From the Pastor: A Worthy Cause
Every once in a while people ask me if I know of any truly good Catholic charities. They have been frustrated by the seemingly endless accounts of money collected by various organizations within the church going to anti-Catholic organizations, misused through fraud, paying for coverups, etc. Besides this faithful parish’s weekly collection, where is a faithful Catholic going to give to God and His Church and His people and not worry about the money being used for immorality? We have a spiritual need to give. We have a moral obligation to give. We all know that. But who really needs the money and who will put it to good use? Today I have a very worthy group of Sisters who have a project which needs funding. I met Sr. Winifrida Daud, STH, years ago when I was the pastor of St. Rita and she was getting an education in administration at St. Leo University. We have kept in touch ever since. She is now the Superior of her Congregation and in charge of their school in Mwanza, Tanzania. I present below a bit of information she recently sent to me. I decided to edit it for length but not for grammar, but this is NOT coming from a Nigerian prince who wants to make you rich!
PROJECT TITLE: PLANTING TREES AND CASSAVA FOR FOOD AND HELPING WOMEN
St Therese Sisters Congregation is committed to evangelization by carrying out spiritual and
community development activities. The sisters work in various parishes, schools, hospitals,
health centers and developments centers in different Dioceses, in three countries: Tanzania,
Kenya and Burundi. The Congregation owns and administers some of these institutions. In order to further their mission of reaching out to the poor, in 2015, the community bought a small land in Nyanguge, Mwanza to start development area, we found that there are many people who not getting enough food due to the climate changes of not getting enough rain. The sisters plan to start the projects that will combat poverty and educate the people the importance of planting trees and cultivating crops which can sustain the dry season.
Climate change is considered to be one of the most serious threats to sustainable development at Nyanguge. Normally Nyanguge area used to have rain from September to March. For three
years this area got rain in October to January, this year the rain started in November to January.
The dry season is longer than rain season. The people who live there depend on farming. The
main crops are maize, rice and sweet potatoes. The farmers work hard in farming but they end
up on little harvest due to the climate changes.
In assessing the reason of not getting enough rain, we realized that many people cut trees for
firewood without planting other trees. If we are note planting trees that area can endup becoming a desert. The Sisters of St. Therese are planning to start the project of planting trees and cassava faming to guide the people especially women to plant trees in their area to see if that area can have rain. Also the importance of planting crops like cassava which sustain dry season . The sisters are planning to organize the seminars in different groups about planting trees and cassava. We hope through this project and seminar the women and youths will be able to support their families and decrease poverty.
We hope that if the sister will get support from you organization will be able to plant
2,000 trees and 8 acres of cassava at Nyanguge area.
PROJECT OBJECTIVES: •
To increase the awareness of keeping tree for the future generation
To enhance the importance of planting trees
To reduce the famine among the people who live there
To chance the life of women in supporting their family
To diminish poverty for having sustainable rain season.
To diminish poverty for having sustainable cassava food project.
[There is a bit more, but you get the picture. If you want more details about how you can help, contact me and I will get you more information. --Father Palka]
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: A Reminder of Purgatory
This is a reminder that All Souls Day is coming soon. There is only one more Sunday before that day (a Saturday, this year) on which to bring in your list of the Faithful Departed whom you wish to have remembered at Mass. Unless and until Holy Mother Church declares any departed person to be in Heaven we rightfully pray for their soul in case they are still in need of final purification before entering for all eternity into the presence of God. Also remember that the first 8 days of November will bring opportunities to receive, on behalf of a soul in purgatory, a plenary indulgence by visiting a cemetery and praying for the poor souls. Below are excerpts of the Catholic Encyclopedia regarding Purgatory, a teaching rejected by almost all Protestants and seemingly, at least, ignored or ridiculed even by most current-day Catholics, and yet clearly taught and held to be a doctrine of the Faith.
Purgatory (Lat., "purgare", to make clean, to purify) in accordance with Catholic teaching is a place or condition of temporal punishment for those who, departing this life in God's grace, are, not entirely free from venial faults, or have not fully paid the satisfaction due to their transgressions.
Temporal punishment. That temporal punishment is due to sin, even after the sin itself has been pardoned by God, is clearly the teaching of Scripture. God indeed brought man out of his first disobedience and gave him power to govern all things (Wisdom 10:2), but still condemned him "to eat his bread in the sweat of his brow" until he returned unto dust. God forgave the incredulity of Moses and Aaron, but in punishment kept them from the "land of promise" (Numbers 20:12). The Lord took away the sin of David, but the life of the child was forfeited because David had made God's enemies blaspheme His Holy Name (2 Samuel 12:13-14). In the New Testament as well as in the Old, almsgiving and fasting, and in general penitential acts are the real fruits of repentance (Matthew 3:8; Luke 17:3; 3:3). The whole penitential system of the Church testifies that the voluntary assumption of penitential works has always been part of true repentance and the Council of Trent (Sess. XIV, can. xi) reminds the faithful that God does not always remit the whole punishment due to sin together with the guilt. God requires satisfaction, and will punish sin, and this doctrine involves as its necessary consequence a belief that the sinner failing to do penance in this life may be punished in another world, and so not be cast off eternally from God.
Venial sins. All sins are not equal before God, nor dare anyone assert that the daily faults of human frailty will be punished with the same severity that is meted out to serious violation of God's law. On the other hand whosoever comes into God's presence must be perfectly pure for in the strictest sense His "eyes are too pure, to behold evil" (Habakkuk 1:13). For unrepented venial faults for the payment of temporal punishment due to sin at time of death, the Church has always taught the doctrine of purgatory.
So deep was this belief ingrained in our common humanity that it was accepted by the Jews, and in at least a shadowy way by the pagans, long before the coming of Christianity. ("Aeneid," VI, 735 sq.; Sophocles, "Antigone," 450 sq.).
Succouring the dead. Scripture and the Fathers command prayers and oblations for the departed, and the Council of Trent (Sess. XXV, "De Purgatorio") in virtue of this tradition not only asserts the existence of purgatory, but adds "that the souls therein detained are aided by the suffrages of the faithful and principally by the acceptable sacrifice of the altar." That those on earth are still in communion with the souls in purgatory is the earliest Christian teaching, and that the living aid the dead by their prayers and works of satisfaction is clear from the tradition above alleged. That the Holy Sacrifice was offered for the departed was received Catholic Tradition even in the days of Tertullian and Cyprian, and that the souls of the dead, were aided particularly "while the sacred victim lay upon the altar" is the expression of Cyril of Jerusalem quoted above. Augustine (Serm. clxii, n. 2) says that the "prayers and alms of the faithful, the Holy Sacrifice of the altar aid the faithful departed and move the Lord to deal with them in mercy and kindness, and," he adds, "this is the practice of the universal Church handed down by the Fathers." Whether our works of satisfaction performed on behalf of the dead avail purely out of God's benevolence and mercy, or whether God obliges himself in justice to accept our vicarious atonement, is not a settled question. Francisco Suárez thinks that the acceptance is one of justice, and alleges the common practice of the Church which joins together the living and the dead without any discrimination (De poenit., disp. xlviii, 6, n. 4).
So here is your reminder. The Poor Souls need your prayers. With or without a donation or All Souls envelope, place your list of departed family, friends and even, perhaps, enemies in the collection basket next Sunday. Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord...
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: The Priest Convocation
Last week I and most of the priests of the diocese spent a few days at the Bethany Center. This annual convocation of priests is not a retreat, where prayer, silence and perhaps spiritual talks would be the focus. No, this is a gathering of priests where “practical application” talks are the main focus. This year we had two men from Dynamic Catholic come to encourage us to make our parishioners “missionary disciples” and “dynamic Catholics” and a couple of other nifty terms. I must say that they were very good at presenting their material and they did give some good pointers and interesting statistics about average Catholics in the pews, but it was really all Catholic Lite. That was their stated purpose, so I don’t say that as a put-down. The focus of their company is on getting the nominal Catholics to become more involved in their parish and, once involved, become better Catholics. It is a bit odd once you see it in writing, I think, but it happens quite often nowadays. A new parishioner, perhaps after just coming into the Church through the RCIA or a fallen-away Catholic who just started coming back to church, is asked to get involved in teaching CCD (or Faith Formation or Religious Education or whatever it is called) because, number one, there is a lack of teachers volunteering to do so and, number two, to make them feel more a part of the parish. It is this second point which was being pushed as priority number one for a dynamic parish. But what it does in practical reality is put those who have little or no knowledge of the Faith in charge of passing on (what exactly?) that little knowledge to our kids. Now, the best way to learn is to teach, so some might do a spectacular job. But more likely, they will just pass on what they know from their previous protestant or secular humanist background or what they think they know after going through a pretty pathetic RCIA program run by, you guessed it, the last convert. These guys were really good at making that sound wonderful! Get the people involved! Sign them up! After a year or two of activity, they will be ready to learn something about the Catholic Faith! Just don’t teach too soon or you will run them off! I exaggerate only a little.
Meanwhile, back at the parish, we had the opposite going on. A mission was being preached. Catholic teaching was being imparted. “Hard” sayings were being boldly stated, like a light not hidden under a bushel basket but set out for all to clearly see. Quite a different approach to helping Catholics become more fully, faithfully, and joyfully Catholic! At the convocation, we were given a sneak peek at the message which will come to us in the next couple of years, too, for several priests whose books they highly recommended are coming to give priests retreats for us and to give the presentations at next year’s convocation. Here is a snippet of wisdom which we were given that comes from one of the highly recommended priest’s books. “Music is probably the most controversial topic in the parish. But if you want a dynamic parish, you must have praise and worship music.” I wonder... no, I better not go there! Anyway, they were sincere in their beliefs, they really believe in their message, and, given the state of things in the Church today, perhaps they are correct in thinking that even someone with little to no knowledge of the Faith can still teach the average pew sitter more than they know. But I don’t think so little of you who sit in Epiphany’s pews.
That being said, some of the statistics they quoted for us might apply to Epiphany, though I hope not. Approximately 7 percent of the parishioners do any volunteer work at the parish. Approximately 7 percent of the parishioners contribute approximately 80 percent of the total collection. The overlap between those two groups is over 80 percent, so it seems that those who do the work also pay the bills and the rest are freeloaders on both accounts, having a consumerist mentality. “I only pay for things I enjoy and I don’t enjoy Church so I don’t contribute much in the way of money or time or labor. And the weeks I don’t attend, I don’t contribute anything at all.” Now, I have never looked to see who contributes what so I can neither verify nor deny that stat. But it is something worth thinking about. Does it apply to you? By the way, it was about here that we were told to play praise and worship music in order to make people happier, so that they would bring friends to church, so that they would volunteer at church, and so that they would give more in the collection plate. I wonder... no, I still better not go there!
But, lest you think that I did not enjoy the convocation, let me assure you that I most certainly did! Getting together with fellow priests in a setting where we ate meals together, watched the Rays win a baseball playoff game, had a few drinks, smoked a few cigars, and told a whole bunch of stories on one another, is a once a year pleasure. Plus, one more priest asked me to teach him how to celebrate the TLM, which I celebrated (privately) daily for your dynamic Catholicism.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Anders was Instituted as an Acolyte
Last Sunday you understandably might have wondered what was going on at the 10:30 Mass. Anders, our schola director, was participating in the Solemn High Mass, not as the leader of the choir in the rear of the church, but rather front and center as a subdeacon! Lest you continue in your befuddlement, let me explain what happened. Anders is a Catholic of the Latin Rite but belongs to a subset called the Personal Ordinariate of St. Peter. According to the Ordinariate webpage, it “is equivalent to a diocese, created by the Vatican in 2012 for people nurtured in the Anglican tradition who wish to become Catholic.” This includes Anglicans, Episcopalians, and Methodists, and may include members of their families, even if only one of the members was from an Anglican background. Again, quoting from their webpage, “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.” I included this quote just in case anyone wonders if they are truly “Catholic”. The answer is, “Yes!” But why would converts from Anglican stock not just convert and become Catholic in the same way that most others do? Well, because they don’t have to! Many of these communities, though they broke away from the Church centuries ago, still held fast to quite a few ancient Catholic traditions with which they were grounded before breaking away. In recent decades, when many Catholics were abandoning all things traditional, these groups retained what Catholics discarded. Coming back to full communion with the Church would mean, for them, casting out many of those traditions which they held so dear and which Catholics throughout most of history held dear, too. Ordinariates helped them avoid having to make a strange choice, which seemed to be “Become Catholic by throwing out Catholic traditions, or remain outside of the Church while embracing Catholic traditions.” I am grossly simplifying things, of course, due to the lack of space to write a “real” history, but in order to make the choice to enter the Church more palatable, Personal Ordinariates were established to welcome them home. And, before you question why they didn’t just embrace the Tridentine Mass, look at the timeline and you will see that the 1962 Mass was not yet made widely available (it still is not available in many places to this day) as the plans for the Personal Ordinariates were being drawn up, debated, and finalized.
As it was, though, most “high” Anglicans had kept to a large degree, though embracing the Novus Ordo calendar and the use of vernacular, the older form of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. (Yes, I realize that they did not have valid Holy Orders, yet they still retained much of the liturgical ceremony which they, as a splinter group from Catholicism, had long cherished and never abandoned.) Now that they are back in the Church, they need to find ways to celebrate properly and with great solemnity, the Holy Sacrifice in it’s (although modified as mentioned) glorious form. That requires priests, deacons and subdeacons. But there are no more minor orders, so there are no subdeacons. But Pope Paul VI, when abolishing the minor orders, decreed that instituted acolytes would be able to substitute for subdeacons. (There, I finally came back around to the topic of this article!) So the bishop of the Ordinariate, Bishop Lopes, regularly institutes men primarily to fulfill this role. We, too, who embrace the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, need acolytes/subdeacons. Fortunately, since the men of the Ordinariate are in union with the Catholic Church, and are members of the same Latin Rite, acolytes of one “branch” can perform their ministerial duties in the other “branch” as well. Perhaps you remember that last year I celebrated Mass for the members of the Ordinariate according to their own Missal. I could do that because we are both Catholics of the same Rite, even though there are differences between the Forms. In fact, I dare to say that there are far fewer differences between the Ordinariate Form of the Mass and the Extraordinary Form than there are between the Ordinary Form of the Mass and the Extraordinary Form. Yet all of us can participate in all three Forms according to our state of life.
Anyway, Anders was trained and instituted as an acolyte and is now able to fulfill a liturgical role as subdeacon of the Traditional Latin Mass. We are blessed and thankful for his new ministerial role. Congratulations, Anders!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
PS If you want to have a little liturgical fun, do an online search to see the arguments as to whether an instituted acolyte more properly fulfills the role of a subdeacon as a subdeacon or as a straw subdeacon, the latter terminology being something most “normal” people have never heard of before! Liturgists and wanna-be liturgists revel in such arcane nomenclature.