Coming from…
Going to…

“But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all. For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Today, we celebrate Heritage Sunday in our Holy Church. It is not a Liturgical Solemnity or Feast, but rather something added on to our typical Liturgical celebration of the Lord’s resurrection. It helps us to remember what the Lord’s Passion, death, and resurrection hand down to us. It also helps us remember what has been handed down to us by our ancestors.

The writer of the Letter to the Hebrews has a lot of focus on what has been handed down. After all, the Jewish people were all about what had been handed down by their ancestors – the Law with all its resulting customs and traditions. So, the writer riffs on the meaningfulness of what is handed down. Namely, in today’s passage, that Jesus went through all we face. That through faith and obedience to the Father’s will, Jesus became the premier servant of all – and gave up His life to serve all. The Father’s reward was resurrection and the opening of the gates of heaven to all who follow in Jesus’ footsteps.

Jesus came to serve and to set the example for us. The Apostles, the generations of saints and other holy men and women that followed in Jesus’ footsteps, lived out the writer’s advice to the Hebrews – it shall not be so among you. They made things different. They brought the change Jesus instituted forward.

This change applied down to the day of our grandparents and parents. They passed the gift of Jesus to us. It is now our gift to pass along.

This is what heritage is. It is all those wonderful things we own – the food, songs, pictures, stories, histories, legends, and heroism of our ancestors. More so, it is their greatest gift – the way they acted as Jesus acted, as servants. They served the people of our community and each of us by holding fast to Jesus’ way, His teachings.

We know where we come from, our heritage. It is a direct line back to Jesus – a testimony of our ancestors who faithfully served and passed that gift to us. Understanding that, we know where we come from and set our hearts on what we pass along and where we are going.

He stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”

We have been through a lot. The stresses and strains in our country, the sins in a particular Church, the judgyness of some church people, upcoming elections, old and upcoming investigations, and even family drama. It is all terrible. It all seems inconsistent with our ideals, with everything we have learned is right and good. As a pastor, I have been asked all kinds of issue questions, anything that would seem to press a reverend’s hot-button and provoke an extremist reaction. Let’s see if Jesus’ representatives blow a fuse over this or that. Jesus’ words to the crowd ready to stone the prostitute tell us two things. The first thing is that sin is real. Let him who is without… Jesus knows our reality. He Himself had to fight against it in the dessert after fasting for forty days. The second thing is the possibility of forgiveness and a road out – to salvation that Jesus conveyed to the prostitute. Both parties had a choice to make. The crowd could have rejected Jesus’ truth and could have thrown the stones. The prostitute could have also walked away and could have gone back to her ‘profession.’ One of the Church’s earliest thinkers, St. John Climacus, in his writing used the example of a ladder. He noted that when we chose Jesus, when we enter the life of the Church, we get on the first step of the ladder to heaven. The key to all of this is not Jesus’ tolerance, nor the rightness of the Church’s teaching. Jesus is indeed tolerant and the Church, by the light of the Holy Spirit, teaches the truth. Rather, the key is the light we need to see, the right we need to do. In the end, it is about our tolerance. None of us should have a ‘hot button’ that sets us off to judge, and if we do, we must get it in check. As followers of Jesus, we are called to the ultimate in tolerance. We are to see the person next to us, the person with the ‘hot button’ issue, and support them on their climb on the ladder to heaven.

Our October newsletter goes along side the season of change – and calls us to remember unchangeable things – love of family, acceptance and tolerance, lending a hand up the ladder. We celebrate family and heritage. We have a full calendar of events, Holy Synod, a rummage sale, and so much more. Check out all the activities coming up in November too. Find out why it is better to climb…

Check out all this and more in our October 2018 Newsletter.

Lift up
family.

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness”

At the Third Holy Synod of the Polish National Catholic Church, held in Chicago in December 1914 the Synod delegates resolved that the Second Sunday of October be dedicated as the Solemnity of the Christian Family. This Solemnity was meant as an opportunity for the Church to pray for the consolidation and strengthening of families. On this day we pray for all families; that they be strengthened and blessed.

It is great to have an idea, but as is said, we have to get the rubber to hit the road. So, how do we get there; how do we get families strengthened, blessed, and consolidated.

If you looked at our parish sign on the way in, you’d have noticed it now says “Rise Up With Jesus & Lift Others Here.”

This is how we get the rubber to hit the road.

We start by not ignoring our motivation. God’s entire creative effort was spurred by a desire to expand and build relationship. Since God had and has this desire for relationship within Himself, and since He made us in His relational image (Let us…), so we too desire relationship. We are motivated by relationship.

Relationship, of course, cannot be realized in motivation alone. That’s just frustrating and unproductive. So we take steps. We build friendships; we enter into relationships at many levels. Some are very close, some are more casual, but none are unimportant.

So we are motivated and so we try. But, being human as we are, we occasionally loose sight of what we must do to take relationship to the next level.

To get to the next level we must stay on message, we must build deeper and more meaningful relationships.

Of course the best proving ground for living our motivation, staying true to God’s relational life, is in our families. That is where we most intently and proactively rise with Jesus and lift each other up. In the microcosm of family relationship we motivate, comfort, provide love that is beyond reason, discipline, and sacrifice.

Now, from that microcosm, we are to expand the best of what we learn and do, rising with Jesus, raising up others, right here: consolidating, strengthening, blessing.

I am looking for a Catholic parish home.
I have serious questions and concerns.
I am a single parent.
I am divorced.
I have addictions.
I am not a typical catholic.

Can I attend Holy Mass in this parish?
YES YOU CAN!

Can I receive Holy Communion in this parish?
YES YOU CAN!

Can I remarry in this parish?
YES YOU CAN!

Can I or my children be baptized in this parish?
YES YOU AND THEY CAN!

Can I be confirmed in this parish?
YES YOU CAN!

Can I ask questions?
YES YOU CAN!

Can I join you for Sunday Mass?
YES YOU CAN and YOU SHOULD!

Holy Name of Jesus professes the faith of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

We hold worship every Sunday at 9:30am and 11:30am.

When people think Catholic they may picture an old church, a city across the sea, rules and regulations, and formal worship… The Catholic Church is over 2,000 years old and is far more than that. It is faith that is universal and everlasting. It is faith expressed in many ways.

Many Churches refer to themselves as Catholic including the Orthodox, Oriental, Roman, and our National Catholic Church. Like all of these, the National Catholic Church is a Catholic Church. You will find that it helps you grow in your relationship with God, your community, and the wider world. We worship regularly and place special emphasis on proclaiming and teaching God’s Word as found in the Holy Bible. We are democratic in our organization. Every member has a voice and a vote in how the parish and the wider Church is run. We are fully accountable to our members.

We are here to be a home for you and yours.

Welcome!

Would you destroy
yourself?

So the LORD God cast a deep sleep on the man, and while he was asleep, he took out one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. The LORD God then built up into a woman the rib that he had taken from the man. When he brought her to the man, the man said: “This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called ‘woman,’ for out of ‘her man’ this one has been taken.”

God’s wisdom and His work are ineffable. Ineffable, per Webster and others means too great or extreme to be expressed or described in words. God’s wisdom reaches out to us throughout history and speaks to us again and again of His design, His meaning, and His warnings.

As we heard in the Gospels throughout the summer, those who were following Jesus were doing so for miracles and bread. They weren’t really FOLLOWING Jesus – living like Jesus, taking His words to heart and changing their hearts. In the end, most turned away and were not walking with Him anymore.

Over the past several weeks we read of distracted disciples unfocused on FOLLOWING Jesus – living like Jesus, taking His words to heart and changing their hearts. In the end, all but one went on to sacrifice their lives to spread the Gospel. They all lived Peter’s words: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.”

Certainly, Jesus followers stumble and fall. Certainly, Jesus followers struggle to live like Jesus, to integrate all He taught into their hearts and to express it in their lives in remarkably beautiful and sacrificial ways. Yet, they persist, get up, and try again.

Today, God is reminding us of a particular way we must live. It is a call to the kind of respect we are to have for each other. As the people of Jesus, as His FOLLOWERS, we need to view each and every person as bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.

The recent drama around our nation’s latest Supreme Court nominee illustrates a failure of people to act in accord with God’s way. It is about how we treat each other. God’s creation speaks of a shared life – a commonality and dignity that belongs to each and every person. We are all bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.

As we encounter people, we must remember that negative thoughts or actions toward them are nothing more than self-destruction. It is a break down of what God has built up. It is self-rejection.

Was He
serious?

Jesus replied, “Do not prevent him. There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me. For whoever is not against us is for us… Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were put around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.”

Throughout the Gospels we find Jesus struggling to turn His disciples’ thoughts from human worries to God’s way. The disciples weren’t getting it.

Peter thinks in personal and human ways about Jesus’ prediction of His suffering and death. He wants to stop it. The disciples, as explained last week, did not hear a word of Jesus’ teaching, but rather fought about who was the greatest. Today, John addresses Jesus as “teacher” and immediately demonstrates that he has not heard or integrated a word of Jesus’ teaching. John is exhibiting serious jealousy and a lack of welcome to those who would follow Jesus.

Jesus now cranks up the extreme. He’s trying to get His disciples to have, as some call it today, a ‘Come to Jesus moment.’ He’s being really blunt, trying to break through the disciples closed ears and obstinate ways. If you want to follow me – open your hearts, welcome the poor and the small, protect them, and be prepared to lay everything on the line. Don’t let My word go in one ear and out the next – let them sink in and make it real. Live my Gospel.

Living Jesus’ Gospel is not easy. It is challenging even in the best of circumstances. The people of the Church are supposed to be on the same page – inviting, welcoming, working together – but we know frustrations grow and we go astray. We get perturbed when patient love is most needed. We try to layer our justifications for the why of our personal shortcomings over the truth of the Gospel message.

Jesus calls us to hard and serious discipleship and evangelization. It shall not be one church over the next, but one Church. Work together in my name! Protect and cherish the young – the very young, teens, and young adults – because they need guidance and faithful examples. You harm them – you’re as good as dead. You’re thinking about evil, sin, harm – destroy yourself before you take the first step down that path. Yes, Jesus is serious, and He is driving home His warning in very vivid ways. This, now, is a come to Jesus moment. Seriously!

Getting out of
the fire.

Then he sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.” Taking a child, he placed it in their midst, and putting his arms around it, he said to them, “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me.”

As I was listening to the radio the other day, the song: ‘We Didn’t Start The Fire’ by Billy Joel came on. Throughout the song he provides a retrospective on the past seventy-eight years. That story is retold in the hearing of names and events that range from Nazis to modern terrorism. He explains that the bad (mostly) has been with us since the world began. The song sets a somewhat hopeless perspective on the state of the world. We didn’t start the fire, but it was always like this. It will still be like this after we are gone. We tried to fight against it, but lost because nothing will change. The flood of people and events leaves the singer crying out – I can’t take it anymore.

As we walk through our readings we get the same sort of narrative. Wisdom foretells the way the Son of God would be treated in the fire of evil. Let’s attack Him, He is obnoxious, He shows the world our horrible truth, our hypocrisy. Let’s deliver Him to His enemies. Let them mock and torture Him. Mockingly they say – Let’s see what He will do. Let’s see if God defends Him. The writer of Wisdom was not making this up out of whole cloth. He knew what people, particularly powerful people, were like – the hypocrisy, arrogance – the fire of evil they burned with.

Similarly James was pointing out how the people of earliest Church – his was probably the first letter written – were already at each other’s throats. They had the evil fires of jealousy, selfish ambition, disorder, foul practice, wars, conflicts, and covetousness. They had already lost sight of Jesus.

Jesus is explaining what will happen to Him in the fire of worldly evil as He and His disciples walk along. They paid no attention; they were fighting over which one of them was the best, the greatest, the most important. They were in the midst of the fire of evil ambition.

Jesus puts out the fire of evil this way. He places a child, a symbol of innocence in their midst. He wraps the child in His arms – the perfect absence of evil. He says that we have the answer, the antidote to the fire of evil. Receive and live in Jesus – free and out of the fire.

Welcome to true
freedom.

I love the LORD because he has heard my voice in supplication, because he has inclined his ear to me the day I called. For he has freed my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling. I shall walk before the Lord in the land of the living.

Psalm 116 – words that cut so true today. They cut through the gloom and pain of isolation and loneliness. They cut away pain and hurt. They cut the entirety of negativity away so we can clearly see what God has in store for us. Yes, each of us!

So often we feel unworthy. How can God love me? Where is He in my life? I feel so alone and abandoned.

These are not just feelings, brief thoughts that pass through our minds and cast a shadow over our hearts. They can be a reality whether we live alone or with 2, 4, 6, or even 10 other people. They exist whether we work or are retired. Young or old, loneliness, despair, and disconnection are on the rise. Seventy-five percent of Americans admit to feeling a deep sense of loneliness. That isn’t a once-in-a-while thing. That is deep despairing loneliness. The number of Americans with no close friends has tripled since 1985.

That is what today, and frankly every Sunday, is about. It is about God’s house, His dwelling place, His family, His body. St. Paul often used the body as an analogy. If one part of the body needs help, we, the church, are to work together to save it.

Sunday is not just a momentary beginning – a few hour head start on the rest of the week. Sunday is the start of continuous action – to plug-in, to connect, to form and live friendships, to end loneliness and separateness.

In our Psalm, David finds God’s rescue. He sings thanksgiving in response to Divine rescue from mortal danger and from near despair. David knows God heard his cry. God freed him and David’s heart was filled with love – he saw and got it. God’s goodness made sense to him – finally. But David does more than sing.

In response to God’s love, David pledged and confessed faith. That is always the start. If you have never done that, pray along with me: Lord, I believe in You. I accept Your salvation and deliverance. I confess that I have sinned and done wrong before You. Cleanse me. I ask You into my life and acknowledge You as my Lord and Savior. You have been truly freed. Jesus will never leave you, nor will His Church, His people. Welcome to church!

Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Jesus said these words twice, in the Gospel according to St. Matthew. Once was to the Apostles on the occasion where Jesus had asked them: “Who do people say I am?” They confessed their faith. Jesus then gave them an awesome and awful power, to loose and bind sin. The second time was when Jesus was explaining how the Church was to deal with sin. First, go to a person privately and confront them – try to turn them. Next go with two witnesses and confront them – try again to turn them. Finally, bring them before the whole Church, and if they refuse to change, to turn away from sin, they are to be treated as an outsider. Jesus reminded them of the awesome and awful power He had given them, the power to loose and bind sin. Why say awesome and awful? We frequently encounter the awesome part of Jesus’ gift to His Apostles and their successors. It is the power to loose sin, to free people from what binds them down. It is the ability to grant freedom. That is the greatest thing! We use this awesome gift a lot. Because of that, and because we hear it from the pulpit, ‘forgive one another,’ we kind of take forgiveness for granted. It seems it is always there for us. The other side, the awful side of Jesus’ grant is that we have been given the authority to bind. That is one fearful power, to leave someone in their sins, to effectively condemn them to their burden. Yet, Jesus gave us this power for a very important reason. The reason for this gift is some people’s refusal to turn around – the literal meaning of repent. Some just won’t repent, wont turn around and go the other way. If someone persists in their sin(s), we should not just give forgiveness. The faithful must reflect on both aspects of the power Jesus gave us. The call is to turn, and live as Jesus showed. We must take Him seriously. We must be aware and responsibly use both the awesomeness and fearfulness of Jesus’ gift to teach and correct.

Our September newsletter welcomes the season of change; the air, a little crisper, apples, leaves, and pumpkin everything. We celebrate our commitment to Brotherly Love. We open our doors and hearts on September 16th for Back to Church Sunday. We have a full calendar of events including: our 9/11 prayer service, Polish Dinner, prayers for our upcoming XXV Holy Synod, and so much more. Find out too why it is better to wash…

Check out all this and more in our September 2018 Newsletter.

Should we be
afraid?

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and he who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because he first loved us.

Every year we go through these two weeks that mesh so well together.

This week we celebrate the Solemnity of Brotherly Love. This Solemnity only occurs within our Holy Church, nowhere else.

This Solemnity recalls the power of brotherly love. It is the antidote to every form of evil. It heals where there is destruction. It provides hope in the midst of despair. It saves.

The Solemnity was first established In 1906 as our Church gathered for a Special Synod due to attacks against our young denomination from both within and without the Church. As the delegates gathered they decided to not respond in kind. Rather, the lay and clergy delegates instituted the Solemnity of Brotherly Love. We would emphasize Christ’s teaching of love toward one another and even love toward our enemies.

So it is today. Just because our Church isn’t under attack as it was in 1906, does not mean we should just relax on our love.

Perhaps that’s the problem with Christians. The old saying was: ‘the blood of martyrs is seed of the Church.’ The martyrs’ faith and sacrifice drew others to the faith. People saw that kind of courage, faith, and confidence and said, ‘I want some of that; I want to be like that. No fear.

Today, not so much. Many congregations have gotten comfortable. They have flush bank accounts, around the same amount of people showing up each week. They may even do a few extra things in the community, a little charity here and there.

Here, we do things a lot differently. We, like over 10,000 other churches across the country, are participating in Back to Church Sunday next week. Rather than be complacent, we have put our faith in Jesus because He is the One who changes hearts. We have put our feet and voices into action by inviting people to church. We have been and must continue to be their Good Samaritan.

This is of great import. It is key to the Christian life. We must give people a reason, an example, a way to say: ‘I want some of that.’ The most interesting things about being that Samaritan is having no fear in doing what is right. That much will be the one necessary action that saves someone.