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



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


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


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

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