Tuesday, December 5, 2023
Sunday, December 3, 2023
Tuesday, November 28, 2023
Fr. Ed Namiotka
Sunday, November 26, 2023
Here in the United States we are not used to having royalty as part of our system of governance, as are the United Kingdom and various European nations. We, as Americans, declared our independence from a nation ruled by a king.
In addition, we as an American people go through a seemingly endless and (sometimes brutal) democratic election process in which we "elect" our president and other civic officials. Democracy appears to be part of the fabric of our nation.
So how do we in our society understand and react to this concept of Christ the King?
First of all, I have continually reminded people that truth is not subject to a democratic vote or to a popularity poll. For example, if we were to take a vote and popular opinion decided there are now four persons in God and God is not a Trinity, would it make it so? Absolutely not. Our opinion of this matter is really insignificant because it can never supplant Divine Revelation. This is also true with morality and the law. Just because various laws are enacted by our government, it does not mean that these laws are necessarily morally correct or in conformity with God's will. Laws permitting the unjust taking of innocent human life illustrate this fact clearly.
When we call Christ our King, we acknowledge that He has absolute sovereignty over us as His people and we are subject to what He commands of us. While we always retain our free-will and can choose to be obedient or not, God is still ultimately in charge. Jesus the Christ announced to us that “the Kingdom of God is at hand.” (Mk. 1:15)
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church: "The kingdom of Christ (is) already present in mystery", "on earth, the seed and the beginning of the kingdom."(#669) The Catechism continues: Though already present in his Church, Christ's reign is nevertheless yet to be fulfilled "with power and great glory" by the King's return to earth. (#671)
Humanity, as the most integral part of all God's creation, must ultimately conform to the will of God and acknowledge the absolute sovereignty of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, from the very beginning, we as creatures seemed to think that we knew better and can do better than God, the Creator. This is the essence of the original sin. Various ongoing effects of this sin continue to manifest itself over and over again throughout history, right up to this very time: “Nobody is going to tell me what to do!”—for some, not even God Himself!
Moreover, when various Church leaders today advise that we need to listen to and dialogue with the various peoples of the "world," there must also be an ultimate realization that in the end the entire "world" needs to conform to the sovereignty of Christ the King. Christ is the standard of all truth. He is the Son of God. Listening to and dialogue with others can never be seen as caving into various worldly demands and succumbing to anything that would be contrary to Divine or natural law. It is the world that needs conversion to Christ and His teaching.
May this Solemnity of the Church—Christ the King—remind us of the need to be humble, respectful and obedient to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ the King.
It is utter foolishness to do otherwise.
Fr. Ed Namiotka
Sunday, November 12, 2023
Tuesday, November 7, 2023
- Am I thankful for that fact that I am alive?
- Do I thank God every day for my health?
- Do I take my faith for granted?
- Do I go to bed each night with a roof over my head and a full stomach?
- Do I have a family with whom to spend the holidays?
- If I can read and understand what this reflection is all about, am I truly grateful?
In the Novus Ordo Mass, the second major part (after the Liturgy of the Word) is referred to as the Liturgy of the Eucharist. It includes the Eucharistic Prayer when the unleavened wheat bread and grape wine are consecrated and truly become the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ. This mystery has been explained using the term transubstantiation, meaning the substance of bread and wine is changed into the Body and Blood of Jesus while the accidents (the appearance of bread and wine) remain the same. The Catholic Church teaches that this change is not merely symbolic but actual or real. Hence, we speak of the Real Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament or Holy Eucharist.
Tuesday, October 31, 2023
Last night I went to see the film After Death. It was produced by Angel Studios, the same company that gave us Sound of Freedom and The Chosen. This documentary dealt with the near-death experiences (NDE) of people from various cultures and backgrounds. Not only was it thought provoking but it made a strong case for life beyond the grave and the existence of God.
From my high school days I had a serious interest in the afterlife, including aspects of death and dying. This fascination began by reading books for class as a senior by Drs. Raymond A. Moody, Jr. and Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. Hearing about near-death and out-of-body experiences and the various stages of dying from a medical/clinical perspective sparked my intellectual curiosity and heightened my desire to reconcile my Catholic faith with the reported experiences of science. How did this all fit in with the Church's teaching about the four last things—death, judgment, heaven and hell?
One thing of which I was pretty certain throughout my studies was that the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead was something completely unique. The Resurrected Body was not some out-of-body experience or near-death occurrence like those stories I had read. The Glorified Body was encountered by those chosen disciples after Jesus was unmistakably dead by means of torture and crucifixion. This Glorified Body could now pass through matter such as locked doors (Jn. 20: 19-20) (subtlety). Instantaneously, it could be in various places not necessarily in close proximity like Galilee and Jerusalem (agility). It was frequently unrecognizable as on the road to Emmaus (Lk. 24: 13-32) or to Mary Magdalene in the garden (Jn. 20: 11-18) (brightness or glory). It had triumphed over all human suffering (impassibility).
Tuesday, October 24, 2023
November is considered the month of the Holy Souls. Following the Catholic teaching and practice that it is good to pray for the dead, allow me to make a few suggestions:
- Visit a cemetery and pray for a deceased loved one
- Have a Mass offered for a deceased loved one
- Pray a rosary or Divine Mercy chaplet for the Holy Souls in Purgatory
- Take an occasion during the day to pray the prayer for the Holy Souls:
Eternal rest, grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.
May they rest in peace. Amen.
May the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
Halloween, sometimes with a rather disproportionate fascination with matters dark and even sinister seems to have gained tremendous interest in our society. Far gone seem to be the days to dress up like a saint (which I actually did in my Catholic elementary school days) to honor a holy, heroic person and his or her virtues. From a Christian perspective, it could still be a beautiful preparation for All Saints Day. But things have certainly changed over time.
Ghosts, witches, vampires, mummies and werewolves were scary enough when I was growing up. Then came figures on the order of Jason (from the Friday the 13th movies), Freddy Krueger or some other mass murderer. The theaters have seen their share of zombies, exorcisms, psychopaths and doom's day or end of the world movies to chill and/or terrorize. Memories of Hannibal Lecter (Silence of the Lambs) seem almost tame. A scary thought in more ways than one!
It is the subtle (and not so subtle) de-sensitization of our youth to the presence of violence, evil, and cruelty that continues to disturb me. We need to be extolling positive virtues, goodness and holiness to our young—the good, the true and the beautiful! Yet, too often our young are exposed to just the opposite. The media lets us know often enough how certain young minds are no longer innocent and pure but can become warped and capable of acts far beyond what was ever thought possible (remember Columbine or Sandy Hook?).
I can’t begin to list all of the negative factors over the years from gangsta rap, to violent video games, to graphic movies and pornography, to access to just about anything on the Internet and social media that bombards the young constantly. Put on top of that the lack of knowledge and practice of the Catholic (or any) Judeo-Christian faith, a declining moral code in society and the general absence of God and prayer in many peoples’ lives today. It makes for a type of perfect storm! And people wonder why we have problems?
Today's parents definitely have their work cut out for them. Parents remain the first teachers of their children in all things—especially faith.
Those raising children today certainly have my prayers.
Fr. Ed Namiotka
Monday, October 23, 2023
Monday, October 16, 2023
Tuesday, October 10, 2023
As a priest, I am invited rather frequently to share a meal with a person, couple or family. If the meal takes place in the family home, I have a regular routine: I look around and simply observe. I notice if there are any religious objects in the rooms and on the walls. Statues of saints, sacred pictures and images, a crucifix and various other objects of devotion readily inform me that I am in a Catholic home. Does the family pray grace before the meal? Is there some familiarity with Catholic terminology and a willingness to share something about their faith? I try to find elements of faith practiced in the family and in the home.
I tend to walk the beach a lot in the summer. I certainly see many, many interesting sights along the way. (Just an unspoken thought here: most people look much better with clothes on.) Believe it or not, I actually look to see if anyone is wearing a Miraculous Medal, a cross or crucifix or some other outward sign that the person is a Christian. Unfortunately, these sightings are quite rare. Unfortunately, I see more gold chains, amulets or talisman (e.g., cornicello or corno), and various types of jewelry.
What name is given to a child? Names have meaning and indicate a certain authority. I look for a Christian or biblical name—especially when I baptize. While there are many innovative, unique and creative names given to children these days, I see less and less traditionally Christian and/or biblical names. I sincerely hope that those baptized in more recent days without those traditional Christian names will become the saints of tomorrow and future generations will want to take their names. (First, today's challenge begins with getting them and their parents in Church and going regularly to Mass.)
I admit that I do not always wear my clerical garb in public (especially at the beach or on vacation). I notice, however, when I do people look (and sometimes stare). I—standing six foot, five inches and weighing 250+ pounds—naturally attract notice anyway. Add a roman collar and traditional black clothing and people tend to notice me even more. I will sometimes get the "hello Father" or "hello pastor" greeting. Sometimes people even step back and let me in front of them in line (making me feel rather awkward). Clerical garb or a habit is still an outward sign for people to remind us all of a commitment to Christ made through sacred vows or promises.
As an aside, our churches are also meant to raise our hearts and minds to God and to be places of prayer and worship. When they are constructed "to look more like Pizza Huts" (to quote a former professor), when they take on a talkative, auditorium atmosphere, when we forget about or minimize the idea of sacred or holy space or being in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, then we run the risk of trivializing that which should be set apart for God. The meaning of holy refers to something set aside for God. Recall what Jesus did in the Jerusalem Temple when He saw that things were completely out of hand. (See Jn. 2: 12-22)
My observations and thoughts are not directed to anyone in particular. However, I think that we all need continual, external, visible reminders of our Christian faith in a world ever more hostile to Christianity and Christians. While people especially need to recognize Christ in our actions, varying outward signs—when properly understood and used—can help us Christianize a secular world. After all, our entire sacramental life employs the use of outward signs (pouring of water, oil, bread and wine, etc.) to indicate a much deeper spiritual reality.
So don't be embarrassed to wear that Miraculous Medal, to display a crucifix in the home, or to say grace in public. Don't forget that there may be others who come to church to pray and spend time with the Blessed Sacrament, and not just shoot the breeze. Please respect their sacred time and space. Let's try to do our part to accentuate and promote our Catholic faith.
We all need to be missionary disciples and to evangelize.
When Jesus appeared to His disciples in the upper room after His resurrection, he offered them peace.
. . . Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. [Jesus] said to them again, “Peace be with you”. . . (Jn. 20: 19b-21a)
If anyone could have rightly inflicted vengeance or retaliation on those who harmed Him, Jesus is top of the list. However, He showed us all another way.
Tuesday, October 3, 2023
Tuesday, September 26, 2023
Tuesday, September 19, 2023
October is traditionally the month of the Holy Rosary.
It is also Respect Life month.
The two seem to go together so perfectly as I encourage you to pray the rosary each day for an increase of the awareness in our society of the sanctity of all human life—from the moment of conception until natural death. We especially pray to end practices like abortion, euthanasia and embryonic stem cell research and pray that all human beings be treated with their God-given dignity and respect.
Sadly, on the news just recently I learned about two young drivers in Las Vegas who deliberately hit a man on a bicycle and killed him. The cyclist was a retired police chief, Andreas Probst. The video of the incident was boldly posted by the laughing perpetrators on social media. How life has indeed become so cheap and seemingly disposable! It is frightening that there are various incidents where the homeless are set on fire, elderly are beaten and robbed, children are tortured and sexually assaulted, the infirm or handicapped are physically abused, etc., etc. We need to insist that all human life never be treated with such lack of dignity and respect, but rather as a gift from God which is to be honored and preserved.
Do not be deceived by people who claim things like: “A woman has a right to choose.” First of all, without denying our God-given free will, the conceived baby is a separate human person who had no “choice” in the matter of his/her conception. Since we may never “choose” that which is intrinsically evil, no one can make the “choice” to take an innocent human life.
With regard to embryonic stem cell research, the same results can be achieved by using stem cells taken by other means. I quote the Document of the Holy See on Human Cloning:
“There are two potential sources of stem cells for human research, firstly "adult" stem cells, which are derived from the umbilical cord blood, the bone marrow and other tissues and secondly "embryonic" stem cells, which are obtained by the disaggregation of human embryos. The Holy See opposes the cloning of human embryos for the purpose of destroying them in order to harvest their stem cells, even for a noble purpose, because it is inconsistent with the ground and motive of human biomedical research, that is, respect for the dignity of human beings. However, the Holy See applauds and encourages research using adult stem cells, because it is completely compatible with respect for the dignity of human beings.”
Euthanasia, sometimes called “mercy killing” is usually presented as a humane solution to a life of suffering. However, “playing God” and actively putting a person to death by some direct means is morally wrong. (A person may choose, however, to take no extraordinary means to keep himself/herself alive.)
Human life needs to be respected and honored as sacred. After all, Jesus Christ chose to become one of us—a human being—in all things but sin.
Fr. Ed Namiotka