Tuesday, September 27, 2022

"Houston, We Have a Problem."


Apollo 13

Dear Parishioners,

I couldn’t but help recalling the above phrase attributed to the Apollo 13 astronauts when I heard about another incident recently occurring within the Catholic Church.

In a somewhat recent matter necessitating official clarification, the Vatican issued a statement (March 15, 2021) on the blessing of homosexual unions:

Responsum of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to a dubium regarding the blessing of the unions of persons of the same sex

Does the Church have the power to give the blessing to unions of persons of the same sex?

Response: Negative

Part of the Vatican response reads: . . . Since blessings on persons are in relationship with the sacraments, the blessing of homosexual unions cannot be considered licit. This is because they would constitute a certain imitation or analogue of the nuptial blessing invoked on the man and woman united in the sacrament of Matrimony, while in fact “there are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family”.

However, the Belgium bishops’ conference, in an obvious contradiction to the Vatican teaching, recently issued a proposed liturgy for same-sex couples. Does anyone else see a problem here?

Concerning another area of Church teaching, various voices are still raising the issue of ordination for women, although a previous pope (affirmed by Pope Francis) made the following definitive statement:

Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church's divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful. 

Some time ago (March 19, 2016) when Pope Francis wrote Amoris Laetitia, there were various questions raised about the document. In fact, four cardinals of the Catholic Church formally questioned the pope in a dubia—a document asking for formal clarifications on Church doctrine. Specifically, the document asked whether divorced and re-married Catholics are to be admitted to Holy Communion. Simply stated, Church teaching has traditionally prohibited such without a proper annulment of any previous marriage bond. The dubia was never formally and directly answered.

Now the Holy Father has written on what is necessary to be admitted to Holy Communion:

To be admitted to the feast all that is required is the wedding garment of faith which comes from the hearing of his Word (cf. Ro 10:17)
DESIDERIO DESIDERAVI, Francis (June 29, 2022)

However, it has been pointed out by bishops and theologians that this seems to contradict the defined teaching of the Council of Trent (1545-63):

Canon 11. If anyone says that faith alone is sufficient preparation for receiving the sacrament of the most Holy Eucharist, let him be anathema. [Si quis dixerit, solam fidem esse sufficientem praeparationem ad sumendum sanctissimum eucharistiae sacramentum, anathema sit.]

Finally, there is the situation with the arrest of 90-year-old Cardinal Joseph Zen and relative silence by the Vatican.

Confusion? Apparent or deliberate contradiction? Silence?

What is a faithful Catholic supposed to make of all of this?

We live in very precarious times.

Fr. Ed Namiotka

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

“. . . As Long As They Believe in God.”

Dear Parishioners,

On many occasions, I have encountered people who relate to me a certain frustration about a family member or friend who left the Catholic faith for another religion and who is no longer practicing the Catholic faith in which he or she was baptized. Sometimes there also is an indifferent attitude towards any fundamental disparities among the various religions.  They will inevitably say something to me like: “I guess it’s okay, Father, as long as they believe in God.

While my intention here in this column is not to debate the essential teachings of each particular faith or denomination—and I do agree that a person should believe in God—the god” that a person believes in is extremely important because Jesus told us that it is so.

Jesus reaffirmed the teaching of the Hebrew Scriptures when He referenced the book of Deuteronomy:

[A Scholar of the Law asked Jesus:] “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” (Mt. 22: 36-37)
The broader passage to which Jesus referred speaks boldly of the necessity of believing in the one, true God:

Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone! Therefore, you shall love the LORD, your God, with your whole heart, and with your whole being, and with your whole strength. Take to heart these words which I command you today. Keep repeating them to your children. Recite them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them on your arm as a sign and let them be as a pendant on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your houses and on your gates. (Dt. 6: 4-9)

Our Lord also says something quite important regarding our path to God:

Jesus said to [Thomas], "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (Jn. 14: 6)
Jesus “fulfilled” (cf. Mt. 5:17) a faith background (Judaism) in which its faithful followers were strict monotheists who believed that there was only one, true GodChristians take this a step further by professing that Jesus was the Incarnate Revelation of God as His Only, Begotten Son.  And so, as Catholic Christians we must believe in God as revealed to us by Jesus Himself. This is not negotiable.  Any other “god” would be a “false god.”

I am sure that many well-intentioned people are certainly hoping for the best for their friends or relatives—hoping that, at the very minimum, they believe in God in some way, shape or form.  However, God took the time to reveal Himself to us in the Person of Jesus.  Settling for anything less than what Jesus taught, once we have the teaching from God Himself, is incomplete and, in many circumstances, false.

When we profess our creed at Mass (and at other times), think seriously about its meaning and various implications. Martyrs through the centuries have given their lives so that our faith—in its fullness—could be passed on to subsequent generations.
I believe in one God . . . 

We say this for a reason.

Fr. Ed Namiotka


Homily for the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time "C" - Fr. Edward Namiotka


Tuesday, September 13, 2022

If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be . . . Cherry Hill!


    Bavarian Priest

Dear Parishioners,

Guten morgen!  Or, as they say in Bavaria: Grüß Gott (a form of “God bless you”).

Maybe some of you will recall the movie from 1969 about a bunch of American tourists in Europe entitled “If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium.”  I’m going to have to watch it again.  I understand there is a sequel. I don’t need to watch the second film. We just experienced it on our own.

Last night I slept in my own bed at the rectory. I was exhausted after being up from about 5 AM (Central European time) in Munich.  The flight home from Germany to Philadelphia was rather uneventful and it arrived on time. Getting through customs was another story. I don’t want to throw anybody under the bus, but, as a friendly reminder, don’t try to bring the uneaten fresh fruit (apples, pears) that you were served for breakfast back into the country. It can cause certain “problems” with U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Continuing with my report of the pilgrimage (saga) from last week, we spent only a few hours in Bratislava (Slovakia) and then two days in Vienna (Austria).  Vienna's highlights included seeing its cathedral (St. Stephan) and attending an orchestra concert.  Later, we visited Altötting (Bavaria) where there is the famous statue (Black Madonna) of Our Lady of Altötting and a Capuchin Franciscan friary housing the relics of St. Conrad of Parzham, O.F.M. Cap.  Both of these are worth investigating.  Pope Benedict XVI has great devotion to Our Lady of Altötting and even gifted his episcopal ring to her from his time as Archbishop of Munich.  The ring was then placed on the statue itself.  St. Conrad of Parzham had a story similar to St André Bessette in our part of the world (Montreal). Both were humble porters (doorkeepers) who became saints.

Our pilgrims later attended the famous Passion Play in Oberammergau (Bavaria).  The play which is performed in a covered, open-air theater takes around six hours to complete.  All of the many participants are from the village.  There is a magnificent, large choir and an orchestra.  Naturally, the dialogue and songs are completely in German, but we were given a book with the complete translation into English.  Because of its great length, we were allotted time at the intermission to have a meal in a local restaurant. 

The Passion Play is an event I had heard about in my youth but never realized I would eventually experience for myself. The play was not a performance but a faith-filled event to be experienced. The current interpretation showed how the Old Testament (Hebrew Scriptures) were fulfilled in the life of Jesus.  There was some obvious artistic creativity and poetic license employed during the performance. I was disappointed, however, by the portrayal of the Last Supper as it omitted the most important words of consecration spoken by Jesus (“This is My Body. . . This is My Blood”). Perhaps, it may be just another indication of how many people do not truly grasp the Real Presence of Jesus in the Most Holy Eucharist.     

Finally, it was on to the city of Munich with its famous Glockenspiel (clock) and many biergartens.  Fortunately, we just avoided the crowds of the Oktoberfest.

While we didn’t lose anyone permanently during the trip, there were a few moments of separation-anxiety.  Some items (backpacks, passports) were lost but then found.  The tour bus, unfortunately, took off with my cell phone.  I don’t know what it wanted with my phone.  Thanks to modern technology, I was able to track the phone on my computer and it was returned the next day.  (You didn’t actually think that I was going to blame myself for this mishap, did you?)  

I am certainly glad to be home! 

Fr. Ed Namiotka


The Passion Play at Oberammergau, Germany

Our Lady of Altötting

Tomb of St. Conrad of Parzham

Cathedral of St. Stephen (Stephan), Vienna

Leading a Religious Pilgrimage (or Trying to Herd a Bunch of Stray Cats)


Danube River, (Budapest, Hungary) 

Dear Parishioners,

I am writing to you from Budapest, Hungary after having finished a brief one-hour river cruise on the Danube.  The group I am with consists of thirty-one pilgrims, twenty from the east coast (New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania) and eleven from the west coast (Los Angeles area).  Ultimately, we will wind up in Oberammergau to see the world famous Passion Play.  Additionally, we visit Prague, (Czech Republic), Bratislava (Slovakia), Budapest (Hungary), Vienna (Austria) and Munich (Germany).

Needless to say, the days contain much activity.  Every day there is a bus ride, sometimes for hours. Often there is a rather tight schedule, usually including Holy Mass in a local church.  We tour the various cities.  We unpack and pack as we move from hotel to hotel.  We eat, sleep and drink.  And we get tired.

The difficult task of the pilgrimage leader (me) is to keep the pilgrims on time and together.  There are those who want to shop.  There are those who need to use a bathroom.  Some stop to take pictures.  Some have difficulty walking and cannot navigate the cobblestone streets or the non-handicapped accessible stairs of old Europe.  Some go off on their own and get separated from the group.  Some barely make it across the street as the trolley-car rapidly approaches them.  There is no better way to describe my task than like attempting to herd a bunch of stray cats.  Jesus sometimes used the comparison of a shepherd with the flock.  Either image suffices. Sheep may be somewhat easier to handle.

Some highlights for me of our trip (so far) included visiting the church and offering Mass where the famous statue of the Infant of Prague is housed, seeing the tomb of St. Adalbert (patron of the Polish church in Philadelphia where my parents were married) and offering Mass in Budapest where a portrait of Our Lady of Czestochowa was the centerpiece of the high altar of a beautiful baroque church just steps from our hotel.

Much more is planned for the days ahead and it will certainly take me some time to process all that I have and will experience.  This trip was postponed for two years because of a certain pandemic.  However, the situation in this part of the world seems to have returned to "normal."  Tourists abound and there is no sign of the former restrictions on society for health reasons.

While I like to travel, I miss my parishioners and my parish. Some parishioners, however, are with me now.  I will do my best not to lose any.

When I get back, there will be stories to tell, pictures to show and work with which to catch up.  However, I intend to enjoy the current surroundings and to spend time observing the various cultures.

In the meantime, it is almost dinner time (six hour time difference) and I need to check up on the rest of the bunch.  Maybe I will get lucky and they all will be there and on time!

Please pray for me/us.

Fr Ed Namiotka


Infant of Prague

Tomb of St. Adalbert (St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague)

Concelebrated Mass with Msgr. Richard Martini in Budapest