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


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


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

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Restoring Belief in and Reverence for the Most Holy Eucharist

Dear Parishioners,

A recent headline from the Pew Research Center (August 5, 2019) stated the following:  "Just one-third of U.S. Catholics agree with their church that Eucharist is body, blood of Christ." While I was disappointed with the findings, I cannot say that I was completely shocked.  I have seen it coming for years now.

Let me share with you a some facts and incidents that accentuate and corroborate this conclusion in my own mind:

  • We know that only about one-fifth of our registered Catholics attend Mass each week.  Can they really believe in the Real Presence with such sparse attendance?
  • People come to Mass looking like they are ready for the gym or even the beach.  Someone also came forward to distribute the Holy Eucharist (presumably to fill-in for someone who did not show up) dressed in gym shorts, athletic shoes and a t-shirt.  Really?
  • At a Mass for the religious education students, one of students took the Holy Eucharist in one hand and then began to give a high five with the other hand to the students in the first pew as he passed them.  Eventually, he did consume the Sacred Host.  I saw it happen as I was distributing Holy Communion.  Does he understand or even have a clue what (WHO) he had in his hand?
  • On a far too regular basis I have had to follow someone down the aisle (usually at a funeral or wedding) to make sure that they have consumed the Sacred Host after they had taken it in their hands and then walked away.
I could go on, but I think you get the idea.

What can we do about this disturbing trend?  In my mind, we must move in the opposite direction immediately.  Personally show the proper reverence for Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist. 

I plan to re-establish the practice of 40 Hours here in the parish. When the time comes, please sign up (individually or as a family) for one hour to give the proper worship and adoration to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and to make reparation to Him for the lack of belief.  You could also start attending our Eucharistic Holy Hour on Monday evenings at 7 pm.

Receive the Holy Eucharist with the utmost reverence.  Genuflect or make a Sign of the Cross before receiving Our Lord.  I am truly edified when people kneel for Holy Communion.  While I personally believe that allowing the reception of Holy Communion in the hand was a serious mistake contributing to this lack of belief (and I have no authority to change this practice unilaterally), I can bring it to people's attention and request that they receive Our Lord much more reverently.

When you pass in front of the Tabernacle, please genuflect if you are physically able.  Please do not gather to talk or socialize anywhere in the Sanctuary area.  And most importantly, always approach to receive the Holy Eucharist in the state of grace (not conscious of any grave or mortal sin).  This includes willfully and negligently missing Mass. One should always go to Confession first before receiving Holy Communion, if the person is in grave or mortal sin.

Each of us can show others what we believe by our reverence and actions.  We should never do things just for show or simply to gain the attention of others.  However, how we dress, how we approach the Holy Eucharist, how we receive, etc., can speak volumes in a world of unbelief.  Please do your part.

Fr. Ed Namiotka