From the Pastor: The New Priest in the Family
As you know, at least if you read the bulletin, last week I flew up to Traverse City, Michigan to attend the Ordination Mass of my cousin, then-Deacon, now-Father Christopher Jarvis. The Mass was held at St. Mary, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Cathedral in Gaylord, with Bishop Steven J. Raica performing the Ordinations. Archbishop Paul Russell was also present for the Mass. He was a local (Alpena) boy who grew up to be a priest of the diocese, is now an Archbishop, and was recently named Apostolic Nuncio to Turkey and Turkmenistan. I didn’t know whether to congratulate him on his new assignment or wish him condolences but it was good to see him making the extra effort to attend the ordinations of the new priests before he shipped out.
Before giving any more details of the Ordination, let me tell you a bit about my flights. When I boarded the plane bound for Detroit, it was filled with kids and babies. Now, normally I am happy to be around youngsters, but on a plane, not so much. The kids get bored and spend most of the time kicking the back of the seat, running back and forth to the bathroom, fighting with their siblings and whining to mom and dad about everything. The infants, unsure why their ears hurt as the cabin pressure changes, usually just scream the whole trip. So I resigned myself to one of those “offer it up” flights. I was pleasantly surprised. The kids were great and the babies were, for the most part, silent. What a blessing for everyone! The next day on the same leg of the return flight they were asking for volunteers to sit in the emergency exit rows. I was traveling alone so it didn’t matter which seat I had but I asked why they were switching people to the emergency exits. Were they expecting a crash? No. They were just swamped with people who couldn’t be in those exit seats: families with young children and infants! Would you believe that the kids were all good and the babies were mostly silent once again? God is certainly generous with His blessings when He wants to be!
Enough about the uneventful flights; now for the good stuff. Father Christopher is the youngest of my generation. He is the youngest son of my mom’s younger sister. Here is the write-up about him from the Gaylord Diocese:
Deacon Christopher Jarvis was born and raised in Ludington, and is the youngest son of Donald and Phyllis Jarvis’s four children. After high school, his family relocated to Traverse City, where he enrolled at Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City before graduating from Spring Arbor University with a Bachelor of Arts in Business. Following college, Jarvis went into business with his brother and worked as a partner and carpenter at Jarvis Custom Homes.
It was during his post-college exploration that Jarvis began seriously discerning the priesthood. As he continued to pray, spending a great deal of time before the Blessed Sacrament, he eventually discussed his vocation with a priest and entered the Congregation of Marians of the Immaculate Conception. He enrolled in theology studies at the Franciscan University of Steubenville before being accepted as a seminarian for the Diocese of Gaylord and transferring to the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio. Shortly after, he was selected by then-Bishop Bernard Hebda to continue his studies at the Pontifical North American College in Rome.
Jarvis has said that he aims to imitate Christ, as the Church needs more holy examples. His home parish is Holy Rosary in Cedar. Several of his family members and friends from the diocese traveled to Rome this past October to witness Jarvis’s Ordination to the Diaconate at St. Peter’s Basilica. He has recently finished his Master of Divinity and looks forward to returning to the Diocese of Gaylord after four years of study in Rome.
Of his ordination, Deacon Jarvis says, “I am honored to be called to serve the Diocese of Gaylord… this vocation is an unmerited gift from our Lord and I am humbled and overwhelmed at the generosity of the people of our diocese, and look forward to serving.”
Not too bad an introduction! Father Jarvis is starting out his priesthood with a bishop who genuinely desires him to be (and believes he will be) a good, holy priest, he has a gooder ejucayshun then what me done gotten, he is much holier already than I am even now, and he is filled with apostolic zeal. He has been assigned to the parish near where his mom and dad and oldest sister live, so they will be able to see him grow into his priesthood with front pew seats! I may be biased because he is kin, but I see great things ahead for the people to whom he will minister. We should begin seeing their halos shining brighter and more beautifully than the Northern Lights soon enough.
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Father’s Day, the day for Priests
This weekend we celebrate Father’s Day in the secular world, so Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there! But this year we are also celebrating the Fatherhood of Priests in a special way, too. As for myself, I traveled to Michigan to witness my cousin’s ordination to the Priesthood. He is now “Father Jarvis” instead of just Chris, even to me. I am writing this before actually being present at his ordination, of course, but already I cannot describe what it is like to have a family member join me in this incredible gift of true Fatherhood. Blessing us with his presence back home at Epiphany we find another Priest, Canon Commins, who, while also a newly ordained “baby Priest” is already a true Father Priest. He is celebrating the 10:30 Mass for us. While my cousin, becoming a Diocesan Priest, was ordained in the new Rite, Canon Commins, being ordained for the Institute of Christ the King, Sovereign Priest, which is an order dedicated to the salvation of souls through the use of the traditional Latin Liturgy of 1962 for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the other sacraments, would have been (I hope I am right about this) ordained in the older, pre Vatican II Rite. My guess is that most people reading this (as well as the one writing this) have never been to an ordination in the old Rite. With this in mind, I decided to print for your edification a small exhortation found in the Rituale wherein the Bishop instructs and encourages those he is about to ordain.
My dear sons, who are about to be consecrated to the office of the priesthood, endeavor to receive that office worthily, and once ordained, strive to discharge it in a praiseworthy manner. A priest's duties are to offer sacrifice, to bless, to govern, to preach, and to baptize. So high a dignity should be approached with great awe, and care must be taken that those chosen for it are recommended by eminent wisdom, upright character, and a long-standing virtuous life.
Thus it was that when the Lord commanded Moses to choose as his helpers seventy men from the whole tribe of Israel, to whom He would impart the gifts of the Holy Spirit, He said to him: "Choose the ones whom you know to be elders of the people" (Num 11.16). It is you yourselves who are prefigured in these seventy elders, if now, by the help of the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit, you are faithful to the Ten Commandments, and display soundness and maturity in knowledge and in action.
Under the same kind of sign and figure, our Lord, in the New Law, chose the seventy-two disciples, and sent them before Him two by two to preach. Thus He taught us both by word and by deed that the ministers of His Church should be perfect both in faith and in works; in other words, that their lives should be founded on the twofold love of God and of neighbor. Strive, then, to be such, that by God's grace you may be worthy of being chosen to assist Moses and the twelve apostles, that is, the Catholic bishops who are prefigured by Moses and the apostles. Then indeed is Holy Church surrounded, adorned, and ruled by a wonderful variety of ministers, when from her ranks are consecrated bishops, and others of lesser orders, priests, deacons, and subdeacons, each of a different dignity, yet comprising the many members of the one body of Christ.
Therefore, my dear sons, chosen as you are by the judgment of our brethren to be consecrated as our helpers, keep yourselves blameless in a life of chastity and sanctity. Be well aware of the sacredness of your duties. Be holy as you deal with holy things. When you celebrate the mystery of the Lord's death, see to it that by mortifying your bodies you rid yourselves of all vice and concupiscence. Let the doctrine you expound be spiritual medicine for the people of God. Let the fragrance of your lives be the delight of Christ's Church, that by your preaching and example you help to build up the edifice which is the family of God. May it never come about that we, for promoting you to so great an office, or you, for taking it on yourselves, should deserve the Lord's condemnation; but rather may we merit a reward from Him. So let it be by His grace.
What a beautiful beginning to an ordination Mass! Please pray for for all priests, especially the two mentioned above, for, as the Traditional saying goes, If the priest is a saint, the people will be fervent; if the priest is fervent, the people will be pious; if the priest is pious, the people will at least be decent; if the priest is only decent, the people will be godless. The spiritual generation is always one-degree less intense in its life than the one who begets it in Christ.
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Not a Typical Week
This atypical week is a busy one. Not that the others aren’t busy or are all the same, mind you, but this one...well...you’ll see. First of all, Carmen, who runs the office, is out for some unknown number of weeks as she recovers from shoulder surgery. It is an old war injury which has bothered her since the Civil War. No, wait, she will kill me if I tell a whopper that big. Her rotator cuff is worn out from her years of pitching in the women’s professional baseball league during WWII, like you might have seen in the movie “League of their own” quite some time back. Ooops, that still makes her too old. It’s a good thing she is off so she will never see this article! However it happened, she need corrective surgery of some sort and the doctor evidently prescribed two months recuperation in Hawaii sipping pina coladas on a beach. Oh, wait, that was what the doctor planned on doing for his post-surgery recuperation. Or something like that. (I sure hope her doctor isn’t one of my parishioners. Then again, Doc, if you are reading this, you might want to take along your pastor--you know, for spiritual reasons--so line up a couple of your most lucrative surgeries so that I can tag along!) To make a long story shorter than I would normally tell it, Carmen is out of the office for a month or two so if you need anything, be sure to call or stop in early in the day when Kim and/or volunteers are holding down the fort.
Tuesday night we have our Fathers/Sons Rays baseball outing. It obviously doesn’t take up much of my day Tuesday but it will keep me out way past my bedtime, so penitents at Wednesday morning’s confessions are either going to get off easy because I will be too tired to come up with any penance beyond “three Hail Mary’s” or they are going to encounter a tired, crabby confessor, in which case they will still be doing their penance by the time everybody else gathers in the social hall for our Wednesday night potluck.
Two evenings later is our now famous 3rd Friday “Family Rosary and Game night.” That’s right, bring your family and neighbors, your favorite game, perhaps snacks and drinks to share, and, of course, your rosary. We officially get underway at 6:30, play and chat and eat and drink for a while, then take a break to pray the rosary, then continue with the festivities once again. It is a great way of meeting new parishioners, of kids getting to know one another, and of families really enjoying “family time.” It is a time when at least this little part of town becomes more like what both Epiphany and Tampa were back when Epiphany first became a parish, when it was expected that social life revolved around the parish and that prayer was a big part of every social event.
During the week both of my sisters have wedding anniversaries. That doesn’t make my life any busier or affect the parish in any known way, but I am proud of the fact that both of my sisters married in the church (and are still married!), are striving for holiness themselves and are trying their best to make their respective families into Saintly ones. So please say a prayer for both of them.
Early Friday afternoon I am flying up to Traverse City, Michigan, to attend the priestly ordination of my cousin, Christopher Jarvis. He is the youngest cousin of my generation and, by the time he popped out, his mom (my mom’s younger sister) must have figured out that if she wanted to raise a Saint she needed only to look to see how my mom had raised me. All right, anyone who has ever spent any time listening to my mom’s stories (tales which grow taller with every telling) knows that that’s not true. Christopher was a better kid than my mom even prayed that I would become and, from what I can see, he will be, from day one, a better priest than I have ever dreamt of becoming. Please pray for him and for his holy Priesthood.
And finally, I will return in time for the early morning Mass on Father’s Day so that I can be present at the special 10:30 Mass celebrated by Canon Jean-Baptiste Commins, who was recently ordained in Florence, Italy by Cardinal Burke for the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, and is now stationed in Saint Louis Missouri at the Saint Francis de Sales Oratory. I will let him (or his family members who attend Epiphany) tell the rest of his story. It will help if you speak French, though! And how do you like the title, “Canon” instead of “Father”? Pretty spiffy, huh? I wonder if it comes from the forcefulness of the Catholic preaching in his order...
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Cardinal Sarah Teaches Clearly
Cardinal Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, has, once again, spoken of the priest celebrating Mass facing in the same direction as the people as a good thing--as a means of helping bring conversion to the people! Although people who attend Epiphany are already familiar with the priest facing “liturgical east” (our church building is not aligned east/west, so “liturgical east” is toward the tabernacle rather than a compass heading) while addressing the prayers of the Mass to God our Father, many people in other parishes have never seen this. They believe that the priest should be speaking to them (praying to them, as it were) while he offers the Holy Sacrifice. People really get up in arms against the very notion that the priest would “turn his back on the people” and, without really thinking about it, prefer that the priest turn his back on God. The older ones claim that “Vatican II taught that Mass is only good if they can see the priest’s face” during the entire Mass. Cardinal Sarah, God bless him, tells what Holy Mother Church really teaches! The following is from a May 30 article by Carl E. Olson, writing for Catholic World Report. It is not only a good read but also great for sharing with others who may not be aware of this. Note carefully: he is speaking of the Novus Ordo Mass, not the Traditional Latin Mass!
Asked how we, as Catholics, can put God "back at the center" of the liturgy, Cardinal Sarah emphasizes that the liturgy "is the door to our union with God. If Eucharistic celebrations turn into human self-celebrations, there is a great danger, because God disappears. We have to start by placing God back at the center of the liturgy. If the man is the center, the church becomes a merely human society, a simple NGO, as Pope Francis said."
What is the remedy? Cardinal Sarah first emphasizes the necessity of "a true conversion of the heart." He then states: "Vatican II insisted on a major point: in this area, the important thing is not what we do, but what God does. No human work will ever be able to accomplish what is found at the heart of the Mass: the sacrifice of the cross." The liturgy, the Prefect notes, "allows us to go outside the walls of this world. Rediscovering the sacredness and beauty of the liturgy therefore requires a work of formation for the laity, the priests and the bishops. I am talking about an interior conversion." As he has done before, notably in a detailed reflection published earlier this year, Cardinal Sarah emphasizes the importance of silence: "In order to put God back at the center of the liturgy, silence is necessary too: the ability to be quiet so as to listen to God and his word. I maintain that we only meet God in silence and by pondering his word in the depths of our heart."
This insistence on conversion—which is "to turn toward God"—and contemplative silence leads to the recognition "that our bodies must participate in this conversion." And the best way to realize this bodily participation is by facing liturgical East (ad orientem) in worship:
The best way is certainly to celebrate with the priests and the faithful all turned in the same direction: towards the Lord who comes. It is not a matter of celebrating with one’s back to the faithful or facing them, as you sometimes hear. That is not where the problem lies. It is about turning together towards the apse, which symbolizes the East, where the cross of the risen Lord is enthroned. By this way of celebrating, we will experience, even in our bodies, the primacy of God and of adoration. We will understand that the liturgy is first of all our participation in the perfect sacrifice of the cross. I have experienced it personally; by celebrating in this way, the assembly, headed by the priest, is as though drawn in by the mystery of the Cross at the moment of the elevation.
Cardinal Sarah is asked if this way of celebrating is allowed. Yes, he responds, it is indeed "lawful and in keeping with the letter and the spirit of the Council." He notes that in a June 2015 article that he wrote for L’Osservatore Romano, "I proposed that the priests and the faithful turn toward the East at least during the Penitential Rite, during the singing of the Gloria, the Prayers of the Faithful and the Eucharistic Prayer."
Naturally, Cardinal Sarah is asked about Vatican II and the "change in orientation of the altar". He makes a point that has been made countless times but still seems to go unheard by many Catholics: "More than fifty years after the close of Vatican II, it becomes urgent for us to read its documents! The Council never required celebrating Mass facing the people! This question was not even addressed by the Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium..."
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka