From the Pastor: Martyred for Wearing a Cassock!
On April 13 of this year, a number of news stories came out about a young seminarian who was martyred on that date in 1945 and is now a “Blessed”. The stories erroneously, as far as I can now tell, said that the thirteenth was his feast day. It was, rather, the date of his death. His actual feast day is set for this coming week, Tuesday, May 29, the date of the translation (moving) of his relics from his grave near where he was tortured and murdered to the cemetery of his hometown church after Italy’s Liberation. The April date would have conflicted too often with Holy Week, hence the practical change to this other important date, something which is not unusual in cases of liturgical conflicts such as this. I bring him up because I have a particular affinity for him. A couple of years ago I wrote a bulletin article about Blessed Rolando, which I will present below (with a few slight edits) and I believe you will see why I am drawn to him.
On October 5, 2013, a beatification ceremony took place. The Bishop of Rome, Francis, in commenting the next day about it said, “Yesterday in Modena (Italy) Rolando Rivi was beatified. He was a seminarian of that region, Emilia, who was killed in 1945, when he was 14, because of hatred for his faith, guilty only of wearing a cassock during that time of raging violence against the clergy, who spoke out to condemn in the name of God the postwar massacres” (emphasis mine). Since I wear a cassock most of the time, Francis’ words caught my attention! Those who hate Catholic Church's moral teachings, be they the communists and socialists who killed Blessed Rolando or “progressive” Catholics (including laity, Religious, Priests and even Bishops) to this day absolutely hate cassocks and those who wear them. Blessed Rolando experienced this hatred in perhaps its most violent form. I have culled the following information from several sources on the web. Go find more. You will not be disappointed.
Rivi discovered his vocation very early and entered the seminary when he was only 11 years old. At that time, all seminarians wore cassocks, and so did he. The Rector, Msgr. Luigi Bronzoni, would explain to the seminarians that they had to be very careful not to associate with bad companions and occasions of sin, but moreover they had the obligation to distinguish themselves by prayer and service in the parish, in study and in purity, in good works and dedication to the Lord. “Even in vacations--he used to recommend--the seminarians must always wear the cassock which is the sign of our belonging to Jesus.” Rolando wore his cassock and white collar with pride, even in vacations in the hot month of summer. Some of his peers who normally sought comfort didn’t wear the cassock and even some of his relatives told him: “You are on vacations, take off your cassock, be freer to move and play…” He answered: “I don’t have to take my cassock off, I can’t, it is the sign that I belong to Jesus!”
His cassock was not for him a human or social barrier for relationships with others. It was not an impediment for the development of his activities, even the recreational ones. Everyone knew how affectionate he was to his cassock. He wore it always. It was very common to see him walking the streets of San Valentino, normally going towards the Church alone or with others, always smiling in peace, ready to say hello to everyone, always with his austere cassock. Everyone used to see the young seminarian walking in the streets, everyone knew his lifestyle, he was known as: “The little priest.” His parents used to tell him: “Don’t wear the cassock, at least don’t wear it during these times…” They used to explain that it was not prudent to wear it in such unstable moments. But Rolando used to answer: “But why, what is so wrong with me wearing it? I don’t have any reason not to wear it. I am studying to be a priest and this cassock is the sign that I belong to Jesus.”
The communist and socialist partisans noticed the kid wearing the cassock, too, and hated him for it. Kidnapped and stripped of his cassock, Rivi was imprisoned and tortured by partisans for three days. Some of the partisans proposed to let him go, since he was only a young boy. But the majority sentenced him to death, in order to have “one less future priest.” On April 13, Rivi was taken to a forest in the surroundings of Modena. The partisans dug a grave and had Rivi kneel on its edge. While he was praying, the young seminarian was killed by gunshots to the heart and head. His cassock was rolled into a ball, kicked around and then hung as a war trophy in the front door of a house.
Blessed Rolando Maria Rivi, martyr for wearing the cassock, pray for those of us who wear cassocks and for those who hate us for doing so.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Too Old to be a Religious Sister?
Throughout my priesthood, I have had many conversations with “older” women about how they felt called to the religious life but were turned away because they were too old. These older women ranged from their mid-thirties through probably their sixties when they finally tried to join an order or to at least (and at last) speak with someone seriously about doing so. I have sent quite a few of them to the diocesan vocations office, who turned them over to the “Vicar for Religious”. Never have any of them been matched up with an order of Religious Sisters who accept older vocations. Because of my cynical nature I am able to come up with quite of few scenarios in my mind as to why, over and over again, holy, prayerful, and faithful Catholic women would either be out and out discouraged from entering Religious Life late in life or else be pointed only to dying “hippie-protestant type” Religious communities and told that those are their only options, but I won’t go there at this time. Instead, I want to simply ignore what anyone else has done or said and simply ask that if there are any “older” women reading this who think/thought that they may be called to a Religious LIfe to contact me.
Why? I don’t know. What is the purpose? I am not sure. So why put the word out about this? Simply because. I have met a few women again recently with stories about how they feel greatly called to enter Religious Life and yet they don’t know what to do. They are “older” and have been told by family, friends and even priests and Sisters that it is just too late. The only orders that they were pointed to which took older vocations are more proud of not wearing habits than they are of being truly Catholic. I recently told one woman that I would be glad to try to put her in touch with another woman in the same boat so that they could at least see that they were not alone in this heartfelt desire and then, before that went anywhere, I was speaking with yet another woman on a completely different topic and somewhere in the conversation she blurted out a similar exasperated statement, “I always knew I should have been a nun!” And she was serious. How many more of you are out there? Let’s find out.
This is a call, a plea, an invitation, or whatever you want to call it, to any ladies who are in the same boat to get in touch with me (and with each other). Let’s see where it will lead, what can be done under the circumstances, and, hopefully, find out what to do about an authentic call to an “impossible” situation. Who should contact me? Well, let’s start out with the basics. You must be female. Yes, I know that is sexist and discriminatory. But this is for women who know that they are women. You “need not apply” if you are a male with some odd notion of “gender fluidity” and all of its various permutations. Discrimination based on sex is not evil in and of itself, believe it or not! You must be single. Truly single. Not married and legally divorced but still under the obligation of “‘til death do us part”. You must not have dependent children. You must honestly and sincerely feel called to Religious Life (which does not mean that you have a true calling, which is what a discernment process is supposed to examine more closely) rather than just being lonely and wishing that you had someone(s) to talk to or live with. As for age, well, since the “younger” ones can and should be looking in other areas, let’s say that “older” for our purposes starts at 35 and ends with the day before death. Next, you must be longing for a Catholic Religious Life, not a “catholic” (mostly in name only) community of social justice warriors who happen to every once in a while, when it seems convenient, pray to a non-masculine pronoun bearing god. Those who want the latter can already find acceptance in any number of “Religious” orders already, and, even if age 65, would be among the youngest in the coven, oops, I mean convent.
On May 8, the feast of Our Lady, Mediatrix of All Graces, it became very clear to me that I was to make this invitation right away, rather than to think it through first. For me, getting this message out two weeks later is still pretty quick! What the next step is will be determined by who, if anyone, responds and what their situation in life is. So put out the word. Email me at “FatherPalka@EpiphanyTampa.com” (without the quotation marks, of course). Give me a little background information to show that you actually read what I wrote and are responding to it. And, if you are able to make it, come to Epiphany for the 10:30 Mass on June 3, the External Solemnity of Corpus Christi. We will get together to talk right after the Eucharistic Procession that day. Our Lady, pray for us!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Met Gay-La-Di-Da: Heads (Collars) Should Roll
The Met Gala clearly shows that reality is not found in the “Catholic” leaders of the Jesuits or New York or Rome. I didn’t want to write about such a blasphemous event but after reading the May 3 New York Times article, “How The Met Got The Vatican’s Vestments” I knew I couldn’t just shrug it off with, “Well, what do you expect from Cardinal ‘Bravo to Sodomy’ Dolan and Father James Martin, LGBTSJ?” For various and sundry reasons I already believe that both of these men are a disgrace to the priesthood and have no business being in the positions they are in. It is one thing to make occasional mistakes, to speak in less than clear ways on the faith (especially when speaking off the cuff while being interviewed, for instance) or just plain getting part of Church teaching wrong and later having to correct oneself. It is another thing completely when it becomes clear that a cardinal or priest actively promotes mortal sin on a regular basis under a variety of circumstances and is publicly proud of leading the flock astray. But to find out that “Andrew Bolton, curator in charge of the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art” and one of the main instigators of the Gay-la-di-da met often enough (10 times) with the staff of the Sistine Chapel that that “they entrusted him with the hidden chamber’s keys and opened secret doors, behind which elderly nuns ironed the pope’s white vestments.” means that this story’s villains reach even further into the Church and must be addressed.
Mr Bolton met with multiple high ranking officials and, after explaining exactly what nefarious use was going to be made of the sacred vestments, was given the green light to take with him “more than 40” pieces “including a papal tiara with 19,000 precious stones, including 18,000 diamonds” which was valuable enough monetarily (though obviously nobody saw any spiritual value to it) that is had to “fly to New York with its own bodyguard” to be used profanely to put on a show mocking Catholicism. Who was it that ultimately gave the thumbs up to this atrocity? “Msgr. Guido Marini, the papal master of liturgical celebrations and the keeper of the sacristy” who was only approached after gaining the approval of Archbishop Georg Gänswein, Prefect of the Papal Household and personal secretary to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. Both of these high-ranking Churchmen should be disciplined immediately. The priest in charge of the Sistine Chapel sacristy, who sent Mr. Bolton to Archbishop Gänswein in the first place is the only one in the Times story who, perhaps, was not on board with the whole thing. Everybody else seems to have been gung-ho about the lampooning of Catholic ecclesial “fashion”, showing a complete lack of Catholicity. No guilty party, cleric or lay, should be left in positions of authority.
I generally don’t like to tell anyone who should be disciplined and who should not be, especially when I am not directly involved. After all, I myself have often been unjustly disciplined but just as often gone undisciplined when I fully deserved it and I generally wouldn’t want people sticking their nose into my business on at least one side of that equation! But the Met Gala is worldwide news and this public scandal (I see no way of a real Catholic seeing this as anything lesser than a scandal) is bringing me questions from the faithful even though I am just a parish priest many states removed from New York and certainly even further removed from Rome. The questions it brings are not minor but rather have considerable, perhaps eternal, ramifications. [How is this proper? Am I wrong to be appalled when even the Cardinal attends and enjoys such a “sexy” show? I see this as a mockery of my Catholic Faith but Rome sent the vestments and even the Sistine Chapel Choir to sing alongside Madonna. Am I too Catholic? Is this even the true Church anymore? Why doesn’t somebody do something? etc.,] For this reason I want each of you to know that there is at least one priest you know (there are some --many?-- on the blogosphere stating the Truth, thanks be to God, but you probably don’t know them personally) who will publicly state that heads (and collars) should roll over this. Enough is enough. This is the Church, not a carnival. It was founded by Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity and Savior of mankind, as His Church, not just any old organization which can be run according to the whims of aging hippies and blatantly immoral and unbelieving false shepherds. Sacred vestments and other objects are just that, sacred, and are to be treated with reverence rather than sacrilegiously used to model fashion symbols of rampant immoral perversity and irreligion. Who should do the disciplining? The Bishop of Rome, who himself approved so many other such scandalous events such as tuning St. Peter’s into a projection screen for a piece of global warming propaganda. I won’t hold my breath waiting for a correction to these actions, but at least you know that your pastor is as disgusted as you hopefully are by the blatant gaslighting being done by “powerful” Church leaders. God help us all.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Alfie is Dead
I am going to simply post here today an article from one of my favorite blogs, One Mad Mom. This was written April 27. Alfie died the next day. My only comment in addition to this beautiful and much needed exhortation/explanation is this: Alfie, because he was baptized and under the age of reason, is in Heaven, while those responsible for his inhumane death are bound for hell unless they repent.
Find the blog at onemadmomblog.wordpress.com
People! I’m getting a bit exhausted watching the words “brain dead” and “terminal” being tossed about by CATHOLICS! Geez! At this point, you might as well just euthanize us all now because we’re all headed for that plot in the ground, too.
First, Alfie Evans is not “brain-dead,” although he might be considered so by some. I believe the worst diagnosis so far is “semi-vegetative.” We’re apparently not going to wait for fully vegetative anymore. You must remember the increasing number of supposedly “brain dead” patients who woke up in the middle of having their organs harvested, their intubation unhooked, or just waking up out of the blue. Clearly, science has not nailed this down, and not even an EEG is a good indicator of what’s really going on. Regardless of this, Alfie doesn’t fit the bill of brain dead nor has anyone actually diagnosed him as such.
Alfie definitely does have a neurodegenerative disease. Nobody denies that, but so do people with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, ALS, etc. While all will likely die from these diseases, they are only terminal when the body stops metabolizing. My dad suffered from Alzheimer’s for years, but was only considered terminal the last week of his life. Interestingly enough, if he had lived ninety days in hospice, he would have no longer been considered terminal. Go figure. This is why the Church has always said that food, water, medicine, and other medical procedures meant to treat secondary issues should be continued for patients with these diseases. We do not euthanize them. We give them palliative care. We can’t currently cure them, but we shouldn’t do things to hasten their death. What is palliative care? It’s care meant to relieve stress and pain in the body.
The one treatment most people are going to point to as “extraordinary” care is intubation. Quite frankly, it can sometimes be extraordinary care, but it can also be ordinary care depending on the person’s illness, accident, etc. Let’s say a person, like Christopher Reeve, has been paralyzed and cannot breathe. He is still very mentally with it, he’s still metabolizing, but he needs help breathing to take the stress off his body (because not breathing is rather stressful). Denying him that treatment would very definitely hasten his death. It’s ordinary care for his situation which, at that point, is not terminal. This is really where Alfie is now. For him, that would have been palliative care. It was simply taking the stress off his body. The kid is metabolizing just fine. He looks to be a tall little chunk for his age, and his renal and heart functions are great. Might this not be the case when his disease progresses? Absolutely, but we don’t kill people with, say, ALS just because they need help with oxygen. What’s the difference? Alfie can’t speak for himself and his parents are not allowed to speak for him either. He could very well get to a point where his organs start shutting down, he can no longer metabolize the nutrition, hydration, and medication, and he goes into heart failure or renal failure. Oxygen would be totally futile at that point. We, however, as Catholics, don’t base treatment on what might be one day. For all we know, Alfie’s brain could suddenly stop getting worse. Yes, this is where he would be the rest of his life, but what we do know is that removing oxygen puts much more stress on his little body, and doing so was meant to hasten his death. It’s important to note they removed his nutrition and hydration until he didn’t die. After a while of him not dying, they started looking bad.
Now, Bambino Gesu has offered palliative care to Alfie until which time it is no longer conducive to his health. They have said they DO NOT intend on discontinuing the ventilator, nutrition, or hydration. What they DO intend is making him as comfortable as possible for the rest of his life. Nobody can seem to tell me why this is a problem. I believe the judge said it could be detrimental to his health because of possible seizures. You know what’s more detrimental to his health, Mr. Justice Hayden? Euthanasia. It’s going to be harmful to someone’s health one hundred percent of the time. Just let Alfie go.
Folks, you need to learn this because you don’t want to be trying to figure all of this out when you are under THE worst stress of your lives and, since life will be in the balance, you want to get this right. --One Mad Mom
From the Pastor,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka