Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Being "Catholic" and "American"

Dear Parishioners,

As a nation, we celebrate our Declaration of Independence on the Fourth of July.  I think it is important to consider a few things as Roman Catholic citizens privileged to live in this country.

First, we have the freedom and the right to practice our Catholic faith.  We acknowledge that we are “One Nation, Under God” in our pledge of allegiance.  “In God We Trust” is printed on our currency.  While it is not specified who that God is, our nation has conceded a dependence on a Higher Power greater than all of us.  As Catholic Christians, we see this through the prism of our faith in Jesus Christ.  He revealed to us most fully who God is.  Our Bill of Rights (First Amendment) says clearly that congress shall make no law prohibiting the free exercise of religion.  Every time we walk into a church, go to Mass, attend a baptism, witness a church wedding, etc. we should be thankful for the wisdom of our founding fathers.
Second, we have the right to speak freely when we disagree with government policies or laws.  However, this must be done civilly and respectfully.  Inciting violence, spewing hatred, exhibiting bigotry, and being anything other than Christ-like is simply far removed from the teaching and example of Jesus.  Could Jesus be critical of authority?  Absolutely!  Consider how he called out the Pharisees, elders and religious leaders as a brood of vipers (Mt. 12: 34), whitewashed tombs and hypocrites (Mt. 23: 27).  His words could be piercing and could foment resentment and even hatred by his opponents.  His cleansing of the temple (Jn. 2: 14-22) shows how he could be passionate and forceful in what he said and did.  Yet, ultimately, he submitted to civil and religious authority even as it culminated in torture and death on a cross.

Should we, as Catholics, speak up against the atrocity of legalized abortion, condemn racism and discrimination, denounce sexual abuse, and decry all forms of injustice and evil in our society?  Unequivocally, yes and without the fear of reprisal from our government.  Again, the First Amendment protects us here.
Third, while we do not live in a theocracy, our Catholic faith can and should have an influence on public policy.  Our First Amendment does not establish any one religion as the acceptable or correct one.  God is not our king.  We have an elected president and elected government officials.  However, as Catholics, we have as much of a right as anyone else to try to influence and shape public opinion and policy.  Are we a Christian nation?  Technically, we are not.  This does not mean that we should not be willing to be that light of the world (Mt. 5: 14) as Christians were within the Roman Empire or within other government systems throughout history.
I have said many times that I am not committed to any political party.  This is because I hold that my soul belongs to Jesus Christ alone and not to any political party.  At times, I have disagreed with both major parties on issues.  Most likely, I will continue to do so.

Rather, I strive, imperfectly, for holiness of life.  My goal is eternal life.  As a Roman Catholic, I am very proud to live in this country and to be an American.  

However, I try not to forget this important thought from St. Paul:  Our citizenship is in heaven and from it we also await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. (Phil. 3: 20)

Fr. Ed Namiotka

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Upcoming Pilgrimage

Deposits are now due!

St. Thomas More, Martyr


St. Thomas More

Dear Parishioners,

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

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Restoring Belief in and Reverence for the Most Holy Eucharist

Dear Parishioners,

A headline from the Pew Research Center (August 5, 2019) stated the following:  "Just one-third of U.S. Catholics agree with their church that Eucharist is body, blood of Christ." While I was disappointed with the findings, I cannot say that I was completely shocked.  I have seen it coming for years now.

Let me share with you a some facts and incidents that accentuate and corroborate this conclusion in my own mind:
  • We knew (before the pandemic) that only about one-fifth of our registered Catholics attend Mass each week.  Can people really believe in the Real Presence with such sparse attendance?
  • People come to Mass looking like they are ready for the gym or even the beach.  Someone at one of my former parishes also came forward to distribute the Holy Eucharist (presumably to fill-in for someone who did not show up) dressed in gym shorts, athletic shoes and a t-shirt.  Really?
  • A few years ago at a Mass for the religious education students, one of students took the Holy Eucharist in one hand and then began to give a high five with the other hand to the students in the first pew as he passed them.  Eventually, he did consume the Sacred Host.  I saw it happen as I was distributing Holy Communion.  Does he understand or even have a clue what (WHO) he had in his hand?
  • On a far too regular basis I have had to follow someone down the aisle (usually at a funeral or wedding) to make sure that they have consumed the Sacred Host after they had taken it in their hands and then walked away.
I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea.

What can we do about this disturbing trend?  In my mind, we must move in the opposite direction immediately and deliberately.  Personally show proper reverence for Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist. 

This weekend begins the 40 Hours Devotion here in the parish. I have asked all parishioners for one hour of time to give worship and adoration to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and to make reparation to Him for the lack of belief.  In addition, if your schedule permits, you could also take advantage of time in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament we offer after the 9 AM Mass until noon, every Monday to Friday.  Moreover, the chapel and church are both open during office hours to make a visit to the Blessed Sacrament. 

Receive the Holy Eucharist with the utmost reverence.  Genuflect, bow or make a Sign of the Cross before receiving Our Lord.  I am truly edified when people kneel for Holy Communion.  While I personally believe that allowing the reception of Holy Communion in the hand was a serious mistake contributing to this lack of belief (and I have no authority to change this practice unilaterally), I can bring it to people's attention and request that they receive Our Lord much more reverently.

When you pass in front of the Tabernacle, please genuflect if you are physically able or bow.  Please do not gather to talk or socialize anywhere in the Sanctuary area.  And most importantly, always approach to receive the Holy Eucharist in the state of grace (not conscious of any grave or mortal sin).  This includes willfully and negligently missing Mass. One should always go to Confession first before receiving Holy Communion, if the person is in grave or mortal sin.

Each of us can show others what we believe by our reverence and actions.  We should never do things just for show or simply to gain the attention of others.  However, how we dress, how we approach the Holy Eucharist, how we receive, etc., can speak volumes in a world of unbelief.  Please do your part.

Fr. Ed Namiotka

Monday, June 7, 2021

“So You Could Not Keep Watch with Me for One Hour?”

Dear Parishioners,

The time for our 40 Hours of Eucharistic Adoration begins next Sunday (6/20/21) after the 11 AM Mass.  Our Eucharistic Lord will be present continually on the altar for prayer and adoration (except when there is a scheduled Mass) until 9 AM on Tuesday (6/22/21).  We conclude our devotion on the memorial of our patron, St. Thomas More.  Masses on Monday will be at 9 AM  and 7 PM.

I have asked all of you to consider spending at least one hour during these days before Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.

What are some of the things that we might possibly pray for during this time?

  • For those in our family or among our relatives and friends who no longer practice their Catholic faith or who have abandoned it.

  • For priestly or religious vocations in our Church.  (Remember our diocese is not scheduled to ordain any priests in 2023.)

  •  In reparation for our sins.  (I know I need to spend a few hours myself on my knees with this intention in mind!)

  •  In thanksgiving for the many blessings God has bestowed on us during our lives.  (Most of us probably do not say “thank you” quite enough.)

  • For our Catholic Church:  for clarity in her teaching and doctrine; for holiness in her leaders;  for healing in those who have been hurt or abused;  that all of her members may walk the path to salvation and eternal happiness.

  • For our deceased relatives and friends; for the forgiveness of their sins and lessening of any time in purgatory.

  • For our enemies.  Didn’t Jesus remind us to pray for them?  (See Mt. 5: 43-48)

Maybe you just might need to spend some quiet time with Our Lord listening to what He might say to your heart.

During this time of year there are fans who will spend hours and hours watching game after game.  There are other people who will be fixated in front of their tablets, computers, televisions or phones for multiple hours.  There are still others who  will work out at the gym several times each week religiously.  How much quality time do you think is given to prayer by the average person?

Right before His crucifixion, while Jesus was agonizing in the garden of Gethsemane about his impending suffering and death, He asked His disciples to take time to pray with Him.  Could you ever imagine His disappointment when He found them sleeping instead?  “So you could not keep watch with me for one hour?” (Mt. 26:40)

One hour of your time for the Lord who gave His life for us.  Is that too much to ask?

Fr. Ed Namiotka


Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Corpus Christi

Dear Parishioners,
This Sunday we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, otherwise known as Corpus Christi.  This is a solemnity that is transferred from Thursday (the day on which the Holy Eucharist was instituted) to Sunday in the United States and other countries.  In Rome, however, it was celebrated this past Thursday.
As Catholics we are called to look at and adore the great gift that we possess in the Holy Eucharist.  We believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist.  Let me be very direct and clear:  not all Christian faiths believe the same thing about the Holy Eucharist.  Some believe that the Eucharist is merely a symbol or blessed bread.   Other denominations believe that the bread and wine become Christ while the service is going on but return to bread and wine after the service is ended.  Some hold that the Eucharist is a sacrament, while others do not.  There are many varying points of view.
The Catholic Church believes and teaches that the bread and wine truly become the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ.  It is truly Christ present on our altars and in our tabernacles.  We take Christ at His word when the words of consecration are spoken:  “This is my Body . . . This is my Blood.”
That’s why it’s frustrating to me that some people can be so cavalier about this essential belief of the Catholic faith.  For some to say things like:  “It’s all the same” or “One religion is as good as another” or “I’ll just go over to the nearby Protestant church” misses the point about what we have held as a core belief in the Catholic Church:  We possess the Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist.

Yes, it’s good for us to get down on our knees to adore and worship Christ truly present at every Mass and in our tabernacles.  He promised to remain with us always: “And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Mt. 28:20)  We believe that he kept this promise in the Holy Eucharist.
We read in the Catechism of the Catholic Church

The Mass is at the same time, and inseparably, the sacrificial memorial in which the sacrifice of the cross is perpetuated and the sacred banquet of communion with the Lord's body and blood. But the celebration of the Eucharistic sacrifice is wholly directed toward the intimate union of the faithful with Christ through communion. To receive communion is to receive Christ himself who has offered himself for us.  (CCC, # 1382)

In two weeks (June 20 to 22) our parish will spend 40 Hours in adoration of Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament.  Please take the time to sign-up with a commitment to spend an hour or more of your time in His divine presence.

May we always realize Who we have before us on our altars and in our tabernacles and Who we are privileged to receive in Holy Communion:  Jesus, the Son of God.

Fr. Ed Namiotka