He only shuts up when he is writing!
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
From the Pastor: Dallas, Dallas, We Love You
I have been waiting patiently--Oh, so patiently!--for the police officers mowed down in the recent terrorist attack to be canonized as happened to the “faithful departed” in Orlando. [Cue the sound of crickets chirping] Where is the compassion? Where is the adulation? Where is the fawning? Where is the money? Nowhere to be found, especially around here. When the obviously (to those with eyes to see) demonic muslim slaughtered the people in Orlando, it was a horror beyond what we are used to in these United States of America. That dozens of innocent people, not soldiers in battle, not gang members in a turf war, not slimy people who doubled-crossed the Clintons Mafia, were killed in cold blood, all of America and perhaps most of the “civilized” world, mourned. But soon, nay, immediately, the mourning turned into something disgusting: a threefold call, 1) to canonize sodomy and its proponents; 2) an absolution of both muslims and “gays” of any wrongdoing, immoral actions, or even bad thoughts; and 3) a politically correct forcing of everyone to accept, promote, kowtow to, and even bow down in worship to intrinsically disordered homosexual behavior. But when police officers are killed performing the virtuous act of protecting a hate group which was actively and at that very moment protesting them and even calling for their executions--(Pigs in a blanket. Fry ‘em like bacon)--not a peep out of the same people who seemed to have stayed up all night dreaming up ways to propagandize sodomy just a few days prior.
Baseball stadiums and government buildings were raising rainbow flags after the Orlando killings. Bishops were writing with tears in their eyes after the Orlando killings. Farcebook was filled with “We stand with Orlando” messages and memes after the Orlando killings. Supposed “bigots” were seen anywhere loving people mentioned repentance, forgiveness of sin, or the sadness of dying in an unprovided for death. But when the noble but (unfortunately, as far as the world is concerned) assumedly “straight” law enforcement officers were strategically assassinated, those who were so vocal just weeks before seemed to have lost their voices and their pens. (Sorry, I am exaggerating. Some have found a voice in calling for more gun control.) It seems that something nearly as bad for worldly people (including high ranking members of the Church) as being called “homophobic” for not fully encouraging sodomy is to be called “racist” for standing up for cops.
The Orlando shootings have brought to light (those who have eyes to see have seen) the absolute acceptance of mortal sin in this particular sexual area and the further absolute acceptance of Islam as a protected religion. I do not exaggerate here at all. Imagine for a minute if the same people were killed in the same nightclub, not by a “faithful” Muslim checking fb for his “acclaim” as he killed in the name of allah, but rather by a Catholic, whether faithful or fallen away, even if he absolutely denied that he was doing it in the name of Jesus. Would his Catholic religion be exonerated? Would everyone bend over backward to stress that Catholicism is a religion of peace and that we cannot hold all Catholics or the teachings of the Catholic Church responsible for his actions or for the deaths? Would imams write that it was, unfortunately, their religion which bullied this poor Catholic and stressed him out so much that he did this terrible deed because of them? Of course not. Try this next. Imagine that it was a redneck bar that was attacked by the same muslim man. Would the myriad of government and corporate offices been festooned with confederate flags as they were with rainbow flags? Would all the dogooders be wearing cowboy hats and boots in solidarity with the rednecks? Would politicians be seen on television wearing “Daisy Dukes” or chewing tobacco as they kissed up to their redneck constituents? Ha! How about, bringing this closer to home, if that muslim man shot Catholics attending a Traditional Latin Mass? Would we have seen the Papal flag flying everywhere? Would we see the outpouring of love coming across the nation as people started defending the right to worship the one true God in this most beautiful manner without having to worry about being martyred (let alone being condemned by their own co-religionists as Self-Absorbed Promethean Neopelagians)? Would millions of dollars have been donated to support the widow and eight children left behind from each of the 49 Catholic men slaughtered?
You know the answer to all of these rhetorical questions, and the answers show the demonic brainwashing our society has undergone. Please pray for the stupid Americans, especially (it pains me to write this) for those who are the clueless or evil members of our Church, particularly in the hierarchy. We, as a whole, have already gone off the deep end and are heading straight for hell. May God be more merciful than we are sinful, so as to bring us to repentance and penance before it is too late.
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: It’s Hurricane Season
Hurricane season began a month ago. This is the first hurricane season during which I have been at Epiphany of Our Lord, as is true for many of you. We have not had a hurricane hit this area in quite a few years—thanks be to God!—but that doesn’t mean that we will not be affected by one or more this year. So I wish to give you four basic pastoral guidelines on what to do if a hurricane threatens.
First: Pray. This seems to be the obvious first step for all who have faith in God but I have never seen it mentioned in any of the “official” hurricane guides put out by the local news outlets or government agencies. Here it gets top billing. Pray to avert the storm. Pray to lessen the storm. Pray that, if God deems it best to allow the storm to hit, it will bring about increases in Faith, Hope and Charity which will far outweigh any perceived or real physical or moral evil it brings. Get out your rosary, read your bible, open your prayer books and pray. Come to Mass if possible (more on that later). Some of the weekday Masses, under such circumstances, may be celebrated with special prayers of the “Mass to avert storms” when a hurricane threatens. [Sometimes people question whether it is proper to pray that a storm changes course. What if it hits somewhere else rather than us? Are we then responsible for the damage, destruction, disruption of people’s daily activities, or even deaths? Let me answer bluntly, without trying to sound either callous or flippant: the people living where it eventually hits have the opportunity to pray for the aversion of the storm just as much as you do. Pray for their spiritual and physical safety, too, but do not worry that somehow you took control of the storm away from God. He is still in charge.]
Second: Follow any good secular advice given for preparation before—and survival during and after—the storm. For instance, make sure you have several days’ worth of food and water stored at your house. If the storm destroys your house and wipes out your food and water supply, there is not much you can do about it. But do you remember seeing images on TV of people complaining that “the government is to blame” when they were simply too lazy or cheap to follow mandatory evacuation orders or even to buy a couple of gallons of water a week before trouble hit? Don’t let that idiot be you!
Third: Do not come to Mass if it would be dangerous for you to do so. I live on the church property. Even if a hurricane is predicted to hit us, I should be able to be at the church to celebrate any scheduled Masses. But that doesn’t mean that you have to brave the storm to get here. Think not only about your own safety but also about the safety of any emergency personnel who may have to come and rescue you if your car winds up in a ditch. Please don’t put anyone in danger. That being said, if you can make it to the church safely, feel free to come. This church is not in a flood zone or evacuation zone, but, as you know if you have been here during an afternoon thunderstorm, the local streets and even our parking lot flood in the low spots when the rain gets heavy. So be careful if you decide to make the trip.
Fourth: If you cannot make it to Sunday Mass due to a hurricane, bring in your offertory envelope for that Sunday the next time you come, or give online. The last time we had hurricanes come through I was at St. Rita in Dade City. I think there were three Sundays when attendance was extremely low due to hurricanes coming through on weekends. Very few parishioners thought to later come and give the monetary offering that they would have given had they been at Mass. Most people seemed to treat the missed Mass the same as if they didn’t go to a theme park that day and therefore did not need to pay the admittance fee. Your contribution is so much more than that. It is a spiritual offering, a tithe. Please don’t short-change either God or yourself!
I hope that helps to answer any questions you have about whether or not Mass will be celebrated and whether or not you should come. But going back to point number one, I think it is always best if we just pray the storms out of existence and not have to worry about the rest of it. So get going even now, when no storm is threatening. If a storm comes anywhere near, the news people will get you all worked up and you might just forget to pray then, so pray long before it seems necessary!
With prayers for you holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Apologize! Plus, Prayer for Government
As the whole world now knows, our Bishop blamed religion in general--and Catholicism in particular--for the demonic shootings in Orlando. He wrote, “Second, sadly it is religion, including our own, that targets, mostly verbally, and often breeds contempt for gays, lesbians and transgender people.” (Is it any relief that he blamed Catholics second, behind guns?) Our Pope has now chimed in by exclaiming, when asked about gays and the Orlando carnage, that the Church should apologize to gays. He said, “We Christians have to apologize for so many things, not just for this (treatment of gay people), but we must ask for forgiveness, not just apologize! Forgiveness!” I am so grateful that the Holy Father chastised and corrected (indirectly, of course) our wayward Bishop with this statement. Yes, the Bishop must apologize to the gays for his lack of love, apparent by his indictment of the True Faith and his exoneration of their sin. He must apologize to gays for encouraging them to embrace mortal sin at the cost of their immortal souls. He must apologize to them for leading people to reject what the Church teaches about the intrinsically disordered nature of homosexual activity and pledge to do reparation for the scandal he has caused. He must apologize with such loving conviction that they finally forgive him, which will be manifest by their repentance and repudiation of their former sinful lifestyle and identity. What? This is taking the Pope’s words out of context? Sorry. But if sodomy is no longer a sin, then sarcasm just might be a new theological virtue. And now for something completely different. And necessary.
The following prayer was composed by John Carroll, Archbishop of Baltimore, in 1791. He was the first bishop appointed for the United States in 1789 by Pope Pius VI. He was made the first archbishop when his see of Baltimore was elevated to the status of an archdiocese. John was a cousin of Charles Carroll of Maryland, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.
PRAYER FOR GOVERNMENT
We pray, Thee O Almighty and Eternal God! Who through Jesus Christ hast revealed Thy glory to all nations, to preserve the works of Thy mercy, that Thy Church, being spread through the whole world, may continue with unchanging faith in the confession of Thy Name.
We pray Thee, who alone art good and holy, to endow with heavenly knowledge, sincere zeal, and sanctity of life, our chief bishop, Pope N., the Vicar of Our Lord Jesus Christ, in the government of his Church; our own bishop, N., all other bishops, prelates, and pastors of the Church; and especially those who are appointed to exercise amongst us the functions of the holy ministry, and conduct Thy people into the ways of salvation.
We pray Thee O God of might, wisdom, and justice! Through whom authority is rightly administered, laws are enacted, and judgment decreed, assist with Thy Holy Spirit of counsel and fortitude the President of these United States, that his administration may be conducted in righteousness, and be eminently useful to Thy people over whom he presides; by encouraging due respect for virtue and religion; by a faithful execution of the laws in justice and mercy; and by restraining vice and immorality. Let the light of Thy divine wisdom direct the deliberations of Congress, and shine forth in all the proceedings and laws framed for our rule and government, so that they may tend to the preservation of peace, the promotion of national happiness, the increase of industry, sobriety, and useful knowledge; and may perpetuate to us the blessing of equal liberty.
We pray for his excellency, the governor of this state , for the members of the assembly, for all judges, magistrates, and other officers who are appointed to guard our political welfare, that they may be enabled, by Thy powerful protection, to discharge the duties of their respective stations with honesty and ability.
We recommend likewise, to Thy unbounded mercy, all our brethren and fellow citizens throughout the United States, that they may be blessed in the knowledge and sanctified in the observance of Thy most holy law; that they may be preserved in union, and in that peace which the world cannot give; and after enjoying the blessings of this life, be admitted to those which are eternal.
Finally, we pray to Thee, O Lord of mercy, to remember the souls of Thy servants departed who are gone before us with the sign of faith and repose in the sleep of peace; the souls of our parents, relatives, and friends; of those who, when living, were members of this congregation, and particularly of such as are lately deceased; of all benefactors who, by their donations or legacies to this Church, witnessed their zeal for the decency of divine worship and proved their claim to our grateful and charitable remembrance. To these, O Lord, and to all that rest in Christ, grant, we beseech Thee, a place of refreshment, light, and everlasting peace, through the same Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior. Amen.
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: The New Priest in the Family
As you know, at least if you read the bulletin, last week I flew up to Traverse City, Michigan to attend the Ordination Mass of my cousin, then-Deacon, now-Father Christopher Jarvis. The Mass was held at St. Mary, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Cathedral in Gaylord, with Bishop Steven J. Raica performing the Ordinations. Archbishop Paul Russell was also present for the Mass. He was a local (Alpena) boy who grew up to be a priest of the diocese, is now an Archbishop, and was recently named Apostolic Nuncio to Turkey and Turkmenistan. I didn’t know whether to congratulate him on his new assignment or wish him condolences but it was good to see him making the extra effort to attend the ordinations of the new priests before he shipped out.
Before giving any more details of the Ordination, let me tell you a bit about my flights. When I boarded the plane bound for Detroit, it was filled with kids and babies. Now, normally I am happy to be around youngsters, but on a plane, not so much. The kids get bored and spend most of the time kicking the back of the seat, running back and forth to the bathroom, fighting with their siblings and whining to mom and dad about everything. The infants, unsure why their ears hurt as the cabin pressure changes, usually just scream the whole trip. So I resigned myself to one of those “offer it up” flights. I was pleasantly surprised. The kids were great and the babies were, for the most part, silent. What a blessing for everyone! The next day on the same leg of the return flight they were asking for volunteers to sit in the emergency exit rows. I was traveling alone so it didn’t matter which seat I had but I asked why they were switching people to the emergency exits. Were they expecting a crash? No. They were just swamped with people who couldn’t be in those exit seats: families with young children and infants! Would you believe that the kids were all good and the babies were mostly silent once again? God is certainly generous with His blessings when He wants to be!
Enough about the uneventful flights; now for the good stuff. Father Christopher is the youngest of my generation. He is the youngest son of my mom’s younger sister. Here is the write-up about him from the Gaylord Diocese:
Deacon Christopher Jarvis was born and raised in Ludington, and is the youngest son of Donald and Phyllis Jarvis’s four children. After high school, his family relocated to Traverse City, where he enrolled at Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City before graduating from Spring Arbor University with a Bachelor of Arts in Business. Following college, Jarvis went into business with his brother and worked as a partner and carpenter at Jarvis Custom Homes.
It was during his post-college exploration that Jarvis began seriously discerning the priesthood. As he continued to pray, spending a great deal of time before the Blessed Sacrament, he eventually discussed his vocation with a priest and entered the Congregation of Marians of the Immaculate Conception. He enrolled in theology studies at the Franciscan University of Steubenville before being accepted as a seminarian for the Diocese of Gaylord and transferring to the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio. Shortly after, he was selected by then-Bishop Bernard Hebda to continue his studies at the Pontifical North American College in Rome.
Jarvis has said that he aims to imitate Christ, as the Church needs more holy examples. His home parish is Holy Rosary in Cedar. Several of his family members and friends from the diocese traveled to Rome this past October to witness Jarvis’s Ordination to the Diaconate at St. Peter’s Basilica. He has recently finished his Master of Divinity and looks forward to returning to the Diocese of Gaylord after four years of study in Rome.
Of his ordination, Deacon Jarvis says, “I am honored to be called to serve the Diocese of Gaylord… this vocation is an unmerited gift from our Lord and I am humbled and overwhelmed at the generosity of the people of our diocese, and look forward to serving.”
Not too bad an introduction! Father Jarvis is starting out his priesthood with a bishop who genuinely desires him to be (and believes he will be) a good, holy priest, he has a gooder ejucayshun then what me done gotten, he is much holier already than I am even now, and he is filled with apostolic zeal. He has been assigned to the parish near where his mom and dad and oldest sister live, so they will be able to see him grow into his priesthood with front pew seats! I may be biased because he is kin, but I see great things ahead for the people to whom he will minister. We should begin seeing their halos shining brighter and more beautifully than the Northern Lights soon enough.
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Father’s Day, the day for Priests
This weekend we celebrate Father’s Day in the secular world, so Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there! But this year we are also celebrating the Fatherhood of Priests in a special way, too. As for myself, I traveled to Michigan to witness my cousin’s ordination to the Priesthood. He is now “Father Jarvis” instead of just Chris, even to me. I am writing this before actually being present at his ordination, of course, but already I cannot describe what it is like to have a family member join me in this incredible gift of true Fatherhood. Blessing us with his presence back home at Epiphany we find another Priest, Canon Commins, who, while also a newly ordained “baby Priest” is already a true Father Priest. He is celebrating the 10:30 Mass for us. While my cousin, becoming a Diocesan Priest, was ordained in the new Rite, Canon Commins, being ordained for the Institute of Christ the King, Sovereign Priest, which is an order dedicated to the salvation of souls through the use of the traditional Latin Liturgy of 1962 for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the other sacraments, would have been (I hope I am right about this) ordained in the older, pre Vatican II Rite. My guess is that most people reading this (as well as the one writing this) have never been to an ordination in the old Rite. With this in mind, I decided to print for your edification a small exhortation found in the Rituale wherein the Bishop instructs and encourages those he is about to ordain.
My dear sons, who are about to be consecrated to the office of the priesthood, endeavor to receive that office worthily, and once ordained, strive to discharge it in a praiseworthy manner. A priest's duties are to offer sacrifice, to bless, to govern, to preach, and to baptize. So high a dignity should be approached with great awe, and care must be taken that those chosen for it are recommended by eminent wisdom, upright character, and a long-standing virtuous life.
Thus it was that when the Lord commanded Moses to choose as his helpers seventy men from the whole tribe of Israel, to whom He would impart the gifts of the Holy Spirit, He said to him: "Choose the ones whom you know to be elders of the people" (Num 11.16). It is you yourselves who are prefigured in these seventy elders, if now, by the help of the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit, you are faithful to the Ten Commandments, and display soundness and maturity in knowledge and in action.
Under the same kind of sign and figure, our Lord, in the New Law, chose the seventy-two disciples, and sent them before Him two by two to preach. Thus He taught us both by word and by deed that the ministers of His Church should be perfect both in faith and in works; in other words, that their lives should be founded on the twofold love of God and of neighbor. Strive, then, to be such, that by God's grace you may be worthy of being chosen to assist Moses and the twelve apostles, that is, the Catholic bishops who are prefigured by Moses and the apostles. Then indeed is Holy Church surrounded, adorned, and ruled by a wonderful variety of ministers, when from her ranks are consecrated bishops, and others of lesser orders, priests, deacons, and subdeacons, each of a different dignity, yet comprising the many members of the one body of Christ.
Therefore, my dear sons, chosen as you are by the judgment of our brethren to be consecrated as our helpers, keep yourselves blameless in a life of chastity and sanctity. Be well aware of the sacredness of your duties. Be holy as you deal with holy things. When you celebrate the mystery of the Lord's death, see to it that by mortifying your bodies you rid yourselves of all vice and concupiscence. Let the doctrine you expound be spiritual medicine for the people of God. Let the fragrance of your lives be the delight of Christ's Church, that by your preaching and example you help to build up the edifice which is the family of God. May it never come about that we, for promoting you to so great an office, or you, for taking it on yourselves, should deserve the Lord's condemnation; but rather may we merit a reward from Him. So let it be by His grace.
What a beautiful beginning to an ordination Mass! Please pray for for all priests, especially the two mentioned above, for, as the Traditional saying goes, If the priest is a saint, the people will be fervent; if the priest is fervent, the people will be pious; if the priest is pious, the people will at least be decent; if the priest is only decent, the people will be godless. The spiritual generation is always one-degree less intense in its life than the one who begets it in Christ.
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Not a Typical Week
This atypical week is a busy one. Not that the others aren’t busy or are all the same, mind you, but this one...well...you’ll see. First of all, Carmen, who runs the office, is out for some unknown number of weeks as she recovers from shoulder surgery. It is an old war injury which has bothered her since the Civil War. No, wait, she will kill me if I tell a whopper that big. Her rotator cuff is worn out from her years of pitching in the women’s professional baseball league during WWII, like you might have seen in the movie “League of their own” quite some time back. Ooops, that still makes her too old. It’s a good thing she is off so she will never see this article! However it happened, she need corrective surgery of some sort and the doctor evidently prescribed two months recuperation in Hawaii sipping pina coladas on a beach. Oh, wait, that was what the doctor planned on doing for his post-surgery recuperation. Or something like that. (I sure hope her doctor isn’t one of my parishioners. Then again, Doc, if you are reading this, you might want to take along your pastor--you know, for spiritual reasons--so line up a couple of your most lucrative surgeries so that I can tag along!) To make a long story shorter than I would normally tell it, Carmen is out of the office for a month or two so if you need anything, be sure to call or stop in early in the day when Kim and/or volunteers are holding down the fort.
Tuesday night we have our Fathers/Sons Rays baseball outing. It obviously doesn’t take up much of my day Tuesday but it will keep me out way past my bedtime, so penitents at Wednesday morning’s confessions are either going to get off easy because I will be too tired to come up with any penance beyond “three Hail Mary’s” or they are going to encounter a tired, crabby confessor, in which case they will still be doing their penance by the time everybody else gathers in the social hall for our Wednesday night potluck.
Two evenings later is our now famous 3rd Friday “Family Rosary and Game night.” That’s right, bring your family and neighbors, your favorite game, perhaps snacks and drinks to share, and, of course, your rosary. We officially get underway at 6:30, play and chat and eat and drink for a while, then take a break to pray the rosary, then continue with the festivities once again. It is a great way of meeting new parishioners, of kids getting to know one another, and of families really enjoying “family time.” It is a time when at least this little part of town becomes more like what both Epiphany and Tampa were back when Epiphany first became a parish, when it was expected that social life revolved around the parish and that prayer was a big part of every social event.
During the week both of my sisters have wedding anniversaries. That doesn’t make my life any busier or affect the parish in any known way, but I am proud of the fact that both of my sisters married in the church (and are still married!), are striving for holiness themselves and are trying their best to make their respective families into Saintly ones. So please say a prayer for both of them.
Early Friday afternoon I am flying up to Traverse City, Michigan, to attend the priestly ordination of my cousin, Christopher Jarvis. He is the youngest cousin of my generation and, by the time he popped out, his mom (my mom’s younger sister) must have figured out that if she wanted to raise a Saint she needed only to look to see how my mom had raised me. All right, anyone who has ever spent any time listening to my mom’s stories (tales which grow taller with every telling) knows that that’s not true. Christopher was a better kid than my mom even prayed that I would become and, from what I can see, he will be, from day one, a better priest than I have ever dreamt of becoming. Please pray for him and for his holy Priesthood.
And finally, I will return in time for the early morning Mass on Father’s Day so that I can be present at the special 10:30 Mass celebrated by Canon Jean-Baptiste Commins, who was recently ordained in Florence, Italy by Cardinal Burke for the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, and is now stationed in Saint Louis Missouri at the Saint Francis de Sales Oratory. I will let him (or his family members who attend Epiphany) tell the rest of his story. It will help if you speak French, though! And how do you like the title, “Canon” instead of “Father”? Pretty spiffy, huh? I wonder if it comes from the forcefulness of the Catholic preaching in his order...
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Cardinal Sarah Teaches Clearly
Cardinal Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, has, once again, spoken of the priest celebrating Mass facing in the same direction as the people as a good thing--as a means of helping bring conversion to the people! Although people who attend Epiphany are already familiar with the priest facing “liturgical east” (our church building is not aligned east/west, so “liturgical east” is toward the tabernacle rather than a compass heading) while addressing the prayers of the Mass to God our Father, many people in other parishes have never seen this. They believe that the priest should be speaking to them (praying to them, as it were) while he offers the Holy Sacrifice. People really get up in arms against the very notion that the priest would “turn his back on the people” and, without really thinking about it, prefer that the priest turn his back on God. The older ones claim that “Vatican II taught that Mass is only good if they can see the priest’s face” during the entire Mass. Cardinal Sarah, God bless him, tells what Holy Mother Church really teaches! The following is from a May 30 article by Carl E. Olson, writing for Catholic World Report. It is not only a good read but also great for sharing with others who may not be aware of this. Note carefully: he is speaking of the Novus Ordo Mass, not the Traditional Latin Mass!
Asked how we, as Catholics, can put God "back at the center" of the liturgy, Cardinal Sarah emphasizes that the liturgy "is the door to our union with God. If Eucharistic celebrations turn into human self-celebrations, there is a great danger, because God disappears. We have to start by placing God back at the center of the liturgy. If the man is the center, the church becomes a merely human society, a simple NGO, as Pope Francis said."
What is the remedy? Cardinal Sarah first emphasizes the necessity of "a true conversion of the heart." He then states: "Vatican II insisted on a major point: in this area, the important thing is not what we do, but what God does. No human work will ever be able to accomplish what is found at the heart of the Mass: the sacrifice of the cross." The liturgy, the Prefect notes, "allows us to go outside the walls of this world. Rediscovering the sacredness and beauty of the liturgy therefore requires a work of formation for the laity, the priests and the bishops. I am talking about an interior conversion." As he has done before, notably in a detailed reflection published earlier this year, Cardinal Sarah emphasizes the importance of silence: "In order to put God back at the center of the liturgy, silence is necessary too: the ability to be quiet so as to listen to God and his word. I maintain that we only meet God in silence and by pondering his word in the depths of our heart."
This insistence on conversion—which is "to turn toward God"—and contemplative silence leads to the recognition "that our bodies must participate in this conversion." And the best way to realize this bodily participation is by facing liturgical East (ad orientem) in worship:
The best way is certainly to celebrate with the priests and the faithful all turned in the same direction: towards the Lord who comes. It is not a matter of celebrating with one’s back to the faithful or facing them, as you sometimes hear. That is not where the problem lies. It is about turning together towards the apse, which symbolizes the East, where the cross of the risen Lord is enthroned. By this way of celebrating, we will experience, even in our bodies, the primacy of God and of adoration. We will understand that the liturgy is first of all our participation in the perfect sacrifice of the cross. I have experienced it personally; by celebrating in this way, the assembly, headed by the priest, is as though drawn in by the mystery of the Cross at the moment of the elevation.
Cardinal Sarah is asked if this way of celebrating is allowed. Yes, he responds, it is indeed "lawful and in keeping with the letter and the spirit of the Council." He notes that in a June 2015 article that he wrote for L’Osservatore Romano, "I proposed that the priests and the faithful turn toward the East at least during the Penitential Rite, during the singing of the Gloria, the Prayers of the Faithful and the Eucharistic Prayer."
Naturally, Cardinal Sarah is asked about Vatican II and the "change in orientation of the altar". He makes a point that has been made countless times but still seems to go unheard by many Catholics: "More than fifty years after the close of Vatican II, it becomes urgent for us to read its documents! The Council never required celebrating Mass facing the people! This question was not even addressed by the Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium..."
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Undeserved but Appreciated “Thanks”
Last week I celebrated twenty years as a priest. Thank you all for the wonderful reception in the social hall and for all of your prayers. One thing I heard over and over was how I had done “this” or “that” so very well. Without false humility, let me correct that mistaken notion. Most of what everybody was praising me for had very, very little to do with me! For instance, we have a very good choir. I didn’t put it together, I didn’t train them, I didn’t choose musical settings for them, or do anything else for which to claim credit. I simply inherited them from Incarnation parish, which had already done all the work. I didn’t know the choir director, either, but several people pushed very hard to keep Anders as the head, so I took their word for his abilities and his faith, and he has proved his worth. Heck, I didn’t even know the value of a good choir for the Traditional Latin Mass, since all I had ever celebrated were silent low Masses which have no choir involvement.
I was also thanked profusely for making Epiphany a parish focused on the Traditional Latin Mass. But this, too, was not anything I did. I was perfectly content at my old parish where I was in my seventh year as pastor. I had just finished building a new school and raising the funds for renovating the old school and had fully expected the bishop to leave me there for another five years. After all, it is his policy to give six year terms to pastors. At the very least I expected to be left in place for at least one more year so that I could complete the renovation project. But the Bishop had other plans. It was his plan to move me here and to make this parish, in his words, the “center for the Latin Mass.” So I went from a parish where the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass was a minor part of the parish to an assignment where it was the main focus of the parish, but my entire work toward making this happen was to say, “Bishop, I will do whatever you wish.” That’s hardly something for which I can take credit.
“Well, at least you have to take credit for the extra daily Sung Mass which we now enjoy” you say. No, I cannot take credit for that, either. Several members of the choir volunteered to sing the Mass as long as it would be done by 7:15 so they could get to work. A couple of men also volunteered to serve the Mass if it was scheduled and a sacristan said she would set up. Well, when there are people volunteering to do all the work necessary, to prepare the chants for a daily Mass, and to commit to being there every day, the least I could do was agree to celebrate it. The daily Masses are not crowded, but the small congregations are very faithful.
You thanked me for having a high school youth group which the teens love but once again I must redirect the credit to the Ballings and the others who took on the responsibility of organizing and planning the group activities, keeping the kids and families notified and reminded of everything and, of course, making sure the kids have plenty of food to eat!
I was thanked for the daily confessions during Adoration and for making confessions available on Sundays. I don’t see this as a very big thing, though, since I am pretty good at just sitting! By making confessions available when you are already here for Mass or Exposition, I am simply giving you a convenient way to clean your soul without making a separate trip. Plus, if there is a lull in the action, so to speak, I can use the time to pray my divine office or rosary, so it is not a big sacrifice for me to “sit in the box.”
And finally, for those of you who thanked me simply for answering the call to the priesthood, though I had a lot to do with that, suffering through years of cemetery--oops, seminary-- studies and torture, it is really the Bishop who deserves most of the credit for my priesthood. I presented myself to Holy Mother Church stating that I believed God was calling me to be a priest. The Church, through the seminary professors, through the pastors, staffs and parishioners of various parishes wherein I had pre-ordination assignments, and ultimately through the hands (quite literally--through the laying on of hands) of Bishop Robert Lynch, made the ultimate decision to ratify my belief.
In short, while I appreciate the glowing comments, I can truly say the real credit for my twenty years as a priest belongs much more to others than to me. Thank you for your role in all of this!
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: I Never Expected It!
This month, with First Holy Communions, Confirmations and my 20th anniversary of ordination to the priesthood, has been hectic, tiring, joyful and rewarding. Those three things were not even on my radar screen when I was ordained in 1996. Sure, celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was foremost in my mind leading up to my becoming a priest, but actually giving Holy Communion to children (and adults) for their very first time -- as opposed to the daily/weekly reception of Holy Communion for the “ordinary” Catholic -- was something I don’t remember ever thinking about. But what a thrill it is! The kids are so excited and nervous, so filled with new knowledge and yet still also filled with questions about what it will be like, and I am right there soaking in all the spiritual blessings and emotional wonderment.
When I was first ordained, confirming kids (and adults) was not something I gave a second thought to, either. Growing up I had neither seen nor heard of confirmations being done by anyone except a bishop. It was probably mentioned in a seminary class at some point, but I don’t have memories of it making much of an impression on me. Yet even at my first assignment, though I was just a wet-behind-the-ears associate, I confirmed what seemed to be dozens of people each year at the Easter Vigil Mass. I can now say that confirming the adults was, for the most part, a more moving experience than confirming the teens. Many of the adults were brought to tears when they were confirmed. They were much more likely to have studied the Faith because they wanted to, rather than because somebody (namely, parents) told them to. They were usually leaving a partially correct church in which they were raised, which they had previously thought contained the full truth, yet by studying Catholicism had realized how lacking their old faith had been and how much they had missed until now. They often sacrificed a lot to become Catholic, including alienation from family and previous friends who could not get past long-held false notions of Catholicism being somehow the evil bogeyman. Yet when one of the teens really “got it” that made even the ecstatic adults pale in comparison, since it was apparent how “different” they were than all of their peers.
Finally, when I was first ordained, it never dawned on me what all I would have to experience (both good and bad) in order to make it to my 20 year anniversary. It is pretty funny watching people look at my ordination photos without being able to figure out which young priest is me. But I have seen myself much more frequently and for a much longer time than any of you, and if, twenty years ago, I had been able to see a photo of my current self, I am almost positive that I wouldn’t have been able to identify my own photo! Yet the physical changes have nothing on the spiritual changes. I am a better teacher of holiness than live-er (is that a word? “Liver” doesn’t seem right, either) of holiness but the growth of my belly at least roughly corresponds to the growth of my soul. I like to think that I have lost as many sins as I have lost hairs, too!
One thing I was certain of, then as now, is that I was called to be a priest. I didn’t know why, but I was convinced that God had called me to this vocation. I still didn’t know everything that a priest did, I still didn’t know what the greatest hardships or the largest rewards or the most mundane tasks would be. I was still completely baffled regarding why God had called me, how I had ever passed the screening process to enter the seminary, or survived the seminary discernment process. Yet I still knew, just knew, that I was destined to be a priest. Even so, the fact that I have made for twenty years is as mind boggling as the fact that the Church has survived for two thousand years. Over that time, I am pretty sure that most priests were as clueless as I as to the whys, whats and hows of their call. Yet Holy Mother Church survives through the grace of God.
To all of you who have received your First Confession (I didn’t previously mention this, since it was one that I had understood to be a part of the “job” from the beginning), your First Holy Communion or your Confirmation at my hands, congratulations and thank you. I have given you a great gift containing sacramental, supernatural power. You have given me a greater gift than I ever expected when I was “growing up” in the seminary. Bestowing the sacraments is the second best thing to receiving them. As for the rest of you, thanks for helping me live and celebrate my priesthood! May God bless you all abundantly!
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: For Those Not at the Confirmation Ceremony
By the time you read this, I will have (God willing and the creek didn’t rise) conferred the Sacrament of Confirmation in the Traditional Rite upon a group of new “soldiers” in Christ’s army, the Church Militant. While studying the old books to make sure I both licitly and validly bestowed the sacrament, I came across some wonderful information which I would like to share with you. The following quotes are found in the 1950 Roman Ritual.
“First, in regard to the minister of the sacrament of confirmation, the Code of Canon Law (canon 782), restating the dogmatic definition of the Council of Trent, says that the ordinary minister is a bishop only, but the extraordinary minister is a priest to whom this power has been granted either by common law or by a special indult of the Holy See.” So delegating priests to confer confirmation, though not the norm, is obviously not a novelty, either, though now the local bishop can make the delegation. A bit later it continues, “This goes back to the practice already followed by this Sacred Congregation in the indults granted to ordinary priests the power to confer confirmation in certain unusual instances...these priests would either already be honored with the distinction of Protonotary Apostolic, or that they be elevated to such, so as to carry out their function with greater dignity.” For those of you who missed it, that means that I should have, according to the old Rite, been given the title, “Monsignor” when I was granted delegation. I got ripped off! It even says that I, as “the substitute for the ordinary minister of confirmation be constituted, so far as possible, in some ecclesiastical dignity and that he (I) belong to the diocese, so that for example, he (I) could enjoy the use of the pontifical vestments and appurtenances, as also the other honors and privileges and distinctions which customarily belong to Protonotary Apostolics (Monsignors).” What exactly those “pontifical vestments and appurtenances” are, I have no idea. But I should have been able to wear them! Another rip off!
Enough about me, though. Here are some parts which I really enjoyed reading about which deal with the confirmandi and sponsor. “The candidates for confirmation should take care that they approach this sacrament with clean countenance and hair properly combed. They as well as the sponsors should be dressed modestly and simply. The female candidates especially and their sponsors should not come to church decked out with ornaments of vanity or rouged faces; instead they should be modest and reverent in attire and appearance.” Do you really think they were telling both boys and girls that they had to bathe and brush their hair? Not hardly. Today, though, they might have included the boys in the admonition to not wear ear and face piercings (ornaments of vanity) and perhaps even the rouge.
Here is perhaps my favorite instruction for the ceremony. “...the adult candidates should place one foot on the right foot of the sponsor...” What? I had to reread that several time to see if I was missing something. I even checked with several “old” people to see if anyone remembered that. Nobody did. Notice that I ended in the middle of the sentence, though, which continued with another option. “...;or that the sponsor should place his right hand on the right shoulder of the subject, whether child or adult.” That second option (and usually options are given in the order of preference; therefore the foot stepping is the prefered method), is the only one I can find anyone admitting. If your confirmation included stepping on your sponsor’s right foot (with your right foot? Your left foot?), please let me know. I would love to hear stories of how that worked!
One final quote to leave you with. Often, the “old ways” demanded much more of us Catholics than the “new ways.” Not so with confirmation. How many of you who were confirmed in the past few decades had to struggle through the boredom of at least two years of classes before you were allowed to be confirmed? That’s the new way. The old way? Get a load of this instruction. “In conclusion the priest is seated, and he counsels the sponsors to foster within their godchildren right living, that they may shun evil and do good; moreover, he instructs the sponsors to teach their godchildren the Apostle’s Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Hail Mary, since such is their obligation.” Yes, in the Traditional Rite of the old days, it was expected that you would be confirmed by the delegated priest before you knew even the most basic prayers! You now have my permission to go slap that beastly DRE who berated you for trying to get out of the terrible “Faith Formation” classes and the dreaded “Confirmation retreat/slumber party.”
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Can a Faithful Catholic also be a Mason? NO!
The other day I was out and about when I had the opportunity to speak with a man who had never seen a priest in a cassock before. We got to talking religion, of course, and I soon discovered that he was a non-practicing Catholic, was engaged to a delightful young lady, had a new house on the Gulf of Mexico, and was living a “good life”. I invited him to return to the Church “full time” rather than just claiming a Catholic childhood and encouraged him to do so now, before the wedding, so that he and his bride would start out on the right foot. It was a fun conversation with a lot of bantering back and forth about the trials and tribulations and hardships of practicing the faith but also about the eternal rewards of doing so. All was going well (though that doesn’t mean I expected him to run to a confessional the following Saturday!) until he asked if I had ever been to a Mormon service.
That question was a lead up, strange as it may seem, to his announcement that he was a Mason. He explained that a Mormon service and a Masonic service were very similar. He said that the founder of the Mormon sect, Joseph Smith, had been a Mason and had modeled his new religion’s service on the one he had been familiar with as a Mason. I had never heard that before and had never been to either service so I could not verify the similarities or differences. This was his opportunity to proudly proclaim that he had been with the Mormons several times but that he attended his Mason service “all of the time”, which was his excuse for his missing Mass for many years now. He then asked what the Catholic Church taught about Masons and was shocked when I told him that any Catholic who joins the Masons is committing a mortal sin. He couldn’t believe it. His stated view of the Masons was that they were a group of good men, mostly Catholic and other Christians, who did good to each other (I got an earful on that), who ran many charities (Shriner’s hospitals being the big one) and who tried to live good, moral lives. How, he asked, could the Church say anything was wrong with that?
Without answering here, I write this today in case there are any Catholics at this parish who, not knowing this prohibition, belong to the Masons. If so, you must renounce your Masonic membership immediately. I have run into quite a few Catholic men over the years who belonged to Masonic organizations and who were quite adamant that there was nothing in that “club” which was incompatible with the Catholic Faith. Yet Holy Mother Church keeps saying something quite the opposite. In 1983, for instance, shortly after the new Code of Canon Law came out, in response to many questions regarding the formal excommunication of Masons, the prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (the future Pope Benedict) wrote, “Therefore the Church’s negative judgment in regard to Masonic association remains unchanged since their principles have always been considered irreconcilable with the doctrine of the Church and therefore membership in them remains forbidden. The faithful who enrol in Masonic associations are in a state of grave sin and may not receive Holy Communion.” Furthermore, it stated that, “It is not within the competence of local ecclesiastical authorities to give a judgment on the nature of Masonic associations which would imply a derogation from what has been decided above...” That last little bit is important because sometimes Masons have told me that their pastor told them it was OK for them to remain a member of their particular lodge, as it seemed harmless enough in and of itself. Here the Church says that no pastor or even bishop can do that!
There are many good articles and books written on the true (and evil) nature of Masonry, and anyone with questions can and should read up on it. No bulletin article can not do justice to the topic so I won’t even attempt to expound on the “why’s” and “how’s” of the history of the Masons or the reasons why it is incompatible with the True Faith. But I want you all to be aware of at least this basic teaching: No Catholic can be a Mason and remain in good standing in the Church.
Please pray for the young man I was speaking with. Seemingly without realizing the gravity of the situation, he got involved in an anti-Catholic organization. And, though he had originally been open to coming back to the Church, when faced with the choice between Church and Masons, he was adamant that the Masons came first, even if it meant risking his eternal soul. That, in and of itself, is a huge red flag showing that something is wrong, when anything --anything!-- becomes more important than Salvation.
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Birthday Party with Mom
Last Saturday I had a rare weekend road trip planned with my mother. Good friends of mine, Dong and Nhung Nguyen, whom many of you already know, live in Deerfield Beach, on the east coast of Florida. They have two boys (and a girl on the way) and they were throwing a combined birthday party for the boys as one turned three and the other turned one year old. After my Saturday “obligations” were completed, I jumped into my car, picked up mom and we began the four hour drive across the state, trying to get to our destination between 5:00 and 6:00 if at all possible. We wanted to (without picking up a speeding ticket) get there as quickly as possible, knowing that our time would be limited before having to head back that night.
The trip was just as nice as could be. Mom talked and talked and talked (it is her favorite activity, but don’t let her know I said that!) and I pretended to listen to most of it (don’t tell her that, either!). We prayed the Rosary, we saw how vastly different the towns along highway 60 are now compared to when either of us used to drive that road on a regular basis, and we passed the time as we passed the mile markers. The weather was great for a drive, there were no accidents, the construction zones were devoid of workers, and all was going well. Until the tire blew.
I pulled off to the side of the Florida Turnpike within sight of the sign proclaiming, “Exit 97, Southern Blvd.” So much for making good time. The “donut” spare tire in my Honda Pilot is under the car. I decided not to crawl underneath but instead called AAA. After all, that’s why I pay for that service. The nice lady on the phone assured me that someone would be out within 45 minutes. So I called Dong and told him we would be a bit late. Believe it or not, I was pretty happy about the timing of the flat. After all, we were in a fairly safe spot just outside of West Palm Beach, we had been traveling through many miles of nothingness on highway 60, and the tire could easily have gone flat in a much worse place. Or it could have blown on the way back, in the middle of the night, in the middle of nowhere! So I was happy. Next, I got online via the phone to check for a tire store, since there was no way I could travel all the way home on the tiny spare. Cell phones can be great tools, sometimes, and this one one such time. A quick search for tire shops showed a whole list of shops which closed early on Saturday, but one, Tire Kingdom, was not only still open but was only 3 1/2 miles away! A phone call later proved that they had tires in stock that would fit my vehicle and they were open until 7:00 pm, giving me about 2 1/2 hours to get there. No problem.
Then, after thirty or forty minutes, the phone rang. It was Dong telling me that his brother, who was also going to the birthday party, was on his way to change the tire. He figured he could get the job done before AAA got there and was happy to assist. So we waited to see who would get there first. I know this will surprise you, but AAA was not the first on the scene, even though their 45 minute timeframe had elapsed. A van full of kids and adults came up behind us and stopped. A couple of men jumped out and started to jack up my car. The old tire came off without any problem and the spare was retrieved from it’s place underneath. But the darned thing wouldn’t fit! “Sorry, Father,” the brother said, “it is the wrong size rim. The holes don’t line up.” He wound up taking my flat tire to the shop to have them put a new tire on it. A half an hour or so after he left, AAA finally showed up but there was nothing to be done so the tow truck left again. It took a while but eventually we got the new tire on and headed back down the road. We made it to the party, had a bite to eat, laughed about the stupid spare tire and headed back home. I dropped mom off at her house about 1:30 am. She’s a “bit” older than I am yet still had to get up early to teach RCIA class. I don’t know how she does it. I certainly am blessed to have her with me, that’s for sure. (You can tell her that part!) But no more Saturday road trips for a while.
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka