He only shuts up when he is writing!
From the Pastor: An African Thanksgiving
Church bulletins are strange things. Everyone grabs one but very few people read them. Some claim to read them but swear that they never knew that the parish has a Catholic Women’s Club, homeschool group, St. Rafqa stitchers, adult Catechism classes or other such staples of Catholic parish life. Others read the bulletin but then forget to put important dates on their calendar and so miss out on parish events or special feast days. Then there is another whole group of people who claim that they read carefully but neglect to mentally note such important statements such as “This bulletin had to be printed before Thanksgiving Day since the office is closed that Thursday and Friday.” Trust me, there is a reason that such a sentence should be read and remembered.
With that out of the way, let me tell you about my Thanksgiving. This year my little sister, Karen, was hosting the family gathering and, as normal, she said to invite any “orphan” priests or Sisters who didn’t have anyplace to go. Number one on the list was Father Emmanuel. He gladly accepted the invitation and was excited to get a reprieve from his Master’s studies and from grading math tests taken by the college kids in the undergraduate classes he teaches. He really needed this break. He has been getting a bit homesick and, since he cannot go back to Tanzania for a while, he asked my sister if she could fix some African dishes for Thanksgiving. When she hesitated, not knowing what food he might be thinking of, he quickly told her that, if she didn’t mind, he would get some help and do the cooking for everyone! He said he would love to do this for us in return for making him feel like a real part of our family. Plus, it would truly help him to get schoolwork out of his head. A few years ago he had gotten some help from a couple of African Sisters and they whipped up a wonderful meal for everyone and he assured her that they could do it again, so Karen finally relented and gave most of the cooking chores to him. Mom would still bake the pies for dessert, Karen would supply the snacks for the pre-meal hours, my other sister and my brother were to bring the drinks and I was to lead the prayers. I liked that division of labor!
Since they don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in Africa, Father Emmanuel needed a bit of help in preparing the menu. He wanted to make it as African as possible but still retain Thanksgiving traditions when he could. What nobody knew is that he turned to Aunt Irma as his American “expert”. It was probably for the best that we didn’t know! In Tanzania, they spend a lot of time cooking their food. Days, not hours, are spent hunting, cleaning, cooking, and socializing in preparation for big feasts. So he came to town a few days before Thanksgiving and he and the Sisters got to work preparing the food. He wouldn’t tell us what they were making but did give us a hint that some of it had to be ordered from Amazon or caught in traps because it wasn’t available for sale locally. Although the Africans were thrilled to be at the convent having a real 72 hours long cooking party like they would have back home, on Thanksgiving Day there was something missing for the rest of us without the normal aroma of a roasting turkey. But that little disappointment was forgotten quite quickly when the food (and the cooks!) finally arrived in mid-afternoon.
I wish that I could describe in detail each of the dishes they brought. The food, overall, was incredibly delicious, even when (or because) we didn’t know what we were eating. But it is always the “failures” that make the most memorable stories. First of all, Father and the Sisters now know that: 1) sweet potatoes are not simply red potatoes boiled in syrup; 2) not all tree leaves taste good in a salad, even with a generous amount of dressing; and 3) breadsticks don’t involve any wood at all. But those few dishes aside, the dinner was a success. There was one major surprise menu item worth noting. Evidently, they don’t have turkeys in Tanzania so they made due with birds which they would eat back home. They were smallish, much like a quail or Cornish hen, and there were enough cooked up so that everyone got at least one. They told us that the birds were called polywons in English, but none of us had ever heard of such a creature. Nevertheless, they were tender and juicy and had plenty of flavor and were truly a hit. Dare I say they were better than turkey? Everyone ate theirs and fought over the extra birds. Later that evening Fr. Emmanuel remembered that he had written down the name which Aunt Irma had called the small, colorful fowl. Maybe he was just mispronouncing it. So he pulled out his note for us to read. On it was written, “pollywannacracker”?!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Saint Jude and Other Exciting Saints
The changed date, Sunday, November 19 snuck up on me. Most of you are reading this bulletin on that very date. “What changed date,” you ask? The date of the annual St. Jude Award ceremony at the cathedral. Each year on the (new liturgical calendar) feast of Christ the King a group of very deserving yet too-humble-to-acknowledge-that-fact people receive an award from the bishop for their service to their parish. It is a beautiful, large medallion featuring an image of our diocesan Patron Saint, St. Jude the Apostle. This year, to get back to the “changed date”, the award will be given out a week early because Christ the King Sunday is also the Sunday after Thanksgiving. It was feared that many people would be busy with family and friends, either out of town visiting them or hosting those from out of town, and would miss out on the ceremony. So rather than holding it next week, the award will be given out this week. That’s how the date caught me off guard. By now, because you always read every word of the bulletin and not just this column, you already know that Pat Hanson is receiving it this year. She has long been a very active member of Epiphany and has certainly earned this award with all she has done and continues to do around here. Please be sure to congratulate her when you see her. And if you read this early enough (or already have it on your calendar) you are most welcome to join us at the Cathedral at 3:00 pm.
The St. Jude award ceremony simply kicks off the beginning of a very exciting week of Saints. Look at the great feasts we celebrate this coming week: Monday is the feast of St. Felix of Valois, a co-founder of the Order of the Holy Trinity for the Redemption of Captives. What? You don’t know him? I understand why that feast is not too exciting to you, then. But if you were captured by the Muslims in the twelfth century and were facing either death for being Catholic, a life of slavery, or forced apostasy and conversion, you would have understood just how exciting this Saint was and still is! Tuesday is the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Because you all pray the Rosary daily, you certainly have meditated upon this “mystery” often enough to be excited about the feast associated with it. Wednesday brings the feast of St. Cecilia. She, of course, is the Patroness of Sacred Music, so everybody in the choir (schola) and everybody who appreciates their ministry can certainly get excited about this feast. She is also traditionally credited with (and more recently ridiculed for) inventing the organ, the only musical instrument devised specifically to give glory to God in the Mass. Other instruments were developed for secular entertainment and subsequently incorporated into sacred usage (some with more readily apparent sacred value than others), while the organ started out specifically for sacred music and only later was occasionally incorporated into secular entertainment. This is what the Vatican II document on Sacred Liturgy (Sacrosanctum Concilium) said about musical instruments in Mass: “120. In the Latin Church the pipe organ is to be held in high esteem, for it is the traditional musical instrument which adds a wonderful splendor to the Church's ceremonies and powerfully lifts up man's mind to God and to higher things. But other instruments also may be admitted for use in divine worship, with the knowledge and consent of the competent territorial authority, as laid down in Art. 22, 52, 37, and 40. This may be done, however, only on condition that the instruments are suitable, or can be made suitable, for sacred use, accord with the dignity of the temple, and truly contribute to the edification of the faithful.” Pretty clear and pretty much excludes tambourines and rain sticks, doesn’t it? Thursday is Thanksgiving Day in the secular world but the Mass honors St. Clement I (4th Pope) and St. Felicitas (mother of seven martyred sons). Friday brings St. John of the Cross (who, along with St. Teresa, founded the Discalced Carmelites) and St. Chrysogonus (the second of this week’s Saints mentioned in the Roman Canon at every Mass even if you know nothing else about him). Finally, Saturday brings us the feast of St. Catherine of Alexandria who, at only 18 years old, marched right up to Emperor Maximinus, who was torturing and murdering Catholics, chastised him for his cruelty, and explained that his false gods were, indeed, false gods. These are all pretty exciting Saints!
Were there any Saints mentioned whom you do not know? The TLM daily Masses help us to venerate many great Saints (as if there are any “not-so-great” Saints!) who are generally not too well known except by daily Mass goers. At the 8:00 am Mass I usually give a short(ish) sermon giving some historical background to at least one of the Saints of the day. Need a little excitement in your life which will also bring joy to God? Come to daily Mass! This is a great week for it.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: When Good Priests Are Gone
A number of great articles have been written recently which have addressed topics on which I am questioned fairly regularly. The first deals with fear among the clergy to speak up about the nonsense going on in the Church today. The second deals with going to Mass when, if those above-mentioned fears bear out, the only Masses left are valid but irreverent. What is one to do? (Ask and I will give you the sources.)
1st snippet: [O]ne thing is often overlooked when people discuss “fearful” shepherds — especially when they are quick to call them cowards — is that their first duty — after Loving God above all things and obeying Him no matter the consequences to themselves — is to love their neighbor as themselves, by forming, nourishing, and protecting the spiritual children of their particular flock... There are, consequently, many pastors who may not speak out publicly in such a way that they are openly challenging the problems in the Universal Church, but this does not mean that they are not speaking out in their parishes — from their pulpits, in the confessional, or in the spiritual counsel they give to the members of their flock. They try to nourish and guide the souls entrusted to their care according to the fullness of the Catholic Faith even when their own bishops — or even the pope himself — are not, and they do so as a direct response to what those bishops and the pope are doing and saying. They do this in order to keep their spiritual children safe from spiritual harm. And many of them have a legitimate concern that if they raised their voices in protest outside the parish walls, they might well be removed in retribution. The question that haunts them is, “If such a thing were to happen, who would be sent to replace me?” [My emphasis--Fr. P] They know that the wolves and hirelings far outnumber the faithful shepherds and that if they are removed for speaking the truth to the whole world, those who would likely take their places would be chosen because they will not speak the truth to the parish, let alone to the world.
2nd snippet: Just a little reminder to one and all about liturgy, and bad liturgy. Obviously, I think that living close to reverent liturgy, either the Tridentine Mass or Divine Liturgy, should be an extremely high priority, BUT, to those who say, “Novus Ordo Mass is all there is available to me, and I’M NOT GOING!”, let me hasten to remind you of the following: The most “irreverent” Mass in history was Calvary itself. No one was actually paying attention to the Sacrifice of the Lamb except the small cohort led by The Blessed Virgin, St. John and St. Mary Magdalen. Only they assisted in silence. What else was going on at Calvary? People were walking around, talking, ignoring Our Lord at best, laughing, shouting and heckling Him at worst. One of the major aspects of crucifixion was the fact that the crucified were naked, completely exposed and obviously unable to cover themselves in any way – complete humiliation. Can you imagine the taunts and filth that the Roman soldiers hurled at Our Lord? Don’t kid yourselves, folks. They were probably making sexual taunts at Him that would turn even our jaded stomachs. That is, of course, when they weren’t playing dice. The Jewish priests also came to mock and scorn. And there were probably quite a few people who came just to gawk. They had no idea what they were looking at other than three men being tortured to death. They just gawked at the spectacle, then walked away.
Now consider the Apostles. None except St. John were there. Can you imagine the regret that they all felt for the rest of their lives for not having been there? [My emphasis--Fr. P] It was the most important event in history, in fact, it was the central event in all of history – so central that everything before and everything after is and will be reconciled through the central point of Calvary. And they missed it. They freely chose to stay away, cowering in hiding. It is pretty clear that the days of being able to easily find a valid – never mind licit – Mass are numbered... My advice is the same as what I suspect the Apostles would say: Go to Mass while you still can, even if it is Novus Ordo. Nothing that happens at a Novus Ordo Mass will be as bad as what was going on at Calvary itself. If bad things happen, pray in reparation as the Blessed Virgin did. Pray the Rosary. Remember that it is perfectly fine to NOT receive Holy Communion, and instead make a Spiritual Communion – remember, no one received Holy Communion at Calvary. Christ Himself, the High Priest, was the Priest Celebrant and the Victim, and He immolated Himself, thus consummating the Sacrifice. Don’t find yourself, like the Apostles, filled with regret at NOT going to Calvary. [My emphasis--Fr. P]
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: One-Sided Dialogue
If you have not heard of Father Thomas G. Weinandy, O.F.M., Cap. by the time you read this, you need to get better Catholic information coming into your house. Really. It is that serious. This priest was just fired (sorry, he was forced to resign, not fired) for publicly stating his opinions about the “Hagan Lio!” of Pope Francis’ pontificate. (If you don’t recognize this phrase of the Pope, please look it up.) Pope Francis has encouraged “dialogue” about Church issues on more than one occasion. Yet Pope Francis has then derided and reprimanded and belittled publicly and, on other occasions, completely ignored and snubbed, those who ask for “real dialogue” about Church issues, by which I mean a conversation with people who do more than parrot his own words and ideas back to him. Those who simply ask him to clarify his teachings (and let’s face it, clarifying one’s position is much easier than engaging in dialogue) so as to either affirm constant Catholic theology and morality or to deny it, have been bashed and accused of treason and worse from some of the Pope’s most staunch supporters, with never a word of correction or call for civility from the Pope. Meanwhile, the Pope himself refuses to meet and “dialogue” about the issues which he himself raised and specifically encouraged “dialogue” about! And some of these men asking for clarity are Cardinals of the Church, no less! But more than just name calling, something more sinister is now picking up steam. One after another, those who attempt to “dialogue” about anything dealing with the Pope’s lack of clarity, or who point out the spiritual and moral dangers of a continued lack of clarity, are now being removed from their positions. Fr. Weinandy is not the first (think: Cardinal Burke, Professor Josef Seifert, to name but two), but due to his esteemed position as theologian to the United States Conference of Bishops, his is currently the most noteworthy example in these United States.
One of the things he specifically pointed out in his letter to the Pope was that even bishops are being intimidated into silence. "Many bishops are silent because they desire to be loyal to you, and so they do not express -- at least publicly; privately is another matter -- the concerns that your pontificate raises. Many fear that if they speak their mind, they will be marginalized or worse." His firing (oops, his forced resignation) proves the point as to what can happen, as a starting point, mind you, that is “worse”. The audacity of Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, the current president of the USCCB, to write about his “departure” in a way that falsely accuses him of being uncharitable is despicable. The Cardinal puts on a show (the best way I can think of explaining it in a church bulletin) of desiring dialogue while snuffing it out here and elsewhere, now and in the future. Father Weinandy was fired (errr, resigned) the same day his letter to the Pope (which the Pope has still not answered, though it was sent in July) was made public. How much “dialogue” was there in those few hours? How many of the US Bishops were consulted or engaged in this “dialogue” before the firing? He accuses Fr. Weinandy of making this a “political – conservative vs. liberal, left vs. right, pre-Vatican II vs Vatican II” issue, while he did no such thing. Please don’t just take my word on this: read his letter (read also his explanation of why he was finally convinced that Our Lord wanted him to write the letter in the first place. It is an incredible story). There is so much outrageous disingenuousness in Cardinal DiNardo’s explanation of Father’s “departure” that if it wasn’t posted on the USCCB website, I would think that it was a rather poor hoax or Russian Fake News. I hope that this does not go unanswered by any US Bishop who also wants the Pope to clarify his positions. I hope they rally around Fr. Weinandy instead of silently acquiescing to this travesty of justice, for if they are silent now, it is only a matter of time before they are next on the chopping block. They, too, will be increasingly bullied, intimidated and misrepresented to the people the moment they express any misgivings about the chaos that Pope Francis is causing.
Does the Capuchin priest really need this job? No. It is not like he is a layman losing his sole source of income which he needs to support his family. But it is certainly a warning to each and every US Catholic deacon, priest, and bishop to shut the heck up if they think the Pope needs to be more open and honest and clear about what he really believes and teaches. Will this intimidation tactic work or will it backfire? Only time will tell. The majority of Catholic clergy are already either silent or actively interpreting the Pope in non-Catholic ways. Perhaps this will be a clarion call to us: “Speak now or forever hold your peace.”
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka