Tuesday, September 14, 2021
Sunday, September 12, 2021
Sunday, September 5, 2021
Tuesday, August 31, 2021
Sunday, August 29, 2021
Tuesday, August 24, 2021
Sunday, August 22, 2021
Tuesday, August 17, 2021
Last week, the normal Sunday readings were interrupted because the solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary fell on a Sunday this liturgical year (2021). Unfortunately, some of the most significant words of Jesus regarding the Holy Eucharist—found in Jesus’ Bread of Life Discourse (John, chapter 6)—were bypassed as a result. Let me just quote a few of the most significant lines found there:
I am the bread of life . . . I am the bread that came down from heaven . . . Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you do not have life within you . . . Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day . . . My flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink . . . .
Bread is indeed a staple of life for many people throughout history. In Jesus’ time it was part of the everyday meal as was table wine. He used both of these common elements in an extraordinary way when He was at table with his disciples before His death—the Last Supper.
Bread also had some spiritual significance throughout history for the Jewish and later Christian peoples. The Jewish people eat unleavened bread to commemorate their freedom from Egypt when they had to flee before they had time for the bread to rise (Ex. 34:18). When the Jews were wandering in the desert after their exodus from Egypt, God gave them manna to eat—mysterious “bread from heaven.” (Ex. 16) The Jews also kept showbread or bread of presence—twelve loaves representing the twelve tribes of Israel—before God in the sanctuary of the Temple. Later, Jesus famously multiplied the loaves and fish, to feed the hungry multitudes (Mt. 14:15-21, Mk. 6:34-42, Lk. 9:16-17, Jn. 6:9-13). The use of bread comes to a spiritual summit in Jesus’ designation of it as His body at the Last Supper (Mt. 26: 26, Mk. 14:22, Lk. 22:19, 1 Cor. 11:23-24).
However, in the Gospel of St. John, Chapter 6, as we read what is referred to as Jesus’ Bread of Life Discourse, Jesus makes some very profound and perhaps, disturbing, statements. Some people found His teaching hard to take and walked away from Him (see Jn. 6:66). This passage is seen as an essential commentary on the significance and value of the Most Holy Eucharist. We hear some of the most definitive statements of Jesus regarding the Holy Eucharist. The Real Presence of Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament is one of the core teachings of the Catholic faith. We do not believe in some mere symbolic presence, but take Jesus literally—at His word—in our understanding of this divine mystery. Over the centuries, the term transubstantiation—a change in substance (but not in appearance)—has been used to explain this essential dogma.
When we approach the Most Holy Eucharist, we approach Jesus—our Lord, God and Savior. He deserves our love, reverence and respect. Reverence and awe cannot be overstated or over-emphasized. Like the people in the Gospel, our attitude toward the Holy Eucharist should be one of desire, anticipation, thanksgiving and joy: “Sir, give us this bread always.” (John 6: 34)
Please realize Whom we are privileged to have on our altar and to receive: Jesus, the Son of God.
Fr. Ed Namiotka
Sunday, August 15, 2021
Tuesday, August 10, 2021
Sunday, August 8, 2021
Tuesday, August 3, 2021
Sunday, August 1, 2021
Tuesday, July 27, 2021
Sunday, July 25, 2021
Tuesday, July 20, 2021
This past week I had the privilege of attending the episcopal ordination of one of my good friends from my college seminary days. On July 16, 2021, Bishop Gregory W. Gordon became the first auxiliary bishop for the Diocese of Las Vegas, Nevada. We had studied together at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary (Overbrook) in Philadelphia.
At the Mass were eighteen archbishops/bishops and one cardinal of the Catholic Church together with many priests, deacons, religious and laity of the diocese. The Shrine of the Most Holy Redeemer was the chosen location for the ceremony since it could hold more people than the smaller Guardian Angel Cathedral.
My life and Bishop Gordon’s life have had some interesting parallels over the years. We were both born in Philadelphia. We are both one of five children, four boys and a girl. Our families both had homes in the Wildwoods, NJ. Both of our fathers sadly died of heart attacks around the same age, in their early sixties. Both of our mothers are approximately the same age. He began his priesthood in the former Diocese of Reno-Las Vegas (now the Diocese of Las Vegas)—THE gambling mecca of the country. Similarly, I am a priest for the Diocese of Camden, which until more recent years, was the only other place with legalized casino gambling (in Atlantic City).
That’s where many of the similarities end. After college he went on to the Pontifical North American College in Rome, while I studied at Mt. St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, MD. He has had various diocesan positions including Vicar General, while I spent a majority of my priesthood involved in Catholic education. Notably, if you put us side by side you will notice another significant difference: I stand about a foot taller than him. Unfortunately, even with his episcopal miter on, he does not reach my height. Fortunately, we remained friends over the years and I was happy to have been invited to share this joyful occasion with Bishop Gordon and his family.
One thing that struck me and my brother priests whom I was travelling with, was the warmth and hospitality that both Bishop Gordon and his Ordinary, Bishop George Leo Thomas showed us. In the midst of all that he had to do, Bishop Gordon frequently acted as our chauffer, taking us from location to location in his own car. I referred to him as our episcopal Uber driver. Moreover, Bishop Thomas warmly received us as his guests in his diocesan office and took time to talk with us and make us feel at home. I compliment both of them for their cordiality.
Speaking to Bishop Gordon about a month before his ordination, he called and asked me to pray for him. I wondered what was wrong. Was he sick? “No, I am being made a bishop,” was his reply. Oh! Subsequently, I would ask when his execution date was.
Please pray for Bishop Gordon and all of his brother bishops. When Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, his Metropolitan Archbishop, made some remarks at the end of the Mass, he began with “Congratulations and condolences.” Being a bishop in today’s world will have many joys, but will also involve picking up a cross and following the Lord Jesus daily. St. John Neumann, the fourth bishop of Philadelphia, used to say that for him every day it felt like he was going to the gallows, as he never really wanted to be a bishop.
Bishop Gordon is now one of the Successors of the Apostles. Every day I realize more and more the Catholic Church’s rich tradition encapsulated in the phrase from the Nicene Creed: one, holy, catholic and apostolic.
God bless our episcopal Uber driver!
Fr. Ed Namiotka
Sunday, July 11, 2021
Tuesday, July 6, 2021
Monday, July 5, 2021
Those of us who are able to receive should do all that we can to prepare properly, to receive reverently and to give thanks adequately for so great a privilege.
Sunday, July 4, 2021
Tuesday, June 29, 2021
Sunday, June 27, 2021
Tuesday, June 22, 2021
On Tuesday, we concluded our 40 Hours Devotion on the feast day of the patron of our parish, St. Thomas More. I am personally grateful to the many parishioners who participated. It is edifying to me to come into the church and see people praying at all times of the day and night. My special thanks to those who kept vigil during the late, late night hours. May our Eucharistic Devotion be pleasing to the Lord and bring many blessings to our parish family!
I first was made aware of St. Thomas More by watching the 1966 film, A Man for All Seasons. At that time it won Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor. Today in our PC culture, I wonder if it would be recognized at all? I highly recommend its viewing.
Thomas More (1478-1535), a lawyer and scholar, was most notably Lord High Chancellor to King Henry VIII. He staunchly defended his Catholic faith and was unwilling to recognize the king’s divorce and re-marriage and the king’s self-declared leadership over the Church of England. For this he was convicted of treason and was subsequently beheaded (July 6, 1535).
Many years ago, during a trip to London, I was able to tour the Tower of London where both St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher were held before their executions. Little did I know that I would someday be pastor of a parish named for this saintly lawyer. (Saintly lawyer. Is that an oxymoron? Sorry to any honest, dedicated barristers who may read my letter. However, we do know at least this one made it to heaven. But I digress . . . .)
St. Thomas More risked everything he had—family, fortune, reputation, etc.,—to stand firm under pressure from the king. In the end he is reported to have said: “I die the King’s good servant, and God’s first.”
St. Thomas More shares a feast day (June 22) with St. John Fisher, who was a bishop (cardinal), theologian and Chancellor of Cambridge University. Like More, Fisher refused to acknowledge King Henry’s divorce and re-marriage and his self-declared supremacy over the Church. St. John Fisher was beheaded on Tower Hill on June 22. He heroically went contrary to all of the other English Catholic bishops of the time and remained faithful to Rome. My question to all is: Who in the end was the saint?
Martyrdom is certainly the bravest act that one can demonstrate in defense of one’s Catholic faith. Living in an age of indifference, apathy and sometimes even hatred for the Catholic Church, our faith can be trivialized, disregarded, and held in contempt. It can be a continual uphill battle to remain faithful. Why bother?
Try telling that to the two aforementioned men whose undaunted faith led to their death. Try telling that to the countless others throughout history who stood firm in the face of torture, persecution, loss of family and fortune, and even death for the sake of Christ and their Catholic faith.
In the end, will we be one of the indifferent ones? Will we be one of the traitors? Or will we be one of the Saints forever praising God in Heaven?
I pray that it is the latter.
Fr. Ed Namiotka
St. John Fisher