He only shuts up when he is writing!
From the Pastor: APA News and New APA
Last year’s Annual Pastoral Appeal (which, I hope you know, is the annual diocesan collection from each parish which is used to pay the bills for the Diocese of St. Petersburg) is now finished. I thank all of you who contributed. Due to a last minute rush of contributions, including one rather large one (again, thank you very much!), we went from only being at 55% of our goal in November to achieving 88% by the time the 2018 APA ended. We finished short of our $50,105.00 by $6,055. As I was going through the numbers and looking over the last three years of APA statistics, I was left scratching my head. In August of 2015 Epiphany had new life breathed into her with an influx of parishioners who came specifically for the Traditional Latin Mass and other sacraments in the venerable ancient rites. The following year our 2016 APA assessment (which is based on the previous fiscal year’s parish income and we had only been here half a calendar year, bringing an increased offertory but not affecting the fiscal year’s offertory) was $12,192 and 47 families contributed. Needless to say, we easily went over our assessment. The next year, 2017, APA went up to $42,058 and 69 families contributed to the cause. The increase in APA was easily accounted for by the new members having been at Epiphany for a full fiscal year by the time the assessment was set, and the collections were obviously much higher with nearly 300 new people attending each Sunday, plus other parishes in the Diocese doing more poorly than the previous year. Needless to say, though, we again went over the assessment. Then last year’s assessment, for 2018, was based on our second full year of contributions and, while our collection was basically the same as the previous full year, so many parishes in the Diocese have had decreases in both parishioners and collections that our portion of the total APA was higher than the year before rather than remaining the same as it would be if it were calculated by a simple percentage of income. (in case you were wondering, the Diocese total assessment goals for all parishes combined for those years was $11,655,123 for 2016, $11,842,751 for 2017 and $11,850,000 for 2018) We increased, as mentioned above, to $50,105. Our Sunday attendance has been slightly higher this past year yet our “contributing to APA” numbers have decreased. Let me show you the official numbers for the past three years. (Note: these are not tithing numbers; this is for APA only.)
2016: 246 registered families; 47 contributed an average of $623
2017: 270 registered families; 69 contributed an average of $735
2018: 269 registered families; 50 contributed an average of $630
Now, the number of registered families is a mystery number. We have been seeing total Sunday attendance for our three Masses of about 320, plus or minus, for quite some time, meaning that our average Epiphany family has fewer than two persons if these numbers are correct. Regardless, however that number is arrived at, it seems certain that we have more than the 47, 50 or even 69 families which contributed to APA during any one year. In 2019 we currently have 273 families registered. If each were to give the average donation to APA of the last three years ($663) we would collect $180,999 by the time we were done!
In case your eyes were not already rolled back into the top of your head as you sit there with your mouth open making moaning sounds so that the TV-influenced children think that you are one of the undead zombies they watch incessantly, I will continue with more numbers to get you to that stage. This year the Diocese will be collecting a total of $11,849,890 from all the parishes and missions. Epiphany’s contribution to that will be $41,608. So why did our portion of APA decrease? As near as I can tell there are two main reasons. First, our weekly contributions were down last fiscal year. People contribute less or cease giving altogether if they get mad at the pastor or the Bishop(s) or the Pope. We all gave you plenty to be mad about in recent years! People also sometimes give less if their income goes down while living expenses go up, which is the opposite of what they do to the electric or cable company. But for whatever reason, it is what it is. Second, with increasing scrutiny of our financial books and us understanding better how the Diocese expects us to book income and expenses, we were able to find and properly record income that should never have been APA’d in the first place but had been in years gone by. Plus, increased scrutiny might have conversely uncovered where other parishes were “hiding” money from APA, but that is merely my speculation!
In case you are looking at words such as “contribution” or “goal” or “assessment” and wondering what happens if we don’t meet it, I have good news for you. The Church Fairy waves her magic wand and, with a poof of fairy dust and a cloud of cheerfully colored, non-cancer-causing smoke, the debt disappears and we don’t have to pay it! Wait a minute. I think I must have dozed off for a bit. That was just a dream. A nice one, but still... No, we have to pay it out of the account holding the overage from the previous bountiful years.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: The Exodus 90 Challenge
There are some great things happening at Epiphany of which you should be aware. I have already written about the Solemn High Mass and Blessing of Candles which will happen next Saturday, February 2, at 8:00 am so this is just a simple reminder about it. Bring your candles for the blessing and procession! In the evening of that same day is the celebration of the Lunar New Year (TET) by the St. Joseph Vietnamese Mission and they want to be sure that you all know that you are invited. Come early! Getting here will be a nightmare after 8:00. The children’s activities begin about 6:00 or 6:30 pm (exact times are not seemingly too important!), following the 5:00 English Vigil Mass. Food will be plentiful and all of the booths will be selling traditional Vietnamese soups, meats, shrimp and many things which are completely unidentifiable. Come with an adventurous hunger!
Something already underway and continuing until Easter is the “Exodus 90” challenge. Andy Whiskeyman asked if he could recruit a group of men to take on this challenge of 90 days of prayer, ascetical exercises, and fraternity. Six things would be expected of any man who signed up: 1) Pray daily prayer and read through the Book of Exodus; 2) Sacrifice with twice-weekly fast days; 3) Give up alcohol and sweets, social media, video games and televised sports; 4) Don’t spend any money except for necessities; 5) Take only cold showers and commit to a program of strenuous exercise; 6) Meet at least once a week with a group of five to seven guys who are doing the same thing under the Spiritual Direction of a Priest. Out of that list, there was one expectation which multiple men told me they couldn’t do. Others told the office staff that they couldn't do that same one. Still more told Andy that that same one was holding them back from participating. At one point Andy told me, “I always thought Hell would be burning hot. Evidently it will need be nothing worse than a cold shower!” Yes, number 5, taking cold showers, was the one so many men were unwilling to do. We did get enough men. But really? Cold showers are too much? They are more difficult than exercise or twice weekly fasting or giving up sports or alcohol? Unbelievable.
I had agreed to be the spiritual director for the men. I figured that I couldn’t very well lead them spiritually if I wasn’t willing to join them in these practices. I also figured that, since I was poking fun at the snowflakes, I had better strengthen myself by undertaking this hardest ascetical practice before anyone else. So I began taking cold showers before the 90 days began. It’s not that hard, really. Right? Why, just last year the rectory’s water heater broke and it took a week to get it fixed. Those cold showers were forced upon me. These were my choice. During the forced cold showers I only got wet and then turned off the water until needing to rinse. This time I was going be a man and shower like normal except never turn the hot water handle. Or so I told myself before getting in. “YEEIAYAYIOOEEIIAYIYIYI” or something like that came out of my mouth involuntarily even before I got my face into the flowing stream of liquid icicles. I kept telling myself over and over, “It’s only cold water. It can’t hurt you. It’s only cold water...” but I just couldn’t make myself believe it. I grew up swimming in Florida’s freshwater springs where the water temperature remains constant at 70 or 72 degrees all year long. When it is 94 outside, that temperature difference makes entering the water seem difficult. Some people entered this way: Two inches at a time. Stop. Acclimate ankles. Wait 45 seconds. Step forward, submerging two more inches. Stop. Repeat. Other people just jumped right in and got the shock out of the way all at once. I was a jumper. But a shower is not jumpable. Brrrrr.... “A few days of crying, shivering, and talking myself through it should do the trick,” I lied to myself, “and I will quit acting like a little girl and just calmly step under the spray as if it is nothing.” I haven’t yet gotten to that point. It has gotten easier, but it showed me quite clearly that I am too soft and squishy. I like physical comfort so much that even something as seemingly simple as a cold shower takes getting psyched up for. This is really showing how much I need ascetical practices like this to toughen me up. If I can barely stand ten to fifteen minutes of 65-68 degree water (yes, I measured it several times after my second day of wimpiness and that is the temperature range so far!) how can I ever expect to be a martyr or withstand torture for the Faith, not knowing if or when real pain will end? How can I even begin to properly contemplate the pains of Purgatory so as to do extra penance before death in reparation for my many sins if I avoid even inconveniences (for cold water showers are not truly painful)? A brief discomfort once or twice a day is nothing compared to the excruciating and eternal pains of Hell but it just might keep me and the men with me (and then their families and you) out of it! Please pray for us as we continue these 90 days of spiritual fitness and purification.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Courageously Living the Gospel
Bishop Parkes has a program going on, or, maybe it’s not exactly a program but a project, or perhaps it is better described as a plan for a program for a bunch of projects meant to increase the Catholic Faith of Catholics and to evangelize non-Catholics in the Diocese of St. Petersburg. If you get any mail from the Diocese you see the name of this program/project/plan, Courageously Living the Gospel, on the envelope, on the letterhead and on any brochure tucked inside. It is on posters in the church, on calendars, and on the web. He promotes it on his podcasts and videos. It is in your face so much there is a danger that you just treat it like muzak and tune it out even when it surrounds you. Maybe you couldn’t even think of its name, let alone call to mind what it is all about as you read the above sentences. Do you remember hearing about or attending the Diocesan Family Fun Fest? That was part of it. Most of the rest is stuff we are still planning (we being mostly the priests along with parish staff and a few lucky parishioners) for our individual parish and for our local community or deanery (which is a group of somehow connected parishes, though not necessarily the closest ones). Here are three things which each parish is expected to do at the parish level as part of the plan. 1) One hundred percent of parishes will establish and/or enhance youth ministry opportunities by July 1, 2020. 2) Every parish will equip parishioners as Missionary Disciples who are inspired to invite and accompany others by Pentecost 2020. 3) All parishes will enhance or establish family ministries to respond to the diverse needs of families by Pentecost 2020. We are already well on our way to making those three things happen at Epiphany.
The priests of our deanery have been planning and debating and thinking of what we can do to fulfil one of this plan’s larger requirements, which is a deanery wide collaborative project, an interparochial activity in which parishioners of each parish in our deanery will participate. The project is supposed to address a regional community issue. It should relate to or support one or more of the three diocesan vision goals of evangelization, which are: 1) Evangelization; 2) Youth or young adult outreach; and 3) Social justice/serving those in need in one of our parishes or our area. One proposal is to have parishes take turns feeding the poor on Saturday mornings at Santa Maria Mission in the north end of Tampa. If you don’t know that there is a mission there, this is already increasing your knowledge about things happening in our neck of the diocesan woods! Another proposal is to get parishioners to commit to evangelization on the USF campus. Apologetics and a few other basic means of teaching the Faith to college kids will be taught to interested parishioners by the campus minister, Fr. Paskert, and the volunteers will share their Catholic Faith on campus, where many kids face great temptations to abandon the Faith in part or altogether, and help Catholic students look at their Faith with, perhaps for the first time, the eyes of their budding adulthood. They might also find students with no or deficient faith who are hungry for the Truth and introduce them to the One True Church. (This is my favorite of the proposals, even though very difficult to do.) Yet another project put forth for consideration is putting together an Interparochial Catholic Youth Athletic Soccer League. Regardless of which of these proposals gets chosen to be our “official” project, if one of them strikes your fancy and you want to get involved in it, let me know and I will see what can be done to make that happen.
For the sake of those who don’t know which parishes are in our North Central Deanery (and even I had to look it up to be sure I didn’t forget any parish), here is the list. Epiphany of Our Lord. (Of course we have to be in our own deanery!) St. Joseph Vietnamese Mission. Immaculate Conception Haitian Mission. Corpus Christi. Most Holy Redeemer. Our Lady of the Rosary. St. Mark the Evangelist. St. Mary. Santa Maria Mission. St. Paul. St. Timothy. USF Catholic Student Center. The current dean of our deanery is the pastor of St. Mary, Very Rev. C. Timothy Corcoran, JD, VF. Why would you want to know this information? I don’t know if you do, actually, but since we will be working with the other parishes on at least one of the above mentioned projects, it sure cannot hurt to have at least seen this list somewhere along the line.
The deanery meeting discussions about how we are to implement the Bishop’s plan have been alternating between being very fruitful, very frustrating, very humorous and very vacuous. We all think it is wonderful that the Bishop has a plan for increasing the Catholicity of the people of his diocese. We don’t all think the same way about what should be done about it or in which way to achieve even the same goal. We all (at least the pastors, if not the parochial vicars, who don’t yet have to pay the church bills) worry about whether each project is a good use of parish money and volunteer hours. Somehow, though, it will all work out. May God bless this undertaking for His glory and our salvation.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Looking Ahead to February 2
Although February 2 is still a couple of weeks away, I want to bring this celebration to your attention with enough time for you to plan. Yes, it is Groundhog Day on the secular calendar but, more importantly, it is Candlemas Day (aka The Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary) on the Liturgical Calendar. Some of you have participated in the Candlemas festivities for the past three years we have been at Epiphany but, since this is the first time it has fallen on a Saturday, I expect that many more of you will be able to attend this time. We will have a Solemn High Mass that morning. Mass usually starts at 8:00 am but on this day, like on Palm Sunday, a blessing and procession precede the Mass. We will begin with a blessing of candles at 8:00 at the rectory chapel. Since the chapel only fits approximately 25 people, we will have to be outside rather than inside. Bring candles with you! (More on that in a moment.) Once the candles are blessed, we will have a daytime candlelight procession to the church where Mass will be celebrated. Since the Mass will be Solemn and the congregation will be large and the blessing of candles and procession will take some time, this will take a bit longer than the normal 45 minute Saturday Low Mass. I want you to know that ahead of time so that you don’t schedule something for 9:00 thinking you have plenty of time to get there after Mass!
Because Candlemas celebrations have been largely done away with in recent decades, many Catholic have never been to one and don’t know why we bless candles, why they bring candles, how many candles they can/should bring, etc. Even in the mid to late 1800’s Dom Gueranger knew that he had to explain it to people, as the tradition was already being maliciously neglected. From his masterpiece, “The Liturgical Year” we read (with bold emphasis mine), “The mystery of today’s ceremony has frequently been explained by liturgists, dating from the 7th century. According to St. Ivo of Chartres, the wax, which is formed from the juice of flowers by the bee, always considered as the emblem of virginity, signifies the virginal flesh of the Divine Infant, who diminished not, either by his conception or his birth, the spotless purity of his Blessed Mother. The same holy Bishop would have us see, in the flame of our Candle, a symbol of Jesus, who came to enlighten our darkness. St. Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury, speaking on the same mystery, bids us consider three things in the blest Candle: the wax, the wick, and the flame. The wax, he says, which is the production of the virginal bee, is the Flesh of our Lord; the wick, which is within, is his Soul; the flame, which burns on the top, is his Divinity.
Formerly, the faithful looked upon it as an honour to be permitted to bring their wax tapers to the Church, on this Feast of the Purification, that they might be blessed together with those which were to be borne in the procession by the Priests and sacred Ministers; and the same custom is still observed in some congregations. It would be well if Pastors were to encourage this practice, retaining it where it exists, or establishing it where it is not known. There has been such a systematic effort made to destroy, or at least to impoverish, the exterior rites and practices of religion, that we find, throughout the world, thousands of Christians who have been insensibly made strangers to those admirable sentiments of faith, which the Church alone, in her Liturgy, can give to the body of the faithful. Thus, we shall be telling many what they have never heard before, when we inform them that the Church blesses the Candles, not only to be carried in the Procession, which forms part of the Ceremony today, but also for the use of the faithful, inasmuch as they draw, upon such as use them with respect, whether on sea or on land, as the Church says in the Prayer, special blessings from heaven. These blest Candles ought also to be lit near the bed of the dying Christian, as a symbol of the immortality merited for us by Christ, and of the protection of our Blessed Lady.”
Even way back then he saw that leaving behind such processions and blessings was a systematic way of destroying the Faith and was being done on purpose. So let’s fight back and regain what we have lost. Bring candles. Lots of candles. Beeswax (as we use at Mass) or paraffin or even oil candles can all be blessed. Bring them in a container with your name on it so that you can pick your “extras” up after Mass, plus one that you can hold during the procession and Mass. The next day, February 3, on the Feast of St. Blase, we use two of those blessed candles to bless throats. At least that last part is still seen in a good number of parishes today, even if the pastor doesn’t bless the candles the day before! Obviously, St. Blase’s feast day falls on a Sunday this year so, while we will celebrate the 4th Sunday after Epiphany that day, I will still, through the intercession of St. Blase, Bishop and martyr, bless throats after the Masses. Be prepared for that to take a long time, too!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: My (Hateful?) New Year’s Resolutions
Here today, on the Feast of the Epiphany, I, the pastor of Epiphany of Our Lord parish, wish to make public my New Year’s Resolutions, with the hope that I will be able to better keep them if the whole parish knows what they are. Unfortunately, even Church bulletins are often scrutinized for content in such a way that I had to “clean up” my resolutions so as to fit in with the norms of society and not get into hot water.
My first resolution was to lose weight. Notice that I said “was” instead of “is”. It seems that the mere typing of such four-letter words as “diet” or “fast” is considered to be body shaming. I didn’t know how evil “body shaming” is seen to be until it was explained to me by the Inquisitors. Indicating that a person, even if that person is myself, might be too heavy implies—no, rather, SHOUTS—that everyone who is that weight has something wrong with them. I was told that saying that I am going to lose weight is not only a form of self-abuse stemming from a low self-esteem but also shows that I despise and belittle others who weigh what I do. By stating that I want or need to lose weight I am, evidently, not pleased with just being me. I don’t accept myself as I am. I think I need fixing. I should be able to look into the mirror or at the bathroom scale and say to myself in a very affirming voice, “I am perfect. I am the exact right weight. I accept myself as I am.” Then I should expect everyone else to see me in that light as well. Should someone, say my doctor, tell me that I need to lose weight, I am fully entitled to pout and cry because he hurt my feelings (I use the masculine pronoun here because obviously a female or other-gendered doctor would never say something so despicable) and call 1-800-snowflake to get a lawyer who will get rich (ahem, I mean, fight for justice) putting Doctor Meanie out of business. Furthermore, if I fail to affirm my own exact amount of body fat and instead say that I am going to lose weight, then everyone who weighs the same or more than me can then accuse me of causing them to feel ashamed of their own body and hire that same lawyer to sue the cassock off of me (err... kindly correct me through the justice system). And once a lawyer brings a suit against a priest he also goes for the deep pockets of the diocese, the USCCB and the Vatican. Therefore, lawyers from multiple Church sources “asked” that I not write such a thoughtless or perhaps intentionally heartless resolution. Therefore, my first New Year’s Resolution became, in its second iteration, the resolution to remain exactly the weight that I am right now.
Wouldn’t you know it? That resolution caused an uproar as well. Legal letters came quickly, pointing out that by stating that I would retain my exact weight I was, in a roundabout way, insulting everyone who is not currently the same weight as I am. If my weight is said, by me, to be the weight which I wish to keep, then I am making the not so subtle derogatory statement that every other weight is less than perfect. I would wind up shaming both those who weigh more than me and also those who weigh less than me. Egads! I would be, in effect, condemning them for either their obesity or scrawniness. How cruel of me.
But the lawyers didn’t stop there. Once legal pit bulls gets ahold of something they won’t let go. So they started looking at everything I was writing in my Resolutions article and started seeing lawsuits waiting to happen in every angst-producing word. I was quickly told not to start with “Here today, on the Feast of the Epiphany” because, while the Feast happens this year to fall on the same day on both the Novus Ordo and Traditional Latin liturgical calendars, anyone realizing that in future years they might be attending a non-January 6 Epiphany Mass on the Sunday to which it was transferred might just get their feelings hurt as they assume that even now I am condemning them for not celebrating on the correct date. And if I assure them that, since it was our US Bishops who made that brilliant change I would certainly NOT be condemning the Catholic in the pew, then I would be destroying all of our ecumenical efforts to placate the Orthodox, for they never made what I just called a “brilliant” change, thus implying their dopiness in remaining traditional, should they not catch the sarcasm. (Interestingly, nobody cared if I insulted actual Catholics who follow the traditional date for Epiphany.) Then the lawyers jumped on my use of the word “pastor” because everyone knows that it means “shepherd” and so I was said to be doubly insulting the people by 1) calling them sheep and, 2) as shepherds are almost always pictured as males, implicitly excluding women priestettes from ministry. Needing to be erased next was the word “parish” for evidently Vatican II mandated a change to the word “community” because it sounds so much more soft and huggly. When the lawyers insisted that the not very politically correct “...of Our Lord” words modifying “Epiphany” had to go, I decided to just give up. That’s probably shaming those who persevere, though...
With prayers (or happy thoughts) for your holiness (or self-contentedness),
Rev. Fr. (Revoltingly Fearful) Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Is Aunt Irma All Right?
I want to thank the countless people who have inquired if Aunt Irma is OK after seeing her sobbing after Midnight Mass last week. She is fine, as you will read in just a moment. Christmas Eve evening I always invite the family to come to visit me since I cannot take time away to get to anyone else’s house. My mom comes over and does all the cooking and everyone knows that they may not actually see me much except for at the meal and Mass. Whoever is in town comes by. Aunt Irma showed up this year and went straight to the kitchen to help. But mom had already done most of the cooking and baking at home so there was plenty of talking and snacking but not much food preparation and Aunt Irma felt slighted. She didn’t believe that everything just needed to be reheated and thought she was being given the brush off because her cooking “skills” have, in past gatherings, several times necessitated visits from the fire department and other emergency personnel.
Anyway, she left the kitchen in a bit of a snit and declared that she would just help tidy up and decorate the rectory. After all, only men live here and she assumed that a woman’s touch would be needed. But she didn’t count on Ella. Ella is like a member of the Epiphany Rectory Family. She has been cleaning here and taking care of the priests since WWI. If she ever decided to write some articles for our bulletin, boy would she have some rip-roaring stories to tell. But because taking care of us is in her blood and not just an extraneous part of her life, Ella was having nothing to do with a complete stranger messing up her handiwork. The rectory was clean and sparkly and decorated exactly as she wanted it and that was that. There was nothing for Aunt Irma to do. So she sullenly plopped herself into a chair and barely said a word to anyone most of the evening. I went to celebrate the Vigil Mass and came back to a table set with our family’s traditional Polish feast. Aunt Irma sulked her way through the meal and I knew that I had to give her something to do or she would have a blue Christmas. I got a bright idea. “Aunt Irma,” I called loudly across the table, “could I have you assist me at Midnight Mass tonight? I have something important to be done and I know you have done it at your parish before.” Her eyes brightened and she cheerfully accepted as I gave her a very important, though really quite simple, task.
The Midnight Mass was beautiful. We had three priests (yes, a third one actually did just happen to stop by—as I wrote in almost wistful hope in last week’s column—and agreed to be our subdeacon) so we had a Solemn High Mass. Every altar boy had signed up to be at Midnight Mass but some had somewhat reluctantly agreed to switch to the Christmas morning Masses instead, sacrificing for the sake of others. Great kids! Even so, we had a full company of boys. We celebrated by candlelight and it truly was a spectacular Mass in the externals as well as in the hidden reality of the Holy Sacrifice. Midnight Mass did not have a very big crowd our first year here, which is quite understandable considering how far away so many of you parishioners live. Yet the crowd has been increasing each year and this year we had over 200 people in the church. The choir was, as always, outstanding, but at that Mass I think they were given even more graces than normal and our spirits were certainly lifted up to the Lord as if we were actually within a choir of angels singing the praises of the newborn King. Everything was just perfect all the way through to the end. It was only when we, the priests and servers, gathered together in the sacristy for the final blessing after Mass, that we discovered the one and only problem with the nighttime (or, rather, early morning) celebration. Aunt Irma burst in ashen faced and crying. She was shaking so badly that she couldn’t tell me what was wrong. I was afraid she was badly hurt and I was kicking myself for giving her, a frail, elderly, defenseless woman, that one simple but important task earlier in the evening. You see, I had asked her to take up the collection. Seeing her empty, shaking hands I thought the worst: some thief had beaten her to steal the biggest collection of the year. It was my fault if she was hurt by a robber. Much to everyone’s relief, only her pride was hurt. She had simply gotten caught up in the prayerful majesty of the Mass and forgot to pass the basket. “Don’t worry,” I assured her, “It’s only money! The people will probably be even more generous when they find out that my favorite Aunt made a simple mistake.”
Because it was dark in the church, Aunt Irma doesn’t know who was there and who wasn’t so she can’t track you down for your offertory envelope. But if you want to help alleviate a little old lady’s shame, feel free to send in your contribution marked “Midnight Mass” even though it is a little late. Next year I think I will just leave a little of the cooking to her and have the poison control on speed dial.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Happy Fourth Sunday of Advent!
Nope. The title of this article just doesn’t have the same ring to it as “Merry Christmas!” Still, wishing you a Merry Christmas before Advent is over isn’t proper. Maybe that’s why so many people wish everyone “Happy Holidays!” What they are trying to do is combine Advent and Christmas. Yeah, that’s the ticket. They want the whole world to join in with both the expectant waiting for the Messiah and the actual celebration of His birth. And if that is true, and it must be since you just saw it in writing, then “Season’s Greetings!” is probably secret code from one chef to another, as they pass their favorite Christmas recipes back and forth. A lot of flavor comes from the correct use of the proper seasonings in every food dish, after all. As for Kwanzaa, it is a foreign word (probably Latin, woodenchano) which starts with a “K” which is shorthand for “Kringle” as in Kris Kringle, AKA Santa Claus AKA St. Nicholas. The rest of the word, “wanzaa”, is from the children’s telling Mr. Kringle what they desire for Christmas, as in “I wanzaa doll and I wanzaa bicycle”. And all this time you probably thought those seemingly generic greetings were just methods of minimizing Christ at Christmas. Anyway, since you will be reading this during Advent but you might also pick up a leftover copy of it when you come for Mass again on Christmas, I suppose it is safe to say all of the above. So, from the entire staff of Epiphany (whether they want to be included in this strange greeting or not), Happy Advent, Happy Holidays, Season’s Greetings, we hope you got what you Kwanzaa’d and, finally, Merry Christmas!
Now back to business. It looks like I was counting the chickens before they hatched when I wrote that Midnight Mass might be a Solemn High Mass. It was wishful thinking on my part and it now looks like we will only have two of the three needed clergy for that to happen. But at least it will be a sung Mass once again. But by the time Christmas comes, who knows if maybe another priest will show up unexpectedly? One day we will have an “overabundance” of priests celebrating the TLM again, but I fear that that will not be during my lifetime. Plus, that also assumes that the Second Coming doesn’t occur really soon, something upon which I wouldn’t make a large bet. Last year we celebrated the Midnight Mass by candlelight, which I expect to be able to do again this year, so you might want to read the prayers and scripture readings ahead of time.
On the subject of Mass by candlelight, the Rorate Coeli Mass went ahead as planned last Saturday. We moved it to the new chapel at Jesuit High School. The setting was beautiful and the acoustics allowed the schola to sound like angelic choirs. Last year we had approximately 60 people at the Rorate Mass at Epiphany. This year we ran out of hand candles for the congregation 15 minutes before Mass began. About 150 people received Holy Communion and there is no telling how many more people we had there if you count the multitude of kids too young to receive. I had the day off, so to speak, as I was the fourth cleric, kneeling in choir and assisting only through prayer because the roles of priest, deacon and subdeacon were already filled. One of the altar boys asked what time I had to get up that morning and I laughed about being able to sleep in until 5:00 am since I, without a liturgical role and not being in charge of the chapel, the clergy, the schola or the servers that day, didn’t have to be there until 6 and live fairly close. The poor young man who asked lives out in Pasco county and probably had to be up by three thirty or so (and his family as well) in order to arrive between 5:00 and 5:30 so as to get everything set up, to practice, and to get ready. I’ll tell you what, we have very, very dedicated altar boys/men and choir members, not just dedicated parishioners!
I assume that you read the rest of the bulletin so you know the Christmas Mass schedule but, just to be sure, remember that Midnight Mass begins at Midnight. It is the first Mass of Christmas, not the last Mass of the day before Christmas. Other than Midnight Mass, Christmas will have the normal Sunday Mass schedule (including an English Novus Ordo Mass at 5:00 pm on Christmas Eve) even though it is a Tuesday. The 10:30 Mass might be a simple Missa Cantata without incense like we have at 6:30 am every weekday, though, since most of the altar boys will be at the Midnight Mass and we don’t expect to see many of them at a second or third Mass that day.
Besides that, remember that the Diocesan 50th Anniversary Calendars are available at the back of the church for the taking. Also, Thursday, December 27, the feast of St. John, we will have the traditional blessing of wine and other drinks after both morning Masses and at the men's Holy League meeting in the evening. Last, but certainly not least, our parish Feast Day, Epiphany, January 6, falls on a Sunday this year and is just two weeks away. The CCW has $5 tickets to the big lunch!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: It Is Still Advent For One More Week
With only one full week left before Christmas, things are getting pretty hectic around the parish. Not that you all don’t have to scramble to keep up with all that’s going on at your houses! There are Advent penance services going on throughout the deanery, all looking for extra priests to help out. Most of them feed the priests quite well beforehand. That’s certainly a relief, for it helps to give us a more balanced diet, most of which has been made up of Christmas cookies, homemade fudge, and assorted chocolates and candies. I wonder what people did in the old days when Advent was traditionally a season of fast and abstinence. Were cookies and candies not baked or confected? Made but not eaten until Christmas? Cooked, eaten surreptitiously, and then confessed at the penance services? Hmmm... Maybe that is why those services became so popular! We are also, of course, preparing for the Christmas Masses. It seems quite possible that we will be able to celebrate a Solemn High Mass at Midnight this year. We almost pulled it off last year but lost a priest or two at the last minute. Unfortunately we don’t have the luxury of having three clerics around too often, so we don’t get a lot of practice and we have to re-learn our positions each time. Last week we had two Solemn High Masses, one for the Immaculate Conception and one for the Rorate Coeli Mass. Because of those Masses, we already have some amount of practice. But because we did not have the same priest, deacon and subdeacon at either of those two Mass and won’t have the same ones at the Midnight Mass, we each have to study different roles once again. One day we hope to have so many priests wishing to celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass that these Masses will become second nature! Please pray for it. By the way, I am writing this before the Rorate Coeli Mass actually happened, so I can’t tell you how that worked out but I have faith that everything went well.
We are also still working on getting everything spruced up, cleaned up, and decorated. I really do appreciate all of you who have worked so hard to make this House of God as worthy as possible for the celebration of Our Savior’s birth. Traditionally during Advent there are no flowers in the church, nor special decorations. Those are left for Christmas. The lack of flowers is what led people years ago to begin bringing poinsettias into the church, as the color comes from the bracts, which are modified leaves, not flowers! There is a beautiful legend regarding how the poinsettia plant first came into being. It goes something like this, with a few small variances depending on who is telling it. A young Mexican girl from a poor family was going to see the baby Jesus as He lay in the manger in their church on Christmas Eve. Unlike the Three Wise Men who had brought gold, frankincense and myrrh so many years before, she had no money for gifts. At the prompting of an angel she picked a handful of green weeds from the roadside, gingerly set them down in front of the image of the Holy Infant and quietly slipped away. But the people saw the bouquet suddenly shine forth with bright red star-shaped leaves! This is thought to be symbolic of the Star of Bethlehem which the Magi followed to find and adore Holy Babe on the first Epiphany. Anyway, that is why you will see a few of these plants in the church during Advent and more on Christmas and Epiphany. But the “Christmas creep” which has infected the stores and controls our shopping experience nowadays, has also come into the churches. Just as it now seems normal to see lights and trees and ornaments in the stores in August, so it seems normal to see flowers and Christmas trees and flashing lights and all sorts of non-liturgical decorations in the church beginning in Advent. Trying to remain “traditional” about Advent causes a lot of disappointment among the Catholic Faithful (and even among priests) who want to see all the decorations only in Advent and on Christmas day and maybe Epiphany and then have them disappear long before Christmas is officially over. It seems, since I brought it up, that if we can keep the poinsettias alive until February 2, Candlemas, that is the time they, along with the other Christmas decorations, should come down. In my experience, though, it is hard to keep the poinsettias vibrant even for a couple of weeks. They always get too much water or not enough water or not enough light, or something, and, therefore, die (or at least lose all of their leaves) just before everyone gets to see them, no matter when they were put in the church. Since I brought up the subject of decorations, did you know that the one place where almost every church places the creche so that everyone can see it (the sanctuary) is only place in the church which the current liturgical rules say cannot be the site where that manger scene is placed? Yep. Go figure. But the reasoning for both it being there and it not being allowed there is going to have to wait for another day, another bulletin, another year. For now it is time to get on with the Advent hustle and bustle. As for you, even if it is chaotic, enjoy your Christmas preparations!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Change of Venue and AHG
Last week I asked you to note on your calendars a change of morning Mass time for Saturday, December 15. That morning, instead of Mass beginning at the normal Saturday Mass time of 8:00 am, we will be celebrating the annual Rorate Coeli (also spelled Caeli) Mass (which always begins in the dark) at 6:30 am. If you show up at 8:00 you will miss it (but you could still attend the Novus Ordo 8:00 Mass in the rectory chapel). But I failed to include a very important bit of information. If you show up at Epiphany at 6:30 am that morning, you will miss the 6:30 am Rorate Mass, too. Why, you ask? Because we will be celebrating it as a Solemn High Mass at the new and quite beautiful chapel at Jesuit High School. So please make a note of that address, 4701 N Himes Ave, Tampa. It is so close to us that Fr. Vincent rides his bike from there to here when he celebrates Sunday Mass for us. From here, take Hillsborough Avenue past interstate 275 a couple of miles and turn left at the light at Himes. A few blocks in you will see St. Lawrence Catholic Church on the left. Go past it a few more blocks and the High School is also on the left. The Chapel is the large building in the center of the campus and it actually looks like a church (yes, I know that is hard to believe). Park in one of the lots and walk into the middle of all of the school buildings and you cannot miss it, even early in the morning in the dark. If you are worried at all about not finding it, just get there early!
We decided to make this one-day change for several reasons. We are very interested in showing off the new chapel at Jesuit in case we get to build one. You should all have the opportunity to see that, unlike what we have been led to believe for decades now, it is still possible to build a church that looks like a church both inside and out and has the functionality of a church, being built first and foremost for offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. This new chapel even has fully functional (as opposed to either non-existent or simply decorative) side altars so that multiple priests can celebrate Mass without conflicting with other ongoing Masses. We are also hopeful that once you visit this chapel you will want to come back and encourage others to come. At this time we are training several Jesuit boys to serve the Traditional Latin Mass, which Fr. Vincent celebrates several times a week before school starts. Yes, a TLM is available at Jesuit in the mornings! I am not publishing days and times because the school calendar and Fr. Vincent’s calendar don’t make it as reliable a schedule as a parish schedule normally is (I write this as I announce a major change--for a day--of our own parish Mass schedule!) and I don’t want you to just assume that there will always be a Mass there. But ask Fr. Vincent and he will tell you what the schedule is and when he will be available to celebrate it. As a bonus for the school, it may also get some of you to seriously think about sending your boys there even if you have already written it off because it is run by the the, well, you know, Jesuits.
Now on to something else of note. A number of weeks ago our American Heritage Girls took up a collection of things and money to send to St. Dominic, a parish in the panhandle which had been wiped out by Hurricane Michael. You were so very generous that the girls were able to send a check for about $2000 plus the goods which you donated. Then Mark, the business manager of that parish, came to our parish (his sister Becky is a parishioner here, which is how we had a direct connection to the parish and the AHGs could be assured that the money was both needed and would be spent wisely) for a quick visit and to offer heartfelt thanks. He shared with us some stories and photos of the devastated church and community and the people attending the 10:30 Mass that day got a chance to speak with him in person after Mass. What powerful and riveting stories of destruction and cleanup and loss he had to tell, but also what great stories of people coming together to assist each other in time of need. Another $1100 or so was given to the AHG troop to send to St. Dominic! I loved the fact that he didn’t want to accept money directly from the many parishioners who tried to hand him a few dollars that day, but rather asked them to give it to the girls so that there was accountability for it. Thank you all for your generosity. A special thanks to the American Heritage Girls for making this a project, for making the project work, and for being so enthusiastic about helping a parish in time of great need. It touches this pastor’s heart to see the Catholic Faith in action among parishioners of all ages and means. Please continue to pray for the people of St. Dominic and that whole region, for they are far from back to normal even as we have long since forgotten about having a storm pass by.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: There’s a New Old Mass in the Area!
Bulletin article, December 2
Next Sunday, December 9, something is happening in this diocese which we haven’t seen since the year 2012. A priest, at the request of a group of faithful Catholics and following the guidelines of Summorum Pontificum, is going to begin celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass. Yes, I know that Epiphany started celebrating it in 2015, but that was due to the forced stoppage/relocation of the TLM at two other parishes. This time it is absolutely, positively the result of a priest being faithful to Holy Mother Church and giving a group of faithful the Mass for which they have been begging. Who is this faithful priest? Which parish? Father Paul Pecchie, the pastor of St. Anthony the Abbot in Brooksville has announced a (for now) monthly Sunday TLM beginning the second Sunday of Advent at 11:30 am. Find it at 20428 Cortez Blvd, Brooksville, FL 34601. This parish is approximately 1 hour north of here and having the TLM there will make it much more convenient for all of our parishioners who have to travel from that area now. But wait! Doesn’t that mean that it will be “competition”? Yes, in a manner of speaking. We may very well lose some parishioners who choose to go there instead. But it is not “competition” as in “we must defeat them” or “we must keep our people from knowing about it” as might happen in the business world. This is, rather, a glorious thing, for it means that more people will be able to attend the amazingly beautiful Mass which converted the world and produced the Great Saints of old.
When I first celebrated Mass in the extraordinary form (in Dade City), I expected just a few dozen people to attend. I had no high ideals, no great expectations, and, due to a lack of knowledge on my part, no understanding that the saying “The Mass is the Mass is the Mass” was so very incorrect. I was celebrating the TLM principally because there was a Church document instructing priests to celebrate it if people asked for it, and people asked for it. There were only a couple of parishes where it was celebrated in the general area: in Sarasota, St. Petersburg, Spring Hill and Ocala. None of the priests celebrating it in those places saw my celebration of the Mass as “competition” but rather they encouraged their own parishioners to be there for at least the first Mass and to show support to me, to the community which asked for it, and to the parish in general. About 100 people turned out for that first Sunday Mass! As it turned out, I did “poach” some of these faithful families as a result, as some of them were able to cut an hour or more of Sunday drive time off their commute which, especially with a van load of kids, isn’t something to sneeze at. Even so, their pastors were fully supportive. With that in mind, I want to encourage you to show your support to Father Pecchie and the people of St. Anthony the Abbot. If there is any chance that you can make it out to Brooksville (please note: St. Anthony the Abbot in Brooksville; NOT St. Anthony of Padua in San Antonio!) next Sunday, please do so. If you are able to go, please remember that you may very well be perceived by some disgruntled disgruntlers to be the dreaded “Latin Mass People” that stereotypes have made out to be rigid, unloving, mean-spirited, hateful people who will tell all of the “Novus Ordo people” that they are going to hell for attending the “wrong” Mass. Yes, that is what a noisy few people at my previous parish thought and they scrutinized everyone attending the TLM with a magnifying glass looking for “proof” to confirm their false beliefs. I don’t know if you will encounter that type of Traddie Derangement Syndrome up there, but it will help if you are aware of the possibility. Know that ahead of time and don’t play into any games which may be offered in order to bait you into arguments.
While you are marking your calendars, don’t forget to mark Saturday, December 8, The Feast of the Immaculate Conception. It is a Holy Day of Obligation even though it falls on a Saturday, because it is the Patronal Feastday of the United States of America. Our 8:00 am Mass will be a Solemn High Mass that morning as we honor the Blessed Virgin Mary. While you have your calendars out, you might want to mark down the Rorate Mass on the following Saturday, December 15. It is an early morning Mass lit solely by candles and so will begin at 6:30 am instead of 8:00 am. Here is a description of it from last year’s calendar. “The Rorate Caeli is an ancient Advent tradition dating back centuries. As described by the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter (FSSP) at their website: The Rorate Mass is lit only by candlelight. Because it is a votive Mass in Mary’s honor, white vestments are worn instead of Advent violet. In the dimly lit setting, priests and faithful prepare to honor the Light of the world, Who is soon to be born, and offer praise to God for the gift of Our Lady. As the Mass proceeds and sunrise approaches, the church becomes progressively brighter, illumined by the sun as our Faith is illumined by Christ.” Good things are coming up very soon! Don’t miss out!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Thanksgiving With My Family
Thanksgiving is always celebrated on a Thursday and, like many places, the Friday following it is a day on which the parish office is also closed. Unfortunately, the work that normally gets done during the last couple of weekdays still has to get done, so it means trying to race through all of the paperwork, pay all of the bills, and even print the bulletin before going home to do all of the necessary work preparing the house for guests, fixing the huge feast, and other such relaxing things. So, once again this year, I had to write about my family get-together before we actually got-together or else you would right now be staring at an empty space in the bulletin. Of course, you may have been able to make up a better story than I did!
Thanksgiving morning started out like any normal day. Two morning Masses, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, Confessions and Benediction are all standard. The congregations were a bit larger than normal as people came to turn a secual holiday into a Catholic one. But since we are not cloistered monks and monkettes we cannot spend all of our time in church, so eventually everyone departed to get together with family and friends at home. As for me, I went with Fr. Dorvil, Fr. Claude (who is staying with us for a few months as he works to improve his English for his next assignment), and my mom (and her dog) over to my sister Karen’s house, where the family was gathering this year.
The house was packed. Brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, cousins, aunts, uncles, parents and grandparents, friends and neighbors and, of course, pets, were all together eating and drinking and playing and, far too often, yelling at the television whenever one of the Detroit Lions players somehow forgot, right in the middle of a play, that he was supposed to be playing football. Everyone was having a great time but one important member of the family had not yet arrived. Aunt Irma had called to say that she was running late. She also announced that she was bringing some bishops with her, so we had better be on our best behavior. I guess at this point I had better explain a little of the background to the rest of this story. A couple of weeks ago the US bishops were holding a meeting in Baltimore and Aunt Irma was one of the thousands of Catholic Faithful who stood outside greeting them, praying for them, and trying to ask them some rather pointed questions. Aunt Irma is nothing if not creative and she devised a plan which she was sure would get the bishops’ attention. A grocery store chain was advertising a free turkey to anyone who got the flu vaccine at the store’s pharmacy. So she went to AAA and got a Trip Tik which included directions to each store branch within a few miles of her route to Maryland and got a vaccine and a turkey at nearly a dozen different stores. She made little bishop’s outfits for the turkeys and outside of the conference hotel she set out ten big fat butterballs dressed in pink cassocks and zucchettos (I, um, suppose she must have run out of the red color which a bishop usually wears). Above them she placed a large banner stating in bold letters, “Let’s talk turkey, turkeys. Salmonella sickened dozens and we recalled every damned one of them. We ask less than that of you. Demand a recall of your fellow bishops who are poisoning us still! Your silence makes us sick!” I am sure you saw the coverage of that in the news.
So now back to the story. Aunt Irma did not bring any real bishops with her. Instead, she brought the turkeys still dressed up in their clerical attire. Unfortunately for everyone involved, it seems that there are some side effects to receiving so many flu shots in such a short period of time. Or maybe it had something to do with being in such close contact with such a large group of bishops. But for whatever reason, it had never occurred to her that the turkey bishops needed refrigeration. She had simply kept them in her car on display for one and all to see. Oh, and her olfactory nerves were completely disabled, as she never realized that the putrid stench of rotting turkey bishops, “which outwardly appear to men beautiful, but within are full of dead men's bones, and of all filthiness” (Mt 23:27) not only completely saturated her entire car but also her, its driver. Although she was, due to her clever, brazen confrontation, our family hero, we simply could not allow her into the house, for the fetid bishop smell clinging to her would have been unbearable for the rest of us. So we convinced her to stay out back with the younger boys. You all know that for some reason boys seem to be fascinated with stinky, rotting things, and we enticed them further by letting it slip that Aunt Irma had battled the bishops and had been turned into a zombie. They were thrilled to stay, play and eat with her the rest of the day. (You don’t get to smell the zombies while watching them on TV, but I bet you cannot get that stench part out of your mind the next time you sit down to watch another zombie movie!) So, how was your Thanksgiving?
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: What? Me Worry?
Who remembers Alfred E. Neuman and the catchphrase, “What? Me Worry?” which is associated with this fictional character? I haven’t thought about him in years until recently seeing what the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and Frances of Rome were doing last week. What has come out of the Baltimore meeting could easily have been printed in the pages of Mad Magazine, which was so popular among us smart-alecky boys oh, so many years ago. The Bishops who could not muster any genuine anger at one of their own kind pressuring his seminarians into sleeping with him, who, for the most part, either stayed mum or blatantly lied about being “shocked” and having “no idea” that he was a long-time serial pervert and sorry excuse for a man, let alone for a Catholic Bishop, were absolutely relieved to hear that Rome sent word that they were not to deal with any issues regarding holding themselves accountable for anything. The supposed reason given for this “mandate of silence” was to allow Frances to hold a February 2019 meeting of the heads of every Bishops’ Conference throughout the world where they will supposedly come up with some universal form of justice for wayward, immoral, scandalous and/or incompetent Bishops. Yeah, right. Then, once the relief set in that the can was being kicked down the road and that the one in charge of determining how discipline would be meted out would not be a conservative, moral, Catholic member of their own Conference but rather the one who knew of McCarrick’s exploits and “redeemed” him anyway, they quickly voted down even asking for information about the supposed “investigation” going on in Rome about who knew what and when about McCarrick in the first place. Spy vs Spy Investigation Services at your service, ma’am. The vote was 85-187 to not even ask, pretty please with sugar on top, will you maybe let us see that you are doing something—anything—about Uncle Ted and his enablers? Here is the actual wording of this proposal. Warning, it contains very harsh, bold and manly language as the Bishops demanded action. “Regarding the ongoing investigation of the Holy See into the case of Archbishop McCarrick, be it resolved that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops encourage the Holy See to release soon all of the documentation that can be released consistent with canon and civil law regarding the allegations of misconduct of Archbishop McCarrick.”
What is that, you ask? Where is the demand to see documentation? Where is the manly boldness in that proposal? Well for the Bishops, who are used to writing the most wishy-washy letters possible when it comes to denouncing homosexual sin, this language was evidently just too darn strong so they overwhelmingly rejected it. It was almost as if [sniffle, whimper, whine] whoever wrote this proposal in the first place thought McCarrick did something wrong and that the Holy See might not actually be doing anything but giving lip service to investigating such a fine, upstanding ex-Cardinal Archbishop in order to placate the haters. You know who the haters are: all 85 of the (gasp!) heterosexual Bishops (including our own!) who voted, to the embarrassment of the rest, to request that they might actually see if any real work was being done. Jeez Louise! It’s not like the proposal said something like, “You have refused to answer Archbishop Vigano’s charge that you knew that McCarrick was a homosexual predator and yet you raised him from his relatively obscure ‘penitential’ retirement status to a gloriously powerful position as Bishop king-maker. We don’t trust you to tell us the truth about an ongoing investigation into his prolific and horrific and public deviant sex life but we are open to the possibility that we are wrong. Prove to us that you are actually investigating. Show us why it is taking so long and why you have been so secretive. This is not a request without consequences if it is not fulfilled. If you continue stonewalling and name calling instead of being forthcoming, we, as the United States Conference of Masculine Catholic Bishops (USCMCB), doing what you keep insisting we do and taking unto ourselves magisterial power beyond anything of historical precedence, and looking out for your, our, and our people’s salvation, will instruct all Americans to cancel all vacations and pilgrimages to Rome. Furthermore, no financial contributions or donations will be sent to Rome from the USCMCB, or from any Religious organization or Order within our territory, or from the American Faithful until proper, public and verifiable actions are taken.” All in favor, say aye. Now that’s a resolution worth discussing, arguing about, tweaking, and voting on.
Now, getting back to Alfred E. Neuman, on a (probably) completely unrelated note, (though google search results always seem to eerily know what I am even just thinking about along with what I am researching, talking about, and writing about) while taking a break from writing this article I typed into the search box of my computer “a completely fabricated and fictitious politically correct term for men who show a deficit of masculinity” and got a page pointing to “t***icularly challenged social justice howler monkeys”. That sounds like the headline of an article about the USCCB Conference straight out of Mad Magazine! Of course, that means that nobody but immature boys will find any humor in this article at all. As for the rest of you, just sigh, shake your head, and hope for something better next week. But don’t hold your breath!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Happy Veterans Day
Most of you know that I am active in the Knights of Columbus as the chaplain of our parish Third Degree Council 14495 and as the Faithful Friar of the 4th Degree Assembly 2894 to which we belong. The Fourth Degree is the Patriotic degree and the men work on many local projects, focusing most especially on helping Veterans. With that in mind, I want to share with you an article I recently came across on the defense.gov website when looking for more local Veterans activities in our area. Since this is Veterans Day weekend, the timing is quite nice. Enjoy.
5 Facts to Know About Veterans Day
NOV. 5, 2018 | BY KATIE LANGE
Veterans Day is a well-known American holiday, but there are also a few misconceptions about it — like how it’s spelled or whom exactly it celebrates. To clear some of that up, here are the important facts you should know.
Veterans Day does NOT have an apostrophe.
A lot of people think it’s “Veteran’s Day” or “Veterans’ Day,” but they’re wrong. The holiday is not a day that “belongs” to one veteran or multiple veterans, which is what an apostrophe implies. It’s a day for honoring all veterans — so no apostrophe needed.
Veterans Day is NOT the Same as Memorial Day.
A lot of Americans get this confused, and we’ll be honest — it can be a little annoying to all of the living veterans out there. Memorial Day is a time to remember those who gave their lives for our country, particularly in battle or from wounds they suffered in battle. Veterans Day honors all of those who have served the country in war or peace — dead or alive — although it’s largely intended to thank living veterans for their sacrifices.
It was originally called Armistice Day, commemorating the end of World War I.
World War I officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919. However, the fighting ended about seven months before that when the Allies and Germany put into effect an armistice on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, Nov. 11, 1918, was largely considered the end of “the war to end all wars” and dubbed Armistice Day. In 1926, Congress officially recognized it as the end of the war, and in 1938, it became an official holiday, primarily a day set aside to honor veterans of World War I. But then World War II and the Korean War happened, so on June 1, 1954, at the urging of veterans service organizations, Congress amended the commemoration yet again by changing the word “armistice” to “veterans” so the day would honor American veterans of all wars. For a while, Veterans Day’s date was changed, too, and it confused everybody. Congress signed the Uniform Holiday Bill in 1968 to ensure that a few federal holidays — Veterans Day included — would be celebrated on a Monday. Officials hoped it would spur travel and other family activities over a long weekend, which would stimulate the economy.
For some inexplicable reason, the bill set Veterans Day commemorations for the fourth Monday of every October.
On Oct. 25, 1971, the first Veterans Day under this new bill was held. We’re not sure why it took three years to implement, but not surprisingly, there was a lot of confusion about the change, and many states were unhappy, choosing to continue to recognize the day as they previously had — in November. Within a few years, it became pretty apparent that most U.S. citizens wanted to celebrate Veterans Day on Nov. 11, since it was a matter of historic and patriotic significance. So on Sept. 20, 1975, President Gerald Ford signed another law (Public Law 94-97), which returned the annual observance to its original date starting in 1978.
Other countries celebrate it, too, in their own ways.
World War I was a multinational effort, so it makes sense that our allies also wanted to celebrate their veterans on Nov. 11. The name of the day and the types of commemorations differ, however. Canada and Australia both call Nov. 11 “Remembrance Day.” Canada’s observance is pretty similar to our own, except many of its citizens wear red poppy flowers to honor their war dead. In Australia, the day is more akin to our Memorial Day. Great Britain calls it “Remembrance Day,” too, but observes it on the Sunday closest to Nov. 11 with parades, services and two minutes of silence in London to honor those who lost their lives in war.
With prayers for your holiness (especially for you Veterans!),
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: USCCB Solves Refugee Caravans Crisis!
I opened an email from the diocese this week and saw this: “Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and the USCCB have released a joint statement about the migrant caravans.” Note the plural number. There was a link to the “joint statement” (which was simply a press release) which I will print in its entirety below so that you can read it for yourself. I encourage you to read it, since it comes from our Bishops’ Conference and, therefore, not only supposedly carries some amount of spiritual weight for every Catholic in the US but is also produced and paid for and distributed with our money. You may come to your own conclusions about it but I will give some small amount of commentary regarding it at the end of this column.
Catholic Agencies Urge Governments to Protect Migrants Seeking Safe Haven
Calling for compassion toward those needing refuge from violence and poverty
BALTIMORE, MD, October 29, 2018 – As thousands of people from Honduras and other Central American countries are making their way toward Mexico and the United States, three major Catholic agencies are urging all people of goodwill to speak and act with compassion towards those seeking refuge from violence and poverty.
Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Migration, Sean Callahan, President and CEO of Catholic Relief Services, and Sister Donna Markham OP PhD, President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA issued the following statement:
“As Catholic agencies assisting poor and vulnerable migrants in the United States and around the world, we are deeply saddened by the violence, injustice, and deteriorating economic conditions forcing many people to flee their homes in Central America. While nations have the right to protect their borders, this right comes with responsibilities: governments must enforce laws proportionately, treat all people humanely, and provide due process.
We affirm that seeking asylum is not a crime. We urge all governments to abide by international law and existing domestic laws that protect those seeking safe haven and ensure that all those who are returned to their home country are protected and repatriated safely.
Furthermore, we strongly advocate for continued U.S. investments to address the underlying causes of violence and lack of opportunity in Central America. Our presence throughout the Americas has convinced us that migration is a regional issue that requires a comprehensive, regional solution. An enforcement-only approach does not address nor solve the larger root causes that cause people to flee their countries in search of protection.
As Christians, we must answer the call to act with compassion towards those in need and to work together to find humane solutions that honor the rule of law and respect the dignity of human life.”
Catholic Relief Services is working with church partners in Guatemala and Mexico to monitor the situation and provide humanitarian assistance to migrants. Recognizing the need to address the violence and lack of opportunity that drive migration, our programs in Central America create economic opportunity and reduce people’s vulnerability.
Now for my comments. What a bunch of gibberish! We have thousands of “refugees” who illegally entered into Mexico with the express purpose of breaking their immigration laws so that they could illegally pass through that country on their way to purposefully and publicly illegally break into our country. Our own Catholic Relief Services has been subsidizing over 7000 of these “refugees” (with our CRS second collection money) as they travel through Mexico (that information comes from the CRS webpage also linked in the diocesan email). Yet in this statement there is not a single word about what our country can, might, or should do about the “migrant caravans” as would have been thought by reading their headline, which I quoted above in the first sentence. Are we to just open our borders and let them in? Without a doubt, there will be a third (a second caravan has already been reported), fourth, and fiftieth caravan marching in if this one succeeds in entering our country without consequences. How about some actual commentary from the Bishops on the pros and cons of this and other various scenarios or solutions? How about some actual guidance instead of just saying, “Be nice to poor people”? I am sorry, but if this is the best they can do and they think this is actually good enough for publication and distribution, it is no wonder our Church is in the mess She is in today. God help us all. And, yes, I offer that last line as a true prayer.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Vigano’s Third Letter
On October 19 Archbishop Vigano published a third letter. In it he responded to Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, the man whom Vigano had, in his second letter, begged to come forward with truthful corroborating statements and evidence about the disgraced former Cardinal and now publicly outed abuser McCarrick. Cardinal Ouellet instead attacked him without refuting the veracity of his previous letters. Archbishop Vigano’s new letter is definitely worth reading in its entirety but I want to highlight just a bit of what he stated near the end, when he was wrapping up his arguments. I find this part to be essential to the whole situation and the essence of the problems the Church is facing (or still refusing to face). Below I will comment on just a few lines from his letter.
“In the public remonstrances directed at me I have noted two omissions, two dramatic silences. The first silence regards the plight of the victims. The second regards the underlying reason why there are so many victims, namely, the corrupting influence of homosexuality in the priesthood and in the hierarchy.” It is amazing that so many defenders of Francis (for that is what Vigano’s attackers are doing rather than refuting his statements), will go to great lengths to ignore the victims or to, at the very least, downplay the grave damage done to them on three levels: 1) psychologically; 2) spiritually; and 3) physically. Why is that? They ignore the psychological damage because they insist that homosexual activity is a good thing! Engaging in the sexual activity which “God made you” crave cannot do damage, they claim. These clerics cannot admit that their “non-victims” didn’t desire such perverted actions before they were traumatized by the homosexual abuse or else they lose their rationale for engaging them in such actions. (Yes, this sick thinking permeates their thought and the “blame the victim” mentality is alive and well. In fact, it thrives since homosexual clergy refuse to see their targets as “victims” at all. The sick clergy are simply “introducing” these young men to “the most beautiful way of showing God’s love”, don’t you know?) They ignore, secondly, the spiritual damage to their victims because, as I have written before, they generally have no Fear of God and no belief in hell. Lastly, they ignore the physical damage done to their victims because sodomy and the related sexual actions are just so absolutely putrid that even those who engage in them regularly cannot bear to describe them in any detail. Body parts rip apart because other body parts don’t fit. Excrement becomes a disease-ridden, sexually enticing flavor. Even the smell... sorry, I cannot go on. See what I mean? I think these few comments of mine suffice to show how “corrupting” the “influence of homosexuality in the priesthood” is, for once the cleric has started down the nauseating path of sodomy, it corrupts all of his thinking about who is victim and who is abuser, what is beautiful and what is not just ugly but truly horrendous, and what is good and what is evil. Then he does his damnedest to corrupt his victims in that exact same evil, twisted thought process and, of course, actions. Once corrupt, each corrupt cleric will absolutely cover for every other corrupt cleric, for it preserves, justifies, and increases his own corruption. After entering into this dark cabal, though they despise each other (just as demons have no capability of true love or even friendship) a sodomite cleric will surround himself with like-minded “men” for his own protection and pleasure. He will only “rat” on another sodomite as a last resort, in order to save his own skin (as the law comes down on him) or to increase his own power (by instilling servile fear in other sodomites whose immoralities he could easily expose next) or prestige (receiving accolades from the general public who are fooled into thinking that he must be a “good guy”).
Vigano continued by stating that “this very grave crisis cannot be properly addressed and resolved unless and until we call things by their true names. This is a crisis due to the scourge of homosexuality, in its agents, in its motives, in its resistance to reform. It is no exaggeration to say that homosexuality has become a plague in the clergy, and it can only be eradicated with spiritual weapons. It is an enormous hypocrisy to condemn the abuse, claim to weep for the victims, and yet refuse to denounce the root cause of so much sexual abuse: homosexuality. It is hypocrisy to refuse to acknowledge that this scourge is due to a serious crisis in the spiritual life of the clergy and to fail to take the steps necessary to remedy it.” He nailed it. But how, you may ask, is this different than the (relatively few) heterosexual clergy who abuse young females? Are not clergy who break their vows of equal concern whether homo- or heterosexual? His great answer: “Unquestionably there exist philandering clergy, and unquestionably they too damage their own souls, the souls of those whom they corrupt, and the Church at large. But these violations of priestly celibacy are usually confined to the individuals immediately involved. Philandering clergy usually do not recruit other philanderers, nor work to promote them, nor cover-up their misdeeds -- whereas the evidence for homosexual collusion, with its deep roots that are so difficult to eradicate, is overwhelming.” That’s the difference between “failure” in properly ordered sexual attractions and “success” in “tendencies” and “inclinations” which are “objectively disordered” (CCC 2358).
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: A Recent Question
A couple of weeks ago I was asked a question which I thought was interesting enough to share with you here. The conversation came about as a result of someone reading my previous bulletin articles dealing with the active homosexual and homosexual activist priests and bishops. The reader asked what he thought would be a rather rhetorical question that went something like this: “You are pretty blunt about the sin of sodomy. I bet you never get any gays going to you for confession, huh?” Now, before I go further into the story, I want you to ponder what he had assumed. Because I am clear that sodomy is a mortal sin and, further, that those priests and bishops who embrace it rather than abhor it are evil and satanic (yes, I wrote quite bluntly about that issue), his assumption was that nobody who engages in this sin would come to me for confession. But, and this is a big BUT, except for those approaching the confessional for immoral purposes (which is a much larger discussion which I will not be able to fully engage in here), every person who enters the confessional, no matter what sin they may have committed (or what good they may have neglected) is there with repentance, seeking absolution and the additional graces needed to avoid falling into sin again. This man had not made the distinction between two groups of men: 1) Those who willingly and knowingly engage in mortal sin not only without repentance but, incredibly, with defiance against God’s moral law which defines it as mortal sin in the first place; and 2) Those who engage in mortal sin but afterward repent of it and seek out God’s abundant mercy with the intention to be cleansed and healed and never to commit that sin again. Certainly, those in the first group never come to confession to me or to any other priest, for that matter, for to them confession is a farce. Those of the second group will seek out the sacramental graces they need, as quickly as they can and as often as they need. Moreover, what the questioner failed to grasp is that they will often seek out a priest who is clear about what is and what is not mortal sin rather than one who is silent or, worse yet, approving of it. Let’s look at why they will often go out of their way to seek me out or seek out another priest with a reputation of being “tough.”
Many people who struggle with sins, especially sexual sins and even more specifically with those sins which the world currently champions, have had their fill of priests, first in the pulpit and later in the confessional, who make excuses on their behalf for their repented immoral behavior. They get frustrated with Benedict Arnold priests who tell them that the Church is wrong and that they can continue with their actions without qualms to their conscience. They know they have sinned, they know they have offended God, they know that their immortal souls are cut off from sanctifying grace. They want to confess to a priest who will not coddle them but will instead hold them to accountability, encourage them in holiness, and grant absolution with the proper words and formula. As I explained this to the questioner, he admitted that he had never thought of it that way before even though he has those same criteria when looking for a confessor himself! Why think sodomy is in a unique category? I write about this because I hope that others (you) will understand what happens when a priest does not speak clearly about sin. That is what drives people away from the confessional. After all, why confess if Father doesn’t believe in sin or in the eternally damning effects of mortal sin? More than that, I hope you realize how damaging it is for the penitent to confess something like sodomy to a priest who, from his teaching and preaching makes himself out to be so “merciful” and “inclusive” that he, unlike the “rigid” and “traditional” and “judgmental” priests like me, preaches mercy without repentance, forgiveness without confession, and death without judgment. In the confessional, that type of priest will, as has been attested to in many public stories recently, try to encourage him to continue his sin, either with others or, God help me for having to even type this, with the immoral priest himself. I hope people are waking up to the fact that many, perhaps most or all, priests who blather about a false “mercy” do so only because they are constantly engaging in mortal sin themselves and are trying to rationalize the literal hell out of their actions. Active homosexual priests will find plenty of “action” by making it known that they are available for “service” and no confession is required afterward. Blech. Repentant sinners find that repulsive. They go elsewhere for true mercy. Yes, I told my surprised questioner, many come to me for confession.
That does not mean that all priests who preach the truth always live the truth. No, even the best priest can fall into sin. Too, there is always a slight possibility that a priest who teaches the fullness of the Faith lives a double life and does not believe what he preaches. But when a priest openly and proudly admits to being “progressive” (ie., does not believe Church teachings, especially in the moral realm) nobody really expects him to give good advice (or even valid absolution) in the confessional, either.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Diocesan Family Faith Fest
In two more weeks, on Saturday, October 27, the Diocese of St. Petersburg is hosting its first Diocesan Family Faith Fest. By now you have read about it in church bulletins, you have seen ads for it if you receive the Pastoral Bulletin from the Diocese, and you have, if you listen to Spirit FM, heard about it on the radio. But for the sake of all of those who are just now scratching their heads and thinking, “Hmmm.... I am not sure what Father is writing about. How did I miss it?” I am writing about it in this column, too. I just gave you the date. Now for the time and location. It will be held from 10:00 am until 6:00 pm at Al Lopez Park in Tampa. Where it that? The entrance is located on Himes Avenue across the street from and between St. Lawrence and Jesuit High School. The address is 4810 N Himes Ave, Tampa, FL 33614. There is an app which you can download for either Android or Apple. Just go to the diocesan webpage (www.dosp.org) and find out how. The app will give all sorts of information about the event. Here is a snippet about the app: “For the thousands of people planning to attend the Family Faith Fest on October 27 at Al Lopez Park, good news – there’s an app for that! The app features so much content about the day’s events and activities, it’s an easy way to plan your day and be sure that you don’t miss out on your favorite activities. Whether you are wanting to see the schedule of concerts and performances, view the list of exhibitors, watch videos about the Fest or view a map of the park, look no further than the new app.” It also mentions that “You can also register for free tickets to the Fest from the app by clicking on the ‘Info’ button. While the event is free, if you register for tickets before Oct. 25 at 1 PM you are entered into a drawing for prizes. Registering also gives us information to plan for parking, etc.” So get the app, get your tickets, win a prize, have a fun, faith-filled day with the family.
But what exactly is the Faith Fest? Again, from dosp.org,
The Diocese of St. Petersburg was established on June 17, 1968, and Bishop Gregory Parkes has announced that a large-scale music and faith festival will be held to celebrate the momentous occasion of our 50th anniversary.
“Our golden jubilee is a time to celebrate,” said Bishop Parkes. “Like many families who gather for family celebrations, we want to bring together our diocesan family to celebrate our 50th anniversary. It’s going to be a fun day but also a day of faith, a day to share our faith, a day to celebrate our faith and to pray together and to just have a good time together.”
The Family Faith Fest will gather together families and individuals from throughout our community to celebrate together the many blessings the Good Lord has bestowed upon us these past 50 years. Our greater community includes 81 parishes & missions, 3,177 square miles covering Citrus, Hernando, Pasco, Hillsborough & Pinellas Counties, 118,904 registered Catholic households, over 470,017 Catholics, 3 campus ministries at local colleges, 25 elementary schools with 7,500+ enrolled and 4 high schools with 1,900+ enrolled.
The event is being held on Saturday, October 27 in honor of the diocesan patron saint that watches over us in a special way. St. Jude is our patron and his feast day is Oct. 28. In order to honor this saint and the role he has in guiding the lost to find hope in Jesus, our Family Faith Fest is on the weekend of his feast day!
The Fest will be held at Al Lopez Park in Tampa, which is located on 132 acres of a natural preserve with plenty of trees, Florida wildlife, open green spaces, playgrounds, walking trails and two scenic ponds. It is centrally located between the major metropolitan areas of the Diocese with easy access to major highways.
At the Festival, there will be family entertainment, food, confessions, a vigil Mass, information about various ministries and organizations at various parishes throughout the diocese, bible story-telling and games and entertainment geared towards little kids and some other activities geared towards teens, and still more things for adults. Plus, some Tampa Bay Lightning and Rowdies players will be there signing autographs! Since there has never been something like this on a diocesan scale, I can just guess that it will be like a parish carnival, ministry fair and food fest all wrapped up into one and on a much grander scale. Be sure to put it on your calendar and spend a day with thousands of local Catholic families!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: At the Convocation
Every year the priests of the diocese go on Convocation. I wrote about it last week, reminding you about it and encouraging you not to die for at least a few days. I want to thank all of you who took my advice seriously and are still around to read the bulletin this week. I also want to tell you a little about what I experienced during the week. I have already told you that for me, the best part of the Convocation is always being together with other priests. This was true once again this year. It started out in the normal way. I went to the registration table and immediately was greeted with an information packet with my name on it. How is it that everyone knows who I am? I had no clue who was handing the large bulky manilla envelope to me, yet he gave me the right one. Of course, I didn’t let on that I had no idea of who he was and greeted him as an old friend. We exchanged pleasantries, we both greeted the other priests coming in behind me, and, ten minutes later, still standing at the desk, I opened the envelope and pulled out my room key and the schedule of events and dug through the rest to see if there was anything else of interest. There wasn’t. So off I went to drop off my suitcase. I was on the top (2nd) floor, which I considered to be a sign that I am not yet considered to be a decrepit old priest by those making the room assignments. After all, since they expected me to carry my stuff up the stairs to my room (there are no elevators in the Bethany Inn), they must figure that I am still pretty spry, at least in comparison with the other priests. That assumption turned out to be quite mistaken later that night when I saw a long-ago retired Monsignor slowly, and I mean s-l-o-w-l-y, make his way up that same flight of stairs to get to his assigned room, which was just a few doors away from mine.
Our first official function was Vespers chanted in the chapel. We do a fairly good job chanting together, and starting off with prayer is a great beginning to the week. It is also when we first get to hear the spiritual moderator, as he always gives a short reflection on the prayers, the Convocation theme, and how he will be tying everything together through the week. As I wrote last week, no spiritual moderator was listed on the registration form, so I was quite interested to see who it would be. As it turned out, nobody gave a reflection. The the newly ordained priests were given the task of preaching the sermons at Masses each day, though. That's a pretty difficult thing for even an “experienced” priest to do! I think it was a resounding success. After being spiritually nourished, it was time for physical nourishment and off we went to dinner. At my table were three retired Monsignors, two priests ordained only a couple of years, and a couple of foreign priests whom I had never met before. Like I said, these are the things I look forward to. We had a great meal and great conversation and then it was time for the first talk.
Two men from LifeTeen got up and, bouncing back and forth one to the other, told us of how a particular priest had touched their lives in such a way as to bring them from the brink of being young, baptized secularists, and change them into committed, practicing Catholics. Both were raised about as Catholic as the average Catholic in the past 50 or so years and neither saw any point to it until challenged by a priest. That set the tone for their subsequent talks, which went something like this: priests must challenge the youth to actually be Catholic, but the priests must realize that the youth have no Catholic foundation (because their parents were not given one); the youth of today have no attention span due to electronics; and the youth are exposed through these electronics to huge amounts of information, some of which is good (so they are used to getting quick, large doses of good information and we shouldn’t give them too little, too slowly), and some of which is very, very, evil (porn and other demonic things which older generations never even knew about, let alone were immersed in). They also emphasized the youth’s expectation of instant gratification with no effort and how difficult that makes it to show the value of Catholicism, for to be Catholic is to work hard and to be patient. God is not Alexa or Siri! They gave examples and told stories and overall did a decent job.
After a couple of hours of that, it was time for a little male bonding of the sort that we do at the Holy League. The talk over drinks and cigars and chess and baseball was a nightly delight. The older guys told about what youth ministry was in their days and the younger ones couldn’t believe what kind of things were mandated in the past which are completely prohibited today.
Every day I got to sleep in until 6:00 am(!), commuted to celebrate the 8:00 Mass at Epiphany, and, after confessions and Benediction, had just enough time to almost get back for the mid-morning talk. All in all, it was a good week.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Priest’s Convocation This Week
Every year during the first full week of October the priests of the Diocese of St. Petersburg are gathered together by the bishop for a “Convocation for Priestly Renewal”. Most years we have one priest or bishop who acts as our spiritual moderator, giving spiritual talks as we pray Laudes and Vespers and giving the sermon at Mass each day. Another person or persons will give multiple talks of a teaching sort each day as well and every year there is a particular theme to the talks. Whether the talks were exceedingly great or less than stellar never much mattered to me, for the most part at least. I discovered early on that as long as I didn’t go there expecting to learn great things or expecting to have a “retreat” type of experience, I could enjoy just getting together with my brother priests. We don’t see each other too often outside of meetings. At the convocation, we share meals together and socialize throughout the day without having to rush back to the parish for the next appointment. More and more priests are coming to the diocese from outside the country and this is one of the few places that us “old-timers” get to know them and them us. We also have some interaction with some of the seminarians who take on the responsibilities of checking us in and sometimes shuttling us around the grounds. It is a pleasure to see them in “real life” rather than just on the vocation posters.
This year we have a topic being presented which I am sure will help explain what I meant in the previous paragraph about not expecting much from the talks. I will say more about the spiritual moderator in a bit but the topic of the week is, “Church of Today, Hope of Tomorrow: 21st Century Youth Ministry”. I realize that these topics are chosen sometimes a couple of years out so that “good” presenters can be booked, but the timing of a conference on Youth Ministry could not be much worse. Yet it does get worse. The presenters, those teaching us a “new and improved” youth ministry, the type we need for now and the future, are from LifeTeen. Yes. That same organization whose founder priest was molesting male teens (clericalism strikes again!) and, when he was removed from ministry, went off and founded his own “church” to keep the kids close at hand. (Query: Shouldn’t we treat LifeTeen and the Legionaries of Christ the same, based on their founders’ immorality?) It really is a good thing that I don’t go to the convocation for the presentations! I plan on enjoying myself even while sitting through this. Who knows? Maybe they have a new program and will be incorporating LifeTeen into the Traditional Latin Mass from now on. I can picture the kids all coming into the sanctuary during the consecration and, instead of circling the altar as they used to do at Novus Ordo Masses, the teens will all face East as they... NO! I have to keep reminding myself to STOP THAT type of thinking or else I will ruin the whole week.
So now you know where the priests will be next week. Please don’t become seriously ill while we are away. In case of emergencies like your badly-timed death, I might have to pull myself away from the Bongo Drum Accompaniment for Gregorian Chant course or the Liturgical Dancing to Polyphonic Hymnody breakout session. Wait! Didn’t I say, STOP THAT? Whoo boy, this one is a doozy this year. Back on topic, I will be returning every morning to celebrate the 8:00 Mass and will stay to hear confessions during Adoration as normal, but I will not be here for the 6:30 am Mass on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. (The rest of the TLM schedule stays the same for the week.) The church will still be opened early, though, as some of the regular early Mass people wish to still come and pray, so feel free to join them. If you are a regular at the 6:30 Mass and you forget that it has been canceled for those three days, feel free to pretend that your memory is still sharp but you just wanted to spend some extra quiet time with Our Lord. No one will be any the wiser and you will be blessed with extra prayer time as you wait for the 8:00 Mass.
Nowhere on the Convocation brochure did it mention who the spiritual moderator will be this year. That kind of omission makes me think, hmmm... Maybe Cardinal McCarrick was scheduled to come and... STOP IT! More likely, it is going to be someone with a true Catholic spiritual life, someone with a solid reputation for holiness and a love for priests, maybe a real Cardinal like Cupi... STOP IT!... like Cardinal Sarah, or maybe an exemplary bishop from the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association... STOP IT!... like Bishop Fellay, or maybe it’s going to be a humble priest like Fr. James Martin... STOP IT!... like Fr. Paul Kalchik or Fr. David Nix. No, wait! I just figured out the reason his name is not listed. It is because he is in hiding! The former Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Vigano, is going to be our spiritual moderator! Please don’t tell anyone in Rome!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Our Lady of Walsingham
As you are aware, this Monday evening at 7:00 pm I will celebrate Mass for local Catholics who are associated with the Personal Ordinariate of the chair of St. Peter. (Everyone else is most welcome to attend, too, so put it on your calendar!) Put simply, the Ordinariate is the branch of Catholicism for those who were Anglican or Episcopal and have converted to the Catholic faith and are allowed to use a special Missal for a Form of the Mass which is similar to but different than both the Ordinary Form (Novus Ordo) and the Extraordinary Form (Traditional Latin) Masses. Call it a hybrid, if you will. I don’t say that to be disrespectful and I am pretty sure that a priest of the Ordinariate would probably describe it in much more glowing terms, but I don’t really know how else to describe it in a succinct manner and still give you the general picture of how the Mass will be celebrated. Anyway, since I was asked to celebrate this Mass on their big feast day, Our Lady of Walsingham, who is the patroness of the Ordinariate (their cathedral church in Texas is even named for her), I thought it would be a good idea to get an altar Missal for the occasion. Somebody was kind enough to send me a link to the missal publishing company (it is located in England, of course, as not everything in the world revolves around the US) and I placed my order on Amazon Europe (or something like that). Unlike the Amazon I am used to dealing with, there was no “second day delivery” option. So I waited. And waited. And waited. They had given a quite wide range of expected delivery dates and when the last one was past and still no missal had arrived, I emailed the company. When they replied it was to send me a US Postal Service tracking number and a statement from the USPS that it was already delivered to Tampa and was awaiting “acceptance”, whatever that means. So I got online with the USPS and put in the tracking number and asked for information on the delivery. The next day I received notice that the package was moving from Tampa to Ybor City and would be delivered to me by Friday (of last week). (“Awaiting acceptance” evidently means “sitting on a shelf until somebody bothers us about it”.) They actually delivered it this past Thursday morning, a day “early”. I excitedly tore into the box and pulled out a very beautiful leatherbound Roman Missal, Third Typical Edition. In other words, an elegant Missal for use at a Novus Ordo Mass. Yes, the one I wanted is evidently out of stock so, rather than lose a sale, they sent the wrong one instead. Oh well. I tried. If anyone out there wants to give a NO priest a very nice altar missal, let me know before I send it back!
Of course, one of the things I had to do was research a little about Our Lady of Walsingham. Every place I look which mentions her feast day says that in the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar it is celebrated on September 24, the date on which the Mass was requested. Yet on our TLM calendar, it is the feast of Our Lady of Ransom. On the Novus Ordo calendar, there is no celebration of Our Lady (or any Saint, for that matter) listed. Wikipedia, which is not exactly noted for complete accuracy even though it is often a good starting point, is one of only two places I found which claims that Our Lady of Ransom and Our Lady of Walsingham are one and the same. It explains it this way. “According to the reputed Marian apparition to Lady Richeldis, the Blessed Virgin Mary fetched her soul from England to Nazareth during a religious ecstasy to show the house where the Holy Family once lived and was then tasked to build an imitation of the home in which the Annunciation of Archangel Gabriel occurred. The building structure came to be known as the ‘Holy House’, and later became both a shrine and the focus of pilgrimage to Walsingham. The wooden image was carved in Oberammergau, Germany, and was once associated with the Virgin of Mercy under the venerated Marian title of Our Lady of Ransom, sometimes locally worded as ‘Our Lady of the Dowry’. The popularity of the Marian cult gradually localized the place of devotion as ‘Our Lady of Walsingham’.”
The second place I found confirming this was the online old Catholic Encyclopedia. It included one simple line under the heading of Our Lady of Ransom. “In England the devotion to Our Lady of Ransom was revived in modern times to obtain the rescue of England as Our Lady's Dowry.” So, if Our Lady of Ransom, Our Lady of the Dowry, and Our Lady of Walsingham are all the same (of course, it is the same Blessed Mother; I mean if they are all the same like Our Lady of the Rosary and Our Lady of Fatima are simply two titles of the Blessed Mother as she appeared to the children in Fatima) that makes it quite interesting. St. Peter Nolasco, following a vision of Our Lady of Ransom, started the religious order of Mercedarians to rescue (by means of paying ransom) Catholics enslaved by Muslims and who were in danger of losing their souls through apostasy. Connecting the dots, once-Catholic England became Anglican and is becoming Muslim. Hmmm... Our Lady, pray for us!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Upcoming at Epiphany
We have some incredible things coming up soon at Epiphany. Next Sunday, September 23, one of our members will be giving a special talk on the Blessed Mother, how she saved Europe and Poland in the 17th century. Jean Paul is an expert in this area and has given similar talks many places and now he brings it home to us. He will speak after the 10:30 Mass on the 23rd, beginning at approximately 12:30, giving you time to get some coffee and donuts and head over to the parish room where you will be enthralled by his historical and Catholic explanation of Our Lady’s graces saving whole countries as seen clearly a few centuries ago. We can use a repeat of history!
The following day, Monday, September 24th, at 7:00 pm, we will have a first for our parish, for our pastor, and, perhaps, a first for our diocese. I have been asked to celebrate a Mass according to Divine Worship, The Missal of the Personal Ordinariate of the chair of St. Peter for the Feast of Our Lady of Walsingham. What is that, you ask? Below I have copied and pasted some information about this group within the Catholic Church which was established specifically for Anglicans and Episcopalians who converted to the Catholic Faith. They don’t have a church or priest of the Ordinariate anywhere in our diocese so, according to their own rules, any Catholic priest willing to celebrate an occasional Mass for them may do so. (As far as I know, we only have one family attending here regularly which is attached to the Ordinariate.) It is very much like the Traditional Latin Mass except everything is done in English and all prayers are said/chanted out loud. You are all welcome to attend and see how other Catholics celebrate Mass. As they are fully Catholic, you are, of course, welcome to participate even in receiving Holy Communion, provided that you are properly prepared, just as you could if you attended Divine Liturgy at a Byzantine or Mass at a Syro-Malabar church. Here is the basic information for this lesser known branch of the Church:
The Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter is equivalent to a diocese, created by the Vatican in 2012 for people nurtured in the Anglican tradition who wish to become Catholic.
--Founded to serve Roman Catholics across the U.S. and Canada, it is the first diocese of its kind in North America.
--Based in Houston, Texas, this Ordinariate has more than 40 Roman Catholic parishes and communities across the United States and Canada.
--The Ordinariate was created to provide a path for groups of Anglicans to become fully Roman Catholic, while retaining elements of their worship traditions and spiritual heritage in their union with the Catholic Church. The Ordinariate is a key ecumenical venture exemplifying the Second Vatican Council’s vision for Christian unity, in which diverse expressions of one faith are joined together in the Church.
--The Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter was established in response to repeated and persistent inquiries from Anglicans who over time, have come to identify the Catholic Church as their home. Those joining the Ordinariate have discerned they are truly Catholic in what they believe and desire full membership in the Catholic Church.
--There are three Personal Ordinariates in the world: Our Lady of Walsingham in the United Kingdom; the Chair of Saint Peter in the United States and Canada; and Our Lady of the Southern Cross in Australia.
--Parishes and communities in the Ordinariates are fully Roman Catholic, but retain elements of Anglican traditions in their liturgy, hospitality and ministries.
--In the Second Vatican Council’s Decree on Ecumenism (Unitatis redintegatio), the Catholic Church specified what it would look like to bring all Christians together into communion. The Council said Christian groups would bring their own distinctive traditions to the Catholic Church; they would not be suppressed or absorbed. The Vatican’s remarkable ecumenical gesture in establishing the Ordinariates affirms the Catholic Church’s view that the patrimony of differing Christian spiritualities and liturgies is a treasure meant to be shared within the Catholic tradition.
--Called to be gracious instruments of Christian unity, members of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter are led by a bishop who is appointed by the Pope. Bishop Steven J. Lopes is the first bishop of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter.
--Like other bishops in the United States and Canada, the bishop serves under the direct authority of the Pope to build up the Catholic Church through mutual mission and ministry.
--The bishop is a full member of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.
I hope you are able to make both the talk about Our Blessed Mother and the Ordinariate Mass on her Feast day. Mark your calendars!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Buy a Priest a Beer Day
[You asked for a Lite-er bulletin article and you get what you asked for! A rerun (edited for the day of the week) of last year’s completely made up legend of the Second Greatest Solemnity (behind only Buy a Priest a 50 year old Single Malt Scotch Day) on the calendar. Please read carefully, as it is easy to miss some of my best work if you rush through this!]
Can you believe that “Buy a Priest a Beer Day” is already here? It doesn’t seem like a full year has passed since we last celebrated this feast, yet there it is on the calendar, Sunday, September 9. Not too many people pay attention to this feast day anymore, though it can be found on the calendars of almost all priests, whether they are young or old, Traditional or Novus Oddo, orthodox or heretical, working or retired. I suppose more people would pay attention to it if they knew more about how it came to be an annual feast. So go pop yourself open a cold one and let me give some of the details of this ancient legend.
Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there was a large community of Tappist Monks. They were good, holy men who lived a life of prayer in the solitude of their monastery. They took their vows very seriously and, due to their well deserved reputation for solid Catholicism, they were bursting at the seams as more and more men asked to join the order. Even with a vow of poverty, though, they had to find a way to feed and clothe not only themselves but also those who passed by in need. They also needed funds to build beautiful chapels and hold beautiful liturgies for the glory of God. They needed, in short, to pay the bills. So they had to devise a plan to provide an income. Other religious communities had already discovered, patented, trademarked, and copy-rited their own means of supporting themselves.
The Holy Doublecross Fathers opened universities. They had a competition between the administrators and the professors as to who could bring in the most money. The administrators constantly sought to keep the tuition as high as possible to make it seem like they had a quality product yet low enough that they didn’t have refund too much in the form of scholarships when the token poor kids enrolled. The professors, on the other hand, simply required that their own exceedingly overpriced scrolls, and parchments (and, later, books) be purchased for their own class, and each semester they revised it and mandated that only the “new and improved” version be used. In recent days, football has emerged... no, I had best leave that for another time and, for now, stick to the ancient days.
The Tomdickandharrians simply boasted of their poverty. They put on ragged habits, got bad haircuts, and told everyone how they were simple men of the earth. They really didn’t do much of anything as far as anyone could tell, except boast of their humility and lack of money. But by proclaiming that they could not possibly, under any circumstances at all, with absolutely no exceptions, accept even a penny from anyone at any time, for any reason, amassed a fortune so large that even God could not count it.
The Jezabelwits took yet another approach. They opened retreat centers and preached missions to raise their needed funds. To gain some credibility in this arena, they first forced their men to spend a dozen or so years studying to the point of embracing every ancient heresy before being ordained priests. This had two specifically intended consequences. First, their priests got the reputation of being extremely well educated, since it took so long for them to graduate seminary. Second, and even more importantly, having a Heretical Masters Degree allowed them the opportunity to cater their monetary appeals to not only Catholics who were suckered in by the appearance of scholarship, but also to the Catholic-in-name-only (baptized pagans, as they have recently been labeled) persons who were more than happy to send a lot money to any priest giving them cover for denigrating Church teachings while retaining the promise of Heaven.
The Tappists had to come up with their own schtick. They decided to sell items which they could capture or make themselves. They began by selling furs (they had an “r” in their name at that time), but the terrorist group People Against Anything That Makes Human Life Better (which, in modern English, would translate into either the acronym PETA or USCCB had they not already been taken) raised a stink so they tried other products. Cheese made by Monks appeals to city dwellers, but country folks simply said, “Why buy the cheese when the cow is free?” Fudge appeals mostly to those looking for a good reason to cheat on their diet (“The priests blessed the calories out of it!” or “But it’s for a good cause!” work equally well), but early on hardly anyone was fat. They tried making really good scotch, whisky and wine, but only the aforementioned Religious could afford to buy it. They finally decided to focus on beer, an affordable and enjoyable beverage. “Buy a Priest a Beer Day” was their original marketing slogan so that all Catholics, regardless of which Order they were loyal to, would purchase their product. The Passionless Fathers wish they had thought of it first!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Vigano!
Last Saturday evening news broke regarding a statement the former Papal Nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Vigano, was releasing. I was extremely grateful that I had already announced that I was going to be preaching a series of explanatory sermons on the Traditional Latin Mass. Whew! I certainly didn’t want to have to jump right back into the quagmire of filth which so many our bishops have been complicit in producing and covering up. It was certainly a nice surprise that the whistleblower was such a high-ranking Churchman since his arguments would have to be given at least a look-see before labeling him a kook. Of course, label him they did, quickly enough. I am not going to go into any details about his statement since I assume that you all have read it or at least have read about it. (If you haven’t, what in the world are you waiting for?) But I do want to point out that it reaffirms what we have been seeing come out of the Pennsylvania grand jury report recently. Remember that that report was not (though you might never know this from most of the media coverage) uncovering hundreds of cases of recent child sexual abuse by priests and it was not (though you might never know this from most of the media coverage) uncovering anywhere near equal abuse towards females as towards males. Most, by far, abuse in the report was homosexual in nature and from before the Church took steps to get rid of the publicly accused abusive priests nearly twenty years ago. What the report showed very clearly, though, for those who wanted to see the truth beyond the sensational headlines and talking points, is that the bishops and other high ranking priests of the various dioceses involved worked to make sure that cases, both from long ago and more recently, were not brought into the public eye and, as long as they could be covered up, the priest abusers were not given the same treatment as the publicly known abusers. The Vigano statement reinforced the truth that the cover-ups did indeed occur and that even higher ranking and deceitful bishops, including the bishop of Rome, knew of (among others) the evils perpetrated by the long-time abuser McCarrick and, rather than give him the punishment due or even keep the “secret” punishment already given by Pope Benedict, not only let him go free but also allowed him to help name men to important bishop/cardinal positions. So it seems that we now have one more very convincing bit of evidence that cover-up by—and double standards for—bishops exist.
I have to admit that it has been somewhat entertaining, the way a demolition derby is entertaining, to watch the media and those named react. The bishops reacted as I would expect. They were called out for immorality and lies and they reacted with the same: lies and defamation and obfuscation or, in one case, with arrogance and silence. The media have been squirming, too, and twisting themselves up into pretzels in trying to figure out how to bash the hated Church as much as possible while at the same time protecting active homosexuals and homosexual activists. They would, for any Pope prior to 2013, have run front page stories of his alleged crimes/sins. But Francis has surrounded himself with AH/HAs as nobody else in a position of power. Ever. No CEO of any firm, no president of any country, not all of them put together, have publicly praised and promoted and protected and empowered so many openly AH/HA men (priests, no less) than has Francis. And for this, the mainstream media owe him great allegiance, for sodomy is one of their unholy gods. (Tampa Bay Times: Bishops accused! Priests accused! are huge front page stories, whereas Francis accused! got a very small, second page story, though it is without doubt of greater worldwide importance and shines light on the PA report they had just highlighted.) I say this not to somehow get pleasure out of blasting Francis or the media, but simply as a statement so true that every normal person can see it. “Normal” being understood as “normal” traditionally has been understood, that is, not as it is today, for “normal” today is severely grotesque. Very quickly the media joined AH/HA bishops and priests in doing all in their power to ruin Vigano’s reputation. He is crazy, cruel, a liar, out for personal gain, and has every other personal defect that they can conjure up. They are showing very clearly another good reason “Why Priests Don’t Blow the Whistle”. Archbishop Vigano has had to go into hiding in fear of his life, fearing murderous retribution from men of the cloth. Who would have believed it just a few months ago?
I will end with this. During the Great Flood, the only place in the world where people didn't die was on the ark. Even if Noah had been a lousy captain, anyone jumping overboard to “save themselves” would have perished. The same is true today. There is no salvation outside the Church, which was often of old called the Barque (old sailing ship) of Peter. It is suicide to leap over the rail even if the captain has purposefully steered the ship into a hurricane. A mutinous crew may be doing much damage but the mishandled ship will always be safe. They can’t force you to go to hell with them as long as you remain on the ship and stay loyal to her founder, Jesus Christ.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor’s Mother: A Mother's Point of View
Today I let my mother tell a story about priests, a bishop and a Cardinal the family encountered when my brother, sisters and I were young and new to Florida.
Our family consisted of Mom, Dad, and 4 children. In 1974 we moved to Florida to follow our dream of getting out of the cold Michigan weather. We rented a home, enrolled the kids in school, and found the nearest Catholic Church. I volunteered for CCD and was asked to teach the Confirmation class. Within 3 weeks after starting the pastor asked me to lie to the parents and students about how and why the requirements and costs of the program suddenly changed. I was shocked. A priest had never asked me to lie. I told him that he could have his books back and find someone who was willing to lie for him. We continued going to Mass there and were encouraged to attend the parish New Year’s dance. At the party, the pastor came with his girlfriend. It was very obvious there was more going on than friendship. I was very upset and ready to cry so we left the party completely devastated. We soon purchased a home in a neighboring county about 60 miles away. I felt relieved that I would not have to tell my kids that I quit being a CCD teacher and changed parishes because the priest was immoral. How do you explain that to young children? My oldest at the time was 12.
Our new home in the country was in Baptist country. We had to pass through 3 small towns to get to the closest Catholic Church. This pastor had a strange personality but at that time we did not think much of it. A couple of years later, however, an alcoholic priest was sent to us. He would get so drunk that he could hardly walk and the high school boys who he was supposed to teach had to carry him home during or after class. Our pastor would not listen when the boys and their parents complained. No one could get through. I had knots in my stomach much of the time worrying about my children seeing this behavior. However, that was the least of my worries.
Soon we were sent a known pedophile priest, Fr. English, from the northeast. He was not supposed to have contact with children. However, he was given the children's Mass. Each week he had the young kids come up around a small, portable, coffee table-type altar to give them a homily. Horror of horrors he seated the youngest near him and the older kids sat behind. He had roving hands. He did not even try to be discrete. They were placed inappropriately under skirts and on boys’ legs. I told our children to never go anywhere or be alone with Fr. English and never let their friends, either. Many of us told our pastor who would do nothing about it. In fact, he joked about us being over protective. Next we wrote letters to the Bishop who ignored them. Our Bishop was in Orlando and we eventually got an appointment with him. Because I was working I was unable to attend that meeting. The parents who did were dismissed as imagining things. Anger and frustration is not strong enough to explain how I, as a mother, felt. There were many nights I cried thinking about how to protect the children.
One of our parishioners was the retired Headmistress of an exclusive all-girls school and a personal friend of Cardinal Cooke. One evening she called me and told me to pray for her she was flying to New York in the morning to see the Cardinal and would fly home that evening. This woman was fighting cancer but took the time and effort to fly both ways the same day to, as she said, “make things right”. Late the next evening I got a call from her that the Cardinal would “take care of it.” He sure did (insert eye roll). Within a week Fr. English was transferred to another parish in Orlando. There were many tears that day. This well-respected cardinal was throwing other children under the bus rather than do the right thing. Sounds familiar to what we are hearing now. Pennsylvania anyone?
It has been many years since the 70's and I do not remember our pastor’s full name, the name of the alcoholic priest, or that of our Bishop. However, I will never forget Fr. English, the pedophile priest. I will never forget how it feels to tell my children that they must always avoid a particular priest and never trust him. Fortunately, my children were never molested. They listened to what I said and never were alone with him. When I think about it, it still turns my stomach and makes me angry. I still cry about it. But what must it be like for a mother whose child or children were molested? If it affects me what must it do to them? How could a Priest, a Bishop and a Cardinal let a priest harm little children and not have him arrested? They were all told but nothing was done to prevent it.
Pray people. Pray. PRAY!!! I'm crying as I write this. Cry with me. Pray with our Spiritual Mothers for Priests during Adoration on Wednesdays. Save our little ones as we offer our tears to Mary in reparation for the times we were too busy to pray. Support the good priests and Bishops. Encourage them to continue the good fight. St. Michael defend us.
From the Pastor: One Proposed Solution
Finally. I am done. At least for now! I am tired of writing about active homosexual and homosexual activist (AH/HA - aha! Now you get it!) priests and bishops. I thought it was important for people to have their eyes opened to this sick reality but exposing this “hidden in plain sight” evil is not the goal. Eradicating it is. The current state of the Church can be depressing, even capable of bringing about spiritual despair. But it need not be. There is always hope. A well founded hope, in fact. The Light of Christ will conquer the darkness. The Immaculate Heart will triumph. We know that. But what can we do? First and foremost, we must pray and fast. “Oh, no, Father, not that old line!” Yes. We are battling demonic Antichrists when facing men delighting in homosexual desires and actions and all that emanates from them. Some kinds of demons can only be cast out by prayer and fasting according to Our Lord’s explanation in Mt. 17:21 in every Bible except our bishops’ own New American Bible. Interestingly, in the next verse He once again tells his apostles that He will be betrayed (by Bishop Judas Iscariot). If you have any doubts as to the demonic activity of the AH/HAs, for the love of God read Richard Sipe’s (+RIP) works (awrsipe.com) and the PA grand jury report. READ THEM. They do not detail “icky” stuff; they detail demonic activity. Only once you know the enemy will you see the necessity of fortifying yourself with prayer and fasting. Then you can put your faith into action. But understand this: There is not a single thing—or even a dozen things—we can do which will solve this problem. We must, must, must have Divine Intervention. After all, if every guilty bishop and priest is not removed and charged, those remaining will simply keep doing business as usual. Moreover, even if every AH/HA bishop were removed today, the bishop of Rome (not unlike his predecessors who named them in the first place) would simply replace them with clones. He has, after all, openly surrounded himself with, praised, and promoted those who are openly championing and living the AH/HA life. Mull that over and then pray and fast some more.
That said, Faith without works is dead. Many good actions have been proposed by others already. I will propose one I have not yet seen put forth: help renew manhood—true Fatherhood—among the “good” clergy. Here’s why and how. People from my parish shared my bulletin article, “Why Don’t the Priests Blow the Whistle?” with others near and far. Clergy abuse victims, “neutered” priest whistleblowers, and others soon inundated me with calls, texts, messages, and emails as my article struck a chord and spread via big name websites. I read and heard stories of ungodly horror and degrading actions and reactions. They ripped my heart out. They challenged me. Oddly enough, they also strengthened me. I spent hours a day getting an earful and responding and reaching out to those contacting me. Somehow I fit it in my schedule and even found more time than normal to pray. How could I not? They needed it. I needed it. I think my fellow priests and the bishops need to hear and read such stories as well, and hear them directly, not just from blogs and Catholic news sites, for I am convinced that few are actually reading the morbid details exposed there. So, following and in union with the prayer and fasting, I am proposing and praying that all victims of clergy abuse, all who witnessed or intimately know of such abuse, all who have been raked over the coals trying to expose such abuse, including priests, seminarians, and ex’s of both groups, send their stories, certified mail for proof of receipt, to their parish priest(s) and bishop(s), the papal nuncio, and the Bishop of Rome. I know full well that this is extremely difficult but including your name with contact information will make a huge difference in how it will be received. The bad clergy won’t care, though they might brazenly lie about how concerned they are. The good ones may have their Fatherhood restored and revitalized as they grieve for and with their hurting children. You may not be able to tell the difference. No matter. It will touch those who still have a mustard seed of faith. How can it not? No real Father will do nothing when his son has been molested. No real Father will settle for more guidelines on proper and improper behavior. No real Father will remain silent, ignore the victim, excuse the perpetrator, blame clerical celibacy or “rigidity” or the male-only priesthood, or dodge the truth that our current major scandals (though there are others) are the direct and inevitable result of ordaining and retaining AH/HAs. A real Father will address the real problem head on. He will kick butt, not kiss it.
It is also danged sure time for you, whether you have children or not, to change parishes and schools/CCD if your priest is AH/HA, heretical, or a “don’t make waves”-er. Now is not the time to whimper, “But I don’t have proof...” for that may only come 20 or 50 years from now. Homeschool. Drive hours on Sunday if need be to attend Mass. Quit making excuses. Faithless priests will molest and/or cover for others. If you read the reports mentioned above, you know it’s the truth. These “men” have sold their souls to the devil. RUN!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka