From the Pastor: First Friday and First Saturday
This week concludes with the First Friday and the First Saturday of September. Many Catholics have never heard of the great “First” devotions and many others who have heard of them have never really understood them or known the difference between them. Today I want to either introduce you to these devotions or else remind you of them, as the case may be, and encourage you to participate if at all possible in both of them. The 9 First Fridays devotions are the older of the two, dating back to the holy St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647-1690) while the 5 First Saturdays devotions go back only(!) about a century, to Sr. Lucia dos Santos, one of the Fatima visionaries, on Dec. 10, 1925. A short explanation of both:
St. Margaret Mary Alacoque spoke with Our Lord, as many true mystics of the Church have done since biblical times (for those skeptics who don't believe that this happens, ask how they explain Chapter 26 of the Acts of the Apostles, wherein we read: Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? It is hard for thee to kick against the goad. And I said: Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord answered: I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. But rise up, and stand upon thy feet: for to this end have I appeared to thee, that I may make thee a minister, and a witness of those things which thou hast seen, and of those things wherein I will appear to thee, Delivering thee from the people, and from the nations, unto which now I send thee: To open their eyes, that they may be converted from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and a lot among the saints, by the faith that is in me.) One of the messages she received from Him came in the form of a promise.
“I promise you, in the excessive mercy of my Heart that my all powerful love will grant to all those who receive Holy Communion on the first Friday for nine consecutive months, the grace of final repentance; they shall not die in my disgrace nor without receiving the sacraments; my divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in that last moment.” — Our Lord to St. Margaret Mary
Now I don’t know about you, but this sounds like a pretty good deal to me! It is not magic but is a call to holiness, a call to make a sacrifice to attend a (usually) non-obligatory Mass on a particular Saturday for nine consecutive months, along with a request for prayers in honor of and in reparation to Our Lord’s Sacred Heart, that is, the seat of His Love. Twelve Promises have been culled out of St. Margaret Mary’s writings, although they never appeared in a list anywhere, for those who fulfill this simple, holy request.
1. "I will give them all the graces necessary in their state of life."
2. "I will establish peace in their homes."
3. "I will comfort them in their afflictions."
4. "I will be their secure refuge during life, and above all in death."
5. "I will bestow a large blessing upon all their undertakings."
6. "Sinners shall find in my Heart the source and the infinite ocean of mercy."
7. "Tepid souls shall grow fervent."
8. "Fervent souls shall quickly mount to high perfection."
9. "I will bless every place where a picture of My Heart shall be set up and honored."
10. "I will give to priests the gift of touching the most hardened hearts."
11. "Those who shall promote this devotion shall have their names written in My Heart, never to be blotted out."
12. "I promise thee in the excessive mercy of my Heart that my all-powerful love will grant to all those who communicate on the First Friday in nine consecutive months, the grace of final penitence; they shall not die in my disgrace nor without receiving the sacraments; my divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment."
The Five First Saturdays were explained, not by Jesus but by His Mother Mary, to Sr. Lucia.
“See, my daughter, my Heart encircled by thorns with which ungrateful men pierce it at every moment by their blasphemies and ingratitude. Do you, at least, strive to console me. Tell them that I promise to assist at the hour of death with the graces necessary for salvation all those who, in order to make reparation to me, on the First Saturday of five successive months, go to Confession, receive Holy Communion, say five decades of the Rosary, and keep me company for a quarter of an hour, meditating on the … mysteries of the Rosary.”
These five First Saturdays are to battle five blasphemies against the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the seat of her Love.
First: blasphemies against the Immaculate Conception
2nd: blasphemies against her Virginity
3rd: blasphemies against the Divine Maternity, refusing, at the same time, to receive her as the Mother of mankind
4th: those who seek publicly to implant, in the hearts of children, indifference, disrespect, and even hate for this Immaculate Mother
5th: those who revile her directly in her sacred images
Find more online! Come and join us for these Masses of devotion.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Building Committee Needed!
Two weeks ago I passed on information that Bishop Parkes wanted you to know, namely, that he supports the people of Epiphany and, as our Traditional Latin Mass community continues to grow, that we can put together a committee to explore building a larger (and “real”) church and other facilities. Today I want to put out word that I am searching for active parishioners to be a part of that committee. I already have a few members who worked together a few months back to get some preliminary work done. As you already know, they brought in a civil engineer to survey the situation and see if it was even feasible to build on the small parcel of land we currently have. It is important to note that the land next to us and behind Epiphany Arms, although owned by the parish, is currently leased to the Federal Government for the use of that subsidized elderly housing facility. We may be able to use part or all of the open field but, then again, we may not be able to. Many questions still need to be answered.
For the committee, we will need people knowledgeable about construction, especially actual Church architecture and construction, so that we do not wind up with modernist junk that doesn’t fulfill its liturgical purpose but serves primarily to show off how anti-traditional church architecture can be. Acoustical engineers can be of great importance in this as well, or so it would seem to me. We also will need to build a parish social hall as—get this—a stand alone building instead of one whose use interferes with liturgical functions in the church! Plus, depending on whether we can save or have to destroy the old rectory to fit the buildings on our property, we may need new living quarters for the current and future priests, for we will need extra parochial vicars soon enough, too. Oh, and don’t let me forget that we need office space and classroom space and more and more and more...
Of course, we will also need people who know about landscaping so that we don’t just have a bunch of buildings surrounded by weeds and concrete. And we will need input from, though they may not need to be on the committee, musicians, liturgists, catechists and others who actually use the church, hall, office, and classroom spaces and can make sure nothing important is overlooked. An example of things that need good input from many people is bathroom facilities. Absolutely, they should not be in front of the church where people have to walk past the sanctuary to get to them. But how about in the classroom/meeting room building? Do we have them in all of the rooms or only some? Do we also include, or exclusively create, outside bathrooms? Or do we have only bathrooms down a common hall? If all of the bathrooms are inside, it means that all outdoor activities must also include unlocking buildings, giving access to even “undesirables” who may wander about at will while everyone is occupied outdoors. But having outdoor bathrooms also gives access to others when nobody is around. Or else everybody who has any activity must also have a key to lock and unlock bathrooms, not just buildings, before and after each event. Oh, there are so many more issues just with this one seemingly little problem! So we need people who have knowledge and experience and common sense to be on the committee.
Fortunately, all of our parishioners live close enough that they are able to walk here for the many meetings which will be necessary. What? This is a commuter parish? See, some things I forget. Yes, it will be quite a commitment of drivetime plus meeting time to be onboard with this. And the pay, well, volunteers at the church only receive their reward in Heaven, so gas and other expenses are all part of what you must consider before raising your hand to join. And, once we get going, we will probably also discover that many, most, or even all of the meetings must take place during the workday in order to get with those upon whose jobs we depend to undertake this project, such as those from the diocese’s construction office, those in the city permit department, and many others of whom I am not yet aware. That also may be a hardship for some who would otherwise be great for the committee.
I had the opportunity to build a new school building at my last parish. This project, since it involves more than just a school building, will be even more complicated. It will be a lot of work for everyone involved. But don’t let that stop you. Imagine if you have the skills we need but you want to just let others take the hard job of planning it all out. We could wind up with a church that looks like (insert just about any Florida Catholic church built after 1950 here and gasp at the thought)! Or we could wind up with classrooms/meeting rooms without any sort of storage. Or a social hall without a kitchen. Or worse.
My dream, though, instead of building a new church, is to bring a big, beautiful, closed church from up north and transport it block by block down here, having, of course, to add air conditioning to make it usable. All we need to make this work is people with the necessary skills (especially prayer!) to do this for God’s glory and man’s salvation. Let me know if you wish to be a part of the team!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Strange Things Happened
If I were posting on social media and using clickbait headlines (for the older folks, clickbait is the online version of those sensational tabloid headlines that have just enough truth to allow denial of outright lying, but with enough of a slant toward something so extremely bizarre and impossible that people’s curiosity is peaked enough that they buy the paper), I would have titled this article something along the lines of “Skin painfully rips off priest’s scalp. Is hospital visit to blame?” It’s kinda true but sure doesn’t tell the whole story. So let me fill in some of the details.
It is true that I visited someone in the hospital. But that is quite common (outside of the recent Year of Covid Fear) and nothing particularly spectacular happened during the visit. No exposure to chemicals, no bite from a gamma radiation mutated spider, no accidental needle stick, or anything of the sort happened. Just prayer for the sick. But afterward I was hungry and realized that I hadn’t yet had anything to eat. It was Friday so I couldn’t just stop for a drive-thru hamburger and I didn’t know if I had both peanut butter and jelly and fresh bread at home. Fortunately, there was a Publix right around the corner so I stopped in to see if they had any ready-to-go fish at the deli. They did. I had them bag up a few pieces and a couple of shrimp and got back in the car. As I was buckling up I saw directly in front of me in the next aisle an amazing sight. A priest dressed in a cassock was putting on a helmet and was about to get on a motor scooter! I couldn’t just let him get away without finding out who he was, so I jumped out and headed quickly across the way. He spotted me and called out something to the effect of, “A priest in a cassock? Don’t you know that that is illegal?” We introduced ourselves and he asked if I was SSPX. The answer of, “No, I am a diocesan priest” floored him! Then he turned the tables by stating that he belongs to a traditional Carmelite order. That floored me, since he was in a black cassock instead of brown Carmelite robes. “Can you imagine me driving this scooter with a brown cape flowing out behind me?” he asked with a laugh. The members of his order wear the cassock for reasons that were never made clear, unless each of them rides scooters!
He is an American but is on mission in Spain, and was just back for a quick visit to his brother, who lives in the area. We talked for almost two hours out in the baking sun. Numerous people stopped by to ask questions and comment on this strange but glorious sight. Catholics and non-Catholics alike found it a powerful witness to the priesthood. Were we hot? Yes. Were we sweaty? How could it be otherwise, barring a miracle? Was it worth it? Absolutely. I learned about an order that I had never before heard of and he met a diocesan priest who actually was able to identify a holy card with St. Simon Stock receiving the Brown Scapular from Our Lady and properly identify the brown and white striped habit he wore as the very traditional and long-since changed Carmelite habit. We solved most of the problems with the Church and the world in the parking lot that day, or at least gave it a good shot. But, and this brings me back to the click-bait headline, my poor head got very sunburned that very sunny afternoon. As I write this, the skin has been peeling off and raining down like an old, shedding iguana with a bad case of dandruff. It has been very painful this whole week to brush my long, flowing locks. I had to use my blow-dryer on the “cool” setting, since the heat was too much, and even my curling iron was used more sparingly than usual. Or maybe I just spent too much time out in the sun and am imagining that I have a need for any of those wicked contraptions. Anyway, if my head seems a bit more pink and splotchy than normal, now you know why. If it weren’t for global warming this probably would never have happened. Or maybe I should blame covid instead. Either one or both of those two must be at fault for my tender noggin.
But that wasn’t the only strange thing that happened last week. And not the only strange thing that involved clergy, either. I also had a nice visit with a religious brother and a priest and all three of us were in cassocks! They probably would have been a bit embarrassed to be seen with me, with my head all flaky like it was, but a saturno covered it up nicely. Hmmm... Come to think of it, the other priest was wearing a fedora, so maybe he had encountered the mystery parking lot priest, too! There is something in the air right now that is bringing the cassocked clergy together. I don’t know for certain what it is. Maybe the end is near. Maybe the Great Tribulation is about to start. Maybe Mary’s Immaculate Heart is about to Triumph and usher in a period of great conversion and peace. But for me to meet and greet and spend time with three cassock-wearing clerics from three separate orders all in the span of a few days says that something big is up. You might want to keep your beeswax candles handy!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: What Did The Bishop Say?
Last week I let you know that Bishop Parkes was returning from his vacation and wanted to speak with me about the last Church document regarding limitations to be placed on the Traditional Latin Mass. Your prayerful support was overwhelming! Thank you! Parishioners were praying at the church all day, especially at 3:00, the time our meeting was to begin. Other people had written to me, saying that they would be praying from home or even at work, knowing that this was a very important time for our very existence as a parish. The word was out on social media and people from other parts of the country (plus California, which seems to be some sort of society from outer space, or, at least, I hope that there is no place like that—so terribly governed—on Earth) got in touch with me to assure me of their prayers even though they would not be directly affected by the outcome of the big pow-wow (can I still use that term or is that now considered “cultural appropriation” by the PC police?).
When I got to the Pastoral Center the lady answering phones and greeting visitors got to talking about her parish “back home” on the east coast of Florida, where she was before moving here. Her last parish had a Traditional Latin Mass and she loved the pastor, who was in the seminary with me so many, many years ago. I told her that I believed her parish (Holy Spirit in Lantana) had just made the news in a good way. I was showing her a photo of one of their priests giving Holy Communion to a wheelchair-bound young boy, who, out of love for Our Lord in the Eucharist, had pulled himself out of his wheelchair and knelt so that he could receive his First Holy Communion humbly on his knees! Just as I was showing her this photo, who walked into the building but a family from Epiphany, inquiring about the possibility of being able to go to the chapel to pray for the success of the meeting! What a great surprise and a powerful witness of Faith! Of course, the chapel was locked, but they were able to stand outside of it in the 94-degree heat (only 97% humidity, though!) and pray while I was ushered into the comfort of an air-conditioned office.
The first thing that the Bishop said after greeting me was something like, “I hope you know that the people of Epiphany have my full support.” That set the tone for the rest of the meeting. Deacon Rick Wells was the only other person present and was in his official capacity as Chancellor of the Diocese. Although the Bishop said that at another time we may argue with each other about the tone and purpose of the Moto Proprio, for the time being, he simply wanted to let me/us know that any “worst-case scenarios” that might be conjured up in people’s minds was all just useless anxiety. He showed me a stack of hand-written (he was impressed!) letters and emails that awaited him upon his return from vacation and commented that most of them were very respectful and showed the best side of people writing to their Bishop concerning the “fate” of their parish. I don’t know that he will be able to respond to each of you, but at least know that he has seen what you sent. If you should want to write another (or a first) letter thanking him for his support for not only our parish but for the other priests and people who are nourished at local Traditional Latin Masses, I am sure he will be pleased.
One of the things he mentioned about one of the letter writers brought up a topic which I never expected to be broached that day: the possibility of building a new church and social hall and, if need be, rectory. Somebody evidently blamed him for us having a run-down, ugly church! He wanted to know if I was letting the facilities fall apart and then blaming him! That led to a discussion about how much money should be invested in a building that might be torn down soon anyway, about the lack of land for expansion, and other such things. He wound up giving me the green light to get together with the beginnings of a parish building committee and having someone(s) from the Diocese come down and give even further input into what we may be able to do on site. Plus there was talk about looking for any open land within the parish boundaries and even the possibility of the Diocese already having property elsewhere where there may be a need for a new parish and perhaps we would be able to... well, yes, that was all discussed, though not in great detail, but there was also a follow-up email from the Bishop in my mailbox the next day. He wanted to be clear: He did not give permission for us to build, but only to begin the process of inquiry in earnest. Of course, I understood that, but if he was worried about it being taken wrong, I figured I better pass it on to you, too, so that nobody misinterprets it as a green light to start raising money!
In that same email he also wrote something that we had not discussed the previous day: that there would soon be a document written up dealing with more specifics about how to respond to the Moto Proprio in this diocese. So don’t stop praying quite yet!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka