He only shuts up when he is writing!
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
From the Pastor: An Apocalyptic Pandemic
I hope you can handle one more article about the sorry state of affairs in the Church hierarchy today. I promise you that I will not be continuing down this road as it really takes a toll on both the author and his readers to constantly be bringing to the surface the rotting bottom layer of garbage in the compost heap, even though we all know that this arduous task is necessary to produce the fertilizer which the crops need if they are to bear good fruit. So if you can stand the smell today, I promise that next week I will propose a solution to the mess we are in. But first I think it is important to understand how we ever got to the point where so many priests and bishops are either oblivious to, accepting of, promoting, or living the AH/HA life.
Going back to the beginning of the “College of Cardinals” or “Conference of Bishops” in the Church, we note well that there was one immoral, non-believing traitor among the twelve Apostles, namely, Judas Iscariot. He is the only one specifically accused by Our Lord of not believing in the Eucharist (Jn 6:65,71-72) and it was at the Last Supper that, committing the mortal sin of receiving “the bread dipped” without “discerning the body”, satan entered into him (Jn 13:26-27 and I Cor. 11:29). Because Judas then despaired and killed himself he did not “reproduce”, that is, he did not live to ordain any like-minded unfaithful priests or bishops. Instead, Peter, in the midst of the holy brethren, explained the scriptures being fulfilled as they chose a worthy successor to take the place of the traitor (Acts 1:15-26). But in future times up until today occasionally Judases have been found among the Successors to the Apostles and now they sometimes reproduce, making unholy clones of themselves. Let me explain.
In this diocese, and I assume there is something similar in most dioceses of the USA, about every five years or so the bishop sends a form to every priest asking who among their fellow priests they believe is cut out to be a bishop and why they believe that. Holiness, capability, friendliness, education, hygiene, etc., should all be weighed properly. Supposedly the bishop then reads with great care the results and, when the Papal Nuncio sends him a similar form, he has on hand a ready response and sends in the names of his very best priests. Then, when an opening arises due to a bishop dying or being transferred or whatnot, the Nuncio has at his disposal a list of the best priests of every diocese and he presents to the Pope a short list of three exceptional priests who seem best qualified for the particular diocese needing to be filled. Then the Pope prayerfully chooses one and, voila, the best priests become bishops. Unless...
What happens if there is an AH/HA bishop, nuncio or Pope (or any combination thereof)? An AH/HA will never endorse someone who is not either AH/HA or extremely timid. Period. He can never promote someone who will fight against his personally chosen sin of damnation (though, not believing in sin or damnation he would never use such words). So if a “good” priest writes down any names, the form goes in the trash, perhaps after calling to the bishop’s attention a priest or two whom he needs to squash or continue to terrorize. He will only send to the Nuncio AH/HA priests. If the Nuncio is AH/HA he likewise screens out the priests suggested by “good” bishops. Finally, if the Pope would be AH/HA, you can guess what type of priests he would insist on ordaining as bishops and which bishops he would make Cardinals so as to solidify his power and stack the deck for the next AH/HA conclave. This reproduction process starts slowly but builds steam with every new appointment every step of the way. The more AH/HA’s involved, the faster the transformation of the diocese, the Bishops’ Conference, and the worldwide Church.
I assume you all have seen pandemic and apocalyptic movies where a highly contagious disease is at first undetected or ignored until all of a sudden it becomes known and feared by everyone when it starts infecting huge numbers of people. Scientists race to control it knowing that if they cannot find a cure or at least isolate it, a time will soon come when it is so widespread and has caused so much death and destruction that it will become impossible to eradicate or even partially control. I believe we are seeing the second round of panic in this AH/HA contagion among Church clergy. The first time, the scientists (bishops) put on a public display of cleaning it up by getting rid of any really bad priests who were reported to be infected. And thanks be to God they did! Unfortunately, they were even willing to accept collateral damage and destroy some innocent priests, too, as part of their panicked reaction. They helped bring about a general calm as concrete results brought relief but they never revealed the essential information that they had “carriers” among themselves. With new allegations worldwide about favored bishops being diseased and others knowing and covering for them, we now get to the part of the movie that keeps us on the edge of our seat. Will the evil scientists be outed? Will the contagion be controlled? Or is it too late?
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: How Bad Could the Blackmail Be?
If you didn’t read my article in last week’s bulletin, you really should before reading this one as it will help put some things into proper perspective. That said, I promised to continue explaining just what an AH/HA bishop (see last week’s article for an explanation) always threatens to do—and actually does—as often as necessary to keep the “peace” through a reign of fear and intimidation. His own power and “pleasure” (sick though these may be) are his main goals. Not Heaven. Not salvation. Not true love of God or true love of man. Remember that my premise is that an AH/HA priest or bishop has no true Catholic faith. Last week I showed you some of what is in a priest’s file. The bishop has constant control of said file. He alone determines what does or does not go into the file, what might be clandestinely removed from it (see the parable of the unjust steward), and what might be “leaked” from it. The bishop also has complete control over a priest’s assignments, faculties, housing, health insurance, and paycheck, and, to a large degree, his reputation.
A priest who gets on the bad side of a bishop (and that can happen even with a good priest who has a good bishop but I am referring here to an AH/HA bishop) will get the worst assignment the bishop can conjure up. But how bad could it really be? A young priest who insists on preaching Catholic faith and morals will almost assuredly be sent to an AH/HA pastor to “straighten him out” (a very bad use of words). His AH/HA pastor will berate him both privately and publicly and tear him apart behind his back at every moment with slander, calumny, innuendo, and lies. The young priest will be intimidated and bullied as few have ever witnessed or imagined. The AH/HA pastor has filled his staff with AH/HA lay people and deacons and the young priest has nobody to whom to turn. There is nobody to reassure him that he is not the “bad guy” with the exception of a handful of good, faithful Catholic parishioners whom the pastor and staff have not yet been able to run off. He will not be respected by anyone else except God. The pastor will not allow him to teach. Most of the time he will have the AH/HA deacon assigned to preach for him and he will be forced to listen silently to heretical sermons. He will be assigned all of the “dirty work” and he will be always at everyone’s beck and call for non-priestly duties and always under scrutiny. Word will go out to all pastors that he is a pathetic loser and that they should refuse him as an associate during personnel changes. He will be called down to the AH/HA bishop’s office on a regular basis to be accused of being heartless and a sorry excuse for a priest. He will be threatened to be relieved of his faculties or, at best, assigned as a chaplain at a hospital or nursing home. His file will grow as the bishop waves in his face every anonymous, outrageous, deceptive, unCatholic letter from those following the AH/HA crowd as “proof” of his lack of fitness to be a priest. Everything will be done to encourage him to either engage in immorality, quit preaching against immorality, or just get the heck out. He constantly faces the reality that, after having endured eight or nine years of Pink Palace Seminary, he might be forced out after fewer years of priesthood. He will watch as his friends, those good men ordained with him, “flee the wolves” one after another and he will see his AH/HA seminary associates promoted and rewarded. It’s no wonder so many leave.
But why would he remain silent after he leaves the priesthood? He knows AH/HA pastors who have boyfriends, who perform same-sex “marriages”, who cook the books, etc. He knows at least some of the immoral activity of his former AH/HA bishop. How can blackmail extend even into his lay life? Remember the file. The AH/HA bishop will do anything to retain control of this man’s life in order to protect and amuse himself. One example is sufficient: A “good” bishop might annually invite all ex-priests and their wives to a dinner. He will show them that he cares about them, wants to be sure their families are doing well, and even, in a roundabout way, let them know he is sorry they felt forced to leave in order to keep their masculinity and morality. An AH/HA bishop, on the other hand, invites them to dinner for sinister motives. He holds out the rotten carrot that maybe soon the Pope might allow them to return to ministry and, as long as they have been “good”, they can return to where they know they belong. He buys their silence. Even worse, the AH/HA bishop is not so subtly telling them, “I know your contact information. I know your family. I know your place of employment. Mess with me or one of mine and I will destroy you. I will pull something from your file (or place something in your file) and release it to the public, to your employer, to your children’s school. You will be an unemployable ex-priest and maybe also an ex-husband and ex-father.” Yes, they are that evil. Starting to understand the silence? More to come next week.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Why Don’t the Priests Blow the Whistle?
One question that was asked after last week’s homily was, “Why don’t ‘good’ priests and ‘good’ bishops blow the whistle on the abusive priests and bishops?” Many people still don’t (I believe most priests still don’t) understand just how evil the active homosexual or homosexual activist (AH/HA from here on out) priests and bishops are. Not understanding the extent of their depravity and wrongly thinking that they are simply “normal” men who just struggle with their sexual desires and sometimes might fail to remain chaste but are really, truly repentant when it happens and strive to “confess my sins, do penance and amend my life, amen”, they cannot possibly grasp the hellish depths to which the AH/HA clergy will go to persecute, lambaste, punish, humiliate and blackmail anyone who stands in their way or threatens their way of life. Let me be clear. The AH/HA priests and bishops treat their sexual mortal sin as if it is a “good” and a God-given good at that (if they even believe in God, something of which I am very doubtful, at least in the Catholic understanding of Who God is). Nay, more than “a” good, they are convinced that it is “the” good. They will go to any, repeat, any length to force others to engage in it, to accept it, or to, at the very least, ignore it and pretend that it doesn’t exist or that it is not harmful enough to mention or try to eradicate. They do not struggle with their disordered sexual desires as so many others do but rather revel in them. With that as my premise, let me explain why few “good” priests and bishops will openly challenge their brother priests and bishops when it comes to this particular sin. Next week, perhaps, I will take it a step further and write about why even priests who have left the active ministry (mostly to get married) cannot and will not come forward with what they know, with what quite often drove them out of ministry in the first place.
As part of the application process to be accepted as a seminarian and throughout his entire formation process, a man is, and rightly so, asked to reveal an extensive amount of very personal information, including such things as his history of chastity or sexual activity, criminal activity (even if he was never caught or convicted), and his worst fears about where he might fail in living out his vows or promises (prayer, poverty, chastity, and obedience). His file grows thicker the longer he remains in the seminary and it continues to grow after ordination, and includes self-revealed and other-revealed (from formation directors, vocation directors, letters from parishioners, etc.) information regarding his struggles, mental issues, physical problems, and moral failings before, during and after formation, any perceived “hostility toward women” or “rigidity” or “uber Catholicism” or “hard preaching” and many more such things. That file never goes away, even when a man leaves “the system”, whether before or after ordination (this will be helpful to remember for next week’s column). This file is always meant to help him so that by working with his spiritual director he can improve in every aspect of his life, so that he can overcome fears and failings, so that he has a benchmark by which to gauge his improvements in holiness and competence. It is also meant to help his bishop and any of his future bishops understand the priest, to figure out where to place him on assignment or which assignment to keep him away from for his own good. But while a good seminary rector or bishop uses this intimate information wisely and well for the salvation of the soul of the man and those under his care, an AH/HA bishop uses it for evil purposes. How so? Let me give you a couple of completely made-up examples.
Suppose a priest’s file reveals that as a teen he was sexually abused by an adult male. As a result of this formative abuse, he struggled with homosexual desires as an adolescent and into his early adulthood but always remained chaste. Once ordained as a priest he spoke out fervently against the acceptance and promotion and legalization of homosexual activity and other sexual sins. His AH/HA bishop, knowing his past, makes him the Boy Scout chaplain where he will be working closely with the bishop’s handpicked and openly active homosexual lay diocesan Scout leaders, hoping and even encouraging (vicariously, through his minions) him to finally fall to his boyhood abuse-induced homosexual desires and sexually abuse one or more of the Scouts. While a continual perpetuation of this sin is most greatly desired by the AH/HA bishop, even one “close call” is enough for a lifetime of blackmail. The AH/HA bishop will do the same with a formerly active (before his conversion to Catholicism, let us say) heterosexual priest who bucks the Lavender Mafia, though he would instead be assigned as chaplain of the girls’ High School or University for the same purposes, and “seducers” would be sent to tempt him. Think this is far fetched? Don’t be fooled.
“So?” you might be thinking, ”What could the AH/HA bishop do with even a file full of blackmail information?” I will explain more about that next week and you will see why even the “ex” priests are not safe from such evil.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: The Last of the Road Trip
Bulletin article, July 22
If you read last week’s bulletin you know that my Aunt Irma and I stopped by my brother’s house for a day. A strange day. Or, at least, you read about the trip and there was enough that seemed believable that you thought that maybe it was true. But some of you have doubts about the veracity of the whole thing because sometimes Aunt Irma seems just so.... well, too odd to be believable. And right you are to wonder about that part of it! She is a tad odd in just about every story I tell about her. But I am a bit odd, too, in case you haven’t noticed. So is the rest of the family. Deal with it. We have to! I sometimes recount her antics and perhaps, you are thinking, I am doing a disservice to her as I portray her like that for the whole world (or at least to the 14 people who read the article) to see. You are not the only ones to have questions like that. While I was at my brother’s house, his daughter asked me something along the same line of thought. “Do you ever talk about me in your homilies?” she asked, a bit concerned that I preach as strangely as I act. “No.” I answered, “Because about twenty-two years ago I mentioned your mother in one of my homilies and I thought she was going to kill me. I cannot take a chance like that again. You see, the professor in every homily class I took at the seminary suggested that we tell stories about our family as a means of ‘making personal contact’ with the people. So I dutifully did so for one of my first homilies. I don’t even remember exactly what I said but it had something to do with your mother not liking mayonnaise on a sandwich or liking a lot of mayonnaise on a sandwich, or something like that. Somebody tattled and you would have thought, from her reaction, that I had told everyone her confession.” Not able to hold back, my niece immediately yelled into the next room, “Mom! Do you remember...?” Fortunately for me, she did not! But I made sure to not mention that, while I don’t preach (much) about my family (except for poor mom, who is just such an easy target, sitting there in one of the front pews) I sometimes write about them. Including Dominique. Don’t anyone tell her! (And, just for the record, she really does take care of all of those animals I mentioned last week, and she really is lassoing with a breakaway rope. But, like mayo on a sandwich, she may not want you to know that for some reason, so shhhhh!)
Anyway, back to the prudence of writing about Aunt Irma. Since I had such a close call last week with her reading about herself in the bulletin, I thought I would ask her if it was OK. She said it was fine by her as long as I didn’t write about what condiments she likes and doesn’t like on sandwiches. It must be a family thing. So now I can conclude the story about our trip. We left my brother’s house headed toward Savannah but had one more stop to make before getting there. At the border of Georgia and two Florida dioceses, Pensacola-Tallahassee and St. Augustine, an old priest friend of mine, Fr. Dat Tran, is in charge of two parishes. I haven’t seen him in ages so we made a little detour and surprised him. He wanted to know how my Vietnamese was coming along. (You might have rightly concluded from his name that he is Vietnamese!) He offered to teach me a few words, but I don’t trust him at all in that regard. While he was still in the seminary his bishop was going to address a large group of Vietnamese at some function and Dat was with him. He had been practicing for weeks just to say something simple like, “I am so glad to be here with you” and once he had finally said it in front of the crowd he turned to my buddy and asked how he did, if his pronunciation was understandable. Dat looked quizzically at him and said, “Was that Vietnamese? I thought you were speaking Spanish.” No, I was not going to let him teach me any Vietnamese phrases, for no matter what he told me I was saying, I could never believe him. Strange family, strange friends, never dull.
By the time we got back on the road, though, it was quite apparent that I was at the beginning stages of the cold I had been telling you that was going around at the rectory. That made for quite a dilemma. My priest friend in Savannah is a hospital chaplain, and I couldn’t go see him because infecting him would put him out of commission. So I spent the rest of my time off laying in a hotel room coughing and blowing my nose while Aunt Irma explored Savannah with Fr. Smith. The last I heard from her was a text message: “FYI. Dnt wnt 2 get sk 2 so hopped freighter 2 Denmark. The captn is FoaF. Dnt worry about me. CUS.” And with that, my story ends and work begins once again. Cough, cough.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Continuing the Trip
Last week’s bulletin left you hanging in Gulf Breeze. (You do remember what happened there, don’t you?) This installment of the story picks up after the “goodbye's” were done and Aunt Irma and I were traveling back to Tampa, leaving Fr. Emmanuel to finish his exams. This time the ride was much more enjoyable. Aunt Irma was surprisingly happy and spent most of her time quietly singing or humming the theme songs to The Jetsons and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. We arrived just in time for me to make it to the ceremony installing the new officers of the 4th Degree Knights of Columbus. In the morning I was able to celebrate the early Sunday Mass, a rarity for me this past year since Fr. Vincent loves to celebrate the TLM and that is the only one which fits his busy schedule. Aunt Irma, like so many of you, read the bulletin during my homily and was amazed at the story about someone with her name. “It’s a small world!” she exclaimed to a table full of parishioners at coffee and donuts after Mass. “The pastor here sounds like he could be part of my weird family! I hope I get to meet his aunt one day. Poor woman.” Fortunately, she did not make the connection between me and the parish, for, after all, we were traveling and she assumed we were there as visitors. It helped that everyone kept saying things to me like, “Hey stranger! Haven’t seen you at the 7:30 in ages!”
I checked in with my fellow priests very briefly. Fr. Chien was smiling and said he was meeting his people, getting to know the routine, and finding his way around town. Fr. Dorvil said he was just getting over a cold. Fr. Tuoc had been coughing all night long (old convent walls are not too soundproof) and it looked like he was picking up the cold just in time for his return flight to Vietnam. 20 hours on a plane with stuffy sinuses... ughh! I felt sorry for him as I wished him well. And then, just like that, we were off again. This time I was heading for Savannah, where I have a priest friend whom I haven’t seen in twenty years. We didn’t travel very far the first day, as we had an overnight stay in Clermont with my brother planned. We packed a lot into the short time we had with his family. During the day we went out on his boat. David lives on a chain of lakes and we went from one to another to another all day, just traveling around and shooting the breeze. In my days before priesthood I used to be outdoors all the time and had such a dark tan that I almost never worried about the length of time spent in the sun. Nowadays, though, I have skin as white as a vampire’s, as my cassock blocks all of the Sun’s effects except the heat. Since I had put on shorts and a tee shirt I slathered on the sunscreen yet as the hours passed I proceeded to turn from pasty white to pink to lobster red as if I were a Canadian on his first trip to Disney.
That evening we went with my niece to take care of her horses, cows, goats and chickens (these are in addition to her dogs, cat, rabbits and hedgehog at her house). Aunt Irma, who had been doing so well up to then, decided to teach Dominique a thing or two about riding. Now, we had grown up listening to her stories about how she and John Wayne used to hang out together, and, real or not (and we could never tell for sure) there she was on the back of “Tempest” with a rope in her hands. My niece is just starting to lasso in competition and my aunt was about to give her some tips on how to do it right. Unfortunately, she is not as young and agile as she once was and, instead of lassoing the calf, she wound up snagging “Skeletor”, the big male goat. Fortunately for all involved, beginners use a “breakaway” rope instead of the solid one used by more proficient ropers and it worked as promised, breaking away when the goat (which, by the way, was in another pen just the other side of the fence) reacted to being lassoed as he does to everything: he reared up and started head butting everything from the other goats to the tire swings to the oak tree. If he could have gone through the electric fence to butt Tempest, I think Aunt Irma would have been in a heap of trouble. As it was, she was the only one who seemed oblivious to the whole thing and proceeded to run the horse through the obstacle course as if nothing had happened. Tempest, for her part, seemed to have formed a bond with her rider and I think they could have won a barrel race that night. As it was, the goat destroyed the chicken coop, the calf somehow escaped and wasn’t found for two more days, Tempest is now renamed “Gentle Gulf Breeze” and everyone was, for some strange reason, overjoyed as Aunt Irma and I continued on our journey toward Savannah the next morning...
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Fourth of July in Gulf Breeze
This past week I went to my dad’s house for his birthday. We sang “Happy Birthday” and “Sto lat” (which means “100 years” in Polish) and he blew out the candles on the cake. He mentioned half-jokingly and half-ruefully that until he reached his 80’s he had always thought that wishing someone 100 years was wishing them a really long life but now he thinks 100 years might not be long enough after all! As a side note, I had to look up the proper spelling for “Sto lat” and found the Polish lyrics translated into English. I can say with certitude that one verse sounds like something that the men in my family would have made up, yet it was already a long treasured traditional song before these guys were old enough to alter it. It begins and ends as a cheerful song which, like a toast to the birthday boy, proclaims a wish that he live among us 100 years in health and happiness. How nice. But in the middle verse there is also a wish that anyone who doesn’t drink to this toast gets struck by lightning! There are some things so “out there” that you just cannot make them up. Such is not the case with the rest of this article, though.
When I was about to depart, my dad took me aside and nearly begged me for one more birthday present. “Son,” he whispered (in the “hushed tones” of someone who is badly in need of new hearing aids) if you want me to make it to my next birthday, you have to rescue me today. Please take your Aunt Irma with you. She is driving me absolutely crazy and I don’t think I can survive her much longer.” How do you tell your tearful 82 year old father “no” on his birthday, especially when everyone in the house (except Aunt Irma, who at that moment was quite happily inviting some telemarketer and his family over for the birthday celebration) heard his “whispered” plea. Seeing no way out (I wish I could honestly say, rather, “Seeing a beautiful opportunity to show my love to both my dear old dad and my aunt...”) I put on my happy face and called out to her, “Aunt Irma, I am going to Pensacola to spend Independence Day with Fr. Emmanuel. Would you like to come with me?” Before she could answer, dad already had her suitcase packed and in the car and was ushering her out the door with what sounded like a sincere (I see where I get it from) “Oh, you’re leaving already? I’m sorry you weren’t able to stay longer. Please do come again in another 82 years!” This man, who, even with his cane cannot walk 100 feet without stopping to rest, said all of that as he practically carried her out the door, down the driveway and to my car which was parked several houses away. He lifted her into the front seat, slammed the door and, leaning back against the car wiping tears and sweat from his face said, “I’ve never had such a happy birthday as I’m having right now. Take her far, far away and tell her I moved to Oregon if she asks. Now go before she figures out how to unbuckle her seat belt.”
So off I went for an eight hour trip which turned into 10 (and seemed like 20) because of bathroom breaks, wildflower sightings (of which each supposed new variety must be smelled) and an occasional need to pull over for random things such as to stop her from ripping the GPS unit apart as she insisted on finding out how they folded up the map to make it fit into such a small plastic box. Along the way she sang Sto lat approximately 300 times, asked where we were going 250 times, and told me in more detail than human knowledge could possibly impart every aspect of the life, job and family situation of the previously-despondent telemarketer who was perhaps currently on his way to dad’s house to celebrate with the one person who was happy he called. When we finally arrived, since we were running late we had to almost immediately head out to the beach where we were going to watch the fireworks. Fortunately for everyone, Fr. Emmanuel was “fresh” and he and Aunt Irma had a wonderful time as she tried to figure out what side of the family he was from. He, of course, was constantly kept in stitches laughing, not knowing that she was serious. He played right into it, telling her that he and I were twins, and, as proof, said we both had the same name, Father, because our parents didn’t know that “twins” meant “two babies instead of one” and couldn’t come up with a second name under pressure. Right at that moment we entered the town of Gulf Breeze and a sudden look of clarity came over Aunt Irma. “I know this place,” she said in a reverent tone that was filled with either awe, fear, or bliss, and I couldn’t determine which. “It was the night of November 11, 1987...” and her voice trailed off and she hasn’t spoken about it since. You might want to look it up. The time, date and place might explain quite a bit about dear Aunt Irma!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: The Life and Times of Fr. Chien Dinh
This current weekend we say “goodbye” to Fr. Peter and welcome Fr. Chien. Here I will be writing a sort of biography about Fr. Chien as a means of introducing him to you but I have only met him once, very briefly, so I don’t know enough about him to fill this space. That, for many people, would be a conundrum but fortunately for me I can usually manage to “fill in the gaps” with great information I find online (so you know it has to be true) and other magical places which are just brimming with filler material of the fantastical sort. So, without further ado, let's dig into the life of Fr. Chien Xuan Dinh, SVD.
When I did a google search for “Fr. Chien” all of the pages were in a foreign language. That was not unexpected, for Fr. Chien will be in charge of St. Joseph Vietnamese Mission. What was weird though, was that none of the results were in Vietnamese. They were all in French. Fortunately, being quite fluent in French, I am able to tell you authoritatively that Chien is a French dog. Or a dog in France. Or the word for dog in the French language. (Translations can be tricky, so cut me some slack.) The computer evidently thought that “Chien.Fr” is the same as “Fr. Chien” but I could see little connection between two. Perhaps there is a Mr. Peabody & Sherman thing going on. Fr. Peabody and Sherman? Mr. Peabody and Fr. Sherman? No, I just don’t remember that old show having a priest in it. So back to the drawing board.
This time I searched for “Fr. Chien Dinh” and, lo and behold, I hit the jackpot. “Profils Chien Van Dinh” came up as a Facebook hit. But notice that there is no “e” between the “l” and “s” of “Profils.” It was pointing to the French version of Facebook! I can only guess that it went there based on my just researched French dog pages. Clicking on that link led to quite a few people with the name “Chien Dinh.” Some were male, some were female. Some were obviously Buddhist. There was a swimmer and a soldier and a motorcycle rider among the many “Profil” photos, but not a one was a priest. So back to the search page results I went.
There were three very brightly colored images for videos labeled something in Vietnamese (instead of French!) which was, of course, unreadable to me as this is probably the one language in the world which I have not yet mastered. Interestingly, each of the three videos showed the exact same length, 24 minutes and 10 seconds. “Strange,” thought I, so I clicked, thinking, “Maybe these are videos of Fr. Chien’s daily Mass and he is very precise in his celebration.” Nope. They were Japanese anime cartoons dubbed into Vietnamese. That explains the exact length. TV shows have to be exact in order to get the commercials all in properly, even if it means that the story is poorer for it (kind of like a certain pastor’s bulletin article, if you stop and think about it). At least it brought back good memories from when I was a kid watching Godzilla movies dubbed into English and none of the words matched the way the mouths moved. (I wonder if Father gives homilies in that fashion? I would attend an extra Mass and even sit up front just so that I could see that!) I didn’t watch long enough to see if Fr. Chien was one of the characters or if he was just in the credits at the end. Perhaps we will find out one day.
But what’s that next link? “Lafayette diocese announces appointments, changes.” That sounds like a winner. Sure enough, here is something I was searching for. “Rev. Chien Dinh, SVD, will be departing from the Diocese of Lafayette for an assignment elsewhere.” What? That’s it? He’s “departing...for an assignment elsewhere?” No mention of St. Joseph Vietnamese Mission? No mention of the Diocese of St. Petersburg? What a “nice” farewell. Fortunately, that same line was repeated for another priest who was leaving, too, or else I would have concluded that the bishop was saying something like, “Don’t let the door hit you in the rear on your way out.”
But that still didn’t give me any information about Fr. Chien. So I will just have to make something up. Fr. Chien was born in Vietnam but left as a young man when he was drafted by the New York Knicks. Because Google searches were just a little less helpful then than now, the team’s GM thought that young Chien was a motorcycle riding Buddhist French dog trainer who starred in anime cartoons and, on a double-dog dare from the Celtics’ manager, wasted a draft pick on the off-chance that he knew how to play basketball. I would tell you more about his illustrious pre-priest career, but this article has reached its exact word limit and I will have to end it right here so that we can fit in the advertisements. Oh, wait. I miscounted. It has to end right here at the end of this sentence. Unless the average word size is shorter than normal, in which case there is still room for me to write a little bit mor
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Finances and (Unrelated) Priest Change
The more exciting and/or interesting stuff is found later in this article, but I have to start out with financial information. Yuck. [Don’t skip ahead! Read this part first!] The Diocese runs her fiscal year from July through June. So every spring each parish has to put together a budget and submit it to the Diocese for oversight. It forces us to make plans, to see how well or poorly we kept to the last year’s plan, and to see if there is any trouble lurking around the corner. Those of you on the financial council know this quite well and most of the rest of you have some sort of idea of how it works either through business accounting practices where you are employed or through simple bulletin and pulpit announcements seen every year at every Catholic parish you have ever attended (assuming you hear announcements and read the bulletin!). This year we have the following numbers listed in our submitted budget: Two years ago the actual offertory income was $249,415.91. Last year the actual offertory income was $283,084.18, which was a nice bump upwards! This fiscal year the actual offertory income (well, almost actual, since the last few weeks have to be estimated at this point) went back down to $250,330.87. The past years we also met our APA goal (which, to every accountant’s horror, runs by the calendar year instead of the fiscal year) while this year we are halfway through the year and only halfway to the goal. That seems reasonable enough except that the vast majority of all APA money is historically collected in the first two months of the appeal, so it looks like we will not make it this year, which is strange now that we are sure we have a Bishop who actually supports this parish’s mission! What you do with this information is up to you. My goal in showing you the numbers is simply to remind you that the traditional fifth precept of the church (according to paragraph 2043 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, from which I take this quote) is, “(“You shall help to provide for the needs of the Church”) means that the faithful are obliged to assist with the material needs of the Church, each according to his ability. The faithful also have the duty of providing for the material needs of the Church, each according to his abilities.” And, yes, in the current edition of the Catechism the last two lines are nearly identical, for reasons I will discuss when we get there in my Catechism class! And, if you check the online Catechism at the Vatican website, you will find it very different, as they seem to have only the old edition of the CCC there rather than the new edition. Give them a few decades...
[You skipped ahead, didn’t you? Go back right now and read the first paragraph before you get to the good stuff. Don’t make me interrupt my homily and come down into the pew to snatch this bulletin from your hands...] But enough about that. What you give is between you and God. Now for some much different and, I hope, exciting or at least interesting news. July 1 is not only the start of the new fiscal year, it is also the day most priest changes take place. This year we have a change of priests here. No, not me. Father Peter, who is a Blessed Sacrament priest, had a contract with the Diocese to be in charge of St. Joseph Vietnamese Mission for three years. His term is now up and he is moving on. I have not announced this earlier (though it has been public knowledge ever since its publication in the Diocesan Pastoral Bulletin and website some time ago) because Fr. Peter is only announcing it “officially” this weekend to his community. Please pray for him and wish him well if you see him before he heads out to wherever his Religious Order will send him next. The new Priest-In-Charge of St. Joseph will be Fr. Chien Xuan Dinh, S.V.D., a priest of the Divine Word Missionaries. Here is the (very minimal) information which was included in the letter from the Diocese informing me that he is coming, “Father Dinh is originally from Vietnam but has been living in the U.S. since 1990. He is currently the pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish and Saint Benedict the Moor Parish, both in Indianola, Mississippi. He was ordained on May 24, 2008, in Techny, Illinois and has worked in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, as well as in the Diocese of Jackson, MS.” Father Chien stopped by very briefly last week to introduce himself and drop off some belongings. He will be living at the rectory with Fr. Dorvil, Fr. Tuoc (although he is leaving in a couple of weeks for another long stay in Vietnam) and me. He does not (yet!) know the Traditional Latin Mass and has never been in charge of a Vietnamese parish, but is up for the new challenge on both counts. Please start praying for him now and he will get off to a great start!
Oh, and for those of you who skipped waaayyy ahead hoping the really good stuff would be in the very last lines, let me return to the financial report. Gotcha! We sent in a balanced budget. That’s not great since it means that we will set aside no savings but we will have no disheartening deficit, either. Thank you!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
I was recently speaking with some parishioners about the proper time to stand at the beginning of Mass. (At the “asperges” if there is one, and then when the priest says "Oremus" and ascends the altar steps after the prayers at the foot of the altar.) When I first got here, a chart was requested with that information. Many people have since lost it, forgotten it, or, being new here, never saw it. So here it is once again for your edification.
Below is the chart in a png file instead of a document. Some people may find one or the other easier to view on their computer.
From the Pastor: The New Tabernacle
Last weekend, for the celebration of Corpus Christi, you might have noticed a new tabernacle behind the altar. It was a donation from a very holy and generous priest, Fr. Mangiafico. As beautiful as the tabernacle is, it is still a bit out of place, something which will be rectified whenever we can finally find a suitable altar/reredos which will fit our limited space. Once we find a truly noble altar setup, the sanctuary floor will be renovated, making it stronger, perhaps giving us the extra (third) step that should be there, and with marble instead of carpet. Once that is complete, with the altar in its proper place up against the wall, the tabernacle, the place of safe repose for the Blessed Sacrament, will then be intimately associated with the altar of sacrifice which brings the Blessed Sacrament into being in the first place. The tabernacle will also be immediately available to the priest, as it will be within arm’s reach, which is practical as well as aesthetically superior to a disconnected altar/tabernacle setup. But something a bit odd to common man’s current way of thinking about liturgical beauty will occur even before the complete transformation of the sanctuary takes place. The tabernacle will soon be covered with a veil and, therefore, beyond our sight.
Why cover the tabernacle? It is beautiful and covering it would seem to hide its beauty from us, so why even have a gorgeous tabernacle if it cannot be seen? Couldn’t we just have used a (much cheaper) plain steel drum with a door if we were going to cover it? After all, nobody would know the difference. Why spend good money on something that will be hidden? Those questions will be asked, so you might as well know the answer for your own enlightenment and so that you can explain it to others later. First of all, it is important to understand that the beauty of the church, its architectural majesty, its style, its furnishings and appointments (stained glass, light fixtures, chalices, pews, flooring, etc.) is for God’s glory first and only secondarily for our edification. Unfortunately, the first thing we often think of is ourselves. Since in Florida we are so used to ugly, non-traditional church buildings filled with junk (following Judas’ lament on the costly spikenard used to anoint Jesus’ feet, “Why spend money on ornate vessels made of good-quality materials when that money could be given to the poor and plastic vessels are available in the clergy department at WallyMart?”) once we finally have something truly worth looking at, something of such great artistic design that it lifts up or minds to Who is contained therein, we think, “Shouldn’t we, rather than veil it, put spotlights on it and encourage everyone to gaze in awe?” But something isn’t quite right in this thought. The beauty of the church and its appointments, although certainly for our enjoyment, for our spiritual nourishment, and even for our catechesis, is secondary to its primary purpose, which is to please God and to manifest His glory. Yet it is not completely understood in today’s society, as we have the notion that everything must have practical value first and foremost. But what we do to please God does not have the same “practical value” as those things we do to please ourselves or others. For instance, to please God in the Old Testament, the Jews had to sacrifice the first and best of their livestock and their produce. That has no “practical value” as we commonly think of either “practical” or “value.” It is a “waste” of perfectly good resources, things which could be sold (“for the poor”, of course!) or which one’s family could certainly use. But God asks us for our first and our best. The man who understand that God is God and man is not God will, with little or no hesitation, demur to His will, and not even think about keeping the best, the most costly, the most beautiful, the most important anything for himself, including the tabernacle.
In the document, Inaestimabile Donum (Instruction Concerning Worship of the Eucharistic Mystery) from the Sacred Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship and Approved and Confirmed by His Holiness Pope John Paul II April 17, 1980, we see the instruction: “25. The tabernacle should be solid, unbreakable, and not transparent. The presence of the Eucharist is to be indicated by a tabernacle veil or by some other suitable means laid down by the competent authority, and a lamp must perpetually burn before it, as a sign of honor paid to the Lord.” As no other “suitable means” has been “laid down by the competent authority” (even long after Vatican II) the veil still remains the decreed means of indicating His presence in the tabernacle, while the sanctuary lamp shows honor to Our Lord (though many people assume the lamp is the “indicator”!). The beauty of the tabernacle, though hidden to us by the veil, is quite clear in God’s eyes, so to speak, and we make the sacrifice of not visibly seeing the sacred vessel, for inside of it Our Lord has chosen to veil Himself from our eyes in the guise of Bread. The hidden beauty of the container is a reminder of the even greater hidden beauty of the Contained. Do you long to see the beauty of the tabernacle? Good! Long to see the Beauty of Christ Jesus in all His Divine Majesty and Splendor even more. Become a Saint and all will be revealed. Thus ends the liturgical lesson.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: I Survived Alberto!
Dateline: Tampa, Florida. May 28, 2018. Memorial Day. Oh, that great and terrible day! It all started a couple of days earlier with a few clouds forming as a low pressure system lazily organized in the Gulf of Mexico. News channels lit up with alarmed but somehow gleeful weathermen and weatherchicks (spell check doesn’t accept either “weatherwomen” or “weathergirls” but didn’t flag “weatherchicks” when I tried that on a lark. Go figure.) and pointing to amazing high tech screens with diagrams of winds, gusts, rainfall and lightning strike predictions in multiple colors and, of course, 3D imagining. “Do not worry!” they all said as if reading from the same script, “Just because we are getting a storm this early in the year doesn’t necessarily mean that we are all going to die.” Oh, what a relief that statement was! But then, I suppose maybe just because there is no sports news now that the Tampa Bay Lightning failed to reach the Stanley Cup finals and the Rays management seems to have spent too many hours in Ybor City after hours, the cameras didn’t cut away from the weatherpeoples (I’ll figure out what to call them sometime). So, with the cameras still rolling and time to kill, each weather expert kept prattling on and on about weather disasters of the past and then turned to possible future catastrophes until they were all of one accord that sanity in this “situation” was just too boring. So they continued, “But then again, maybe this really is the Great AlGorian Apocalypse™ we have been warning about ever since we discovered that by bowing to the peer pressure of Core Curriculum Science we could receive accolades, power, and prestige, plus get oodles of Federal grant money for promoting Global Warming/Cooling/Change-of-any-sort Hysteria™!” Somehow the new script got passed around to each station and soon the message became, “We have never, ever, neverever seen even a rainstorm occur in May until Manmade Greenhouse Gases™ (notice how there is never a demand to use “inclusive” language in that phrase) were produced by the two most evil inventions ever to emerge from mad scientists’ scary laboratories, namely the internal combustion engine and cow flatulence. Now we are all doomed. Doooomed...”
By the time the weekend had ended, almost all of Florida was closed down. For instance, all outdoor events in Tampa were canceled on Sunday due to us receiving only approximately 10 hours of sunshine that day. Then came that dreadful Monday morning and the predicted worst-case scenario was upon us. Things were so bad and I was so panicked about the Great Rain Event™ that I almost took an umbrella with me as I walked from the rectory to the church to celebrate morning Mass. We were not sure how it happened but somehow everyone who came to church that morning survived the next couple of hours of frantic and frenetic prayer. “Perhaps,” someone in the still-terrified congregation mused, “we didn’t drown because our church building, like the Church, which has often been seen as a New Ark, physically rose up when the devastating storm surge wiped out all of our city and we, like Noah’s family of old, are the only survivors.” As we all raced to the door to peek out, we half expected to see nothing but waves crashing around us. To our great surprise and relief, though, even the ground, grass, trees, roads, and other buildings seemed to be floating on the floodwaters along with the church, so we all, taking great risks and braving the invisible storm, went home. The parishioners were blessed to be driving cars so they were probably oblivious to the dangers I faced while walking. I was completely exposed to the elements and had to struggle mightily to brace myself against the oncoming 3 mph winds, with gusts up to (it still give me chills as I put this memory in writing) 5 or 6 mph. All I could think of, once I finally battled the elements and arrived safely home, was that God must have some special plan for me to allow me to survive the storm thus far. But I knew that I was not out of danger yet. I immediately went to turn on the TV and stared at the screen for the next twelve hours or so, hanging desperately onto every word uttered by the weather gurus (yeah, maybe that’s the word I was looking for) and “sending good thoughts” to my fellow Tampanians (a much better descriptive word for the city dwellers than “Tampans”) who might not be so fortunate as to be hypnotically hanging on to every word of the dire warnings of “doom, doooom...”. Those poor, ignorant people who had not paid any attention to the weather forecast were stuck spending Memorial Day outside, someplace like the Veteran’s Memorial Park, praying for our deceased military vets, grilling hotdogs, playing with the kids and being completely oblivious to the great disaster which Subtropical Storm Alberto was wreaking upon them. Even though it was a painful experience for them, I sure hope they learned their lesson!
To all of the other Alberto survivors out there, I salute you. And, as a well-deserved (though postponed due to inclement weather) Memorial Day gift to all who gave their lives defending this country so that I would have even seemingly trivial freedoms such as the ability to publish this ridiculous church bulletin article, please pray along with me: Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual Light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen. May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Martyred for Wearing a Cassock!
On April 13 of this year, a number of news stories came out about a young seminarian who was martyred on that date in 1945 and is now a “Blessed”. The stories erroneously, as far as I can now tell, said that the thirteenth was his feast day. It was, rather, the date of his death. His actual feast day is set for this coming week, Tuesday, May 29, the date of the translation (moving) of his relics from his grave near where he was tortured and murdered to the cemetery of his hometown church after Italy’s Liberation. The April date would have conflicted too often with Holy Week, hence the practical change to this other important date, something which is not unusual in cases of liturgical conflicts such as this. I bring him up because I have a particular affinity for him. A couple of years ago I wrote a bulletin article about Blessed Rolando, which I will present below (with a few slight edits) and I believe you will see why I am drawn to him.
On October 5, 2013, a beatification ceremony took place. The Bishop of Rome, Francis, in commenting the next day about it said, “Yesterday in Modena (Italy) Rolando Rivi was beatified. He was a seminarian of that region, Emilia, who was killed in 1945, when he was 14, because of hatred for his faith, guilty only of wearing a cassock during that time of raging violence against the clergy, who spoke out to condemn in the name of God the postwar massacres” (emphasis mine). Since I wear a cassock most of the time, Francis’ words caught my attention! Those who hate Catholic Church's moral teachings, be they the communists and socialists who killed Blessed Rolando or “progressive” Catholics (including laity, Religious, Priests and even Bishops) to this day absolutely hate cassocks and those who wear them. Blessed Rolando experienced this hatred in perhaps its most violent form. I have culled the following information from several sources on the web. Go find more. You will not be disappointed.
Rivi discovered his vocation very early and entered the seminary when he was only 11 years old. At that time, all seminarians wore cassocks, and so did he. The Rector, Msgr. Luigi Bronzoni, would explain to the seminarians that they had to be very careful not to associate with bad companions and occasions of sin, but moreover they had the obligation to distinguish themselves by prayer and service in the parish, in study and in purity, in good works and dedication to the Lord. “Even in vacations--he used to recommend--the seminarians must always wear the cassock which is the sign of our belonging to Jesus.” Rolando wore his cassock and white collar with pride, even in vacations in the hot month of summer. Some of his peers who normally sought comfort didn’t wear the cassock and even some of his relatives told him: “You are on vacations, take off your cassock, be freer to move and play…” He answered: “I don’t have to take my cassock off, I can’t, it is the sign that I belong to Jesus!”
His cassock was not for him a human or social barrier for relationships with others. It was not an impediment for the development of his activities, even the recreational ones. Everyone knew how affectionate he was to his cassock. He wore it always. It was very common to see him walking the streets of San Valentino, normally going towards the Church alone or with others, always smiling in peace, ready to say hello to everyone, always with his austere cassock. Everyone used to see the young seminarian walking in the streets, everyone knew his lifestyle, he was known as: “The little priest.” His parents used to tell him: “Don’t wear the cassock, at least don’t wear it during these times…” They used to explain that it was not prudent to wear it in such unstable moments. But Rolando used to answer: “But why, what is so wrong with me wearing it? I don’t have any reason not to wear it. I am studying to be a priest and this cassock is the sign that I belong to Jesus.”
The communist and socialist partisans noticed the kid wearing the cassock, too, and hated him for it. Kidnapped and stripped of his cassock, Rivi was imprisoned and tortured by partisans for three days. Some of the partisans proposed to let him go, since he was only a young boy. But the majority sentenced him to death, in order to have “one less future priest.” On April 13, Rivi was taken to a forest in the surroundings of Modena. The partisans dug a grave and had Rivi kneel on its edge. While he was praying, the young seminarian was killed by gunshots to the heart and head. His cassock was rolled into a ball, kicked around and then hung as a war trophy in the front door of a house.
Blessed Rolando Maria Rivi, martyr for wearing the cassock, pray for those of us who wear cassocks and for those who hate us for doing so.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Too Old to be a Religious Sister?
Throughout my priesthood, I have had many conversations with “older” women about how they felt called to the religious life but were turned away because they were too old. These older women ranged from their mid-thirties through probably their sixties when they finally tried to join an order or to at least (and at last) speak with someone seriously about doing so. I have sent quite a few of them to the diocesan vocations office, who turned them over to the “Vicar for Religious”. Never have any of them been matched up with an order of Religious Sisters who accept older vocations. Because of my cynical nature I am able to come up with quite of few scenarios in my mind as to why, over and over again, holy, prayerful, and faithful Catholic women would either be out and out discouraged from entering Religious Life late in life or else be pointed only to dying “hippie-protestant type” Religious communities and told that those are their only options, but I won’t go there at this time. Instead, I want to simply ignore what anyone else has done or said and simply ask that if there are any “older” women reading this who think/thought that they may be called to a Religious LIfe to contact me.
Why? I don’t know. What is the purpose? I am not sure. So why put the word out about this? Simply because. I have met a few women again recently with stories about how they feel greatly called to enter Religious Life and yet they don’t know what to do. They are “older” and have been told by family, friends and even priests and Sisters that it is just too late. The only orders that they were pointed to which took older vocations are more proud of not wearing habits than they are of being truly Catholic. I recently told one woman that I would be glad to try to put her in touch with another woman in the same boat so that they could at least see that they were not alone in this heartfelt desire and then, before that went anywhere, I was speaking with yet another woman on a completely different topic and somewhere in the conversation she blurted out a similar exasperated statement, “I always knew I should have been a nun!” And she was serious. How many more of you are out there? Let’s find out.
This is a call, a plea, an invitation, or whatever you want to call it, to any ladies who are in the same boat to get in touch with me (and with each other). Let’s see where it will lead, what can be done under the circumstances, and, hopefully, find out what to do about an authentic call to an “impossible” situation. Who should contact me? Well, let’s start out with the basics. You must be female. Yes, I know that is sexist and discriminatory. But this is for women who know that they are women. You “need not apply” if you are a male with some odd notion of “gender fluidity” and all of its various permutations. Discrimination based on sex is not evil in and of itself, believe it or not! You must be single. Truly single. Not married and legally divorced but still under the obligation of “‘til death do us part”. You must not have dependent children. You must honestly and sincerely feel called to Religious Life (which does not mean that you have a true calling, which is what a discernment process is supposed to examine more closely) rather than just being lonely and wishing that you had someone(s) to talk to or live with. As for age, well, since the “younger” ones can and should be looking in other areas, let’s say that “older” for our purposes starts at 35 and ends with the day before death. Next, you must be longing for a Catholic Religious Life, not a “catholic” (mostly in name only) community of social justice warriors who happen to every once in a while, when it seems convenient, pray to a non-masculine pronoun bearing god. Those who want the latter can already find acceptance in any number of “Religious” orders already, and, even if age 65, would be among the youngest in the coven, oops, I mean convent.
On May 8, the feast of Our Lady, Mediatrix of All Graces, it became very clear to me that I was to make this invitation right away, rather than to think it through first. For me, getting this message out two weeks later is still pretty quick! What the next step is will be determined by who, if anyone, responds and what their situation in life is. So put out the word. Email me at “FatherPalka@EpiphanyTampa.com” (without the quotation marks, of course). Give me a little background information to show that you actually read what I wrote and are responding to it. And, if you are able to make it, come to Epiphany for the 10:30 Mass on June 3, the External Solemnity of Corpus Christi. We will get together to talk right after the Eucharistic Procession that day. Our Lady, pray for us!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Met Gay-La-Di-Da: Heads (Collars) Should Roll
The Met Gala clearly shows that reality is not found in the “Catholic” leaders of the Jesuits or New York or Rome. I didn’t want to write about such a blasphemous event but after reading the May 3 New York Times article, “How The Met Got The Vatican’s Vestments” I knew I couldn’t just shrug it off with, “Well, what do you expect from Cardinal ‘Bravo to Sodomy’ Dolan and Father James Martin, LGBTSJ?” For various and sundry reasons I already believe that both of these men are a disgrace to the priesthood and have no business being in the positions they are in. It is one thing to make occasional mistakes, to speak in less than clear ways on the faith (especially when speaking off the cuff while being interviewed, for instance) or just plain getting part of Church teaching wrong and later having to correct oneself. It is another thing completely when it becomes clear that a cardinal or priest actively promotes mortal sin on a regular basis under a variety of circumstances and is publicly proud of leading the flock astray. But to find out that “Andrew Bolton, curator in charge of the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art” and one of the main instigators of the Gay-la-di-da met often enough (10 times) with the staff of the Sistine Chapel that that “they entrusted him with the hidden chamber’s keys and opened secret doors, behind which elderly nuns ironed the pope’s white vestments.” means that this story’s villains reach even further into the Church and must be addressed.
Mr Bolton met with multiple high ranking officials and, after explaining exactly what nefarious use was going to be made of the sacred vestments, was given the green light to take with him “more than 40” pieces “including a papal tiara with 19,000 precious stones, including 18,000 diamonds” which was valuable enough monetarily (though obviously nobody saw any spiritual value to it) that is had to “fly to New York with its own bodyguard” to be used profanely to put on a show mocking Catholicism. Who was it that ultimately gave the thumbs up to this atrocity? “Msgr. Guido Marini, the papal master of liturgical celebrations and the keeper of the sacristy” who was only approached after gaining the approval of Archbishop Georg Gänswein, Prefect of the Papal Household and personal secretary to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. Both of these high-ranking Churchmen should be disciplined immediately. The priest in charge of the Sistine Chapel sacristy, who sent Mr. Bolton to Archbishop Gänswein in the first place is the only one in the Times story who, perhaps, was not on board with the whole thing. Everybody else seems to have been gung-ho about the lampooning of Catholic ecclesial “fashion”, showing a complete lack of Catholicity. No guilty party, cleric or lay, should be left in positions of authority.
I generally don’t like to tell anyone who should be disciplined and who should not be, especially when I am not directly involved. After all, I myself have often been unjustly disciplined but just as often gone undisciplined when I fully deserved it and I generally wouldn’t want people sticking their nose into my business on at least one side of that equation! But the Met Gala is worldwide news and this public scandal (I see no way of a real Catholic seeing this as anything lesser than a scandal) is bringing me questions from the faithful even though I am just a parish priest many states removed from New York and certainly even further removed from Rome. The questions it brings are not minor but rather have considerable, perhaps eternal, ramifications. [How is this proper? Am I wrong to be appalled when even the Cardinal attends and enjoys such a “sexy” show? I see this as a mockery of my Catholic Faith but Rome sent the vestments and even the Sistine Chapel Choir to sing alongside Madonna. Am I too Catholic? Is this even the true Church anymore? Why doesn’t somebody do something? etc.,] For this reason I want each of you to know that there is at least one priest you know (there are some --many?-- on the blogosphere stating the Truth, thanks be to God, but you probably don’t know them personally) who will publicly state that heads (and collars) should roll over this. Enough is enough. This is the Church, not a carnival. It was founded by Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity and Savior of mankind, as His Church, not just any old organization which can be run according to the whims of aging hippies and blatantly immoral and unbelieving false shepherds. Sacred vestments and other objects are just that, sacred, and are to be treated with reverence rather than sacrilegiously used to model fashion symbols of rampant immoral perversity and irreligion. Who should do the disciplining? The Bishop of Rome, who himself approved so many other such scandalous events such as tuning St. Peter’s into a projection screen for a piece of global warming propaganda. I won’t hold my breath waiting for a correction to these actions, but at least you know that your pastor is as disgusted as you hopefully are by the blatant gaslighting being done by “powerful” Church leaders. God help us all.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Alfie is Dead
I am going to simply post here today an article from one of my favorite blogs, One Mad Mom. This was written April 27. Alfie died the next day. My only comment in addition to this beautiful and much needed exhortation/explanation is this: Alfie, because he was baptized and under the age of reason, is in Heaven, while those responsible for his inhumane death are bound for hell unless they repent.
Find the blog at onemadmomblog.wordpress.com
People! I’m getting a bit exhausted watching the words “brain dead” and “terminal” being tossed about by CATHOLICS! Geez! At this point, you might as well just euthanize us all now because we’re all headed for that plot in the ground, too.
First, Alfie Evans is not “brain-dead,” although he might be considered so by some. I believe the worst diagnosis so far is “semi-vegetative.” We’re apparently not going to wait for fully vegetative anymore. You must remember the increasing number of supposedly “brain dead” patients who woke up in the middle of having their organs harvested, their intubation unhooked, or just waking up out of the blue. Clearly, science has not nailed this down, and not even an EEG is a good indicator of what’s really going on. Regardless of this, Alfie doesn’t fit the bill of brain dead nor has anyone actually diagnosed him as such.
Alfie definitely does have a neurodegenerative disease. Nobody denies that, but so do people with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, ALS, etc. While all will likely die from these diseases, they are only terminal when the body stops metabolizing. My dad suffered from Alzheimer’s for years, but was only considered terminal the last week of his life. Interestingly enough, if he had lived ninety days in hospice, he would have no longer been considered terminal. Go figure. This is why the Church has always said that food, water, medicine, and other medical procedures meant to treat secondary issues should be continued for patients with these diseases. We do not euthanize them. We give them palliative care. We can’t currently cure them, but we shouldn’t do things to hasten their death. What is palliative care? It’s care meant to relieve stress and pain in the body.
The one treatment most people are going to point to as “extraordinary” care is intubation. Quite frankly, it can sometimes be extraordinary care, but it can also be ordinary care depending on the person’s illness, accident, etc. Let’s say a person, like Christopher Reeve, has been paralyzed and cannot breathe. He is still very mentally with it, he’s still metabolizing, but he needs help breathing to take the stress off his body (because not breathing is rather stressful). Denying him that treatment would very definitely hasten his death. It’s ordinary care for his situation which, at that point, is not terminal. This is really where Alfie is now. For him, that would have been palliative care. It was simply taking the stress off his body. The kid is metabolizing just fine. He looks to be a tall little chunk for his age, and his renal and heart functions are great. Might this not be the case when his disease progresses? Absolutely, but we don’t kill people with, say, ALS just because they need help with oxygen. What’s the difference? Alfie can’t speak for himself and his parents are not allowed to speak for him either. He could very well get to a point where his organs start shutting down, he can no longer metabolize the nutrition, hydration, and medication, and he goes into heart failure or renal failure. Oxygen would be totally futile at that point. We, however, as Catholics, don’t base treatment on what might be one day. For all we know, Alfie’s brain could suddenly stop getting worse. Yes, this is where he would be the rest of his life, but what we do know is that removing oxygen puts much more stress on his little body, and doing so was meant to hasten his death. It’s important to note they removed his nutrition and hydration until he didn’t die. After a while of him not dying, they started looking bad.
Now, Bambino Gesu has offered palliative care to Alfie until which time it is no longer conducive to his health. They have said they DO NOT intend on discontinuing the ventilator, nutrition, or hydration. What they DO intend is making him as comfortable as possible for the rest of his life. Nobody can seem to tell me why this is a problem. I believe the judge said it could be detrimental to his health because of possible seizures. You know what’s more detrimental to his health, Mr. Justice Hayden? Euthanasia. It’s going to be harmful to someone’s health one hundred percent of the time. Just let Alfie go.
Folks, you need to learn this because you don’t want to be trying to figure all of this out when you are under THE worst stress of your lives and, since life will be in the balance, you want to get this right. --One Mad Mom
From the Pastor,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: A Sad Way To Spend Easter
Last month I was reading the local news when I came across the headline, “Top things to do in Tampa Bay this weekend”. The weekend in question included Easter Sunday but the article was completely secular in nature, although it did include an Easter Egg Hunt at the Glazer Children’s Museum on (Holy) Saturday and a scuba-diving Easter Bunny at the Florida Aquarium on both (Holy) Saturday and (Easter) Sunday, without, of course, a mention of either of the two being HOLY DAYS. The rest of the list would have been typical of any other weekend of the year. There were things going on at Busch Gardens, at Lowry Park Zoo (before it was renamed to the oh-so-hip ZooTampa). There were concerts and crafts and all sorts of other things to do as if it were just any old weekend of the year. It really was sad reading the long list and seeing nothing whatsoever about Faith in God, about Jesus’ Resurrection, or even about spending time at Church before bringing the family out to any of the events. But there was one really sad one that caught my eye, for it was one that could have been scheduled for any weekend of the year, as far as I can tell, and everyone would have been better off for it. Yet they chose this particular weekend and fully expected a large crowd of people to spend the weekend at this particular “international competition”. It was an event that I would have liked to have attended myself though with it being on a weekend and not an “I just gotta go!” type of event, I most likely would have missed it anyway, regardless of which weekend it occurred. But it was that type of competition: one at which a Catholic priest would have enjoyed himself and would not have caused a scandal if he were seen there.
I am giving it this big build-up, not because it is such a great event or such a terrible event but because it is neither. It just struck me as typical of the “blah-ness” which our society finds itself in right now. An event which is not morally objectionable but which has no basis in Faith whatsoever is seen as perfectly proper to hold on Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday. It is an event which brings competitors from not only the local area but also from other countries, showing that it is seen as important by at least those competing, and, it almost goes without saying, seen by both them and the “spectators” as more important than mourning the death of Jesus Christ, and even seen as more important than celebrating the same and only Son of God proving that He has power even over death itself by resurrecting from the grave on the third day. And yet it is a competition so unimportant that MaloogaCon was listed before it in this news article. Plus, the fact that multiple large articles and headlines appeared in the week leading up to this competition with nary a word about the Holy Days it was trying to supersede, showed just how “blah” the newspaper’s attitude toward Christianity is. It also showed that the newspaper’s attitudes were expected to be shared by their readers, or they would have barely reported on the story in the first place. Like MaloogaCon. Whatever that is.
So what is the “international competition” that took families away from worship during the last of the Holy Triduum and Easter Sunday? The Cuban Sandwich Festival. What? You didn’t know anything about that? Well, let me clue you in. The children’s competition took place on Holy Saturday (destroy the family, destroy the Faith) and the adult competition took place on Sunday. The goal of the competition was to make a sandwich. Yep. To make a sandwich. Not just any old sandwich, though. It had to be a Cuban Sandwich, which made the competition pretty darn tough. After all, there are special ingredients that must comprise any sandwich which claims to be a Cuban. First, there must be Cuban bread. Several local bakeries make Cuban bread a little different from each other, so the choice of bread is a major bone of contention in this battle. Inside there are either 5 or 6 ingredients: ham, roasted pork, swiss cheese, pickles, mustard, and (this is where the real fighting comes in) maybe salami.
Whew! As I was pondering this great substitution for Easter I could imagine a man spending a small fortune flying his family in from another country (or even just driving here) to make this sandwich, telling his wife and kids that “God doesn’t mind us missing Mass just this one (more) time, because, gosh darn it all, we are going to prove once and for all that a real Cuban must have salami which must be placed just so between the ham and pork without ever touching the pickle and, by golly, that’s the way you make a proper Cuban! And remember, children, that anyone who dares to put tomato or--gasp!--mayonnaise on it to make it taste better is going straight to Hell.” Sometimes I wonder why I bother to read the newspaper.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Passiontide and a Broken Tooth
Just before we entered Passiontide (the last two weeks of Lent) I was eating dinner and started crunching on what I assumed to be some sort of dirt or grit which had not been washed off the corn which was in my mouth. Trying to be polite, instead of spitting it out, I just quit chewing and swallowed it. The digestive tract is quite marvelous in cleaning itself out, and, especially with corn, I had given no second thought about consuming whatever non-edible item I had encountered. That changed as soon as I took the next bite of food. I immediately realized that what I had swallowed was a chunk of one of my molars, which had broken off. The food going into the hole it left and my tongue scraping itself on the sharp edges of both the broken tooth and the now-exposed sharp edge of a large filling made me wish that I had at least gotten a chance to see just how much of my tooth was now missing. But, alas, the piece was gone and I was certainly not going to search through old corn the next day in hopes of recovering it, if you know what I mean.
So it was time to call the dentist. But there was just one small problem. I have had the same dentist for nearly twenty years. He is a good Catholic man and a great dentist to boot. No matter where I have been stationed I have always made the trek back to Dunedin, knowing that having a dentist I could rely on made it worth the trip. Shortly after my last visit, though, he retired. The old receptionist is still there and she tried to get the new guy to open up a slot for me (business is good and they were booked solid) but my schedule here at church for those last two weeks of Lent made it impossible for us to get together until after Easter. Getting through Passion Sunday and Palm Sunday and Holy Week and the Easter Vigil and Easter Day along with all the practice and preparation during that time period, I simply had to do what I always tell you to do: Offer it up!
Have you ever broken a tooth? Maybe you have had a similar experience. As I mentioned, there were sharp edges which cut into the side of my tongue as I spoke or chanted or ate. There is not a whole lot that I could do about that. That side of my tongue was soon sheathed with little cuts and swelled up a bit (which made me bite it every once in a while, which didn’t help!) and made me slur and drool. Sometimes my tongue actually got hung up on it mid word, which was very disconcerting, especially in the middle of a chant. But, as I said, there really wasn’t anything to do about it, as the side of my tongue simply moved across the broken tooth as a matter of nature. But what really irked me is the tip of my tongue. It is out front. The molar is near the back. There is no reason for the tip of my tongue to be in contact with the sharp edges of the tooth and filling, and yet I could not keep it out of there! I would find myself feeling the edges with the tip of my tongue and tell it to stop and go back where it belonged, only to find it doing the same thing over and over again. It was like having an untrained puppy who would listen to a commands to “sit” and “stay” and then immediately “get up” and “come” instead! I cannot tell you how many hours I spent arguing with my own tongue to quite ripping itself to shreds on the broken tooth. Down boy! Out! Off!
As all of this was playing out, I finally thought to myself that this would be as good a time as ever to find a new dentist. So I searched for a Catholic dentist in Tampa, finally found one, made an appointment for Easter week and cancelled the replacement dentist is in Dunedin. Of course, Easter week the Archbishop was here and Father Emmanuel was here, and Fr. Adler (a friend of Fr. Dorvil) was here and I would have liked to spend the time with them instead of with the dentist, but I really like to eat and speak without pain and the Octave of Easter is not the proper time for penance, anyway. But the temporary crown I was fitted with, once the novocaine wore off, hurt so much that I couldn’t even chew bread. It throbbed and caused the surrounding teeth, my jawbone and even my ear to hurt. So I was off to the dentist for another try, the temporary crown was removed and replaced and it was much better. And now I am fitted with the real thing. I have never had a crown before. Crowns are only for kings and old people and I am not a king, which means... NOOOOOO!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Seminarian Support Requested
You all have been very supportive of our youth when they are trying to go on a trip to check out a vocational call. For instance, Maria Hernandez, already an Aspirant to the Servant Sisters of the Home of the Mother, and her younger sister, Agnes, have been selling quick bread once a month to raise some of the money they need to go to Spain this summer with the Sisters (including an older sister of theirs, Sister Rachel Maria, who belongs to that order already). You have been very generous to them, even charitably sacrificing your waistlines to help them out. We also have several young men in seminaries and other formation programs. Eric is still being led toward a Benedictine hermit life. Ryan is still with the Jesuits. Esteban will be a Diocesan priest (though not our diocese, doggone it!). And Joshua is studying for Christ the King Sovereign Priest. A couple of more young men who are in the seminary have occasionally (or even regularly) attended Mass at Epiphany before entering into formation and/or while on days off from their studies, though officially they belong to other parishes. In short, both men and women come here (to the Traditional Latin Mass parish) as part of (and perhaps a major part of) their discernment process. One of the men I have already mentioned, Joshua Heiman, is about to be sent to Europe for the upcoming year as part of his formation. He has reluctantly but humbly asked for assistance, as he is unable to afford it on his own. (Did you know that many men and women must pay all or part of their own expenses during not only the “inquiry” years but also during the “real” formation years as well? Of course, they are not allowed to have jobs during that time, either, so unless they are already well off or are from a wealthy family, they have to rely on the generosity of others to finish their studies before entering religious life or priesthood.) Below is a letter he sent. Please read it prayerfully.
To my dear Epiphany community:
I hope that you had a very blessed Holy Week and that your Easter season may be restful and very joyous. As one might imagine, life in formation with the Institute of Christ the King has been an incredible blessing and has brought forth such amazing fruits!
Our daily prayer life consists of mass, meditation, and multiple hours of the Divine Office in common. On top of our prayer each young man in formation has daily chores (a great way to follow the spirit of one of our patrons: Saint Benedict!). This daily prayer and work has given a great insight of the rigors of the life of a priest (of course only being a small taste of the burden they bear) and has greatly strengthened my calling.
Alas, this beautiful time of formation does come at a cost. Though the cost of a death to worldly living is mine to take up by the grace of God (and what a glorious cost it is!), there is still a temporal cost for my education and general living expenses.
As of yet I have been blessed to need no extra help for the cost of my formation, but since I will be moving on to Europe for further formation I will need financial help for the increased expenses (travel costs, seminary tuition, school and personal supplies, liturgical books, etc.).
To this end I come before you, my dear community, to ask for your help. It would be a great help if you could spare to donate a small amount from time to time and even more if you would be able to grant more consistent and greater support.
I ask as well your continued prayers for my journey towards the Priesthood of Christ and I assure you of my prayers in return. May God bless you all!
In Christ the King,
If you are able to financially support him, he has a PayPal account set up to receive donations (paypal.me/HeimanSeminaryFund). (A link will soon be on our webpage.) If you are not comfortable sending money via computer, you may give to Epiphany and we will put it in his account. I also asked him for a list of specific “things” which he may need. He needs clerical shirts, cassocks, collars, a winter cape, breviary, etc. But above all, he needs your prayers. Thank you in advance for assisting him and all of our soon-to-be-if-it-is-God’s-will religious and priests!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Visitors and More!
This weekend we have Bishop Kinyaiya from the Diocese of Dodoma, Tanzania with us. He is Father Emmanuel’s bishop and is here checking up on him. No, wait, Fr. Emmanuel is now living in Pensacola so that doesn’t make any sense. Actually, both will be here this week in order to thank those who have in the past or are currently supporting the Uhuru Watoto girls’ education endeavor. If you don’t remember what that is, ask him about it after Mass (assuming you read this article during my homily, like normal).
We also have a visiting LifeTeen Youth Group here from St. Catherine parish in Sebring. They will be attending the 10:30 Sung Mass. This is quite a journey for them. They, unfortunately, don’t have a Traditional Latin Mass at their own parish (yet!) and they wanted to experience it. Any group of teens willing to drive 2 hours each way on a Sunday morning for Mass is showing great initiative in learning new aspects of the Faith and will be certainly experiencing Mass so unlike what they are used to as to be practically a different Catholic Rite altogether. I warned the youth director already that once they see the way Mass was celebrated for 1500 years or more, they will never want to go back to the newfangled Mass which they grew up with and thought was the way Mass was always celebrated. I hope their pastor is preparing himself to start the TLM soon!
There will also be a couple of local teenage Latin scholars attending for their first time, too. They normally attend either Christ the King or Sacred Heart and study Latin at St John Episcopal & Berkeley Prep. Our Diocese (or someone at the chancery, anyway) suggested that they come here for Mass. That is quite a change from what they would have been told at our chancery just a couple of years ago! I believe they, too, will be at the 10:30 Mass. And really, although Sacred Heart is an extremely beautiful church, their Liturgies, especially the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, will seem completely banal compared to ours. I feel sorry for these kids if they have to go back to their “home parish’ again!
On a different topic, this Sunday is Divine Mercy Sunday. Remember that at 2:30 we will gather again in the church for a Holy Hour of Adoration, recitation of the Divine Mercy Chaplet, and, of course, Confessions. I hope you remembered to put it on your calendar. A plenary indulgence is available for those participating in these holy activities, with the other usual stipulations attached which are necessary to receive such a great grace. (Confession, worthy reception of Holy Communion, detachment from all sin, and prayers for the intentions of the Pope.)
Looking ahead one week, be sure to mark your calendars for next Sunday, April 15. The traveling statue of Our Lady of Fatima is coming to spend the day with us! She will arrive sometime early in the morning, there will be a presentation on Fatima following the 10:30 Mass, there will be a scapular enrollment, maybe a few (or a lot of) other prayers, perhaps even Benediction, Consecration, and the Rosary, and she will stay for the day. This is something you don’t want to miss, even if you have been present at a previous visit of Our Lady.
Finally, a few words about Holy Week and Easter before they get too far into the past. This was the first time we were able to celebrate all three Tenebraes. I didn’t get to prayerfully listen to the prayers being chanted (for 2 to 2 1/2 hours each!) because this year I heard confessions during that time. Confessions were constant. People came and went, and the schola said that is not an insult, as many people cannot stay for the entire time but want to bask in the prayers for as long as they can. So next year don’t avoid the Tenebraes thinking that you are going to “get stuck” being there the whole time if you come. Come and go as you need. This year we also had Solemn celebrations for the Sacred Triduum for the first time, as Fathers Mangiafico and Vincent were both able to be here all three days. Although we clergy need some more work on our end (me, especially), the liturgies were beautifully done by everyone else! Schola members and altar boys (and families) really deserve a great reward for all they did to make it work. I hope you all took advantage of what we had or at least realized what an unbelievable gift it is to have this parish and the Venerable Traditional Rites available locally!
So back to where we started. We have many visitors today. They don’t come because of advertising or because they see us on the news or in their parish bulletins. They come because somebody told them we are here doing what we do. Word of mouth is the only way people find us. Don’t be shy in promoting this little piece of Paradise!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: The Easter Sequence
The Easter Sequence, which begins, “Victimae paschali laudes...” is one of only a few sequences in the Roman Missal. We will experience it daily in the Octave of Easter. Its history is now somewhat lost to history, with uncertainty regarding even something so simple as to its author. According to the old Catholic Encyclopedia it holds a unique place among the sequences. “As the only sequence in quasi-Notkerian form retained in our Missal, it is of great interest hymnologically.” Now, what exactly is “quasi-Notkerian” you ask? Well, I’m afraid you are going to have to go the Encyclopedia to find out. But if you are one of the very few who might find that challenge even remotely enticing, you will probably love the article as it breaks down the stanzas and how they vary in syllabic length, the frequency of rhyme, and damage done to this poetic form as it is translated into English! But for those of you who have no inclination whatsoever to delve deeply into such a combination of poetry, liturgy, languages and history, I still want to be able to show you side by side comparisons of the two different English translations of this sequence which we have in our two different Missals in the back of the church. I hope you will see the beauty of both of them while still seeing the sometimes great differences in them, so that you can more greatly appreciate the value of, nay, the necessity of, keeping the prayers of the Mass in Latin so as to avoid the very real problems of translations into all of the constantly changing vulgar languages of the world. Even when translations are done, as is true of this sequence, with great skill, with an eye toward so many necessary things such as beauty of language, poetic structure, and theological purity, it is still impossible to make a “pure” translation. Something has to give. But enough. Here is the sequence: (Sorry, this format doesn't come out looking very good)
To the Paschal Victim
let Christians offer the sacrifice of praise.
The Lamb hath redeemed the sheep;
Christ, the Sinless One,
hath reconciled sinners to His Father.
Death and Life contended
In a wondrous encounter:
the Prince of LIfe died indeed,
but now reigns living.
Tell us, Mary,
What sawest thou on the way?
I saw the sepulcher of the living Christ,
I saw the glory of Him that had risen.
I saw the angelic witness,
the napkin and the linen cloths.
Christ, my hope, has risen:
He shall go before you into Galilee.
We know in truth that Christ
hath risen from the dead.
Thou, O victorious King, have mercy on us.
# 2 version\:
Christians! to the Paschal Victim
offer your thankful praises.
The Lamb the sheep redeemeth:
Christ, Who only is sinless,
reconcileth sinners to the Father.
Death and life have contended
in that conflict stupendous:
the Prince of Life, Who died,
Speak, Mary, declaring
what thou sawest wayfaring.
"The tomb of Christ, Who now liveth:
and likewise the glory of the Risen.
Bright Angels attesting,
the shroud and napkin resting.
Yea, Christ my hope, is arisen:
to Galilee He goeth before you."
We know that Christ is risen,
henceforth ever living:
Have mercy, Victor King, pardon giving. Amen. Alleluia.
Which is better? Each has its strengths. But now that you have seen it in English two different ways, perhaps, when combined with the beauty of the Latin chant, this hymn/prayer/poem will have even more of a depth of wonder and awe for you.
With unpoetic and unsingable prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Our Third Holy Week!
Each year since we became Tampa’s Center for the Traditional Latin Mass we have attempted to improve on what we do and to incorporate even more “tradition” into parish life. For instance, the first Holy Week after we were “transferred” to Epiphany of Our Lord, we had one Tenebrae service, and nobody (including me) knew how long it would last or exactly how it was supposed to go. The second year we added a second Tenebrae, not only because it was a step closer to doing all three for the Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday) but also because the people who attended the single one the previous year were practically begging for more. This year I am happy to announce that we will celebrate all three Tenebraes. Carefully check the calendar, for Holy Thursday’s Tenebrae is, as is traditionally done, “anticipated” (celebrated the evening before). Don’t ask me what “Tenebrae” is, for that will be an admission that you didn’t read even the front cover of last week’s bulletin!
Another thing we are improving upon is the timing of the Easter Vigil and Mass. The first year we started at dark, just like the Novus Ordo Mass does. Last year we thought we would be switching times with St. Joseph Vietnamese Mission (they had volunteered the first year to celebrate theirs a couple of hours earlier, which is licit in a case like this with two groups, each celebrating a different Form of the Mass) but the Mission instead decided that they preferred to celebrate their Vigil outdoors so that both of us could start at dark. But traditionally the Easter Vigil was not begun as darkness began, but rather celebrated in such a way that the Vigil began on Holy Saturday after dark and the Mass proper began around midnight, and hence was a true Easter Mass. It might help to remember that an “anticipated Mass” (what is now commonly called a “Vigil Mass”-- the Mass of the Sunday or other Holy Day of Obligation celebrated the evening of the day before the actual Feast) was a new invention of the Novus Ordo. Traditionally, a “Vigil Mass” was the morning Mass of the day before the big Feast. It did not “count” as a Mass of the Holy Day of Obligation because it was a completely different Mass held on a completely different day. So the Easter Mass started on Easter, as we are trying to do for the first time this year. The time which the “Vigil” part of it takes varies from year to year based on how many people are receiving the sacraments of initiation, so it is always just an estimate as to when everything should start. That is why the liturgical books simply instruct us to “attempt” to start the Mass at midnight rather than make it a hard and fast rule. This year we will start the celebration at 11:00 pm, guessing that it will take us about an hour to get to the Mass proper. I have offered to put up choir member and altar boy families in one of our local motels along Nebraska Avenue so that they could spend the night and more easily return to assist at the morning Masses, but for some strange reason none of them took me up on the offer!
Speaking of which, each year the choir members and altar boys have to do a whole lot of work for Holy Week, too. God bless them and their families, who also get “stuck” getting to the church hours ahead of time for practice! Seriously, please say a prayer of thanks as “payment” for all that they sacrifice for our parish. When special ceremonies and ceremonious “additions” to Mass are only done once per year, it is necessary to rehearse and practice and rehearse again each and every year. The newer choristers and altar boys might be seeing new ceremonies for the first time, while even the most experienced might have only served at them once or twice before.
We are also blessed with other priests who wish to take part in our ceremonies. This year you might see either two or three “extra” priests who are making arrangements to be here to assist during the last week of Lent. Several more have asked questions about what we do for Holy Week but are, quite understandably, unable to get away from their own parish duties to come and experience firsthand what we do. It is amazing that the priests who never experienced the “traditional” Holy Week ceremonies are the ones most likely to be saddened at what has been discarded, replaced or dumbed down. Not ever knowing the difference, we all thought Holy Week was beautiful in the new Rite, but little did we know what it was before The Change™.
So check the schedule. Mark your calendars. Enter more deeply into Catholic Tradition. Boldly go where no man has gone before... err... where no man has gone in the past 50 years!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Veiling the Statues
A couple of years ago, before moving to Epiphany, I put the following information in the parish bulletin for the sake of the people who didn’t know why the statues were veiled in the church. It is quite jarring to see the statues covered in violet cloth. Those who know anything about the Catholic Faith know that there must be some pretty good reason for capturing our attention in such a drastic way, but when a traditions such as this is scrapped, the reasons why we ever did it are also lost quickly, too. So, for the sake of explaining what once was common knowledge, as well as to show that this in not something that was mandated to be thrown out but is, rather, a current option, I gave the explanation below, which is still a good catechesis on the topic. I hope it again helps those who wondered!
Last weekend when you entered the church the crucifix and statues were veiled in purple cloth. It is a stark image, as if funeral palls were covering Our Lord and His Saints. It certainly catches one's attention! In the long distant past this was a common sight near the end of Lent. But for my lifetime, it is nearly an extinct liturgical practice. Lest you hear gripes that I am just a pre-Vatican II meanie and can’t get with the times, please see that even in these times this is a legitimate and, in my opinion, spiritually beneficial practice.
Here is a statement from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops from March of 2006: The Veiling of Images and Crosses 1. Does the new Missale Romanum allow for the veiling of statues and crosses? The Missale Romanum, editio typica tertia, provides a rubric at the beginning of the texts for the Fifth Sunday of Lent, which allows that: “the practice of covering crosses and images in the Church from the Fifth Sunday of Lent is permitted, according to the judgment of the Conferences of Bishops. Crosses remain veiled until the end of the celebration of the Lord's Passion on Good Friday; images remain veiled until the beginning of the Easter Vigil.” 2. Have the Bishops of the Unites [sic] States expressed the judgment on this practice? Yes. On June 14, 2001, the Latin Church members of the USCCB approved an adaptation to number 318 of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal which would allow for the veiling of crosses and images in this manner. On April 17, 2002, Cardinal Jorge Medina Estevez, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments wrote to Bishop Wilton D. Gregory, USCCB President (Prot. no. 1381/01/L), noting that this matter belonged more properly to the rubrics of the Fifth Sunday of Lent. While the decision of the USCCB will be included with this rubric when the Roman Missal is eventually published, the veiling of crosses and images may now take place at the discretion of the local pastor. 3. When may crosses and images be veiled? Crosses and images may be veiled on the Fifth Sunday of Lent. Crosses are unveiled following the Good Friday Liturgy, while images are unveiled before the beginning of the Easter Vigil. 4. Is the veiling of crosses and statues required? No. The veiling is offered as an option, at the discretion of the local pastor. 5. What is the reason for the veiling of crosses and images? The veiling of crosses and images is a sort of “fasting” from sacred depictions which represent the paschal glory of our salvation. Just as the Lenten fast concludes with the Paschal feast, so too, our fasting from the cross culminates in an adoration of the holy wood on which the sacrifice of Calvary was offered for our sins. Likewise, a fasting from the glorious images of the mysteries of faith and the saints in glory, culminates on the Easter night with a renewed appreciation of the glorious victory won by Christ, risen from the tomb to win for us eternal life. 6. Why are crosses unveiled after the Good Friday Liturgy? An important part of the Good Friday Liturgy is the veneration of the cross, which may include its unveiling. Once the cross to be venerated has been unveiled, it seems logical that all crosses would remain unveiled for the veneration of the faithful. 7. What do the veils look like? While liturgical law does not prescribe the form or color of such veils, they have traditionally been made of simple, lightweight purple cloth, without ornament. 8. Is it permissible to veil the crosses after the Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday? Yes. The concluding rubrics which follow the text for the Mass of the Lord's Supper (no. 41) indicate that “at an opportune time the altar is stripped and, if it is possible, crosses are removed from the church. It is fitting that crosses which remain in the Church be veiled.”
So there you have it. It is still “fitting” that this be done though it is left to “the discretion of the local pastor.” It is a good, solid, theologically and liturgically sound Catholic tradition.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: 1966 Document Still in Force
In 1966 Pope Paul VI issued an Apostolic Constitution, Paenitemini, on Fast and Abstinence. (Written as Poenitemini by our Bishops as cited below. The spelling with an “a” or an “e” are both correct versions of the same Latin word.) The world’s various Bishops’ Conferences were to issue their own guidelines on the same topic. Our United States Bishops did so with the 1966 (they worked a lot more quickly back then!) Pastoral Statement On Penance And Abstinence. You already know that the teachings of these two documents made Friday abstinence from meat optional outside of Lent, with the stipulation that other penances be chosen to take the place of abstinence. But I thought you might also be interested in what they wrote specifically about Lent, so here it is, with all bolded words other than the title being my own emphasis:
A Statement Issued by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops November 18, 1966
10. Lent has had a different history than Advent among us. Beginning with the powerful lesson of Ash Wednesday, it has retained its ancient appeal to the penitential spirit of our people. It has also acquired elements of popular piety which we bishops would wish to encourage.
11. Accordingly, while appealing for greater development of the understanding of the Lenten liturgy, as that of Advent, we hope that the observance of Lent as the principal season of penance in the Christian year will be intensified. This is the more desirable because of new insights into the central place in Christian faith of those Easter mysteries for the understanding and enjoyment of which Lent is the ancient penitential preparation.
12. Wherefore, we ask, urgently and prayerfully, that we, as people of God, make of the entire Lenten Season a period of special penitential observance. Following the instructions of the Holy See, we declare that the obligation both to fast and to abstain from meat, an obligation observed under a more strict formality by our fathers in the faith, still binds on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. No Catholic Christian will lightly excuse himself from so hallowed an obligation on the Wednesday which solemnly opens the Lenten season and on that Friday called "Good" because on that day Christ suffered in the flesh and died for our sins.
13. In keeping with the letter and spirit of Pope Paul's Constitution Poenitemini, we preserved for our dioceses the tradition of abstinence from meat on each of the Fridays of Lent, confident that no Catholic Christian will lightly hold himself excused from this penitential practice.
14. For all other weekdays of Lent, we strongly recommend participation in daily Mass and a self-imposed observance of fasting. In the light of grave human needs which weigh on the Christian conscience in all seasons, we urge, particularly during Lent, generosity to local,national, and world programs of sharing of all things needed to translate our duty to penance into a means of implementing the right of the poor to their part in our abundance. We also recommend spiritual studies, beginning with the Scriptures as well as the traditional Lenten Devotions (sermons, Stations of the Cross, and the rosary), and all the self-denial summed up in the Christian concept of "mortification."
15. Let us witness to our love and imitation of Christ, by special solicitude for the sick, the poor, the underprivileged, the imprisoned,the bedridden, the discouraged, the stranger, the lonely, and persons of other color, nationalities, or backgrounds than our own. A catalogue of not merely suggested but required good works under these headings is provided by Our Blessed Lord Himself in His description of the Last Judgment (Mt 25:34-40). This salutary word of the Lord is necessary for all the year, but should be heeded with double care during Lent.
16. During the Lenten season, certain feasts occur which the liturgy or local custom traditionally exempts from the Lenten spirit of penance. The observance of these will continue to beset by local diocesan regulations; in these and like canonical questions which may arise in connection with these pastoral instructions, reference should be made to article VII of Poenitemini and the usual norms.
Did you notice that the days of Lent were not to be treated as if they were ordinary days? Extra prayer, fasting, charity, religious reading, corporal and spiritual works of mercy, and plenty of self-denial and mortifications were all recommended and expected of the Faithful. I sure hope you are taking them seriously. I highly recommend that you read the whole Bishops’ statement every once in a while to remind yourself (and to be able to inform others) of what is expected of us even to this day. They did a very good job explaining why we rightly embrace fast and abstinence and what greater sacrifices we could/should do if we opt out of meatless Fridays outside of Lent. Just search online for the title of the document and it will take you to the right place.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka