He only shuts up when he is writing!
From the Pastor: Candlemas Day is Here Again!
That’s right. February 2, Groundhog Day in the secular world, is, in the “real world” the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a feast traditionally called, “Candlemas Day”. On this day we bless candles. What kind of candles can be blessed? Just about any kind, as long as it will not be used for pagan or otherwise immoral reasons. (I put in the “non-pagan” proviso because pagans on the web have made a mockery of Candlemas. They claim that the origin is from pagan times and is a “Christianization” of a pagan festival and, of course, they don’t capitalize the “C” in “Christianization”. Then they outline ways of making our festival pagan once again. Satan apes good and holy things on a regular basis and this is another way he leads ignorant souls away from the beauty of Truth. Don’t fall for it.) You may bring in candles for this special blessing and use them around the house for the rest of the year. We will bless some of the church’s candles which will be used for Mass and other liturgical functions. Mass candles must be of beeswax (at least 51%) but non-liturgical candles may be of other types of wax. We will have a procession if possible, though, as you will see below, it has been truncated quite a bit from what it was 500 years ago! Because of the candle blessing, Mass will end later than normal that day (Friday), so plan accordingly. The following is from the Old Catholic Encyclopedia:
According to the Mosaic law a mother who had given birth to a man-child was considered unclean for seven days; moreover she was to remain three and thirty days "in the blood of her purification"; for a maid-child the time which excluded the mother from sanctuary was even doubled. When the time (forty or eighty days) was over the mother was to "bring to the temple a lamb for a holocaust and a young pigeon or turtle dove for sin"; if she was not able to offer a lamb, she was to take two turtle doves or two pigeons; the priest prayed for her and so she was cleansed. (Leviticus 12:2-8) Forty days after the birth of Christ Mary complied with this precept of the law, she redeemed her first-born from the temple (Numbers 18:15), and was purified by the prayer of Simeon the just, in the presence of Anna the prophetess (Luke 2:22 sqq.). No doubt this event, the first solemn introduction of Christ into the house of God, was in the earliest times celebrated in the Church of Jerusalem...
Blessing of candles and procession
According to the Roman Missal the celebrant after Terce (I interrupt this quote to point out that this is an interesting note, since Terce is a mid-morning prayer. This means that the procession with candles on this feast was never a procession in darkness, but always in the daylight hours!), in stole and cope of purple colour, standing at the epistle side of the altar, blesses the candles (which must be of beeswax). Having sung or recited the five orations prescribed, he sprinkles and incenses the candles. Then he distributes them to the clergy and laity, whilst the choir sings the canticle of Simeon, "Nunc dimittis". The antiphon "Lumen ad revelationem gentium et gloriam plebis tuæ Israel" is repeated after every verse, according to the medieval custom of singing the antiphons. During the procession which now follows, and at which all the partakers carry lighted candles in their hands, the choir sings the antiphon "Adorna thalamum tuum, Sion", composed by St. John of Damascus, one of the few pieces which, text and music, have been borrowed by the Roman Church from the Greeks. The other antiphons are of Roman origin. The solemn procession represents the entry of Christ, who is the Light of the World, into the Temple of Jerusalem. It forms an essential part of the liturgical services of the day, and must be held in every parochial church where the required ministers can be had. The procession is always kept on 2 February even when the office and Mass of the feast is transferred to 3 February. Before the reform of the Latin liturgy by St. Pius V (1568), in the churches north and west of the Alps this ceremony was more solemn. After the fifth oration a preface was sung. The "Adorna" was preceded by the antiphon "Ave Maria". While now the procession is held inside the church, during the Middle Ages the clergy left the church and visited the cemetery surrounding it. Upon the return of the procession a priest, carrying an image of the Holy Child, met it at the door and entered the church with the clergy, who sang the canticle of Zachary, "Benedictus Dominus Deus Israel". At the conclusion, entering the sanctuary, the choir sang the responsory, "Gaude Maria Virgo" or the prose, "Inviolata" or some other antiphon in honour of the Blessed Virgin.
There you have it. A short explanation of Candlemas. Come experience it!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Thank You, APA Donors!
As you know, last year, near the end of the year, we finally reached our goal for the Annual Pastoral Appeal. (Goal: $42,058; Pledged: $48,170; Paid: $44,945) This is the annual funding drive for the Diocese of St. Petersburg, of which Epiphany of Our Lord parish is one of 83 parishes/missions. For the year 2017, the Diocese needed $11,842,751.00 to cover its budget. Since “the Diocese” is not a parish, there are no Sunday Masses at “the Diocese” and, therefore, no collections, which means no direct income. So each parish and mission (like St. Joseph Vietnamese Mission, which meets here but is its own entity and has its own APA assessment) is assessed a percentage of the diocesan budget so that “the Diocese” can pay its bills. This APA assessment (or “goal” as they prefer to call it) for Epiphany would have been $142,683 if the total was simply divided by 83 and each parish/mission paid the same amount. But some parishes are much larger than others and would normally have much greater income than the small ones, so an even split would overly burden the least “wealthy” parishes. So instead of just an even division, the Diocese looks instead at the total income every parish/mission had the previous year and takes from each entity that percentage of their income which corresponds to the diocesan budget. If the Diocese budget goes down and the total parish/mission income goes up, everyone’s APA assessment goes down. That never happens. If the Diocese budget goes up and everyone’s income goes down, everyone’s APA increases. That could happen and seems to be the current trend across the Diocese. Though individual parish numbers vary, the number of total parishioners in the Diocese is going down--so the collections are going down--while prices of running everything are rising. So the Diocese keeps its budget as close to the same as possible but still needs to raise it a little bit while most parishes see their income slip. So those down-trending parishes will see their 2018 APA decrease along with their income, which is only fair. But extra money is required to keep the Diocese running. So who pays the extra? The parishes which are staying the same or which are increasing in population and collections. Like us. What a great problem to have! The new diocesan budget is set for $11,890,369.00, a very small increase. Epiphany’s portion has increased to $50,105.00 even though we didn’t have a correspondingly large increase in our income.
At this time, I would like to thank all of you who donated to the APA last year. Below you will find a list of all 68 families/individuals who donated, listed in alphabetical order. There are still approximately $3200 worth of outstanding pledges to the APA, but almost everyone who pledged was able to make good on it. I publish this following list as a sign of my appreciation to all who helped us out but also as a means of you checking to see if your name is listed. Many of you are still not yet registered at Epiphany and there would be a possibility that your donation went, incorrectly, to your previous parish. If you made a donation and don’t see your name, please call the office so that we can get it straightened out! And please don’t search through the names looking to denigrate anyone whose name is not listed, for not only is this un-Christian, it could also be that the person you scorn could have given anonymously. So here is the list. Thank you again!
Abrahamian, Peter; Adams, Charles and Diana; Albok, Dolores; Alvarez, Piedad Alicia; Anderson, Elizabeth J.; Anonymous, Epiphany of Our Lord; Baker, Thomas and Mary Ann; Baquerizo, Daniel and Jessica; Barber, Claudia; Barlow, Sheila; Beaman, Thomas and Diane; Bergmann, Anders and Katherine; Bravo, Magda; Bricker, June; Cantu, David and Jean; Cerasuolo, John; Choi, Helen; Christiani, David and Pamela; Christmas, Richard and Clare; Clauss, Robert and Mariann; Crank, Cynthia; DiMarco, Frank and Pauline; Draude, Tom and Sandi; Farley, Paul and Margaret; Folkerts, Alexander; Franceschini, Mark and Jeanette; Frank, Joseph; Garcia-Provenzano, Angela; Gervais, Marland and Jean; Gornowicz, Bertha; Hahn, Judith; Hernandez, Kevin and Cheryl; Jones, Linda; Jurado, Gloria; Knipper, Rita and John; LaFountain, Pat; Lauren, Steven and Deborah; Lynch, Peter and Elizabeth; Madden, Helen Ennis; Martin, Frank A and Ann B; McMillion, Lorraine; Miller, Clara; Nathe, Knute and Emma; Nguyen, Phu Dinh; Niklas, Joy; Noronha, Vernon and Emilia; Owens, Richard and Deborah; Palka, Carole; Palka, Edwin Rev.; Pete, Audie and Lee; Pham, Tien Thu; Prince, Michael and Amanda; Raulerson, James; Reade, David; Rodriguez, Addison and Anna; Ryan, Marc and Donna; Sands-Cox, Dorothy; Schell, Michael and Noreen; Scussel, John and Bonnie; Simone, Gino and Patti; Thomas, Everett A and Elnora; Vega, Raymond; Weathers, Christopher and Lillianna; Wehle, Sandra; Whiskeyman, Andrew and Jennifer.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Holy Lottery Winnings!
It is my great pleasure to tell you that two of our parishioners have won the two large lottery jackpots from last week. Mega Millions winning numbers to the tune of $450,000,000 were picked at a convenience store in Pasco County. As you know, most of our parishioners drive quite a distance to attend the Traditional Latin Mass at Epiphany, so it should be no surprise that the winning ticket was purchased at a place nearly an hour drive away. The parishioner has not yet claimed (as of the writing of this column, anyway) the money but I am sure that we will soon be the beneficiaries of a sizable tithe. A bit further away, in New Hampshire, the Powerball numbers were picked on our parish feast day, January 6, with the jackpot listed as five-hundred and seventy million dollars. Since the numbers were drawn on the real Epiphany, I am sure that this winning ticket, too, must have been bought by one of our parishioners. I don’t know of anyone who commutes quite that far to attend Mass here, so I can only assume that the ticket must have been obtained by one of our members while they were traveling, be it for a job or vacation. Either way, I am expecting this second, and slightly larger, tithe check to be showing up in the collection basket soon.
In case the two winners are reading this before they have gotten around to writing out the checks, this is a good time to answer a few common questions about tithing. Question number one: How much money does the Church expect me to put in the collection basket? Answer: You are asking a good question but asking it in a less than perfect way. A better way of phrasing this would be: How much money does GOD expect me to put in the collection basket? You see, although what the Church expects is the same as what God expects, for His Bride speaks on His behalf, it is, in our fallen state, easier to make excuses for not tithing to the Church (look at all the wealth She has in art treasures, the Bishop just wastes our money, etc.) than it is to make excuses for not tithing to God. After all, nobody wants to approach the Judgment Seat of God with a wad of money clutched in their cold, dead fingers stammering, “Here, Jesus, you can have it after all. You get whatever I didn’t use. No, no, no, it’s not a bribe. I just thought...” So, how much does He want you to give? Although there are no hard and fast rules of which I am aware (beyond, obviously, one of the precepts of the Church, namely, “You shall help to provide for the needs of the Church”), the Biblical tithe was always 10%, and that was from the first-fruits, not the leftovers, plus almsgiving. The next question which always follows that (right after, “You are kidding, right? 10 percent? That’s nuts!”) is usually, “Is that before or after taxes?” I usually just laugh at that, because if someone doesn’t even know what percentage of their income they tithe right now (using the word “tithe” as the amount of money they put in the collection basket on Sundays, Holy Days, and special collections) it is a bit silly to start obsessing over pre- or post- tax issues! As for the lottery winners, even assuming that Uncle Sam managed to take half of what they thought they were getting, they certainly cannot use that as an excuse to “nickel and dime” God (and HIs Church) to death (so to speak) as if their paltry remaining hundreds of millions of dollars might not be enough for both them and the Church!
Seriously, though, what do you think the average person, even the above average Catholic, would think about tithing after “hitting it big” when they normally tithed only as an afterthought? When they opened their wallet every week or three, surprised once again that a collection was being taken up, and checked (almost secretly) to see if they had any bills smaller than a twenty left in there to wad up and toss into the basket so that they wouldn’t have the embarrassment of having to dig for a few coins to deposit? I am guessing that a $500 dollar check might be all that could be expected from such a good, religious lottery winner. But I am sure that is not going to be the case with our two winners. Folks at Epiphany put God first in all things!
Just for a point of reference for how cheap some people are, there was a recent report of a woman who took her dead Christmas tree back to Costco after the first of the year and demanded (and got!) a refund, since it didn’t stay alive as long as she thought it should have. Fortunately, she must not have been Catholic, or that would have been in the headline! Anyway, if you see either of our lottery winners, let them know that I am waiting for their checks!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Farewell to Fr. Clement and James McCoy
First the bad news. Fr. Philip Clement, who was so instrumental in bringing the Traditional Latin Mass to Tampa, is being transferred to Maine. This is bad news only to us, not to him or to the people of Maine. I will leave it to him to explain how this transfer came about but I want to let you all know that this is not a “punishment” assignment for him, but, rather, one of his own choosing. And, since I have already been asked, “NO!” I have not requested a similar transfer. In past years have spoken to snowbirds from Maine who have described the beauty of their state with great fondness, who have asked me to transfer there because of the great lack of priests, who have been very persuasive in their salesmanship... but not persuasive enough to get me even thinking twice about moving to a place where 64 degrees is a summer temperature rather than winter weather.
For those of you who don’t know just what a TLM hero Fr. Clement is, here is a little background, condensed version though it is. One day in conversation with his pastor, he was shocked to hear something like this: “Why don’t you celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass here?” He took that question and ran with it. He set up informational talks for his parishioners so that they would have the opportunity to understand just what the TLM is all about. After all, for the past 50 years or so, all anyone had heard was how bad the “old” Mass was, how nobody understood what was going on, how the priest had his back to the people (as if that was an insult to them, but turning his back to the Lord in the tabernacle was perfectly fine) and how nobody prayed except for the little old ladies clutching their rosaries (which nobody knows how to pray anymore, because it, too, was seen as a bad “old” tradition in recent decades). He planned, he educated, he got the people enthusiastic about the Mass which brought Christianity to the whole world (in the days when “Christianity” meant “the Catholic Faith”) and which produced countless Saints over two millennia. He showed them Pope Benedict’s writings allowing all priests to celebrate this venerable Mass even without their bishop’s permission. He revealed Pope Benedict’s explanation against the naysayers that the “old” Mass had never been abrogated and more, that what was good and holy in the past cannot now be somehow considered bad or evil. Then the (now retired) bishop, a naysayer of Catholic Tradition if there ever was one, got mad and fought to stop the TLM before it ever got celebrated. Father Clement, in saintly form, peacefully fought for the rights of the people and priests regarding this most august Sacrifice. And the Mass took off. Thank you, Father Clement. We will miss you. If you, dear reader, are able, join him at Incarnation for a farewell potluck on Saturday, January 13. More information and RSVP can be found elsewhere in the bulletin today.
Now for some (brief) good news. If any of you have needed to contact the office in the past 8 months or so, you have had the pleasure of speaking with James McCoy. He came aboard with no parish office experience but has proven himself to be a capable and amiable front desk man. Always quick of wit and willing to help as needed, he has been a blessing for us. But oh, so quickly, this morphs into more bad news. He has decided to move on to greener pastures. It is a long, early morning commute for him and the job, believe it or not, is very stressful, with constant deadlines to meet and even more constant (if there is such a thing) interruptions which seem to put the accomplishment of anything off track yet which must be handled with such charity as to not let anyone know that they are a royal pain in the culus. (Or is that auritulus? Sometimes Google Translate is not much better with Latin than I am.) Anyway, though there were aspects of this job which he truly loved (especially dealing with you, the parishioners), he, like Father Clement, decided that the time was right to go elsewhere. Please feel free to give him a call (constant interruptions are still his life until his departure on January 12, after all) and wish him well, thank him for his assistance, and, above all, offer prayers for his next stage of the journey toward Sainthood.
And finally, some more good news. Although I don’t know who will take Fr. Clement’s place (don’t worry, it’s not me), we have already--miraculously--lined up a replacement for James. Many of you already know him and will probably be thrilled to hear that he is coming to Epiphany. Unfortunately, I have run out of space so you will have to wait until next week’s bulletin to find out that it is Mark Rosendale. Oh, shoot. I blew it. Well, the cat’s out of the bag so this might as well go to print as is.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka