Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Remembering and Understanding Our Sacred Tradition



Dear Parishioners,

When I finished high school and was accepted for admission to a college seminary to study for the priesthood, I was told at the time that I needed to study both Latin and Greek—two years of each.  I had no familiarity with either language up to then.  Since we belong to the Latin or Roman Rite—we are Roman Catholics—the study of ecclesiastical Latin provided me with some valuable background for what is still our official church language.  (Moreover, Koine or biblical Greek would prove very beneficial for my understanding of Sacred Scripture.)

At times, various people will reference Vatican II (the Second Vatican Council) and not know what the documents from that ecumenical council actually say.  Sacrosanctum Concillium, the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy of the Second Vatican Council, actually states the following:  Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites (#36).  It certainly makes no sense to me to disregard approximately two thousand years of our precious history and tradition.

That is why, at various times during the liturgical year, I encourage our musicians to introduce various elements of Latin and Greek into our liturgy—specifically, the Kyrie (Greek) and the Sanctus and Agnus Dei (Latin) during the seasons of Advent and Lent.  By now, if we regularly attend Mass, we should all know the English translations for the above as the Lord, Have Mercy, the Holy, Holy, Holy and the Lamb of God.  This variation also gives us an opportunity to experience Gregorian Chant, another significant tradition from our musical heritage.  I have suggested that we change our routine during Advent and Lent since these liturgical seasons are meant to be different from Ordinary Time.

Interestingly enough, my experience in the classroom has shown me that if it is presented in a positive manner, children are receptive to learning these parts of the Mass in the ancient languages.  (I have received much more resistance from others of slightly older generations who seem to have an aversion or even disgust for anything considered pre-Vatican II).

Someone once disparagingly reminded me how Latin is no longer a spoken or conversational language.  It is used for the liturgy and in church documents and writings.  Interestingly enough, as a result, it allows this ancient language to be unique and set aside for sacred matters, like addressing God in prayer.  Keeping something as special or reserved for God alone seems like quite a novel idea, doesn't it!  Maybe its use would reflect a bit more reverence above and beyond the colloquial language that we use for everyone and everything else.  Just saying!
   
I leave you with the following Latin motto which one of my seminary professors used to inscribe atop his papers and handouts: A.M.D.G.Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam.  It is the motto of the Society of Jesus, the Jesuits, of which Pope Francis is a member.  May all things be done for the greater glory of God!

Fr. Ed Namiotka

Pastor

 Gregorian Chant

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Formed




Dear Parishioners,

Alleluia!  Christ is Risen!  Alleluia!

Please realize that we continue to celebrate the glorious Easter event--the bodily Resurrection of Jesus--right through the celebration of Pentecost (June 9, 2019).  The joy of Easter cannot be contained in a single day, but the Church gives us an entire season to contemplate what Jesus' Resurrection means for us.  We have a promise of eternal life, the forgiveness of sin, and a Christian hope that the world cannot give.

Sadly, the joy of Easter was diminished by the tragic events in Sri Lanka.  The terror attacks that very day killing more than 300 innocent people, sadly reflects how evil continues to rear its ugly head in our world.  May our prayers be with the victims and their families.

This Sunday of Divine Mercy focuses all Christians on the Divine Mercy that Jesus offers to us.  According to the notebooks of St. Maria Faustina of the Blessed Sacrament, Jesus made the following statements about this day:

On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open.  I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy.  The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment.  On that day all the divine floodgates through which grace flow are opened.  Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet.  My mercy is so great that no mind, be it of man or of angel, will be able to fathom it throughout all eternity. (Diary of Saint Faustina, 699)

Devotion to Divine Mercy is especially associated with an image painted as Jesus wished, based on descriptions by Saint Faustina.  The words that accompany the image are Jesus, I trust in Thee (Jezu, Ufam Tobie in Polish).  The rays coming from Jesus' body represent the Blood and water that poured forth from the wound He suffered when pierced by the lance.

The devotion is practiced by praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet and Novena to the Divine Mercy -- both of which may be prayed at any time, but especially at "The Hour of Great Mercy" -- 3:00 PM, the hour our Lord died, and in conjunction with Divine Mercy Sunday.

If you want to learn more about Divine Mercy, why not sign up for a free Formed account on your smart phone, tablet or computer?  Instructions were distributed after all the Easter masses and are currently available on our parish web site (www.holyangelsnj.org).  Entertaining movies, enlightening study series, inspiring talks and a selection of eBooks are available to you.  There is an entire section on Divine Mercy on this app.

Since we live in a digital age, Formed is one way to reach more parishioners using their smart phones, computers, tablets or devices.  It is a means to learn more about our Catholic faith and to enjoy entertainment geared to religious formation and family values.  Since the account is free to you, please consider signing up and joining our online parish family.  While nothing substitutes for active participation at Mass or the individual connection involved with the reception of the sacraments, there is a need for continuing Catholic education and formation that coincides with people's busy lives.  Here is another way that we are trying to evangelize and to educate using current technology.

Why not give it a try? 

Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor


St. Faustina with the image of Divine Mercy

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Easter Joy



Dear Parishioners,

As I get older, I increasingly realize a certain void left in my life as a result of the death of relatives and friends.  I am no longer able to pick up the phone to say “hello” or to stop over to visit with them.  I tell myself that someday I hope to see them again, but I don’t have ultimate control over when, where, how—or if.  I have to wait, hope and trust.

Can you imagine what the apostles went through at the death of Jesus?  Did all of their hopes and expectations die with Him on the cross?  They saw their leader, their teacher, their rabbi, mocked cruelly, beaten mercilessly and then put to death.  I suspect they feared for their very lives.  Perhaps they recalled some of the things that he had told them to keep His memory alive.  The events of Good Friday did not present any apparent hope or future possibilities.  Death seemed so callous, cruel and final.  Death seemed triumphant.

Then came Easter.  Everything changed.  He is risen!  Somehow, despite the horrible things that were done to Him, He is still alive—miraculously!

For us Christians nothing is really as important as Christ conquering sin and death and rising from the dead.  Easter is about Resurrection.  It is about eternal life.  It is about hope and joy.

Unfortunately, we all will face the Good Fridays of our lives.  Death will come to each of us and to the ones that we love.  It may seem cruel, unfair, and so permanent.  We may not know what we are going to do or where we should turn.  We may even be on the brink of despair.  However, in these darkest of hours, turn to Jesus.  Trust Jesus.

I can only imagine the inexplicable joy that the apostles had when they saw Jesus alive again.  I am sure that it surpassed their greatest expectations and gave them a faith in Christ that they would subsequently take to the ends of the earth.  They would live and die for Christ, trying to spread His message of Good News—the Gospel.  They would speak about resurrection and eternal life.  They had their hope restored and they attempted to give others this hope in Jesus.

This Easter I pray that you experience the joy of the Risen Christ.  May your faith in Him and love for Him increase and radiate from your entire being.
 
He is not dead but very much alive!

I thank all who work so hard and who are so generous in helping to strengthen our Christian faith community here at Holy Angels.  Be assured of my daily prayers and Masses for all of you.

May I ask a continued remembrance in your prayers and Masses as well? 

Fr. Ed Namiotka

Pastor             

Holy Week Begins




Dear Parishioners,

This weekend we begin the most sacred week of the year for Christians.  We recall Christ’s passion, death and resurrection.  We are reminded of all that God has done for us in sending us His Only Begotten Son.

Palm Sunday recalls Jesus’ triumphant entry into the city of Jerusalem.  His royal reception sees Him being lauded by the crowd:  Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; hosanna in the highest (Mt. 21:9)  However, entering Jerusalem meant that Jesus was now ready to begin His bitter passion and to face death on a cross.  The crowd quickly turned on Him as they chanted:  Let him be crucified! . . . Let him be crucified!  (Mt. 27:  22-23)  We can see how quickly any glory and honor that the world may have for any of us can change to ridicule, scorn and even hatred.

On Holy Thursday (7:30 PM Mass, Worship Center) we recall the Last Supper where Jesus instituted the Holy Eucharist and the Ministerial Priesthood.  Priesthood and the Holy Eucharist are intimately connected:  without the Priesthood, there would be no Holy Eucharist.  Jesus’ actions also remind us of the call to service displayed by the mandatum or washing of the apostles’ feet.  Do you realize what I have done for you?  You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am.   If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet.  I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do. (Jn. 13: 12-15)

This year we will process with the Blessed Sacrament form the Worship Center to St. Patrick Church where time for silent prayer will take place at the repository until 10 PM.  (Adoration will not be held in the Worship Center this year but in St. Patrick Church.)

The liturgy of the Passion of the Lord on Good Friday (3 PM, St. Patrick Church) has 3 main components:  a reading of the passion account from St. John’s gospel followed by various intercessions, veneration of the cross and Holy Communion.  Masses are not offered on Good Friday.

The Easter Vigil (8 PM, Worship Center) is not intended as a Mass to be rushed through quickly.  (Please note:  Mass usually lasts minimally about 2 hours.)  There are so many beautiful parts that, if done reverently and properly, should not be hurried or omitted.  We begin with a lighting of the Easter fire and a candlelight ceremony.  Then follows the singing of the Exultet or Easter Proclamation.  Salvation history is traced through a series of readings as the congregation is reminded of how God has continued to work in and through every age.  After the readings comes the time to bring new members into the Catholic Church through Baptism and the reception of other Sacraments of Initiation (Confirmation & Holy Communion).  The Easter water is blessed at this time and sprinkled on the congregation as we renew our baptismal promises.  Finally, Mass continues in normal fashion with the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

Please consider participation in these liturgies of the Easter Triduum.  We all need to be reminded of what Christ has done for us.  The little time that we might spend in Church pales in comparison to the hours that he suffered for us on the cross.

Also, the last scheduled time for Confession (the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation) before Easter is Wednesday, April 17 at 7 PM in St. Patrick Church.  For all of you procrastinators, please take note of this important opportunity.

Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

A Final Appeal



Dear Parishioners,

For the past few months we have been making you aware of the diocesan Catholic Strong campaign.  This program is designed to benefit each diocesan parish with any capital improvements and ministerial programs that need funding.  While each parish has its own particular needs, this diocesan-wide effort gives 70% of all gifts directly to the parish for its planned use.  The remaining 30% is intended for new diocesan initiatives beneficial to the parishes.

Last weekend the priests assigned here tried to spell out the needs of Holy Angels Parish.  Since I was not able to be present physically at all eight weekend Masses, I will try to elaborate on what I said when I spoke at my three Masses:

·  There are some building concerns that need immediate attention--the roofs of St. Patrick and St. Matthew Churches and the rectory in Woodbury all have leaks.  When such matters are left continually unaddressed, there is a risk of things like structural damage, mold, etc.

·  Various driveways and parking lots need resurfacing and repairs.  Take particular note of the driveway from Green Avenue into the school.  It has plenty of potholes.

·   The retaining wall surrounding St. Matthew Church is deteriorating and needs repair/replacement.

·    number of heating and air-conditioning units in various buildings are liable to stop working at any time due to their age.  While they have been regularly maintained, unfortunately, they do not last forever.

·   The hot water heater in the Worship Center has been broken and needs replacement.

·   The recently purchased building at 81 Cooper Street needs things such as windows (many of them were boarded-up), a new roof, electrical and HVAC repairs/replacements, etc. before the other parish offices (receptionist, secretary, bookkeeper, ministry coordinator, priests, and deacons) can be permanently moved into the building.  This building is planned as our future centralized Parish Office Building.

·    Major repairs are also necessary at the former convent (Ministry Center).  The full extent that this building will remain in use has not been determined at this time.

In addition, we hope to apply some funds towards ministry to youth and to families with children.

Our volunteers have been making calls for the past months.  Information and brochures have been mailed to various registered parishioners.  Information has also been published in the church bulletin and on our parish website.  Now we come to the last two weeks of making a formal appeal for your help. Can we count you in for a direct donation or a larger pledge over time (3-5 years)?

(For those who desire 100% of their donation to go directly to the parish, this should be indicated when your gift/pledge is made.  Bishop Sullivan had assured us that all requests of this kind will be honored.)

Finally, I thank those who have already supported us and have been most generous.  No gift is ever too large or too small!

No matter what you are financially able to do, we need your prayerful support of our parish.

Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor
81 Cooper Street, Woodbury

Ministry Center (former convent)

School driveway (complete with potholes)

Roof leak (St. Matthew Church)