From the Pastor: Religious Life is Calling Two (and You?)
In less than two weeks, two of our daily Mass attendees and servers will be heading off for the religious life. They will be going in different directions according to geography and in different directions according to the orders in which they are enrolled but in the same direction according to their ultimate end: union with God.
Ryan Caesar, who sings in our choir at the 10:30 Mass on Sundays, will be joining the Jesuits in Grand Coteau, Louisiana. He will begin by spending a year or two delving deeply into the spiritual life, both his own and Jesuit (Ignatian) Spirituality in general. Traditionally this religious order called the Society of Jesus (that’s where the SJ comes from after the name of a Jesuit) has been both an intellectual and a spiritual powerhouse, protecting, defending and explaining Church teachings through the power of logic, philosophy and theology and, of course, prayer. Through their retreat centers and schools they have taught generations of Catholics how to embrace the fullness of Faith, how to live it in their own state of life, and how to make a union with God something not only for the next world but also for this one! Unfortunately though, in recent decades the Jesuits have become the butt of jokes for their less-than-Catholic weird teachings, spirituality that borders on new age or indifferentism, and all around lack of Catholic identity. On the other hand, there are still many Jesuits who embrace the Truth fully and Ryan will no doubt be one of the good guys.
Eric Talmant, who attends either or both of the Sunday Masses, will be flying to Italy to enter the Benedictine way of life. He will be joining the Benedictine Monks of the Divine Will in Carpegna, Italy. Though the Benedictines are a venerable and ancient order, this particular group is newly formed. According to their woefully inadaquate website (http://www.divinewillmonks.com/), “[T]he monks live a contemplative Benedictine life of work and prayer. The Horarium includes praying the 7 hours of the Divine Office, the Holy Rosary, the Divine Mercy Chaplet, 2 hours of private Eucharistic Adoration daily and Spiritual Reading, with particular attention to the Divine Will writings of the Servant of God, Luisa Piccarreta. All the prayers are done before Jesus exposed in the Blessed Sacrament. The monks are devoted to St. Benedict, St. Scholastica, St. Annibale di Francia and the glorious St. Joseph and are consecrated to the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts of Jesus and Mary.” I know very little about Luisa Piccarreta, but, since one of my men is joining a religious house with a particular devotion to her, I will now make it a higher priority to study her life and writings. I hope you will do the same.
I bluntly asked them what we could do to assist them along the journey to monk and/or priest. Diocesan (or secular) priests (which is what I am) don’t have a community to provide for their needs and so don’t take a vow of poverty, since they need to earn money to pay for much of what they need and own. Even as a seminarian, I still had expenses, including my car (insurance, maintenance, gas, payments), school books, soap and other toiletries, clothing and whatnot. The undergraduate seminarians also have tuition expenses, though those were waived for the graduate students. But both of these men are entering into religious orders, where, unlike me, they will take vows of poverty, owning nothing of their own and relying completely on their superiors to supply for their needs. So my question was, “Do you have any expenses we can help with, or do you need any supplies now or in the coming years? After all, there is no doubt people will want to help you on your vocational journey.” Both men said they need only prayer. Both are extremely limited as to what they can take with them (Ryan mentioned a limit of even 5 or 6 books!) and neither think they will have any expenses in their first year. After they get there and find out for sure, I will update you if that changes, for I know that ideals and reality are often quite different. But as for right now, they simply ask you to pray. Could you perhaps remember them in your daily family rosary? (Men, you are leading your family in a daily rosary, aren’t you?) Could you remember them in your daily Mass, or, if you don’t currently come to daily Mass, could you start for their sakes? Even one single daily Hail Mary as you get out of bed would be of untold value.
And finally, for all the other men or women of the parish who are contemplating a religious life, know that you are not alone. These men are taking the plunge. They will spend years discerning, along with and from within their respective communities, if it is God’s will for them to stay and continue. Follow their example. Be courageous. It’s worth it!
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Thank you for your homily feedback
Last week in the sermon I explained a bit of the historical destruction of Jerusalem after the Chosen People rejected the Son of God. (Imagine this: I left out the really gory parts!) When God is rejected by those who absolutely, positively should know better, He will (and did) bring about a Justice the likes of which most people of today cannot fathom and no sane person of any time would ever wish to endure. It was not a pretty picture which I described and it was not meant to be. I believe very firmly that we, both Catholics and society as a whole, are so overly sensitive to such things as others hurting our feelings or being made to feel uncomfortable by every perceived slight or rebuke, that we have lost sight of reality in several ways. Mention the first three Spiritual Works of Mercy (To instruct the ignorant; To counsel the doubtful; To admonish sinners), for instance, and people think you are making an excuse to be “mean” to others. The unremittingly misused phrase, “Judge not!” will then be used to keep the “meanie” from performing any of these traditionally virtuous deeds. As a result, nobody can really fathom such Divinely ordained things as how terrible are the eternal torments of Hell, nor even the cleansing but horrendous pains of Purgatory. Even the very existence (and length of) these two places is doubted by and large resulting in masses of people doing absolutely nothing to avoid them and, conversely, doing next to nothing to get to Heaven. This is a great paradox, for while we are sure God could not inflict His forewarned punishments, at the same time we are also quite oblivious to actual hurts, whether emotional, physical or spiritual, which we mete out to others.
Because I believe this to be true, I will sometimes (perhaps often) preach and write things that are meant to show that throughout the history of Man and the Church not every good and holy thing done by either God or man was sanitized marshmallowy sweetness--as I think the world wants God and the Catholic Church to be at this point in time. I do not do this to be iniquitous but to be charitable. People need to wake up to the fact that doing what God has revealed to be good will bring rewards, sometime temporal and sometimes eternal; doing what God has revealed to be evil will bring the stipulated punishment. Unlike the “Left Behind” false teachings, both the rewards and the punishments will affect both the good and the bad here on Earth, the people directly and indirectly involved in the deeds and those who are innocent bystanders. We need to learn from revelation and history that crying, “But that’s not fair!” or “A good God would not do that (though he warned and/or promised to do so) does not change Truth, for God will not be mocked. Rather, mercy without Justice, which is what we expect, is meaningless.
Still, sometimes I may be the blind one, not realizing what kind of pains I might be inflicting upon others as I try to fulfil my mission. I am not immune to the societal maladies of which I just wrote! That is why I thank you for all your input. I can tell you that at this parish I have never had anyone give input on my teachings in such a way that they seemed to want the Church to change Her teachings or at least to get this priest to shut up about them. Believe it or not, in other parishes, in lands far, far away and a long time ago, the “protestant Catholics” to whom I often refer, cause terrible problems and go to great lengths to get priests to either outright deny God’s revealed teachings or to at least be silent about those teachings of which they wish not to adhere. As I thank you for your input, please know that I do listen to what you say and I try to discern if I need to make adjustments in what or how I do or say things. That doesn’t necessarily mean that I will change, for I may not, even after careful consideration, agree with your point of view. It also doesn’t mean that I was right and you were wrong. Not everyone is going to agree with how to present what Truth to whom and when. Or I still may be in denial, and if everyone (including me) got everything right the first time (or even the tenth time) they heard the Truth, there would be no more need for the Church! But I do listen and I do appreciate concerned criticism. In case you were wondering, I received more feedback on last week’s sermon than any other I have preached this year. By far most of it was positive, but the negatives (again, good observations and questions) were good for me to hear as well. Thank you for caring enough to keep me on my toes.
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Dallas, Dallas, We Love You
I have been waiting patiently--Oh, so patiently!--for the police officers mowed down in the recent terrorist attack to be canonized as happened to the “faithful departed” in Orlando. [Cue the sound of crickets chirping] Where is the compassion? Where is the adulation? Where is the fawning? Where is the money? Nowhere to be found, especially around here. When the obviously (to those with eyes to see) demonic muslim slaughtered the people in Orlando, it was a horror beyond what we are used to in these United States of America. That dozens of innocent people, not soldiers in battle, not gang members in a turf war, not slimy people who doubled-crossed the Clintons Mafia, were killed in cold blood, all of America and perhaps most of the “civilized” world, mourned. But soon, nay, immediately, the mourning turned into something disgusting: a threefold call, 1) to canonize sodomy and its proponents; 2) an absolution of both muslims and “gays” of any wrongdoing, immoral actions, or even bad thoughts; and 3) a politically correct forcing of everyone to accept, promote, kowtow to, and even bow down in worship to intrinsically disordered homosexual behavior. But when police officers are killed performing the virtuous act of protecting a hate group which was actively and at that very moment protesting them and even calling for their executions--(Pigs in a blanket. Fry ‘em like bacon)--not a peep out of the same people who seemed to have stayed up all night dreaming up ways to propagandize sodomy just a few days prior.
Baseball stadiums and government buildings were raising rainbow flags after the Orlando killings. Bishops were writing with tears in their eyes after the Orlando killings. Farcebook was filled with “We stand with Orlando” messages and memes after the Orlando killings. Supposed “bigots” were seen anywhere loving people mentioned repentance, forgiveness of sin, or the sadness of dying in an unprovided for death. But when the noble but (unfortunately, as far as the world is concerned) assumedly “straight” law enforcement officers were strategically assassinated, those who were so vocal just weeks before seemed to have lost their voices and their pens. (Sorry, I am exaggerating. Some have found a voice in calling for more gun control.) It seems that something nearly as bad for worldly people (including high ranking members of the Church) as being called “homophobic” for not fully encouraging sodomy is to be called “racist” for standing up for cops.
The Orlando shootings have brought to light (those who have eyes to see have seen) the absolute acceptance of mortal sin in this particular sexual area and the further absolute acceptance of Islam as a protected religion. I do not exaggerate here at all. Imagine for a minute if the same people were killed in the same nightclub, not by a “faithful” Muslim checking fb for his “acclaim” as he killed in the name of allah, but rather by a Catholic, whether faithful or fallen away, even if he absolutely denied that he was doing it in the name of Jesus. Would his Catholic religion be exonerated? Would everyone bend over backward to stress that Catholicism is a religion of peace and that we cannot hold all Catholics or the teachings of the Catholic Church responsible for his actions or for the deaths? Would imams write that it was, unfortunately, their religion which bullied this poor Catholic and stressed him out so much that he did this terrible deed because of them? Of course not. Try this next. Imagine that it was a redneck bar that was attacked by the same muslim man. Would the myriad of government and corporate offices been festooned with confederate flags as they were with rainbow flags? Would all the dogooders be wearing cowboy hats and boots in solidarity with the rednecks? Would politicians be seen on television wearing “Daisy Dukes” or chewing tobacco as they kissed up to their redneck constituents? Ha! How about, bringing this closer to home, if that muslim man shot Catholics attending a Traditional Latin Mass? Would we have seen the Papal flag flying everywhere? Would we see the outpouring of love coming across the nation as people started defending the right to worship the one true God in this most beautiful manner without having to worry about being martyred (let alone being condemned by their own co-religionists as Self-Absorbed Promethean Neopelagians)? Would millions of dollars have been donated to support the widow and eight children left behind from each of the 49 Catholic men slaughtered?
You know the answer to all of these rhetorical questions, and the answers show the demonic brainwashing our society has undergone. Please pray for the stupid Americans, especially (it pains me to write this) for those who are the clueless or evil members of our Church, particularly in the hierarchy. We, as a whole, have already gone off the deep end and are heading straight for hell. May God be more merciful than we are sinful, so as to bring us to repentance and penance before it is too late.
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: It’s Hurricane Season
Hurricane season began a month ago. This is the first hurricane season during which I have been at Epiphany of Our Lord, as is true for many of you. We have not had a hurricane hit this area in quite a few years—thanks be to God!—but that doesn’t mean that we will not be affected by one or more this year. So I wish to give you four basic pastoral guidelines on what to do if a hurricane threatens.
First: Pray. This seems to be the obvious first step for all who have faith in God but I have never seen it mentioned in any of the “official” hurricane guides put out by the local news outlets or government agencies. Here it gets top billing. Pray to avert the storm. Pray to lessen the storm. Pray that, if God deems it best to allow the storm to hit, it will bring about increases in Faith, Hope and Charity which will far outweigh any perceived or real physical or moral evil it brings. Get out your rosary, read your bible, open your prayer books and pray. Come to Mass if possible (more on that later). Some of the weekday Masses, under such circumstances, may be celebrated with special prayers of the “Mass to avert storms” when a hurricane threatens. [Sometimes people question whether it is proper to pray that a storm changes course. What if it hits somewhere else rather than us? Are we then responsible for the damage, destruction, disruption of people’s daily activities, or even deaths? Let me answer bluntly, without trying to sound either callous or flippant: the people living where it eventually hits have the opportunity to pray for the aversion of the storm just as much as you do. Pray for their spiritual and physical safety, too, but do not worry that somehow you took control of the storm away from God. He is still in charge.]
Second: Follow any good secular advice given for preparation before—and survival during and after—the storm. For instance, make sure you have several days’ worth of food and water stored at your house. If the storm destroys your house and wipes out your food and water supply, there is not much you can do about it. But do you remember seeing images on TV of people complaining that “the government is to blame” when they were simply too lazy or cheap to follow mandatory evacuation orders or even to buy a couple of gallons of water a week before trouble hit? Don’t let that idiot be you!
Third: Do not come to Mass if it would be dangerous for you to do so. I live on the church property. Even if a hurricane is predicted to hit us, I should be able to be at the church to celebrate any scheduled Masses. But that doesn’t mean that you have to brave the storm to get here. Think not only about your own safety but also about the safety of any emergency personnel who may have to come and rescue you if your car winds up in a ditch. Please don’t put anyone in danger. That being said, if you can make it to the church safely, feel free to come. This church is not in a flood zone or evacuation zone, but, as you know if you have been here during an afternoon thunderstorm, the local streets and even our parking lot flood in the low spots when the rain gets heavy. So be careful if you decide to make the trip.
Fourth: If you cannot make it to Sunday Mass due to a hurricane, bring in your offertory envelope for that Sunday the next time you come, or give online. The last time we had hurricanes come through I was at St. Rita in Dade City. I think there were three Sundays when attendance was extremely low due to hurricanes coming through on weekends. Very few parishioners thought to later come and give the monetary offering that they would have given had they been at Mass. Most people seemed to treat the missed Mass the same as if they didn’t go to a theme park that day and therefore did not need to pay the admittance fee. Your contribution is so much more than that. It is a spiritual offering, a tithe. Please don’t short-change either God or yourself!
I hope that helps to answer any questions you have about whether or not Mass will be celebrated and whether or not you should come. But going back to point number one, I think it is always best if we just pray the storms out of existence and not have to worry about the rest of it. So get going even now, when no storm is threatening. If a storm comes anywhere near, the news people will get you all worked up and you might just forget to pray then, so pray long before it seems necessary!
With prayers for you holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Apologize! Plus, Prayer for Government
As the whole world now knows, our Bishop blamed religion in general--and Catholicism in particular--for the demonic shootings in Orlando. He wrote, “Second, sadly it is religion, including our own, that targets, mostly verbally, and often breeds contempt for gays, lesbians and transgender people.” (Is it any relief that he blamed Catholics second, behind guns?) Our Pope has now chimed in by exclaiming, when asked about gays and the Orlando carnage, that the Church should apologize to gays. He said, “We Christians have to apologize for so many things, not just for this (treatment of gay people), but we must ask for forgiveness, not just apologize! Forgiveness!” I am so grateful that the Holy Father chastised and corrected (indirectly, of course) our wayward Bishop with this statement. Yes, the Bishop must apologize to the gays for his lack of love, apparent by his indictment of the True Faith and his exoneration of their sin. He must apologize to gays for encouraging them to embrace mortal sin at the cost of their immortal souls. He must apologize to them for leading people to reject what the Church teaches about the intrinsically disordered nature of homosexual activity and pledge to do reparation for the scandal he has caused. He must apologize with such loving conviction that they finally forgive him, which will be manifest by their repentance and repudiation of their former sinful lifestyle and identity. What? This is taking the Pope’s words out of context? Sorry. But if sodomy is no longer a sin, then sarcasm just might be a new theological virtue. And now for something completely different. And necessary.
The following prayer was composed by John Carroll, Archbishop of Baltimore, in 1791. He was the first bishop appointed for the United States in 1789 by Pope Pius VI. He was made the first archbishop when his see of Baltimore was elevated to the status of an archdiocese. John was a cousin of Charles Carroll of Maryland, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.
PRAYER FOR GOVERNMENT
We pray, Thee O Almighty and Eternal God! Who through Jesus Christ hast revealed Thy glory to all nations, to preserve the works of Thy mercy, that Thy Church, being spread through the whole world, may continue with unchanging faith in the confession of Thy Name.
We pray Thee, who alone art good and holy, to endow with heavenly knowledge, sincere zeal, and sanctity of life, our chief bishop, Pope N., the Vicar of Our Lord Jesus Christ, in the government of his Church; our own bishop, N., all other bishops, prelates, and pastors of the Church; and especially those who are appointed to exercise amongst us the functions of the holy ministry, and conduct Thy people into the ways of salvation.
We pray Thee O God of might, wisdom, and justice! Through whom authority is rightly administered, laws are enacted, and judgment decreed, assist with Thy Holy Spirit of counsel and fortitude the President of these United States, that his administration may be conducted in righteousness, and be eminently useful to Thy people over whom he presides; by encouraging due respect for virtue and religion; by a faithful execution of the laws in justice and mercy; and by restraining vice and immorality. Let the light of Thy divine wisdom direct the deliberations of Congress, and shine forth in all the proceedings and laws framed for our rule and government, so that they may tend to the preservation of peace, the promotion of national happiness, the increase of industry, sobriety, and useful knowledge; and may perpetuate to us the blessing of equal liberty.
We pray for his excellency, the governor of this state , for the members of the assembly, for all judges, magistrates, and other officers who are appointed to guard our political welfare, that they may be enabled, by Thy powerful protection, to discharge the duties of their respective stations with honesty and ability.
We recommend likewise, to Thy unbounded mercy, all our brethren and fellow citizens throughout the United States, that they may be blessed in the knowledge and sanctified in the observance of Thy most holy law; that they may be preserved in union, and in that peace which the world cannot give; and after enjoying the blessings of this life, be admitted to those which are eternal.
Finally, we pray to Thee, O Lord of mercy, to remember the souls of Thy servants departed who are gone before us with the sign of faith and repose in the sleep of peace; the souls of our parents, relatives, and friends; of those who, when living, were members of this congregation, and particularly of such as are lately deceased; of all benefactors who, by their donations or legacies to this Church, witnessed their zeal for the decency of divine worship and proved their claim to our grateful and charitable remembrance. To these, O Lord, and to all that rest in Christ, grant, we beseech Thee, a place of refreshment, light, and everlasting peace, through the same Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior. Amen.
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka