He only shuts up when he is writing!
From the Pastor: Praying the Rosary at Mass
A week or so ago I shared on facebook an article asking and answering the question “Is praying the Rosary during Mass correct?” I had just recently been asked that question (it comes up quite a bit, since so many people condemn the Traditional Latin Mass and, by extension, those who attend it, by using the tiresome image of the Tridentine Mass being a drudgery better laid to rest because nobody understood what was going on anyway, “proved” by the little old ladies who just prayed their rosaries to pass the time wasted each Sunday at that terrible old Mass) and this article did a fine job of answering it. If you don’t know, the answer is, plainly and simply, “Yes”. The article quoted two Popes, Pius XII and Leo XIII, and several documents from other official Church sources to explain the positive answer. I have, at other times, used explanations of “the proper way to hear Mass” from The Baltimore Book of Prayers to show that this is true, and I suspect that there are quite a few other sources which would back up this assertion.
But, boy oh boy, did it bring out the comments. 76 comments, 43 likes/reactions and 5 shares, last I checked. And more people have contacted me about it who didn’t want to put their comments on facebook because a couple of the commenters were “fighting” with each other. Here is the question which seems to now be a sticking point in all of this. “Even if it is permissible to pray the Rosary at Mass, isn’t it better to NOT do so?” The argument that praying the Rosary at Mass is bad seems to have been made so often and so vociferously that people just cannot fathom that it is a good way to pray the Mass with full, active, conscious participation! But who is to say which method of prayer is best? Even though the efficaciousness and merit are greater in a Solemn High Mass than in a Low Mass, not even that affects whether an individual has truly prayed with full, active, conscious participation at either one. Let me draw this out a little. If praying the Rosary is, as it was put in the FB comments, “not as appropriate” or of a “lesser level of participation” due to its silly meditations (NB all sarcasm in this piece is my own) on the Lord’s life, death and resurrection and our Lady’s Assumption and Coronation, rather than on the Mass (which obviously has nothing to do with the just mentioned mysteries of Faith!) then the best--and only really good--way of praying the Mass is to be the priest celebrant! I will not argue against that one, though the corollaries to it might make you wince. Greater “participation” and “appropriateness”, even at a Traditional Latin Mass, according to the modernist way of thinking, come not from praying, but rather from reading the Mass word for word as the priest speaks them. But by this measure, his deacon and subdeacon have only the reading of the “Gospel” and “Lesson” in which they “fully participate”, so their assisting at Mass is pretty much a waste of time. The other altar boys never pick up a missal, so they have zero “good” participation, right along with the rosary-clutching dolts in the pews. Choir members sing over the priest as he is reciting his silent prayers, so they have less than zero participation, as they actively take people’s attention away from their missals and sometimes make even the priest wait as they continue their “anti-participation” chant shenanigans. Parents with children who distract them during Mass? Points off full participation. Did you ever notice the statues and candles and other beautiful and prayerful church trappings? Then they caused “lesser” Mass participation for you! Has your mind ever “wandered” from the missal as the cares of the world ran through your mind? Shame on you, for that is not as “appropriate” as keeping focused on the missal.
But enough. Once you start to look at just what constitutes full, active, conscious participation at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, hopefully you will have your eyes opened to the fact that there are many and various ways of entering deeply into this Ultimate Act of Love. Just as a Carmelite and a Dominican have different spiritualities, and each might find the other’s way of prayer a “lesser form” as far as meeting his own needs, so, too are the pew-sitters different, and each person may find that he prays the Mass better one way or another, and even prays better differently at different stages of life. Are some ways better than others? Certainly. Standing on my head wearing a deep-sea divers helmet, yoga pants, tube top and bunny slippers, while celebrating a Solemn High Mass, is one simple and certain example of a “less appropriate” way of me participating in the Mass. But silently praying the Rosary in the pew is a “lesser level of participation” than what, exactly? Food for thought.
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Starting the New Year with Holy Activities
The New Year begins with a bang this week. Not the celebratory fireworks which are sure to be exploding every night, but rather with holy activities in our parish and diocese. We begin with Fr. Dorvil’s Birthday, which falls on the Feast of the Circumcision of Our Lord, January 1. Happy Birthday to a very holy priest! Many of you don’t know him, even though he lives at Epiphany, since he is in charge of the Immaculate Conception Haitian Mission and celebrates Mass for his flock every Sunday at St. Peter Claver. If you don’t come around during the week, you might never get a chance to meet him, which is a sad loss on your part. He is truly a blessed priest with whom it is a great pleasure to live.
Next comes my nephew Barret’s birthday. You might not know him, either, but he will probably be thrilled to find out that his name made it into the church bulletin. He is the nephew that looks and acts almost exactly like me when I was a young boy, which is to say that he is extremely good looking, very intelligent, quite athletic, humble beyond measure, and almost angelic in nearly every way. Forget all those exaggerated stories my mom always regals you with about my younger years, or the ones my sister will tell about her youngest son. (I might be the only one in the family who doesn’t ever spin yarns or tell tall tales.) Barret and I both came from the womb already wearing halos.
Only three days into the new year we have a big prayerful event, the Vespers Service for our new Bishop, Gregory Parkes, at 7:00 pm on Tuesday night at St. Timothy Catholic Church in Lutz. Everyone is invited to this evening prayer service and no ticket is required for entrance. The address is 17512 Lakeshore Rd, Lutz, FL 33558. If you cannot make it to St. Timothy, you may watch it live on the diocesan webpage, www.dosp.org, or listen to it on the diocesan radio station, FM 90.5, or on the radio station’s webpage, www.myspiritfm.com/. The next day, Wednesday, January 4, Bishop Parkes will be officially installed as our new Bishop at the Cathedral of St. Jude the Apostle. Tickets are necessary to attend this installation Mass and the meager few we were allotted have been given out. Please don’t feel left out if you were not offered one, as there were only ten to go around. You may listen to this installation Mass on the diocesan radio station or webpage as listed above, or watch it on television, as it will be available locally on the following channels: by antenna – 38; Spectrum/Brighthouse – 6 (Standard Def), 1006 (High Def); Frontier/Fios/Verizon – 14 (Standard Def), 514 (High Def); DirectTV – 38; Dish – 38; Comcast – 435. We have not had a new Bishop installed in over twenty years and you may not have been around for it, so this is a big event. Bishop Parkes is only 52 years old, so he may be our Bishop for another twenty or so years, and you may not be around for the next one, either, so don’t take this installation too lightly!
A mere two days later we come to our Parish Feast Day, Epiphany of Our Lord, January 6! This is the “real” Epiphany date marking the traditional coming of the Wise Men to worship the infant Jesus. The Novus Ordo (New Mass) liturgical calendar makes it a changeable date and places Epiphany on the Sunday between January 2 and January 8 (inclusive), so this year it falls on January 8. We don’t have an English Novus Ordo Mass on the 8th, so our calendar is really messed up. Most of our Epiphany Masses will be on Friday, January 6. There will be three Masses from which to choose: a 6:30 am Traditional Latin Epiphany Mass, an 8:00 am Traditional Latin Epiphany Mass (followed by confessions and Adoration) and a 6:00 pm Traditional Latin Epiphany Mass (which will be followed by a potluck dinner). I expect the 6:00 pm Mass will be the big one and invite you all to come to it, regardless of which Mass you usually attend! Then on Saturday, January 7th, which is not Epiphany on any calendar at all this year, the 5:00 pm Vigil Mass will be an Epiphany Mass, since it is the “anticipated” Sunday Mass. O, how I long for the day when we will only have one liturgical calendar to follow!
So mark your calendars! We start this new year running full steam ahead. Be sure you pray a lot for our new bishop and continue praying for the sanctification of our outgoing bishop as well. Both need your prayers as one takes the weight of the Diocese off of his shoulders and passes the burden to the other. May God be merciful to both!
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Family but No Christ at Christmas?
When I set out to write a Christmas column for today’s bulletin, I did a search to see how often Christmas falls on Sunday. Numerous results on the search page caught my Catholic eye. The calendar stuff I was looking for (Christmas last fell on Sunday in 2011 and the next time will be 2022, then not again until 2033) was interesting but not particularly eye catching. Curiously, up popped articles indicating that many Protestant ministers, whose “churches” have no theological reasons for Sunday “worship services”, are having a conundrum about what to do this year because Christmas is a day when their audiences stay home! Stop and think this through and you will see why we need to work so much harder to bring Protestants, not just non-believers, into the fullness of the Faith. Rather than delving into their mistaken notions of what “worship” is and/or why Sunday may or may not be a necessary day to “do” worship under their theology, let me just say that these ministers know that their “worship service” has less value than a day spent at home with the family opening presents. Compare that to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, which has infinitely more value than even the best family gathering!
I do acknowledge that Catholics may think and act in exactly the same way as Protestants do about church attendance on Christmas Sunday, but those Catholics do so against the very teachings of the Church, which obliges them to attend Mass on all Sundays and Holy Days (including Christmas) because it is essential for salvation and is the primary means of sanctifying the entire day, which God Almighty commands. At a Protestant website questioning ministers about what their plans were for dealing with Christmas falling on a Sunday, the responses were shocking: “We plan to have five Christmas Eve worship services on December 24,” and nothing on Sunday the 25th. Another pastor who also would have no Sunday services this year said, “We are doing Christmas Eve services and all of our marketing will point toward it...” Sigh. He is ”marketing” the fact that he has nothing to offer anyone on Christmas. Yet he, like the others, is not ashamed of it. Still another said, “We’ll do a production of sorts on Friday and Saturday.” That’s sad on multiple levels. Furthermore, the people asking the questions stated, “Most churches we talked to are putting their focus on Friday and Saturday nights, while taking Sunday off.” Wow! Christ takes second place to Christmas presents on Christmas in Christian “churches”. A different Protestant website showing up on the search page quoted a minister who said that on Christmas he “will offer about 45 minutes of Christmas music accompanied by acoustic guitar, banjo and mandolin. I’ll do a brief sermon, and then we’re going home.” Also highlighted were novelties, like the “15 minute communion service” for those with better things to do on Christmas than “worship” but want to have the “eucharist”, and the “bathrobe and pajamas” service, and those who are also taking off New Year’s Day since it, too, falls on a Sunday. But enough. You get the picture.
Following the Traditional Latin Mass Calendar helps to combat such nonsense. You see, once the Novus Ordo calendar introduced the odd notion that Saturday afternoon/evening Masses fulfilled the Sunday obligation, many Catholic Church members have been behaving more and more like the Protestants unhappily noted above. Saturday night (in this case, Christmas Eve) becomes a substitute for setting aside a full day as a Holy Day dedicated to Our Lord, and the Sunday or Holy Day loses its essential meaning. In many Catholic parishes, Christmas Eve Masses are packed and, Sunday or not, Christmas Day Masses are nearly empty. Even what used to be the biggest Mass, Midnight Mass, has, in most parishes, been held the day before, (Christmas Eve, at 8, 9 or 10 pm) rather than as the first Mass of Christmas Day. It is just another Vigil Mass and is only called “Midnight” Mass as if to placate the “old-timers” who wanted a real one.
We are called to celebrate the Day of Christ’s Birth, not “Open Presents Day”. We “accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior” by participating in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, not a “Worship Service” or “a production of sorts”. Midnight Mass is the largest Mass, not because it is at a convenient time, but because Tradition tells us that the Birth took place at this hour and those able to stay awake (and drive!) want to be among the first to worship and adore the Newborn King. How sad that so many Catholics and Protestants are so far removed from the true meaning of both Christmas and the Mass that they want to shortchange Jesus and just do what is easy, quick and convenient, or novel. This Christmas, please pray for conversions all around. The Holy Infant, Whose birth we celebrate, is the Savior Who gave us the Mass as certainly as He gave us His Life.
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: God’s Perfect Timing
Last week proved once again that God’s timing is pretty incredible. For the first time since arriving at Epiphany, I caught a cold. I am certainly not complaining about going a year and a half without getting sick! But my throat was sore, my nose was stuffy and running, my ears were plugged and a hacking cough threatened to turn my lungs inside out. While the evening Mass for the Immaculate Conception was pretty tough to sing, I knew that Sunday would have been nearly impossible. Fortunately, God had it all set up in advance so that Fr. Vincent, who has been celebrating the Sunday morning low Mass quite a bit, gaining confidence with every Mass celebrated, was finally ready to celebrate our 10:30 Sung Mass for the first time. What a relief. As difficult as it was to celebrate the silent Mass while striving mightily to not sneeze, cough or blow my nose, having those same struggles while chanting and using incense would have been much more of a challenge! So I was truly blessed. By the way, I credit Our Lady of Good Health with my long stretch of remaining illness-free, so if you could offer her a prayer of thanks, I would appreciate it.
While I am writing about my cold, let also give some advice about what to do when your priest has an illness. First and foremost, pray for him! Prayer against physical evil, while not as necessary as prayer against moral evil, is still important. So please pray that I return quickly to good health and that I stay healthy. But in the meantime, realize that I have no choice but to celebrate Mass and hear confessions. That means that if you have a severe immune disorder, you might want to refrain from receiving Holy Communion or Confession from any priest while he is sick! That used to be what our elders called “common sense” but nowadays is seen as some sort of punishment or, dare I write this foul word, bullying. “How dare you tell me that I cannot receive Communion,” today’s average Catholic would harrumph. “Who are you to tell me to stay in my pew? I might as well stay home, then, since you have excommunicated me!” No, you have an obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days but you only have an obligation to receive Holy Communion (while in a state of grace) once a year, around Easter. Many Saints and “ordinary” people attended even daily Mass (non-obligatory) while receiving Holy Communion only rarely. How many, in years gone by, Catholic school teachers, along with the entire student body, began the day attending the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass yet almost never received Holy Communion because, of necessity, they broke the fast with breakfast before leaving home? Still, Mass attendance was understood to be a great gift, an essential part of their Catholic education and upbringing. Their feelings were not hurt when “all” they were able to do was prayerfully accompany Our Lord as He offered His Life for theirs. As for confessions, if Father is sick and you are prone to easily catching illnesses, you may wish to wait until after his recovery to approach for a purely devotional confession, as you are both breathing in the same air in a tight, enclosed space. On the other hand, if your immune system is in good shape, you likely need not worry about either Communion or Confessions. Only you know how easily you pick up germs. Lastly on this topic, Father simply cannot make hospital calls during his illness unless the person is dying. Giving a cold to someone who is trying to recuperate could cause severe problems. It is not, obviously, an issue for those already on their deathbed.
Back to God’s timing being perfect. We have been having an unusually dry autumn but when we did finally get rain, we really got a hard, driving rain. Whichever direction the wind was blowing was exactly the way necessary to make the water come pouring in through the chapel ceiling. Why is this good timing? Well, we had a leak in the chapel quite some months ago and got it patched. Our secretary was getting quotes on getting the roofs (to this priest’s untrained eyes, the chapel, rectory, and school all seem to have the same type and age of roof and the same need of repair/replacement) but she went out on medical leave and hasn’t yet returned, so nobody followed up on this. Now we are able to get some quotes and might have a better job done when it is not 100 degrees outside with thunderstorms every afternoon. If we didn’t get just the right rain with just the right wind at just this time, we probably would have forgotten about the roof problems until next summer. As I said, good timing. We have a lot of wood, duct work, drywall, and carpet to replace (and re-install a reredos and altar rail, perhaps?). If you would like to help, let me know!
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Rorate Coeli Mass!
This coming Saturday, December 17, we will have our first Advent Rorate Mass at 6:30 am. For those of you who attend the Traditional Latin Mass on Saturday mornings, you have already joined in the praying of this votive Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary many times already. The introit begins, “Rorate coeli desuper et nubes pluant justum” (translation below). As you probably know, when a Mass has a “name” it is usually, as is true in this case, taken from the first word or two of the introit of the Mass. This particular introit, or introduction to the Mass, is taken from both the prophecy of Isaias 45:8, “(Rorate coeli desuper...” (or, in English) “Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the just: let the earth be opened, and bud forth a savior” and from the prophecy of Psalm 84:2, “Lord, thou hast blessed thy land: thou hast turned away the captivity of Jacob.” (If you don’t recognize the spelling of Isaias and think it is just Isaiah spelled wrong, now is a good time to realize that there are many small and great differences in various Bible translations. The TLM will generally quote from the Vulgate, whose best English liturgical translation is the Douay Rheims Version. Names do not always have the same spelling as you might be used to if you grew up with the Novus Ordo Mass and its New American Bible translation. Some Old Testament books even have different names and are in a different order than the NAB, too. Also, the Psalms will sometimes have different numbers for not only the individual Psalm itself, but also the verses. So if you check the NAB for the above quoted Ps. 84:2 you will instead find, “How lovely your dwelling, O LORD of hosts!” The NAB has our Mass quotation listed as Psalm 85:2 and unless you know that there can be discrepancies like this in various versions, you will, if you check the reference, think there is a misprint. Be careful! Even at the often-helpful biblehub.com online, which compares translations of many bible versions, they misrepresent the Douay Rheims to make if fit the protestant versions, so Psalm 85 is mislabled as if it is Psalm 84 so that it matches up. But that is all just an aside.)
So what makes this Rorate Mass (or, Rorate Coeli Mass) different from the other Rorate Masses which we already have celebrated here? The Advent Rorate Masses are celebrated in darkness, with only candlelight to illuminate the church. As the Mass continues, the daylight grows stronger, as if the signified Light of the World, Jesus Christ, is finally dawning upon us. The Savior is bud forth in the East (or Orient, which, as another aside, is why the term ad orientem--to the east--is used when the priest faces at least liturgical east like the congregation, all looking expectantly to the Orient for the return of Our Lord in His Majestic Glory), the land is blessed, and the Christians (Catholics are the true Christians) are set free from the dark captivity of sin. He came to save us from our sin, to bring light to those in darkness. He came through, and is magnified by, the Blessed Virgin Mary, without whom we would find no Savior, and merit no salvation.
There is another Mass which makes use of candlelight in a beautiful manner similar to this: the Easter Vigil, which begins in darkness with the dark being vanquished by the new fire which is blessed and spread from person to person as those holding candles hear and proclaim that Christ is our Light and the Exultet is chanted. But nowadays the lights are turned on and most of the candles are extinguished once the Mass itself begins. At the Advent Rorate Mass, the candles alone (and gradually, the sun as well), which themselves signify both Christ, the Light of the World, and the Holy Ghost, Who came upon the Apostles in tongues of fire at Pentecost, continue to provide the only light needed to honor the Blessed Virgin, who was blessed beyond all creatures by the Light of Christ. By the end of Mass, the dawn will have broken, bringing to fulfilment Zachary’s prophecy at the birth of his son, John the Baptist, who was to “be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways: To give knowledge of salvation to his people, unto the remission of their sins: Through the bowels of the mercy of our God, in which the Orient from on high hath visited us: To enlighten them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death: to direct our feet into the way of peace” (Luke 1:16-19).
So wake up early next Saturday and join us for this beautiful, traditional Rorate Coeli Mass. You will wonder why this beautiful tradition has been hidden (stolen?) from us for the past fifty or so years!
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: A New Bishop!
Last Monday morning brought some earlier than expected news that a new Bishop has been selected to replace our retiring bishop. Bishop Gregory Parkes, currently the Bishop of the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee, will be installed as the fifth Bishop of the St. Petersburg Diocese on Wednesday, January 4. That date is said to have been chosen because the bishops of the Southeast will be here on retreat at the Bethany Center, our Diocesan retreat house complex. As a result, there should be a good number of Bishops present at the Cathedral of St. Jude the Apostle for the ceremony. Don’t get your hopes up on attending, though, since tickets will be required and will, I am sure, be meagerly rationed.
Just as, up until last week, everybody kept asking if I knew who the new bishop was going to be (as if I were part of the “inner circle” of clergy in the know!), so now everybody wants to know what I think of the new bishop. Here I have at least some little bit of knowledge, since we spent time together in the seminary, though he was about three years behind me. Yet all of my knowledge of him comes with some simple yet perhaps grand caveats, for I only knew him as a seminarian, not as a priest, and certainly not as a bishop. Believe you me, twenty to twenty five years is a long time and men can and do change over the decades. After ordination to the priesthood and getting out into the “real world” of the parish, there are many things a priest must learn that the seminary never taught. There are also, unfortunately, many things a priest must also un-learn from this seminary formation. Some priests do that better than others, and some do it more quickly than others. I assume that after he became a bishop, Bishop Parkes also had a similar experience of having to learn and unlearn what he had always thought a bishop was, how he was to lead, act, teach, manage, etc.
With all that being CYA material before I tell you what I think about how he will be as my/our Bishop, it is also apparent that there are some things that don’t change over the years. Intelligent men do not become intellectual dunces; gentle men do not become cruel; thoughtful men do not become inconsiderate; and so forth. Intelligence, gentleness, thoughtfulness: these are all characteristics of the seminarian Greg Parkes. I have no doubt that they are also the characteristics of Bishop Gregory Parkes. As you would expect for any man in the seminary, but which is not necessarily true, he was without a doubt a man of prayer, study, and integrity, a man you wouldn’t mind having as a friend or even as a family member. (His younger brother, the now-Father Stephen Parkes, was two years behind me, and was as excited as could be when his older brother followed in his footsteps and entered the seminary.) Greg was one of the good guys, a guy you could count on to do what he said, to help without being asked, and to obey without grumbling. As you can tell, he and I were very different!
Aside from just studying and praying, as seminarians we also played a lot of basketball. Greg did not play as often as I did but whenever he played, we were always on the opposite teams, as we were usually the two tallest ball players on the court. He was a lot taller than I and a lot more skilled at basketball than I, so I loved playing against him. Most of the guys were shorter and most of them were better athletes but my height gave me an unfair advantage over them. Against Greg, though, I had to use every bit of skill I possessed. He truly brought out the best in me on the court in a way that others simply could not. News reports keep referring to Bishop Parkes as a “gentle giant.” This was true even of seminarian Greg. Don’t get me wrong. He would push me around, toss me aside, steal the ball, run right over me and stuff my shots back into my face. I came away bruised and exhausted from games against him. But he would never intentionally foul or hurt anybody. He could have “killed” any of us without breaking a rule or breaking a sweat, yet he was there not to conquer but to win while keeping the game fun. It is a good combination (when you are not at the professional level, at least!).
So what do I think of the man who will soon be my/our bishop? I think he has the makings of a Saint. I will have absolutely no qualms about pledging my obedience to him and presenting you, my beloved flock, to him, as sheep willing to follow my/our new holy Shepherd all the way to Heaven.
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Thanksgiving With The Family
Thanksgiving was last Thursday and you know what that means: another enjoyable, though slightly strange, day with my family. In case you cannot figure out the timing, this article had to be written before any of the below mentioned activities actually took place, in order to make the publishing deadline for the bulletin. Sometimes I fall way behind with everything and other times I have to find ways to get things done even before they occur. I wish the seminary had taught a class on this whole time warp thing so that I wouldn’t have had to figure it out on my own!
This year we all gathered at my sister’s house. There was a larger crowd than normal, as one of our cousins recently moved to south Florida with her husband and kids and they drove up to join us. We also took in a couple of “orphan” priests who had no family of their own to share the day with, and there were neighbors and neighbors’ kids in and out of the house constantly. Sometimes I wasn’t even sure whether the people around me were family, friends, or friends of other family members, but I suppose that on Thanksgiving it doesn’t really matter. We were all thankful for having plenty of people to share the great feast and festivities with. Except for Aunt Irma, that is.
She drove up in a prissy pink Prius sporting a coexist sign, a rainbow flag and a “Hillary for Pope” bumper sticker, and had a 10 inch long baby diaper pin (excuse me, “safety” pin) adorning her Che Guevara tee shirt. She had purchased all of these items (including the “car”) while on a recent retreat (sorry, “self-realization retrocognition celebration”) at the Cosmic Christ Consciousness Revolution Holistic Metaphysical Center and Hemp Coffee Shop run by the Popefranciscan Sisters of Perpetual Heresy. She had learned to channel her inner Bodhisattva and, with the great excitement of a new convert, wanted to share her new gnostic knowledge with one and all. The children escaped her by jumping into the pool, completely ignoring the chilly 81 degree midday weather. Strangely, while most of the children were turning blue in their successful efforts to keep Aunt Irma at bay, the newly transplanted Michiganders were acting like they were basking in a hottub. “This is soooo much warmer than Grand Traverse Bay!” they excitedly shrieked to the thin-blooded, jacket wearing Floridian elders.
The women all piled into the kitchen when Aunt Irma began expounding some Mother Earth savior nonsense, and they managed to chase her out simply by leaving styrofoam food packaging and chain grocery store receipts out for her to “accidentally” see. They found something almost sinfully enjoyable about explaining that, no, the turkey was not a free-range bird humanely dispatched by being gently smothered with purring kittens and butterflies; that the cranberries came from Publix rather than from the local farmer’s market; and that the pie crusts contained flour and lard rather than grated leftover gluten free pizza crust scraps and coconut oil. Though close to a swoon, my aunt managed to stumble out of the kitchen before being overcome by such barbarism, much to the relief of the women but bringing fear to the men.
We had naively thought that, in the outside patio where we were supposedly keeping an eye on the swimming children, we were safe from our loving--and loved--but crazy aunt. We were doing “manly” things that were sure to keep her away. We were watching football, drinking scotch, smoking cigars, one-upping each other with tall tales of glorious achievements during our youth, and, to stop the kids from bickering, occasionally encouraging them to do all the fun (read: dangerous) stunts their mothers wouldn’t ever let them do. All these things usually drive up testosterone to such levels that it acts like a force field against all but the most determined of women. But Aunt Irma was a very determined woman that day. She was resolved to convert someone from “old fashioned” and “rigid” Catholicism, and bring him into her newly discovered Age of Aquarius Laetitia.
Fortunately, I was ready for her. When I had heard where Auntie was making a retreat, I had asked the Bishop for faculties to perform an exorcism on her ASAP. At first he had denied my request but I gave him an ultimatum: “Either I exorcise my Aunt or I send her to spend Thanksgiving with you.” That didn’t faze him a bit. In fact, I think he was looking forward to swapping notes with her. So I got mean, rotten and nasty: I gulped, prayed that he wouldn’t call my bluff, and told him, “Either she gets exorcised or else I will spend Thanksgiving with you!” I have never seen him procure a document so fast. Aunt Irma only made it halfway across the yard before she sank to her knees at the sight of the Benedictine Crucifix I held as I prayed the Latin prayers. Soon she was back to her crazy old self and we had a great Thanksgiving. Anyone want to buy a slightly used Prius?
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Some Important Announcements!
I have written before about some of the differences in the liturgical calendars for the Novus Ordo Mass and the Traditional Latin Mass. Today we experience one of the biggies. Last month we celebrated the feast of Christ the King in the TLM. This weekend the remainder of the parish celebrates it! But, more than just celebrating this feast this weekend, it is also the “traditional” day for the bishop to bestow his honorary St. Jude Award to those who do exemplary and usually unnoticed work at their parish. This year the award for Epiphany of Our Lord goes to the man who probably greeted most of you when you first arrived at the parish; the man who is always around helping out, making sure everything is safe and secure, assisting newcomers, locking and unlocking rooms when needed, and generally just making sure the people and possessions at Epiphany are cared for. He also assists in the choir at the Saturday night vigil Mass and reads the petitions at the weekday morning Novus Ordo Masses. He is an active member of the Knights of Columbus, helps in the office every Monday, and folds bulletins for you on Saturday mornings. For somebody who gets around so much, you might wonder just what he would accomplish if he wasn’t wheelchair bound. By now, of course, you all know that Robert Thibodeaux is the man of whom I write. Be sure to congratulate him. Maybe he will bring the medal with him next weekend to show it off!
Next. Thanksgiving is this Thursday. It is not a Holy Day, so there is no extra TLM in the evening, but if you wish to attend Mass with St. Joseph Vietnamese Mission, they have a 5:00 pm Mass. It is also the fourth Thursday of the month, which is normally a night of prayer, catechism and socializing for the men’s Holy League. Since both Thanksgiving and, next month the Immaculate Conception and Christmas week interfere with the normal schedule, we are changing it up a bit. There will be no more meeting in November, but in December we will meet on the 1st, 15th, and 29th, returning to the normal second and fourth Thursdays in January. Please mark your calendars!
Finally, there will be a weekday Mass time change in the new year. When we first came to Epiphany, the huge majority of people who thought they could come to daily TLM wanted it at 9:00 am. But traffic is still pretty bad at that time and it takes up a big chunk of the day for homeschoolers, so only two families have been faithfully bringing in altar boys for the Mass. One of them is now moving away. We had three adult servers, but two of them left to enter religious life (what a great reason to lose altar boys!), so most days we are down to only one regular altar server, and when he is missing, there is no server. One the other hand, last Lent we started a 6:30 am Mass and it now generally has more people in attendance than the 9:00 am except on First Fridays, and I have never been without at least one server at Mass. I have also been in the position of having to celebrate three Masses several times a week, as the 8:00 am Novus Ordo Mass is also my responsibility. I am only supposed to celebrate two daily Masses, so one needs to be cut out. After much consideration, it is the 9:00 am Mass which will go bye-bye. I am still willing to celebrate a second TLM at 8:00 am IF THERE WILL BE PEOPLE ATTENDING! So I need a commitment if you would like to have a TLM at that time. If there is no demand for it, I will simply celebrate the 6:30 am TLM and then, when needed for the 8:00, instead of celebrating a Novus Ordo Mass, I will celebrate another TLM at 8:00 and those who normally attend the 8:00 NO Mass can simply attend Mass in the Traditional form. (Why not just celebrate a NO Mass, you ask? Because of the different liturgical calendars. It is tough and confusing for me to switch back and forth on a daily basis, so I will stick with just the one calendar whenever possible.) Will I have altar servers for the 8:00 TLM? We shall see. Right now there are not servers for the 8:00 am NO so I don’t expect it to change unless additional people attend. Of course, unless you attend daily Mass, you won’t know the difference. Which reminds me... Now is a good time to seriously think about attending daily Mass wherever you are, even if you cannot get to Epiphany. If you need an example of how important daily Mass is, let me share two things nobody ever says on their deathbed. 1. I wish I had fewer kids; 2. I wish I hadn’t gone to Mass so often.
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Thank You, God!
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With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Of Clocks and Cuckoos
This week brings the end to daylight savings time. I whine about the clock changes every year, twice a year. I cannot stand losing an hour of sleep in the spring, not just for one night but for as many as it takes for my body to finally adjust to the time change. Just so, I cannot stand “gaining” an hour of sleep in the fall, for I don’t really gain anything for a number of days either, as I wind up waking up at the “old” time, regardless of what the clock says. So I complain, bellyache and gripe about it as if it is a big deal. In reality, it is not. Compare this semiannual inconvenience to what is happening just a couple of days later and you’ll see what I mean. This Tuesday everyone who has not already cast an early ballot goes to the polls to vote for, among other things, the next President of these United States. Elections and what leads up to them also bring out the whiner in me. I moan and groan and grouse and grumble about the system, the voters and the dummkopf candidates much like I do about changing the clock.
There are several big differences between those two things, though, which you may not have ever thought about. First, nobody has ever told me to keep my religion out of politics when I complain about the time change. No, really. Have you ever seen anyone holding up signs proclaiming, “Keep your Benediction out of my Post Meridiem!” or any such thing? Second, nobody is ever “undecided” about the clock issue. If it was coming up for a vote next year, the polls could already predict which way the hands of time would turn. Nobody ever says, “Well, I just cannot make up my mind. I need more information.” Rather, they either love the time change or hate it and they don’t really care about its history, who else supports it or abhors it, or even if it might cause another Y2K-type worldwide appliance meltdown. Everyone is ready to vote now and decisively. Yet with the Presidential election, seemingly millions of people, having already had the benefit of listening to the candidates, having been bombarded with countless ads, having good information as to who is more immoral than whom, and having been embroiled in or at least reluctant witness to many passionate arguments about each candidate's policies, morals, manners, riches and looks, will walk into the voting booth still trying to decide which cuckoo will get the check mark.
A third major difference is that I really don’t have to let the time change affect my life very much at all if I choose to ignore it., whereas the President will control some aspects of my life no matter what I pretend didn’t occur. For instance, what would happen if I decided that I was not going to ever come off daylight savings time? What if I refused to change any of my clocks, my watch or even my cell phone time? (There is actually a setting on the phone which allows me to only change it manually if I desire, instead of it updating automatically according to location and time zone.) All I would have to do is put on my personal calendar that the 10:30 Mass is now scheduled for 9:30 and my unchanged watch would match with your changed watches and all would be well. But if I tried that with the elections, nothing would match at all. For no matter how fervently I proclaimed something like, “I insist that Cardinal Sarah is President” (don’t laugh, he was born on the same continent as our current Prez, after all) our Church would still be forced by President Hillary Clinton to allow contracepting polygamous lesbian women married to transexual men/women/other to become bishops; or women would still be engaged in something that is not to be called what it is, for the sake of deniability, in the Oval Office by President Bill Clinton, Jr. --oops! I meant President Donald Trump.
The fourth, and most telling difference between the two, is something I have completely forgotten. Which is too bad, since it was the most humorous of all the reasons, although that is not saying much. But that’s why I saved it for last. It was what I was thinking when I first started writing this stupid column, and I was chuckling about it as I tried to come up with the other lead in shenanigans. But, as happens so many times, I wasn’t able to write the whole story uninterruptedly, and by the time I have returned to the computer, my mind is blank. So unless it soon jars loose in this noggin of mine --before I have to get the bulletin printed-- I will have to end by asking you to just laugh really loud right now and pretend that whatever I failed to write was a real knee-slapper.
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Holidays and Holy Days This Week!
This week brings us great holidays and Holy Days. The first big Holy Day is the one we are celebrating Sunday (today, for most of you reading this in the parish bulletin): Christ the King. Now, for those of you attending the Novus Ordo Saturday evening Vigil Mass, you might be scratching your head, wondering what in the world I am writing about, as this weekend’s Mass is for the 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time and Christ the King isn’t until November 20. Right you are! This is a big problem with having two differing liturgical calendars within the same Catholic Rite. What a mess. But in the Traditional calendar, Christ the King is today. Why is this a big Holy Day? Because if Christ is really the Son of God, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Savior of the World, (and He is!) we should absolutely bow down, worship and adore Him, proclaiming wholeheartedly, resoundingly and enthusiastically, that He is King of our hearts, our bodies, our minds, our country, our universe, our eternal life. And this is one day set aside to remind us of His Kingship. He should rule every aspect of our lives--and absolutely YES, this includes our politics, for how could a King be excluded from the governance of His own people?
The next day, Monday, is a fun holiday, Halloween. It has roots in being the vigil of a Holy Day, All Saints Day, but is now mostly seen as a day to dress up in funny or scary costumes and go door to door throughout the neighborhood begging for candy. Back in my day (what a old man’s statement that is!) I believe Halloween was more fun. Everyone I knew had to make their own costume (with mom’s help, of course), so it took a bit of imagination to come up with something which would be both fun and capable of being made. Ghosts were popular, for just about anyone could cut out eyeholes in an old sheet. Cowboys, indians, baseball players, robots and other figures were also common, and, believe it or not, bows and arrows and toy guns and tomahawks were not thought of as “dangerous weapons” but as toys. The girls dressed as princesses and fairy godmothers and nobody thought of it as “sexist” just because boys had boy costumes and girls had girl costumes. Plus candy was a real treat. It was something we didn’t have around the house on a regular basis and here we were each getting a bag of it! Today the costumes are all bought at a store, kids get candy every single day, and the feigned fear of the fake skeletons and goblins has been replaced by a real fear of demonic activity and kids getting snatched. I best move on...
Not to be outdone, Tuesday brings us a real, honest to goodness, Holy Day of Obligation! I bet you thought those things were extinct. You already know that it is All Saints Day, a day in which we commemorate all of the Saints in Heaven, both those proclaimed officially and those whose entrance into the Beatific Vision has not been, and most likely never will be, declared by the Church. We offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on this day, not for them, as if they still had need of the graces of this salvific act, but rather as a tribute to them, as a means of congratulating them for running the good race and persevering to the end, as a means of renewing our own desire to get to Heaven as well, and almost as a pep rally for ourselves as we recall once again that it is not impossible to overcome all of the world’s obstacles, for, if they (the Saints) can do it, we can do it! (No, we will not have cheerleaders at Mass, though I have heard of worse. Sigh.)
And finally, who could forget that Wednesday is All Souls Day. This is the day when we offer Mass for all of the faithful departed who have not yet been made perfect and so are still in Purgatory rather than Heaven, though they are assured of eternal salvation. I have asked you to remember and to write down the names of all your deceased friends, family and acquaintances so that they will all be included in these Masses. The minutes or hours it will take me to read all the names you have asked me to pray for will be pure joy for me, for I will know that so many more souls will not be languishing in pain, forgotten. The poor souls whom you remember in this way will undoubtedly be more grateful than you will know while still here upon Earth. Keep adding to your list!
As a final note, in case you were wondering, Halloween is not on either liturgical calendar as it is simply a secular holiday, but both All Saints and All Souls Days are the same on both Novus Ordo and Traditional calendars.
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Unfit for Office
Anybody who expected that only Saints would run for President this time around has never studied our nation’s history. But it is very clear at this point that not one of the national candidates are morally fit for the job. Even so, one will become our President. How is a Catholic to vote? If you don’t want a blunt explanatory answer to that question, quit reading now.
Those now claiming that “sexual harassment” is a single issue worthy of disqualifying a man from being fit for President are quite right and, under “normal” circumstances, that would end all political discussion. Unfortunately, those making this claim are then embracing one of the even more unfit candidates. The single issue of “pro-abortion” makes one not only unfit for the Presidency, but also unfit for any other respectable position in society. All evils are not equal and it is high time for the immoral opportunists, especially the false Catholic ones, to quit pretending that abortion is just one of many commensurate issues. Get ready to cringe at this true statement that nobody wants to say (myself included) or hear but without which this issue loses its veracity: Abortion makes mothers and fathers the murderers of their own children. The depravity does not stop with mom and dad. Grandparents often willingly participate in these homicides by encouraging the killings and often even paying for these killings. Many teachers, counselors, clergy and religious, judges, government officials of all sorts, in short, those in authority who should be fighting for morality, goodness and justice, willingly participate too, usually while hypocritically claiming that good (a baby) is evil and that evil (killing an innocent, defenseless baby) is good. Be clear on this: Anyone who supports maiming, torturing and ultimately killing a helpless baby human--for any reason--cannot be trusted to give a rat’s patootie about human beings after they are born. Advocating the deliberately killing of one's own innocent offspring the sake of a perceived temporal benefit is more than sufficient proof that the person has sold their soul to satan, or at least rented it out to him temporarily.
No vote may be cast for such homicide-inciting candidates. Period. Why? Hell and damnation, how many times do you have to hear that millions of innocent children are being legally murdered every year because demons have convinced people that abortion is not any worse than, or even better than, name-calling, sexual harassment or bad combovers. Kids die at the request of their own parents! The parents (and everyone who willfully, knowingly participates in this evil action, including voters) go to hell for eternity if they die unrepentant and without absolution! “But what about the children?” these demons scream through those they afflict. “Aren’t they better off dead than having a rapist father, an impoverished mother, or a birth defect?” Get ready once again to cringe at this true statement that nobody wants to say (myself included) or hear but without which this issue loses its veracity: the Church does not teach that aborted babies go to Heaven. The Catechism wishfully states only that, ”As regards children who have died without Baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God...” (CCC 1261). But, unlike children who were born and died before baptism or who died in utero or due to miscarriage, whose parents desired to baptise them but never had the opportunity, aborted children’s parents deliberately thwarted God's plan that they receive this sacrament which is necessary for salvation. Nobody, but nobody, wants to admit that, but it almost certainly destroys the possibility of “baptism of desire” on behalf of the parents for their child. Abortion supporters often portray killing the children as “the best thing for them” when there is no indication that this is true. People assuage their consciences by claiming, “My baby would have known want and suffering in this life but she is in a better place now.” Not so fast. Even Limbo, where unbaptised babies may be experiencing natural happiness but without the beatific vision, is often thought to be a part of hell, not Heaven. Abortion supporters are either gambling with babies’ souls or don’t give a damn.
Do not be fooled. Abortion is an inordinately grave evil. It is a demonic mockery of Our Lord’s Holy Sacrifice, which was/is a free giving of His life for the salvation others, while abortion is very different sacrifice: a forced taking of a child’s life for the convenience of others. If you have been a participant in an abortion, this letter no doubt hurts. I am sorry for the hurt but glad if it leads you to repentance. (God will forgive anything to the repentant sinner. Come to confession!) Distorting and ignoring the truth about abortion so as to make people feel good is what got us into this disgusting voting conundrum in the first place. Pray, fast, and never support, hire, or trust anyone who encourages killing kids. It is morally permissible and perhaps necessary to vote for even an unfit, arrogant blowhard in order to vote against the putrid evil of abortion.
With sorrowful prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Preparing for All Souls Day
As a follow up of my homily from last week, I want to remind you to pray often for the Poor Souls in Purgatory, especially remembering them in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on the upcoming All Souls Day. A simple story of the value of such prayers comes via Fr. Faber’s The Two Catholic Views of Purgatory Based on Catholic Teachings and Revelations of Saintly Souls. (He gives credit to another author, though I have been unable to procure a copy of that book.) The story involves a dispute between two Dominican Friars.
Bro. Bertrando was the great advocate of poor sinners, constantly said Mass for them, and offered up all his prayers and penances to obtain for them the grace of conversion. “Sinners,” he said, “without grace, are in a state of perdition. Evil spirits are continually laying snares for them, to deprive them of the Beatific Vision and to carry them off to eternal torments. Our Blessed Lord came down from Heaven and died a most painful death for them. What can be a higher work than to imitate Him and to cooperate with Him in the salvation of souls? When a soul is lost, the price of its redemption is lost also. Now the souls in Purgatory are safe. They are sure of their eternal salvation. It is most true that they are plunged into a sea of sorrows, but they are sure to come out at last. They are the friends of God, whereas sinners are His enemies, and to be God’s enemy is the greatest misery in creation.”
Bro. Benedetto was an equally enthusiastic advocate of the suffering souls. He offered all his free Masses for them, as well as his prayers and penances. Sinners, he said, were bound with the chains of their own will. They could leave off sinning if they pleased. The yoke was of their own choosing, whereas the dead were tied hand and foot against their own will in the most atrocious sufferings.
“Now come, dear Bro. Bertrando, tell me--suppose there were two beggars, one well and strong, who could use his hands and work if he liked, but chose to suffer poverty rather than part with the sweets of idleness; and the other, sick and maimed and helpless, who in his piteous condition could do nothing but supplicate help with cries and tears--which of the two would deserve compassion most, especially if the sick one was suffering the most intolerable agonies? Now this is just the case between sinners and the Holy Souls. These last are suffering an excruciating martyrdom, and they have no means of helping themselves. It is true they have deserved these pains for their sins, but they are now already cleansed for those sins. They must have returned to the grace of God before they died, else they would not have been saved. They are now most dear, inexpressibly dear, to God; and surely charity, well ordered, must follow the wise love of the Divine Will and love most what He loves most.”
Bro. Bertrando, however, would not give way, though he did not quite see a satisfactory answer to his friend’s objection. But the night following, he had an apparition which it seems so convinced him that from that time he changed his practice, and offered up all his Masses, prayers and penances for the Holy Souls. It would appear as if the authority of St. Thomas might be quoted on the side of Bro. Benedetto, as he says, “Prayer for the dead is more acceptable than for the living, for the dead are in the greatest need of it and cannot help themselves, as the living can.”
This example given by Brother Benedetto of the two beggars, one healthy but lazy and the other truly in need, also helps to show why Indulgences may only be offered for the Poor Souls or for oneself but not for other living persons. The living, after all, if they truly desired this cleansing gift from God, are capable of receiving the indulgence themselves, and if they don’t, it indicates that they would reject the graces being offered, anyway. The Holy Souls, on the other hand, are always grateful for any graces offered and are incapable of getting indulgences on their own. This observation leads directly to this reminder that a plenary indulgence may be obtained for a soul in Purgatory each day from November 1 through November 8 by visiting a cemetery and praying for the departed. On November 2 only, a plenary indulgence may be obtained for the Poor Souls by visiting a church and praying an Our Father and a Creed. In both these cases, all other conditions for reception of a plenary indulgence must also be met. (Look them up!)
So keep adding names to your All Souls list. I will offer the Holy Mass for them on All Souls Day and include them in all of my November Masses.
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
My Name Day
Many of you are named after well known Saints. Others might be bear the name of a lesser known Saint. But does anyone know anything about St. Edwin? His feast day this year, and, thus, my Name Day, is this Wednesday, October 12. Reading about him made me extremely thankful that my name is “Edwin” instead of any of these other men named in the following clip from the old Catholic Encyclopedia: Aella, Ethebric, Ethelfrid, Redwald, Eadbald, Eorpwald, Penda, Cadwallon! I hope you enjoy reading about the Saint whose name I share. Do you know your Saint or your Name Day?
The first Christian King of Northumbria, born about 585, son of Ælla, King of Deira, the southern division of Northumbria; died 12 October, 633. Upon Ælla's death in 588, the sovereignty over both divisions of Northumbria was usurped by Ethebric of Bernicia, and retained at his death by his son Ethelfrid; Edwin, Ælla's infant son, being compelled until his thirtieth year to wander from one friendly prince to another, in continual danger from Ethelfrid's attempts upon his life. Thus when he was residing with King Redwald of East Anglia, Ethelfrid repeatedly endeavoured to bribe the latter to destroy him. Finally, however, Redwald's refusal to betray his guest led in 616 to a battle, fought upon the river Idle, in which Ethelfrid himself was slain, and Edwin was invited to the throne of Northumbria. On the death of his first wife, Edwin, in 625, asked for the hand of Ethelburga, sister to Eadbald, the Christian King of Kent, expressing his own readiness to embrace Christianity, if upon examination he should find it superior to his own religion. Ethelburga was accompanied to Northumbria by St. Paulinus, one of St. Augustine's fellow missionaries, who thus became its first apostle. By him Edwin was baptized at York in 627, and thenceforth showed himself most zealous for the conversion of his people. In instance of this, Venerable Bede tells how, at their royal villa of Yeverin in Northumberland, the king and queen entertained Paulinus for five weeks, whilst he was occupied from morning to night in instructing and baptizing the crowds that flocked to him. By Edwin's persuasion, moreover, Eorpwald, King of East Anglia, son of his old friend Redwald, was led to become a Christian. In token of his authority over the other kings of Bretwalda, Edwin used to have the tufa (a tuft of feathers on a spear, a military ensign of Roman origin) borne publicly before him, and he received tribute from the Welsh princes. Under him the law was so respected, that it became, as the Venerable Bede attests, a proverb that "a woman might travel through the island with a babe at her breast without fear of insult". St. Edwin was slain on 12 October, 633, in repelling an attack made on him by Penda, the pagan King of Mercia, who, together with the Welsh prince Cadwallon (a Christian only in name), had invaded his dominion. Perishing thus in conflict with the enemies of the Faith, he was regarded as a martyr and as such was allowed by Gregory XIII to be depicted in the English College church at Rome. His head was taken to St. Peter's church at York, which he had begun. His body was conveyed to Whitby. Churches are said to have been dedicated to him at London and at Breve in Somerset.
The Venerable Bede, mentioned above, in his book Ecclesiastical History, tells more of the tale including a discussion between St. Edwin and several men whose advice he trusted, including the pagan chief priest. Several of them (chief priest included), when asked what they thought about this “new” religion (Catholicism), admitted that they had, for various reasons, long since ceased believing in their own pagan Gods! I believe that that phenomenon still occurs on a regular basis, where people, even before they are convinced that the Catholic Church is the source of all Salvation, already know that their own religion does not have the fullness of the truth. Protestants cannot help but question how each protestant congregation and individual minister can claim to get different understandings of Truth out of the same Scripture readings. They know something is wrong long before they admit it. Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses and Scientologists who know any history at all cannot help but question the absolutely unbelievable origins of their false religions. They know something is wrong long before they escape their sects.
With that being stated, perhaps this Wednesday would be a good day to pray, through St. Edwin’s intercession, as Patron Saint of Converts (as well as Patron of hoboes; homeless people; kings; parents of large families), that these people would finally sit down with someone they trust, put into words what is already in their minds and souls, renounce their false religions once and for all and embrace the only true Faith, becoming members of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, the only Church founded by the Son of God, Jesus Christ.
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Feast of St. Francis
Tuesday, October 4, 2016 is the feast day of St. Francis. Many parishes, especially those in rural areas, will have a special “blessing of the animals” on this day, since St. Francis is always pictured as surrounded by critters of all sorts. Police officers will bring in their patrol dogs and horses, children will bring in their pet rabbits and gerbils, pirates will bring in their parrots, and all manner of farm animals, dogs and cats will be presented for a blessing. Everyone loves their pets and service animals and, knowing that God ordained from the beginning of time that they would be our companions and helpers, they delight in this annual Franciscan ritual.
Tuesday, October 4, 2016 is also the first of two days that Epiphany of Our Lord parish has made a commitment to publicly ask God’s blessing upon a different type of animal, one without nearly the protections that the above mentioned animals receive in these United States. This particular type of animal was created above all the other animals and differs from them in several important regards. This animal, which philosophers and theologians call a “rational animal” is the only animal which actually “does” philosophy and theology. It is the only animal created in the image and likeness of God. It is, of course, the human animal. Specifically, we Epiphany-ians are praying that day for the conversion of adult human animals which plan to kill--or facilitate the killing of--unborn human animals. Human animals within their mother’s wombs are perhaps the only animals our country refuses to protect. Our immoral political leaders, aided and abetted by our spineless and/or immoral religious leaders, have mandated that the only animal with an immortal soul, the only animal created directly out of love (for God loved us into existence to know Him, love Him and serve Him in this life and to be happy with Him forever in the next, while every other animal--and all of creation--was created for us) not only gets almost no protection before birth, but beyond a lack of protection--and this is so unbelievable it cannot possibly be true, yet it is--his/her parents are encouraged to cause their own offspring pain ending only in death: to burn them with chemical baths, to rip them apart limb from limb or even to suck their brains out and crush their skulls while seeing and holding the rest of their tiny bodies which have already been delivered, all in the name of “compassion”, “mercy”, and “love”!
Sounds gruesome, doesn’t it? So gruesome, in fact, that no right minded person would ever publicly admit to encouraging it, making it legal, making taxpayers subsidize it, performing it, having it, or keeping silent about it while it occurs. Yet that is exactly what has been done, is being done, and, will continue to be done by those who are not right minded. To be quite frank, those who fit that bill are far from simply being “wrong minded” they are downright evil. Make no doubt about it, they will go to hell if they die unrepentant. This is one of those most terrible of sins so obviously demonic that nobody need be a Thomas Aquinas to understand its eternal ramifications. Yet even those who supposedly are good Catholics, even, God help us, good Catholic Bishops, support for President and every other office, those who are squarely, publicly and proudly pro-torture-to-death-human-infants-as-long-as-they-are-(for now)-at-least-mostly-in-the-womb. The Catholics who do so and die unrepentant will be in a deeper, more painful part of hell than those who lack the natural and supernatural benefits and graces given in and through the only Church founded by the Son of God.
I am willing to bet that, nationwide, more people will attend “Blessing of the Animals” celebrations than will be praying outside of abortion mills this Tuesday. Perhaps more will attend the animal blessings than will pray outside the abortion mills during the entire 40 Days for Life campaign. Every excuse is made to avoid anything to do with abortion. Nobody wants to see an abortion (videos such as “The Silent Scream” will never be shown on TV or in public school “health” classes or even in Catholic homeschool curriculums; posters of aborted baby parts are decried and trashed even on college campuses, let alone other public places where “intellectual integrity” and “being open to new ideas” is less touted). Nobody wants to hear about abortion, even in Catholic parishes (including this one. Don’t think for a minute that those attending Traditional Latin Mass don’t complain if I preach or write about abortion or any of the sexual sins which lead up to abortion, or the need to vote pro-life. “Scandalizing the children” is an acceptable excuse, don’t you know.). Nobody wants to publicly stand up against this evil and pray for the conversion of sinners and the salvation of souls. How about you? (PS--Epiphany seems to be covering more time slots for these prayers at the abortion mills than most other parishes. Kudos!)
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: More Terrorism
Over and over it seems that we hear of demonic Islamic madmen (and madwomen) detonating bombs and/or going on shooting rampages, maiming and killing random people. I hope and pray that you all, when hearing about these attacks, take some time to pray for the souls of the victims, to pray for the families, friends and communities so gravely harmed and to--brace yourselves, this is hard--pray for the terrorists as well. I cannot stress enough the need to use the news as a tool for prayer rather than just as a form of gruesome entertainment. I also cannot stress enough the need to pray for the perpetrators of crimes and violence, not just the victims, though the victims deserve the first and most fervent prayers. This is an area where the Catholic Church teachings, coming straight from our Lord Himself (for instance: to pray for those who persecute you; to return a blessing for a curse; to love your enemies) exemplify true sacrificial love and help conquer satanic hatred.
As difficult as it is to do, we must put aside our fallen human nature’s instinct to wish that those who do evil go straight to hell. We must absolutely rely on the grace of God to find in our heart love for the sinner while detesting and denouncing the evil done. We must sacrifice our desire for revenge and for vengeance (calling it “justice”), for the sake of not only the evildoer’s soul but perhaps even for our own.
I believe most people today, even Catholics, have either lost or never had the knowledge of the true horrors of hell. A sign of this lack of knowledge is the fact that we can openly utter a phrase like “go to hell” while raising nary an eyebrow. We can say, even in “polite company,” that a vicious mass murder should go to hell and find agreement rather than revulsion. We can make arguments that “he deserves it” and find nods of approval all around. And if anyone, even a priest, mentions praying for conversion as a noble alternative, he is written off as either naive or so “liberal” as to not believe in Divine Justice.
In reality, though, the more “liberal” (heretical by ignorance or purpose) a Catholic is, the less likely he is to wish someone avoid hell, assuming he believes in hell at all. The “liberals” do not believe that a damned soul will spend eternity in hell but will be welcomed to Heaven--if it exists--sooner or later, if not immediately upon death. The “liberals” do not grasp the intensity of the pains of hell but rather think of them as hard but manageable. It is the “liberals” who, because they think this way, do not mind telling others to go there and are not too worried about the state of their own soul, either, since they think hell really isn’t too bad anyway. Pray for conversion? Why bother? God loves everyone except conservatives!
It is the “conservative” (orthodox) Catholics who, though the struggle may be great, pray for the conversion of those on the path to damnation rather than wishing them a quick journey. Even though they have a better understanding than liberals as to who is most likely to end up in hell, they, against all odds, pray for a miraculous conversion of the most hardened of hearts. The “conservatives” know that hell is for eternity, not for a while. The “conservative” Catholic accepts the revealed teaching that the physical, mental and spiritual pains of hell will be harsher than any torture, fear, anguish or sense of loss one could possibly imagine, let alone experience, here upon earth. The “conservative” Catholic wants to avoid hell at all cost and strives to help others do so as well. They know that even mortal sins can be repented of, confessed and forgiven. They have a genuine concern for the salvation of themselves, their friends and their enemies. True “conservative” Catholics want nobody to be damned.
Hell exists. It is real. It is horrible. It is forever. Please take some time to read good Catholic material on the last four things: death, judgment, Heaven and hell. The more you learn about these realities, the more you will: try to warn others about the dangers of sin, especially mortal sin; fight against its acceptance and legalization; pray for the conversion (including necessary repentance and acceptance of harsh punishment), rather than the condemnation, of even those who cold-bloodedly murder children,whether by bomb, gun, scalpel, or pill; demand that cowardly politicians and heretical religious leaders, who cannot even bring themselves to fault “radical” Islamic terrorists, finally admit that Islam itself is a radically evil political movement (not simply a religion and certainly not a “peaceful” one) which is, at its very essence, out to destroy all that is good and holy, namely, the Catholic Church; and, finally, you will put much more effort into your attempts to become a Saint, no matter what the temporal cost, as you learn to truly fear hell and desire Heaven.
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Catholics for the Choice of Damnation
On Monday, September 12, the Tampa Bay Times ran a full page ad from a group calling itself Catholics for Choice. That’s not what I called them in the headline above, though, as their name is a lie and my name for them is much more accurate. They peddle damnation in the form of getting others to knowingly, willfully, and freely choose abortion (which is everything necessary for one being morally responsible for this mortal sin and, hence, choosing damnation over the life of a child). This notoriously pro-death group intimated in the ad (titled: Abortion in Good Faith) that true Catholics can be fully in favor of killing children in the womb, for abortion supposedly is a "justice and equality" issue bringing "dignity" to women. In reality, these are simply nice sounding words deviously meant to lead ignorant Catholics astray and cause moral confusion among all people, Catholic or not. This organization, to well informed Catholics like those reading this, is obviously anything but Catholic or moral. It has often been called out for its blatant charade of using the word “Catholic” in its name, and the United States Bishops repeatedly inform news organizations that it is a false “front” group that should not be given the time of day let alone a public forum from which to mislead people. Yet once again, perhaps for thirty pieces of silver, our local newspaper (and others around the nation) sold them space to promote their evil agenda. An unsigned article on the homepage of the Archdiocese of San Antonio responded to an ad run by the same group on the same day. It reads:
An organization called Catholics for Choice placed a full-page advertisement in the Sept. 12 edition of the San Antonio Express-News with inaccurate information which must be corrected, since it misrepresents the truth and what the Catholic Church believes and teaches.
This misrepresentation is demonstrated by their statement that “Public funding for abortion is a Catholic social justice value.” Nothing could be further from the truth.
Before responding to claims made by Catholics for Choice in “Abortion in Good Faith,” it should be noted that this group does not speak for the Catholic Church. The group undertook a similar media campaign in the state of Colorado just two years ago, and the bishops there also responded in reiterating authentic Catholic social teaching and the consistent ethic of life.
For more than 2,000 years, the Church has steadfastly proclaimed that respect for all human life at every stage is foundational to the Catholic faith. Abortion from the earliest tradition of the Church has been considered immoral.
The Catholic Church’s position on abortion is clear. In the magisterial document Donum Vitae (The Gift of Life), the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith affirmed that, “The human being is to be respected and treated as a person from the moment of conception; and therefore from that same moment his rights as a person must be recognized, among which in the first place is the inviolable right of every innocent human being to life,” (Sec I.1) Direct abortion, or the intentional killing of a human being living in the womb, is always seriously immoral because as persons the right-to-life is the most basic and fundamental right we possess.
It is our hope that one day Catholics for Choice will take the time to acquaint themselves with basic Catholic teachings, and acknowledge the truth of the Catholic faith, and not choose to misrepresent her teachings with false and inaccurate information and ads that only work to confuse and mislead the public. Upholding the sacred dignity of all human life is the duty of every member of society and this duty must be taken seriously in order to ensure that we are a part of a culture that affirms the right to life for all, especially the most vulnerable among us.
Why, since I already stated that you would not be fooled by such a disgusting attempt to promote abortion as a “good”, would I dedicate this space to such an ad? Because my guess is that many of you do not read the local newspaper (and this is a great example of why one might not) but you might hear rumblings from friends, family and acquaintances who have. They, knowing you to be solid, faithful Catholics, might turn to you for answers as to how one could be truly Catholic and still embrace the mortal sin of infant homicide. Now you know where the questions are coming from and how at least one bishop stood up to the challenge with love and mercy, giving his flock simple information, expressing hope for repentance, and, ultimately, defending the True Faith. Now go do likewise.
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Two Linked Feasts This Week
This week the traditional liturgical calendar notes two related feasts, the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on September 14 and the Stigmata of St. Francis on the 17th. Below is an excerpt linking the two from the ever enlightening The Liturgical Year by Dom Prosper Guéranger.
Two years before the faithful servant and minister of Christ, Francis, gave up his spirit to God, he retired alone into a high place, which is called Mount Alvernia, and began a forty-days’ fast in honour of the Archangel St. Michael. The sweetness of heavenly contemplation was poured out on him more abundantly than usual, till, burning with the flame of celestial desires, he began to feel an increasing overflow of these divine favours. While the seraphic ardour of his desires thus raised him up to God, and the tenderness of his love and compassion was transforming him into Christ the crucified Victim of excessive love; one morning, about the Feast of the Exaltation of holy Cross, as he was praying on the mountain-side, he saw what appeared to be a Seraph, with six shining and fiery wings, coming down from heaven. The vision flew swiftly through the air and approached the man of God, Who then perceived that it was not only winged, but also crucified; for the hands and feet were stretched out and fastened to a cross; while the wings were arranged in a wondrous manner, two being raised above the head, two outstretched in flight, and the remaining two crossed over and veiling the whole body. As he gazed, Francis was much astonished, and his soul was filled with mingled joy and sorrow. The gracious aspect of him, who appeared in so wonderful and loving a manner, rejoiced him exceedingly, while the sight of his cruel crucifixion pierced his heart with a sword of sorrowing compassion.
He, who appeared outwardly to Francis, taught him inwardly that, although weakness and suffering are incompatible with the immortal life of a seraph, yet this vision had been shown to him to the end that he, Christ’s lover, might learn how his whole being was to be transformed into a living image of Christ crucified, not by martyrdom of the flesh, but by the burning ardour of his soul. After a mysterious and familiar colloquy, the vision disappeared, leaving the Saint’s mind burning with seraphic ardour, and his flesh impressed with an exact image of the Crucified, as though, after the melting power of that fire, it had next been stamped with a seal. For immediately the marks of nails began to appear in his hands and feet, their heads showing in the palms of his hands and the upper part of his feet, and their points visible on the other side. There was also a red scar on his right side, as if it had been wounded by a lance, and from which blood often flowed staining his tunic and underclothing.
Francis, now a new man, honoured by this new and amazing miracle, and, by a hitherto unheard of privilege, adorned with the sacred stigmata, came down from the mountain bearing with him the image of the Crucified, not carved in wood or stone by the hand of an artist, but engraved upon his flesh by the finger of the living God. The seraphic man well knew that it is good to hide the secret of the king; wherefore, having been thus admitted into his king’s confidence, he strove, as far as in him lay, to conceal the sacred marks. But it belongs to God to reveal the great things which he himself has done; and hence, after impressing those signs upon Francis in secret, he publicly worked miracles by means of them, revealing the hidden and wondrous power of the Stigmata by the signs wrought through them. Pope Benedict XI. willed that this wonderful event, which is so well attested and in pontifical diplomas has been honoured with the greatest praises and favours, should be celebrated by a yearly solemnity. Afterwards, Pope Paul V., wishing the hearts of all the faithful to be enkindled with the love of Christ crucified, extended the feast to the whole Church.
How is it that an all-loving God bestows gifts that cause untold pain? For non-believers, this stumbling block is simply proof that either: 1) God is cruel; or 2) There is not really a God at all. For those with faith, though, the answer simply lies in the Cross. I highly recommend spending a good bit of time this week contemplating both the Cross and the Stigmata. It will certainly help you to recognize, appreciate and, perhaps, rejoice in even the most painful gifts God might bestow upon you, and bring new insights into St. Paul’s exhortation: “[I] now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ, in my flesh, for his body, which is the church.” (Col. 1:24)
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Men’s Club Info, But Written for our Ladies
Last week 39 men of our parish got together for some good, traditional “Catholic Man” stuff. Numbers aren’t everything, yet I was amazed at the turnout. We shall see how the numbers go in the future, especially now that a groundwork has been laid as to what we hope to accomplish with this group. Unlike the Knights of Columbus, a good Catholic Men's group which is primarily a service organization, working on pro-life, pro-Church and pro-parish projects, this new group is primarily focused on each man bettering himself through increasing his prayer, spiritual reading, and physical abilities; and then, through manly camaraderie, holding one another accountable to their individual Catholic Man goals. Through this it is expected that the family, the parish, the workplaces and the local communities will be strengthened with true Catholicism, as men take their rightful and God-given places.
In order to accomplish this, we need the assistance of the women. Wives, while you may be the ones initially pushing your husbands to join this group, it will not be long before you are tempted to beg, nag, and guilt them into stopping what they are doing. Why do I say that? From the very beginning Satan brought about the downfall of Man through Woman. You have power over men and, though you might not think about it very often, what “mama” wants, “mama” generally gets. If you have been used to having your husband home and at your beck and call (OK, quit laughing) every early morning and late evening, if he takes this group seriously you might have to let him be by himself a bit more. He will be required to do some spiritual reading and mental prayer every day. He may be able to do it when everyone else is asleep or during his lunch hour, but he may also find that the only time is at the beginning or end of the day when the kids are in bed, when you used to have him all to yourself. It will be hard to share him, even if you are sharing him with God.
If all goes well, you are going to have another problem. Where before he was content to just lead the mealtime blessing, he is now going to also lead a family rosary. There is almost never a convenient time to pray the rosary, let alone as a family. You are going to have to support him, but you will be tempted to instead tell him, “This is not a good time” or, “Child x is too young” or, “Honey, you’ve worked hard all day and the kids are whiny. Why don’t we just skip it (again) tonight?” You will be surprised how many excuses, good excuses, will come up to not pray together as a family. If you give your husband a way out, he will gladly fall into his old ways to please you.
Ladies, you may also discover that you, while claiming to be a traditional Catholic, are really much more comfortable being a women’s lib Catholic.What?!? I can hear the screams already. But really, you have gotten used to all men, priests included, being so “squishy” that you won’t really know what to do with a manly man. Really. What will you do if your husband states, not asks, but states, that next Sunday he will wake everybody up at 4:30 so that there is time to make it to the early Low Mass so that he can serve with his oldest son? When he tells you that instead of visiting your parents over the holidays he will be going on an 8 day Ignatian Retreat? When he throws out half of the clothing you bought your daughter (or yourself) because they are not modest? When romance (which used to be cherished, then, when it faded, was longed for, and is now just a tiring bother) becomes something he once again valiantly and regularly attempts as he tries (bunglingly, perhaps!) to tell/show you he truly loves and cherishes you as both a wife and mother, and that he hopes to make you a mother another three or four times over? I am warning you now, having a traditional Catholic Man for a husband (or boyfriend, for that matter), especially if you are not used to it and haven’t seen it modeled anywhere in recent memory, is going to be more difficult than you may think. Many a man has had his good intentions of becoming more Catholic thwarted by a wife who doesn’t like relinquishing the role of “head of the household” which she has been taught/forced since childhood to assume.
Here is the basic outline for our twice monthly (second and fourth Thursday evenings starting at 6:00 pm) meetings. One hour of prayer. One hour of teachings and discussions about the spiritual homework which was assigned the last meeting. Then time for scotch, cigars, and/or other manly socializing. All three parts are essential, so don’t push him to show up late or leave early. Your encouragement (and restraint from reverting to the status quo) are greatly appreciated and necessary.
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Prayers in English and Latin
A couple of weeks back I mentioned in a homily that there is a Catholic prayer to be recited generally three times a day but which I never knew, let alone prayed. A good old Jesuit priest taught it to me through example at a parish at which we were both assigned. It is called, “grace after meals.” Yes, there is a prayer for after meals as well as before. The prayer before the meal is actually called the “blessing” even though I had always heard the word “grace,” used, as in, “Let’s say grace so we can eat!” This holy Jesuit priest, God rest his soul, used to complain that poorly educated Catholics too often prayed like protestants at meals. By this he meant that the “blessing” was actually more of a “thanks for everything” prayer that had to be unique every time (rote prayers being too Catholic), include different things to be thankful for every time, had to show off theological competence, had to be poetic or filled with grandeur, and was, therefore, always unduly long and burdensome. “What is wrong with starting the meal with a simple request for God’s blessing upon the people and the food and concluding with thanks for everything He has provided, and remembering in a special way to pray for the faithful departed, which in turn reminds us to strive always for a happy death?” I am poorly paraphrasing him, for whenever he said this he made sound it pretty darn funny!
Enough reminiscing, though. After the homily, I was asked to publish the grace after meals prayer so that those who don’t have the benefit of a Jesuit mentor at their table could also use and memorize it. Before I remembered to put it in the bulletin, though, I mentioned, as I encouraged the men to pray the 54 day Rosary Novena using at least the three major prayers in Latin, that exorcists tell us that the devil hates Latin. Someone then asked for the mealtime prayers also in Latin. Yikes! I have set the bar pretty high, it seems, even higher than I have ever jumped, having never memorized these particular prayers in Latin myself. But, since you asked for it, here goes.
Blessing before meals
Bless us, O Lord, and these Thy gifts, which we are about to receive from Thy bounty. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Bénedic, Dómine, nos et haec tua dona, quae de tua largitáte sumus sumptúri. Per Christum Dóminum nostrum. Amen.
Grace after meals
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.
Agimus tibi grátias , omnípotens Deus, pro univérsis benefíciis tuis, qui vivis et regnas in saécula saeculórum. Amen. Fidelium animae, per misericordiam Dei, requiescant in pace. Amen.
There are several English versions of this prayer, each differing slightly. Since this is the version which I learned, this must be the proper one! I take the same stance with the St. Michael prayer after the low Mass. Rather than the one printed in the book (which varies from missal to missal anyway), I use the one I memorized years ago. I also do the same with the Angelical Salutation, for I greatly prefer “amongst women” instead of the more modern dropping of the “st” and I adamantly refuse to switch to “you” from “thee”, to “are you” from “art thou” and to “your” from “thy”. Although there are often differences in translations from the original Latin into any other language, strangely enough I also found a slightly different version of the Latin grace after meals. It begins, “Grátias agimus tibi” and then the rest of the prayer is in the same word order. Why the difference? I don’t know. The meaning is the same, as the word order of Latin is very fluid.
And finally, in case you threw away your old bulletin with these prayers, here you go again.
Pater noster, qui es in caelis, sanctificetur Nomen Tuum. Adveniat regnum Tuum, fiat voluntas Tua, sicut in caelo et in terra. Panem nostrum quotidianum da nobis hodie, et dimitte nobis debita nostra, sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris, et ne nos inducas in tentationem, sed libera nos a malo. Amen.
Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum; Benedicta tu in mulieribus et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus. Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.
Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto, sicut erat in principio, et nunc et semper, et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.
Per orationem tuam sanctitatem,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Demonic Political Party Stances
A few years back I wrote an article which is worth printing once again, especially as so many people are praying a novena for our nation. It deals with political parties (note: without mentioning any in particular) and their members/voters. In the article I did not tell anyone who to vote for or against, yet some were offended that I warned them of eternal consequences awaiting those who purposefully choose to support any party which champions intrinsic evil. So be it. Better to offend while teaching and perhaps saving souls than make people feel good about voting/supporting their way to eternal damnation. In this year’s convoluted election, though, you still have a lot to discern beyond this basic warning. Anyway, here it is in its entirety below.
There are some businesses and “social organizations” that hold values so contrary to the Catholic Faith that no Catholic may belong to them. Such organization could, perhaps, hold to other morally acceptable tenets and might even do some very good work but the evils they hold simply cannot be overlooked on account of the good. Along with that reality comes the logical correlation that if any member of such an organization were running for any public office, from dog catcher to mayor or even further up the scale, no Catholic may, with right conscience, vote for him/her, given other options.
A business example is Planned Parenthood. Many worldly people gush at the supposed “good” PP does while distributing cheap contraceptives and aborting babies but no Catholic could ever volunteer at or be employed by PP without cooperating in those mortal sins. Nor could any Catholic vote for, in any election or for any office, a PP employee or staunch supporter for the same reason, if there is an opponent who does not embrace intrinsic evil.
An example of a “social organization” of this ilk is the Ku Klux Klan. The KKK promotes hatred of Catholics, Jews and Blacks. No Catholic could possibly claim membership in such a club nor could any Catholic vote for a member of the KKK if one were running for any political office, even if the member was a well-known philanthropist. Should a Catholic join the Klan with the explanation, “Well, I don’t agree with their stand on certain matters but they are a bunch of good guys most of the time with whom I simply enjoy getting together and sharing a few laughs. I leave the meetings when they go on a lynching so they know where I stand on that,” nobody would buy it. A Catholic would have to basically renounce his faith to either become a Klan member or support a Klan member in an election. It would not matter what his “conscience” told him or how much he “prayed” on it.
Whether brand new or generations old, if the organization’s charter puts it directly at odds with morality, especially if it officially endorses intrinsic evil, no Catholic should ever voluntarily become or remain a member once they understand what evil the organization holds out to be a “good.” Furthermore, no Catholic could, in good conscience, support a member of such a club or business in an election if a rival candidate, even if not preferable in areas open to prudential judgement, could be found who did not endorse intrinsic evil. Because this seems to me to be so very clear, it baffles me that seemingly nobody in authority in the Catholic Church will tell Catholics that same truth when it comes to organizations that are much more powerful than mere social clubs or even influential businesses: political parties.
If the Knights of Columbus, a well established Catholic organization, wrote a new platform promoting embryonic stem cell research, homosexual “marriage” and abortion, no matter what else was in their charter, and regardless of their stellar past history, no priest or bishop would hesitate to tell all Catholic men to renounce their membership immediately and forbid any Catholic from joining the group, for their very souls would be in grave danger. Yet political parties have vastly more importance in the lives of us all than the K of C. How any Catholic can even belong to a political party whose platform currently holds out as “good” those just-mentioned grave evils is beyond my understanding. How any Catholic can justify supporting any candidate who belongs to such a political party is as bewildering as a Catholic supporting a KKK member or a PP director. Those who participate in or cooperate with mortal sin and die unrepentant do not go to Heaven but rather face “the eternal death of hell” (see the Catechism of the Catholic Church, especially paragraphs 1852-1869). All other political positions and means for achieving peace, prosperity and the common good are for nought if salvation is lost. For what shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his soul? Pray for the conversion of politicians and voters and for holy boldness among the clergy.
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: The New Men’s Group
Last week I announced the first order of “business” for the men of our parish who wish to be part of the newly forming men’s group, is prayer. Specifically, a 54 day Rosary Novena. Yep. 54 days straight. Praying the Rosary. Alone or, better yet, leading the family in it. In Latin. (Oops, I forgot to mention that part? Well, the exorcists keep reminding us that the devil HATES Latin. And men, if you dare to say, “But Father, we don’t use the ‘H’ word in our home; it is too harsh” then you absolutely, positively, show the dire NEED for a solid Catholic Men’s group to battle such uber-feminism! Real Catholic men HATE the devil and LOVE whatever the devil HATES!) As of this writing, 12 men have asked for a copy of the Rosary Novena book. Many others will wish they had.
Cardinal Burke has agreed to be the spiritual head of the new Holy League, which we may at some future time become a part of officially, but for now just take a look as what a recent National Catholic Register article about it had to say, for it mirrors what is going on here. (The priest in the article is the one who put together the books will we will begin with.)
In 1571 as Christendom was threatened to be overwhelmed, St. Pope Pius V asked for a Holy League to form and meet the threat. With the terrible world threats today, a new Holy League was reborn to meet the menace.
First, the historical background. When St. Pope Pius V saw Christendom not more than a shambles and Moslem Turks getting ready to deal the last blow, he got Don Juan of Austria to head remnant armies from a few nations to join together forming the first Holy League. St. Pius V called on people in Rome and the regions to pray the Rosary and implore Our Lady for her intercession. Don Juan gave every man in the naval armada a rosary, and all prayed it. They asked for our Blessed Mother’s intercession, priests heard confessions, and against great odds, with heaven’s help the smaller Christian fleet crushed the Turkish Moslem fleet in the Battle of Lepanto... “Pius V nicknamed that collection of forces the Holy League,” says Father Richard Heilman. “We’re the new Holy League here and we’re talking about spiritual warfare more than anything else.”
What will be the focus of this Catholic Men’s group we are forming and what will we be doing? We will be learning to put aside the feminized version of Catholicism we have been taught for as long as I have been alive, and practicing the manly Catholicism seen in the lives of of the past great manly men Saints. The first thing we will see is that devotion to the Blessed Mother, especially in the Most Holy Rosary, far from being a devotion reserved to little old ladies, is rather almost a necessity for a masculine man and a formidable weapon of war in our spiritual battle against the demons. Especially if prayed in Latin. At least the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be.
Our meetings will be held on the second and fourth Thursdays of each month (barring other greater events, like Thanksgiving and the Immaculate Conception), starting August 25. Men, come when you can, even if travel from work prevents you from being here when we begin. At 6:00 some men of the parish usually chant Latin Vespers (Evening Prayer) so we will join them (listening, if not chanting). When they finish, I will lead a Rosary (did I mention that it will be in Latin?). Fortified with prayer we will gather for some manly activities such as Catholic study, encouragement, and other stuff.
My brother in law recently asked me if I knew why God made scotch taste so bad. “Why?” said I, wondering where he was going with this odd question. He replied with a laugh, “So that our wives wouldn’t drink it!” It is up to you as to whether you partake or not, but the pastor will supply some of this heavenly anti-wife liquid and some truly prayerful stogies (you’ll see what I mean) for our first meeting.
The excuses to stay away are already coming in. I can already hear and answer some of them. “But Father, cigars smell icky.” Yes, and there are other gross, stinky things men do and say, too, sweetie. “But I don’t drink!” Nobody asked you to. Have water. “But I will be hungry. Will you supply some dinner for us?” No. McDonalds has a drive thru. “But, but, but...” Whiners prove the need. Manly excuses are acceptable, of course. “Sorry, Father. I ran into a burning building, saved two babies and their mother, conditionally baptized an unconscious man who might not make it, and I am using wire from my car stereo to stitch my lower leg back on after the burning roof truss ripped it off when the house collapsed around me. I’ll be a bit late tonight!”
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: A Look Back to 2015
Last July I became the pastor of Epiphany of Our Lord parish. Most of you did not arrive until the first weekend of August, when the Traditional Latin Mass began being celebrated here. This week I will give you a look at what I wrote to the small but faithful congregation, giving them a glimpse of what they were in for! First they asked for a short biographical piece to put in the bulletin before I arrived:
Father Palka was born in Michigan but the family moved down to Florida when he was a child. He grew up in the Orlando Diocese but came to Tampa when he was in college and received his undergraduate degree at USF. He entered the seminary several years later and was ordained for the Diocese of St. Petersburg in 1996. He has had numerous parish assignments, the latest of which was as pastor of St. Anthony of Padua parish and school in San Antonio, Florida. His mother, Carole, has been active at Epiphany parish for many years so many of you have seen him occasionally at various parish events when he has come to visit. He has absolutely no outstanding talents or abilities but is rather a mediocre parish priest whose goal is to save the souls of his parishioners through a reverent celebration of the Mass and other sacraments. And now you are stuck with him!
That short article was, I think, a nice introduction to my writing style as well as to me. From that point on, people were on notice that my bulletin article may not always be a cut and dried theological discourse put into writing. A bit of self-deprecating humor makes even hard truth a bit easier to swallow! Next, I had to address some rumors going around that had everybody all worked up and worried. I wrote:
Rumors, rumor, rumors! Everywhere there have been rumors about what is going to happen once the new pastor (that’s me) gets to Epiphany. Several months ago Bishop Lynch called me into his office to tell me that he was giving me a new challenge. He was sending me to a parish of which he figured I didn’t even know the location, Epiphany of Our Lord. (Ha! It is my mom’s parish!) He told me that there were over 400 people attending the sole Vietnamese Mass Sunday evening but only 87 people attending the two English Masses combined. The long-time and beloved pastor, Fr. Tuoc, was retiring, he told me, and he wasn’t sure how to keep the parish open with its very small congregation. (St. Joseph Vietnamese Mission is a separate entity which, on the books, at least, basically “rents” the property from Epiphany. Father Tuoc had been pastor of both the parish and the mission so the expenses of only one pastor was incurred and split by both groups. The English community would not be able to afford a pastor on their own and no bi-lingual priest was available to be pastor of both at this time.) So the bishop had a bright idea. He would send me to Epiphany as pastor and bring in a Vietnamese priest to be in charge of the mission and, to try to increase the Mass attendance and, to be honest, the income of the parish so that they could afford an extra priest, I was to turn it into a “center for the Latin Mass.” This is not the Mass you have become used to for the last six decades. This is the old, traditional Latin Mass of the ages. Many know it as the Tridentine Mass. It is the Mass that all of the great old Saints we know and love either celebrated as Priests or attended as Religious or laity. It’s basic form dates back 1500 or more years and the last minor changes were codified in 1962, so this is the Mass which was celebrated by the Pope and all the bishops gathered for Vatican II. After the English Masses next weekend we have a little celebration which you are all welcome to attend. After everyone gets fat and happy I will answer questions and give a little explanation about the differences in the two forms of the Mass if any of you wish to remain for a while.
Now that the Traditional Latin Mass community has been here a full year and everyone is settled in, rather than relaxing and letting things simply be as they are, it is time to redouble our efforts to win the battle for souls. Manly, truly Catholic Men are the key to holy families, which make holy parishes, which make Saints. The men of the parish will begin a 54 day Rosary Novena on August 15, the feast of the Assumption of Mary. It will come to its conclusion on October 7, the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary (in honor of the Catholic defeat of the muslim invaders at Lepanto). More next week.
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Religious Life is Calling Two (and You?)
In less than two weeks, two of our daily Mass attendees and servers will be heading off for the religious life. They will be going in different directions according to geography and in different directions according to the orders in which they are enrolled but in the same direction according to their ultimate end: union with God.
Ryan Caesar, who sings in our choir at the 10:30 Mass on Sundays, will be joining the Jesuits in Grand Coteau, Louisiana. He will begin by spending a year or two delving deeply into the spiritual life, both his own and Jesuit (Ignatian) Spirituality in general. Traditionally this religious order called the Society of Jesus (that’s where the SJ comes from after the name of a Jesuit) has been both an intellectual and a spiritual powerhouse, protecting, defending and explaining Church teachings through the power of logic, philosophy and theology and, of course, prayer. Through their retreat centers and schools they have taught generations of Catholics how to embrace the fullness of Faith, how to live it in their own state of life, and how to make a union with God something not only for the next world but also for this one! Unfortunately though, in recent decades the Jesuits have become the butt of jokes for their less-than-Catholic weird teachings, spirituality that borders on new age or indifferentism, and all around lack of Catholic identity. On the other hand, there are still many Jesuits who embrace the Truth fully and Ryan will no doubt be one of the good guys.
Eric Talmant, who attends either or both of the Sunday Masses, will be flying to Italy to enter the Benedictine way of life. He will be joining the Benedictine Monks of the Divine Will in Carpegna, Italy. Though the Benedictines are a venerable and ancient order, this particular group is newly formed. According to their woefully inadaquate website (http://www.divinewillmonks.com/), “[T]he monks live a contemplative Benedictine life of work and prayer. The Horarium includes praying the 7 hours of the Divine Office, the Holy Rosary, the Divine Mercy Chaplet, 2 hours of private Eucharistic Adoration daily and Spiritual Reading, with particular attention to the Divine Will writings of the Servant of God, Luisa Piccarreta. All the prayers are done before Jesus exposed in the Blessed Sacrament. The monks are devoted to St. Benedict, St. Scholastica, St. Annibale di Francia and the glorious St. Joseph and are consecrated to the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts of Jesus and Mary.” I know very little about Luisa Piccarreta, but, since one of my men is joining a religious house with a particular devotion to her, I will now make it a higher priority to study her life and writings. I hope you will do the same.
I bluntly asked them what we could do to assist them along the journey to monk and/or priest. Diocesan (or secular) priests (which is what I am) don’t have a community to provide for their needs and so don’t take a vow of poverty, since they need to earn money to pay for much of what they need and own. Even as a seminarian, I still had expenses, including my car (insurance, maintenance, gas, payments), school books, soap and other toiletries, clothing and whatnot. The undergraduate seminarians also have tuition expenses, though those were waived for the graduate students. But both of these men are entering into religious orders, where, unlike me, they will take vows of poverty, owning nothing of their own and relying completely on their superiors to supply for their needs. So my question was, “Do you have any expenses we can help with, or do you need any supplies now or in the coming years? After all, there is no doubt people will want to help you on your vocational journey.” Both men said they need only prayer. Both are extremely limited as to what they can take with them (Ryan mentioned a limit of even 5 or 6 books!) and neither think they will have any expenses in their first year. After they get there and find out for sure, I will update you if that changes, for I know that ideals and reality are often quite different. But as for right now, they simply ask you to pray. Could you perhaps remember them in your daily family rosary? (Men, you are leading your family in a daily rosary, aren’t you?) Could you remember them in your daily Mass, or, if you don’t currently come to daily Mass, could you start for their sakes? Even one single daily Hail Mary as you get out of bed would be of untold value.
And finally, for all the other men or women of the parish who are contemplating a religious life, know that you are not alone. These men are taking the plunge. They will spend years discerning, along with and from within their respective communities, if it is God’s will for them to stay and continue. Follow their example. Be courageous. It’s worth it!
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Thank you for your homily feedback
Last week in the sermon I explained a bit of the historical destruction of Jerusalem after the Chosen People rejected the Son of God. (Imagine this: I left out the really gory parts!) When God is rejected by those who absolutely, positively should know better, He will (and did) bring about a Justice the likes of which most people of today cannot fathom and no sane person of any time would ever wish to endure. It was not a pretty picture which I described and it was not meant to be. I believe very firmly that we, both Catholics and society as a whole, are so overly sensitive to such things as others hurting our feelings or being made to feel uncomfortable by every perceived slight or rebuke, that we have lost sight of reality in several ways. Mention the first three Spiritual Works of Mercy (To instruct the ignorant; To counsel the doubtful; To admonish sinners), for instance, and people think you are making an excuse to be “mean” to others. The unremittingly misused phrase, “Judge not!” will then be used to keep the “meanie” from performing any of these traditionally virtuous deeds. As a result, nobody can really fathom such Divinely ordained things as how terrible are the eternal torments of Hell, nor even the cleansing but horrendous pains of Purgatory. Even the very existence (and length of) these two places is doubted by and large resulting in masses of people doing absolutely nothing to avoid them and, conversely, doing next to nothing to get to Heaven. This is a great paradox, for while we are sure God could not inflict His forewarned punishments, at the same time we are also quite oblivious to actual hurts, whether emotional, physical or spiritual, which we mete out to others.
Because I believe this to be true, I will sometimes (perhaps often) preach and write things that are meant to show that throughout the history of Man and the Church not every good and holy thing done by either God or man was sanitized marshmallowy sweetness--as I think the world wants God and the Catholic Church to be at this point in time. I do not do this to be iniquitous but to be charitable. People need to wake up to the fact that doing what God has revealed to be good will bring rewards, sometime temporal and sometimes eternal; doing what God has revealed to be evil will bring the stipulated punishment. Unlike the “Left Behind” false teachings, both the rewards and the punishments will affect both the good and the bad here on Earth, the people directly and indirectly involved in the deeds and those who are innocent bystanders. We need to learn from revelation and history that crying, “But that’s not fair!” or “A good God would not do that (though he warned and/or promised to do so) does not change Truth, for God will not be mocked. Rather, mercy without Justice, which is what we expect, is meaningless.
Still, sometimes I may be the blind one, not realizing what kind of pains I might be inflicting upon others as I try to fulfil my mission. I am not immune to the societal maladies of which I just wrote! That is why I thank you for all your input. I can tell you that at this parish I have never had anyone give input on my teachings in such a way that they seemed to want the Church to change Her teachings or at least to get this priest to shut up about them. Believe it or not, in other parishes, in lands far, far away and a long time ago, the “protestant Catholics” to whom I often refer, cause terrible problems and go to great lengths to get priests to either outright deny God’s revealed teachings or to at least be silent about those teachings of which they wish not to adhere. As I thank you for your input, please know that I do listen to what you say and I try to discern if I need to make adjustments in what or how I do or say things. That doesn’t necessarily mean that I will change, for I may not, even after careful consideration, agree with your point of view. It also doesn’t mean that I was right and you were wrong. Not everyone is going to agree with how to present what Truth to whom and when. Or I still may be in denial, and if everyone (including me) got everything right the first time (or even the tenth time) they heard the Truth, there would be no more need for the Church! But I do listen and I do appreciate concerned criticism. In case you were wondering, I received more feedback on last week’s sermon than any other I have preached this year. By far most of it was positive, but the negatives (again, good observations and questions) were good for me to hear as well. Thank you for caring enough to keep me on my toes.
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka