People who can help to set up and clean up, to greet any parishioners and visitors, to serve during the Mass, to read the Scriptures (if no one does so from the family), can be a tremendous assistance during a funeral Mass.  Those who are retired or senior citizens seeking to get more involved would be wonderful for this task.

As time passes, it is important that those who have experienced the loss of a loved one not fall through the cracks.  I know that when I finish one funeral, it seems I begin preparing for the next situation.  I need people to help me by following up with a card or a phone call.  I want those who may now be alone to know that they are not forgotten.  This phase of bereavement ministry can be done right from home!  I hope this task is appealing to someone looking to do more for others.

Part of our follow-up is our annual All Souls Day Mass during which we remember all our dead, especially those who died this past year.  Please fill out your All Souls Day envelopes with the names of your deceased as they will be placed on the altar for the entire month of November—the month of the Holy Souls.

If any of these phases of bereavement (helping to prepare the funeral liturgy with the family, serving on the day of the funeral Mass, or following-up afterwards) appeals to you, please contact the parish office for further information.  We could always use your help in some capacity.

Most importantly, please take the opportunity and encourage others to have Masses offered for the dead.  More than flowers that will wither quickly afterward, the spiritual benefits of the Mass are beyond what we as humans can fully comprehend.

Fr. Ed Namiotka