Monday, December 28, 2020
Friday, December 25, 2020
Thursday, December 24, 2020
I wish you and your families a happy and holy Christmas season. Although the commercial celebration of Christmas started even before Thanksgiving, the Christmas season for the Church extends until January 10th with the Baptism of the Lord. Don’t be in a hurry to take down the Christmas decorations too soon!
Even though it has been a most unusual year, there have also been so many blessings for which I thank God. Most especially I thank God for the prayers, support, genuine love and concern of so many faithful parishioners. May God bless you for your goodness!
I try to live by a philosophy (and truly believe) that God is ultimately in charge of every situation. I pray constantly that His will be done. I do not claim that I know each and every detail of His plan and what lies ahead. But, in imitation of the example of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I attempt imperfectly to echo her profound trust and consent to the will of God: “May it be done to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38)
I thank all who work so hard in the parish and continue to strengthen our Christian community. Christianity is never a “spectator sport” in which we simply sit back, watch and cheer. Rather, it involves active participation and a life-commitment: daily prayer, attendance at Mass weekly, a sacramental life including regular confession of sins, Christian service, love (even of enemies), forgiveness, Christian charity, conversion, repentance, etc.
Fr. Ed Namiotka
Monday, December 21, 2020
Sunday, December 13, 2020
Sunday, December 6, 2020
Tuesday, December 1, 2020
By the time you read this, I will have completed my annual retreat. Unfortunately, this year it was not made at a Trappist Monastery, as has been my frequent custom. In fact, the monastery that I have visited for the past 40+ years—the Abbey of the Genesee in Piffard, NY—is not receiving visitors at this time due to Covid-19 restrictions. Many of the Trappist Monks are elderly, some even infirm, and I can understand their caution in not accepting retreatants at this time. Maybe next year?
This does not mean that I do not take my annual retreat seriously, despite the unusual circumstances. I have told some that my first month in my new rectory was like being on a 30-day retreat already. The rectory had no TV or internet for about a month after I first moved in. Moreover, in my last assignment I lived with three or four other priests. Suddenly, I was all alone. I knew hardly anyone in this new assignment. People were (and still are) wearing masks so I could not see their faces or observe their expressions. Attendance at Mass was unprecedentedly low. I, for a time, felt like St. Thomas More all alone in the Tower of London awaiting execution. Thank God I was able to keep my head through it all!
Two of my priest-friends, who usually go on retreat with me, joined me this past week in my rectory. We prayed together, watched some pre-recorded spiritual talks on video, offered Mass and enjoyed some camaraderie and fraternity. Everyone knows how unusual 2020 has been, and making an annual spiritual retreat was not exempt.
As I related in an earlier bulletin message, I now have a small chapel in the rectory for prayer and reflection. I am really never alone with Jesus here in the Blessed Sacrament. No matter what part of the day it is—even on those nights where I may have some difficulty sleeping—I can make a visit to the Blessed Sacrament for some peace and solitude.
As Advent progresses, please remember to be counter-cultural and not be celebrating Christmas before it is time to do so. Advent is for spiritual preparation to watch and wait for Jesus. It has been a blessing for me to begin this new liturgical year with some time for prayer and reflection.
The Trappist monks, who begin their daily prayer with Vigils, get up when most of us are still sleeping (3:30 AM) and keep watch for the Lord Jesus in communal prayer. It should be a consoling thought that there are contemplatives throughout the world like them who pray for us and the world. Despite their mostly hidden lives, they are active in prayer and manual labor (ora et labora). The monks at the Abbey of the Genesee have supported the monastery by baking bread (Monks’ Bread) and other baked goods. Maybe you would like to check them out online: (https://www.geneseeabbey.org/ or https://monksbread.com/)?
Besides the opportunity to pray and worship with the monks, I will miss not being able to bring home a few loaves of Monks’ Bread this year!
Oh well! My stomach does not need the additional carbs anyway.
Fr. Ed Namiotka
Some of the Monks' Bread products
Sunday, November 29, 2020
It’s hard to believe that another liturgical year begins this weekend. Welcome to the First Sunday of Advent!
Advent is a time of commemoration, anticipation and preparation. We recall the Birth of Jesus Christ while the Church reminds us that Christ will come again. When? This has been an unanswered question for the last two thousand plus years.
Hopefully, we as Christians have not become too complacent or even indifferent towards this teaching of our faith. What if Jesus did return in glory to judge the living and the dead tomorrow, next week or next month?
I guess some people would panic: “When was the last time I attended Mass?” “I haven’t been to confession in years!” “My life is not really in order right now!” “I never did forgive my dad!” “I haven’t spoken to my sister in years!” “I’ve been preoccupied with so many things and never take the time to pray!” “I really do not know Jesus Christ.”
Jesus warns us: “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come.” (Mark 13:33) We are told by St. Paul that the day of the Lord “will come like a thief at night. “ (1 Thessalonians 5:2)
I do not want people to become fanatical like those who run around with signs claiming that the end of the world is near. However, as Christians we need to live continually in the presence of the Lord. And, we should be living in the state of grace (not conscious of any unconfessed grave or mortal sin.) Christ is aware of us and is there for us at all times. Unfortunately, as humans we do not think about this at every moment, nor do we always live appropriately even if we believe it.
Advent is here. Don’t waste the time by getting caught up in all of the materialism that the world is concerned about and sells us every day. Take time for your spiritual life. After all, we as humans are comprised of body and soul. Take time to know, love and serve Jesus Christ.
I find that when my spiritual priorities are in order and Christ is forefront in my life, everything else mysteriously seems to fall into place. I may have to learn this lesson over and over again, but someday I may finally get it right. One can only hope!
A great way to start the Advent season is to make not only a gift list, but a list of my spiritual priorities.
Fr. Ed Namiotka
Sunday, November 22, 2020
Sunday, November 15, 2020
Tuesday, November 10, 2020
Sunday, November 8, 2020
Tuesday, November 3, 2020
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.
- 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.
Sunday, November 1, 2020
Tuesday, October 20, 2020
"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)
Sunday, October 18, 2020
Tuesday, October 13, 2020
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.
Monday, October 12, 2020
Sunday, October 4, 2020
Tuesday, September 29, 2020
Sunday, September 27, 2020
Tuesday, September 22, 2020
Sunday, September 20, 2020
Tuesday, September 15, 2020
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
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
Tuesday, September 8, 2020
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