Thursday, May 19, 2022

40 Hours of Eucharistic Adoration at St. Thomas More Parish



Dear Parishioners,

Next month the feast day of our patron saint, St. Thomas More, occurs on Wednesday, June 22. The date is shared with another English martyr, St. John Fisher. At that time, our parish will observe 40 Hours of Eucharistic Adoration from Monday, June 20 to Wednesday, June 22. Following an evening Mass at 7 PM on June 20, the Blessed Sacrament will remain continually present on the altar for private prayer and adoration. We will add an extra evening Mass at 7 PM each evening (in addition to our regular morning Mass at 9 AM).  The closing Mass on June 22 will also include a Eucharistic procession.  Fr. James King will be the guest homilist during the three evening Masses.

I truly believe that when we take the time to be with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, it is a time of tremendous blessing not only for us as individuals but also for our families and for our entire parish family.  I do not ever want us to take for granted the great gift of the Real Presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist.  Time spent with Him is a grace-filled time.  We can express our love and adoration for Jesus, thankfulness for our blessings, and contrition for sin (our own and the sins of others).  We can also intercede for one another and petition the Lord for our various needs.  It is an invaluable time to spend with Jesus, truly present in the Most Blessed Sacrament.

When we come into the Lord’s presence, Jesus can do something to us.  We may think that we go to pray, to petition and to worship, or even that we are doing God a favor by spending some of our precious time with Him.  Our Lord Jesus, however, can transform us while we spend time with Him.  We do not need to worry about what prayers we should say, what spiritual readings we should be reading or what we should be doing in His Presence.  Just being with the Lord can be transforming.  He can soften our hearts, heal our wounds, inspire us and guide us.  He can give us an inner peace that nothing in this world can match.  Making the commitment to spend time with Him can truly transform us.

What I am requesting from you, my parishioners, is that you dedicate at least one hour sometime during these three days with the Lord in adoration.  (This should be in addition to any time attending Mass, when possible.)  This devotion will continue for two nights—around the clock—and I need your help and cooperation in order to do this.  Could you please think about dedicating an hour in prayer before the Most Blessed Sacrament?  Why not encourage members of your family to pray as a family for an hour?  Perhaps a group or organization within the parish can make a holy hour together (choir, Knights of Columbus, St. Vincent de Paul, lectors, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, Small Christian Communities, etc.).  I especially need a few insomniacs or night owls to cover the late hours!  We are arranging to have added security at night.

Sign-up sheets will be available at the doors of the church so that we can be sure that there is always present with our Lord.  Please assist me in making this a special time for our parish as we adore our Eucharistic Lord.

Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Thirty-five Years (and Counting!)


Preparing for Ordination:  The Litany of the Saints

Dear Parishioners,

Thirty-five years.  Where did the time go?

On Monday, May 16, 2022, I celebrated my thirty-fifth anniversary as a Roman Catholic priest.  It seems like yesterday when I entered the seminary at 18 years old—right out of Wildwood Catholic High School.  Looking back, that age seemed too young to be making a major life commitment by current standards.  People that I see getting married today are often in their mid-to-late twenties or even older.  Yet, I heard that mysterious call as a teenager leading me through eight years of seminary preparation and one year of parish work, culminating in ordination to the ministerial priesthood.

Did I know and fully understand everything that I was eventually to experience upon entering the seminary?  Absolutely not!  I was simply a young man who heard the mysterious invitation of Jesus to “come follow me” clearly and quite personally.

Saying “yes” to the call—being open to God’s will in my life—was just the first step of an ongoing life-journey.  It did not eliminate my inadequacies and sinfulness.  It didn’t guarantee worldly happiness.  It seemed to go counter to what many of my friends and classmates were doing.  Celibate life would mean no marriage or future family.  Obedience to a bishop would mean that I could be moved around to various assignments and be asked to do various tasks not necessarily of my own choosing.  Priesthood would involve the cross and sacrifice.  I know that I did not fully realize the many implications of my decision.

Twenty years as a priest were spent educating high school students.  Another fifteen involved primarily parish work.  Along the way, I have met some extraordinary people who have enriched my life and become part of an extended family that I would never have had experienced in other circumstances.  God had blessed me in ways unimaginable as He permitted me to act in persona Christi—in the very person of His only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ.

Looking back, I am greatly humbled by what I have experienced:  to celebrate Mass each day, to baptize a child, to witness the beginning of a new family at a wedding, to anoint and hold the hand of a dying person, to forgive the repentant sinner in confession . . . .  I have been privileged to preach, to teach and to sanctify the People of God!  I am a priest, His priest, now and into eternity: Tu es sacerdos in aeternum.

I really do not deserve this great honor of being an ordained priest.  Frankly, if more people could know the interior joy that God gives in following His Will, we would never have a vocation shortage or crisis, and probably fewer unhappy people.  While I have had some difficult days as a priest in various assignments, I have never regretted being a priest.  Fully knowing what I know now, I would do it all over again.  Absolutely!  This is what God intended for me.  And I give a heartfelt “thank you” to Him who called me and to all of you who support and sustain me by your prayers.

When a married couple promises to remain faithful for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, until death, I know that they cannot fully anticipate and understand all the circumstances of the life that they have chosen.  Similarly, a priest doesn’t know where his call will lead him, but in both vocations God expects fidelity.  

I pray that I may continue to be faithful to that call all the days of my life.

May the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of the Great High Priest, continue to intercede for me and to provide her motherly protection and care!

Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor


Ordination by Bishop George H. Guilfoyle, 1987






Thursday, May 5, 2022

Priestly Vocations


Newest priests for the Diocese of Camden

Dear Parishioners,

This year five ordinations to the Priesthood for the Diocese of Camden are scheduled for May 14th.  We congratulate and should pray for: 
Paul Abbruscato, Christopher Myers, Logan Nilsen, Cesar Pirateque and Stephen Robbins. Ad multos annos!
However, for the next two years there are no scheduled ordinations.  It should lead us to ask "why?"  I know that it is probably one of the most difficult times for the Sacred Priesthood with all of the scandalous behavior of clergy and hierarchy being made manifest.  However, Jesus intended from the earliest days of the Church that there be priests and that they model their lives after Him.  Shame on any of us ordained clergy who do not live up to that call.
When was the last time that we had a vocation to the ordained priesthood from our parish?

I know that we do not do the “calling”—God does.  I also realize that we do not have control over how a person who hears the call responds—free will is always involved.
Yet, I think there are things that can be done to foster vocations that may be present among the young men of our parish:
1.       Continue to pray fervently for vocations to the priesthood.  There are more things accomplished through prayer than we might imagine.  We are commanded in the Gospel to "Ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest." (Mt. 9:38)  We need to pray that those who hear the call of the Lord may have the courage to respond to that call.

2.       Encourage young men to think about the priesthood.  I was asked by someone in high school if I had ever thought about becoming a priest.  People told me that they thought that I might make a good priest.  I heard many homilies in my home parish encouraging young men to become priests if God is calling them.  In a secular, materialistic world there are many things working against a spiritual life or vocation.  We need the people of the parish to give some positive reinforcement to the value of priesthood.
  
3.      Do not discourage people from following the call.  One of the most disheartening things that was said to me when I initially told people that I was going into the seminary to study to be a priest was: "You don’t want to do that.  It’s such a lonely life."   This commentary came from a couple that I knew.  They were not priests.  How did they know so authoritatively that it would be a lonely life?  I have since known various married couples who suffer loneliness (or even unhappiness).  After 35 years of priesthood, I can truly say that I am basically happy each day.  While there may be some times of loneliness—I think all people have them—this is not and has not been a consistent characteristic of my life as a priest.

4.       Realize that priests are not perfect.  As the Letter to the Hebrews reminds us: "Every high priest is taken from among men and made their representative before God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.  He is able to deal patiently with the ignorant and erring, for he himself is beset by weakness and so, for this reason, must make sin offerings for himself as well as for the people."(Hebrews 5: 1-3)  Sometimes young men think that they are not worthy of such a call.  Who is?  Those of us who are ordained priests did not do anything to deserve the "call" from God.  We have just followed it, discerned it and accepted it.  You don’t have to be perfect to be a priest (but we do have to strive for holiness and to become more Christ-like every day!).

We need priests especially to celebrate the Eucharist, to forgive sins in the sacrament of Penance, to anoint the sick and dying—to be Christ’s presence in the world.  Please pray that priests will come from our parish and throughout the diocese.

Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor

Monday, May 2, 2022

My "Mom" Song


My Mom with Her 4 Sons and Daughter (several years ago!)

Dear Parishioners,

Happy Mother's Day!

I want to tell you about a song I had written about 10 years ago.  Please indulge me for a moment while I familiarize you with the details.

Each month, when I have a day or two off, I try to spend some time with my mother at her condo at the Jersey shore.  She and I have grown rather close over the years, especially since the passing of my father in 1995.  We have vacationed together, enjoyed many dinners and shows out and about, and simply talk about everything and anything.

While I was visiting mom one Tuesday afternoon, my sister arrived at my mom’s home with her youngest son.  He was cranky after just getting up from a nap and I watched as Cathy held him, tried to cheer him up and simply gave him her time and attention.  The moment was priceless as I looked at the young mom (my sister Cathy) take care of her then two year old and the slightly older mom spend her time with her then fifty-two year old son.

On the way back to my rectory I thought about the experience and I wanted somehow to capture this moment.  I also thought of a very special image of a Mother to me—the icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help.  I give a brief description of the icon’s meaning:

It represents the Mother of God holding the Divine Child while the Archangels Michael and Gabriel are presenting  Him the instruments of His Passion. . . . His passion is represented by angels holding instruments of His passion, most often the cross, the lance, the sponge, and the nails. . . . The Child Jesus is shown with an adult face and a high brow, indicating His divine Mind of infinite intelligence.  As God, He knew that the angelic apparition was prophetic of His future passion.  Yet in His human nature as a small child, He is frightened and runs to His Mother for protection.  Our Lady hastily picks Him up and clasps Him to her bosom.  This action is indicated by the fact that the Lord’s right foot is nervously curled about the left ankle and in such haste that His right sandal has become loosened and hangs by a single strap.   Further action is indicated by the way the Child Jesus clasps His Mother’s right hand with both of His, holding tightly to Our Lady’s thumb. (Catholic News Agency)



A song began to come to my mind while driving in my car with a simple melody and lyrics that I thought just about anyone could sing—especially a young child.  When I arrived at my rectory, I put my words to paper and sang the basic tune into my smart phone, using an app that I had on my phone for recording messages and talks.

I employed the help of my long-time friend Julie Linn, who was the music/choir director and vocalist from my former parish (and now, once again, holds that position here at St. Thomas More Parish). With Scott Armato, whose creative genius was responsible for the piano accompaniment and harmonies, the song Mom took its current shape. It was sung by select children (now grown) from five different schools combined into a single choir, we called Pure Jerzy Kidz. The students came from five South Jersey schools:  Edgarton Christian Academy, Newfield; Cleary Elementary School, Buena; Main Road School, Franklinville; St. Joseph's Regional School, Somers Point; and Joy D. Miller School, Egg Harbor Township.
  
The song is meant to honor all moms with the inspiration coming from three moms in particular:  my own mother, my sister Cathy and Mary, the Mother of God.

The song is available on iTunes, Amazonand other digital music stores.  It is also available as a CD single.  In addition, a music video can be found on YouTube.

Fr. Ed Namiotka

Pastor




These are the lyrics to my song:

MOM

She wipes away my tear;
Provides a listening ear;
Her smile’s a work of art;
She holds me in her heart.

When I think about her, such joy comes to my face.
Everything about her is filled with love and grace.
She’s the one I run to in times both thick and thin.
            She’s my best friend
            Like no other
            She’s my mother!

She shows me how to love,
Tells me ‘bout God above.
Finds sunshine in the rain,
Kisses away all pain.

When I think about her, such joy comes to my face.
Everything about her is filled with love and grace.
She’s the one I run to in times both thick and thin.
            She’s my best friend
            Like no other
            She’s my mother!

Having a real bad day,
She makes it all okay!
Whenever I’m afraid
The worries quickly fade.

When I think about her, such joy comes to my face.
Everything about her is filled with love and grace.
She’s the one I run to in times both thick and thin.
            She’s my best friend
            Like no other

            She’s a godsend,
            That's my mother!

            She’s my best friend
            Like no other
            She’s my mom!


            ©2012  Edward F. Namiotka

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Why Catholics Continue to Have Hope



Dear Parishioners,

As a Catholic priest I am charged with preaching the Gospel—the Good News.  I can certainly point out all of the things that are confusing or even scandalous in the Catholic Church.  However, there are important reasons why true Catholics do not give up hope despite the many obstacles we face.  We do not flee when the wolf attacks the sheep. We do not deny Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.  We remain faithful even if everyone calls us ridiculous, stupid, or out of touch.  Remember in the Beatitudes we are told that we are actually blessed when we are unjustly persecuted.

Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you [falsely] because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.  (Mt. 5: 11-12)
Opposition and persecution have been present from the beginning of the Church and continue to this day.

Let me reflect with you on some of my reasons for ongoing hope within the Catholic Church:

  • Jesus is victorious over sin and death.  Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross, rather than being a defeat, was a victory.  Jesus rose from the dead.  Death has no more power over Him.  His Resurrection gives every Christian the hope of eternal life.  While we have not yet seen the culmination of all God’s plans, we know Who has already won the victory.  Christus Vincit!
  • Jesus promised to remain with His Church.  And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.  (Mt. 28:20)  First, Jesus remains with us in the Holy Eucharist.  We believe in His Real Presence on our altars and in our tabernacles.  We also have the Sacred Scriptures to guide and inspire us.  Through the ministerial priesthood Christ still acts in each sacrament.  Christ remains with His Church whenever we gather in His name, but most especially at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. 
  • Jesus told us that evil will not prevail.  “And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. (Mt. 16:18)  Through the centuries, there have been bitter battles for the soul of the Church.  We have seen many martyrs.  We have had bad popes, bishops, priests, etc.  Attempts have been made to destroy the Church from within and from without.  Despite all such attempts, the Church remains.  And it will remain.
  • Our Lady continues to intercede for us, her children.  Devotion to Our Blessed Mother is a sine qua non for any believing Catholic.  I have been especially devoted to the apparitions of Fatima (Portugal) and to the other approved apparitions like Lourdes (France), Guadalupe (Mexico), etc.  According to the seer Sr. Lucia, the message given at Fatima from Our Lady was ”In the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph.”  When we pray the Hail Mary, we ask for Our Lady’s intercession now and at the hour of our death.  She was given to us at the foot of the cross to be our spiritual mother.  She continues to intercede for her children and to care about their eternal salvation as any good mother would.
I continue to have hope.  What is going on in the Church still concerns me tremendously.  Yet, we need to remain faithful to the Lord as He is always faithful to us.  

If you have any doubts, look at the crucifix. 

Fr. Ed Namiotka

Pastor

     

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

The Mercy of God



Dear Parishioners,

Have you ever taken the time to think about the many times we ask for or refer to the mercy of God in our liturgy?
  • May almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and bring us to eternal life. (Penitential Rite)
  • Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.  Lord, have mercy.  (Kyrie)
  •  Lord Jesus Christ . . . you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us; . . . you are seated at the right hand of the Father, have mercy on us.  (Gloria)
  • To us, also, your servants, who, though sinners, hope in your abundant mercies . . .  (Eucharistic Prayer I)
  • Remember . . . all who have died in your mercy . . .   Have mercy on us all, we pray . . .  (Eucharistic Prayer II)
  • For you came in mercy to the aid of all . . . Grant, O merciful Father, that we may enter into a heavenly inheritance . . .  (Eucharistic Prayer IV)
  • Deliver us, Lord, we pray . . . that, by the help of your mercy, we may be always free from sin . . .  (Prayer following the Our Father)
  • Lamb of God you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.  (Agnus Dei)
  •  May the receiving of your Body and Blood, Lord Jesus Christ, not bring me to judgment and condemnation, but through your loving mercy be for me protection in mind and body and a healing remedy. (Priest’s Prayer in Preparation for Receiving for Holy Communion)
While mercy in our contemporary thinking may be associated with an act of pardon from punishment, in Catholic theology there is much more to it.
 
Divine Mercy is God’s Love reaching down to meet the needs and overcome the miseries of His creatures.   . . . Divine Mercy, therefore, is the form that God's eternal love takes when He reaches out to us in the midst of our need and our brokenness.  Whatever the nature of our need or our misery might be — sin, guilt, suffering, or death — He is always ready to pour out His merciful, compassionate love for us, to help in time of need . . . . (Dr. Robert Stackpole, STD)

The Sunday in the Octave of Easter is called Divine Mercy Sunday.  On April 30, 2000 (Divine Mercy Sunday of that year), Pope St. John Paul II canonized St. Maria Faustina of the Blessed Sacrament and designated the Sunday after Easter as Divine Mercy Sunday.  According to the notebooks of Saint Faustina, Jesus made the following statements about this day:

On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open.  I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy.  The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment.  On that day all the divine floodgates through which grace flow are opened.  Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet.  My mercy is so great that no mind, be it of man or of angel, will be able to fathom it throughout all eternity.  (Diary of Saint Faustina, 699)

Devotion to Divine Mercy is also associated with an image painted as Jesus wished, based on descriptions by Saint Faustina.  The words that accompany the image are "Jesus, I trust in Thee" ("Jezu, Ufam Tobie" in the Polish).  The rays coming from Jesus' body represent the blood and water that poured forth from the wound He suffered when pierced by the lance.  The devotion is practiced by praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet and Novena to the Divine Mercy  both of which may be prayed at any time, but especially at "The Hour of Great Mercy"  3 PM, the hour our Lord died, and in conjunction with Divine Mercy Sunday.  

May the Lord Jesus have mercy on us.


Fr. Ed Namiotka

Pastor

St. Maria Faustina of the Blessed Sacrament

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Easter Joy



Dear Parishioners,

As I get older, I increasingly realize a certain void left in my life as a result of the death of relatives and friends.  I am no longer able to pick up the phone to say “hello” or to stop over to visit with them.  I tell myself that someday I hope to see them again, but I don’t have ultimate control over when, where, how—or if.  I have to wait, hope and trust.

Can you imagine what the apostles went through at the death of Jesus?  Did all of their hopes and expectations die with Him on the cross?  They saw their leader, their teacher, their rabbi, mocked cruelly, beaten mercilessly and then put to death.  I suspect they feared for their very lives.  Perhaps they recalled some of the things that he had told them to keep His memory alive.  The events of Good Friday did not present any apparent hope or future possibilities.  Death seemed so callous, cruel and final.  Death seemed triumphant.

Then came Easter.  Everything changed.  He is risen!  Somehow, despite the horrible things that were done to Him, He is still alive—miraculously!

For us Christians nothing is really as important as Christ conquering sin and death and rising from the dead.  Easter is about Resurrection.  It is about eternal life.  It is about hope and joy.

Unfortunately, we all will face the Good Fridays of our lives.  Death will come to each of us and to the ones that we love.  It may seem cruel, unfair, and so permanent.  We may not know what we are going to do or where we should turn.  We may even be on the brink of despair.  However, in these darkest of hours, turn to Jesus.  Trust Jesus.

I can only imagine the inexplicable joy that the apostles had when they saw Jesus alive again.  I am sure that it surpassed their greatest expectations and gave them a faith in Christ that they would subsequently take to the ends of the earth.  They would live and die for Christ, trying to spread His message of Good News—the Gospel.  They would speak about resurrection and eternal life.  They had their hope restored and they attempted to give others this hope in Jesus.

This Easter I pray that you experience the joy of the Risen Christ.  May your faith in Him and love for Him increase and radiate from your entire being.
 
He is not dead but very much alive!

I thank all who work so hard and who are so generous in helping to strengthen our Christian faith community here at St. Thomas More Parish.  Be assured of my daily prayers and Masses for all of you.

May I ask a continued remembrance in your prayers and Masses as well? 

Fr. Ed Namiotka

Pastor             

Easter: A Time for Renewed Hope




Dear Parishioners,

I can only imagine how desperate the situation must have seemed to His apostles as Jesus was experiencing His brutal passion and death.  To see your spiritual leader, the one whom you believed was the long-awaited messiah, suffer and die like a common criminal had to be devastating.  We know most of them fled and went into hiding.  Peter was so terrified that he denied the Lord three times, as Jesus had predicted.  What do we do now?  Where do we go from here?

Yes, there were a few who remained faithful and by the cross until the bitter end:  Mary Magdalene, the Beloved Disciple John and Jesus’ own Mother Mary.  How great must have been the emotional pain that they felt as they helplessly watched His suffering up close. Seeing every last breath coming from a beaten, broken body had to be stamped like a branding iron into their memories. How could this possibly happen?

Salvation and the forgiveness of sin came with a price: the suffering and death of the Son of God. Holy Week recalls these events. The crucifix in our churches (and homes) reminds us of the greatest act of sacrificial love.  But the story does not end here.

Resurrection and new life followed.  Jesus conquered sin and death.  The grave was not His final resting place.  He is alive!

With all of the suffering and death continuing throughout our world, we need to preach this message loud and clear:  Jesus is our salvation.  He brings us hope in every situation, no matter how desperate.

I realize how difficult and unusual these times are for all of us.  In recent years, we have seen closed churches, sacraments being limited, Holy Week and Easter services on TV or through the internet and other unprecedented occurrences.  Despite it all, God is still in charge.  He allows this to happen for a reason, which I suspect is an urgent plea for us to return to Him with all our being.  We cannot exist at all without His Divine Assistance. 

What do we do now?  Where do we go from here? Do we seek resurrection and new life for ourselves and our loved ones?  Do we want to find hope in any desperate situation?  Jesus is our salvation.  There is no other way.

I continue to hope and to pray.  Easter gives renewed hope to all Christians as we realize Christ is alive!  He is Risen!  Death has no more power over Him.  Although it may seem, at times, that the season of Lent continues in our lives and that Good Friday has not yet ended, trust in Jesus.  Stand by Him at the foot of the cross.  Resurrection and new life will come.

I assure you of my continued prayers and Masses for your health and spiritual well-being.  Please pray for me. I appreciate all of the kindness and love shown to me throughout the year!  

I may not have all the answers to what lies ahead but I certainly know Who does:  Jesus, Our Risen Lord!  

Happy Easter!

Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor

Holy Week Begins




Dear Parishioners,

This weekend we begin the most sacred week of the year for Christians.  We recall Christ’s passion, death and resurrection.  We are reminded of all that God has done for us in sending us His Only Begotten Son.

Palm Sunday recalls Jesus’ triumphant entry into the city of Jerusalem.  His royal reception sees Him being lauded by the crowd:  Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; hosanna in the highest.  (Mt. 21:9)  However, entering Jerusalem meant that Jesus was now ready to begin His bitter passion and to face death on a cross.  The crowd quickly turned on Him as they chanted:  Let him be crucified! . . . Let him be crucified!  (Mt. 27:  22-23)  We can see how quickly any glory and honor that the world may have for any of us can change to ridiculescorn and even hatred.

On Holy Thursday (7:00 PM Mass) we recall the Last Supper where Jesus instituted the Holy Eucharist and the Ministerial Priesthood.  Priesthood and the Holy Eucharist are intimately connected:  without the Priesthood, there would be no Holy Eucharist.  Jesus’ actions also remind us of the call to service displayed by the mandatum or washing of the apostles’ feet.  Do you realize what I have done for you?  You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am.   If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet.  I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do. (Jn. 13: 12-15)  The Blessed Sacrament will remain in the repository in our chapel until 10 PM, where there is time for silent prayer and adoration.

The liturgy of the Passion of the Lord on Good Friday (3 PM Service) has 3 main components:  a reading of the passion account from St. John’s gospel followed by various intercessions, veneration of the cross and Holy Communion.  Masses are not offered on Good Friday.  In addition, the Stations of the Cross will be observed in the chapel at 7 PM.  (This day remains a day of fast—one full meal—and abstinence from meat.)

The Easter Vigil (8 PM Mass) is not intended as a Mass to be rushed through quickly.  (Please note:  Mass usually lasts minimally about 2 - 21/2 hours.)  There are so many beautiful parts that, if done reverently and properly, should not be hurried or omitted.  We begin with a lighting of the Easter fire and a candlelight ceremony.  Then follows the singing of the Exultet or Easter Proclamation.  Salvation history is traced through a series of readings as the congregation is reminded of how God has continued to work in and through every age.  After the readings comes the time to bring new members into the Catholic Church through Baptism and the reception of other Sacraments of Initiation (Confirmation & Holy Communion). The Easter water is blessed at this time and sprinkled on the congregation as we renew our baptismal promises.  Finally, Mass continues in normal fashion with the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

Please consider participation in these liturgies of the Easter Triduum.  We all need to be reminded of what Christ has done for us.  The little time that we might spend in Church pales in comparison to the hours that he suffered for us on the cross.

The Masses for Easter Sunday are at the usual times:  8:30 AM and 11 AM.

Fr. Ed Namiotka

Pastor


Wednesday, March 23, 2022

The Pastoral (Parish) Council


Dear Parishioners,

When we examine what canon (church) law requires of every parish, we see that a finance council is mandated.  Canon 537 states: In each parish there is to be a finance council which is governed, in addition to universal law, by norms issued by the diocesan bishop and in which the Christian faithful, selected according to these same norms, are to assist the pastor in the administration of the goods of the parish . . . .   This council is established and active here at St. Thomas More Parish and meets regularly attempting to keep our parish operating in a fiscally responsible manner.

Canon law also states the following (Canon 536):  1.  If the diocesan bishop judges it opportune after he has heard the presbyteral council, a pastoral council is to be established in each parish, over which the pastor presides and in which the Christian faithful, together with those who share in pastoral care by virtue of their office in the parish, assist in fostering pastoral activity. 2.  A pastoral council possesses a consultative vote only and is governed by the norms established by the diocesan bishop.

Regarding this pastoral council, it has been in a state of limbo here since I arrived and needs to be re-established.  I am looking for a select group of people (9 to 12 are recommended) to help advise me with various matters concerning the future of the parish.

According to our diocesan guidelinesParish Pastoral Councils provide a way for pastors to consult their people. The Parish Pastoral Council is: "to examine and consider all that relates to pastoral work and to offer practical conclusions on these matters, so that the life and activity of the People of God may be brought into greater conformity with the Gospel." In this description, we find three tasks assigned to the pastoral council: to examine, to consider, and to recommend.

  • To examine:  The object of the Parish Pastoral Council's examination, "pastoral work," is left sufficiently un-specified in order to include all that concerns the pastor and his staff in serving the parish. The council identifies issues and studies them either at the request of the pastor or on its own initiative.

  • To consider:  The Parish Pastoral Council prayerfully ponders the data it has collected from its examination by trying to discern in what direction God is inviting the parish to go, what is behind the data.

  • To recommend:  After the Parish Pastoral Council has examined and considered any pastoral work, it makes a recommendation to the pastor and his staff on what should be done for this parish at this time in its history.

I am looking for dedicated, prayerful people willing to help me.  If you are interested or you wish to recommend someone for this task, please let me know in writing or by e-mail by April 30, 2022.  After prayerful consideration, the council will be re-established anew to assist me with the future vision and direction of St. Thomas More Parish.

For those who want more information, the diocesan Parish Pastoral Council Guidelines in English and Spanish can be found on the diocesan website.

Please give my request some prayerful deliberation.  More information should follow in the months ahead.


Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Spiritual Warfare




Dear Parishioners,

Did you notice how the Scripture readings for the 1st Sunday of Lent emphasized the temptations of Jesus by Satan?  These temptations should help us to understand that there is indeed spiritual warfare taking place for our immortal souls. Jesus was not the only one directly involved in this battle.  Everyone who earnestly desires holiness of life and makes a commitment to follow Jesus will, at one time or another, experience some type of temptation and be urged to sin. Why?

We need to understand and to believe that the devil is very real--a fallen angel. We must also realize that he and the other fallen angels (demons) hate humanity and desire our ultimate destruction, person by person.  In God's permissive will, we are allowed to be tempted by them, presumably to strengthen and perfect our resolve to follow Jesus and His commands. Similar to an athlete who never realizes his/her full potential until he/she engages in rigorous competition, a Christian who never has to defend or struggle with faith may never grow strong in it and may collapse under tribulation, pressure, ridicule, etc.  Mysteriously, God allows Satan or one of the other demons to tempt us. 

In our human weakness, we are unfortunately inclined to sin because of the effects of original sin (concupiscence). We do not see spiritual matters clearly, settle for immediate gratification rather than seek eternal happiness, and even retain a certain pride, erroneously thinking that we know more than or are somehow better than God. We suffer from an often debilitating spiritual weakness of will. Satan can then readily seduce us as he successfully seduced Adam and Eve and as he also attempted, unsuccessfully, to do so with Jesus.

Pursue the spiritual life long enough and you will find that times with a great possibility for holiness will also potentially be times of great spiritual tribulation and temptation.  Ever have a nasty fight with your spouse right before some important family event?  Ever want to kill your kids (figuratively, of course) at a time when there is something holy or spiritual going on?  Ever have a wicked temptation of impurity during Mass or a time of  prayer?  Ever been tempted to pornography when alone or to stray from the marriage vows when away from home on business? When these or similar temptations continue to happen like clockwork, you might begin to wonder if something demonic might be at work.  Trust me, there are evil, spiritual forces always at work.

The gateway to allowing evil into our lives can be subtle or not so subtle.  Most especially, stay away from the occult, from witchcraft and "new-age" religions or spirituality, from pornography, from the abuse of alcohol and drugs, and from sexual promiscuity in any form.  These and similar matters can all be openings which permit Satan to wreak havoc in our lives.  Moreover, with a lifestyle that neglects prayer and the worship that is due to God (going to Mass each week), that becomes too materialistic or worldly, or where one lives as if God does not exist or does not have any real effect/relationship to our lives or actions, Satan can use such circumstances gradually to infiltrate and destroy us as well.

I see the current attack on traditional marriage, on the sacred priesthood and on various longstanding Church teachings just more tactics used by Satan to annihilate the Catholic Church.  He is going to keep trying (unsuccessfully) until the end of time when Jesus Christ will ultimately be victorious accompanied by those who persevere with Him.  Don't give up.  Stay faithful to Christ and to the Church He established.  

But be prepared continually to do battle!

Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor

Miracle of the Sun

Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta


Dear Parishioners,

With the Consecration of Russia (and Ukraine) to the Immaculate Heart of Mary taking place on the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord (March 25), I thought that the background to the origin of this event should be highlighted.
 
Each year October 13th marks the anniversary of the miracle of Fatima, Portugal.

Our Lady was reported to have appeared to three shepherd children, Jacinta (7), Francisco (9) and Lucia (10), once every month beginning on May 13, 1917 and ending on October 13, 1917.

On 13 May 1917, ten year old Lucia dos Santos and her younger cousins, siblings Jacinta and Francisco Marto, were tending sheep at a location known as the Cova da Iria near their home village of Fatima in Portugal. Lucia described seeing a woman "brighter than the sun, shedding rays of light clearer and stronger than a crystal ball filled with the most sparkling water and pierced by the burning rays of the sun." Our Lady subsequently exhorted the children to do penance and to make sacrifices to save sinners. She also requested that the Holy Rosary be prayed daily--for world and personal peace--and that the Brown Scapular be worn. She asked that we pray for the conversion of Russia. (It should be noted that the beginnings of atheistic communism were starting to appear in Russia at the time.)

It was claimed that the Virgin Mary had promised a miracle for the last of her apparitions on October 13th, so that all would believe. What transpired became known as the "Miracle of the Sun." A crowd believed to be approximately 70,000 in number, including newspaper reporters and photographers, gathered at the Cova da Iria. The incessant rain had finally ceased and a thin layer of clouds cloaked the silver disc of the sun such that it could be looked upon without hurting the eyes. Lucia called out to the crowd to look at the sun. Sometime while Lucia was pointing towards the sun and claiming to have visions of various religious figures in the sky, it is believed that the sun appeared to change colors and to rotate like a fire wheel. Then it seemed as though the sun would crash down to earth. For some the sun appeared to fall from the sky before retreating, for others it seemed to “dance.”

An atheistic reporter commented on the event at the time: "One could see the immense multitude turn towards the sun, which appeared free from clouds and at its zenith. It looked like a plaque of dull silver and it was possible to look at it without the least discomfort. One might have thought an eclipse was taking place. But at that moment a great shout went up and one could hear the spectators nearest at hand shouting: ‘A miracle! A miracle!’ Before the astonished eyes of the crowd, whose aspect was Biblical as they stood bareheaded, eagerly searching the sky, the sun trembled, made sudden incredible movements outside all cosmic laws - yes, the sun 'danced'!"

Many of the onlookers were terrified that the sun would crash down upon them. Then, as the sun returned to normal, each person in the crowd realized that they were completely dry despite being soaked from the rain just minutes before.

While the “Miracle of the Sun” was seen and experienced by so many, the miracle more importantly is certainly meant to draw attention to the message: prayer (especially the Holy Rosary), penance and conversion. It seems that Our Lady, as a most-loving spiritual mother of us all, tries to warn us and to lead humanity back to her Son, Jesus.

Perhaps you may want to read one of the many books about Fatima or watch one of the movies The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima (1952) or the recent release Fatima (2020) to become more familiar with the entire story.

Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor