From the Pastor: The Founder of the Jesuits
This week (Monday, July 31) we celebrate the feast day of St. Ignatius of Loyola. Although he is a great Saint, usually his feast day passes by this parish without a mention, outside of the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, that is. He is the founder of the Society of Jesus, commonly called the Jesuits, and, as far as I can tell, there has been no direct Jesuit influence on Epiphany since its founding. The Redemptorists (the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer) Fathers founded the parish in 1961 and diocesan priests have been here since 1988. Bernardine Franciscan Sisters staffed the school. No Jesuits. Yet. The last two weekends we were blessed to have a Jesuit-in-training back with us, Ryan Caesar. Ryan, as you are aware, was a parishioner of ours before entering the seminary last year. The way the Jesuits do things, I think he may be ordained a priest in another dozen or so years. He will not be the parish’s first vocation though. That honor belongs to Father Donald Roth, CssR, who was ordained a Redemptorist priest in 1975!
This makes me wonder just how many other vocations have come from Epiphany. You know that there are several young men and women, boys and girls, who are considering their vocational call right now. You have assisted a couple of them as they went on “Come and See”-type trips and missions. You have prayed for them and for the order or community or diocese in which they will eventually find themselves (or for their future spouse, if that is where their discernment leads them). But I would really like to get a list together of those from Epiphany (and from current Epiphany families) who have either already entered the seminary or religious life formation process (like Ryan [Jesuit] and, next month, Esteban Merkt [Diocese of St. Augustine]) or have been ordained (like Fr. Donald Roth[Redemptorist]) or made a religious profession (Sister Rachel Hernandez [Home of the Mother]).
We have a Vocation poster hanging in our social hall. Just a few weeks ago some visitors were here who pointed to the photo of one young man on the poster and proudly proclaimed, “That’s our son!” What a blessing it was for them to know that you all see his photo on a regular basis and remember (I hope!) to pray for him along with the rest of the diocesan seminarians. But we don’t have a poster like that for those from our parish in Religious vocation formation. We also don’t have a poster like that of those from the parish who are already in Holy Orders or in Community life. I would like to put together something like that. Not only do they all need our prayers but it also is a reminder to others who are trying to figure out what God has in store for them that vocations come from “our” parish and “our” families! I need your assistance in this. If you know of anyone from years past who now has a “Church vocation” please write down whatever information you remember. Name, parents, year of ordination or profession (or even just an approximation), religious order, and anything else that might help out. Scour your old photos, holy cards, mementos and whatever else might have a mention of them, and let me know. I will try to track them down and see where they are today. Perhaps we can get photos of them. Perhaps we will need to celebrate a Mass for them if they are already deceased. Maybe... well, the possibilities are endless, and I am sure some of you are quite imaginative and can think of how we can honor them. So please think hard, call up old friends, check with those who have long since moved away, and see if we can get a list together. If we have a bunch (or is it herd, gaggle, school or flock?) of vocations which have come from this parish and our families, it will be good for everybody to know about it. If Fr. Roth is the only one, it will be good to know that he set the example and that many, many more will be following him soon. I have no doubt that vocations will be coming, and that they will come even from those whom you least expect it.
Now, going back to St. Ignatius of Loyola when he founded his Society. His new Jesuit “Rule” included several unusual mandates which are listed in the online Catholic Encyclopedia. The very first one they list, one which might make you scratch your head and wonder just how that works when you realize who is the most well-recognized Jesuit in the world today: the vow not to accept ecclesiastical dignities! While I have no idea how a Jesuit can break that vow and become anything other than a simple priest, perhaps that explains why, if you will allow me to be a little cheeky, so many Jesuits (and one in particular) seem to make every effort to not bring dignity to their ecclesiastical office!
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: A "Thank You" for Your Support
You, the members of Epiphany, have been quite generous in helping several of our teens go on missions which have something to do with vocations and everything to do with putting Catholic Faith into action. The latest trip you supported was taken by a group of boys and men who were helping to rebuild, after a devastating earthquake, a small town in Ecuador. Here is a sample (better photos linked on our website) of what they did. Estaban Merkt, who will be entering the seminary later this summer, sent his thanks along with these photos and descriptions. He could not have made this trip without your help. Thanks for all you do!
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
[I cannot get our bulletin article to come out here the same way it came out in the bulletin. Instead, please access this "Thank You" and the accompanying photos by clicking on the following link:]
From the Pastor: Welcome Home, Seminarian!
This week please greet Ryan Caesar with open arms as he returns home for a short summer visit. He has been undergoing the rigors of First Year in a Jesuit Seminary. Since I am a diocesan priest, rather than an order priest, I do not know how his first year differs from what I underwent, but if it is anything at all alike, it was a challenging year. The first year is basically like Marine Boot Camp. The system is tough to get used to, “freedom” is lost (the older and more independent the man going in, the more difficult this part is), studies are very different than what was imagined (making it more difficult to buckle down and work hard) and personal flaws come to the surface in ways never before experienced as both God (trying to heal) and Satan (trying to harm) influence and try the seminarians in various ways. Prayer life changes, sometimes seeming better, other times seeming much, much worse. Exercise patterns, sleep patterns, work patterns all need readjusting. Everything that can go wrong does. It is a very intense year. Many men bail before it is done. Those who survive, whether they later determine that God is not calling them to the priesthood or they continue all the way through ordination, are better off for having stayed through it. It is a badge of honor. It puts questions to rest. It brings peace. But it is tough!
Ryan is supposed to be with us for two weeks after having just completed this crash course in holiness, integrity, and manliness. I have not had the chance to speak with him yet about his experience, and, since it is his rather than mine, I will not make up any stories about what has happened to him since last July. But remember, he has spent a year under the direct supervision of the JESUITS! There are no stories which have ever come to my fertile (another word for you know what) imagination which can possibly compare to being under JESUIT influence for a year. The Jesuits (OK, I’ll stop using all caps) have spawned such diverse offspring as... well, I thought better of naming names. I get into enough trouble without calling out by name some of the worst publicly scandalous teachers of immorality who belong to this group. They also produce, of course, some of the most intellectually gifted and truly Catholic priests who are great teachers and theologians and scholars. Ryan, through your prayers, will belong to that last group. So pray hard!
Along with your prayers, you might also want to give him other necessities. Seminarians, after all, still need to wash clothes, replace broken computers, buy books, etc. Before Ryan left to begin his new journey I asked if there was anything he needed. He answered as he had been told, “No, everything will be provided.” That is what they had told me, too. They lied. Again, I was in a diocesan seminary and he is part of an order, so things might not be quite the same, but when a seminarian in my day ran out of soap, either for his body or for his clothes, the seminary never offered to provide it for him. Same with pens, paper, razors, underwear, toothpaste and so many other things that are truly necessary to have if you plan on remaining in a community. After being in the seminary for a year, Ryan just might have discovered that some things, some gifts, some comforts, just might be valuable gifts to receive after all. Don’t be afraid to ask. At the same time, please don’t assume that he needs anything, either, for “stuff” can quickly weigh a seminarian down. Everything he owns (again, back in my day at least) has to fit in his car and in his 6’ by 10’ room.
Anyway, welcome home, Ryan! We missed you!
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
PS For those who are new here, below is the photo I took of Ryan just before he left.
From the Pastor: Tenth Anniversary of Summorum Pontificum
Ten years ago, July 7, 2007, Pope Benedict XVI promulgated an Apostolic Letter, “Summorum Pontificum”, which, among other related things, expressly allowed all Latin Rite priests in good standing to celebrate, both privately and publicly, the Traditional Latin Mass using the 1962 Missal. Even before the letter came out it was opposed, as we see at the beginning of the letter accompanying Summorum which the Pope addressed to the bishops of the world. “The document was most directly opposed on account of two fears, which I would like to address somewhat more closely in this letter. In the first place, there is fear that the document detracts from the authority of the Second Vatican Council, one of whose essential decisions--the liturgical reform--is being called into question. This fear is unfounded... In the second place, the fear was expressed in discussions about the awaited Motu Proprio (Summorum Pontificum), that the possibility of a wider use of the 1962 Missal would lead to disarray or even divisions within parish communities. This fear also strikes me as unfounded...”
In the place of the ellipses (...) in the above quote, Pope Benedict gave his explanations as to why the fears of those already opposing the document (or, more precisely, opposing the Mass which, though undergoing occasional modifications through the centuries, had been in use worldwide for nearly 1500 years prior to 1970) were either unfounded or should be easily addressed by the bishops. Unfortunately, it was, by and large, the bishops themselves who were the instigators and perpetrators of such unmerited fearmongering, and, therefore, rather than working to alleviate them, they worked all the more to make them worse. But a funny thing happened even in the face of extreme opposition (with very few exceptions) from the bishops. The priests who were asked to celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass, like me, and the lay people who were invited to attend it, like many of you, loved the Mass anyway! I am not writing about those who already had an affinity to the TLM, who knew it from their youth or from somewhere in their past, and who always wished it would be more widely available. No, I am pointing out that people, both priests and laity, who had absolutely no prior knowledge of the TLM, who had no memories, fond or otherwise, of the TLM, those who previously never understood why anyone would want to “go back to the dark ages” or to the “bad old days” when the priest “turned his back to the people” and “nobody understood anything” and the “little old ladies clutched their beads” to escape the boredom of the Latin Mass (as the past fifty years of terrible catechesis has drilled into the social psyche), when finally learning the TLM and experiencing the TLM embraced it as they never embraced the Novus Ordo Mass ever before.
Think about this just a bit. Neither I nor any parish priests my age or younger, had any knowledge of the Traditional Latin Mass. All of us grew up with the Novus Ordo Mass as the only, and, hence,“normal” Mass. All of us embraced the NO Mass because we realized that it was the Holy Sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the only sacrifice truly worthy to offer to the Father in order to bring us salvation. We embraced the NO Mass because through it the miracle of Transubstantiation took place and our Lord and God was made present, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, upon the altar and given to us for our spiritual nourishment. Each of us was called by God to become a priest according to the Order of Melchizedek, with Apostolic Succession going all the way back to Jesus Himself ordaining His Apostles. We most certainly did not despise the Novus Ordo Mass, were not lukewarm to the Novus Ordo Mass, nor were we just OK with the Novus Ordo Mass. We LOVED the Novus Ordo Mass. And yet, without any exceptions of which I am aware, the priests of whom I write, when called upon to learn and to celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass, LOVED IT EVEN MORE! We all felt “ripped off” by not having had the ability to grow up with this beautiful Mass. It made us realize just how trivial and childish (not: childlike) and, perhaps, even sacrilegious, so many abuses to the Mass (which we had thought of as “innovative” and “welcoming” and “exhilarating”), including those we witnessed growing up, those taught and modeled in seminary, and those we ourselves had done, really were. We saw the glory of the prayers and the focus on the true Sacrifice of the Son to the Father which the TLM brings out and the NO left out. We cried in repentance and sorrow for what had been lost and what is still considered by the majority (of bishops, priests, and laity) to be somehow “evil” or, at best, “to be tolerated”. Yet now we who know the TLM rejoice and give thanks to God, for, through Summorum Pontificum, what once was lost has now been found.
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Stories About The Cruise
I am away with some family and friends on a cruise. You do realize I am gone, right? Before I even left people were welcoming me back and asking how my trip went. I considered making up stories but then thought better of it, because if they later heard about my real trip, they would assume I had taken two vacations! Plus, I wanted to save the best stories for the bulletin. So sit back for a spell, get comfortable, and come along with me as I enthrall you with tales of this great vacation which I wrote before we set sail. And, in case you are wondering how I was able to do such a thing, that mystery is solved with a simple reference to the name of the ship I was on, the “Magic.”
My Sister Linda flew in from Massachusetts the day before we were to leave. Her flight was filled with turbulence, as they were skirting the tropical storm forming over Indiana (she had a stopover in Kansas City, where she picked up Aunt Irma, who was there looking for some climate change related beachfront property, but that’s another story). That did not bode well for the beginning of a cruise. When we got to the ship, the crew was assuring everyone that, though the storm was projected to head our way, once it hit the open water it would quickly lose strength and dissipate. “No worries, everyone!” they exclaimed, “Have a drink. Here, let me take your photo.” And onto the ship we went, confident that all was well. It wasn’t.
The big storm was not the problem. Lost luggage was. Or, more precisely, wrong luggage was. As I mentioned, Aunt Irma had been traveling already when she met up with us. She had consolidated everything she wanted to bring on the cruise into one bag and left the rest of her stuff, including tons of souvenirs, back at mom’s house. Or so she thought. When she went to spruce up for dinner she discovered to her horror that, where her makeup kit should have been, she had “Boot Hill, Dodge City” sunscreen. She frantically ransacked her suitcase, flinging “Dalton Gang” beach towel and vintage “KU Jayhawks” seashell necklaces across the room. She dug in past the “Land of Oz” surfboard and “Show Me State” smashball paddles, tossed out the “KCU Wildcats” flip flops and the “I *Heart* Kansas” beach volleyball, looking, hoping, praying, that somewhere below all of it was what she had packed for the cruise. Alas, it was not to be. Too proud to let any of us know what had happened, she used what she had. The first three days she wore the Chiefs jersey she had purchased for her great nephew, Bubba, which was large enough to rent out to Barnum and Bailey if they hadn’t gone under. On day four she changed into the Kansas City Royals jogging suit which had been meant for her neighbor’s girl. She could almost, but not quite, zip up the top because it was just too small and tight. It was 87 degrees, her uncombed hair looked like a rat’s nest, and with her wearing that winter hoodie and its matching skin tight heavy fleece bottoms (which made yoga pants look loose by comparison), we were all convinced that she had finally “lost it” completely. Before the ship’s captain could Baker Act her, though, she admitted what happened and we were able to get her some new clothes easily enough at the ship’s “You Need More Stuff” boutique. Whew! That, plus a toothbrush, and she was a happy camper. That was not the only wardrobe malfunction, though.
One of the ladies with us (my mom will kill me if I tell you who it was) got up on a zipline at one port of call, having packed a pair of jeans just for the occasion. Unfortunately she had lost weight while onboard, as everyone is wont to do on a cruise, and halfway down the mountain she had to let go with one hand to hold up her britches. In the video (look for it on FarceBook!) of her dangling and squirming descent she looks like one of the local boys strutting down the street, with skivvies visible 10 inches above droopy-drawers. She was screaming all sorts of strange words (to my virgin ears) about what she was going to do if anyone looked or laughed. What is the female version of “tighty whiteys”? Granny greys? Biggie Bloomers?
I could tell many more stories about our adventures, but let me end with a fish tale, a story about the one that got away. I brought a rod and reel along with me so that I could fish from my balcony. There was plenty of bait available at the seafood buffet and every time we slowed to come into port, I set out my rig. On the last day, I hooked into something big and fought it for over an hour. We couldn’t see what kind of fish it was even after I got it out of the water, because from my upper floor even fishing boats looked tiny. I only got it up about half way before the fish gave one last mighty thrash and threw the hook, flipping itself into an open window somewhere below me. I am not sure where it went, exactly, but on the flight home Aunt Irma mentioned to my sister something about her special souvenir that dropped out of the sky, and her luggage smelled strangely like day-old cat food...
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka