Tuesday, November 10, 2020

The Meeting Tent




Dear Parishioners,

If you refer to Chapter 33: 7-11 of the Book of Exodus (the Hebrew Scriptures) you will read about Moses encountering God.  This took place in a meeting tent where Moses would talk to God face to face.

I have been fascinated by this passage since my college seminary days.  Back then, when I was reading an article about Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen’s daily Eucharistic Holy Hour, this reference to Moses and his personal encounter with God was mentioned.  The piece described how Moses’ face became radiant—he was visibly changed—because of his spending time conversing with God.

As Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant in his hands, he did not know that the skin of his face had become radiant while he spoke with the LORD. When Aaron, then, and the other Israelites saw Moses and noticed how radiant the skin of his face had become, they were afraid to come near him . . . When Moses finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face. (Ex. 34: 29-30, 33)
Over many years, following the example of Archbishop Sheen, I have sought to spend time with the Lord before the Blessed Sacrament.  My reasoning is simple:  If we, as Catholics, truly believe that the Lord Jesus is present in the Eucharist, how could we not want to spend time with Him?  It is often an uphill battle trying to get people—sometimes even priests—to understand how precious this time alone with the Lord means to me.

Pope Saint John Paul II once wrote the following, which increased my determination to spend time in Eucharistic Adoration:

To priests the Council also recommends, in addition to the daily celebration of the Mass, personal devotion to the Holy Eucharist, and especially that "daily colloquy with Christ, a visit to and veneration of the Most Holy Eucharist" (PO 18). Faith in and love for the Eucharist cannot allow Christ's presence in the tabernacle to remain alone (cf. CCC 1418). Already in the Old Testament we read that God dwelt in a "tent" (or "tabernacle"), which was called the "meeting tent" (Ex 33:7). The meeting was desired by God. It can be said that in the tabernacle of the Eucharist too Christ is present in view of a dialogue with his new people and with individual believers. The presbyter is the first one called to enter this meeting tent, to visit Christ in the tabernacle for a "daily talk." (June 9, 1993)

The above factors led me, in this and in my two last parishes, to construct my own meeting tent in the rectory—a small, private Eucharistic chapel where I can be alone with the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.  There is no phone, no Internet, and minimal distractions.  I want to be disconnected from worldly matters and tuned in completely to Jesus.  Period.  Over the years, I have often tried praying in the church but inevitably I am interrupted for some reason or another.  While some may perceive this as anti-social behavior, please take some consolation in this:  your pastor takes his prayer life very seriously, believes in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist and is praying for you.  

While my face may not become radiant like Moses, my disposition frequently is more pleasant!

Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor (wanna-be monk)





Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Election Day



Dear Parishioners,

As I write today (Election Tuesday), people are going to the polls (or may have already voted, like myself) to elect various officials throughout the country.  I have no idea what the results will be by the time you read this message in the Sunday bulletin.  However, I have a few comments and observations I wish to make regarding the current state of politics in America.

First, I state clearly that I have never been affiliated with any one political party for as long as I have been eligible to vote.  While I know that this may prohibit me from voting in certain primary elections, I have found no compelling reason to make a complete allegiance to any political party as they currently stand.  My allegiance is and will always be to Almighty God and to my Catholic faith.  I publicly endorse no candidate, although I will certainly have leanings toward (and have voted for) those who clearly represent my beliefs as a Roman Catholic.  The biggest of these is the right to life issue.  We can never support an intrinsically evil action such as the killing of the innocent unborn through abortion.

I do vote regularly and I vote based on the issues, on a candidate’s observable moral character and values, on what a candidate and his/her party's platform actually stands for, on a candidate’s record of service and past voting on issues, etc.  This sometimes makes voting very difficult, considering most candidates without a major party affiliation probably do not have the money or political clout necessary to run a campaign that is actually able to win.  Is choosing the lesser of two evils—a position in which we may find ourselves all too often—ever the optimal moral position to be in?  However, in this 2020 election, the battle lines seem eminently clear to me.

This being said, I raise the following concerns:

  • Enough with the negative campaigning and political mudslinging!  If you are going to run a political ad, tell me what you are going to do, not how bad your opponent is!  I suppose that negative campaigns must produce a greater result, or they would not be used by so many.  But I am truly sick of them!  My hope is that there will be a backlash against those proponents of the negative campaigns and that your efforts will backfire.
  • Stop lying to the people!  Personally, I do not want continually to be told what you are going to do simply to pacify me or to get my vote.  If I do not see results or I see broken promises time and again, you simply will not get my vote again.  Period.  Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me!
  • If you are elected to public office, do your jobs!  We have a political system that was intended to have a check and balance system.  Deliver me from a plethora of executive orders, from activist judges, from a congress that does not do what it is actually elected to do—continually stuck in political gridlock from partisan loyalties rather than the good of the constituents.  Deliver me from all abuses of political power, in whatever form they may appear!
  • If you do not vote or fail to become informed on the issues, you have no one to blame but yourself!  I hope and pray that when they interview people on various TV shows, the people are not as ignorant about social and political matters as they make them out to be.  If they really are, God help our country!
  • Dear news media: please report the news and not continually slant it to meet your own political objectives!  Is there such a thing as objective journalism anymore?  Does everything have to be seen through a political pundit’s eyes?  We are intelligent enough to make good decisions if the facts are actually presented and propaganda is not spewed forth continually.
I think that I represent the average American citizen.  I did not come from wealth or privilege.  Because of my parents, I was provided an excellent education and raised with a decent work ethic. My parents struggled to raise five children, to put food on the table and to make ends meet each week.  They taught us the value of the dollar and advised us to live within our means.

Like many Americans, I think that I have become highly disillusioned with our current state of politics and don’t know exactly how we are ever going to get out of the mess that we are currently in.  May God help us!

The genuine hope that I hold comes from remembering that no matter who is elected to public office, Jesus Christ is still King!

Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor

         

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Praying for the Dead



Dear Parishioners,

As we approach the month of November, we should consider the importance of remembering and praying for the dead.  We begin with two notable liturgical celebrations--All Saints and All Souls days.  St. Paul reminds us ". . . Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we also await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ."  (Phil. 3:20)
 
Saints are destined for heaven.  Once their lives are finished on earth they will spend eternity enjoying the Beatific Vision--the "Face" of God--in God's time and according to God's plan.  Many saints will not be officially canonized and placed on the church calendar.  However, the Solemnity of All Saints reminds us of all those intercessors in heaven closely united with God who pray for us. (see Catechism of the Catholic Church, 956)  Where they have gone, we hope to follow someday.  They have been called the Church Triumphant.  Just as we may ask a friend here on earth to say a prayer for us, we can ask the saints in heaven to pray to God for us.  Once they reach heaven, they no longer need our prayers but they can certainly pray and make intercession on our behalf.
 
While we may hope that our deceased relatives and friends are in heaven, we do not have that absolute certainty simply because of our hoping or desiring it to be so.  While our Christian funerals are meant to strengthen our hope in eternal life, they are not meant to be canonizations.  Only God knows the ultimate destiny of any soul as he alone knows the disposition of the person when he or she dies.  Did the person die in the state of grace or not?  We can only hope and pray.  We should pray.

Still, we can take great consolation if a person receives the last rites of the church-- the sacraments of Penance and Reconciliation, the Holy Eucharist and the Anointing of the Sick.  I remind people constantly that the sacraments are for the living and we should not wait until a person dies (if at all possible) to call for the priest.  If the person is homebound, elderly, on hospice, in the hospital, terminally ill, etc. let the priest know so that a pastoral visit can be arranged.  Moreover, we should all try to be living continually in the state of grace and not be conscious of any mortal or serious sin.  The sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation (confession) is the ordinary means that we have to keep the fullness of God's life (grace) alive in us.  God's mercy will be given if we but ask for it!

All Souls Day reminds us that we should pray for the dead.  Our prayers can help them if they are in a state of purification that we call purgatory.  Remember that if someone is in heaven, they do not need our prayers.  If they die not in the state of grace, being unrepentant, obstinate, and alienated from God--thus being in a state of hell or eternal separation from God--our prayers cannot help them.  Church teaching encourages us to pray and to offer Mass for the dead.  The greatest spiritual gift that we can give to our deceased loved ones is to have a Mass offered for them.  The Catholic Mass is a re-presentation of the offering of Jesus himself on the cross. We have no better intercessor with the Father than Jesus who suffered and died for us.

Souls in purgatory, in a state of cleansing or purification--what I like to refer to as the fringes of heaven--can pray for us as we can assist them on their eventual journey to heaven.  They have been referred to as the Church Suffering, in regard to their temporarily being kept from the fullness of heaven.
 
Finally, members of the Church on earth are saints-in-potential.  As baptized Christians, part of the Body of Christ, while we are alive in Christ Jesus, our ultimate destiny is heaven.  Only our choice to sin gravely, to put ourselves out of the state of God's life, His grace, will keep us from that path.  We are the Church Militant, currently battling sin and evil.  

"So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones [saints] and members of the household of God. . . ." (Eph. 2:19)

May we live up to our calling!
 
Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Thinking Out Loud


Dear Parishioners,

Throughout history, politics and religion have started wars.  Therefore, I generally tend to avoid certain subjects that evoke strong feelings, especially when I am trying to have a peaceful meal, or when I am in mixed company (and I am not sure of one’s religious background or political leanings).  I attempt to keep matters civil and usually have a live and let live attitude toward issues that I see as non-essential or less-important.

Regarding politics, currently we are preparing for another presidential election and I think that many, if not most, people have already made up their minds concerning how they will vote.  What I particularly worry about are those who are not informed of the issues (and their various implications) and people who base their decisions on reasons such as a candidate’s likeability or popularity instead of more substantive reasons.  What also intrigues me is those who will vote for a particular candidate solely because of party affiliation.  (I once again state emphatically that I have never sold my soul to any particular political party and I base my vote on the substantive issues, while considering a candidate’s moral character, belief system, voting record, etc.)

Certain issues should be of utmost importance for Catholics (and, in fact, for all people with faith in God as creator).  Where does a candidate’s party stand on abortion, euthanasia (assisted suicide), traditional marriage, freedom of worship, socialism/Marxism, parent’s rights regarding the education of their children, etc.? How one values every human life from conception onward should never be minimized or made equivalent to some lesser issue. 

A candidate’s honesty and integrity need scrutiny.  Will the candidate’s political positions reflect the biblical values and principles that have guided civilization from its earliest days? What does the person’s past track record tell us about future decision making? Is political correctness more important than moral truth?

Regarding religion, I believe that my Catholic faith should guide how I do all things in life.  A properly formed conscience should assist me in my decision making.  This means that my faith, properly articulated and understood, needs to guide and inform my vote.

We have seen biblical examples of those who have stood up to kings and rulers on principle—being anything but politically correct—and were not afraid to speak the truth regardless of personal consequence.  Notable is St. John the Baptist who objected to King Herod’s choice of wife and was ultimately beheaded because of his unwavering stance (see Mk. 6: 14-29).  Our parish patron, St. Thomas More, was also beheaded for standing up to King Henry VIII on principle.

America’s future is going to be shaped by those we choose to represent us in public office—especially the office of President.  I suggest that we become informed of the issues, learn about the candidates from their own words and current/past actions (and not just what the PC media wants us to hear about them.)  Read the democratic and republican party platforms.  They are very revealing.

What worries me is that my singular vote, which I intend to take the time to make prayerfully and intelligently, can be nullified by someone else’s uninformed vote or by a vote that is motivated by a less-than-altruistic political or social agenda.


Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor


Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Miracle of the Sun


Dear Parishioners,
October 13th once again marks the anniversary of the miracle of Fatima, Portugal.
As I mentioned in this past Sunday's homily, Our Lady was reported to have appeared to three shepherd children, Jacinta (10), Francisco (9) and Lucia (7), once every month beginning on May 13, 1917 and ending on October 13, 1917.
On 13 May 1917, ten year old Lucia dos Santos and her younger cousins, siblings Jacinta and Francisco Marto, were tending sheep at a location known as the Cova da Iria near their home village of Fatima in Portugal.  Lucia described seeing a woman "brighter than the sun, shedding rays of light clearer and stronger than a crystal ball filled with the most sparkling water and pierced by the burning rays of the sun."  Our Lady subsequently exhorted the children to do penance and to make sacrifices to save sinners.  She also requested that the Holy Rosary be prayed daily--for world and personal peace--and that the Brown Scapular be worn.  She asked that we pray for the conversion of Russia.  (It should be noted that the beginnings of Communism were starting to appear in Russia at the time.)
It was claimed that the Virgin Mary had promised a miracle for the last of her apparitions on October 13th, so that all would believe.  What transpired became known as the "Miracle of the Sun."  A crowd believed to be approximately 70,000 in number, including newspaper reporters and photographers, gathered at the Cova da Iria.  The incessant rain had finally ceased and a thin layer of clouds cloaked the silver disc of the sun such that it could be looked upon without hurting the eyes.  Lucia called out to the crowd to look at the sun.  Sometime while Lucia was pointing towards the sun and claiming to have visions of various religious figures in the sky, it is believed that the sun appeared to change colors and to rotate like a fire wheel.  Then it seemed as though the sun would crash down to earth.   For some the sun appeared to fall from the sky before retreating, for others it seemed to “dance.”
An atheistic reporter commented on the event at the time:  "One could see the immense multitude turn towards the sun, which appeared free from clouds and at its zenith.  It looked like a plaque of dull silver and it was possible to look at it without the least discomfort.  One might have thought an eclipse was taking place.  But at that moment a great shout went up and one could hear the spectators nearest at hand shouting: ‘A miracle! A miracle!’  Before the astonished eyes of the crowd, whose aspect was Biblical as they stood bareheaded, eagerly searching the sky, the sun trembled, made sudden incredible movements outside all cosmic laws - yes, the sun 'danced'!"

Many of the onlookers were terrified that the sun would crash down upon them.  Then, as the sun returned to normal, each person in the crowd realized that they were completely dry despite being soaked from the rain just minutes before.

While the “Miracle of the Sun” was seen and experienced by so many, the miracle more importantly is certainly meant to draw attention to the message:  prayer (especially the Holy Rosary), penance and conversion.  It seems that Our Lady, as a most-loving spiritual mother of us all, tries to warn us and to lead humanity back to her Son, Jesus.

Perhaps you may want to read one of the many books about Fatima or watch one of the movies The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima (1952) or the recent release Fatima (2020) to become more familiar with the entire story.

Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

The Bible on Beads




Dear Parishioners,

In one of my previous parishes, my predecessor as pastor put out a challenge to the parishioners to read the Bible each day.  He even distributed bibles to anyone who asked for one.  Being a priest who majored in Sacred Scripture in the seminary, how could I not be an advocate of such an initiative?

While I still believe in the importance of reading and reflecting on Sacred Scripture, I also think that our turbulent times necessitate a revival/renewal of an ancient, time-tested practice--praying the daily rosary.  After all, these are days of intense spiritual warfare and in such circumstances we need spiritual weapons to do battle.

The history of the holy rosary reveals its power combating heresy (against the Albigensians) and providing victory in battle (the battle of Lepanto).  It was requested by our Lady herself during various Church approved Marian apparitions (Fatima).  It has tremendous spiritual benefits for those who faithfully pray it.

Simply stated, the rosary traces the highlights of the life, death, and resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ and the life of his Mother Mary as found in Sacred Scripture and Church Tradition.  It is, in a sense, the bible on beads.  We can use the rosary to help us spiritually each day as we recall  and reflect on various mysteries of our faith and our salvation.

The repetition of the prayers is meant to help us get into a spiritual rhythm and a reflective mindset.  The meditation on the mysteries helps us to recall and reinforce essential truths of our faith.  The rosary also seeks the intercession of Our Lady who is essential to the plan for our salvation.  She is our spiritual mother guiding us and accompanying us on our journey of life.

If you are unfamiliar with the mechanics of praying the rosary or do not know the various mysteries given for meditation, these can be found very easily online and then printed out for reference.  The rosary has evolved with time even adding elements such as the Fatima prayer and the Luminous Mysteries.

The challenge that I put out to all of you who will read this is to pray the holy rosary daily.  Maybe it has to start with simply praying a decade each day (before going to bed?), but I hope that it will grow into a devotion that will bring much peace and consolation to your soul.  May I suggest that you pray it with the intention of bringing back to the faith someone in your family or among your friends who has left the Catholic faith or no longer practices it?  That intention should keep us all busy for quite some  time.

October is the month traditionally dedicated to the holy rosary.  Please take the time to strengthen, renew or begin this devotion in your personal spiritual life and in the life of your family.     

Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor


Our Lady of Fatima and the 3 Visionaries

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Why the "Life" Issue is the Essential Issue



Dear Parishioners,

Since 1973 when Roe v. Wade opened the door to legal abortion in our country, America has been on a continual downward spiral.  What started as a 7-2 decision by US Supreme Court Justices who legislated rather than interpreted the law, over 60 million innocent children have been surgically or chemically killed.  The dissenting opinion of Justice Byron White (with Chief Justice William Rehnquist concurring) stated the following:

I find nothing in the language or history of the Constitution to support the Court's judgment. The Court simply fashions and announces a new constitutional right for pregnant women and, with scarcely any reason or authority for its action, invests that right with sufficient substance to override most existing state abortion statutes.
A member of the Pro-Life movement since 1995, Norma McCorvey, who was the Jane Roe in the 1973 Supreme Court decision, had the following to say years later:

It was my pseudonym, Jane Roe, which had been used to create the "right" to abortion out of legal thin air.  But Sarah Weddington and Linda Coffee [her lawyers] never told me that what I was signing would allow women to come up to me 15, 20 years later and say, "Thank you for allowing me to have my five or six abortions.  Without you, it wouldn't have been possible."  Sarah never mentioned women using abortions as a form of birth control.  We talked about truly desperate and needy women, not women already wearing maternity clothes.
The simple reality is that unless human life matters, nothing else matters.  This world and all that is in it are important because all human beings are important.  Pope St. John Paul II's words at the Denver airport (August 12, 1993) remind us of this:

America has a strong tradition of respect for the individual, for human dignity and human rights. I gladly acknowledged this during my previous visit to the United States in 1987, and I would like to repeat today the hope I expressed on that occasion: "America, you are beautiful and blessed in so many ways . . . But your best beauty and your richest blessing is found in the human person: in each man, woman and child, in every immigrant, in every native born son and daughter . . . The ultimate test of your greatness is the way you treat every human being, but especially the weakest and most defenseless ones.  The best traditions of your land presume respect for those who cannot defend themselves. It you want equal justice for all, and true freedom and lasting peace, then, America, defend life!  All the great causes that are yours today will have meaning only to the extent that you guarantee the right to life and protect the human person".
When people argue that abortion is only one issue in this or any presidential election, the response of Priests for Life is worth noting:

The foundation of a house is only one of many parts of the house, but it is essential in order to build the other parts.  That is why the Catholic bishops have repeatedly asserted that among the many interrelated issues within a consistent ethic, abortion deserves "urgent attention and priority."

St. Teresa of Calcutta's words at the National Prayer Breakfast, (Washington, DC on February 3, 1994)—given in front of then President Bill and Hillary Clinton—included the following:

But I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child, a direct killing of the innocent child, murder by the mother herself.  And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?  How do we persuade a woman not to have an abortion?  As always, we must persuade her with love and we remind ourselves that love means to be willing to give until it hurts.  Jesus gave even His life to love us.  So, the mother who is thinking of abortion, should be helped to love, that is, to give until it hurts her plans, or her free time, to respect the life of her child.  The father of that child, whoever he is, must also give until it hurts.  By abortion, the mother does not learn to love, but kills even her own child to solve her problems.  And, by abortion, the father is told that he does not have to take any responsibility at all for the child he has brought into the world.  That father is likely to put other women into the same trouble.  So abortion just leads to more abortion.  Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want.  This is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.
I hope that you take the time to reflect on all of the above.  

Do not be deceived by arguments that omit or minimize the vital importance of voting Pro-Life!
                                                                                                                
Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor




Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Mary, Our Mother of Sorrows



An image of Our Lady of Sorrows

Dear Parishioners,

This past week we celebrated the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (September 14th) followed immediately by Our Lady of Sorrows (September 15th).  Are you familiar with the Seven Sorrows of Our Blessed Mother?  Mary experienced pain and sorrow during her life, in union with her Son and His Passion.  

When Jesus was Presented in the Temple (1), Simeon foretold that Mary’s heart would know pain: 

"Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed."  (Lk. 2: 34-35)

Subsequently, Mary knew additional grief and anxiety when she and Joseph, her spouse, necessarily fled to Egypt (2) to escape from King Herod and his command to kill all Hebrew boys two years old and younger.

. . . The angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.”  Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt.  He stayed there until the death of Herod . . . .  (Mt. 2:  13-15a)

Later, Jesus was eventually Found in the Temple (3) at age twelve after having been missing for three days.  “Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety." (Lk. 2: 48)

Although she raised and cared for Jesus, her Divine Son, she was at the same time His faithful follower until the bitter end.  She met Him on the way to his crucifixion on the road to Calvary (4) as we reflect on the 4th Station of the Cross.   She was present during His death, standing at the foot of the cross (5).  The image of the Pieta reminds us of her holding His lifeless body in her arms (6) after His death.  She also watched as He was subsequently placed in the tomb (7) as we again reflect on the 14th Station of the Cross.

Mary, from the moment of her Immaculate Conception, had God’s special graces and protection from sin.  She was chosen to be the mother of Our Lord and her “yes” to God at the Annunciation showed her obedience and willingness to cooperate with God’s plan for our salvation.  Although she had some uncertainty concerning how God’s plan would unfold in her life, she trusted in God completely.  How could a virgin have a child?  The power of the Holy Spirit could transcend what is humanly impossible.   Nothing is impossible for God!

After showing us an example of her unselfish love by helping her relative Elizabeth who was also with child (Visitation), she gave birth miraculously to Our Lord in the humble surroundings of Bethlehem (the Nativity).

Mary was present at the Wedding Feast of Cana (Jn. 2: 1-11) where she requested her Son's assistance, leading to His first public miracle: changing water into wine.  Her fidelity, love and continued intercessory role are evident as she was given to us as our Spiritual Mother at the cross (Jn. 19: 25-27).  When her earthly life was complete, she was taken body and soul into heaven (the Assumption) and she reigns as Queen of Heaven and Earth (the Coronation).

The Blessed Virgin Mary should have a special place in the life of every Catholic (Christian).  Traditionally, the month of May has been dedicated to her, and the month of October dedicated to her Holy Rosary.

These mysteries of our faith (as well as many others) are found in the Mysteries of the Holy Rosary--meditations which are meant to have us reflect on some of most important aspects of our faith.  Together with wearing the Brown Scapular (of Mt. Carmel) as an outward sign, we can show our love for and devotion to Our Lady.  True, healthy devotion to her will only lead us to her Son Jesus and never detract from Him.

May we learn to imitate the faith and trust in God, the obedience to God’s will and the love for Jesus that Our Lady gave witness to in her life.  Her example of purity and sin-less-ness is much needed in today’s world.  May she continue to intercede for us as our patroness.

Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor

Homily for the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Fr. Edward Namiotka


 

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Religious Education of Our Youth


Dear Parishioners,

The religious education of our children is a very important concern of mine.  With Catechetical Sunday upon us (September 20, 2020), I think it is good to reflect on the faith of our children and young adults.

What is frustrating to religious education teachers, to priests and to others involved with the religious education of youth is the “disconnect” often present when it comes to formal religious instruction and to living out the faith on a daily basis.  Too often, in so many of my former parishes, students were dropped off for class but were not present in church for Mass on a regular weekly basis.  Let’s face facts.  We inevitably do not see anywhere near the same number of children at Mass as we may see registered for and coming to religious education classes.  Their absence is even more apparent during times like summer vacation and especially now during this unprecedented coronavirus pandemic.

What do we do?  An hour or two of religious education each week for several months each year is not and has never been an adequate solution.  The Church has said continually that parents are the first educators of their children when it comes to religious faith and practice.  When we bring a new life into the world we realize that we have to feed, clothe, and educate our children.  We want the best for them if we love them.  Hopefully we realize that we are also responsible for an immortal soul and the eternal salvation of a person as well.  We cannot leave this responsibility to chance in an often amoral--if not immoral--world.

Do I teach my children to pray and pray with them at various times daily?  Do I read Bible stories to them or teach them what Jesus said and did?  Do I take them to confession and show them (by my own example) that the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation is important?  Outside of these extenuating circumstances, do I normally take them to Mass weekly?  Do my children understand that Jesus is truly present in the Most Holy Eucharist?      

What has been said for students in religious education programs is also true for our students who attend a Catholic school.  There must be a connection with the local parish, with weekly Mass attendance and with the everyday living out of the Catholic faith.

I have been a priest long enough (over three decades) to see the rapid decline of those who actively participate in the faith life of their parish.  (I also understand there may be multiple reasons for this.)  Unfortunately, however, each subsequent generation seems to know less and less about even some of the essential teachings of the Catholic faith.  This should be troubling for all believers. 

I always welcome your ideas and suggestions concerning how we can continue to close this gap and have our young people more active and involved in the life of the Church.

Fr. Ed Namiotka

Pastor


Tuesday, September 1, 2020

“God Will Still Be God Tomorrow”



Dear Parishioners,

The ancient Hebrews often saw God as the stable force in their lives.  They referred to Him as my rock, my fortress, my deliverer (Psalm 18:2) and my rock of refuge, my shield, my saving horn, my stronghold (Psalm 18:3).

I wonder how much we realize our true dependence on God for everything?

In our American society we might think of ourselves as rugged individuals.  We speak of the self-made man or woman.  We might save and plan financially for retirement so that we can be comfortable later in life, free of all worries.  With this mindset, perhaps there is an affinity to songs like My Way (Paul Anka or Frank Sinatra) or My Life (Billy Joel) because they speak of our independence and freedom to do what we want, when we want to do it. 

If it were not for God willing it, however, we would not be in existence at all.  Every breath we take, every thought we think, every action we attempt are all within God’s permissive will.  He allows them to happen.  All good things that we have, things that we might often take for granted, are pure gift from God—His Grace.

Yes, it is also true that God has given us intelligence and free-will.  We are made in His image and likeness and He gives us tools that we are expected to use responsibly.  We might sometimes think that we act independent of Him, especially when we choose to do something on our own, even against His will.  However, it is because He has given us free-will in the first place that we are capable of various diverse acts such as loving, forgiving, hating, or sinning at all.

Jesus reminds us not to worry about material things.  He speaks of the importance of relying on God for everything, and not on ourselves:

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat [or drink], or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they? Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span? Why are you anxious about clothes? Learn from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work or spin. But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them. (Mt. 6: 25-29)

Jesus continues:

But seek first the kingdom (of God) and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil. (Mt. 6: 33-34)

Personally, I use an expression with those I know, reminding them in the midst of worry, or during some trial and tribulation that God will still be God tomorrow.”  God is always here—with us—in some mysterious, unseen way.  He remains constant, a rock, a source of refuge for us.  He is here now and will continue to be here for us tomorrow and beyond.

We should reflect often on God’s ever-abiding Divine Providence.  Once we realize that He is with us always, even the greatest of obstacles no longer seems so insurmountable.


Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor



Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Being in the "State of Grace”



Dear Parishioners,

Whenever I ask someone “What is Grace?” I have to be prepared to hear some varying answers.  I also need to be ready to give a clear and understandable explanation myself.

Simply stated, Grace is God’s life within us. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church

Grace is a participation in the life of God. It introduces us into the intimacy of Trinitarian life: by Baptism the Christian participates in the grace of Christ, the Head of his Body. As an "adopted son" he can henceforth call God "Father," in union with the only Son. He receives the life of the Spirit who breathes charity into him and who forms the Church. (#1997)

Because of original sin, we are not naturally born into God’s Grace.  We need to be baptized for this to happen.  Therefore, Christian parents should be ready to baptize their children as soon as possible.  Church (canon) law states the following:

Parents are obliged to take care that infants are baptized in the first few weeks; as soon as possible after the birth or even before it, they are to go to the pastor to request the sacrament for their child and to be prepared properly for it. (Can. 867 §1)

To remain in the state of God’s Grace, a person should not be conscious of having committed any serious (mortal) sin.  All serious (mortal) sin is ordinarily forgiven in the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation (confession), not merely by recourse to an act of contrition or something similar.  This is not to say that God cannot work in other ways, at His discretion and according to His will.  However, a Catholic Christian who is conscious of having committed a serious sin should ordinarily avail himself or herself of the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation.  This sacrament restores us—reconciles us—to God’s Grace.

To me, it is essential to strive to remain constantly in God’s Grace.  There should never be a time when I want to be alienated or disconnected from the Source of all life, love, goodness, truth and beauty.  I should endeavor to eliminate all serious sin out of my life—realizing that I need the gift of God (His favor or grace) to do that.  In other words, we are totally dependent on God and His goodness to us for all we have, and we need to cooperate with Him constantly.

With all of the above in mind, I believe too many people in our culture sometimes think that only something as extreme as murder is a serious sin.  Believe me, there are many other grave sins out there!  Serious sin meets the traditional criteria of sufficient reflection (I thought about it and know it is wrong), grave matter (the subject matter is objectively serious) and full consent of the will (I freely choose to do the act even though I know it is seriously wrong).  Actions including theft, calumny, detraction, adultery, fornication, worship of a false god, perjury, euthanasia, abortion, blasphemy and various other sins can ordinarily be considered objectively grave.  If the person knowingly and willing carries them out, they can certainly fall into the category of mortal sin.  Moreover, the seven deadly sins (pride, covetousness, lust, anger, gluttony, envy and sloth) can be examined as a root cause of all grave sin.  Then, to add some more food for thought, there are the various sins of omission that Jesus mentions in the Gospel passage of the Final Judgment (See Mt. 25: 31-46)

Our striving to remain in God’s Grace and to avoid all sin—but most especially serious sin—can be difficult, but remains always possible thanks to God’s unconditional love for us!

Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor 

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

The "Cancel Culture"

 

Dear Parishioners,

Years ago, I was informed and educated about ad hominem attacks in class during my college seminary days.  In such an attack, the person himself or herself would be ridiculed or demoralized, instead of focusing on the person’s position or argument.  The issue would get pushed aside in favor of trashing the person.

Let me tell you I love a good debate.  I can also become extremely passionate about my point of view.  However, what is happening too often today is a shutting out of opinions (and even sometimes hiding or distorting facts) with which a person or group of people may disagree.  It happens on social media frequently.  Sometimes a person may be defriended or doxed as a result of a controversial or politically unpopular point of view.  A “cancel culture” has resurfaced in our society where, according to the New York Post we find “the phenomenon of promoting the ‘canceling’ of people, brands and even shows and movies due to what some consider to be offensive or problematic remarks or ideologies.”

Unfortunately, people can sometimes be unwilling to listen to each other and to hear each other’s opinions or thoughts.  In general, people deserve a hearing.  Everyone needs some time and attention at some point.  In doing so, however, we should be respectful of appropriate times, places and topics of conversation.  Sadly, I have found some people also may have hidden agendas, ulterior motives or even sinister intentions. 

While I may disagree with another person or persons, I do believe people generally have a right to be heard.  Wanting people to be completely silenced, censored or cancelled is as dangerous as letting free speech go unchecked, go unchallenged or to morph into violence and looting.  In the entire process, there needs to be some checks and balances.  We need both mutual respect and law and order in a civilized society.

Obviously, God gave us two qualities that have us resemble Him:  intelligence and free will.  We can think and reflect or we can rush to judgment.  We can react and confront immediately or we can walk away.  We can choose to listen or can turn someone off.  How we act or react will always be our choice.  No matter the choice, it needs to be done civilly and respectfully.

With the election season upon us once again, sadly I suspect that there will be more polarization within our society.  Ad hominem attacks will come out.  Some people will shout others down.  Protests of some sort will inevitably occur.  Some may stir up civil unrest.  I cannot wait! . . . Not!

May I suggest that we all take a good look at traditional Church teaching, party platforms, a candidate’s past performance (usually a good indicator of future possibilities) and remain civil towards one another.

Here is something else to consider:

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.  (Mt. 5: 43-45)


Fr. Ed Namiotka

Pastor 

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Holy Mary, Mother of God, Pray for Us!

 The new Our Lady of Lourdes statue at St. Thomas More Church


Dear Parishioners,

As I began a new calendar year annually, I customarily entrusted and consecrated my parish family (wherever I have been pastor) to the care of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Rather than waiting until the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God on New Year’s Day, I have decided to make this consecration on the evening of August 15th (the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary).  I give this parish and all of you, its parishioners, over to the loving care of the Mother of God.  I can think of no better way to begin my time as pastor here.

In addition, the statue of Our Lady of Lourdes, now in the sanctuary, will be officially blessed.  My sincere thanks to all who made this statue possible.

Why not take the time to entrust your individual families to the Blessed Virgin Mary’s maternal care as well?  Parents, you can (and should) pray for your children and families at home daily.  Here is a prayer of consecration to help:

 
Prayer of Consecration of the Family
to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Oh, Mother Most Pure, we come to You as a family and consecrate ourselves to your most Immaculate Heart.

We come to You as a family and place our trust in Your powerful intercession.

Oh, Dearest Mother Mary, teach us as a mother teaches her children, for our souls are soiled and our prayers are weak because of our sinful hearts.

Here we are Dearest Mother, ready to respond to You and follow Your way, for Your way leads us to the heart of Your Son, Jesus.

We are ready to be cleansed and purified.

Come then Virgin Most Pure, and embrace us with Your motherly mantle.

Make our hearts whiter than snow and as pure as a spring of fresh water.

Teach us to pray, so that our prayers may become more beautiful than the singing of the birds at the break of dawn.

Dear Mother Mary, we entrust to Your Immaculate Heart of hearts, our family and our entire future.

Lead us all to our homeland which is Heaven.
Amen. 

Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us.

My Masses and prayers are continually offered for your spiritual well-being.  Please remember me as well so that I have the graces necessary to live up to my responsibility as your pastor.

 Fr. Ed Namiotka,

Pastor