Monday, February 27, 2023

Am I a Good Catholic?

Dear Parishioners,
Just what does it take to be a good Catholic?
Some would say to me that they need to go to Mass every week and to confession monthly.  Spending time in Eucharistic Adoration might be what some see as an essential part of being Catholic. Others might point to the fact that they should teach or be involved with the religious education program or support the local Catholic school. Then there are those who might suggest that they have to give generously in the collection basket or to the South Jersey Catholic Ministries Appeal (formerly the House of Charity).  Still others might think that it is important to volunteer in various parish activities or be part of a Small Christian Community reflection group.  
What makes a good Catholic?
My answer might include many of the above considerations but above all it needs to focus on this:  a good Catholic is called to imitate Christ in all that he or she thinks, says and does. It involves a continual conversion—a turning away from sin and a turning to Christ.  It involves loving God above everything else and loving our neighbor as ourselves.
Unfortunately, a person can go to Mass each week and then go home and be mean to her husband or his wife and their children.  A person can spend hours in Eucharistic Adoration and then subsequently gossip about others on the phone or online.  A person can teach religious education while secretly living a dual life not in union with the Church’s moral teachings.  A person can give generously because of being financially well-to-do but entirely miss the point about Christian forgiveness and the need to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us.  A person can receive Our Lord in Holy Communion and yet continually support the killing of innocent human life in the womb.  A person can volunteer for various parish activities but sadly never develop a personal relationship with the Lord.
What do you think makes a good Catholic?
I once heard a bishop say that Christians need to be “leaven for the world.”  Everything that we do as a Christian must somehow have an effect on the world in which we live. We cannot compartmentalize our lives in such a way that we live out our faith only within the Church building or during Church functions and then leave it there.  Our faith needs to be taken home, brought to work and to school.  Our faith needs to be present in our everyday words and actions. Our faith needs to be a light for others to see!
During this Lent I invite you to ask yourself the question:  Am I a good Catholic?  I challenge you to purify your motives.  What really matters, in the end, is not what we think of ourselves (because we may give ourselves the benefit of the doubt too often or may be too harsh on ourselves) but rather what Christ sees in us.
   God does not see as a mortal, who sees the appearance. The LORD looks into the heart. (1 Samuel 16: 7b)

Fr. Ed Namiotka

Monday, February 20, 2023


Dear Parishioners,

Consider me strange, but I actually look forward to the beginning of Lent each year.  I see it as an important time to be introspective, to evaluate where I am right now in my relationship with Jesus (and the entire Trinity), and to attempt to make some positive changes I hope will result in a growth in holiness.  I also need to repent for my sins.

Traditionally, the practices recommended during this season are prayer, fasting and almsgiving (charity).

How can I pray better?  I can begin by finding and keeping a set time each day to pray.  (My own preference is praying with the Blessed Sacrament.)  I also should be reading and reflecting daily on the Sacred Scriptures, praying the Rosary, making the Stations of the Cross and reading an inspiring Catholic book regularly.  When I am driving in the car, I also like to put on an inspirational Catholic talk or discussion to listen to while driving. It certainly beats the garbage, sometimes called music, that we often find on the radio. [Priests are also required to pray our Divine Office (Liturgy of the Hours) daily.]

Fasting includes food but should go beyond simply not eating.  The only two fast days (one simple meal) required by the Church during Lent are Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.  Ash Wednesday and all the Fridays of Lent are also days of abstinence (no meat).  However, we additionally can fast from things like the TV, the computer/internet, video games, the radio, from smoking or drinking, from superfluous shopping, etc.  In essence, we can do withoutmake an act of self-denialand try to incorporate into our lives something more spiritually beneficial instead.

How charitable am I?  Do I regularly contribute to and support my church?  Do I have some other favorite charity to which I give?  Do I volunteer my time or my skills to help others without seeking compensation or recognition?  Do I visit and help the sick or the elderly?  Do I volunteer at the hospital?  Do I think of others more than myself?

The practices that I observe for Lent can really become an opportunity to change my way of living.  I can incorporate more permanently various ways of behaving that open my heart and my life more completely to God.  I can turn my life over to Jesus and take up my cross daily and follow Him(See Luke 9:23)

I realize I am a sinner continually in need of the mercy of God.  Like all humans (except Jesus and Mary, of course!), my past life has its share of sin.  I am not proud of this.  Therefore, I should seriously consider some acts of penance during Lent in reparation for my sins.  Making a thorough, heartfelt sacramental confession of my sin is a good way to start.

We should be spiritually mature enough to realize that the more we keep trying and letting God control our lives, the more we open ourselves to His grace of conversionConversion is a lifelong process of turning away from sin and turning towards the Gospel message.  We turn our lives over to God.

On Ash Wednesday, when the ashes are placed on our foreheads, do we actually intend to change, or is this just an act of empty show?  Only God knows what’s in our hearts and how much we really do love Him.

Please make this Lent a time of deep, spiritual conversion.

Fr. Ed Namiotka


Monday, February 13, 2023

Losing Hope

Dear Parishioners,

“Father, I told my children that I don’t want grandchildren.  This world is currently too scary to bring children into it.”

It was not the first time that I heard a comment similar to this.  I actually wonder how many people may silently hold the same belief.

How do I respond to this type of thinking?  After all, as a celibate, I have no children or grandchildren of my own.  However, I do have ten nieces and nephews—and two great-nephews—and I worry about each and every child as if it were my own

The above mentality borders on hopelessness and despair.   It is a people without hope that no longer wants to create.  Often they see no future, no opportunity, no purpose or meaning to life itself.

I recall a familiar and often repeated phrase of Saint John Paul II as he quoted words of Sacred Scripture:  Be not afraid!  Do not be afraid!

When he became Pope, these words inaugurated and resonated throughout his pontificate:

Brothers and sisters, do not be afraid to welcome Christ and accept his power.  Help the Pope and all those who wish to serve Christ and with Christ's power to serve the human person and the whole of mankind.  Do not be afraid.  Open wide the doors for Christ.  To his saving power open the boundaries of States, economic and political systems, the vast fields of culture, civilization and development.  Do not be afraid.  Christ knows "what is in man".  He alone knows it.

So often today man does not know what is within him, in the depths of his mind and heart.  So often he is uncertain about the meaning of his life on this earth.  He is assailed by doubt, a doubt which turns into despair.  We ask you therefore, we beg you with humility and trust, let Christ speak to man.  He alone has words of life, yes, of eternal life.  October 22, 1978, St. Peter’s Square

When a civilization moves further and further away from Jesus Christ and the message of His Gospel, hope is lost.  When prayer is infrequent and the practice of the Christian faith becomes sporadic or minimal, the purpose of life can be severely distorted.

Human civilization has been through some pretty difficult times already.  If the great leaders—especially the holy men and women who were the great saints of their time—threw in the towel, chances are I might not be writing this article today.  It was often a strong faith, a love for Jesus Christ and a determination that comes from God’s inner strength that gave people the courage and resolve to accomplish deeds beyond what the ordinary human can do.  Alone and unaided by God we are bound to fail.

While he certainly had his imperfections like the rest of humanity, Saint John Paul II was a man of great courage because he was man of deep faith.  He faced an assassin’s bullet, lived through the Nazi terror and World War II and battled Communism in his native Poland, just to mention a few challenges during his lifetime.  I think that he may have known what he was talking about.

Be not afraid!

St. John Paul II, please pray for us!

Fr. Ed Namiotka


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


Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Divide and Conquer

Dear Parishioners,

There is a Latin phrase divide et impera (divide and conquer) which refers to a military or political strategy used to defeat an opponent in battle.  A similar principle can be used to break up and destroy an opponent, to cause division in an organization, to damage the unity of society, even to attempt to destroy a church.

Let’s use a common example from family life.  A teenager goes to her mom to get permission from her to go to the mall with her friends.  Mom says “no” because she realizes that her daughter has loads of homework and she needs to finish the work first.  What does the daughter do?  She goes to dad to ask him if she can go to the mall (because she knows from past experience that she’s daddy’s little girl).  Dad looks at her and says “okay” without realizing that mom has already said “no.”  The teenager played dad off mom and seems to win (at least for the moment).

If the parents are smart they will discuss the situation together first and stand united in their decision.  Otherwise, the strategy worked.  Division was caused and the teenager won.  This can lead to an argument between the parents and further problems down the line.

Apply the principle of divide and conquer up the social ladder and you can see the damage that can be done.  Challenge the definition of what a marriage or family is.  Cause confusion as to when human life begins or about someone's gender.  Openly question traditionally acceptable principles of morality and consider them outdated.  Undermine the teaching authority of the church and encourage people to do what feels right or good for them.

Jesus teaches us:  "Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste, and no town or house divided against itself will stand.”  (Mt. 12:25)  Abraham Lincoln used a similar phrase when referring to slavery in America:  “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

Let’s add to this what St. Paul says about the Body of Christthe Church:  . . .  Living the truth in love, we should grow in every way into him who is the head, Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, with the proper functioning of each part, brings about the body's growth and builds itself up in love. (Eph. 4: 15-16)

So when things happen that cause divisiondissention or disunitybe on your guard.  Question whether love is motivating the situation.  Is unity being fostered?  Or is father being pitted against mother, one family against another, one town against another, Republican against Democrat, priest against priest, parish against parish, cardinal against cardinal, bishop against bishop?

Creating dissention or disunity will ultimately lead to the downfall and destruction of us all.  Something that is diabolical (from the Greek, meaning to cast apart) reveals Satan (and not God) ultimately behind the confusion and disunity.

I go back time and time again to a phrase of my patron saint, Maximilian Kolbe: “Only love is creative.”  God wants us unified under His Divine Rule.  Satan wants our destruction.  He wants the chaos and confusion.  May we all work to bring about unity (not division) in the Body of Christ—the Church.

Otherwise, the consequences will be devastating for us all.

Fr. Ed Namiotka