He only shuts up when he is writing!
From the Pastor: Unplanned
I went to see the movie Unplanned this week. I don’t get out to the movies too often, although I just saw Garabandal, so, though it’s only April I have now already seen two more movies than I saw in all of last year. At the ticket window was a group of 4, ahem, mature women. They couldn’t hear the ticket teller through the tinny-sounding speaker but they each had questions and they wanted answers. They were each talking at the same time, some asking the teller questions, some telling her they couldn’t understand her and others carrying on seeming random conversations with whichever other friend happened to not be speaking at the moment. The couple in front of me was getting a bit antsy as the minutes wore on, since the movie was about to start, but they were amused by the way the ladies just kept talking and switching places and misplacing their canes, which they kept either leaning against the booth or hanging from the little ledge before they moved around to yell into the microphone before being shoved aside by another one trying to put her ear to the speaker. The couple behind me (and that was the extent of the line) kept commenting on prices and discounts and how they compared to the Veterans 24. The mention of the AMC Veterans 24 reminded me that I stopped going to AMC theaters after I went to that theater one weekday afternoon and was told that I had to pick my seats before getting a ticket. I had never heard of such a thing but was assured that it was an AMC policy to keep people from fighting over seats when the place was crowded. That particular afternoon there were probably only a dozen people attending the matinee but, wouldn’t you know it, they were all loud talkers and bright texters and they all sat right around me. I switched to Regal theaters from then on, which is why I drove all the way to Regal Citrus Park instead of the closer AMC Westshore. Anyway, I wasn’t paying attention to the ticket prices or senior discounts until this couple started complaining about an upcharge of $2.00 for reclining seats. What? I never noticed any reclining seats before. Interesting. Finally, the group at the window figured out how much money they owed for their tickets and, of course, each paid separately. Not one of them pulled out their wallet ahead of time. Once each made it to the lone cashier, acted like she just realized that money would be needed, searched for the latch on her purse, searched even further for her wallet in one of the dozens of zippered pockets, finally found the little wallet where the dollar bills were stowed, carefully counted out the money, searched for the change purse, counted out the coins, received the ticket, put the bill purse and coin purse back in an excruciatingly carefully selected opening of the large purse, and, after once again closing all the zippers on the purse and finding her cane, walked, with the cane carried carefully in the crook of the arm, a step or two off to the side to continue whatever conversation she had been engaged in ten minutes before. Thirty minutes (it seemed) later, the couple in front of me stepped up to the window and laughed with the cashier about the spectacle they had just witnessed. The girl (at least my age) behind the bullet-proof glass was very amiable but was not about to make fun of the prior group. “They are all like that! It’s just like being with my mom at the Publix checkout!” she proclaimed, obviously enjoying her job. This couple had in hand a piece of paper to show her. “Did you purchase these tickets online?” the girl asked, already knowing the answer, “Then you didn’t need to stand in line. This is your ticket so just hand it to the man inside.” To their credit, both husband and wife laughed at themselves and the wife joked about not being taken out to the movies often enough. “Will he tell us where to go?” she asked, regarding the doorman, and then, with a grin and turning toward me, continued, “and I mean in a GOOD way!” as if anticipating where I might have told her to go. Finally, it was my turn. Guess what? I had to choose seats. “You can choose just about anywhere, honey. This is the front, this is the rear.” Hoo, boy. I guess I am done going to Regal theaters, too. Now I understood why the ladies kept switching positions. You cannot see the seating chart without moving at least one step left. I got my ticket and 30 cents change from a $10 bill. I caught up with everyone. The group had made it inside but were just standing there talking. The couple was still at the entrance, as the man taking tickets couldn’t figure out which theater to send them too. It was truly comical. Finally, exasperated, they pointed to me and said, “We’ll just follow him. I bet he’s going to see the same movie that we are.” Sure enough, we were all there to see Unplanned, though I got to my seat first. A recliner. They were all recliners. I checked my ticket. It had a senior discount (unasked for) and the recliner upcharge. The ladies group sat right in front of me and spent ten minutes giving each other instructions on how to make the seat recline.
And the movie? Need you ask? GO SEE IT!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Email Scam Hits Home!
Last May we received word that several the names of several priests had been “used” in email scams looking for money. I warned you about it and told you that if you receive an email from me asking for money for any emergency situation, don’t buy anything and don’t pay anything, for it is certainly not me asking for it. This week a parishioner received just such an email using my name in a scam. Here is what the first email said, using a Gmail account with the name of Rev. John Nolan:
I need a favor from you, email me as soon as you get this message.
Rev. Edwin Palka
There is no reason for me to send a message using someone else’s email account, but it is easy enough to overlook something like that when going through emails. The parishioner answered, asking how he could help, and the response came back from the same Gmail account stating:
Can you be able to help me get an iTunes gift card worth $500 at $100 or $50 denominations for a friend of mine going through cancer in the hospital. He needs the cards to download his favorite music and videos to boost his confidence on his next phase of surgery and fight over cancer which he's going to undergo today but i can't do this now.
Very strange! Yes, it was “signed” by me instead of Rev. John Nolan, though it was from “his” account. Thankfully, the parishioner contacted me instead of sending any money or buying iTunes gift cards. It certainly doesn’t seem likely that I would ask somebody to purchase music for a sick friend instead of, say, a prayer book, now does it? But whatever he needed, whether music or a prayer book or a chocolate milkshake, I think that I could pry open my wallet and purchase it myself. When I warned the daily Mass people about it, one of the ladies told me that the iTunes cards can be used as currency in some places. Go figure. Should you get one of these types of messages using my name, please let me know and forward a copy to me, for I would like to see it and see if I can find any common connection between the recipients. I highly recommend that, should you get an email from any priest, especially from me, or any parishioner or friend, or any anybody at all, asking for something that seems just a tad bit wonky, please don’t fall for it. Really. This is especially true if the email uses bad grammar, as an infamous fake Nigerian prince of email scam notoriety does while trying to “give” greedy people millions of dollars.
There are several priests named “Rev. John Nolan” out there, and I don’t believe I know any of them but we may be connected through something like the Knights of Columbus or the Association of Ornery Priests. Scammers may look for connections to increase the odds of successfully bilking people of their money. For instance, email addresses are free and it is easy to get one with a priest’s name so that it sounds legitimate. People are often pretty, shall I say, stupid, when sending or forwarding emails to groups of people and they don’t hide the multiple email addresses of the recipients. That allows anyone on the list or anyone who intercepts the list to then know that there are connections between all of these people. Seeing a priest’s name on the list then allows a bad guy to contact all of the people on the list, who would, most likely, know him and trust him, pretending to be the priest and scamming them out of money. So if this is how the scammer has connected one parishioner’s email to my name (though I am just speculating that this may be the case), others who were on the same email list might have also been targeted or might be targeted in the near future. I have, over the years, received scam requests multiple times from people I know, mostly from Yahoo or AOL accounts which were hacked, similar to this: “Help! I am stranded in a foreign country and my wallet and passport were stolen. Please wire me money right away! I will repay you as soon as I get back.” Imagine receiving something like this from your pastor, perhaps with an added line such as “I was leading a pilgrimage, which is why I am in Nigeria, and got separated from the group because I couldn’t board the plane without my passport” or something like that to “personalize” it. It might sound convincing. You might be worried sick about poor, dear Father. You might be flattered that he thought you were such close friends that he felt confident to ask for your help in such a dire situation. You might not think that he would have contacted family or maybe even the bishop before asking you for money. You may be taken for a sucker. Please don’t fall for it.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Donors to APA 2018, Thank You!
I am always hesitant to publicly thank people who do things for God through the parish, as they often want to stay anonymous, despising rewards of honor in this life and instead desire them only in the next. Some even threaten bodily harm (in a half-joking way, of course!) if I dare mention them. So the folks who provide the food and drinks after the Sunday morning Masses or before Catechism class, those who Catechize the little sheep belonging to the Good Shepherd, the workers in the Women’s Guild and the Knights of Columbus and the Sacristy, those who clean up and stock the kitchen and bathrooms, who clean up the kleenex and used bulletins left in the church, who tend to the flowers and the statues, who train the Altar Boys and those who serve at the altar, who provide music and hymns for Mass and other liturgical functions, and (here’s the worst part) those whom I have forgotten to mention even in a generic way like this, usually do not get their names in the bulletin or called out across the room and they certainly don’t get applauded at Mass, to their great relief. Even more “prickly” is the notion of thanking by name those who give money, whether to the weekly collection or in support of the girls looking into a vocation or the young men in seminary, or who give to special collections, or who just quietly give money to solve a need at the parish. But there is one place where such acknowledgment, as hard as it is to make public and as hard as it is to accept as a public thanks, needs to be made. Not because the “event” is so extraordinary or because the money given is somehow more important than what is given elsewhere, but rather because so very often people have a hard time giving to this particular collection due to past “indiscretions”, shall we say, of our previous bishop (and public gross “mismanagement” of many other current bishops) yet they do it anyway, only to sometimes discover that their own parish didn’t even get credit for their donation. I am writing about the APA, or Annual Pastoral Appeal, which goes to pay the bills of the Diocese. Below you will find a list of those who gave to this appeal. I ask you as I have in the past years, and I am quite serious about this, not to peruse it in order to see who gave or did not give. Instead, I ask that if you gave to the APA for our parish, that you would check to see if your name is listed. If it is not, your donation went to a different parish. In the past, when we have found those donations which have gone astray (as my own donations have in the past, so I write from experience) we are able to check the following year to make sure it doesn’t happen again. There is not much worse than giving to a collection which you might not fully embrace for various reasons but, knowing that the parish must pay it one way or another, you give while holding your nose, only to discover that your gift went where you didn’t want it to go. (Please also note that not everybody gives this way. Personally, for instance, I am happy to give to APA and trust that our Bishop, knowing that he will have to answer for what he does with it, will spend it, using his own prudential and prayerful judgment—even if it varies from my own!—, for things necessary for running a diocese and helping get us all to Heaven.) The 2019 APA is already underway and we will be checking on anyone who notices a problem from the past, so please let us know if there is an issue with this or even with the amount (not listed here) which the Diocese sent you as a year-end tax statement. With that long way of saying I want to thank everyone but need to thank this group by name, I thank all of you who contribute to the spiritual and physical and intellectual and even emotional life of Epiphany of Our Lord parish.
The 2018 APA Donor List: NOT AVAILABLE ONLINE. PLEASE CALL THE OFFICE TO CHECK FOR YOUR NAME IF YOU ARE NOT SURE WHERE YOUR MONEY WENT!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: A Penny For Your Prayers
Lent is underway and beautiful things are happening at Epiphany. One particularly wonderful Lenten penance undertaken by many of you is the “Prayers and Pennies for Semmies” dreamed up by our Ladies Guild. They got their idea from the diocesan vocation program called “Penny a Prayer for Priests” and asked to do something similar as a “memory device” to remind people to pray for vocations to the priesthood, being especially mindful of the current seminarians and future vocations from our own families. Unfortunately, I failed to explain the purpose of the program well enough for many (or most) people to understand. I hope to remedy that situation here, so please keep reading.
We currently have two seminarians which we claim from our parish because they attended Epiphany when they entered the seminary. Makes sense, right? Joshua Heiman is studying for the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, a religious order founded in France and dedicated to the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass and the other sacraments in their traditional forms. Many of you already support him financially (he has to pay for his tuition and other expenses as he goes through the required schooling) via his GoFundMe page. If you don’t know the page, shoot me an email and I can get it for you. On that page, even without donating, you can keep up with what he is doing, as he posts occasional updates on his studies and seminary life. The ICKSP will even give you a tax deduction under some pretty strict guidelines. They will also allow you to contact him by mail or email, again under some pretty strict guidelines, as they keep a watchful eye on those under their formative care.
The second current seminarian, Esteban Merkt, is officially studying for the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, and is being “sponsored” by the diocese of St. Augustine. His family still attends here and you all just helped his sister Valeria raise funds to travel to the Home of the Mother convent in Spain to further discern a religious vocation with that community. (This is probably a good time to notify you that we expect to have a “Cents for Sisters” program for the girls in Religious formation this coming Advent!) Evidently, his diocese is not quite as keen on allowing such things as GoFundMe accounts so he was not able to set something up. He and his family are, like Josh, responsible for paying his way through seminary. (When I was there 500 years ago, the seminarians for this diocese had to pay tuition and expenses at the minor seminary and then, once at the major seminary, the diocese took over the tuition costs. I am not sure if it works that way for the St. Augustine seminarians, or even for our own diocesan seminarians for that matter, for things do change over the centuries.) Ask me, or, better yet, his mother, for his contact information.
This next group of men I will refrain from naming but you may know who they are anyway. We had one man in seminary for the Jesuits but he is back with us now for a while as he continues to discern which order God wills that he enter. Another of our men, who was studying to be a Benedictine monk, has switched parishes and I haven’t seen him in quite a while. One of our diocesan seminarians shows up every once in a while with his dad at the men’s Holy League when he gets a break from school for a few days. Yet another comes for daily Mass when he gets in town, even though he, too, officially belongs to another parish. And, finally, one of our parishioners went off to the Franciscan University in Steubenville and is now in the beginning stage of applying for the seminary for our diocese.
But I have become somewhat sidetracked. Why are we collecting pennies? NOT for the money! Yes, they can always use money. But they need something much more than that. Prayers. Collecting Pennies for Semmies is supposed to remind you to pray often for the men who will become, by the grace of God, priests. Scrounge around for a penny. Pick it up and say a prayer for the seminarian who will benefit from it. Put the penny in the box and say another prayer for vocations. This is a “whole family” prayer event. Even the little kids can search the sidewalk and couch cushions and grandpa’s pockets for these pennies (or quarters or fifty-dollar bills) and then say a Hail Mary for future priests. Soon they will actively be searching for pennies so that they can pray more! This form of Lenten Prayerful Almsgiving can become a year-round habitual virtue. It brings not just your family but all Epiphany Families together in a united form of prayer, and sets the proper tone for all true charitable giving, which is often overlooked even when giving to the Church! We must pray for our seminarians if we expect to have holy priests!
Return your box(es) on Palm Sunday. You may run out of room, as the boxes are kid-sized. That’s OK. Use a jar or convert your coins to bills or check (made out to Ladies Guild). The women plan to send the money to the seminarians on Divine Mercy Sunday (Low Sunday), the Sunday following Easter, with prayers for a merciful and glorious “resurrection” of the priesthood (as opposed to what we see in the news all too often). I hope this helps you make cents of this prayer program!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Current Lenten Penance Requirements
I have been besieged with requests for more penance options for Lent. Reading about Heaven, as I suggested last week, just wasn’t seen to be enough. I wasn’t expecting it to be the only thing done for Lent, just one small part of it. But for those who really cannot find enough things to do for penance, I am more than willing to expand my suggestions. First and foremost, though, might I suggest that you simply know and follow the current rules for Lent? The Catholic Church, being both venerable and universal, really does have a good understanding of human needs and desires and abilities. As time progresses humans obviously become wiser and holier and we can count on the Church to see that and make adjustments in her disciplines based on our current human condition. Since we are right now at the pinnacle of human perfection and know more than any other humans at any other time in our history we have progressed beyond simple black and white rules. But formally issuing documents proposing shades of grey is not really good PR so the current regulations are black and white but with a few merciful loopholes. Let’s look at the current practice of Lenten penance, shall we?
To begin with the easiest and most obvious Lenten regulation, we turn to days of Fast and Abstinence. Current regulations are black and white. Eat as much of anything you want anytime you desire it except for eight days, namely, Ash Wednesday and all Fridays of Lent. On those days you must Abstain by not eating any meat, and you must Fast by limiting yourself to only eating three meals a day. The first two meals combined cannot equal the size of the last one so plan accordingly. If you eat a breakfast of pancakes and eggs with a side of cheese grits and perhaps some buttery biscuits with honey in the morning you have done well. Oh, I forgot to mention the drinks, which might include a couple of cups of coffee or tea with cream and sugar, a glass of orange juice, and, needless to say, a few Bloody Marys or Mimosas. Note that there is no bacon, ham, steak, or sausage included in the meal, making it truly penitential. If your lunch was then a grouper sandwich with fries, coleslaw, and hushpuppies, accompanied by an ice cold beer or two, with a couple of chocolate chip cookies for dessert, you are still in penitential mode and can congratulate yourself on a job well done as you refrained from ordering the hamburger and pie. But you must be sure that the dinner you choose is substantial so that you don’t die of starvation or malnutrition after having not had any meat earlier in the day. Common sense encourages the Faithful to have dinner at a seafood buffet on Ash Wednesday so that Abstinence from meat is assured. Be sure to eat at least three plates of seafood and maybe a vegetable dish to ensure that the rule of Fasting (the two previous meals not equaling the current main meal) is strictly followed. It is highly recommended that several cocktails and a full bottle of wine (red with seafood, as penance for wine snobs) be taken at this meal, as scrupulous souls may be counting the alcohol content of the early small meals in determining if they are, combined, less than the evening meal’s drink count. Those who are very strong and desire even more penance might, for the remaining days of Fast and Abstinence (the 7 Fridays) forgo the evening seafood buffet and instead attend the local Knights of Columbus’ All-You-Can-Eat-Fish-Fry. But seven days in Lent without lobster, crab claws, shrimp, oysters, and scallops might be overkill as far as penance goes, even for the worst of today’s sinners.
Now that we have seen the black and white Lenten regulations for Fast and Abstinence, which might certainly be seen as draconian in nature and far too hard to accept for most Catholics today, let us look for the merciful “loopholes” which we might use to lessen these harsh mortifications. Let us begin with age. The young and the elderly, obviously, are too weak to Fast or Abstain. So if you are either young or elderly (actual age limitations can be ignored, as those are only in place for people too uneducated to understand “frailty” by any means other than chronological years of life) you may eat, drink, and be merry even during those still-mandatory (because the Church is slow to change) 8 days of penance during Lent. The same exceptions are in place for those whose jobs are strenuous (and whose isn’t nowadays?!), for those who are ill or use medications (including vitamins, herbal supplements, cannabis, and aromatherapy candles), or who are attending a Spring Training baseball game (for not even the greatest of Saints could be expected to pass up hot dogs or brats at the ballpark). You know you have done Lent right if you gain weight by Easter.
Let us now turn our attention to the other penitential practices currently mandated by Holy Mother Church for the 40 days of Lent. Wait. There aren’t any. You simply have to follow the same moral and disciplinary teachings which are in place the rest of the year. From what I hear taught and see written, from Synods to Encyclicals to funeral homily (and “official”) canonizations, those are about as difficult to follow as the Lenten Fast and Abstinence rules. Fortunately, there are merciful loopholes even there, so relax and enjoy the easy penitential season of Lent.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Read About Heaven This Lent
For three weeks now you have seen the violet tabernacle veil and, if you attend the Traditional Latin Mass, the violet vestments, as we have entered into a period preparing us for Lent. This period of preparation is just about over, as Ash Wednesday is this week! Have you figured out what you are going to be giving up for Lent yet? What extra prayers and spiritual readings you are going to take on during Lent? What additional Corporal and/or Spiritual Works of Mercy you will endeavor to fulfill? Time is short so don’t procrastinate any longer! A couple of years ago I suggested that you read a book or two on Hell for your spiritual reading. There is a terrible heresy spread far and wide these days that Hell probably does not exist or, if it does, that it is not too bad or, if it does exist and if it is bad that the few people who go there will only be there for a short time, as God cannot possibly punish anyone (let alone a bunch of people) for a long time, and certainly not for eternity. Reading books on Hell (written, of course, by orthodox Catholic authors) helps to combat such heresy and gives one a renewed interest in staying out of it. That leads to a better Lent, with more fervor behind the penances and reparations. The following year, I suggested that you read up on Purgatory. This subject, too, is one that many/most people, including Catholics, don’t engage in because they don’t believe it to exist or, if they do believe Church teaching about its existence, don’t understand how painful the purgation process will be. Reading up on it can be very helpful in trying to avoid it rather than looking forward to it or aiming for it, instead of Heaven, as life’s goal (as in “I just want to get a little pinky into Purgatory!”). This year I am going to encourage you to learn about Heaven. (See the logical progression here?) Dare I say that most people don’t believe in Heaven, either? Go ahead and challenge people you know and love by asking if there is a Heaven. Almost everyone will say, “yes” but then be completely and utterly unable to tell you why they would want to go there or what they would do there FOR ETERNITY. Saying that they believe in Heaven is no different than answering, “Fine” every time they are asked the question, “How are you doing”, whether they are fine or not. It is just the expected answer. It means nothing. What will they do in Heaven? Really, ask. See if they even mention God. Prayer. Adoration. Thanksgiving. Intercession. Knowing Him as He is. Beatific Vision. The properties of a resurrected body. Communion with angels and Saints. Or see if they rather answer, “Well, I’ll be happy” or “It will be pleasant” or “The weather will be nice” or “I’ll get to see grandma again” with no other idea of what to do or how to spend even a full day, let alone the remainder of eternity. “Golfing with Jesus” and “knitting with Mary” are the kind of things I hear priests talk about at funerals. Talk about being bored out of your skull after a few months! Why would anyone have that as their life’s goal?
But here is the problem with finding good writing about Heaven: it is impossible to describe it. St. Paul writes, “That eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for them that love him.” (I Cor. 2:9). We really cannot describe Hell or Purgatory, either, but we certainly find it easy enough to describe the pain and torments that will be inflicted upon the souls there. But we are not as good at describing consummate, lasting and holy pleasure, joy, happiness, contentedness, charity, prayer, or fulfillment. Even the Catechism of the Catholic Church is woefully sparse in its teaching on Heaven. Where to turn to, then? Plenty of people write about how to get to Heaven but far fewer write about it. Here are some sources. St. Thomas Aquinas is my first choice. He writes about Heaven in the Summa Theologica, explaining what it will be like, the properties of the glorified body, the states of happiness and much more. The Catholic Encyclopedia comes next, with quite a bit of good information in the online version at NewAdvent.org. Ludwig von Ott’s Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma tells what the Church has officially taught on Heaven and the afterlife. If you prefer “stories” to “teachings”, you cannot go wrong with Dante’s Paradiso, though it helps a lot to have already read his Inferno and Purgatorio so you see his travels through Hell and Purgatory before he reaches Heaven. I assume you read both of those for your previous “Lenten assignments” so now is the time to jump into the third part of what is called the Divine Comedy. More books can be found with a google search, but I don’t want to recommend those which I haven’t personally read and approved and I really couldn’t remember which ones I have read as I did a search myself. As a general rule of thumb, though there are always exceptions, look for Catholic authors pre-1960’s, especially if they are priests! And absolutely stay away from non-Catholic authors, for nobody can really write well on Heaven if they have rejected the sure means of getting there!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: A Successful Vatican Summit!
I hereby present to you the results of the recently held Vatican Summit on Clerical Abuse of Minors, which was held on February 21-23. The bulletin needed to be printed before the Summit concluded, so I had to write this in advance of the actual meetings and talks. You know the drill by now. This is what obviously happened. Or should have happened. Or might have happened. By the time you read it, you will know.
To begin the Summit the Pope invited a certain Mr. McCarrick to read aloud a passage of scripture, Genesis 19:1-25 “And the two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of the city. And seeing them, he rose up and went to meet them: and worshipped prostrate to the ground, And said: I beseech you, my lords, turn in to the house of your servant, and lodge there: wash your feet, and in the morning you shall go on your way. And they said: No, but we will abide in the street. He pressed them very much to turn in unto him: and when they were come in to his house, he made them a feast, and baked unleavened bread and they ate: But before they went to bed, the men of the city beset the house both young and old, all the people together. And they called Lot, and said to him: Where are the men that came in to thee at night? bring them out hither that we may know them: Lot went out to them, and shut the door after him, and said: Do not so, I beseech you, my brethren, do not commit this evil. I have two daughters who as yet have not known man: I will bring them out to you, and abuse you them as it shall please you, so that you do no evil to these men, because they are come in under the shadow of my roof. But they said: Get thee back thither. And again: Thou camest in, said they, as a, stranger, was it to be a judge? therefore we will afflict thee more than them. And they pressed very violently upon Lot: and they were even at the point of breaking open the doors. And behold the men put out their hand, and drew in Lot unto them, and shut the door: And them that were without, they struck with blindness from the least to the greatest, so that they could not find the door. And they said to Lot: Hast thou here any of thine? son in law, or sons, or daughters, all that are thine bring them out of this city: For we will destroy this place, because their cry is grown loud before the Lord, who hath sent us to destroy them. So Lot went out, and spoke to his sons in law that were to have his daughters, and said: Arise: get you out of this place, because the Lord will destroy this city. And he seemed to them to speak as it were in jest. And when it was morning, the angels pressed him, saying: Arise, take thy wife, and the two daughters which thou hast: lest thou also perish in the wickedness of the city. And as he lingered, they took his hand, and the hand of his wife, and of his two daughters, because the Lord spared him. And they brought him forth, and set him without the city: and there they spoke to him, saying: Save thy life: look not back, neither stay thou in all the country about: but save thyself in the mountain, lest thou be also consumed. And Lot said to them: I beseech thee my Lord, Because thy servant hath found grace before thee, and thou hast magnified thy mercy, which thou hast shewn to me, in saving my life, and I cannot escape to the mountain, lest some evil seize me, and I die: There is this city here at hand, to which I may flee, it is a little one, and I shall be saved in it: is it not a little one, and my soul shall live? And he said to him: Behold also in this, I have heard thy prayers, not to destroy the city for which thou hast spoken. Make haste and be saved there, because I cannot do any thing till thou go in thither. Therefore the name of that city was called Segor. The sun was risen upon the earth, and Lot entered into Segor. And the Lord rained upon Sodom and Gomorrha brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven. And he destroyed these cities, and all the country about, all the inhabitants of the cities, and all things that spring from the earth.”
When the passage was read, the Gift of Fear of the Lord filled each of the men present and spread simultaneously throughout the entire world-wide presbyterate. Clergy of all stripes fell to their knees weeping, put on sackcloth and ashes, called for a worldwide fast and a Holy Year of Reparation for the Sin Of Sodom which they had inflicted upon the Church and world. Every sodomite seminarian, deacon, priest and bishop completely converted on the spot yet still resigned, effective immediately, each to live a life of severe penance and prayer in modern-day Nineveh (near Mosul, Iraq) as chaste, faithful, discalced mendicant brothers in a newly formed lay organization dedicated to disseminating far and wide, The Book of Gomorrah and St. Peter Damian’s Struggle Against Ecclesiastical Corruption. Between damnation and Damian, they chose wisely.
And so it went. I hope.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Safe Haven Sunday in Two Weeks
Today I will share with you a news article about Safe Haven Sunday, which will be held in this diocese in two weeks. I know you have been seeing the little blurbs in the bulletin for the past month or so but, even so, I want to make sure you know that it is coming up. Each parish will be presenting something on the weekend of March 2 and 3 regarding the devastatingly harmful effects of pornography. Though the Church is certainly countercultural on this subject, She teaches with certainty that viewing of pornography (or otherwise engaging in it) is mortal sin. It destroys sanctifying grace in the soul. It creates its own addictions. It destroys relationships, especially marriages and families. Yet, even knowing this, Catholic men, nearly as often as non-Catholics, often find themselves inexplicably drawn to it like the proverbial dog returning to his vomit (Proverbs 26:11 and 2 Peter 2:22) and keep repeating this folly to their own inevitable implosion. But in recent years women have, against all past experiential common sense, started catching up with men in engaging in the viewing of this smut. And now, as the chickens come home to roost, children are being exposed to this evil and are engaging in the behaviors they see even before they understand what they are seeing and doing. We, the shepherds of the Church, cannot be silent about this. Thank you, Bishop Parkes, for allowing us this opportunity. Nothing will be presented in graphic detail, as the Church has always clearly taught that “sex education” should be taught at home. That does not mean that presenting basic facts and information is forbidden. Home education darned sure better be much more detailed than anything you will hear at church! But there are always people who never want their children to hear even a mention of anything sinful and they, because this has been announced well in advance, will know to take their little ones out of the church for the homily regardless of which parish they attend. Here is the news story.
Bishop Gregory Parkes Designates March 3 as Safe Haven Sunday
February 8, 2019 News
Seeks to Educate Community About the Harmful Effects of Pornography
On Sunday, March 3, parishes in the Diocese of St. Petersburg will set aside time to address the pervasive problem of pornography and its devastating effects on marriages and families. The goal is to make each home a safe haven from pornography.
“Pornography is detrimental to both the physical and spiritual life of each individual and the greater community. The use of pornography by anyone in the home deprives the home of its role as a safe-haven and has negative effects throughout a family’s life and across generations,” said Bishop Gregory Parkes.
The Diocese of St. Petersburg is partnering with Covenant Eyes, a company committed to creating faith-based resources that foster the virtue of chastity and the tools to overcome pornography use and addiction. They will offer resources, available in English and Spanish, that are focused on education and prevention, such as practical tips to create safer digital environments.
It is also hoped that the resources provided on Safe Haven Sunday will both encourage and teach all individuals and families dealing with the effects of pornography that loving support is available.
The idea for Safe Haven Sunday was inspired by the U.S. Bishop’s November 2015 statement, “Create in Me a Clean Heart: A Pastoral Response to Pornography” and the theme is Equipping the Family, Safeguarding Children.
Further resources to combat pornography, including a list of Catholic counselors who specialize in helping people recover from this addiction can be found at www.dosp.org/freedom-from-porn.
Safe Haven Sunday is part of Freedom From Pornography, an initiative of the Diocese of St. Petersburg that started in 2016 to combat the growing problem of pornography that has harmed so many individuals and families because of its distorted view of the human person and sexuality. Since then, educational events and training programs have been held to equip the faithful to protect themselves and seek assistance and healing.
So once again you have been given a taste of what is to come. It is hoped that, by this being a diocesan-wide topic of concern, that men, women, and children will become, if they are not already, aware of the dangers, spiritual and otherwise, of pornography. It is hoped that they will seek assistance in combating this evil if they have tried and failed. It is hoped that they will protect their children and even adult loved ones by taking every precaution necessary to purge and protect the main sources, such as televisions, computers, and phones. Please pay attention and take this seriously. Your salvation might very well depend on it.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Under the Weather
As you know, some of the men of Epiphany are taking the Exodus 90 Day Challenge of disciplining the body, mind, and soul. Part of the “process” is getting together in person and online to see how everything is going, to encourage and strengthen each others’ resolve to stick with the ascetic disciplines, to needle each other a bit about shortcomings, and to hold ourselves accountable and not slack off as we might if doing it by ourselves. Last week one of the men mentioned the possibility that someone could get sick and desperately want to take a hot shower even though part of the discipline is taking only cold ones. As you know from a previous article (Arctic-le?) it is the cold showers that kept so many of the guys out of the program in the first place. But everyone was in good health, so it (the hot shower for the guy who got sick) was only spoken of as a theoretical possibility rather than being brought up as a means of asking for leeway in that particular discipline for anyone in particular. But wouldn’t you know it? This week I caught the crud. I started with a sore throat on Monday and by Tuesday morning I couldn’t chant the morning Mass. I got some stuff from the Doctor and went back to bed. For the rest of the week, I have not been able to chant or give homilies, as my voice is simply too weak to be heard. As I write this, I am still unsure as to whether or not you will be hearing me or only seeing me on Sunday when you are reading this!
But back to the hot shower. There are not too many “delights” in being sick. Things that are fun or tasty or otherwise pleasing during times of good health just seem so drab when the body is out of sorts but if there is anything that still qualifies as a delight it is in taking a long, hot shower. Longer than normal. Hotter than normal. There is something about a steam-filled bathroom that seems to help break up the sinus gunk and somehow the extra-hot water seems so soothing. And here I was, thinking about that and remembering the discussion about maybe making exceptions for this in the event of illness. I debated with myself about whether I should baby myself just a little or stick with the discipline. I procrastinated before turning on the water and...
Gosh, there have been so many important “Catholic things” happening recently. Some Catholic pro-life kids were accosted and condemned and berated by racist, bigoted, anti-Catholic and generally morally foul men while in Washington, DC for the March for Life. No, I don’t mean the Indians or the Black Hebrew Israelites. I mean the bishops who were exhibiting blatant anti-Trump or anti-life or anti-straight-white-male or anti-Catholicism that they quickly sided with the proven anti-everything-mentioned-above media and disparaged these kids for being such cruel, evil, wicked, nasty, and disgusting pieces of dung, even when all but one of the bishops (their own) had no reason whatsoever to mention them in comments at all. Bishops, by and large, cannot find the time or energy to fight actual immorality and actual immoral people but if they can kiss up to the secular powers they are willing to fight tooth and nail no matter right or wrong. They need to take the Exodus 90 or something so that they can find their moral compasses again. Maybe then they can condemn the entire Democrat party and specific people such as the governors of New York and Virginia for their public championing of infanticide.
In other news, the Bishop of Rome signed a historic document with the Sunni Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed Al-Tayeb, which claimed that God willed anti-Catholic religions just as He willed the Catholic religion. What claptrap. No Bishop, let alone the Bishop of Rome, is on equal footing with any Imam, for a Bishop has Apostolic succession and belongs to the one, true Church founded by the one, true Savior, and the Bishop of Rome, if he be the Pope, has God-given authority to speak for the whole Church, clergy and laity alike, nay, for the whole world and all its inhabitants. No Imam can make a claim even close to that, as he belongs to a false religion and has no authority given to him by either man or God over any of his fellow Imams or over all followers of the false prophet Mohammed. Yet no retraction or clarification was put forth. But when Francis mentioned (not in writing, mind you, and not in a formal setting, so without nearly the same level of “authority”) that some priests enslaved some women Religious, a clarification came almost immediately to insist that he didn’t mean that they were actually made slaves. Hmmm... I wonder if there is any connection to absurdities like this and the fact that there have been several priests who were recently relieved of their duties against their will and possibly against canon law simply (by all accounts now known) due to their true Catholic teachings.
See, procrastination happens even in the middle of writing. I was about to tell you something when my mind wandered. Now, where was I? Oh yes. The shower. I couldn’t recall any martyr Saints being asked, “Are you feeling well enough to be fed to the lions today? No? Well, then, I’ll come back next week to check on you. Ta ta for now!” “Delightful,” I lied to myself, as I stepped into the cold water.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: APA News and New APA
Last year’s Annual Pastoral Appeal (which, I hope you know, is the annual diocesan collection from each parish which is used to pay the bills for the Diocese of St. Petersburg) is now finished. I thank all of you who contributed. Due to a last minute rush of contributions, including one rather large one (again, thank you very much!), we went from only being at 55% of our goal in November to achieving 88% by the time the 2018 APA ended. We finished short of our $50,105.00 by $6,055. As I was going through the numbers and looking over the last three years of APA statistics, I was left scratching my head. In August of 2015 Epiphany had new life breathed into her with an influx of parishioners who came specifically for the Traditional Latin Mass and other sacraments in the venerable ancient rites. The following year our 2016 APA assessment (which is based on the previous fiscal year’s parish income and we had only been here half a calendar year, bringing an increased offertory but not affecting the fiscal year’s offertory) was $12,192 and 47 families contributed. Needless to say, we easily went over our assessment. The next year, 2017, APA went up to $42,058 and 69 families contributed to the cause. The increase in APA was easily accounted for by the new members having been at Epiphany for a full fiscal year by the time the assessment was set, and the collections were obviously much higher with nearly 300 new people attending each Sunday, plus other parishes in the Diocese doing more poorly than the previous year. Needless to say, though, we again went over the assessment. Then last year’s assessment, for 2018, was based on our second full year of contributions and, while our collection was basically the same as the previous full year, so many parishes in the Diocese have had decreases in both parishioners and collections that our portion of the total APA was higher than the year before rather than remaining the same as it would be if it were calculated by a simple percentage of income. (in case you were wondering, the Diocese total assessment goals for all parishes combined for those years was $11,655,123 for 2016, $11,842,751 for 2017 and $11,850,000 for 2018) We increased, as mentioned above, to $50,105. Our Sunday attendance has been slightly higher this past year yet our “contributing to APA” numbers have decreased. Let me show you the official numbers for the past three years. (Note: these are not tithing numbers; this is for APA only.)
2016: 246 registered families; 47 contributed an average of $623
2017: 270 registered families; 69 contributed an average of $735
2018: 269 registered families; 50 contributed an average of $630
Now, the number of registered families is a mystery number. We have been seeing total Sunday attendance for our three Masses of about 320, plus or minus, for quite some time, meaning that our average Epiphany family has fewer than two persons if these numbers are correct. Regardless, however that number is arrived at, it seems certain that we have more than the 47, 50 or even 69 families which contributed to APA during any one year. In 2019 we currently have 273 families registered. If each were to give the average donation to APA of the last three years ($663) we would collect $180,999 by the time we were done!
In case your eyes were not already rolled back into the top of your head as you sit there with your mouth open making moaning sounds so that the TV-influenced children think that you are one of the undead zombies they watch incessantly, I will continue with more numbers to get you to that stage. This year the Diocese will be collecting a total of $11,849,890 from all the parishes and missions. Epiphany’s contribution to that will be $41,608. So why did our portion of APA decrease? As near as I can tell there are two main reasons. First, our weekly contributions were down last fiscal year. People contribute less or cease giving altogether if they get mad at the pastor or the Bishop(s) or the Pope. We all gave you plenty to be mad about in recent years! People also sometimes give less if their income goes down while living expenses go up, which is the opposite of what they do to the electric or cable company. But for whatever reason, it is what it is. Second, with increasing scrutiny of our financial books and us understanding better how the Diocese expects us to book income and expenses, we were able to find and properly record income that should never have been APA’d in the first place but had been in years gone by. Plus, increased scrutiny might have conversely uncovered where other parishes were “hiding” money from APA, but that is merely my speculation!
In case you are looking at words such as “contribution” or “goal” or “assessment” and wondering what happens if we don’t meet it, I have good news for you. The Church Fairy waves her magic wand and, with a poof of fairy dust and a cloud of cheerfully colored, non-cancer-causing smoke, the debt disappears and we don’t have to pay it! Wait a minute. I think I must have dozed off for a bit. That was just a dream. A nice one, but still... No, we have to pay it out of the account holding the overage from the previous bountiful years.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: The Exodus 90 Challenge
There are some great things happening at Epiphany of which you should be aware. I have already written about the Solemn High Mass and Blessing of Candles which will happen next Saturday, February 2, at 8:00 am so this is just a simple reminder about it. Bring your candles for the blessing and procession! In the evening of that same day is the celebration of the Lunar New Year (TET) by the St. Joseph Vietnamese Mission and they want to be sure that you all know that you are invited. Come early! Getting here will be a nightmare after 8:00. The children’s activities begin about 6:00 or 6:30 pm (exact times are not seemingly too important!), following the 5:00 English Vigil Mass. Food will be plentiful and all of the booths will be selling traditional Vietnamese soups, meats, shrimp and many things which are completely unidentifiable. Come with an adventurous hunger!
Something already underway and continuing until Easter is the “Exodus 90” challenge. Andy Whiskeyman asked if he could recruit a group of men to take on this challenge of 90 days of prayer, ascetical exercises, and fraternity. Six things would be expected of any man who signed up: 1) Pray daily prayer and read through the Book of Exodus; 2) Sacrifice with twice-weekly fast days; 3) Give up alcohol and sweets, social media, video games and televised sports; 4) Don’t spend any money except for necessities; 5) Take only cold showers and commit to a program of strenuous exercise; 6) Meet at least once a week with a group of five to seven guys who are doing the same thing under the Spiritual Direction of a Priest. Out of that list, there was one expectation which multiple men told me they couldn’t do. Others told the office staff that they couldn't do that same one. Still more told Andy that that same one was holding them back from participating. At one point Andy told me, “I always thought Hell would be burning hot. Evidently it will need be nothing worse than a cold shower!” Yes, number 5, taking cold showers, was the one so many men were unwilling to do. We did get enough men. But really? Cold showers are too much? They are more difficult than exercise or twice weekly fasting or giving up sports or alcohol? Unbelievable.
I had agreed to be the spiritual director for the men. I figured that I couldn’t very well lead them spiritually if I wasn’t willing to join them in these practices. I also figured that, since I was poking fun at the snowflakes, I had better strengthen myself by undertaking this hardest ascetical practice before anyone else. So I began taking cold showers before the 90 days began. It’s not that hard, really. Right? Why, just last year the rectory’s water heater broke and it took a week to get it fixed. Those cold showers were forced upon me. These were my choice. During the forced cold showers I only got wet and then turned off the water until needing to rinse. This time I was going be a man and shower like normal except never turn the hot water handle. Or so I told myself before getting in. “YEEIAYAYIOOEEIIAYIYIYI” or something like that came out of my mouth involuntarily even before I got my face into the flowing stream of liquid icicles. I kept telling myself over and over, “It’s only cold water. It can’t hurt you. It’s only cold water...” but I just couldn’t make myself believe it. I grew up swimming in Florida’s freshwater springs where the water temperature remains constant at 70 or 72 degrees all year long. When it is 94 outside, that temperature difference makes entering the water seem difficult. Some people entered this way: Two inches at a time. Stop. Acclimate ankles. Wait 45 seconds. Step forward, submerging two more inches. Stop. Repeat. Other people just jumped right in and got the shock out of the way all at once. I was a jumper. But a shower is not jumpable. Brrrrr.... “A few days of crying, shivering, and talking myself through it should do the trick,” I lied to myself, “and I will quit acting like a little girl and just calmly step under the spray as if it is nothing.” I haven’t yet gotten to that point. It has gotten easier, but it showed me quite clearly that I am too soft and squishy. I like physical comfort so much that even something as seemingly simple as a cold shower takes getting psyched up for. This is really showing how much I need ascetical practices like this to toughen me up. If I can barely stand ten to fifteen minutes of 65-68 degree water (yes, I measured it several times after my second day of wimpiness and that is the temperature range so far!) how can I ever expect to be a martyr or withstand torture for the Faith, not knowing if or when real pain will end? How can I even begin to properly contemplate the pains of Purgatory so as to do extra penance before death in reparation for my many sins if I avoid even inconveniences (for cold water showers are not truly painful)? A brief discomfort once or twice a day is nothing compared to the excruciating and eternal pains of Hell but it just might keep me and the men with me (and then their families and you) out of it! Please pray for us as we continue these 90 days of spiritual fitness and purification.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Courageously Living the Gospel
Bishop Parkes has a program going on, or, maybe it’s not exactly a program but a project, or perhaps it is better described as a plan for a program for a bunch of projects meant to increase the Catholic Faith of Catholics and to evangelize non-Catholics in the Diocese of St. Petersburg. If you get any mail from the Diocese you see the name of this program/project/plan, Courageously Living the Gospel, on the envelope, on the letterhead and on any brochure tucked inside. It is on posters in the church, on calendars, and on the web. He promotes it on his podcasts and videos. It is in your face so much there is a danger that you just treat it like muzak and tune it out even when it surrounds you. Maybe you couldn’t even think of its name, let alone call to mind what it is all about as you read the above sentences. Do you remember hearing about or attending the Diocesan Family Fun Fest? That was part of it. Most of the rest is stuff we are still planning (we being mostly the priests along with parish staff and a few lucky parishioners) for our individual parish and for our local community or deanery (which is a group of somehow connected parishes, though not necessarily the closest ones). Here are three things which each parish is expected to do at the parish level as part of the plan. 1) One hundred percent of parishes will establish and/or enhance youth ministry opportunities by July 1, 2020. 2) Every parish will equip parishioners as Missionary Disciples who are inspired to invite and accompany others by Pentecost 2020. 3) All parishes will enhance or establish family ministries to respond to the diverse needs of families by Pentecost 2020. We are already well on our way to making those three things happen at Epiphany.
The priests of our deanery have been planning and debating and thinking of what we can do to fulfil one of this plan’s larger requirements, which is a deanery wide collaborative project, an interparochial activity in which parishioners of each parish in our deanery will participate. The project is supposed to address a regional community issue. It should relate to or support one or more of the three diocesan vision goals of evangelization, which are: 1) Evangelization; 2) Youth or young adult outreach; and 3) Social justice/serving those in need in one of our parishes or our area. One proposal is to have parishes take turns feeding the poor on Saturday mornings at Santa Maria Mission in the north end of Tampa. If you don’t know that there is a mission there, this is already increasing your knowledge about things happening in our neck of the diocesan woods! Another proposal is to get parishioners to commit to evangelization on the USF campus. Apologetics and a few other basic means of teaching the Faith to college kids will be taught to interested parishioners by the campus minister, Fr. Paskert, and the volunteers will share their Catholic Faith on campus, where many kids face great temptations to abandon the Faith in part or altogether, and help Catholic students look at their Faith with, perhaps for the first time, the eyes of their budding adulthood. They might also find students with no or deficient faith who are hungry for the Truth and introduce them to the One True Church. (This is my favorite of the proposals, even though very difficult to do.) Yet another project put forth for consideration is putting together an Interparochial Catholic Youth Athletic Soccer League. Regardless of which of these proposals gets chosen to be our “official” project, if one of them strikes your fancy and you want to get involved in it, let me know and I will see what can be done to make that happen.
For the sake of those who don’t know which parishes are in our North Central Deanery (and even I had to look it up to be sure I didn’t forget any parish), here is the list. Epiphany of Our Lord. (Of course we have to be in our own deanery!) St. Joseph Vietnamese Mission. Immaculate Conception Haitian Mission. Corpus Christi. Most Holy Redeemer. Our Lady of the Rosary. St. Mark the Evangelist. St. Mary. Santa Maria Mission. St. Paul. St. Timothy. USF Catholic Student Center. The current dean of our deanery is the pastor of St. Mary, Very Rev. C. Timothy Corcoran, JD, VF. Why would you want to know this information? I don’t know if you do, actually, but since we will be working with the other parishes on at least one of the above mentioned projects, it sure cannot hurt to have at least seen this list somewhere along the line.
The deanery meeting discussions about how we are to implement the Bishop’s plan have been alternating between being very fruitful, very frustrating, very humorous and very vacuous. We all think it is wonderful that the Bishop has a plan for increasing the Catholicity of the people of his diocese. We don’t all think the same way about what should be done about it or in which way to achieve even the same goal. We all (at least the pastors, if not the parochial vicars, who don’t yet have to pay the church bills) worry about whether each project is a good use of parish money and volunteer hours. Somehow, though, it will all work out. May God bless this undertaking for His glory and our salvation.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Looking Ahead to February 2
Although February 2 is still a couple of weeks away, I want to bring this celebration to your attention with enough time for you to plan. Yes, it is Groundhog Day on the secular calendar but, more importantly, it is Candlemas Day (aka The Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary) on the Liturgical Calendar. Some of you have participated in the Candlemas festivities for the past three years we have been at Epiphany but, since this is the first time it has fallen on a Saturday, I expect that many more of you will be able to attend this time. We will have a Solemn High Mass that morning. Mass usually starts at 8:00 am but on this day, like on Palm Sunday, a blessing and procession precede the Mass. We will begin with a blessing of candles at 8:00 at the rectory chapel. Since the chapel only fits approximately 25 people, we will have to be outside rather than inside. Bring candles with you! (More on that in a moment.) Once the candles are blessed, we will have a daytime candlelight procession to the church where Mass will be celebrated. Since the Mass will be Solemn and the congregation will be large and the blessing of candles and procession will take some time, this will take a bit longer than the normal 45 minute Saturday Low Mass. I want you to know that ahead of time so that you don’t schedule something for 9:00 thinking you have plenty of time to get there after Mass!
Because Candlemas celebrations have been largely done away with in recent decades, many Catholic have never been to one and don’t know why we bless candles, why they bring candles, how many candles they can/should bring, etc. Even in the mid to late 1800’s Dom Gueranger knew that he had to explain it to people, as the tradition was already being maliciously neglected. From his masterpiece, “The Liturgical Year” we read (with bold emphasis mine), “The mystery of today’s ceremony has frequently been explained by liturgists, dating from the 7th century. According to St. Ivo of Chartres, the wax, which is formed from the juice of flowers by the bee, always considered as the emblem of virginity, signifies the virginal flesh of the Divine Infant, who diminished not, either by his conception or his birth, the spotless purity of his Blessed Mother. The same holy Bishop would have us see, in the flame of our Candle, a symbol of Jesus, who came to enlighten our darkness. St. Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury, speaking on the same mystery, bids us consider three things in the blest Candle: the wax, the wick, and the flame. The wax, he says, which is the production of the virginal bee, is the Flesh of our Lord; the wick, which is within, is his Soul; the flame, which burns on the top, is his Divinity.
Formerly, the faithful looked upon it as an honour to be permitted to bring their wax tapers to the Church, on this Feast of the Purification, that they might be blessed together with those which were to be borne in the procession by the Priests and sacred Ministers; and the same custom is still observed in some congregations. It would be well if Pastors were to encourage this practice, retaining it where it exists, or establishing it where it is not known. There has been such a systematic effort made to destroy, or at least to impoverish, the exterior rites and practices of religion, that we find, throughout the world, thousands of Christians who have been insensibly made strangers to those admirable sentiments of faith, which the Church alone, in her Liturgy, can give to the body of the faithful. Thus, we shall be telling many what they have never heard before, when we inform them that the Church blesses the Candles, not only to be carried in the Procession, which forms part of the Ceremony today, but also for the use of the faithful, inasmuch as they draw, upon such as use them with respect, whether on sea or on land, as the Church says in the Prayer, special blessings from heaven. These blest Candles ought also to be lit near the bed of the dying Christian, as a symbol of the immortality merited for us by Christ, and of the protection of our Blessed Lady.”
Even way back then he saw that leaving behind such processions and blessings was a systematic way of destroying the Faith and was being done on purpose. So let’s fight back and regain what we have lost. Bring candles. Lots of candles. Beeswax (as we use at Mass) or paraffin or even oil candles can all be blessed. Bring them in a container with your name on it so that you can pick your “extras” up after Mass, plus one that you can hold during the procession and Mass. The next day, February 3, on the Feast of St. Blase, we use two of those blessed candles to bless throats. At least that last part is still seen in a good number of parishes today, even if the pastor doesn’t bless the candles the day before! Obviously, St. Blase’s feast day falls on a Sunday this year so, while we will celebrate the 4th Sunday after Epiphany that day, I will still, through the intercession of St. Blase, Bishop and martyr, bless throats after the Masses. Be prepared for that to take a long time, too!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: My (Hateful?) New Year’s Resolutions
Here today, on the Feast of the Epiphany, I, the pastor of Epiphany of Our Lord parish, wish to make public my New Year’s Resolutions, with the hope that I will be able to better keep them if the whole parish knows what they are. Unfortunately, even Church bulletins are often scrutinized for content in such a way that I had to “clean up” my resolutions so as to fit in with the norms of society and not get into hot water.
My first resolution was to lose weight. Notice that I said “was” instead of “is”. It seems that the mere typing of such four-letter words as “diet” or “fast” is considered to be body shaming. I didn’t know how evil “body shaming” is seen to be until it was explained to me by the Inquisitors. Indicating that a person, even if that person is myself, might be too heavy implies—no, rather, SHOUTS—that everyone who is that weight has something wrong with them. I was told that saying that I am going to lose weight is not only a form of self-abuse stemming from a low self-esteem but also shows that I despise and belittle others who weigh what I do. By stating that I want or need to lose weight I am, evidently, not pleased with just being me. I don’t accept myself as I am. I think I need fixing. I should be able to look into the mirror or at the bathroom scale and say to myself in a very affirming voice, “I am perfect. I am the exact right weight. I accept myself as I am.” Then I should expect everyone else to see me in that light as well. Should someone, say my doctor, tell me that I need to lose weight, I am fully entitled to pout and cry because he hurt my feelings (I use the masculine pronoun here because obviously a female or other-gendered doctor would never say something so despicable) and call 1-800-snowflake to get a lawyer who will get rich (ahem, I mean, fight for justice) putting Doctor Meanie out of business. Furthermore, if I fail to affirm my own exact amount of body fat and instead say that I am going to lose weight, then everyone who weighs the same or more than me can then accuse me of causing them to feel ashamed of their own body and hire that same lawyer to sue the cassock off of me (err... kindly correct me through the justice system). And once a lawyer brings a suit against a priest he also goes for the deep pockets of the diocese, the USCCB and the Vatican. Therefore, lawyers from multiple Church sources “asked” that I not write such a thoughtless or perhaps intentionally heartless resolution. Therefore, my first New Year’s Resolution became, in its second iteration, the resolution to remain exactly the weight that I am right now.
Wouldn’t you know it? That resolution caused an uproar as well. Legal letters came quickly, pointing out that by stating that I would retain my exact weight I was, in a roundabout way, insulting everyone who is not currently the same weight as I am. If my weight is said, by me, to be the weight which I wish to keep, then I am making the not so subtle derogatory statement that every other weight is less than perfect. I would wind up shaming both those who weigh more than me and also those who weigh less than me. Egads! I would be, in effect, condemning them for either their obesity or scrawniness. How cruel of me.
But the lawyers didn’t stop there. Once legal pit bulls gets ahold of something they won’t let go. So they started looking at everything I was writing in my Resolutions article and started seeing lawsuits waiting to happen in every angst-producing word. I was quickly told not to start with “Here today, on the Feast of the Epiphany” because, while the Feast happens this year to fall on the same day on both the Novus Ordo and Traditional Latin liturgical calendars, anyone realizing that in future years they might be attending a non-January 6 Epiphany Mass on the Sunday to which it was transferred might just get their feelings hurt as they assume that even now I am condemning them for not celebrating on the correct date. And if I assure them that, since it was our US Bishops who made that brilliant change I would certainly NOT be condemning the Catholic in the pew, then I would be destroying all of our ecumenical efforts to placate the Orthodox, for they never made what I just called a “brilliant” change, thus implying their dopiness in remaining traditional, should they not catch the sarcasm. (Interestingly, nobody cared if I insulted actual Catholics who follow the traditional date for Epiphany.) Then the lawyers jumped on my use of the word “pastor” because everyone knows that it means “shepherd” and so I was said to be doubly insulting the people by 1) calling them sheep and, 2) as shepherds are almost always pictured as males, implicitly excluding women priestettes from ministry. Needing to be erased next was the word “parish” for evidently Vatican II mandated a change to the word “community” because it sounds so much more soft and huggly. When the lawyers insisted that the not very politically correct “...of Our Lord” words modifying “Epiphany” had to go, I decided to just give up. That’s probably shaming those who persevere, though...
With prayers (or happy thoughts) for your holiness (or self-contentedness),
Rev. Fr. (Revoltingly Fearful) Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Is Aunt Irma All Right?
I want to thank the countless people who have inquired if Aunt Irma is OK after seeing her sobbing after Midnight Mass last week. She is fine, as you will read in just a moment. Christmas Eve evening I always invite the family to come to visit me since I cannot take time away to get to anyone else’s house. My mom comes over and does all the cooking and everyone knows that they may not actually see me much except for at the meal and Mass. Whoever is in town comes by. Aunt Irma showed up this year and went straight to the kitchen to help. But mom had already done most of the cooking and baking at home so there was plenty of talking and snacking but not much food preparation and Aunt Irma felt slighted. She didn’t believe that everything just needed to be reheated and thought she was being given the brush off because her cooking “skills” have, in past gatherings, several times necessitated visits from the fire department and other emergency personnel.
Anyway, she left the kitchen in a bit of a snit and declared that she would just help tidy up and decorate the rectory. After all, only men live here and she assumed that a woman’s touch would be needed. But she didn’t count on Ella. Ella is like a member of the Epiphany Rectory Family. She has been cleaning here and taking care of the priests since WWI. If she ever decided to write some articles for our bulletin, boy would she have some rip-roaring stories to tell. But because taking care of us is in her blood and not just an extraneous part of her life, Ella was having nothing to do with a complete stranger messing up her handiwork. The rectory was clean and sparkly and decorated exactly as she wanted it and that was that. There was nothing for Aunt Irma to do. So she sullenly plopped herself into a chair and barely said a word to anyone most of the evening. I went to celebrate the Vigil Mass and came back to a table set with our family’s traditional Polish feast. Aunt Irma sulked her way through the meal and I knew that I had to give her something to do or she would have a blue Christmas. I got a bright idea. “Aunt Irma,” I called loudly across the table, “could I have you assist me at Midnight Mass tonight? I have something important to be done and I know you have done it at your parish before.” Her eyes brightened and she cheerfully accepted as I gave her a very important, though really quite simple, task.
The Midnight Mass was beautiful. We had three priests (yes, a third one actually did just happen to stop by—as I wrote in almost wistful hope in last week’s column—and agreed to be our subdeacon) so we had a Solemn High Mass. Every altar boy had signed up to be at Midnight Mass but some had somewhat reluctantly agreed to switch to the Christmas morning Masses instead, sacrificing for the sake of others. Great kids! Even so, we had a full company of boys. We celebrated by candlelight and it truly was a spectacular Mass in the externals as well as in the hidden reality of the Holy Sacrifice. Midnight Mass did not have a very big crowd our first year here, which is quite understandable considering how far away so many of you parishioners live. Yet the crowd has been increasing each year and this year we had over 200 people in the church. The choir was, as always, outstanding, but at that Mass I think they were given even more graces than normal and our spirits were certainly lifted up to the Lord as if we were actually within a choir of angels singing the praises of the newborn King. Everything was just perfect all the way through to the end. It was only when we, the priests and servers, gathered together in the sacristy for the final blessing after Mass, that we discovered the one and only problem with the nighttime (or, rather, early morning) celebration. Aunt Irma burst in ashen faced and crying. She was shaking so badly that she couldn’t tell me what was wrong. I was afraid she was badly hurt and I was kicking myself for giving her, a frail, elderly, defenseless woman, that one simple but important task earlier in the evening. You see, I had asked her to take up the collection. Seeing her empty, shaking hands I thought the worst: some thief had beaten her to steal the biggest collection of the year. It was my fault if she was hurt by a robber. Much to everyone’s relief, only her pride was hurt. She had simply gotten caught up in the prayerful majesty of the Mass and forgot to pass the basket. “Don’t worry,” I assured her, “It’s only money! The people will probably be even more generous when they find out that my favorite Aunt made a simple mistake.”
Because it was dark in the church, Aunt Irma doesn’t know who was there and who wasn’t so she can’t track you down for your offertory envelope. But if you want to help alleviate a little old lady’s shame, feel free to send in your contribution marked “Midnight Mass” even though it is a little late. Next year I think I will just leave a little of the cooking to her and have the poison control on speed dial.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Happy Fourth Sunday of Advent!
Nope. The title of this article just doesn’t have the same ring to it as “Merry Christmas!” Still, wishing you a Merry Christmas before Advent is over isn’t proper. Maybe that’s why so many people wish everyone “Happy Holidays!” What they are trying to do is combine Advent and Christmas. Yeah, that’s the ticket. They want the whole world to join in with both the expectant waiting for the Messiah and the actual celebration of His birth. And if that is true, and it must be since you just saw it in writing, then “Season’s Greetings!” is probably secret code from one chef to another, as they pass their favorite Christmas recipes back and forth. A lot of flavor comes from the correct use of the proper seasonings in every food dish, after all. As for Kwanzaa, it is a foreign word (probably Latin, woodenchano) which starts with a “K” which is shorthand for “Kringle” as in Kris Kringle, AKA Santa Claus AKA St. Nicholas. The rest of the word, “wanzaa”, is from the children’s telling Mr. Kringle what they desire for Christmas, as in “I wanzaa doll and I wanzaa bicycle”. And all this time you probably thought those seemingly generic greetings were just methods of minimizing Christ at Christmas. Anyway, since you will be reading this during Advent but you might also pick up a leftover copy of it when you come for Mass again on Christmas, I suppose it is safe to say all of the above. So, from the entire staff of Epiphany (whether they want to be included in this strange greeting or not), Happy Advent, Happy Holidays, Season’s Greetings, we hope you got what you Kwanzaa’d and, finally, Merry Christmas!
Now back to business. It looks like I was counting the chickens before they hatched when I wrote that Midnight Mass might be a Solemn High Mass. It was wishful thinking on my part and it now looks like we will only have two of the three needed clergy for that to happen. But at least it will be a sung Mass once again. But by the time Christmas comes, who knows if maybe another priest will show up unexpectedly? One day we will have an “overabundance” of priests celebrating the TLM again, but I fear that that will not be during my lifetime. Plus, that also assumes that the Second Coming doesn’t occur really soon, something upon which I wouldn’t make a large bet. Last year we celebrated the Midnight Mass by candlelight, which I expect to be able to do again this year, so you might want to read the prayers and scripture readings ahead of time.
On the subject of Mass by candlelight, the Rorate Coeli Mass went ahead as planned last Saturday. We moved it to the new chapel at Jesuit High School. The setting was beautiful and the acoustics allowed the schola to sound like angelic choirs. Last year we had approximately 60 people at the Rorate Mass at Epiphany. This year we ran out of hand candles for the congregation 15 minutes before Mass began. About 150 people received Holy Communion and there is no telling how many more people we had there if you count the multitude of kids too young to receive. I had the day off, so to speak, as I was the fourth cleric, kneeling in choir and assisting only through prayer because the roles of priest, deacon and subdeacon were already filled. One of the altar boys asked what time I had to get up that morning and I laughed about being able to sleep in until 5:00 am since I, without a liturgical role and not being in charge of the chapel, the clergy, the schola or the servers that day, didn’t have to be there until 6 and live fairly close. The poor young man who asked lives out in Pasco county and probably had to be up by three thirty or so (and his family as well) in order to arrive between 5:00 and 5:30 so as to get everything set up, to practice, and to get ready. I’ll tell you what, we have very, very dedicated altar boys/men and choir members, not just dedicated parishioners!
I assume that you read the rest of the bulletin so you know the Christmas Mass schedule but, just to be sure, remember that Midnight Mass begins at Midnight. It is the first Mass of Christmas, not the last Mass of the day before Christmas. Other than Midnight Mass, Christmas will have the normal Sunday Mass schedule (including an English Novus Ordo Mass at 5:00 pm on Christmas Eve) even though it is a Tuesday. The 10:30 Mass might be a simple Missa Cantata without incense like we have at 6:30 am every weekday, though, since most of the altar boys will be at the Midnight Mass and we don’t expect to see many of them at a second or third Mass that day.
Besides that, remember that the Diocesan 50th Anniversary Calendars are available at the back of the church for the taking. Also, Thursday, December 27, the feast of St. John, we will have the traditional blessing of wine and other drinks after both morning Masses and at the men's Holy League meeting in the evening. Last, but certainly not least, our parish Feast Day, Epiphany, January 6, falls on a Sunday this year and is just two weeks away. The CCW has $5 tickets to the big lunch!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: It Is Still Advent For One More Week
With only one full week left before Christmas, things are getting pretty hectic around the parish. Not that you all don’t have to scramble to keep up with all that’s going on at your houses! There are Advent penance services going on throughout the deanery, all looking for extra priests to help out. Most of them feed the priests quite well beforehand. That’s certainly a relief, for it helps to give us a more balanced diet, most of which has been made up of Christmas cookies, homemade fudge, and assorted chocolates and candies. I wonder what people did in the old days when Advent was traditionally a season of fast and abstinence. Were cookies and candies not baked or confected? Made but not eaten until Christmas? Cooked, eaten surreptitiously, and then confessed at the penance services? Hmmm... Maybe that is why those services became so popular! We are also, of course, preparing for the Christmas Masses. It seems quite possible that we will be able to celebrate a Solemn High Mass at Midnight this year. We almost pulled it off last year but lost a priest or two at the last minute. Unfortunately we don’t have the luxury of having three clerics around too often, so we don’t get a lot of practice and we have to re-learn our positions each time. Last week we had two Solemn High Masses, one for the Immaculate Conception and one for the Rorate Coeli Mass. Because of those Masses, we already have some amount of practice. But because we did not have the same priest, deacon and subdeacon at either of those two Mass and won’t have the same ones at the Midnight Mass, we each have to study different roles once again. One day we hope to have so many priests wishing to celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass that these Masses will become second nature! Please pray for it. By the way, I am writing this before the Rorate Coeli Mass actually happened, so I can’t tell you how that worked out but I have faith that everything went well.
We are also still working on getting everything spruced up, cleaned up, and decorated. I really do appreciate all of you who have worked so hard to make this House of God as worthy as possible for the celebration of Our Savior’s birth. Traditionally during Advent there are no flowers in the church, nor special decorations. Those are left for Christmas. The lack of flowers is what led people years ago to begin bringing poinsettias into the church, as the color comes from the bracts, which are modified leaves, not flowers! There is a beautiful legend regarding how the poinsettia plant first came into being. It goes something like this, with a few small variances depending on who is telling it. A young Mexican girl from a poor family was going to see the baby Jesus as He lay in the manger in their church on Christmas Eve. Unlike the Three Wise Men who had brought gold, frankincense and myrrh so many years before, she had no money for gifts. At the prompting of an angel she picked a handful of green weeds from the roadside, gingerly set them down in front of the image of the Holy Infant and quietly slipped away. But the people saw the bouquet suddenly shine forth with bright red star-shaped leaves! This is thought to be symbolic of the Star of Bethlehem which the Magi followed to find and adore Holy Babe on the first Epiphany. Anyway, that is why you will see a few of these plants in the church during Advent and more on Christmas and Epiphany. But the “Christmas creep” which has infected the stores and controls our shopping experience nowadays, has also come into the churches. Just as it now seems normal to see lights and trees and ornaments in the stores in August, so it seems normal to see flowers and Christmas trees and flashing lights and all sorts of non-liturgical decorations in the church beginning in Advent. Trying to remain “traditional” about Advent causes a lot of disappointment among the Catholic Faithful (and even among priests) who want to see all the decorations only in Advent and on Christmas day and maybe Epiphany and then have them disappear long before Christmas is officially over. It seems, since I brought it up, that if we can keep the poinsettias alive until February 2, Candlemas, that is the time they, along with the other Christmas decorations, should come down. In my experience, though, it is hard to keep the poinsettias vibrant even for a couple of weeks. They always get too much water or not enough water or not enough light, or something, and, therefore, die (or at least lose all of their leaves) just before everyone gets to see them, no matter when they were put in the church. Since I brought up the subject of decorations, did you know that the one place where almost every church places the creche so that everyone can see it (the sanctuary) is only place in the church which the current liturgical rules say cannot be the site where that manger scene is placed? Yep. Go figure. But the reasoning for both it being there and it not being allowed there is going to have to wait for another day, another bulletin, another year. For now it is time to get on with the Advent hustle and bustle. As for you, even if it is chaotic, enjoy your Christmas preparations!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Change of Venue and AHG
Last week I asked you to note on your calendars a change of morning Mass time for Saturday, December 15. That morning, instead of Mass beginning at the normal Saturday Mass time of 8:00 am, we will be celebrating the annual Rorate Coeli (also spelled Caeli) Mass (which always begins in the dark) at 6:30 am. If you show up at 8:00 you will miss it (but you could still attend the Novus Ordo 8:00 Mass in the rectory chapel). But I failed to include a very important bit of information. If you show up at Epiphany at 6:30 am that morning, you will miss the 6:30 am Rorate Mass, too. Why, you ask? Because we will be celebrating it as a Solemn High Mass at the new and quite beautiful chapel at Jesuit High School. So please make a note of that address, 4701 N Himes Ave, Tampa. It is so close to us that Fr. Vincent rides his bike from there to here when he celebrates Sunday Mass for us. From here, take Hillsborough Avenue past interstate 275 a couple of miles and turn left at the light at Himes. A few blocks in you will see St. Lawrence Catholic Church on the left. Go past it a few more blocks and the High School is also on the left. The Chapel is the large building in the center of the campus and it actually looks like a church (yes, I know that is hard to believe). Park in one of the lots and walk into the middle of all of the school buildings and you cannot miss it, even early in the morning in the dark. If you are worried at all about not finding it, just get there early!
We decided to make this one-day change for several reasons. We are very interested in showing off the new chapel at Jesuit in case we get to build one. You should all have the opportunity to see that, unlike what we have been led to believe for decades now, it is still possible to build a church that looks like a church both inside and out and has the functionality of a church, being built first and foremost for offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. This new chapel even has fully functional (as opposed to either non-existent or simply decorative) side altars so that multiple priests can celebrate Mass without conflicting with other ongoing Masses. We are also hopeful that once you visit this chapel you will want to come back and encourage others to come. At this time we are training several Jesuit boys to serve the Traditional Latin Mass, which Fr. Vincent celebrates several times a week before school starts. Yes, a TLM is available at Jesuit in the mornings! I am not publishing days and times because the school calendar and Fr. Vincent’s calendar don’t make it as reliable a schedule as a parish schedule normally is (I write this as I announce a major change--for a day--of our own parish Mass schedule!) and I don’t want you to just assume that there will always be a Mass there. But ask Fr. Vincent and he will tell you what the schedule is and when he will be available to celebrate it. As a bonus for the school, it may also get some of you to seriously think about sending your boys there even if you have already written it off because it is run by the the, well, you know, Jesuits.
Now on to something else of note. A number of weeks ago our American Heritage Girls took up a collection of things and money to send to St. Dominic, a parish in the panhandle which had been wiped out by Hurricane Michael. You were so very generous that the girls were able to send a check for about $2000 plus the goods which you donated. Then Mark, the business manager of that parish, came to our parish (his sister Becky is a parishioner here, which is how we had a direct connection to the parish and the AHGs could be assured that the money was both needed and would be spent wisely) for a quick visit and to offer heartfelt thanks. He shared with us some stories and photos of the devastated church and community and the people attending the 10:30 Mass that day got a chance to speak with him in person after Mass. What powerful and riveting stories of destruction and cleanup and loss he had to tell, but also what great stories of people coming together to assist each other in time of need. Another $1100 or so was given to the AHG troop to send to St. Dominic! I loved the fact that he didn’t want to accept money directly from the many parishioners who tried to hand him a few dollars that day, but rather asked them to give it to the girls so that there was accountability for it. Thank you all for your generosity. A special thanks to the American Heritage Girls for making this a project, for making the project work, and for being so enthusiastic about helping a parish in time of great need. It touches this pastor’s heart to see the Catholic Faith in action among parishioners of all ages and means. Please continue to pray for the people of St. Dominic and that whole region, for they are far from back to normal even as we have long since forgotten about having a storm pass by.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: There’s a New Old Mass in the Area!
Bulletin article, December 2
Next Sunday, December 9, something is happening in this diocese which we haven’t seen since the year 2012. A priest, at the request of a group of faithful Catholics and following the guidelines of Summorum Pontificum, is going to begin celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass. Yes, I know that Epiphany started celebrating it in 2015, but that was due to the forced stoppage/relocation of the TLM at two other parishes. This time it is absolutely, positively the result of a priest being faithful to Holy Mother Church and giving a group of faithful the Mass for which they have been begging. Who is this faithful priest? Which parish? Father Paul Pecchie, the pastor of St. Anthony the Abbot in Brooksville has announced a (for now) monthly Sunday TLM beginning the second Sunday of Advent at 11:30 am. Find it at 20428 Cortez Blvd, Brooksville, FL 34601. This parish is approximately 1 hour north of here and having the TLM there will make it much more convenient for all of our parishioners who have to travel from that area now. But wait! Doesn’t that mean that it will be “competition”? Yes, in a manner of speaking. We may very well lose some parishioners who choose to go there instead. But it is not “competition” as in “we must defeat them” or “we must keep our people from knowing about it” as might happen in the business world. This is, rather, a glorious thing, for it means that more people will be able to attend the amazingly beautiful Mass which converted the world and produced the Great Saints of old.
When I first celebrated Mass in the extraordinary form (in Dade City), I expected just a few dozen people to attend. I had no high ideals, no great expectations, and, due to a lack of knowledge on my part, no understanding that the saying “The Mass is the Mass is the Mass” was so very incorrect. I was celebrating the TLM principally because there was a Church document instructing priests to celebrate it if people asked for it, and people asked for it. There were only a couple of parishes where it was celebrated in the general area: in Sarasota, St. Petersburg, Spring Hill and Ocala. None of the priests celebrating it in those places saw my celebration of the Mass as “competition” but rather they encouraged their own parishioners to be there for at least the first Mass and to show support to me, to the community which asked for it, and to the parish in general. About 100 people turned out for that first Sunday Mass! As it turned out, I did “poach” some of these faithful families as a result, as some of them were able to cut an hour or more of Sunday drive time off their commute which, especially with a van load of kids, isn’t something to sneeze at. Even so, their pastors were fully supportive. With that in mind, I want to encourage you to show your support to Father Pecchie and the people of St. Anthony the Abbot. If there is any chance that you can make it out to Brooksville (please note: St. Anthony the Abbot in Brooksville; NOT St. Anthony of Padua in San Antonio!) next Sunday, please do so. If you are able to go, please remember that you may very well be perceived by some disgruntled disgruntlers to be the dreaded “Latin Mass People” that stereotypes have made out to be rigid, unloving, mean-spirited, hateful people who will tell all of the “Novus Ordo people” that they are going to hell for attending the “wrong” Mass. Yes, that is what a noisy few people at my previous parish thought and they scrutinized everyone attending the TLM with a magnifying glass looking for “proof” to confirm their false beliefs. I don’t know if you will encounter that type of Traddie Derangement Syndrome up there, but it will help if you are aware of the possibility. Know that ahead of time and don’t play into any games which may be offered in order to bait you into arguments.
While you are marking your calendars, don’t forget to mark Saturday, December 8, The Feast of the Immaculate Conception. It is a Holy Day of Obligation even though it falls on a Saturday, because it is the Patronal Feastday of the United States of America. Our 8:00 am Mass will be a Solemn High Mass that morning as we honor the Blessed Virgin Mary. While you have your calendars out, you might want to mark down the Rorate Mass on the following Saturday, December 15. It is an early morning Mass lit solely by candles and so will begin at 6:30 am instead of 8:00 am. Here is a description of it from last year’s calendar. “The Rorate Caeli is an ancient Advent tradition dating back centuries. As described by the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter (FSSP) at their website: The Rorate Mass is lit only by candlelight. Because it is a votive Mass in Mary’s honor, white vestments are worn instead of Advent violet. In the dimly lit setting, priests and faithful prepare to honor the Light of the world, Who is soon to be born, and offer praise to God for the gift of Our Lady. As the Mass proceeds and sunrise approaches, the church becomes progressively brighter, illumined by the sun as our Faith is illumined by Christ.” Good things are coming up very soon! Don’t miss out!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Thanksgiving With My Family
Thanksgiving is always celebrated on a Thursday and, like many places, the Friday following it is a day on which the parish office is also closed. Unfortunately, the work that normally gets done during the last couple of weekdays still has to get done, so it means trying to race through all of the paperwork, pay all of the bills, and even print the bulletin before going home to do all of the necessary work preparing the house for guests, fixing the huge feast, and other such relaxing things. So, once again this year, I had to write about my family get-together before we actually got-together or else you would right now be staring at an empty space in the bulletin. Of course, you may have been able to make up a better story than I did!
Thanksgiving morning started out like any normal day. Two morning Masses, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, Confessions and Benediction are all standard. The congregations were a bit larger than normal as people came to turn a secual holiday into a Catholic one. But since we are not cloistered monks and monkettes we cannot spend all of our time in church, so eventually everyone departed to get together with family and friends at home. As for me, I went with Fr. Dorvil, Fr. Claude (who is staying with us for a few months as he works to improve his English for his next assignment), and my mom (and her dog) over to my sister Karen’s house, where the family was gathering this year.
The house was packed. Brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, cousins, aunts, uncles, parents and grandparents, friends and neighbors and, of course, pets, were all together eating and drinking and playing and, far too often, yelling at the television whenever one of the Detroit Lions players somehow forgot, right in the middle of a play, that he was supposed to be playing football. Everyone was having a great time but one important member of the family had not yet arrived. Aunt Irma had called to say that she was running late. She also announced that she was bringing some bishops with her, so we had better be on our best behavior. I guess at this point I had better explain a little of the background to the rest of this story. A couple of weeks ago the US bishops were holding a meeting in Baltimore and Aunt Irma was one of the thousands of Catholic Faithful who stood outside greeting them, praying for them, and trying to ask them some rather pointed questions. Aunt Irma is nothing if not creative and she devised a plan which she was sure would get the bishops’ attention. A grocery store chain was advertising a free turkey to anyone who got the flu vaccine at the store’s pharmacy. So she went to AAA and got a Trip Tik which included directions to each store branch within a few miles of her route to Maryland and got a vaccine and a turkey at nearly a dozen different stores. She made little bishop’s outfits for the turkeys and outside of the conference hotel she set out ten big fat butterballs dressed in pink cassocks and zucchettos (I, um, suppose she must have run out of the red color which a bishop usually wears). Above them she placed a large banner stating in bold letters, “Let’s talk turkey, turkeys. Salmonella sickened dozens and we recalled every damned one of them. We ask less than that of you. Demand a recall of your fellow bishops who are poisoning us still! Your silence makes us sick!” I am sure you saw the coverage of that in the news.
So now back to the story. Aunt Irma did not bring any real bishops with her. Instead, she brought the turkeys still dressed up in their clerical attire. Unfortunately for everyone involved, it seems that there are some side effects to receiving so many flu shots in such a short period of time. Or maybe it had something to do with being in such close contact with such a large group of bishops. But for whatever reason, it had never occurred to her that the turkey bishops needed refrigeration. She had simply kept them in her car on display for one and all to see. Oh, and her olfactory nerves were completely disabled, as she never realized that the putrid stench of rotting turkey bishops, “which outwardly appear to men beautiful, but within are full of dead men's bones, and of all filthiness” (Mt 23:27) not only completely saturated her entire car but also her, its driver. Although she was, due to her clever, brazen confrontation, our family hero, we simply could not allow her into the house, for the fetid bishop smell clinging to her would have been unbearable for the rest of us. So we convinced her to stay out back with the younger boys. You all know that for some reason boys seem to be fascinated with stinky, rotting things, and we enticed them further by letting it slip that Aunt Irma had battled the bishops and had been turned into a zombie. They were thrilled to stay, play and eat with her the rest of the day. (You don’t get to smell the zombies while watching them on TV, but I bet you cannot get that stench part out of your mind the next time you sit down to watch another zombie movie!) So, how was your Thanksgiving?
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: What? Me Worry?
Who remembers Alfred E. Neuman and the catchphrase, “What? Me Worry?” which is associated with this fictional character? I haven’t thought about him in years until recently seeing what the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and Frances of Rome were doing last week. What has come out of the Baltimore meeting could easily have been printed in the pages of Mad Magazine, which was so popular among us smart-alecky boys oh, so many years ago. The Bishops who could not muster any genuine anger at one of their own kind pressuring his seminarians into sleeping with him, who, for the most part, either stayed mum or blatantly lied about being “shocked” and having “no idea” that he was a long-time serial pervert and sorry excuse for a man, let alone for a Catholic Bishop, were absolutely relieved to hear that Rome sent word that they were not to deal with any issues regarding holding themselves accountable for anything. The supposed reason given for this “mandate of silence” was to allow Frances to hold a February 2019 meeting of the heads of every Bishops’ Conference throughout the world where they will supposedly come up with some universal form of justice for wayward, immoral, scandalous and/or incompetent Bishops. Yeah, right. Then, once the relief set in that the can was being kicked down the road and that the one in charge of determining how discipline would be meted out would not be a conservative, moral, Catholic member of their own Conference but rather the one who knew of McCarrick’s exploits and “redeemed” him anyway, they quickly voted down even asking for information about the supposed “investigation” going on in Rome about who knew what and when about McCarrick in the first place. Spy vs Spy Investigation Services at your service, ma’am. The vote was 85-187 to not even ask, pretty please with sugar on top, will you maybe let us see that you are doing something—anything—about Uncle Ted and his enablers? Here is the actual wording of this proposal. Warning, it contains very harsh, bold and manly language as the Bishops demanded action. “Regarding the ongoing investigation of the Holy See into the case of Archbishop McCarrick, be it resolved that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops encourage the Holy See to release soon all of the documentation that can be released consistent with canon and civil law regarding the allegations of misconduct of Archbishop McCarrick.”
What is that, you ask? Where is the demand to see documentation? Where is the manly boldness in that proposal? Well for the Bishops, who are used to writing the most wishy-washy letters possible when it comes to denouncing homosexual sin, this language was evidently just too darn strong so they overwhelmingly rejected it. It was almost as if [sniffle, whimper, whine] whoever wrote this proposal in the first place thought McCarrick did something wrong and that the Holy See might not actually be doing anything but giving lip service to investigating such a fine, upstanding ex-Cardinal Archbishop in order to placate the haters. You know who the haters are: all 85 of the (gasp!) heterosexual Bishops (including our own!) who voted, to the embarrassment of the rest, to request that they might actually see if any real work was being done. Jeez Louise! It’s not like the proposal said something like, “You have refused to answer Archbishop Vigano’s charge that you knew that McCarrick was a homosexual predator and yet you raised him from his relatively obscure ‘penitential’ retirement status to a gloriously powerful position as Bishop king-maker. We don’t trust you to tell us the truth about an ongoing investigation into his prolific and horrific and public deviant sex life but we are open to the possibility that we are wrong. Prove to us that you are actually investigating. Show us why it is taking so long and why you have been so secretive. This is not a request without consequences if it is not fulfilled. If you continue stonewalling and name calling instead of being forthcoming, we, as the United States Conference of Masculine Catholic Bishops (USCMCB), doing what you keep insisting we do and taking unto ourselves magisterial power beyond anything of historical precedence, and looking out for your, our, and our people’s salvation, will instruct all Americans to cancel all vacations and pilgrimages to Rome. Furthermore, no financial contributions or donations will be sent to Rome from the USCMCB, or from any Religious organization or Order within our territory, or from the American Faithful until proper, public and verifiable actions are taken.” All in favor, say aye. Now that’s a resolution worth discussing, arguing about, tweaking, and voting on.
Now, getting back to Alfred E. Neuman, on a (probably) completely unrelated note, (though google search results always seem to eerily know what I am even just thinking about along with what I am researching, talking about, and writing about) while taking a break from writing this article I typed into the search box of my computer “a completely fabricated and fictitious politically correct term for men who show a deficit of masculinity” and got a page pointing to “t***icularly challenged social justice howler monkeys”. That sounds like the headline of an article about the USCCB Conference straight out of Mad Magazine! Of course, that means that nobody but immature boys will find any humor in this article at all. As for the rest of you, just sigh, shake your head, and hope for something better next week. But don’t hold your breath!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Happy Veterans Day
Most of you know that I am active in the Knights of Columbus as the chaplain of our parish Third Degree Council 14495 and as the Faithful Friar of the 4th Degree Assembly 2894 to which we belong. The Fourth Degree is the Patriotic degree and the men work on many local projects, focusing most especially on helping Veterans. With that in mind, I want to share with you an article I recently came across on the defense.gov website when looking for more local Veterans activities in our area. Since this is Veterans Day weekend, the timing is quite nice. Enjoy.
5 Facts to Know About Veterans Day
NOV. 5, 2018 | BY KATIE LANGE
Veterans Day is a well-known American holiday, but there are also a few misconceptions about it — like how it’s spelled or whom exactly it celebrates. To clear some of that up, here are the important facts you should know.
Veterans Day does NOT have an apostrophe.
A lot of people think it’s “Veteran’s Day” or “Veterans’ Day,” but they’re wrong. The holiday is not a day that “belongs” to one veteran or multiple veterans, which is what an apostrophe implies. It’s a day for honoring all veterans — so no apostrophe needed.
Veterans Day is NOT the Same as Memorial Day.
A lot of Americans get this confused, and we’ll be honest — it can be a little annoying to all of the living veterans out there. Memorial Day is a time to remember those who gave their lives for our country, particularly in battle or from wounds they suffered in battle. Veterans Day honors all of those who have served the country in war or peace — dead or alive — although it’s largely intended to thank living veterans for their sacrifices.
It was originally called Armistice Day, commemorating the end of World War I.
World War I officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919. However, the fighting ended about seven months before that when the Allies and Germany put into effect an armistice on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, Nov. 11, 1918, was largely considered the end of “the war to end all wars” and dubbed Armistice Day. In 1926, Congress officially recognized it as the end of the war, and in 1938, it became an official holiday, primarily a day set aside to honor veterans of World War I. But then World War II and the Korean War happened, so on June 1, 1954, at the urging of veterans service organizations, Congress amended the commemoration yet again by changing the word “armistice” to “veterans” so the day would honor American veterans of all wars. For a while, Veterans Day’s date was changed, too, and it confused everybody. Congress signed the Uniform Holiday Bill in 1968 to ensure that a few federal holidays — Veterans Day included — would be celebrated on a Monday. Officials hoped it would spur travel and other family activities over a long weekend, which would stimulate the economy.
For some inexplicable reason, the bill set Veterans Day commemorations for the fourth Monday of every October.
On Oct. 25, 1971, the first Veterans Day under this new bill was held. We’re not sure why it took three years to implement, but not surprisingly, there was a lot of confusion about the change, and many states were unhappy, choosing to continue to recognize the day as they previously had — in November. Within a few years, it became pretty apparent that most U.S. citizens wanted to celebrate Veterans Day on Nov. 11, since it was a matter of historic and patriotic significance. So on Sept. 20, 1975, President Gerald Ford signed another law (Public Law 94-97), which returned the annual observance to its original date starting in 1978.
Other countries celebrate it, too, in their own ways.
World War I was a multinational effort, so it makes sense that our allies also wanted to celebrate their veterans on Nov. 11. The name of the day and the types of commemorations differ, however. Canada and Australia both call Nov. 11 “Remembrance Day.” Canada’s observance is pretty similar to our own, except many of its citizens wear red poppy flowers to honor their war dead. In Australia, the day is more akin to our Memorial Day. Great Britain calls it “Remembrance Day,” too, but observes it on the Sunday closest to Nov. 11 with parades, services and two minutes of silence in London to honor those who lost their lives in war.
With prayers for your holiness (especially for you Veterans!),
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: USCCB Solves Refugee Caravans Crisis!
I opened an email from the diocese this week and saw this: “Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and the USCCB have released a joint statement about the migrant caravans.” Note the plural number. There was a link to the “joint statement” (which was simply a press release) which I will print in its entirety below so that you can read it for yourself. I encourage you to read it, since it comes from our Bishops’ Conference and, therefore, not only supposedly carries some amount of spiritual weight for every Catholic in the US but is also produced and paid for and distributed with our money. You may come to your own conclusions about it but I will give some small amount of commentary regarding it at the end of this column.
Catholic Agencies Urge Governments to Protect Migrants Seeking Safe Haven
Calling for compassion toward those needing refuge from violence and poverty
BALTIMORE, MD, October 29, 2018 – As thousands of people from Honduras and other Central American countries are making their way toward Mexico and the United States, three major Catholic agencies are urging all people of goodwill to speak and act with compassion towards those seeking refuge from violence and poverty.
Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Migration, Sean Callahan, President and CEO of Catholic Relief Services, and Sister Donna Markham OP PhD, President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA issued the following statement:
“As Catholic agencies assisting poor and vulnerable migrants in the United States and around the world, we are deeply saddened by the violence, injustice, and deteriorating economic conditions forcing many people to flee their homes in Central America. While nations have the right to protect their borders, this right comes with responsibilities: governments must enforce laws proportionately, treat all people humanely, and provide due process.
We affirm that seeking asylum is not a crime. We urge all governments to abide by international law and existing domestic laws that protect those seeking safe haven and ensure that all those who are returned to their home country are protected and repatriated safely.
Furthermore, we strongly advocate for continued U.S. investments to address the underlying causes of violence and lack of opportunity in Central America. Our presence throughout the Americas has convinced us that migration is a regional issue that requires a comprehensive, regional solution. An enforcement-only approach does not address nor solve the larger root causes that cause people to flee their countries in search of protection.
As Christians, we must answer the call to act with compassion towards those in need and to work together to find humane solutions that honor the rule of law and respect the dignity of human life.”
Catholic Relief Services is working with church partners in Guatemala and Mexico to monitor the situation and provide humanitarian assistance to migrants. Recognizing the need to address the violence and lack of opportunity that drive migration, our programs in Central America create economic opportunity and reduce people’s vulnerability.
Now for my comments. What a bunch of gibberish! We have thousands of “refugees” who illegally entered into Mexico with the express purpose of breaking their immigration laws so that they could illegally pass through that country on their way to purposefully and publicly illegally break into our country. Our own Catholic Relief Services has been subsidizing over 7000 of these “refugees” (with our CRS second collection money) as they travel through Mexico (that information comes from the CRS webpage also linked in the diocesan email). Yet in this statement there is not a single word about what our country can, might, or should do about the “migrant caravans” as would have been thought by reading their headline, which I quoted above in the first sentence. Are we to just open our borders and let them in? Without a doubt, there will be a third (a second caravan has already been reported), fourth, and fiftieth caravan marching in if this one succeeds in entering our country without consequences. How about some actual commentary from the Bishops on the pros and cons of this and other various scenarios or solutions? How about some actual guidance instead of just saying, “Be nice to poor people”? I am sorry, but if this is the best they can do and they think this is actually good enough for publication and distribution, it is no wonder our Church is in the mess She is in today. God help us all. And, yes, I offer that last line as a true prayer.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Vigano’s Third Letter
On October 19 Archbishop Vigano published a third letter. In it he responded to Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, the man whom Vigano had, in his second letter, begged to come forward with truthful corroborating statements and evidence about the disgraced former Cardinal and now publicly outed abuser McCarrick. Cardinal Ouellet instead attacked him without refuting the veracity of his previous letters. Archbishop Vigano’s new letter is definitely worth reading in its entirety but I want to highlight just a bit of what he stated near the end, when he was wrapping up his arguments. I find this part to be essential to the whole situation and the essence of the problems the Church is facing (or still refusing to face). Below I will comment on just a few lines from his letter.
“In the public remonstrances directed at me I have noted two omissions, two dramatic silences. The first silence regards the plight of the victims. The second regards the underlying reason why there are so many victims, namely, the corrupting influence of homosexuality in the priesthood and in the hierarchy.” It is amazing that so many defenders of Francis (for that is what Vigano’s attackers are doing rather than refuting his statements), will go to great lengths to ignore the victims or to, at the very least, downplay the grave damage done to them on three levels: 1) psychologically; 2) spiritually; and 3) physically. Why is that? They ignore the psychological damage because they insist that homosexual activity is a good thing! Engaging in the sexual activity which “God made you” crave cannot do damage, they claim. These clerics cannot admit that their “non-victims” didn’t desire such perverted actions before they were traumatized by the homosexual abuse or else they lose their rationale for engaging them in such actions. (Yes, this sick thinking permeates their thought and the “blame the victim” mentality is alive and well. In fact, it thrives since homosexual clergy refuse to see their targets as “victims” at all. The sick clergy are simply “introducing” these young men to “the most beautiful way of showing God’s love”, don’t you know?) They ignore, secondly, the spiritual damage to their victims because, as I have written before, they generally have no Fear of God and no belief in hell. Lastly, they ignore the physical damage done to their victims because sodomy and the related sexual actions are just so absolutely putrid that even those who engage in them regularly cannot bear to describe them in any detail. Body parts rip apart because other body parts don’t fit. Excrement becomes a disease-ridden, sexually enticing flavor. Even the smell... sorry, I cannot go on. See what I mean? I think these few comments of mine suffice to show how “corrupting” the “influence of homosexuality in the priesthood” is, for once the cleric has started down the nauseating path of sodomy, it corrupts all of his thinking about who is victim and who is abuser, what is beautiful and what is not just ugly but truly horrendous, and what is good and what is evil. Then he does his damnedest to corrupt his victims in that exact same evil, twisted thought process and, of course, actions. Once corrupt, each corrupt cleric will absolutely cover for every other corrupt cleric, for it preserves, justifies, and increases his own corruption. After entering into this dark cabal, though they despise each other (just as demons have no capability of true love or even friendship) a sodomite cleric will surround himself with like-minded “men” for his own protection and pleasure. He will only “rat” on another sodomite as a last resort, in order to save his own skin (as the law comes down on him) or to increase his own power (by instilling servile fear in other sodomites whose immoralities he could easily expose next) or prestige (receiving accolades from the general public who are fooled into thinking that he must be a “good guy”).
Vigano continued by stating that “this very grave crisis cannot be properly addressed and resolved unless and until we call things by their true names. This is a crisis due to the scourge of homosexuality, in its agents, in its motives, in its resistance to reform. It is no exaggeration to say that homosexuality has become a plague in the clergy, and it can only be eradicated with spiritual weapons. It is an enormous hypocrisy to condemn the abuse, claim to weep for the victims, and yet refuse to denounce the root cause of so much sexual abuse: homosexuality. It is hypocrisy to refuse to acknowledge that this scourge is due to a serious crisis in the spiritual life of the clergy and to fail to take the steps necessary to remedy it.” He nailed it. But how, you may ask, is this different than the (relatively few) heterosexual clergy who abuse young females? Are not clergy who break their vows of equal concern whether homo- or heterosexual? His great answer: “Unquestionably there exist philandering clergy, and unquestionably they too damage their own souls, the souls of those whom they corrupt, and the Church at large. But these violations of priestly celibacy are usually confined to the individuals immediately involved. Philandering clergy usually do not recruit other philanderers, nor work to promote them, nor cover-up their misdeeds -- whereas the evidence for homosexual collusion, with its deep roots that are so difficult to eradicate, is overwhelming.” That’s the difference between “failure” in properly ordered sexual attractions and “success” in “tendencies” and “inclinations” which are “objectively disordered” (CCC 2358).
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: A Recent Question
A couple of weeks ago I was asked a question which I thought was interesting enough to share with you here. The conversation came about as a result of someone reading my previous bulletin articles dealing with the active homosexual and homosexual activist priests and bishops. The reader asked what he thought would be a rather rhetorical question that went something like this: “You are pretty blunt about the sin of sodomy. I bet you never get any gays going to you for confession, huh?” Now, before I go further into the story, I want you to ponder what he had assumed. Because I am clear that sodomy is a mortal sin and, further, that those priests and bishops who embrace it rather than abhor it are evil and satanic (yes, I wrote quite bluntly about that issue), his assumption was that nobody who engages in this sin would come to me for confession. But, and this is a big BUT, except for those approaching the confessional for immoral purposes (which is a much larger discussion which I will not be able to fully engage in here), every person who enters the confessional, no matter what sin they may have committed (or what good they may have neglected) is there with repentance, seeking absolution and the additional graces needed to avoid falling into sin again. This man had not made the distinction between two groups of men: 1) Those who willingly and knowingly engage in mortal sin not only without repentance but, incredibly, with defiance against God’s moral law which defines it as mortal sin in the first place; and 2) Those who engage in mortal sin but afterward repent of it and seek out God’s abundant mercy with the intention to be cleansed and healed and never to commit that sin again. Certainly, those in the first group never come to confession to me or to any other priest, for that matter, for to them confession is a farce. Those of the second group will seek out the sacramental graces they need, as quickly as they can and as often as they need. Moreover, what the questioner failed to grasp is that they will often seek out a priest who is clear about what is and what is not mortal sin rather than one who is silent or, worse yet, approving of it. Let’s look at why they will often go out of their way to seek me out or seek out another priest with a reputation of being “tough.”
Many people who struggle with sins, especially sexual sins and even more specifically with those sins which the world currently champions, have had their fill of priests, first in the pulpit and later in the confessional, who make excuses on their behalf for their repented immoral behavior. They get frustrated with Benedict Arnold priests who tell them that the Church is wrong and that they can continue with their actions without qualms to their conscience. They know they have sinned, they know they have offended God, they know that their immortal souls are cut off from sanctifying grace. They want to confess to a priest who will not coddle them but will instead hold them to accountability, encourage them in holiness, and grant absolution with the proper words and formula. As I explained this to the questioner, he admitted that he had never thought of it that way before even though he has those same criteria when looking for a confessor himself! Why think sodomy is in a unique category? I write about this because I hope that others (you) will understand what happens when a priest does not speak clearly about sin. That is what drives people away from the confessional. After all, why confess if Father doesn’t believe in sin or in the eternally damning effects of mortal sin? More than that, I hope you realize how damaging it is for the penitent to confess something like sodomy to a priest who, from his teaching and preaching makes himself out to be so “merciful” and “inclusive” that he, unlike the “rigid” and “traditional” and “judgmental” priests like me, preaches mercy without repentance, forgiveness without confession, and death without judgment. In the confessional, that type of priest will, as has been attested to in many public stories recently, try to encourage him to continue his sin, either with others or, God help me for having to even type this, with the immoral priest himself. I hope people are waking up to the fact that many, perhaps most or all, priests who blather about a false “mercy” do so only because they are constantly engaging in mortal sin themselves and are trying to rationalize the literal hell out of their actions. Active homosexual priests will find plenty of “action” by making it known that they are available for “service” and no confession is required afterward. Blech. Repentant sinners find that repulsive. They go elsewhere for true mercy. Yes, I told my surprised questioner, many come to me for confession.
That does not mean that all priests who preach the truth always live the truth. No, even the best priest can fall into sin. Too, there is always a slight possibility that a priest who teaches the fullness of the Faith lives a double life and does not believe what he preaches. But when a priest openly and proudly admits to being “progressive” (ie., does not believe Church teachings, especially in the moral realm) nobody really expects him to give good advice (or even valid absolution) in the confessional, either.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka