The thoughts and writings of Fr. Ed Namiotka as taken from his weekly parish bulletin columns.
Monday, December 26, 2022
Sunday, December 18, 2022
Saturday, December 17, 2022
O come let us adore Him!
Thursday, December 15, 2022
A New Year Resolution: Live Like You Were Dying
Fr. Ed Namiotka
Tuesday, December 13, 2022
There’s No Place like Home for the Holidays
Christ is born! Let us rejoice!
The trees are decorated, gifts are purchased and exchanged, various foods are prepared, businesses have their Christmas (or holiday) parties, cards are sent, students return home from college, families get together from far and wide to share good times, etc. etc.
I hope part of the routine for is also attendance at Mass. By the way, I hope you take time to examine the last part of the word Christmas. The word itself comes from the Old English for Christ’s Mass.
Usually the earliest possible Masses on Christmas Eve have been the best attended in most parishes to which I have been assigned. They were usually filled with children. Perhaps, there was a Christmas concert or pageant beforehand. There is indeed something special about that most holy of nights, especially when seen through the eyes of a child!
Some have contended that the current chosen date for Christmas was a Christianizing of the pagan winter solstice. (Catholic author Dr. Michael Barber addresses this and other questions about Christmas in his book, The True Meaning of Christmas: The Birth of Jesus and the Origins of the Season. He contends that there is no conclusive evidence to assert this proposition.) What is essential for Christians is Jesus took human flesh and was born at a particular point in time. That is what we celebrate at Christmas.
Christmas is about Christ. Although things can get rather complicated and convoluted for some, Christmas is still about Christ and not Santa Claus, Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph, the Grinch, etc. It’s not primarily about gift giving, family dinners or various other secular traditions.
Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a Savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord. (Luke 2: 10-11)
God chose to become a man for us. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (Jn. 1:14) Timelessness entered into time. The almighty and all-powerful God became a helpless, vulnerable infant. The creator of all life became subject to suffering and death. The infinite majesty of God became finite. God walked this very earth. He could be seen, felt and touched.
When you peer into the manger this Christmas, realize that before you is a glimpse of the tremendous love that God has for you and me, as evidenced through the Incarnation of His only-begotten Son.
On behalf of the sisters and entire staff that serve our parish, we wish you and your families a happy, holy Christmas and a blessed New Year! May the love of God which took human form in the person of Jesus be honored and revered in every human person that we meet.
I thank God that you have made St. Thomas More Parish your spiritual home! Merry Christmas!
Fr. Ed Namiotka
Peace on Earth
Perhaps you might receive a Christmas card with the inscription Peace on Earth. When Christ was born, there was period of relative peace known as the Pax Romana throughout the known world. The power and might of the Roman Empire and its army allowed for a temporary period of peace. However, where is the great Roman Empire now? Its eventual collapse came from within as the moral fiber of the society eventually disintegrated.
Our world is in desperate need of peace. We are all too familiar with the continuing war in Ukraine. However, a simple computer search for a list of current wars/conflicts throughout the world would probably shock you. Most of the time we simply are not informed about various matters around the globe. Yet they continue. How then can we achieve a true and lasting peace?
We call Christ the Prince of Peace. I suggest that His Gospel message needs to take deep root in our hearts. We have heard much about radicalization in the news. Jesus' message is one of love, forgiveness, mercy and peace. Christians and all people of good will should know that war, violence, hatred, revenge, terrorism, and the murder of innocents is never the ultimate answer.
While there are those who find little time for prayer or may even mock it, I think prayer is the means by which we will find a solution to our world (as well as individual) problems. A return to God and a more complete discipleship to Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is the only way we are going to have true and lasting peace. Jesus did not die on the cross so that everything that He said and did would come to naught. Every subsequent generation must heed His Gospel message, be converted, and allow the Gospel to be deeply rooted in the heart. It is Jesus who will transform hatred into love and offer us true peace now as he did then.
My hope and prayer is for a better world in which we no longer live in fear. No one likes to be barraged in the news with stories of an unstable world, hatred and violence. I am not so idealistic or naïve to think that we should not remain vigilant and prepared in this sometimes frightening world. Yet, if we want to see things change for the better and not just let this be a bunch of rhetoric, then we will need Divine assistance and a determined commitment on our part to be faith-filled disciples of Jesus.
I am a firm believer that God's patience and mercy are directed toward our salvation. The Lord does not delay his promise, as some regard “delay,” but he is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9) God often works slowly and ever so subtly. May we have the resolve to embrace the cross of Jesus, to accept His mercy while we are still able, and to do our part to build up the Kingdom of God. Then we will experience His true and lasting peace.
As Advent comes to a close, please use the remaining time to prepare your minds and hearts for the Lord’s birth, for His return in glory and for the coming of His Kingdom.
Fr. Ed Namiotka
Monday, December 12, 2022
Monday, December 5, 2022
"I am the Immaculate Conception"
Monday, November 28, 2022
An Advent Weekend with Marriage Encounter
Advent originated as a fast of forty days in preparation for Christmas. This weekend, for the Second Sunday of Advent, I am presenting a Worldwide Marriage Encounter Weekend in Ocean City, NJ. Please pray for its success.
When I was a newly ordained priest, a couple from my parish asked me to make a Marriage Encounter Weekend. As you might expect, my reaction was somewhat puzzled. I am obviously not married. What would be the benefit of me attending such a weekend?
Almost 35 years later, I can honestly say that this experience (and its aftermath) had one of the most profound and lasting effects on me as a person and on my priestly ministry.
This is probably not something that I would have chosen to do on my own. It would certainly not have been on my bucket list. Yet, what happened as a result can only be described as truly life-changing. And it was thanks to a couple who simply invited me to try such an experience.
I have been presenting the Marriage Encounter Weekend, usually once or twice a year, for nearly 35 years now. Together with a team of three couples, we share a series of talks to couples (and sometimes to priests and religious) with the goal of making good marriages better. The Marriage Encounter Weekend is not primarily designed for troubled marriages. (There are experiences such as Retrouvaille for this purpose.) The Worldwide Marriage Encounter Weekend is meant to open up the lines of communication between husband and wife in what is essentially a private experience between the two.
What it did for me personally was help me to understand married couples (and their families) better, to open up lines of communication, to understand my relationship to the Church—the Body of Christ—and also to identify and communicate my feelings. Feelings, in particular, are not something most men know how to deal with or might not realize the importance of in the first place.
Ladies, have you ever felt that your husband sometimes doesn’t seem to understand you? Guys, are your wives sometimes still a mystery to you in many ways? Do you both ever wonder if there is more to marriage and to life than what you are currently experiencing? Then maybe it’s time to try a Marriage Encounter Weekend. You can be newly-married or married for fifty years or more. It does not matter. The weekend can help to make any marriage better.
If you are married and desire more for your marriage, I invite you to consider attending such a weekend. For further information, you can check out the South Jersey Worldwide Marriage Encounter website or call the information line at 609-741-8012.
Many people are afraid of the unknown, afraid of change or may not want to “rock the boat.” I invite you and ask you to suggest to your spouse the possibility of attending an upcoming Marriage Encounter Weekend.
I can only tell you from personal experience that it indeed has life-changing possibilities!
Fr. Ed Namiotka
Sunday, November 20, 2022
Tuesday, November 15, 2022
Thanksgiving and Advent
As I write this bulletin column, I anticipate enjoying the annual Thanksgiving holiday dinner with various family members at my rectory. I realize, once again, how truly blessed I am. I have three brothers and a sister, their families and my mother, who mostly live in close proximity. I am so fortunate to have a considerable number of people gathered together to share this family day and traditional meal. My mother will also celebrate her 89th birthday at this time with us! I cook the turkey and a few of the side dishes while the rest of the family bring some particular specialties from their own homes to the table.
Last year we had some unexpected excitement as my youngest brother suffered a kidney stone attack and spent several days in the hospital. Let's hope this year has much less drama.
As I reflect, I pity those people who used to forgo time spent with family and friends to begin to camp out or stand in line on Black Friday in order to be early enough to get some advertised bargain at the retail stores. Maybe online sales have somewhat curtailed this practice? Nevertheless, I worry whenever we start to put material things ahead of family, friendships and relationships. People should certainly be more important than things, as far as I am concerned.
Advent also begins this weekend. I ponder once again whether or not this season of preparation for the Birth of Christ will make a difference to most people. Many people skip the intended Advent preparation and begin celebrating Christmas. Then when Christmas finally arrives, people are ready to move on to something else.
I wonder why we have to come up with slogans like Keep Christ in Christmas in order to remind us of something that should be so obvious. I advise that we don’t waste precious time by getting caught up in all of the materialism that the world is concerned about and continually sells us. Rather, we should take time for the spiritual life. After all, we as humans are comprised of body and soul. We should make the time for Jesus Christ and prepare for Him. Personally, I find that when my spiritual priorities are in order and Christ is forefront in my life, everything else mysteriously seems to fall into place. I may have to learn this lesson over and over again, but someday I may finally get it right.
I attempt to do my part by keeping any Christmas preparation in proper perspective. My annual Christmas shopping remains almost non-existent. Unfortunately, I don’t think the economy will be helped by my miniscule number of purchases. Perhaps, my spiritual life might be deepened instead.
I know that the anticipation of the birth of the Christ Child still brings hope to many lives. For those who truly try to pray, to spiritually prepare (especially with a sacramental confession), and even to fast, the joy that comes from readying our hearts for the coming of Jesus surpasses any temporary, illusory pleasures that the many TV commercials may promise.
Please do your part to ready for Christ's coming during these four weeks of Advent and attempt to forgo turning this preparatory season into a premature Christmas celebration.
Fr. Ed Namiotka
Christ the King
Here in the United States we are not used to having royalty as part of our system of governance, as are the United Kingdom and various European nations. We, as Americans, declared our independence from a nation ruled by a king.
In addition, we as an American people go through a seemingly endless and (sometimes brutal) democratic election process in which we "elect" our president and other civic officials. Democracy appears to be part of the fabric of our nation.
So how do we in our society understand and react to this concept of Christ the King?
First of all, I have continually reminded people that truth is not subject to a democratic vote or to a popularity poll. For example, if we were to take a vote and popular opinion decided there are now four persons in God and God is not a Trinity, would it make it so? Absolutely not. Our opinion of this matter is really insignificant because it can never supplant Divine Revelation. This is also true with morality and the law. Just because various laws are enacted by our government, it does not mean that these laws are necessarily morally correct or in conformity with God's will. Laws permitting the unjust taking of innocent human life illustrate this fact clearly.
When we call Christ our King, we acknowledge that He has absolute sovereignty over us as His people and we are subject to what He commands of us. While we always retain our free-will and can choose to be obedient or not, God is still ultimately in charge. Jesus the Christ announced to us that “the Kingdom of God is at hand.” (Mk. 1:15)
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church: "The kingdom of Christ (is) already present in mystery", "on earth, the seed and the beginning of the kingdom."(#669) The Catechism continues: Though already present in his Church, Christ's reign is nevertheless yet to be fulfilled "with power and great glory" by the King's return to earth. (#671)
Humanity, as the most integral part of all God's creation, must ultimately conform to the will of God and acknowledge the absolute sovereignty of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, from the very beginning, we as creatures seemed to think that we knew better and can do better than God, the Creator. This is the essence of the original sin. Various ongoing effects of this sin continue to manifest itself over and over again throughout history, right up to this very time: “Nobody is going to tell me what to do!”—for some, not even God Himself!
Moreover, when various Church leaders today advise that we need to listen to and dialogue with the various peoples of the "world," there must also be an ultimate realization that in the end the entire "world" needs to conform to the sovereignty of Christ the King. Christ is the standard of all truth. He is the Son of God. Listening to and dialogue with others can never be seen as caving into various worldly demands and succumbing to anything that would be contrary to Divine or natural law. It is the world that needs conversion to Christ and His teaching.
May this Solemnity of the Church—Christ the King—remind us of the need to be humble, respectful and obedient to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ the King.
It is utter foolishness to do otherwise.
Fr. Ed Namiotka
Monday, November 7, 2022
Back to the "Spiritual" Desert
As you read this, I am preparing to leave for a Trappist monastery—the Abbey of the Genesee in Piffard, NY—making my annual retreat. Please be kind to Fr. Norris and Fr. Perreault (my bullpen) while I am away.
The retreat I choose to be on is silent. I speak with others briefly when necessary. The first prayers of the day (Vigils) currently begin at 3:30 AM. The monks chant the psalms each day and rise early to keep watch for the Lord’s return. The first prayers of the day end with: Come, Lord Jesus. The monks work and pray (Ora et Labora) all day long. The schedule is relatively the same every time I am here.
While I miss the daily routine and people of the parish, I realize the importance of making a good retreat. Priests need to be men of prayer and to follow the example of Jesus who frequently distanced himself from the crowds to find time for intimate communication with His Father in prayer. Jesus went into the desert, up the mountain and to the seashore to pray frequently. He would spend entire nights in prayer.
What exactly will happen to me during this week? I am never really sure. I am simply called to listen for the Lord as He speaks, when he speaks. It is ironic that the quieter the atmosphere, the louder the Lord seems to speak to the heart. There is definitely time to read, to pray, to think, to meditate, to rest and to listen. Sometimes I am inspired to write or compose.
From a worldly perspective, people may not see value in what I am doing. However, those who experience the touch of the Lord in their lives usually hunger for more . . . and more . . . and more. At least I do. Being busy all of the time may seem productive, but life without prayer and intimacy with God frequently becomes shallow or even empty in so many ways. Prayer puts things in perspective and refreshes, often inspiring and motivating a person to cooperate more fully with God’s will.
You will be remembered in my prayers and Masses during the week. As you come to mind each day, I will ask the Lord to be gracious to you and to bless you. He certainly knows best what each of us needs the most in our lives.
Please pray for me as I journey into the desert. That is how a monastic retreat is often described—like going into the desert. However, don’t forget that when Christ went out into the desert, He encountered various temptations from Satan. Spiritual warfare continues. Your prayers are much needed and certainly appreciated during this time.
When I return back to the parish, I hope to be able to share with you some insights, thoughts and experiences that were the fruit of this monastic endeavor. I never quite know the outcome. All I can do is watch and wait like the monks, seeking Jesus with my whole heart.
Here we go again!
Fr. Ed Namiotka
Sunday, November 6, 2022
Tuesday, November 1, 2022
A Tale of Two Churches
It has become more and more apparent to me that the Catholic Church is at a very serious crossroads. I have witnessed changes in the Church taking place for years now—almost my entire lifetime. However, some of the things I am currently witnessing are absolutely unprecedented.
Let me begin with something as simple as orientation of the priest at Mass. For centuries, the position of the priest was ad orientem (towards “liturgical” East). The priest faced the direction of the rising sun to lead prayer and remind us all of the rising of the Son of God. While some claimed that he had his back to the people, rather, it was the intention of this position in the Mass to face God. After all, we are worshipping Him, not the people. The focus, slowly and subtly, became more oriented to the community rather than to God. While people became accustomed to this new liturgical position with time, simultaneously the emphasis at Mass tended more toward meal rather than sacrifice. The community meal seemed to take precedent over the eternal sacrifice of Jesus to His Father. Then Holy Communion went from reception on the tongue while kneeling to reception in the hand while standing. Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion are now regularly scheduled (not so extraordinary, if you ask me) and are commonly referred to as Eucharistic “Ministers.” I could go on and on. These were just some of the many, many liturgical changes that occurred over time.
What the situation in the Church has now morphed into is an attempt to change Church teaching and the very Church itself. The blessing of gay unions, “sinless” homosexual acts, reception of Holy Communion by divorced-remarried, women priests, a plurality of acceptable, salvific religions and many other questionable/heretical ideas are seemingly on the table. Popes in the past have warned against the heresy of modernism where truth becomes fluid and relativistic. Now it appears that modernism is rearing its ugly head right out in the open with seeming consent by various members of the Church hierarchy.
We see various high-ranking Vatican officials and Church leaders (cardinals, archbishops, bishops, a former papal nuncio, a former prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, etc.) openly criticizing what is now happening within the Catholic Church. Wow!
Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen warned of an upcoming, counterfeit Church—an ape of the Church. Sr. Lucia, one of the three Fatima seers, spoke of a “diabolic disorientation” within the Church and that the final battle between God and Satan would be over marriage and the family. Pope St. Paul VI spoke of the “smoke of Satan” within the Church. Our Lady of Good Success, a lesser-known but still approved Marian apparition from Quito, Ecuador, predicted and warned humanity about the sins of modern society and a future struggle within the Church itself. Pope St. John Paul II admonished us concerning the “culture of death” permeating our society. There are many others who have given us vital warnings for our time.
I trust God will act in some way to protect the Holy Catholic Church. I also know that our Blessed Mother will have some vital role in this process as she made it known at Fatima that in the end her Immaculate Heart will triumph. The exact details are certainly unknown to me and up to God Himself.
In the meantime, we all should be continually on our knees praying fervently.
May God have mercy on us.
Fr. Ed Namiotka
Sunday, October 30, 2022
Tuesday, October 25, 2022
Taking the Dirt Nap
Sunday, October 23, 2022
Tuesday, October 18, 2022
Listening to a Ukrainian Archbishop
As I write today, I am attending our annual Presbyteral Convocation, which is fancy terminology for a meeting or gathering of priests. We are in Avalon for three days enjoying some priestly fraternity, listening to and reflecting on a few talks, sharing some meals and discussions, praying together and honoring our priest jubilarians at Mass and being encouraged to minister with more dedication and love for all of you.
This year’s guest speaker is the Most Rev. Borys Gudziak, Archbishop-Metropolitan for Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia. Some information from his official biography:
The Archbishop gave the priests two talks based on the words of the Mass describing Jesus' consecration of the Holy Eucharist, and then presented his unique perspective on the war in Ukraine during a third talk. I am currently digesting his words and insights for use at a later time.
This evening, during the Mass (the feast of St. Luke the Evangelist), we will honor our priest jubilarians celebrating 25, 40, 50 and 60 years of ordained priesthood. I watch as our diocesan priests grow older with the number fewer. I see how many foreign-born clergy, fortunately, now supply what the decreasing number of our own native-born clergy are unable to do.
What will the future hold for the Diocese of Camden? Only the Lord knows for certain. However, today we celebrate the ministry of those who have answered the call to priesthood and have remained faithful to it. Ad multos annos!