Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Do We Realize What We Have?

Dear Parishioners,

This weekend we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi) here in the United States.*  

When I received my first Holy Communion, we were not permitted to touch the host.  The practice of receiving in the hand, currently acceptable and quite common, was not allowed at that point in time.  Everyone received on the tongue.  I can remember as a child going to many churches where we knelt along the altar rail when receiving Holy Communion.

Reflecting after many years, I have had significant time to process what this change has meant to our reception of Jesus, in the Most Blessed Sacrament.  In my opinion, kneeling and receiving on the tongue seemed to maintain more of a spirit of reverence when receiving Holy Communion.  Today I have encountered everything from people trying to grab the sacred host, to those who walk away without consuming the sacred host immediately, to those who handle the sacred host with as much respect as eating a potato chip.  I truly do not know what people believe in the deep recesses of their hearts—now or then.  However, it appears to me that there used to be more reverence in the reception of Holy Communion in days gone by.

Moreover, there is some misguided notion in today’s society that we should simply go up to Holy Communion whether or not we are in the state of grace and sufficiently prepared.  I also remember a point in time when people would go to confession (the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation) pretty much each week before receiving Holy Communion.  While I realize that confession is only necessary if there is mortal or serious sin involved, I, unfortunately, do not see any great lines for confession week after week.  I also have this nagging question as a result of such experience:  Do people no longer confess missing Mass on Sunday and Holy Days of Obligation as a sin? 

Christmas and Easter Catholics seem to approach the Sacrament in great numbers.  Have they all made a good sacramental confession beforehand?  How about those who ignore the proper fast (one hour from food and drink beforehand), those in irregular marriages (i.e., not recognized by the Church), those who persist in beliefs contrary to the faith (e.g., pro-abortion or “pro-choice” Catholics or those knowingly, regularly using artificial birth control), etc., etc.?

Worthy reception of the Holy Eucharist includes, but is not limited to, being in the state of grace (not conscious of any serious or mortal sin), a fast of one hour from food and drink beforehand (not including water and, naturally, if in good physical health), reverence and devotion (e.g., not chewing gum, talking or socializing in the line to Holy Communion) and a proper thanksgiving (not walking out the door of the Church while still consuming the sacred host).     

Do we realize what we have here?  We are privileged to receive Jesus the Christ, the Son of God, truly present under the appearances of bread and wine.  

Is anyone really worthy of so great a gift?  Nope.  Still, I desire to see all people grow closer to Jesus—especially those who may not, at this time, be able to receive Holy Communion for some reason or another.  A Spiritual Communion is always a valid option in this instance.  (Why not take the time to see if  it is possible to correct matters by talking to a priest?)

Those of us who are able to receive should do all that we can to prepare properly, to receive reverently and to give thanks adequately for so great a privilege.  

God Almighty deserves nothing less.

Fr. Ed Namiotka

[*This solemnity is transferred from the Thursday after the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity (Trinity Sunday) where it is still officially observed by the Roman Catholic Church in other parts of the world.]

Monday, May 21, 2018

The Holy Trinity

Dear Parishioners,
Whenever we look at the mystery of the Holy Trinity, we should realize that this is not something that we could figure out on our own without God revealing this to us through Jesus.  If our explanation of the Trinity were merely one opinion among many of the inner make-up of God, then God could be just about anything that any one of us thinks or believes.  However, as Catholic Christians we believe that Jesus—the Son of God and one of the Persons of the Holy Trinity—revealed to us the mysterious inner-workings of God.
God exists as three Persons in relationship.  Jesus often spoke of God as His Father.  He taught us to pray the prayer we call the “Our Father.”  He told us that “whoever has seen (Him) has seen the Father” (Jn. 14:9).  He told us that “the Father and I are one” (Jn. 10:30).  We begin to recognize this Father-Son relationship through Jesus.
But Jesus did not stop there.  He also began to speak of another—an “Advocate” (Jn. 15:26), “the Spirit of Truth”, (Jn. 15:26), the “Holy Spirit” (Jn. 14:26).  With time the Church began to understand a little bit more about this third Person as “the Lord, the Giver of Life” who “has spoken through the prophets” (cf. the Nicene Creed).
It must have been very hard for many of the Jewish followers of Jesus who were strict monotheists to try to comprehend how God could be one, yet three at the same time.  Why should this be surprising to us since we still fumble at various explanations to try to articulate this profound mystery?
As a teacher, the best analogy that I have used over the years that helps people comprehend this mystery of something being one and three at the same time is the analogy of ice, water and steam.  All three have the same chemical composition (H₂O) and thus have a certain oneness, yet there can be a manifestation in different states (ice, water and steam) depending on temperature.  While all analogies ultimately fall short of the reality, this analogy still gives us some insight into this profound mystery.
Trying to figure out God’s make-up is one thing.  Having a personal relationship with each of the Persons of the Trinity is something else entirely.  Jesus put a human face to God for us by taking on a human nature.  And he also told us about the unique relationship that He has with the other Persons in the Godhead.  Now we need to seek out each of these Persons of Holy Trinity in prayer and grow in our love for them—three Persons in one God.

On Trinity Sunday we rejoice in the fact that God has revealed His inner make-up to us!
Fr. Ed Namiotka

Tuesday, May 15, 2018


Dear Parishioners,

Today in the Catholic Church we celebrate Pentecost Sunday.

Pentecost comes from a Greek word meaning “fiftieth day.”  In the Jewish tradition, Shavuot or the Feast of Weeks celebrated the time between Passover and the giving of the Law (Torah) to Moses on Mt. Sinai, a period of 50 days.  It was the Hellenistic (Greek) Jews who referred to this feast as Pentecost.

In the Christian tradition, however, the meaning is different.  Fifty days after Easter, Christians celebrate Pentecost as the day when the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles (See Acts 2: 1-41).  Pentecost has been referred to as the birthday of the Church.

Knowing the history of the Apostles and their actions / reactions to the Passion and Death of Jesus is significant here.  Judas betrayed Christ and then hanged himself (Mt. 27: 3-10).   Out of fear, Peter denied Christ (Mt. 26: 69-75).  Also out of fear, all of the other Apostles (Mt. 26:56), except for John, fled from the cross.  Yet, after receiving the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, Peter, acting as the spokesperson for the other Apostles, addressed the crowds fearlessly:

You who are Israelites, hear these words. Jesus the Nazorean was a man commended to you by God with mighty deeds, wonders, and signs, which God worked through him in your midst, as you yourselves know. This man, delivered up by the set plan and foreknowledge of God, you killed, using lawless men to crucify him. But God raised him up, releasing him from the throes of death, because it was impossible for him to be held by it . . . . God raised this Jesus; of this we are all witnesses . . . . Therefore let the whole house of Israel know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.  (Acts 2: 22-24, 32, 36)
Obviously, something significant changed Peter and the other Apostles.  First, they experienced the Risen Lord Jesus.  They saw that He was alive despite everything that was done to torture and kill Him.  He is alive.  Next, they were filled with the gift of the Holy Spirit.  They received supernatural gifts to strengthen them with their mission of preaching, teaching and witnessing to Christ’s Resurrection.

I believe in the power of the Holy Spirit.  If the Holy Spirit can be responsible for the growth of the Church against all odds from its seemingly impossible beginnings to become a Church of over a billion today worldwide, can we underestimate what that same Spirit can do to renew the face of the earth?  Pray to the Holy Spirit for guidance and strength.  Pray for the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit to be more fully present in your lives.

Don’t ever underestimate what the Holy Spirit can do if we invite Him into our lives (give Him permission) daily.

Fr. Ed Namiotka