From the Pastor: A Milestone for the Parish
This past Wednesday, January 6, was a big day for our parish. The celebration of Epiphany in the old calendar remains in its traditional spot, the twelfth day after Christmas. (You do remember the song proclaiming the gifts given at each of the twelve days, don’t you?) When our Bishop established Epiphany of Our Lord as the “center for the [Traditional] Latin Mass” and sent me here specifically to provide the sacraments in their ancient and venerable form, it was unclear whether or not the parish would survive. After all, by establishing Epiphany as the TLM center in a place where nobody had asked for it and far from the two parishes where priests had already responded to the requests for it, the Bishop was gambling that two major things would occur. Number one, that the people already at Epiphany would welcome the “Vetus Ordo” and the new influx of parishioners that would accompany it and, number two, that there would actually be an influx of parishioners that would come!
How has it worked out? Well, I’m glad you asked. The parish feast day, as I mentioned fell on a Wednesday. We had a low Mass at 9:00 am which was attended by 20 people. That’s not too bad a turnout for a daily Mass in a place where the average travel time is approximately 45 minutes each way! But the big celebration at 6:00 pm was the real test, and a test that was passed with flying colors. Sixty eight families showed up for the High Mass and potluck which followed. Think about that just a moment. Having a Mass start at 6:00 pm on a weeknight makes it difficult for everybody (except the priest!). Those who get off work at 5:00 had to battle rush hour traffic. The Sung Mass lasts about an hour and a half, so those who have trouble driving at night knew they would need assistance getting home. Those with children in school knew that they would be dealing with hungry kids who would be losing a night of homework and study time. Everybody had to plan a potluck meal (which might, of necessity, mean a trip to the Publix deli between the workplace and the church, as there would be no way of cooking!). The schola members had to get to church early enough to get settled and rehearsed before Mass. The altar boys (and their families) had to be there early to get everything set up. And, far from insignificantly, people had to spend the day getting everything beautified in the social hall to make the grand ball truly grand!
Yet more than 60 families showed up for a non-obligatory weeknight Mass! Normally we count people rather than families but this time the family count was easier to get accurately. For after Mass I handed out to each family an Epiphany home blessing kit consisting of a paper explaining how to do the Epiphany home blessing, a piece of blessed chalk to mark the door lintel with 20+C+M+B+16 and, of course, exorcised and blessed Holy Water (with exorcised and blessed Holy Salt dissolved in it). Though there are many ways of doing the home blessing, I liked the one I gave out because it explained simply what the meaning is behind the symbols used. In case you missed it, here is what it says:
The letters have two meanings. They are the initials of the traditional names of the Three Magi: Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar. They also abbreviate the Latin words “Christus mansionem benedicat.” “May Christ bless the house.” The letters recall the day on which the inscription is made, as well as the purpose of blessing.
The crosses represent the protection of the Precious Blood of Christ, whom we invoke, and the holiness of the Three Magi sanctified by their adoration of the Infant Christ. The inscription is made above the front door, so that all who enter and depart this year may enjoy God’s blessing.
The month of January still bears the name of the Roman god Janus, the doorkeeper of heaven and protector of the beginning and end of things. This blessing “christens” the ancient Roman observance of the first month. The inscription is made of chalk, a product of clay, which recalls the human nature taken by the Adorable and Eternal Word of God in the womb of the Virgin Mary, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
Looks to me like we have a viable parish, a flourishing “center for the Latin Mass.” Thank you for making it happen!
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka