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      

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Why Catholics Continue to Have Hope



Dear Parishioners,

As a Catholic priest I am charged with preaching the Gospel—the Good News.  I can certainly point out all of the things that are confusing or even scandalous in the Catholic Church.  However, there are important reasons why true Catholics do not give up hope in spite of the many obstacles we face.  We do not flee when the wolf attacks the sheep. We do not deny Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.  We remain faithful even if everyone calls us ridiculous, stupid or out of touch.  Remember in the Beatitudes we are told that we are actually blessed when we are unjustly persecuted.

Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you [falsely] because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.  (Mt. 5:  11-12)
Opposition and persecution have been present from the beginning of the Church and continue to this day.

Let me reflect with you on some of my reasons for ongoing hope within the Catholic Church:

  • Jesus is victorious over sin and death.  Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross, rather than being a defeat, was a victory.  Jesus rose from the dead.  Death has no more power over Him.  His Resurrection gives every Christian the hope of eternal life.  While we have not yet seen the culmination of all of God’s plans, we know Who has already won the victory.  Christus Vincit!
  • Jesus promised to remain with His Church.  And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.  (Mt. 28: 20)  First, Jesus remains with us in the Holy Eucharist.  We believe in His Real Presence on our altars and in our tabernacles.  We also have the Sacred Scriptures to guide and inspire us.  Through the ministerial priesthood Christ still acts in each sacrament.  Christ remains with His Church whenever we gather in His name, but most especially at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. 
  • Jesus told us that evil will not prevail.  “And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.  (Mt. 16: 18)  Through the centuries, there have been bitter battles for the soul of the Church.  We have seen many martyrs.  We have had bad popes, bishops, priests, etc.  Attempts have been made to destroy the Church from within and from without.  Despite all such attempts, the Church remains.  And it will remain.
  • Our Lady continues to intercede for us, her children.  Devotion to Our Blessed Mother is a sine qua non for any believing Catholic.  I have been especially devoted to the apparitions of Fatima (Portugal) and to the other approved apparitions like Lourdes (France), Guadalupe (Mexico), etc.  According to the seer Sr. Lucia, the message given at Fatima from Our Lady was ”In the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph.”  When we pray the Hail Mary, we ask for Our Lady’s intercession now and at the hour of our death.  She was given to us at the foot of the cross to be our spiritual mother.  She continues to intercede for her children and to care about their eternal salvation as any good mother would.

I continue to have hope.  What is going on in the Church still concerns me tremendously.  Yet, we need to remain faithful to the Lord as He is always faithful to us.  If you have any doubts, look at the crucifix. 

Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor

     

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

As Clear as Mud


Dear Parishioners,

I must admit that I am more than a bit confused by some of the things going on in the Roman Catholic Church these days.  Besides the horrendous sexual scandal (which is bad enough), the ambiguous teaching coming from Rome seems to be confusing at a minimum, if not outright contradictory to the traditional Deposit of Faith.
 
As a former high school teacher, I desire to be as clear as possible, especially  when it comes to teaching the doctrines of the Holy Catholic Church.  My opinion becomes insignificant when it comes to being completely faithful to what the Lord Jesus handed down to us, from age to age, through the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.  The specific areas in question include:  the indissolubility of marriage and the reception of Holy Communion by those in irregular unions; permissiveness toward homosexual acts and homosexual unions; acceptance of the diversity of religions as a means to salvation; the ordination of women and priestly celibacy; and the acceptance of various forms of paganism, especially at the current Amazon synod.

Thankfully, there have been some in the hierarchy who have undertaken to provide such desired and needed clarity.  Cardinal Gerhard Müller scripted a Manifesto of Faith affirming key Catholic doctrinal points that have been questioned today.  I encourage you to read it or to watch the free online video that was recently produced illustrating its teaching.  We will provide a link to the film from our parish web site (holyangelsnj.org).
 
In addition, Cardinal Raymond Burke and Bishop Athanasius Schneider have together written a document entitled A Clarification about the Meaning of Fidelity to the Supreme Pontiff.  This writing speaks of respecting the office of the Pope, while disagreeing with or seeking clarity from some of the Holy Father’s apparently confusing or ambiguous comments or from his apparent lack of willingness to provide clarity in certain of his teachings.  Moreover, there is an essay by Cardinal Walter Brandmüller critiquing the working document (Instrumentum Laboris) on the Amazon Synod currently taking place in Rome. I encourage the reading of these documents if you want to keep informed and to be able to navigate through what is happening in the Roman Catholic Church today.  I have provided links to all these documents from my personal web site (www.fr-ed-namiotka.com).

The internet provides us with the opportunity to follow so many matters in real time. Often, news can be obtained on the internet well before it appears on network television. While there are various cautions I give about some internet web sites, many of those who want to be loyal to the Catholic Church and her traditional teaching are providing a valuable tool to see various Church happenings from an up-close and personal perspective. Unfortunately, we are made aware of things that can be unnerving and confusing. Why were there what looked like pagan rituals and pagan symbols recently in the Vatican gardens?

I know I am not alone in questioning what seems so far removed from what should be expected from the Roman Catholic Church. We want answers and clarity and not the mess in which we find ourselves. Right now, some things are as clear as mud.

Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor



Tuesday, October 1, 2019

The Rosary and Our Pro-Life Efforts



Dear Parishioners,

First, I thank all who participated in our 40 Hours of Eucharistic Adoration this past week.  As I crossed the street from the rectory to make a visit to the church and the Blessed Sacrament, I was initially concerned that there might not be enough people in the church at certain times, especially late at night.  What a pleasant scene when I observed eight, ten or twelve people during the late hours and eighteen or twenty people regularly in front of the Blessed Sacrament for prayer.  There also were times when the school children and the religious education students were there as well!  Thank you to all!  I pray that God will give many graces to every person and family that participated.  Also, I am sure there will be special blessings for Holy Angels Parish.

Remember that if you found prayer before the Blessed Sacrament something that you wish to continue, we offer an hour of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament every Monday night at 7 PM.  This might be the opportunity to incorporate quality time praying with our Eucharistic Lord into your personal prayer life.

As we begin the month of October, I am reminded of the important connection we need to make joining devotion to the Holy Rosary with our Respect Life efforts.  It is no coincidence that October is both the month dedicated to the Holy Rosary and also to the respect for all human life from the moment of conception until natural death.

Just think of some of joyful mysteries of the Holy Rosary and their connection to various life issues.  The first joyful mystery, the Annunciation (Lk. 1: 26-38), shows us how with Mary’s “yes” to the angel, the Word became flesh in her womb.  God became Incarnate with Jesus’ human life beginning at conception.  After Jesus was conceived in Mary’s womb, when Mary greeted Elizabeth [the Visitation (Lk. 1: 39-56)], John the Baptist leaped for joy in Elizabeth’s womb.  Recall how Elizabeth was in advanced years—a situation that today may be too easy an excuse to have an abortion.  When Jesus is born in a stable in Bethlehem [the Nativity (Lk. 2: 1-7ff.)] with no room for Him anywhere else, I can just imagine someone today saying that “This child is too inconvenient for us at this time!” or “We can’t afford this child!” These are just a few reasons that can be rationalized for terminating an unwanted or inconvenient pregnancy.

I could go on developing this meditation.  However, it is even more important that we take the time to pray the rosary with the intention of fostering a greater respect for all human life.  Please take the time to pray at least five decades of the Holy Rosary each day. 

There is certainly no more important issue facing our world today than the one concerning the sacredness of all human life.  Jesus Christ, the Son of God, chose to become one of us.  This is our fundamental belief and this indicates for us the tremendous value that God placed on humanity itself.  Let no one deceive you with false arguments and/or intellectual rationalizations somehow justifying an abortion, infanticide or euthanasia.

The Author of Life became one of us and this speaks volumes of our need, tirelessly, to protect and to defend all human life.  Prayer is the greatest tool and the Holy Rosary is one of the most powerful weapons in any spiritual battle.

Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor

Monday, September 23, 2019

“So You Could Not Keep Watch with Me for One Hour?”




Dear Parishioners,

The time for our 40 Hours of Eucharistic Adoration begins this Sunday night (9/29/19) after the 6 PM Mass in St. Patrick Church.  Our Eucharistic Lord will be present continually on the altar for prayer and adoration (except when there is a scheduled Mass) until 7 PM Tuesday evening (10/2/19).  Masses on Monday and Tuesday will be at 6:45 and 9 AM  and 7 PM.

I have asked all of you to consider spending at least one hour during these days before Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.

What are some of the things that we might possibly pray for during this time?

  • For those in our family or among our relatives and friends who no longer practice their Catholic faith or who have abandoned it.

  • For priestly or religious vocations in our Church.  (Remember our diocese did not ordain any priests this year.)

  •  In reparation for our sins.  (I know I need to spend a few hours myself on my knees with this intention in mind!)

  •  In thanksgiving for the many blessings God has bestowed on us during our lives.  (Most of us probably do not say “thank you” quite enough.)

  • For our Catholic Church:  for clarity in her teaching and doctrine; for holiness in her leaders;  for healing in those who have been hurt or abused;  that all of her members may walk the path to salvation and eternal happiness.

  • For our deceased relatives and friends; for the forgiveness of their sins and lessening of any time in purgatory.

  • For our enemies.  Didn’t Jesus remind us to pray for them?  (See Mt. 5: 43-48)

Maybe you just might need to spend some quiet time with Our Lord listening to what He might say to your heart.

During this time of year there are football fans who will spend hours and hours watching game after game—Saturday, Sunday, Monday night and Thursday night.  There are other people who will be fixated in front of their tablets, computers, televisions or phones for multiple hours.  There are still others who  will work out at the gym several times each week religiously.  How much time do you think is given to prayer by the average person?

Right before His crucifixion, while Jesus was agonizing in the garden of Gethsemane about his impending suffering and death, He asked His disciples to take time to pray with Him.  Could you ever imagine His disappointment when He found them sleeping instead?  “So you could not keep watch with me for one hour?” (Mt. 26:40)

One hour of your time for the Lord who gave His life for us.  Is that too much to ask?

Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor


        

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

More About the Forty Hours Devotion




Dear Parishioners,

Beginning Sunday night (9/29/19) after the 6 PM Mass in St. Patrick Church, we will offer the opportunity for prayer and adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament, commonly known as the Forty Hours Devotion.  This practice, which can be traced to Milan, Italy around the year 1530, is a formalized period of prayer and adoration centering on the Real Presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist.

Prior to this period in the Catholic Church’s history, there were times of exposition and benediction, Eucharistic processions and devotion to the Blessed Sacrament reserved in the tabernacle.  However, both Saints Philip Neri and Ignatius of Loyola instituted the Forty Hours Devotion (with reference to Jesus’ 40 hours in the tomb and recalling other biblical citations in which the symbolic number 40 was specified) in reparation for sin.

Fr. William Saunders, whom I knew from my college seminary days, wrote a rather thorough article, “40 Hours with Jesus Christ,” originally for his diocesan paper (Arlington Catholic Herald) describing this devotion.  I quote from a part of it here:

While the Mass is the central act of worship for us Catholics, an act which participates in the eternal reality of our Lord's passion, death, and resurrection, Vatican Council II upheld and encouraged the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament outside of Mass.  Of course such devotion derives from the sacrifice of the Mass and moves the faithful to both sacramental and spiritual communion with our Lord (Eucharisticum Mysterium, #50). . . . Pope John Paul II has repeatedly "highly recommended" public and private devotion of the Blessed Sacrament, including processions on the Feast of Corpus Christi and the 40 Hours Devotion (cf. Dominicae Cenae, #3, and Inaestimabile Donum, #20-22).
It was the 4th Bishop of Philadelphia, St. John Neumann who was a strong promoter of this devotion in his diocese.  The practice would also spread to our area of New Jersey and beyond.

After considering this brief history lesson and the official encouragement by saints, popes and church documents, I really think that the essence of this devotion comes down to our belief—our deep faith—in Jesus’ Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist.  If Jesus is really there, why wouldn’t we want to spend time with Him in prayer?

I can simply relate to you from my own personal experience that spending time with Jesus in the Holy Eucharist has been for me my most fruitful times of prayer beyond comparison.  I love the Holy Eucharist in all of its dimensions—from offering the Mass to the reception of Holy Communion to adoring and worshiping Jesus’ Real Presence in the tabernacle / monstrance.  Jesus is present throughout—Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.

Those that I know (and have known) who have prayed in the presence of the Most Blessed Sacrament have overwhelmingly come to appreciate what a most precious gift that we have.  The Mass is so much more meaningful.  The reading of the Sacred Scriptures becomes alive and motivating.  The inspiration and wisdom that comes from sitting at the feet of the Master is beyond price!

I invite you to come to Mass and to spend some time during these days—September 29th to October 1st—with our Eucharistic Lord.  Pleas sign up so that all the time slots are filled!  Our Lord deserves nothing less.  

Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor

  

Sunday, September 15, 2019

40 Hours of Eucharistic Adoration at Holy Angels



Dear Parishioners,

We near the feast day of Holy Angels Parish (September 29) which is normally the Feast of the Holy Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael.  This year it falls on a Sunday.  Our parish will observe 40 Hours of Eucharistic Adoration from Sunday, September 29 to Tuesday, October 1.  Following the Sunday evening Mass at 6 PM at St. Patrick Church on September 29, 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 extra evening Mass at 7 PM on both September 30 and October 1 (in addition to our regular morning Masses at 6:45 and 9 AM).  The closing Mass on October 1 will also include a Eucharistic procession.

I truly believe that when we take the time to be with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, it is a time of tremendous 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 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.

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 are 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.  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 requesting from you, my parishioners, is that you dedicate at least one hour sometime during these three days with the Lord in adoration.  (This should be in addition to any time attending Mass, when possible.)  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 (choir, Knights of Columbus, St. Vincent de Paul, lectors, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, etc.).  I especially need a few insomniacs or night owls to cover the late hours!  We are arranging to have added security at night.

Sign-up sheets are available at the doors of the churches and the worship center, and online so that we can be sure that there is always someone keeping watch with our Lord.  Please assist me in making this a special time for our parish as we adore our Eucharistic Lord.

Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor