He only shuts up when he is writing!
From the Pastor: Warning: False Information Below
Before all else, don’t forget that Tuesday, the feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, or Candlemas, we bless candles with special prayers. Bring yours before the 8:00 am Mass. Weather permitting, we will bless the candles outside near the rectory chapel. Don’t be late. Wednesday is the feast of St. Blase. We bless throats on that day, so come drive off all of those nasty winter bugs and other evils. Also on that day we bless bread, wine, water, and fruit for the relief of throat ailments, so you can bring those and share with others who could not make it to Mass to get their throats blessed. Or keep it for yourself for a later day of need. It sure doesn’t hurt to have blessed things, including food and drink, around the house!
Beyond that, a celebrity is coming to town that afternoon! Fr. Vincent is returning for a visit. He flies into Tampa too late to be at the Mass of St. Blase, but at least I can share some blessed food with him later in the day. He will only be here a few hours and then flies off again for a few weeks to “quarantine” elsewhere. But he is returning on Ash Wednesday and will be with us for two weeks. One of those weeks he will be giving us a Parish Mission! He still has to work out other schedule issues so we are not sure yet when the Mission will begin and end, but stay tuned for more information. His probable topic: “Going to hell is worse than catching covid.” Or something like that. Or something completely different than that. We will see.
On a different note, this past week I was flagged for the third time by Falsebook “fact checkers'' as having passed on false information regarding covid and the World Health Organization. Ha! I loved their article explaining, in a generic article attacking, not specifically the article which I posted, but multiple “articles and tweets” “misinterpreting” WHO and PCR tests and positive cases... blah, blah, blah... and then it tried to show how all such articles and tweets were wrong to say that PCR tests have many false positives and may conflate “positive test” with “contagious.” But in defending the PCR against false positives, they stated multiple times that they do, indeed, have false positives. They quoted someone who must be quotable as admitting that many false positives will be generated in the future but not now. Only later. And then he guessed that it might be 1% false positives now. But that’s not a big thing. Except it is a big thing for those 1900 people per day (his number) who receive a false positive and must quarantine for two weeks and trace their contacts and warn them (instill fear in them) that they have been exposed and perhaps need to quarantine themselves. But even more head-scratchingly, the “true” fact-checker article went on to state several times that the PCR positive tests don’t mean that you have covid! Nor does a positive result mean that you are ill or contagious. They state this quite clearly. Being infected with a contagious disease should mean that you are both ill and contagious but it doesn’t mean that with covid because of how they define “infected.” For these geniuses, having an infection means that “a person is or has been infected.” Did you catch “or has been”? A positive test is not a false positive just because you don’t currently have covid, as long as you once had covid! So if you caught covid last February and took the test today it should return a positive result because, in their own words, you are infected. You got over your covid nearly a year ago but you are, by their measurement and definition, infected, because you are one of those “or has been infected” people. Yes, they bring that up multiple times in the article, so it is not a typo. You are a “case” because you are (not were, as normal people would put it) infected. But you are not contagious because you do not have the virus any longer. But you (“true positive” but actually immune and don’t have covid), along with the “false positive” people (who also don’t have covid), need both to quarantine yourself and to instill the fear of death into all those who have been in close contact with you. But don’t you dare call it a false positive! Unbelievable! I am glad to see what they consider to be “true” information, for they really cleared up everything about what they mean by “cases” and “false positives” and “true positives.” They also, in passing, stated that they know that the positive results are positive because they often run them a second time. They didn’t mention that if there is no concern about false positives there is no reason to run them a second time, nor did they mention if that second positive result also adds to the numbers of “cases.” But if I speculate further, this article will probably be listed as “false information.”
Had I used fact-checker definitions in the first part of this article, I would have told you that you need not bring new candles to be blessed on Candlemas because if you have ever burned blessed candles you still have them, even if the wax was completely consumed by the flame. Moreover, you cannot come to the St. Blase throat blessing if you have ever had a sore throat because you are infected now, not then.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Some Liturgical Notes of Interest
Several people have asked several other people about why we still have Christmas decorations out in the church. The answer, of course, is that it is still Christmas! Christmas usually starts about August in the stores as they line the shelves with garland and pre-lit trees for sale. I assume it was the same this year, but, due to covid mask mandates, I simply refrained from doing any shopping except for food and for such necessary things as household items. No browsing, no wandering the aisles looking for whatever the marketing geniuses were pushing. Christmas music usually begins to play on the radio at Thanksgiving, though not much of it is actually Christmas music anymore, replaced with such “traditional carols” as “Jingle Bell Rock” and “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer.” Churches everywhere race to put out their manger scenes before the First Sunday in Advent, fill their bleak sanctuaries with ornamented Christmas trees and green felt banners, and generally pretend that Advent is Christmas for all practical purposes. Not so here. Advent is Advent. Christmas is Christmas. So in Advent, during which time everything is subdued in preparation for and anticipation of Christ’s birth, the flowers were taken away, replaced, in some spots, by greenery and a few poinsettias. The red on the poinsettias, by the way, are leaves, not flowers, so they don’t break the Advent rule of “no flowers on the altar.” We tried this year to set up actual Christmas decorations as close to Christmas as possible, taking into account the schedules of the volunteers and staff who undertook all of the work. We (they!) will take it all down when Christmas comes to an end, or thereabouts. (Actually, some of the real greenery has already been taken down because in our climate it had already become a droopy, sad-looking “brownery.”) So when does Christmas actually end? Some claim that once the Twelve Days of Christmas are over, so is Christmas. They will then take down the Christmas decorations once the Three Kings arrive on Epiphany (January 6 in the TLM calendar, various dates in the NOM). Others claim that the Baptism of Our Lord is the end of Christmas, so on January 13 it all gets removed in the TLM, various dates in the NOM. Some years we may follow those opinions. But this year we are opting to make Christmas last as long as possible. After all, we had Easter stolen from us last spring so we need to do something special to embrace at least this joyful season! With this in mind, all liturgical signs of Christmas end with the coming of Candlemas, the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, February 2.
I hope you know that the 8:00 am Mass will be quite a bit longer that day. We will begin outdoors, weather permitting, with a special blessing of candles. Bring your own. Bring a single one. Bring boxes of them. Bring 100% beeswax, or paraffin, or soy, or earwax candles if that is what you have available. There are multiple blessings given to the candles that day and you don’t want to miss it. After the blessing, you will be able to take part in the short procession back into the church, so be sure to bring at least one candle which you can carry in the procession. It would be ideal, as with most processions, if we could carry our lit candles and process from one church to another and have Mass at the second church, but that is not realistic here. So we move from outside to inside in what is normally the only daytime candlelight procession of the year. Unlike the Blessing of the Palms and procession where we assume it will be hot so we set up under the oak trees out front, we assume that on Candlemas we will want to be in the sun, so we set up in the field near the rectory chapel. (Our first year here we did the candle blessing in the rectory chapel --so small was the congregation and number of candles to be blessed-- since nobody had ever heard of nor experienced this blessing before!) Come early and you can drive close, drop off your containers of candles, and return your car to the parking lot before it all begins. Come late or “right on time” and you will be carrying the boxes from the parking lot and may even miss getting them blessed. I do need to stress that if you come after the blessing has begun (or finished!) you will not get candles blessed that day! You will be driving in rush-hour traffic so plan ahead.
Of course, even if you somehow miss candlemas, the next day, February 3, is the Feast of St. Blase (or Blaise). You know we bless throats on that day but did you realize that in the old Rite there is also a blessing of the candles which will be used for the throat blessing, plus a blessing for bread, wine, water, and fruit for the relief of throat ailments and “every infirmity of soul or body”? I still have a bottle of wine I blessed for myself last year in case I got a sore throat and fortunately, through the intercession of Our Lady of Good Health, I have not had to drink it! (I won’t tell you how many bottles I had to drink due to maladies of the soul, though!) The perishables, needless to say, are meant to be eaten much more quickly. Mark your calendars before you forget!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Grumble, Grumble, Grumble
I was hoping to write a heartfelt “Thank You” article, thanking everyone who worked so hard to make our Epiphany celebration such an incredible event but the “real world” got in the way. There are just too many things going on right now which require some sort of “pastoral commentary” but are not exactly the best of topics for sermons. So let me comment here instead. First of all, the news coverage of the “Storming of the Capitol” has been atrocious. The very people and news organizations who kept outright lying about how “mostly peaceful” this summer’s leftist riots were, who praised rampagers for their tactics, who demanded that local and federal law enforcement stand down, who refused to arrest, or, once arrested, refused to prosecute the lawbreakers, are now screaming from the rooftops that everyone who not only entered the Capitol building but everyone who stood outside, who watched it, who heard of it, or who in any way ever uttered or thought the word “Trump” in a less-than-disgusted manner be immediately fired from their jobs, arrested, locked in concentration camps, and forever branded as a terrorist, including their relatives and acquaintances down to the fourth degree. I exaggerate only a little.
There is no exaggeration about the dangerous path taken by the big tech leftists in all of this. For the social media to, as a group, remove a sitting President from their platforms is a sign that they can and, mark this well, WILL go after anyone with whom they disagree. The instantaneous destruction of their “rival” platform, Parler, is one ominous example. It is one thing to call for a boycott of a company, which then allows consumers to decide either to support a company or not, but for monopolies to band together in lockstep to shut down a company for doing exactly what the Big Bullies themselves previously did with great pride in “real” government uprisings outside of this country, and were simultaneously doing during this “civil war” (as anyone who only reads headlines of mainstream media is convinced we just had) is something Al Capone and his ilk would be proud of. Farcebook pages and Bleets were used by the “Capitol Hill Gang,” yet those leftist companies have not even been “tsk-tsk’d, let alone banned,” by those controlling the internet. In fact, they are being applauded for removing tens of thousands of people whose thoughts The Left disagrees with. As one who belongs to a group already on the “terrorist threat” list (the Catholic Church, for being pro-life and pro-morality, has been several times branded a terrorist organization) I can see a day in the near future when my personal and my parish accounts will be “disappeared” in a like manner.
But now that I brought up the topic of “Catholic Church” I should like to jump to Her latest news headlines. To begin with, everyone doing any due diligence knows that the two covid vaccines currently available in the temporarily-united States use aborted baby tissue cell lines in their testing processes. And while the Bishops of these States and the Bishop of Rome all insist that everyone has an “obligation” to “voluntarily” take the shot, I have yet to see anyone broach the subject of pediatric deaths from influenza which have been drastically reduced and which will undoubtedly return to normal if we wipe out covid and usher in the flu once again. Covid has almost wiped out the flu worldwide. In the whole country, only 71 deaths of minors have so far been “associated with” covid while hundreds of youthful lives have been spared by the elimination of the flu. According to the CDC, the lives of 600 or more children in the US are believed to have been snuffed out by the flu during the 2017-18 flu season. They note that flu deaths were undercounted; I note that covid is overcounted. Those demanding covid vaccinations never mention that they may be biased in their reasoning since it is their own age groups that are being hit hardest by covid while children are mostly unharmed. I am not implying that this fact is the only one worth considering but it sure is one worth putting forth for all to see.
Now I turn my commentary to the new Moto Proprio on Lectors and Acolytes. The change to Canon Law now allows both men and women (instead of men exclusively) to be “instituted” as lectors and acolytes (basically, lectors are those who read the epistles at Novus Ordo Masses and acolytes are those who serve at the altar). Both males and females already do those things in the NOM. But until now they were only doing that as “extraordinary” ministers at a parish level. Once “instituted” to those roles, they have a “universal” role that may be fulfilled at any parish, even beyond diocesan boundaries. Since installed acolytes can function as subdeacons in the TLM, will Installed Acolyte Sister Mary Pantsuit from St. Elton John parish insist on subdeaconing our Solemn High Masses? Moreover, since only adults can be installed in these two ministries, could it be that altar boys and girls will have to give way to their moms and dads?
Lastly, there are new directions from Rome regarding the distribution of ashes on Ash Wednesday. The priest has to wash his hands “after blessing the ashes” and before distributing them, not afterward. That part makes no sense but the rest is worse. He then “puts on a facemask” (yes, it’s in the instructions!) and imposes them “without saying anything.” It is times like these that truly make me joyful that at TLMs we must use the 1962 rules!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Epiphany Holy Water Blessing Ceremony
Last week I wrote a little about the upcoming Epiphany Water blessing and that this year was the first time we would be able to use the complete ceremony. I wasn’t sure how many people would come for it but I figured that, along with the choir, maybe a dozen people would make the trek. In case I was off by a lot, I printed out 25 copies of the basic blessing prayers in English for them to have. We set up 4 eight-foot tables across the front of the church outside of the altar rail and started labeling and opening up 6 cases of water bottles which I planned on blessing to give out this weekend to those who could not make it on Epiphany Eve. Some hearty helpers came in early and it is a good thing they did! People started coming in with salt (a necessary component of Holy Water in the old Rite) and water. Lots of it. We printed out 25 more copies of the previously mentioned prayers and it still seemed that less than half the people got one. All four tables were soon full and the large jugs underneath the tables had to share space with the continued “stream” of water being brought in. Most people were a bit taken back by the need to take the lids off the water, as they didn’t realize that exorcized and blessed salt had to be added to the freshly exorcized and blessed water.
Most of the time when people get their water blessed by a priest, he simply says a quick prayer over the container, and off they go. The new Rites, even when they are followed to a “t” are sorely lacking compared to the ancient Rites, as so much was simply discarded as “superfluous” and “unnecessary”. As for the Epiphany Eve blessing of the Holy Water, it is nowhere to be found in the new books. To drive this point home, let me show you what the prayer of blessing is in the new Rite “Book of Blessings.” As in most new Rite blessings, the priest “may” say a bunch of non-blessing stuff as written in the book or using “similar words” and perhaps read a few lines from Scripture, with a choice of eight passages being suggested. This part, of course, is optional. Then the prayer of blessing is written for him to say with “hands outstretched.” “Blessed are you, Lord, all-powerful God, who in Christ, the living water of salvation, blessed and transformed us. Grant that, when we are sprinkled with this water or make use of it, we will be refreshed inwardly by the power of the Holy Spirit and continue to walk in the new life we received at baptism. We ask this through Christ our Lord.” There is, of course, a second optional prayer, because, well, there always must be options! “Lord, holy Father, look with kindness on your children, redeemed by your Son and born to a new life by water and the Holy Spirit. Grant that those who are sprinkled with this water may be renewed in body and spirit and may make a pure offering of their service to you. We ask this through Christ our Lord.” Note that in reciting neither of these prayers does the priest make the sign of the cross, nor does he mention driving away demons (neither from the water nor with the water!), or sanctifying the persons, places, and things that will be sprinkled with the water. In fact, neither prayer of blessing even (read them again if you cannot believe this!) asks God to exorcize, sanctify, or bless the water! Need I mention that there is no mention of salt, either? It is pretty apparent even to newly ordained priests that they are better off “winging it” and making up their own prayer if they want the water to receive any sort of blessing at all.
Granted, the Epiphany Eve blessing of Holy Water is much more complex than the normal old Rite blessing of Holy Water, but even in the “normal” old blessing the priest not only exorcizes and blesses both salt and water, he also prays extra prayers while mixing them together, and, just to make sure there is no doubt about what he was doing, prays yet another prayer after the mixing is done. All of the prayers are explicit in stating what is being done and the sign of the cross is made multiple times during all of it. But on this one night, the evening before Epiphany, the old Rite adds even more solemnity to the blessing prayers. We started out with the chanting of the Litany of Saints, asking prayers of individual Saints (ora pro nobis) and multiple or groups of Saints (orate pro nobis). Then came my first beseeching of God that He would ✠ bless and ✠ sanctify the water, then we chanted the Agnus Dei, Kyrie, Pater Noster, and three Psalms. Then came the powerful exorcism prayer I showed you last week, followed by the Magnificat. Only after all of this did I pray the multiple “normal” exorcism and blessing prayers. The schola sang the Te Deum, a traditional hymn praising God with joy and thanksgiving. Oh, and a final prayer thanking God for granting all of the petitions for which we had asked. It took just over an hour, about twice what I expected and half of what I feared! Now that we have done this once in all its splendor, I believe that we may need a larger church to accommodate everybody that will participate next year!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Epiphany Holy Water
This coming Wednesday, January 6, is our parish Feast Day! On Tuesday, January 5, at 6:30 pm I will be exorcising and blessing special Epiphany Holy Water which will be made available beginning the next day (along with blessed chalk) for the traditional Epiphany House Blessing. Since we don’t have a neighborhood parish, I cannot simply walk from house to house to do the blessings, so I will give you a modified version of the blessing which should be done by the spiritual head of the house. All of the new parishioners will finally realize what the chalk marks above the doors of the church and rectory mean! As for the special Epiphany Holy Water, although I will be blessing cases of water in bottles, if you wish to bring your own holy water bottles to fill or if you wish to bring gallons of water to be blessed, feel free to do so. Salt, too. I will also need some help ahead of time opening up each of the bottles (exorcized and blessed salt has to be added) and again afterward closing them again, so if any of you can come early and/or stay late, I will be very appreciative. This special water blessing on the eve of Epiphany has, until this year, been a very small, inconspicuous blessing with little to no chanting since there has always been something interfering with the schedule. This year the schola will be present to chant the Psalms and Antiphons as the Church expects to happen at such a special ceremony. I don’t know how much time it will take, though, as this will be the first time we are doing it “by the book.” I am guessing 30 minutes but so many of our Traditional Latin ceremonies take longer than I expect that I have put it on my calendar to be finished by midnight! Again, we will start the blessing at 6:30 pm. Come one, come all.
Just to give you some idea of the power of the exorcisms and blessings of the Epiphany Holy Water, I have printed below the first (not only) exorcism prayer which I will be chanting that evening.
Exorcism against Satan and the apostate angels
In the name of our Lord Jesus ✠ Christ and by His power, we cast you out, every unclean spirit, every devilish power, every assault of the infernal adversary, every legion, every diabolical group and sect; begone and stay far from the Church of God, from all who are made in the image of God and redeemed by the precious blood of the divine Lamb ✠. Never again dare, you cunning serpent, to deceive the human race, to persecute the Church of God, nor to strike the chosen of God and to sift them as wheat ✠. For it is the Most High God who commands you ✠, He to whom you heretofore in your great pride considered yourself equal; He who desires that all men might be saved and come to the knowledge of truth. God the Father ✠ commands you. God the Son ✠ commands you. God the Holy ✠ Spirit commands you. The majesty of Christ, the eternal Word of God made flesh ✠ commands you; He who for the salvation of our race, the race that was lost through your envy, humbled Himself and became obedient even unto death; He who built His Church upon a solid rock, and proclaimed that the gates of hell should never prevail against her, and that He would remain with her all days, even to the end of the world. The sacred mystery of the cross ✠ commands you, as well as the power of all the mysteries of Christian faith ✠. The exalted Virgin Mary, Mother of God ✠ commands you, who in her lowliness crushed your proud head from the first moment of her Immaculate Conception. The faith of the holy apostles Peter and Paul and the other apostles ✠ commands you. The blood of the martyrs and the devout intercession ✠ of all holy men and women commands you. Therefore, accursed dragon and every diabolical legion, we adjure you by the living ✠ God, by the true ✠ God, by the holy ✠ God, by the God who so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but shall have life everlasting; cease your deception of the human race and your giving them to drink of the poison of everlasting damnation; desist from harming the Church and fettering her freedom. Begone Satan, you father and teacher of lies and enemy of mankind. Give place to Christ in whom you found none of your works; give place to the one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church, which Christ Himself purchased with His blood. May you be brought low under God's mighty hand. May you tremble and flee as we call upon the holy and awesome name of Jesus, before whom hell quakes, and to whom the virtues, powers, and dominations are subject; whom the cherubim and seraphim praise with unwearied voices, saying: Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts!
Oh, yes, Epiphany Holy Water is special! It is powerful! It is useful! “Regular” Holy Water, blessed in the old Rite, not the new, has been exorcized and blessed and has had exorcized and blessed salt added, and has been given still more blessings. But this holy water gets so much more. Bring coolers and buckets and jugs of water for yourself and for distribution to family and friends all year long! See you Tuesday evening!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka