He only shuts up when he is writing!
From the Pastor: Irma: Eventful but not Terrible
Hurricane Irma, the Category 5 monstrosity which was poised to wipe all of Florida off the map after causing untold destruction throughout the many small islands to the southeast of us, has come and gone. Thank you all for the many prayers you offered up during the week before the storm, for without them, I am sure that this would have been much, much worse. As I write, electricity is being restored throughout the area and I am getting reports from parishioners about how little damage was done where they live. We only lost electricity at the parish for just under 24 hours. My mom’s house was without it for another day. As I write, many of you don’t have power yet. Hopefully, by the time you read this everything is back to normal. Actually, I hope and pray that everything is better than normal. We all had a chance, due to panic, to determine what we cherish the most, to contact those to whom we are closest or most concerned about, we had time to look at our own mortality and, hopefully, repent of all our sins, beseech forgiveness from both God and man, and make a firm amendment to improve our relationship with God Almighty and His children. “We all” is not “you” personally, though. Did you do it? Did you pray? Did you ask for pardon and peace? Did you give any to those who asked it of you? To quote either Winston Churchill or Rahm Emanuel, “Don’t let a good crisis go to waste!” Fr. Dorvil quipped recently, “If the people put the same preparation into their eternal life as they did into preparation for Irma, we would all be Saints!”
Sitting through the hurricane at Epiphany was different than what I have experienced in any other hurricane, in that this one came with a crowded rectory. We hosted more than a dozen people here. MacDill Air Force Base evacuated all of the Americans but forgot about the foreign soldiers stationed there. One of them, a French Colonel, regularly attends the TLM at Epiphany. He approached me with a humble request that his group be put up in the classrooms. Instead, I invited them into the rectory, which would be more comfortable and certainly safer than the classrooms with the large back windows. More than a dozen showed up, along with a French reporter who was on assignment to see how this was affecting the troops. None of them had experienced a hurricane before and all they knew was what the TV was telling them. “Danger! Death! Doom!” The reporter was quite scared and didn’t quite believe my words about not having anything to worry about because we had been praying for it to change course or dissipate. “Then why did it change course from hitting Miami to coming this way?” Because someone asked me to pray that her not-ready-spiritually-for-death son in Miami would be spared until he was ready for what we call a “happy death”, that is, one in the state of grace. “Would God really change a hurricane just for one person?” Yes. Plain and simple. Yes. I am not taking credit for the storm’s path or its relatively weak power, for I am just one priest who got one parish to pray, yet I am certain that our prayers were heard and answered. Do we get full credit? Half credit? 1/1000 of 1% credit? It doesn’t matter. Figuring such things out is beyond my ability. But the storm was averted, the son’s life was spared, and the power when it hit here was nothing like what it was supposed to be.
Fr. Peter had made an open invitation to any members of St. Joseph Vietnamese Mission who needed shelter to come to the parish center. Then, like a magician, he disappeared. A group of his parishioners took him up on his offer and brought their families to camp out in the hall. I went back and forth between the buildings checking up on them occasionally. They were as happy and calm as those in the rectory. The former pastor’s sister was going to sleep in the rectory, but after just a short time here decided that staying in the hall would be more fun, as she doesn’t speak either English or French. Another Vietnamese family showed up very late and didn’t bring sleeping bags, so two of the men came through the driving wind and rain to get some spare bedding from our closets. Share and share alike. There was plenty of food and drink and floor space in both places, plus good people to share it with.
Monday morning everyone was still sleeping so I didn’t celebrate the 6:30 Mass but about a dozen of our refugees were awake and ready for Mass at eight. There was no electricity, but with the help of candles and a “liturgical head lamp” a Mass of Thanksgiving was celebrated with much rejoicing. Adoration and confession followed as normal and then everyone cleaned up and left, going to either their home or the Base. All in all, it was not a bad way to spend the weekend! I continue to add the Prayers of Thanksgiving at the Masses and I ask that you do something similar, too. We should always thank God as much as we petition Him!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: No Joking About Aunt Irma This Week
This week as I write my column, Hurricane Irma is a powerful storm churning away in the Atlantic and bearing down on Florida. As is my usual response when a hurricane strike is predicted to be imminent, I turned to the back of the Missal to find the Mass to Avert Storms. This is the first time I have celebrated it in the Traditional Latin Mass form because, thanks be to God, it has been many years since we were in danger of a direct hit. (In case you didn’t realize it, I have only been celebrating the TLM almost exclusively for only two years now. Before this latest assignment to make Epiphany “Tampa’s Center for the Traditional Latin Mass” I only celebrated it as a very small part of parish life in my most recent previous two assignments.) All other times I have celebrated the Mass to Avert Storms, it has been in the Novus Ordo old translation form. In the old Sacramentary (what the Missal was called) there was only one prayer that was used for the Mass. In place of the Opening Prayer (called the Collect in the TLM) was this: “Father, all the elements of nature obey your command. Calm the storms that threaten us and turn our fear of your power into praise of your goodness. Grant this through our Lord...”
That’s a pretty simple prayer, asking God to ”calm” rather than “avert” storms, yet it worked. During the twenty-one years I have been a priest, I cannot tell you how many tropical storms or hurricanes were predicted to possibly hit the Diocese of St. Petersburg and, after the Mass to Avert Storms was celebrated, passed us by. Those that did come through were not too bad. (That statement could cause cringing for those who did experience serious damage or hurt, but overall they did relatively little damage.) Every time I prayed that Mass, though, I had parishioners who thought that if the prayers “worked” and the storm changed track, then I was (or God was) responsible for any death and destruction wherever it did hit. It is amazing how wimpy we have become! Just as few today want to pray for their sports team to win (for that means that they are praying for the other team to lose--yet isn’t that an authentic desire and, thus, an honest prayer request?) so also those same people fail to trust even the wisdom of the Mass prayers made available by Holy Mother Church.
Anyway, I am writing this with faith that, even though Irma is a powerful category 5 storm, it will not hit here. Where will it hit? Perhaps in a place where no priest offered the Mass to Avert Storm? Really, it all comes down to God telling us to have faith, to ask for the things we want and that are good for us (as far as we can tell), and to trust Him no matter how He answers. By the time this is printed and you read it, Irma will either have hit us hard, causing much sick, derisive laughter among those who have no faith in what I just wrote, or will have hit somewhere else for whatever reason God allowed, or will have completely and unexpectedly dissipated into thin air to the bewilderment of all the meteorologists. Any way it goes, I have faith that God heard our prayers here this week and is answering in whichever way is best for us. And no, that is not a cop out. I fully expect that we will not experience a direct hit nor have tremendous damage even if affected by its wind and/or rain.
In the TLM, the Mass to Avert Storms has three prayers which together make a humble yet quite bold plea of petition, thankfulness for His blessings, and filial trust in our Loving Father. The Collect is: “We beseech Thee, O Lord, that all wickedness being driven away from Thy house, the fury of the raging tempest may pass away. Through our Lord Jesus Christ...” The Secret is: “We offer Thee, O Lord, our praises and gifts, giving thanks for the blessings bestowed upon us and ever humbly praying that they may be continued towards us. Through our Lord...” And the Post Communion prayer is: “O almighty and everlasting God, who by chastening dost heal us and by forgiving dost preserve us, grant that we Thy suppliants may rejoice in the peace and consolation which we desire, and ever enjoy the gift of Thy mercy. Through our Lord...” Not too bad, huh?
We will also have prayed, after the daily Masses, prayers from the Traditional Rituale Romanum, “A Procession to Avert Storms”. Within these prayers, we explicitly admit that we don’t deserve to avoid the destruction wrought by storms, yet we beg for that gift anyway as we invoke the powerful intercessory prayers of the Saints in Heaven. It ends with the acknowledgment that, should He give us chastisements from the storm, it would bring us healing and salvation, yet our prayer is that we would profit even more by accepting His mercy! When we take these prayers to heart, we certainly come out of this as victors in Christ Jesus.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Buy a Priest a Beer Day
Can you believe that “Buy a Priest a Beer Day” is already here? It doesn’t seem like a full year has passed since we last celebrated this feast, yet there it is on the calendar, Saturday, September 9. Not too many people pay attention to this feast day anymore, though it can be found on the calendars of almost all priests, whether they are young or old, Traditional or Novus Oddo, orthodox or heretical, working or retired. I suppose more people would pay attention to it if they knew more about how it came to be an annual feast. So go pop yourself open a cold one and let me give some of the details of this ancient legend.
Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there was a large community of Tappist Monks. They were good, holy men who lived a life of prayer in the solitude of their monastery. They took their vows very seriously and, due to their well deserved reputation for solid Catholicism, they were bursting at the seams as more and more men asked to join the order. Even with a vow of poverty, though, they had to find a way to feed and clothe not only themselves but also those who passed by in need. They also needed funds to build beautiful chapels and hold beautiful liturgies for the glory of God. They needed, in short, to pay the bills. So they had to devise a plan to provide an income. Other religious communities had already discovered, patented, trademarked, and copy-rited their own means of supporting themselves.
The Holy Doublecross Fathers opened universities. They had a competition between the administrators and the professors as to who could bring in the most money. The administrators constantly sought to keep the tuition as high as possible to make it seem like they had a quality product yet low enough that they didn’t have refund too much in the form of scholarships when the token poor kids enrolled. The professors, on the other hand, simply required that their own exceedingly overpriced scrolls, and parchments (and, later, books) be purchased for their own class, and each semester they revised it and mandated that only the “new and improved” version be used. In recent days, football has emerged... no, I had best leave that for another time and, for now, stick to the ancient days.
The Tomdickandharrians simply boasted of their poverty. They put on ragged habits, got bad haircuts, and told everyone how they were simple men of the earth. They really didn’t do much of anything as far as anyone could tell, except boast of their humility and lack of money. But by proclaiming that they could not possibly, under any circumstances at all, with absolutely no exceptions, accept even a penny from anyone at any time, for any reason, amassed a fortune so large that even God could not count it.
The Jezabelwits took yet another approach. They opened retreat centers and preached missions to raise their needed funds. To gain some credibility in this arena, they first forced their men to spend a dozen or so years studying to the point of embracing every ancient heresy before being ordained priests. This had two specifically intended consequences. First, their priests got the reputation of being extremely well educated, since it took so long for them to graduate seminary. Second, and even more importantly, having a Heretical Masters Degree allowed them the opportunity to cater their monetary appeals to not only Catholics who were suckered in by the appearance of scholarship, but also to the Catholic-in-name-only (baptized pagans, as they have recently been labeled) persons who were more than happy to send a lot money to any priest giving them cover for denigrating Church teachings while retaining the promise of Heaven.
The Tappists had to come up with their own schtick. They decided to sell items which they could capture or make themselves. They began by selling furs (they had an “r” in their name at that time), but the terrorist group People Against Anything That Makes Human Life Better (which, in modern English, would translate into either the acronym PETA or USCCB had they not already been taken) raised a stink so they tried other products. Cheese made by Monks appeals to city dwellers, but country folks simply said, “Why buy the cheese when the cow is free?” Fudge appeals mostly to those looking for a good reason to cheat on their diet (“The priests blessed the calories out of it!” or “But it’s for a good cause!” work equally well), but early on hardly anyone was fat. They tried making really good scotch, whisky and wine, but only the aforementioned Religious could afford to buy it. They finally decided to focus on beer, an affordable and enjoyable beverage. “Buy a Priest a Beer Day” was their original marketing slogan so that all Catholics, regardless of which Order they were loyal to, would purchase their product. The Passionless Fathers wish they had thought of it first!
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Destruction of Intelligence
Let me get this straight. Democrats (and socialists, communists and the rest of the “liberal left”) are starting to brazenly, yet illegally, destroy very valuable and sometimes beautiful pieces of public and private art, which depict historical Democrat persons (like General Robert E. Lee, who, like the majority of Confederates, was a Democrat and, after the war, was a major figure in striving to unite southerners and northerners), all because they now despise the stands which the Democrats took (the Democrats were the pro-slavery party), and then they have the gall to blame the past and current Republicans (Abraham Lincoln, a Republican, was leading the Union side of the war) for their own (Democrat) historic crimes and sins? A sarcastic “thank you” goes out to the “unbiased” media, for not just failing to point out the stupidity of this, but for actually perpetuating the image that Republicans are at fault for Democrat doings. If these simple truths are mentioned in the mainstream media, it is always along with the spin that those Democrats were just “Southern Democrats” and, therefore not really Democrats, because, as everyone who is anyone knows, the Southerners are a bunch of inbred misfits too ignorant to know what a “real” Democrat is. They were all just Republicans in disguise. Well, not really in disguise, for that implies some knowledge of the two party system and “those” people were really too imbecilic to comprehend such things, so, rather, they were Republicans without knowing it. This is the same exact problem with the KKK, which, though you would never know it by media accounts, actually fought against the Republican Party. Too bad the talking heads on TV news cannot operate a computer and find something like this at the History Channel website: “Founded in 1866, the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) extended into almost every southern state by 1870 and became a vehicle for white southern resistance to the Republican Party’s Reconstruction-era policies aimed at establishing political and economic equality for blacks.” This lack of historical reality has gone so far that one of the worst names which someone on the “left” can call someone on the “right” (along with “racist”, “bigot” and “homophobe”) is “Nazi”. Long gone is the desire to even look at facts. Nazis were the members of the National Socialist German Workers Party, often labeled as a “far right” group, yet socialists, can in reality only be considered “far right” if the left/right continuum is a circle instead of a straight line and they have gone so far right that they are now back to the left.
Now don’t get me wrong. I am completely (or almost so) disgusted with most of what the Republican Party does today. Not what they claim to stand for, by and large, but what they actually do, which is basically leftist but not quite so left as the so-called “centrist” leftists in office today. They mostly do nothing but blow steam out of their pie holes and occasionally talk about doing great things. But play fair. Blame the Republicans for Republican crapola and blame Democrats for Democrat evils. There is plenty of blame to go around and each should get the proper credit or blame that is due them.
Anyway, back to the title of this article, the Destruction of Intelligence. A classic view of intelligence having been destroyed en masse was on display as not only did the lefties illegally (note that I am writing specifically about the illegal damaging, not the legal removal of monuments) destroy, or try to destroy, or deface, or demolish Confederate monuments and statues around the country (while vilifying anyone on the right, specifically President Trump on the national level and all Republicans, office holders and ordinary people, on the local level) as bigoted slave masters, Nazis, etc. but they didn’t know which statues and monuments were on the “to be destroyed” list. In Georgia, a monument of an angel holding an olive branch over a Confederate soldier, erected to support the post-war efforts to bring the North and South together in unity was defaced. Are leftists too stupid to desire unity? A bust of Abraham Lincoln was damaged in Illinois. Were the vandals too dense to know that he is supposed to get credit for freeing the slaves? In both Maryland and Texas, statues of Christopher Columbus were attacked. Do the hoodlums responsible lack the knowledge that he is credited with founding America? Or do they, like their puppet masters in power just really hate the United States? A statue of St. Joan of Arc was defaced in New Orleans. Were the vandals too obtuse to know that she was a Catholic hero in France, and wasn’t part of the Confederacy? Or do they simply hate Catholics, who did so much to free the slaves, too? The “asinine destruction” list could go on and on for the intelligence of the mobs has been destroyed.
It is really too bad that the majority of Confederate monuments were put up years ago when art was recognizable for what it was supposed to represent. If only the monuments were crafted by today’s contemporary “artists”, nobody would have a clue why they were erected or whom they commemorated. Talk about the destruction of intelligence...
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Men’s Holy League After One Year
One year ago, on the fourth Thursday of August, 2016, a wild idea was brought to fruition. A Catholic men’s group was formed, with twice monthly meetings broken into three parts: prayer, learning more about the Catholic Faith, and social time. It was a “wild” idea for several reasons. First, our parish, which was dedicated to the celebration of Traditional Latin Mass only one year before, strangely does not have many active parishioners living within its boundaries. Most people have to drive 45 minutes or more (one way) to attend. Getting the men to attend at 6:00 pm on a weekday was an attempt to allow them to get off work and stop by on their way home, perhaps making the distance not so much of a problem. Second, I could see no practical way of feeding them when they arrived, so the main draw for most non-liturgical functions at every church in the world was taken off the table (pun intended). They would each have to make a quick stop at a drive through before coming, which is not a very appealing thought to most adults. Third, this is a truly Catholic group of men, so large families are the norm and two nights a month, while seeming fairly inconsequential to some, would be a major commitment to most. Plus, the wives would also have to sign off on it! Fourth, an hour of prayer can be daunting, and an hour of prayers in Latin, moreso. Fifth, since everyone whom I expected to be interested would most likely be a “solid” Catholic already, I didn’t know if they would see a “Catholic class” as something necessary or of interest. Last of all the many things I could continue to list, is the social time. “Scotch and Cigars and Manly Camaraderie” was a good way of getting everyone’s attention, but would it be an effective advertising gimmick? Most guys, believe it or not, do not smoke cigars. With long drives home, the scotch would, of necessity, be very limited in quantity. And what in the world would guys talk about? All these potential drawbacks made this a very wild idea.
Yet we did it anyway. Why? Basically, because one man came to me with the idea and with the statement, “If you will teach, I will take charge of gathering emails and sending out notices.” That’s what I like to hear. Not, “Father, this is what the parish needs and you or someone else needs to do it” but rather, “Here is something I think we need to do and I am willing to do the work. If you do the priestly things, I will do the laity things.” I am terrible at organizing things. I can lead prayers, though, and I can teach the Faith. And so we gave it a shot.
The men gathered in the church to listen to the chanting of Latin Vespers. Now, I am betting that not more than two (I am being generous here) men understood the Latin chant. A few of the men might pray Vespers themselves at least fairly regularly, but the vast majority had no idea what Vespers even was. Vespers was followed by the Holy Rosary prayed in a combination of Latin and English. While I assume that every man there was familiar with the Rosary and some good portion of them probably prayed it daily, the Latin prayers (Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be) were unknown. (They are pretty good at it now, though!) The book I wanted to use was temporarily out of stock, so I switched to the universal Catechism of St. Pope Pius X. What a fortuitous happenstance! This Catechism, which, though not widely known--let alone read and believed--nowadays, makes bold declarations about what the Catholic Church truly teaches and leaves no doubt as to what is expected of the Faithful. In fact, it even outrightly states just who is and who isn’t considered “the Faithful”, something the newer Catechism dances around. (A recent example: Just who belongs to the Communion of Saints and who is excluded from that group? The new Catechism never explicitly says, leaving everyone guessing or making assumptions, many of which, though sounding “nice” and “merciful” and even “ecumenical” are downright wrong. The old Catechism declares the answer with no holds barred. And the men were shocked, for nobody has ever come right out and told them the truth this bluntly before!) To top the night off, out came the drinks and smokes. At least half the men were sure I was pulling their leg and couldn’t believe that I really had Ave Maria cigars and Glenlivet scotch waiting for them.
The “wild” idea caught on. Some men come to every meeting. Some can only make it sporadically. Some never returned. Those who come might each have their own favorite part of the night and a variety of reasons why they attend. But no matter what, they each are growing in the Faith, and the world can use some more good, holy, Catholic men right now. This Thursday is the fourth Thursday of the month. It is the one year anniversary of the men’s club. Whodathunkit? (Anyone want to try translating that Latin word?)
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Good News for Fr. Emmanuel
This week there is some good news regarding Fr. Emmanuel Ndechihiro. As you know, he came from Tanzania, Africa, four years ago to study Mathematics at St. Leo University and I was blessed to have him stay at the rectory of St. Anthony, where I was then the pastor. After he graduated with honors, I offered to have him here at Epiphany for the summer, to spend a little time before he went to Pensacola, where he will study for a Masters in Mathematics. During the time he has been here, he has been celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass (something he had practiced when we were together in San Antonio but which he never publicly celebrated before I was transferred) and, occasionally, the English Novus Ordo Mass. In many ways, it has been a blessing to have a good friend back with me, not least of which is the week’s vacation I was able to take with him being able to take the reigns for a while. During his time here we have been trying to secure housing in a Catholic rectory for him in Pensacola, a task which was made more difficult due to our St. Petersburg diocese recently “stealing” the bishop from Pensacola, leaving an administration gap of authority up there to take care of oddball things like this.
Many of you have been praying hard for an open bed to be offered (thank you!) and now we finally have a positive response. He will be staying at Nativity parish, which is very close to the University of West Florida campus. The pastor there, Fr. Patrick Foley, has been extremely welcoming and has gone out of his way to make his rectory available. It may be only temporary, as the diocese may ask Father to move to another location later in the school year, but at least everybody is working to make sure he has housing at a parish! There were only two things required of Fr. Emmanuel, things which might seem pretty insignificant to everybody reading this but which are impossible for him to obtain without your assistance:
1. He must have his own transportation. This was not a problem at St. Anthony, as we had two “parish” vehicles which he could use as needed. Nativity doesn’t have one. So he needs a car and the insurance needed to drive it. (Any insurance agents out there?)
2. He must supply his own meals. Does he have a kitchen available? Does he need to eat out every meal? Will the parishioners up there be encouraged to bring him meals? Right now we don’t have an answer to these questions. Perhaps we will by the time this bulletin gets into your hands but most likely he won’t know until he gets there. He is going to see if a meal plan is available on campus for commuter students.
Many of you have expressed interest in helping him in any way necessary. These are the things he needs. How to best assist? With your prayers, money, knowledge, and contacts. If somebody has a vehicle just sitting around because you didn’t know what to do with your aunt Irma’s car when she passed away last month, that would solve part of the first problem. Then donations would be accepted to pay for insurance, maintenance, and gas. (I have been told that donations like this would not be tax deductible.) Otherwise, knowledge of where to find a good, cheap, reliable used car would be helpful. Of course, a donation of a good, expensive, reliable new car would never be turned down, but Fr. Emmanuel would then probably be too nervous to drive it anywhere. As for the food, we are a bit too far away to set up a food chain for him. I think it took him 7 hours to get there last week when a parishioner drove him to meet with the diocesan administrator. So, once again, simple donations toward groceries or a meal plan might be the best option.
One thing that I need to make absolutely clear about all of this: Father Emmanuel is not the one asking for any assistance. He did not come here looking for handouts. He is not begging for--or expecting--donations. He is far too humble and unassuming and in no way would he want to be seen as one of those people who came to these United States or this parish or this diocese just for the personal financial “benefits”. No, this request for assistance is coming from me in response to those of you who, of your own free will, asked how to help him out. On his own, he would have found a way to survive living under a bridge, washing up in the university’s gym locker room, and fasting for forty days and forty nights (or for two school years).
Here you have the latest information. What you do with it is up to you. Please say a few prayers of thanks for Fr. Foley and the good people of Nativity!
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Can’t Understand Latin? Hah!
The next time someone tells you that they won’t come to Epiphany because they cannot understand Latin, hand them the following as food for thought. At least with Latin, what you see is what you say! Homographs would seem to be just the thing to make anyone say, with good reason, “I will never attend an English Mass. I just cannot understand it!” I am not the author of the text below. It is just one of many similar anonymous writings I have seen over the years. But I enjoyed it anyway and I hope you will, too.
You think English is easy?
1) The bandage was wound around the wound.
2) The farm was used to produce produce.
3) The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
4) We must polish the Polish furniture..
5) He could lead if he would get the lead out.
6) The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert..
7) Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
8) A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
9) When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
10) I did not object to the object.
11) The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
12) There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
13) They were too close to the door to close it.
14) The buck does funny things when the does are present.
15) A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.
16) To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
17) The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
18) Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear..
19) I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
20) How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?
Let's face it - English is a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplant, nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins weren't invented in England or French fries in France . Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren't sweet, are meat. We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.
And why is it that writers write but fingers don't fing, grocers don't groce and hammers don't ham? If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn't the plural of booth, beeth? One goose, 2 geese. So one moose, 2 meese? One index, 2 indices? Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend? If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?
If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? Sometimes I think all the English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane. In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell?
How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites? You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which, an alarm goes off by going on.
English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race, which, of course, is not a race at all. That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.
With prayers for your holiness and humor,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: The Founder of the Jesuits
This week (Monday, July 31) we celebrate the feast day of St. Ignatius of Loyola. Although he is a great Saint, usually his feast day passes by this parish without a mention, outside of the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, that is. He is the founder of the Society of Jesus, commonly called the Jesuits, and, as far as I can tell, there has been no direct Jesuit influence on Epiphany since its founding. The Redemptorists (the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer) Fathers founded the parish in 1961 and diocesan priests have been here since 1988. Bernardine Franciscan Sisters staffed the school. No Jesuits. Yet. The last two weekends we were blessed to have a Jesuit-in-training back with us, Ryan Caesar. Ryan, as you are aware, was a parishioner of ours before entering the seminary last year. The way the Jesuits do things, I think he may be ordained a priest in another dozen or so years. He will not be the parish’s first vocation though. That honor belongs to Father Donald Roth, CssR, who was ordained a Redemptorist priest in 1975!
This makes me wonder just how many other vocations have come from Epiphany. You know that there are several young men and women, boys and girls, who are considering their vocational call right now. You have assisted a couple of them as they went on “Come and See”-type trips and missions. You have prayed for them and for the order or community or diocese in which they will eventually find themselves (or for their future spouse, if that is where their discernment leads them). But I would really like to get a list together of those from Epiphany (and from current Epiphany families) who have either already entered the seminary or religious life formation process (like Ryan [Jesuit] and, next month, Esteban Merkt [Diocese of St. Augustine]) or have been ordained (like Fr. Donald Roth[Redemptorist]) or made a religious profession (Sister Rachel Hernandez [Home of the Mother]).
We have a Vocation poster hanging in our social hall. Just a few weeks ago some visitors were here who pointed to the photo of one young man on the poster and proudly proclaimed, “That’s our son!” What a blessing it was for them to know that you all see his photo on a regular basis and remember (I hope!) to pray for him along with the rest of the diocesan seminarians. But we don’t have a poster like that for those from our parish in Religious vocation formation. We also don’t have a poster like that of those from the parish who are already in Holy Orders or in Community life. I would like to put together something like that. Not only do they all need our prayers but it also is a reminder to others who are trying to figure out what God has in store for them that vocations come from “our” parish and “our” families! I need your assistance in this. If you know of anyone from years past who now has a “Church vocation” please write down whatever information you remember. Name, parents, year of ordination or profession (or even just an approximation), religious order, and anything else that might help out. Scour your old photos, holy cards, mementos and whatever else might have a mention of them, and let me know. I will try to track them down and see where they are today. Perhaps we can get photos of them. Perhaps we will need to celebrate a Mass for them if they are already deceased. Maybe... well, the possibilities are endless, and I am sure some of you are quite imaginative and can think of how we can honor them. So please think hard, call up old friends, check with those who have long since moved away, and see if we can get a list together. If we have a bunch (or is it herd, gaggle, school or flock?) of vocations which have come from this parish and our families, it will be good for everybody to know about it. If Fr. Roth is the only one, it will be good to know that he set the example and that many, many more will be following him soon. I have no doubt that vocations will be coming, and that they will come even from those whom you least expect it.
Now, going back to St. Ignatius of Loyola when he founded his Society. His new Jesuit “Rule” included several unusual mandates which are listed in the online Catholic Encyclopedia. The very first one they list, one which might make you scratch your head and wonder just how that works when you realize who is the most well-recognized Jesuit in the world today: the vow not to accept ecclesiastical dignities! While I have no idea how a Jesuit can break that vow and become anything other than a simple priest, perhaps that explains why, if you will allow me to be a little cheeky, so many Jesuits (and one in particular) seem to make every effort to not bring dignity to their ecclesiastical office!
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: A "Thank You" for Your Support
You, the members of Epiphany, have been quite generous in helping several of our teens go on missions which have something to do with vocations and everything to do with putting Catholic Faith into action. The latest trip you supported was taken by a group of boys and men who were helping to rebuild, after a devastating earthquake, a small town in Ecuador. Here is a sample (better photos linked on our website) of what they did. Estaban Merkt, who will be entering the seminary later this summer, sent his thanks along with these photos and descriptions. He could not have made this trip without your help. Thanks for all you do!
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
[I cannot get our bulletin article to come out here the same way it came out in the bulletin. Instead, please access this "Thank You" and the accompanying photos by clicking on the following link:]
From the Pastor: Welcome Home, Seminarian!
This week please greet Ryan Caesar with open arms as he returns home for a short summer visit. He has been undergoing the rigors of First Year in a Jesuit Seminary. Since I am a diocesan priest, rather than an order priest, I do not know how his first year differs from what I underwent, but if it is anything at all alike, it was a challenging year. The first year is basically like Marine Boot Camp. The system is tough to get used to, “freedom” is lost (the older and more independent the man going in, the more difficult this part is), studies are very different than what was imagined (making it more difficult to buckle down and work hard) and personal flaws come to the surface in ways never before experienced as both God (trying to heal) and Satan (trying to harm) influence and try the seminarians in various ways. Prayer life changes, sometimes seeming better, other times seeming much, much worse. Exercise patterns, sleep patterns, work patterns all need readjusting. Everything that can go wrong does. It is a very intense year. Many men bail before it is done. Those who survive, whether they later determine that God is not calling them to the priesthood or they continue all the way through ordination, are better off for having stayed through it. It is a badge of honor. It puts questions to rest. It brings peace. But it is tough!
Ryan is supposed to be with us for two weeks after having just completed this crash course in holiness, integrity, and manliness. I have not had the chance to speak with him yet about his experience, and, since it is his rather than mine, I will not make up any stories about what has happened to him since last July. But remember, he has spent a year under the direct supervision of the JESUITS! There are no stories which have ever come to my fertile (another word for you know what) imagination which can possibly compare to being under JESUIT influence for a year. The Jesuits (OK, I’ll stop using all caps) have spawned such diverse offspring as... well, I thought better of naming names. I get into enough trouble without calling out by name some of the worst publicly scandalous teachers of immorality who belong to this group. They also produce, of course, some of the most intellectually gifted and truly Catholic priests who are great teachers and theologians and scholars. Ryan, through your prayers, will belong to that last group. So pray hard!
Along with your prayers, you might also want to give him other necessities. Seminarians, after all, still need to wash clothes, replace broken computers, buy books, etc. Before Ryan left to begin his new journey I asked if there was anything he needed. He answered as he had been told, “No, everything will be provided.” That is what they had told me, too. They lied. Again, I was in a diocesan seminary and he is part of an order, so things might not be quite the same, but when a seminarian in my day ran out of soap, either for his body or for his clothes, the seminary never offered to provide it for him. Same with pens, paper, razors, underwear, toothpaste and so many other things that are truly necessary to have if you plan on remaining in a community. After being in the seminary for a year, Ryan just might have discovered that some things, some gifts, some comforts, just might be valuable gifts to receive after all. Don’t be afraid to ask. At the same time, please don’t assume that he needs anything, either, for “stuff” can quickly weigh a seminarian down. Everything he owns (again, back in my day at least) has to fit in his car and in his 6’ by 10’ room.
Anyway, welcome home, Ryan! We missed you!
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
PS For those who are new here, below is the photo I took of Ryan just before he left.
From the Pastor: Tenth Anniversary of Summorum Pontificum
Ten years ago, July 7, 2007, Pope Benedict XVI promulgated an Apostolic Letter, “Summorum Pontificum”, which, among other related things, expressly allowed all Latin Rite priests in good standing to celebrate, both privately and publicly, the Traditional Latin Mass using the 1962 Missal. Even before the letter came out it was opposed, as we see at the beginning of the letter accompanying Summorum which the Pope addressed to the bishops of the world. “The document was most directly opposed on account of two fears, which I would like to address somewhat more closely in this letter. In the first place, there is fear that the document detracts from the authority of the Second Vatican Council, one of whose essential decisions--the liturgical reform--is being called into question. This fear is unfounded... In the second place, the fear was expressed in discussions about the awaited Motu Proprio (Summorum Pontificum), that the possibility of a wider use of the 1962 Missal would lead to disarray or even divisions within parish communities. This fear also strikes me as unfounded...”
In the place of the ellipses (...) in the above quote, Pope Benedict gave his explanations as to why the fears of those already opposing the document (or, more precisely, opposing the Mass which, though undergoing occasional modifications through the centuries, had been in use worldwide for nearly 1500 years prior to 1970) were either unfounded or should be easily addressed by the bishops. Unfortunately, it was, by and large, the bishops themselves who were the instigators and perpetrators of such unmerited fearmongering, and, therefore, rather than working to alleviate them, they worked all the more to make them worse. But a funny thing happened even in the face of extreme opposition (with very few exceptions) from the bishops. The priests who were asked to celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass, like me, and the lay people who were invited to attend it, like many of you, loved the Mass anyway! I am not writing about those who already had an affinity to the TLM, who knew it from their youth or from somewhere in their past, and who always wished it would be more widely available. No, I am pointing out that people, both priests and laity, who had absolutely no prior knowledge of the TLM, who had no memories, fond or otherwise, of the TLM, those who previously never understood why anyone would want to “go back to the dark ages” or to the “bad old days” when the priest “turned his back to the people” and “nobody understood anything” and the “little old ladies clutched their beads” to escape the boredom of the Latin Mass (as the past fifty years of terrible catechesis has drilled into the social psyche), when finally learning the TLM and experiencing the TLM embraced it as they never embraced the Novus Ordo Mass ever before.
Think about this just a bit. Neither I nor any parish priests my age or younger, had any knowledge of the Traditional Latin Mass. All of us grew up with the Novus Ordo Mass as the only, and, hence,“normal” Mass. All of us embraced the NO Mass because we realized that it was the Holy Sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the only sacrifice truly worthy to offer to the Father in order to bring us salvation. We embraced the NO Mass because through it the miracle of Transubstantiation took place and our Lord and God was made present, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, upon the altar and given to us for our spiritual nourishment. Each of us was called by God to become a priest according to the Order of Melchizedek, with Apostolic Succession going all the way back to Jesus Himself ordaining His Apostles. We most certainly did not despise the Novus Ordo Mass, were not lukewarm to the Novus Ordo Mass, nor were we just OK with the Novus Ordo Mass. We LOVED the Novus Ordo Mass. And yet, without any exceptions of which I am aware, the priests of whom I write, when called upon to learn and to celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass, LOVED IT EVEN MORE! We all felt “ripped off” by not having had the ability to grow up with this beautiful Mass. It made us realize just how trivial and childish (not: childlike) and, perhaps, even sacrilegious, so many abuses to the Mass (which we had thought of as “innovative” and “welcoming” and “exhilarating”), including those we witnessed growing up, those taught and modeled in seminary, and those we ourselves had done, really were. We saw the glory of the prayers and the focus on the true Sacrifice of the Son to the Father which the TLM brings out and the NO left out. We cried in repentance and sorrow for what had been lost and what is still considered by the majority (of bishops, priests, and laity) to be somehow “evil” or, at best, “to be tolerated”. Yet now we who know the TLM rejoice and give thanks to God, for, through Summorum Pontificum, what once was lost has now been found.
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Stories About The Cruise
I am away with some family and friends on a cruise. You do realize I am gone, right? Before I even left people were welcoming me back and asking how my trip went. I considered making up stories but then thought better of it, because if they later heard about my real trip, they would assume I had taken two vacations! Plus, I wanted to save the best stories for the bulletin. So sit back for a spell, get comfortable, and come along with me as I enthrall you with tales of this great vacation which I wrote before we set sail. And, in case you are wondering how I was able to do such a thing, that mystery is solved with a simple reference to the name of the ship I was on, the “Magic.”
My Sister Linda flew in from Massachusetts the day before we were to leave. Her flight was filled with turbulence, as they were skirting the tropical storm forming over Indiana (she had a stopover in Kansas City, where she picked up Aunt Irma, who was there looking for some climate change related beachfront property, but that’s another story). That did not bode well for the beginning of a cruise. When we got to the ship, the crew was assuring everyone that, though the storm was projected to head our way, once it hit the open water it would quickly lose strength and dissipate. “No worries, everyone!” they exclaimed, “Have a drink. Here, let me take your photo.” And onto the ship we went, confident that all was well. It wasn’t.
The big storm was not the problem. Lost luggage was. Or, more precisely, wrong luggage was. As I mentioned, Aunt Irma had been traveling already when she met up with us. She had consolidated everything she wanted to bring on the cruise into one bag and left the rest of her stuff, including tons of souvenirs, back at mom’s house. Or so she thought. When she went to spruce up for dinner she discovered to her horror that, where her makeup kit should have been, she had “Boot Hill, Dodge City” sunscreen. She frantically ransacked her suitcase, flinging “Dalton Gang” beach towel and vintage “KU Jayhawks” seashell necklaces across the room. She dug in past the “Land of Oz” surfboard and “Show Me State” smashball paddles, tossed out the “KCU Wildcats” flip flops and the “I *Heart* Kansas” beach volleyball, looking, hoping, praying, that somewhere below all of it was what she had packed for the cruise. Alas, it was not to be. Too proud to let any of us know what had happened, she used what she had. The first three days she wore the Chiefs jersey she had purchased for her great nephew, Bubba, which was large enough to rent out to Barnum and Bailey if they hadn’t gone under. On day four she changed into the Kansas City Royals jogging suit which had been meant for her neighbor’s girl. She could almost, but not quite, zip up the top because it was just too small and tight. It was 87 degrees, her uncombed hair looked like a rat’s nest, and with her wearing that winter hoodie and its matching skin tight heavy fleece bottoms (which made yoga pants look loose by comparison), we were all convinced that she had finally “lost it” completely. Before the ship’s captain could Baker Act her, though, she admitted what happened and we were able to get her some new clothes easily enough at the ship’s “You Need More Stuff” boutique. Whew! That, plus a toothbrush, and she was a happy camper. That was not the only wardrobe malfunction, though.
One of the ladies with us (my mom will kill me if I tell you who it was) got up on a zipline at one port of call, having packed a pair of jeans just for the occasion. Unfortunately she had lost weight while onboard, as everyone is wont to do on a cruise, and halfway down the mountain she had to let go with one hand to hold up her britches. In the video (look for it on FarceBook!) of her dangling and squirming descent she looks like one of the local boys strutting down the street, with skivvies visible 10 inches above droopy-drawers. She was screaming all sorts of strange words (to my virgin ears) about what she was going to do if anyone looked or laughed. What is the female version of “tighty whiteys”? Granny greys? Biggie Bloomers?
I could tell many more stories about our adventures, but let me end with a fish tale, a story about the one that got away. I brought a rod and reel along with me so that I could fish from my balcony. There was plenty of bait available at the seafood buffet and every time we slowed to come into port, I set out my rig. On the last day, I hooked into something big and fought it for over an hour. We couldn’t see what kind of fish it was even after I got it out of the water, because from my upper floor even fishing boats looked tiny. I only got it up about half way before the fish gave one last mighty thrash and threw the hook, flipping itself into an open window somewhere below me. I am not sure where it went, exactly, but on the flight home Aunt Irma mentioned to my sister something about her special souvenir that dropped out of the sky, and her luggage smelled strangely like day-old cat food...
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: I’m Outa Here!
About a month ago I told you that I was going to soon take a little vacation with my mom and my older sister. Now the vacation is finally here. As you read this during the homily time of the Saturday Vigil or Sunday Mass, our ship will have already departed for the Eastern Caribbean. If you see me still here, something went terribly wrong! I had written that my cruise was for 8 days (Saturday, June 24 through Sunday, July 2) and someone told me that I can’t count all of that time as vacation. “Normal” people, I was told, don’t count the weekends in their vacation day count, but rather only count weekdays, since those are their “working days.” Since the weekends are the priests’ “working days” in the eyes of most people, I have to count vacation days backward compared to “real” people with “real” jobs. So the first Saturday doesn’t count as vacation, as I will be celebrating the morning Mass before I go, making it a work day. The Sunday of my return doesn’t count as vacation, since I will be back in time to, if need be, celebrate the evening Mass, making it, too, a work day. And, because weekdays are considered the priest’s “weekend” according to this method of thinking, the Monday through Friday that I am gone don’t count as vacation, either. So in total I will be on vacation for only Sunday, June 25 and Saturday, July 1. The person telling me this was a real killjoy. I was sooooo looking forward to just over a week of vacation. Now I am depressed that I will only be getting away for two days!
During those “two days” on which I am gone, there will be plenty of priests around here to make sure that all spiritual necessities and emergencies are taken care of. Father Emmanuel is going to be celebrating all of the Traditional Latin Masses, while Fathers Dorvil, Tuoc and Peter will cover the Vietnamese, Malayalam and English Masses. As of this writing, Father Emmanuel has been celebrating the weekday Low Mass for a few weeks and he is now pretty good at it and has even celebrated the daily chanted Mass, too (which is the most simple form of a High Mass), but he has not yet celebrated a Missa Cantata with Incense. Those of you at the Sunday 10:30 TLM will either witness him doing this for the very first time or, if his nerves get the best of him, a simple chanted Mass instead. All joking aside, The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is not something to be played around with, so he will only “go High” if he is confident of doing it, if not perfectly, at least competently.
I don’t think the other priests will let Fr. Emmanuel starve for the week, but, just in case, if anyone wishes to take him out to eat or bring some food to the rectory for him, I am sure he won’t mind. As long as he is on your minds, I ask that you offer up a prayer or two for him to find a rectory to stay at in Pensacola, where he is hoping to work on a Master’s Degree in Mathematics at his bishop’s request. So far, all of his leads have petered out, and there is no room at the inn. Because his student visa extension was obtained through the University of West Florida, if he cannot find housing and is not able to attend classes there he will be unable to stay in the US. So please, offer yet another prayer for him. The difficulties of getting another student visa so that he could return here if he loses this one are so great that he would probably never come back for his degree.
As I am writing this, there are three weather formations brewing. Brett, plus Cindy and Don (if they get named) all seem to be heading a little bit south of where we will be traveling before passing into the Gulf of Mexico and up and away from both the ship and the parish. But what to do if a tropical storm or hurricane comes our way? Pray and don’t worry, in the words of St. Padre Pio. On the ship, we shouldn’t have to worry, since we will simply (simply!) change course and maneuver around the worst of it. If we miss a couple of ports, Oh Well... And if the ship is rocking and rolling, we will have a great time watching the dishes slide off the tables, the patio furniture fall into the pool, people stumbling around as if quite drunk even early in the morning, and things like that. We will just make the best of it and know for certain that we are on a boat in the middle of the ocean! That is the reality that we understood when signing up for a cruise and yet we still got on board, anyway. Meanwhile, back here you all should just use as much common sense as possible. Come to Mass only if it is safe to do so. Mass will still be celebrated, since the priests don’t have to travel to get to church. Everyone might be wet and there is always the possibility of not having electricity for the lights or A/C but prayers in the middle of a storm are always worth the sacrifice. But don’t come if it is unsafe for either you or for those who would have to rescue you.
See you in a week or so!
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Father’s Day and Corpus Christi Combine!
“I and the Father are one.” Thus saith the Lord. So it seems quite right that Father’s Day would be celebrated the same day as the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Our Lord, Jesus Christ. The day dedicated to the Father is also the day dedicated to His Son, making a distinction without division. The Father is Father because He has begotten a Son. Without the Son, Who is One with Him, He would not be Father. Likewise, the Son, Who, if not begotten by the Father, would not be Son. Relations “make” the Persons, so to speak, as was made perfectly clear by last week’s Trinity Sunday homily. Or maybe it wasn’t so clear. It’s a mystery.
Today’s feast teaches us (or reinforces what we already know to be true) that Jesus is not only fully God but also fully Man. He existed as sole-begotten Son from all eternity, but He took on our human nature about 2000 years ago at the moment of the Incarnation. From that time on, He looked like us, though in reality, it is probably more proper to say that it is us, made in His image and likeness, who look like Him. But it is not just an appearance. In His humanity, He is like us in all things but sin, to borrow a teaching from Paul’s letter to the Hebrews. Even now, in His glorified state, He still is fully God and fully Man. His Body is still true food and His blood is still true drink, as He eloquently taught in chapter 6 of John’s Gospel. There, He taught that we must eat His body and drink His blood to have eternal life. This command we fulfill when we receive Holy Communion in a state of Grace. What are we receiving at that time? A piece of bread? No. A piece of holy bread? No. A piece of blessed bread? No. We do not receive bread (or wine or grape juice) at any Latin Rite Catholic Mass anywhere throughout the world. For the bread and wine have, by the time we receive, undergone a change of substance such that the bread and wine cease to exist and, though the “accidents” remain (taste, smell, color, etc.), neither bread nor wine does. By the power of the Holy Ghost working through the validly ordained priest, Jesus Christ, though “hidden” by the accidents, is truly made present: His Body, Blood and Soul (in other words, the fullness of His humanity) and His Divinity (the fullness of His Godhead).
Just as last week we saw Holy Mother Church, out of necessity in trying to explain what is, for humans, unexplainable, namely, God as He Is, had to develop new vocabulary in order to describe to the best of Her ability the Most Holy Trinity, so this week we see Her come up with the word “Transubstantiation” to describe the aforementioned change. Plus, I have already mentioned a similarly “new” word, “Incarnation”, in this article, about which most likely nobody raised an eyebrow, so common has its usage become among Catholics. Yet out of these three “mysteries”, or God-revealed truths beyond (but not contrary to) human reasoning, Transubstantiation is the one that most people, including nearly all non-Catholic “Christians” and a great many Catholics, refuse to believe. Many of these poor lost souls claim (or pretend) to comprehend the Trinity, as if the one true God in three Persons is a common occurrence, common knowledge, or is just plain common sense. They claim (or pretend) to comprehend the Incarnation, as if man can really grasp how the Second Person of the Holy Trinity could become Man without losing or in any way corrupting or diminishing His Divinity. Yet this multitudinous sea of mega-genius theologians cannot accept the words directly out of the Living Word of God as passed down by the written Word of God in John’s Gospel, chapter 6. “Amen, amen I say to you; Moses gave you not bread from heaven, but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life to the world.” This and the rest of His discourse on the Eucharist was rejected by many of His followers (including one of His Apostles--Judas) when He first revealed this Truth. It is rejected by most of those claiming to be His followers (perhaps even among the successors to His Apostles) to this very day. I pray that you, through the grace of the Holy Ghost, know the Truth. The Father sent His Son for our Salvation. He, in turn, gave His flesh for the life of the world. Believe.
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: My Confession About Confession
I confess that every once in a while I discover something that every Catholic ought to know but that somehow I didn’t know. That seems a bit odd, doesn’t it, coming from a priest? But it is true. I have told the story many times that I never knew that there was a Catholic prayer after meals as well as before until I had been a priest for half a dozen years or so. I had been taught growing up that grace before meals was, as every Catholic knows (!), “Bless us, O Lord, and these Thy gifts which we are about to receive from Thy bounty, through Christ, our Lord. Amen.” But according to my fourth book of the Baltimore Catechism, that is the “Blessing before Meals” rather than “grace.” “Grace,” it explains, “means thanks.” “We should thank Him also after we have eaten it and found it good, pleasing, and refreshing. When God provides us with food He thereby makes a kind of promise that He will allow us to live a while longer and give us strength to serve Him.” It then gives examples of how hurt God must be for our ingratitude when we fail to thank Him after He has given us this nourishment. Yet, until an old Jesuit priest recited this after every meal during one of my many priestly assignments, I never knew it existed. Though the English translations vary a bit in different prayer books (yes, once you look for it, you can find it in other prayer books!), this is the one that Fr. Frank taught and which I have since passed on to many parishioners. “We give Thee thanks, Almighty God, for all Thy benefits, Who lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen. And may the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.”
Once I started celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass, someone gave me a 3 book set called the “Roman Ritual.” This official book of Catholic prayers, blessings, exorcisms, sacraments, etc., has something even more to say about the mealtime blessings. In Volume 3, The Blessings, there are listed “Blessings at Meals.” Under that heading fall “Before the Noonday Meal,” “After the Noonday Meal,” “Before the Evening Meal,” and “After the Evening Meal.” But notice that there is no blessing or grace before or after the Morning Meal or Snacks! Plus, the “Bless us O Lord...” and the “We give Thee thanks...” are only a small part of the prayers before some Noonday and Evening meals. Taking it a bit further, it includes a note, “If only one meal is taken, the prayers are those of the evening meal. The preceding method of blessing and rendering thanks is observed at all times of the year, except the days noted below, when only the versicles and psalms differ.” Did you catch the part about “If only one meal a day is taken”? I don’t know if that is an indication of extreme poverty so that only one meal a day is available or if it was speaking rather about Lent, when all 40 days were days of fast, so that only one meal was taken. Remember, there is no blessing for snacks, and during Lent there was only one meal and two snacks (which would not together equal a meal) allowed at the time this Ritual was promulgated. Either way, we are (or at least seem to be) blessed to have so much food available to us. Did you also notice that special days had different meal prayers? These included Christmas through Epiphany, Epiphany and its octave, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, Easter Sunday and its octave, the Ascension through Pentecost vigil, and Pentecost and its octave. No wonder the United States Bishops shortened it to the simple prayers above. Otherwise, a book and a calendar would be needed just to say the right prayers throughout the year!
But, like so many other times, I have gotten sidetracked. This article started with the odd statement that I, a Catholic priest, occasionally learn something each Catholic ought to already know. I wasn’t going to write specifically about the meal prayers, so let me move on. The real topic of this article, as you know if you read the title, is not meals but, rather, Confession. What is the most important aspect of making a good Confession? It is not knowing where the Confessional is. It is not knowing how to make the sign of the cross and say, “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been X number of days/weeks/months/decades since my last Confession and these are my sins...” It is not having memorized the Act of Contrition. No, according to the Baltimore Catechism, the new Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Roman Ritual it is...
Oops! I am out of space. I will have given a talk about this very thing to the Immaculate Heart of Mary Tampa Homeschool Conference by the time you read this. Hopefully, it is recorded and online so that, if you really want the answer, you can listen to it on our parish website. (I think I may have to go to Confession for doing this to you!)
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: An Eight-Day Vacation!
The last week of this month I will be able to take a vacation! With Fr. Emmanuel staying here for the summer, I am going to be able to leave the parish in his most capable hands, including and especially the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass. The other priests here are of tremendous help with the Novus Ordo Masses, but none of them know how to celebrate the TLM. Fr. Emmanuel is now able to breach that gap. So I found a small group of people from the diocese who are going on an eight day cruise and I signed up to sail along. My mother is coming with me, too. Because she is always cold, she wanted to go someplace warm and the Eastern Caribbean fits the bill perfectly. Shortly after we booked the room, I was speaking with my mom about it after a daily Mass and some other people heard and I asked if they wanted to go. Unfortunately, the travel agent said the cruise was fully booked. One parishioner got a nice room when by chance (?) a reservation was dropped and a room became available at just the right time. Then, a week or two later, my older sister said that she wanted to come, too. Sure enough, another room became available a few days after that and now she is coming with us.
I found out that Carnival has now changed its policy about priests on board. They no longer offer them a free inside cabin, which they used to do as long as they would celebrate Sunday (or the anticipated Saturday evening) Mass for the spiritual well-being of their “guests”. I asked for a room in which to celebrate daily Mass. They set it up for 7:00 am every day. Whoa! I have to get up at five every morning to celebrate the 6:30 Mass here. I don’t want to do the same on vacation! Plus, they have us scheduled for the late dining time slot (we are on a waiting list for the early one), which means that I might not even be done eating by the time I normally get to bed. They will now give me a place later in the day if one is available. But they also sent their new policy information about the Mass. They may or may not allow anyone other than those who signed up as part of our group to attend the Mass even though I am a paying customer who has supplied them with their required “Letter of Priest in Good Standing”. Their new rules were sent in writing as follows: “...[Your] request to opening your private mass events to the public, can only be reviewed and approved once on board the ship. The attached event schedule reflects a private mass only with your approved dates and times. Carnival Cruise Lines appreciates your business and looks forward to welcoming your group onboard. Carnival Cruise Lines has a strict ‘No Solicitation’ policy. This policy prohibits any person or organization from any form of solicitation (including for non-profit organizations) to our guests and/or crew, either before sailing, during or after the voyage. Guests are prohibited from inviting other non-group sailing guests to participate in privately scheduled onboard events.” Really? They have gone from providing Mass as a courtesy to their Catholic “guests” to seeing it as a “solicitation” which cannot be tolerated if anyone else desires to attend. I cannot tell you how many people I have counseled over the years (after they return and have missed Mass due to no priest on board) to write letters to the cruise lines telling them that they will, in the future, choose a cruise line which supplies at least Sunday Mass. My guess is that almost no Catholics actually write such letters or this new policy would not be in effect. Even though I can always celebrate Mass in my cabin, how they proceed with this will determine whether or not this is my last Carnival Cruise.
But enough of the nonsense. Eight days at sea. Eight days of being pampered. Eight days of no phone, no computer, no email, no facebook, no cooking, no washing dishes, no nothing! This is the first time in perhaps a decade that I will be away from my parish for two Sundays in a row. So prepare for it now. Mark your calendar so that you will know not to get sick or, worse, schedule a funeral from June 24 through July 2. Mark it so that you will not get personally insulted when I don’t respond to your electronic or voice messages. Mark it so that you will pray for me and the rest of the group! I will be remembering all of you in my Masses on the ship, whether there are a dozen of us crammed into a tiny cabin or hundreds of people filling one of the Nightclubs or Lounges. (And experience tells me that, after seeing a priest on board for the entire week--yes, I wear my clerics even while on vacation since I am not taking a vacation from being a priest--hundreds will show up to the Saturday evening Mass if given the chance.)
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Coming Up This Week
Monday is Memorial Day. True, it is not a religious holiday but it is certainly worth noting anyway. It is the day we honor those who died while serving our country. People may debate, argue, discuss and needle each other about what is good and what is not so good about our country without ever seeing eye to eye about many issues, but anybody who thinks this country isn’t worth defending and even dying for always has the freedom to go live in a “better” country. Many have threatened to do so. I suppose there might be some who have actually gone somewhere they were imagining to be perfect. But when it comes right down to it, generally even the most anti-American Americans stay put, knowing that there is something special about this union of states. I did get a big kick out of all of the quasi-communist celebrities who, upset with Presidential Candidate Donald Trump’s threats to return illegal Mexican immigrants to their legal country and his anti Muslim-terrorist rhetoric, threatened to move to Canada if he got elected! Not one of them threatened to move to Mexico or to any majority-Islamic country. No, they spent all their bluster denouncing this country but even in their idle threats couldn’t manage to see themselves living anywhere else, except maybe in the country closest to us not only in geography (for Mexico would also fit that bill) but also in language and customs. And, notably, not a single one of the leftist blowhards wanted to go to a communist country, even though they want to make us one. Remarkably--and quite unfortunately--not a single one of those idiots actually left. No, even the Hollywood elites know that only in America could they have become the rich and famous know-it-alls that they are. Thank God that, unlike them, so many men and women have loved this country enough to stand up for her, to fight for her, to die for her, the current lack of morals notwithstanding.
Moving on, Saturday, the Vigil of Pentecost, we will have confirmations here. Bishop Parkes regretted that he could not be here to bestow the sacrament himself but he will be in Pensacola ordaining a man to the priesthood. It seems that Pensacola is without a bishop for some reason... Anyway, he has delegated me to confirm. Last year I was also given delegation to confirm and I wrote about some of the instructions for doing so in the Traditional Rite that seem a bit, well, odd and/or humorous. This year I want to be a little more serious and present to you the prayers which will be said (in Latin) during the ceremony. I am using the English translation found in the three volume Roman Ritual, which varies slightly from the two English translations found in the missals in our pews, both of which also vary slightly from one another. I do note a couple of oddities along the way.
After the initial verses and responses, the priest says, “Let us pray. Almighty, everlasting God, Who hast deigned to beget new life in these thy (there is no capitalization of “thy” in this case. A typo perhaps?) servants by water and the Holy Spirit (yes, the Roman Ritual uses Holy Spirit instead of Holy Ghost, something it oddly does on occasion but not as a norm), and hast granted them remission of all their sins, send forth from heaven (“heaven” isn’t capitalized here, though I would have had it marked “wrong” while in secular school, as “Heaven” is a place and place names are/were capitalized) upon them thy (again a small “t”) Holy Spirit, the Consoler (the Latin is “Paraclitum” but I do sometimes see either this translation or “Advocate” instead of “Paraclete” elsewhere, too) with His sevenfold gifts. Amen. The Spirit of wisdom and understanding. Amen. The Spirit of counsel and fortitude. Amen. The Spirit of knowledge and of piety. Amen. Fill them with the Spirit of fear of the Lord, and seal them with the sign of Christ’s ✠ Cross, plenteous in mercy unto life everlasting. Through the selfsame Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee (small “t”) in the unity of the same Holy Spirit, God eternally (what happened to “world without end”?). Amen.”
Next comes the actual conferral of the sacrament of Confirmation. “N. (Saint’s name), I seal thee with the sign of the Cross ✠, And (capital “A” in the middle of a sentence. Who edited this book?) I confirm thee with the Chrism of salvation. In the name of the Father ✠ and of the Son ✠, and of the Holy ✠ Spirit.” The newly confirmed one replies, “Amen” and the priest “lightly strikes the confirmed upon the cheek, saying: Peace be with thee.” From that point, there is only one prayer left and a final blessing. We will conclude with a Mass.
As you can see from my comments on the prayer, it takes me a long time to read through even such a simple ritual, as I often see many things which either seem like inconsistencies or bring to my mind further questions. It’s a good thing that not everybody dissects everything like that. But it also explains why my Catechism classes last for a decade!
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Ascension Thursday is an Important Feast!
This Thursday is Ascension Thursday. It is the 40th Day after Easter Sunday, the Resurrection of Our Lord. According to the old Catholic Encyclopedia, “It is one of the Ecumenical feasts ranking with the feasts of the Passion, of Easter and of Pentecost among the most solemn in the calendar, has a vigil and, since the fifteenth century, an octave which is set apart for a novena of preparation for Pentecost, in accordance with the directions of Leo XIII.” Now stop to think about that just a bit. It is one of the most important feasts on the Church calendar, ranking alongside Good Friday, Easter Sunday, and Pentecost. Did you know that? (Notice that it seems to be of even of higher rank than our own beloved feast of Epiphany!) How many people make every effort to come to Easter Sunday Mass yet think nothing of Pentecost Sunday (50 days later)? How many people (much, much fewer in number, to be sure, than the Easter crowd) make almost heroic efforts to attend Good Friday services at 3:00 pm but never even think about attending Mass in the middle of the week on Ascension Thursday?
Some time back our illustrious bishops were grappling with those questions and trying to figure out the way to increase at least the attendance at Ascension Thursday Masses. Was their solution greater education of the priests regarding the solemnity of the feast so that they would then do more to encourage lay participation in this Holy Day of Obligation? No. Was their solution the encouragement of more abundant Masses or Mass times before and after “working hours”? No. Was their solution to remove the “Obligation” part of the Holy Day and make it optional? No again. It was to remove the importance of the “40 days after Easter” aspect of this feast and move it to the following Sunday. There it kept its Obligation by making it a twofer, allowing the people to make no extra effort to attend an Ascension Mass, as they were supposedly obliged to be at Sunday Mass already. This was, of course, already preceded by the earlier removal of the “octave” (and almost all other octaves) during the “reform” of the liturgical calendar, which, as a practical matter, had basically destroyed any thought of a novena leading up to Pentecost. The new change, by shortening the time period between the Ascension and Pentecost, did away with any remnants of remaining piety regarding that novena.
Has this change accomplished the goal of restoring this feast to its former (since apostolic times) glory? I think not. What the day change said, in essence, is that for centuries this has been seen as such an important feast day that people would willingly give up a day’s salary if that is what it took to attend Mass. But, as with all “traditional” things, the Church was wrong. She was just making a mountain out of a molehill and, now that we are more enlightened, we know how silly all that was. So go about your normal Thursday business. The apostles and the Blessed Mother had spent nine days in the upper room praying for the coming of the Holy Ghost, which Our Lord had promised to send after he returned to Our Father in Heaven. They had set for us the example of a true novena but they didn’t understand as well as we now do that too much prayer is not good for us. So let’s chuck the whole thing, laugh about how foolish our ancestors in the Faith had been, and go about doing more important things like sleep in, or make money, or watch reruns of Wheel of Fortune rather than attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on a Thursday.
Don’t get me wrong, though. Just because I am pointing out the failure of the new, hip, easy liturgical calendar to emphasize the importance of this feast, that doesn’t mean that the questions asked in the first paragraph are properly answered simply by reverting to the older form of the “new” calendar or even by reverting to the 1962 calendar which most of us follow here at Epiphany. Far from it. I still need a greater understanding of this solemn celebration and I need to find good ways to pass on that education to you. Once traditions have been lost for even a relatively short time, it is very difficult to bring them back to their original glory. But no tradition can be restored by downplaying its importance or by ignoring the symbolic significance (40 days has great symbolism throughout all of scripture). So, unlike those priests bound to the new calendar, I have the opportunity to bring you this feast on its proper day, Thursday. This coming Thursday, May 25. You will have (as will anyone else, even those Catholics who don’t normally attend the Traditional Latin Mass) three Masses available. The first is at 6:30 am, the second at 8:00 am, and the third at 7:00 pm. The Bishops have removed the Obligation of attending on Thursday, but coming out of devotion is even more meritorious.
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Mother’s Day and Ordinations
This Sunday is Mother’s Day! Of course, you knew that already, either because you really remembered it or else because somebody near and dear slapped you upside the head when you forgot. You would think that a day which helps us keep the fourth commandment would be an easy one for Catholics to remember. You would think that a day which commemorates someone so necessary for one’s very life would never go unheralded. You would think...wrongly. Why, you ask? Because men. That’s it. No further explanation needed. No verbs, no adverbs, no adjectives, no conditional clauses, no nothing. Because men. Every girl and woman remembers Mother’s Day every year. Not just those who expect a Mother’s Day card, gift or, at least, acknowledgment. No. All females throughout the land know and prepare for, in some manner and fashion, Mother’s Day. They do something for their own mother. They do something for their husband’s mother. They help their own small children draw colorful Mother’s Day cards and then delight in the “surprise” when they receive them. They remind their boyfriends (remember, these are not all the same women with husbands and children and boyfriends!) to do something for the perhaps future mother-in-law. And, when the big day comes, they remember. Yet huge numbers of men, who have been reminded in numerous ways for weeks on end, forget. Men and women, believe it or not, are different. Only women can be mothers and only men can be priests. What? How did I jump to that? Husband-fathers, priest-fathers. Both groups are reserved for men. Or, if you like to whine, you may prefer it to be stated that both groups discriminate against women. As God ordained from the beginning. Oh, look! I took the topic of Mothers and transitioned to men, then to priests and now with the inclusion of God and the word “ordained” I get to adroitly introduce the next paragraph. That was so smooth you probably didn’t even realize I did it. Unless you read the last couple of sentences, anyway. So don’t read them, please. Or, unread them. Or something.
One of these men (who may or may not have forgotten Mother’s Day), Deacon Elixavier Castro, will be ordained to the blessedly discriminating Priesthood this coming Saturday, May 20. The Ordination Mass will be held at the Cathedral of St. Jude the Apostle in St. Petersburg at 11:00 am and all are welcome to attend. (I have canceled the Saturday morning Adult Catechism Class so that I can attend his Ordination Mass.) The faithful are also invited to a Vespers service wherein we will pray Evening Prayer at Christ the King in Tampa, specifically asking God’s most bountiful blessings upon him. That will occur the night before the ordination, Friday, May 19, at 7:00 pm.(I will also miss our Family Rosary and Game Night so that I can be there praying for him.)
Now, after writing this, you would think that I will remember Mother’s Day. I can tell you from past experience that you just may remember...wrongly. Why? Because men. That’s right. Did you already forget that only men are priests? (Read this with a Tarzan voice:) “Father, man. Not woman. Not ape. Man.” (Sorry if I forgot you, mom! And sign my brother’s name to that apology as well.)
And now to tie this all up nice and sweet. With a bow. Like a girl would do. While we are on these topics, have you ever read the document from the Congregation for Clergy titled, “Eucharistic Adoration for the Sanctification of Priests and Spiritual Maternity”? It encourages all women to join the Blessed Virgin Mary in prayer for the men who share in the true Priesthood of her Son, Jesus. It encourages women (blessed discrimination!) to become Spiritual Mothers, and does so in a delightful way. In which other document would you ever find quips like this:
Every priest has a birth mother, and often she is a spiritual mother for her children as well. For example, Giuseppe Sarto, the future Pope Pius X, visited his 70-year-old mother after being ordained a bishop. She kissed her son’s ring and, suddenly pensive, pointed out her own simple silver wedding band saying, “Yes, Giuseppe, you would not be wearing that ring if I had not first worn mine.” Pope St. Pius X rightfully confirms his experience that, “Every vocation to the priesthood comes from the heart of God, but it goes through the heart of a mother!”
It is on account of this document that our Spiritual Mother’s group (Happy Mother’s Day, ladies!) publicly prays for priests every Wednesday after the 8:00 am Mass during Adoration. I have put a link to the document up on our parish website and encourage you to read this delightful document. Women, Spiritual Mothers, do not forget to pray for their sons, not once a year, but every single day. Why? Because Mother Mary.
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Welcome Fr. Emmanuel Ndechihiro
In September of 2013 I wrote a bulletin article introducing Fr. Emmanuel Ndechihiro to the people of St. Anthony of Padua, where I was currently pastor. This holy young priest was coming to study at the nearby St. Leo University and would reside at our parish. He has now graduated (magna cum laude!) and is going to be staying here at Epiphany until the new school year starts in August, when he will be heading to West Florida University in Pensacola to obtain a Master’s Degree. I will now introduce him to you by letting you read the original article. As you will see, this was also his introduction to my sometimes odd writings. The poor man didn’t know what he was getting into!
This week Father Emmanuel came to the United States for the first time. He is a priest of the Diocese of Dodoma, Tanzania in Africa. He previously studied in Italy and now his Bishop has sent him to St. Leo University for further studies. There was a delay in getting his student visa so he was not able to get here before classes began. I have not yet even been able to introduce him to our Bishop since he arrived over the Labor Day holiday weekend. Those of you who were not vacationing (and attending Mass elsewhere, of course!) last weekend met him briefly but even then our diocesan Director of Vocations, Fr. Carl Melchior, got most of the attention as he preached about Vocations at all of the Masses.
I highly encourage you to get to know Fr. Emmanuel while he is here. You can learn from him about Africa and he can learn from you about the United States. Even simple things, like what types of foods and beverages are typical American fare for breakfast, lunch, and dinner are right now quite foreign to him. Even though he will be taking classes I assume that he is going to have much more free time than your typical parish priest (me) since he will not be responsible for operating and maintaining the parish and school. Trust me, it won’t hurt my feelings if he gets invited to do things without me. So ask him out for a meal, a family outing to a theme park, a pilgrimage to your favorite shrine, a fishing trip or even a home Mass or house blessing. He will be living with me here at St. Anthony and is blissfully ignorant of what I am writing about him in this column.
Now for the fun part. I get to tell you some of the more interesting parts of Father’s life that he has not shared with me but which I will gladly pass on to you as if they really occurred. To begin with, he came from an average size Tanzanian family. He was number 16 of twenty-four siblings. Not all of them survived to adulthood, as two brothers were carried away by large ants, one sister was snatched up by a condor and another fell down the rather deep hole of a little-known animal, the burrowing wildebeest. The rest all lived together in a three-room dirt floor hut along with several aunts and uncles and their maternal grandparents.
In the village where he lived the people had community livestock for food, raising such barnyard animals as hyenas for their meat and hides and toucans for their eggs and feathers. They had even managed to tame several giraffes which the tallest women would milk daily. They sheared them once a year like sheep and the girls would weave the giraffe fleece into clothing for the men, while the women wore the decorated hyena hides. Banana vines and sweet potato trees were abundant in the wild and did not need to be cultivated.
For the larger festivals (Catholic Holy Days, such as Christmas, Easter and the feast of St. Anthony) the men would hunt a young hippopotamus or baby elephant (even small ones feed a lot of people and only the young ones are tender) and roast them whole on a spit the traditional way. The men would take turns cranking the bamboo rotisserie for the better part of the day while drinking fermented papaya juice and telling tall tales. The women and children would spend the day gathering and cooking the side dishes such as beetles, grub worms, and crickets, and the children would often eat just as many of the bugs as they put into their baskets.
I am sure Father could captivate you with many more such tales, perhaps of adolescent pranks (rhinoceros tipping anyone?), chivalry and proper manners (the man walks on the snake infested side of the jungle path while out on a date, for instance) and such things much better than I. So introduce yourself, get to know him and let him get to know your family as well. You certainly don’t want your entire knowledge of his life to come from what you just read!
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Judas was the first to deny Jesus in the Eucharist
This is one of the greatest days in the lives of many young children within the parish. It is the day that they receive Holy Communion for the first time. This Sacrament is the one toward which all other sacraments point. This is called the Most Blessed Sacrament, the one that stands above all the others, for even though the others bestow God’s supernatural grace, this Sacrament is God Himself.
A sad reality is that so many people, to what may eventually be their eternal shame, adamantly refuse to believe this Truth. This hardness of heart is nothing new. In what is called the “Bread of Life Discourse” in the Gospel of John, when Jesus clearly spells out what will happen at every future valid Mass, many people simply cannot believe that He is telling the Truth. Jesus plainly tells the people that He is the Bread from Heaven. He will give His Flesh to eat and His Blood to drink. He tells everybody that those who eat His Flesh and drink His Blood will have eternal life. He restates this several times, insisting that His Flesh is true food and His Blood is true drink, that He is the Bread of Life and that the Bread that He will give is His Flesh for the life of the world. The people listening to Him knew that He was speaking absolutely literally. No one took Him to be speaking in parables or figuratively or symbolically. And because they could not accept this literal Truth, many turned from following Him and walked away. As He watched them go, He invited the Apostles to leave if they, too, did not believe. When they opted to stay with Him, He pointed out that one among them, the one who would betray Him, did not believe Him. He even went so far as to call His betrayer, this apostate Apostle, Judas, a devil. Later in John’s Gospel, at the Last Supper (the first Mass and the first reception of Holy Communion) it is pointed out that when Judas, the non-believer of what we now term Transubstantiation (where the substance of bread and wine change into the substance of the full humanity and full divinity of Jesus) ate the morsel, Satan entered into him. He then left quickly to betray Jesus and hand Him over to be crucified. (Have no qualms about stating the obvious in this regard: Judas is now and will be forever in hell. Our Lord ominously and specifically stated, “The Son of man indeed goeth, as it is written of him: but woe to that man by whom the Son of man shall be betrayed: it were better for him, if that man had not been born.” Were the betrayer even in purgatory, even if for the entire time from his death until the General Judgement, it would not have been better for him to have not been born, for he would eventually reach Heaven. No, only Hell is a worse fate than non-existence.) So here we see the Satanic possession of this unbelieving Apostle at the first Mass. It is the first recorded mortal sin related to unworthy reception of Holy Communion. Jesus, the second Person of the Holy Trinity had said, “This is My Body. This is My Blood.” Yet Judas said interiorly, “You lie. I know better. This is only bread and wine. I do not believe You. You must not be God.” He will regret his arrogant lack of faith for all eternity.
The children receiving this Sacrament of the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus will be receiving with the full faith of the other eleven Apostles. They know that Jesus, as stated by St. Peter, has “the words of eternal life.” When He says that something is true it is true even if we cannot fully comprehend it. Our children are receiving Jesus and they know it. They are joyfully and faithfully uniting themselves to Him and He is uniting Himself to them. This unity is a foretaste of the perfect unity they will experience in Heaven. Those who reject this unity with Christ in this life will be hard pressed to justify desiring the complete fulfillment of this unity in the next.
Today I ask you to pray for the conversion of those who may or may not even know that they need conversion yet whose souls are in danger because they, like Judas, do not believe everything our Lord taught: those who do not believe our Lord’s teaching that He founded the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church; that He instituted the seven Sacraments; that He is present in the Eucharist, which is confected only by a validly ordained Priest; that participation in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is obligatory on all Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation; and that one must ordinarily be Catholic and in a state of Grace to receive Holy Communion. Pray for the whole of mankind to be as fully, faithfully and joyfully Catholic as these children who celebrate their First Holy Communion today. In short, pray that we all become Saints.
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Thank You for a “Good” Lent and Easter!
Holy Week and Easter Week have now come and gone for another year. I have received many, many compliments and accolades and thanks for the beautiful Holy Week and Easter Masses and prayers we offered here. While I certainly appreciate it, I truthfully cannot take credit for most of what you found mentally and emotionally enriching and spiritually uplifting. I cannot tell you how many people worked long hours to make our parish celebrations as spiritually beautiful as possible, but there were quite a few. The pastor, believe it or not, does not make Mass and other liturgical services “good” by himself. He can, if he is a real jerk, or tries to be “innovative” in all things, or wants to be the center of attention, make everything “bad” all by himself. But the Mass and other liturgies celebrated and led by a less than stellar, average, or superior priest will all be made “good” almost exclusively by those who assist him. (I put quotation marks around the words “good” and “bad” because, in their essence, all Catholic liturgy is “good” and not “bad”. But the external trappings of, and experience of, even things which are “good” in essence, can be either “good” or “bad”.) The people of both Epiphany of Our Lord and St. Joseph Vietnamese Mission made the priests here look pretty darn “good” by all the effort they put into our celebrations. Thank you all for what you have done!
Nobody except God knows the answers to the following questions but even without answers, it can become apparent that the above paragraph is not just false modesty coming from the pastor! How many hours did the choir practice? How much effort did it take to set aside, at least temporarily and inconveniently, family necessities in order to practice the multiple chants and musical settings? How much anxiety did our altar boys go through as they prepared to tackle once-a-year liturgies, worrying about what would happen if they forgot something, or did something wrong, whether large or small in detail? How many of their family members had to sit around twiddling their thumbs (or praying!) after bringing in altar boys an hour early so that they could practice and get ready for the “big events”? How many parishioners went out of their way to welcome the newcomers to our parish (and to our country, for that matter), be it with simple greetings or with elaborate introductions to our Easter customs? How many elderly people did a huge penance by attending evening Stations or early morning Tenebraes when it was a struggle to drive in the dark? How many people came into the church or hall and saw something not quite “right” and either cleaned it up or rearranged it or fixed it? How many of our parish employees, after spending the day here on the job, spent the evening hours here, too, even though everybody, knowing that they have keys and knowledge of where everything is, puts them right back to work? How many parishioners, after forty days of fasting, praying and almsgiving, still came back willingly and joyfully to the loooooonnnnnng (relative to the newer, truncated, anemic versions which many or most of us grew up with and still think of as the “norm”) Holy Triduum Masses and prayers? How many “how manys” can I think of? There will always be more that go unmentioned. But add up all of those “how manys” and you will see a congregation (actually, two congregations here!) with not only Faith but with a true spirit of self-denial. They--you--were willing to work extra hard, travel extra miles, pray extra long, lose extra sleep, spend extra money, and empty yourself in many other ways, all for the Glory of God, for your own sanctification, and for the salvation of others for whom you offered it all up. Thank you all. You are the ones who made all of these Masses and services “good”!
So many of you expressed concern about how tired I either would be or was after all of this. Let me tell you a secret. You might not realize it but I don’t have ten kids or 34 grandkids to take care of (with both normal stuff and holiday extras like fitting with new Easter outfits, filling Easter baskets, painting Easter eggs, etc.), a wife to please, a “job” to attend to outside of all of these prayers and Masses, a 50 minute commute to and from church, in-laws to visit as well as parents, keeping track of when to take or give dozens of medications, or how to schedule visits to the cardiologist, urologist, gastrologist, hematologist, dermatologist, endocrinologist, and ologistologist, and so many other things that most of you have to deal with. Yep, right now I am in a sweet spot. Not too young of a priest that I think I have to do everything myself and not too old to be completely broken down. Thanks for your concern, but I am more concerned about YOU! Parishioners certainly need their priest to stay holy and healthy but priests also most certainly need their parishioners to do the same.
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Happy Easter especially to those who have fallen away!
Easter Sunday is one of the biggest days of the Church year in more ways than one. First of all, it is the day proof positive that Jesus is the Son of God, the Messiah, the One who fulfills all of the prophecies of the Old Testament, the Savior of the world. He was not simply resuscitated, coming back to the same life as He had before, but rather Resurrected, coming back to a whole new manner of life. This new life is one that we all plan on participating in, one with a completely glorified human body and a perfect human soul, sharing in His divinity for all eternity in the splendor of Heaven.
But Easter is also one of the biggest days of the Church year as far as bringing back fallen away Catholics. This column is specifically aimed at you if you fall into that category. Perhaps you don’t consider yourself a fallen away Catholic, though, unless you have been away from the Church and Her sacraments for a period of years or even decades. I, however, am including you in this category if you have been away from the Church and Her sacraments even if just for a period of one or two weeks!
You see, it is only in remaining in direct contact with God in this life that we can possibly hope to be in direct contact with Him in the next. He unites Himself with us totally in the seven Sacraments. These channels of grace are the primary paths of supernatural love, mercy, and strength that He has given us. Rejecting them by, say, purposefully missing Mass for even one Sunday or Holy Day of Obligation, not to mention years at a time, says without words, “Jesus, You died for my salvation, yet I reject Your Holy Sacrifice; You offer Heaven, but I prefer Hell.” Faking a sacrament says the same thing. Instances of this would include faking the sacrament of Holy Matrimony through sex outside of marriage (with others or self) or by getting “married”, perhaps even legally, without the blessing of the Church; or faking the sacrament of Confession by pretending to “go directly to God” while rejecting the absolution He offers through His priests.
Still more instances of rejecting or faking sacraments, which happen not infrequently, include failing to Baptize children, by which parents withhold the supernatural graces necessary for salvation; failure to receive Confirmation, which shows that “mature” Catholics think they have no need of the Gifts of the Holy Ghost; receiving Holy Communion in a state of mortal sin, which is akin to tossing Jesus into a cesspool; rejecting God’s call to Holy Orders or the religious life; or delaying the Sacrament of the Sick to avoid “scaring” the dying loved one. All of these are serious sins! But why point out these dangers to the soul on such a holy day? Because there is an incredible means of repairing any damage to your relationship with God coming up next week. I want to reach the “fallen aways” today so that I can invite all of you to next week’s Divine Mercy celebration.
Next Sunday is Divine Mercy Sunday. About a century ago, our Lord Jesus appeared to Sister (now Saint) Faustina and told her of an incredible outpouring of His Mercy that He would make available to anyone, even the most hardened of sinners or the most naively innocent “fallen away” Catholic, on the Sunday after Easter. He will offer complete remission of sin (and even its due punishment!) to all who will spend just a little bit of time meditating on, praying for, and acting in accordance to, His Mercy. He has made it so easy to get back into His grace (and thereby headed for Heaven once again) that it would seem to be too good to be true if it weren’t Jesus who made the promise.
Hardened sinners, those who have knowingly committed grave sins for long periods of time, may have despaired of ever being able to become a Saint. Divine Mercy Sunday is God’s gift to them so that they can be forgiven and made holy. The other fallen away Catholics, those who don’t really see much wrong with their immoral actions, even though they know the Church calls them mortal sins, can also find the supernatural graces that they have been unknowingly missing out on.
Come next Sunday afternoon at 2:30. We will recite the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. I will hear confessions and absolve repentant sinners. No sin is too great to be removed; no sinner who repents is too evil to be loved and brought back to a state of Grace. Afraid of lightning striking? But you will die in a state of grace and go to Heaven! Examine your conscience. Repent of all known sins. Confess those sins. Do your penance. Remember the Scripture passage, “I say to you, that even so there shall be joy in heaven upon one sinner that doth penance, more than upon ninety-nine just who need not penance”! You will receive Divine Mercy! Jesus promises that your soul will be pure once again. He loves you that much.
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Holy Week
This week is called Holy Week. It marks the end of the penitential season of Lent and, with the special Masses and other liturgical services, Holy Mother Church makes sure that the Faithful understand that no one can get to Easter but by way of Our Lord’s Passion and Cross. The liturgies bring out into the open that our hope of resurrection, our entrance into Heaven, which, as Christ so clearly revealed, depends not only on His dying and rising, but also on us taking up our own individual crosses and following Him. No cross, no conquering death. No suffering, no rejoicing. No faithful following in His path, no spending eternity with Him, either.
Please be sure to check the calendar in the bulletin and online several times to be sure you show up on time and don’t show up when nothing is going on. The schedule changes for the last part of Holy Week. For instance, this Thursday, Friday, and Saturday there are no morning Masses. Driving three minutes to get to Mass only to find the Church empty is a head-scratcher and then, as it dawns on you what happen, a bummer. But driving 55 minutes to church and having the same thing happen might bring one very close to committing one or more serious sin!
There are also several liturgical “treats” this week. For instance, there are Tenebrae Services from 6:30 to 9:00 am on Good Friday and Holy Saturday. Last year we only had one on Good Friday. At these services (not Masses) several members of the choir will chant psalms and biblical canticles and a series of 15 candles will be extinguished in an orderly and solemn fashion. It is a beautiful, prayerful service. Last year 21 people plus choir and two priests were present and they begged for all three Triduum day Tenebrae services to be offered this year. We are still one short, but one more than last year. It makes for an early and long time of prayer, but what a blessed way to begin those days of Our Lord’s sufferings!
On Holy Thursday, although there is no morning Mass, we will celebrate (at 8:00 pm) what is commonly known as the Mass of the Lord’s Supper. This Mass brings to mind the fulfillment of the Passover, which the Chosen People had celebrated for generations without realizing that God was using this commemoration to prepare them for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. At this Mass, the Apostles were shown the amazing true meaning of the unleavened bread and the saving blood of the Lamb. The Eucharist and the Priesthood are, though perhaps not completely understood by the Apostles until after the Holy Ghost came upon the remaining 11 of them at Pentecost, instituted on that “fateful” night.
Good Friday (did I mention that there is no Mass at any time on Good Friday?) we will commemorate the Passion of Our Lord with a liturgy of prayers, scripture readings, a Communion Service and Veneration of the Cross beginning at 3:00 pm.
Holy Saturday services (remember: no Mass in the morning) also includes the Polish tradition of Blessing the Easter Baskets. That will occur in the church at 10:00 am. Bring your Easter Baskets for the blessing! They should be filled with meats (kielbasa, ham, bacon), butter (in the shape of a lamb, if possible) and too many other foods to list here. See the bulletin insert for more information. And, please don’t forget that there is no 5:00 pm Novus Ordo Vigil Mass that day. But there will be the intensely spiritual Easter Vigil and Mass after dark on Holy Saturday night (8:30 pm). We do not have anybody being baptized or brought into the fullness of the Faith this year, so the Mass will actually be a little bit shorter than what you would expect! Although on the surface that seems like a good thing, it means that we are not bringing anyone new into the Church at Epiphany this year. That is something that we don’t want to become a norm. Do all that you can to encourage non-Catholics to enter the Church for the sake of their salvation. You know how important your Catholic Faith truly is; now share those graces with others by encouraging their conversion! Bring them to the Holy Week and Easter services and Masses. What a great introduction to Catholicism that will be.
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
PS Today I want to introduce to you James McCoy, our newest office staff member and parishioner of Epiphany. You may recognize him from the 6:30 daily and 10:30 Sunday Masses.
From the Pastor: Conference. First Holy Communion. Other Stuff.
Last weekend we hosted a conference featuring Michael Voris and two local speakers, Dr. David McKalip and Travis Ferguson. It was, even with short notice and without special advertising, a full house. Our Catholic Women’s group did a bang up job of taking care of every need, including setting up--and cleaning up--everything, from the social hall to the outdoor registration, to the parish room where lunch was served. They worked tirelessly (or, at least, selflessly) for two days before the conference, throughout the conference itself, and even after everyone else had gone home. Thank you, ladies! (I will not mention anyone by name, lest I leave out any of the women or their sons or husbands, whom they recruited to do some of the grunt work, too.) The speakers, from what I understand, gave wonderful presentations. (I had to miss most of it due to a funeral, but I heard exactly zero complaints, which is a miracle in itself, and received many, many compliments--as if I had anything to do with how well the speakers did!). The talks given by Michael Voris were recorded by his crew and should be available on his site (ChurchMilitant.com) within a few weeks, after editing is complete. The rest of the talks, as far as I know, were not recorded. Too bad. I wanted to hear them myself.
On to different subjects. Although we have not yet entered into Holy Week (which is coming up next week) we are already planning for First Holy Communion, which will be two short weeks after Easter. This is a friendly reminder: We need baptism certificates for all children who are to receive their First Holy Communion (and, soon enough, Confirmation). If you somehow forgot to register your child for this sacrament and they are properly prepared, please go online to our parish webpage and fill out the needed information. First Holy Communion will take place this year on April 30. Confirmation is still scheduled for the day before Pentecost, June 3, at 1:00 pm, but we are still waiting to hear if Bishop Parkes will be able to celebrate it for us on that day. Get ready for a last minute change if he needs to adjust the schedule. Our now-retired bishop, thinking he would be too sickly to perform many Confirmations himself, had told the pastors to schedule Confirmations for any date/time they wished, as he would simply give each pastor delegation to confirm at his own parish (as happened here last year). So Bishop Parkes did not “inherit” a well-planned, orderly schedule! Now he is trying to fit in as many as possible. For us, he also has to learn the Traditional Rite of Confirmation, adding a small additional burden if he should be able to come. So now you can see one more reason to pray for him in his new assignment in our diocese!
Time for yet another change of subject. The roof of the chapel has been leaking badly every time it rains, so we have a tarp over it. The roof of the old school, now used as meeting rooms, classrooms, etc., has long been leaking. The roof of the rectory, though not yet leaking, is the same age as the others. We have received quotes from many roofers and are finally getting everything in order to get the roofs replaced. We are, as of this writing, simply waiting on the diocese to give us permission to spend our money on something so desperately needed. The final cost will be (gulp) over $100,000. Thanks be to God we have the money in reserve, but we will need to build our reserve up once again to cover any further big projects like this, which is routine maintenance. So please check with God and find out if you are giving to His Church as He would have you give. I am not going to set up a special campaign or collection for this, as this is the type of thing that should be anticipated and saved for as part of regular budgeting, the same as you would do for your house. But this is a good time to remember that just meeting our daily expenses is not enough. There must always be money set aside for a rainy day. In the case of leaking roofs, the idiom becomes literal.
Finally, get ready to fulfill Our Lady of Fatima’s requests for prayer on five consecutive First Saturdays, beginning in May. More information will be coming to you soon but mark your calendars already for the mornings of May 6, June 3, July 1, August 5 and September 2. The Adult Catechism Classes will be pushed back about 20-30 minutes those First Saturdays to accommodate what we have in store for you! (And the June 3 CCC classes might be canceled if the Bishop is coming for Confirmations that day. We will know more as we get closer.)
Be sure to keep up with our parish facebook pages (Epiphany Families, Epiphany Homeschoolers, Help for the Amani Family, and AHG Troop FL 0106), and our website, EpiphanyTampa.com for news and information and scheduling at our parish. Or at least read the bulletin.
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka