From the Pastor: Thanksgiving Day With My Family
Here I am the week before Thanksgiving having to type out this bulletin article in order to get the bulletin printed for the following Sunday before the office staff goes home for the holiday. I am fortunate in the respect that I have much practice in writing about future events before they actually happen, especially when it comes to outings with my family, so that I don’t have to wait an extra week before letting you all know how things went. So here is my Thanksgiving story.
Several weeks before Thanksgiving we received a letter from Aunt Irma. She is living in Michigan under the covid dictator who has abused, berated, threatened, and punished the populace into submission to the new religion-superstition commonly called Fauciism, and her Stockholm syndrome was showing itself in full color. In her letter, she stated that she would not attend any family gathering unless all family members, even the ones who would not be present (which makes as much sense as anything else dealing with the jab, since the official battle cry is, “Your lack of vaccination is making my vaccinations fail!”) were double or triple jabbed with the genetic engineering experimental thingamabob. Because she, being a Whitmer victim/survivor, was so full of self-righteousness, and because she correctly believes that she is the favorite matriarch of our family, she was sure that we would all dutifully agree to get sterilized—I mean inoculated with the thing that can only be called a vaccine because “experts” changed the definition of a vaccine after they started injecting guinea-people with it—before her arrival. How silly! While we would miss her terribly, the general thinking was simply, “I get dibs on the extra turkey drumstick!”
So while we were all gathered at my sister’s house having a few libations, munching on way too many appetizers, and grousing about the lies and fear being pedaled all day every day by the government, media, woke corporations, and the USCCB, the last person in the world whom we expected to arrive came bursting through the door, dutifully wearing her two masks, plastic face shield, and a tee shirt emblazoned with “Your body, My choice! Mandate now!” Aunt Irma was in the house! After she had realized that she could not Michiganize any of us into taking “the jab that makes you fear non-jabbed healthy people” (none of us Floridians, by the way, were condemning the others for either having or lacking proper jab id, for we all just sighed in exasperation at those who did the opposite of what we did—kind of like normal people used to do—instead of canceling them) she concocted her own special plan for covid safety: she just got herself jabbed and jabbed again and then again and again and again. She counted out how many relatives she suspected to be going without the injection and then she simply went from pharmacy to pharmacy getting “boosted” for each one who rejected the shot. She said that she had received 17 boosters, but that she had lost count around 12 and might have been off by one or two after that. But she was convinced that, temporarily, she need not fear the unvaxed, for her extra vaccinations canceled them out. She figures that will change soon enough, though, and she expects to face lockdowns once again this winter back home, because by Christmas her state will probably be manding an 18th shot to be considered “fully vaxed.” She is, of course, OK with that because, well, you know, “the science.”
There was one problem that she hadn’t managed to solve, though, and that was the non-vaccination status of the turkey. In her now-altered mind (from too many hours watching CNN, which did countless more damage than 17 booster shots) she “knew” that covid had come from eating unvaccinated bats in Wuhan, and she figured that a turkey is just a much larger version of a bat, so she was petrified that she would catch covid if she ate the turkey. And she loved the rest of us so much that she made a big deal out of the “fact” that we, too, were all going to die if we ate that sickly winged creature. It didn’t help at all that my brother-in-law had mentioned that he brined the bird overnight, which Aunt Irma equated with the infamous Chinese wet market. We really wanted to just be able to have a great feast in peace with the family, but we were at a loss as to what to do to pacify her. Somebody pulled out a vaccination card and tried to pass it off as the bird’s “safety inspection covid label” but it still had his name on it, so Aunt Irma wasn’t fooled. We were just about at wit’s end, unable to get her to change the topic and unwilling to listen to any more “you’re all going to die and you’re trying to kill me, too!” nonsense when one of the kids remembered watching her dad prepare the turkey. Not only did he brine it, but he injected a slurry of spices deep within the meat using a rather large syringe. She brought that out to show Aunt Irma that the turkey had indeed been vaccinated before it went into the smoker and she witnessed her daddy inject it multiple times, so it must be fully, not just partially, vaccinated! That did the trick. Aunt Irma, full of enough vax to make up for each of us, was happy to eat a rather large, wet market bat/bird thing for Thanksgiving, since it, too, was fully vaxxed. A win for “the science” and a win for the family.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Thank You For Giving!
There are dozens of volunteers at Epiphany who go about their “duties” without drawing attention to themselves or to the work they are doing. It almost seems that the tasks get done by elves in the middle of the night. Some of the tasks take place even in the midst of crowds at the church but are done in such a way that nobody seems to even notice the workers. Today, the weekend leading up to Thanksgiving Day, I wish to point out a few of the things that fall into this important category. I do this for several reasons. First, to thank those who so tirelessly and selflessly give of themselves in taking on necessary or desirable or helpful jobs here at the church, not for recognition but simply out of love for God, His house, and His children. Another reason I want to point out these works of charity is to help others see what kind of things are available for them to do, or to give ideas as to what other kinds of things might be done. People are often hoping that they can help out at the church but are afraid of stepping on other people’s toes, so they don’t do anything. Others look at something and think to themselves that the parish would be at least a little bit better off if only “this” or “that” were done but are afraid of doing it, assuming that if it was always “this” way, there must be a reason far better than that nobody ever did it! As I am writing this, I am going to refrain from mentioning names, since some of the people really don’t want to be named and praised publicly (God knows their names and will reward their efforts and that is enough) but also because I am a coward! I know that I will forget quite a few people and you never know whose feelings will get hurt, so it is easier to just be general and let everyone fill in their own name where it belongs.
Let me start with the Sunday food folks. The coffee not only doesn’t brew itself, it also doesn’t stock itself in our pantry! We have volunteers who bring in, at their own expense quite often, all of the food and drinks that can so easily be taken for granted. Coffee, milk, juice, cream, sugar, tea, napkins, donuts, bagels, cream cheese, and even home-made goodies don’t just magically appear all nicely set out for the after-Mass crowd, but rather many people work very hard to make it all happen and then stay and clean up afterward. Of course, many people cannot help out with the food and drinks because they have to rush off to one of the many groups which meet after Mass. But of course those groups are run by volunteers, too! It takes a lot of people a lot of time and energy and often money to run the American Heritage Girls, the Troops of St. George, the Council of Catholic Women, the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, and all of the other groups which meet and fulfill needs at the parish. And even within each group there are a lot of tasks which may seem small but which are absolutely necessary to get done and there are countless people who, while not “in charge” of the group, are extremely beneficial to it running properly. Just as a means of showing this, taking a look at the Holy League, there are men who have “jobs” to do and have basically taken charge of doing them every meeting. The men who light the candles, who set out the monstrance, who lead the chanting and rosary, who put away the humeral veil, who lock the doors, who collect the prayer sheets, and so many other little tasks, which, if not done, would lead to chaos or to the overworking of just one man (me!) and the eventual end of the group. Every group which meets here has people who do those “little things” that make everything run “effortlessly” for everyone else.
Then there are those who sing in the schola, who show up for practice at church, who practice at home, who chant for funerals, for special Masses, for Sunday Vespers, and other seemingly endless times when hymns are appreciated. Of course there are altar boys (and altar men!) who serve each liturgical event and men who train them and schedule them, plus sacristans who set up and clear away all the necessary items. And the lady who launders the liturgical linens and the young ladies (DOVES) learning to sew those same linens and the ladies who are teaching them about care of God’s house. There also has been a very visible change in our outdoor area, too, as plants and shrubs and trees and grasses have appeared and disappeared in ways that make the whole landscape look much more beautiful. Unassuming workers have been toiling in hot, humid weather all for the Glory of God and for the edification of the rest of us.
Obviously, I am not able to even list all of the groups and individuals who make this church run so well but I am thankful for each and every one of them. If you were reading this and thinking something like, “I never thought about who did that” or “I would be able to assist in this” feel free to join those who are already working in the Lord’s vineyard! Volunteer for something that only you can do or that anyone could do but isn’t being done! And thanks for doing it!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Advent Calendars!
Some of you may think that this is a bit too “Novus Ordo Priest-y” so, if you are squeamish in this way, just skip the rest of the article. But for the rest of you, realize that I am not the “rigid traditional” priest that is so often the stereotypical picture painted of any priest who celebrates the Traditional Latin Mass. You may, if you wish, now shrug your shoulders as if to say, ‘oh, well, let’s see what he has to say” and then continue reading. Now that the Karen’s have left the room, I want to tell a tale about searching for Advent Calendars. Let me begin by addressing the origin of these calendars, for, just like the Advent Wreath, they come to us, not from Catholic tradition, but from Lutheran tradition. Yes, those who are no longer supposed to be reading this could very easily be calling me “Little Francis’ right about now, for, although I am not suggesting that you commission a statue of the heretic priest (Fr.) Martin Luther, I have absolutely no qualms whatsoever about using, in your family home, one of his (or at least his followers’) Advent Wreaths or Advent Calendars to prepare for Christmas! Here is a small summary from Wikipedia of what an Advent Calendar is: “An Advent calendar is a special calendar used to count the days of Advent in anticipation of Christmas. Since the date of the First Sunday of Advent varies, falling between November 27 and December 3 inclusive, many Advent calendars, especially those that are reusable, often begin on December 1, although those that are produced for a specific year often include the last few days of November that are part of the liturgical season. The Advent calendar was first used by German Lutherans in the 19th and 20th centuries.” So, although Luther himself was long since dead and judged before the first use of these calendars, they still come from his line of protesters. To my way of thinking, though, that does not disqualify them from being very useful for Catholics!
I remember old Advent calendars which had tabs that children would pull back each day of Advent as they counted down the days to Christmas. Behind each tab was a scripture verse to look up in the bible and read, a chore or some nice thing to do for someone that day (i.e., “Make your bed before being told to do so.”) and—and this was the absolute best part—a piece of candy to eat after the first two things were accomplished! These calendars were simple, they taught children how to use a calendar, how to tell how many days until Christmas, how to look up bible passages, and how to connect “doing something good” to “preparing for Christmas”. So toss aside the protestant roots, Catholics, and climb aboard! But a strange thing has happened recently. After many years of not even thinking about Advent Calendars, I started to see them pop up every once in a while. I even managed to buy some for my nieces and nephews a few years ago when they were younger. But as they grew in popularity again (or, at least, as I started noticing them again) they began to lose all sense of their purpose: to prepare for the birth of Jesus. The calendars started to have snow scenes and winter activities drawn in the place of scenes of Bethlem, the Star, the manger, the Magi, and the Holy Family. No longer do they have bible verses or chores to help you live a Christian life, but, rather, they count down to nothing and contain nothing of substance inside. Oh, sure, the candy may still be there, but that used to be just the reward for learning about Christ’s birth or for being good on account of His love.
A few years ago a parishioner brought me an “adult Advent Calendar” of beer. I am certainly not complaining about it, for it was a fun calendar which brought a lot of “holiday cheer” at the rectory! But it wasn’t holy as the Advent Calendars of old. This year I found in my email a company selling three different Advent Calendars with chocolate pieces, so I eagerly clicked to see if they were the old-fashioned kind. Before I tell you what they looked like, I want to point out that they had no price on or around the button that said “purchase” so I couldn’t see how much they cost unless I put them into the “shopping cart”! I wasn’t about to do that, so I checked more closely and found, in small print up at the top under the photo of the calendar, the words “Pay in full or in 4 interest-free installments of $18.75 with ShopPay”! Yes, $75.00 for tiny chocolate pieces in an “Advent Calendar” that (as you have probably already guessed) except for the name “Advent Calendar” didn’t mention or even show anything to do with Jesus, Christmas, Advent, or, get this, even winter! Yes, these were completely and utterly devoid of anything except for numbers set up in calendar fashion for which, I suppose, people actually shelled out a lot of money in order to “feel good” about themselves as they entered into the “holiday” shopping season.
After seeing this, I did something that I suggest that only the strong of heart do. Google “Advent Calendar 2021” and see what pops up! Advent Calendars featuring wine, cosmetics, Harry Potter, Disney, jewelry ($499!), Star Wars, dog treats, and more, but no Infant Jesus. Covid is certainly not the worst disease we are facing today. How sad...
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Vocations!
November 7-13 is National Vocation Awareness Week. The diocese was nice enough to send out, through their new Gulf Coast Catholic newsletter, a reminder of this fact. In the article, there was a link to a “resource page” of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website. Oh, what joy it was to see such great information about how to encourage vocations! After perusing their page and its links, I came away overly excited about how many new vocations I could get from Epiphany if only I followed their lead! By gosh and by golly, I think I will just share the “good news” with you and show you a smattering of what our national bishops’ conference puts out to really encourage vocations. (Please note the sarcasm. Do not torture your children with the USCCB vocation helps.) From what sounds like it should be a great link, “Recommended Reading List for Discerners”, we find a childish blue/pink image of a priest and a religious Sister that wouldn’t even be attractive to a 5 year old child, let alone a teen or young adult discerning a vocation. Shockingly, the priest has a collar and the Sister is in habit and they are both in the now-politically incorrect traditional colors for their own proper “gender”.
The book list continues beyond what I show above, and, while I don’t recognize all of the writers, there is one in particular who deserves a dishonorable mention. Sr. Joan Chissiter. Should any young lady come to me with a book of hers and say, “Father, this book has changed my life. I want to become a nun!” I would call for an exorcist. I don’t want to be cruel but she can no more lead a woman to a true religious vocation than Fr. James Martin can lead a gay man to chastity. Another link I clicked led to a “vocation homily” for priests to use this weekend. It wasn’t as bad as the image above but it sure didn’t have any meat on the bones, either.
We currently, from Epiphany families, have five men and two women in formation for a Church vocation plus one man recently ordained a priest and one woman recently vowed as a Sister. None of them, I dare say, made their decision to dedicate their lives to God and His Church based on a childish image or a homily that, for National Vocations Awareness Week no less, mentioned marriage before the priesthood and consecrated life as a “universal vocation to holiness.” But what do I know? I am just the oddball pastor of those kooky people who want to take the Church backward to something evil, like a time of booming vocations from truly holy Catholic families!
As a side note, after our last All Souls Day Mass, one of our young girls asked a very good question. “Why was the tabernacle veiled in purple instead of black like everything else?” Do you know the answer? We never cover the Blessed Sacrament with black! So even on All Souls or any other Requiem Mass, the tabernacle is covered with either violet or white. The same with the pall over the chalice. The chalice veil itself is black, since it is removed before the consecration and not replaced until after the purifications. But the stiff square pall which keeps the bugs and other undesirable objects out cannot be black since it protects (covers) the chalice when it is empty, when it is full of wine, and when it contains the Precious Blood. If we had an altar frontal piece, it, too, would be violet for these Masses, since the altar itself symbolizes Our Lord Who is seen as the True Priest, the Lamb Sacrificed, and the Altar upon which the sacrifice was made acceptable to the Father. How strong a symbol for Jesus does the Church see in the altar! Even I, the priest standing in persona Christi, wear black for a Requiem, yet the altar, much like the Real Presence in the Eucharist, cannot be covered with black. And now you know.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka