Lent is meant to be a time of introspection. I have been practicing this myself and trying to improve my life as the Lord shows me my various faults and failings. I admit, honestly and sadly, I am a sinner in need of God’s mercy. I am preparing for that day when I will appear before Almighty God in judgment for what I have done and what I have failed to do. St. Paul tells us, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive recompense, according to what he did in the body, whether good or evil.” (2 Cor. 5:10)
Also, as I look at my role as pastor of St. Thomas More Parish, am I doing what I should do for the good of my parishioners? My primary concern is the salvation of every immortal soul. It is inevitable when I authentically preach the Gospel, it will strike a nerve in some people—especially if I point out something that is sinful and unacceptable to God. “If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you.” (Jn. 15: 18-19)
The cancel culture would want me silenced as may those who deem the Gospel irrelevant, outdated or offensive. I remind all that truth will remain truth no matter how unpopular it may be in a particular culture or at a specific time in history. The Gospel does not become irrelevant but remains the means of salvation for those who believe in it and follow it.
While there are things that I observe that may not be considered deliberately sinful, nevertheless there are some areas I can I tell you I observe from my perspective as pastor on which we definitely can begin to improve.
- Increased participation at Mass and the sacraments. I am fully aware of any previous and current restrictions that may be in effect. However, when it becomes an excuse to avoid Mass attendance for the young, healthy, etc., I fear many will simply not return to regular attendance even after restrictions are completely lifted. We still owe God worship and it is simply not the same watching Mass on TV or on a tablet, phone or computer. We cannot receive Holy Communion through the internet. Moreover, we should take advantage of the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation frequently. This sacrament needs to take place in person and not remotely.
- Reverence when receiving the Blessed Sacrament. I am upset with the manner in which Holy Communion may be received. During this time of wearing face masks, I have witnessed too frequently people fumble with their face masks while holding the Sacred Host and then sometimes dropping the Consecrated Host on the floor. This manner of handling the Sacred Host will inevitably lead to particles of the Most Holy Body of Jesus on the floor as well. I personally witness the many crumbs that are always on the paten in front of me on the altar when I purify the sacred vessels. How many particles wind up on the floor from the casual or irreverent manner the Sacred Host is handled? The face mask should be lowered before receiving Holy Communion. That is why the priest or Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion is wearing a face mask when distributing Holy Communion.
- Avoiding distractions when in Church or at Mass. Please silence those cell phones. I realize that some may use them in place of missalettes, so I do not say shut them off at this time. However, they should not be ringing during Holy Mass. Also, unnecessary talking should not take place while people are trying to pray. Please take social conversations outside, when possible. Remember we are in the presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.
While there are other things that may have to be mentioned at a later time, can we begin to look at these areas and discern whether or not they may be applicable to my own actions? Thank you for your consideration.
My prayers for your continued Lenten journey,
Fr. Ed Namiotka
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