From the Pastor: The Cure for the Church of Nice Disease
This weekend Epiphany of Our Lord parish was host to a conference sponsored by a newly formed lay group. Their aim is to form a “Resistance” to what their main speaker, Michael Voris, calls the “Church of Nice”. The topics, such as Reverence for the Eucharist, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and the True Meaning of Catholic Social Justice, when heard through truly Catholic ears, were so pleasing as to make the conference a sell out (in terms of seats, not in compromising the Faith!). My firm belief is that such resistance is best lived by making the Traditional Latin Mass (and the other sacraments in their traditional rituals) the norm once again, rather than the exception. Allow me to explain.
Unfortunately, for the past 50 years or so, Catholics have been misguided and misled and mistaken in their understanding of what it means to be Catholic. I used to think, as a young, excited priest eager to share the Faith with people who, like me, grew up with less than stellar or even spiritually deadly CCD classes, that this lack of teaching and, hence, understanding, was inadvertent. I naively thought that we weren’t taught because, well, the hippie generation infected the Church much like the flu is spread, without anyone trying purposefully to make others sick. The longer I have been a priest, though, the more convinced I have become that it was done willfully. Changes were made by “experts” which even someone without Faith could have predicted to bring calamity. A few examples are in order.
First, new Bible translations changed the order of many Old Testament books and even their names, changed the numbering of some of the Psalms, and changed the names of many of the Old Testament figures. This could hardly be done by accident, yet anyone could have predicted that it would lead to great confusion and a giving up on reading and quoting the Bible, let alone checking out scripture references from other sources. How so? Find the book from the older Douay Rheims (DR) Bible titled IV Kings in the New American Bible (NAB). Not there? Huh. How about the prophet Osee? Though one of the prophetic books bears his name in the DR, his name is changed in the NAB. Remember the words Jesus prayed on the Cross quoting (NAB) Psalm 22:2 which reads, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” In the DR, Psalm 22:2 reads, “He hath set me in a place of pasture. He hath brought me up, on the water of refreshment:” Yes, you have to look elsewhere to find the proper quote in an old Bible. (I am purposefully not giving you the answers!) What does that do to anybody reading older spiritual classics or an old missal which quotes the DR and they cannot make the connection between it and their new bible? It makes them give up. Don’t tell me that was not known before the changes were made.
Another deliberate destructive change was the liturgical (Mass) calendar. How many people were named for the Saint upon whose feast day they were born only to have the feast changed? Now their name day is meaningless. For instance, a boy born on March 7, 1964, might have been named Thomas, for that was St. Thomas’ feast day until 1969. Then it (March 7) changed to become the feast of Sts. Perpetua and Felicity (who were moved from March 6) while St. Thomas was moved to January 28. Why would anyone name their child after the Saint of their birthday when they know it could be changed yet again on a whim? No wonder we have Catholic kids who, even if blessed with a Saint’s name, can’t connect the dots between those names.
Finally, we come to the change of the entire Mass. Who could not predict that changing the words, the prayers, the language, the liturgical calendar, the colors (think: funeral), the “ministers”, the direction faced by the priest, the ways and means of distributing Holy Communion, the placement of the tabernacle, the removal of all meaningful fasts, and the destruction of both physical and musical beauty would destroy countless people’s faith? I have become convinced that this was done knowingly, not ignorantly, for it would have been simply too easy to foresee the negative consequences. Change the Mass--trivialize the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass--and you change and trivialize the Faith. Catholics become either non-Catholics or Catholics without the conviction that they belong to Christ’s own timeless Church which possesses all Truth and which is necessary for Salvation. Think about all of this next time you hear (or say) something derogatory about the Traditional Latin Mass; the next time someone asserts that the Common Core Mass (sorry, Novus Ordo Mass) is at least “equal” if not “superior” simply because it is new. Perhaps you will see why those who learn it (the TLM) or return to it after decades away from it, love it. The Traditional Latin Mass, accompanied by the other sacraments in the Traditional Rituals, is the best, most proven, cure for the disease called Church of Nice. I hope someone said that at the conference!
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: A Hell of a Pain? Hardly!
At the beginning of Lent this year I suggested, strongly, that you pick up some reading material on Hell so that you can refresh your brain and soul with some holy fear of eternal punishment, something that the whole world seems to completely ignore or ridicule. It is so easy to get caught up in even the wicked ideas of the world (such as there being no possible way an all loving God would ever condemn anyone to eternal punishment--except for the people I despise, of course) when everyone, including, God help us, Catholic clergy, seem to be on the same wavelength. It is imperative that real Catholics (yes, I am opposing “real” Catholic to “fake” Catholics) find time to immerse themselves in even the “harsh” teachings of Holy Mother Church so as to be immunized from the diseases of modern man. I have heard from some of you that you have taken me up on the suggestion and with good results. Hell is gruesome. Hell is terrifying. Hell is... well, Hell is a place you want to avoid at all costs once you get even the smallest idea of what it is like.
Start out trying to imagine Hell by simply thinking of the worst of everything you have ever experienced all coming together at the same time. Think of the worst smell you have ever had to endure. The day the septic tank backed up into the house? The thing your dog rolled in last week? The perfume that lady in the pew directly in front of you right now drenched herself with this morning? The stench in Hell is infinitely worse. Think of that putrid odor emanating from the most repulsive person you have ever seen, spoken with or heard of. I’m thinking here of major physical and mental deformities and abnormalities, untoward social boorishness, rudeness without parallel, complete lack of couth and hygiene, and in-your-face moral turpitude. You know, your typical liberal politician. You would be wise to choose to be surgically conjoined to that “thing” for life rather than to spend one day ten feet away from the least hideous person or demon in Hell. Think of the most discordant or earsplitting noise you have ever heard. Your kids’ music? Dentist’s drill? Fingernails on a chalkboard? (Alexa, what is a chalkboard?) In Hell you will fantasize about sitting inside one of those aggravating cars which drive around playing rap “music” which can be heard from 3 blocks away because, compared to the rest of the cacophony in Hell, it would be like enjoying a symphony at Carnegie Hall.
OK, you get the idea. I didn’t mention thinking about the loss of God and the loss God feels when He loses us (though that should be our worst grief and greatest fear) because I don’t think most people can readily conceptualize what would be even a fairly good emotional or rational understanding of just how disturbing that would be (and should be, not in imagination but in reality, whenever we commit mortal sin). I also left, until now, getting you to think about your worst physical pain, but I think that is probably what most people first sweat over if they ever consider Hell. Visions of plunging into the fires of Hell and the pools of burning sulfur quickly elicit shudders and trembling. I was thinking about such pains last week when my back went out. I don’t know why it went out, it just did. The first day was terrible. I had trouble walking. I had even more trouble bending over. It was painful to stand but sitting didn’t so much relieve the pain as shift it to other body parts. That night before going to bed I set the alarm for 30 minutes less sleep. Not that I didn’t want the extra sleep, for I knew it would be a tumultuous night, but rather because I knew what to expect in the morning. It took me about 15 grueling minutes just to struggle out of bed, to get my feet on the ground and my hands on the door jam so that I could take the two excruciating steps necessary to get into the bathroom. Anyway, it is not my intention to describe what it felt like so much as it is my objective to tell you what I did about it (besides moving very slowly and deliberately). I did what I always tell you all to do. I offered it up. “Thank you, God, for this incredible pain, especially during Lent. I would never have willingly taken this upon myself but You knew that it would be good for me, so you mercifully allowed me to experience it. Lord, I don’t want to go to Hell, where this agony will be just the warm up for the real torment. Thank you for reminding me of that so that I can redouble my efforts to remain always in a state of grace. Help me love you enough to accept this gift without complaint and to offer it up with joy.”
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Michael Voris is Coming
Michael Voris is coming to Epiphany on March 25, from 9:30 am ‘til 4:00 pm, for a one day conference. Here is the (slightly edited) “official” announcement as seen on the ticket form (which can be found at www.EpiphanyTampa.com):
A group of lay Catholics from the Diocese of St. Petersburg is offering a seminar at Epiphany of Our Lord Catholic Church called "Restoring Our Catholic Identity“ with Special Guest Michael Voris. The event’s purpose is to connect faithful Catholics with one another so they can deepen their knowledge of the Faith and unite together for addressing problems regarding the loss of Catholic identity within our local diocese.
Our special guest speaker is Michael Voris of ChurchMilitant, a Catholic lay apostolate whose mission it is to promote the One True Faith given to humanity by Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Mr. Voris has received his Sacred Theology Baccalaureate and graduated Magna cum Laude. He will speak on the topics of The State of the Church and the Need for Lay Involvement; Increasing Reverence for The Holy Eucharist; The Four Last Things; and Lay Action to Save The Church.
Additionally, Dr. David McKalip, M.D. of St. Petersburg will speak on FAST, HOPE and What the Catechism says about Social Justice. Catholic layman Travis Ferguson of Clearwater will speak on Steps for Action for the Laity.
The program will also include the praying of a rosary with an intention to promote the Catholic Faith. A Boxed lunch is included in the $25.00 ticket price (sorry, no discounts for bringing your own lunch). The parish also has a regularly scheduled Traditional Latin Mass at 8:00 am and a Novus Ordo Vigil Mass at 5:00 pm for those who wish to attend Mass either before or after the conference.
A special Reception and Dinner ($125.00) for 25 guests will be offered Saturday night for interested parties to spend more time with Mr. Voris. This gives you a chance to have a more intimate meeting with Michael Voris and discuss the best means to restore the Catholic Church and Catholic identity in the Diocese of St. Petersburg. The event will feature a full dinner with dessert in a wonderful restaurant - Brio Tuscan Grill in the International Plaza, Tampa. 6-7 pm Reception (cash bar), 7-9 Dinner and program.
Ever since the announcement, people have been asking, “How did you get him to come here?” Yes, he is a very credible “news anchor” known well by online Catholics! (If you don’t know him, check out www.ChurchMilitant.com to see who he is and what his apostolate offers. He has Catholic news stories, in-depth investigations of various Catholic topics, exposés of known yet unimpeded scandals, apologetics works, Latin courses and much, much more.) The reality is, though, that I had absolutely nothing to do with him coming to our area. Those kudos go to a small, newly formed group of laity who simply let him know that they wanted to fight for the Faith locally, a sort of “Resistance” movement, which Michael has been encouraging in recent months. He generously volunteered to come if a local parish would open the doors for him. The only part I had in this whole thing is that I said, quite enthusiastically, that I would love to have him come here. And so he is coming. I love when things like that fall into my lap!
The others who are giving talks are going to be showing you just a small sample of talented speakers we already have in our diocese, always eager and ready to enlighten Catholics on areas of the Faith in which they have expertise. Once you hear these presentations I hope you will be ready to support this group of laity in their future endeavors, too.
Unbelievably, there are still tickets available as of this writing. It took a while to get this conference planned and to have all of the conference presenters “cleared” by the diocese and the time is very short for advertising it. So please, after you have gotten your tickets, share this message with as many people as you can, via phone, email, facebook, twitter, messenger or even the good old fashioned way, by speaking face to face with someone who might want to know about it and come participate!
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Sing for Lent
Now that we are in Lent, our choir director, Anders, asked me to encourage the congregation to sing along with the choir. Why is this encouragement coming during this penitential season? Does he think it will be a penance for you to sing? Perhaps he thinks it will be a penance for the rest of us to listen to you? Or is it simply that during Lent no musical instruments are allowed to be played at Mass unless necessary to assist the choir, and he believes that enough voices, all blending together throughout the church, will overcome the lack of organ music, will help raise your level of actual participation, and will assist even the non-singers to lift their hearts to the Lord? (Hint: It’s the last one.)
Holy Mother Church encourages congregations to sing or chant at Mass. Everyone “knows” that the Vatican II document, Sacrosanctum Concilium, paragraph 14 states that “full, active and conscious participation” means that you have to sing (and dance, jump, yell, wave, talk and be irreverent) or else you are not a faithful Catholic. Of course, everyone at Epiphany knows that this is nonsense, and that the word translated “active” is not the Latin “activa” by which we usually mean “active in an outward, physical manner” but rather is “actuosa”, which has the contemplative properties of the mind and soul as its focus. Understanding that the modern liturgists are preying on the linguistic ignorance of the average Catholic, you, the well formed and well informed Catholic, naturally and rightly rebel against such evil-doers and their nefarious plot to destroy the Faith (O, how I wish I could insert some old Batman and Robin music and sound effects in here with a Bam! and a Pow! visually taking up the page for a split second!) and refuse all efforts to make you move a muscle. No liturgical dance for you, all right. No wandering around the building bear hugging a sign of peace. No prancing up into the sanctuary to show off your surgical implants and oratory skills as you read, nay, proclaim(!) the scriptures. No waving your arms in quasi sign language gestures as you sing, “Rain down, rain down, rain down your luv on your peeeeplllllle”. Not gonna happen.
But long before the slimy modernist liturgists gained power, Pope Pius XI (Divini Cultus) in 1928 and Pope Pius XII (Mediator Dei) in 1947 had encouraged “active” participation from the congregation, including, but not limited to, chanting and singing along with the choir. They, too, used the word “actuosa” and it is clear from those two indicated documents that they had in mind not physical exercises but rather an interior movement of the mind and soul which may be either manifested by or assisted by a physical movement. These two popes are hardly modernists, yet they saw that, for some people, joining the choirs (and the choirs of angels) singing the hymns and responses of the Mass could help them “actually” pray the Mass better. As Pope Pius XII explained, “all the faithful should be aware that to participate in the eucharistic sacrifice is their chief duty and supreme dignity, and that not in an inert and negligent fashion, giving way to distractions and day-dreaming, but with such earnestness and concentration that they may be united as closely as possible with the High Priest.” (MD 80) Chanting can, but does not necessarily, keep you focused. It is not absolutely necessary for everyone to chant, therefore, for the Pope acknowledged, “So varied and diverse are men's talents and characters that it is impossible for all to be moved and attracted to the same extent by community prayers, hymns and liturgical services. Moreover, the needs and inclinations of all are not the same, nor are they always constant in the same individual. Who, then, would say, on account of such a prejudice, that all these Christians cannot participate in the Mass nor share its fruits? On the contrary, they can adopt some other method which proves easier for certain people; for instance, they can lovingly meditate on the mysteries of Jesus Christ or perform other exercises of piety or recite prayers which, though they differ from the sacred rites, are still essentially in harmony with them.” (MD 109)
Even so, both popes stated, “so that the faithful take a more active part in divine worship, let Gregorian chant be restored to popular use in the parts proper to the people. Indeed it is very necessary that the faithful attend the sacred ceremonies not as if they were outsiders or mute onlookers, but let them fully appreciate the beauty of the liturgy and take part in the sacred ceremonies, alternating their voices with the priest and the choir, according to the prescribed norms. If, please God, this is done, it will not happen that the congregation hardly ever or only in a low murmur answer the prayers in Latin or in the vernacular." (DC 9, MD 192)
So, even if only for Lent, could you try singing and see how it “actuosa-ly” works? More from Anders elsewhere in this bulletin.
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka