He only shuts up when he is writing!
From the Pastor: Saint Jude and Other Exciting Saints
The changed date, Sunday, November 19 snuck up on me. Most of you are reading this bulletin on that very date. “What changed date,” you ask? The date of the annual St. Jude Award ceremony at the cathedral. Each year on the (new liturgical calendar) feast of Christ the King a group of very deserving yet too-humble-to-acknowledge-that-fact people receive an award from the bishop for their service to their parish. It is a beautiful, large medallion featuring an image of our diocesan Patron Saint, St. Jude the Apostle. This year, to get back to the “changed date”, the award will be given out a week early because Christ the King Sunday is also the Sunday after Thanksgiving. It was feared that many people would be busy with family and friends, either out of town visiting them or hosting those from out of town, and would miss out on the ceremony. So rather than holding it next week, the award will be given out this week. That’s how the date caught me off guard. By now, because you always read every word of the bulletin and not just this column, you already know that Pat Hanson is receiving it this year. She has long been a very active member of Epiphany and has certainly earned this award with all she has done and continues to do around here. Please be sure to congratulate her when you see her. And if you read this early enough (or already have it on your calendar) you are most welcome to join us at the Cathedral at 3:00 pm.
The St. Jude award ceremony simply kicks off the beginning of a very exciting week of Saints. Look at the great feasts we celebrate this coming week: Monday is the feast of St. Felix of Valois, a co-founder of the Order of the Holy Trinity for the Redemption of Captives. What? You don’t know him? I understand why that feast is not too exciting to you, then. But if you were captured by the Muslims in the twelfth century and were facing either death for being Catholic, a life of slavery, or forced apostasy and conversion, you would have understood just how exciting this Saint was and still is! Tuesday is the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Because you all pray the Rosary daily, you certainly have meditated upon this “mystery” often enough to be excited about the feast associated with it. Wednesday brings the feast of St. Cecilia. She, of course, is the Patroness of Sacred Music, so everybody in the choir (schola) and everybody who appreciates their ministry can certainly get excited about this feast. She is also traditionally credited with (and more recently ridiculed for) inventing the organ, the only musical instrument devised specifically to give glory to God in the Mass. Other instruments were developed for secular entertainment and subsequently incorporated into sacred usage (some with more readily apparent sacred value than others), while the organ started out specifically for sacred music and only later was occasionally incorporated into secular entertainment. This is what the Vatican II document on Sacred Liturgy (Sacrosanctum Concilium) said about musical instruments in Mass: “120. In the Latin Church the pipe organ is to be held in high esteem, for it is the traditional musical instrument which adds a wonderful splendor to the Church's ceremonies and powerfully lifts up man's mind to God and to higher things. But other instruments also may be admitted for use in divine worship, with the knowledge and consent of the competent territorial authority, as laid down in Art. 22, 52, 37, and 40. This may be done, however, only on condition that the instruments are suitable, or can be made suitable, for sacred use, accord with the dignity of the temple, and truly contribute to the edification of the faithful.” Pretty clear and pretty much excludes tambourines and rain sticks, doesn’t it? Thursday is Thanksgiving Day in the secular world but the Mass honors St. Clement I (4th Pope) and St. Felicitas (mother of seven martyred sons). Friday brings St. John of the Cross (who, along with St. Teresa, founded the Discalced Carmelites) and St. Chrysogonus (the second of this week’s Saints mentioned in the Roman Canon at every Mass even if you know nothing else about him). Finally, Saturday brings us the feast of St. Catherine of Alexandria who, at only 18 years old, marched right up to Emperor Maximinus, who was torturing and murdering Catholics, chastised him for his cruelty, and explained that his false gods were, indeed, false gods. These are all pretty exciting Saints!
Were there any Saints mentioned whom you do not know? The TLM daily Masses help us to venerate many great Saints (as if there are any “not-so-great” Saints!) who are generally not too well known except by daily Mass goers. At the 8:00 am Mass I usually give a short(ish) sermon giving some historical background to at least one of the Saints of the day. Need a little excitement in your life which will also bring joy to God? Come to daily Mass! This is a great week for it.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: When Good Priests Are Gone
A number of great articles have been written recently which have addressed topics on which I am questioned fairly regularly. The first deals with fear among the clergy to speak up about the nonsense going on in the Church today. The second deals with going to Mass when, if those above-mentioned fears bear out, the only Masses left are valid but irreverent. What is one to do? (Ask and I will give you the sources.)
1st snippet: [O]ne thing is often overlooked when people discuss “fearful” shepherds — especially when they are quick to call them cowards — is that their first duty — after Loving God above all things and obeying Him no matter the consequences to themselves — is to love their neighbor as themselves, by forming, nourishing, and protecting the spiritual children of their particular flock... There are, consequently, many pastors who may not speak out publicly in such a way that they are openly challenging the problems in the Universal Church, but this does not mean that they are not speaking out in their parishes — from their pulpits, in the confessional, or in the spiritual counsel they give to the members of their flock. They try to nourish and guide the souls entrusted to their care according to the fullness of the Catholic Faith even when their own bishops — or even the pope himself — are not, and they do so as a direct response to what those bishops and the pope are doing and saying. They do this in order to keep their spiritual children safe from spiritual harm. And many of them have a legitimate concern that if they raised their voices in protest outside the parish walls, they might well be removed in retribution. The question that haunts them is, “If such a thing were to happen, who would be sent to replace me?” [My emphasis--Fr. P] They know that the wolves and hirelings far outnumber the faithful shepherds and that if they are removed for speaking the truth to the whole world, those who would likely take their places would be chosen because they will not speak the truth to the parish, let alone to the world.
2nd snippet: Just a little reminder to one and all about liturgy, and bad liturgy. Obviously, I think that living close to reverent liturgy, either the Tridentine Mass or Divine Liturgy, should be an extremely high priority, BUT, to those who say, “Novus Ordo Mass is all there is available to me, and I’M NOT GOING!”, let me hasten to remind you of the following: The most “irreverent” Mass in history was Calvary itself. No one was actually paying attention to the Sacrifice of the Lamb except the small cohort led by The Blessed Virgin, St. John and St. Mary Magdalen. Only they assisted in silence. What else was going on at Calvary? People were walking around, talking, ignoring Our Lord at best, laughing, shouting and heckling Him at worst. One of the major aspects of crucifixion was the fact that the crucified were naked, completely exposed and obviously unable to cover themselves in any way – complete humiliation. Can you imagine the taunts and filth that the Roman soldiers hurled at Our Lord? Don’t kid yourselves, folks. They were probably making sexual taunts at Him that would turn even our jaded stomachs. That is, of course, when they weren’t playing dice. The Jewish priests also came to mock and scorn. And there were probably quite a few people who came just to gawk. They had no idea what they were looking at other than three men being tortured to death. They just gawked at the spectacle, then walked away.
Now consider the Apostles. None except St. John were there. Can you imagine the regret that they all felt for the rest of their lives for not having been there? [My emphasis--Fr. P] It was the most important event in history, in fact, it was the central event in all of history – so central that everything before and everything after is and will be reconciled through the central point of Calvary. And they missed it. They freely chose to stay away, cowering in hiding. It is pretty clear that the days of being able to easily find a valid – never mind licit – Mass are numbered... My advice is the same as what I suspect the Apostles would say: Go to Mass while you still can, even if it is Novus Ordo. Nothing that happens at a Novus Ordo Mass will be as bad as what was going on at Calvary itself. If bad things happen, pray in reparation as the Blessed Virgin did. Pray the Rosary. Remember that it is perfectly fine to NOT receive Holy Communion, and instead make a Spiritual Communion – remember, no one received Holy Communion at Calvary. Christ Himself, the High Priest, was the Priest Celebrant and the Victim, and He immolated Himself, thus consummating the Sacrifice. Don’t find yourself, like the Apostles, filled with regret at NOT going to Calvary. [My emphasis--Fr. P]
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: One-Sided Dialogue
If you have not heard of Father Thomas G. Weinandy, O.F.M., Cap. by the time you read this, you need to get better Catholic information coming into your house. Really. It is that serious. This priest was just fired (sorry, he was forced to resign, not fired) for publicly stating his opinions about the “Hagan Lio!” of Pope Francis’ pontificate. (If you don’t recognize this phrase of the Pope, please look it up.) Pope Francis has encouraged “dialogue” about Church issues on more than one occasion. Yet Pope Francis has then derided and reprimanded and belittled publicly and, on other occasions, completely ignored and snubbed, those who ask for “real dialogue” about Church issues, by which I mean a conversation with people who do more than parrot his own words and ideas back to him. Those who simply ask him to clarify his teachings (and let’s face it, clarifying one’s position is much easier than engaging in dialogue) so as to either affirm constant Catholic theology and morality or to deny it, have been bashed and accused of treason and worse from some of the Pope’s most staunch supporters, with never a word of correction or call for civility from the Pope. Meanwhile, the Pope himself refuses to meet and “dialogue” about the issues which he himself raised and specifically encouraged “dialogue” about! And some of these men asking for clarity are Cardinals of the Church, no less! But more than just name calling, something more sinister is now picking up steam. One after another, those who attempt to “dialogue” about anything dealing with the Pope’s lack of clarity, or who point out the spiritual and moral dangers of a continued lack of clarity, are now being removed from their positions. Fr. Weinandy is not the first (think: Cardinal Burke, Professor Josef Seifert, to name but two), but due to his esteemed position as theologian to the United States Conference of Bishops, his is currently the most noteworthy example in these United States.
One of the things he specifically pointed out in his letter to the Pope was that even bishops are being intimidated into silence. "Many bishops are silent because they desire to be loyal to you, and so they do not express -- at least publicly; privately is another matter -- the concerns that your pontificate raises. Many fear that if they speak their mind, they will be marginalized or worse." His firing (oops, his forced resignation) proves the point as to what can happen, as a starting point, mind you, that is “worse”. The audacity of Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, the current president of the USCCB, to write about his “departure” in a way that falsely accuses him of being uncharitable is despicable. The Cardinal puts on a show (the best way I can think of explaining it in a church bulletin) of desiring dialogue while snuffing it out here and elsewhere, now and in the future. Father Weinandy was fired (errr, resigned) the same day his letter to the Pope (which the Pope has still not answered, though it was sent in July) was made public. How much “dialogue” was there in those few hours? How many of the US Bishops were consulted or engaged in this “dialogue” before the firing? He accuses Fr. Weinandy of making this a “political – conservative vs. liberal, left vs. right, pre-Vatican II vs Vatican II” issue, while he did no such thing. Please don’t just take my word on this: read his letter (read also his explanation of why he was finally convinced that Our Lord wanted him to write the letter in the first place. It is an incredible story). There is so much outrageous disingenuousness in Cardinal DiNardo’s explanation of Father’s “departure” that if it wasn’t posted on the USCCB website, I would think that it was a rather poor hoax or Russian Fake News. I hope that this does not go unanswered by any US Bishop who also wants the Pope to clarify his positions. I hope they rally around Fr. Weinandy instead of silently acquiescing to this travesty of justice, for if they are silent now, it is only a matter of time before they are next on the chopping block. They, too, will be increasingly bullied, intimidated and misrepresented to the people the moment they express any misgivings about the chaos that Pope Francis is causing.
Does the Capuchin priest really need this job? No. It is not like he is a layman losing his sole source of income which he needs to support his family. But it is certainly a warning to each and every US Catholic deacon, priest, and bishop to shut the heck up if they think the Pope needs to be more open and honest and clear about what he really believes and teaches. Will this intimidation tactic work or will it backfire? Only time will tell. The majority of Catholic clergy are already either silent or actively interpreting the Pope in non-Catholic ways. Perhaps this will be a clarion call to us: “Speak now or forever hold your peace.”
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: All Saints Day and All Souls Day
This Wednesday is All Saints Day, a Holy Day of Obligation. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia (online at newadvent.org), it is a “Solemnity celebrated on the first of November. It is instituted to honour all the saints, known and unknown, and, according to Urban IV, to supply any deficiencies in the faithful's celebration of saints' feasts during the year.” We are honoring those who have made it to Heaven. Not just those who have been officially recognized by the Church but rather everyone that, through the merits of Christ, now enjoys the Beatific Vision of God.
The last part of the encyclopedia’s description should wake us up to a very important aspect of this celebration. Those who have been officially declared Saints by Holy Mother Church deserve to be always honored and to receive proper love and respect, especially on their feast day. Again quoting from the Catholic Encyclopedia, “The Catholic Church canonizes or beatifies only those whose lives have been marked by the exercise of heroic virtue, and only after this has been proved by common repute for sanctity and by conclusive arguments.” Only a relatively minuscule number of good, holy Catholics are able to meet the strict requirements of proof that they are now in Heaven and that their lives upon this earth are worthy of study and emulation. (It is, as a comparison, much easier for any ball player to be named to the Hall of Fame than for any Catholic to be named a Saint.) Once this has been established, however, they are to be held in great esteem. They are supposed to be our role models and heroes, more-so than even the greatest Hall of Famer.
Even so, we sometimes forget about them, neglect our duties to honor them or only half-heartedly remember them even while attending (or even celebrating) Mass on their feast days. How many people have forgotten who they chose as a Patron Saint on the day of their Confirmation? How many children were named after a particular Saint due to their parents’ devotion to that Saint or on account of their birthday falling on a Saint’s feast day yet they never even ask for that Saint’s intercession, let alone offer up prayers of thanks for assistance given?
All Saints Day gives us the opportunity to make amends for our neglect, our disrespect, or our simple forgetfulness. What a blessing for both us and the Saints! We, the Church Militant, enter into the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, celebrated in honor of those who have won the battle of good versus evil, the Church Triumphant. We ask for the grace to learn from them, to imitate them, and to love them (and thus, God) more deeply. They, in turn, must be all aglow with pure love and compassion for those of us still struggling through life and gladly pray that we become even more holy than themselves.
Then on Thursday, All Souls Day, we celebrate Mass to pray for the Church Suffering or the Poor Souls in Purgatory. Though not a day of obligatory Mass participation, those who recognize just how difficult it is to have already perfectly atoned for all temporal punishment due to previously forgiven sins at the time of death make every effort to get to Mass that day. Throughout the month, but especially on November 2, we pray for those who died in a state of grace yet perhaps not completely perfect in their love of God and neighbor and we offer our sufferings, our alms, our fastings, and our acts of charity on their behalf. This year I didn’t put out any All Souls envelopes and nobody noticed, nobody asked for one, and, as of this writing, nobody has given me a list of their departed family and friends whom they wish to have remembered at Mass. So it looks like if you wish them to be prayed for by name (I will still pray for them in general), you are going to have to attend Mass and pray for them yourselves! The Church also offers, from November first through the eighth, a plenary indulgence, applicable only to the Poor Souls, to those who visit a cemetery and pray for the departed (and complete the other stipulations for plenary indulgences, namely, sacramental confession, Communion, prayers for the holy intentions of the Pope and detachment from sin). Our simple mortification leads to a Poor Soul’s purification, allowing their final glorification. And we grow holier doing it!
Come join in the celebrations! Become a Saint, help others to do so as well, and honor those who have already made it. The Mass schedule for both days will include the normal 6:30 am and 8:00 am Masses and both days will also have an extra 7:00 pm Mass. The evening Mass on All Souls Day will be a Solemn High Mass if everything goes as planned. This is something we hope to be able to do more often in the future, as more and more clergy become interested in assisting at the Traditional Latin Mass. Thank you for your continuing prayers in this regard!
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: We have a Confirmation Date!
Instead of holding you in suspense, let me come right out with the news: our next parish celebration of the Sacrament of Confirmation has been set by the Diocese for 7:00 pm on Wednesday, February 7, 2018. Why so soon? Because the Bishop has a lot of parishes to get to and there simply is no way for him to visit every parish in May or June! Does that mean that Bishop Parkes will be bestowing the sacrament himself? I wish I was able to get a confirmation on him doing the Confirmations. We spoke briefly about the ceremony and what is done (and not done) and he has promised “to see” about it. He genuinely wants to be here for us but is still uncertain about his ability to do it well in the old rite. So we will just go with the flow for now.
If you are preparing for Confirmation yourself or have a child you are preparing for Confirmation, the first thing you need to do is get a copy of your/his/her Baptismal certificate over to the office. An original is not necessary. A hard copy or an electronic copy of the old one you have in a storage box is fine. Please note well: Baptism is the first step in preparing for Confirmation and you must have been baptized before you receive any other sacrament. I know that “nobody” would try to get confirmed who has not been baptized but--and this is a big BUT--in order to properly record the fact that the sacrament was received, we need to know which church to send that information to, and that church needs names and dates from the document in order to find, verify, and update the original record. All sacramental records are held at the church (parish) of Baptism, so although we will record here that young Johnny was confirmed by Bishop Parkes on February 7, 2018, taking the name of St. Romuald and having Mr. Joseph Dingle as his sponsor, we will also send that information to St. Ubaldus Basilica in Wispy Cloud, Maryland (the church listed on Johnny's Baptism certificate) so that they can enter it along with his Baptism and First Holy Communion record. When Johnny later is preparing to become a priest, he will need to contact the secretary at St. Ubaldus, asking for a new copy of his Baptismal certificate with all notations. If there is no notation of Confirmation (for instance, because his parents promised to produce a Baptismal certificate for his Confirmation but never followed through on it) he will have a much more difficult time gaining admittance to the seminary because Confirmation is an essential sacrament to have before receiving Holy Orders. And, since we probably won’t have recorded it here without having ever obtained all of the information found on the forgotten Baptismal certificate, unless we find the old, incomplete file squirreled away in the attic, you won’t be able to find a record of it anywhere. Then you need to find photos and witnesses, produce sworn testimonies, etc., taking so much time that poor Johnny misses the entrance deadline for the seminary and, wrongly thinking that that was a sign from God that he was not to be a priest, he marries the very next girl who smiles at him, not knowing that she is a deranged psycho-killer cyborg from the future and... well, we just lost another man who would have been a good, holy priest and the only one in the diocese who would have celebrated the Traditional Latin Mass when I retire or die. All on account of a Baptismal certificate which never made it to our office. Don’t let that happen to Johnny or to future Epiphany parishioners! Please bring in the certificate ASAP!
After you have produced a Baptismal certificate, we will give you a form to fill out to officially register for Confirmation here. My guess is that the more children or adults we have here who are properly prepared to receive Confirmation, and the sooner we know the size of the Confirmation group, the greater the chances that Bishop Parkes will make the extra effort to learn the prayers and ritual of the traditional rite and Confirm in person.
Because of the short “school year” between now and February, there really is not a lot of time to procrastinate on anything. Please dust off your Baltimore Catechisms (number 2 is great but number 3 gives an even better explanation of the reason for receiving each of the Gifts of the Holy Ghost) or your Seton books or the Faith and Life series or whichever program you are planning on using and get to it right away. If you need assistance in this regard, please don’t hesitate to ask for it. Confirmation prep is not too difficult if the one to be confirmed already has a good foundation from a previous solid First Holy Communion preparation and is a member of a faithful Catholic family which actually believes and practices the one true Faith. Not everyone has been so blessed (believe it or not), so help each other out! Above all, remember that prayer is the most important aspect of readying oneself for reception of this--or any--sacrament, so pray well.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Las Vegas Shooting. Why?
All of the news outlets and initialed government organizations are bewildered about the motive behind the recent unholy shootings in Las Vegas. But what they all are failing to take seriously is that simple word which I used to modify “shootings” in the last sentence, namely, “unholy”. “Demonic” would have worked as well, as would have “devilish”, “diabolical”, “satanic” or any other number of words bringing to the forefront the ultimate cause of such an evil rampage. But nooooo, the secular world is not about to admit that the devil is real and that “we” as a whole have invited him to fill the void left when “we” kicked God out of our lives. ISIS is still claiming responsibility. That does nothing to diminish the preceding statement, for they represent the devil, even if nobody wants to admit that truth.
Those who believe in neither God nor the devil have blamed this latest mass murder and maiming on guns, the President, Republicans, Libertarians, housewives, mailmen, chimney sweeps, and those who eat non-organic food. Everything and everybody gets blamed as long as God and the devil, prayer and the antithesis of prayer are left out of the conversation. This is exactly what “they” don’t want “you” to think about. But thinking about it is a must. In thinking about the “why’s” of the shooting and the “what’s next” for the near and distant future, we must use reason and Faith, and make no mistake, by that I mean we must use Catholic Faith, for all other forms of Faith fall short. That, of course, means that we must use Scripture, Tradition and the Church’s magisterial teachings as we ponder these issues.
Yet that is not to say that it takes a gifted theologian to understand how we got to where we are and how to get out of this moral cesspool. For what Catholic cannot see almost immediately that the devil was at work in the shooter’s life? What Catholic cannot see almost immediately that he needed, yet had rejected, Jesus Christ and His gift of Eternal Life? What Catholic cannot see almost immediately that no “solution” to the problem of preventing the next massacre will be solid and sustainable unless we humble ourselves before God Almighty, beg His forgiveness, beseech His mercy and grace, and truly commit to becoming Saints individually and as a nation?
Look around. The way the United States has developed its infrastructure, economy, transportation, communication, and governance (among other things), we need--really need--either a moral population or a tyrannical government to keep us “safe”. The Las Vegas shooter shot a lot of people. Our free society makes it easy for immoral persons to shoot people, to stab people, to run people over, or to find countless ways to destroy life or a way of life. Humans are social animals. We gather into large groups just about everywhere and for many reasons: for recreation, for education, for employment, for prayer. Our society was built with the expectation that interdependent people would be as safe or safer in those crowds than they would be in independent isolation. Now, though, having been shamelessly taught to reject God, to ridicule Faith, and to despise Truth, an increasingly immoral population is changing the equation. Immoral people can be and will be and have already been emboldened so as to find new ways to kill large numbers of unsuspecting random people. Immoral people can be and will be and already have been emboldened to kill targeted, important society members (and, yes, some jobs are more important in some regards, such as in keeping law and order on the streets, than others), taking advantage of, say, our police being easily identified by their uniforms and being in public places where they should be safe and are basically defenseless (like sitting in their squad car filling out paperwork), which things also make executing them quite effortless for the wicked.
The Las Vegas shooter also took a couple of potshots at large fuel storage tanks which will certainly inspire others to devise ways to successfully blow them up, destroying shipping ports and fuel depots, along with food and goods distribution networks, and causing untold mayhem. Our society was built with the expectation that most people would behave rationally and morally. Those large fuel tanks are out in the open, nuclear plants are unprotected from above, the electric grid is vulnerable, train tracks are unguarded, jets take off and land in populated areas, water supplies are not tamper proof, and the list could go on and on. In a moral society, none of that matters. In an immoral society, there will always be someone (or some group) exploiting such “weaknesses”, trying to make a name for himself by causing more death and destruction than the last guy, or by becoming the first to think of a new way of wreaking havoc, or by simply causing chaos for the sake of chaos.
So how do we stop the next terrorist act? A tyrannical government can do it fairly well and fairly quickly. The fewer freedoms the people have, the less they can “cause trouble”. But an almost infinitely better way (though at this point it will take a lot longer to achieve than the first option) is for everyone to learn, accept, and live the true Catholic Faith. Pray and fast, people. Pray and fast.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Columbus Day
In recent years a lot of ignorant and/or immoral so-called “scholars” have written a lot of anti-Catholic (yes, I believe that is most often the basis of their false “scholarship”) articles bashing Christopher Columbus and his Catholic Faith. Today I want to share with you just a little bit of actual scholarship about him and his journey, found in the Knights of Columbus’ Columbia magazine in October of 2015. Much more “real” Columbus information can be found easily enough on many Catholic websites and books. Don’t be fooled by the secular sources who make up stories or twist old documents to fit their agenda, trading truth for hatred.
When the Knights of Columbus was founded 130 years ago, their namesake, Christopher Columbus, was a symbol of the idea that there is no contradiction in being a Catholic and an American. In recent decades, however, Columbus has become a figure of controversy, leaving conflicting opinions about his legacy.
Carol Delaney, a cultural anthropologist and long-time professor at Stanford University, had little knowledge or interest in Columbus that is, until she was teaching a course called “Millennial Fever” at Stanford in 1999 and came across a reference to the explorer’s apocalyptic beliefs. Delaney was intrigued and set out to research Columbus at Brown University in the summer of 2003. Two years later, she retired from Stanford to devote herself to research, which launched a remarkable journey in the footsteps of the explorer. Columbia spoke to Delaney about the fruits of her research, published in her book titled Columbus and the Quest for Jerusalem (Free Press, 2011).
Columbia: You argue that most people misunderstand the purpose of Columbus’ voyage. According to your research, what were his motivations?
Carol Delaney: Everybody knows that Columbus was trying to find gold, but they don’t know what the gold was for: to fund a crusade to take Jerusalem back from the Muslims before the end of the world. A lot of people at the time thought that the apocalypse was coming because of all the signs: the plague, famine, earthquakes and so forth. And it was believed that before the end, Jerusalem had to be back in Christian hands so that Christ could return in judgment. Columbus actually calculated how many years were left before the end of the world. He seemed to think of his whole voyage as a mission, which was part of this apocalyptic scenario.
Columbia: In addition to funding the crusade, did Columbus intend to evangelize the New World?
Carol Delaney: He was very much interested in evangelizing. He wrote against the idea that the natives could just be baptized and automatically become Christian. Rather, they really needed to be instructed about the Christian faith before being converted. He wrote to the pope requesting that good priests be sent to provide this instruction and even left money in his will for it. Believing he was traveling to Asia, Columbus particularly wanted to convince the Grand Khan of China, who had already expressed interest in Christianity, to convert. He thought that the Grand Khan could help with the crusade to take Jerusalem by marching from the east, while the Europeans marched from the west an interesting idea.
Columbia: Why don’t more people recognize and accept your claims about Columbus’ intentions?
Carol Delaney: Scholars have written articles about Columbus’ religious motivations, but they were published in very arcane journals. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, historians wrote about Columbus as the first modern man, who used science and reason as an explorer and discoverer. But I don’t think that was his motivation. He was a medieval man in a very religious context. He was very close to the Franciscans, who were involved in proselytizing before the end of the world.
Columbia: The popular view today is that Columbus is responsible for countless atrocities against the native peoples. In your opinion, is this a fair assessment?
Carol Delaney: No, not at all. The late 20th century brought a lot of critique about him from the perspective of the natives, and Columbus has become a symbol for everything that went wrong. But the more I read of his own writings and that of his contemporaries, my understanding of him totally changed. His relations with the natives tended to be benign. He liked the natives and found them to be very intelligent. He also described them as “natural Christians” because they had no other “sect,” or false faith, and believed that they could easily become Christians if they had instruction.
There is much more but we have no more space here. Read her book. Read real scholarship. Don’t get mislead by the bigots who want to destroy the nation and the Church. Happy Columbus Day!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Priest’s Convocation
This week most of the priests of the diocese will be away from their respective parishes as we gather together at the Bethany Center for our yearly few days of prayer, talks, and camaraderie. Don’t worry, the Mass schedule will not change! Fr. Vincent has graciously agreed to celebrate the 6:30 am Mass before racing back to Jesuit High School to teach so that I will have time to commute back over here for the 8:00 am Mass, Adoration, and confessions. Please don’t expect me to stay and chat afterward or to be available for non-emergencies, for as soon as Benediction is completed, I will have just enough time (I think) to make it back for the start of the mid-morning talk. Some parishes may cancel Masses altogether so if you know of someone who will be without the Holy Sacrifice, be sure to invite them to Epiphany.
These days, Monday afternoon through early afternoon on Thursday, though they include time for prayer and confessions and spiritual talks, are not retreat days. They are days filled more with catching up with fellow priests than with anything else. They are certainly anything but silent! Many priests only see even the priests they are closest to at meetings, funerals for priests and their family members, and this convocation. Of those three, this is the only one which allows for more than a quick “hello” and other perfunctory greetings. At the convocation we see each other for three meals a day (I will have to skip breakfast to make it back for Mass, though, so cry a little for me, ok?) plus Mass and other prayer times, plus the times at and between talks, plus the free time in the schedule, plus evening Irish Holy Hours after everything else is done. I have no doubt that I am able to actually carry on a conversation with more priests for longer periods of time during these few days than I do the rest of the year.
The convocation always falls the first full week of October and the (new) liturgical calendar for the Breviary gives some great readings from St. Augustine shortly before or even during the week we gather together. Although much of his sermon is a chastising of and warning to the priests that they must feed their sheep rather than themselves, there is also a beautiful passage about the priests desiring, even more so than the person himself, the return of the lost sheep to the flock. The purpose of the convocation is to encourage us to do what this great Saint is encouraging us to do, namely, to save souls! Here it is, for your edification:
The straying sheep you have not recalled; the lost sheep you have not sought. In one way or another, we go on living between the hands of robbers and the teeth of raging wolves, and in light of these present dangers we ask your prayers. The sheep moreover are insolent. The shepherd seeks out the straying sheep, but because they have wandered away and are lost they say that they are not ours. “Why do you want us? Why do you seek us?” they ask, as if their straying and being lost were not the very reason for our wanting them and seeking them out. “If I am straying,” he says, “if I am lost, why do you want me?” You are straying, that is why I wish to recall you. You have been lost, I wish to find you. “But I wish to stray,” he says: “I wish to be lost.”
So you wish to stray and be lost? How much better that I do not also wish this. Certainly, I dare say, I am unwelcome. But I listen to the Apostle who says: Preach the word; insist upon it, welcome and unwelcome. Welcome to whom? Unwelcome to whom? By all means welcome to those who desire it; unwelcome to those who do not. However unwelcome, I dare to say: “You wish to stray, you wish to be lost; but I do not want this.” For the one whom I fear does not wish this. And should I wish it, consider his words of reproach: The straying sheep you have not recalled; the lost sheep you have not sought. Shall I fear you rather than him? Remember, we must all present ourselves before the judgement seat of Christ.
I shall recall the straying; I shall seek the lost. Whether they wish it or not, I shall do it. And should the brambles of the forests tear at me when I seek them, I shall force myself through all straits; I shall put down all hedges. So far as the God whom I fear grants me the strength, I shall search everywhere. I shall recall the straying; I shall seek after those on the verge of being lost. If you do not want me to suffer, do not stray, do not become lost. It is enough that I lament your straying and loss. No, I fear that in neglecting you, I shall also kill what is strong. Consider the passage that follows: And what was strong you have destroyed. Should I neglect the straying and lost, the strong one will also take delight in straying and in being lost.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: My 10 Year Anniversary
My 10 year anniversary is coming up this week. Ten years of “what” you ask? Ten years of celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass. On September 27, 2007, the feast of Saints Cosmas and Damian, I took the plunge. That Thursday evening, after 3 days of trying desperately to learn how to celebrate the Mass in its ancient form, I stood in front of the altar of St. Rita parish, with dozens of people who had my back in more ways than one, and began, “In nomine Patris, ✠ et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen. Introibo ad altare Dei.” I was sweating bullets. 11 years before that date, I celebrated my first Mass after my ordination to the priesthood in the only form of the Mass I ever experienced growing up, the Novus Ordo Missae, or New Order of Mass, as Pope Paul VI had termed it. I was excited but not nervous for that first NO Mass. The Novus Ordo Mass took very little preparation. We never even had to pass a test at the seminary to see if we could celebrate it properly, as the old priests liked to tell us they had to do. It was that easy. But the “new-to-me” old Mass was another matter altogether. [In fact, I once (long before I knew anything about the TLM) was told by an elderly priest how easy we “kids” had it. Back in his day, he proclaimed, it took a real man to be an altar server, let alone a priest. Nowadays, he half-jokingly insisted, a trained monkey could celebrate the Mass (Novus Ordo) and an untrained monkey could serve it! Several years ago I wrote a bulletin column in which I included that quip and mentioned that it took me years to completely understand what he was talking about. It is one of a number of bulletin articles for which I was called down to the bishop’s office for a chewing out, for some anonymous petty fellow priest had whined that I had hurt his feelings by passing on that story. Wah, wah, wah.]
Anyway, my first TLM scared the daylights out of me. As I wrote a few months ago, the permission and duty for pastors to celebrate the TLM if asked to do so by the faithful came out in July of 2007, through the document Summorum Pontificum. In August I finally agreed to celebrate it, once every other priest in the area, each of whom grew up with the TLM, said that they would not. Training for the Mass at that time was just beginning to get organized and would not be available for at least a few more months, so I was in no hurry. But Monday, September 24, I got tipped off that if I was ever going to be “allowed” to celebrate it, I had to do so before Monday, October 1, one week away. That put the giddy-up in my horse. I didn’t want to have a Sunday Mass be the first (worst) time I celebrated it, and the only day I could fit an extra daily Mass into the parish schedule was Thursday evening. I had three days to prepare.
The first thing I discovered was that I couldn’t figure out which Mass to celebrate. Different liturgical calendars! Who knew? I called the FSSP parish in Sarasota and asked for help. Fr. Fryar choked when I told him my plans, but, after hearing the reasons for the quick study, he told me where to find both the Thursday and Sunday Masses and immediately sent me his own Ordo (the book telling priests which Mass to celebrate each day). He was a lifesaver many times after that, too! I already had a package from the SSPX with a training videotape, a booklet explaining the priests postures, gestures and movements, and some simple altar cards to practice with. When something is needed desperately, it often seems to malfunction. I probably don’t have to mention that the video would not play! So I concentrated on the written rubrics. Too many to remember! The priest holds his hands this way, then that way, bends this far then that far, moves here then there while doing this or not doing that, and so on... Plus, though the booklet had those rubrics in English, in the altar Missal they are only in Latin! I had to devise shorthand symbols to insert into the Missal so that I would know what to do and when to do it and how to do it without taking the time during Mass to mentally translate the Latin into English. I practiced with some altar boys (trained men). It was terrible but informative. I found out that St. John Cantius parish in Chicago had instructional videos posted online and watched them over and over on my computer, moving from one side of the desk to the other as if it were the altar as I imitated what was on the screen. I stuck sticky notes everywhere in the Missal. I went over it and over it. Even at night I dreamt about rubrics. September 27 came too quickly for comfort and yet brought the relief of “time to do or die”. It wasn’t perfect, but it was beautiful nonetheless. Ten years later it still doesn’t come easy but it doesn’t frighten me anymore. I am truly blessed.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Irma: Eventful but not Terrible
Hurricane Irma, the Category 5 monstrosity which was poised to wipe all of Florida off the map after causing untold destruction throughout the many small islands to the southeast of us, has come and gone. Thank you all for the many prayers you offered up during the week before the storm, for without them, I am sure that this would have been much, much worse. As I write, electricity is being restored throughout the area and I am getting reports from parishioners about how little damage was done where they live. We only lost electricity at the parish for just under 24 hours. My mom’s house was without it for another day. As I write, many of you don’t have power yet. Hopefully, by the time you read this everything is back to normal. Actually, I hope and pray that everything is better than normal. We all had a chance, due to panic, to determine what we cherish the most, to contact those to whom we are closest or most concerned about, we had time to look at our own mortality and, hopefully, repent of all our sins, beseech forgiveness from both God and man, and make a firm amendment to improve our relationship with God Almighty and His children. “We all” is not “you” personally, though. Did you do it? Did you pray? Did you ask for pardon and peace? Did you give any to those who asked it of you? To quote either Winston Churchill or Rahm Emanuel, “Don’t let a good crisis go to waste!” Fr. Dorvil quipped recently, “If the people put the same preparation into their eternal life as they did into preparation for Irma, we would all be Saints!”
Sitting through the hurricane at Epiphany was different than what I have experienced in any other hurricane, in that this one came with a crowded rectory. We hosted more than a dozen people here. MacDill Air Force Base evacuated all of the Americans but forgot about the foreign soldiers stationed there. One of them, a French Colonel, regularly attends the TLM at Epiphany. He approached me with a humble request that his group be put up in the classrooms. Instead, I invited them into the rectory, which would be more comfortable and certainly safer than the classrooms with the large back windows. More than a dozen showed up, along with a French reporter who was on assignment to see how this was affecting the troops. None of them had experienced a hurricane before and all they knew was what the TV was telling them. “Danger! Death! Doom!” The reporter was quite scared and didn’t quite believe my words about not having anything to worry about because we had been praying for it to change course or dissipate. “Then why did it change course from hitting Miami to coming this way?” Because someone asked me to pray that her not-ready-spiritually-for-death son in Miami would be spared until he was ready for what we call a “happy death”, that is, one in the state of grace. “Would God really change a hurricane just for one person?” Yes. Plain and simple. Yes. I am not taking credit for the storm’s path or its relatively weak power, for I am just one priest who got one parish to pray, yet I am certain that our prayers were heard and answered. Do we get full credit? Half credit? 1/1000 of 1% credit? It doesn’t matter. Figuring such things out is beyond my ability. But the storm was averted, the son’s life was spared, and the power when it hit here was nothing like what it was supposed to be.
Fr. Peter had made an open invitation to any members of St. Joseph Vietnamese Mission who needed shelter to come to the parish center. Then, like a magician, he disappeared. A group of his parishioners took him up on his offer and brought their families to camp out in the hall. I went back and forth between the buildings checking up on them occasionally. They were as happy and calm as those in the rectory. The former pastor’s sister was going to sleep in the rectory, but after just a short time here decided that staying in the hall would be more fun, as she doesn’t speak either English or French. Another Vietnamese family showed up very late and didn’t bring sleeping bags, so two of the men came through the driving wind and rain to get some spare bedding from our closets. Share and share alike. There was plenty of food and drink and floor space in both places, plus good people to share it with.
Monday morning everyone was still sleeping so I didn’t celebrate the 6:30 Mass but about a dozen of our refugees were awake and ready for Mass at eight. There was no electricity, but with the help of candles and a “liturgical head lamp” a Mass of Thanksgiving was celebrated with much rejoicing. Adoration and confession followed as normal and then everyone cleaned up and left, going to either their home or the Base. All in all, it was not a bad way to spend the weekend! I continue to add the Prayers of Thanksgiving at the Masses and I ask that you do something similar, too. We should always thank God as much as we petition Him!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: No Joking About Aunt Irma This Week
This week as I write my column, Hurricane Irma is a powerful storm churning away in the Atlantic and bearing down on Florida. As is my usual response when a hurricane strike is predicted to be imminent, I turned to the back of the Missal to find the Mass to Avert Storms. This is the first time I have celebrated it in the Traditional Latin Mass form because, thanks be to God, it has been many years since we were in danger of a direct hit. (In case you didn’t realize it, I have only been celebrating the TLM almost exclusively for only two years now. Before this latest assignment to make Epiphany “Tampa’s Center for the Traditional Latin Mass” I only celebrated it as a very small part of parish life in my most recent previous two assignments.) All other times I have celebrated the Mass to Avert Storms, it has been in the Novus Ordo old translation form. In the old Sacramentary (what the Missal was called) there was only one prayer that was used for the Mass. In place of the Opening Prayer (called the Collect in the TLM) was this: “Father, all the elements of nature obey your command. Calm the storms that threaten us and turn our fear of your power into praise of your goodness. Grant this through our Lord...”
That’s a pretty simple prayer, asking God to ”calm” rather than “avert” storms, yet it worked. During the twenty-one years I have been a priest, I cannot tell you how many tropical storms or hurricanes were predicted to possibly hit the Diocese of St. Petersburg and, after the Mass to Avert Storms was celebrated, passed us by. Those that did come through were not too bad. (That statement could cause cringing for those who did experience serious damage or hurt, but overall they did relatively little damage.) Every time I prayed that Mass, though, I had parishioners who thought that if the prayers “worked” and the storm changed track, then I was (or God was) responsible for any death and destruction wherever it did hit. It is amazing how wimpy we have become! Just as few today want to pray for their sports team to win (for that means that they are praying for the other team to lose--yet isn’t that an authentic desire and, thus, an honest prayer request?) so also those same people fail to trust even the wisdom of the Mass prayers made available by Holy Mother Church.
Anyway, I am writing this with faith that, even though Irma is a powerful category 5 storm, it will not hit here. Where will it hit? Perhaps in a place where no priest offered the Mass to Avert Storm? Really, it all comes down to God telling us to have faith, to ask for the things we want and that are good for us (as far as we can tell), and to trust Him no matter how He answers. By the time this is printed and you read it, Irma will either have hit us hard, causing much sick, derisive laughter among those who have no faith in what I just wrote, or will have hit somewhere else for whatever reason God allowed, or will have completely and unexpectedly dissipated into thin air to the bewilderment of all the meteorologists. Any way it goes, I have faith that God heard our prayers here this week and is answering in whichever way is best for us. And no, that is not a cop out. I fully expect that we will not experience a direct hit nor have tremendous damage even if affected by its wind and/or rain.
In the TLM, the Mass to Avert Storms has three prayers which together make a humble yet quite bold plea of petition, thankfulness for His blessings, and filial trust in our Loving Father. The Collect is: “We beseech Thee, O Lord, that all wickedness being driven away from Thy house, the fury of the raging tempest may pass away. Through our Lord Jesus Christ...” The Secret is: “We offer Thee, O Lord, our praises and gifts, giving thanks for the blessings bestowed upon us and ever humbly praying that they may be continued towards us. Through our Lord...” And the Post Communion prayer is: “O almighty and everlasting God, who by chastening dost heal us and by forgiving dost preserve us, grant that we Thy suppliants may rejoice in the peace and consolation which we desire, and ever enjoy the gift of Thy mercy. Through our Lord...” Not too bad, huh?
We will also have prayed, after the daily Masses, prayers from the Traditional Rituale Romanum, “A Procession to Avert Storms”. Within these prayers, we explicitly admit that we don’t deserve to avoid the destruction wrought by storms, yet we beg for that gift anyway as we invoke the powerful intercessory prayers of the Saints in Heaven. It ends with the acknowledgment that, should He give us chastisements from the storm, it would bring us healing and salvation, yet our prayer is that we would profit even more by accepting His mercy! When we take these prayers to heart, we certainly come out of this as victors in Christ Jesus.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Buy a Priest a Beer Day
Can you believe that “Buy a Priest a Beer Day” is already here? It doesn’t seem like a full year has passed since we last celebrated this feast, yet there it is on the calendar, Saturday, September 9. Not too many people pay attention to this feast day anymore, though it can be found on the calendars of almost all priests, whether they are young or old, Traditional or Novus Oddo, orthodox or heretical, working or retired. I suppose more people would pay attention to it if they knew more about how it came to be an annual feast. So go pop yourself open a cold one and let me give some of the details of this ancient legend.
Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there was a large community of Tappist Monks. They were good, holy men who lived a life of prayer in the solitude of their monastery. They took their vows very seriously and, due to their well deserved reputation for solid Catholicism, they were bursting at the seams as more and more men asked to join the order. Even with a vow of poverty, though, they had to find a way to feed and clothe not only themselves but also those who passed by in need. They also needed funds to build beautiful chapels and hold beautiful liturgies for the glory of God. They needed, in short, to pay the bills. So they had to devise a plan to provide an income. Other religious communities had already discovered, patented, trademarked, and copy-rited their own means of supporting themselves.
The Holy Doublecross Fathers opened universities. They had a competition between the administrators and the professors as to who could bring in the most money. The administrators constantly sought to keep the tuition as high as possible to make it seem like they had a quality product yet low enough that they didn’t have refund too much in the form of scholarships when the token poor kids enrolled. The professors, on the other hand, simply required that their own exceedingly overpriced scrolls, and parchments (and, later, books) be purchased for their own class, and each semester they revised it and mandated that only the “new and improved” version be used. In recent days, football has emerged... no, I had best leave that for another time and, for now, stick to the ancient days.
The Tomdickandharrians simply boasted of their poverty. They put on ragged habits, got bad haircuts, and told everyone how they were simple men of the earth. They really didn’t do much of anything as far as anyone could tell, except boast of their humility and lack of money. But by proclaiming that they could not possibly, under any circumstances at all, with absolutely no exceptions, accept even a penny from anyone at any time, for any reason, amassed a fortune so large that even God could not count it.
The Jezabelwits took yet another approach. They opened retreat centers and preached missions to raise their needed funds. To gain some credibility in this arena, they first forced their men to spend a dozen or so years studying to the point of embracing every ancient heresy before being ordained priests. This had two specifically intended consequences. First, their priests got the reputation of being extremely well educated, since it took so long for them to graduate seminary. Second, and even more importantly, having a Heretical Masters Degree allowed them the opportunity to cater their monetary appeals to not only Catholics who were suckered in by the appearance of scholarship, but also to the Catholic-in-name-only (baptized pagans, as they have recently been labeled) persons who were more than happy to send a lot money to any priest giving them cover for denigrating Church teachings while retaining the promise of Heaven.
The Tappists had to come up with their own schtick. They decided to sell items which they could capture or make themselves. They began by selling furs (they had an “r” in their name at that time), but the terrorist group People Against Anything That Makes Human Life Better (which, in modern English, would translate into either the acronym PETA or USCCB had they not already been taken) raised a stink so they tried other products. Cheese made by Monks appeals to city dwellers, but country folks simply said, “Why buy the cheese when the cow is free?” Fudge appeals mostly to those looking for a good reason to cheat on their diet (“The priests blessed the calories out of it!” or “But it’s for a good cause!” work equally well), but early on hardly anyone was fat. They tried making really good scotch, whisky and wine, but only the aforementioned Religious could afford to buy it. They finally decided to focus on beer, an affordable and enjoyable beverage. “Buy a Priest a Beer Day” was their original marketing slogan so that all Catholics, regardless of which Order they were loyal to, would purchase their product. The Passionless Fathers wish they had thought of it first!
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Destruction of Intelligence
Let me get this straight. Democrats (and socialists, communists and the rest of the “liberal left”) are starting to brazenly, yet illegally, destroy very valuable and sometimes beautiful pieces of public and private art, which depict historical Democrat persons (like General Robert E. Lee, who, like the majority of Confederates, was a Democrat and, after the war, was a major figure in striving to unite southerners and northerners), all because they now despise the stands which the Democrats took (the Democrats were the pro-slavery party), and then they have the gall to blame the past and current Republicans (Abraham Lincoln, a Republican, was leading the Union side of the war) for their own (Democrat) historic crimes and sins? A sarcastic “thank you” goes out to the “unbiased” media, for not just failing to point out the stupidity of this, but for actually perpetuating the image that Republicans are at fault for Democrat doings. If these simple truths are mentioned in the mainstream media, it is always along with the spin that those Democrats were just “Southern Democrats” and, therefore not really Democrats, because, as everyone who is anyone knows, the Southerners are a bunch of inbred misfits too ignorant to know what a “real” Democrat is. They were all just Republicans in disguise. Well, not really in disguise, for that implies some knowledge of the two party system and “those” people were really too imbecilic to comprehend such things, so, rather, they were Republicans without knowing it. This is the same exact problem with the KKK, which, though you would never know it by media accounts, actually fought against the Republican Party. Too bad the talking heads on TV news cannot operate a computer and find something like this at the History Channel website: “Founded in 1866, the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) extended into almost every southern state by 1870 and became a vehicle for white southern resistance to the Republican Party’s Reconstruction-era policies aimed at establishing political and economic equality for blacks.” This lack of historical reality has gone so far that one of the worst names which someone on the “left” can call someone on the “right” (along with “racist”, “bigot” and “homophobe”) is “Nazi”. Long gone is the desire to even look at facts. Nazis were the members of the National Socialist German Workers Party, often labeled as a “far right” group, yet socialists, can in reality only be considered “far right” if the left/right continuum is a circle instead of a straight line and they have gone so far right that they are now back to the left.
Now don’t get me wrong. I am completely (or almost so) disgusted with most of what the Republican Party does today. Not what they claim to stand for, by and large, but what they actually do, which is basically leftist but not quite so left as the so-called “centrist” leftists in office today. They mostly do nothing but blow steam out of their pie holes and occasionally talk about doing great things. But play fair. Blame the Republicans for Republican crapola and blame Democrats for Democrat evils. There is plenty of blame to go around and each should get the proper credit or blame that is due them.
Anyway, back to the title of this article, the Destruction of Intelligence. A classic view of intelligence having been destroyed en masse was on display as not only did the lefties illegally (note that I am writing specifically about the illegal damaging, not the legal removal of monuments) destroy, or try to destroy, or deface, or demolish Confederate monuments and statues around the country (while vilifying anyone on the right, specifically President Trump on the national level and all Republicans, office holders and ordinary people, on the local level) as bigoted slave masters, Nazis, etc. but they didn’t know which statues and monuments were on the “to be destroyed” list. In Georgia, a monument of an angel holding an olive branch over a Confederate soldier, erected to support the post-war efforts to bring the North and South together in unity was defaced. Are leftists too stupid to desire unity? A bust of Abraham Lincoln was damaged in Illinois. Were the vandals too dense to know that he is supposed to get credit for freeing the slaves? In both Maryland and Texas, statues of Christopher Columbus were attacked. Do the hoodlums responsible lack the knowledge that he is credited with founding America? Or do they, like their puppet masters in power just really hate the United States? A statue of St. Joan of Arc was defaced in New Orleans. Were the vandals too obtuse to know that she was a Catholic hero in France, and wasn’t part of the Confederacy? Or do they simply hate Catholics, who did so much to free the slaves, too? The “asinine destruction” list could go on and on for the intelligence of the mobs has been destroyed.
It is really too bad that the majority of Confederate monuments were put up years ago when art was recognizable for what it was supposed to represent. If only the monuments were crafted by today’s contemporary “artists”, nobody would have a clue why they were erected or whom they commemorated. Talk about the destruction of intelligence...
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Men’s Holy League After One Year
One year ago, on the fourth Thursday of August, 2016, a wild idea was brought to fruition. A Catholic men’s group was formed, with twice monthly meetings broken into three parts: prayer, learning more about the Catholic Faith, and social time. It was a “wild” idea for several reasons. First, our parish, which was dedicated to the celebration of Traditional Latin Mass only one year before, strangely does not have many active parishioners living within its boundaries. Most people have to drive 45 minutes or more (one way) to attend. Getting the men to attend at 6:00 pm on a weekday was an attempt to allow them to get off work and stop by on their way home, perhaps making the distance not so much of a problem. Second, I could see no practical way of feeding them when they arrived, so the main draw for most non-liturgical functions at every church in the world was taken off the table (pun intended). They would each have to make a quick stop at a drive through before coming, which is not a very appealing thought to most adults. Third, this is a truly Catholic group of men, so large families are the norm and two nights a month, while seeming fairly inconsequential to some, would be a major commitment to most. Plus, the wives would also have to sign off on it! Fourth, an hour of prayer can be daunting, and an hour of prayers in Latin, moreso. Fifth, since everyone whom I expected to be interested would most likely be a “solid” Catholic already, I didn’t know if they would see a “Catholic class” as something necessary or of interest. Last of all the many things I could continue to list, is the social time. “Scotch and Cigars and Manly Camaraderie” was a good way of getting everyone’s attention, but would it be an effective advertising gimmick? Most guys, believe it or not, do not smoke cigars. With long drives home, the scotch would, of necessity, be very limited in quantity. And what in the world would guys talk about? All these potential drawbacks made this a very wild idea.
Yet we did it anyway. Why? Basically, because one man came to me with the idea and with the statement, “If you will teach, I will take charge of gathering emails and sending out notices.” That’s what I like to hear. Not, “Father, this is what the parish needs and you or someone else needs to do it” but rather, “Here is something I think we need to do and I am willing to do the work. If you do the priestly things, I will do the laity things.” I am terrible at organizing things. I can lead prayers, though, and I can teach the Faith. And so we gave it a shot.
The men gathered in the church to listen to the chanting of Latin Vespers. Now, I am betting that not more than two (I am being generous here) men understood the Latin chant. A few of the men might pray Vespers themselves at least fairly regularly, but the vast majority had no idea what Vespers even was. Vespers was followed by the Holy Rosary prayed in a combination of Latin and English. While I assume that every man there was familiar with the Rosary and some good portion of them probably prayed it daily, the Latin prayers (Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be) were unknown. (They are pretty good at it now, though!) The book I wanted to use was temporarily out of stock, so I switched to the universal Catechism of St. Pope Pius X. What a fortuitous happenstance! This Catechism, which, though not widely known--let alone read and believed--nowadays, makes bold declarations about what the Catholic Church truly teaches and leaves no doubt as to what is expected of the Faithful. In fact, it even outrightly states just who is and who isn’t considered “the Faithful”, something the newer Catechism dances around. (A recent example: Just who belongs to the Communion of Saints and who is excluded from that group? The new Catechism never explicitly says, leaving everyone guessing or making assumptions, many of which, though sounding “nice” and “merciful” and even “ecumenical” are downright wrong. The old Catechism declares the answer with no holds barred. And the men were shocked, for nobody has ever come right out and told them the truth this bluntly before!) To top the night off, out came the drinks and smokes. At least half the men were sure I was pulling their leg and couldn’t believe that I really had Ave Maria cigars and Glenlivet scotch waiting for them.
The “wild” idea caught on. Some men come to every meeting. Some can only make it sporadically. Some never returned. Those who come might each have their own favorite part of the night and a variety of reasons why they attend. But no matter what, they each are growing in the Faith, and the world can use some more good, holy, Catholic men right now. This Thursday is the fourth Thursday of the month. It is the one year anniversary of the men’s club. Whodathunkit? (Anyone want to try translating that Latin word?)
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Good News for Fr. Emmanuel
This week there is some good news regarding Fr. Emmanuel Ndechihiro. As you know, he came from Tanzania, Africa, four years ago to study Mathematics at St. Leo University and I was blessed to have him stay at the rectory of St. Anthony, where I was then the pastor. After he graduated with honors, I offered to have him here at Epiphany for the summer, to spend a little time before he went to Pensacola, where he will study for a Masters in Mathematics. During the time he has been here, he has been celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass (something he had practiced when we were together in San Antonio but which he never publicly celebrated before I was transferred) and, occasionally, the English Novus Ordo Mass. In many ways, it has been a blessing to have a good friend back with me, not least of which is the week’s vacation I was able to take with him being able to take the reigns for a while. During his time here we have been trying to secure housing in a Catholic rectory for him in Pensacola, a task which was made more difficult due to our St. Petersburg diocese recently “stealing” the bishop from Pensacola, leaving an administration gap of authority up there to take care of oddball things like this.
Many of you have been praying hard for an open bed to be offered (thank you!) and now we finally have a positive response. He will be staying at Nativity parish, which is very close to the University of West Florida campus. The pastor there, Fr. Patrick Foley, has been extremely welcoming and has gone out of his way to make his rectory available. It may be only temporary, as the diocese may ask Father to move to another location later in the school year, but at least everybody is working to make sure he has housing at a parish! There were only two things required of Fr. Emmanuel, things which might seem pretty insignificant to everybody reading this but which are impossible for him to obtain without your assistance:
1. He must have his own transportation. This was not a problem at St. Anthony, as we had two “parish” vehicles which he could use as needed. Nativity doesn’t have one. So he needs a car and the insurance needed to drive it. (Any insurance agents out there?)
2. He must supply his own meals. Does he have a kitchen available? Does he need to eat out every meal? Will the parishioners up there be encouraged to bring him meals? Right now we don’t have an answer to these questions. Perhaps we will by the time this bulletin gets into your hands but most likely he won’t know until he gets there. He is going to see if a meal plan is available on campus for commuter students.
Many of you have expressed interest in helping him in any way necessary. These are the things he needs. How to best assist? With your prayers, money, knowledge, and contacts. If somebody has a vehicle just sitting around because you didn’t know what to do with your aunt Irma’s car when she passed away last month, that would solve part of the first problem. Then donations would be accepted to pay for insurance, maintenance, and gas. (I have been told that donations like this would not be tax deductible.) Otherwise, knowledge of where to find a good, cheap, reliable used car would be helpful. Of course, a donation of a good, expensive, reliable new car would never be turned down, but Fr. Emmanuel would then probably be too nervous to drive it anywhere. As for the food, we are a bit too far away to set up a food chain for him. I think it took him 7 hours to get there last week when a parishioner drove him to meet with the diocesan administrator. So, once again, simple donations toward groceries or a meal plan might be the best option.
One thing that I need to make absolutely clear about all of this: Father Emmanuel is not the one asking for any assistance. He did not come here looking for handouts. He is not begging for--or expecting--donations. He is far too humble and unassuming and in no way would he want to be seen as one of those people who came to these United States or this parish or this diocese just for the personal financial “benefits”. No, this request for assistance is coming from me in response to those of you who, of your own free will, asked how to help him out. On his own, he would have found a way to survive living under a bridge, washing up in the university’s gym locker room, and fasting for forty days and forty nights (or for two school years).
Here you have the latest information. What you do with it is up to you. Please say a few prayers of thanks for Fr. Foley and the good people of Nativity!
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Can’t Understand Latin? Hah!
The next time someone tells you that they won’t come to Epiphany because they cannot understand Latin, hand them the following as food for thought. At least with Latin, what you see is what you say! Homographs would seem to be just the thing to make anyone say, with good reason, “I will never attend an English Mass. I just cannot understand it!” I am not the author of the text below. It is just one of many similar anonymous writings I have seen over the years. But I enjoyed it anyway and I hope you will, too.
You think English is easy?
1) The bandage was wound around the wound.
2) The farm was used to produce produce.
3) The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
4) We must polish the Polish furniture..
5) He could lead if he would get the lead out.
6) The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert..
7) Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
8) A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
9) When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
10) I did not object to the object.
11) The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
12) There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
13) They were too close to the door to close it.
14) The buck does funny things when the does are present.
15) A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.
16) To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
17) The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
18) Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear..
19) I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
20) How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?
Let's face it - English is a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplant, nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins weren't invented in England or French fries in France . Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren't sweet, are meat. We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.
And why is it that writers write but fingers don't fing, grocers don't groce and hammers don't ham? If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn't the plural of booth, beeth? One goose, 2 geese. So one moose, 2 meese? One index, 2 indices? Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend? If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?
If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? Sometimes I think all the English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane. In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell?
How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites? You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which, an alarm goes off by going on.
English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race, which, of course, is not a race at all. That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.
With prayers for your holiness and humor,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: The Founder of the Jesuits
This week (Monday, July 31) we celebrate the feast day of St. Ignatius of Loyola. Although he is a great Saint, usually his feast day passes by this parish without a mention, outside of the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, that is. He is the founder of the Society of Jesus, commonly called the Jesuits, and, as far as I can tell, there has been no direct Jesuit influence on Epiphany since its founding. The Redemptorists (the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer) Fathers founded the parish in 1961 and diocesan priests have been here since 1988. Bernardine Franciscan Sisters staffed the school. No Jesuits. Yet. The last two weekends we were blessed to have a Jesuit-in-training back with us, Ryan Caesar. Ryan, as you are aware, was a parishioner of ours before entering the seminary last year. The way the Jesuits do things, I think he may be ordained a priest in another dozen or so years. He will not be the parish’s first vocation though. That honor belongs to Father Donald Roth, CssR, who was ordained a Redemptorist priest in 1975!
This makes me wonder just how many other vocations have come from Epiphany. You know that there are several young men and women, boys and girls, who are considering their vocational call right now. You have assisted a couple of them as they went on “Come and See”-type trips and missions. You have prayed for them and for the order or community or diocese in which they will eventually find themselves (or for their future spouse, if that is where their discernment leads them). But I would really like to get a list together of those from Epiphany (and from current Epiphany families) who have either already entered the seminary or religious life formation process (like Ryan [Jesuit] and, next month, Esteban Merkt [Diocese of St. Augustine]) or have been ordained (like Fr. Donald Roth[Redemptorist]) or made a religious profession (Sister Rachel Hernandez [Home of the Mother]).
We have a Vocation poster hanging in our social hall. Just a few weeks ago some visitors were here who pointed to the photo of one young man on the poster and proudly proclaimed, “That’s our son!” What a blessing it was for them to know that you all see his photo on a regular basis and remember (I hope!) to pray for him along with the rest of the diocesan seminarians. But we don’t have a poster like that for those from our parish in Religious vocation formation. We also don’t have a poster like that of those from the parish who are already in Holy Orders or in Community life. I would like to put together something like that. Not only do they all need our prayers but it also is a reminder to others who are trying to figure out what God has in store for them that vocations come from “our” parish and “our” families! I need your assistance in this. If you know of anyone from years past who now has a “Church vocation” please write down whatever information you remember. Name, parents, year of ordination or profession (or even just an approximation), religious order, and anything else that might help out. Scour your old photos, holy cards, mementos and whatever else might have a mention of them, and let me know. I will try to track them down and see where they are today. Perhaps we can get photos of them. Perhaps we will need to celebrate a Mass for them if they are already deceased. Maybe... well, the possibilities are endless, and I am sure some of you are quite imaginative and can think of how we can honor them. So please think hard, call up old friends, check with those who have long since moved away, and see if we can get a list together. If we have a bunch (or is it herd, gaggle, school or flock?) of vocations which have come from this parish and our families, it will be good for everybody to know about it. If Fr. Roth is the only one, it will be good to know that he set the example and that many, many more will be following him soon. I have no doubt that vocations will be coming, and that they will come even from those whom you least expect it.
Now, going back to St. Ignatius of Loyola when he founded his Society. His new Jesuit “Rule” included several unusual mandates which are listed in the online Catholic Encyclopedia. The very first one they list, one which might make you scratch your head and wonder just how that works when you realize who is the most well-recognized Jesuit in the world today: the vow not to accept ecclesiastical dignities! While I have no idea how a Jesuit can break that vow and become anything other than a simple priest, perhaps that explains why, if you will allow me to be a little cheeky, so many Jesuits (and one in particular) seem to make every effort to not bring dignity to their ecclesiastical office!
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: A "Thank You" for Your Support
You, the members of Epiphany, have been quite generous in helping several of our teens go on missions which have something to do with vocations and everything to do with putting Catholic Faith into action. The latest trip you supported was taken by a group of boys and men who were helping to rebuild, after a devastating earthquake, a small town in Ecuador. Here is a sample (better photos linked on our website) of what they did. Estaban Merkt, who will be entering the seminary later this summer, sent his thanks along with these photos and descriptions. He could not have made this trip without your help. Thanks for all you do!
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
[I cannot get our bulletin article to come out here the same way it came out in the bulletin. Instead, please access this "Thank You" and the accompanying photos by clicking on the following link:]
From the Pastor: Welcome Home, Seminarian!
This week please greet Ryan Caesar with open arms as he returns home for a short summer visit. He has been undergoing the rigors of First Year in a Jesuit Seminary. Since I am a diocesan priest, rather than an order priest, I do not know how his first year differs from what I underwent, but if it is anything at all alike, it was a challenging year. The first year is basically like Marine Boot Camp. The system is tough to get used to, “freedom” is lost (the older and more independent the man going in, the more difficult this part is), studies are very different than what was imagined (making it more difficult to buckle down and work hard) and personal flaws come to the surface in ways never before experienced as both God (trying to heal) and Satan (trying to harm) influence and try the seminarians in various ways. Prayer life changes, sometimes seeming better, other times seeming much, much worse. Exercise patterns, sleep patterns, work patterns all need readjusting. Everything that can go wrong does. It is a very intense year. Many men bail before it is done. Those who survive, whether they later determine that God is not calling them to the priesthood or they continue all the way through ordination, are better off for having stayed through it. It is a badge of honor. It puts questions to rest. It brings peace. But it is tough!
Ryan is supposed to be with us for two weeks after having just completed this crash course in holiness, integrity, and manliness. I have not had the chance to speak with him yet about his experience, and, since it is his rather than mine, I will not make up any stories about what has happened to him since last July. But remember, he has spent a year under the direct supervision of the JESUITS! There are no stories which have ever come to my fertile (another word for you know what) imagination which can possibly compare to being under JESUIT influence for a year. The Jesuits (OK, I’ll stop using all caps) have spawned such diverse offspring as... well, I thought better of naming names. I get into enough trouble without calling out by name some of the worst publicly scandalous teachers of immorality who belong to this group. They also produce, of course, some of the most intellectually gifted and truly Catholic priests who are great teachers and theologians and scholars. Ryan, through your prayers, will belong to that last group. So pray hard!
Along with your prayers, you might also want to give him other necessities. Seminarians, after all, still need to wash clothes, replace broken computers, buy books, etc. Before Ryan left to begin his new journey I asked if there was anything he needed. He answered as he had been told, “No, everything will be provided.” That is what they had told me, too. They lied. Again, I was in a diocesan seminary and he is part of an order, so things might not be quite the same, but when a seminarian in my day ran out of soap, either for his body or for his clothes, the seminary never offered to provide it for him. Same with pens, paper, razors, underwear, toothpaste and so many other things that are truly necessary to have if you plan on remaining in a community. After being in the seminary for a year, Ryan just might have discovered that some things, some gifts, some comforts, just might be valuable gifts to receive after all. Don’t be afraid to ask. At the same time, please don’t assume that he needs anything, either, for “stuff” can quickly weigh a seminarian down. Everything he owns (again, back in my day at least) has to fit in his car and in his 6’ by 10’ room.
Anyway, welcome home, Ryan! We missed you!
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
PS For those who are new here, below is the photo I took of Ryan just before he left.
From the Pastor: Tenth Anniversary of Summorum Pontificum
Ten years ago, July 7, 2007, Pope Benedict XVI promulgated an Apostolic Letter, “Summorum Pontificum”, which, among other related things, expressly allowed all Latin Rite priests in good standing to celebrate, both privately and publicly, the Traditional Latin Mass using the 1962 Missal. Even before the letter came out it was opposed, as we see at the beginning of the letter accompanying Summorum which the Pope addressed to the bishops of the world. “The document was most directly opposed on account of two fears, which I would like to address somewhat more closely in this letter. In the first place, there is fear that the document detracts from the authority of the Second Vatican Council, one of whose essential decisions--the liturgical reform--is being called into question. This fear is unfounded... In the second place, the fear was expressed in discussions about the awaited Motu Proprio (Summorum Pontificum), that the possibility of a wider use of the 1962 Missal would lead to disarray or even divisions within parish communities. This fear also strikes me as unfounded...”
In the place of the ellipses (...) in the above quote, Pope Benedict gave his explanations as to why the fears of those already opposing the document (or, more precisely, opposing the Mass which, though undergoing occasional modifications through the centuries, had been in use worldwide for nearly 1500 years prior to 1970) were either unfounded or should be easily addressed by the bishops. Unfortunately, it was, by and large, the bishops themselves who were the instigators and perpetrators of such unmerited fearmongering, and, therefore, rather than working to alleviate them, they worked all the more to make them worse. But a funny thing happened even in the face of extreme opposition (with very few exceptions) from the bishops. The priests who were asked to celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass, like me, and the lay people who were invited to attend it, like many of you, loved the Mass anyway! I am not writing about those who already had an affinity to the TLM, who knew it from their youth or from somewhere in their past, and who always wished it would be more widely available. No, I am pointing out that people, both priests and laity, who had absolutely no prior knowledge of the TLM, who had no memories, fond or otherwise, of the TLM, those who previously never understood why anyone would want to “go back to the dark ages” or to the “bad old days” when the priest “turned his back to the people” and “nobody understood anything” and the “little old ladies clutched their beads” to escape the boredom of the Latin Mass (as the past fifty years of terrible catechesis has drilled into the social psyche), when finally learning the TLM and experiencing the TLM embraced it as they never embraced the Novus Ordo Mass ever before.
Think about this just a bit. Neither I nor any parish priests my age or younger, had any knowledge of the Traditional Latin Mass. All of us grew up with the Novus Ordo Mass as the only, and, hence,“normal” Mass. All of us embraced the NO Mass because we realized that it was the Holy Sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the only sacrifice truly worthy to offer to the Father in order to bring us salvation. We embraced the NO Mass because through it the miracle of Transubstantiation took place and our Lord and God was made present, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, upon the altar and given to us for our spiritual nourishment. Each of us was called by God to become a priest according to the Order of Melchizedek, with Apostolic Succession going all the way back to Jesus Himself ordaining His Apostles. We most certainly did not despise the Novus Ordo Mass, were not lukewarm to the Novus Ordo Mass, nor were we just OK with the Novus Ordo Mass. We LOVED the Novus Ordo Mass. And yet, without any exceptions of which I am aware, the priests of whom I write, when called upon to learn and to celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass, LOVED IT EVEN MORE! We all felt “ripped off” by not having had the ability to grow up with this beautiful Mass. It made us realize just how trivial and childish (not: childlike) and, perhaps, even sacrilegious, so many abuses to the Mass (which we had thought of as “innovative” and “welcoming” and “exhilarating”), including those we witnessed growing up, those taught and modeled in seminary, and those we ourselves had done, really were. We saw the glory of the prayers and the focus on the true Sacrifice of the Son to the Father which the TLM brings out and the NO left out. We cried in repentance and sorrow for what had been lost and what is still considered by the majority (of bishops, priests, and laity) to be somehow “evil” or, at best, “to be tolerated”. Yet now we who know the TLM rejoice and give thanks to God, for, through Summorum Pontificum, what once was lost has now been found.
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Stories About The Cruise
I am away with some family and friends on a cruise. You do realize I am gone, right? Before I even left people were welcoming me back and asking how my trip went. I considered making up stories but then thought better of it, because if they later heard about my real trip, they would assume I had taken two vacations! Plus, I wanted to save the best stories for the bulletin. So sit back for a spell, get comfortable, and come along with me as I enthrall you with tales of this great vacation which I wrote before we set sail. And, in case you are wondering how I was able to do such a thing, that mystery is solved with a simple reference to the name of the ship I was on, the “Magic.”
My Sister Linda flew in from Massachusetts the day before we were to leave. Her flight was filled with turbulence, as they were skirting the tropical storm forming over Indiana (she had a stopover in Kansas City, where she picked up Aunt Irma, who was there looking for some climate change related beachfront property, but that’s another story). That did not bode well for the beginning of a cruise. When we got to the ship, the crew was assuring everyone that, though the storm was projected to head our way, once it hit the open water it would quickly lose strength and dissipate. “No worries, everyone!” they exclaimed, “Have a drink. Here, let me take your photo.” And onto the ship we went, confident that all was well. It wasn’t.
The big storm was not the problem. Lost luggage was. Or, more precisely, wrong luggage was. As I mentioned, Aunt Irma had been traveling already when she met up with us. She had consolidated everything she wanted to bring on the cruise into one bag and left the rest of her stuff, including tons of souvenirs, back at mom’s house. Or so she thought. When she went to spruce up for dinner she discovered to her horror that, where her makeup kit should have been, she had “Boot Hill, Dodge City” sunscreen. She frantically ransacked her suitcase, flinging “Dalton Gang” beach towel and vintage “KU Jayhawks” seashell necklaces across the room. She dug in past the “Land of Oz” surfboard and “Show Me State” smashball paddles, tossed out the “KCU Wildcats” flip flops and the “I *Heart* Kansas” beach volleyball, looking, hoping, praying, that somewhere below all of it was what she had packed for the cruise. Alas, it was not to be. Too proud to let any of us know what had happened, she used what she had. The first three days she wore the Chiefs jersey she had purchased for her great nephew, Bubba, which was large enough to rent out to Barnum and Bailey if they hadn’t gone under. On day four she changed into the Kansas City Royals jogging suit which had been meant for her neighbor’s girl. She could almost, but not quite, zip up the top because it was just too small and tight. It was 87 degrees, her uncombed hair looked like a rat’s nest, and with her wearing that winter hoodie and its matching skin tight heavy fleece bottoms (which made yoga pants look loose by comparison), we were all convinced that she had finally “lost it” completely. Before the ship’s captain could Baker Act her, though, she admitted what happened and we were able to get her some new clothes easily enough at the ship’s “You Need More Stuff” boutique. Whew! That, plus a toothbrush, and she was a happy camper. That was not the only wardrobe malfunction, though.
One of the ladies with us (my mom will kill me if I tell you who it was) got up on a zipline at one port of call, having packed a pair of jeans just for the occasion. Unfortunately she had lost weight while onboard, as everyone is wont to do on a cruise, and halfway down the mountain she had to let go with one hand to hold up her britches. In the video (look for it on FarceBook!) of her dangling and squirming descent she looks like one of the local boys strutting down the street, with skivvies visible 10 inches above droopy-drawers. She was screaming all sorts of strange words (to my virgin ears) about what she was going to do if anyone looked or laughed. What is the female version of “tighty whiteys”? Granny greys? Biggie Bloomers?
I could tell many more stories about our adventures, but let me end with a fish tale, a story about the one that got away. I brought a rod and reel along with me so that I could fish from my balcony. There was plenty of bait available at the seafood buffet and every time we slowed to come into port, I set out my rig. On the last day, I hooked into something big and fought it for over an hour. We couldn’t see what kind of fish it was even after I got it out of the water, because from my upper floor even fishing boats looked tiny. I only got it up about half way before the fish gave one last mighty thrash and threw the hook, flipping itself into an open window somewhere below me. I am not sure where it went, exactly, but on the flight home Aunt Irma mentioned to my sister something about her special souvenir that dropped out of the sky, and her luggage smelled strangely like day-old cat food...
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: I’m Outa Here!
About a month ago I told you that I was going to soon take a little vacation with my mom and my older sister. Now the vacation is finally here. As you read this during the homily time of the Saturday Vigil or Sunday Mass, our ship will have already departed for the Eastern Caribbean. If you see me still here, something went terribly wrong! I had written that my cruise was for 8 days (Saturday, June 24 through Sunday, July 2) and someone told me that I can’t count all of that time as vacation. “Normal” people, I was told, don’t count the weekends in their vacation day count, but rather only count weekdays, since those are their “working days.” Since the weekends are the priests’ “working days” in the eyes of most people, I have to count vacation days backward compared to “real” people with “real” jobs. So the first Saturday doesn’t count as vacation, as I will be celebrating the morning Mass before I go, making it a work day. The Sunday of my return doesn’t count as vacation, since I will be back in time to, if need be, celebrate the evening Mass, making it, too, a work day. And, because weekdays are considered the priest’s “weekend” according to this method of thinking, the Monday through Friday that I am gone don’t count as vacation, either. So in total I will be on vacation for only Sunday, June 25 and Saturday, July 1. The person telling me this was a real killjoy. I was sooooo looking forward to just over a week of vacation. Now I am depressed that I will only be getting away for two days!
During those “two days” on which I am gone, there will be plenty of priests around here to make sure that all spiritual necessities and emergencies are taken care of. Father Emmanuel is going to be celebrating all of the Traditional Latin Masses, while Fathers Dorvil, Tuoc and Peter will cover the Vietnamese, Malayalam and English Masses. As of this writing, Father Emmanuel has been celebrating the weekday Low Mass for a few weeks and he is now pretty good at it and has even celebrated the daily chanted Mass, too (which is the most simple form of a High Mass), but he has not yet celebrated a Missa Cantata with Incense. Those of you at the Sunday 10:30 TLM will either witness him doing this for the very first time or, if his nerves get the best of him, a simple chanted Mass instead. All joking aside, The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is not something to be played around with, so he will only “go High” if he is confident of doing it, if not perfectly, at least competently.
I don’t think the other priests will let Fr. Emmanuel starve for the week, but, just in case, if anyone wishes to take him out to eat or bring some food to the rectory for him, I am sure he won’t mind. As long as he is on your minds, I ask that you offer up a prayer or two for him to find a rectory to stay at in Pensacola, where he is hoping to work on a Master’s Degree in Mathematics at his bishop’s request. So far, all of his leads have petered out, and there is no room at the inn. Because his student visa extension was obtained through the University of West Florida, if he cannot find housing and is not able to attend classes there he will be unable to stay in the US. So please, offer yet another prayer for him. The difficulties of getting another student visa so that he could return here if he loses this one are so great that he would probably never come back for his degree.
As I am writing this, there are three weather formations brewing. Brett, plus Cindy and Don (if they get named) all seem to be heading a little bit south of where we will be traveling before passing into the Gulf of Mexico and up and away from both the ship and the parish. But what to do if a tropical storm or hurricane comes our way? Pray and don’t worry, in the words of St. Padre Pio. On the ship, we shouldn’t have to worry, since we will simply (simply!) change course and maneuver around the worst of it. If we miss a couple of ports, Oh Well... And if the ship is rocking and rolling, we will have a great time watching the dishes slide off the tables, the patio furniture fall into the pool, people stumbling around as if quite drunk even early in the morning, and things like that. We will just make the best of it and know for certain that we are on a boat in the middle of the ocean! That is the reality that we understood when signing up for a cruise and yet we still got on board, anyway. Meanwhile, back here you all should just use as much common sense as possible. Come to Mass only if it is safe to do so. Mass will still be celebrated, since the priests don’t have to travel to get to church. Everyone might be wet and there is always the possibility of not having electricity for the lights or A/C but prayers in the middle of a storm are always worth the sacrifice. But don’t come if it is unsafe for either you or for those who would have to rescue you.
See you in a week or so!
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Father’s Day and Corpus Christi Combine!
“I and the Father are one.” Thus saith the Lord. So it seems quite right that Father’s Day would be celebrated the same day as the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Our Lord, Jesus Christ. The day dedicated to the Father is also the day dedicated to His Son, making a distinction without division. The Father is Father because He has begotten a Son. Without the Son, Who is One with Him, He would not be Father. Likewise, the Son, Who, if not begotten by the Father, would not be Son. Relations “make” the Persons, so to speak, as was made perfectly clear by last week’s Trinity Sunday homily. Or maybe it wasn’t so clear. It’s a mystery.
Today’s feast teaches us (or reinforces what we already know to be true) that Jesus is not only fully God but also fully Man. He existed as sole-begotten Son from all eternity, but He took on our human nature about 2000 years ago at the moment of the Incarnation. From that time on, He looked like us, though in reality, it is probably more proper to say that it is us, made in His image and likeness, who look like Him. But it is not just an appearance. In His humanity, He is like us in all things but sin, to borrow a teaching from Paul’s letter to the Hebrews. Even now, in His glorified state, He still is fully God and fully Man. His Body is still true food and His blood is still true drink, as He eloquently taught in chapter 6 of John’s Gospel. There, He taught that we must eat His body and drink His blood to have eternal life. This command we fulfill when we receive Holy Communion in a state of Grace. What are we receiving at that time? A piece of bread? No. A piece of holy bread? No. A piece of blessed bread? No. We do not receive bread (or wine or grape juice) at any Latin Rite Catholic Mass anywhere throughout the world. For the bread and wine have, by the time we receive, undergone a change of substance such that the bread and wine cease to exist and, though the “accidents” remain (taste, smell, color, etc.), neither bread nor wine does. By the power of the Holy Ghost working through the validly ordained priest, Jesus Christ, though “hidden” by the accidents, is truly made present: His Body, Blood and Soul (in other words, the fullness of His humanity) and His Divinity (the fullness of His Godhead).
Just as last week we saw Holy Mother Church, out of necessity in trying to explain what is, for humans, unexplainable, namely, God as He Is, had to develop new vocabulary in order to describe to the best of Her ability the Most Holy Trinity, so this week we see Her come up with the word “Transubstantiation” to describe the aforementioned change. Plus, I have already mentioned a similarly “new” word, “Incarnation”, in this article, about which most likely nobody raised an eyebrow, so common has its usage become among Catholics. Yet out of these three “mysteries”, or God-revealed truths beyond (but not contrary to) human reasoning, Transubstantiation is the one that most people, including nearly all non-Catholic “Christians” and a great many Catholics, refuse to believe. Many of these poor lost souls claim (or pretend) to comprehend the Trinity, as if the one true God in three Persons is a common occurrence, common knowledge, or is just plain common sense. They claim (or pretend) to comprehend the Incarnation, as if man can really grasp how the Second Person of the Holy Trinity could become Man without losing or in any way corrupting or diminishing His Divinity. Yet this multitudinous sea of mega-genius theologians cannot accept the words directly out of the Living Word of God as passed down by the written Word of God in John’s Gospel, chapter 6. “Amen, amen I say to you; Moses gave you not bread from heaven, but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life to the world.” This and the rest of His discourse on the Eucharist was rejected by many of His followers (including one of His Apostles--Judas) when He first revealed this Truth. It is rejected by most of those claiming to be His followers (perhaps even among the successors to His Apostles) to this very day. I pray that you, through the grace of the Holy Ghost, know the Truth. The Father sent His Son for our Salvation. He, in turn, gave His flesh for the life of the world. Believe.
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: My Confession About Confession
I confess that every once in a while I discover something that every Catholic ought to know but that somehow I didn’t know. That seems a bit odd, doesn’t it, coming from a priest? But it is true. I have told the story many times that I never knew that there was a Catholic prayer after meals as well as before until I had been a priest for half a dozen years or so. I had been taught growing up that grace before meals was, as every Catholic knows (!), “Bless us, O Lord, and these Thy gifts which we are about to receive from Thy bounty, through Christ, our Lord. Amen.” But according to my fourth book of the Baltimore Catechism, that is the “Blessing before Meals” rather than “grace.” “Grace,” it explains, “means thanks.” “We should thank Him also after we have eaten it and found it good, pleasing, and refreshing. When God provides us with food He thereby makes a kind of promise that He will allow us to live a while longer and give us strength to serve Him.” It then gives examples of how hurt God must be for our ingratitude when we fail to thank Him after He has given us this nourishment. Yet, until an old Jesuit priest recited this after every meal during one of my many priestly assignments, I never knew it existed. Though the English translations vary a bit in different prayer books (yes, once you look for it, you can find it in other prayer books!), this is the one that Fr. Frank taught and which I have since passed on to many parishioners. “We give Thee thanks, Almighty God, for all Thy benefits, Who lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen. And may the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.”
Once I started celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass, someone gave me a 3 book set called the “Roman Ritual.” This official book of Catholic prayers, blessings, exorcisms, sacraments, etc., has something even more to say about the mealtime blessings. In Volume 3, The Blessings, there are listed “Blessings at Meals.” Under that heading fall “Before the Noonday Meal,” “After the Noonday Meal,” “Before the Evening Meal,” and “After the Evening Meal.” But notice that there is no blessing or grace before or after the Morning Meal or Snacks! Plus, the “Bless us O Lord...” and the “We give Thee thanks...” are only a small part of the prayers before some Noonday and Evening meals. Taking it a bit further, it includes a note, “If only one meal is taken, the prayers are those of the evening meal. The preceding method of blessing and rendering thanks is observed at all times of the year, except the days noted below, when only the versicles and psalms differ.” Did you catch the part about “If only one meal a day is taken”? I don’t know if that is an indication of extreme poverty so that only one meal a day is available or if it was speaking rather about Lent, when all 40 days were days of fast, so that only one meal was taken. Remember, there is no blessing for snacks, and during Lent there was only one meal and two snacks (which would not together equal a meal) allowed at the time this Ritual was promulgated. Either way, we are (or at least seem to be) blessed to have so much food available to us. Did you also notice that special days had different meal prayers? These included Christmas through Epiphany, Epiphany and its octave, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, Easter Sunday and its octave, the Ascension through Pentecost vigil, and Pentecost and its octave. No wonder the United States Bishops shortened it to the simple prayers above. Otherwise, a book and a calendar would be needed just to say the right prayers throughout the year!
But, like so many other times, I have gotten sidetracked. This article started with the odd statement that I, a Catholic priest, occasionally learn something each Catholic ought to already know. I wasn’t going to write specifically about the meal prayers, so let me move on. The real topic of this article, as you know if you read the title, is not meals but, rather, Confession. What is the most important aspect of making a good Confession? It is not knowing where the Confessional is. It is not knowing how to make the sign of the cross and say, “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been X number of days/weeks/months/decades since my last Confession and these are my sins...” It is not having memorized the Act of Contrition. No, according to the Baltimore Catechism, the new Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Roman Ritual it is...
Oops! I am out of space. I will have given a talk about this very thing to the Immaculate Heart of Mary Tampa Homeschool Conference by the time you read this. Hopefully, it is recorded and online so that, if you really want the answer, you can listen to it on our parish website. (I think I may have to go to Confession for doing this to you!)
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: An Eight-Day Vacation!
The last week of this month I will be able to take a vacation! With Fr. Emmanuel staying here for the summer, I am going to be able to leave the parish in his most capable hands, including and especially the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass. The other priests here are of tremendous help with the Novus Ordo Masses, but none of them know how to celebrate the TLM. Fr. Emmanuel is now able to breach that gap. So I found a small group of people from the diocese who are going on an eight day cruise and I signed up to sail along. My mother is coming with me, too. Because she is always cold, she wanted to go someplace warm and the Eastern Caribbean fits the bill perfectly. Shortly after we booked the room, I was speaking with my mom about it after a daily Mass and some other people heard and I asked if they wanted to go. Unfortunately, the travel agent said the cruise was fully booked. One parishioner got a nice room when by chance (?) a reservation was dropped and a room became available at just the right time. Then, a week or two later, my older sister said that she wanted to come, too. Sure enough, another room became available a few days after that and now she is coming with us.
I found out that Carnival has now changed its policy about priests on board. They no longer offer them a free inside cabin, which they used to do as long as they would celebrate Sunday (or the anticipated Saturday evening) Mass for the spiritual well-being of their “guests”. I asked for a room in which to celebrate daily Mass. They set it up for 7:00 am every day. Whoa! I have to get up at five every morning to celebrate the 6:30 Mass here. I don’t want to do the same on vacation! Plus, they have us scheduled for the late dining time slot (we are on a waiting list for the early one), which means that I might not even be done eating by the time I normally get to bed. They will now give me a place later in the day if one is available. But they also sent their new policy information about the Mass. They may or may not allow anyone other than those who signed up as part of our group to attend the Mass even though I am a paying customer who has supplied them with their required “Letter of Priest in Good Standing”. Their new rules were sent in writing as follows: “...[Your] request to opening your private mass events to the public, can only be reviewed and approved once on board the ship. The attached event schedule reflects a private mass only with your approved dates and times. Carnival Cruise Lines appreciates your business and looks forward to welcoming your group onboard. Carnival Cruise Lines has a strict ‘No Solicitation’ policy. This policy prohibits any person or organization from any form of solicitation (including for non-profit organizations) to our guests and/or crew, either before sailing, during or after the voyage. Guests are prohibited from inviting other non-group sailing guests to participate in privately scheduled onboard events.” Really? They have gone from providing Mass as a courtesy to their Catholic “guests” to seeing it as a “solicitation” which cannot be tolerated if anyone else desires to attend. I cannot tell you how many people I have counseled over the years (after they return and have missed Mass due to no priest on board) to write letters to the cruise lines telling them that they will, in the future, choose a cruise line which supplies at least Sunday Mass. My guess is that almost no Catholics actually write such letters or this new policy would not be in effect. Even though I can always celebrate Mass in my cabin, how they proceed with this will determine whether or not this is my last Carnival Cruise.
But enough of the nonsense. Eight days at sea. Eight days of being pampered. Eight days of no phone, no computer, no email, no facebook, no cooking, no washing dishes, no nothing! This is the first time in perhaps a decade that I will be away from my parish for two Sundays in a row. So prepare for it now. Mark your calendar so that you will know not to get sick or, worse, schedule a funeral from June 24 through July 2. Mark it so that you will not get personally insulted when I don’t respond to your electronic or voice messages. Mark it so that you will pray for me and the rest of the group! I will be remembering all of you in my Masses on the ship, whether there are a dozen of us crammed into a tiny cabin or hundreds of people filling one of the Nightclubs or Lounges. (And experience tells me that, after seeing a priest on board for the entire week--yes, I wear my clerics even while on vacation since I am not taking a vacation from being a priest--hundreds will show up to the Saturday evening Mass if given the chance.)
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka