Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Ash Wednesday

Dear Parishioners,

I am glad that Lent is here.  If used the way it is intended, this season is a tremendous spiritual preparation for Holy Week and Easter.  I personally need to take more time for prayer, fasting and almsgiving as the Gospel reminds us.

Speaking honestly, there is one thing that I hate, however.  It is that phone call that comes to most parishes constantly on Ash Wednesday asking:  “Father, what time are ashes?”

Why the tremendous preoccupation with ashes?  Why can’t the question be:  “What time is Mass?”  or “When can I receive Holy Communion?”

What is it about ashes?

Ashes, after all, are a reminder of our mortality:  Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

They also tell us of our need to do penance:  Repent, and believe in the Gospel.

It is my hope that people do not see ashes (burnt palm) as something that they “need to get,” above and beyond the desire to attend Mass and to receive Holy Communion on that day.  That is the reason why I actually prefer not to have only a Liturgy of the Word service with the distribution of ashes.  My thought process is this:  some burnt palm on the forehead (a sacramental) is significantly less important than receiving Jesus, the Bread of Life, in Holy Communion.

Please remember that Ash Wednesday is a day of fasting (one full meal) and abstinence from eating meat.  With Good Friday, these are the only two days that we are required by the Church to fast the entire year!

We need to take seriously the need to turn away from sin, to repent and to follow the Gospel.

Fr. Ed Namiotka


Tuesday, February 15, 2022

The Canadian Truckers

Dear Parishioners,

For the past couple of weeks I have been following with great interest the activities of the truckers in Canada.  I chose to watch live-stream videos (OttawalksZoke, etc.) rather than follow the activities on the legacy or main-stream media.  I preferred to observe the raw footage that was provided, so that I did not have to listen to any particular ideology or political philosophy which is often dictated by various commentators and pundits.

Since the truckers’ situation apparently pertained to the country directly north of us, I think I am relatively objective in what I see, without being directly tied to their political system.  Day after day the truckers’ situation in Ottawa (their nation’s Capital) seemed to gain strength and momentum.  The protest was overwhelmingly peaceful.  Demonstrators picked up trash, shoveled snow, fed the people, handed out hand warmers and actually protected various national monuments (after some fringe agitators tried to “desecrate” them).  The protest resembled more of a block party, rather than a violent protest.  I saw music and dancing, fireworks, and flags from the various provinces around Canada.  When truckers and others were interviewed, they mostly appeared to be hard-working, family-loving people, from mixed ethnic backgrounds, who were fed up with the government mandates and restrictions they had experienced for the past couple of years.  I saw truckers praying the Our Father together and people singing the Canadian national anthem with patriotic pride.  Canadian flags appeared everywhere. The bottom line of the demonstration was pure and simple: People want their freedom back. Do away with the restrictive mandates.

Then I heard their Prime Minister speak. What he said did not resemble anything of what I witnessed for the past weeks. He focused on some rather singular irregularities not reflective of the overall tone and purpose of the protest.  In Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s own words:

Freedom of expression, assembly and association are cornerstones of democracy, but Nazi symbolism, racist imagery and desecration of war memorials are not.

The small, fringe minority of people who are on their way to Ottawa, who are holding unacceptable views that they are expressing, do not represent the views of Canadians who have been there for each other, who know that following the science and stepping up to protect each other is the best way to continue to ensure our freedoms, our rights, our values as a country.

Trudeau also accused the truckers and other protesters of spewing "hateful rhetoric," expressing "violence toward fellow citizens" and being "an insult to memory and truth."

Interestingly, Trudeau had earlier tweeted (March 31, 2020) the following about the truckers:

While many of us are working from home, there are others who aren’t able to do that - like the truck drivers who are working day and night to make sure our shelves are stocked. So when you can, please #ThankATrucker for everything they’re doing and help them however you can.

Now he refuses even to talk with the truckers because they oppose his various mandates and go against his narrative. He even invoked the Emergencies Act against the demonstrators.

Well, the Prime Minister’s popularity is tanking. A recent Maru poll indicated only about 16% of Canadians would vote again for Trudeau as prime minister. Similar protests are appearing in Australia, New Zealand, France, Belgium, Israel, the Netherlands, and other countries. The truth is that people are tired of lockdowns and restrictions. They want freedom and a return to normal living.

And I think the human spirit—demonstrated by the Canadian truckers—will be triumphant in the end.

God bless them!

Fr. Ed Namiotka


Homily for the 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time "C" - Fr. Edward Namiotka


Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Cleaning Up the Mess

Dear Parishioners,

The readings for this Sunday provide a powerful reminder for all of us concerning those who agree to follow and to work for the Lord. 

First, Isaiah, upon seeing the Lord, states:  "Woe is me, I am doomed!  For I am a man of unclean lips, living among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!"  (Is. 6:5)  Isaiah admits his unworthiness and sinfulness.

Next, St. Paul describes himself to the Corinthians:  “For I am the least of the apostles, not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.” (1 Cor. 9)  He also admits his unworthiness and sinfulness.  

Finally, in the Gospel, St. Peter falls at the knees of Jesus  declaring:  "Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man." (Lk. 5: 8)  He, too, acknowledges his unworthiness and sinfulness.

All three of the above realized who they were before God.  In fact, we are all sinners in need of redemption. 

This leads me to reflect on the state of affairs in the Catholic Church, past and present.  I need not reiterate how we have faced exposure to the horrendous, scandalous behavior of priests, bishops and cardinals happening over decades.  There have been crimes committed that make me sick and angry to the core of my being.  Yes, we are all sinners.  However, some of these sins are so grave that I can only describe them as nothing less than diabolical.  How could a member of the clergy—someone ordained to stand in place of Christ (in persona Christi) in the sacraments—do such things?

However, I refuse to be ashamed to be a Catholic priest.  A crooked cop does not make all cops bad.  An evil lawyer does not condemn all lawyers.  An abusive husband does not label all husbands as cruel.  Bad priests obviously did not live up to the Gospel call to repentance and conversion.  Bishops or Cardinals who abused others were guilty of evil choices and behavior that would condemn any of us to hell.  Their actions do not make all of us evil.

However, how does this evil behavior actually diminish what Christ did for us?  In fact, it reminds us all the more how we need to abide by Christ and His teaching if we want to have eternal life and not eternal damnation.  Without Christ we are nothing.  We need Him now more than ever.  We need the sacraments He gave us.  And we still need the Church which He established.  Moreover, we need a purification of the Church that will only come through repentance and conversion.

Be assured, our theology holds that the sacraments are still effective and confer grace (ex opere operato), regardless of the personal holiness of the minister (ex opere operantis) .  Simply stated, this is because the saving action of Christ still takes place.  Sacraments are not dependent on the personal worthiness of the minister as long as there is the intention to do what the Church teaches.  The fidelity of God is constant, despite the infidelity of any particular minister.

Please pray for your priests.  I have stated before that the situation may get worse before it gets better.  However, the Church—the Bride of  Christ—is worth protecting and defending.  Please don’t abandon Her when She needs you/us the most.

Fr. Ed Namiotka