From the Pastor: More Terrorism
Over and over it seems that we hear of demonic Islamic madmen (and madwomen) detonating bombs and/or going on shooting rampages, maiming and killing random people. I hope and pray that you all, when hearing about these attacks, take some time to pray for the souls of the victims, to pray for the families, friends and communities so gravely harmed and to--brace yourselves, this is hard--pray for the terrorists as well. I cannot stress enough the need to use the news as a tool for prayer rather than just as a form of gruesome entertainment. I also cannot stress enough the need to pray for the perpetrators of crimes and violence, not just the victims, though the victims deserve the first and most fervent prayers. This is an area where the Catholic Church teachings, coming straight from our Lord Himself (for instance: to pray for those who persecute you; to return a blessing for a curse; to love your enemies) exemplify true sacrificial love and help conquer satanic hatred.
As difficult as it is to do, we must put aside our fallen human nature’s instinct to wish that those who do evil go straight to hell. We must absolutely rely on the grace of God to find in our heart love for the sinner while detesting and denouncing the evil done. We must sacrifice our desire for revenge and for vengeance (calling it “justice”), for the sake of not only the evildoer’s soul but perhaps even for our own.
I believe most people today, even Catholics, have either lost or never had the knowledge of the true horrors of hell. A sign of this lack of knowledge is the fact that we can openly utter a phrase like “go to hell” while raising nary an eyebrow. We can say, even in “polite company,” that a vicious mass murder should go to hell and find agreement rather than revulsion. We can make arguments that “he deserves it” and find nods of approval all around. And if anyone, even a priest, mentions praying for conversion as a noble alternative, he is written off as either naive or so “liberal” as to not believe in Divine Justice.
In reality, though, the more “liberal” (heretical by ignorance or purpose) a Catholic is, the less likely he is to wish someone avoid hell, assuming he believes in hell at all. The “liberals” do not believe that a damned soul will spend eternity in hell but will be welcomed to Heaven--if it exists--sooner or later, if not immediately upon death. The “liberals” do not grasp the intensity of the pains of hell but rather think of them as hard but manageable. It is the “liberals” who, because they think this way, do not mind telling others to go there and are not too worried about the state of their own soul, either, since they think hell really isn’t too bad anyway. Pray for conversion? Why bother? God loves everyone except conservatives!
It is the “conservative” (orthodox) Catholics who, though the struggle may be great, pray for the conversion of those on the path to damnation rather than wishing them a quick journey. Even though they have a better understanding than liberals as to who is most likely to end up in hell, they, against all odds, pray for a miraculous conversion of the most hardened of hearts. The “conservatives” know that hell is for eternity, not for a while. The “conservative” Catholic accepts the revealed teaching that the physical, mental and spiritual pains of hell will be harsher than any torture, fear, anguish or sense of loss one could possibly imagine, let alone experience, here upon earth. The “conservative” Catholic wants to avoid hell at all cost and strives to help others do so as well. They know that even mortal sins can be repented of, confessed and forgiven. They have a genuine concern for the salvation of themselves, their friends and their enemies. True “conservative” Catholics want nobody to be damned.
Hell exists. It is real. It is horrible. It is forever. Please take some time to read good Catholic material on the last four things: death, judgment, Heaven and hell. The more you learn about these realities, the more you will: try to warn others about the dangers of sin, especially mortal sin; fight against its acceptance and legalization; pray for the conversion (including necessary repentance and acceptance of harsh punishment), rather than the condemnation, of even those who cold-bloodedly murder children,whether by bomb, gun, scalpel, or pill; demand that cowardly politicians and heretical religious leaders, who cannot even bring themselves to fault “radical” Islamic terrorists, finally admit that Islam itself is a radically evil political movement (not simply a religion and certainly not a “peaceful” one) which is, at its very essence, out to destroy all that is good and holy, namely, the Catholic Church; and, finally, you will put much more effort into your attempts to become a Saint, no matter what the temporal cost, as you learn to truly fear hell and desire Heaven.
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Catholics for the Choice of Damnation
On Monday, September 12, the Tampa Bay Times ran a full page ad from a group calling itself Catholics for Choice. That’s not what I called them in the headline above, though, as their name is a lie and my name for them is much more accurate. They peddle damnation in the form of getting others to knowingly, willfully, and freely choose abortion (which is everything necessary for one being morally responsible for this mortal sin and, hence, choosing damnation over the life of a child). This notoriously pro-death group intimated in the ad (titled: Abortion in Good Faith) that true Catholics can be fully in favor of killing children in the womb, for abortion supposedly is a "justice and equality" issue bringing "dignity" to women. In reality, these are simply nice sounding words deviously meant to lead ignorant Catholics astray and cause moral confusion among all people, Catholic or not. This organization, to well informed Catholics like those reading this, is obviously anything but Catholic or moral. It has often been called out for its blatant charade of using the word “Catholic” in its name, and the United States Bishops repeatedly inform news organizations that it is a false “front” group that should not be given the time of day let alone a public forum from which to mislead people. Yet once again, perhaps for thirty pieces of silver, our local newspaper (and others around the nation) sold them space to promote their evil agenda. An unsigned article on the homepage of the Archdiocese of San Antonio responded to an ad run by the same group on the same day. It reads:
An organization called Catholics for Choice placed a full-page advertisement in the Sept. 12 edition of the San Antonio Express-News with inaccurate information which must be corrected, since it misrepresents the truth and what the Catholic Church believes and teaches.
This misrepresentation is demonstrated by their statement that “Public funding for abortion is a Catholic social justice value.” Nothing could be further from the truth.
Before responding to claims made by Catholics for Choice in “Abortion in Good Faith,” it should be noted that this group does not speak for the Catholic Church. The group undertook a similar media campaign in the state of Colorado just two years ago, and the bishops there also responded in reiterating authentic Catholic social teaching and the consistent ethic of life.
For more than 2,000 years, the Church has steadfastly proclaimed that respect for all human life at every stage is foundational to the Catholic faith. Abortion from the earliest tradition of the Church has been considered immoral.
The Catholic Church’s position on abortion is clear. In the magisterial document Donum Vitae (The Gift of Life), the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith affirmed that, “The human being is to be respected and treated as a person from the moment of conception; and therefore from that same moment his rights as a person must be recognized, among which in the first place is the inviolable right of every innocent human being to life,” (Sec I.1) Direct abortion, or the intentional killing of a human being living in the womb, is always seriously immoral because as persons the right-to-life is the most basic and fundamental right we possess.
It is our hope that one day Catholics for Choice will take the time to acquaint themselves with basic Catholic teachings, and acknowledge the truth of the Catholic faith, and not choose to misrepresent her teachings with false and inaccurate information and ads that only work to confuse and mislead the public. Upholding the sacred dignity of all human life is the duty of every member of society and this duty must be taken seriously in order to ensure that we are a part of a culture that affirms the right to life for all, especially the most vulnerable among us.
Why, since I already stated that you would not be fooled by such a disgusting attempt to promote abortion as a “good”, would I dedicate this space to such an ad? Because my guess is that many of you do not read the local newspaper (and this is a great example of why one might not) but you might hear rumblings from friends, family and acquaintances who have. They, knowing you to be solid, faithful Catholics, might turn to you for answers as to how one could be truly Catholic and still embrace the mortal sin of infant homicide. Now you know where the questions are coming from and how at least one bishop stood up to the challenge with love and mercy, giving his flock simple information, expressing hope for repentance, and, ultimately, defending the True Faith. Now go do likewise.
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Two Linked Feasts This Week
This week the traditional liturgical calendar notes two related feasts, the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on September 14 and the Stigmata of St. Francis on the 17th. Below is an excerpt linking the two from the ever enlightening The Liturgical Year by Dom Prosper Guéranger.
Two years before the faithful servant and minister of Christ, Francis, gave up his spirit to God, he retired alone into a high place, which is called Mount Alvernia, and began a forty-days’ fast in honour of the Archangel St. Michael. The sweetness of heavenly contemplation was poured out on him more abundantly than usual, till, burning with the flame of celestial desires, he began to feel an increasing overflow of these divine favours. While the seraphic ardour of his desires thus raised him up to God, and the tenderness of his love and compassion was transforming him into Christ the crucified Victim of excessive love; one morning, about the Feast of the Exaltation of holy Cross, as he was praying on the mountain-side, he saw what appeared to be a Seraph, with six shining and fiery wings, coming down from heaven. The vision flew swiftly through the air and approached the man of God, Who then perceived that it was not only winged, but also crucified; for the hands and feet were stretched out and fastened to a cross; while the wings were arranged in a wondrous manner, two being raised above the head, two outstretched in flight, and the remaining two crossed over and veiling the whole body. As he gazed, Francis was much astonished, and his soul was filled with mingled joy and sorrow. The gracious aspect of him, who appeared in so wonderful and loving a manner, rejoiced him exceedingly, while the sight of his cruel crucifixion pierced his heart with a sword of sorrowing compassion.
He, who appeared outwardly to Francis, taught him inwardly that, although weakness and suffering are incompatible with the immortal life of a seraph, yet this vision had been shown to him to the end that he, Christ’s lover, might learn how his whole being was to be transformed into a living image of Christ crucified, not by martyrdom of the flesh, but by the burning ardour of his soul. After a mysterious and familiar colloquy, the vision disappeared, leaving the Saint’s mind burning with seraphic ardour, and his flesh impressed with an exact image of the Crucified, as though, after the melting power of that fire, it had next been stamped with a seal. For immediately the marks of nails began to appear in his hands and feet, their heads showing in the palms of his hands and the upper part of his feet, and their points visible on the other side. There was also a red scar on his right side, as if it had been wounded by a lance, and from which blood often flowed staining his tunic and underclothing.
Francis, now a new man, honoured by this new and amazing miracle, and, by a hitherto unheard of privilege, adorned with the sacred stigmata, came down from the mountain bearing with him the image of the Crucified, not carved in wood or stone by the hand of an artist, but engraved upon his flesh by the finger of the living God. The seraphic man well knew that it is good to hide the secret of the king; wherefore, having been thus admitted into his king’s confidence, he strove, as far as in him lay, to conceal the sacred marks. But it belongs to God to reveal the great things which he himself has done; and hence, after impressing those signs upon Francis in secret, he publicly worked miracles by means of them, revealing the hidden and wondrous power of the Stigmata by the signs wrought through them. Pope Benedict XI. willed that this wonderful event, which is so well attested and in pontifical diplomas has been honoured with the greatest praises and favours, should be celebrated by a yearly solemnity. Afterwards, Pope Paul V., wishing the hearts of all the faithful to be enkindled with the love of Christ crucified, extended the feast to the whole Church.
How is it that an all-loving God bestows gifts that cause untold pain? For non-believers, this stumbling block is simply proof that either: 1) God is cruel; or 2) There is not really a God at all. For those with faith, though, the answer simply lies in the Cross. I highly recommend spending a good bit of time this week contemplating both the Cross and the Stigmata. It will certainly help you to recognize, appreciate and, perhaps, rejoice in even the most painful gifts God might bestow upon you, and bring new insights into St. Paul’s exhortation: “[I] now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ, in my flesh, for his body, which is the church.” (Col. 1:24)
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Men’s Club Info, But Written for our Ladies
Last week 39 men of our parish got together for some good, traditional “Catholic Man” stuff. Numbers aren’t everything, yet I was amazed at the turnout. We shall see how the numbers go in the future, especially now that a groundwork has been laid as to what we hope to accomplish with this group. Unlike the Knights of Columbus, a good Catholic Men's group which is primarily a service organization, working on pro-life, pro-Church and pro-parish projects, this new group is primarily focused on each man bettering himself through increasing his prayer, spiritual reading, and physical abilities; and then, through manly camaraderie, holding one another accountable to their individual Catholic Man goals. Through this it is expected that the family, the parish, the workplaces and the local communities will be strengthened with true Catholicism, as men take their rightful and God-given places.
In order to accomplish this, we need the assistance of the women. Wives, while you may be the ones initially pushing your husbands to join this group, it will not be long before you are tempted to beg, nag, and guilt them into stopping what they are doing. Why do I say that? From the very beginning Satan brought about the downfall of Man through Woman. You have power over men and, though you might not think about it very often, what “mama” wants, “mama” generally gets. If you have been used to having your husband home and at your beck and call (OK, quit laughing) every early morning and late evening, if he takes this group seriously you might have to let him be by himself a bit more. He will be required to do some spiritual reading and mental prayer every day. He may be able to do it when everyone else is asleep or during his lunch hour, but he may also find that the only time is at the beginning or end of the day when the kids are in bed, when you used to have him all to yourself. It will be hard to share him, even if you are sharing him with God.
If all goes well, you are going to have another problem. Where before he was content to just lead the mealtime blessing, he is now going to also lead a family rosary. There is almost never a convenient time to pray the rosary, let alone as a family. You are going to have to support him, but you will be tempted to instead tell him, “This is not a good time” or, “Child x is too young” or, “Honey, you’ve worked hard all day and the kids are whiny. Why don’t we just skip it (again) tonight?” You will be surprised how many excuses, good excuses, will come up to not pray together as a family. If you give your husband a way out, he will gladly fall into his old ways to please you.
Ladies, you may also discover that you, while claiming to be a traditional Catholic, are really much more comfortable being a women’s lib Catholic.What?!? I can hear the screams already. But really, you have gotten used to all men, priests included, being so “squishy” that you won’t really know what to do with a manly man. Really. What will you do if your husband states, not asks, but states, that next Sunday he will wake everybody up at 4:30 so that there is time to make it to the early Low Mass so that he can serve with his oldest son? When he tells you that instead of visiting your parents over the holidays he will be going on an 8 day Ignatian Retreat? When he throws out half of the clothing you bought your daughter (or yourself) because they are not modest? When romance (which used to be cherished, then, when it faded, was longed for, and is now just a tiring bother) becomes something he once again valiantly and regularly attempts as he tries (bunglingly, perhaps!) to tell/show you he truly loves and cherishes you as both a wife and mother, and that he hopes to make you a mother another three or four times over? I am warning you now, having a traditional Catholic Man for a husband (or boyfriend, for that matter), especially if you are not used to it and haven’t seen it modeled anywhere in recent memory, is going to be more difficult than you may think. Many a man has had his good intentions of becoming more Catholic thwarted by a wife who doesn’t like relinquishing the role of “head of the household” which she has been taught/forced since childhood to assume.
Here is the basic outline for our twice monthly (second and fourth Thursday evenings starting at 6:00 pm) meetings. One hour of prayer. One hour of teachings and discussions about the spiritual homework which was assigned the last meeting. Then time for scotch, cigars, and/or other manly socializing. All three parts are essential, so don’t push him to show up late or leave early. Your encouragement (and restraint from reverting to the status quo) are greatly appreciated and necessary.
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka