From the Pastor: Priest’s Convocation This Week
Every year during the first full week of October the priests of the Diocese of St. Petersburg are gathered together by the bishop for a “Convocation for Priestly Renewal”. Most years we have one priest or bishop who acts as our spiritual moderator, giving spiritual talks as we pray Laudes and Vespers and giving the sermon at Mass each day. Another person or persons will give multiple talks of a teaching sort each day as well and every year there is a particular theme to the talks. Whether the talks were exceedingly great or less than stellar never much mattered to me, for the most part at least. I discovered early on that as long as I didn’t go there expecting to learn great things or expecting to have a “retreat” type of experience, I could enjoy just getting together with my brother priests. We don’t see each other too often outside of meetings. At the convocation, we share meals together and socialize throughout the day without having to rush back to the parish for the next appointment. More and more priests are coming to the diocese from outside the country and this is one of the few places that us “old-timers” get to know them and them us. We also have some interaction with some of the seminarians who take on the responsibilities of checking us in and sometimes shuttling us around the grounds. It is a pleasure to see them in “real life” rather than just on the vocation posters.
This year we have a topic being presented which I am sure will help explain what I meant in the previous paragraph about not expecting much from the talks. I will say more about the spiritual moderator in a bit but the topic of the week is, “Church of Today, Hope of Tomorrow: 21st Century Youth Ministry”. I realize that these topics are chosen sometimes a couple of years out so that “good” presenters can be booked, but the timing of a conference on Youth Ministry could not be much worse. Yet it does get worse. The presenters, those teaching us a “new and improved” youth ministry, the type we need for now and the future, are from LifeTeen. Yes. That same organization whose founder priest was molesting male teens (clericalism strikes again!) and, when he was removed from ministry, went off and founded his own “church” to keep the kids close at hand. (Query: Shouldn’t we treat LifeTeen and the Legionaries of Christ the same, based on their founders’ immorality?) It really is a good thing that I don’t go to the convocation for the presentations! I plan on enjoying myself even while sitting through this. Who knows? Maybe they have a new program and will be incorporating LifeTeen into the Traditional Latin Mass from now on. I can picture the kids all coming into the sanctuary during the consecration and, instead of circling the altar as they used to do at Novus Ordo Masses, the teens will all face East as they... NO! I have to keep reminding myself to STOP THAT type of thinking or else I will ruin the whole week.
So now you know where the priests will be next week. Please don’t become seriously ill while we are away. In case of emergencies like your badly-timed death, I might have to pull myself away from the Bongo Drum Accompaniment for Gregorian Chant course or the Liturgical Dancing to Polyphonic Hymnody breakout session. Wait! Didn’t I say, STOP THAT? Whoo boy, this one is a doozy this year. Back on topic, I will be returning every morning to celebrate the 8:00 Mass and will stay to hear confessions during Adoration as normal, but I will not be here for the 6:30 am Mass on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. (The rest of the TLM schedule stays the same for the week.) The church will still be opened early, though, as some of the regular early Mass people wish to still come and pray, so feel free to join them. If you are a regular at the 6:30 Mass and you forget that it has been canceled for those three days, feel free to pretend that your memory is still sharp but you just wanted to spend some extra quiet time with Our Lord. No one will be any the wiser and you will be blessed with extra prayer time as you wait for the 8:00 Mass.
Nowhere on the Convocation brochure did it mention who the spiritual moderator will be this year. That kind of omission makes me think, hmmm... Maybe Cardinal McCarrick was scheduled to come and... STOP IT! More likely, it is going to be someone with a true Catholic spiritual life, someone with a solid reputation for holiness and a love for priests, maybe a real Cardinal like Cupi... STOP IT!... like Cardinal Sarah, or maybe an exemplary bishop from the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association... STOP IT!... like Bishop Fellay, or maybe it’s going to be a humble priest like Fr. James Martin... STOP IT!... like Fr. Paul Kalchik or Fr. David Nix. No, wait! I just figured out the reason his name is not listed. It is because he is in hiding! The former Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Vigano, is going to be our spiritual moderator! Please don’t tell anyone in Rome!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Our Lady of Walsingham
As you are aware, this Monday evening at 7:00 pm I will celebrate Mass for local Catholics who are associated with the Personal Ordinariate of the chair of St. Peter. (Everyone else is most welcome to attend, too, so put it on your calendar!) Put simply, the Ordinariate is the branch of Catholicism for those who were Anglican or Episcopal and have converted to the Catholic faith and are allowed to use a special Missal for a Form of the Mass which is similar to but different than both the Ordinary Form (Novus Ordo) and the Extraordinary Form (Traditional Latin) Masses. Call it a hybrid, if you will. I don’t say that to be disrespectful and I am pretty sure that a priest of the Ordinariate would probably describe it in much more glowing terms, but I don’t really know how else to describe it in a succinct manner and still give you the general picture of how the Mass will be celebrated. Anyway, since I was asked to celebrate this Mass on their big feast day, Our Lady of Walsingham, who is the patroness of the Ordinariate (their cathedral church in Texas is even named for her), I thought it would be a good idea to get an altar Missal for the occasion. Somebody was kind enough to send me a link to the missal publishing company (it is located in England, of course, as not everything in the world revolves around the US) and I placed my order on Amazon Europe (or something like that). Unlike the Amazon I am used to dealing with, there was no “second day delivery” option. So I waited. And waited. And waited. They had given a quite wide range of expected delivery dates and when the last one was past and still no missal had arrived, I emailed the company. When they replied it was to send me a US Postal Service tracking number and a statement from the USPS that it was already delivered to Tampa and was awaiting “acceptance”, whatever that means. So I got online with the USPS and put in the tracking number and asked for information on the delivery. The next day I received notice that the package was moving from Tampa to Ybor City and would be delivered to me by Friday (of last week). (“Awaiting acceptance” evidently means “sitting on a shelf until somebody bothers us about it”.) They actually delivered it this past Thursday morning, a day “early”. I excitedly tore into the box and pulled out a very beautiful leatherbound Roman Missal, Third Typical Edition. In other words, an elegant Missal for use at a Novus Ordo Mass. Yes, the one I wanted is evidently out of stock so, rather than lose a sale, they sent the wrong one instead. Oh well. I tried. If anyone out there wants to give a NO priest a very nice altar missal, let me know before I send it back!
Of course, one of the things I had to do was research a little about Our Lady of Walsingham. Every place I look which mentions her feast day says that in the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar it is celebrated on September 24, the date on which the Mass was requested. Yet on our TLM calendar, it is the feast of Our Lady of Ransom. On the Novus Ordo calendar, there is no celebration of Our Lady (or any Saint, for that matter) listed. Wikipedia, which is not exactly noted for complete accuracy even though it is often a good starting point, is one of only two places I found which claims that Our Lady of Ransom and Our Lady of Walsingham are one and the same. It explains it this way. “According to the reputed Marian apparition to Lady Richeldis, the Blessed Virgin Mary fetched her soul from England to Nazareth during a religious ecstasy to show the house where the Holy Family once lived and was then tasked to build an imitation of the home in which the Annunciation of Archangel Gabriel occurred. The building structure came to be known as the ‘Holy House’, and later became both a shrine and the focus of pilgrimage to Walsingham. The wooden image was carved in Oberammergau, Germany, and was once associated with the Virgin of Mercy under the venerated Marian title of Our Lady of Ransom, sometimes locally worded as ‘Our Lady of the Dowry’. The popularity of the Marian cult gradually localized the place of devotion as ‘Our Lady of Walsingham’.”
The second place I found confirming this was the online old Catholic Encyclopedia. It included one simple line under the heading of Our Lady of Ransom. “In England the devotion to Our Lady of Ransom was revived in modern times to obtain the rescue of England as Our Lady's Dowry.” So, if Our Lady of Ransom, Our Lady of the Dowry, and Our Lady of Walsingham are all the same (of course, it is the same Blessed Mother; I mean if they are all the same like Our Lady of the Rosary and Our Lady of Fatima are simply two titles of the Blessed Mother as she appeared to the children in Fatima) that makes it quite interesting. St. Peter Nolasco, following a vision of Our Lady of Ransom, started the religious order of Mercedarians to rescue (by means of paying ransom) Catholics enslaved by Muslims and who were in danger of losing their souls through apostasy. Connecting the dots, once-Catholic England became Anglican and is becoming Muslim. Hmmm... Our Lady, pray for us!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Upcoming at Epiphany
We have some incredible things coming up soon at Epiphany. Next Sunday, September 23, one of our members will be giving a special talk on the Blessed Mother, how she saved Europe and Poland in the 17th century. Jean Paul is an expert in this area and has given similar talks many places and now he brings it home to us. He will speak after the 10:30 Mass on the 23rd, beginning at approximately 12:30, giving you time to get some coffee and donuts and head over to the parish room where you will be enthralled by his historical and Catholic explanation of Our Lady’s graces saving whole countries as seen clearly a few centuries ago. We can use a repeat of history!
The following day, Monday, September 24th, at 7:00 pm, we will have a first for our parish, for our pastor, and, perhaps, a first for our diocese. I have been asked to celebrate a Mass according to Divine Worship, The Missal of the Personal Ordinariate of the chair of St. Peter for the Feast of Our Lady of Walsingham. What is that, you ask? Below I have copied and pasted some information about this group within the Catholic Church which was established specifically for Anglicans and Episcopalians who converted to the Catholic Faith. They don’t have a church or priest of the Ordinariate anywhere in our diocese so, according to their own rules, any Catholic priest willing to celebrate an occasional Mass for them may do so. (As far as I know, we only have one family attending here regularly which is attached to the Ordinariate.) It is very much like the Traditional Latin Mass except everything is done in English and all prayers are said/chanted out loud. You are all welcome to attend and see how other Catholics celebrate Mass. As they are fully Catholic, you are, of course, welcome to participate even in receiving Holy Communion, provided that you are properly prepared, just as you could if you attended Divine Liturgy at a Byzantine or Mass at a Syro-Malabar church. Here is the basic information for this lesser known branch of the Church:
The Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter is equivalent to a diocese, created by the Vatican in 2012 for people nurtured in the Anglican tradition who wish to become Catholic.
--Founded to serve Roman Catholics across the U.S. and Canada, it is the first diocese of its kind in North America.
--Based in Houston, Texas, this Ordinariate has more than 40 Roman Catholic parishes and communities across the United States and Canada.
--The Ordinariate was created to provide a path for groups of Anglicans to become fully Roman Catholic, while retaining elements of their worship traditions and spiritual heritage in their union with the Catholic Church. The Ordinariate is a key ecumenical venture exemplifying the Second Vatican Council’s vision for Christian unity, in which diverse expressions of one faith are joined together in the Church.
--The Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter was established in response to repeated and persistent inquiries from Anglicans who over time, have come to identify the Catholic Church as their home. Those joining the Ordinariate have discerned they are truly Catholic in what they believe and desire full membership in the Catholic Church.
--There are three Personal Ordinariates in the world: Our Lady of Walsingham in the United Kingdom; the Chair of Saint Peter in the United States and Canada; and Our Lady of the Southern Cross in Australia.
--Parishes and communities in the Ordinariates are fully Roman Catholic, but retain elements of Anglican traditions in their liturgy, hospitality and ministries.
--In the Second Vatican Council’s Decree on Ecumenism (Unitatis redintegatio), the Catholic Church specified what it would look like to bring all Christians together into communion. The Council said Christian groups would bring their own distinctive traditions to the Catholic Church; they would not be suppressed or absorbed. The Vatican’s remarkable ecumenical gesture in establishing the Ordinariates affirms the Catholic Church’s view that the patrimony of differing Christian spiritualities and liturgies is a treasure meant to be shared within the Catholic tradition.
--Called to be gracious instruments of Christian unity, members of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter are led by a bishop who is appointed by the Pope. Bishop Steven J. Lopes is the first bishop of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter.
--Like other bishops in the United States and Canada, the bishop serves under the direct authority of the Pope to build up the Catholic Church through mutual mission and ministry.
--The bishop is a full member of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.
I hope you are able to make both the talk about Our Blessed Mother and the Ordinariate Mass on her Feast day. Mark your calendars!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Buy a Priest a Beer Day
[You asked for a Lite-er bulletin article and you get what you asked for! A rerun (edited for the day of the week) of last year’s completely made up legend of the Second Greatest Solemnity (behind only Buy a Priest a 50 year old Single Malt Scotch Day) on the calendar. Please read carefully, as it is easy to miss some of my best work if you rush through this!]
Can you believe that “Buy a Priest a Beer Day” is already here? It doesn’t seem like a full year has passed since we last celebrated this feast, yet there it is on the calendar, Sunday, September 9. Not too many people pay attention to this feast day anymore, though it can be found on the calendars of almost all priests, whether they are young or old, Traditional or Novus Oddo, orthodox or heretical, working or retired. I suppose more people would pay attention to it if they knew more about how it came to be an annual feast. So go pop yourself open a cold one and let me give some of the details of this ancient legend.
Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there was a large community of Tappist Monks. They were good, holy men who lived a life of prayer in the solitude of their monastery. They took their vows very seriously and, due to their well deserved reputation for solid Catholicism, they were bursting at the seams as more and more men asked to join the order. Even with a vow of poverty, though, they had to find a way to feed and clothe not only themselves but also those who passed by in need. They also needed funds to build beautiful chapels and hold beautiful liturgies for the glory of God. They needed, in short, to pay the bills. So they had to devise a plan to provide an income. Other religious communities had already discovered, patented, trademarked, and copy-rited their own means of supporting themselves.
The Holy Doublecross Fathers opened universities. They had a competition between the administrators and the professors as to who could bring in the most money. The administrators constantly sought to keep the tuition as high as possible to make it seem like they had a quality product yet low enough that they didn’t have refund too much in the form of scholarships when the token poor kids enrolled. The professors, on the other hand, simply required that their own exceedingly overpriced scrolls, and parchments (and, later, books) be purchased for their own class, and each semester they revised it and mandated that only the “new and improved” version be used. In recent days, football has emerged... no, I had best leave that for another time and, for now, stick to the ancient days.
The Tomdickandharrians simply boasted of their poverty. They put on ragged habits, got bad haircuts, and told everyone how they were simple men of the earth. They really didn’t do much of anything as far as anyone could tell, except boast of their humility and lack of money. But by proclaiming that they could not possibly, under any circumstances at all, with absolutely no exceptions, accept even a penny from anyone at any time, for any reason, amassed a fortune so large that even God could not count it.
The Jezabelwits took yet another approach. They opened retreat centers and preached missions to raise their needed funds. To gain some credibility in this arena, they first forced their men to spend a dozen or so years studying to the point of embracing every ancient heresy before being ordained priests. This had two specifically intended consequences. First, their priests got the reputation of being extremely well educated, since it took so long for them to graduate seminary. Second, and even more importantly, having a Heretical Masters Degree allowed them the opportunity to cater their monetary appeals to not only Catholics who were suckered in by the appearance of scholarship, but also to the Catholic-in-name-only (baptized pagans, as they have recently been labeled) persons who were more than happy to send a lot money to any priest giving them cover for denigrating Church teachings while retaining the promise of Heaven.
The Tappists had to come up with their own schtick. They decided to sell items which they could capture or make themselves. They began by selling furs (they had an “r” in their name at that time), but the terrorist group People Against Anything That Makes Human Life Better (which, in modern English, would translate into either the acronym PETA or USCCB had they not already been taken) raised a stink so they tried other products. Cheese made by Monks appeals to city dwellers, but country folks simply said, “Why buy the cheese when the cow is free?” Fudge appeals mostly to those looking for a good reason to cheat on their diet (“The priests blessed the calories out of it!” or “But it’s for a good cause!” work equally well), but early on hardly anyone was fat. They tried making really good scotch, whisky and wine, but only the aforementioned Religious could afford to buy it. They finally decided to focus on beer, an affordable and enjoyable beverage. “Buy a Priest a Beer Day” was their original marketing slogan so that all Catholics, regardless of which Order they were loyal to, would purchase their product. The Passionless Fathers wish they had thought of it first!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Vigano!
Last Saturday evening news broke regarding a statement the former Papal Nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Vigano, was releasing. I was extremely grateful that I had already announced that I was going to be preaching a series of explanatory sermons on the Traditional Latin Mass. Whew! I certainly didn’t want to have to jump right back into the quagmire of filth which so many our bishops have been complicit in producing and covering up. It was certainly a nice surprise that the whistleblower was such a high-ranking Churchman since his arguments would have to be given at least a look-see before labeling him a kook. Of course, label him they did, quickly enough. I am not going to go into any details about his statement since I assume that you all have read it or at least have read about it. (If you haven’t, what in the world are you waiting for?) But I do want to point out that it reaffirms what we have been seeing come out of the Pennsylvania grand jury report recently. Remember that that report was not (though you might never know this from most of the media coverage) uncovering hundreds of cases of recent child sexual abuse by priests and it was not (though you might never know this from most of the media coverage) uncovering anywhere near equal abuse towards females as towards males. Most, by far, abuse in the report was homosexual in nature and from before the Church took steps to get rid of the publicly accused abusive priests nearly twenty years ago. What the report showed very clearly, though, for those who wanted to see the truth beyond the sensational headlines and talking points, is that the bishops and other high ranking priests of the various dioceses involved worked to make sure that cases, both from long ago and more recently, were not brought into the public eye and, as long as they could be covered up, the priest abusers were not given the same treatment as the publicly known abusers. The Vigano statement reinforced the truth that the cover-ups did indeed occur and that even higher ranking and deceitful bishops, including the bishop of Rome, knew of (among others) the evils perpetrated by the long-time abuser McCarrick and, rather than give him the punishment due or even keep the “secret” punishment already given by Pope Benedict, not only let him go free but also allowed him to help name men to important bishop/cardinal positions. So it seems that we now have one more very convincing bit of evidence that cover-up by—and double standards for—bishops exist.
I have to admit that it has been somewhat entertaining, the way a demolition derby is entertaining, to watch the media and those named react. The bishops reacted as I would expect. They were called out for immorality and lies and they reacted with the same: lies and defamation and obfuscation or, in one case, with arrogance and silence. The media have been squirming, too, and twisting themselves up into pretzels in trying to figure out how to bash the hated Church as much as possible while at the same time protecting active homosexuals and homosexual activists. They would, for any Pope prior to 2013, have run front page stories of his alleged crimes/sins. But Francis has surrounded himself with AH/HAs as nobody else in a position of power. Ever. No CEO of any firm, no president of any country, not all of them put together, have publicly praised and promoted and protected and empowered so many openly AH/HA men (priests, no less) than has Francis. And for this, the mainstream media owe him great allegiance, for sodomy is one of their unholy gods. (Tampa Bay Times: Bishops accused! Priests accused! are huge front page stories, whereas Francis accused! got a very small, second page story, though it is without doubt of greater worldwide importance and shines light on the PA report they had just highlighted.) I say this not to somehow get pleasure out of blasting Francis or the media, but simply as a statement so true that every normal person can see it. “Normal” being understood as “normal” traditionally has been understood, that is, not as it is today, for “normal” today is severely grotesque. Very quickly the media joined AH/HA bishops and priests in doing all in their power to ruin Vigano’s reputation. He is crazy, cruel, a liar, out for personal gain, and has every other personal defect that they can conjure up. They are showing very clearly another good reason “Why Priests Don’t Blow the Whistle”. Archbishop Vigano has had to go into hiding in fear of his life, fearing murderous retribution from men of the cloth. Who would have believed it just a few months ago?
I will end with this. During the Great Flood, the only place in the world where people didn't die was on the ark. Even if Noah had been a lousy captain, anyone jumping overboard to “save themselves” would have perished. The same is true today. There is no salvation outside the Church, which was often of old called the Barque (old sailing ship) of Peter. It is suicide to leap over the rail even if the captain has purposefully steered the ship into a hurricane. A mutinous crew may be doing much damage but the mishandled ship will always be safe. They can’t force you to go to hell with them as long as you remain on the ship and stay loyal to her founder, Jesus Christ.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka