From the Pastor: Candlemas!
This Tuesday, February 2, we celebrate the Mass of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a feast commonly called, “Candlemas”. This is the first year in which I will be able to offer not only the Mass of the Purification but also the blessing of the candles and the procession which precedes the Mass, in the venerable usus antiquior. This blessing, according to Dom Gueranger’s masterpiece, “The Liturgical Year”, is “one of the three principal Blessings observed by the Church during the year; the other two are those of the Ashes and of the Palms” yet it is almost completely neglected nowadays. For your edification and education, I will quote two explanatory paragraphs from the same work which I found useful.
“The mystery of today’s ceremony has frequently been explained by liturgists, dating from the 7th century. According to St. Ivo of Chartres, the wax, which is formed from the juice of flowers by the bee, always considered as the emblem of virginity, signifies the virginal flesh of the Divine Infant, who diminished not, either by his conception or his birth, the spotless purity of his Blessed Mother. The same holy Bishop would have us see, in the flame of our Candle, a symbol of Jesus, who came to enlighten our darkness. St. Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury, speaking on the same mystery, bids us consider three things in the blest Candle: the wax, the wick, and the flame. The wax, he says, which is the production of the virginal bee, is the Flesh of our Lord; the wick, which is within, is his Soul; the flame, which burns on the top, is his Divinity.
Formerly, the faithful looked upon it as an honour to be permitted to bring their wax tapers to the Church, on this Feast of the Purification, that they might be blessed together with those which were to be borne in the procession by the Priests and sacred Ministers; and the same custom is still observed in some congregations. It would be well if Pastors were to encourage this practice, retaining it where it exists, or establishing it where it is not known. There has been such a systematic effort made to destroy, or at least to impoverish, the exterior rites and practices of religion, that we find, throughout the world, thousands of Christians who have been insensibly made strangers to those admirable sentiments of faith, which the Church alone, in her Liturgy, can give to the body of the faithful. Thus, we shall be telling many what they have never heard before, when we inform them that the Church blesses the Candles, not only to be carried in the Procession, which forms part of the Ceremony today, but also for the use of the faithful, inasmuch as they draw, upon such as use them with respect, whether on sea or on land, as the Church says in the Prayer, special blessings from heaven. These blest Candles ought also to be lit near the bed of the dying Christian, as a symbol of the immortality merited for us by Christ, and of the protection of our Blessed Lady.”
There is also a paragraph from the Angleus Press missal which explains, “The procession on this day is one of the most picturesque features of the Western Liturgy. The blessing and distribution of candles, to be carried lighted in procession, precedes the Mass today--a symbolic presentation of the truth proclaimed in the Canticle of Simeon: our Lord is the “Light for the revelation of the Gentiles.” The anthems sung during this procession , eastern in origin, will express the joy and gladness of this happy festival, and the honor and praise we give to our blessed Lady and her Divine Son by its devout observance.”
After reading the above lessons, is not your heart stirred to participate in the ceremony? The blessing and procession will begin at the normal time for the TLM to begin, 9:00 a.m., and the Mass will follow immediately after the blessing. This will mean that we will not be “done” with Mass at the typical 9:45 a.m. so please plan accordingly. One of our parishioners graciously made 100 small, 100% beeswax candles to be blessed and sent home with those who participate in the celebration but if you wish to have a candle to carry in the procession, please bring your own candle, beeswax if possible, for the symbolic reasons you read above. Where the procession begins and ends will depend on the weather but the plan is to begin in the chapel (or outside of it if the congregation is too large) and process to the main church for Mass. If we encounter adverse conditions we will have the entire ceremony in the church.
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Love and Mercy in Confession
What do you do after you have had an abortion or participated in one? As I mentioned last week the first thing to do after repenting of this or any sin, is turn back to God. Although that seems simple enough, there are often questions people challenge themselves with before they dare to approach the “mercy seat” of God (the confessional). “Will He even listen to my prayer?” and, “Won’t He hate me and condemn me for what I have done?” But the answers are not sought out of fear of negative results. They think (mistakenly) that even God could not love them after what they have done. So many people, after engaging in mortal sin, are afraid to turn to God. This holds true even (maybe especially) after repenting of abortion. Why is that? I will hazard a guess that it is often because of the hard-hearted example of the father of the aborted child and the fathers of the couple who conceived the child. After all, it is often these fathers who either insist that the baby must be killed or silently assent to it, thus giving up their true manhood as they force the mothers to to the dirty work (and then get the blame). These fathers, who are supposed to sacrificially love and protect at all costs, instead inflict a most terrible pain by turning parents into murderers and the child into a sacrificial offering. They inflict the most brutal physical, mental and spiritual anguish imaginable, all in the name of “love.” Satan then easily persuades those wounded by sin, repentant or not, that their Heavenly Father will do the same--and worse, because He has more of the same “love” and more power to back it up.
They become afraid of receiving wrath, they despair of receiving forgiveness, and so they stay as far away from God as possible. It is in this terrible, anguished time period that other evils take over, such as wanton licentiousness, drug and alcohol abuse, self mutilation and an oftentimes open show of self loathing as if defying anyone else to love the one who cannot even love him/herself (sometimes evidenced by cutting, gross body piercings and/or tattoos, goth blackness, occult practices, etc.)
What gets lost in all of this is that the whole time God has been waiting for the return of His lost sheep, not to pounce on him and devour him but rather to embrace him, celebrate his return, and even raise him to an exalted state. Jesus assures us of this! “I say to you, that even so there shall be joy in heaven upon one sinner that doth penance, more than upon ninety-nine just who need not penance.” (Luke 15:7) Then He tells us that incredible (yet true to eternal life!) story of the prodigal son. The Father is always waiting, always ready to forgive, always truly loving every one of His children, even when they have done unlovable things. Earlier in Luke’s Gospel (chapter 7) Our Lord had given an example of the immense healing love that results from--and is a result of--forgiveness when He told of two debtors whose debts were forgiven. One was forgiven much debt, one a little debt. “Which therefore of the two loveth him most? Simon answering, said: I suppose that he to whom he forgave most. And [Jesus] said to him: Thou hast judged rightly.” Just so the one receiving absolution after an abortion can love more than ever before, as he/she rejoices in God’s mercy and, out of sheer gratitude, responds to it more fully than ever before.
“Be not afraid” of confession! Confess all of your sins with confidence! These are the (traditional rite) words you will hear (in Latin) as God’s loving mercy is poured upon you: “May our Lord Jesus Christ absolve you. And I by His authority release you from every bond of excommunication (suspension) and interdict, in so far as I am empowered and you have need. And now I absolve you from your sins; in the name of the Father, and of the Son, + and of the Holy Spirit.” This is true Love being exchanged, given and received! Because it is a sacrament instituted by Christ, the words of the priest actually “do” what they say. Excommunications are lifted, sin is absolved, “where sin abounded, grace did more abound” and a Saint emerges from the box.
If you or someone you know needs assistance coping with abortion beyond the confessional, please know that Project Rachel is available and has helped many men and women. Contact information is elsewhere in today’s bulletin and easily found online.
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: The Darkest Black Friday
Black Friday is the frenzied shopping day after Thanksgiving. Though of relatively new origin, due to our short collective memories many now consider it a “tradition” on par or greater than the Catholic religious Tradition of Christmas, for which it masquerades as a means of preparation. This activity of the sly cult of secular humanism garners huge numbers of “worshippers” who give it “full, active, and conscious participation.” People devote not just one hour to this ritual, but spend days or even weeks in advance planning how to best spend hours attending it. Gazillions of people who would never dream of attending Christmas Midnight Mass because it would be “too tiring” and “too long” will spend the entire night lining up outside the McWallyMarket on the slim chance that they might get a “deal” on the latest gizmo which promises eternal happiness. Those who complain at Mass that the church is “too hot” or “too cold” will see it as a badge of honor to camp out on the mall sidewalks in the worst weather imaginable. Those who grudgingly give a wadded up one dollar bill in the Church collection plate if and when they attend Mass, give their entire wad of money (and then dip into credit) to the merchants. While they somewhat sheepishly laugh at themselves for their foolish overspending at the store, that wadded up one dollar at the Church was given with a sneer about how “the Vatican should sell its billion dollar art collection and give it all to the poor.” Looking at Black Friday in such an only slightly exaggerated way doesn’t make it look too good, does it? Yet that Black Friday makes this coming Black Friday look Pure White in comparison.
I call your attention to this coming Black Friday, January 22. That date commemorates a very dark day in our country. The black excrement of Evil spewed out of the bowels of the Supreme Court “justices” (in quotes due to the obvious lack of justice put forth by them that day) on that infamous date in 1973 when they found a diabolical way of enshrining in our Constitution the supposed “right” to murder an innocent child within his/her own mother’s womb. Let me not beat around the bush. This was the work of the devil and the Supreme Court “justices” who voted for it, those who pushed it into their dockets, and those who embraced it from that day forward even until now, committed mortal sin. They sold their souls to the devil. In return the father of lies promised gifts of sex without consequences, no more unwanted babies and the empowerment of women. But, as in all bargains with the devil, even these supposed “goods” were never fully delivered. Even in this life, the lie is unmasked and suffering is increased rather than eliminated.
People who support abortion, who have abortions, who encourage abortions, who knowingly vote pro-abortion, who remain silent on abortion so as to not offend anyone, will, in a manner of speaking, (unless they have repented and received absolution) worship at a black mass this Friday, their high holy day (low, unholy night?) of “Abortionmas.” Abortion is a mockery of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, wherein an innocent, almighty Jesus humbly offers His life for us. He dies that we may live. In abortion the innocent, helpless baby is sacrificed as if this “little lamb’s” death has more power--is a more loving and merciful act--than that of the Lamb of God. Killed without giving consent, he/she dies that we may “live it up.” The baby is slaughtered on Satan’s altar (a cold steel table) at Satan’s church (the abortion mill) by Satan’s priest (the abortion “doctor”). Satan’s congregation? Just look at his supporters over the years in Congress, the White House, and the Supreme Court, other people of political and financial power and, of course, those who voted them in or appointed them or accepted their promises, lies and bribes. Shamefully included in the unholy congregation (and morally responsible for large numbers of those who share the smoking-hot pews) are many Catholic laity and even (God help us) clergy who refused to be (and taught others not to be) “single issue” lunatics, as if a good education or free medical care or luxurious housing (or any other promised “good”) could be enjoyed by dead babies; or who claim to be “morally opposed--but...”
Pray and fast this Friday for the repentance and conversion of those lost souls who accept, promote, encourage, force, assist and perform abortion, for without God’s grace of repentance, what they do or allow to be done to the babies now will be done to them eternally in hell.
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
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
From the Pastor: Another Christmas Story
Last week you got to read my written-in-advance story about what happened on Christmas. Some of you (you know who you are!) failed to read carefully and, skipping over the sentence where I told you that I wrote the article before Christmas, then didn’t stop to think how a Christmas Midnight Mass story might have been experienced on Friday, December 25, then written and published in the church bulletin before the evening Mass of Saturday, December 26. This week there was actually enough time between Christmas and the bulletin publication date to write about what really happened. Be forewarned, though: fact is sometimes stranger than fiction. This is one of those times. This time it involves real terror.
Friday morning, December 24, before the first morning Mass, our part-time maintenance man (Tien), whom I only see in the evenings so I knew something strange was going on, came rushing into the rectory and excitedly told me that I had to come with him to the church. He was trying to tell me that something was wrong with the water but I couldn’t make out what exactly the problem was. I still don’t know if my lack of comprehension was due to his Vietnamese accent or my lack of morning coffee. But I only got halfway to the church before everything became crystal clear. A geyser was shooting out of the ground at the base of the outside wall of the social hall’s kitchen. A more serene and holy pastor, properly prepared for the glorious Christmas celebrations just hours away might have stopped and admired the beauty of water shooting 15 feet into the air, perhaps would have noticed that the spray cooled off the early morning Florida winter heat, and might even have enjoyed the way the rays of the rising sun made beautiful little rainbows in the mist. Not me. I don’t remember which I pondered first but two questions went racing through my brain nearly simultaneously. “How long has water been gushing out of the sidewalk like this?” and “What is the water bill going to be like this month?” Fortunately, Tien snapped me out of it with his emphatic statement that he needed help turning off the water main.
I helped him pull the cover off the water main, he dug out the valve and turned off the water. He turned off the water. Let me repeat it. He turned off the water. The water to the church, to the social hall, to the school and to the rectory. Christmas Eve Day and no water anywhere. For those of you who don’t attend daily Mass, picture about two dozen people waking up, drinking a couple of cups of coffee or tea and driving 45 minutes to Epiphany. What is the first thing they need to do? Yep, you got it. But that day there would be no flushing and no washing of hands. Are you getting the picture? Now expand the view and picture hundreds of people coming in for the Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Masses with similar problems. Both the Latin Mass community and the Vietnamese Mass community travel long distances to attend Mass here and so the restroom facilities are even more important than at parishes where everyone lives close by. All of this was going through my head as we posted “No Water, No Flushing!” signs around the rectory.
Fortunately, we had plumbing problems at the rectory just a few weeks ago. (I never imagined that would elicit a “fortunately” statement from me!) Dyser plumbing had done the work and I was very pleased with everything they did. So I called their number. Surprise! Someone answered and told me, “Don’t worry, Father, I’ll send a man right out!” Sure enough, he was there before the Latin Mass began and by the time I was done hearing confessions after Mass, two plumbers had broken up the sidewalk, dug up the broken pipe and were nearly finished replacing the broken pipe and valve. While that was being done we found out from Fr. Peter that he had turned off that very valve (which sprung a leak, leading to the geyser) the night before when he heard the sound of water from a broken pipe inside the wall of the church back by the organ! Sure enough, once the water was flowing again, the “original” leak could be heard throughout the church. They had to cut in the floor of the church and in the wall behind the organ, and a gusher equaling the outside geyser was seen spewing up and into the hollow block wall. With the newly replaced water valve we should have been able to turn off the water to only the church, stopping the newly found leak while still having water available everywhere else. That way Mass goers could use the restrooms in the school and rectory if need be, even if we couldn’t restore water to the church in time. Guess what? It didn’t cut off water to that broken pipe! So the main water valve had to be turned off again. Working feverishly, knowing the circumstances facing us, the plumbers fixed the pipe as quickly as possible and the water got turned back on at approximately 3:30, just before we began the 4:00 Christmas Vigil Mass!
So, if you are one of the many who benefitted from plumbers willing to come help us out on the day before Christmas, please be sure to offer a prayer for the good folks at Dyser. They certainly were on my list to be remembered at the Christmas Masses! And now you know the real story of how I spent my first Christmas at Epiphany. I am not sure which version is more unbelievable but I don’t want to face either one again!
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka