Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Technology and Social Media

Dear Parishioners,

If you have lived long enough you can surely remember black and white TV’s, rabbit ears, and the three major channels/networks (with their test patterns when they went off the air).  I vividly recall as a child being invited to watch the Saturday morning cartoons in color for the first time at my friend’s home.  What a difference color made!  My family did not have a phone in the tiny house that we rented.  Unthinkable today!  I was trained to type on a manual typewriter in high school.  I remember playing Atari’s Pong on the TV and the green screen of the Apple II computer that I initially used at school.  I’ve been through vinyl records (331/3, 45 and 78 RPM speeds), 8-track tapes, cassette tapes and CD’s before the dawn of digital music downloads.  As time progressed, I even purchased a bag phone for my car—something that slightly resembled the old military phones that you might see in the movies.  I was moving right along with the latest gadgets and trends!

Honestly, I have seen technology progress at such a rapid pace that I can hardly keep up. WindowsGoogle, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Skype, LinkedIn, YouTube, Rumble, GETTR, Telegram and so many other terms have been added to our vocabulary, reflecting the ever-growing pace of technology and social media.  Is the end result of all this good?

Here are some of my observations: 

·   People drive in the car while using the phone all too often.  While we are supposed to be hands-free, frequently we are not.  The multiple signs about texting while driving and distracted driving warn us concerning the sometimes tragic result of this practice.  People have even walked into traffic, into inanimate objects or other people while texting or using their smartphones.

·   Phones now ring in inappropriate places and usually at the wrong time—in church, in classrooms, in the theater, while dining, etc.  Hearing the theme from Rocky, Tubular Bells (from the Exorcist) or Welcome to the Jungle (from Guns N’ Roses) doesn’t particularly appeal to me when I am trying to preach my homily, raise the sacred host at the consecration, or conduct a funeral.

·    Too many people no longer know how to hold an intelligent conversation, look at someone in the eyes when speaking and exhibit proper social etiquette/behavior.  Some of this seems to be the fault of being addicted to the smartphone or other devices.  Can we possibly go into a restaurant and not see a table with multiple people all on their devices at the same time?  Has a notepad or electronic game become a cheap and effective way of keeping the kids busy and quiet?

·    We need firewalls and other protections to keep us from identity theft.  We need filters to keep pornography and graphic violence from reaching our children’s eyes, minds and souls.  We might know of people who have had inappropriate relationships and affairs start online. We probably have seen the TV series focusing on child predators and the internet, not to mention how every type of sexual perversion imaginable can now be found somewhere online.  We hear of terrorists being radicalized on the internet.  We now have the possibility of more widely spread false news stories distorting the truth, ruining reputations and creating confusion in many people’s minds.  And, there is much censorship being implemented, especially if you do not agree with a particular ideology or narrative. 

I am certainly aware of the various good things that we now have instantly at our fingertips because of technology.  I can access information just about anyone and anything.  I can also disseminate information quickly and to many people.  I can speak to, while seeing, people around the world. However, the internet is like travelling to places abroad—some destinations are relatively safe while others are not.  In fact, some places are outright dangerous.

The internet does not seem to be going away anytime soon.  In fact, I receive e-mail from the monastery of the Trappist Monks where I frequently go on retreat.  They occasionally advertise the things that they sell in their bakery by e-mail and on their website.  Knowing that our technology has even invaded the solitude of the Trappist Monks, I put up my white flag.  Gone are the days fantasizing about joining a monastery to escape the world!  

With regards to all of this evolving technology, for me, at least, the jury is still out.

Fr. Ed Namiotka

Who remembers Atari's Pong game?

My 1st portable phone.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

But It’s Just So Ordinary!

Dear Parishioners,

We are back to the time of the Church year that is known as Ordinary Time.  Sounds so boring to our fast-paced society, doesn’t it?  Many people seek the spectacular (entertainment), the exciting (vacations, travel), that which stands out and draws attention to ourselves (hair styles, fashion, tattoos, piercings), anything not quite so mundane.

But when we get right down to it, much of our day and our lives involves a basic routine:  get up, brush the teeth, shower, have a cup of coffee, go to work, eat three (or more) meals during the day, sleep, etc., etc.  Repeat daily.  Repeat weekly.  Repeat monthly.  Repeat annually.

In the course of this routine, is there time set aside for God?  Where in the daily or weekly schedule is there time for prayer, spiritual growth and the other-worldly—time for God?  Ordinary time in the Church is a good reminder for us that not every time or season is special (like Advent/Christmas or Lent/Easter) but can be simply ordinary.  And it is often in the ordinary things of life that we can find God. 

Recall the passage from the Scriptures:

At the mountain of God, Horeb,
Elijah came to a cave where he took shelter.
Then the LORD said to him,
"Go outside and stand on the mountain before the LORD;
the LORD will be passing by."
A strong and heavy wind was rending the mountains
and crushing rocks before the LORD--
but the LORD was not in the wind.
After the wind there was an earthquake--
but the LORD was not in the earthquake.
After the earthquake there was fire--
but the LORD was not in the fire.
After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound.
When he heard this,
Elijah hid his face in his cloak
and went and stood at the entrance of the cave.
(1 Kings 19: 9a, 11-13a)

God was not in the heavy wind, the earthquake or the fire—the spectacular, the exciting or the extraordinary.  He was, however, found in the ordinary—the tiny whispering sound.

God’s presence may be discovered regularly in a child’s smile, in the beauty of nature, in a simple act of kindness or in the depths of our hearts.  He is found in a married couple’s love, in those who care for the sick or suffering, or in those willing to forgive after being wronged. 

For believers, we find Jesus, the Son of God in an ordinary piece of bread and some wine consecrated into His Body and Blood.  He is found where two or three ordinary people gather in His Name in prayer.  He is present in the Sacraments, in the Sacred Scriptures, in His Mystical Body—the Church, and in the Ordained Priest acting in His Person.

Even though things in this world may be ordinary, it doesn’t mean that God can’t use them or reveal his presence through them.  Nothing ordinary about that!

Fr. Ed Namiotka
Green Vestments (worn during Ordinay Time)

Homily for the 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time "C" - Fr. Edward Namiotka


Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Marriage: A Covenant of Love and Life

Dear Parishioners,

When I began writing this bulletin column many years ago, my intention was to take my pastoral responsibility to preach and to teach seriously.  Hopefully, I can continue to shed some insight on particular topics in a simple, straightforward manner.  I realize, of course, that that the final authority on all Church matters is the magisterium or teaching authority of the Church (essentially the pope united with his bishops).  I try to be completely faithful to Sacred Scripture and to our over 2000 years of Church teaching and Sacred Tradition.

I think that Catholics need to be kept up-to-date on various matters concerning our faith and morality.  One such hot button issue today is the definition of marriage.  I have used the following working definition of marriage in the past in my high school classroom:  Marriage is a covenant of love and of life, made by a man and a woman, that is permanent, exclusive and open to the possibility of children.  Allow me to take this definition apart:

1.   By saying that marriage is a covenant, it means that this pact or agreement goes beyond a legal contract mentality because God is involved in the process.  Besides the priest (or deacon) and congregation, the vows exchanged in a marriage ceremony by the couple have God as a witness.  The couple comes before God freely to promise their lives to each other.  There is an exchange of persons.  The couple should be aware of God’s presence in this process.  For Catholics, the ordinary place where this sacred covenant is made is in a church building (a sacred consecrated place) rather than some other secular place.

2.  The covenant is between one man and one woman.  The Church, following Christ’s instruction (see Mt. 19: 4-6), teaches that this covenant is between a monogamous, opposite sex couple.  Directly stated, multiple partners and same sex partners are not part of God’s plan for marriage.  Multiple partners go beyond the Scriptural “two shall become one flesh” experience.  Same sex partners, while they may have love for each other, cannot reproduce with each other through any genital expression of their love.  This is a disordered activity that may be pleasurable to them but it is definitely not life giving.  Any homosexual genital act is always sterile.

3.   Marriage is permanent—“until death do us part.”  Part of the marriage vow includes the couple’s promise to each other to remain with each other “all the days of my life.”  The Church holds couples to this promise.
4.   Marriage is exclusive meaning that there should be no infidelity or adultery.  Monogamy is expressed in a “two shall become one flesh” experience.

5.   Finally, marriage needs to be open to children.  The contraceptive mentality in our culture tries to separate the love making act from any life giving possibility.  It takes God’s design for human sexuality and tries to re-establish it as a pleasurable, sterile act.  God gives the married couple the possibility of creating new life—a new human being with an immortal soul—and eliminating this possibility directly through artificial contraception is seen as immoral.

As the traditional definition of marriage is continually under the threat of being redefined, we need to understand the many implications of such an attempted change.

It is essential to be educated on the issues and to be kept informed!

Fr. Ed Namiotka

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Baptism of the Lord

Dear Parishioners,

If the Lord Jesus was without sin, why would He ever need to be baptized by John the Baptist?

The most direct answer to this question is that Jesus did not need to be baptized.  So then, why did it happen?  Let’s first look at what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says on the topic:

Our Lord voluntarily submitted himself to the baptism of St. John, intended for sinners, in order to "fulfill all righteousness." Jesus' gesture is a manifestation of his self-emptying.  The Spirit who had hovered over the waters of the first creation descended then on the Christ as a prelude of the new creation, and the Father revealed Jesus as his "beloved Son."  #1224
One way to think of Jesus’ baptism was that it is an anticipation of what He would do for us later on the cross.  He would take upon Himself our sinfulness.  Just as He did not die on the cross for His own sin, He did not receive the baptism of John to repent for His own sinfulness.  We might rather say that Jesus made holy the waters of baptism by His own baptism.  In addition, His Baptism in the Jordan River, like His Epiphany as a child to the magi, was another divine manifestation of Jesus’ true identity:  “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Mt. 3:17)

Jesus’ Baptism should make us think about our own baptism.  St. Paul’s words to the Romans are instructive:

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.  (Rom. 6:3-4)
Baptism gives us new life—eternal life.  Baptism forgives our sinfulness—both original sin and any personal sin (once a person has reached the age of reason and is no longer an infant).  With baptism we are adopted by God through Christ as His children.  We become temples of God’s Holy Spirit dwelling within us.  God’s own life now dwells in us—the life of sanctifying grace.  We become a member of the mystical Body of Christ, the Church, and the doorway is now open for us to receive the other sacraments of the Church.  All of these wonderful things and many other blessings (see the Catechism of the Catholic Church #1262ff.) occur with the simple pouring of water (or an immersion into it) combined with the baptismal formula:  I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Every time you bless yourself with holy water, remember that this sacramental is a reminder of your baptism into Christ Jesus who suffered and died for your salvation.  I remind you to keep some in your homes.

Fr. Ed Namiotka

A New Beginning for All of Us

Dear Parishioners,

It seems that when the New Year arrives people tend to come up with various resolutions.  Perhaps some (like me) will look at the lingering spare tire around the waist and say that they are going to exercise moreFat chance that this noble resolution will usually last for too long!  Others may want to spend more time with family and friends.  This may last for a while and then, typically, the hectic pace of life takes over and out of sight, out of mind.  Still others seek to break a bad habit.  They attempt to quit smoking or drinking, spend less time on the internet or watching TV, etc.  This may be okay until those moments when we’re bored, lonely, frustrated, stressed-out or tired and we decide to light up, take a drink to relax, surf the internet or channel surf with the TV remote.  What was it that they say about the road to hell being paved with good intentions?

I think that we as humans frequently desire a fresh start.  We typically regret our transgressions and indiscretions—our sinful, selfish behaviors—and want to move on and start anew.  Some denominations of Christians speak about being born again, referring to Jesus and His conversation with Nicodemus (John 3: 1-21).  How is it that we are able to begin again?  Will a simple act of the will enable us to change?

Jesus gave us the means by which we can become a new creation (2 Cor. 5: 17)By our baptism into Christ this relationship began.  We were adopted by God as His children.  Original sin (and any actual sin if we had reached the age of reason) was forgiven.  We were filled with God’s Holy Spirit and Sanctifying Grace (God’s life) was now in us.  We were made members of the Body of Christ—the Church.

But since that time of our baptism we sinned.  Our relationship with God and others was damaged, perhaps seriously.  What do we do now?  Undoubtedly Jesus had a plan for this as well.  He told his apostles after His Resurrection, “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them . . . .”  (John 20: 23)  The Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation (confession) is the means by which our post-baptismal sins are forgiven and is what can once again restore us to the purity of our initial baptism.  We are made new by the continuing action of Christ working through His Church.  And it involves more than our simple resolution to do better.  God’s grace is present to forgive, to strengthen and to heal.  We are given supernatural, Divine Grace in our battle with sin!  We are made anew—a new creation in Christ Jesus!

If you make use of the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation regularly, then I suppose you already understand its healing effects.  However, if you are one of those people who fears the sacrament, has convinced yourself that you can go directly to God, has had a bad experience in the past and never went back, is carrying a burden around that just doesn’t seem to go away no matter what I do or is simply seeking a way to begin again, why not give confession a try?  What is needed is a contrite heart and sorrow for any sins committed, a determination to try to avoid sin in the future, and faith in Jesus Christ that He can forgive my sins through the instrument of the priest.

Regular confession will do more for the body, mind and soul than any other soon-to-be-broken resolution.  Its supernatural healing effects are far beyond what we can possibly do alone.  As one who has sought out and frequented this sacrament for most of my life, I can attest to its divine healing power.  I realize that I am far from perfect and that in my struggle with sin I have a divinely instituted means of experiencing God’s ongoing forgiveness, mercy and healing in my life.

Fr. Ed Namiotka


The Holy Family

Dear Parishioners,

Family means a great deal to me.  Spending time with my mom, my brothers and sister and their families, especially around the holidays, is a special gift to me.

I realize that no family is perfect.  We all have to deal with particular family issues and circumstances, varying problems and challenges, diverse personalities, etc. Yet, all of this is accompanied by multiple blessings.

Sometimes I think that certain people tend to idealize the Holy Family and forget the many difficulties and hardships that Jesus, Mary and Joseph had to endure.  We read in the Sacred Scriptures that Mary was found with child before living with Joseph.  He was initially going to divorce her quietly. (Mt. 1: 18-19)  Then, there was no place for Jesus to be born in the lodgings of Bethlehem after Joseph and Mary (now in the final stage of her pregnancy) had travelled considerable distance. (Lk. 2: 4-7)  As an infant, Jesus’ life was threatened by King Herod and His parents had to flee with Him to Egypt. (Mt. 2: 13-18)  Joseph and Mary seemingly lost—could not immediately find—the boy Jesus during their pilgrimage to Jerusalem. (Lk. 2: 41-51)  Mary later witnessed her only Son tortured and killed in front of her eyes. (Jn. 19: 25)

These were not quite the circumstances of a perfect, ideal life, were they?

Yet, through it all, Jesus, Mary and Joseph had each other and were bound together by mutual love and respect.  They all greatly loved and trusted God, our Heavenly Father, and were obedient to His will as it was revealed and unfolded for them.

Today, problems within the family unit continue to exist—at a somewhat grand scale and pace.  Various people question, with some even wanting to redefine, the traditional understanding of “family.”  Family life as we once knew it in society seems to be eroding.

I contend that we need to look at the Sacred Scriptures to see what they teach us (albeit ever so briefly) about the family life experienced by the Holy Family.  Their obvious trust in God in difficult circumstances, their obedience to His will, and their fidelity to God and to one another are great examples for us all to follow.

Pray to the Holy Family.  Consecrate your families to the care of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Pray that our families be blessed and protected from the many threats that try to destroy them.

Pray fervently for the grace to know and to do God’s will.

And pray that our families will one day join the Heavenly Family that awaits us—united with Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

Fr. Ed Namiotka