Tuesday, December 17, 2019

New Year's Resolutions


Dear Parishioners,

Every year many people make one or more New Year’s resolutions which they may or may not keep.

In an attempt to put these resolutions in a spiritual light, I make the following twenty suggestions for your consideration.  I do not think that it is wise to try to tackle too many things at once but rather pick one or two that you might be able to incorporate successfully into your routine.

 Here’s my list:

·         Be faithful in Mass attendance weekly

·         Read a passage from the Bible each day

·         Say a daily Rosary

·         Visit an elderly relative, friend or neighbor on a regular basis (weekly or monthly?)

·         Volunteer to help at a Church activity or with some Church ministry

·         Go to Confession monthly

·       Send a card or make a call to someone who has recently lost a loved one

·         Audition for the Church choir

·      Make a visit to the Blessed Sacrament on First Fridays or some other time (Monday evening Eucharistic Adoration)

·         Invite someone to go to Church with you

·       Call the parish priest about something that you need to do to for your spiritual benefit (for example, investigate an annulment, complete any Sacraments that were not received, get some spiritual direction, etc.)

·         Purchase and read a Catholic spiritual book (perhaps a spiritual classic)

·         Stop gossiping

·         Take the time to listen carefully to someone

·      Be a good example to children (take them to Church, teach them to pray, talk to them about God, teach them to share, etc.)

·         Limit time in front of the TV or computer

·         Make an effort to smile more and complain less

·       Make a conscious effort to remind yourself daily that you are living in the presence of God

·         Thank Jesus every day

·         Pray for someone whom you do not like / Reconcile with someone from whom you are alienated 

Happy New Year and good luck!

Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor

The Holy Family




Dear Parishioners,

Family means a great deal to me.  Spending time with my mom, my brothers and sister and their families, especially around the holidays, is a special gift to me.

I realize that no family is perfect.  We all have to deal with particular family issues and circumstances, varying problems and challenges, diverse personalities, etc. Yet, all of this is accompanied by multiple blessings.

Sometimes I think that certain people tend to idealize the Holy Family and forget the many difficulties and hardships that Jesus, Mary and Joseph had to endure.  We read in the Sacred Scriptures that Mary was found with child before living with Joseph.  He was initially going to divorce her quietly. (Mt. 1: 18-19)   Then, there was no place for Jesus to be born in the lodgings of Bethlehem after Joseph and Mary (now in the final stage of her pregnancy) had travelled considerable distance. (Lk. 2: 4-7)  As an infant, Jesus’ life was threatened by King Herod and His parents had to flee with Him to Egypt. (Mt. 2: 13-18)  Joseph and Mary seemingly lost—could not immediately find—the boy Jesus during their pilgrimage to Jerusalem. (Lk. 2: 41-51)  Mary later witnessed her only Son tortured and killed in front of her eyes. (Jn. 19: 25)

These were not quite the circumstances of a perfect, ideal life, were they?

Yet, through it all, Jesus, Mary and Joseph had each other and were bound together by mutual love and respect.  They all greatly loved and trusted God, our Heavenly Father, and were obedient to His will as it was revealed and unfolded for them.

Today, problems within the family unit continue to exist—at a somewhat grand scale and pace.  Various people question, with some even wanting to redefine, the traditional understanding of “family.”  Family life as we once knew it in society seems to be eroding.

I contend that we need to look at the Sacred Scriptures to see what they teach us (albeit ever so briefly) about the family life experienced by the Holy Family.  Their obvious trust in God in difficult circumstances, their obedience to His will, and their fidelity to God and to one another are great examples for us all to follow.

Pray to the Holy Family.  Consecrate your families to the care of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Pray that our families be blessed and protected from the many threats that try to destroy them.

Pray fervently for the grace to know and to do God’s will.

And pray that our families will one day join the Heavenly Family that awaits us—united with Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor  


              

Monday, December 9, 2019

There’s No Place like Home for the Holidays


Dear Parishioners,

Christmas is upon us once again!

The trees get decorated, gifts are purchased and exchanged, various foods are prepared, businesses have their Christmas (or holiday) parties, cards are sent, students return home from college, families get together from far and wide to share good times, etc. etc.

Part of the routine for many is attendance at MassBy the way, did you ever take time to examine the last part of the word Christmas?  The word itself comes from the Old English for Christ’s Mass.
 
Usually the earliest possible Masses on Christmas Eve (here the three at 4 PM) are the best attended.  They are usually filled with children.  My personal favorite is still the Mass at midnight.  There is something special about that most holy of nights!

Even if its current chosen date was a Christianizing of the pagan winter solstice, as some contend, Christ was born at a particular point in time.  That is what we celebrate.

Christmas is about Christ.  Although things can get rather complicated and convoluted for some, Christmas is still about Christ.

Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  For today in the city of David a Savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord.  (Luke 2:  10-11)
God chose to become a man for us.  “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (Jn. 1:14)  Timelessness entered into time.  The almighty and all-powerful God became a helpless, vulnerable infant.  The creator of all life became subject to suffering and death.  The infinite majesty of God became finite.  God walked this very earth.  He could be seen, felt and touched.

When you peer into the manger this Christmas, realize that before you is a glimpse of the tremendous love that God has for you and me, as evidenced through the Incarnation of His only-begotten Son.

On behalf of the priests, deacons and staff that serve our parish, we wish you and your families a happy, holy Christmas and a blessed New Year!  May the love of God which took human form in the person of Jesus be honored and revered in every human person that we meet.

I thank God that you have made Holy Angels Parish your spiritual home!  

Merry Christmas!

Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor




Spending "Gaudete" Sunday with Marriage Encounter



Dear Parishioners,

The liturgical season of Advent originated as a fast of forty days in preparation for Christmas.  This, the third Sunday of Advent, is called Gaudete Sunday—from the Latin word “rejoice.”  We rejoice because the Lord is near.  Advent is halfway completed.  Priests have the option of wearing a rose colored vestment and we light the rose candle of the advent wreath.

However, I will be away from the parish this weekend presenting a Worldwide Marriage Encounter Weekend in Wildwood Crest, NJ.  When I was a newly ordained priest, a couple from my parish asked me to make a Marriage Encounter Weekend.  As you might expect, my reaction was somewhat puzzled. I am obviously not married. What would be the benefit of me attending such a weekend? 

Over 30 years later, I can honestly say that this experience (and its aftermath) had one of the most profound and lasting effects on me as a person and on my priestly ministry. This is probably not something that I would have chosen to do on my own.  It would certainly not have been on my bucket list.  Yet, what happened as a result can only be described as truly life-changing.  And it was thanks to a couple who simply invited me to try such an experience.

I have been presenting the Marriage Encounter Weekend, usually once or twice a year, for well over a quarter century now.  Together with a team of three couples, we share a series of talks to couples (and sometimes to priests and religious) with the goal of making good marriages better. The Marriage Encounter Weekend is not primarily designed for troubled marriages.  (There are experiences such as Retrouvaille for this purpose.) The Worldwide Marriage Encounter Weekend is meant to open up the lines of communication between husband and wife in what is essentially a private experience between the two.

What it did for me personally was help me understand married couples (and their families) better, help me open up lines of communication, help me better understand my relationship to the Church--the Body of Christ--and also to understand my feelings.  Feelings, in particular, are not something most men know how to deal with or might not realize the importance of in the first place.

Ladies, have you ever felt that your husband sometimes doesn’t seem to understand you?  Guys, are your wives sometimes still a mystery to you in many ways?  Do you both ever wonder if there is more to marriage and to life than what you are currently experiencing?  Then maybe it’s time to try a Marriage Encounter Weekend.  You can be newly-married or married for fifty years or more.  It does not matter.  The weekend can help to make any marriage better.

If you are married and desire more for your marriage, I invite you to consider attending such a weekend.  For further information, you can check out the South Jersey Worldwide Marriage Encounter website or call the information line at 609-741-8012.

Many people are afraid of the unknown, afraid of change or may not want to “rock the boat.”  I invite you and ask you to suggest to your spouse the possibility of attending an upcoming Marriage Encounter Weekend. 

I can only tell you from personal experience that it indeed has life-changing possibilities!

Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor


Tuesday, December 3, 2019

"I am the Immaculate Conception"


Dear Parishioners,

Among some Catholics, there is still a misunderstanding regarding what is meant by the term (or title) Immaculate Conception.  Some people mistakenly think that this title refers to Jesus and His being conceived miraculously in the womb of His Mother Mary.

In 1854, Pope Pius IX proclaimed the following in the Apostolic Constitution Ineffabilis Deus:

The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Saviour of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin.
This proclamation was one of two notable times in the history of the Catholic Church when a pope declared an infallible dogma ex cathedra (that is, from the chair of St. Peter’s teaching authority).  The other occasion was the dogma of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven.

Our catechism instructs us:  “Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, "full of grace" through God, was redeemed from the moment of her conception.  That is what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception confesses . . . .”  Catechism of the Catholic Church, 491.  Mary was redeemed by Christ as all humanity is, but her redemption began at her very conception in the womb of her mother by a singular grace--hence, the term Immaculate Conception.

Around the same time as the pope, bishops and theologians were wrestling with this theological matter, Bernadette Soubirous was born in Lourdes, France in 1844.  Saint Bernadette, as she is now known, is remembered for having received eighteen apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary between February 11 and July 16, 1858.  Our Lady asked for a chapel to be built at a grotto in Massabielle where the apparitions occurred and a miraculous spring of water now flows.  During these apparitions, Our Lady identified herself to St. Bernadette with the phrase “I am the Immaculate Conception.”  St. Bernadette, an illiterate peasant girl with no formal training in theology, had no idea what the phrase Immaculate Conception meant.  She was only fourteen at the time of the visions.  It seems that in these apparitions Our Lady herself confirmed what the Church had formally declared just four years earlier.  The church holds these apparitions as worthy of belief.

The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary is ordinarily celebrated on December 8th.  Under normal circumstances I would remind people to attend Mass on this day since it is usually a Holy Day of Obligation.  However, in 2019 this day is also the Second Sunday of Advent.  So, the celebration of the Immaculate Conception is transferred to December 9th with the obligation to attend Mass being removed.  (Are you confused yet?  I am.)  

I must emphasize that just because we may or may not be obliged to attend a particular Holy Day Mass on various years, it doesn’t mean that the importance and significance of the occasion should be diminished nor should we get into the habit of doing only the least possible (minimum requirement) when it comes to our faith.

Our Lady, as the Immaculate Conception, is the patroness of our country and our diocese.  She should certainly have a special place in our hearts.

Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor

St. Bernadette Soubirous
    

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

My Definition of an "Uphill Battle"




Dear Parishioners,

I have been ready to put up the white flag of surrender for decades now.  Christmas is upon us already—at least according to the American consumer mentality—and yet Advent didn’t even begin.  Santa was doing his thing in the mall for some time now.  In fact, Thanksgiving wasn’t even here yet.  We just barely got through Halloween (not to mention the Summer).

Advent.  Why bother even to have such a liturgical season?  By the time the Christmas season actually begins—according to the Church anyway—people are ready to take down the tree and the decorations.  Christmas is over psychologically.  We will have been celebrating it for months now.  Christmas parties were held.  Gifts were purchased, then wrapped.  Pollyannas (Secret Santa gifts) were exchanged.  Christmas (holiday) shows and concerts were attended.  Cards were sent and received.  Cookies were baked.  Stockings were stuffed.  Traditional and not-so-traditional songs of the season have been playing on the radio.  Etc., etc., etc. 

Then Christmas actually arrives, and it’s all over by the next day.  Let’s get to the retail stores to see if there are any after-Christmas bargains.  Maybe there are also some end-of-the-season deals online.  And don’t forget we still have to return those unwanted gifts.  

It is obvious who has won this battle.  It wasn’t the Church.  Preparation for the Coming of Christ?  Yes, we may spot a few of those Keep Christ in Christmas signs occasionally popping up on lawns or displayed on the back of cars.  But they really don’t influence the vast majority of people.  Perhaps, they may make some of us think a little, but they probably won’t change the behavior of the typical consumer.  Christ might have gotten an ever-so-slight bit of attention in between Rudolph, Frosty, Santa, the Grinch, Charlie Brown, Scrooge, Ralphie Parker (from the all-day Christmas marathon “A Christmas Story”) and the host of countless others who are “popular” and “new and with whom I am currently too out-of-touch to even name.

Dare I mention, the season of Advent begins with the 1st Sunday of Advent—this year on December 1st –and ends on Christmas eve?  Christmas time begins with the first Mass of Christmas (Christmas eve) and extends to January 12, 2020—the Baptism of the Lord.

Advent originally had a penitential nature, with a  two-fold preparation for the celebration of Christ’s Birth and in anticipation of His Second Coming.  There actually was fasting involved at an earlier point in time.  The modern Advent wreath that many of us are familiar with in churches and in homes is a rather recent development, being attributed to a 19th century German Protestant pastor.
      
Christ’s Incarnation and Birth, next to His Death and Resurrection, is the most significant event in salvation history for all humanity.  God became one of us.  The Second Person of the Blessed Trinity became a man.  The Creator humbles Himself, empties Himself (see Philippians 2: 6-11), to become a creature, a human.  He allows Himself to suffer and die.  All of this for us.

Jesus’ human beginnings sadly were met with little gratitude—no room in the inn.   A stable was provided.  There was a feeding trough for animals in which the Son of God could sleep.

Sadly, I do not think the level of gratitude for all He has done has changed much over time.  It seems to be greatly overshadowed by the materialism and consumerism that our modern Christmas has become.

Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor



Thursday, November 14, 2019

Eucharist Means "Thanksgiving"



Dear Parishioners,

As I continue my reflections on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, I bring to your attention the meaning of the word Eucharist (eukharistia) from the Greek meaning thanksgiving.

In the Novus Ordo Mass, the second major part (after the Liturgy of the Word) is referred to as the Liturgy of the Eucharist. It includes the Eucharistic Prayer when the unleavened wheat bread and grape wine are consecrated and truly become the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ. This mystery has been explained using the term transubstantiation, meaning the substance of bread and wine is changed into the Body and Blood of Jesus while the accidents (the appearance of bread and wine) remain the same. The Catholic Church teaches that this change is not merely symbolic but actual or real.  Hence, we speak of the Real Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament or Holy Eucharist.

We hear words beginning the preface of the Eucharistic prayer urging us: “Let us give thanks to the Lord, our God.” We also hear about Jesus taking bread, saying the blessing / giving thanks, breaking the bread and giving it to His disciples. We believe what Jesus declares (“This is My Body / My Blood”) literally happens. It is what occurs at every Mass when the priest stands in for Christ (in persona Christi) so that it is actually Christ who performs the action through the instrument of the priest. That is why the constant teaching of the Catholic Church has been that the priest must be male because the priest stands in place of Christ who was male. We believe this Ministerial Priesthood is Divinely established and is therefore not open to change.  Pope St. John Paul II made this clear in his Apostolic Letter ORDINATIO SACERDOTALIS:

“Although the teaching that priestly ordination is to be reserved to men alone has been preserved by the constant and universal Tradition of the Church and firmly taught by the Magisterium in its more recent documents, at the present time in some places it is nonetheless considered still open to debate, or the Church's judgment that women are not to be admitted to ordination is considered to have a merely disciplinary force. 

Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church's divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful.”

Making a proper thanksgiving after receiving Holy Communion is something that also needs continual emphasis and reinforcement. We see people leaving Mass early (sometimes directly after receiving Holy Communion) and it is natural to wonder if there was adequate time given to praise / adore, to thank, to petition, and to ask for forgiveness from (reparation) Our Lord.   After all, we have just received God Himself (Jesus, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity) and we have been united with Him in Holy Communion. Doesn’t this deserve a few moments of quiet, intimate reflection and prayer? Sometimes bad habits—like leaving Mass early—are hard to break! I do realize that not everyone is able to receive Holy Communion. Those in this situation should make a Spiritual Communion instead.

Give thanks to the Lord, especially at this time when our nation celebrates Thanksgiving, and attend Mass with your family!  Have a Blessed Thanksgiving!

Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor 

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

How Do We Refer to the Mass?



Dear Parishioners,

Whenever I read an article about the Mass in secular publications, I note the way in which it is referenced and, in particular, how the author describes the priest’s actions.  I have seen such descriptions indicating that the bishop performed the Mass, or the priest held a Mass, the pope delivers Mass, the pope leads Mass, or the priest presided at the Mass.

In times gone by, I have heard people say that they were going to hear Mass.  Similarly, it was the priest who was going to say Mass.  The Mass was also spoken of as the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  I still use this last phrase that I learned from my morning offering as a child.

There are various ways that I prefer to speak about the Mass:

Remembering that the priest is offering a sacrifice of bread and wine which will become the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, I like to say that I am going to offer Mass.  When I begin daily Mass, I usually note that “Today’s Mass is being offered for . . . .”  You might notice the frequent use of the word oblation (offering) found in many of the prayers of the most recent English translation of the Mass.  We are reminded that the priest is indeed offering the most perfect sacrifice of Jesus Himself to God the Father.  Recall the prayer (doxology) at the conclusion of the Eucharistic Prayer: “Through him and with him and in him, O God, Almighty Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, forever and ever.” “Amen.”    

Some time ago I heard it said that the priest should be praying the Mass (above and beyond simply going through the motions and not merely reading/saying the words that are written in front of us).  We speak in terms of Eucharistic Prayers, orations, etc. which remind us that we are praying during Mass.  Pope Benedict XVI urged priests with the following:  “. . . We must think of the various forms of the prayer of a priest, first of all daily Holy Mass. The Eucharistic celebration is the greatest and highest act of prayer, and constitutes the center and wellspring from which all the forms receive their ‘lifeblood’. . . . “ (May 3, 2009, Priesthood Ordinations in St. Peter’s Basilica)

It may also be said that a priest celebrates the Mass and I am the celebrant at Mass. When more than one priest offers the Mass together, we refer to them as concelebrants.

The current form of the Mass (frequently referred to as the Novus Ordo or the Mass of Paul VI) is the Mass most people are familiar with, especially if you were born in or after the 1960’s.  What came before was the Traditional Latin Mass (or the Tridentine Mass) which is available in some parishes throughout the Camden Diocese (and is solely offered at Mater Ecclesiae Parish in Berlin, NJ.)  There are many differences/changes that have occurred in the transition from the Traditional Latin Mass to the Novus Ordo including the use of the vernacular, the orientation of the priest, the positioning of the altar, those who are permitted to enter the sanctuary, etc. which I will attempt to address in subsequent columns.
  
How we speak about the Mass usually indicates what we think about it or what we believe happens during it.  There are multiple facets of what the Mass actually is and what happens during it.  I want to continue to emphasize, however, its essential sacrificial nature on an altar (the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass ) which has often been obscured in more recent times in favor of a meal/table aspect (Last Supper).

If we take the time to understand the mystery before us at the altar, perhaps we can come to the realization that we are truly experiencing a foretaste of the Heavenly Liturgy awaiting us someday.  

Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

The Definition of "Insanity"



Dear Parishioners,

One popular definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.  It’s cliché, but I use this concept to begin my thought process regarding the difficulties within the Catholic Church in general, and the Mass, in particular.

I am “all in” when it comes to traditional teaching, longstanding moral values, and everything that has its roots in Jesus Christ and His established Church.  After all, the bedrock of the Church is Sacred Scripture and Tradition.  We are an Apostolic Church.  We have over 2000 years of history which includes the writings of Church Fathers, the instruction of saints, the heroic witness of the martyrs, various teaching from Church councils, and many other contributions helping us to understand and to pass on the deposit of faith.

Where we run into problems is when there is deviation—even if it is ever-so-small—in our fidelity to this deposit of faith.  Being even a little wrong is still being wrong.  When things begin to be built on erroneous ideas or unorthodox teaching, we begin walking the path to heresy and apostasy.  Whether the error occurs by design (intentionally) or actually in good faith, there is never a reason to allow such error to continue or to try to re-label it or disguise it in some other way.  Some small things that we let creep into Church teaching and practice have, in reality, snowballed and turned into an avalanche.  We seem to be buried in it now.

If we deviate from an all-male clergy and allow ordained women deacons/priests, we will be in error.  If we try to accommodate so-called gay marriages, we will be in error.  If we create a new rite within the Church which incorporates pagan or idolatrous elements, we will be in error.  If we allow the divorced and re-married (without rectifying the situation through an annulment, etc.) to receive Holy Communion, we are in error.  If we say one religion is as good as another, that God actively wills a plurality of religions and minimize the importance of the Church that Christ Himself established, then we are in error.  The above list is certainly not all-inclusive.

We are told (and can reasonably verify) that approximately 20% of our faithful attend Mass weekly.  We are also instructed that about only 30% of Catholics believe what the Catholic Church teaches about the Holy Eucharist.  The teaching on the Real Presence has been successfully undermined. People are leaving the faith in droves—especially the poorly-catechized and misinformed.  Ever more claim no formal religious practice or affiliation.  Moreover, the importance of Baptism and Confirmation is de-emphasized.  Church weddings are not occurring.  Many times, people just live together.  We are given more of the same moral and doctrinal ambiguity, the same moral and doctrinal pablum that we have been fed for decades.  Just be nice.  All are welcome.  Don’t judge.  And how exactly is that working out for any of us?  Take another survey please.

I want to spend a few future bulletins emphasizing the importance of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  The Mass is the heart of the Catholic faith and the soul of the Church that Jesus established.  Beginning with more reverence and silence, we need to re-establish the atmosphere within the Church as a sacred place of prayer and worship, not just some ordinary place of communal social gathering.  We need to understand the importance of the Real Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle.  How we behave in the presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament speaks volumes concerning what we actually believe.  Most importantly, we must see the Mass as the greatest sacrifice to God, the Almighty Father, that we, as humans, can be a part of and witness on this earth.  So much has been misunderstood, poorly taught, disregarded or even deliberately distorted.  When we do not realize the essential sacrificial nature of the Holy Mass and its importance as established by Jesus Himself, little by little, everything else begins to crumble as well. 

It was Jesus who commanded us to “Do this in memory of me” regarding the Holy Eucharist. (Lk. 22:19)  My goal is to help us all see more clearly the utmost importance of carrying this out reverently and faithfully by our attendance at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor 

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass
(Definately worth repeating--reverently, of course.)


 

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Out of the Amazon (in Rome?)


Amazon region in South America

Dear Parishioners,

From its inception, the whole thing seemed extremely peculiar to me.  A synod on the Amazon? Its location was not to be in the Amazon region itself but in the Eternal City.  (As a side note, priests of the Diocese of Camden had previously been sent to Brazil as missionaries.  In fact, one of our priests, Fr. Miguel Pedro Mundo, had even become a bishop for the diocese of Jatai, Brazil.)

The pretext of this meeting was ministry to the indigenous peoples of the Amazon.  However, its various critics held that it was a means being used to change the Catholic Church radically with a globalist agenda, backed, in large part, by the German bishops.  Some saw Marxist liberation theology rearing its head once again.

The synod began with what appeared to many to be various pagan rituals led by a female shaman.  A figure of pachamamamother earth—was carried around Rome, brought into Catholic Churches including St. Peter’s Basilica, and even bowed down to at the opening ceremony in the Vatican gardens.  Paganism and idolatry penetrating our Catholic Church?  What do we make of this as it occurred even in the very presence of the Holy Father?

 Pope Francis receiving pachamama

The synod had its various moments of intrigue.  Several of the pachamama carvings were removed from the Catholic Church in which they were kept and then thrown into the Tiber river.  The pope subsequently apologized for what happened, even mentioning the pachamama by name.

The outcome of the synod was presented in a document recommending the following to the Holy Father for his final say on the matter:
·         The ordination of married men (viri probati) in the Amazon
·         Further study of the issue of female deaconesses
·         The creation of a special Amazonian Rite of the Church

What this would mean for the Church at large is yet to be seen.  However, critics warn that it could lead to optional celibacy, female deacons and a rite within the Church that espouses various pagan elements.

Ultimately, the Holy Father has the final say on matters of faith and morals.  However, he can never deviate from the deposit of faith that has been given to us by Jesus Christ and handed down to us through apostolic tradition.  To do so would put his own salvation in jeopardy.

We need to pray for the Church, for fidelity to the deposit of faith, for clarity in teaching and for the Holy Father himself.  There are a few voices in the hierarchy speaking up for truth but far too many worldwide remain silent on any potentially controversial matters.  When there is abundant uncertainty or confusion, we certainly need clarity and not silence.

Let’s begin here:  Commandment #1 - I am the Lord, Your God.  You shall not have any false gods . . . .

Seems abundantly clear to me.

Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor 

Church of Santa Maria in Traspontina

Vatican garden ceremony

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

The "None" Culture: What Has "Prayer" Morphed Into?



Dear Parishioners,

I have noticed it happening on social media over time.  Some people no longer say that they pray for each other but send other kinds of ambiguous greetings or condolences lacking any mention of God, religion or faith.  Let me give you a few of these taken directly from Facebook.  The comments were sent to a person to express sympathy after the death of a family member:

·         Sending you love and light
·         Sending lots of good vibes your way
·         Sending wishes for comfort and peace
·         Sending you electronic hugs
·         Sending you comfort and light
·         Sending love and strength

At other times I have witnessed people send others good energy or positive thoughts.

I wonder if such people understand the value of prayer?  Or are they afraid to admit that they pray?  Or do they not believe in God?  When we pray for others, we ask for God's help.  We admit that we depend on Almighty God as our Creator since we are His creatures.  We make a profession of faith in God who is all-powerful, all-loving, etc., and Whom we believe can help us in every situation. 

In like manner, when we ask a saint or saints to intercede for us, we are requesting those whom we believe to be already in the presence of Almighty God for all eternity, to petition God on our behalf.  Please pray (to God) for us.

Before I went to interview the Confirmation candidates last Sunday evening, I was watching the news.  A story that struck me reported that in a recent Pew survey the number of Americans who have no religion or religious affiliation is now about 26% of the population.  This is an increase of 9% in the past decade.  Such people are sometimes referred to as nones, since they check the box or answer "none" when asked their religious affiliation.  The alarming trend is that many in younger generations want nothing to do with organized religion.  Sometimes they declare they are spiritual but not religious.  Ever more worrisome are those who say that they no longer believe.  Period.

As one who has close relatives who no longer go to Mass, who find no immediacy in having their children baptized, who are  ignorant of or who simply disregard traditional Church teachings, I worry tremendously.  However, I also pray for them.  I remember them in the Masses I offer.  I beg Almighty God on their behalf because I do not want to see them lost for all eternity.  I care about the condition of their immortal souls as I do the souls of all my spiritual children.  (After all, I am called "Father" for a reason.)

Things cannot continue in the nation and in the Church business as usual.  God sees all, knows all, cares for us all, and will act accordingly as He sees appropriate.  Precisely what He will do, I claim no personal knowledge.  However, I have previously given reasons (see last week's bulletin / blog) why I have hope.  

Jesus continues to love His Bride, the Church. 

Meanwhile,  I pray . . . and pray . . . and pray.

Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor