He only shuts up when he is writing!
From the Pastor: Passiontide and a Broken Tooth
Just before we entered Passiontide (the last two weeks of Lent) I was eating dinner and started crunching on what I assumed to be some sort of dirt or grit which had not been washed off the corn which was in my mouth. Trying to be polite, instead of spitting it out, I just quit chewing and swallowed it. The digestive tract is quite marvelous in cleaning itself out, and, especially with corn, I had given no second thought about consuming whatever non-edible item I had encountered. That changed as soon as I took the next bite of food. I immediately realized that what I had swallowed was a chunk of one of my molars, which had broken off. The food going into the hole it left and my tongue scraping itself on the sharp edges of both the broken tooth and the now-exposed sharp edge of a large filling made me wish that I had at least gotten a chance to see just how much of my tooth was now missing. But, alas, the piece was gone and I was certainly not going to search through old corn the next day in hopes of recovering it, if you know what I mean.
So it was time to call the dentist. But there was just one small problem. I have had the same dentist for nearly twenty years. He is a good Catholic man and a great dentist to boot. No matter where I have been stationed I have always made the trek back to Dunedin, knowing that having a dentist I could rely on made it worth the trip. Shortly after my last visit, though, he retired. The old receptionist is still there and she tried to get the new guy to open up a slot for me (business is good and they were booked solid) but my schedule here at church for those last two weeks of Lent made it impossible for us to get together until after Easter. Getting through Passion Sunday and Palm Sunday and Holy Week and the Easter Vigil and Easter Day along with all the practice and preparation during that time period, I simply had to do what I always tell you to do: Offer it up!
Have you ever broken a tooth? Maybe you have had a similar experience. As I mentioned, there were sharp edges which cut into the side of my tongue as I spoke or chanted or ate. There is not a whole lot that I could do about that. That side of my tongue was soon sheathed with little cuts and swelled up a bit (which made me bite it every once in a while, which didn’t help!) and made me slur and drool. Sometimes my tongue actually got hung up on it mid word, which was very disconcerting, especially in the middle of a chant. But, as I said, there really wasn’t anything to do about it, as the side of my tongue simply moved across the broken tooth as a matter of nature. But what really irked me is the tip of my tongue. It is out front. The molar is near the back. There is no reason for the tip of my tongue to be in contact with the sharp edges of the tooth and filling, and yet I could not keep it out of there! I would find myself feeling the edges with the tip of my tongue and tell it to stop and go back where it belonged, only to find it doing the same thing over and over again. It was like having an untrained puppy who would listen to a commands to “sit” and “stay” and then immediately “get up” and “come” instead! I cannot tell you how many hours I spent arguing with my own tongue to quite ripping itself to shreds on the broken tooth. Down boy! Out! Off!
As all of this was playing out, I finally thought to myself that this would be as good a time as ever to find a new dentist. So I searched for a Catholic dentist in Tampa, finally found one, made an appointment for Easter week and cancelled the replacement dentist is in Dunedin. Of course, Easter week the Archbishop was here and Father Emmanuel was here, and Fr. Adler (a friend of Fr. Dorvil) was here and I would have liked to spend the time with them instead of with the dentist, but I really like to eat and speak without pain and the Octave of Easter is not the proper time for penance, anyway. But the temporary crown I was fitted with, once the novocaine wore off, hurt so much that I couldn’t even chew bread. It throbbed and caused the surrounding teeth, my jawbone and even my ear to hurt. So I was off to the dentist for another try, the temporary crown was removed and replaced and it was much better. And now I am fitted with the real thing. I have never had a crown before. Crowns are only for kings and old people and I am not a king, which means... NOOOOOO!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Seminarian Support Requested
You all have been very supportive of our youth when they are trying to go on a trip to check out a vocational call. For instance, Maria Hernandez, already an Aspirant to the Servant Sisters of the Home of the Mother, and her younger sister, Agnes, have been selling quick bread once a month to raise some of the money they need to go to Spain this summer with the Sisters (including an older sister of theirs, Sister Rachel Maria, who belongs to that order already). You have been very generous to them, even charitably sacrificing your waistlines to help them out. We also have several young men in seminaries and other formation programs. Eric is still being led toward a Benedictine hermit life. Ryan is still with the Jesuits. Esteban will be a Diocesan priest (though not our diocese, doggone it!). And Joshua is studying for Christ the King Sovereign Priest. A couple of more young men who are in the seminary have occasionally (or even regularly) attended Mass at Epiphany before entering into formation and/or while on days off from their studies, though officially they belong to other parishes. In short, both men and women come here (to the Traditional Latin Mass parish) as part of (and perhaps a major part of) their discernment process. One of the men I have already mentioned, Joshua Heiman, is about to be sent to Europe for the upcoming year as part of his formation. He has reluctantly but humbly asked for assistance, as he is unable to afford it on his own. (Did you know that many men and women must pay all or part of their own expenses during not only the “inquiry” years but also during the “real” formation years as well? Of course, they are not allowed to have jobs during that time, either, so unless they are already well off or are from a wealthy family, they have to rely on the generosity of others to finish their studies before entering religious life or priesthood.) Below is a letter he sent. Please read it prayerfully.
To my dear Epiphany community:
I hope that you had a very blessed Holy Week and that your Easter season may be restful and very joyous. As one might imagine, life in formation with the Institute of Christ the King has been an incredible blessing and has brought forth such amazing fruits!
Our daily prayer life consists of mass, meditation, and multiple hours of the Divine Office in common. On top of our prayer each young man in formation has daily chores (a great way to follow the spirit of one of our patrons: Saint Benedict!). This daily prayer and work has given a great insight of the rigors of the life of a priest (of course only being a small taste of the burden they bear) and has greatly strengthened my calling.
Alas, this beautiful time of formation does come at a cost. Though the cost of a death to worldly living is mine to take up by the grace of God (and what a glorious cost it is!), there is still a temporal cost for my education and general living expenses.
As of yet I have been blessed to need no extra help for the cost of my formation, but since I will be moving on to Europe for further formation I will need financial help for the increased expenses (travel costs, seminary tuition, school and personal supplies, liturgical books, etc.).
To this end I come before you, my dear community, to ask for your help. It would be a great help if you could spare to donate a small amount from time to time and even more if you would be able to grant more consistent and greater support.
I ask as well your continued prayers for my journey towards the Priesthood of Christ and I assure you of my prayers in return. May God bless you all!
In Christ the King,
If you are able to financially support him, he has a PayPal account set up to receive donations (paypal.me/HeimanSeminaryFund). (A link will soon be on our webpage.) If you are not comfortable sending money via computer, you may give to Epiphany and we will put it in his account. I also asked him for a list of specific “things” which he may need. He needs clerical shirts, cassocks, collars, a winter cape, breviary, etc. But above all, he needs your prayers. Thank you in advance for assisting him and all of our soon-to-be-if-it-is-God’s-will religious and priests!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Visitors and More!
This weekend we have Bishop Kinyaiya from the Diocese of Dodoma, Tanzania with us. He is Father Emmanuel’s bishop and is here checking up on him. No, wait, Fr. Emmanuel is now living in Pensacola so that doesn’t make any sense. Actually, both will be here this week in order to thank those who have in the past or are currently supporting the Uhuru Watoto girls’ education endeavor. If you don’t remember what that is, ask him about it after Mass (assuming you read this article during my homily, like normal).
We also have a visiting LifeTeen Youth Group here from St. Catherine parish in Sebring. They will be attending the 10:30 Sung Mass. This is quite a journey for them. They, unfortunately, don’t have a Traditional Latin Mass at their own parish (yet!) and they wanted to experience it. Any group of teens willing to drive 2 hours each way on a Sunday morning for Mass is showing great initiative in learning new aspects of the Faith and will be certainly experiencing Mass so unlike what they are used to as to be practically a different Catholic Rite altogether. I warned the youth director already that once they see the way Mass was celebrated for 1500 years or more, they will never want to go back to the newfangled Mass which they grew up with and thought was the way Mass was always celebrated. I hope their pastor is preparing himself to start the TLM soon!
There will also be a couple of local teenage Latin scholars attending for their first time, too. They normally attend either Christ the King or Sacred Heart and study Latin at St John Episcopal & Berkeley Prep. Our Diocese (or someone at the chancery, anyway) suggested that they come here for Mass. That is quite a change from what they would have been told at our chancery just a couple of years ago! I believe they, too, will be at the 10:30 Mass. And really, although Sacred Heart is an extremely beautiful church, their Liturgies, especially the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, will seem completely banal compared to ours. I feel sorry for these kids if they have to go back to their “home parish’ again!
On a different topic, this Sunday is Divine Mercy Sunday. Remember that at 2:30 we will gather again in the church for a Holy Hour of Adoration, recitation of the Divine Mercy Chaplet, and, of course, Confessions. I hope you remembered to put it on your calendar. A plenary indulgence is available for those participating in these holy activities, with the other usual stipulations attached which are necessary to receive such a great grace. (Confession, worthy reception of Holy Communion, detachment from all sin, and prayers for the intentions of the Pope.)
Looking ahead one week, be sure to mark your calendars for next Sunday, April 15. The traveling statue of Our Lady of Fatima is coming to spend the day with us! She will arrive sometime early in the morning, there will be a presentation on Fatima following the 10:30 Mass, there will be a scapular enrollment, maybe a few (or a lot of) other prayers, perhaps even Benediction, Consecration, and the Rosary, and she will stay for the day. This is something you don’t want to miss, even if you have been present at a previous visit of Our Lady.
Finally, a few words about Holy Week and Easter before they get too far into the past. This was the first time we were able to celebrate all three Tenebraes. I didn’t get to prayerfully listen to the prayers being chanted (for 2 to 2 1/2 hours each!) because this year I heard confessions during that time. Confessions were constant. People came and went, and the schola said that is not an insult, as many people cannot stay for the entire time but want to bask in the prayers for as long as they can. So next year don’t avoid the Tenebraes thinking that you are going to “get stuck” being there the whole time if you come. Come and go as you need. This year we also had Solemn celebrations for the Sacred Triduum for the first time, as Fathers Mangiafico and Vincent were both able to be here all three days. Although we clergy need some more work on our end (me, especially), the liturgies were beautifully done by everyone else! Schola members and altar boys (and families) really deserve a great reward for all they did to make it work. I hope you all took advantage of what we had or at least realized what an unbelievable gift it is to have this parish and the Venerable Traditional Rites available locally!
So back to where we started. We have many visitors today. They don’t come because of advertising or because they see us on the news or in their parish bulletins. They come because somebody told them we are here doing what we do. Word of mouth is the only way people find us. Don’t be shy in promoting this little piece of Paradise!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: The Easter Sequence
The Easter Sequence, which begins, “Victimae paschali laudes...” is one of only a few sequences in the Roman Missal. We will experience it daily in the Octave of Easter. Its history is now somewhat lost to history, with uncertainty regarding even something so simple as to its author. According to the old Catholic Encyclopedia it holds a unique place among the sequences. “As the only sequence in quasi-Notkerian form retained in our Missal, it is of great interest hymnologically.” Now, what exactly is “quasi-Notkerian” you ask? Well, I’m afraid you are going to have to go the Encyclopedia to find out. But if you are one of the very few who might find that challenge even remotely enticing, you will probably love the article as it breaks down the stanzas and how they vary in syllabic length, the frequency of rhyme, and damage done to this poetic form as it is translated into English! But for those of you who have no inclination whatsoever to delve deeply into such a combination of poetry, liturgy, languages and history, I still want to be able to show you side by side comparisons of the two different English translations of this sequence which we have in our two different Missals in the back of the church. I hope you will see the beauty of both of them while still seeing the sometimes great differences in them, so that you can more greatly appreciate the value of, nay, the necessity of, keeping the prayers of the Mass in Latin so as to avoid the very real problems of translations into all of the constantly changing vulgar languages of the world. Even when translations are done, as is true of this sequence, with great skill, with an eye toward so many necessary things such as beauty of language, poetic structure, and theological purity, it is still impossible to make a “pure” translation. Something has to give. But enough. Here is the sequence: (Sorry, this format doesn't come out looking very good)
To the Paschal Victim
let Christians offer the sacrifice of praise.
The Lamb hath redeemed the sheep;
Christ, the Sinless One,
hath reconciled sinners to His Father.
Death and Life contended
In a wondrous encounter:
the Prince of LIfe died indeed,
but now reigns living.
Tell us, Mary,
What sawest thou on the way?
I saw the sepulcher of the living Christ,
I saw the glory of Him that had risen.
I saw the angelic witness,
the napkin and the linen cloths.
Christ, my hope, has risen:
He shall go before you into Galilee.
We know in truth that Christ
hath risen from the dead.
Thou, O victorious King, have mercy on us.
# 2 version\:
Christians! to the Paschal Victim
offer your thankful praises.
The Lamb the sheep redeemeth:
Christ, Who only is sinless,
reconcileth sinners to the Father.
Death and life have contended
in that conflict stupendous:
the Prince of Life, Who died,
Speak, Mary, declaring
what thou sawest wayfaring.
"The tomb of Christ, Who now liveth:
and likewise the glory of the Risen.
Bright Angels attesting,
the shroud and napkin resting.
Yea, Christ my hope, is arisen:
to Galilee He goeth before you."
We know that Christ is risen,
henceforth ever living:
Have mercy, Victor King, pardon giving. Amen. Alleluia.
Which is better? Each has its strengths. But now that you have seen it in English two different ways, perhaps, when combined with the beauty of the Latin chant, this hymn/prayer/poem will have even more of a depth of wonder and awe for you.
With unpoetic and unsingable prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Our Third Holy Week!
Each year since we became Tampa’s Center for the Traditional Latin Mass we have attempted to improve on what we do and to incorporate even more “tradition” into parish life. For instance, the first Holy Week after we were “transferred” to Epiphany of Our Lord, we had one Tenebrae service, and nobody (including me) knew how long it would last or exactly how it was supposed to go. The second year we added a second Tenebrae, not only because it was a step closer to doing all three for the Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday) but also because the people who attended the single one the previous year were practically begging for more. This year I am happy to announce that we will celebrate all three Tenebraes. Carefully check the calendar, for Holy Thursday’s Tenebrae is, as is traditionally done, “anticipated” (celebrated the evening before). Don’t ask me what “Tenebrae” is, for that will be an admission that you didn’t read even the front cover of last week’s bulletin!
Another thing we are improving upon is the timing of the Easter Vigil and Mass. The first year we started at dark, just like the Novus Ordo Mass does. Last year we thought we would be switching times with St. Joseph Vietnamese Mission (they had volunteered the first year to celebrate theirs a couple of hours earlier, which is licit in a case like this with two groups, each celebrating a different Form of the Mass) but the Mission instead decided that they preferred to celebrate their Vigil outdoors so that both of us could start at dark. But traditionally the Easter Vigil was not begun as darkness began, but rather celebrated in such a way that the Vigil began on Holy Saturday after dark and the Mass proper began around midnight, and hence was a true Easter Mass. It might help to remember that an “anticipated Mass” (what is now commonly called a “Vigil Mass”-- the Mass of the Sunday or other Holy Day of Obligation celebrated the evening of the day before the actual Feast) was a new invention of the Novus Ordo. Traditionally, a “Vigil Mass” was the morning Mass of the day before the big Feast. It did not “count” as a Mass of the Holy Day of Obligation because it was a completely different Mass held on a completely different day. So the Easter Mass started on Easter, as we are trying to do for the first time this year. The time which the “Vigil” part of it takes varies from year to year based on how many people are receiving the sacraments of initiation, so it is always just an estimate as to when everything should start. That is why the liturgical books simply instruct us to “attempt” to start the Mass at midnight rather than make it a hard and fast rule. This year we will start the celebration at 11:00 pm, guessing that it will take us about an hour to get to the Mass proper. I have offered to put up choir member and altar boy families in one of our local motels along Nebraska Avenue so that they could spend the night and more easily return to assist at the morning Masses, but for some strange reason none of them took me up on the offer!
Speaking of which, each year the choir members and altar boys have to do a whole lot of work for Holy Week, too. God bless them and their families, who also get “stuck” getting to the church hours ahead of time for practice! Seriously, please say a prayer of thanks as “payment” for all that they sacrifice for our parish. When special ceremonies and ceremonious “additions” to Mass are only done once per year, it is necessary to rehearse and practice and rehearse again each and every year. The newer choristers and altar boys might be seeing new ceremonies for the first time, while even the most experienced might have only served at them once or twice before.
We are also blessed with other priests who wish to take part in our ceremonies. This year you might see either two or three “extra” priests who are making arrangements to be here to assist during the last week of Lent. Several more have asked questions about what we do for Holy Week but are, quite understandably, unable to get away from their own parish duties to come and experience firsthand what we do. It is amazing that the priests who never experienced the “traditional” Holy Week ceremonies are the ones most likely to be saddened at what has been discarded, replaced or dumbed down. Not ever knowing the difference, we all thought Holy Week was beautiful in the new Rite, but little did we know what it was before The Change™.
So check the schedule. Mark your calendars. Enter more deeply into Catholic Tradition. Boldly go where no man has gone before... err... where no man has gone in the past 50 years!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Veiling the Statues
A couple of years ago, before moving to Epiphany, I put the following information in the parish bulletin for the sake of the people who didn’t know why the statues were veiled in the church. It is quite jarring to see the statues covered in violet cloth. Those who know anything about the Catholic Faith know that there must be some pretty good reason for capturing our attention in such a drastic way, but when a traditions such as this is scrapped, the reasons why we ever did it are also lost quickly, too. So, for the sake of explaining what once was common knowledge, as well as to show that this in not something that was mandated to be thrown out but is, rather, a current option, I gave the explanation below, which is still a good catechesis on the topic. I hope it again helps those who wondered!
Last weekend when you entered the church the crucifix and statues were veiled in purple cloth. It is a stark image, as if funeral palls were covering Our Lord and His Saints. It certainly catches one's attention! In the long distant past this was a common sight near the end of Lent. But for my lifetime, it is nearly an extinct liturgical practice. Lest you hear gripes that I am just a pre-Vatican II meanie and can’t get with the times, please see that even in these times this is a legitimate and, in my opinion, spiritually beneficial practice.
Here is a statement from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops from March of 2006: The Veiling of Images and Crosses 1. Does the new Missale Romanum allow for the veiling of statues and crosses? The Missale Romanum, editio typica tertia, provides a rubric at the beginning of the texts for the Fifth Sunday of Lent, which allows that: “the practice of covering crosses and images in the Church from the Fifth Sunday of Lent is permitted, according to the judgment of the Conferences of Bishops. Crosses remain veiled until the end of the celebration of the Lord's Passion on Good Friday; images remain veiled until the beginning of the Easter Vigil.” 2. Have the Bishops of the Unites [sic] States expressed the judgment on this practice? Yes. On June 14, 2001, the Latin Church members of the USCCB approved an adaptation to number 318 of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal which would allow for the veiling of crosses and images in this manner. On April 17, 2002, Cardinal Jorge Medina Estevez, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments wrote to Bishop Wilton D. Gregory, USCCB President (Prot. no. 1381/01/L), noting that this matter belonged more properly to the rubrics of the Fifth Sunday of Lent. While the decision of the USCCB will be included with this rubric when the Roman Missal is eventually published, the veiling of crosses and images may now take place at the discretion of the local pastor. 3. When may crosses and images be veiled? Crosses and images may be veiled on the Fifth Sunday of Lent. Crosses are unveiled following the Good Friday Liturgy, while images are unveiled before the beginning of the Easter Vigil. 4. Is the veiling of crosses and statues required? No. The veiling is offered as an option, at the discretion of the local pastor. 5. What is the reason for the veiling of crosses and images? The veiling of crosses and images is a sort of “fasting” from sacred depictions which represent the paschal glory of our salvation. Just as the Lenten fast concludes with the Paschal feast, so too, our fasting from the cross culminates in an adoration of the holy wood on which the sacrifice of Calvary was offered for our sins. Likewise, a fasting from the glorious images of the mysteries of faith and the saints in glory, culminates on the Easter night with a renewed appreciation of the glorious victory won by Christ, risen from the tomb to win for us eternal life. 6. Why are crosses unveiled after the Good Friday Liturgy? An important part of the Good Friday Liturgy is the veneration of the cross, which may include its unveiling. Once the cross to be venerated has been unveiled, it seems logical that all crosses would remain unveiled for the veneration of the faithful. 7. What do the veils look like? While liturgical law does not prescribe the form or color of such veils, they have traditionally been made of simple, lightweight purple cloth, without ornament. 8. Is it permissible to veil the crosses after the Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday? Yes. The concluding rubrics which follow the text for the Mass of the Lord's Supper (no. 41) indicate that “at an opportune time the altar is stripped and, if it is possible, crosses are removed from the church. It is fitting that crosses which remain in the Church be veiled.”
So there you have it. It is still “fitting” that this be done though it is left to “the discretion of the local pastor.” It is a good, solid, theologically and liturgically sound Catholic tradition.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: 1966 Document Still in Force
In 1966 Pope Paul VI issued an Apostolic Constitution, Paenitemini, on Fast and Abstinence. (Written as Poenitemini by our Bishops as cited below. The spelling with an “a” or an “e” are both correct versions of the same Latin word.) The world’s various Bishops’ Conferences were to issue their own guidelines on the same topic. Our United States Bishops did so with the 1966 (they worked a lot more quickly back then!) Pastoral Statement On Penance And Abstinence. You already know that the teachings of these two documents made Friday abstinence from meat optional outside of Lent, with the stipulation that other penances be chosen to take the place of abstinence. But I thought you might also be interested in what they wrote specifically about Lent, so here it is, with all bolded words other than the title being my own emphasis:
A Statement Issued by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops November 18, 1966
10. Lent has had a different history than Advent among us. Beginning with the powerful lesson of Ash Wednesday, it has retained its ancient appeal to the penitential spirit of our people. It has also acquired elements of popular piety which we bishops would wish to encourage.
11. Accordingly, while appealing for greater development of the understanding of the Lenten liturgy, as that of Advent, we hope that the observance of Lent as the principal season of penance in the Christian year will be intensified. This is the more desirable because of new insights into the central place in Christian faith of those Easter mysteries for the understanding and enjoyment of which Lent is the ancient penitential preparation.
12. Wherefore, we ask, urgently and prayerfully, that we, as people of God, make of the entire Lenten Season a period of special penitential observance. Following the instructions of the Holy See, we declare that the obligation both to fast and to abstain from meat, an obligation observed under a more strict formality by our fathers in the faith, still binds on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. No Catholic Christian will lightly excuse himself from so hallowed an obligation on the Wednesday which solemnly opens the Lenten season and on that Friday called "Good" because on that day Christ suffered in the flesh and died for our sins.
13. In keeping with the letter and spirit of Pope Paul's Constitution Poenitemini, we preserved for our dioceses the tradition of abstinence from meat on each of the Fridays of Lent, confident that no Catholic Christian will lightly hold himself excused from this penitential practice.
14. For all other weekdays of Lent, we strongly recommend participation in daily Mass and a self-imposed observance of fasting. In the light of grave human needs which weigh on the Christian conscience in all seasons, we urge, particularly during Lent, generosity to local,national, and world programs of sharing of all things needed to translate our duty to penance into a means of implementing the right of the poor to their part in our abundance. We also recommend spiritual studies, beginning with the Scriptures as well as the traditional Lenten Devotions (sermons, Stations of the Cross, and the rosary), and all the self-denial summed up in the Christian concept of "mortification."
15. Let us witness to our love and imitation of Christ, by special solicitude for the sick, the poor, the underprivileged, the imprisoned,the bedridden, the discouraged, the stranger, the lonely, and persons of other color, nationalities, or backgrounds than our own. A catalogue of not merely suggested but required good works under these headings is provided by Our Blessed Lord Himself in His description of the Last Judgment (Mt 25:34-40). This salutary word of the Lord is necessary for all the year, but should be heeded with double care during Lent.
16. During the Lenten season, certain feasts occur which the liturgy or local custom traditionally exempts from the Lenten spirit of penance. The observance of these will continue to beset by local diocesan regulations; in these and like canonical questions which may arise in connection with these pastoral instructions, reference should be made to article VII of Poenitemini and the usual norms.
Did you notice that the days of Lent were not to be treated as if they were ordinary days? Extra prayer, fasting, charity, religious reading, corporal and spiritual works of mercy, and plenty of self-denial and mortifications were all recommended and expected of the Faithful. I sure hope you are taking them seriously. I highly recommend that you read the whole Bishops’ statement every once in a while to remind yourself (and to be able to inform others) of what is expected of us even to this day. They did a very good job explaining why we rightly embrace fast and abstinence and what greater sacrifices we could/should do if we opt out of meatless Fridays outside of Lent. Just search online for the title of the document and it will take you to the right place.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Your Kids (and You) and Porn
Last week the diocese put on some presentations on battling porn. Some of the presentations were meant for pastors and church staff and others for everyone else. These were advertised not as “how to stop using porn yourselves” presentations but rather as “who is using porn, why, and how to help them stop” presentations. I have to state that very clearly because many of us pastors wish to start similar programs and one of the things that was pointed out is that parishes often doom any anti-porn programs they start by advertising it in these or similar words, “Do you have a porn addiction? Come and get help escaping it.” Nobody ever shows up because nobody ever wants to be seen by fellow parishioners as “that guy” (or gal) with the porn problem. Whisper, whisper, whisper. But if the program/presentation is bringing in people who know others who need help, especially family members and, most especially, teens and pre-teens, there is no stigma in attending. Everyone learns how bad the problem is, why it is a problem with moral, social, psychological and physiological ramifications, and how to break the cycle of use/abuse.
In the presentation, they gave statistics of various findings and links to studies on porn: who uses it, who thinks “what” qualifies as “porn” in the first place, why they use it, etc. Do you want something to catch your attention? How about the statistic that the cell phone is where most youth view porn? Porn blocking on computers or Wi-Fi networks doesn’t work if your kid can bypass it with an unlimited data plan on his/her cell phone. Where do they “use” the porn they find on their phones? In their bedroom. Having their computer use limited to a public place, say, the dining room table where anyone (like mom) can see the screen pretty easily helps somewhat in keeping them from accessing porn on the computer but then they simply retreat into their bedrooms with their portable computers called smartphones and are not seen for hours. When do they “use” porn? When they are bored. Well, gosh, that doesn’t eliminate a whole lot of the day or night when it comes to your kids now, does it? How many of you have kids who never complain about being bored? Insert the sound of crickets chirping <here>. How many parents have contracepted to such an extent that their child has his/her own bedroom and so has complete privacy while locked away in there with a porn device? But your kids don’t view porn, right? Most children in the fifth grade with cell phones have viewed porn. Kids are viewing porn, which often is accessed completely by accident the first time, before they even know what is going on in the images they see. (Children without cell phones see it on their friends’ phones, though obviously much less frequently than when they have their own.) And guess what? That is where they are learning everything they know about sex, sexual intimacy, girlfriend/boyfriend relationships and spousal sexual activity because mom and dad never talk with them about such things anymore. Mom and dad are becoming more stupidly, but seemingly honorably, prudish (“I don’t want to take away little Joey’s innocence so I won’t ever talk to him about the birds and the bees or about Church teaching in this area and I certainly won’t let the school do so, but I will give him complete unfettered and unsupervised 24/7 access to the poison of porn because he ‘needs’ a phone for emergencies”! Plus, my pastor better darned sure never mention words like ‘porn’, ‘self-abuse’, ‘homosexual’, ‘heterosexual’, ‘fornication’, ‘adultery’, ‘Onanism’, or ‘Bill Clintonism’, in a homily or bulletin article because my little darling will be scarred for life!”) or ignorant of new realities (“Girls don’t view porn so Sally’s safe with a smartphone.”) or just too doggone lazy (“He’ll learn it on his own, like I did” even though you never had access to a smidgen of the rot kids have access to today, such as groups, animals, S&M, etc.).
Many school aged children have also “sexted”, yet don’t think that it is porn since they know each other. Most think it is not porn if it only involves people they don’t know, either, so not much is considered to be truly “porn” by the majority of teens and young adults. Further, they don’t consider it porn if they are the willing subject of the nude photo or video, either, or if they watch/listen/read it with friends, or if it “only” involves partial nudity, or if it is free. Do you get the picture? You can ask your son/daughter if he/she views porn and get what he/she believes is a truthful “no” even if they are viewing, sending, receiving, and even creating porn!
Porn is extremely addicting. The earlier the addiction occurs, the quicker tolerance builds up and more hardcore filth is needed for the “fix”. It is also harder to conquer the further it progresses. And for the adults? Well, that’s for another day.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Almsgiving or Almsdeeds?
During my preparations leading up to Lent, I noticed something that had never caught my attention before. In almost all of the newer writings about Lenten penances, the three “biggies” are always listed as fasting, prayer, and almsgiving. Those are the three with which I grew up. During Lent we pray more, we limit our consumption of various foods and drinks, and we give to the needy the money saved from our fasts. That is the norm as I have known it since childhood. But this year I started noticing that in the older books the three biggies were quite often listed somewhat differently, as fasting, prayer, and almsdeeds. Hmmm... What gives?
I am not sure when the change occurred in our English language usage of almsgiving completely replacing almsdeeds but changing the one word has certainly affected my own Lents for my entire lifetime, for “giving” was the exclusive “deed” I practiced as I prayed and fasted. I remember filling up those little “rice bowls” for Catholic Relief Services with spare change during Lent, from childhood through my college years. I remember having “soup days” at church where we would have a bowl of thin, tasteless soup and piece of bread in the church hall and pay the same as if it were a full meal, with the profit going to some homeless shelter and us all feeling good about being united in hunger with the less fortunate. I remember as a young adult trying to determine just how much money I would have spent during Lent, had I not been fasting and abstaining, on my regular groceries and restaurant meals and alcohol and donating it to a mission or some charitable organization, and realizing that it was not a whole lot of money that I saved, because Lent only has two days of fasting, I rarely ate out, and the food I ate at home was pretty inexpensive stuff all year long. I also remember passing on such Lenten almsgiving advice to my parishioners after I became a priest. And only now do I ever remember noticing that “traditional” writers don’t limit the idea of Lenten alms to giving money to the poor. (Remember, to me and my generation, “traditional” means anything from the hippie generation! If it was pre- 1970’s it wasn’t considered “traditional”, it was considered “old-fashioned”. I really grew up believing that every Catholic thing my family/parish did when I was a child was either the way the Church had always done it or that it was an improvement on how the Church used to do it.)
But this year, for whatever reason, I kept noticing trusted authors of old (like Abbot Gueranger [+1875], Venerable Louis of Granada [+1588], St. Robert Bellarmine [+1621], and Fr. Leonard Goffine [+1719]) writing about almsdeeds. The deeds part of it, not the giving part of almsgiving, was getting my attention. Usually when I have a question about the Catholic Faith which needs some clarification I turn to the Catechism. But in the new Catechism there is no mention of almsdeeds and it instead uses the familiar threefold penances of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving. So I turned to my backup source, St. Thomas Aquinas. Jackpot! In the Summa Theologica, question 32 of the second part of the second part, deals with almsdeeds. In the English translation the two words are used interchangeably in his answer, but sometimes almsdeeds is much more apropos than almsgiving. For instance, in article two he writes about the “seven corporal almsdeeds, namely, to feed the hungry, to give drink to the thirsty, to clothe the naked, to harbor the harborless, to visit the sick, to ransom the captive, to bury the dead” and the “seven spiritual alms (note: here he uses just plain alms), namely, to instruct the ignorant, to counsel the doubtful, to comfort the sorrowful, to reprove the sinner, to forgive injuries, to bear with those who trouble and annoy us, and to pray for all”! Yes, what we now commonly call the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, he calls the works of almsdeeds. Of course, there is a fuller explanation in there as to why and how this is so, but I will leave it at that. It just makes the last of the threefold Lenten penances so much more meaningful to see it as more than simply giving money to the poor, as efficacious as that is. Going back into the CCC, paragraph 2447, in dealing with the works of mercy just mentioned, states that “Among all these, giving alms to the poor is one of the chief witnesses to fraternal charity: it is also a work of justice pleasing to God.”
So, in retrospect, what I was doing for all these years was not nothing; it was quite useful for both me and the recipients as well as pleasing to God. But it was also done with nary a thought as to how it was only part of, and, dare I say, the easiest part of, fulfilling the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Now I know I must do more. And now you know it as well...
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: We Are Catholic! And Lent Stuff
First of all, a big “Thank You” goes out to Bishop Gregory Parkes for visiting our parish and bestowing the Sacrament of Confirmation in the Old Rite upon young members of Epiphany, Immaculate Conception Haitian Mission, and St. Joseph Vietnamese Mission. In this simple act he, in effect, told the parishioners of all three parishes that, as tiny as they may be, they are not forgotten or ignored by their Bishop. Yowza! By Confirming in the Old Rite, he also specifically let the TLM parishioners know that he recognizes them (and the Extraordinary Form Rites) to be as Catholic as Ordinary Form Catholics and Rites. My brother priests who sent their children for Confirmation, as well as those who were Confirmed, all said the same through their actions. Double Yowza! While those unfamiliar with the treatment often bestowed upon small parishes by Bishops and upon TLM communities by everybody might wonder why this is a big deal (after all, isn’t a Catholic a Catholic?) trust me, this is truly huge.
Now to get into Lent. We started out Lent in a fine manner at the rectory. On Ash Wednesday the priests were unable to shower or use the water for any purpose due to a sewage backup in the laundry room. The office staff, too, had to trek over to the school to use the facilities once they got to work. Although somebody quipped that we could give up the three big morning S’s for Lent (if you don’t know, don’t ask!) we don’t have to because Dyser Plumbing came through for us again and by evening we had the ability to run the water without flooding the first floor. So now we have to find another penance. Darn.
Last year I suggested that during Lent all of you read up on Hell. This year might I suggest reading something on Purgatory? Again, St. Thomas Aquinas is the master of theology to whom I would suggest you turn, especially in the Summa Theologica. It is available online for free. In it you will find answers to such questions as, Whether the pains of Purgatory surpass all the temporal pains of this life? and Whether this punishment is voluntary?. His treatment of Purgatory is rather short, in fact, it is the shortest of those I am suggesting here. Dante’s classic spiritual poem Purgatorio, the second book in his Divine Comedy trilogy, is another great read, especially if you read Inferno last year. You will journey with him through seven levels of Purgatory, one level each for cleansing (through suffering and spiritual growth) of each of the seven deadly sins. Another good source of information comes from Rev. Fr. F. X. Schouppe (remember that last year I suggested his book, Hell: The Dogma of Hell). This year I suggest following up with Purgatory: Explained by the Lives and Legends of the Saints. It is a fascinating (and sometimes scary) read. Find it at Tan Books. They have a good selection of other books on Purgatory, too, and everything they publish can be trusted to be fully Catholic. Each of these suggested sources for material dealing with Purgatory will give you different insights into this very real place. Mix and match by taking one author’s writings on Hell and a different author’s writings on Purgatory to get a different perspective, or stick with the same one for both topics if the first one really touched you deeply. Theology, inspired religious poetry and personal stories each appeal to the truth in different manners. Find your favorite!
Finally for today, I leave you with a word of warning to those of you who will be attending our 6:00 pm Potluck this Wednesday evening. I was recently going through some of my cookbooks and came across one that I haven’t actually used, but, because it is Lent, it seems like the proper time finally get around to it. It is the Eat-A-Bug Cookbook, subtitled, 33 ways to cook grasshoppers, ants, water bugs, spiders, centipedes, and their kin. Doesn’t that sound like the perfect Lenten meal? It is truly a fascinating book, with something entertaining and informative on every page. For instance, in many a cookbook you will find an image of a cow with the various cuts of beef labeled for you, indicating the proper means of cooking each one. In this book under the title Choice Cuts, there is an image of a grasshopper with his parts listed. Here is the beginning of the explanation: “There’s not a lot of what we think of as ‘meat’ on most food arthropods. The large strands of longitudinal muscle (the dark meat, so to speak) that operate an arthropod’s legs, wings and tail are sumptuous fare, whether they happen to belong to a scorpion or a snow crab...” Everybody loves snow crab, so let’s try other arthropods! Some interesting bug recipes: Three Bee Salad, Cockroach a la King, Alpha-Bait Soup, and Party Pupae. And the best thing about cooking bugs? You can eat them on Fridays without breaking the rules of abstinence!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: The Bishop Came to Epiphany!
It happened! Our new Bishop, Gregory Parkes, came to Epiphany parish last week! This was no ordinary visit from our Ordinary, though. This was the beginning of a new era. Bishop Parkes bestowed the Sacrament of Confirmation in the Traditional Latin Rite. It was a first for him and the first time that the venerable Old Rite of Confirmation was bestowed by the Bishop in this Diocese in 50 years or so. Three Catholic communities joined together for this ceremony, which was a beautiful act of unity, a show of true Catholicity, as the priests of St. Joseph Vietnamese Mission and Immaculate Conception Haitian Mission sent their confirmandi to join with those from Epiphany. The three “native” languages spoken by the families who gathered, English, Creole and Vietnamese, were blended together as if by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, by the official language of the Church, that is, Latin. Oh, for the day when we will all be united at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass by this sacred language once again!
Seven priests, including the Bishop’s MC, were part of the ceremony, plus the Bishop. I don’t think we have had so many clergy in the church since I have been here. Though they will never read this, I certainly want to thank them all for being here. The altar boys and MC from our parish did an outstanding job. Thank you, gentlemen. We had no rehearsal for this, as there was no time for the Bishop or his MC to come scope out the place beforehand even to get the lay of the land (or, better, to size up the sanctuary) to see how everyone would fit, where the Bishop’s faldstool (his chair) would be placed, or anything like that. Only one priest present had even witnessed a Traditional Rite Confirmation. Trying to visualize everything only by reading the rubrics is not nearly the same as personally experiencing the ceremony. Of course, we knew that nobody in the congregation knew what we were supposed to be doing, either, so as long as we projected confidence nobody would be the wiser no matter what happened. The schola was able to... well, you all know our schola. You know that they filled the church with heavenly--even angelic--voices. Thank you all for pulling it off with such seeming ease. Then, after the ceremony was done, the Epiphany Council of Catholic Women, who had swarmed the social hall in the afternoon setting up for a Confirmation party, had a surprise for each of the just-confirmed youngsters from each parish. Not only did they supply cake and drinks, balloons and decorations, but they also had a gift bag for each newly anointed Saint-in-the-making. Thank you, wonderful ladies, for all the work and resources you put into this.With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Thank You Follow-Up; plus Something Important!
Two weeks ago I put a “Thank You” in the bulletin for all of last year’s APA donors. As I mentioned, it was primarily for the true purpose of thanking everyone who donated to the Annual Pastoral Appeal but secondarily so that all donors who didn’t see their names in the list could see that their donation went to some other parish instead of Epiphany. I know this will shock you but there are occasions when information, whether it is financial or sacramental, is not properly recorded. We have discovered through this list that several donations did indeed fall into that “not properly recorded” category. So far, everyone whose APA donations were “missing” (and there were several) found that their donation had been incorrectly credited to the parish where they are registered even though they attend Epiphany and requested that it be credited to Epiphany. So this is a second reminder, but this time it is going out specifically to those of you who have not yet changed your parish registration, to check to make sure your donation was recorded. It is not that I don’t like the other parishes and don’t want them to get your money but I certainly want your donation to go where it is meant to go... especially if it was meant to go here! And, perhaps it is time to make the change to Epiphany “official” by calling or stopping by the office for a change of registration. Parish registration is not absolutely necessary, nor is it addressed anywhere in canon law, but it helps out every once in a while in this day of computerized file keeping and parish hopping.
I have now received word that Bishop Parkes will indeed be here for Confirmations on Wednesday, February 7 at 7:00 pm. This is a first for us, for in prior years the Bishop has been unable to be here in person and has instead given me delegation to Confirm. This time the “proper” or “ordinary” minister of Confirmation will be here in person. What a great blessing. One of you recently reminded me that In 2016 I wrote about being delegated as follows:
While studying the old books to make sure I both licitly and validly bestowed the sacrament, I came across some wonderful information which I would like to share with you. The following quotes are found in the 1950 Roman Ritual. “First, in regard to the minister of the sacrament of confirmation, the Code of Canon Law (canon 782), restating the dogmatic definition of the Council of Trent, says that the ordinary minister is a bishop only, but the extraordinary minister is a priest to whom this power has been granted either by common law or by a special indult of the Holy See.” So delegating priests to confer confirmation, though not the norm, is obviously not a novelty, either, though now the local bishop can make the delegation. A bit later it continues, “This goes back to the practice already followed by this Sacred Congregation in the indults granted to ordinary priests the power to confer confirmation in certain unusual instances...these priests would either already be honored with the distinction of Protonotary Apostolic, or that they be elevated to such, so as to carry out their function with greater dignity.” For those of you who missed it, that means that I should have, according to the old Rite, been given the title, “Monsignor” when I was granted delegation. I got ripped off! It even says that I, as “the substitute for the ordinary minister of confirmation be constituted, so far as possible, in some ecclesiastical dignity and that he (I) belong to the diocese, so that for example, he (I) could enjoy the use of the pontifical vestments and appurtenances, as also the other honors and privileges and distinctions which customarily belong to Protonotary Apostolics (Monsignors).” What exactly those “pontifical vestments and appurtenances” are, I have no idea. But I should have been able to wear them! Another rip off!
The person who reminded me of this writing (and whose memory is better than mine, for I often forget what I wrote even before the bulletin is published!) put forth this interesting question: Is there any chance that Bishop Parkes is planning on surprising all of us by announcing at the Confirmations that he is going to “right a wrong” after the Rite and make me a Monsignor? Hmmm...
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Candlemas Day is Here Again!
That’s right. February 2, Groundhog Day in the secular world, is, in the “real world” the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a feast traditionally called, “Candlemas Day”. On this day we bless candles. What kind of candles can be blessed? Just about any kind, as long as it will not be used for pagan or otherwise immoral reasons. (I put in the “non-pagan” proviso because pagans on the web have made a mockery of Candlemas. They claim that the origin is from pagan times and is a “Christianization” of a pagan festival and, of course, they don’t capitalize the “C” in “Christianization”. Then they outline ways of making our festival pagan once again. Satan apes good and holy things on a regular basis and this is another way he leads ignorant souls away from the beauty of Truth. Don’t fall for it.) You may bring in candles for this special blessing and use them around the house for the rest of the year. We will bless some of the church’s candles which will be used for Mass and other liturgical functions. Mass candles must be of beeswax (at least 51%) but non-liturgical candles may be of other types of wax. We will have a procession if possible, though, as you will see below, it has been truncated quite a bit from what it was 500 years ago! Because of the candle blessing, Mass will end later than normal that day (Friday), so plan accordingly. The following is from the Old Catholic Encyclopedia:
According to the Mosaic law a mother who had given birth to a man-child was considered unclean for seven days; moreover she was to remain three and thirty days "in the blood of her purification"; for a maid-child the time which excluded the mother from sanctuary was even doubled. When the time (forty or eighty days) was over the mother was to "bring to the temple a lamb for a holocaust and a young pigeon or turtle dove for sin"; if she was not able to offer a lamb, she was to take two turtle doves or two pigeons; the priest prayed for her and so she was cleansed. (Leviticus 12:2-8) Forty days after the birth of Christ Mary complied with this precept of the law, she redeemed her first-born from the temple (Numbers 18:15), and was purified by the prayer of Simeon the just, in the presence of Anna the prophetess (Luke 2:22 sqq.). No doubt this event, the first solemn introduction of Christ into the house of God, was in the earliest times celebrated in the Church of Jerusalem...
Blessing of candles and procession
According to the Roman Missal the celebrant after Terce (I interrupt this quote to point out that this is an interesting note, since Terce is a mid-morning prayer. This means that the procession with candles on this feast was never a procession in darkness, but always in the daylight hours!), in stole and cope of purple colour, standing at the epistle side of the altar, blesses the candles (which must be of beeswax). Having sung or recited the five orations prescribed, he sprinkles and incenses the candles. Then he distributes them to the clergy and laity, whilst the choir sings the canticle of Simeon, "Nunc dimittis". The antiphon "Lumen ad revelationem gentium et gloriam plebis tuæ Israel" is repeated after every verse, according to the medieval custom of singing the antiphons. During the procession which now follows, and at which all the partakers carry lighted candles in their hands, the choir sings the antiphon "Adorna thalamum tuum, Sion", composed by St. John of Damascus, one of the few pieces which, text and music, have been borrowed by the Roman Church from the Greeks. The other antiphons are of Roman origin. The solemn procession represents the entry of Christ, who is the Light of the World, into the Temple of Jerusalem. It forms an essential part of the liturgical services of the day, and must be held in every parochial church where the required ministers can be had. The procession is always kept on 2 February even when the office and Mass of the feast is transferred to 3 February. Before the reform of the Latin liturgy by St. Pius V (1568), in the churches north and west of the Alps this ceremony was more solemn. After the fifth oration a preface was sung. The "Adorna" was preceded by the antiphon "Ave Maria". While now the procession is held inside the church, during the Middle Ages the clergy left the church and visited the cemetery surrounding it. Upon the return of the procession a priest, carrying an image of the Holy Child, met it at the door and entered the church with the clergy, who sang the canticle of Zachary, "Benedictus Dominus Deus Israel". At the conclusion, entering the sanctuary, the choir sang the responsory, "Gaude Maria Virgo" or the prose, "Inviolata" or some other antiphon in honour of the Blessed Virgin.
There you have it. A short explanation of Candlemas. Come experience it!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Thank You, APA Donors!
As you know, last year, near the end of the year, we finally reached our goal for the Annual Pastoral Appeal. (Goal: $42,058; Pledged: $48,170; Paid: $44,945) This is the annual funding drive for the Diocese of St. Petersburg, of which Epiphany of Our Lord parish is one of 83 parishes/missions. For the year 2017, the Diocese needed $11,842,751.00 to cover its budget. Since “the Diocese” is not a parish, there are no Sunday Masses at “the Diocese” and, therefore, no collections, which means no direct income. So each parish and mission (like St. Joseph Vietnamese Mission, which meets here but is its own entity and has its own APA assessment) is assessed a percentage of the diocesan budget so that “the Diocese” can pay its bills. This APA assessment (or “goal” as they prefer to call it) for Epiphany would have been $142,683 if the total was simply divided by 83 and each parish/mission paid the same amount. But some parishes are much larger than others and would normally have much greater income than the small ones, so an even split would overly burden the least “wealthy” parishes. So instead of just an even division, the Diocese looks instead at the total income every parish/mission had the previous year and takes from each entity that percentage of their income which corresponds to the diocesan budget. If the Diocese budget goes down and the total parish/mission income goes up, everyone’s APA assessment goes down. That never happens. If the Diocese budget goes up and everyone’s income goes down, everyone’s APA increases. That could happen and seems to be the current trend across the Diocese. Though individual parish numbers vary, the number of total parishioners in the Diocese is going down--so the collections are going down--while prices of running everything are rising. So the Diocese keeps its budget as close to the same as possible but still needs to raise it a little bit while most parishes see their income slip. So those down-trending parishes will see their 2018 APA decrease along with their income, which is only fair. But extra money is required to keep the Diocese running. So who pays the extra? The parishes which are staying the same or which are increasing in population and collections. Like us. What a great problem to have! The new diocesan budget is set for $11,890,369.00, a very small increase. Epiphany’s portion has increased to $50,105.00 even though we didn’t have a correspondingly large increase in our income.
At this time, I would like to thank all of you who donated to the APA last year. Below you will find a list of all 68 families/individuals who donated, listed in alphabetical order. There are still approximately $3200 worth of outstanding pledges to the APA, but almost everyone who pledged was able to make good on it. I publish this following list as a sign of my appreciation to all who helped us out but also as a means of you checking to see if your name is listed. Many of you are still not yet registered at Epiphany and there would be a possibility that your donation went, incorrectly, to your previous parish. If you made a donation and don’t see your name, please call the office so that we can get it straightened out! And please don’t search through the names looking to denigrate anyone whose name is not listed, for not only is this un-Christian, it could also be that the person you scorn could have given anonymously. So here is the list. Thank you again!
Abrahamian, Peter; Adams, Charles and Diana; Albok, Dolores; Alvarez, Piedad Alicia; Anderson, Elizabeth J.; Anonymous, Epiphany of Our Lord; Baker, Thomas and Mary Ann; Baquerizo, Daniel and Jessica; Barber, Claudia; Barlow, Sheila; Beaman, Thomas and Diane; Bergmann, Anders and Katherine; Bravo, Magda; Bricker, June; Cantu, David and Jean; Cerasuolo, John; Choi, Helen; Christiani, David and Pamela; Christmas, Richard and Clare; Clauss, Robert and Mariann; Crank, Cynthia; DiMarco, Frank and Pauline; Draude, Tom and Sandi; Farley, Paul and Margaret; Folkerts, Alexander; Franceschini, Mark and Jeanette; Frank, Joseph; Garcia-Provenzano, Angela; Gervais, Marland and Jean; Gornowicz, Bertha; Hahn, Judith; Hernandez, Kevin and Cheryl; Jones, Linda; Jurado, Gloria; Knipper, Rita and John; LaFountain, Pat; Lauren, Steven and Deborah; Lynch, Peter and Elizabeth; Madden, Helen Ennis; Martin, Frank A and Ann B; McMillion, Lorraine; Miller, Clara; Nathe, Knute and Emma; Nguyen, Phu Dinh; Niklas, Joy; Noronha, Vernon and Emilia; Owens, Richard and Deborah; Palka, Carole; Palka, Edwin Rev.; Pete, Audie and Lee; Pham, Tien Thu; Prince, Michael and Amanda; Raulerson, James; Reade, David; Rodriguez, Addison and Anna; Ryan, Marc and Donna; Sands-Cox, Dorothy; Schell, Michael and Noreen; Scussel, John and Bonnie; Simone, Gino and Patti; Thomas, Everett A and Elnora; Vega, Raymond; Weathers, Christopher and Lillianna; Wehle, Sandra; Whiskeyman, Andrew and Jennifer.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Holy Lottery Winnings!
It is my great pleasure to tell you that two of our parishioners have won the two large lottery jackpots from last week. Mega Millions winning numbers to the tune of $450,000,000 were picked at a convenience store in Pasco County. As you know, most of our parishioners drive quite a distance to attend the Traditional Latin Mass at Epiphany, so it should be no surprise that the winning ticket was purchased at a place nearly an hour drive away. The parishioner has not yet claimed (as of the writing of this column, anyway) the money but I am sure that we will soon be the beneficiaries of a sizable tithe. A bit further away, in New Hampshire, the Powerball numbers were picked on our parish feast day, January 6, with the jackpot listed as five-hundred and seventy million dollars. Since the numbers were drawn on the real Epiphany, I am sure that this winning ticket, too, must have been bought by one of our parishioners. I don’t know of anyone who commutes quite that far to attend Mass here, so I can only assume that the ticket must have been obtained by one of our members while they were traveling, be it for a job or vacation. Either way, I am expecting this second, and slightly larger, tithe check to be showing up in the collection basket soon.
In case the two winners are reading this before they have gotten around to writing out the checks, this is a good time to answer a few common questions about tithing. Question number one: How much money does the Church expect me to put in the collection basket? Answer: You are asking a good question but asking it in a less than perfect way. A better way of phrasing this would be: How much money does GOD expect me to put in the collection basket? You see, although what the Church expects is the same as what God expects, for His Bride speaks on His behalf, it is, in our fallen state, easier to make excuses for not tithing to the Church (look at all the wealth She has in art treasures, the Bishop just wastes our money, etc.) than it is to make excuses for not tithing to God. After all, nobody wants to approach the Judgment Seat of God with a wad of money clutched in their cold, dead fingers stammering, “Here, Jesus, you can have it after all. You get whatever I didn’t use. No, no, no, it’s not a bribe. I just thought...” So, how much does He want you to give? Although there are no hard and fast rules of which I am aware (beyond, obviously, one of the precepts of the Church, namely, “You shall help to provide for the needs of the Church”), the Biblical tithe was always 10%, and that was from the first-fruits, not the leftovers, plus almsgiving. The next question which always follows that (right after, “You are kidding, right? 10 percent? That’s nuts!”) is usually, “Is that before or after taxes?” I usually just laugh at that, because if someone doesn’t even know what percentage of their income they tithe right now (using the word “tithe” as the amount of money they put in the collection basket on Sundays, Holy Days, and special collections) it is a bit silly to start obsessing over pre- or post- tax issues! As for the lottery winners, even assuming that Uncle Sam managed to take half of what they thought they were getting, they certainly cannot use that as an excuse to “nickel and dime” God (and HIs Church) to death (so to speak) as if their paltry remaining hundreds of millions of dollars might not be enough for both them and the Church!
Seriously, though, what do you think the average person, even the above average Catholic, would think about tithing after “hitting it big” when they normally tithed only as an afterthought? When they opened their wallet every week or three, surprised once again that a collection was being taken up, and checked (almost secretly) to see if they had any bills smaller than a twenty left in there to wad up and toss into the basket so that they wouldn’t have the embarrassment of having to dig for a few coins to deposit? I am guessing that a $500 dollar check might be all that could be expected from such a good, religious lottery winner. But I am sure that is not going to be the case with our two winners. Folks at Epiphany put God first in all things!
Just for a point of reference for how cheap some people are, there was a recent report of a woman who took her dead Christmas tree back to Costco after the first of the year and demanded (and got!) a refund, since it didn’t stay alive as long as she thought it should have. Fortunately, she must not have been Catholic, or that would have been in the headline! Anyway, if you see either of our lottery winners, let them know that I am waiting for their checks!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Farewell to Fr. Clement and James McCoy
First the bad news. Fr. Philip Clement, who was so instrumental in bringing the Traditional Latin Mass to Tampa, is being transferred to Maine. This is bad news only to us, not to him or to the people of Maine. I will leave it to him to explain how this transfer came about but I want to let you all know that this is not a “punishment” assignment for him, but, rather, one of his own choosing. And, since I have already been asked, “NO!” I have not requested a similar transfer. In past years have spoken to snowbirds from Maine who have described the beauty of their state with great fondness, who have asked me to transfer there because of the great lack of priests, who have been very persuasive in their salesmanship... but not persuasive enough to get me even thinking twice about moving to a place where 64 degrees is a summer temperature rather than winter weather.
For those of you who don’t know just what a TLM hero Fr. Clement is, here is a little background, condensed version though it is. One day in conversation with his pastor, he was shocked to hear something like this: “Why don’t you celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass here?” He took that question and ran with it. He set up informational talks for his parishioners so that they would have the opportunity to understand just what the TLM is all about. After all, for the past 50 years or so, all anyone had heard was how bad the “old” Mass was, how nobody understood what was going on, how the priest had his back to the people (as if that was an insult to them, but turning his back to the Lord in the tabernacle was perfectly fine) and how nobody prayed except for the little old ladies clutching their rosaries (which nobody knows how to pray anymore, because it, too, was seen as a bad “old” tradition in recent decades). He planned, he educated, he got the people enthusiastic about the Mass which brought Christianity to the whole world (in the days when “Christianity” meant “the Catholic Faith”) and which produced countless Saints over two millennia. He showed them Pope Benedict’s writings allowing all priests to celebrate this venerable Mass even without their bishop’s permission. He revealed Pope Benedict’s explanation against the naysayers that the “old” Mass had never been abrogated and more, that what was good and holy in the past cannot now be somehow considered bad or evil. Then the (now retired) bishop, a naysayer of Catholic Tradition if there ever was one, got mad and fought to stop the TLM before it ever got celebrated. Father Clement, in saintly form, peacefully fought for the rights of the people and priests regarding this most august Sacrifice. And the Mass took off. Thank you, Father Clement. We will miss you. If you, dear reader, are able, join him at Incarnation for a farewell potluck on Saturday, January 13. More information and RSVP can be found elsewhere in the bulletin today.
Now for some (brief) good news. If any of you have needed to contact the office in the past 8 months or so, you have had the pleasure of speaking with James McCoy. He came aboard with no parish office experience but has proven himself to be a capable and amiable front desk man. Always quick of wit and willing to help as needed, he has been a blessing for us. But oh, so quickly, this morphs into more bad news. He has decided to move on to greener pastures. It is a long, early morning commute for him and the job, believe it or not, is very stressful, with constant deadlines to meet and even more constant (if there is such a thing) interruptions which seem to put the accomplishment of anything off track yet which must be handled with such charity as to not let anyone know that they are a royal pain in the culus. (Or is that auritulus? Sometimes Google Translate is not much better with Latin than I am.) Anyway, though there were aspects of this job which he truly loved (especially dealing with you, the parishioners), he, like Father Clement, decided that the time was right to go elsewhere. Please feel free to give him a call (constant interruptions are still his life until his departure on January 12, after all) and wish him well, thank him for his assistance, and, above all, offer prayers for his next stage of the journey toward Sainthood.
And finally, some more good news. Although I don’t know who will take Fr. Clement’s place (don’t worry, it’s not me), we have already--miraculously--lined up a replacement for James. Many of you already know him and will probably be thrilled to hear that he is coming to Epiphany. Unfortunately, I have run out of space so you will have to wait until next week’s bulletin to find out that it is Mark Rosendale. Oh, shoot. I blew it. Well, the cat’s out of the bag so this might as well go to print as is.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Epiphany! Our Feast Day Cometh!
According to ancient tradition, the three Wise Men arrived in Bethlehem to worship the infant Lord Jesus Christ on the thirteenth day of His birth, that is, January 6 according to the current calendar. Thirty years later to the day He was baptized by John in the River Jordan. The following year on the same date He performed his first public miracle, changing water into wine at the wedding feast in Cana. According to a not-so-ancient tradition, the Catholic Women’s Club at this parish hosts an Epiphany Ball on or around the parish feast. Thank you, holy ladies, for doing so! The last two years we had a high Mass at 6:00 pm followed by a potluck dinner and dance on the actual feast day (it fell on a Wednesday in 2016 and a Friday in 2017) but it made for a long night and was horrific trying to keep the food fresh and hot and edible, especially for all those who had to show up early because they were in a choir or altar boy family. [I have in my mind the following as a best-case scenario: The meal you are cooking to bring for the potluck gets ready exactly at the time you have the whole family buckled in a ready to go. (Ha! Already I laugh.) Your normal (for a Sunday Mass) 45-minute drive to church is, on a workday, now estimated by Siri to be 1 hour and 15 minutes long. You leave at 4:00, hoping to get here by 5:00 but praying that you arrive no later than 5:30 in order to get everything set for Mass (altar boy family) or to practice the hymns and chants (choir family). Then, the Mass begins a little after 6:00 because somebody is running late and it lasts until 7:30 (or a bit later if Father rambles, err, I mean if he has a lot of very good things to say about the parish Feast Day; or if the choir sings everything in beautiful, but long, polyphony for the special occasion). Add time of prayerful thanksgiving after Mass and then the time it takes to get settled in the parish hall, and finally the blessing before the meal takes place at 7:55 pm. The last person in line gets their food about 8:35. How in the world did you all do that? Did you, instead, cook the meal in the van while on the road? Did you jump up and reheat it during the 17 minute Credo? I really cannot figure out how the food tasted so good!] This year January 6 falls on a Saturday and there are Saturday evening vigil Masses going on at 5:00 and 7:00 pm, so keeping the Ball on the actual Feast Day was impossible. That means that we get to try out a new format for the festivities. Will it be better or worse than the previous years? There is only one way to find out! I hope to see you all there at 7:00 pm on Friday, January 5. (You did get your tickets, right? The absolute last day for purchase is Sunday, December 31. $5 per person or $ 30 max per family.)
Before we get to the end of the week, though, we have to survive New Year’s Eve. I know, that’s not a Catholic Holy Day, but every once in a while someone wants to make it into one. A long time ago, in a parish far, far away, the pastor heard of a cutesy thing that some other “really with it” parishes were doing: having a Midnight Mass for New Year’s Day, giving the faithful a safe alternative to drunken parties or watching the ball drop on TV. Oh, so precious! Like taking a pagan holiday and “baptizing” it, as so many times “scholars” have told us we did when we made up out of thin air the Catholic Holy Days such as Christmas, All Saints Day, and Easter. The people were thrilled. The Mass, I was told, was beautiful. (I slept through it, thankfully, as I had the early Mass the next morning.) But there was one tiny, little, itsy bitsy problem, which should have been apparent from the beginning of this harebrained idea. Everyone who attended Midnight Mass was trying to avoid the drunks, yet everybody had to drive home from the church as all of the New Year’s parties were closing down! The Mass-goers might have been the only sober ones on the road! We were fortunate that nobody got killed. Why am I bringing up this old memory? Because somebody this year asked me why we cannot have a midnight Mass for New Years! “But we always do it at my old parish, Father. It’s a TRADITION! Isn’t this a traditional parish?” Oh, brother. Oh, I almost forgot the best part. The New Year’s Midnight Mass at my previous parish started at midnight, but Christmas Midnight Mass was at 10:00 pm because, well, it was just too much to expect anyone to come to Mass at such a late hour as midnight! Tradition? What’s that?
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Merry Advent and Christmas Vigil and Christmas!
The 4th Sunday of Advent is missing this year. Perhaps it is better to say that it is not completely lost, but rather misplaced or even replaced. As I mentioned last week, in the Traditional Latin Mass when the Vigil of Christmas falls on a Sunday, it replaces the 4th Sunday of Advent. Not so in the Novus Ordo Calendar. The Vigil of Christmas, instead of taking the place of the 4th Sunday, is instead celebrated in the evening, Christmas Eve. Since we don’t normally have a Novus Ordo Mass scheduled on Sunday, we will have no 4th Sunday of Advent Mass that day. But wait. We have a Novus Ordo Mass Saturday evening, so the 4th Sunday of Advent will be celebrated on Saturday instead of on Sunday. As for the TLM, both of the Sunday morning Masses will be Christmas Vigil Masses. We have added a NO Mass on Sunday evening but even though it is celebrated on Sunday, it will not be the 4th Sunday of Advent Mass, for that Mass will be replaced by the Christmas Vigil Mass. But the TLM Christmas Vigil Masses of the morning will have different prayers and readings than the NO Christmas Vigil Mass of the evening. Even had we added another TLM on Christmas evening, it would be the exact same Mass as the morning TLMs and so would still be different than the NO Christmas Vigil. Add to that confusion the people who keep checking the Sunday evening calendar online and complain that there is no Midnight Mass scheduled. Of course, what they fail to comprehend is that Midnight Mass is not held on Sunday evening but rather first thing on Monday morning. The Sunday calendar ends at 11:59:59 so to find the Christmas Midnight Mass one has to look on Monday’s calendar, because Christmas Midnight Mass begins as soon as Christmas begins, and not two or three hours earlier as so often happens at NO parishes. Monday is Christmas. Did that clear up anything? Yes? Then let me just forget about complicating things by telling you what St. Joseph Vietnamese Mission is doing with their Christmas Vigil and Day Masses, or you will just get confused again. And it is probably not a good idea for me to explain that there are three different and distinct Christmas Day Masses in both the NO and TLM calendars, each with its own general time frame in which they are to be celebrated (midnight, early morning and later morning), except that with the NO Mass one can be substituted for the others if the priest chooses. Or if the liturgy committee plans it. Or if the lectors read the wrong readings. Or something like that.
Moving on, I want to thank all of you who have sacrificed so much to be active members of this parish, naming especially those who work as well as pray. Altar boys and choir members (and the parents or family members who transport them and wait for them as they practice and again as they fulfill their function, sometimes very early in the morning and sometimes very late at night, are amazing in their dedication. Thank you all. The women’s guild and other volunteers, who do so much planning and serving and cleaning, allow us to have such things as coffee and donuts after Sunday Masses, an upcoming Epiphany Ball and many other events. You do so much. Thank you all. Those of you who support the Amani family, who assist the American Heritage Girls, who donate generously to those young ladies who are discerning vocations to the religious life and the young men entering seminary, who prepare the altar, who wash and iron the liturgical linens, who clean, repair and replace broken pews and other church items, who teach children the faith, who lead the Holy Rosary with the Spiritual Mothers on Wednesdays or at the Friday Family Rosary and Game night, who show up and bring food for the Wednesday night and Sunday potlucks, who attend adult Catechism classes, who taught (sorry, past tense only due to the teacher having babies!) Latin classes, who organize the youth group and the new Juventutem group, who come to the Holy League men’s club, the K of C... (Did I leave anyone out? Probably. Sorry about that.) You are all amazing people. With travel times averaging approximately 45 minutes one way just to get here, bypassing several other more conveniently located parishes as you do so, you humble me, who only has to walk a hundred yards. All you do, all year ‘round, is a Christmas gift this pastor truly appreciates. May God bless you all.
Oh, one more thing before I forget. This Wednesday, December 27, is the feast of St. John the Evangelist. There is a special blessing of wine after Mass (remember, enemies of the Church tried to kill him by poisoning his wine, which he simply blessed and drank to show the power of God), so don’t forget to bring in your favorite bottles that morning!
Merry Christmas Vigil to you all. Rejoice, for the time of the Savior’s birth draws near!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: You Can’t Kill Two Liturgical Birds With One Stone!
A lot of angst and turmoil which is showing up in most other parishes this year which Epiphany parishioners will eagerly avoid. What is the issue? Next weekend on the Novus Ordo Mass calendar, the Fourth Sunday of Advent is celebrated on Saturday evening and on Sunday. But Sunday is also the Vigil of Christmas, so there will be Christmas Eve Masses. Most other parishes have only NO Masses and many people are planning on killing two birds with one stone, so to speak, to keep from being “burdened” with that most terrible of all afflictions, namely, “having” to attend Mass twice in one week. Let me set aside for the moment the terrible tragedy of a Catholic who doesn’t rejoice in participating in as many Masses as possible and rather look at the logistics of what they plan to do.
Remember, this is happening at many parishes, but not ours! Those who normally attend the Saturday evening vigil Mass to get their Sunday obligation “out of the way” will skip it that evening, December 23. Likewise, many of those who normally attend on Sunday, whether in the morning or early afternoon or evening will also forgo attending the earlier Masses for the 4th Sunday of Advent on December 24th. Instead, all of them will attempt to get to the Christmas Eve Masses or the “midnight” (shudder) 8:00 pm Mass. That way, they claim, they have been to Mass on Sunday, thus fulfilling their obligation for the last Sunday of Advent, plus they have attended a Christmas Mass (since, in the NO Mass the vigil “counts” as if it were the actual day), so they have also fulfilled their obligation for the Christmas Holy Day. “Yay!” they will exclaim, “We fooled God and only had to go to Mass once this week, plus we fooled the pastor and only had to put one crumpled up dollar bill into a single collection, not two! Woo Hoo! We are the smartest Catholics in the world!” Yep. Damned smart Catholics, if you get my drift. There was even one pastor (in the diocese of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, not here locally, thanks be to God!) who, in his parish bulletin a week or two ago, “dispensed” his parishioners from their Sunday Obligation with this statement: “Therefore, by my authority as pastor, I hereby grant a dispensation from the obligation for the Fourth Sunday of Advent in individual cases that meet the following conditions: 1. You are reading this dispensation as an individual right now; 2. You are my canonical parishioner, either by geography or by registration; 3. You place ALL the envelops for BOTH celebrations in the collection basket at whatever Mass you attend.” He foolishly (as if there was anything about his ridiculous stunt which was not foolish) did not tell the people that they had to actually put a monetary contribution in to the envelopes, so if his people wanted to play games the way he taught them in this fiasco, they could have deposited empty envelopes or, better still, stuffed lumps of coal into them. Fortunately, his bishop found out about it and quickly put an end to it. Please pray for his poor parishioners, for their shepherd is lost himself.
So why do I say that such a thing won’t happen here? Well, for the NO Mass parishioners, I assume that they have, for many years, been well catechized and they are excited about getting the opportunity to attend Mass for both Sunday and Christmas. They will attend their normal 5:00 vigil Mass Saturday evening and then come back for the 5:00 pm Christmas Eve NO Mass on Sunday. These are the only two English NO Masses available for the two days in question, so unless they wish to attend a Vietnamese NO Mass (which would certainly fulfill the obligation as well) their choices are limited. I am convinced that nobody that attends the NO here would try to “double up” by only attending the Sunday 5:00 pm Mass. As for the others, those who attend the Traditional Latin Mass don’t even have to have good catechesis behind them to do the right thing in this circumstance, for in the TLM there is no such thing as a vigil Mass substituting for the actual feast day Mass! The Vigil of Christmas actually takes the place of the 4th Sunday of Advent this year. It is the Mass of the day, not the Mass of the evening before the feast. So TLM parishioners will attend either the 7:30 am of the 10:30 am Sunday Christmas Vigil Mass and fulfill their Sunday obligation and then they will attend one of the Masses on Christmas Day itself and fulfill that obligation. The Midnight Mass in the TLM, is the first Mass of Christmas Day, and is never held before real midnight, so there is no silly game which can be played with that Mass.
Anyway, there you have it. Epiphany parishioners can relax and pray while others scheme to avoid prayer. Come twice. Enjoy them both. Glorify God with your prayers and presence at His Most Holy Sacrifice.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Real Blessing or Counterfeit?
The other day I had a couple in my office asking for a blessing. The wife was pregnant, so what better time to bless her and their newly conceived child? Ah, what a glorious thing to do. I remember that a few years back the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops made a big deal out of creating a “new” rite for blessing the unborn baby within the womb. This was a “big deal” because, supposedly, the Church had never had such a blessing for the child in utero before now. I am skeptical about most liturgical things that come out of the USCCB and I certainly find consternation in their “Book of Blessings” which mostly fail to actually bless anything. Yet, since it was supposedly the only one of its kind, I was about to grab it when common sense took hold of me. I instead went and got the old, traditional Roman Ritual book containing blessings and found, lo and behold, a “Blessing of an Expectant Mother”. I gave the blessing and the happy (three-persons!) couple went merrily on their way.
Sharp readers might have discovered a small but significant discrepancy between what the USCCB spent countless hours and dollars pulling out of thin air and what the old ritual already had. The new rite (yes, they developed a “rite” rather than just a “prayer” so that they can sell you a bilingual English/Spanish book for $6.95) is called the "Rite for the Blessing of a Child in the Womb". The old prayer is a blessing for the mother carrying the child. Slight difference but pretty big at the same time. At least it is if they both limit the blessing to only one particular person, mother or baby. But do they? Let us see.
The new Rite is five (English only) pages long for the version within Mass and 11 (English only) pages long for the version outside of Mass. It contains three prayers which it calls blessings, and which are preceded by this rubric: “If appropriate, the mother is invited to come forward, along with the father and other family members. With hands extended, the celebrant blesses the child in the womb and all those present, in these words:” That says that everyone there is being blessed, not just the preborn baby. The first prayer asks God to bless the unborn child and bring comfort to the mother (comfort, but no blessing). The second (optional) prayer says it is for the father but only asks that he be granted courage and be made an example of justice and truth. No blessing. Blech. The third (also optional) prayer, is for the family but is even more troublesome to me. “Lord, endow this family with sincere and enduring love as they prepare to welcome this child into their midst.” Why is it troubling? First, there is no blessing asked for them. Second, if welcoming the child in their midst is still a thing in the future, what is the reason they are there present for the blessing in the first place? Is it not because they have already acknowledged him to be in their midst? Have they not already welcomed him and now desire God’s blessing upon him who is already a new family member? Yet this prayer excludes the unborn baby from the family by not including him in those who will be filled with love. Why not, if he is a family member and this is a family blessing, ask that he, too, be filled with love? These prayers are nice enough until and unless you think too much about what they actually say and don’t say, do and don’t do. And, of course, there is no sign of the cross made over anyone by the priest.
So now let’s see what the old ritual says and does. It, too, is bilingual, with three pages in English and 3 in Latin. Two preliminary prayers ask for the mother to have a solid faith and constant protection from all adversity, that she be guarded and defended from the unfeeling enemy, that her baby be born and baptized and come to eternal life. Those are pretty powerful prayers of preparation for the actual blessing, if you ask me! The actual prayer of blessing drives away “all snares of the enemy” and calls upon the holy angels to preside. The blessing is not bestowed (with the priest making the sign of the cross) only until the baby is born, but it is to be ever present. It then asks that they (mother and child) be saved and given everlasting light. It concludes with a Trinitarian blessing (and another sign of the cross) upon both mother and child.
Why does any of this matter? Because I am constantly asked, “Why do you celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass?” This, though not the Mass itself, is one very obvious reason. Through the TLM I have discovered a treasure trove of discarded and forgotten liturgical gifts, of which the rest of the Church only has pitifully woeful imitations.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Advent is Upon Us!
The way Advent and the early December dates line up this year, the first week of Advent is chock full of marvelous feast days! I know you already have your calendars marked for December 8, the Holy Day of Obligation (yes, there are still a few of them!) celebrating the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. We have three Masses that day: the normal Friday 6:30 am and 8:30 am Masses, plus an evening Mass at 7:00 pm. But a full lineup of heavy hitters warms us up in preparation for that day. Monday is St. Chrysologus, the Church “Doctor of Homilies”, with a commemoration of St. Barbara, who is one of the revered 14 Holy Helpers. Tuesday is the feast of St. Sabbas, a hermit monk whose clever and holy Bishop really stuck it to the rebellious monks who demanded that Sabbas be removed from his role as abbot (come to the 8:00 Mass to hear the rest of the story!). Wednesday, December 6, brings us... wait, do I really need to tell any of you whose feast day is December 6? I certainly hope not! St. Ambrose (a second Doctor of the Church in one week!) follows him (that is at least a small hint that the Saint of December 6 is a male!) on Thursday. All in all, it is quite a solid group of Saints.
Rather than just run down the list of all the Saints throughout the rest of Advent, I next wish to draw your attention to the Saturday following the Second Sunday of Advent. Get a good night’s rest that Friday night, for we are going to celebrate a Rorate Caeli Mass on December 16 and, as you might remember, Rorate Masses begin before dawn! We will have to change our regular Saturday morning schedule to accomplish this. The Rorate Mass will begin in total darkness save for candlelight at the altar, at 6:30 am (rather than the normal 8:00 am). We are planning on having some simple breakfast food following the Mass, followed by Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and Confessions. If anyone wishes to let us know ahead of time that they will be there, or will bring food, or will serve the Mass, or will be in the Schola, it would help with the planning of this great feast.
Here is a little bit about the Rorate Mass which I wrote for the bulletin before the one we held last year: “The Advent Rorate Masses are celebrated in darkness, with only candlelight to illuminate the church. As the Mass continues, the daylight grows stronger, as if the signified Light of the World, Jesus Christ, is finally dawning upon us. The Savior is bud forth in the East (or Orient, which, as another aside, is why the term ad orientem--to the east--is used when the priest faces at least liturgical east like the congregation, all looking expectantly to the Orient for the return of Our Lord in His Majestic Glory), the land is blessed, and the Christians (Catholics are the true Christians) are set free from the dark captivity of sin. He came to save us from our sin, to bring light to those in darkness. He came through, and is magnified by, the Blessed Virgin Mary, without whom we would find no Savior, and merit no salvation.” I know that there are many good reasons which might keep you snug in bed that morning, but if you make the effort for this Mass, I think you will be hooked and make it a yearly event.
Now for one major bit of information about something else coming up very quickly, though not until early next year. So far I have three confirmandi signed up definitely and almost two (2) more persons signed up for Confirmation next year. The first “almost” person is from our parish and actually signed up too early, using last year’s online form as if he could use my magic time machine and get him confirmed in the past. The second “almost” person is from another parish but desperately wants to attend the Traditional Latin Mass and get confirmed in the Traditional Rite but his mother and father don’t want to leave their Novus Ordo parish. He is still in negotiations with them and with his pastor! But as of this writing, even though the current Confirmation Information and Checklist is available both online and at the office, only those few have actually availed themselves of it, so our total tally is three (3) confirmandi. That is not a bad thing if it is an accurate count but, since the Confirmation date given to us by Bishop Parkes is quickly approaching (Confirmation time and date: 7:00 pm Wednesday, February 7, 2018) we soon need to tell the Bishop how many kids we have who will be ready and eager to receive the sacrament. I would hate to have him bypass us this year due to having such a small class only to have several dozen more sign up after he takes us off his calendar! So please don’t procrastinate on this. If you or your child(ren) are preparing for Confirmation, please use the website for guidance and let us know at the office that we need to get ready for you/them!
With prayer for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: An African Thanksgiving
Church bulletins are strange things. Everyone grabs one but very few people read them. Some claim to read them but swear that they never knew that the parish has a Catholic Women’s Club, homeschool group, St. Rafqa stitchers, adult Catechism classes or other such staples of Catholic parish life. Others read the bulletin but then forget to put important dates on their calendar and so miss out on parish events or special feast days. Then there is another whole group of people who claim that they read carefully but neglect to mentally note such important statements such as “This bulletin had to be printed before Thanksgiving Day since the office is closed that Thursday and Friday.” Trust me, there is a reason that such a sentence should be read and remembered.
With that out of the way, let me tell you about my Thanksgiving. This year my little sister, Karen, was hosting the family gathering and, as normal, she said to invite any “orphan” priests or Sisters who didn’t have anyplace to go. Number one on the list was Father Emmanuel. He gladly accepted the invitation and was excited to get a reprieve from his Master’s studies and from grading math tests taken by the college kids in the undergraduate classes he teaches. He really needed this break. He has been getting a bit homesick and, since he cannot go back to Tanzania for a while, he asked my sister if she could fix some African dishes for Thanksgiving. When she hesitated, not knowing what food he might be thinking of, he quickly told her that, if she didn’t mind, he would get some help and do the cooking for everyone! He said he would love to do this for us in return for making him feel like a real part of our family. Plus, it would truly help him to get schoolwork out of his head. A few years ago he had gotten some help from a couple of African Sisters and they whipped up a wonderful meal for everyone and he assured her that they could do it again, so Karen finally relented and gave most of the cooking chores to him. Mom would still bake the pies for dessert, Karen would supply the snacks for the pre-meal hours, my other sister and my brother were to bring the drinks and I was to lead the prayers. I liked that division of labor!
Since they don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in Africa, Father Emmanuel needed a bit of help in preparing the menu. He wanted to make it as African as possible but still retain Thanksgiving traditions when he could. What nobody knew is that he turned to Aunt Irma as his American “expert”. It was probably for the best that we didn’t know! In Tanzania, they spend a lot of time cooking their food. Days, not hours, are spent hunting, cleaning, cooking, and socializing in preparation for big feasts. So he came to town a few days before Thanksgiving and he and the Sisters got to work preparing the food. He wouldn’t tell us what they were making but did give us a hint that some of it had to be ordered from Amazon or caught in traps because it wasn’t available for sale locally. Although the Africans were thrilled to be at the convent having a real 72 hours long cooking party like they would have back home, on Thanksgiving Day there was something missing for the rest of us without the normal aroma of a roasting turkey. But that little disappointment was forgotten quite quickly when the food (and the cooks!) finally arrived in mid-afternoon.
I wish that I could describe in detail each of the dishes they brought. The food, overall, was incredibly delicious, even when (or because) we didn’t know what we were eating. But it is always the “failures” that make the most memorable stories. First of all, Father and the Sisters now know that: 1) sweet potatoes are not simply red potatoes boiled in syrup; 2) not all tree leaves taste good in a salad, even with a generous amount of dressing; and 3) breadsticks don’t involve any wood at all. But those few dishes aside, the dinner was a success. There was one major surprise menu item worth noting. Evidently, they don’t have turkeys in Tanzania so they made due with birds which they would eat back home. They were smallish, much like a quail or Cornish hen, and there were enough cooked up so that everyone got at least one. They told us that the birds were called polywons in English, but none of us had ever heard of such a creature. Nevertheless, they were tender and juicy and had plenty of flavor and were truly a hit. Dare I say they were better than turkey? Everyone ate theirs and fought over the extra birds. Later that evening Fr. Emmanuel remembered that he had written down the name which Aunt Irma had called the small, colorful fowl. Maybe he was just mispronouncing it. So he pulled out his note for us to read. On it was written, “pollywannacracker”?!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
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