He only shuts up when he is writing!
From the Pastor: Safe Haven Sunday in Two Weeks
Today I will share with you a news article about Safe Haven Sunday, which will be held in this diocese in two weeks. I know you have been seeing the little blurbs in the bulletin for the past month or so but, even so, I want to make sure you know that it is coming up. Each parish will be presenting something on the weekend of March 2 and 3 regarding the devastatingly harmful effects of pornography. Though the Church is certainly countercultural on this subject, She teaches with certainty that viewing of pornography (or otherwise engaging in it) is mortal sin. It destroys sanctifying grace in the soul. It creates its own addictions. It destroys relationships, especially marriages and families. Yet, even knowing this, Catholic men, nearly as often as non-Catholics, often find themselves inexplicably drawn to it like the proverbial dog returning to his vomit (Proverbs 26:11 and 2 Peter 2:22) and keep repeating this folly to their own inevitable implosion. But in recent years women have, against all past experiential common sense, started catching up with men in engaging in the viewing of this smut. And now, as the chickens come home to roost, children are being exposed to this evil and are engaging in the behaviors they see even before they understand what they are seeing and doing. We, the shepherds of the Church, cannot be silent about this. Thank you, Bishop Parkes, for allowing us this opportunity. Nothing will be presented in graphic detail, as the Church has always clearly taught that “sex education” should be taught at home. That does not mean that presenting basic facts and information is forbidden. Home education darned sure better be much more detailed than anything you will hear at church! But there are always people who never want their children to hear even a mention of anything sinful and they, because this has been announced well in advance, will know to take their little ones out of the church for the homily regardless of which parish they attend. Here is the news story.
Bishop Gregory Parkes Designates March 3 as Safe Haven Sunday
February 8, 2019 News
Seeks to Educate Community About the Harmful Effects of Pornography
On Sunday, March 3, parishes in the Diocese of St. Petersburg will set aside time to address the pervasive problem of pornography and its devastating effects on marriages and families. The goal is to make each home a safe haven from pornography.
“Pornography is detrimental to both the physical and spiritual life of each individual and the greater community. The use of pornography by anyone in the home deprives the home of its role as a safe-haven and has negative effects throughout a family’s life and across generations,” said Bishop Gregory Parkes.
The Diocese of St. Petersburg is partnering with Covenant Eyes, a company committed to creating faith-based resources that foster the virtue of chastity and the tools to overcome pornography use and addiction. They will offer resources, available in English and Spanish, that are focused on education and prevention, such as practical tips to create safer digital environments.
It is also hoped that the resources provided on Safe Haven Sunday will both encourage and teach all individuals and families dealing with the effects of pornography that loving support is available.
The idea for Safe Haven Sunday was inspired by the U.S. Bishop’s November 2015 statement, “Create in Me a Clean Heart: A Pastoral Response to Pornography” and the theme is Equipping the Family, Safeguarding Children.
Further resources to combat pornography, including a list of Catholic counselors who specialize in helping people recover from this addiction can be found at www.dosp.org/freedom-from-porn.
Safe Haven Sunday is part of Freedom From Pornography, an initiative of the Diocese of St. Petersburg that started in 2016 to combat the growing problem of pornography that has harmed so many individuals and families because of its distorted view of the human person and sexuality. Since then, educational events and training programs have been held to equip the faithful to protect themselves and seek assistance and healing.
So once again you have been given a taste of what is to come. It is hoped that, by this being a diocesan-wide topic of concern, that men, women, and children will become, if they are not already, aware of the dangers, spiritual and otherwise, of pornography. It is hoped that they will seek assistance in combating this evil if they have tried and failed. It is hoped that they will protect their children and even adult loved ones by taking every precaution necessary to purge and protect the main sources, such as televisions, computers, and phones. Please pay attention and take this seriously. Your salvation might very well depend on it.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Under the Weather
As you know, some of the men of Epiphany are taking the Exodus 90 Day Challenge of disciplining the body, mind, and soul. Part of the “process” is getting together in person and online to see how everything is going, to encourage and strengthen each others’ resolve to stick with the ascetic disciplines, to needle each other a bit about shortcomings, and to hold ourselves accountable and not slack off as we might if doing it by ourselves. Last week one of the men mentioned the possibility that someone could get sick and desperately want to take a hot shower even though part of the discipline is taking only cold ones. As you know from a previous article (Arctic-le?) it is the cold showers that kept so many of the guys out of the program in the first place. But everyone was in good health, so it (the hot shower for the guy who got sick) was only spoken of as a theoretical possibility rather than being brought up as a means of asking for leeway in that particular discipline for anyone in particular. But wouldn’t you know it? This week I caught the crud. I started with a sore throat on Monday and by Tuesday morning I couldn’t chant the morning Mass. I got some stuff from the Doctor and went back to bed. For the rest of the week, I have not been able to chant or give homilies, as my voice is simply too weak to be heard. As I write this, I am still unsure as to whether or not you will be hearing me or only seeing me on Sunday when you are reading this!
But back to the hot shower. There are not too many “delights” in being sick. Things that are fun or tasty or otherwise pleasing during times of good health just seem so drab when the body is out of sorts but if there is anything that still qualifies as a delight it is in taking a long, hot shower. Longer than normal. Hotter than normal. There is something about a steam-filled bathroom that seems to help break up the sinus gunk and somehow the extra-hot water seems so soothing. And here I was, thinking about that and remembering the discussion about maybe making exceptions for this in the event of illness. I debated with myself about whether I should baby myself just a little or stick with the discipline. I procrastinated before turning on the water and...
Gosh, there have been so many important “Catholic things” happening recently. Some Catholic pro-life kids were accosted and condemned and berated by racist, bigoted, anti-Catholic and generally morally foul men while in Washington, DC for the March for Life. No, I don’t mean the Indians or the Black Hebrew Israelites. I mean the bishops who were exhibiting blatant anti-Trump or anti-life or anti-straight-white-male or anti-Catholicism that they quickly sided with the proven anti-everything-mentioned-above media and disparaged these kids for being such cruel, evil, wicked, nasty, and disgusting pieces of dung, even when all but one of the bishops (their own) had no reason whatsoever to mention them in comments at all. Bishops, by and large, cannot find the time or energy to fight actual immorality and actual immoral people but if they can kiss up to the secular powers they are willing to fight tooth and nail no matter right or wrong. They need to take the Exodus 90 or something so that they can find their moral compasses again. Maybe then they can condemn the entire Democrat party and specific people such as the governors of New York and Virginia for their public championing of infanticide.
In other news, the Bishop of Rome signed a historic document with the Sunni Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed Al-Tayeb, which claimed that God willed anti-Catholic religions just as He willed the Catholic religion. What claptrap. No Bishop, let alone the Bishop of Rome, is on equal footing with any Imam, for a Bishop has Apostolic succession and belongs to the one, true Church founded by the one, true Savior, and the Bishop of Rome, if he be the Pope, has God-given authority to speak for the whole Church, clergy and laity alike, nay, for the whole world and all its inhabitants. No Imam can make a claim even close to that, as he belongs to a false religion and has no authority given to him by either man or God over any of his fellow Imams or over all followers of the false prophet Mohammed. Yet no retraction or clarification was put forth. But when Francis mentioned (not in writing, mind you, and not in a formal setting, so without nearly the same level of “authority”) that some priests enslaved some women Religious, a clarification came almost immediately to insist that he didn’t mean that they were actually made slaves. Hmmm... I wonder if there is any connection to absurdities like this and the fact that there have been several priests who were recently relieved of their duties against their will and possibly against canon law simply (by all accounts now known) due to their true Catholic teachings.
See, procrastination happens even in the middle of writing. I was about to tell you something when my mind wandered. Now, where was I? Oh yes. The shower. I couldn’t recall any martyr Saints being asked, “Are you feeling well enough to be fed to the lions today? No? Well, then, I’ll come back next week to check on you. Ta ta for now!” “Delightful,” I lied to myself, as I stepped into the cold water.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: APA News and New APA
Last year’s Annual Pastoral Appeal (which, I hope you know, is the annual diocesan collection from each parish which is used to pay the bills for the Diocese of St. Petersburg) is now finished. I thank all of you who contributed. Due to a last minute rush of contributions, including one rather large one (again, thank you very much!), we went from only being at 55% of our goal in November to achieving 88% by the time the 2018 APA ended. We finished short of our $50,105.00 by $6,055. As I was going through the numbers and looking over the last three years of APA statistics, I was left scratching my head. In August of 2015 Epiphany had new life breathed into her with an influx of parishioners who came specifically for the Traditional Latin Mass and other sacraments in the venerable ancient rites. The following year our 2016 APA assessment (which is based on the previous fiscal year’s parish income and we had only been here half a calendar year, bringing an increased offertory but not affecting the fiscal year’s offertory) was $12,192 and 47 families contributed. Needless to say, we easily went over our assessment. The next year, 2017, APA went up to $42,058 and 69 families contributed to the cause. The increase in APA was easily accounted for by the new members having been at Epiphany for a full fiscal year by the time the assessment was set, and the collections were obviously much higher with nearly 300 new people attending each Sunday, plus other parishes in the Diocese doing more poorly than the previous year. Needless to say, though, we again went over the assessment. Then last year’s assessment, for 2018, was based on our second full year of contributions and, while our collection was basically the same as the previous full year, so many parishes in the Diocese have had decreases in both parishioners and collections that our portion of the total APA was higher than the year before rather than remaining the same as it would be if it were calculated by a simple percentage of income. (in case you were wondering, the Diocese total assessment goals for all parishes combined for those years was $11,655,123 for 2016, $11,842,751 for 2017 and $11,850,000 for 2018) We increased, as mentioned above, to $50,105. Our Sunday attendance has been slightly higher this past year yet our “contributing to APA” numbers have decreased. Let me show you the official numbers for the past three years. (Note: these are not tithing numbers; this is for APA only.)
2016: 246 registered families; 47 contributed an average of $623
2017: 270 registered families; 69 contributed an average of $735
2018: 269 registered families; 50 contributed an average of $630
Now, the number of registered families is a mystery number. We have been seeing total Sunday attendance for our three Masses of about 320, plus or minus, for quite some time, meaning that our average Epiphany family has fewer than two persons if these numbers are correct. Regardless, however that number is arrived at, it seems certain that we have more than the 47, 50 or even 69 families which contributed to APA during any one year. In 2019 we currently have 273 families registered. If each were to give the average donation to APA of the last three years ($663) we would collect $180,999 by the time we were done!
In case your eyes were not already rolled back into the top of your head as you sit there with your mouth open making moaning sounds so that the TV-influenced children think that you are one of the undead zombies they watch incessantly, I will continue with more numbers to get you to that stage. This year the Diocese will be collecting a total of $11,849,890 from all the parishes and missions. Epiphany’s contribution to that will be $41,608. So why did our portion of APA decrease? As near as I can tell there are two main reasons. First, our weekly contributions were down last fiscal year. People contribute less or cease giving altogether if they get mad at the pastor or the Bishop(s) or the Pope. We all gave you plenty to be mad about in recent years! People also sometimes give less if their income goes down while living expenses go up, which is the opposite of what they do to the electric or cable company. But for whatever reason, it is what it is. Second, with increasing scrutiny of our financial books and us understanding better how the Diocese expects us to book income and expenses, we were able to find and properly record income that should never have been APA’d in the first place but had been in years gone by. Plus, increased scrutiny might have conversely uncovered where other parishes were “hiding” money from APA, but that is merely my speculation!
In case you are looking at words such as “contribution” or “goal” or “assessment” and wondering what happens if we don’t meet it, I have good news for you. The Church Fairy waves her magic wand and, with a poof of fairy dust and a cloud of cheerfully colored, non-cancer-causing smoke, the debt disappears and we don’t have to pay it! Wait a minute. I think I must have dozed off for a bit. That was just a dream. A nice one, but still... No, we have to pay it out of the account holding the overage from the previous bountiful years.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka