From the Pastor: A Sad Way To Spend Easter
Last month I was reading the local news when I came across the headline, “Top things to do in Tampa Bay this weekend”. The weekend in question included Easter Sunday but the article was completely secular in nature, although it did include an Easter Egg Hunt at the Glazer Children’s Museum on (Holy) Saturday and a scuba-diving Easter Bunny at the Florida Aquarium on both (Holy) Saturday and (Easter) Sunday, without, of course, a mention of either of the two being HOLY DAYS. The rest of the list would have been typical of any other weekend of the year. There were things going on at Busch Gardens, at Lowry Park Zoo (before it was renamed to the oh-so-hip ZooTampa). There were concerts and crafts and all sorts of other things to do as if it were just any old weekend of the year. It really was sad reading the long list and seeing nothing whatsoever about Faith in God, about Jesus’ Resurrection, or even about spending time at Church before bringing the family out to any of the events. But there was one really sad one that caught my eye, for it was one that could have been scheduled for any weekend of the year, as far as I can tell, and everyone would have been better off for it. Yet they chose this particular weekend and fully expected a large crowd of people to spend the weekend at this particular “international competition”. It was an event that I would have liked to have attended myself though with it being on a weekend and not an “I just gotta go!” type of event, I most likely would have missed it anyway, regardless of which weekend it occurred. But it was that type of competition: one at which a Catholic priest would have enjoyed himself and would not have caused a scandal if he were seen there.
I am giving it this big build-up, not because it is such a great event or such a terrible event but because it is neither. It just struck me as typical of the “blah-ness” which our society finds itself in right now. An event which is not morally objectionable but which has no basis in Faith whatsoever is seen as perfectly proper to hold on Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday. It is an event which brings competitors from not only the local area but also from other countries, showing that it is seen as important by at least those competing, and, it almost goes without saying, seen by both them and the “spectators” as more important than mourning the death of Jesus Christ, and even seen as more important than celebrating the same and only Son of God proving that He has power even over death itself by resurrecting from the grave on the third day. And yet it is a competition so unimportant that MaloogaCon was listed before it in this news article. Plus, the fact that multiple large articles and headlines appeared in the week leading up to this competition with nary a word about the Holy Days it was trying to supersede, showed just how “blah” the newspaper’s attitude toward Christianity is. It also showed that the newspaper’s attitudes were expected to be shared by their readers, or they would have barely reported on the story in the first place. Like MaloogaCon. Whatever that is.
So what is the “international competition” that took families away from worship during the last of the Holy Triduum and Easter Sunday? The Cuban Sandwich Festival. What? You didn’t know anything about that? Well, let me clue you in. The children’s competition took place on Holy Saturday (destroy the family, destroy the Faith) and the adult competition took place on Sunday. The goal of the competition was to make a sandwich. Yep. To make a sandwich. Not just any old sandwich, though. It had to be a Cuban Sandwich, which made the competition pretty darn tough. After all, there are special ingredients that must comprise any sandwich which claims to be a Cuban. First, there must be Cuban bread. Several local bakeries make Cuban bread a little different from each other, so the choice of bread is a major bone of contention in this battle. Inside there are either 5 or 6 ingredients: ham, roasted pork, swiss cheese, pickles, mustard, and (this is where the real fighting comes in) maybe salami.
Whew! As I was pondering this great substitution for Easter I could imagine a man spending a small fortune flying his family in from another country (or even just driving here) to make this sandwich, telling his wife and kids that “God doesn’t mind us missing Mass just this one (more) time, because, gosh darn it all, we are going to prove once and for all that a real Cuban must have salami which must be placed just so between the ham and pork without ever touching the pickle and, by golly, that’s the way you make a proper Cuban! And remember, children, that anyone who dares to put tomato or--gasp!--mayonnaise on it to make it taste better is going straight to Hell.” Sometimes I wonder why I bother to read the newspaper.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Passiontide and a Broken Tooth
Just before we entered Passiontide (the last two weeks of Lent) I was eating dinner and started crunching on what I assumed to be some sort of dirt or grit which had not been washed off the corn which was in my mouth. Trying to be polite, instead of spitting it out, I just quit chewing and swallowed it. The digestive tract is quite marvelous in cleaning itself out, and, especially with corn, I had given no second thought about consuming whatever non-edible item I had encountered. That changed as soon as I took the next bite of food. I immediately realized that what I had swallowed was a chunk of one of my molars, which had broken off. The food going into the hole it left and my tongue scraping itself on the sharp edges of both the broken tooth and the now-exposed sharp edge of a large filling made me wish that I had at least gotten a chance to see just how much of my tooth was now missing. But, alas, the piece was gone and I was certainly not going to search through old corn the next day in hopes of recovering it, if you know what I mean.
So it was time to call the dentist. But there was just one small problem. I have had the same dentist for nearly twenty years. He is a good Catholic man and a great dentist to boot. No matter where I have been stationed I have always made the trek back to Dunedin, knowing that having a dentist I could rely on made it worth the trip. Shortly after my last visit, though, he retired. The old receptionist is still there and she tried to get the new guy to open up a slot for me (business is good and they were booked solid) but my schedule here at church for those last two weeks of Lent made it impossible for us to get together until after Easter. Getting through Passion Sunday and Palm Sunday and Holy Week and the Easter Vigil and Easter Day along with all the practice and preparation during that time period, I simply had to do what I always tell you to do: Offer it up!
Have you ever broken a tooth? Maybe you have had a similar experience. As I mentioned, there were sharp edges which cut into the side of my tongue as I spoke or chanted or ate. There is not a whole lot that I could do about that. That side of my tongue was soon sheathed with little cuts and swelled up a bit (which made me bite it every once in a while, which didn’t help!) and made me slur and drool. Sometimes my tongue actually got hung up on it mid word, which was very disconcerting, especially in the middle of a chant. But, as I said, there really wasn’t anything to do about it, as the side of my tongue simply moved across the broken tooth as a matter of nature. But what really irked me is the tip of my tongue. It is out front. The molar is near the back. There is no reason for the tip of my tongue to be in contact with the sharp edges of the tooth and filling, and yet I could not keep it out of there! I would find myself feeling the edges with the tip of my tongue and tell it to stop and go back where it belonged, only to find it doing the same thing over and over again. It was like having an untrained puppy who would listen to a commands to “sit” and “stay” and then immediately “get up” and “come” instead! I cannot tell you how many hours I spent arguing with my own tongue to quite ripping itself to shreds on the broken tooth. Down boy! Out! Off!
As all of this was playing out, I finally thought to myself that this would be as good a time as ever to find a new dentist. So I searched for a Catholic dentist in Tampa, finally found one, made an appointment for Easter week and cancelled the replacement dentist is in Dunedin. Of course, Easter week the Archbishop was here and Father Emmanuel was here, and Fr. Adler (a friend of Fr. Dorvil) was here and I would have liked to spend the time with them instead of with the dentist, but I really like to eat and speak without pain and the Octave of Easter is not the proper time for penance, anyway. But the temporary crown I was fitted with, once the novocaine wore off, hurt so much that I couldn’t even chew bread. It throbbed and caused the surrounding teeth, my jawbone and even my ear to hurt. So I was off to the dentist for another try, the temporary crown was removed and replaced and it was much better. And now I am fitted with the real thing. I have never had a crown before. Crowns are only for kings and old people and I am not a king, which means... NOOOOOO!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Seminarian Support Requested
You all have been very supportive of our youth when they are trying to go on a trip to check out a vocational call. For instance, Maria Hernandez, already an Aspirant to the Servant Sisters of the Home of the Mother, and her younger sister, Agnes, have been selling quick bread once a month to raise some of the money they need to go to Spain this summer with the Sisters (including an older sister of theirs, Sister Rachel Maria, who belongs to that order already). You have been very generous to them, even charitably sacrificing your waistlines to help them out. We also have several young men in seminaries and other formation programs. Eric is still being led toward a Benedictine hermit life. Ryan is still with the Jesuits. Esteban will be a Diocesan priest (though not our diocese, doggone it!). And Joshua is studying for Christ the King Sovereign Priest. A couple of more young men who are in the seminary have occasionally (or even regularly) attended Mass at Epiphany before entering into formation and/or while on days off from their studies, though officially they belong to other parishes. In short, both men and women come here (to the Traditional Latin Mass parish) as part of (and perhaps a major part of) their discernment process. One of the men I have already mentioned, Joshua Heiman, is about to be sent to Europe for the upcoming year as part of his formation. He has reluctantly but humbly asked for assistance, as he is unable to afford it on his own. (Did you know that many men and women must pay all or part of their own expenses during not only the “inquiry” years but also during the “real” formation years as well? Of course, they are not allowed to have jobs during that time, either, so unless they are already well off or are from a wealthy family, they have to rely on the generosity of others to finish their studies before entering religious life or priesthood.) Below is a letter he sent. Please read it prayerfully.
To my dear Epiphany community:
I hope that you had a very blessed Holy Week and that your Easter season may be restful and very joyous. As one might imagine, life in formation with the Institute of Christ the King has been an incredible blessing and has brought forth such amazing fruits!
Our daily prayer life consists of mass, meditation, and multiple hours of the Divine Office in common. On top of our prayer each young man in formation has daily chores (a great way to follow the spirit of one of our patrons: Saint Benedict!). This daily prayer and work has given a great insight of the rigors of the life of a priest (of course only being a small taste of the burden they bear) and has greatly strengthened my calling.
Alas, this beautiful time of formation does come at a cost. Though the cost of a death to worldly living is mine to take up by the grace of God (and what a glorious cost it is!), there is still a temporal cost for my education and general living expenses.
As of yet I have been blessed to need no extra help for the cost of my formation, but since I will be moving on to Europe for further formation I will need financial help for the increased expenses (travel costs, seminary tuition, school and personal supplies, liturgical books, etc.).
To this end I come before you, my dear community, to ask for your help. It would be a great help if you could spare to donate a small amount from time to time and even more if you would be able to grant more consistent and greater support.
I ask as well your continued prayers for my journey towards the Priesthood of Christ and I assure you of my prayers in return. May God bless you all!
In Christ the King,
If you are able to financially support him, he has a PayPal account set up to receive donations (paypal.me/HeimanSeminaryFund). (A link will soon be on our webpage.) If you are not comfortable sending money via computer, you may give to Epiphany and we will put it in his account. I also asked him for a list of specific “things” which he may need. He needs clerical shirts, cassocks, collars, a winter cape, breviary, etc. But above all, he needs your prayers. Thank you in advance for assisting him and all of our soon-to-be-if-it-is-God’s-will religious and priests!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Visitors and More!
This weekend we have Bishop Kinyaiya from the Diocese of Dodoma, Tanzania with us. He is Father Emmanuel’s bishop and is here checking up on him. No, wait, Fr. Emmanuel is now living in Pensacola so that doesn’t make any sense. Actually, both will be here this week in order to thank those who have in the past or are currently supporting the Uhuru Watoto girls’ education endeavor. If you don’t remember what that is, ask him about it after Mass (assuming you read this article during my homily, like normal).
We also have a visiting LifeTeen Youth Group here from St. Catherine parish in Sebring. They will be attending the 10:30 Sung Mass. This is quite a journey for them. They, unfortunately, don’t have a Traditional Latin Mass at their own parish (yet!) and they wanted to experience it. Any group of teens willing to drive 2 hours each way on a Sunday morning for Mass is showing great initiative in learning new aspects of the Faith and will be certainly experiencing Mass so unlike what they are used to as to be practically a different Catholic Rite altogether. I warned the youth director already that once they see the way Mass was celebrated for 1500 years or more, they will never want to go back to the newfangled Mass which they grew up with and thought was the way Mass was always celebrated. I hope their pastor is preparing himself to start the TLM soon!
There will also be a couple of local teenage Latin scholars attending for their first time, too. They normally attend either Christ the King or Sacred Heart and study Latin at St John Episcopal & Berkeley Prep. Our Diocese (or someone at the chancery, anyway) suggested that they come here for Mass. That is quite a change from what they would have been told at our chancery just a couple of years ago! I believe they, too, will be at the 10:30 Mass. And really, although Sacred Heart is an extremely beautiful church, their Liturgies, especially the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, will seem completely banal compared to ours. I feel sorry for these kids if they have to go back to their “home parish’ again!
On a different topic, this Sunday is Divine Mercy Sunday. Remember that at 2:30 we will gather again in the church for a Holy Hour of Adoration, recitation of the Divine Mercy Chaplet, and, of course, Confessions. I hope you remembered to put it on your calendar. A plenary indulgence is available for those participating in these holy activities, with the other usual stipulations attached which are necessary to receive such a great grace. (Confession, worthy reception of Holy Communion, detachment from all sin, and prayers for the intentions of the Pope.)
Looking ahead one week, be sure to mark your calendars for next Sunday, April 15. The traveling statue of Our Lady of Fatima is coming to spend the day with us! She will arrive sometime early in the morning, there will be a presentation on Fatima following the 10:30 Mass, there will be a scapular enrollment, maybe a few (or a lot of) other prayers, perhaps even Benediction, Consecration, and the Rosary, and she will stay for the day. This is something you don’t want to miss, even if you have been present at a previous visit of Our Lady.
Finally, a few words about Holy Week and Easter before they get too far into the past. This was the first time we were able to celebrate all three Tenebraes. I didn’t get to prayerfully listen to the prayers being chanted (for 2 to 2 1/2 hours each!) because this year I heard confessions during that time. Confessions were constant. People came and went, and the schola said that is not an insult, as many people cannot stay for the entire time but want to bask in the prayers for as long as they can. So next year don’t avoid the Tenebraes thinking that you are going to “get stuck” being there the whole time if you come. Come and go as you need. This year we also had Solemn celebrations for the Sacred Triduum for the first time, as Fathers Mangiafico and Vincent were both able to be here all three days. Although we clergy need some more work on our end (me, especially), the liturgies were beautifully done by everyone else! Schola members and altar boys (and families) really deserve a great reward for all they did to make it work. I hope you all took advantage of what we had or at least realized what an unbelievable gift it is to have this parish and the Venerable Traditional Rites available locally!
So back to where we started. We have many visitors today. They don’t come because of advertising or because they see us on the news or in their parish bulletins. They come because somebody told them we are here doing what we do. Word of mouth is the only way people find us. Don’t be shy in promoting this little piece of Paradise!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: The Easter Sequence
The Easter Sequence, which begins, “Victimae paschali laudes...” is one of only a few sequences in the Roman Missal. We will experience it daily in the Octave of Easter. Its history is now somewhat lost to history, with uncertainty regarding even something so simple as to its author. According to the old Catholic Encyclopedia it holds a unique place among the sequences. “As the only sequence in quasi-Notkerian form retained in our Missal, it is of great interest hymnologically.” Now, what exactly is “quasi-Notkerian” you ask? Well, I’m afraid you are going to have to go the Encyclopedia to find out. But if you are one of the very few who might find that challenge even remotely enticing, you will probably love the article as it breaks down the stanzas and how they vary in syllabic length, the frequency of rhyme, and damage done to this poetic form as it is translated into English! But for those of you who have no inclination whatsoever to delve deeply into such a combination of poetry, liturgy, languages and history, I still want to be able to show you side by side comparisons of the two different English translations of this sequence which we have in our two different Missals in the back of the church. I hope you will see the beauty of both of them while still seeing the sometimes great differences in them, so that you can more greatly appreciate the value of, nay, the necessity of, keeping the prayers of the Mass in Latin so as to avoid the very real problems of translations into all of the constantly changing vulgar languages of the world. Even when translations are done, as is true of this sequence, with great skill, with an eye toward so many necessary things such as beauty of language, poetic structure, and theological purity, it is still impossible to make a “pure” translation. Something has to give. But enough. Here is the sequence: (Sorry, this format doesn't come out looking very good)
To the Paschal Victim
let Christians offer the sacrifice of praise.
The Lamb hath redeemed the sheep;
Christ, the Sinless One,
hath reconciled sinners to His Father.
Death and Life contended
In a wondrous encounter:
the Prince of LIfe died indeed,
but now reigns living.
Tell us, Mary,
What sawest thou on the way?
I saw the sepulcher of the living Christ,
I saw the glory of Him that had risen.
I saw the angelic witness,
the napkin and the linen cloths.
Christ, my hope, has risen:
He shall go before you into Galilee.
We know in truth that Christ
hath risen from the dead.
Thou, O victorious King, have mercy on us.
# 2 version\:
Christians! to the Paschal Victim
offer your thankful praises.
The Lamb the sheep redeemeth:
Christ, Who only is sinless,
reconcileth sinners to the Father.
Death and life have contended
in that conflict stupendous:
the Prince of Life, Who died,
Speak, Mary, declaring
what thou sawest wayfaring.
"The tomb of Christ, Who now liveth:
and likewise the glory of the Risen.
Bright Angels attesting,
the shroud and napkin resting.
Yea, Christ my hope, is arisen:
to Galilee He goeth before you."
We know that Christ is risen,
henceforth ever living:
Have mercy, Victor King, pardon giving. Amen. Alleluia.
Which is better? Each has its strengths. But now that you have seen it in English two different ways, perhaps, when combined with the beauty of the Latin chant, this hymn/prayer/poem will have even more of a depth of wonder and awe for you.
With unpoetic and unsingable prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka