He only shuts up when he is writing!
From the Pastor: All Saints Day and All Souls Day
This Wednesday is All Saints Day, a Holy Day of Obligation. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia (online at newadvent.org), it is a “Solemnity celebrated on the first of November. It is instituted to honour all the saints, known and unknown, and, according to Urban IV, to supply any deficiencies in the faithful's celebration of saints' feasts during the year.” We are honoring those who have made it to Heaven. Not just those who have been officially recognized by the Church but rather everyone that, through the merits of Christ, now enjoys the Beatific Vision of God.
The last part of the encyclopedia’s description should wake us up to a very important aspect of this celebration. Those who have been officially declared Saints by Holy Mother Church deserve to be always honored and to receive proper love and respect, especially on their feast day. Again quoting from the Catholic Encyclopedia, “The Catholic Church canonizes or beatifies only those whose lives have been marked by the exercise of heroic virtue, and only after this has been proved by common repute for sanctity and by conclusive arguments.” Only a relatively minuscule number of good, holy Catholics are able to meet the strict requirements of proof that they are now in Heaven and that their lives upon this earth are worthy of study and emulation. (It is, as a comparison, much easier for any ball player to be named to the Hall of Fame than for any Catholic to be named a Saint.) Once this has been established, however, they are to be held in great esteem. They are supposed to be our role models and heroes, more-so than even the greatest Hall of Famer.
Even so, we sometimes forget about them, neglect our duties to honor them or only half-heartedly remember them even while attending (or even celebrating) Mass on their feast days. How many people have forgotten who they chose as a Patron Saint on the day of their Confirmation? How many children were named after a particular Saint due to their parents’ devotion to that Saint or on account of their birthday falling on a Saint’s feast day yet they never even ask for that Saint’s intercession, let alone offer up prayers of thanks for assistance given?
All Saints Day gives us the opportunity to make amends for our neglect, our disrespect, or our simple forgetfulness. What a blessing for both us and the Saints! We, the Church Militant, enter into the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, celebrated in honor of those who have won the battle of good versus evil, the Church Triumphant. We ask for the grace to learn from them, to imitate them, and to love them (and thus, God) more deeply. They, in turn, must be all aglow with pure love and compassion for those of us still struggling through life and gladly pray that we become even more holy than themselves.
Then on Thursday, All Souls Day, we celebrate Mass to pray for the Church Suffering or the Poor Souls in Purgatory. Though not a day of obligatory Mass participation, those who recognize just how difficult it is to have already perfectly atoned for all temporal punishment due to previously forgiven sins at the time of death make every effort to get to Mass that day. Throughout the month, but especially on November 2, we pray for those who died in a state of grace yet perhaps not completely perfect in their love of God and neighbor and we offer our sufferings, our alms, our fastings, and our acts of charity on their behalf. This year I didn’t put out any All Souls envelopes and nobody noticed, nobody asked for one, and, as of this writing, nobody has given me a list of their departed family and friends whom they wish to have remembered at Mass. So it looks like if you wish them to be prayed for by name (I will still pray for them in general), you are going to have to attend Mass and pray for them yourselves! The Church also offers, from November first through the eighth, a plenary indulgence, applicable only to the Poor Souls, to those who visit a cemetery and pray for the departed (and complete the other stipulations for plenary indulgences, namely, sacramental confession, Communion, prayers for the holy intentions of the Pope and detachment from sin). Our simple mortification leads to a Poor Soul’s purification, allowing their final glorification. And we grow holier doing it!
Come join in the celebrations! Become a Saint, help others to do so as well, and honor those who have already made it. The Mass schedule for both days will include the normal 6:30 am and 8:00 am Masses and both days will also have an extra 7:00 pm Mass. The evening Mass on All Souls Day will be a Solemn High Mass if everything goes as planned. This is something we hope to be able to do more often in the future, as more and more clergy become interested in assisting at the Traditional Latin Mass. Thank you for your continuing prayers in this regard!
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: We have a Confirmation Date!
Instead of holding you in suspense, let me come right out with the news: our next parish celebration of the Sacrament of Confirmation has been set by the Diocese for 7:00 pm on Wednesday, February 7, 2018. Why so soon? Because the Bishop has a lot of parishes to get to and there simply is no way for him to visit every parish in May or June! Does that mean that Bishop Parkes will be bestowing the sacrament himself? I wish I was able to get a confirmation on him doing the Confirmations. We spoke briefly about the ceremony and what is done (and not done) and he has promised “to see” about it. He genuinely wants to be here for us but is still uncertain about his ability to do it well in the old rite. So we will just go with the flow for now.
If you are preparing for Confirmation yourself or have a child you are preparing for Confirmation, the first thing you need to do is get a copy of your/his/her Baptismal certificate over to the office. An original is not necessary. A hard copy or an electronic copy of the old one you have in a storage box is fine. Please note well: Baptism is the first step in preparing for Confirmation and you must have been baptized before you receive any other sacrament. I know that “nobody” would try to get confirmed who has not been baptized but--and this is a big BUT--in order to properly record the fact that the sacrament was received, we need to know which church to send that information to, and that church needs names and dates from the document in order to find, verify, and update the original record. All sacramental records are held at the church (parish) of Baptism, so although we will record here that young Johnny was confirmed by Bishop Parkes on February 7, 2018, taking the name of St. Romuald and having Mr. Joseph Dingle as his sponsor, we will also send that information to St. Ubaldus Basilica in Wispy Cloud, Maryland (the church listed on Johnny's Baptism certificate) so that they can enter it along with his Baptism and First Holy Communion record. When Johnny later is preparing to become a priest, he will need to contact the secretary at St. Ubaldus, asking for a new copy of his Baptismal certificate with all notations. If there is no notation of Confirmation (for instance, because his parents promised to produce a Baptismal certificate for his Confirmation but never followed through on it) he will have a much more difficult time gaining admittance to the seminary because Confirmation is an essential sacrament to have before receiving Holy Orders. And, since we probably won’t have recorded it here without having ever obtained all of the information found on the forgotten Baptismal certificate, unless we find the old, incomplete file squirreled away in the attic, you won’t be able to find a record of it anywhere. Then you need to find photos and witnesses, produce sworn testimonies, etc., taking so much time that poor Johnny misses the entrance deadline for the seminary and, wrongly thinking that that was a sign from God that he was not to be a priest, he marries the very next girl who smiles at him, not knowing that she is a deranged psycho-killer cyborg from the future and... well, we just lost another man who would have been a good, holy priest and the only one in the diocese who would have celebrated the Traditional Latin Mass when I retire or die. All on account of a Baptismal certificate which never made it to our office. Don’t let that happen to Johnny or to future Epiphany parishioners! Please bring in the certificate ASAP!
After you have produced a Baptismal certificate, we will give you a form to fill out to officially register for Confirmation here. My guess is that the more children or adults we have here who are properly prepared to receive Confirmation, and the sooner we know the size of the Confirmation group, the greater the chances that Bishop Parkes will make the extra effort to learn the prayers and ritual of the traditional rite and Confirm in person.
Because of the short “school year” between now and February, there really is not a lot of time to procrastinate on anything. Please dust off your Baltimore Catechisms (number 2 is great but number 3 gives an even better explanation of the reason for receiving each of the Gifts of the Holy Ghost) or your Seton books or the Faith and Life series or whichever program you are planning on using and get to it right away. If you need assistance in this regard, please don’t hesitate to ask for it. Confirmation prep is not too difficult if the one to be confirmed already has a good foundation from a previous solid First Holy Communion preparation and is a member of a faithful Catholic family which actually believes and practices the one true Faith. Not everyone has been so blessed (believe it or not), so help each other out! Above all, remember that prayer is the most important aspect of readying oneself for reception of this--or any--sacrament, so pray well.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Las Vegas Shooting. Why?
All of the news outlets and initialed government organizations are bewildered about the motive behind the recent unholy shootings in Las Vegas. But what they all are failing to take seriously is that simple word which I used to modify “shootings” in the last sentence, namely, “unholy”. “Demonic” would have worked as well, as would have “devilish”, “diabolical”, “satanic” or any other number of words bringing to the forefront the ultimate cause of such an evil rampage. But nooooo, the secular world is not about to admit that the devil is real and that “we” as a whole have invited him to fill the void left when “we” kicked God out of our lives. ISIS is still claiming responsibility. That does nothing to diminish the preceding statement, for they represent the devil, even if nobody wants to admit that truth.
Those who believe in neither God nor the devil have blamed this latest mass murder and maiming on guns, the President, Republicans, Libertarians, housewives, mailmen, chimney sweeps, and those who eat non-organic food. Everything and everybody gets blamed as long as God and the devil, prayer and the antithesis of prayer are left out of the conversation. This is exactly what “they” don’t want “you” to think about. But thinking about it is a must. In thinking about the “why’s” of the shooting and the “what’s next” for the near and distant future, we must use reason and Faith, and make no mistake, by that I mean we must use Catholic Faith, for all other forms of Faith fall short. That, of course, means that we must use Scripture, Tradition and the Church’s magisterial teachings as we ponder these issues.
Yet that is not to say that it takes a gifted theologian to understand how we got to where we are and how to get out of this moral cesspool. For what Catholic cannot see almost immediately that the devil was at work in the shooter’s life? What Catholic cannot see almost immediately that he needed, yet had rejected, Jesus Christ and His gift of Eternal Life? What Catholic cannot see almost immediately that no “solution” to the problem of preventing the next massacre will be solid and sustainable unless we humble ourselves before God Almighty, beg His forgiveness, beseech His mercy and grace, and truly commit to becoming Saints individually and as a nation?
Look around. The way the United States has developed its infrastructure, economy, transportation, communication, and governance (among other things), we need--really need--either a moral population or a tyrannical government to keep us “safe”. The Las Vegas shooter shot a lot of people. Our free society makes it easy for immoral persons to shoot people, to stab people, to run people over, or to find countless ways to destroy life or a way of life. Humans are social animals. We gather into large groups just about everywhere and for many reasons: for recreation, for education, for employment, for prayer. Our society was built with the expectation that interdependent people would be as safe or safer in those crowds than they would be in independent isolation. Now, though, having been shamelessly taught to reject God, to ridicule Faith, and to despise Truth, an increasingly immoral population is changing the equation. Immoral people can be and will be and have already been emboldened so as to find new ways to kill large numbers of unsuspecting random people. Immoral people can be and will be and already have been emboldened to kill targeted, important society members (and, yes, some jobs are more important in some regards, such as in keeping law and order on the streets, than others), taking advantage of, say, our police being easily identified by their uniforms and being in public places where they should be safe and are basically defenseless (like sitting in their squad car filling out paperwork), which things also make executing them quite effortless for the wicked.
The Las Vegas shooter also took a couple of potshots at large fuel storage tanks which will certainly inspire others to devise ways to successfully blow them up, destroying shipping ports and fuel depots, along with food and goods distribution networks, and causing untold mayhem. Our society was built with the expectation that most people would behave rationally and morally. Those large fuel tanks are out in the open, nuclear plants are unprotected from above, the electric grid is vulnerable, train tracks are unguarded, jets take off and land in populated areas, water supplies are not tamper proof, and the list could go on and on. In a moral society, none of that matters. In an immoral society, there will always be someone (or some group) exploiting such “weaknesses”, trying to make a name for himself by causing more death and destruction than the last guy, or by becoming the first to think of a new way of wreaking havoc, or by simply causing chaos for the sake of chaos.
So how do we stop the next terrorist act? A tyrannical government can do it fairly well and fairly quickly. The fewer freedoms the people have, the less they can “cause trouble”. But an almost infinitely better way (though at this point it will take a lot longer to achieve than the first option) is for everyone to learn, accept, and live the true Catholic Faith. Pray and fast, people. Pray and fast.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Columbus Day
In recent years a lot of ignorant and/or immoral so-called “scholars” have written a lot of anti-Catholic (yes, I believe that is most often the basis of their false “scholarship”) articles bashing Christopher Columbus and his Catholic Faith. Today I want to share with you just a little bit of actual scholarship about him and his journey, found in the Knights of Columbus’ Columbia magazine in October of 2015. Much more “real” Columbus information can be found easily enough on many Catholic websites and books. Don’t be fooled by the secular sources who make up stories or twist old documents to fit their agenda, trading truth for hatred.
When the Knights of Columbus was founded 130 years ago, their namesake, Christopher Columbus, was a symbol of the idea that there is no contradiction in being a Catholic and an American. In recent decades, however, Columbus has become a figure of controversy, leaving conflicting opinions about his legacy.
Carol Delaney, a cultural anthropologist and long-time professor at Stanford University, had little knowledge or interest in Columbus that is, until she was teaching a course called “Millennial Fever” at Stanford in 1999 and came across a reference to the explorer’s apocalyptic beliefs. Delaney was intrigued and set out to research Columbus at Brown University in the summer of 2003. Two years later, she retired from Stanford to devote herself to research, which launched a remarkable journey in the footsteps of the explorer. Columbia spoke to Delaney about the fruits of her research, published in her book titled Columbus and the Quest for Jerusalem (Free Press, 2011).
Columbia: You argue that most people misunderstand the purpose of Columbus’ voyage. According to your research, what were his motivations?
Carol Delaney: Everybody knows that Columbus was trying to find gold, but they don’t know what the gold was for: to fund a crusade to take Jerusalem back from the Muslims before the end of the world. A lot of people at the time thought that the apocalypse was coming because of all the signs: the plague, famine, earthquakes and so forth. And it was believed that before the end, Jerusalem had to be back in Christian hands so that Christ could return in judgment. Columbus actually calculated how many years were left before the end of the world. He seemed to think of his whole voyage as a mission, which was part of this apocalyptic scenario.
Columbia: In addition to funding the crusade, did Columbus intend to evangelize the New World?
Carol Delaney: He was very much interested in evangelizing. He wrote against the idea that the natives could just be baptized and automatically become Christian. Rather, they really needed to be instructed about the Christian faith before being converted. He wrote to the pope requesting that good priests be sent to provide this instruction and even left money in his will for it. Believing he was traveling to Asia, Columbus particularly wanted to convince the Grand Khan of China, who had already expressed interest in Christianity, to convert. He thought that the Grand Khan could help with the crusade to take Jerusalem by marching from the east, while the Europeans marched from the west an interesting idea.
Columbia: Why don’t more people recognize and accept your claims about Columbus’ intentions?
Carol Delaney: Scholars have written articles about Columbus’ religious motivations, but they were published in very arcane journals. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, historians wrote about Columbus as the first modern man, who used science and reason as an explorer and discoverer. But I don’t think that was his motivation. He was a medieval man in a very religious context. He was very close to the Franciscans, who were involved in proselytizing before the end of the world.
Columbia: The popular view today is that Columbus is responsible for countless atrocities against the native peoples. In your opinion, is this a fair assessment?
Carol Delaney: No, not at all. The late 20th century brought a lot of critique about him from the perspective of the natives, and Columbus has become a symbol for everything that went wrong. But the more I read of his own writings and that of his contemporaries, my understanding of him totally changed. His relations with the natives tended to be benign. He liked the natives and found them to be very intelligent. He also described them as “natural Christians” because they had no other “sect,” or false faith, and believed that they could easily become Christians if they had instruction.
There is much more but we have no more space here. Read her book. Read real scholarship. Don’t get mislead by the bigots who want to destroy the nation and the Church. Happy Columbus Day!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Priest’s Convocation
This week most of the priests of the diocese will be away from their respective parishes as we gather together at the Bethany Center for our yearly few days of prayer, talks, and camaraderie. Don’t worry, the Mass schedule will not change! Fr. Vincent has graciously agreed to celebrate the 6:30 am Mass before racing back to Jesuit High School to teach so that I will have time to commute back over here for the 8:00 am Mass, Adoration, and confessions. Please don’t expect me to stay and chat afterward or to be available for non-emergencies, for as soon as Benediction is completed, I will have just enough time (I think) to make it back for the start of the mid-morning talk. Some parishes may cancel Masses altogether so if you know of someone who will be without the Holy Sacrifice, be sure to invite them to Epiphany.
These days, Monday afternoon through early afternoon on Thursday, though they include time for prayer and confessions and spiritual talks, are not retreat days. They are days filled more with catching up with fellow priests than with anything else. They are certainly anything but silent! Many priests only see even the priests they are closest to at meetings, funerals for priests and their family members, and this convocation. Of those three, this is the only one which allows for more than a quick “hello” and other perfunctory greetings. At the convocation we see each other for three meals a day (I will have to skip breakfast to make it back for Mass, though, so cry a little for me, ok?) plus Mass and other prayer times, plus the times at and between talks, plus the free time in the schedule, plus evening Irish Holy Hours after everything else is done. I have no doubt that I am able to actually carry on a conversation with more priests for longer periods of time during these few days than I do the rest of the year.
The convocation always falls the first full week of October and the (new) liturgical calendar for the Breviary gives some great readings from St. Augustine shortly before or even during the week we gather together. Although much of his sermon is a chastising of and warning to the priests that they must feed their sheep rather than themselves, there is also a beautiful passage about the priests desiring, even more so than the person himself, the return of the lost sheep to the flock. The purpose of the convocation is to encourage us to do what this great Saint is encouraging us to do, namely, to save souls! Here it is, for your edification:
The straying sheep you have not recalled; the lost sheep you have not sought. In one way or another, we go on living between the hands of robbers and the teeth of raging wolves, and in light of these present dangers we ask your prayers. The sheep moreover are insolent. The shepherd seeks out the straying sheep, but because they have wandered away and are lost they say that they are not ours. “Why do you want us? Why do you seek us?” they ask, as if their straying and being lost were not the very reason for our wanting them and seeking them out. “If I am straying,” he says, “if I am lost, why do you want me?” You are straying, that is why I wish to recall you. You have been lost, I wish to find you. “But I wish to stray,” he says: “I wish to be lost.”
So you wish to stray and be lost? How much better that I do not also wish this. Certainly, I dare say, I am unwelcome. But I listen to the Apostle who says: Preach the word; insist upon it, welcome and unwelcome. Welcome to whom? Unwelcome to whom? By all means welcome to those who desire it; unwelcome to those who do not. However unwelcome, I dare to say: “You wish to stray, you wish to be lost; but I do not want this.” For the one whom I fear does not wish this. And should I wish it, consider his words of reproach: The straying sheep you have not recalled; the lost sheep you have not sought. Shall I fear you rather than him? Remember, we must all present ourselves before the judgement seat of Christ.
I shall recall the straying; I shall seek the lost. Whether they wish it or not, I shall do it. And should the brambles of the forests tear at me when I seek them, I shall force myself through all straits; I shall put down all hedges. So far as the God whom I fear grants me the strength, I shall search everywhere. I shall recall the straying; I shall seek after those on the verge of being lost. If you do not want me to suffer, do not stray, do not become lost. It is enough that I lament your straying and loss. No, I fear that in neglecting you, I shall also kill what is strong. Consider the passage that follows: And what was strong you have destroyed. Should I neglect the straying and lost, the strong one will also take delight in straying and in being lost.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka