Tuesday, September 21, 2021

The Holy Rosary and Our Pro-Life Efforts



Dear Parishioners,

As we soon begin the month of October, I am reminded of the important connection we need to make joining devotion to the Holy Rosary with our Respect Life efforts.  It is no coincidence that October is both the month dedicated to the Holy Rosary and also to the respect for all human life from the moment of conception until natural death.

The history of the Holy Rosary reveals its power combating heresy (against the Albigensians) and providing victory in battle (the battle of Lepanto).  It was requested by our Lady herself during various Church approved Marian apparitions (Fatima).  It has tremendous spiritual benefits for those who faithfully pray it.

Simply stated, the rosary traces the highlights of the life, death, and resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ and the life of his Mother Mary as found in Sacred Scripture and Church Tradition.  It is, in a sense, the bible on beads.  We can use the rosary to help us spiritually each day as we recall  and reflect on various mysteries of our faith and our salvation.

The repetition of the prayers is meant to help us get into a spiritual rhythm and a reflective mindset.  The meditation on the mysteries helps us to recall and reinforce essential truths of our faith.  The rosary also seeks the intercession of Our Lady who is essential to the plan for our salvation.  She is our spiritual mother guiding us and accompanying us on our journey of life.

Just think of some of joyful mysteries of the Holy Rosary and their connection to various life issues.  The first joyful mystery, the Annunciation (Lk. 1: 26-38), shows us how with Mary’s “yes” to the angel, the Word became flesh in her womb.  God became Incarnate with Jesus’ human life beginning at conception.  After Jesus was conceived in Mary’s womb, when Mary greeted Elizabeth [the Visitation (Lk. 1: 39-56)], John the Baptist leaped for joy in Elizabeth’s womb.  Recall how Elizabeth was in advanced years—a situation that today may be too easy an excuse to have an abortion.  When Jesus is born in a stable in Bethlehem [the Nativity (Lk. 2: 1-7ff.)] with no room for Him anywhere else, I can just imagine someone today saying that “This child is too inconvenient for us at this time!” or “We can’t afford this child!” These are just a few reasons that can be rationalized for terminating an unwanted or inconvenient pregnancy.

I could go on developing this meditation.  However, it is even more important that we take the time to pray the Holy Rosary with the intention of fostering a greater respect for all human life.  Please take the time to pray at least five decades of the Holy Rosary each day. 

There is certainly no more important issue facing our world today than the one concerning the sacredness of all human life.  Jesus Christ, the Son of God, chose to become one of us.  This is our fundamental belief and this indicates for us the tremendous value that God placed on humanity itself.  Let no one deceive you with false arguments and/or intellectual rationalizations somehow justifying an abortion, infanticide or euthanasia.

The Author of Life became one of us and this speaks volumes of our need, tirelessly, to protect and to defend all human life.  Prayer is the greatest tool and the Holy Rosary is one of the most powerful weapons in any spiritual battle.

Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Learning Humility


Dear Parishioners,

When I was a seminarian preparing for ordination to the Priesthood, I thought that it might be a good idea to pray for humility.  It seemed, at the time, to be a wise aspiration.

Gradually, things were brought to my attention concerning the topic of humility—now on a somewhat regular basis.  I heard things said to me like:  Be careful of what you pray for, you might get it and The quickest way to humility is through humiliation.

On the day of the senior class graduation from the college seminary, there was a well-planned Baccalaureate Mass.  I happened to be the sacristan of the seminary chapel at the time.  I would be the person leading the reader to his appropriate place at the pulpit during the proclamation of the readings from Sacred Scripture.  The chapel was packed.  Family and friends, the entire faculty and various dignitaries were present for this momentous occasion.  The homily was thoroughly prepared by the priest assigned to preach, based primarily on the first reading, which I later found out had been chosen from the book of the Prophet Jeremiah.

I led the reader to the pulpit after making the appropriate bows.  As we looked at the Lectionary and the reading set open in front of us, he whispers to me, “This isn’t the right reading.”  In a state of panic I said quickly and without much thought: “Well . . . read it anyway.”  I instructed him to read the incorrect reading in front of everyone.  It was from the Acts of the Apostles.  It had multiple difficult names to pronounce.  The homily, I came to find out, had been based almost entirely on the reading from the Prophet Jeremiah.  I was humiliated.  I guess I began to learn humility.

Fast forward to when I initially became a principal of a diocesan high school.  It was the night of the open house.  I was hurrying around the buildings trying to make sure the bathrooms looked clean and presentable for any guests.  I began to clean things up.  Not really a pleasant job for anyone, I thought.  Then I recalled the brilliant words of advice that I had given to my students at various times:  Stay in school.  Get your degrees so that you don’t wind up cleaning bathrooms for a living.  Who was it now cleaning bathrooms?  Humility? Hmm . . .

At other times humility kicks in as well.  One Sunday the deacon had preached during the Mass that I offered.  We went to the back of church to greet the people as they exited.  “Great homily Father!” One particular gentleman had said that right to my face with all seriousness.  I hadn’t preached at that Mass.  He hadn’t a clue.  Great homily . . .  Oh well!  Humility . . .

Be sure to heed the words from today’s Gospel:

[Jesus and his disciples] came to Capernaum and, once inside the house, he began to ask them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” But they remained silent. They had been discussing among themselves on the way who was the greatest. Then he sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.” (Mk. 9: 33-35)

May I also add my own words of caution when praying for something (like humility):  Be very careful; you might actually get what you pray for!

Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor



Sunday, September 12, 2021

Reflecting on the Cross


Dear Parishioners,

You will find that I refer to the cross of Jesus quite frequently when I preach.  Maybe I have been profoundly influenced by St. Paul:  I preach Christ Jesus and Him crucified. (See 1 Cor. 2:2 and 1 Cor. 1:23) 

Typically, I will point to the image of the crucified Jesus.  While some churches have an image of the resurrected Jesus in the sanctuary, as did one of my former parishes, I really must confess that I am not quite there yet in my own spiritual life.  I relate better to the crucified Jesus who truly knew suffering and experienced death.  Intellectually, I know that JESUS IS RISEN, and I certainly preach Him as risen from the dead.  However, whether it be in my personal chapel in the rectory, or in the church itself, I look to the crucified Jesus—to the crucifix—more often than not.

Each day I see suffering in the world.  When I turn on the evening news, read the newspaper or find an article on the internet, so many of the stories involve tragedy:  a plane going down, a hurricane, a wild fire, a flood, war, violence, murder, etc.  I see people suffering and dying.  I visit the hospital and I find someone extremely sick with family members surrounding him or her in tears.  I visit the homebound.  I celebrate a funeral Mass.  Get the picture?

Jesus knew suffering.  Meditating on the sorrowful mysteries of the Holy Rosary, making the Stations of the Cross, reading an account of Jesus’ passion in the Sacred Scriptures, looking at a crucifix, all tell me that Christ can relate to the pain and suffering of humanity.

I ponder the image of the Risen Christ and truly hope to be there someday.  I also realize that resurrection and eternal life are still somewhere—with God’s grace and through His forgiveness, mercy and love—in the future for me.

However, I continue look at the crucifix.  Maybe I do not receive immediate answers to all my prayers.  Maybe I still have questions and doubts.  But what I see is a God who loved me enough to suffer and to die for me.  I see Jesus who willingly accepted suffering and experienced it to the depth of his being.  I see a humble, vulnerable God who took upon Himself all of our sins—my sins.  I see Jesus who died for me, for all of us.

At this point in time, you can see where I am in my personal spiritual life.  I see myself at the foot of the cross.  I hope someday for resurrection and eternal life.  But I am, unfortunately, just not there yet.

Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it. (Mark 8: 34b-35) 

Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor   

Homily for the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time "B" - Fr. Edward Namiotka