From the Pastor: The Eucharist Really Is Jesus
A very prominent Jesuit priest, who used to be the editor-in-chief of the Jesuit’s atrocious weekly magazine, America, decided to weigh in on the recent Pew Research poll, which showed that 69% of self-reported Catholics think that the Eucharist is simply a symbol. Fr. Thomas Reese, SJ, wrote an article in the National Catholic Reporter, a supposedly-Catholic newspaper which is so bad that it makes America look Catholic, which seemed to make the Pew poll’s reported 1/3 of Catholics who actually believe what the Church teaches regarding the Eucharist out to be the ones who got it wrong! Here is just one of many problems with his presentation. “I personally find the theology of transubstantiation unintelligible…” What this poor priest doesn’t get is that it doesn’t matter one whit what he finds unintelligible or what he finds completely within his mental capacity to grasp. What matters is what is true. And Holy Mother Church has taught the truth on this subject, which should be enough for him to accept even what he doesn’t comprehend. Here are some teachings from the Council of Trent on the Eucharist. See how many “anathemas” Fr. Reese and oh, so many other Catholic clergy and laity would rack up if anyone were keeping count. Oh, wait, a very important Somebody is keeping count.
ON THE MOST HOLY SACRAMENT OF THE EUCHARIST
CANON I.-If any one denieth, that, in the sacrament of the most holy Eucharist, are contained truly, really, and substantially, the body and blood together with the soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, and consequently the whole Christ; but saith that He is only therein as in a sign, or in figure, or virtue; let him be anathema.
CANON II.-If any one saith, that, in the sacred and holy sacrament of the Eucharist, the substance of the bread and wine remains conjointly with the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and denieth that wonderful and singular conversion of the whole substance of the bread into the Body, and of the whole substance of the wine into the Blood-the species Only of the bread and wine remaining-which conversion indeed the Catholic Church most aptly calls Transubstantiation; let him be anathema.
CANON III.-If any one denieth, that, in the venerable sacrament of the Eucharist, the whole Christ is contained under each species, and under every part of each species, when separated; let him be anathema.
CANON IV.-If any one saith, that, after the consecration is completed, the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ are not in the admirable sacrament of the Eucharist, but (are there) only during the use, whilst it is being taken, and not either before or after; and that, in the hosts, or consecrated particles, which are reserved or which remain after communion, the true Body of the Lord remaineth not; let him be anathema.
CANON V.-If any one saith, either that the principal fruit of the most holy Eucharist is the remission of sins, or, that other effects do not result therefrom; let him be anathema.
CANON VI.-If any one saith, that, in the holy sacrament of the Eucharist, Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, is not to be adored with the worship, even external of latria; and is, consequently, neither to be venerated with a special festive solemnity, nor to be solemnly borne about in processions, according to the laudable and universal rite and custom of holy church; or, is not to be proposed publicly to the people to be adored, and that the adorers thereof are idolators; let him be anathema.
CANON VII.-If any one saith, that it is not lawful for the sacred Eucharist to be reserved in the sacrarium, but that, immediately after consecration, it must necessarily be distributed amongst those present; or, that it is not lawful that it be carried with honour to the sick; let him be anathema.
CANON VIII.-lf any one saith, that Christ, given in the Eucharist, is eaten spiritually only, and not also sacramentally and really; let him be anathema.
CANON IX.-If any one denieth, that all and each of Christ's faithful of both sexes are bound, when they have attained to years of discretion, to communicate every year, at least at Easter, in accordance with the precept of holy Mother Church; let him be anathema.
CANON X.-If any one saith, that it is not lawful for the celebrating priest to communicate himself; let him be anathema.
CANON XI.-lf any one saith, that faith alone is a sufficient preparation for receiving the sacrament of the most holy Eucharist; let him be anathema. And for fear lest so great a sacrament may be received unworthily, and so unto death and condemnation, this holy Synod ordains and declares, that sacramental confession, when a confessor may be had, is of necessity to be made beforehand, by those whose conscience is burthened with mortal sin, how contrite even soever they may think themselves. But if any one shall presume to teach, preach, or obstinately to assert, or even in public disputation to defend the contrary, he shall be thereupon excommunicated.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Monstrance Update and More!
Earlier in the year, Ash Wednesday, to be exact, I took up a special collection for the purchase of a new monstrance. The monstrance, in case you don’t know, is the metal object which holds the Sacred Host during Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and Eucharistic processions. When the monstrance is shaped like a cross, which is the most common but not exclusive shape, the Blessed Sacrament is held by a circular receptacle where the vertical and horizontal beams meet. Often there are rays of light shown emanating from the Host (obviously made of metal) signifying that Christ, who called Himself the Light of the World is truly present. The round Host with light rays shining around it looks like the Sun whenever kids draw it, a fitting image, for the Son is truly there. No matter how many jewels or images or gold or silver make up the monstrance, the attention is always brought to Our Lord. The beauty and dignity of the monstrance is there solely to show reverence and respect to Him Who is present, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, in the Sacred Host which it holds.
I did not have a particular monstrance in mind to purchase but the one we use now, and we use it daily, is worn down to the base metal and, though functional still, is no longer as worthy a vessel as our parish is capable of using. So after seeing how much we collected for a new one, I started searching for the best within our means. It is no easy task, as there is no shop with hundreds or even just dozens of monstrances sitting on display to choose from. Shopping is done by looking at tiny photos in a catalog. But then some parishioners said they were taking a trip to Rome and there are indeed shops like that there! They spent a good amount of time and energy going from one liturgical store to another, evaluating the quality and beauty of those items in stock and pouring through even more catalogs. They sent photos and suggestions and, when all was said and done, they ordered one for us! Thank you, faithful family!
And yet, we are still using the old monstrance. Why? Because the monstrances are each custom made after they are ordered unless you are able to get one right off the showroom floor. The manufacturing is not done as the order comes in, either. Only once or twice a year do they gear up the machines and then produce all of those which have been paid for. So we wait. The same process is used when purchasing tabernacles and other expensive but long lasting sacred objects. So now you know that your donations were used as you desired and the monstrance will arrive when it arrives.
The next little bit of information is about what females reveal or don’t reveal about their birthdays. Little girls let you know how old they are to the nearest half-year, as in “I’m not five, I’m five and a half!” Give them a few more years and they want to be older, so a 16 year old may try to pass herself off as 18. After a few more years, they stop telling their age and cringe when the kids blurt it out in public. Then, for the longest part of life, women fudge the numbers downward, so that they rarely leave a particular decade but stay at the _9th year. But there eventually comes a time when they start bragging about their age. It can be announced to one and all with a smile rather than a glare. My mother has reached that stage of her life. She turned 80 last week and doesn’t mind if the whole world knows. In fact, she wants the whole world to celebrate that milestone with her! She is now part of the group that can joke with the “young” women, “You’re 74? Why, you are just a kid. I have bloomers older than you!” We celebrate parishioner birthdays at the parish potluck every third Wednesday evening, so if you want to come join her for a birthday celebration this Wednesday, August 21, we begin to eat at 6:30 pm. And guess who bakes the birthday cakes and is doing so even this time? Yep, Mom. And, for newcomers to the parish, you probably already met her if you stay after the 10:30 Sunday Mass or attend the 8:00 am daily Mass even if you didn’t know it. Her name is Carole and she tries to greet all the people she doesn’t recognize and welcome them to the parish (which she has been attending for nearly 30 years). She also bakes fantastic desserts for most of our parish functions, too. Happy Birthday, Mom!
Don’t wear her out with too much partying, though. I need her strong and healthy in a couple of weeks. We are traveling together to Madrid, Spain, to witness the Perpetual Vows of Sister Rachel Maria. We fly out the evening of September 4 and return the following Wednesday evening. Fr. Mangiafico has graciously agreed to take over in my absence.
There is one more thing to put on your calendars, too. The first full week of October is our diocese’s annual Priest Convocation and, to make sure you don’t miss the priests while we are gone, I have arranged to have Fr. Sean Kopczynski, MSJB, a priest from the Missionarii Sancti Joannis Baptistae order, give a parish Mission that week! More information will be showing up soon.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: The End of the Retreat
Please bear with me as I write one last article about my recent retreat. While I was at Our Lady of Good Help Shrine in Wisconsin, I found out about several more places within driving distance which I still had time to explore. The nearest was the National Shrine of St. Joseph in Green Bay. It was less than 2 miles from where I was staying, so off I went. Imagine! A National Shrine to the foster father of Jesus so close and I almost missed it! I couldn’t wait to get there. I should have missed it. It would be an understatement to say that it was disappointing. It was attached to a church on the campus of St. Norbert College. Photos of the church showed how this once beautiful building had been twice wreckovated. The National Shrine consisted of two rooms leading off from the church. The first one was octagonal with high, empty white walls and a glass ceiling. Bench seating all around and two kneelers in the middle. Maybe 20 feet across. Through that room was a tiny, low-ceilinged room/niche just big enough for a very nice statue of St. Joseph, which the people in the first room could see through the open gates separating the two rooms. That was it. Had I not seen it, I would have had much better images in my mind of what it must have been like.
Next, I drove to the National Shrine of St. Philomena in Briggsville, by means of some of the worst roads I have ever been on. Fortunately, the whole area is beautiful so it was a nice ride other than that. When I got to the Shrine, I passed by before realizing that I missed it, even with GPS telling me that I had arrived. The Shrine was a grotto type of structure with a statue of the Saint, a couple of candles, and 3 small, simple stained glass windows. It was next to St. Mary Help of Christians, a small church with a well-kept cemetery in the back. In the church, the Blessed Sacrament was not in the sanctuary. Off to the left, there was a small room with some pews, the tabernacle, and a relic of St. Philomena. Nobody was there. It was a good place to stop and pray and the grotto would be accessible anytime, even if the church was closed, so that was nice. And, compared with the National Shrine I just left, I guess this one was pretty good!
From there I drove to Erin, to locate the Holy Hill, on which is the National Shrine of Mary, Help of Christians. By this time, I wasn’t expecting much. But from a long way off, I saw that I was wrong. I spotted a distant church high on a hill while still many miles away. Whoever put it in that spot sure knew how to make an impression on anyone traveling through the area. This Romanesque minor basilica called out to one and all, “Come and pray. God is here!” This was truly a place of pilgrimage, a place of prayer. It was beautiful but groups of people were being turned away from the doors to the main church! I was allowed immediate entrance but everyone else was being questioned and sent back down the hill. It turns out that there was a funeral Mass scheduled in about two hours and only the family was being admitted. And the priest, of course! So, after crashing the viewing and giving my condolences to the family, I went out to see what else was there. There were signs pointing to a lookout tower, the door to which had a sign stating, “The tower has 178 steps. Good luck!!” I think it was the second exclamation point that convinced me to take up the challenge. So up I went. The stairs were so narrow at first that had someone been coming back down, we could not have passed each other. In another place the stairs got a bit wider. Some places they were very steep. In one place they turned into a spiral staircase. I made it to the top and the view was spectacular.
The next day I had planned to head down to New Orleans to see my newly ordained priest friend but discovered (I had not paid any attention to the news during my retreat) that a hurricane was heading his way so I called my cousin who is a priest in Michigan and made my way up and around Lake Michigan and spent a couple of nights with him and his surprised family. Then I headed back home, traveling by the smaller back roads instead of Interstates. I didn’t have time to stop and see any other family or friends along the way but enjoyed the places the GPS took me. Once I faced signs saying, “Road Closed Ahead” and drove 19 miles on the detour of about 1 mile. Less than two miles after getting back to the original road there was another sign, another closing, another detour. This time I was taken more than 23 miles west before the detour turned south. I wasn’t about to head back 23 more miles to the road only to see if it was closed in a third, fourth or fifth spot, so I changed course. That was my way home. Go with the flow. Sometimes I was on farm roads, sometimes on highways, and always accompanied by St. John Paul praying the rosary and Bishop Sheen teaching catechism. 3725 miles of spiritual refreshment.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Our Lady of Good Help
As I have been giving the highlights of my journey to the National Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help for a nice little retreat, I left off last week in Chicago. I failed to mention that before heading to that city, I had hoped to purchase a set of three beautiful old altars being salvaged from a closed church, but the spire behind the main altar turned out to be two feet too tall to fit in our church, so the search goes on. Though passing through Chicago, I didn’t want to take the time necessary for a meaningful stop at St. John Cantius, as much as I would have liked to. Neither did I visit any cemeteries to ask how the residents would be voting next year, although each time I passed by one, I prayed that those lying there could at least rest in peace outside of election seasons. No, when I left I was hurrying to get to the retreat center before it closed for the day, something which never actually happened anyway, because I misjudged the timing and wound up getting there too late. That was probably because I stopped at Rest Area 52. There was supposed to be some sort of mass storming of the area by crazy Farcebook people looking for aliens or something like that, but I didn’t see any fences or armed guards trying to keep anyone out. It was only after I got back home and back on a computer that I discovered that the aliens are in Rest Area 51, which is in another state. Looking back on it, I am skeptical that I was incorrect. All the people up there were driving the speed limit, whether on the highway or in the city, even though the limit in every city is only 25 mph, so it may be that they are all aliens, and are just hiding out in the open. Such strange behavior... By the time I reached Green Bay, which is a short drive from Champion, where Our Lady appeared to Sr. Adele Brise in 1859 (a year after She appeared to St. Bernadette in Lourdes), I had listened to 16 hours worth of Bishop Fulton Sheen tapes, prayed countless rosaries, celebrated Mass at and visited many different churches, and answered only a handful of phone calls, text messages and emails (replying while stopped, I might add), most of which required a simple, “I am on retreat. Please contact me again when I return.” Some of you asked me how I could withstand such a long, grueling road trip. This was blissful!
The Shrine is nothing like Lourdes, which, though magnificent, is surrounded by shops and city and clutter. This one is out in the middle of nowhere and it takes quite good directions to find it. It is surrounded by cornfields and not much else. It was just a couple of acres of safety in the midst of fire in the past (all people, animals, and plants on the church property survived unscathed the 1871 Peshtigo fire, which was put out by miraculous rains on October 9, the anniversary of Our Lady’s apparition to Sr. Adele) and continues to be a place of spiritual safety to this day. The priests there are the Fathers of Mercy, and one of them even remembers meeting a couple of Epiphany parishioners when they were up there once! They just completed a large conference center (where they are hosting Scott Hahn later this month) at the front. There are a few small buildings, including a museum where you can find the history of the Apparition, a gift shop, and lunchroom, and, of course, a small church built on the site where Our Blessed Mother appeared and told the youthful Adele, “Teach them (the children) their catechism, how to sign themselves with the sign of the Cross, and how to approach the sacraments; that is what I wish you to do. Go and fear nothing. I will help you.” The rear acres of the property are manicured into a large grass park with two sets of Stations of the Cross, one straight down the middle (for those with mobility issues) and one more spread out, along with a Rosary walk, along the long outside path.
I asked a few questions of the lady in the gift shop and soon was introduced to a man who, she assured me, “knows everything about the Shrine and won’t stop telling you stories until I come to rescue you.” She was right. For a good two hours or more this elderly gentleman sat and fascinated me with stories about his childhood visiting the Shrine and how his uncle was healed there. In a nutshell, his uncle was working on an engine when it fell on him, crushing one of his legs. The doctor saved it, but he was never able to walk without a pair of crutches again. But one day, while at the Shrine, (in the first part of last century) he threw down his crutches and declared that he had been healed. After years of not walking on his own, he insisted on walking back to Green Bay as a means of thanking Our Blessed Mother for this miracle. It took him seven hours and proved that he did not even experience any muscle atrophy after being crippled for so long. One of his crutches is still on display at the Shrine. His story is told in the movie at the museum and in the books about the Shrine, but I got to hear it in person. More to come next week.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka