Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Parish Update (May 2020)

Dear Parishioners,

First, I miss seeing you and I cannot wait until the "quarantine" is over!  I assure you I remember you in my daily prayers and at the altar when I offer Mass each day.

I hope you attempt to watch Mass on TV (such as EWTN), or by livestream each Sunday.  Here at the parish, we began a livestream broadcast on our Facebook page (Holy Angels Parish) on Easter Sunday.  We intend to continue each Sunday at 10 AM while restrictions on public gatherings still exist.  Please realize that this is a make-shift broadcast occurring via a cell phone, not a professional broadcast from a TV studio or using state-of-the-art equipment.  Sound quality is not perfect and we only have a steady picture when the phone is mounted on a tripod.  In other words, we are currently limited with what we can do.
I have had plenty of time to think and to try to make some sense out of our situation.  Something that I have thought about, time and again, is that any kind of attempt at “remote” or livestream worship is not the manner in which Mass or the sacraments are supposed to take place.  Yes, these means may be beneficial to the sick or homebound.  However, sacraments are meant to be experienced in person.  You cannot receive the Holy Eucharist from the TV or computer.  You can make a Spiritual Communion, but it is not the same.  Confessions cannot be heard over the phone.  A person can only be anointed when the priest is physically present.

We need to get people back to church, back to Mass.  When I see people still buying liquor from the liquor store, I question if the worship of Almighty God is not more essential than that?  While the death of every innocent human being is tragic, how can abortion clinics be seen as essential in some states?  Do not those lives matter as well?  Websites still contend: Abortion is essential health care.  People go to the grocery stores to get food to eat and sustain themselves and even to hoard toilet paper and cleaning supplies.  How urgent do we feel the necessity of receiving the Bread of Life for our spiritual nourishment?   Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. (Jn. 6:53)

There is more than a bit of hypocrisy involved in the decisions of what can and cannot remain open during this pandemic.  Time will tell us whether our current actions/reactions were appropriate or not.  One thing that still concerns me is that people are being deprived of the primary means of grace for Catholics—the sacraments.  I am currently considering ways we can supply the sacraments to the people safely if our situation is unduly prolonged or if it occurs again in the future.  The sacraments are most essential!

Thank you to all who continue to remember the parish financially during these difficult times.  People have been mailing us their weekly envelopes or dropping them off at the rectory.  While our income is down considerably, we still have the regular bills to pay (utilities, maintenance/repairs, some salaries, etc.).  We have furloughed a number of employees since we cannot afford to keep everyone on staff at this time.

Let us continue to pray—especially seeking the intercession of our Blessed Mother—for help now and in the uncertain days ahead.

Fr. Ed Namiotka

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

A Look Back at What was Written . . . What If?

Dear Parishioners,

I wrote the following about 4 years ago when I was still pastor in Somers Point.  Looking at it now, it may remind us of a few of the things that we might have taken for granted before the current pandemic.  I invite you to consider the following in light of our “quarantined” situation.  Maybe we will have a greater appreciation for the richness of our Catholic faith.

What if there were no Easter Sunday?  What if Jesus Christ did not rise from the dead?

Well, you certainly would not be reading this message from me.  I suspect that I would probably be married with a family, engaged in some other kind of occupation.  I certainly would not be a Catholic priest.  Perhaps, a Jewish rabbi?  Who knows?

There would be no Catholic churches.  No Christian, Orthodox or Protestant churches as well. 

No Mass.  No Eucharist.  No sacramental Confession.  No Christian Baptism.  Any of the other sacraments?  Nope.

Forget the Catholic schools, Catholic hospitals and Catholic orphanages.  No Catholic charities.  No Religious Orders like the Franciscans, Jesuits, Augustinians or Dominicans.

We would never hear those timeless Catholic hymns.  No Gregorian chantTantum Ergo, O Salutaris, Pange Lingua, Stabat Mater . . . unfortunately, they would not exist.  None of the great Christian-themed artwork that fills the rooms and walls of museums either. 

No Communion of Saints.  No need for Christian martyrs.  No Gospels.  No Evangelists.  No Christian apologists.

Cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, St. Louis, St. Paul and Santa Cruz, countries like El Salvador and San Marino, islands like St. Thomas, St. John and St. Martin would obviously have other non-Christian names.

No popes.  No bishops.  No organized hierarchy.  No dioceses.

If we were fortunate enough to be Jewish, we would still be awaiting a messiah.  Will God remember His promises to our ancestors?  Will He send someone to save us? 

If we were not Jewish, unfortunately, we might be worshipping some pagan god, not knowing any better.

Jesus of Nazareth would have been seen as some crazy, self-proclaimed messiah like a Jim Jones, David Koresh, Charles Manson, Sun Myung Moon or Marshall Applewhite, instead of Lord, God and Savior.

Would we have hope in eternal life without the Resurrection of Jesus?  Would we have forgiveness of sin?  Would the cross of Christ be just another Roman execution among many others? 

“. . . And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain; you are still in your sins.” (1 Cor. 15: 17)

Fortunately for us, Jesus is Risen!

Our world will never be the same again—ever!  

We have a hope and a promise of immortalityeternal life!  

We have the forgiveness of sin!  

We are given new life through Christ!  

Realize how blessed we truly are.  

Have a Happy Easter (season)!

Fr. Ed Namiotka

Friday, April 3, 2020

Easter: A Time for Renewed Hope

Easter at St. Patrick Church (a few years ago)

Dear Parishioners,

I can only imagine how desperate the situation must have seemed to His apostles as Jesus was experiencing His brutal passion and death.  To see your spiritual leader, the one whom you believed was the long-awaited messiah, suffer and die like a common criminal had to be devastating.  We know most of them fled and went into hiding.  Peter was so terrified that he denied the Lord three times, as Jesus had predicted.  What do we do now?  Where do we go from here?

Yes, there were a few who remained faithful and by the cross until the bitter end:  Mary Magdalene, the Beloved Disciple John and Jesus’ own Mother Mary.  How great must have been the emotional pain that they felt as they helplessly watched His suffering up close.  Seeing every last breath coming from a beaten, broken body had to be stamped like a branding iron into their memories.  How could this possibly happen?

Salvation and the forgiveness of sin came with a price:  the suffering and death of the Son of God.  Holy Week recalls these events.  The crucifix in our churches (and homes) reminds us of the greatest act of sacrificial love.  But the story does not end here.

Resurrection and new life followed.  Jesus conquered sin and death.  The grave was not His final resting place.  He is alive!

With all of the suffering and death continuing throughout our world, we need to preach this message loud and clear:  Jesus is our salvation.  He brings us hope in every situation, no matter how desperate.

I realize how unusual these times are for all of us.  Closed churches, sacraments being limited, Holy Week and Easter services on TV or through the internet are unprecedented occurrences.  Despite it all, God is still in charge.  He allows this to happen for a reason, which I suspect is an urgent plea for us to return to Him with all our being.  We cannot exist at all without His Divine Assistance. 

What do we do now?  Where do we go from here? Do we seek resurrection and new life for ourselves and our loved ones?  Do we want to find hope in any desperate situation, even during a coronavirus pandemic?  Jesus is our salvation.  There is no other way.

I continue to hope and to pray.  Easter gives renewed hope to all Christians as we realize Christ is alive!  He is Risen!  Death has no more power over Him.  Although it may seem, at times, that the season of Lent continues in our lives and that Good Friday has not yet ended, trust in Jesus.  Stand by Him at the foot of the cross.  Resurrection and new life will come.

On behalf of my brother priests, I assure you of our continued prayers and Masses for your health and well-being.  Please pray for us.  We appreciate all of the kindness and love shown to us. 

I may not have all the answers to what lies ahead but I certainly know Who does:  Jesus, Our Risen Lord!  

Happy Easter!

Fr. Ed Namiotka