Monday, May 22, 2023

The Holy Trinity

Dear Parishioners,

Whenever we look at the mystery of the Holy Trinity, we should realize that this is not something that we could figure out on our own without God revealing this to us through Jesus. If our explanation of the Trinity were merely one opinion among many of the inner make-up of God, then God could be just about anything that any one of us thinks or believes. One Person? Four persons? However, as Catholic Christians we believe that Jesus—the Son of God and one of the Persons of the Holy Trinity—revealed to us the mysterious inner-workings of God.

God exists as three Persons in relationship.  Jesus often spoke of God as His Father.  He taught us to pray the prayer we call the “Our Father.” He told us that “whoever has seen (Him) has seen the Father” (Jn. 14:9).  He told us that “the Father and I are one” (Jn. 10:30).  We begin to recognize this unique Father-Son relationship through Jesus.

But Jesus did not stop there.  He also began to speak of another—an “Advocate” (Jn. 15:26), “the Spirit of Truth”, (Jn. 15:26), the “Holy Spirit” (Jn. 14:26).  With time the Church began to understand a little bit more about this third Person as “the Lord, the Giver of Life” who “has spoken through the prophets” (cf. the Nicene Creed).

It must have been very hard for many of the Jewish followers of Jesus who were strict monotheists to try to comprehend how God could be one, yet three at the same time. Why should this be surprising to us since we still fumble at various explanations to try to articulate this profound mystery?

As a teacher, the best analogy that I have used over the years that helps people comprehend this mystery of something being one and three at the same time is the analogy of ice, water and steam.  All three have the same chemical composition (H₂O) and thus have a certain oneness, yet there can be a manifestation in different states (ice, water and steam) depending on temperature. While all analogies ultimately fall short of the reality, this analogy still gives us some insight into this profound mystery.

Then some insight might be given by the example of a human family where a relationship of two people in love with each other (in this case, husband and wife) can produce a third person (baby or child) who is both complete (a person) and entirely distinct from the other two. The family of this world may indeed reflect, in an analogous way, the mystery of the Holy Trinity—three unique and distinct Persons in one Godhead, eternally in love with each other.   

Trying to figure out God’s make-up is one thing. Having a personal relationship with each of the Persons of the Trinity is something else entirely. Jesus put a human face to God for us by taking on a human nature. And he also told us about the unique relationship that He has with the other Persons in the Godhead. Now we need to seek out each of these Persons of Holy Trinity in prayer and grow in our love for each of them—three Persons in one God.

On Trinity Sunday we rejoice in the fact that God (through Jesus) has revealed His inner make-up to us!

Fr. Ed Namiotka

Homily for the Ascension of Our Lord "A" 2023 - Fr. Edward Namiotka


Monday, May 15, 2023

A Spiritual "Triple-Header"

Dear Parishioners,

During the next three weeks, the weekend Masses will celebrate some very significant mysteries of our faith:  Pentecost (the Holy Spirit), the Most Holy Trinity and Corpus Christi (the Most Holy Body and Blood of Jesus Christ).

Pentecost Sunday recalls the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Jesus promised that when he left this world He would send His Spirit to strengthen and guide His disciples.  The Holy Spirit continues to direct the Church and to remind us of what Jesus taught. 

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) teaches us (#688) about the Holy Spirit and the Church:
The Church, a communion living in the faith of the apostles which she transmits, is the place where we know the Holy Spirit:
- in the Scriptures he inspired;
- in the Tradition, to which the Church Fathers are always timely witnesses;
- in the Church's Magisterium, which he assists;
- in the sacramental liturgy, through its words and symbols, in which the Holy Spirit puts us into communion with Christ;

- in prayer, wherein he intercedes for us;
- in the charisms and ministries by which the Church is built up;
- in the signs of apostolic and missionary life;
- in the witness of saints through whom he manifests his holiness and continues the work of salvation

Trinity Sunday focuses on the mystery of the Triune Godhead as revealed to us by Jesus.  Recall that the Jewish people were strict monotheists. It must have been quite a startling revelation for them that the One True God is a unity of three Divine Persons—Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Jesus made known the mystery of the Trinity for us. The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of the Christian faith and of Christian life.  God alone can make it known to us by revealing himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. (CCC, #261) This teaching is not something that we would be able to figure out for ourselves without God’s revelation.


Corpus Christi (which is celebrated in the universal Church on a Thursday—the day of the Last Supper —but moved to Sunday in the United States) is all about the gift of the Holy Eucharist. How can the Son of God be truly present under the form of bread and wine?  The Catechism instructs us:
It is highly fitting that Christ should have wanted to remain present to his Church in this unique way.  Since Christ was about to take his departure from his own in his visible form, he wanted to give us his sacramental presence; since he was about to offer himself on the cross to save us, he wanted us to have the memorial of the love with which he loved us "to the end," even to the giving of his life.  In his Eucharistic presence he remains mysteriously in our midst as the one who loved us and gave himself up for us, and he remains under signs that express and communicate this love. (CCC, #1380)
Volumes have been written and countless sermons preached over the centuries on each of these topics. From a pragmatic point of view, why not take time during the next few weeks to reflect on the wisdom of the Catechism as it tries to enlighten us about our Catholic faith? We should continually seek greater understanding and clarity as we try to delve more deeply into the precious mysteries of our faith that have been revealed to us.

Fr. Ed Namiotka

Friday, May 12, 2023

The Ascension of Our Lord (or the Holy Day formerly know as "Ascension Thursday")


Dear Parishioners,

When it was decided that the celebration of the Solemnity of the Ascension of Our Lord into Heaven would now be moved to a Sunday in the dioceses of New Jersey, I was certainly disappointed. I perceived this change as another pastoral move conceding the Church’s sad defeat when dealing with contemporary society. Shouldn’t the Church be attempting to re-Christianize and boldly influence a post-Christian modern world? Yes, there may be less priests to offer Masses, and many people, in general, do not really consider Holy Days of Obligation that important. However, are there really too few churches within driving distance in New Jersey for modern man to get to Mass? Does the tradition and theology of 40 days after Easter no longer have relevance (hence, Ascension Thursday)? The world (secular culture) apparently has a stronger say in the decision making process than does holding to Church tradition. Chalk another one up for the world.

That being said, we should look at the feast we now celebrate this weekend. Christ appeared to His chosen disciples after His Resurrection, but there came the day when His Resurrected Body physically left this earth to return to the Father. We no longer see Him walking this earth.

However, Jesus did not abandon us. He left us His Body and Blood in the Holy Eucharist. He remains in His words and teaching in the Sacred Scriptures. The ordained priest acts in His very person (in persona Christi) in the sacraments of the Church. He is present where two or three gather in His Name—community prayer, liturgy and worship, especially the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  And, as God-Man, He continues to intercede for us at the right hand of the Father.

Our humanity is now elevated in Jesus’ glorious Body and has entered Heaven. The fall and exile of Adam (original sin) is now reversed through the saving action of Christ, the new Adam. Heaven is open to us through Him. As He told us, no one comes to the Father except through Him (Jn. 14:6).

In the year 2000, I visited the Holy Land with my mother. One of our stops was a place reverenced as a possible sight of Jesus’ Ascension into Heaven. We gathered there to pray with our guide who read a Scripture passage about the Ascension and led us in a hymn. As I stood there reflecting, I wondered what the disciples possibly thought at the time. What do we do now? The Master just told us to go and baptize all nations. WE have work to do. (See Mt. 28: 16-20 and Acts 1: 1-11)

Jesus’ instruction to His disciples—to make disciples of all the nations—has to continue with us. WE should start with our family, friends and those within our circle of influence. We are not called to be passive and timid regarding our faith, but to make disciples.

Additionally, we should pray for and anticipate the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The power of the Holy Spirit fortified cowardly disciples into bold witness of Jesus and His Resurrection. Many disciples witnessed in the face of persecution and unto death on His behalf. Never underestimate the power of the Holy Spirit acting in our lives if we allow Him.

Thank God, there will be no changing of the celebration of Pentecost Sunday. (I hope.)

Fr. Ed Namiotka


Friday, May 5, 2023

My Mom

Mom and me in Alaska (2011)

Dear Parishioners,

My father died suddenly of a massive heart attack in 1995. Subsequently, I began to travel on a regular basis with my mother. Being her only unmarried child (I have three brothers and a sister), it was easiest for me to accompany her to different vacation destinations over the last quarter of a century. At times to her friends she has affectionately referred to me as her “social director.”

My mother is a rather private person.  She would never want me to say anything about her let alone write something about her.  I guess that I truly admire her interior strength and fortitude over the years. Not only did she give birth to and raise five children, but she helped my father run their own businesses (grocery store and butcher shop, hotel and restaurant, motel) while battling some major health issues over the years (thyroid surgery, gall bladder surgery, back surgery, breast cancer, atrial fibrillation, to name a few).  And she has lived as a widow now for almost 28 years. 

I have journeyed with her all over the country and the world. We've been on cruises (Alaska, Caribbean) and religious pilgrimages (Rome, Holy Land).  She never wanted to repeat any destination if she could help it. For her, the world has too many other places to see!  

Why bother telling all this to you?  Simply because I love my mother as I hope that you all do.  As priests we are no more or no less human than anyone else. We come from a family. We have various family responsibilities depending on our particular situations. We are somebody’s child. The mother who gave me life deserves at least some of my time and attention. This was one way I have been able to spend some quality time with her through the years.

(As an aside, I am truly disgusted and saddened with the woke mentality in our contemporary society where mothers are referred to as "birthing persons" and even someone who now sits on the Supreme Court of our country couldn't/wouldn't clearly define what a woman is in her approval hearing. The world is insane!)

So as I write today. I am preparing to wish my own mom a Happy Mother’s Day!  This November, with God's grace, she will reach her 90th birthday. Thank you God! Thanks so much for her!

Additionally, I wish a Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers this weekend.  

For most people there is a special bond between mother and child.  Our mothers carry us in their wombs for nine months. They endure the pangs of birth. They feed us, bathe us, clean up after us, teach us, comfort us, caress us and, most importantly, love us. How often they are willing to sacrifice for us! Thanks moms for your strength, patience and ability to make things better by your calming and reassuring presence. Whenever we take you for granted or forget what you have done for us over the years, we apologize. You deserve better from us. We love you!

Those who have lost their earthly mothers, please remember to pray for them and have Masses offered for them.  Our faith teaches us, whether they are in purgatory or in heaven, they can pray for us!  Let’s aid them in getting to heaven by offering our prayers, Masses and sacrifices for them.  

In addition to our biological (or adoptive) mothers, I think that it is also important to remember to honor our Spiritual Mother as well.  Our Blessed Lady should play an essential role in the lives of Catholics and indeed all Christians. She was given to us as our mother through St. John at the foot of the cross (See John 19: 26-27). After all, May is her month! 

Fr. Ed Namiotka