From the Pastor: When Disaster Hits (Home)
Many times we sit comfortably at home listening to the news of some major disaster without so much as a second thought about it. It might be a horrendous tragedy, but unless there is some personal connection, it usually merits only a somewhat sorrowful exclamation, “Oh, that’s terrible!” or a simple prayer such as, “Good, God! Have mercy on them!” and then it is out of mind. But if there is a connection to family or friends, the catastrophe takes on a whole new significance. Such is the case with the recent earthquakes in Ecuador. One of our parish families, that of Kevin and Cheryl Hernandez, have a daughter, Sister Rachel Maria, who is a Servant Sister of the Home of the Mother. The Sisters have two houses in Ecuador which were damaged or destroyed, with the loss of the lives of one Sister and four Postulants. (Sr. Rachel Maria was not stationed in Ecuador.) From an email by Cheryl Hernandez:
I don’t know if you have seen the posts about the devastating earthquake in Ecuador over the weekend. In addition to the very sad death of one Home of the Mother Servant Sister and 4 candidates, the entire convent, school, chapel and farms are in ruins. The sisters, in addition to teaching school to children in the poorest of areas, also feed many families on a daily basis, using food from their farms and the donations of others. Most of the families they serve live in little shanties, which are also all in ruins. I’m attaching an article that explains the situation.
There are quite a few girls at Epiphany who are active lay members of the Home of the Mother Youth (HMY). They would like to ask your permission to hold a bake sale after both the Low Mass and High Mass on Sunday, May 1. All of the money would go to the sisters in Ecuador so they can rebuild their convent, chapel and school. Until the sisters have a place to live, they cannot help those poor families who depend on them.
Our daughter, Clare, is contacting other Home of the Mother Youth to do the same in their parishes. She is going to Ecuador on a mission trip the first of June and she, along with the other members of the HMY, would like to raise as much money as they can to help the sisters. Clare has been planning this mission trip for a year, and bought her plane ticket just a week ago. The area has been devastated by massive floods for several weeks now, and then this massive earthquake. This will be much more of a hands-on mission trip than she was expecting!
Here is the link to an article about the plight of the Sisters, with excerpts to get you interested enough to read the rest online. http://www.hogardelamadre.org/en/news/2016/1263-april/7471-earthquake-in-ecuador
The first news that reached us in Spain – at 3:10 AM Spanish time on Sunday, April 17, 2016, just an hour after the earthquake – was that all the Sisters and postulants in Playa Prieta were under the rubble. All of our communities – in Spain, Italy, and the United States – were immediately informed. From that moment, all of the Sisters began praying an unending Rosary in front of the Blessed Sacrament, hour after hour.
Shortly afterwards, news arrived that Sr. Therésè had been rescued, with a fractured ankle and several bruises. The improvised rescue team composed of local neighbors, heard the voice of Sr. Estela, Superior of the community, and was able to reach her. They found she had a broken foot, a black eye, and was covered with bruises. As soon as she felt the impact of the earthquake, Sr. Estela went running into the chapel to rescue the Blessed Sacrament. As soon as she had the Lord in her hands, everything around her collapsed and fell down to the ground floor. Her first thought had been to save the Lord before saving her own life, and the Lord rescued her in turn – there is no doubt about it. Both Sisters were immobilized before being taken to a nearby house to await a medical visit.
The volunteers also heard the voices of Sr. Merly, Guadalupe, and Mercedes. It was not easy reaching them. They encouraged one another, praying and singing songs to the Lord, especially when they felt they were being suffocated by the lack of oxygen...
Please read the rest online (you can follow the above link or find it on our webpage). Please pray for the Religious Community, for those they usually assist, and for those who are helping them now in their time of need. I thank you in advance for your participation in next Sunday’s bake sale which was requested and to which I give my wholehearted permission.
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: The Book of Gomorrah
I have so many books on my “to be read” list that I try very hard to avoid adding more to the stack. Most of the “new” books I get and read are directly related to my work. For instance, during Lent I had to (I didn’t “want” to, but I “had” to since I didn’t know what I was doing!) get a few books on the celebration of Holy Week in the Traditional Rite. Because they were necessary for me, they not only got purchased but they also got read long before all of the other books making a mess of my room/office. As much as I keep telling myself not to purchase any other “unnecessary” books, I recently found one so compelling that I had to get it. It was written by St. Peter Damian (1007-1072) to Pope St. Leo IX, in which he described a problem among the clergy which needed the Pope’s immediate, stern and loving attention. Perhaps you can get an idea of the problem just by reading the title and subtitle of the new translation of this work by Matthew Cullinan Hoffman: The Book of Gomorrah and St. Peter Damian’s Struggle Against Ecclesiastical Corruption.
It is a short book (shorter than the current Pope’s recent Exhortation, anyway) and, though it was not of “immediate, practical” value, I ordered it and dove right in almost as soon as Lent was over. What a read! I wish, Oh, how I wish, that this book had been a mandatory part of my (and every young man’s) required reading before I was ever considered for acceptance into the seminary. From the time it was written to this very day, it should have been at least a part of the curriculum during the formation of each priest. It would have saved countless souls. It would have saved hundreds of millions of dollars. It would have saved emotional and physical and spiritual pain beyond measure.
This book, had it been read, believed, taught and followed would have prevented, well, I might as well say it, it would have prevented a huge number of our recent and current priests and bishops from ever having entered the seminary, let alone being ordained. Beyond that, if they had somehow slipped through the cracks and gotten ordained anyway, being caught engaging in depraved carnal “pleasures” they would have been treated much differently (with actual--not supposedly “merciful” but feigned--love and compassion) by having their faculties removed and spending years, decades or even their entire lives undergoing severe penance. There is no doubt that those who fell under the spell of these perverse sins actively pursued their carnal pleasures to the point that they also actively recruited young men into the clerical state solely--or at least primarily--because of their desire to have other similarly sinister men engage in these sins as well. Misery loves company. Again,there is no doubt that many a youth was introduced to this diabolical activity by the very priests and bishops to whom they looked to teach them how to be good, holy men, either as husbands and fathers or as priests. They were given stones by their Fathers when they asked for bread, and serpents when they asked for fish (Mt. 7:9-10). And after being brainwashed into thinking such abominable acts were pleasing to both God and man, they, in turn, practiced their craft on other trusting, unsuspecting, naive boys and young men. Court cases and investigations, not my “rigid” opinion, bear this out.
What kind of book is this? Here are some chapter titles within. “On the different types of sodomites.” “That excessive mercy leads superiors to not prohibit the fallen from holy orders.” “Whether it is legitimate for such people to act as priests if the Church has need of it.” “That those who seek ordination after having been involved in this vice are of a reprobate sense.” “On rectors of the Church who are soiled with their spiritual children.” “The proper condemnation of sodomitic indecency.” “That the service of an unworthy priest is the ruin of the people.” Okay, that list contains only about half of the chapter headings but it gives the picture without being too graphic, if you know what I mean.
St. Peter Damian is a Doctor of the Church. That gives his teachings a special weight. One thousand years ago he saw and did his best to correct the same immoralities among the clergy which afflict us today. Then, as now, virtually nobody in power wanted to do anything about it, for many were soiled (and doing the soling) by this filth themselves. Why do I write about it? To give you courage that we survived this before and we will do so again. Pray for a Saintly Pope who will once again listen to St. Peter Damian’s exhortation and follow through. Give the book as a gift to a seminarian or priest who may need to be strengthened against such evil and evildoers. And pray some more.
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Our first Traditional Easter Triduum
We celebrated the Easter Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday) in the Traditional Latin Rite this year. It is the first time I have had this grand experience and it may be the first time in five decades that it has been done at a parish in our diocese. We also had a visiting priest (Fr. Vincent, SJ) taking it all in! Although it took a lot of work by a lot of people, it was all worth it! The choir, the altar boys, and the MC’s had to be fully versed in who does what, when, where and why for all three days. Of course, there was also the “invisible” work done in cleaning and sprucing up the church and grounds in the earlier days of Holy Week. Thank you all for all you sacrificed to bring this to our parish!
Everybody, including the other priests, kept asking, “How long will it (the Mass, the prayers, the service, etc.) take?” I kept driving everyone crazy with the only honest answer I had: “I don’t know!” I could tell how long an Easter Vigil Mass was in other parishes where I had celebrated it (usually about 3 hours long) but almost everything is longer in the old Latin Rite. How much longer, though, I could not say. Part of the problem is my lack of full proficiency in Latin chant. OK, that’s an enormous understatement. The only “formal” training in Latin chant I have ever had was a weekend chant seminar I attended five or six years ago. We were introduced to various Mass chants but it was very, very basic. Not nearly enough to prepare me to chant the Passion in three voices or the Exsultet. So while choir members chanted those (except for the part of Our Lord, which I chanted aloud), I chanted them “silently” as I do the Gloria and Creed at Sunday Mass while the choir chants what you hear. Not a perfect solution, but the best I could do the first time around. I did manage to chant the Passion in the ferial tone in three voices for one daily Mass, though, so it’s a start.
The Easter Vigil in the traditional Rite is a bit different than in the Novus Ordo. The Vigil Service and the Mass, for instance, are separate from one another, with the blessing of fire, candle procession, the the extra readings (chanted by yours truly, no less!) and the bestowal of the sacraments of initiation all done as part of a “Vigil Service” before the Mass begins. During the Vigil, there were such “oddities” as me needing to change vestments and colors several times, from violet cope to white dalmatic (a Deacon’s outer vestment) back to violet and back to white. I did wind up wearing violet once when I should have changed to white and one day someone will use the photos for some sort of liturgical blackmail when they discover the gaff! After the Vigil was complete, all of the altar boys and clergy left the church (without any blessing, chanting, or gestures of any sort) and went to the sacristy to prepare for Mass. I neglected to have anyone announce what we were doing, so anyone who wasn’t paying close attention to the missal might have thought we were done. But it was a good time for a potty break or stretch for those who were in the know. I had guessed that it might take as much as 5 hours to complete but it only took 3 1/2. Of course, we only had one person receiving the sacraments of initiation, so if there were more it would have taken more time. Plus, I didn’t see where a sermon could improve on the liturgy itself, so that cut out a sizable chunk of time, too!
The only service for which I underestimated time was the Good Friday morning Tenebrae prayer. It took 2 1/2 hours. Prayerful hours, though, and quite exquisite. I immediately had requests that the choir do all three Tenebrae services next Triduum! The Good Friday Veneration of the Cross and Communion service wasn’t much different than the new rite except that it was all prayed in Latin. The the traditional blessing of the Easter baskets, to which I was introduced several years ago by some good Polish parishioners, was short and sweet as always, though I did find the “official” Latin prayers for blessing of Easter Food in the old Roman Ritual, so it was even more “traditional” than ever this year. Speaking of which, somebody dropped off a basket for me which contained the smokiest, most unusual kielbasa I have ever eaten (after Easter, when the fast was broken, of course!). I don’t know who brought it but it was incredible! And once again I have sadly run out of room.
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Computer repair is this boy’s lemonade stand
A while ago I had some computer problems. Among the worst was that the cooling fan on my laptop was making such a loud noise that it was becoming aggravating. The last straw came when a Religious Sister from Africa called on Skype and she couldn’t hear me because the microphone was picking up the fan noise and drowning out everything else. The next night our youth group was meeting and one of the kids started speaking in advanced computer geek language, which is much more difficult to follow than Latin or even Vietnamese. I have known him for several years and know that he is quite proficient in fixing computers, ripping them apart, putting them together, salvaging parts and intermixing pieces from several old machines to build a new one. But it had never dawned on me until right then that he might be the one I should entrust with my own computer. You should have seen the look on his face when I asked him if he could fix it. It was a look of excitement that he was being asked, mixed with a look that said, “Of course I can fix it. Why would you bother asking such a silly question?” So off I went to get it. He turned in on and with great fanfare began a lengthy explanation of what was necessary to get it working properly again. I just stood there nodding my head as if I understood every word he said, but the reality is that if I understood it, I would have fixed the darned thing myself!
I gave him the computer to take home with his promise to get it back to me as quickly as possible. He brought me a “loaner” the next day in case I needed one. Now, to put this into perspective, when I was his age (assuming there were laptop computers way back then), if my priest had given me his computer to fix, the first thing I would have done would be to mess with it somehow. I would have installed some gag screen saver with crawling roaches, or a program to make the mouse jump randomly every once in a while, or a spell check that showed a nun popping up with a ruler in her hand every time a word was misspelled, or something like that. Yet, while I would not have trusted a younger “me”, I trusted this kid with my computer. I tell you this because he did a superb job fixing it at a fantastic price, he got it done quickly and there was no monkey business done to it!
I was so pleased with his work and his attitude that I told him I would write him up in the bulletin, but then I started a series on the Mass that I didn’t want to interrupt. So here is a long-awaited plug for young Mister Christopher Gonzalez. (As an aside, he would like to teach “old folks”--you know, anyone over 35--basic computer classes here at the parish and I will gladly give him room to do so if there are any requests for it.) He also has his own home business repairing computers and if I will trust him with my computer, I believe you can trust him with yours, too. Even if you don’t have need of his services now, file this article away for future reference. You never know when your computer will fall ill due to a virus, or you want an upgrade but don’t know how to do it yourself, or someone you know will be tearing their hair out because their machine quit working, or you just want to get a new computer for the widow lady next door. Now you know who to call. I have permission from his mother and father to post his name and contact information off of his business card, so please feel free to write it down (somewhere other than on your computer, since you won’t be able to get it from there if your computer breaks!) and use it yourself or pass it on to others. (By the way, Chris and his younger brother are altar boys, so you may already know him, and his mother, Liesa, is in the women’s guild.)
His card says, “Gonzalez Industries International Computer Repair and Sales Broker” and gives his email as email@example.com. His phone number is (561) 318-3391 and his website (currently under construction) is www.gonzalezindustries.webs.com. He does repair, installations, consultations, you name it. Give him a try next time you need any work done on a computer. You will be helping an enterprising young parishioner (who just may be your pastor one day, God willing!) and you will be well pleased with his work.
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka