Monday, February 18, 2019

Let Me Tell You About the Priests that I Know

Our priests after Christmas Midnight Mass

Dear Parishioners,

In this age of Catholic Church priest sex scandals, I took a serious look at the priests that surround me in my everyday life.  They say that you really don’t know people until you live with them.  Fortunately, I live with three dedicated priests, while an additional dedicated priest resides at our other rectory in National Park.  We are very blessed to have five priests (including me) residing in our parish.  Two come from other countries: India and Nigeria.  The other two have some connection to Atlantic City (in some ways, a world unto its own!)  I was born in Philadelphia but grew up in Wildwood.

While two of us are assigned here full time to do parish work, the other three priests serve the diocese in various capacities.  Fr. Nick is in charge of priest personnel, Fr. Ernest is chaplain to two hospitals and Fr. Hugh takes care of the deaf ministry and others with disabilities or special needs.

We all have different personalities, but one thing we all seem to share is a sense of humor.  While all five of us are not always together each night for dinner, when we are together, we usually laugh.  We discuss matters of the church and the world.  We learn about differing customs and cultures.  We get to hear about our various family members.  In sum, we seem to get along and enjoy each other’s company.

From what I can observe, each of us enjoys being a priest.   I know that I do.  We have well over 100 combined years of priestly service between us, having experienced many, many situations—some in common and some absolutely unique.  Together we have to face the unpleasant circumstances of scandalous matters for which we were not personally responsible.  Yet, we all share a priestly fraternity—a brotherhood—with the unified purpose of serving the Catholic Church through its people.

The average parishioner doesn’t see Fr. Ernest getting called in the middle of the night, or at dinner time, to anoint a sick or dying person or to comfort a family after a death.  You don’t necessarily see Fr. Hugh practicing American sign language for hours, preparing for each and every occasion in his ministry.  You may not observe Fr. Jose offering Mass at one of our many facilities for the aging or being called to someone’s home to anoint a dying person.  You probably don’t realize Fr. Nick’s concern for all the priests of the diocese, including our retired priests, and what is entailed when various difficult situations come up.  However, I have personally witnessed all of the above taking place in real time.  I have seen men trying to be—albeit imperfectly—Christ to others.

Personally, I have never had any second thoughts or serious doubts about the calling that I heard from the Lord.  My vocation was officially set in motion when I was 18 years old—40 years ago!  Would I do it over again?  Yes, I would.  What many may not understand is I believe that God knows what is best for me and for my eternal salvation.  I firmly believe that He chose this path for me.  It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you . . ..   (Jn. 15: 16)

Please say a prayer for your priests each day.  I know that it might be considered a horrendous time to try to promote priestly vocations.  However, I know that Jesus is still in charge of His Church and that He is ever-working to purify it—including the sacred priesthood.

Fr. Ed Namiotka

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Christ, Our Light

Dear Parishioners,

Anyone with a modicum of supernatural faith, a functioning conscience and some basic intelligence should be able to see the hand of the diabolical behind some recent events.

On February 2nd the Church celebrated the feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the temple, also known as Candlemas day.  The blessing of candles with a procession is part of the Church’s tradition.  Christ is seen as the Light that now enters the temple.  Simeon, an elderly man praying in the temple, upon seeing the infant Jesus, utters the following:

Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in sight of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel. (Lk. 2: 29-32)
These verses are recited daily in night prayer of the Church and are known as the Canticle of Simeon or Nunc Dimmitis.  Again, the emphasis is Christ as the Light for all peoples.

Sadly, just about a week prior, on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, some other lights were lit throughout the city and state of New York.  Pink lights shone from One World Trade Center, the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, the Kosciuszko Bridge, and the Alfred E. Smith Building in Albany. These lights were specifically ordered by Governor Andrew Cuomo to “celebrate” a horrendous occasion—the passage of the so-called Reproductive Health Act.  I quote him directly:

The Reproductive Health Act is a historic victory for New Yorkers and for our progressive values. In the face of a federal government intent on rolling back Roe v. Wade and women’s reproductive rights, I promised that we would enact this critical legislation within the first 30 days of the new session – and we got it done. I am directing that New York’s landmarks be lit in pink to celebrate this achievement and shine a bright light forward for the rest of the nation to follow (emphasis mine).
What exactly were they celebrating?  The NY law permits abortions up until the time of birth, gives no protections to babies born alive from botched abortions, permits non-doctors to perform abortions, and removes any consideration of a baby in the womb as a human being.  After the passage of the law, the New York state legislature erupted in applause.  Yes, applause at the potential death of children in the womb.  Absolutely diabolical!

The state of Virginia tried to follow a similar path to remove restrictions on abortions with House Bill 2491.  Governor Ralph Northam tried to explain to WTOP radio what would happen to a baby born alive after a failed abortion:

If a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen. The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.

A discussion between mother and physicians whether a born “infant” should be permitted to live?  I believe this is clearly infanticide.  Legalized killing of a baby in the womb—right up until the time of birth—and killing a baby outside the womb once born?  Have we completely lost our minds and any moral compass whatsoever?  I still can’t get over how they applauded in New York.

The cries of aborted children—over 60 million of them in the US—continue to be heard by God.  If those responsible for the death of innocent children have any concern for their eternal salvation, I pray they repent now before it is too late.  A realization of the evil that was done to these innocents, compounded by the diabolical laugh of Satan for all eternity in the fires of hell, is not a prospect that I ever want to face.  

Christ be our Light and lead us out of this terrible, terrible darkness.  We most emphatically and humbly implore you.

Fr. Ed Namiotka

One World Trade Center