From the Pastor: Our Third Holy Week!
Each year since we became Tampa’s Center for the Traditional Latin Mass we have attempted to improve on what we do and to incorporate even more “tradition” into parish life. For instance, the first Holy Week after we were “transferred” to Epiphany of Our Lord, we had one Tenebrae service, and nobody (including me) knew how long it would last or exactly how it was supposed to go. The second year we added a second Tenebrae, not only because it was a step closer to doing all three for the Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday) but also because the people who attended the single one the previous year were practically begging for more. This year I am happy to announce that we will celebrate all three Tenebraes. Carefully check the calendar, for Holy Thursday’s Tenebrae is, as is traditionally done, “anticipated” (celebrated the evening before). Don’t ask me what “Tenebrae” is, for that will be an admission that you didn’t read even the front cover of last week’s bulletin!
Another thing we are improving upon is the timing of the Easter Vigil and Mass. The first year we started at dark, just like the Novus Ordo Mass does. Last year we thought we would be switching times with St. Joseph Vietnamese Mission (they had volunteered the first year to celebrate theirs a couple of hours earlier, which is licit in a case like this with two groups, each celebrating a different Form of the Mass) but the Mission instead decided that they preferred to celebrate their Vigil outdoors so that both of us could start at dark. But traditionally the Easter Vigil was not begun as darkness began, but rather celebrated in such a way that the Vigil began on Holy Saturday after dark and the Mass proper began around midnight, and hence was a true Easter Mass. It might help to remember that an “anticipated Mass” (what is now commonly called a “Vigil Mass”-- the Mass of the Sunday or other Holy Day of Obligation celebrated the evening of the day before the actual Feast) was a new invention of the Novus Ordo. Traditionally, a “Vigil Mass” was the morning Mass of the day before the big Feast. It did not “count” as a Mass of the Holy Day of Obligation because it was a completely different Mass held on a completely different day. So the Easter Mass started on Easter, as we are trying to do for the first time this year. The time which the “Vigil” part of it takes varies from year to year based on how many people are receiving the sacraments of initiation, so it is always just an estimate as to when everything should start. That is why the liturgical books simply instruct us to “attempt” to start the Mass at midnight rather than make it a hard and fast rule. This year we will start the celebration at 11:00 pm, guessing that it will take us about an hour to get to the Mass proper. I have offered to put up choir member and altar boy families in one of our local motels along Nebraska Avenue so that they could spend the night and more easily return to assist at the morning Masses, but for some strange reason none of them took me up on the offer!
Speaking of which, each year the choir members and altar boys have to do a whole lot of work for Holy Week, too. God bless them and their families, who also get “stuck” getting to the church hours ahead of time for practice! Seriously, please say a prayer of thanks as “payment” for all that they sacrifice for our parish. When special ceremonies and ceremonious “additions” to Mass are only done once per year, it is necessary to rehearse and practice and rehearse again each and every year. The newer choristers and altar boys might be seeing new ceremonies for the first time, while even the most experienced might have only served at them once or twice before.
We are also blessed with other priests who wish to take part in our ceremonies. This year you might see either two or three “extra” priests who are making arrangements to be here to assist during the last week of Lent. Several more have asked questions about what we do for Holy Week but are, quite understandably, unable to get away from their own parish duties to come and experience firsthand what we do. It is amazing that the priests who never experienced the “traditional” Holy Week ceremonies are the ones most likely to be saddened at what has been discarded, replaced or dumbed down. Not ever knowing the difference, we all thought Holy Week was beautiful in the new Rite, but little did we know what it was before The Change™.
So check the schedule. Mark your calendars. Enter more deeply into Catholic Tradition. Boldly go where no man has gone before... err... where no man has gone in the past 50 years!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Veiling the Statues
A couple of years ago, before moving to Epiphany, I put the following information in the parish bulletin for the sake of the people who didn’t know why the statues were veiled in the church. It is quite jarring to see the statues covered in violet cloth. Those who know anything about the Catholic Faith know that there must be some pretty good reason for capturing our attention in such a drastic way, but when a traditions such as this is scrapped, the reasons why we ever did it are also lost quickly, too. So, for the sake of explaining what once was common knowledge, as well as to show that this in not something that was mandated to be thrown out but is, rather, a current option, I gave the explanation below, which is still a good catechesis on the topic. I hope it again helps those who wondered!
Last weekend when you entered the church the crucifix and statues were veiled in purple cloth. It is a stark image, as if funeral palls were covering Our Lord and His Saints. It certainly catches one's attention! In the long distant past this was a common sight near the end of Lent. But for my lifetime, it is nearly an extinct liturgical practice. Lest you hear gripes that I am just a pre-Vatican II meanie and can’t get with the times, please see that even in these times this is a legitimate and, in my opinion, spiritually beneficial practice.
Here is a statement from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops from March of 2006: The Veiling of Images and Crosses 1. Does the new Missale Romanum allow for the veiling of statues and crosses? The Missale Romanum, editio typica tertia, provides a rubric at the beginning of the texts for the Fifth Sunday of Lent, which allows that: “the practice of covering crosses and images in the Church from the Fifth Sunday of Lent is permitted, according to the judgment of the Conferences of Bishops. Crosses remain veiled until the end of the celebration of the Lord's Passion on Good Friday; images remain veiled until the beginning of the Easter Vigil.” 2. Have the Bishops of the Unites [sic] States expressed the judgment on this practice? Yes. On June 14, 2001, the Latin Church members of the USCCB approved an adaptation to number 318 of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal which would allow for the veiling of crosses and images in this manner. On April 17, 2002, Cardinal Jorge Medina Estevez, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments wrote to Bishop Wilton D. Gregory, USCCB President (Prot. no. 1381/01/L), noting that this matter belonged more properly to the rubrics of the Fifth Sunday of Lent. While the decision of the USCCB will be included with this rubric when the Roman Missal is eventually published, the veiling of crosses and images may now take place at the discretion of the local pastor. 3. When may crosses and images be veiled? Crosses and images may be veiled on the Fifth Sunday of Lent. Crosses are unveiled following the Good Friday Liturgy, while images are unveiled before the beginning of the Easter Vigil. 4. Is the veiling of crosses and statues required? No. The veiling is offered as an option, at the discretion of the local pastor. 5. What is the reason for the veiling of crosses and images? The veiling of crosses and images is a sort of “fasting” from sacred depictions which represent the paschal glory of our salvation. Just as the Lenten fast concludes with the Paschal feast, so too, our fasting from the cross culminates in an adoration of the holy wood on which the sacrifice of Calvary was offered for our sins. Likewise, a fasting from the glorious images of the mysteries of faith and the saints in glory, culminates on the Easter night with a renewed appreciation of the glorious victory won by Christ, risen from the tomb to win for us eternal life. 6. Why are crosses unveiled after the Good Friday Liturgy? An important part of the Good Friday Liturgy is the veneration of the cross, which may include its unveiling. Once the cross to be venerated has been unveiled, it seems logical that all crosses would remain unveiled for the veneration of the faithful. 7. What do the veils look like? While liturgical law does not prescribe the form or color of such veils, they have traditionally been made of simple, lightweight purple cloth, without ornament. 8. Is it permissible to veil the crosses after the Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday? Yes. The concluding rubrics which follow the text for the Mass of the Lord's Supper (no. 41) indicate that “at an opportune time the altar is stripped and, if it is possible, crosses are removed from the church. It is fitting that crosses which remain in the Church be veiled.”
So there you have it. It is still “fitting” that this be done though it is left to “the discretion of the local pastor.” It is a good, solid, theologically and liturgically sound Catholic tradition.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: 1966 Document Still in Force
In 1966 Pope Paul VI issued an Apostolic Constitution, Paenitemini, on Fast and Abstinence. (Written as Poenitemini by our Bishops as cited below. The spelling with an “a” or an “e” are both correct versions of the same Latin word.) The world’s various Bishops’ Conferences were to issue their own guidelines on the same topic. Our United States Bishops did so with the 1966 (they worked a lot more quickly back then!) Pastoral Statement On Penance And Abstinence. You already know that the teachings of these two documents made Friday abstinence from meat optional outside of Lent, with the stipulation that other penances be chosen to take the place of abstinence. But I thought you might also be interested in what they wrote specifically about Lent, so here it is, with all bolded words other than the title being my own emphasis:
A Statement Issued by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops November 18, 1966
10. Lent has had a different history than Advent among us. Beginning with the powerful lesson of Ash Wednesday, it has retained its ancient appeal to the penitential spirit of our people. It has also acquired elements of popular piety which we bishops would wish to encourage.
11. Accordingly, while appealing for greater development of the understanding of the Lenten liturgy, as that of Advent, we hope that the observance of Lent as the principal season of penance in the Christian year will be intensified. This is the more desirable because of new insights into the central place in Christian faith of those Easter mysteries for the understanding and enjoyment of which Lent is the ancient penitential preparation.
12. Wherefore, we ask, urgently and prayerfully, that we, as people of God, make of the entire Lenten Season a period of special penitential observance. Following the instructions of the Holy See, we declare that the obligation both to fast and to abstain from meat, an obligation observed under a more strict formality by our fathers in the faith, still binds on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. No Catholic Christian will lightly excuse himself from so hallowed an obligation on the Wednesday which solemnly opens the Lenten season and on that Friday called "Good" because on that day Christ suffered in the flesh and died for our sins.
13. In keeping with the letter and spirit of Pope Paul's Constitution Poenitemini, we preserved for our dioceses the tradition of abstinence from meat on each of the Fridays of Lent, confident that no Catholic Christian will lightly hold himself excused from this penitential practice.
14. For all other weekdays of Lent, we strongly recommend participation in daily Mass and a self-imposed observance of fasting. In the light of grave human needs which weigh on the Christian conscience in all seasons, we urge, particularly during Lent, generosity to local,national, and world programs of sharing of all things needed to translate our duty to penance into a means of implementing the right of the poor to their part in our abundance. We also recommend spiritual studies, beginning with the Scriptures as well as the traditional Lenten Devotions (sermons, Stations of the Cross, and the rosary), and all the self-denial summed up in the Christian concept of "mortification."
15. Let us witness to our love and imitation of Christ, by special solicitude for the sick, the poor, the underprivileged, the imprisoned,the bedridden, the discouraged, the stranger, the lonely, and persons of other color, nationalities, or backgrounds than our own. A catalogue of not merely suggested but required good works under these headings is provided by Our Blessed Lord Himself in His description of the Last Judgment (Mt 25:34-40). This salutary word of the Lord is necessary for all the year, but should be heeded with double care during Lent.
16. During the Lenten season, certain feasts occur which the liturgy or local custom traditionally exempts from the Lenten spirit of penance. The observance of these will continue to beset by local diocesan regulations; in these and like canonical questions which may arise in connection with these pastoral instructions, reference should be made to article VII of Poenitemini and the usual norms.
Did you notice that the days of Lent were not to be treated as if they were ordinary days? Extra prayer, fasting, charity, religious reading, corporal and spiritual works of mercy, and plenty of self-denial and mortifications were all recommended and expected of the Faithful. I sure hope you are taking them seriously. I highly recommend that you read the whole Bishops’ statement every once in a while to remind yourself (and to be able to inform others) of what is expected of us even to this day. They did a very good job explaining why we rightly embrace fast and abstinence and what greater sacrifices we could/should do if we opt out of meatless Fridays outside of Lent. Just search online for the title of the document and it will take you to the right place.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Your Kids (and You) and Porn
Last week the diocese put on some presentations on battling porn. Some of the presentations were meant for pastors and church staff and others for everyone else. These were advertised not as “how to stop using porn yourselves” presentations but rather as “who is using porn, why, and how to help them stop” presentations. I have to state that very clearly because many of us pastors wish to start similar programs and one of the things that was pointed out is that parishes often doom any anti-porn programs they start by advertising it in these or similar words, “Do you have a porn addiction? Come and get help escaping it.” Nobody ever shows up because nobody ever wants to be seen by fellow parishioners as “that guy” (or gal) with the porn problem. Whisper, whisper, whisper. But if the program/presentation is bringing in people who know others who need help, especially family members and, most especially, teens and pre-teens, there is no stigma in attending. Everyone learns how bad the problem is, why it is a problem with moral, social, psychological and physiological ramifications, and how to break the cycle of use/abuse.
In the presentation, they gave statistics of various findings and links to studies on porn: who uses it, who thinks “what” qualifies as “porn” in the first place, why they use it, etc. Do you want something to catch your attention? How about the statistic that the cell phone is where most youth view porn? Porn blocking on computers or Wi-Fi networks doesn’t work if your kid can bypass it with an unlimited data plan on his/her cell phone. Where do they “use” the porn they find on their phones? In their bedroom. Having their computer use limited to a public place, say, the dining room table where anyone (like mom) can see the screen pretty easily helps somewhat in keeping them from accessing porn on the computer but then they simply retreat into their bedrooms with their portable computers called smartphones and are not seen for hours. When do they “use” porn? When they are bored. Well, gosh, that doesn’t eliminate a whole lot of the day or night when it comes to your kids now, does it? How many of you have kids who never complain about being bored? Insert the sound of crickets chirping <here>. How many parents have contracepted to such an extent that their child has his/her own bedroom and so has complete privacy while locked away in there with a porn device? But your kids don’t view porn, right? Most children in the fifth grade with cell phones have viewed porn. Kids are viewing porn, which often is accessed completely by accident the first time, before they even know what is going on in the images they see. (Children without cell phones see it on their friends’ phones, though obviously much less frequently than when they have their own.) And guess what? That is where they are learning everything they know about sex, sexual intimacy, girlfriend/boyfriend relationships and spousal sexual activity because mom and dad never talk with them about such things anymore. Mom and dad are becoming more stupidly, but seemingly honorably, prudish (“I don’t want to take away little Joey’s innocence so I won’t ever talk to him about the birds and the bees or about Church teaching in this area and I certainly won’t let the school do so, but I will give him complete unfettered and unsupervised 24/7 access to the poison of porn because he ‘needs’ a phone for emergencies”! Plus, my pastor better darned sure never mention words like ‘porn’, ‘self-abuse’, ‘homosexual’, ‘heterosexual’, ‘fornication’, ‘adultery’, ‘Onanism’, or ‘Bill Clintonism’, in a homily or bulletin article because my little darling will be scarred for life!”) or ignorant of new realities (“Girls don’t view porn so Sally’s safe with a smartphone.”) or just too doggone lazy (“He’ll learn it on his own, like I did” even though you never had access to a smidgen of the rot kids have access to today, such as groups, animals, S&M, etc.).
Many school aged children have also “sexted”, yet don’t think that it is porn since they know each other. Most think it is not porn if it only involves people they don’t know, either, so not much is considered to be truly “porn” by the majority of teens and young adults. Further, they don’t consider it porn if they are the willing subject of the nude photo or video, either, or if they watch/listen/read it with friends, or if it “only” involves partial nudity, or if it is free. Do you get the picture? You can ask your son/daughter if he/she views porn and get what he/she believes is a truthful “no” even if they are viewing, sending, receiving, and even creating porn!
Porn is extremely addicting. The earlier the addiction occurs, the quicker tolerance builds up and more hardcore filth is needed for the “fix”. It is also harder to conquer the further it progresses. And for the adults? Well, that’s for another day.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka