From the Pastor: Nothing About Corona Virus Here!
In times of panic and pandemic, we should be spending more time in prayer, especially in family prayer. Today I will give you some simple advice to help you get rid of the exhausting and soul-sucking “news” that is bombarding everyone 24-7. I want you to make this “lockdown” into a family retreat! Many of you are, sadly, already out of work, either completely or with fewer hours. You are already stuck at home under what is nearly marshall law. You are already denied the sacraments and even the group devotional prayers such as the Lenten Friday Stations of the Cross in church. In our parish more so than in others, since many of you travel at least 45 minutes to church, even that last item gives you more time on your hands than you normally have, since church activities are canceled. You have a choice of what to do with that time. Some will use it for immoral purposes (other people, not anyone reading this, I am sure!), such as watching porn, getting drunk or high, or committing crimes online or in “real life.” Others will simply waste it all, binge-watching movies (a seemingly morally neutral or good activity if the movies are neutral or wholesome and a morally evil activity when watching those depicting immorality as entertainment--so quit making excuses that it’s not rated X so it must be OK), or reading books (the same rules apply here), or watching news, or reading farcebook feeds, or playing computer games, just to fill the day. But what I am going to encourage you to do is to make the best use of your “free time” even as you get any necessary work done around the house. You don’t have the Blessed Sacrament at your house, so it won’t be the same as being in a quiet retreat house chapel for 4-6 hours a day. You won’t have the silence of a normal retreat, either, unless you happen to live alone. But each person and family can adapt a retreat “method” to their own situation.
I will give a few examples to get you thinking. Not to give you the mandate to do it this way, just to give you some basic ideas. Start out with specific bedtimes for each person as they need, so that there is a common wake up time for everyone. That way, as at a retreat house, everyone gets up at the same time to begin their prayer. It doesn’t have to be unbearably early, nor should it be lazily late. Maybe 6:30 am or whatever works for your family. Make simple morning rules for both adults and children, such as no electronics (TV, phone, computer, games, etc.) before 9:00 am. Everyone gets up, gets cleaned up and dressed, and sits down for breakfast together in silence as much as possible. If dad is the one making breakfast, he doesn’t even have to ask, “how do you want your eggs?” but can rather just make breakfast and place it in front of everyone, fixed as he was able, not necessarily tailored to each person’s whims of the hour. Pray together (out loud) the blessing before and grace after the meal but no other talking. During the time that the children wash, dry and put away the dishes (ignore your dishwasher), whichever parent didn’t cook could read part of the Bible, or Thomas a Kempis’ The Imitation of Christ, or some other favorite spiritual classic, and perhaps even give some reflection on how that passage could be applied to the family that day. When the dishes are put away and the kitchen is cleaned, if there is homeschooling or virtual schooling to be done, do it as normal. Pray the family rosary just before lunch, so that everyone is awake, they have already been working and need a break, yet are not yet too exhausted from schoolwork. (Those of you without school-aged children could, of course, spend much more of the morning in prayer and spiritual reading.) Lunch could be a time when the older children could take turns each day fixing sandwiches and doing the reading/reflection as the dishes are being done. Most good retreats include quite a bit of getting outdoors, slowly walking around the retreat center’s secluded grounds, praying and meditating. Do something similar as you are able. For instance, in the afternoon maybe you could go outside to pray the Stations of the Cross (daily, not just on Fridays of Lent). Maybe the kids could draw the Stations on paper plates and they could be taped to trees, fences, the house, and the neighbor’s cat. (Trying to catch up with that last-named Station in order to pray would certainly keep everyone’s interest!) At the evening meal, instead of being completely silent, dad could lead the discussion about what each person learned that day, how their prayer or the spiritual readings affected them, or if there was anything in particular about the after-meal reading/reflections that caught their attention. Once everyone has spoken their piece and had their fill and before the dishes get done, light a candle and pray the Guardian Angel prayer on behalf of all those dying alone (of anything), often without the last sacraments, and, especially, those with wavering or no faith. Then pray the Divine Mercy chaplet for them.
There you have a basic outline for a much-needed respite from the panic of today, a way of bringing back into focus our faith in God, and a reminder of the necessity and power of prayer. I hope this helps!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Offer It Up!
You have often heard me say, “Offer it up!” In fact, sometimes I can come off as a bit too cheerful about tragedy. “What a blessing! Be sure to say ‘Thank you, God, for this penance. It was certainly not something that I would have chosen on my own, but you knew that it was good for me so you allowed me to have it!’” This is especially helpful to remember during Lent, for sometimes we have the opportunity to accept great penances during a time when we, deep down, at least, are truly willing -- and perhaps even eager -- to suffer with and for Our Lord, yet we have chosen some penance without the efficaciousness of the one that He has in store for us. Be thankful, as St. Paul told the Colossians that he was, “Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you and fill up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ, in my flesh, for his body, which is the church.” And just look at what God has provided for all of us this Lent! Coronavirus!
Whether or not you ever get the virus, you are already suffering because of it. Don’t waste that suffering! “Thank you, God, for none of us would have ever thought about this penance, let alone chosen it. Our lives are being disrupted. The government is intruding where it has no right, the bishops and priests are in lockstep with the government, sacraments are being hidden away like the last roll of toilet paper, and job losses are beyond measure. Why? Why, O Lord, do you allow such things? Because they are good for us? Oh, right, I forgot. Thank you. We deserve much worse and yet you chose to reprimand us and teach us and refocus us all at the same time instead of destroying us. What a relief!”
How is this possibly good for us? First of all, look at what we have done to God and see how easy we are getting off. We are the ones who have abandoned the Faith. Most Catholics don’t even go to Mass, let alone believe it is the Sacrifice of Our Salvation. Heck, look at McCarrick and his cronies, those he promoted, those he bribed, those he covered for, and those who covered for him, and tell me that bishops believe what the Church teaches. We have undermined the meaning of the Mass; watered down the sacramental rituals; failed to teach the Catholic Faith to our children in our families or CCD or Catholic schools -- even into advanced studies; accepted without blinking such “Catholic” leaders as Pelosi and Biden; contracepted and aborted and ingested porn and embraced divorce with the same gusto as our secular neighbors; we applaud and promote “progressive” priests and bishops who openly profess grave immorality (as long as they don’t use our own children to live what they preach) because they let us off the morality hook; we made excuses for Pachamama worship in the Vatican Gardens and churches; we have, in short, made a mockery out of the Faith and treated the only Church founded by God Himself as if she was a whore. We use Her, abuse Her, and keep her around only for the occasional and quite hypocritical display of affection when we want to fool either God, ourselves, or someone else. Yes, like Israel of old just before Divine Retribution was given, we have embraced paganism while keeping a veneer of real worship, just in case there really is only one true God. We deserve His wrath and we all know it. Yet he has chosen to offer forgiveness and healing through the coronavirus instead. “Thank you, Lord!”
Let us now take a look at some of the good things that He might want us to get out of this mess. Let us begin with the family meal. Restaurants are closed. Shops are closed. Gatherings of all sorts are forbidden. What are families to do for meals? How about sit down at the dining room table and eat together? No more sports activities taking away little Jimmy. No goat yoga for mom, no basketball championship for dad. Everyone can finally be together! There will even be time for (gasp!) A FAMILY ROSARY! Next, look at what this is doing for homeschooling. Until last week, homeschool was scorned with demonic hatred. Now it is being encouraged and even forced! Just wait until parents see how little or exactly what the little tykes have been learning! And although people are currently panicking about how to stay home with the kids without killing them, many moms just might discover that the joy of being with the children is much more rewarding than the job which she had been brainwashed in thinking was necessary if she was to be “fulfilled.” Finally (although there are many more examples which could be given, so look for them) maybe the priests and bishops will start really thinking about why they got (or should have gotten) ordained in the first place. With no more meetings, no more Masses, and no more sick calls, do the clergy rejoice like third graders with a snow day? Or do they, like those same children a week into the blizzard, long for something “real” to do? The laity will be facing the same issues, though from a different perspective.
So in the end, rejoice, for this penance is good for us. God is separating the sheep from the goats. We don't know how or when this will end but for those who choose to pick up their cross and follow Him, salvation is close at hand.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE!!!!
WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE!!!! No, that is not panic, that is reality. We are all going to die. Of something, sometime. Maybe due to the coronavirus next week or next year. Maybe due to cancer in six months or 60 years from now. Maybe because of a car accident, food poisoning, or getting swallowed by a giant python ten minutes after reading this. But no matter the cause or the time, it is certain that we are all going to die. This statement is not one of grief, melancholy, or pessimism, just as certainly as it is not one of glee and giddiness. It is just a plain, simple fact. But the way the news reporters, the politicians, the people hoarding toilet paper, and even the Catholic Bishops around the world are reacting to the spread of the coronavirus, you’d think inevitable death is a lie and, if only we do or refrain from doing “X” our death can be averted. “X” is, of course, a variable that can be changed for just about any reason at any time. We can survive the coronavirus apocalypse if only we (take your pick) a) impeach Trump; b) re-elect Trump; c) hide in a bunker; d) make everyone else hide in bunkers; e) cancel NBA, March Madness, and NHL games; f) cancel Masses; g) (choose your own favorite magic “X” to insert here). It is only reason “f” that truly troubles me.
As far as I am concerned, “f” shows the hand of satan and his demons. This is what they want. “Let’s get rid of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass!” they cackle. “That Blessed Son defeated us once when we got Him put to death and now He re-presents that Perfect Sacrificial Offering, our tremendously humiliating defeat, through the hands of His priests on a daily basis. We must find a way to put an end to it! We partially succeeded by making the people abandon the Sacrifice when we watered down all of its glorious prayers, made all rubrics optional, turned it into an entertainment gig with the focus on priest and people rather than on Him Whose very name causes us to shudder and writhe in pain, and convinced bishops to train and ordain faithless, immoral men who then clawed their own way to bishops’ seats and diabolically perpetuated the cycle. But now we have a grand opportunity to rid the world, the kingdom where our dark prince rules, of this Holy Sacrifice for at least a while, even if not yet permanently. If we succeed this time in convincing the bishops to applaud and go along with our chosen politicians’ mandates to cease all religious functions at this time due to a scary coronavirus, the next time a new virus is manufactured by our evil communist puppets or even by natural mutation, they will all the more quickly acquiesce, and soon our task will be accomplished! We have convinced those poor slobs that saving the body is so much more important than saving the soul. Soon, very soon, those souls will be ours and, when their death, which they are convinced they will not face, inexorably occurs, we will torture them with every bit of pain they ran away from in the first place! And for all of eternity! What perverted fun!”
The above monologue is just a figment of my imagination. Or is it? When AIDS was an epidemic, did our politicians and bishops(!) demand that “religious services” be repressed? How about when we faced the hype-induced panic of Mad Cow Disease, SARS, Swine Flu, Avian Flu, Zika, Ebola, or any others that right now escape my memory? All of those were bad, but nobody ever dreamed that they could get away with not only curtailing civil liberties but also having people, including Catholic clergy and other religious leaders, willingly give up their spiritual sustenance! And for what real purpose? Certainly, not to save lives. If religious and civil leaders were interested in saving lives, they would forcefully preach against and immediately outlaw abortion and contraception. And clergy going along with such things as outlawing Mass, even weddings and funerals? Have they no faith? In times past, it is true, the faithful priests and laity during plagues died in far greater numbers than the unfaithful, for they took care of the sick rather than isolate themselves in a sometimes successful attempt to save their own skin. But the eternal reward of dying while caring for the dying has no comparison to the damnable and eternal price of self-love in such circumstances. The Faithful get together and pray, trusting in God, and begging His forgiveness and mercy, even if it costs them their lives. The unfaithful hide and cower and find excuses to exclude both God and His most needy people from their lives in times of trouble.
Will today’s priests continue to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass during this pandemic? Will they continue to hear confessions, even though the ones confessing are breathing directly into their faces just a few inches away? Or is the fear of bodily illness and death and earthly reprisals stronger than their fear of God? Pray for us to be true priests, who will celebrate Mass and the sacraments for you, and, like Tobias, even bury you should you need it, even if/when it becomes illegal. Finally, pray for our bishop, that he, too, may continue to care more about the eternal souls of his people than about their mortal bodies, “Courageously Living the Gospel” (his tagline) rather than “Courageously (ahem) Living a Bit Longer on Earth Without God.”
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Coronavirus and Holy Communion
Bishops and priests who have evidently never given out Holy Communion to people reverently kneeling at an altar rail and receiving on the tongue are working up a lather right now trying to convince people that receiving in such a way is a dangerous way of spreading the coronavirus. I get where many of them are coming from. The only experience priests of my generation and younger have with receiving Holy Communion is standing with hands outstretched and having someone place the Sacred Host in the palm of their hand. That is how they received when they made their First Holy Communion and they were forbidden to receive in the traditional manner. Altar rails were ripped out of their home parishes when they were very young or even before they were born. If they were ever in a church where an altar rail was still in place, it was only seen as a quaint relic of the old, unenlightened days of terrible fasts and penances and submission before God and His priests, and which will be torn down as soon as the last loudmouthed founding parish family member passes away. Until such time, it is only used as a place to set flowers and other such decorations, and never used as a communion rail. In the seminary, they were taught the half-truth that reception on the hand was an ancient and venerable practice that must be “restored,” so as priests teaching their parish children how to make their First Holy Communion, they never once mentioned the method that has been the Latin Rite norm for many centuries (unless to tell them that they could not receive that way), they never told the kids the scandalous reality of how reception in the hand came about in the USA, they just passed on what they were given, and never thought much about it. Their experience in actually distributing Holy Communion was, of course, that most people stuck out their hands for Communion and it works very well as a means of “distributing something” and keeping the line moving. Of course, they have to completely ignore or pooh pooh concerns about lack of reverence, or danger of someone walking off with the Host, or the “crumbs” which fall onto the floor to be trampled upon. Of the few people who approach them and insist on receiving on the tongue, the majority will remain standing, as there is no rail to assist in getting down and back up again, and no step upon which to kneel anyway. That, you might not realize, makes the person’s mouth a very difficult target to hit, as they are invariably moving, whether lunging forward or leaning back or swaying from side to side, and quite awkwardly high. This constant movement means that the priest’s fingers will often come in contact with the person’s lips, tongue, chin, or nose. Yes, really!
Anyway, with that as their experience (and I know because that was my experience in the past), I find it hard to fault the priests and bishops for thinking that they must stop people from receiving on the tongue for sanitary reasons. But just as we priests have to suspend our intellects when rationalizing the “crumbs” away, so they (I am happy to now exclude myself from this group) have to, instead of really thinking, never even consider how many times they touch the hands of those who receive in the palm, and how many germ covered surfaces those same hands have been exposed to and how they are now touching dozens if not hundreds of palms and passing from palm to palm, from Host to Host, all of those germs. Each person then takes the Host in their unwashed and (here’s the panic) potentially coronavirus bearing fingers and places it in his mouth, doing exactly what the bishops and priests are telling people that they will avoid if only they don’t take the Host on the tongue! If only they would come and experience distribution at an altar rail, they would see the reasons it became the norm! It actually encourages reverence for Our Lord in the Eucharist, a major thing lacking in many parishes today to the point that 70% of active Catholics don’t believe that the Eucharist is really, truly, substantially Jesus. They would see that even when the person receiving is unfamiliar with the procedure and lunges, sways, bites, or licks, they can only move just so far and no more and, because they are low, the priest has more control over his aim, resulting in only a very, very rare contact with saliva. They would then start a new campaign for both physical and, more importantly, spiritual health, to re-install altar rails to be used for the proper, traditional, time-tested and proven means of distributing Holy Communion. Communion on the hand would soon be a distant and shameful memory.
With that being said, please note that there is no such thing as distributing Holy Communion in the hand at the TLM due to the mandate that we follow the 1962 liturgical laws and no priest or bishop may mandate differently, nor may the one receiving. You may stand to receive only in the case of physical inability to kneel. All others kneel and receive on the tongue, with hands down (the altar boy has to place the paten under your chin to catch and fallen particles), head tilted slightly back, mouth open, tongue slightly extended straight out (not like the Kiss rock band leaders) and without saying a single word, not even “amen.” This is both reverent and sanitary!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Did You Have a Happy Birthday, Father?
For some strange reason, a whole lot of you got pretty excited about my birthday this year. I am not sure why. It wasn’t a particularly big one, as I turned 48 or 72 or something like that. In my family, we usually don’t get all worked up about even the “big” birthdays except for 80. That’s a big one for some reason. It is not like we find them unimportant, but with the exception of having mom bake a special cake for the kids and grandkids, perhaps made into a special shape, we usually don’t pay much attention to birthdays. Every fourth or fifth year it seems like my siblings and I remember to send a card or call or email or text a birthday greeting to each other, usually a few weeks late, and that’s about it. None of us worries about it and none gets hurt feelings when the day passes without hearing from the others. (Disclaimer: mom and dad always remember our birthdays, mom always offers to bake a cake, and both of them always send birthday cards. It’s just my generation that somehow lost the birthday celebration genes.) Now, I know that this seems strange to many of you, for many people really love birthdays, remember everyone else’s birthday, want to celebrate everyone’s birthday, and who may even do something special for their own birthday, like taking the day off of work, or going someplace special for dinner. And for some reason this year it seems like a lot of people were very curious about what my plans were (in advance) and what I actually did (after the date passed). Those asking beforehand got the simple reply, “Nothing much. It is just a regular day.” But now, for those who really want to know, I am going to try to show what a “regular day” is.
The alarm went off at 4:27 am. Time for a little exercise. (Stinking Exodus 90!) So I do push ups until I can’t. Only 27 that morning. I am getting old. I usually try to get at least 33, one for each year of Our Lord’s earthly life. But not today. After a shave and cold shower (stinking Exodus 90!) it’s time for a cup of coffee (sans cream --stinking Exodus 90!) while praying as much of the Breviary (Divine Office) as possible, for I know I won’t have time for it later. Leave the house at 6:00 to get to the Men’s Conference at St. Lawrence, where I will hear confessions until 7:25, praying the rosary in the car on the way. Race back to celebrate the 8:00 am Mass at Epiphany, praying another rosary on the return trip. After Mass, expose the Blessed Sacrament and hear confessions until the last repentant sinner is a saint, give the Benediction and go into the social hall to teach adult Catechism Class. Confessions ran late so class started late but I still tried to end (fairly) close to 11:30. After class I got back into my car and returned to St. Lawrence, praying another rosary as I drove. Heard confessions until 3:30 or thereabouts and drove back to Epiphany, praying another rosary during the drive. Took the Covenant Eyes books over to the church for the Vigil Mass and stayed over there speaking with those setting up for Mass and those coming in for it and, once it started (thank you, Fr. Dorvil!) came back to the rectory. With the exception of a granola bar at the Men’s Conference, I hadn’t had a chance to eat yet so I put the oven on and prayed the rest of the Office while a thin crust frozen pizza baked. Ate the whole darn thing. (This year my birthday didn’t fall in Lent but my mom still couldn’t bake me a birthday cake. Stinking Exodus 90!) By this time the Youth Group was outside playing soccer on the old school tennis/basketball court pavement (Go figure. All that grass around and they play soccer on cement!) so I went out to join them. The game ended at 7:00 pm when it became too dark to see the ball anymore (I wonder if they make glow-in-the-dark soccer balls?). They went off to eat and I went in to answer the Happy Birthday phone messages and texts which I had been ignoring all day. Finally, I hit the sack at 10:13 pm.
Although that day was not quite a typical Saturday in the life of a priest, it wasn’t too far off, either, except that I actually got a lot more “drive time” prayer in than normal and I absolved many more people than I usually do. But as I reflect on the questions, “Father, did you have a happy birthday? What did you do?” I can honestly say that I had a great birthday! Had I decided instead to take the day off, to sleep in, maybe take in an afternoon movie, or even go out to Busch Gardens with friends or family, as tempting as any of those may be, it certainly would not have been even close to being as fulfilling as what I actually experienced. None of what I did seems all too “exciting” when looking back at it. Some of it even seems to be not too enjoyable. Yet it was a great day. And I truly do appreciate your asking, for I know you really care and you want me to enjoy myself. Thank you for your messages, cards, prayers, and curiosity! Happy My Birthday to all of you!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka